Posts Tagged ‘Personal’

All credit for the title goes to Billy Joel, for his wry-grin lyric in Only The Good Die Young:

And they say there’s a Heaven,
For those who will wait.
Some say it’s better,
But I say it ain’t!
I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.
‘Cause sinners are much more fun
Only the good die young

mark twain on heaven and hell

The song is brimming with colorful phrases about suppression of nature for the sake of christolic dogma (and, certainly, Church control of it’s adherents’ souls) . . .

Well they showed you a statue, told you to pray
Built you a temple and locked you away . . .

That stained glass curtain you’re hiding behind
Never lets in the sun . . .

You got a nice white dress and a party on your confirmation
You’ve got a brand new soul
And a cross of gold . . .

But this isn’t about a classic rock song. The song, however, is an irrepressible nod to religious metaphor, if not a tad more direct than the following example. It is a perfect lead-in to a recent epiphany I had.

In his book The Historical Jesus, John Dominic Crossan, in one chapter, gives us the definition for the word “Kingdom” as supported by various attestations—— that is, by its appearance in different locations within biblical scripture, both canonical and non-canonical.

In the following passage, he discusses, from the Gospel of Thomas (a non-canonical text; gee, I wonder why) when the disciples ask Yeshua about entering the kingdom as children; Yeshua asks them, essentially, not to look forward but rather to look back.

When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside, and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below . . . and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female female . . . then you will enter the kingdom.

He is—-in this Gospel excluded by the Church—asking the disciples to think about looking back to the past, past Eden, before Adam and Eve sinned (according to Genesis, which I won’t belabor here). He asks them to consider an even more primordial moment before the male and female—-animas and animus—-were split into two beings.

Note the use of the more historically accurate name of Yeshua instead of Jesus; if we are mindful of such a seemingly small change it helps to provide a more distinct delineation between the carefully groomed ‘Jesus’ and the actual historical figure he was, Yeshua.

By asking his closest followers to take a mental leap backwards he is challenging them to consider a more ephemeral cosmological approach as opposed to the utterly human desire to know of the future, of revelation . . . as the Greeks termed it, apokálypsis.

Taking the cue from the primordial example, if you allow yourself to do what countless cultures have done throughout human history you may be able to conceive of a ‘first entity” if you will, a spirit or essence which is considered not yet neither male nor female as we consider the genders of biological life—-the two as one.

Yeshua posed the further challenge to the disciples, to look at a “child” as something that wasn’t male or female but rather as an androgynous Adam (a ‘first entity’)—-an image of its creator, being neither male nor female.

Baptismal regeneration involved the destruction of duality of that between the inner soul and the outer body. between the heavenly, androgynous image of God and its earthly bifurcated counterpart.

These things help to clarify why the child is the perfect Christian metaphor for those entering the kingdom.

The child is considered asexual or pre-sexual or nonsexual in any operational manner and is therefore an appropriate image for the ideal Christian, the Christian who is, in other words, an ascetic celibate. A Kingdom of children is a kingdom of the celibate.

So, what was my epiphany, you ask?

This is why the saints cry.


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The following text is from the body of a letter I sent to my son while in basic training for the Navy. I had been listening to my iPod and an old song titled American Heartbeat played. Something told me to sit down and write about what that meant to me, and it seemed relevant to what he is working for in his naval training. 

transparent div line 

We are not ancient Persia, nor Greece, nor Rome. We are many things: strong and weak, hustling and slack, demonstrative and passive. We are the siphon of human history. 

We have an empire, of sorts, but are not imperialistic. We are decidedly imperfect yet most often choose to pursue what is right rather than not. Say what you will about our character but our collective loyalty is ardent, durable and mighty.

Every civilization in recorded history has struggled with profound scars, has deliberated how best to cope with their weeping wounds in the context of their own times—Madame Blue, she is no exception. Grievous are her transgressions, yet she prefers not to turn her back on them. Her exertions are toward nobility, toward the minimizing of ignobility. 

When we call for help we answer it ourselves. We prefer action over whimpering. Earth rests beneath our feet yet we don’t just think about going to the stars . . .we innovate and then go there. We also sleep beneath the sparkle of heaven making it the province of our dreams.

