Any good idea is worth having more than once.

If Philosopher A realizes a Great Truth and Philosopher B realizes the same Great Truth, it doesn’t mean Philosopher B copied Philosopher A. It means that if something is objectively True, different people will realize it at different times, each with their own angle.

In the same vein, if something is truly True, any given realizer of that truth should not be adored too much for doing so. What is great is the truth, not the person who realizes it.

Was reminded this morning of a dream I had in the spring of 2009:

I, along with a party of dreamfolk, had been kidnapped by a group of cannibals. But these cannibals were not so banal as to simply murder and eat us. Instead they forced to run an elaborate and deadly obstacle course. We weren’t supposed to get through it. They intended for us to succumb to one of the lethal hurdles within, so they could fall upon our corpses Sawney-Bean style.

But somehow, miraculously, we made it to the end. The cannibals were waiting for us at the finish line. We assumed they would be furious at being thwarted and braced for an assault.

But no. They merely congratulated us. They seemed impressed. Then one of their number, a dwarf, raced among all the survivors, dabbing our hands with a pastry brush dipped in skin-soluble LSD.

Was this a new trap? Would they expose us to horrible things and let tear out our own eyes in the depths of the worst of bad trips?

Nope! Again, much to our surprise, the cannibals showed us hospitality. They brought out colorful toys and children’s books. We all had a happy psychedelic time.

Nothing bad happened. Once we came down, the cannibals, apparently considering us prime talent, invited us to join them. They offered us brochures and VHS videos on how to kill and eat human beings.

I declined, though politely. I still didn’t want to risk angering these homicidal manics.

Then I woke.

The original idea for this came to me in 2002. At one work one afternoon, I was seized by the ethos of the rock visions of the 70s—specifically, Jefferson Starship’s Blows Against the Empire, although certainly it applies to Rush’s 2112, Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, Genesis’s “Watcher of the Skies” and similar—and wrote the first version of this in a rush, sending it only to one friend who might understand. Recently I was reminded of that day, so I polished up UE20SSFRO and am posting it here.

I am not a composer, and have not the tiniest desire to make this work a reality. But I love the idea of it.

UE70SSFRO may be imagined as a double LP album covered in eye-popping art, the sort of art made to be painted on the sides of vans. The following text, a libretto, appears as liner notes in the album’s gatefold. The song titles are in parentheses, although I don’t think they represent a complete list of the opera’s tracks. There must always be songs left in potentia.

Side 1

In the early 22nd century, humanity stands on the brink of its final crisis, social, geopolitical, and ecological.(“Fever”) At the edge of the solar system, two giant alien space fleets, their ships very different in design, appear and head directly for Earth.

The fleets send messages as they approach. One, a flotilla of identical silvery ovoids, is of the Sereneium. The other, composed of junkyard juryrigs, each one different, holds the Zodiac Tribes.
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Text: Genesis 32:22-32

Brothers and sisters, I’m going to begin this morning on an interactive note. I ask all of you: describe God. What is an attribute of our god?

(Answers. Folks said “Awesome” “All-knowing” “Loving” etc.)

OK, show of hands here: was anyone going to say: “Our God mugs people. Our God waits for folks in a deserted place, and when he finds them, he jumps out and starts whaling on them?”

Nobody?

Well, the scripture disagrees with you.

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Text: Luke 16:19-31

I felt very blessed when asked to preach. I consider it a great honor and a blessing to be entrusted with bringing the Word to you, brothers and sisters. And in that spirit of blessing, I turned to the lectionary and saw that this passage was set for this morning, and I said “Hoo, boy.”

This is why we have a lectionary. To make sure we look at those passages in Scripture we don’t always want to.

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(a juxtagraph is a prose poetry form, best described as “a collage of facts.”)

OIL: A JUXTAGRAPH
-DW Twiddy

In 2018, the world produced thirty-six billion, seven hundred and eighty-eight million, three hundred and fifty thousand barrels of oil, or about one thousand, one hundred, and sixty-six barrels per second.

In 1975, Gulf Oil held a series of seminars to educate the Nigerian public on the benefits of the crude Gulf was lifting from that nation’s Delta Region. For comic relief, out came Mr. Emmanuel Omatshola’s Magic Barrel, a magician who produced an endless bounty from a steel drum: gasoline, kerosene, insecticides, nylon socks, rubber shoes, lipstick & rouge, paint for houses, cellophane to wrap fish and meat.

All humanity clusters around Mr. Omatshola’s barrel. We depend on its generous depths. No one knows where lies the barrel’s bottom.

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