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202 Remembering Flatland

When Edwin A. Abbott wrote his strongly allegorical novel “Flatland” in the 1880s, about a two-dimensional land whose inhabitants vehemently and strictly opposed any thought or talk of the possibility of any other realm outside their own, he prophetically described the international science community of the 20th and (thus far, the) 21st centuries.

What the vast majority of the science community does and has been doing is to strictly limit its discoveries and research to its own physical realm, punishing those who dared to venture beyond with marginalization and exile from the scope of their recognition and acceptance.

Like the Flatlanders in Abbott’s story, they strictly refuse to accept the possibility of the existence of any other realm beyond their perceivable and tangible own, which in my humble opinion, isn’t exactly a very scientific approach, and comparable to their predecessors’ attitude in the days before Columbus, when they thought the earth was flat…
No new realms, much less new dimensions to discover. It’s as if they saw their job as building a mental prison (“Matrix”) for their community of believers (for what else have they created than another faith in the dogma, “There is no other”?), restricting their existence to the realm in which they dwell while their bodies remain alive.

They also stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the fact that information does not come about by itself.

Since the discovery of the inner life of living cells, their intricacy and complexity, it has become known that a highly complex exchange of coded information takes place in every living cell. Every letter, note, telegram, email, phone-call, book or other shred of information given since the beginning of time has been known to require an author. And yet the science community forces its subjects to believe that the gigantic amount of complex information and the exchange thereof taking place within living cells is all supposed to have come about by itself – no author required, or, as Ben Stein put it, “No Intelligence Allowed!
Or, in other words, the Architect has been expelled from His own house, leaving that house in a very sad, darkened, only pseudo-enlightened state, where the “enlightened ones” come up with concocted fairy-tale excuses to wreak havoc on weaker countries around the world, slaughter their inhabitants in the name of freedom and democracy and even in the name of a God Whose existence they actually strongly deny in their public schools, education system and science community.

The Flatlanders of the 21st century have reached a level of bigotry and hypocrisy that Abbott never would have deemed possible, I’m sure.

So, why is God allowed on the political battlefield, and used as an excuse or incentive for one Nation to exterminate another, while His existence at the same time is strongly denied in that same nation’s sacred halls of higher learning?
Probably because they figure the only thing God is good for is to use Him for their own selfish and mass-murderous plans. They would never ever grant Him credit for having created the vastness of the universe. “No,” they say, “That was coincidence!”
He was the One Who placed them in their high office and gave them the authority to push the red button that would signify the death of untold thousands of (in reality) innocent victims (accused of acts of terrorism, or at least intended ones, of course), but He certainly wasn’t capable of creating the world as it is in the first place.
No, aliens probably did that. They came here gazillions of years ago and left the necessary information for our evolution somewhere in the dust. Let them worry about where they came from… Some even higher race fom yet another galaxy, perhaps. But a Creator from a Realm outside of and even vaster than our physical universe? – “Taboo!”

The credentials of our enlightenment are obvious: “Hey, we are the people who have invented television, i-pads, radar and remote controlled drones to eliminate our enemies. It’s obvious we know what we’re talking about!”
The word adequately used to describe such attitudes is arrogance. And the one to describe that kind of behavior, hypocrisy. “Keep God out of science, but use Him for us to get to use our scientific toys on the lab rats in the Mideast!”

“God may not have created the universe, but He sure made America the ruler of the world” seems to be the consensus of enlightenment cooked up at 58 East 68th Street, New York, along with their hoards of employed think tanks, and preached with evangelistic fervor by their likewise employed media. If God didn’t exist, the warmongers in Gloryland would yet have to invent Him.
Let’s hope for them that their Creator won’t get terribly teed off with their act, and their glory should come falling flat on its face any day soon, reducing their physical stature to their present spiritual one.

Or should we not…?

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In June, immediately after she stopped nursing her 19 months old daughter JiaJia, my Chinese wife became pregnant. As a German citizen, I would have had the right to apply to a special visa for my wife in order to have our child delivered in Germany – evading the current restrictions that didn’t allow her to enter the EU in the first place, such as the condition that she learn German first and absolve a language exam, etc.