We are fasces—as many individual reeds we are vulnerable, feeble, hesitant; bound together we are robust, tenacious, enduring.

Our pulse is fast and loud but if we are still for a moment, and truly listen across the chasms and erosion of volubility, we would find one voice, one nation, one majestic heartbeat.


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Yeah, that’s right . . . three of the most enigmatic people I know. I’m still trying to suss out bits of information from them.

Today, however, you, the reader get to have a look at an interview I did with myself. I know, it sounds a bit kooky, but it was kinda fun . . . once I knew what the questions were.

Have a look here at the blog of Broken Teepee.

Have a good weekend everyone and hopefully you’ll join me again next week for the lasst week of my tour.

J.W. Nicklaus

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Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows of my feelings about the fairer sex, about the ethereal magic they can cast around us like a veil of early morning fog, about the sublime notion of capturing lightining in a bottle, the sole genie that embodies all three wishes.

Painting is not one of my favorite tasks but with my iPod in my pocket it makes things much more bearable—until just the right song or two randomly get sent to my headphones. Two songs that rarely ever fail to make me pause, to transport me, if only for a few minutes, into a state of heart that at once tugs and takes you by the hand. “Come with me,” they say, “it’ll only be a few minutes.” And so I go, slipping into the softest spot my heart holds.

Brad Paisley’s Waitin’ On A Woman is one of them. A little tongue-in-cheek, but underneath lays a golden kernel of truth, one which speaks to the silken alchemy and inner divination women possess. This one smiles and beckons, then squeezes tight toward the end. If you know the song then I’m sure you can understand the sentiment.

Buy Me A Rose by Kenny Rogers has long had its way with romantic nature. This one always reminds me that gold may glitter but nothing that glitters is near as precious as that which we can’t see.

Two simple songs . . . two more insufficient attempt to convey one of man’s greatest puzzles.

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To be equal to, not greater than.

This is an idea contrary to our very nature. A man, when seated next to his dog, is not equal to the dog (although solid arguments can be made as proof of that concept).

Man with dogs on benchMan and dog have different natures; the ‘nature’ of something, that which makes it what it is, is held to account by laws insurmountable by man. Men (and women) and dogs — and cats and trees and birds and flowers and the rocks themselves — have different natures. Place a labrador next to a chihuahua and while the breed is different they share the same nature. Same with male and female.

That having been said, a chihuahua is by far the more comical canine. In that regard it has no equal.

Man, when seated next to his dog is superior to his canine friend. That is part of Nature’s law.

But let’s return to the man and woman.

Why should any man want to be superior to a woman when both share the same nature? Is there not a stronger balance and a more resonant harmony when one is equal to, not greater than, the other?

I’m not stupid enough to think we don’t have differences and disagreements, that we don’t come from widely disparate backgrounds and environments. These things are cause for friction, to be sure, but they are equal to both natures.

Indeed, we have different levels of intelligence and tolerance, different ideas about money and politics, about laughter and passion. Money and politics appeal to our material and corrupt natures. Laughter is a great purger, a perfect means to cleanse the soul of cancerous darkness; passion, in all its exuberant forms, gives our ambitions and higher selves wings and air currents to loft us closer to the touch of God.

I ask again: what elevates one above another?

I make no secret of my disdain for stupid people. Don’t deride me because the fact is I’m right and each of us knows it — stupid people are not figments of our lesser imaginations, they truly exist. A sad misstep in man’s nature to be sure. Perhaps in this regard alone would I consider myself superior to another.

I don’t mean “stupid” because someone doesn’t know what I know. That concept alone can most always make for wholesale improvements on both sides of the fence. We all know the kind of knuckle dragging, mouth breathing brand of idiocy I’m alluding to. [Congress, anyone?]

Notice the important distinction — not empirical but to-the-bone, flat out stupid.

Yeah, I’m better than that person.

I am not, however, perfect. I make no claim to that effect.

I am far more susceptible to the haunts of my demons than to the embrace of my angels. James Madison once wrote that there are no angels among the ranks of men, for if there were we would have no need for government. I petition for the intercession of my angels all the time. Why? Because I am human.

