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Studying the Greek language confirmed something etymologically that I had known experientially since I was a wee lad: mac ‘n’ cheese is the best.

In class we were reading the Sermon On The Mount: 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” Matthew 5.3-11

Except we were looking at the original Greek; instead of blessed it said makarios. My mind instantly went to the food I had eaten for dinner the night before, and the night before that as well: macaroni laden in molten cheese. I mused to myself and laughed: “Macaroni are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

As it turns out, the Greek word for blessed (makarios) and macaroni are entirely related.

Out of the word for blessed (makarios), another word developed: makaria. Makaria denoted a porridge made of ground grain and liquid that was sacred to the gods, a blessed offering to them. It is from this Greek word that we eventually received the English word (by way of Italian), macaroni: a tubular pasta made from a paste of ground wheat and water.

The next time you down some of the delicious stuff, remember that you are #blessed.

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Postscript:

bless
 comes from the Old English word bletsian which comes from the Proto-Germanic word blodison which means to consecrate something with blood. In many cultures, blood is one of the most sacred substances so to mark something with blood would be the highest order of blessing that could be conferred upon it. That is, other than marking it with macaroni.

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“How dare you defile me with your black ink?” the thin, white paper roars.
I cut back with my pen, hacking epigrams into the page.

Writing is an act of God: creatio ex nihilo. By it, I transform the painful nothingness before me into a meaningful reflection or exposition on the nature of the world. Dots and strokes bring order to a chaotic emptiness. Imatitio Dei: I only do what I see the Father doing. But unlike God, I do not create out of freedom. When God spoke the world into existence, he did so as a perfect being inviting others into his perfection. When I sit down to write, I do it out of mad necessity. Philosophically, I am cogito ergo sum. Experientially, I am because I create. Creo ergo sum. Cogito, the shell, and creo, the substance. Thought only gives me the certainty that I am real. It is what I create that gives me certainty that I am worthwhile. A twisted thought but truthful nonetheless.

Writing is writhing. It is struggle for stasis. Writhing, I write to stay still, to set my feet against trial, obscurity, and death should it come. “Here I stand. I can do no other.” After nailing Ninety-Five Theses to that church-castle door, Luther found stasis.

The mad necessity to write is both the clear impossibility of the endeavor and the craving impulse that is heedless of the insurmountable. These are my twin demons, splitting my ego between bursts of grandeur and bouts of self-doubt. Tossed and turned like waves upon the beach, I am double-minded, unstable in all I do. The song of my life is cacophonous—two competing melodies each driving towards resolution.

With Whitman I sing the body electric. I am “all qualities,” “action and power, the flush of the known universe”. The great humanist taught me to revel in my skin and my bones. Memento mori. Even the apostle counsels to “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” When I write, I write in defiance of mortality. That I will die is inevitable. Death is a monster that seeks to swallow me. That I will kick and scream until the end is my resolve. So until death takes me, I scratch my name into the dirt; I build castles in the sand.

The other song is heavy. It is low and tiresome. “There is nothing new under the sun” the wise man laments. The song has been sung a thousand times over; I have not a flourish to add. This song cannot look at death for long. Insecurity is the harmony behind every note. It muddies the rhythm; my pen cannot dance. Fear quivers through the refrain. To write is to be naked. The window to the soul may be the eyes but every word put to the page is a door within. Is everything tidy? There are cobwebs in the corners, coffins in the catacombs. I scratch my name out of the dirt; I kick my castles down. A life of invisibility is better than one of mediocrity.

One song is a goad forward, the other a bog that traps my feet. One is hubris and determination. The other is sobriety and defeat. Twin demons—they are a part of me. I write to resolve the melody. 

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"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." - 2 Timothy 3:16,17



Why didn’t God behave like a good Evangelical and say that “All Scripture is inerrant and infallible”? Surely God believed in the inerrancy of Scripture!? If not, what would we believe in? Wouldn’t it be foolish to believe that a document riddled with textual variants, internal inconsistencies, and historical contradictions could lead women and men to saving grace?



Yes. It would be utterly absurd. ”But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Cor. 1:23). 



When Scripture is described as God-breathed, something much bigger is going on. In Genesis 2: God breathes into humanity’s nostrils, pumping blood into our stone hearts, transforming us into living beings. By the breath, we are dignified. We are incorporated into God’s plan for the world. Yet even “in the Beginning” we were fallible. One page later we proved this by denying the very source of Life and fracturing the perfect community God had created.



God does not use flawless creations to accomplish his will; God uses powerlessness to witness to perfect power, foolishness to reveal perfect truth, and broken cisterns to point to living water. God-breathed never meant to be infallible. God-breathed meant to be intimate with the Father, in a profound and transformative relationship with the one who gives Life. God-breathed means to have God’s spirit. We have been given God’s breath, the Holy Spirit of God, in order that we might proclaim good news to the poor and freedom for the prisoners.



God uses a tired, old book to accomplish his will. Over the last few centuries, critics of all kinds have proven that the Bible is not superlative in any discernible way; the Bible is not the best account of ancient history or even a very consistent guide for living morally. It is filled with characters who are deeply flawed and seem to mess up more than they get things right. Yet God poured his own Spirit into it. We do not believe the Bible because we have examined it and found it to be without fault. We believe the Bible because a man who was once dead is now alive and in the Bible we find “the very Scriptures that testify about [him]” (John 5:39). 



Our task is not to convince the world that it is illogical for them to reject Christ. “I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments” (Col. 2:4). Our message is foolishness. Our task is to testify that the Lord has done something inconceivable: God became fallen man in order that humanity might be with God once more. Our task is not to convince the world that the Bible is the perfect document, somehow unmarred by human hands. Our task is to testify to the Perfect One whose name is written across its pages. 



We are to bring life to the world through the same breath by which God gave us new life. 

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Shakey Graves at the Jefferson Theater, November 17th, 2013 

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Edinburgh

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Last Week in Dublin

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Tallaght, the town I worked in for two months this Summer. Took these pictures on my lunch break my last day there.

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Rome pt. 2

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Rome pt. 1

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Connemara