However, there was no sign from the “Top” that it was part of our Maker’s plan for us to go there, and at times I still keep wondering why. My life as a musician was easier, more enjoyable and often more inspiring than my current life as an English teacher in a country that may well be the noisiest in the world, and sadly, one of the filthiest.
But having a teacher has its advantages. Other than in the West, where teachers have the image of “The Enemy” in probably 90% of their students, my new profession is a respected one here, and I’ve been told repeatedly, even after this relatively short time, that I’ve touched and affected my students’ lives, and perhaps more so than I was able to – on a personal level – as a musician.

Then there is the political aspect.

I love Western culture, and by Western I mean the same that 95% of the world mean when they say “Western”: The American culture. And I’m not talking about the main stream culture, the Britneys and Lady Gagas that only put a stamp on Don McLean’s fulfilled prophecy about “the day the music died.”
I’m talking about artists of the kind you don’t even hear in Europe unless you’re really into music:
Patty Griffin, Richard Julien and the galore of Christian bands and singers that are basically nobodies in the world of showbiz, but constitute a large part of my inspiration since years: Caedmon’s Call, Jeremy Camp, Jill Phillips and her husband Andy Gullahorn and oodles of others.

I love to listen to their music and sometimes I dream of a world in which I would be able to communicate with people that are even remotely on a similar wavelength to mine, who are able to speak more than the very, very broken English of most of my students (not to mention the majority of the large population around me), but what are the options?
Subscribe to a policy that is based on murdering our fellow humans in far-off lands on grounds that not even the bravest of the outlawed preachers and self-declared “revolutionaries for Christ” dare to doubt even though they’re proven to be totally ridiculous?
Or for that matter… Which of the wars that America – the great leader of our great and glorified Western culture – has fought for the past 6 decades could have really be called justified – from a point of view that even remotely resembles the teachings of Christ?

Korea? Vietnam? — Sure, they wanted to stop Communism. Perhaps at one point they realized that a more effective way would be to apply the slogan, “If you can’t lick’em, join’em” and infiltrate the enemy with McDonalds and Coke, as I see here, the possibly most capitalistic country I’ve ever been to, that’s officially “Communist.”
And if so… for what?

What is it that Big Brother or Uncle Sam is pushing on us? What’s so wonderful that they just can’t stop pushing it down the throat of the rest of the world? Certainly not Patty Griffin…

With a foreign debt of cosmic proportions it’s even ridiculous that the rest of the world keeps looking up to America as its great white hope, a dream and fairy tale that only becomes reality in one place for a limited time, namely a time-span of approximately 100 to 180 minutes on the TV – and movie screens around the world. The American Dream made in Hollywood.
As far as the bitter reality is concerned, all that every administration from Nixon to Obama has been pushing like a heroin dealer dressed up like Santa Claus has been the inevitable “death by overdose:” The world domination of bankruptcy.

What world would possibly be easier to rule than one of bankrupt suckers who don’t have a dime, whose money all went up into thin air, invested in some spoof concocted by some real smart wise asses, only to land all the power thinkable in the hands of a tiny clan who had the balls to lie and lie, and then lie some more, until it made Pinocchio’s nose look like a pimple in comparison?

I don’t know whether this far end of the world is going to be any safer when the shit hits the fan… possibly not. But it’s not just an issue of safety and survival. It’s an issue of dignity. I’d sure hate to wake up in the middle of all those wise asses who actually thought that their country was going to save the world while they were all pumping their tax money into making the exact opposite happen.

They say ignorance is bliss. There’s a lot of ignorance going on all around me right now. They don’t have a clue. But there is yet another extreme, and a whole nuther story, and that’s when people blatantly defy the truth, because they just can’t stand to hear it. And that’s precisely where I don’t want to wake up when the shit hits the fan. And hit the fan it will.

