Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed or At the Cross?


Do you prefer “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed?” or “At the Cross,” which is the same song with a much happier chorus added to Isaac Watts’ s stark original:

Alas, and did my saviour bleed

And did my sovereign die?

Did he devote that sacred head

For such a worm as I?

Was it for crimes that I had done 

He groaned upon that tree?

Amazing pity, grace unknown, and love beyond degree.

Saying or singing those verses out loud really makes you stop and examine yourself.

Am I living up to this great love that was and is being shown to me? Am I sharing that “love beyond degree” with others, regardless of whether I think they deserve it?

This questioning and turmoil isn’t necessarily fun, and it isn’t the stuff of a properly cheerful church social.

And so a later writer, Ralph Hudson, added a refrain that ties everything up in a neat triuphalist bow, so you can smile and move on, putting all those sharp introspective edges right out of your mind.

At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light

And the burden of my heart rolled away

It was there by faith I received my sight

And now I am happy all the day

There is a time and a place for triumph: Easter, less than 2 weeks ago, was a perfect time to celebrate.

We’re celebrating Jesus’ resurrection victory over the darkness without and within us, the powers and principalities, the adversary, the corrupting power structures of this world and beyond.

Our triumph doesn’t come from candy coating everything that reminds us of that darkness, everything that pushes us to question just how much we’re still wallowing in it. 

If you’re really “happy all the day” in this world, you’re probably not paying attention. 

Write your goals down, ¬†but don’t publicize them

Essentially, a goal, and getting the positive feedback that comes from that goal announcement,  makes you feel like you’ve done more than you actually have toward accomplishing that goal.

Here’s the original TED talk. It goes into a little more depth about the research 

https://youtu.be/NHopJHSlVo4

Meat Free Monday: We Don’t Need Dairy for Strong Bones

In fact, animal products, including dairy, could be HURTING our bones:

(You can look at the data here)


I chose three two videos because they are evidence-based and cite their sources, while still being easy to watch and digest. 

Also, sorry about posting this a day late.

If you’re wondering what some good plant based sources of calcium are, here you go:


Even fruit can be a good source of calcium:

The Problem with Passable

This video from Nerdwriter explained something I’d felt but never been able to put into words:  so many movies today don’t observe, imitate,  and speak to life,  but rather to other,  older,  usually better movies. 

This is a temptation for a lot of writers, I’m sure; it certainly is for me. 

Why? Because we know the movie, tv,  and fiction tropes. We’re confident that.  We’re not always confident in our own insights into people. 

We don’t feel like we really understand people that well,  and we don’t want to not write because of it. 

We also don’t want to take the risk of writing what we see as real,  and then having people tear it  apart. 

But I think that is the risk we must take. Otherwise, we’re just adding to the passable problem. 

Meat Free Monday: Super Awesome Easter Treat from My Super Awesome Wife!

 Deviled Eggless Tomatoes!

My wonderful wife made the most delicious treat for our Easter lunch with my parents. They were amazing!  They tasted almost just like deviled eggs,  but lighter and brighter, if that makes sense.

They were so pretty on the plate, and the contrast between the chickpea deviled dip and the halved roma tomatoes just made it so wonderful. 

Plus, they were made with love, and that’s the best thing of all.

What Does Satisfy? Part 1: Spirit 


In honor of Easter, this Sunday, I’ll talk about God, religion, and spirit first.

No, religion does not magically make everything in life perfect and sunshiney. 

With all the suffering the world,  the only way to be perfectly sunshiney is to either be entirely ignorant and sheltered or to have such an “us vs. them” mentality that you lose all empathy for people who aren’t like you. 

Granted, there are ways to be happier,  to do all you can and trust God and other people to do the rest. I’m working on both sides of that:  really doing my best,  and really putting aside unhelpful worrying. 

Religion isn’t a magic feel good tonic (or it shouldn’t be), but connecting with a church that more closely matches my values  (and doesn’t promote things I actively think are wrong) really has helped. 

I even sang a solo in the worship service this past (Palm) Sunday, and I honestly didn’t know how much I’d missed that (The song is “Christmas had its Cradle, Easter has its Cross,” one of my all time favorites).

And spending quiet time disconnected from phones, tv and internet, focusing on and connecting with God, is also wonderful, when I keep my focus enough to actually do it. Whether this takes the form of self composed prayer, praying existing prayers (the Jesus prayer is my favorite), or simple wordless meditation,  it is always good. 

So, in a nutshell, 

Coherence and integrity between my spiritual values and my spiritual community

Reconnecting with and sharing spiritual songs that mean a lot to me (making a joyful noise unto the Lord)

Spending time away from the fragmenting distractions of the daily material world, focusing on God

Have all helped a lot. 

Happy Passover and Happy Easter. 

Meat Free Monday: Babalu in Jackson, MS

Babalu Tacos and Tapas is positively great.  They have a few vegan things on the menu,  including their outstanding guac and their black eyed pea hummus.

But I got a couple of almost-vegan items made vegan: the vegetal taco (just ask them to hold the cheese. It is delicious!) and the black bean burger, which came with guac, onion, arugula, and a delicious sauce. 

They normally fry the black bran burger, which requires an egg bath, but for vegans, they skip the egg bath and grill it instead. It was outstanding.

Their iced tea was also good. Ask for it with lime, for an unexpected treat.

They have locations in Jackson, Memphis, Knoxville, Birmingham (Alabama, not England), and Charlotte.

When Nothing Satisfies

DISCLAIMER: I  WROTE THIS BACK IN DECEMBER. I’M MUCH BETTER NOW. Also, the song choice is supposed to be funny.

It occured to me back in December that if I’m not actually enjoying all the things I’m doing that I’m supposed to enjoy, then one or both of two things is true: 

Either 

1) there’s a disconnect between what I (and everyone around me) thinks I enjoy and what I actually do enjoy.

    Or 

    2) I’m suffering from depression to the point that I really can’t enjoy anything. 

    I’m pretty sure #2 isn’t true, so I need to look more closely at #1.

    If #1 is true, it’s probably because I’m operating in bad faith, fooling myself and some of those around me, not being honest about:

    • my needs
    • The choices I’m actually making and why
    • The reasons I so often delay decisions to the point of advocating them
    • The costs of my choices
    • What I can and can’t do, really, in terms of my life

    I’ve done a lot of thinking about that (and working with it) over this year’s first three months. Next week, I’ll write about what I’ve discovered.