Art’s Eternal Truth

Thanks to Rochelle and her commendable efforts as moderator of the Friday Fictioneers, another prompt has tumbled into my In-box. Many thanks also to Douglas MacIlroy for contributing the photo. Join this week’s Friday Fiction effort HERE.

It’s been awhile since I’ve contributed…and it may be awhile again… I’ve been in a general muddle lately! However, when I saw this prompt photo first thing this morning my muse nudged me and called to mind our clever sculptor friend, Marcel. Art Must be Flexible. She suggested this might be his concept of a bird-feeder. I chuckled, then decided to let the tale spin out and see how far it went. What do you think?

Photo © Douglas M. MacIlroy

ETERNAL TRUTH

“I’m calling this ‘Birdfeeder’,” Marcel told his friends.

“Birdfeeder!” Crombie exclaimed.

“My interpretation of man’s efforts to positively impact his environment.”

“How about ‘Gone With the Wind’?” Percy suggested, examining the creation skeptically. “It’s getting rusty.”

“That’s it! I’ll call it ‘Eternal Truth’. Like ‘Dust to dust; ashes to ashes; iron to rust’…”

His friends groaned.

A woman rushed over. “It’s brilliant,” she exclaimed. “I must have it. How much?”

“Three thousand,” Marcel quoted.

As she signed the cheque Crombie nudged Percy. “There’s gotta be an eternal truth in here somewhere.”

Percy winked. “Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder.”

Theories Can Crash and Burn

What Is Truth?

The two neatly dressed young men stood on my doorstep, ready to discuss various problems of society and offer their solution. They were well versed on issues of eternal consequence as well. Had I been open to instruction they’d have no doubt produced their Book of Mormon, ready to enlighten me.

Over the years I’ve observed a few things about human nature and beliefs, right and wrong. We talked a bit and I told them, “I believe if we really love the Truth above all — if we love it so much we’re willing to let truth delete all our pet theories and reasoning — God will show us what is true and we’ll make it to Heaven someday.”

One of my young listeners spoke up and quite sincerely agreed with me.

So there we stood, the Mennonite and the Mormons, totally disagreed on doctrine yet agreed on something vital. The power of God. The ability and willingness of God to enlighten seeking humans. Our ability to grasp it — if we let go of our own formulations.

Having just come through Easter season, we’ve been reminded of Jesus standing in Pilate’s Judgement Hall. Again we hear Pilate’s question, “What is truth?”

He didn’t ask this because he really wanted to know. If you read the account you realize that Pilate knew full well what the facts were in this case. His question was really a sigh of frustration. a wish that truth would be more convenient for the situation he was facing.

This question has replayed through all ages, all issues, all human minds. Where in all this muddle of logic, feelings, rhetoric, and examples, do I find the truth?

Logic, Passion, Rhetoric, Reality

I’ve been pondering a variety of issues in the past few days, choosing certain avenues and exploring the adjoining side streets. What started this process was seeing a recently-published book on the Prohibition years in North America. In fact I bought it and am eager to read this writer’s take on the great experiment. A theory that should have worked — but instead crashed and burned.

Twenty-odd years back I did a study of the Women’s Movement both here and in Britain, mainly because of a friend who was really enthused about the subject. What we call the Women’s Movement today built up momentum in the late 1800s with a demand that the right to vote be extended to women. One arm of this movement, the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement (WCTM), threw their weight behind this demand and gave the movement a lot of its rhetoric. They did not give the movement its ultimate direction.

Once women gained the right to vote, the WCTM focussed on pushing through Prohibition laws. As my friend explained, “Their hearts were in the right place.” They saw how many women and children were victims of poverty and abuse because the father, the family breadwinner, was at the mercy of his “thirst.” The WCTU wanted to rescue destitute families and relieve suffering caused by alcoholism. Yes, their hearts were in the right place. And they used some powerful, logical rhetoric.

‘Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed,
Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant;
But over its terrible edge there had slipped
A duke and full many a peasant.
So the people said something would have to be done,
But their projects did not at all tally;
Some said, “Put a fence ’round the edge of the cliff,”
Some, “An ambulance down in the valley.”
Etc.
From “The Ambulance Down in the Valley”
by Joseph Malins (1895)

Pondering the obvious failure of Prohibition started me thinking about the difference between Theory, Rhetoric, and Fact. Why so some things work so well in theory and not in fact? Skillful use of rhetoric fires people up, seemingly everyone gets on board, this is going to work — then what goes wrong?

To be continued.

Wishing You A Blessed Easter

Crosses.jpg

Who Is This?

by William Walsham How
1823 – 1897

Who is this so weak and helpless,
child of lowly Hebrew maid,
rudely in a stable sheltered,
coldly in a manger laid?
This the Lord of all creation,
who this wondrous path hath trod;
He is God from everlasting
and to everlasting God.