I guess the Boss knows what He’s doing in telling me to better stay put…

200 Imposed Realism

The other night we watched the movie “Waiting for Forever” about a boy who had been in love with his childhood girlfriend since they were 10 and officially lost touch when his parents died in a train accident and he and his brother moved to their grandparents. As he grows older, though, he follows the love of his youth wherever her professional career takes her, himself making a living of 3 dollars a day (“on a good day”) as a juggler dressed in pyjamas.
Although this wasn’t the best film I watched of late (for instance, there was the excellent 2010 film “Fair Game,” which gives further insight into the insanity that’s still being perpetrated in Iraq), “Waiting for Forever” moved me most. Not so much because of the plot, but because of the fact that I was watching it with my 28 year old wife who might never get to know the kind of culture that grants a fellow the liberty to make a very unstable living on 3 bucks a day as a juggler, traveling wherever his dream would take him.
Although the boy in the movie was met with heavy criticism from his older brother (a banker), and was being called a stalker, and despite the fact that his kind is a dying breed in the West, at least we have come to know that sort of a culture, while other countries, such as the one I’m currently residing in, probably never will.

Though the culture whose hospitality I’m currently enjoying is by no means an exclusive example of what I’d like to call the “imposed realism” that not only political leaders, but even more so cultural and traditional elders seem to feel obligated to circumcise their offspring’s dreams and ideals with, it is definitely an outstanding example.
You cannot just marry the man or girl you love. Any man that intends to marry is expected to have a house first. My wife has told me of an experience in a Shanghai park where she watched hundreds of elderly couples looking for suitable spouses for their daughters (or sons) with a list of criteria in hand that any potential candidate would have to live up to; criteria primarily based on income.

A juggler making 3 bucks a day wouldn’t stand an chance in hell to get married under that set of conditions. It might me hard in the West, but just about impossible in the East.

Of course, when I was a young lad back in Germany, I got to hear much of the same tune from my folks. Not that they would have expected of me to be able to buy a house before I started messin’ round with the opposite sex, but I was repeatedly advised to “get a good education” to secure a “solid existence” for myself. When I came home one day telling them that I met a group of people who were “foolowing Jesus,” and that one day I would like to do the same, they were naturally horrified.

In the meantime they have accepted my somewhat loose, though not entirely carefree life-style, and my father, having seen his own supposedly “solid existence” and career go down the drain due to fluctuations and instability in the economy has told me since that I made the right choice when I set out to do what I did.
In the West, though, parents have their existence taken care of by retirement insurances, and both my parents are currently better off with their pensions than I am as an English teacher in the Far East, where the only old-age insurance elderly parents have got are their children and their respective incomes, so it’s somewhat understandable that they want their kids to be able to care for them. Many young people live under a lot of pressure because of that responsibility.

Then again, my reasoning is that many things in life are simply beyond our control. Everything is potentially subject to drastic and unexpected changes: death, illness or financial and economic disaster can hit anyone at any time, and what power does anyone really have, to effectively impose their own little reality on anyone in the long run, even their kids?

When Jesus went around luring established young men with flourishing businesses away from their homes and responsibilities telling them He would make them “fishers of men,” certainly He wasn’t met with strong enthusiasm on behalf of those men’s families. For all we know, some of them (like Peter) were even married and possibly had children. What an irresponsible thing to do, to just walk off with a perfect stranger of questionable reputation, Messiah or not…
And from a “realist’s” point of view, that criticism may well be justified: 10 of those young men ended up as martyrs, one committed suicide, and only one died of natural causes on an island where he exiled by the Romans.
Their philosophies and beliefs as expressed in their writings are questionable to this day, and even most “believers” only accept those parts of the Gospels that they can reconcile with the consensus of the imposed realism of our day and age.

The first rule and law is not “to love one another,” but to secure one’s own existence, which, as the Founder of their faith claimed, is no different from what unbelievers adhere to.

So, what would be making a difference then? – Trust.

The people who really made a difference throughout history were those who despite all the seemingly rhymeless reality all around us never ceased to trust that there was Someone ultimately in charge Who not only knew what He was doing, but was also going to take care of them, provide for them, and help them through this mess somehow.

