A Sound of Thin Silence

No Silence Even in Silence



I remember two occasions when I became aware of silence On Thursday, September 13, 2001 I became aware of the fact that no planes were flying anywhere near my work. My place of employment was within a couple of miles of DFW Airport, and the sight and sound of airplanes taking off and landing was ubiquitous. I had come to work a little early, stepped out of my car, and the stillness hit me. It was accented by the sound of some bird chirping – a sound I probably would not have noticed on the previous Thursday.

The only other time I can remember that sensation was from one day as a young teenager there was a power failure, and everything in our house lost power. The silence had a quality I had never experienced before. Not just that the refrigerator was not running, or the air-conditioning. There were times in the house when none of those were on. Something else was missing – I couldn’t place it. Years later I learned that any house with electricity has a 60 cycle hum. What was missing was that hum of the wires in the walls as the electricity changed directions 60 times a second. We generally don’t hear that sound because it is non-threatening. Our ears hear lots of things we disregard.

But, the sound is there regardless.

You can become aware of this sound – at least I could when I was in my 20s. Just sit in a quiet room with nothing running and cultivate a relaxed alertness. It is there.

I have this theory regarding things metaphysical that if you can’t come up with a real world analogy that points the way to understanding of something immaterial but real, then you may not know what you are talking about. But all of the above seems to harmonize nicely with this experience of Elijah:

“And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.”  – 1 Kings 19:9-13

There is a relaxation technique to help one release tension. You deliberately tense muscles, hold, then release. You become aware of the tension that you are letting go of, and realize the tension you had been holding. You can experience the relaxation, the reduction of tension. You become more aware of  your body. Similarly, when sound is increased, when there there is a lot going on, and then it stops, you hear things you would not hear.

One translation of “a still small voice” had it as “the sound of thin silence.” It is the voice of God, underlying everything, singing all things into existence. We don’t generally hear the voice of God – there are a lot of other things we pay attention to. But, you can attune your ear if you choose.

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A Public Service Announcement

Catholics for Choosing Stuff

Public funding for torture, dismemberment, and murder is a Catholic social justice value.

Equal access to comprehensive services, including torture, dismemberment, and murder services, is a moral imperative.

The harsh restrictions on public funding for torture, dismemberment, and murder mean that lower-income women don’t have access to torture, dismemberment, and murder when they need it. Women who are dependent on Medicaid, employees of the federal and state governments, military members, and millions of others who are dependent on public funding simply don’t get the same kind of access to torture, dismemberment, and murder as women with money. That is not Catholic.

Our campaign tells the stories of Catholics across the country who want meaningful, accessible torture, dismemberment, and murder choices for everyone, no matter how much money they have, where they live or what they believe.

We believe that everyone deserves access to torture, dismemberment, and murder services.

And remember, what you choose is irrelevant – only that you can choose. Choose stuff! Any stuff! It’s all good.

Catholics for Choosing Stuff

A PAC of the Church of Moloch, NE Convention

“Be a chooser, not a loser”



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A flash of silver amidst the Gold | Relax–

If you like the occasional zing! of swords in church, you’d like the Roman Catholic rite.  I’ve never looked into any meaning of anything to do with the Knights of Columbus, other than …

Source: A flash of silver amidst the Gold | Relax–

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Christian Kung Fu

A Daily Slog


Kung Fu is a word that conjures up images of deadly acrobatics. But the word simply means extended effort. Not part of the definition, but critical to it, is the idea of humility. To subject yourself to authority, to subject yourself to long and intense effort toward a goal requires humility in its fullest sense. And that does not merely mean being self-effacing.

Humility is simply knowing who you are.

In today’s Gospel, Paul is writing to the Corinthians about his preaching to them. After talking about how he handed to them what had been handed to him (A master, student, student becomes master, gets his own students, kind of relationship – a staple of virtually every “kung fu” movie) he talks about how the resurrected Christ appeared to the apostles and then:

Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me. For I am the least of the Apostles, not fit to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.

Now that seems to be the type of humility most people think about – especially the aberrant understanding of Christian humility, a breast pounding mea culpa. But, read what he says next:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective.

Paul understands who he is. He owns where he came from, he owns his present status as Apostle, and he owns the efficacy of God’s work in and through him. And he understands that achieving anything of worth involves a daily slog:

Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them; not I, however, but the grace of God that is with me.

For anyone that has studied a martial art, anyone that has spent hours mastering the piano or other instrument, anyone that has applied themselves diligently over time to achieve a level of skill, the idea of kung fu or slogging through is understood. As it was put by Leonardo da Vinci:

“Oh God, Thou sellest all good things to men at the price of effort.”

Quick aside – This line grabbed my attention:

Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me.

