Mo’ Drama (FaceApp)

So… apparently there’s this deal out there called “FaceApp” or something like that. Supposedly it’s all the rage now with millions and millions of people across the blue planet. Take a picture of your face and then tell your phone how old you want to look and “Whamo!” there you are! Or, there you’ll be. Wanno know what you’ll look like in another twenty, thirty or fifty years? FaceApp will show you and let you show the world. As if there’s not enough unpleasantness in our future already…

Seems that there’s some measure of controversy.

Along with the wonderful humor of getting to see your grown children suddenly look twenty years older than you, there’s the fact that the company that created, owns and maintains the app is located in Russia. There was a time when that fact alone would make every decent red, white, and blue-blooded American run for the nearest fallout shelter. Not so much anymore. Russian? Well, cool, let’s shake hands, share some vodka and borscht, and then go interrogate some would-be defectors. And by the way, we’re really sorry about all those nasty things our intelligence agents and military generals keep saying about you.

Is the app a sinister espionage scheme whereby the Ruskies are sneaking around inside millions of phones and swiping all the information you’re stored in there? Or is it just a semi-harmless bit of entertainment whereby a company collects a few billion pictures, makes a ton of money and amuses itself by creating complex algorithms to predict the effects of aging on facial features?

Beats me.

There’s hardly anything anymore that can’t be easily manipulated into the next colossal digital argument and battleground. We live in an age when people deliberately fabricate claims and stories that can be instantaneously spread across the planet, lapped up and spread even further by minds consumed by their own prejudices, fears and hate. Trying to ferret out the truth takes time we don’t have and effort we don’t want to give. Far easier to believe what we want to believe.

It would be nice to think that FaceApp is just another element of instant entertainment with enough associated advertising to make some rich folks even wealthier. As for me, I’m just going to leave it be.

As the good Lord said, “Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.” I don’t need to add anything to this day’s stress, worries, cares and apprehensions. It’ll bring enough of its own without me having to create more. There’ll be enough bad stuff actually happen that it doesn’t make sense for me to add to that with the unpleasantness of what could happen.

And besides, I can already see what I’m going to look like when I get old; I have a mirror.

H. Arnett
7/19/19

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Perhaps for Today

Perhaps for today
I could believe
that all of the good that I need
I will receive,

that I will find
whatever grace
it takes to face
whatever trials take place,

that the love I crave
I will find
by giving it away
to the lost or lonely,

that the kindness
that binds up the broken
and heals the hurting
will find its beginning within me,

that the faith
that moves mountains
will break the stones
inside my heart,

that I will do my part
to be a blessing
to the least of these
who are also made in the image of God,

who also crave
good,
grace,
love,
kindness,
faith.

Perhaps for today
I could treat others
as I would have them
treat me.

H. Arnett
7/18/19

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Out of the Blue

There was nothing in the forecast yesterday morning about rain or storms or such but the sky I saw forming when I stepped outside around three-thirty yesterday afternoon sure suggested both and that right soon. Clouds darkened the whole of the western sky and much of the southern as well. Majestic but threatening, layers rose up from the horizon, spreading toward the east and on the hunt so to speak.

Within five minutes, a push of wind was sending a cloud of dust ahead of the storm. I later heard that dust wall was so thick and dark a bit south of us that it forced traffic to stop on US-77 between Newkirk and Ponca City. Here in Ark City it merely imitated the look of heavy rain a mile away. In about thirty minutes, the imitation gave way to the real thing.

It wasn’t nearly as hard as the rain that came a couple of weeks ago. Nor did it last as long. In fact, the official measuring station that is located a few miles north at Strother Field recorded less than a tenth of an inch. We might have had a bit more than that here but I have no ready means of proof or evidence to that effect. Of course, given how things seem to work these days, I suppose I could claim we had an inch-and-a-half of rain and then ridicule and vilify anyone who disagrees with me as it certainly seems that making the claim automatically refutes any amount of evidence to the contrary.

However, this not being sufficient cause for such action I believe I’ll just accept the official report, mutter something like “Well, it seemed like more than that,” and let it go, at least for now. No matter how much or how little rain we had, we certainly had rain and it came without the customary notice from the National Weather Service.

We have engineered sophisticated formulas, modeling patterns, algorithms, and fabricated multi-million dollar pieces of equipment. We have flown above and into hurricanes and tempted the strength of tornadoes. And even yet we find that sometimes storms, economic spikes and crashes, and digestive afflictions as well, sometimes come up on us with much less warning than we expected.

And though that is often unpleasant and sometimes downright embarrassing, it is not altogether unfortunate that we occasionally be reminded of how weak we are and how much in this world is not within our control.

H. Arnett
7/17/19

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Easy Alternatives

There are some things I do because I simply enjoy doing them. Eating Oreo cookies would fall squarely into that category. So would cabinet-making and doing crossword puzzles. There are a few other things I could add to that list but in order to save space and preserve some illusion of respectability, we’ll let it go at that.

