Tag Archives: Christian Worldview

Soul Mates: Drawn Into the Mystery of the Other – Part 5

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

The Song of Solomon expresses the joys of romance and married love. God loves it when one man and one woman are totally in love with each other. Solomon and Abishag are the main characters, but knowing who is speaking is challenging in this book. There are pre-wedding flashbacks that make it hard to follow sometimes. There are dreams recorded that are interspersed throughout the song. And garden imagery is used to describe some very intimate, sensual topics. There are four places in the Song where either the husband or wife’s features are catalogued and commented on. It usually starts at the head and works down the body. While most of the previous posts in this series have dealt with the man viewing his new bride, this final post has the bride admiring her new husband.

She has to put words to how she feels. He has sung to her. Now, she will sing to him. There is an impulse in ancient love song toward hyperbole, exaggeration for effect. It’s perfectly permissible in a song. There is also a search for superlatives, words and phrases to highlight the value of the one being talked about. She compared her lover to the best things she could possibly think of in her day and time. In our search for superlatives, we might say “You’re astronomical, you’re galactical, you’re cosmic, you’re a star.” But her world was more about beautiful animals, dense forests, precious gems, lovely gardens, appealing smells, and great building materials. I want you to notice how many times his handsomeness and studliness is compared to precious gems or stones or to gold. She is trying to communicate his worth and value and her respect for him.

5:10-16 10 My lover is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand.

She thought he was stunning and masculine and he just shined with a great complexion. She admired him. There’s just no rivals, no incoming freshmen who could ever match the handsomeness of her collegiate stud. Out of ten thousand, he’s still the one to beat. You know how hard it would be to find someone in a crowd of ten thousand people. Yet, she did find him and can hardly believe that people like him actually existed. Talk about respect. This guy is one lucky dude. Her facial expression and tone and now her words say that he’s the man she wants.

11 His head is purest gold; his hair is wavy and black as a raven.

This is not literal – a head of gold. He’s just number one in value to her. Gold was not native to Palestine. But it was used lavishly in the construction of important and valuable things, such as the temple. They even made false gods out of it. But she’s not making him a god. She’s not worshipping him. She’s saying that he has a good head on his shoulders. If his head was made out of pure gold, she wouldn’t be any better off. His level-headed approach was worth everything. She’s showing utmost respect for his judgment and his decisions. And when she disagrees, she does so winsomely. That’s how wise and perceptive he was and she was. I take it that he was well read, that he was a good leader, that he was a gentleman, that he was principled and moral, and had the utmost respect for women, especially her. He had the respect of a lot of people, even though he was young. And she just adored his jet black hair, black as a raven. There’s no gray in it. He’s young yet and he’s got a full head of wavy hair, and yet he is so wise.

12 His eyes are like doves by the water streams, washed in milk, mounted like jewels.

She’s just painting a picture with all this, isn’t she? She’s just giddy. He had beautiful eyes that just set perfectly with everything else. One resource said that the color of the dove noted hear would have been a deep blue color. When they would cluster up by a waterfall, the blueness would be set in contrast against the whiteness of the foam. He had gorgeous blue eyes. But they are white like milk. The guy is not a drunk with bloodshot eyes. He’s sober and in his right mind. These eyes are set like a jewel in a ring.

13 His cheeks are like beds of spice yielding perfume. His lips are like lilies dripping with myrrh.

She is moved by his looks, his smell, his kisses. An argument can be made here for good hygiene. Fellows, don’t overlook it. He had great breath. But even more, he said some really nice things to her. The “beds of spices” on his cheek leads me to believe that he’s got a beard. But it’s attractive and well kept. Beards were common in this day. Remember this is the exaggerated language of a girl in love. Beards are beds of spices to the lover. He must have wore great cologne too. Ladies go smell some samples, buy the one that just drives you wild and give it to your husband. He’ll be spraying it all over his body!