In my own personal experience, I can only confirm that to be true, and I would strive for nothing more than to go down in history as one of those trusters who refuse to accept the artificially imposed realism from those around us – even our loved ones – no matter how justified their reasoning may seem; a person known for the belief that there is a greater Mind than even the wisest of our parents, how ever strange some of the things may first sound that this Great Mind may ask of us – much like a Parent Himself, asking His children to trust Him for the things they do not know, which basically is the essence of faith – the one currency that will outlast any of our existing ones.

199 Remember AquaMan?

AquaMan Goes China

If anyone would have told me around this time last year that in twelve months’ time I’d be teaching English at a variety of colleges inChina, I don’t know what I would have done.

Maybe I would have broken out into laughter, or started to feel severely dizzy with a troubling pain between my ears.

But fate has its twisted little ways at times, and since my wife was twice denied entry to what I have since come to call the “Schengen zoo,” and my dream of forming an acoustic trio consequently had to be put on ice, after 3 decades of raking in a living with my guitar I’ve had to change professions, along with continents and locations, and have since become an English teacher in China.

Sometimes we get to a point of stagnation in our lives where we think we know and have seen it all. But then the great Celestial Wizard (I have to be more careful with religious vocabulary these days…) waves His magic wand,  takes us out of our familiar environment into a totally new & different one (my definition of China: “same earth, different planet”) and sits us in front of His great big celestial record player to the sound of the 70s tune by the Canadian band Bachman, Turner, Overdrive, “You Ain’t Seen Nuthin’ Yet.”

Mr. Know-It-All becomes Johnny Clueless, and has to prove all over again whether he ever really meant a thing about all the things he preached to others about learning from life, leaving it all behind and the whole “follow-the-great-Celestial-Wizard” sort of spiel.

Things can get awfully silent around folks like that in these situations, and that’s why you haven’t heard from me in a while.

Besides, life is a lot busier for English teachers in China with a fraction of the wages for musicians inEurope.

 Especially during rainy season.

My wife told me today (and as every man would, I love it when she does), “You’re my hero.”

Not that I actually feel heroic, but in this case she was right: I had just approved myself as a super hero.

Remember “Aquaman”? The guy who commanded the element of water?

Well, that’s who I felt like today (for the second time this month, by the way), after just having been drenched within seconds during a sudden torrent (the sort of which makes one wonder whatever happened to that rainbow promise once given to a man named Noah) while riding my e-bike home from College. Drenched to the bone we found shelter under the roof of a hotel entrance (along with other unlucky bikers like ourselves), and were soon off to get a little more soaked before we finally got home…

Getting drenched inChina is a great thing to happen to folks who used to be fed up with their semi-organized, neat little lives in way too organized countries…

It’s as if Big CW (Celestial Wizard) grabbed a gigantic bucket of water and emptied it out over your head, saying, “Wake up, dude! You were only dreaming!”

Yes, I once dreamed that I knew something about the world I live in, and have woken up to the refreshing reality of my utter ignorance in a part of the world I knew next to nothing about.

So, if you should ever feel intellectually bloated and as if there were no more challenges, no new worlds to conquer, don’t be fooled! You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet, and there’s always room for another “super hero” in China!

198 One More Christmas

Well, since we all enjoy a good round of gossip, I’ll let you have a delicious swig of some with this one: I’m pretty backslidden!
At least from my good intentions to stay or become politically correct earlier this year, as I unfortunately will have to prove with this post.

A few years back we still had “once-a-week Christians:” Even if you didn’t see or hear any sign of your fellow brethren throughout the week, you could be sure to meet them somewhere among the pews on Sundays.
That Christianity may be in somewhat of a decline again may be assumed by the fact that the surge of “once-a-year Christians” is becoming alarmingly evident.

Folks you never heard of for 364 days straight, now will at least send you their Christmas emails as a reminder that there was something you had in common, namely the celebration of the birth of Baby Jesus.

The notorious party pooper I am perhaps, I was never all too fond of that sort of relationship, religion, tradition, or whatever you’d like to call it (since it couldn’t possibly be called anything like genuine friendship)…

While it is probably better to hear from (some) folks once a year than never at all, what takes a bit of the magic out of the whole thing is that it does come across as somewhat stereotype.

