The Karl Show
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Sunday, October 31, 2004

"Hi! Welcome to Luther Burger. Can I take your order?"

"Yeah, I'd like one Reformation Meal, please."

"Do you want Zwingli Fries and a Calvin Shake with that?"


"Anything else?"

"Yeah, could I get a Sola Fide Salad?"

"Sure. Anything else?"

"Um, lets see...."

"Just so you know, we have a 95 Theses Meal for just .95 cents."

"Great! I'll have one of those. And that'll be it."

"Ok, I have one Reformation Meal with Zwingli Fries and a Calvin Shake, one Sola Fide Salad and one 95 Theses Meal?"

"Thats right."

"Okay, that'll be $15.17 at the second window. Thank you and have a Justified day!"

UPDATE: Brad is correct to remind me that the above conversation actually took place in a dream that I had yesterday. Pretty freaky, eh? Maybe I should lay off the coffee before bedtime...

Saturday, October 30, 2004

From the height of Valhalla does Thor's Hammer Fall
crushing man and mortal under the darkened pall.

How few remain when the night hammer is lifted!
How weak, how shallow is man gifted?
Forever sifted through the sands of time, only the strong will work -
only the strong survive.

But no one is strong, no mighty hero may belong
under the icy gaze of Thor.

Only darkness. Only silence and the suffering
it brings. Only us and the Hammer. Only our lives held
by strings.

When will the morning come? When will the ice melt
and the sun come again? When will the Hammer be drawn back -
never to fall again? When will the weak survive with the strong?
When will right come unto the wronged?

Let the ice be melt, and let a new day be dawned.
Monday, October 25, 2004

As you can tell from the title of this little monstrosity, I'm completely bereft of ideas. There isn't a single coherent thought floating through my empty head or being transmitted across my dark synapses. I'm empty. Deviod. Destitute. Barren. Blank. Void.

So how are you doing?

I'm learning now just how difficult it is to be a writer. It takes energy - strength, power - to take abstract ideas and put them into English. It requires a certain kind of skill, a very painstaking skill, to take Wordless Thoughts and give them tangible and concrete form. You might say that writers are even creators patterned after our own Creator, after a fashion, of course.

We take invisible thoughts and breathe life into them. We take chaos and form it into coherence. We float over the waters of the Mind and call Light into being. Then Contrast, then shining Lights of Word and Deed. Finally we populate our new world with Beings. Sometimes they are just ideas, sometimes they are Characters who take our own form. Then we Rest. We look back and see the new world, the new dynamic that we've created, and we Rest.

It's never perfect, though. Our own imperfections, our own mistakes are inevitably woven into the text itself. This is where the analogy between Writers and God breaks down. The analogy between Writers and the rest of the Universe, however, remain strongly intact. We, like the rest of the Cosmos, are shattered images of what could have been, or what should have been. In that sense, we - and all other creatures with The Spark - are perfectly in tune with all Nature. We sense - we cannot help but sense - that there is something deeply wrong with the Cosmos just as there is something deeply wrong with our own lives. People do not ask why God allows evil things to happen without first recognizing that Evil does exist, and that Evil things are not supposed to happen.

For some writers this recognition takes the shape of grand epic narratives that rail against political, religious and cultural evils, or just rail against the Universe itself. For others it surfaces as a profoundly personal and intimate portrait of a Humanity Fallen.

Each writer, each author, looks for a way out. A way to escape this Universal madness and finally set things right again. Some SF writers, like Asimov, would posit that some wedding of Science and Nature will eventually morph Mankind into God (The Last Question, 1956), and then things will finally work out. Maybe. Other, more personal writers - like Stephen King, for example - would say that nothing really works out perfectly in the end, but there is very little that we can do about it anyway.

I feel, even though I'm not completely sure how, that Evil, Entropy, the general Misrule of our existence, can be reversed. The Cosmos can be set to rights again, for the very first time. I believe that it can happen and that it is happening in a subtle way right now.