One thing that does not go on that list is mowing the yard. I don’t push that cheap little grass grazing device of mine around the yard because I enjoy doing it. I mow the yard because it has to be mowed. I mow the yard because I don’t want the neighbors to think I’m a lazy, degenerate fink who has no pride, self-respect or any sense of neighborly consideration. It would be an exaggeration to say I hate mowing the yard. It would not, however, be prevarication of congressional magnitude.

My lack of enthusiasm for mowing the yard gives me a genuine disdain for “water grass.” I have no idea what it’s properly called; that’s what my dear ole daddy called it so that’s what I call it.

The blades are very soft, the color is rich and in hot, wet weather, it grows as if fueled by steroids and meth. All exaggeration aside, to keep a well-kept appearance in the weather we’ve had this summer, I’d have to mow the stuff every three days. It is so thick and well, watery, that it constantly plugs the discharge chute on the mower and sticks like wet cement to the mower housing. But… it sure feels good to walk over with bare feet and makes a fine-looking yard from the street for the first few hours after it’s mowed.

Like a few other things in my life, I put up with it because getting rid of it and replacing it with something better would be a lot of work. Sometimes what we pretend is tolerance is really just some appreciable degree of laziness. In our back yards and in our society, we sometimes convince ourselves that the fight just isn’t worth it. And so we keep mowing the confounded water grass, wishing we had a nice thick sod of bluegrass.

And consoling ourselves with the comforting deception, “Well, at least it’s grass and not thistles.”

Not yet, it’s not. But if we keep choosing the easy alternatives—in our own lives and in our culture—we will find that the thistles are not only coming, they’re taking over.

H. Arnett
7/16/19

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Resting in the Shadows of the Moon

By the time I finished taking all the tools
out of the truck and putting them in the garage,
dusk had largely given way to dark.

We’d postponed supper
in order to finish the project we’d started
the day before and driving home
I’d noticed a nearly full moon
in a very clear sky
on a night not nearly as hot as some in July.
And so I suggested we eat on the deck
and watch the moon.

While I was setting up the chairs
I realized that the neighbor’s huge oak tree
stood there between us and any soon view.

But I also knew
that the night was pleasant
and I’ve had worse reasons for staying up late
and waiting a while for something good is good practice.

And so we ate our sandwiches,
tilted back our lounge chairs,
and kept staring at the stars
and talking about riding on open range,
the way things can change between friends,
and how even the happenstance
of our own undesired importunities
gives others the chance
to show love, do good, and lay up treasure
that is not measured in ounces
and does not decrease in value.

And, bit by bit, the moon kept moving
through the dark branches
and soon enough—even though late—
we were sitting with the bright moon full on our faces,
absorbed in the grace of a quiet summer night
and grateful to be touched by the Light
that does not fade in the phases of our lives.

H. Arnett
7/15/19

Posted in Christian Devotions, Metaphysical Reflection, Nature, Poetic Contemplations, Poetry, Relationships, Spiritual Contemplation | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Mighty Fine Morning

For about a week or so, it has seemed that the air barely cooled off during the night. At seven in the morning, the temperature was already nudging eighty degrees, and ready to get higher in a hurry it seemed. Going out on these muggy mornings with heat index warnings in the triple digits was about as much fun as putting on wet socks.

But this morning, oh what a fine difference!

Even though we may be headed toward hot later, right now it’s only sixty-two. Yes, there’s a heavy dew and the humidity is at ninety percent, but, hey, it’s only sixty-two. It’s a sit on the porch and drink coffee kind of morning. A let’s take our time and wait for the sun to shine kind of start to a fine Friday.

There’ll be plenty enough rushing later on. What’s the point of the Lord sending such blessings if we can’t take time to notice, give thanks and take at least a few minutes to think about cool mornings, ripe tomatoes and good coffee?

Did I mention that it’s only sixty-two degrees this morning right here in south central Kansas and almost smack dab in the middle of July? No matter what else is going on or is to come later today, right now, I will be thankful for this. And enjoy it a bit, too.

H. Arnett
7/12/19

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More Beautiful than the Flower

I cannot quarrel with those who praise the beauty of the bloom of the hydrangea, the lily, the rose or the crepe myrtle. Nor can I dispute against those who laud the flowering of the Rose of Sharon, the magnolia, or the tulip poplar. I would not even attempt to refute those who praise the bloom of tulip, iris, daffodil, or a thousand other flowers.

But for my own perspective, I will say that the bloom of the strawberry, blackberry and raspberry carry greater anticipation. The blossoming apple, pear and peach instigate even more admiration. Even the bloom of the black-eyed pea and the lowly pole bean, though not nearly as lovely as those mentioned above, cultivate an even deeper appreciation.

The reason is about as simple as it is selfish: the bloom of berry, fruit and vegetable not only offer beauty, but also the promise of fruit. How can I not yield greater admiration for the fragrant offering that not only delights the eye but also brings forth food in its own due season?

Even so, our faith was never intended to be just a garden show, a bouquet cut to sit and wither on a countertop or table.

True faith, demonstrated in true obedience, blooms forth into love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Such fruit as this blesses the bearer and those who taste its goodness. And though these things also have a special fragrance and an appealing beauty, none were intended as ornament alone. We are not flowers in God’s garden; we are branches in his vineyard.

H. Arnett
7/8/19

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