Blame it on my distaste for any type, shape or form of ritualism ever since I got an overdose of Catholicism as a boy that quickly drove me to atheism (if God was like that: no thanks!), but I just can’t get warm with people using the same words over and over and over again to express something which seems to represent the very role you played in their lives over the previous dozen of months, the equivalent of which, in numerical terms would be zero.

So, here’s to all the zeroes of the world who are only remembered by their friends and relatives on that special day on which we celebrate the event that marks the year Zero…
And if you feel like a zero, cheer up! The Guy born that day didn’t amount to much more in terms of bank accounts, Facebook friends and followers on Twitter, either, latest by the time He hung on that cross 33 years later, when He was able to count the friends He still had left that day on the fingers of one hand with room to spare…

So, nevermind if I’m not sending any of you any Christmas greetings this year: I only mean to do you a favor.
If I didn’t write you all year long, then shame on me. But I certainly wouldn’t want to make matters worse by sending you a mass mail equal to the ones from previous years, not to mention those of the dears who had exactly the same idea… or lack thereof…

I might send you a note on Holy Friday, though, to remind you that even when you don’t have a friend in the world left, there’s always Someone Who knows exactly what you’re going through, and that that was the purpose for which He had been born: to be there for you when no one else will be.
The time may come. You may not see it now, but at the rate not only (true) Christianity, but things like lasting friendship and interhuman relationship are on the decline, don’t be too shocked if it might even happen to you one of these days…

Merry Christmas!

Usually I’ve answered the question, “What do you do for a living?” by saying, “By playing music,” which was usually met with an unbelieving, questioning look as if to say, “You’re serious?” But the longer I think about it, it’s not entirely true. Playing music was only a small part of what I do for a living, and I’m afraid, the part that sounds more believable.
The main part I’ve done for a living over the past 30 years, ever since I left my mother’s home in 1980, was even more outrageous and less believable that “play music.” What I’ve mostly done over the past 3 decades to sustain myself and my families, was to trust the Lord.

Often I’ve been trying to get away from that, and been looking for ways to be able to do just like everybody else: be comfortably relying on my own strengths and wit and fend for myself, as opposed to depending on some obscure, invisible Supreme Being we really know rather little about to be trusting Him with all our bills, our meals and a roof over our house.
Oddly enough, obscure and invisible or not, He has chosen to do so anyway, and has just been doing it (seeing to it that our bills were paid, moths fed, etc.), despite my own often less than appropriate skills and abilities to provide, and even the shocking fact that most of what I do in order to make it happen when I do, is play music.

It was outrageous enough, but infinitely less difficult back 30 years ago, in 1980, when I was young, optimistic and the world had not yet been drowned in the type of plastic entertainment that has managed to make them practically allergic to actual handcrafted music in the 21st century.
The doors were open wide, and it was easy to be optimistic that things were going to just keep getting better.
There were situations that looked desperate, yes; like the time our car broke down right on the main transit street through Barcelona, and we had to unhook the trailer, park in a tiny little side niche on the side of the road which became our home for the next few days. Me and my American partner Phillip took our guitars to the streets and did what we could to little avail, except for the pity of some merciful old lady that would occasionally toss a tiny coin in our guitar case. But at one point, some guy came up to us, interrupted us in the middle of a song, and after a few minutes we found ourselves booked for a whole week in an exclusive club called “Incontro.” A week later, our car was fixed and we rolled on southward.

A year later I found myself having to fend for myself in Vina del Mar, Chile, a place where the familiar luxuries of Europe were frighteningly absent, but even there God did what I couldn’t and supplied abundantly for all the needs I ever had.

Years later I found myself with a family, kids to feed and bills to pay, and God kept doing it.

Lately I’ve found myself having to fend for myself again, and it’s 3 decades later and the world has changed into a state that sometimes makes me wonder, “Alas, is the Almighty still going to manage and keep doing IT?”

