A Possible Gospel And New Testament

More Fun Than Fundamentalism.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Gospel, Chapter Nine: Jason

Eternal suffering or endless joy - well, I don’t know.
But I can plainly see the thin pale weakness of your limbs right now,
Your white face and startled eyelids that flutter open
When your name is spoken
And you wonder if this is the last time you will hear it
From the loved lips of mother or brother.
Even the word of comfort worries now.
A hand upon your shoulder is appreciated but remote,
Worlds away in the world of we who will still be here tomorrow
When your troubles now are deeper even than a doctor’s hand can go.
Jason, the hell is in your tiredness of tubes and vomit,
Of this well meaning albatross of a hospital hung around your neck
When all you wanted was to toss a football after school
And learn to flirt with girls.

And the heaven, oh the heaven is in how
When I returned this afternoon after a summer’s absence to find you
Wheelchair-bound again, you briefly hurled your head up
From the pillow in your lap where it had been
To greet me with your glad voice.
Grown strange and small, it plainly meant to shout – and so it rang.
And I saw fear
had a back door
And heaven
in the breaking of a light through clouds.

When the pain has stopped, may every joy you meant to shout,
Find, fill, flood you when it breaks your borders,
Passing even now into the songs of other lives.


At 9:19 AM, Blogger Matthew said...

And I saw fear
had a back door
And heaven
in the breaking of a light through clouds.

Can you help me with this part? I don't understand it even a little.

At 11:06 AM, Blogger Stephen Bess said...

This piece makes me think of the simple pleasures in life. I mean the things that we take for granted.

At 11:48 AM, Blogger Darius said...

MATTHEW: They contrast his earlier worriedness, and his great disability even in the moment he lifted his head to greet me, with the joy and even exhuberance behind that greeting.

He was dying of cystic fibrosis, ten years old. By then he'd become too weak to walk or even hold his torso up for long in the wheel chair - that's why they'd put a big pillow in his lap, because most of the time he was slumped forward.

STEPHEN B: Yes, that's also what Jason made me think of. And I think that those things which many of us can take completely for granted turn out to be the very best.

At 12:48 PM, Blogger crystal said...

Of all the things that make it hard to believe in a good and omnipotent God, suffering takes first place for me. I find it hard to imagine anything redeeming suffering.

At 1:10 PM, Blogger Homo Escapeons said...

Why some of us, especially children, must endure such a tremendous challenges is beyond my comprehension.
Examining the rationale for such hardship on a molecular level is one thing..I can understand random genetic accidents occurring.
I cannot however comprehend that a supernatural caring god would either condone or allow these things to happen, especially to an innocent.

I am always mystified by the power of the human spirit/will power to adapt to such events.
Our species has an incredible will to live, even in the most extreme circumstances. Whether these horrors are manmade catastrophes: Auschwitz/Darfur/Hiroshima or cruel genetic alterations such as CF, the ability to aid and comfort others is probably the single greatest attribute that we have developed.

At 2:06 PM, Blogger kevin said...

the last stanza is fantastic, Darius, thank you for sharing it.

the ability to aid and comfort others is probably the single greatest attribute that we have developed.

homo escapeons, wonderful! Yes, truely!

I had posted this on my own blog, the thing that comes to me, and at the danger of seeming callous, but, why is it do we think that we deserve to be exempt from adversity?

Why is it when God gives us life we are moved with tears of joy, and yet, when the maker of planets takes it away from us, we cry? Yes, it is human to feel... without a doubt, but if the sun should have an end, then why should we not as well? Isn't this the price we pay? Albeit, some in this life pay a heavier price, yes, but whos to say that we haven't more to pay later on?

At 4:34 PM, Blogger Darius said...

CRYSTAL: And the world has this kind of thing happening all around, every day. So to me, it’s either One struggle, with calm underneath the storm and hopefully as its outcome; or, if we’re to believe in an Other entity, we have to figure that this sort of God isn’t all powerful in the sense of being able to do absolutely whatever S(he) wants. It would be more like God has no choice but to take us through this messy process in order to get from point A to point B. The materials God’s working with, so to speak, have certain properties that, even as Creator, God has to make do with. God’s painting the painting but didn’t manufacture the colors and the canvas.

For me it’s less complicated, and accords better with my actual experiences of life, to understand God as existence itself – the One in whom we live and move and have our being. (St. Paul)

HOMO ESCAPEONS: Yes, I think the suffering of children makes it especially hard to rationalize the existence of a supreme Deity who’s got everything under some form of control that’s somehow mysteriously “perfect.”