This is the Gospel. This is the Kingdom: not just "fire insurance" or a "get-out-of-hell-free" card. The Kingdom is nothing less that a total Reformation of the Universe. The Setting Right of all that is Wrong, the Re-Doing of all that has been Undone. This monumental task, this Grand Design, was born billions of years ago, but came to fruition about two thousand years ago when God Himself became one of His Creatures, was then murdered by His fellow Creatures, but was brought back to Life again. This event, this First Ressurection, will be the pattern for each of us - and eventually the pattern for Everything.

So this is what I partake in as a writer. The Reformation of Everything. Not the return to an Edenic state, or some blessed nothingness, or even some panthestic god-union. No. I, and all Creative creatures (this includes you, even if you are not a writer) are participants, co-creators, you might say, in the coming Kingdom. We are not sideliners, or cheerleaders, or sportscasters in this New World. We are the Players, the co-authors, with God, in this unfolding Story. He would not have given us a Free Will if He had meant for us to be anything less.

So how's that for having no ideas?
Wednesday, October 20, 2004

You would think that 2,000 years of Christianity would be able to answer that question. It does, sort of - if you know where to look.

Bishop NT Wright has some well collected thoughts on the afterlife. If you look to your right, you will see the Amazon link that will allow you to purchase his fine work FOR THE LOW-LOW PRICE OF ONLY $8.00!!!!! ACT NOW AND WE'LL THROW IN SOME HOLY WATER FOR FREE!! THATS RIGHT! ACT NOW AND GET A VIAL OF CERTIFIED ANGEL'S SPIT FOR ABSOLUTELY FREE!!!! CLICK NOW WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!!!!!


In all seriousness, it really is a good book. I picked it up yesterday at Borders and read the whole thing in just one sitting. That's not too much of an accomplishment, however, considering that it's only 80 pages long. All in all, Wright uses a very deep understanding of the New Testament, especially Paul, to flesh out exactly what the early Church believed the word "resurrection" meant. I confess that I once believed - as many Christians still do - that "resurrection" means "going to heaven when you die".

"Not exactly", Wright explains.

Christ Himself was the first to be resurrected - and He was assumed into Heaven after the resurrection - but the Assumption was not the Resurrection, as many have believed. No, Wright contends, the Resurrection was, in fact, the Empty Tomb.

Those who put their trust in Christ will one day be resurrected as well - not meaning that we will be disembodied spirits floating around in heaven, but rather that our bodies will be returned to us in some future age - returned spotless and imperishable in the likeness of Christ. This is when Eternity begins - when the Reign of the Lamb really "takes hold" of the Cosmos.

Wright then goes off on a tangent against certain customs and practices in his own Anglican Church that he finds are misleading in regards to the Resurrection. I'm not Anglican so that chapter really didnt resonate with me, but I'm sure it'll be helpful to other people out there.

Wright is a fascinating author and theologian, and I look forward to reading more of his work. In the meantime, pick up a copy if you want. You wont be disappointed.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004

I finished my History midterm and got a "B-".

This is certainly a good thing! If I can keep this up, I'm going to ace this class for sure.

Of course, when I say that I'm going to "ace" this class, I really mean that I'll probably end up getting a "B". That's okay, however. I don't have parents who expect me to get an "A", which has it's ups and downs. On the one hand, it would be nice to have parents who held you to a very high standard, on the other hand, I know some kids whos parents hold them to a very high standard - and they are usually not very happy.

The Final is due on December 13th, which means that I have a little over a month-and-a-half left of this class. It's gone by so fast that I can scarcely believe it. Let's hear three cheers for "B Average" Students! Hip hip, hooray!


"For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. "

I hear ya, Paul. Some days I don't have the slightest idea of what I'm doing or what I'm here for. Other days I the things I hate are the things that I want to do. I'm right there with you, Brother Paul. Or, rather, are you right here with me?

