October 18, 2017

Pic & Poem of the Week: September 18, 2016

Early Evening Train

Westbound Train at Sunset

(Click picture to see larger image)

From Out of Metropolis

We’re headed for empty-headedness,
the featureless amnesias of Idaho, Nebraska, Nevada,
states rich only in vowel sounds and alliteration.
We’re taking the train so we can see into the heart
of the heart of America framed in the windows’ cool
oblongs of light. We want cottages, farmhouses
with peaked roofs leashed by wood smoke to the clouds;
we want the golden broth of sunlight ladled over
ponds and meadows. We’ve never seen a meadow.
Now, we want to wade into one—up to our chins in the grassy
welter—the long reach of our vision grabbing up great
handfuls and armloads of scenery at the clouds’
white sale, at the bargain basement giveaway
of clods and scat and cow pies. We want to feel half
of America to the left of us and half to the right, ourselves
like a spine dividing the book in two, ourselves holding
the whole great story together.

By Lynn Emmanuel

Comments

  1. Great pic and poem. Not sure why you didn’t include the second stanza; it includes some wonderful imagery, especially this gem, “…a Chevy dozing at a ribbon of curb…”

  2. Featureless? Perhaps, taking into consideration that railroads are laid out in a path of least resistance, which ordinarily would mean fewest features, but sometimes they are inadvertent or unavoidable. I would say if you for some reason decided to disappear and did not opt for a metropolis, you could do a lot worse than somewhere in Idaho, Nebraska, or Nevada, which also provide a wide choice of environment. That assumes you did not have to make a living locally to survive. It also assumes that someone of urban mentality could handle life in any of those three states, which is doubtful, but then there is always Las Vegas. My main memory of Nebraska is of running my little Datsun pickup pulling a trailer at 80 mph in the night on the way from Oregon to Michigan with semi after semi passing me and blowing my fenders off.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      I’ve driven across America about six times; including one non-stop trip from Michigan to Arizona … ugh. Everyone needs that experience IMO, but I would never do it again.

      I remember driving a truck with a straight-six engine into the wind across Kansas. Pedal to the floor I could sustain a loud 45mp/h; and I stopped at so many fuel stations…. At everyone I thought: “Someone chooses to live here? Seriously?”

      Airplanes and trains for the win!

      • “I’ve driven across America about six times”

        Adam, you must be or have been military. 🙂
        I’ve done east to west and west to east coasts so many times, first as the daughter of a Navy man and then as the wife of a Navy man. I’ve actually enjoyed SOME of these journeys, nearly got killed on one of them, and had a spiritual epiphany while at a stop in the mountains near Flagstaff.

        Every American should see their whole country by driving ….. flying over it misses the ‘journeying’. It’s a vast and magnificent and worth the trouble of the trip. I’d do it again if I had a reasonable opportunity. Mexico and Canada are also worth seeing. Loved them both!

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          > Adam, you must be or have been military.

          All these were ‘trips’ were friends of family except for a brief stint as a freight driver…. it sometimes is good to try professions to learn what who certainly do not want to do.

          > I’ve actually enjoyed SOME of these journey

          I enjoyed most of them, often after the fact. Road trips, especially before vehicles became so darn reliable, are a great source of the stories that make us. But I feel I’ve ‘done that’ now.

          Someday I will do it one more time – in my Model-T Ford. That is on my bucket list. It is a family heirloom, and I am the end of the bloodline – so I am tempted to drive it one way on that trip and leave it behind at the west coast; we’ll see how old I am when I have that opportunity.

          > flying over it misses the ‘journeying’

          I think one could accomplish the same using a rail pass. Driving a modern automobile on an interstate, for me, barely qualifies as “journeying”. One could also ride a bicycle.

  3. >> . . . the railroad as the spine of the book that is America, both dividing and uniting us.

    Alas, the picture that won’t go away, middle nineteenth century trains pulling to a stop on the prairie near uncomprehending remaining herds of buffalo so that passengers could shoot them for sport and amusement, leaving their carcasses behind for the buzzards and coyotes and wolves, the wolves being next on the list for extinction with Native Americans up on top. You might say, yes, but that is old history from another time and we know better today. Not if you read your news where Federal Forces are engaged as we speak in ramming a pipe thru ceremonial holy land and burial ground in spite of any opposition. I’m sure the four faces of Rushmore would concur. You can’t stop progress or get in the way of Empire. And after all, we’re only talking about a ragtag bunch of ignorant Indians who refuse to assimilate.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > You can’t stop progress or get in the way of Empire.