It is amazing what people can take – the strength we so often turn out to have even when we might not have been able to predict it.

So far, that human ability to help others whose importance you stress sure is being underutilized. To me it seems as if somehow the social systems we’ve managed to develop to date are less moral than the average person.

But I thought your remarks on Lady W’s blog were a total phallacy.

KEVIN: Good questions. Along a similar line, I’d ask: why are we so particularly upset and outraged when bad things happen to happen to us, but when they happen to others, even millions of others, we bear up quite well?

At 6:01 PM, Blogger Within Without said...

Geez! Just lost my whole comment on this beautiful piece into the ether, Darius! Trying again...

The first, overwhelming reaction I had was of joy and hope, not despair and sadness. And this is what got me...

"When I returned this afternoon after a summer’s absence to find you
Wheelchair-bound again, you briefly hurled your head up
From the pillow in your lap where it had been
To greet me with your glad voice.
Grown strange and small, it plainly meant to shout – and so it rang."

Glad voice. Strange and small, but still glad. And so it rang.

All he wanted to do was toss a football, learn how to flirt with girls. He couldn't.

He couldn't, he couldn't, he couldn't...but he still had the capacity to be glad to see you.

How does that work, except by some remarkable, inexplicable design that makes us who we are? The same design that allowed him to die?

As sad as it is that Jason's life deteriorated to the point he could not hold his head up, his spirit and his joy in seeing you...doesn't that just say who he was, and who we are?

I'll leave the religious context to others, except to say that, well, all beings are born with defects...it's a part of nature's world. We can wonder why all we want and never find an answer.

What I most got out of this incredible post, Darius, is the statement it makes about what we can do despite all that.

Thank you so much for sharing it.

At 6:41 PM, Blogger Keshi said...

I think I'll go have an ice cream while I can...nice one!


At 6:58 PM, Blogger Darius said...

WITHIN, WITHOUT: That was my main response too. The poem is nothing compared to the real event. To see this kid, that far gone, raise himself up with real enthusiasm to see me, in those circumstances - one of those things you don't forget. I felt honored but very humbled.

Sad, yes. Also like witnessing heroism.

KESHI: Really, though! My mom was an icecreamaholic all her life, then suddenly developed severe allergy to all things dairy! Bummer! She says, though, that if she's ever suicidal she plans to overdose on a hot fudge sundae...

At 8:36 PM, Blogger Lady Wordsmith said...

This is deeply felt and profoundly true. "Eternal suffering or endless joy - well, I don’t know." I believe it is the greater struggle in our faith. Coming to terms with our faith, keeping it dear, as we hold on to what we have left of those who are dear to us.

Darius, you have a gift for confounding us with your intellect and insight. Forgive me if I sound rude, but you hide your brilliance with the other posts. And it shines brightly in these posts about Jason and Jessica.

Finding The Truth in a child. There is no better way. And what better memorial to Jason than that?

At 9:07 PM, Blogger Known Stranger said...

fine i believe i am in a site where i can enrich my knowledge on gospel and testament subjects. Fine i am not religious but have interest in knowing things beyond my circle of brought up. contraversises is what i love to read and learn..gospel with gosssip. hey.. no hard feeling darius. just being honest.

darius - the name gallopes me to the old greek history. am an adherent fan of valario manfredi. he writes a lot on greek history.. darius a name known to me..

by the wya.. you made a great sense of writing in my page.

At 9:16 PM, Blogger Pamela said...

Someone said something about there being nothing redeeming in suffering.

I'm not certain that I totally agree.

When I've suffered, I've come to the other side of the suffering and found that I've grown in ways that I couldn't have grown without passing through that particular fire.

At 9:31 PM, Blogger SusieQ said...

Your account of Jason was beautifully written. It was both sad and joyful. I say joyful because of the way Jason was still able to find reason to live and find some happiness.

We all hate it when children have their lives cut short or when they have to suffer like Jason. This isn't supposed to happen to children. Yet, when it does these children seem to acquire lots of wisdom and strength that far surpasses that of many adults who have not had to suffer much.

So maybe this is some of the good that can come from suffering. Too, these children hand us a gift through their suffering in that their suffering can open our eyes and our hearts and makes us more compassionate than before.

I would not choose suffering for myself or anyone else. But if there is to be suffering, let some good come from it.

I have utmost respect and admiration for the doctors and nurses who work with children like Jason. Surely these people are God's angels of mercy.

At 9:38 PM, Blogger Liquidplastic said...

