Saturday, February 09, 2002

Okay, I just finished writing the family, but I'm going to do the irresponsible thing and stay up and blog since tomorrow I probably won't get the chance.

I figured out the comment problem by myself, but thanks to the person I suspect is Wedge (the other name was just too obvious) for telling me anyhow. He probably posted that comment before I figured it out, or else just after, and I just didn't notice. Anyway, thanks. If you're who I think you are (and really who else would you be?) it's kind of a warm fuzzy feeling to know that even though it's been a long time since Margaret dished out any righteous justice you've still got my back.

Hmmm ... you know, actually, that'd be a good reason to get Empire Earth ahead of schedule. Wedge and I haven't played any together this year, and even though CS has become kind of passé (read: insufficiently tactical\\realistic) I miss playing with him. But he's playing EE right now, and Phoenix Earth is all about mixing the ancient and modern, which puts EE right up my alley even if it was produced by the Company Which Has Forgotten How to Make Immersive Games. Not that I'm bitter. Especially since Arcanum was incredibly immersive (as JTT could attest if he wasn't sleeping right now - yes, I changed his name), and EE looks to be as well - at least judging by the thrill it gave me just watching. Ok, so it's just Dynamix that was evil, and they've been axed. Bitterness has passed. Anyway, what do you think? It would be good to play with Wedge again. Especially now that he's got his own blog I'm realizing that I miss spending time with him.

I'm listening to Michelle Tumes' Dream right now, which is fun because I really love that woman's lyrics. Consider from "Heaven's Heart:"

How can I resist such gentle love
Whispered on the evening breeze?
Love as soothing as the moonlight
Let your love shine down on me.

Heaven's Heart was written in the stars before the mark of time
Your heart and mine were destined to entwine
You're calling (calling) calling to me
And I'm falling into love, sweet love
So heavenly.

I wouldn't consider this to be Ms. Tumes' most impressive piece of songwriting, but I'm using it as an example because Testimony is going to be singing it. Two things I think I'll point out in this excerpt. First is the imagery of the verse. The whole I-see-God-in-nature thing might not do anything for you; it certainly doesn't normally do anything for me. In Ms. Tumes' hands it does, though. Never mind why; instead c.f. the love whispered on an evening breeze with the voice of God speaking to Elijah in a small wind (1 Kings 19:11-12). This is more than a simpleminded Old Testament allusion; by connecting "love" with the still small voice it's a statement that the God of Israel is the God of the Christians - a theme you might also see in Pastor Keith's use of the Aaronic blessing at The River, or even when Testimony sings TLBY; notice that this blessing was given to Aaron and his sons for the children of Israel, with whom we identify ourselves spiritually when we sing that song. Think about what would happen if you told Violet that Jews and Christians worship the same deity and you'll get an idea of how big that statement is.

Second thing is the use of the word "heart." In the first line of the chorus "heart" carries its Old Testament meaning of "desires or intentions of the inmost being" (again notice the implication that the Christ of the Christians is rooted in the Old Testament). In the second line it carries the contemporary meaning of "seat of the soul." Two similar but importantly different meanings; as a wordsmith myself (and someone whom as you've probably noticed is obsessed with word meanings) I find that very satisfying. Also notice what has happened to the figure of Jesus in the song: in the first line of the chorus, when we're still in Old Testament mode, Jesus\\Heaven are one thing, and it's the desires of Jesus\\Heaven which are written in the stars. In the second line, when the changed meaning of "heart" jumps us to the 21st century, Jesus is you - and it must be Jesus, as the rest of the song makes clear. I love good lyrics.

I had yet another excellent talk today, this time with the-person-to-whom-I-will-refer-as-Taboo-until-I-come-up-with-a-better-name (naming guys is hard; I guess I just don't have as much practice). I know I've already said it, but I give mad props to Blue Rose for this whole prayer buddy thing. And yes, I just said mad props. To miquote Principal Skinner, "that's right, I type words I would never speak." Why are prayer buddies a good thing? Many many reasons:

1). I know Rose felt at the beginning of this year that God was going to use her to improve Testimony's character as a fellowship, and I definitely think this is a way in which He's doing that. It's always good to see the Father at work, and always good to see brethren walking in obedience when He wants to use them as His tools.

2). I don't know about the rest of Testimony, but I admit to not always being consistent with my prayer requests calendar. I haven't missed a prayer buddy meeting yet (that's why I met with Eliani yesterday; we missed our appointment last week), and I certainly don't intend to! The meetings are too good!

3). The meetings really are too good! After programs like Crossing the Line it's common to hear the sentiment expressed, "I wish we didn't have to institutionalize heart-to-heart sharing in order to talk on a deep level." But I think the truth of the matter is that you do have to institutionalize it if you want people to share with anybody but their absolute closest friends. And it can help even then, in providing a sense of safety in which people talk. The early church had a [quickly abandoned] experiment with communism, but Christians today still look back on those early days of total community with serious nostalgia. That may or may not be justified, but if we're going to want to be like the church we see in Acts, sharing everything, we've got to institutionalize it or it won't happen. And after all, who says institutionalization is an inherently bad thing? Certainly not yours truly.

4). Related to the last point, Testimony has somehow gotten it into its collective head that we should all be very close friends. Now, maybe we should and maybe we shouldn't - but it's certainly nice to be close to people, and this prayer buddy thing is the first practical way of effecting that goal that I've seen proposed. And I think it's working: who would've thought that I could have had the conversation I had with Ransom two weeks ago? But I did. And who would have expected when Eliani and I met on the Oval that she'd not only want to hear all about Phoenix Earth but give me feedback on it, until lo and behold I stumbled on a dramatic and satisfying explanation of the First Mage War upon which the entire history is based?

One of the many sobering truths attendant upon the office of the performer is that everything you do will affect the legacy of your company, group, ensemble, or whatever noun you use to describe that part of your organization which transcends the individuals who compose it at any given time. Performances exist to bless the audience, but a group's legacy exists to bless the group itself. Whatever Rose decides about coming back next year, I pray that prayer buddies become a permament part of the Testimony legacy.

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