14 His arms are rods of gold set with chrysolite.

Chrysolite was a precious stone of some sort. As is the case with all precious stones, its color and rarity made it precious. When you have a precious multicolored stone, it commands a lot of attention because not that many people have them. These stones were used in jewelry or in decoration items or sewn into clothing. They were objects of appeal and beauty in the ancient world. She’s saying this guy is such a rare find. When she looked at him, she just couldn’t believe that he was hers. She loves his arms and hands were considered part of the arm in the ancient world. They are so sexy looking. Gold is actually a soft metal and pliable. When he flexed, it was like the gold just reshaped itself on his arms. He’s well molded. His head was like gold and now his arms are too. She loved his arms, hands, and fingers. You get the feeling that these hands have caressed her many times. She’s studied them. They’ve steadied her in a moment of imbalance on a walk in the Lebanon forests. They caressed her cheek as they have strolled through a garden. They’ve held her strands of hair. They’ve written her love letters. They’ve even been balled up and protected her from some rogue threat. They’ve intertwined with her hands. They tenderly touched her body. They have been used to figure out problems. She’s saying, “He can figure things out with those hands.” Men love to figure things out. If a man can find his way through a jungle with only a tattered map and pocket knife, he feels so alive, affirmed, excited, encouraged.

His body is like polished ivory decorated with sapphires.

Just the plain meaning of this indicates that he’s got a six-pack evidently – a strong torso. I’ve got a six pack. It’s just buried beneath all the polished ivory. A sapphire is a bluish stone and is mentioned frequently in the Bible. If his torso is decorated with these, perhaps she’s seeing the ripples of the six pack. There is also a very good possibility that she is describing his manhood and the male anatomy with the polished ivory tusk like remark and the sapphires. Let the Spirit speak.

15 His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as its cedars.

This guy sounds like Conan the Barbarian or Hulk Hogan. He did not have bird-legs. Marble and gold and cedar made great building materials. This guy was one put-together dude. He was tall like a tree in Lebanon. You could build a life on this guy. He was like one of the choicest Cedar trees in the Lebanon forest. They provided great construction materials. You may not love this guy, but you have to respect him. He’s not a loose cannon who is going to go off on someone, but he’s put together and sturdy and demands a certain level of respect.

16 His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my lover, this my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

She loved the way he talked to her. She loved him for being so much more than a sexual partner. He was a soul mate, a friend. She looks at her imaginary friends and says, “Do you girls see what I mean now.” This guy is one in a million.

This woman loved her man. When a woman loves a man this way, it is not a guarantee that he will never stray, but it captivates his attention like nothing else can. Many men have affairs with women who may be less physically attractive than his wife, but the woman he had the affair with made him feel like a man again.

Remember this is all a song. They didn’t always get it right. But when it was time to write the song about it all, these were the things that they wanted to say. They relished each other and became the closest of friends. Long before they pleasured each other’s bodies, they delighted each other with warm, creative conversation, time spent together, and loving embrace. We don’t know for sure what each of them looked like, but we can’t deny the love with which they were loved. And regardless of what they looked like, that’s what made all of this a beautiful thing. It’s the value of the one loved.

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Salt and Cultural Decay “My Name Is…I Struggle With…”

“You are the salt of the earth,” was something Jesus said to describe the affect of Christ-followers on the culture. This statement also came with an adomonition to retain the saltiness. What does this mean?

Sometimes, first century, Near Eastern salt was this mixture of salt and sand. They didn’t have processing plants. Some of their salt was very poor and had to be thrown out because it had been diluted. When salt is mixed with another substance, it changes in its impact. The other substance doesn’t become salty, but the potency of the salt is diminished to the point that it may not even be seen or tasted. The salt loses its effectiveness.

Before they had refrigeration or ice boxes, salt was their chief means of fighting decay. In the ancient world, salt was a vital staple, both as a preservative and as a seasoning. In a non-refrigerated society, salt was rubbed into the meat to keep it from decaying. If you catch a fish on the Sea of Galilee, for example, and have to transport it to Jerusalem many miles to the south, you’re in trouble without salt. The transportation was slow. Refrigeration was non-existent. And they didn’t have Morton Salt Company either. They got salt from evaporated sea water, and it was never completely pure. Occasionally what they gathered to use as seasoning or to preserve their meat was so impure that it wasn’t very salty at all. When that happened they would gather it up and cast it out in their fields to use as fertilizer. Sometimes they would throw it out the door to harden the pathway that led to their front porch.

