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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Unhorsing Your Knight

My niece posted one of those snarky female comments about men the other day on Facebook.  The quote read, "Every Girl Is Entitled To A Knight In Shining Armor, Mine Just Took A Wrong Turn, Got Lost, And Is Too Stubborn To Ask For Directions."

Wow, it has been almost 24 hours since I heard a variant of the "men won't ask for directions" complaint from a woman. I feel compelled to respond, if only to warn my niece of the danger inherent in blithely accepting that a man's reluctance to seek directions from some stranger is necessarily a bad thing.

This female obsession with her Knight in Shining Armor's asking for directions reveals a profound misunderstanding of the nature of the male of the species. This misunderstanding, I believe, has lead women to a classic psychological double bind where their men are concern.

First women seem to want strong, capable hero-type guys as their mates.

Then, they want them to ask for directions, help with the dishes without being asked and spend long hours talking about feelings.

And women everywhere are now saying, "Yes, exactly!"

Men everywhere are rolling their eyes and picking up the TV guide to see if there's a Thursday night football game on this week.

Let me explain something. We knights in shining armor don't ask for directions because we know where we are! We're right here. Finding the place we're going is the whole point of the quest. The journey is the worthier part. Give us time to find our own way, girls. You'll like us much better if you do.

Have you ever noticed that the first thing women complain about after they get their husbands successfully domesticated is that they have become boring? Teach us to ask for directions and next thing you know we're couch potatoes, taking our cues from television. After that, we don't go anywhere that no one has gone before. We no longer do anything unless it's safe.

For a young man, life is a grand adventure stretching before him.  There are worlds to conquer, mountains to climb, damsels to rescue!

Pack up your knight's armor and domesticate him at your own risk ladies.  He may be easier to handle, but he'll also be a lot more dull!
I could be wrong...but I don't think so.
Tom King

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What Pain Teaches You

I've been having all kinds of fun the past 4 weeks.  Saturday night, my kidneys decided shucking off one 7mm kidney stone wasn't enough.  I was driving my wife to her sister's house and halfway between Tyler and Cleburne in the middle of the night a second stone decides to shake itself loose.  I managed to make it as far as my in-law's house and they drove me on to the hospital in Cleburne. I felt like I was going to die before I got there. Worst kidney stone yet!

So now I've got a 9mm stone on the left side that wants to move and it's going to be back to the urologist to have it blown up.

There's nothing quite so amusing as having rocks blasted apart inside your kidneys, I'm here to tell you.

As I was riding the final bit to the hospital Saturday, I had a very intense conversation with God about Him cutting back on the pain a little.  I don't know whether the pain would have been worse had I not prayed.  I can hardly imagine it could have been worse, but you never know.

Thank God for pain medication and I mean that literally.  I don't know how people survived such things in the past. It would account for the shortened lifespans of our forebears I expect.

God says if we are truly His children, He will send us trials that will show that your faith is genuine. Peter (I Peter 1:7) described it as being "tested as fire tests and purifies gold".  It is a serious thing to take the name of Christ as a Christian.  It is NOT a social group, though many of us practice it as though it were.  If you are a Christian you may expect trials.  Some are about teaching you.  Some trials merely use you as a tool to accomplish God's will. Trials are not always primarily about you.  You may learn something from any tribulation, it is true, but sometimes, God places you somewhere or allows something to fall heavily on you in order to help someone else find his way to God.

And sometimes, trials happen to reveal to you that all is not as you think they are.  Sometimes they reveal to us that God is far more in control than we ever suspected.  I found that out when I lost one son.  I discovered he was, in fact, a finer young man than I had known.  Recently, I've found that my remaining son has strength and depth of character that I should have realized he had, but that in midst of my own personal trials, I had somehow missed.  I found that my daughter has wisdom far beyond her years and that my wife is a stronger soul than, even I had imagined.  I am blessed to have them all.

As the world winds down, Christians and Christian families will have to learn to hold together, despite everything the world throws at them. We will have to learn how to give without counting the cost.  We will have to learn to lift up our brothers in their hour of need and to not be too proud to allow others to lift us up in our own hour of trial.

We will need to learn to pray together, work together and to believe in each other no matter what the enemy throws at us.  May God go with each of you in your journey home.

Tom King

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Page, the Canvas, the Clay and the Silent Room

by Tom King © 2010

The really difficult thing for an artist or an artisan is to confront the blank medium of his or her chosen craft, whether it's the blank page, the unpainted canvas, the shapeless lump of clay or the silent room into which the music must be poured. Many of our greatest artists report that they face those empty voids with anxiety, frustration and sometimes downright terror.

I think this happens when the writer, painter, sculptor or musician comes to believe his art is somehow tied to his worth as a human being. There have, indeed, been some amazing works of art that have been wrought by tortured souls looking to validate their existence on this Earth – no doubt of that. I just have to wonder, though, whether these particular works of art are powerful because of their innate beautiful, or whether we simply can't take our eyes from them in the same way we cannot turn our eyes from the scene of a train wreck or plane crash.

There are works of “art” that come from these blank canvases and empty sheets of paper that, when read or viewed, have a powerful effect upon you. But if that effect is to sicken your soul so that you experience the twisted emotions, anger or misery of the artist, I rather wonder whether the piece is actually great or merely powerful. Greatness and power are not the same thing, though our post-modern culture has convinced itself that they are.

How many movies feature the word “powerful” in the list of descriptors on the poster. How much art or literature is called “powerful” and are therefore celebrated as “great”. Adolph Hitler's “Mein Kampf” is a powerful work of literature and though we are not prepared (yet) to call it a “great work” it could, by today's standards be considered “great”. The book did have a powerful impact on the world stage. The critics of the day did find the book worthy of admiration. I found a 30's era college literature book in a flea market once that included the complete text of Hitler's opus with laudatory comments regarding the book's “power”. The hideous import of the Fuhrer's masterpiece received little attention from the intelligentsia. It was the power of the thing that captivated and held them in thrall.

For me, the blank page represents an opportunity to draw attention to what is good in the world. Such writing is called “sentimental” and “maudlin” by the post-modernist critics.

For me, the blank canvas is a chance to find beauty in even mundane places. Such art is called “prosaic” and “predictable” by the critics.

For me, the silent room and the musical instrument in the hands of an artist are an open channel through which something good and free and fine and sweet may flow and lift us and carry us away. The critics dismiss such music as "pedestrian".

Art which lifts up goodness and honor and those great values can be powerful. On the other hand, art which is powerful may lift up evil and misery and corruption for the admiration of all. Such art should not be considered good to my way of thinking.

Politics is an art they say and I believe it holds true. A leader spends his time upon the world stage and works his or her art through the wielding of power – either power which has been bestowed upon him or her or power which has been seized or won. They say that such power corrupts. Well, I don't fully believe that. Corrupt power corrupts – yes! Power, sought, for its own sake, I maintain, is already corrupt. There are those among our leaders, who attempt in their time in the political arena, to create things of beauty and goodness using the power they have as a tool.

Once you have written your constitution, your law or created some great public work, you then have two choices. You can let go of that power, content that you have done well and let your work speak and act for itself. If that work was meant for good, it will have a power for good, long after you have faded into the background, ridden off into the sunset or settled gracefully into your rocking chair on the back porch.

Or you can cling to that power, even if it's only the vestiges of that power. You can fritter endlessly over your “legacy” and hover over your work long after it is done and you should have retired gracefully from the stage. Power corrupts indeed – especially if you don't know how to let it go.*

Just one man's opinion.....

Tom King

* I can think of 5 powerful men off the top of my head who are perfect examples of this – both ways.