Jessica and Jason reminds me of that scripture I read, "and a little child shall lead them" --- Darius your humanity is showing, again.

These days, I have come to realized that although my suffering was bad, my abuse worst, still I have to ask myself, what type of person would I have been without it? To be truthful I just don’t know because I was never given the choice.

Of course no one desires to suffer, and to see anyone suffering, especially children, pain my very soul. But most of us know no other way; we are born into it like DNA. We have no choice!

I have never understood why, if there are folks who suppose to be able to heal the sick in Og’s name, why are there so many sick folks?

At 11:12 PM, Blogger Keshi said...

**that if she's ever suicidal she plans to overdose on a hot fudge sundae...

hehe. If I ever wanna die I'd go commit alot of sins that I'd die of a sin overdose:):)


At 12:40 AM, Blogger crystal said...

Darius, I think that if there's a conflict ... God is good and powerful / bad things happen ... that it's especially hard if you think you have a relationship with a God who's a person, so to speak. Then there's a kind of betrayal of trust that you have to rationalize away somehow, or you have to give up on the relationship. So, in a way, I envy you the belief that Gos is existence itself and not a person, because I'm stuck with the other scenario.

At 4:24 AM, Blogger christabelle said...

that's the kind of pple I like, I mean Jason is truly a hero.
the reason of suffering we might not know, guess we'll understd it beta by & by,
As usual darius this is beautiful!

At 5:55 AM, Blogger Don Iannone said...

May your head rest gently on the pillow of loving kindness during this day. Blessings!

At 6:50 AM, Blogger defiant goddess said...

Impressive piece! Now I'm curious to read the other gospels. :)

At 6:54 AM, Blogger Darius said...

LADY WORDSMITH: That was the spirit in which I wrote it – a tribute to him and what he showed me in that moment. You’re right to notice the difference between those two poems and most of the gospel-oriented posts, which to date have been mostly critical of Og - although there is stuff in the pipeline that tries to get at my faith perspective in positive terms. There will also be additional critical material, some of which, I think, may be fairly entertaining - for example, the parable of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd.

The poems are from a poetry manuscript. There’s also a prose manuscript – “Gospel, Chapter One: Angel” was taken from that. Posted before you bumped into me I think.

KNOWN STRANGER: Glad you’re interested in the subject even though it sounds like you didn’t have a religious upbringing. Even though a lot of my posts will quote the Bible – or, more often, alter certain passages from it – I’ve tried to make it easy if people want to look up the original passages by posting a Bible link on the home page.

PAMELA T: You and Crystal each make good points. Maybe they can be reconciled this way: The extent to which a particular experience of suffering ends up being more constructive or destructive depends on certain factors. For example: its degree, duration, its timing in our lives, and whether/how much permanent bodily harm is involved. Very often (but not necessarily) even terrible suffering realizes some good – though not always enough for us to be able to say: I’m glad that happened.

SUSIEQ: “I would not choose suffering for myself or anyone else. But if there is to be suffering, let some good come from it.” That really sums it up for me…

Hope the health care system at least still works well consistently for kids – although, now that I think about it, millions of them are uninsured. The poem was written some time ago, before the “system,” if that’s still the right word for it, had degenerated to its present state. I guess it is a system though – one that allows health insurance and pharmaceuticals corporations to make tons of money while providing restricted access to health care services.

LIQUIDPLASTIC: That’s true: suffering is so common and widespread that it’s part of being human. Just live long enough, and even if you’re in a rich country and on the right side of the growing worldwide rich/poor divide, most of us end up eventually experiencing real suffering in-person. Dying quickly and peacefully in your sleep probably isn’t the most common way.

Good question. There’s even a New Testament passage that specifically gives believing Christians power to heal the sick!

KESHI: Hope you don't have severe allergic reactions to whatever sins you might have in mind. May all your sin-allergies be dairy-related, as the ancients wrote.

CRYSTAL: You put your finger on what to me seems like a huge problem. Going through grief and outrage when faced with terrible hardship is unavoidable, but what you say sounds exactly right: to believe in the existence of an Entity in-charge would add considerably to one’s outrage. Seems to me I remember reading somewhere that for some Jews, the holocaust was a turning point because of just this problem. It left some of them unable to continue believing in the existence of such a Being.

CHRISTABELLE: Thanks, Christabelle. Meanwhile, wouldn’t it be great if people ever learned to cut out all the unnecessary suffering that we permit and create? If you can imagine a world where the only suffering was what Mother Nature deals out and as mitigated by consistent human compassion and mutual helpfulness, life on this planet would be transformed. Imagine, for example, if the resources the world now lavishes on defense budgets were instead spent on medical research and plans to lift poor nations out of poverty.