      That pipeline seems well entangled by those stopping “progress”.

  4. On a higher note, I have just started reading Jonathan Cahn’s latest book, which is titled The Book of Mysteries. Sounds like another woo woo book, and indeed that is what I was more or less expecting and looking forward to reading. In actuality, it is a book of devotions or homilies which explain various passages in the Bible thru explication of the underlying meaning of the original Hebrew and sometimes Greek words. It is set up as a yearly reader with 365 readings, and I am only up to 33 in my attempt to catch up to the current day. They are only numbered, not dated, so you could start any time and it wouldn’t make any difference. I’m pretty sure that come next New Year’s, I will be starting it over again, it’s that good and that helpful.

    Cahn, if you are not familiar with him, is a Jewish follower of Jesus, tho I don’t think he calls himself that, nor a Messianic Christian, who tend to be Dispensational. And he is really Jewish, in the sense that the first followers of Jesus were and remained really Jewish. He leads a congregation in New Jersey composed of “Jew and Gentile, people of all nations.” I find him fascinating as a teacher and don’t sense anything of the cult about his ministry, but as with all, use discernment. You might find his other books a bit far out for your taste, not mine, but so far I am recommending this one to all but Christian bigots. Don’t let the title put you off, there’s good stuff here.

  5. We lost Phyllis Tickle recently, and it was a true loss. She wrote on the progression of roughly 500 year periods in Western history starting with Jesus and proceeding thru the fall of the Roman Empire, the great split between West and East churches, the Reformation, and now what she and many others have come to call the Great Emergence, which is happening all around us as we speak. She speaks of this pattern both as it affects society and culture in general, and the Christian church in particular. I don’t see how anyone can understand what is going on all around us today without understanding these patterns she outlines. She agrees with my perception that what we see today is not just another step, but is of the same magnitude and impact as the change of era that came with Jesus.

    I know there are those who consider Emergence Christianity as a momentary fad that fizzled out years ago. I would say that given the obvious confusion and disintegration going on in traditional Christianity today, if you don’t understand the concepts given in her book of that name, Emergence Christianity, you are pretty much clueless and at the mercy of the storm. There are many books available on the Emergence movement and Tickle gives an overview of the most important ones, but in my view if you were only going to read one book on Emergence, this is the one to read.

  6. Phyllis Tickle’s last book before she died is titled The Age of the Spirit and is written with a co-author, possibly because was growing weaker toward the end. It is subtitled, How the Ghost of an Ancient Controversy Is Shaping the Church. It is basically historical and follows the progression of Christian understanding of what came to be called The Trinity from the beginning, thru all the wrangling of the Nicene wars, on up to today, and as it turns out the Nicene Creed hardly settled anything. This is not dry history. Tickle looks for the big picture and finds lots of fascinating little pictures along the way. As the title implies, her focus is on how the church has understood God’s Spirit thru the ages, and that understanding seems to be exploding today.

    One story that I was not very familiar with is that of Joachim of Fiore who lived in the 1100’s and left a big mark in what you might call alternate understandings of God. She only skims the surface here and makes me want to know him better, but I’m having trouble keeping up with developments happening today as it is. One tidbit in an end note that raised my estimation of Martin Luther considerably, she says that “Luther himself refrained from speculating on the interrelationships of the triune persons. He demonstrated uneasiness with the word ‘Trinity,’ never including it in any of his catechisms or litanies.” That in itself was worth the price of the book for me.

    While the history of Trinitarian theology is unavoidable in a book of this kind, it is much more a history about Spirit. Another tidbit worth the price of the book, in her brief explanation of the Greek word for spirit, “pneuma,” she says, “Importantly, it is a noun with no gender, which is why, while God the Father and God the Son are properly masculine, God the Spirit is most properly rendered neuter: He, He, and It.” I knew that but sure like hearing someone else say it out loud. Talk about getting some panties in a twist. You go, Phyllis!