What Jesus says in these verses is that if His followers are going to change the world, they have to be the real thing. Our lives can’t be a mixture of all kinds of impurity. We have to be uncompromised, authentic as we engage the culture. Not perfect, just authentic and real with how we live life. What the culture needs are people who own their mess, who allow the teachings of Jesus to confront their lifestyles, and who honestly live a confessional life without pretense as they struggle to live life the way Jesus asked them to live it.

How did Jesus ask them to live a “salty” life? Jesus wanted them to extend forgiveness rather than keep someone in their debt. He wanted them to honor their marriage vows rather than do adultery. He wanted them to stop objectifying women and to really see them and their hearts. He wanted them to surrender the impulse to retaliate and seek revenge. He wanted them to deny themselves, to trust Him and not to worry about tomorrow. He wanted them to resist jumping to conclusions and standing in judgment over others. He wanted them to have the right priorities so that when life is done, you’re not burdened with regret that you spent your life on the wrong things (this is a summary of Matthew 5-7). What the culture needs are people who are willing to allow Jesus’ teachings to confront their values; to engage the culture by living out this struggle in front of a society that is already suspicious about religion and spirituality.

Now, it is possible for salt to be over used, to be too salty. If we try to impose Kingdom values rather than live them for all to see, we are too salty. If we always demand conformity to our viewpoint, we’re too salty. If you’re too heavy with Jesus and his teachings, you’ll ruin your relationships. If you call your atheistic neighbor at 3 AM in the morning to invite them to church, you’re way too salty. If you’re always quoting scripture to someone and preaching to them, you’re messing up your witness. If you pull up in the car next to you at the stoplight, and yell across, “Do you know you are going to hell without Christ?”, you’re too salty. If everybody around you only knows the things in life that you are against, and they never hear the things that you are for, you’re too salty.

On the other hand, if we never pursue Jesus’ values, if we never talk of spiritual things, if we ignore God as a life focus, then our lives are bland. There’s no depth to them. We talk about shallow things all the time – the weather, the latest news, the current scandals. We are just like the rest of the culture. We can never talk about the great ideas, like how and why Christianity is true. We relegate God to a Sunday morning and then we live the way we want to the rest of the time. You have very little impact on your community, family, or culture when you refuse to pursue and even entertain thoughts of God and His way in the world. This life is bland and does very little to help a decadent culture engage their God and His Messenger.

One of the saltiest things a person can do is simply own their struggle. “Hi. My name is Joey and I am a believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with nearly everything that Jesus asked me to do.” Here’s some stuff that Jesus said. It also is stuff that I struggle with.

Matthew 5:1-12 (NIV)
1 Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them saying:

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Instead of poor in spirit, I’m often looking forward to the next exciting thing in life rather than just facing that I can’t handle life in my own strength. I’ll just distract myself from my truest, deepest needs and the One who can meet them.

4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Instead of mourning and dealing with the aches of life, I sidestep the hard places and difficult emotions. Mourning is that process that allows us to bleed off the toxic poison of bitterness. When you mourn, you’re saying that things matter, that dreams should be held dear, that people are important, that you care enough about them to work through the pain of losing them. I want to numb the pain rather than process through it.

5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Instead of being meek and content and submitting to God’s authority and His plan for meeting my needs, I met my needs my way. I live for the next thing – the next weekend, the next job, the next adventure, the next thrill.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

I hunger and thirst for all the wrong things and try to fill my life with them. Rather than take my soul cravings to God, I take them to other things and end up feeding on spiritual junk food.

7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

I can be harsh with those who live under my own roof and deny them grace. I can get really ticked at people who pretend and pose, especially when it comes to the spiritual life. They won’t admit anything and pretend to have it altogether. I don’t want to show them any mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

My heart is often divided among misdirected priorities. A pure heart is an undivided heart – a heart that is no longer struggling to decide where it will give its loyalty.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

Rather than making peace, it’s often easier to settle just for what makes me happy.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

When push comes to shove, it’s much easier to take the path of least resistance and blend in.