DON, thanks, and you too -

At 7:44 AM, Blogger Darius said...

HI ABNORMAL - Thanks for stopping by, you must have posted while I was typing replies -

At 11:39 AM, Blogger Stacey said...

Hard for me to find a silver lining here because, in truth, such suffering makes me sad. My heart goes out to Jason and all who suffer, everywhere.

At 2:18 PM, Blogger hazzbuzz said...

That is an incredible poem. Heaven and Hell here and now.
I sometimes work with people who are dying, and then it seems a huge responsibility to be part of their life for those last days. Whatever contact we make can never be changed, and it seems at least as important to have a laugh, or to comfort someone, as to get the right walking aid or whatever, because that short time spent with me is part of their precious numbered minutes of life.

Do you think heaven and hell really are here and now, because we are already in eternity, perhaps we make our own heaven as much as we can. I don't think life ends when it ends I think it's still there somewhere, like the arial view of a maze we've been walking through.

At 4:39 PM, Blogger Dale said...

By the way, Crystal didn't say that suffering wasn't redeeming. She said it was hard to see it being redeemed, which is quite a different statement.

That suffering can be redeeming I think we all know from personal experience.

Can it all be redeemed, though? Can we imagine something in the future that would make *all* the suffering we've seen make sense, and feel right? I wouldn't close the door on that possibility. But it would have to be something beyond my present ability to perceive.

(Of course, "something beyond my present ability to perceive" is a pretty good synonym for "God.")

At 6:28 PM, Blogger Darius said...

STACEY: Suffering that doesn’t destroy integrity and which even highlights it is still very sad; clearly not, “for the best.” But it is what it is; and what it is, from what I’ve been able to tell, is far less, in most ways, than the possibilities for joy that it replaces; and yet far more than a silver lining. If that makes any sense at all to anybody but me!

HAZZBUZZ: Glad you stopped in. That must be something to work with the dying regularly. Sounds like it brings life into sharp focus. As far as theology or metaphysics goes, I don’t know anything, which includes heaven and hell. However, I like your “already in eternity” idea. I mean, what’s going on right now would sure seem to be part and parcel of All that’s transpiring; and sometimes it even seems to be possible to experience something of that fact. I also like your “aerial view” metaphor.

DALE: Good point about Crystal’s remark. Because one doesn’t see how something happens doesn’t mean that one is convinced that it can’t happen.

When you refer to the idea of all suffering being redeemed without being able to understand how this would happen, it sounds like one way of trying to verbalize what it is that human beings finally hope for. I read once in a summary of Hinduism that it describes ultimate human hope and aspiration in terms of, “infinite joy, infinite knowledge, and infinite being.” So maybe that’s translating the same thing you’re talking about into purely positive terms. I also like the poetic, “that one far-off divine event to which creation moves” (Tennyson).

At 7:03 PM, Blogger Jeff said...


When I first started reading this, I thought it was about a disabled vet instead of a child. It has a Dalton Trumbo feeling to it.

Whether religious or secular, the mark of a life well-lived is that it was spent and played out for others. We come into this world with our fists clenched and we leave with our hands open and empty. If we are here for any meaningful purpose at all, it is to ease the sufferings of someone else.

At 8:01 PM, Blogger Hayden said...

Darius, I'm awed by this poem. Beautifully done.

At 8:29 PM, Blogger Keshi said...

**May all your sin-allergies be dairy-related, as the ancients wrote.

lol yeah there wont be any dairy involved.


At 9:03 PM, Anonymous grumble said...

Whew! That was really a moving expression! Sort of an emotional fog bank, in that its origin and direction weren't obvious, even after reading into it- wonderful.

At 11:49 PM, Blogger crystal said...

About suffering being redeeming ... I don't believe that. I don't think bad things happen to help us grow, or that bad things happen to teach us a lesson. I think bad things are just plain bad. I meant earlier that it's hard for me to imagine them being somehow redeemed (the suffering made ok or made up for) after death, even in heaven, if such a place exists. But I could be wrong, and I hope I am.

At 4:45 AM, Blogger Amara said...

sometimes I wonder if on earth here we can be without suffering.You have a great blog and I'

At 5:28 AM, Blogger Darius said...

JEFF: I can see that… just reread, and you don’t know it’s a child at first. Well stated - about the hands, and being here to help ease suffering.

