(LYSID is in a darkly lit piano bar. LYSID is in a tuxedo. LYSID is at the piano)

Folks, I know I’ve been playing some pretty heavy numbers tonight…the apologia, the whole philosophy trip…but now I want to change the mood a little, take it to a different level…

(LYSID plays a bit of “Girl From Ipanema”)

I don’t know if you’ve ever visited, but in recent years, the town of Meredith, New Hampshire has heavily invested in public art. They have what they call the Sculpture Walk, from the lakefront up to the Town Hall, works from local artists, sharing their visions made solid, providing a surprise for the stroller, a gift for the visitor. I love it. It puts a song in my heart—but I gotta be honest, I can’t sing that song. So tonight, I asked some very dear friends to come help me out.

Ladies and gentlemen…BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND THE E STREET BAND!

(A curtain lifts, lights go up. The band launches into the tune of “Hungry Heart.” Bruce, circa 1980, steps up to the microphone and begins to sing:)

It dots the waterfront in Baltimore, Jack
Gives the place some class, makes the tourists come back
A eight-foot man made of buffalo bone
A glass Klein bottle that just keeps flowin’

Everybody wants some public art
Everybody wants some public art
You pay your taxes so you own a part
Everybody wants some public art

I saw it in a Kingstown park
Hammered copper pans, in the shape of a hen
Vandals took it and they ripped it apart
But they restored it down in Kingstown again

Everybody wants some public art
Everybody loves that public art
You pay your taxes so you own a part
Everybody wants some public art

(Bridge. Dancers dressed as the “Chicago Picasso” come out and do the Swim.)

Everybody likes a faceless man
Everybody likes a coral throne
Don’t make no difference what the critic says
Ain’t no town should be unadorned

(LYSID joins Bruce at the mic. Bruce screams “EVERYBODY NOW!”)

Everybody wants some public art!
Everybody needs that public art!
You pay your taxes so you own a part!
Everybody loves some public art!

WOOOOO!!! THANK YOU, DES MOINES! TRY THE TONNA ALL’AGRODOLCE! TIP YOUR WAITER! WOOOOOOOO!!!!!

(reprise the chorus…)

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Perhaps the best solution to the Fermi Paradox is to flip it around and ask: given the vast expanse of apparently lifeless universe, why does humanity exist? The answer to that is: statistically, humanity does not exist. The odds against our existence are far too great. We can safely be rounded off.

I was always pretty sure we were a hoax anyway.

So this morning I preached my first sermon. To be able to preach was a great blessing to me, and I hope my words, by God’s grace, were a blessing to others.

Texts:
Romans 16:1-16
Acts 20:36-38 and 21:1

Brothers and sisters, today, for the first time, I step into a Methodist pulpit to preach, as did my father and grandfather before me. I am the product of two generations of Methodist ministers. Which means I have seen a lot of moving.

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The way of the world is this:

Two philosophers stood ankle-deep at a beach, disputing & discerning. They were on the verge of a great synthesis when an unexpected wave knocked them over, dragging them across the bottom, filling their mouths with foam and tossing them back up on the sand.

When they were done coughing, they found they had forgotten their realization.

I want to see a Youtube video consisting of footage from A Man For All Seasons in which Sir Thomas More faces down his prosecutors, set to the tune of Harper Valley PTA.

We only get so much time in this world, and I’ve got other projects to use it on. But I would love to see it.

In the same vein, I want to see a fanvid for REM’s “Driver 8,” consisting of clip after clip of horrific rail accidents from Thomas the Tank Engine.

(Followup: Oh wow, somebody (sort of) did that one! But not with the rail accidents. I don’t know why they left that out. It’s the best part of Thomas the Tank Engine)

 

Last night we went to the museum. I got separated from my wife & kids and wandered into a room containing a massive scale-model diorama of Hong Kong and the entire Pearl River Delta. I could see tiny cars crossing the bridges, and see crowds around the bases of the skyscrapers.

A voice came over a PA. This exhibit was on the earthquake threat to the region. Sluices in the walls opened; water began to pour into the room. The diorama started to to shake.

I saw the bridges break, imagined the hundreds of cars falling into the sea. The streets began to flood, the skyscrapers to crumble. The PA explained that in the event of such an earthquake, the region would subside. I watched Hong Kong and Shenzhen, with their millions, sink beneath the rising water, until it was just me, standing waist-deep, with nothing else visible above the surface.

Drains opened. The water poured away and the diorama rose again for the next demonstration.

When I caught up with my family, my 6-yr-old asked “What did you see, Daddy?” I didn’t tell her. I didn’t want to scare her.

Then I woke up.