Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"The Past is Coming Bac," He Said

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9

It has been said that Glen was deliberately obscure and that he meant to be hard to understand. When challenged with this assertion he would admit that occasionally he would not complete a thought or connect two ideas. "You have to let people draw their own conclusions sometimes".

"When I took psychology in college, evening college that is, we had a teacher who told us to write at the top of our papers, 'Learning is an active process'," he said. “I did that on every test and paper. I remember it to this day.

"I know it can be irritating when ideas seem vague or incomplete. We want to see things all finished, all orderly. So our mind struggles to make them complete. It can be called thinking, which is good, and it can be overdone too. But sometimes I put out a thought and let it just be there, unfinished. Maybe someone will try to complete the idea? They may even study!"

We were discussing his methods of teaching while he was struggling with a stuck door on his old van, parked in the driveway of the home where he rented a room. He could open only one of the double doors on the rear of the van. The other door remained locked in place.

"Should have put some grease on it, I suppose," he said. "Too late now. It makes it hard to load and unload my charts". He spoke of his big foam core illustrations he had learned to make.

He was dressed in jeans and one of what Sue called "his terrible sweaters", with the sleeves pushed up. He squirted oil into the latch mechanism and continued to try the handle, but to no avail.

"Remember when cars had real handles you could grip and turn"? He said. "They had'em on trunks too. If they were iced up, you just pulled real hard and you could usually open 'em up. I'm afraid to pull too hard on these new handles. Don't know what they're made of, but I know they break real easy."

He thought for awhile. "Guess I'm showing my age aren't I? Crabbing about the way things used to be better.

"But there's one thing I don't want to go back to. Getting up an hour early to heat a tea kettle of water to pour on the carburetor to de-ice it. Remember dry gas? Used to put it into your tank. Then keep cranking the starter and running the battery down. Now you just turn the key and it starts right up. Maybe if we could have the old handles and the modern ignition and fuel injection in the same car?

"Oh, well, I'm about ready to give up on this door. Some guy will have to take the paneling off the inside of the door to get to the works. Not me, brother, that's out of my line."

Just then Glen's landlady waved a dishtowel from the back door. It was her signal to come in. She told me once that when Glen was concentrating on something, sometimes he didn't hear her. But he would see the dish towel and look up.

"Have no idea what it is," he said, "too early for supper." He excused himself, took off his gloves and walked to the house.

I whiled away the time as I waited for Glen to return by looking at the yard with its old flower beds. The peonies had bloomed and were dropping their petals. Too bad about perennials, I thought, their blooms don't last long, but
they keep coming back. I had seen peony beds a hundred years old, left untended, but still coming back to bloom as good as ever.

There was an old cistern pump in the side yard. The sprinkling can under the spout indicated that it was still in operation after who knows how many years?

The side door opened and Glen came walking briskly towards me.

"Never guess who that was!" he said. "A lady from the Revelation class called me. I always put my phone number on the blackboard, but this is the first time anyone has called. She wanted to talk about the woman in the basket from Zechariah chapter five."

I wondered if this was one of those incomplete ideas that Glen left people with, and said so.

"Well, I did drop it on them and kind of leave it," he admitted. "But we were out of time, so I had to bring things to a close. But bringing it up has paid off. This lady and her husband have been trying to run it down, studying together. They're using a Thompson's Chain Reference Bible, which is okay, I guess. Joy thinks they are great because they're new. They have a special promotion at Oak Street for them," he said.

"First thing I looked up in it was Daniel's prophecy of Messiah the Prince, Daniel 9:24-27. Thompson says it was fulfilled when John baptized Jesus! I was really disappointed by that. How did his baptism show Jesus as the Prince? They were just guessing.

"Ever wonder who puts these things together? Anyway, Jesus came to his people as king on one day and one day only. When he rode into Jerusalem on the donkey. In Mark 11:10 the children call out that it is the Kingdom of David that is coming! Thompson missed that. Almost everybody does though. But this lady and her husband are studying together! That's what is so wonderful."

I asked Glen if he had told them who was the woman in the basket.

"No," he replied. “What I did is ask them who Zechariah says she is. They had their Bibles opened and she said 'Wickedness.' Told her she answered it for herself.

"Her husband wanted to know if wickedness isn't everywhere? I told him the government seems like its everywhere too. At least its influence is. But its headquarters is in Washington. D.C. There's a bunch of people who haven't figured out that everything in the Bible happens in some place, and at some time.

"Presbyterians are like that. I know, because I used to be one of 'em. I mean, they have salvation theology down as well as anybody ever has in the history of the church. I myself am a five point Calvinist. But these folks treat prophecy, and the kingdom of God as just concepts."

Glen waved his hand around like a bird flying. "Imagine believing that God's kingdom doesn't have a headquarters? Nothing is literal to these guys. If you say something is real, solid, they look at you like you are a fool. Except money, of course, and real estate. Those are literal."

Glen shut the van door. "I give up on it. Wish those panels were clear so I could look inside and see what is wrong."

"Did you talk to those people about Shinar?" I asked. I was curious about how he explained this wilderness place.

"Shinar is Babylon and Babylon is Iraq."

"What about the wilderness idea? Iraq isn't a wilderness, is it?"

"Parts of it are," he said, "And that part of the world has a lot of barren places. There is no way out of it. In the latter days, wickedness has a headquarters built for it. Or should I say 'her', in Shinar. The farther down modern Babylon sinks, the more miraculous its recovery will seem. If you say to anybody today that Iraq's land will someday rule the world, they think you are crazy.”

“They will say it is spiritual Babylon, Glen."

“Oh, yeah?" he challenged me, "What about the spiritual Tigris and the spiritual Euphrates rivers? That's geography man. These super spiritualizers don't like geography. But there it is. Do you think those boys in the theological cemeteries ever get out a map? Oh no, they like to mess around.

"To them, the Bible is just modeling clay. You can make anything out of it. But no matter how they try, they can't make those rivers and ancient landmarks go away!"

"I've got a tough one for you, Glen,,” I said. "What about that depleted uranium all over the place now--all kinds of pollutants in Iraq. How are they ever going to become the world center of religion and trade when their land is becoming unfit to live in?"

"Like I said." Glen looked at me steadfastly. "Get out your map. You know that huge dam the Turks have at the headwaters of those rivers? If they ever let all that water out, there would be a big flood in that flat, flat land. If anything happened to take out that big dam..."

"Like a nuke?" I asked him.

"Anything," he replied. "It would wash the land clean. Old Shinar would have a new start. Nobody knows how, but Shinar will once again be the center of evil, and of commerce too."

"All that pollution will be washed into the sea, Glen?"

"Yes, and you and I know that in Revelation the sea creatures die. But why is speculation, of course. These so-called futurists never get it right. To know the future you have to know the past. It's coming back again!"

We both looked up as his landlady waved her dishtowel. Glen looked at his watch.

"This time it is supper," he said. "See you."

As he walked towards the house I called out after him. "Say, Glen! Speaking of the past coming back, do you think they'll ever bring back wing windows on cars?"

"I hope so," he called back. "I kind of liked 'em."

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