I ended up finishing the Men's Prayer Group today. I was kinda surprised when Brad announced his quick departure and my on-the-spot-promotion to Prayer Group Pope. I hope that I did a good job, but I doubt it. Nothing that I do is ever quite good enough, or as good as it should be. There is always taint, always stain on whatever I touch.

This is why we rely on God to fill in the gaps that we knowingly or unknowingly create. This is why we shouldnt be afraid of standing up and taking responsibility - even when we know ourselves to be unready. God will make us ready, even in the midst of our trials.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

So I finished my History Midterm early this morning. I think I did pretty well, but then again, I always think that I'm doing pretty well. We shall see. In the meantime, I'm just thankful that I'm doing something meaningful with my life - and actually learning a thing or two. Learning is nice.

Tonight is the last night of work for this week. I'll have three days off and return to work on Wendsday. I look forward to my three-day weekend. Anybody want to do anything between now and then?

Finally, in closing, let me leave you with these two powerful paragraphs from "Affirming Catholicism":

We are all on the margins where God is concerned, but he holds his nose and he uses what he's got. If he wants to use a bad-tempered old bag to feed the poor of Calcutta, who are we to say otherwise? If he wants to use a rampant adulterer to bring freedom to a billion black people, who are we to complain? It was probably their sins that brought them to God in the first place. The question for us is, what comparable good have we achieved to balance out ours?

The Church that Jesus first assembled was a gang of sinners and rejects. Any Church that is His Church ought to know that it is the same. It has to show the same kind of love, the kind that includes and embraces first, then lets the love do the healing from the inside. That’s what Catholic means. Michael Marshall once wrote: ‘the test of genuinely Catholic Christianity is not that it makes good people better, but that it makes bad people holy’.

I don't agree with everything that is said at Affirming Catholicism, but you should read the whole article. It's enlightening.

More later.
Monday, October 11, 2004

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So, yeah. I havent written much lately because I've been preoccupied with work, school and my Own Private Demons. Yup. I have some of those. I really hate you guys.

Anyway, I should be posting more soon after I get this upcoming History exam out of the way. I'm doing pretty well so far, so I think it should be pretty easy. Assuming that I study. I assume that I will.

Maybe my next post will be a critique of this book that I'm reading for class. My computer class, to be exact. It's so mind-numbingly hilarious that it almost hurts to read. One of the reviewers was correct to say that this book is "Worth it's weight in Lead". I don't want to spoil anything before my blazing smackdown is actually ready, but let's just say that horrible management techniques didnt go away with the "Internet Revolution" - they just got more streamlined.

More later.
Friday, October 08, 2004

Click here for a pretty amusing round up of different Boss-types. I think I can honestly say that I've worked for all of these types over the past couple years. I also know for a fact that several of my fifty-nine-ish current bosses meet these descriptions perfectly. Enjoy.
Thursday, October 07, 2004

I have work in a few hours, so no long posts for me.

Maybe tommorow I'll have something cool.

In the meantime, have you ever wondered how many campy guest-stars made their animated debut on the Scooby-Doo show? Me too!

Click here and enjoy.
Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Check these folks out!

Poetry, art, music. What isnt there to love?

Thanks for emailing me, you guys. Keep up the good work.
Monday, October 04, 2004

So I took grandma to Wal Mart today. Fun! Grandma has a hard time seeing things, so I spend a lot of time apologizing to unsuspecting victims of grandma's Hit-n-Run shopping cart. She refuses to let me push the basket, however. Every time I take her out, I try to prepare myself for the inevitable carnage to come.

But today something unexpected happened. We got in line to pay for all cheap crap that only Wal Mart could sell, but the lady in front of us was having a problem paying for something. The price was wrong, or the product was wrong or something was wrong that meant she just couldn't pay for it. The clerk just stood there, dumfounded. Almost as if nobody had ever asked her to fix a problem. I think theres a decent probability that nobody ever had. I'm not exaggerating when I say the clerk stood there for about 7 or 8 minutes trying to punch the UPC into the computer, each time getting a negative result.