Well, as of the news I got from Him this morning, He obviously intends to do so. Good news for me, since I’m just about as clueless about the business world and the art of making money as I’ve ever been – and that in the middle of the world in which just about everyone else does that and absolutely nothing – or at least not much – else.
The good part about it being that God, over the years, has become a little less obscure and unknown to me, even though I admit, it’s still sometimes a little hard to see Him in all the hubbub and confusion all around me, and every now and then it does cost me a little effort to trust that He’s really serious or in His right mind about it all – or whether I am, until He assures me, as usual, that everything’s going to be alright.
In fact, He’s not crazy at all, nor does He want me to believe that I am, but actually encourages me to let others know that He wants to take care of them and their needs, too, as unbelievable as that may sound.

When it all comes down to it, He already provides all we need in the first place: every breath of oxygen we breathe, every swig of water we drink, along with all the raw material for our food, nourishment and fuel to keep our vehicles moving and out houses warm and lit.
It’s just that instead of granting Him the credit for it, we prefer to ascribe all that benevolence to an even more obscure and questionable deity, namely coincidence or chance, that brought about all that opulence simply by itself. Man, are we one lucky species to be alive!

So, what do I do for a living? Well, mainly, I trust the Lord. I’ve done it yesterday and 30 years ago, am doing it today, and will keep on doing it tomorrow and for as long as I live. I can do no other. I simply haven’t learned anything else.

I can’t get over the loyalty thing. Compare it to someone who has never wasted a second thought about trucks until one fine day he gets run over by one, or about terrorists, until he is being abducted or something…

Something you never devoted attention to, all of a sudden becomes paramount.

 

If you look at it from a spiritually historical point of view, all the evil in the world falls back down onto a loyalty issue, namely Lucifer’s. If he had remained loyal, there would be no sin, and accordingly, most likely, no evil.

But I guess that wasn’t the plan. After all, those lessons on loyalty must be learned eventually…

 

Another issue I never wasted a second thought on for decades, or that I had simply put in a mental drawer of “does not exists” or “there is no such thing,” is that of soul mates.

A year ago or two I met a Christian couple who told me they believed they were each other’s soul mates. “Interesting,” I thought, but as far as I was concerned, there couldn’t really have been such a thing. (In my particular situation, it was always, “Maybe you’re not; maybe you are…”)

Relationships were just bound to be messy, that’s all, I figured, and the “Soul Mates” thing was a nice thought, and I was happy for them, but my personal reality was a different one.

 

Was.

 

Strangely enough, God often uses the darkest nights in our lives only to bring about a sunrise as bright and golden as you had never before thought possible in this earthly life in an, after all, often questionable world, obviously temporarily run by His adversary.

I know now there is such a thing as Soul Mates, because lo and behold, I’ve found mine. Not exactly where I would have been looking for her, but then, life is always full of surprises. Maybe you’ll hear more about this in the future.

 

 

Yet another topic my mind is currently dealing with is the sin of avarice.

 

Imagine you were the Creator and Father of every living soul and would have to watch how over ten thousand of them were starving to death daily because their richer brothers and sisters were simply too stingy to share even a fraction of their overly proportionate wealth with them, making it their philosophy that the world would actually be better off with a significantly smaller population. I bet it would certainly become an issue to you.

Living in a country where big corporations even advertise their relatively low-priced goods with slogans like “Stinginess is cool!” (“Geiz ist geil!”), as usual I’m probably a lone voice (of widely considered insanity) in the wilderness even wasting a thought on such issues, let alone web space, but I simply cannot leave any potential serious seekers of truth dwelling in the illusion that everything is just fine with us and our world.

 

People always blame God for the suffering of the world, when it becomes clear, after taking off our spectacles of self-righteousness, that it’s really largely the evil in our own hearts that’s responsible for it. Maybe some day we’ll find out that even natural disasters are being caused by our own bad vibes that we’re spewing off into the ether. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.

 

Anyway, these are, as always, just a few thoughts from a mole who’s just breaking through the end of a long dark tunnel into the light, in an attempt to cheer up any of those out there still digging: Folks, there’s light at the other end, and it’s worth it!

 

Keep digging!