My name is Joey and I am a believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with just about everything that Jesus asked me to do.

It’s about the saltiest thing I can say or do.

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Is Evolution On Its Way Out? | All Major Evolutionary Pillars Have Collapsed

Evolution simply asserts that the entire cosmos is made up of nothing but matter. It asserts that if you have matter, enough time, and some chance, that this would explain how things came to be. All of life (living cells) arose spontaneously from inanimate matter. But all pillars that have been used to argue this point have collapsed.

Darwins “tree of life” indicated that you would get a branching pattern if all things evolved from a common ancestor. Things were not created separately. All that was needed was matter, time, and chance. If this was the case, you would expect thousands of intermediate life forms, yet they have not been found. Things appear in the fossil record as fully formed. No transitional representations are there. In the Cambrian Explosion, however many millions of years ago you want to estimate this, life just exploded in the fossil record. Animals and organisms were fully formed.

Darwin was a man of his time. He only had limited access to cellular information. Some have called the cell “Darwins Black Box” (Behe). Darwin and others knew the information was there, but they didn’t have the know-how nor the technology to evaluate it’s contents. DNA alone is enough to totally destroy evolutionary theory. No random process would ever produce this kind of complexity.

I won’t waste your time on the faked Haeckel’s embryo drawings nor the fabricated Peppered Moth (that still appears in some texts books). And Darwins yellow finches (that supposedly developed tougher beaks in a drought) were simply micro-evolutionary (small changes within a species which is reasonable; as opposed to macro-evolution which is one species evolving into another species – something totally unfounded) changes. What they don’t tell you is about the beaks on these little finches; the average beak size went back to normal after the drought was over.

Dr. Karl Popper said that evolution is not a fact nor is it even a theory. It’s not even scientific! In true science, every scientific hypothesis must be able to be proved wrong. Evolution cannot be falsified. In fact, good science and the law of thermodynamics has things continually becoming more and more disorganized. How does evolution go the other way? Exactly. It’s not even science. In fact, its more of a world religion, with academia serving as it’s priests.

It’s over. There is no longer a viable alternative. God exists. He is the Author of life. And contrary to Dawkins, it’s not even possible now to be an intellectually satisfied atheist because the evolutionary pillars have collapsed. Evolution is on its way out. The only reason it remains more than a vestige, a remnant from the past, is because it is the best hope for naturalistic atheists. Without it, the naturalist is left with nothing but the absurd. Abandon this false idealology. Don’t be caught in the rubble. Make way for a newer, yet more accurate, Intelligent Designer movement, that simply verifies what Christian Theists have been asserting all along.

Humans are not…a descendent of a tiny cell of primordial protoplasm…an arbitrary product of time and place, chance and natural forces…a grab bag of atomic particles, genetic substance…who exists on a tiny planet in a minute solar system in a corner of a meaningless universe, only slightly different from a banana or an amoeba…coming from nothing and going no where…

But humans are…a special creation of a good and powerful Intelligent Designer… who made them in His image…with a unique capacity to think and feel and know things…set above all other life forms…to observe all of the rest of creation…discovering how a world works…all the while, engaging this Designer in relationship… encountering His love… and changing the world for the better… and fulfilling a God-given purpose, minus the suffering eventually…on a new earth…

This is a worldview that will never collapse.

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Is Jesus Really God? | If So, There is No Such Thing As Atheism

“Jesus Christ is God,” an astonishing claim for a person embedded in a monotheistic religion to even write about or suggest, much less to actually claim such a thing. Jesus is not just part of God or sent by God or related to God. Jesus is God. Jesus shows up one day, does all these miraculous things, makes these remarkable claims, like existing before Abraham or “if you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father,” and then has the audacity to forgive sins. A Jewish person would never do this in his right mind. A Hindu might claim to be god. A pantheist might claim to be god. For a Jew to claim to be God, was outrageous, suggests C. S. Lewis.

