Sunday Sermon (February 3, 2008)

Hola Everybody,
First, I’m going to go out on a limb and state right out that the Giants will win today. Whatever the case, if the game comes down to the wire with everything in the balance, it will have been worthwhile. If the Giants win, some young lady here (I’m not mentioning her name, but I’ll take a quick
look! LOL!) owes me a “swallowing” BJ. I’ll take that with a little choking and some slurping noises, btw… LOL And I plan to collect on our lil wager!

I’d also like to take a moment to wish my friend Aqua Kitty Kat a very happy birthday! Felicidades, sweetie!

* * *

Making it, Faking it
“Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.”
— Miles Davis

Two things today…

First, I want to tell you a story. A story I love that I don’t think I’ve ever told you. Perhaps you have heard it?

Once, years ago, the great violinist, Itzhak Perlman was giving a concert at Carnegie Hall, or some huge venue like that, and the house is packed. He hobbles onstage, puts aside his crutches, and takes his seat. The orchestra begins, and then fades for his entrance, he begins to play, and when he hits the second or third note, a string breaks. Goes off like a shot. And everyone’s thinking, Well this is it. Instead, very quietly Perlman signals to the conductor to begin again. Perlman then proceeds to play the entire concerto on three strings. According to the individual who told me this story, you could all but see him rethinking, recreating, the part in his head as he was playing, rearranging it, recasting it, remaking passionately. And he does this faultlessly, impeccably. He gives the performance of his life, in the process driving the audience to musical heights.

Afterwards, he says, “You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.”

What a powerful example! Isn’t that what life is all about? To make a beautiful, sublime work of art with what we are given in this life? If you’re waiting for the right time and place, the right job, or the right lover in order to sing the song of yourself, then yours is a wasted life. And a wasted life is the only sin in my book.

* * *

Secondly, lately I’m sure you’ve been hearing a lot of talk lately about “truth” and “reality” and “change” from the salesmen of belief. They want you to define yourself (and therefore vote) in terms of their particular product and brand yourself as “Republican,” “Libertarian,” “Evangelical,” “Democrat.” The list is as long as the sales pitch.

Our own unknown and hidden beliefs about our worth or worthlessness are the foundation upon which our habitual patterns of behavior rest. What is common to all this is the promise of freedom or fulfillment, of “security,” or some such nonsense.

It’s a lot like those late-night commercials that jar you from your sleep. The volume is twice normal as though they can shout us into submission. Or, more accurately, it’s an approach comparable to the one favored by Goebbels in Nazi Germany. He stated that if you repeated a lie enough times, it would become a truth. And in that way, there are WMDs in Iraq, cutting taxes for the rich is good for you, and Jesus was an American born in a Red state. And if you believe all that I promise you I won’t come in your mouth.

Here, drink some Kool-Aid.

The short and long of it is that we humans have this overwhelming need to make sense of it all in the face of certain death and a seemingly uncaring universe. We all feel incomplete somewhere and we wear masks and amulets (labels) to appease the Big Bad God up there somewhere in the sky. We’re all faking it somehow in fear of the day when the “Guy in Charge” will walk into the room, point at us, laugh, and say, “You’re a phony!”

At their core, all these attempts to make sense of human existence come from this primal fear and insecurity. They seem to offer us ways to become “real.” They hold out the carrot of freedom whether it’s defined in terms of one’s place in an economic system, as in libertarian Voodoo Economics, as an obedient child of God in Christianity, or maybe even as an unquestioning employee for a multinational corporation. Whatever the case, most of us readily drink the Kool-Aid of slavery and agree to call it freedom.

I know this is like howling against the wind on this most holy Superbowl day of the Religion of the Immaculate Consumption, but I submit that your responsibility is what is called The Great Refusal.” Refuse to sleep your life away. Refuse to drink the Kool-Aid of second-hand beliefs and substitutes for the real experience. Refuse your fake self and reclaim your own dignity – your integrity. In your sleep, dream that you’re awakening.

I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes. In the meantime, you will have to make a choice to play the song of yourself now, or wait mutely until everything’s just right. will you dare dream with your eyes open and with your meager instrument, play the greatest concerto, or will you drin the Kool-Aid and bemoan your fate?

“All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.”
— T.E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia)




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