HAYDEN: Appreciate that -

KESHI: Now now…

GRUMBLEFISH: After reading Jeff’s comment then yours, I reread the poem. Being aware of the child and situation myself, I’d never noticed how as a reader you don’t know what’s going on from the outset. Thanks for the specific feedback.

CRYSTAL: So it sounds like you, Dale and I are basically in the same boat on that. You may be stressing that, as Charles Schultz’s Linus once pointed out, “Pain hurts” - and there’s nothing wonderful about that. I do think a lot depends on the kind and degree of suffering. Some things, you get over. When you look back, you often find that you were actually made a better person because of it. That’s the best case scenario. But other sorts of suffering take away far more than they give.

AMARA: Buddha thought we could be without suffering. On the other hand, it seems to me I recall that he is supposed to have been frank with his followers about his own difficulties keeping to his Eightfold Path as the way to end suffering. So sounds like he must have had his down days too!

At 7:21 AM, Anonymous Marissa said...

Regarding how wise children can become while going through intense suffering like Jason- I think some children have more of a capacity to be wise than some adults. Because their minds are still uncluttered with memories, and the basic truths that their parents have taught them are still fresh and on the surface. I remember having a really solid sense of self when I was young, only to lose it once I went through junior high and high school and college, because of all the other crap that clouded my vision. But now that I'm beyond that, I realize just how right on I was back when I was young.

Regarding the ability to aid and comfort- humans are innately social animals, and our culture has become one focused on individuality, the "Me" culture, emphasizing elevating your self to a higher position in the world, and stepping on others in order to do so. It's unfortunate because we really need other people in order to survive, and our society minimalizes our need for unity. I just saw "An Inconvenient Truth" (the Al Gore film), which was AMAZING and one of the scariest movies I have ever seen, but it really emphasizes just how much the world needs unity right now to overcome global warming. If we don't band together NOW we will ALL be completely screwed. I'm very worried that this society of ours will make it "cool" to buck against that need for unity, to keep the oil companies and SUV manufacturers rich... But I digress...

Regarding suffering- I don't think everything happens for a reason (I don't believe in destiny), but I think things happen that are beyond your control, and if you don't learn something from those events, that's really your loss. I think there are ways to learn something from any situation you're in. I just wish I had learned some of those life lessons through other means, other than suffering! :)

At 12:14 PM, Blogger Darius said...

MARISSA: I had that same pattern - felt disconnected in my teens from who I'd been as a kid, then became reconnected in my twenties. Guess it's not always like that. You hear of some people whose childhoods sound so brutal that finding themselves doesn't seem to follow that same dynamic.

The "me generation" seems to have turned into the "me generations..."

That's true - making as constructive use as possible of the hand you've been dealt - can't ask more than that...

Yeah, I've heard quite a bit about Al Gore's film. Sounds like it's basically scary but true. So I have the feeling your grandchildren will be living in an altered world. When leadership in the richest nation on earth can't be concerned beyond the next election cycle, I think the question has already become one of whether or not we can adapt to what we're about to do to the planet.

I'd like to be an optimist on that, but I can't imagine how we get the needed leadership, which, as you point out, we'd need NOW.

At 7:23 AM, Blogger White Forest said...

"When the pain has stopped, may every joy you meant to shout,
Find, fill, flood you when it breaks your borders,
Passing even now into the songs of other lives."

beautiful lines!

At 9:00 AM, Blogger Gangadhar said...

Great post,Darius!!!
When your troubles now are deeper even than a doctor’s hand can go...once i had this ituation...

At 9:21 AM, Blogger gautami tripathy said...

"When the pain has stopped, may every joy you meant to shout,
Find, fill, flood you when it breaks your borders,
Passing even now into the songs of other lives."

This is what we need to understand. These words are kind of soothing to the soul. I felt so much better after reading your post.

At 9:40 AM, Blogger Darius said...


GANGADHAR: Events like this are certainly impossible to forget, and I guess the best we can do is learn from them what we can.

GAUTAMI: Glad it had that effect on you. People's lives seem to make all kinds of connections, large and small, good and bad. I imagine that often we can't even suspect some of the ramifications.

At 10:05 AM, Blogger mistipurple said...

life is painful. we die on the people we love, and people who loves us die on us. this is my summary of life. bleak i know.

At 7:04 PM, Anonymous Darius said...

MISTIPURPLE: Sounds like you may see death as something like an involuntary breaking of faith, or fidelity, with others?

At 11:33 AM, Blogger mistipurple said...

you put it so well. involuntary, yes, so it cannot be helped. likewise life. we don't quite have a choice. short of not bringing another in.


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