Several years ago, Josh McDowell articulated some thoughts presented by C.S. Lewis in this regard. Jesus is either liar, lunatic, or Lord. We could say He was a liar but He came out of the grave like He said He would. Liar doesn’t fit the facts. He wouldn’t have laid down his life if he wasn’t telling the truth. If his claims were false and he knew they were false, then he was a liar. We could say that He was a lunatic, but all the other things He said were true. If Jesus thought he was God and he didn’t know any better, then we could call Him a lunatic.

The only viable option is that Jesus is who He claimed to be – fully God. He is Lord. He’s more than just a great moral teacher. The leaders of Jesus’ day did not seek His death because he was a good man or a liar or a lunatic. They charged Him with blasphemy for claiming to be God (Mark 14:61-64). Nevertheless, all the Messianic passages of the Old Testament came true in His life. He indirectly claimed deity and He acted as if he was God in the Gospels. He told the paralytic “Your sins are forgiven.” He gave a new commandment in addition to the Ten Commandments of Moses. He requested prayer in His name. He even accepted worship on at least nine occasions. He never rebuked their worship.

If Jesus is God, this means we must listen to Him and follow His teachings. If Jesus is not God, then Christians are idolaters because they have worshiped him as God since the first century. A mere 15 years after Jesus lived, Paul quoted a hymn in Philippians 2 that says Jesus was equal with God. What convinced these monotheistic Jewish people to assert such radical things? What must Jesus have been like, what character must He have had, what claims must He have made, and what incredible deeds must He have done, to convince these orthodox Jews that He was everything their faith said a man could never be? (Boyd, Letters, 114). It was the resurrection of a man who had already embodied God-like attributes that would move them to make such a claim. If His claim is true, then it is imperative that we become a Christian and worship Him.

Let’s not offer the patronizing nonsense of just a “good moral teacher” to echo a Lewisian line. This leads us to wrong conclusions. Here’s a common one. Jesus may have existed, but his story has been embellished by His followers. People have modified the story to fit their agenda. Here’s another: Jesus never really died. He survived the crucifixion, married Mary Magdalene, hustled off to France, and raised a family. Here’s another: Jesus was a magician. He could stage miracles and use slight of hand like David Copperfield to win an audience. Patronizing, non-historical nonsense.

The only viable option if we allow the biblical information to speak to the subject, is that Jesus is who He claimed to be. If this is true, then neutrality is not an option and atheism is a mute point. If you ignore Him, you’re ignoring God Himself.

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The Question For Atheists Is Not “How Do I Find God?” | The Question is “How do I Miss Him?”

While God is a hidden God and is surrounded by mystery (we will never totally understand Him – He transcends us), He also has revealed much about Himself in the world that He has made (cosmos) and in how He has made human beings with an in-built God awareness (conscience). This is what theologians call “Natural Revelation.” This in itself provides enough evidence for a reasonable belief in God and renders us without excuse.

In Romans 1:20, Paul states: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

God has planted evidence of Himself throughout His creation so that we are without excuse. Even if you were a non-Jew without the Torah, according to Paul, you are totally responsible for your behavior and cannot plead ignorance of God or His ways because God has revealed Himself to us in what He has made.

Paul’s argument is this: If you looked long enough at what God has made, you would come to understand something of His beauty and nature. Glittering stars flung across a black heaven. The earth in perfect orbit around the sun – close enough to sustain life but far enough away to keep from burning up. Sculpted mountains. The earth’s crust carved into breathtaking canyons. Fish that glow in the blackest depth of the sea. A butterfly breaking free from a cacoon. The meticulously spun web of a gray spider. The growth of a child in the womb. Birth. God’s fingerprints are all over.

After all of this, how could we ever come to the conclusion that we can live life any way that we want; that there is no God; that life is all about my glory, not His. From the greatest feat of forming a beautiful cosmos out of nothing to the intricate details of the smallest little insect or cell, each act of God in creation serves as a missionary in miniature form. They are sermons without preachers; they are biblical texts without Bibles. And while general revelation is not adequate to explain the Gospel, it renders all mankind without excuse and calls for a response.