It would seem that our current cultural measurement of human value is not quite in sync with that of Jesus.



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Tick Tock Universe

Routine Spontaneity


I had an instructor in a martial art give me a book titled “The Power of Limits”. Among other things the book talked about the Golden Mean, aka the Golden Ratio, which you can find in every building or artifact of nature that people unanimously find to be beautiful. One of the underlying arguments of the book was that limits are foundational to creativity and beauty. As Chesterton noted, “Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.”

The cover of the book had this on it.6980c4de59088d97ba14db777fdbf530

Whether the constraint is a sheet of paper, a canvas, a building, clay, marble – there is a decision, conscious or not, to limit oneself, and then create within that limit. Some creativity specifically employs a temporal constraint – music for example. If you google it, you will find articles on the Golden Mean and music.

In the back story to the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien describes the creation of the universe in terms of music, a composition, a chorus. The first time I read his creation story I thought it somewhat banal. Now I think it’s genius. Mostly because if the Creator stops making music – the music stops.

The rhythms of our life are limits. Sunrise, sunset. Spring, summer, fall, winter. Sleep, wake, work, rest, sleep. Birth, growth, decline, death. Mundane repetition. I suppose it is not surprising that the universe is sometimes viewed in terms of clockwork. The old clocks, with their gears and springs, weights and chains, are ornate and beautiful. Marvelous.

But the universe is not a clockwork. It is not based on the idea of a clock. The idea of a clock is only useful because it accepts that part of the universe that repeats with a certain majestic sameness, and echoes as through a mirror darkly, the source of everything.

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The Torn Curtain

Breaking Out or Breaking In?


There is an Ignatian practice called the Daily Examen in which one looks back over their day and more or less takes stock of how they did. I’ve read several different guides for this practice, and many begin with, “Come into God’s presence.” One version struck me, it said “Recall that you are in the presence of God.”

So, last night, I didn’t get past that step. I started thinking about the difference between coming into God’s presence, sort of like walking into a church or something, vs remembering that you are always in God’s presence. Sort of like realizing I am always in church, but distracted. Then I hear bells and remember where I am.

I started thinking about the veil being torn in two in the Temple at the moment of Christ’s death on the cross – the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of us rabble. I remember being told the barrier between us and God had been removed. I had this image of God escaping from his little tabernacle out into the world. The Kingdom of God is at hand indeed. Of course this is not theologically accurate… or is it? Not that God was trapped of course, but the sense of separation is certainly thematic. If the High Priest had to go into the Holy of Holies, there is certainly the idea that God was in there, and not out here.

When the veil was torn, did it simply mean we could all enter the Holy of Holies? Or did it mean that the Holy of Holies exploded out to fill the world? That we are all in God’s temple right now, wherever we are? “Recall that you are in God’s presence.”

I then thought about how frail my response is to the money lenders in the courtyard of the temple. Then I fell asleep.

Response to Daily Prompt Frail

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Black Lives Matter

Yes. Yes they do.

"When does a statement of fact become a slogan?" "When it becomes associated with a movement."

“When does a statement of fact become a slogan?” “When it becomes associated with a movement.”

As I am a bit slow on the uptake, when I first heard the phrase, “Black lives matter,” my first thought was, “All lives matter.” Yet, somehow it felt wrong when I said it. If all lives matter, then black lives do matter. So, why my immediate dismissal of the phrase?

I have since realized there is a specific movement that has taken this statement of fact as a slogan, as the identity of their movement.

In the ensuing days after the shootings in Dallas, the Black Lives Matter movement was implicitly blamed for the shootings. Former Mayor Giuliani has publicly stated that the movement is racist. And of course we have now had a petition to formally list this group as a terrorist organization in wake of the specific targeting of police officers.

Yet the march in Dallas was organized by Reverend Jeff Hood, who has no apparent ties to that movement and is a white Baptist minister. And so we see how quickly a statement of fact is co-opted and politicized. Perceived power bases attract those seeking power. Lots of angry emotional people are a ready-made power base. And currently there are lots of angry emotional people. In the stampede for power, Truth is also a victim.

And what is the truth? Black lives do matter. Stop saying “All lives matter.” Don’t say “Asian lives matter, white lives matter, black lives matter.” To do so is to tacitly dismiss the idea that black lives matter.

No one has felt the need to state “White lives matter.” But quite apparently someone felt the need to say, “Black Lives Matter.” In response, start saying, “Yes they do.” Own the truth of that statement. Let it seep in. Recognize a plea for help when you hear one. Stand in solidarity with your fellow man. Ignore the politics, don’t be manipulated. It’s a true statement. Recognize it. Respond in love.


Posted in Culture, Reason, Truth & Reality | 4 Comments