Who is this, a Man of Sorrows,
walking sadly life’s hard way,
homeless, weary, sighing, weeping,
over sin and Satan’s sway?
This our God, our glorious Saviour,
who above the starry sky
now for us a place prepareth,
where no tear can dim the eye.

Who is this? Behold him shedding
drops of blood upon the ground!
Who is this, despised, rejected,
mocked, insulted, beaten, bound?
‘Tis our God, who gifts and graces
on his Church now poureth down;
who shall smite in righteous judgement
all his foes beneath his throne.

Who is this that hangeth dying
while the rude world scoffs and scorns,
numbered with the malefactors,
torn with nails and crowned with thorns?
‘Tis our God, who ever liveth
‘mid the shining ones on high,
in the glorious golden city,
reigning everlastingly.

Set to music by John Ambrose Lloyd the elder.

Monday Morning Inspiration

Until I was thirteen I celebrated today as my birthday. My aunt said they took Mom into the hospital on March 26th and I was born that night. It wasn’t until I sent for my birth certificate that we learned I was actually born after midnight and my date of birth was registered as March 27th. In any case I’m thankful to have survived all these years. 🙂

MY MORNING MUSINGS

I went to bed early last night, so woke up at 5:30 am. Nice to get an early start to the day — I plan to get some sewing projects finished. And I read an inspiring article, perfect for a Monday morning.

When I first turn on my computer, the browser comes up with a list of suggested items for me to read. This morning Brianna Wiest’s article in Forbes Magazine caught my eye:
18 things You Need To Give Up To Become a High-Achieving Person.

Her list is a good one and she gives brief, practical explanations for each point. You can read the article here. Her advice isn’t new or surprising; I just hope young people going into their most productive years will take advantage of this wisdom. Trouble is, sometimes it takes a lifetime of living — and wasting precious time — before we really grasp these truths and their practical applications in our own lives.

One day I tried to persuade one of my teen co-workers to deal with her anger in a better way, she told me, “I don’t want anyone to tell me what to do. I want to make my own mistakes.” She went on to make some spectacular mistakes that broke her own heart as well as the hearts of those who cared about her. I’ve learned myself that falls can be painful and humiliating when life has to teach you the lessons you thought you didn’t need to learn.

One phrase in the opening paragraphs of this article caught my attention and I’m going to post it beside my desk as a great reminder for my years as a Senior. My energy is definitely limited these days. Oh, for the wisdom to spend it wisely!

Because our energy is limited each day, what we spend it on will define us in the future.
Brianna Wiest
WOMEN@FORBES

And we all know this one, which gives us the courage to change and hope for better days ahead:

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

What Do I Have to Lose?

One day as I was mingling among the multitudes at the mall a passing T-shirt caught my eye. In bold black and white it declared, “Compromise is for Losers.”

I eyed the bearer of such anti-diplomacy. Was this his life’s philosophy, the rule he lived by? No doubt he thought he was making a statement, “Don’t mess with me.”

Losers of what, I wondered?

Truth? We should never compromise the truth, nor our honesty, our integrity, or our purity. Did the young man wearing the T-shirt have these in mind?

If I were to compromise with sin, I’d lose my self-respect. I’d feel degraded and guilty. If I fudged around with the definite “Thou shalt nots” of the Lord, I’d lose His blessing in my life and gain an uneasiness in my soul. If I say “okay” when in my heart I know the real answer should be “no”, this can be compromising with sin.

Or was he thinking of principles? Possibly. But whose principles? Would it be so bad if I lost some of my own understanding about how things should be done, my own sense of right and wrong? Does it hurt to be a little bit flexible on these at times?

So what might I gain by a compromise?

In the areas of my life where opinion, understanding and preference hold sway, a compromise could well benefit me. I’d lose my rigidity as I bend to someone else’s methods. In doing so I might well learn a better way, see things from a new perspective. Discover why a certain approach works when I was so certain it wouldn’t.

I’d lose at least a little of my pride and admit I might not have the best light on the subject. I’d have to abandon the “My way or the highway” attitude if I wanted to reach a compromise with someone.

I might have to abandon self-righteous indignation and gain better relationships. If what this person said or did was an affront to me and my nose is out of joint, I’d have to snap it in place again before I could reach a truce with her. At times I’d have to admit I was wrong and ask for forgiveness.

I’ve seen where a “No compromise” philosophy of life means “No real friends.”

Yes, it’s true. Compromise is for losers — and there are some things we really could stand to lose in order to gain something better.

“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are…”
I Corinthians 1: 26-28