God is everywhere, yet invisible. God is a hidden God. God has given us just enough evidence so that those who want Him can have him. Those who want to reject Him can do that as well. Think about it. It’s the only way a relationship with God could not be forced. If He was here in visible form, ruling with great power, would anybody choose differently? Evil melts away in his presence. So God must hide and self-limit in order for a free-will world to be possible. The direct presence of God would inevitably overwhelm our freedom. God gives everyone the room to either choose or reject. He’s a hidden God and He will not force love.

What you will find in your spiritual journey, is that it’s not so much that you find God; He finds you. And you realize you knew Him all along, but you suppressed knowledge of Him in your life (Romans 1). So don’t so much focus on “How do I find God?” Turn it around. “How has He already found me?” He brought me to this blog. He’s communicated via the Bible (Special Revelation). He’s placed me in an intelligently designed world that operates according to natural laws. He’s used crisis, confrontation, catastrophe, and even some fantastic blessings in life, like friends, baseball, family, and a day at the beach to get my attention and to cause me to tune in to Him.

Many former atheists have come to this conclusion: “God has found me! He’s known me all along and has never lost me, even though I’ve suppressed knowing Him. If I would have just looked at things close enough, I would have seen Him looking back at me. I don’t want to suppress Him anymore. I want to see and know Him.”

“How do I find God?” you ask. I reply: “How do you miss Him?” Look closely, and the very fact that you’re looking indicates this startling reality. He already found you.

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What if the New Testament Really is God’s Word? Why didn’t God Preserve the Original Documents?

This is a fair question posed by theists and atheists alike. The best we can do is speculate. It has been suggested that the New Testament might be better protected through copies than through original documents (Geisler).

If the original New Testament documents were all bound together that would mean that they would obviously all be in someone’s possession and they could potentially be changed or modified by the owning entity. However, when you have copies spread all over the ancient world, it makes it more difficult for any one scribe or priest or person who owns the originals to change things.

When the New Testament is reconstructed by copies and variants, the changes are rather easy to identify and can be easily corrected. In fact, just about all of the New Testament can be reconstructed from the Church Fathers who quoted it extensively in their works.

It’s a bit ironic, but not having the originals may actually preserve the New Testament better and keep it more accurate than having one solitary bound volume of all original New Testament books in one single volume.

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Art, the Imagination and A Sense of Longing

Of the many things we could say about art, one of the primary things we could say is that art creates longing. Beauty evokes desire. Beauty is not just skin deep; it’s soul deep. Archeologists have not yet discovered any stage of human existence without art. There are very few societies that do not attempt to decorate or capture in art, song, word, or ritual.

C. S. Lewis talked about his imagination being baptized after reading a work of George MacDonald fiction. What he meant was that it enlarged his sense of what is possible; it re-enchanted the ordinary world; it stirred a sense of longing within him.

When C. S. Lewis was just a little kid, his brother brought the lid of a biscuit tin into the nursery. He had covered it with moss and garnished it with twigs and flowers so as to make it a garden or a toy forest. Lewis says, “As long as I live my imagination of Paradise will retain something of my brother’s toy garden.” Lewis said that his brother’s work of art taught him “longing” – this dim sense of something just beyond our reach.

After Lewis turned from atheism, he looked back and realized that these experiences occurred periodically. God was whispering to him through his imagination, but he never listened. What he later realized was that he had been longing for a Person more than a place (Nicholi, Question of God, 27). All honest atheists will admit this vague sense of longing, a dim echo that seems to fade upon just catching it.

Art, literature, and music wake us up to beauty and a Beautiful One. “The book or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing… They are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never visited (Lewis).”

Art gives us fresh cravings and we begin to ache for something or a Someone. If you want to know what we long for, what we value, what we fear, the longings we possess, look at our stories, our poems, our songs, our paintings. We long for home and simple things, and we long for the Grand Artist, the source of all beauty.

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