(Or… a review of Springsteen’s ‘Letter To You’)

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Source: Wikipedia Fair Use.

In the opening track, One Minute You’re Here Bruce reveals part of the stated reasoning behind the new album Letter To You – the black train of his own mortality that has been gathering pace toward him. Just like that Cadillac (long and dark) (shiny and black), the looming vehicles call out his finitude, that someday an invitation will come to climb in back one last time.

He hears that long whistle whine.

And he knows it whines for him.

This reality check railway ticket to his own funeral prompts things in him as any reflection on death does to each of us. As he mentions in the accompanying movie – he was always glimpsing the cold fact of death in those trips his parents made him take to family funerals. …


On a leaf leaning on a bridge

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credit: Rick Johnston

On reddening ferrous stood

Recumbent leaf in feral wood

a moment’s rest in its decline

a moment’s beauty, a hold in time

rust on rust,

red on red

on a bridge between

the living and the dead

a moment’s teeter before the fall

a moment’s beauty before the call,

your eased recline,

eases mine,

before the river takes us all.

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credit: Rick Johnston


until Apple dug them up again

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Photo: Matt Seymour / unsplash.com

When you divorce you lose a future.

But I discovered something else.

You lose your past as well.

The past held in memories.

Memories. The currency of the past, the unseen bill that gets spent in the dividing of the assets.

Places in your head you can’t go anymore, places in your life too painful to revisit.

All sorts of memories:

That bathroom.

That tree you had to cut down in the backyard.

The evenings the girls danced in the front room.

The shy little daughter biting her dress at the back of the Christmas party.

But these memories haven’t been stolen from you. …


the world’s within the wood

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Somewhere in the forest,

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A cosmos encased in rotten wood

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A forest within the forest

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The wind blasts over and around

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Out front in the sunshine,

seedpods reach for the expanse.

Micro beasts move their burdens

along a motorway of broken timber.

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But deep in the forest,

behind where the fern mosses spread

in the damp

and dark

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something opens its eyes,

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and prepares to stake its claim.


Does anyone else’s mind do this?

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Photo by Ashley Batz on Unsplash

The truth.

I’m still trying to find the tools to open the shed so I can get the tools to use to find out where the truth might be buried, then I need more tools to work out how to unearth it….

Like a bonkers archaeological dig.

What the hell is down below and how do i get to it? Below where?

Stop worrying about it?

Shit, I wish I could.

I’m a botheration to my own mind. A bully to my own contentment. I stir stuff up when i don’t mean to. …


A call for integrity where there is none.

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photo credit Noah Buscher / unsplash.com

If you see corruption in your workplace you are in trouble.

A world of trouble.

You will feel trapped.

Voiceless.

At first you think your employers will do the right thing.

That they will have integrity.

That those who are in roles of scrutiny and governance will do just that – scrutinise and govern.

Then you discover the truth.

Then you discover they are scared.

Scared to lose money.

And scared people suppress any natural integrity they have.

And become corrupt.

Maybe they are not scared though? Maybe they are simply bold.

Arrogant even. …


Glenn was a theologian and associate of mine over many years from when I first studied theology (he was one of the only mature students to bother with a 19 year old in need of a haircut). I then interacted with him throughout my time in evangelical student work and the boards of various organisations and eventually we studied the book of Jeremiah together when doing our MTh. I remember one leadership training session he spoke to us about the work of growing Sequoias — the slow growing, enduring legacies in our character and those we sought to lead. …


The things you didn’t see in the Temple story

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“Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in Vain”

In the famous story of Jesus ‘cleansing the temple’ there are two things on his mind:

  1. Racism
  2. Hypocritical Elites

In that order.

Let me explain why.

Have a quick read:

15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” …


It is a National Crisis, the country is besieged by troubles, a plague, food shortages.

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Jeremiah, by Rembrandt

There have been calls to release the burden on the most vulnerable, those whose lives have been made worse by the crisis.

In the midst of the crisis the public officials and the business owning class meet to discuss what laws and guidelines can be enacted to alleviate the nation.

This is the crisis as articulated in the 34th chapter of Jeremiah, one of the most depressing of all the Old Testament Prophets.

Despite this reputation, the words in this book of Jeremiah are profound.

And especially in days like this. …


The recurring motif in Old Testament Law

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Hebrew Scriptures

I have commented already on the fact that certain aspects of slavery in the book of Deuteronomy were surprisingly at odds with the surrounding laws of other Ancient Near Eastern societies:

The socio-economic reality of “slavery” according to these stated laws is remarkably different, at least in principle, in the Deuteronomic code. Yes, of course it is still there as a social institution, that is not in dispute; but it is viewed in a different light and has a particular emphasis.

How else does the concept of slavery affect the ethics of the Old Testament? …

About

Rick Johnston

ex Theologian | Writer | Songwriter | Northern Irish | (h)uman(ist) | Startups | on the shores of Belfast Lough.

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