Month: February 2016

Garbageman: the new superhero


Subtitle:  “Fun with Siri and coffee”
Alternate subtitle: “Jeanette and Isabella had a brother” :0-)

In chapter 8 of the novel I’m writing (hoping to be finished by summer), a couple of characters who write music together are working on some songs. It’s great fun to be creating some new poetry for this. And, conveniently, using something I wrote almost 15 years ago.

That song is a new English rendering of Bring A Torch, Jeanette, Isabella, a popular French carol with a beautiful tune. When “Zach” tells “Albert” that it has always bothered him that the accepted English translation doesn’t rhyme, I am actually being openly autobiographical. In October 2001, back when I was producing frequent poetry (most of which will never be seen or appreciated by anyone except myself), I translated three stanzas of this carol from the French into rhyming English verse. A fourth stanza, entirely my own, urges present-day worshipers, both happy and sad, to come to the stable and see that Christ is born.

And, no, I’m not using this article as a platform to publish the entire text, nice as it is, but I do have to tell a couple of related “funnies.”

I wonder what the small handful of other patrons thought, if anything, when I laughed so exuberantly at 6:40 on a Tuesday morning at Panera Bread. It was priceless – to me, anyway. I leaned in close to the screen of my iPad to quietly dictate, in order to conserve effort. I said words, the names of punctuation marks, and the phrase “new line”, when needed, to format the text as much as possible with my voice.

When I said, “Come comma Jeanette comma Isabella comma and hurry exclamation mark,” Siri printed: Come, Jeanette, Isabella, and Hurley!

Between exhales of amusement, I honestly had to give Siri credit for being intuitive enough to think I was giving a series of three names – the two French girls and their lesser-well-known brother, apparently. LOLZ! (Interpret LOLZ here as “laughing out loud, excessively.”)

But, wait. It gets better.

Watching the screen as I talked, I saw Siri’s first attempt to display another string of words. The end result was supposed to be:

Bring a torch and come with praises,
Come, the happy and those that mourn.
Hear with gladness the angels’ tiding:
God with man is now abiding!

Here’s what passed across the screen while Siri was processing that last line:
“Garbageman is now abiding!” Now, there’s you a new superhero. Garbageman. I like it! (Willie Aames, lately “Bibleman,” can you please take this one and run with it?)

You saw the accidental theology in Siri’s goof just as soon as I did, didn’t you? It’s very simple. God collects our garbage and it takes away.

Psalm 103:12 reads, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” The beautiful, ancient poetry of our book of Psalms nails it again, even connecting with my 2016 “discovery” of God as a garbageman who removes the sin from our lives once we have admitted it, have become disgusted by it, and have determined that we would so much rather have peace, a purer life, and nothing standing between our humble heart and a holy, loving Father God. So far away the collection truck goes, then, that even the smell of the garbage is replaced by the sweet fragrance of everlasting spiritual freedom – a fragrance that brings tears of gratitude to Jesus, the crucified.