Commandment

Commandment: (n) a divine rule, especially one of the Ten Commandments

Sometimes it baffles me.

If God is our Creator, and He knows that we have a strong streak of asshole right in the middle of our attitude, why would He think presenting us with Ten Commandments was a cherry idea?

I’m not saying He should have made it “suggestions” or “insights,” but if you tell anybody that sprouts human skin that there’s something they must do to acquire approval, they will not only do the opposite, but will also insist that you applaud them for doing it.

So I’ve never been clear on what a Commandment does.

For instance, I never understood why a bunch of old people in Dixie want to put the Ten Commandments out on the front lawns of courthouses all over the county. What do they expect? Do they think children are going to walk up, read them and say, “My God, if I knew what ‘bear false witness’ meant, I might consider it…”

And also–those Commandments have not done a lot to prevent screwing, stealing and murder.

What is the correct approach?

After all, we have another old saying, which concludes that merely leading a horse to water does not guarantee that it will drink, let alone bathe.

So how do we impact ourselves, other people and the world around us with great ideas?

Everyone knows the answer to this:

Just do them yourself until you start a fad and sell t-shirts.

 

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Ambiguity

dictionary with letter A

Ambiguity: (n) uncertainty or inexactness of meaning in language

Shouldn’t that be the United States of Ambiguity?

It is now a national pastime–maybe better phrased, our universal slogan. In the pursuit of finding safe language that is not offensive to anyone, we have come up with sentences filled with nouns, but absent verbs.

Politicians stand in front of audiences and list all the types of people they want to appeal to, but never come up with an action word to describe what they intend to do for these hordes of admirers.

Churches have fallen back on becoming more traditional and symbolic in their presentation of spirituality, for fear of offending those who want to have religion minus personal intervention.

And entertainment is always consulting focus groups to ensure that the material provided will garner the widest appeal to sell tickets, t-shirts and DVDs.

It’s all very interesting. And it’s all the process of taking political correctness to a new position: emotional stall.

We’re just stalled. We don’t know what to do, so we attempt to accept everything in part, without signing on the dotted line.

So in a world that prides itself on caution, the next heroes and victors will be daredevils.

The genius of the future will be the explorer who is not afraid to have an opinion and see it through to some sort of conclusion.

Ambiguity is ambiguous.

I know that’s not very articulate, but it says it very well, don’t you think? And it is absent the ambiguity of trying to find a way to describe ambiguity without offending anyone, while possibly causing the hearer to express some interest.

Here are three thoughts I share without reservation–or ambiguity:

  1. America is not exceptional in the eyes of God, but has an exceptional opportunity to do something in this day and hour which could ring true for a thousand years to come.
  2. People are not born any specific way–otherwise, God would have favorites and free will would be a joke.
  3. There is no replacement for hard work and taking personal responsibility for your own life.

You can see, these are thoughts that have both nouns and verbs. They contain very little ambiguity, and therefore open the door to discussion, debate … and hopefully some progress.

Alabaster

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

 

Alabaster: (n) a fine-grained, translucent form of gypsum, usually white and often carved into ornaments.

What a great word for the Christmas season!

I don’t know where I got the idea–I’m sure somewhere in my twisted history it slipped in through an available crack, but I always envisioned the wise ones from the East, who came to Bethlehem, bringing their gifts in alabaster boxes.

Maybe it’s something I just absorbed over the years from viewing artists’ renditions of the astrologers’ luggage. But it was always a beautiful sight–because truthfully, you can tell the value of a gift by its packaging.

Let me rephrase that. I believe you should be able to tell the content of the quality of a gift through its container.

A story: many years ago, at Christmastime, one of my children, lacking finance for the occasion, bought a good number of the one-dollar boxes of chocolate-covered cherries. The reason that I knew they cost a buck is that the store printed the price on the front of the wrapper, and my child was unable to dispel the evidence. Being a little bit embarrassed over offering such a cheap gift, he wrapped them beautifully in gorgeous paper, placing a bow on the top.

I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed, after commenting on the beauty of the packaging, to discover the cheap contents. I hid my disappointment pretty well, though, and acted like they were the best chocolate-covered cherries that God, the angels, or Russell Stover, for that matter, had ever come up with.

But the incident gave me reason to contemplate the issue of presentation. It’s why we dress up for formal occasions instead of showing up in t-shirts and jeans. The person inside is the same, but the outward appearance certainly advertises better possibilities.

So I imagine when these star-gazers from the East arrived in Bethlehem, and Mary and Joseph saw the alabaster boxes, a tingle went through them, down to their spines, because they suspected they were in for a good haul. Being simple folks on the fast track for sainthood, they probably attempted to hide these very carnal sensations. But I’m sure the presence of  alabaster  stimulated a great hope in their hearts, that just maybe they wouldn’t have to be poor forever. And sure enough, upon opening them, they found gold, frankincense and myrrh.

So you may think it’s funny to wrap a stick of gum in golden paper with ribbon and tinsel. Or you may want to play down your offering by placing the gold watch you purchased in a brown paper bag. But I will tell you, there is a power in at least attempting to match what’s inside with what’s outside.

For instance, it’s why I continue to diet … even though my efforts are mocked by the universe.