Monday, July 19, 2004

This weekend started out busy, became glorious, then crashed into a smoldering heap. I am exhausted physically and emotionally, barely able to function as I sit here looking at all the crap on my desk. Sometimes, I have to wonder why I bother with ministry; it seems nothing more than endless opportunities for others to rip your heart out and piss on it. Right now, I am angry. Contrary to what you may think, it isn't the teens, at least this time. It's people that ought to be old enough to know better. And, yea, you too, God. Right now, your in my line of fire as well.
I know all the pat answers. I grew up in the church and know all about total depravity and the fallen world and all the rest of that. It doesn't help, so just keep it to yourself. Unless you would like to be added to the growing list in my line of fire.
Probably due to my mood, these are the things that caught my eye today:
From Jerry Pournelle's site, we have some Rudyard Kipling. The first section is an introduction written by Dr. Pournelle giving the poem some context:

Editor's introduction to The Sons of Martha by Rudyard Kipling

There is more than one kind of aristocracy.

Luke tells us the story: Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, were entertaining Jesus and his disciples. Martha rushed about the kitchen and household, seeing to the cooking, bringing wash basins, changing towels, and doing the other things needful when one's home has been unexpectedly invaded by a celebrity and his entourage.
"Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.

"And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus feet, and heard his word.

"But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me.

"And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou are careful and troubled about many things:

"But one thing is needful: Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

(Luke 10:38-42)
Much has happened since then; but Rudyard Kipling tells us, we sons of Martha have yet to pay the final reckoning.

Imperial Stars Vol. I: The Stars at War, Jerry Pournelle, ed. p. 227  

The Sons of Martha

Rudyard Kipling 1907
The sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary's Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.
It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.

They say to mountains, "Be ye removed." They say to the lesser floods, "Be dry."
Under their rods are the rocks reproved-they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill-tops shake to the summit-then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.
They finger death at their gloves' end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.
To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden - under the earthline their altars are-
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city's drouth.

They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not teach that His Pity allows them to drop their job when they dam'-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren's day may be long in the land.

Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat -
Lo, it is black already with blood some Son of Martha spilled for that!
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.

And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessed - they know the Angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessed, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the Feet - they hear the Word - they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and - the Lord He lays it on Martha's Sons!

I have been identified as a "Son of Martha" on more than one occasion. I did not realize that Kipling had addressed that particular issue. Martha's Sons indeed.
Fred Reed posted a new column last week that pretty well says it all. We are no longer citizens. We are not even subjects. We are suspects. I am closing in fast on 40, and I barely remember the America Mr. Reed is describing. Those not much younger than me see nothing amiss with a nation that sends out three cars full of police officers to storm the local high school like they are raiding a crack house, all because two teen-age girls are sitting on the roof talking and taking in a sunset. Those girls don't know what has been lost; maybe it's best that those of us who do get out of the way of the inevitable.
As I said: not a happy person today.

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