Angels are not to be confused with stupid people (or Congress). Angels are far better equipped to forgive morons. That makes them truly blessed.

Thayer Angel

I shall never be equal to — nor greater than — angels, certainly not while I still draw breath.

I shall forever be imperfect — for that is my nature.

I shall always seek and hope for the best in my equal. Surely she will be an angel.

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Lots of people make geneology a hobby. Some have long-lived family members who can tell stories of familial ancestors and to some extent fill in gaps where documentation is scant.

Our family isn’t much like that. I think we accept life for what it is and live the best we can in the here and now—sometimes that’s really all any of us can do.

But to satisfy a passing curiosity I looked up what my last name meant (and to see what history I could find in it), as well as what my first name meant. The results were intriguing.

Nicklaus apparently means “Victory of the people.” While I’m not sure how many other names share this meaning I choose to embrace as a moniker of wholly American virtue, at least in the context of our nation’s birth.

My first name apparently means “God’s peace.” No pressure there, right?

If you’d like to know more about me (moreso than simply my name) then pay a visit to my spiffed up website avomnia.com. The About Me page is new and different from the ‘about me’ on this blog.

What does your name mean?

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Rotating Earth gifWow moments . . . Most of us get to experience them at some point, whether through some form of service, personal epiphany, or, as in my case, interacting with a favorite author. These wow moments are launched from one extraordinary foundation: inspiration.

This post is (inasmuch as words can be) a blood relative of the post I did just prior to this one, The Breath Of Morning. Give it a quick read if you haven’t already, then come back. I’ll wait.

Last night I sent the following e-mail to an author I have great respect for, and whose books I have thoroughly enjoyed and learned from. I had not the least expectation nor passing thought that I may get a response, much less only an hour later.

I have been tuning in to NASA TV every now and again to see what’s happening on the International Space Station. Today I was treated to something that stunned me. Something of such profound beauty it was practically spiritual.

As I watched it I thought of all the mind expanding things I have learned through your books, of all the places you have been as you have sifted through the history of mankind and the very elements themselves. You have studied the aftermath of matter spewed into our realm from deep within the earth, parsed through the physics of modern day barbarism even at the cost of your own emotions, and traveled to depths below our oceans where the pressure is such that styrofoam cups are compressed to fractions of their original size. You’ve yet to go to space . . . yet.

I watched perhaps only twenty seconds of live footage of the ISS as she floated over 200 miles above the Earth, somewhere over the Middle East. Our home was slowly rotating beneath it. I was struck by the visible speed of its rotation—the ISS is not in geo-synchronous orbit, of course, and the Earth’s movement was, to the eye, slow . . . but there was an indescribable magic to witnessing your home from afar. We are so intricately aware of our terrestrial place that seeing it from a different perspective holds the same kind of wonder and awe as one’s first kiss—heady, profound, and though you are fully aware of its presence, utterly magical.

The dumbest of observations floated to my head as I stared at the orbital scene: Judging by the visual speed of the planet’s rotation it seems that 24 hours passes far quicker than we believe it to.

If only all mankind were able to watch the kind of scene I watched today, perhaps splayed upon an IMAX screen in airports, rail terminals, and government buildings, just maybe we could begin to see how important it is that we find some way to unite. You can’t convince me that as a species humans will ever find a way to love one another respectfully—but we are all we have, as far as we know.

J.W. Nicklaus

Just under an hour later his reply hit my inbox.

Not been into space yet? Actually, lay on your back in a dark clear place at night and you can see immediately that we are already in space. There is no more fantastic place in space to be than on a planet with a life-sustaining atmosphere – watching an electronic civilization entering a terrifying adolescence.

Jupiter is easy to find tonight, near Venus – and there: Europa and Ganymede, each, almost to a certainty, with hydrothermal life in icebound seas.

I had written “Spinning Blue” in the subject line of the e-mail. Yet, in its own microcosmal way, I know for certain a singular denizen of that gorgeous planet had, thanks to the author, his own personal ‘wow’ moment.

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