I mean, how often do you try something until you realize it's not working? Three times? Four times? Fifty seven times over an 8 minute period? I guess so.

We stood there like good little Consumers, waiting for this Itsy-Bitsy problem to get fixed, not moving for fear of loosing our place in line. It was almost as if the line at Wal Mart was like the line to get into Heaven, with the clerk in blue vest as some kind of St. Peter. "You don't need coupons in Heaven! The Kingdom of God has low-low prices everyday!" Finally, the clerk called her manager.

Nine minutes.

Ten minutes.

The manager arrived, looked at the reciept and just sort of stood there for a minute or two. I could feel the blood in my head beginning to boil. The manager asked the clerk to recap the whole story for her. I could see steam rising from my brow. The clerk began to tell the story from the very beginning.

Thirteen minutes.

The manager slowly picked up the phone and dialed the department where the offending product was purchased. Customers in line behind me could perhaps hear the rythmic grinding of bone-on-bone friction coming from my mouth. Still we refused to move. That would mean loosing our place in line, dontcha know.

Fourteen minutes. Somebody got on the phone at the other end. The manager talked V-E-R-Y S-L-O-W-L-Y, or so it seemed. "Someone from that department will be here in a minute," the manager said, "maybe he'll be able to help you."

Fifteen minutes.

The little guy from the department arrived. He looked at the product, then at the reciept - and was completely dumfounded. He had no idea what was going on. None. "Let me take this back to my boss and he'll take a look at it." he said.

Then, quite suddenly, I exploded in a frenzy of hatred and rage that had never before been witnessed by mankind.

"Should we get in another line?" I asked politely.

"No, I'll ring you up right here." the manager said. She saved the previous transaction into the computer and started to scan our Wal-Merchandise.

"Great!" I said with a smile.

Amazing. Amazing! She didnt even think to do that in the previous fifteen minutes. She didnt even consider allowing us to go ahead while this other lady's problem got solved. Didnt even occur to her. And another thing: is the price of that one item more valuable than the lost time that the customers had sacrificed? I doubt it. Could that one item be more valuable than all the other hundreds of items that the other customers had selected and were about to buy? Nope.

If I were the manager, I would have just given the stupid thing to her. Here, take it. Our company made fifty-nine billion dollars last year. We're richer than most countries. Just take the darn thing and let these people get their shopping done.

Nope. It never happens that way. We wouldnt want to loose out on a few bucks. You know what would happen if everybody just took what they wanted from our stores? We'd go out of business! And you know what happens when Wal-Mart goes out of business? The Communists take over. It can happen here, brother!

Oh well. At least grandma didnt kill anybody with the shopping cart. There's always next week, however...

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Firstly, allow me to apologize for not updating sooner. Work and school have been pretty demanding in the past few days, and I know how much you all yearn for a constant stream of daily Karlisms.

Secondly, Work. Yes, I do have a job at our local department store. Yes, it's very hard work and yes, I do go home exhausted every night. I worked eight hours today rearranging Christmas baubles in our stockroom while the rest of America enjoyed a wonderful Saturday in Early October. I did make some money, however, so I guess it was worth it.

Thirdly, School. It's going pretty well so far, I guess. I'm a little behind in my Computer class (thanks largely to work - see note #1 above) - but I should be able to turn everything in before the Very-Last-Final-Deadline. Wish me luck.

My mind is completely devoid of creative juices right now (thanks largely to Work!, I think). So I won't write anymore.

Jeez, that last sentence was so stale. You see what work does to you?

UPDATE: I almost forgot to mention that my friend Brad has recently returned from the Covenant Holy See in Chicago. I feel awe-struck having a friend who can press the levers of power at the highest levels of the Covenant Curia. I mean, how many people have direct access to Pope Palmberg XXVII? I must use this influence for good...
"Never be afraid to doubt... and doubt in order that you may end in believing the truth."

"Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good." (Job 34.4)

Location: Turlock, California, United States

"The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook." -William James, Principles of Psychology

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