Friday, May 13, 2011

Howard Hughes Blues

"If he didn't have a nickel, if he didn't have a dime, he could do whatever he damn well pleased.  And he could do it all the time. Success is just a mess of over-dos.  Well poor old Howard Hughes and all of his blues!"

This post comes at the heels of borrowing a new book from a friend last week.  I haven't posted in a while and was hoping I would be able to include a song I could relate to the Gospel or Biblical truths.  Before I even opened this new book, I had wanted to get creative with a Bluegrass song, specifically John Hartford, because his lyrics are always interesting.  This song, Howard Hughes Blues, is a fast paced but easy listening tune.  Some of the lyrics I use in this post are great but they won't do the song justice.  The highlights of the song lie in John's banjo pickin'.  Make sure you look it up and give it a listen after you read this or click on the link at the end of the post.  Anyway, it is crazy how God works things out.  Only thirty pages into this book, Gospel-Driven Life, I came across the author (Michael Horton) relating Howard Hughes to King Nebuchadnezzar.  There are some startling similarities.  I immediately thought about John Hartford's song about Mr. Hughes, and it gave me something to post.  Enjoy!
Here is an excerpt from the book:
...the tragic last days of Howard Hughes, the extraordinary tycoon who rose to international fame as an industrialist, aviator, and filmmaker.  Tall, dark, and handsome, he had the world at his feet, moving from resort to resort- often purchasing each and occupying the penthouse floor.  In his later years he became increasingly neurotic and reclusive....An out his last four years in the Bahamas...would only speak to his top lieutenants and his now-alienated wife by phone.  Never leaving his room, which was lined with sanitary plastic, he urinated in jars and left them neatly placed throughout his suite.  His hair and fingernails grew long and wild and, in sharp contrast to his previous six-foot-four stature, he weighed ninety pounds at his death and his body could only be identified by fingerprint analysis.  The man that boasted that he was born on Christmas Eve and attracted the gaze of the world's public for decades became a sideshow for prurient gossip magazines. The story of Howard Hughes echoes in my mind as I read the story of Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar the book of Daniel.  

So in the book of Daniel, in the Bible, Daniel was asked to interpret a dream for the King.  Nebuchadnezzar was a very proud ruler who had an empire built around his own glory, which included the world famous Hanging Gardens.  His rule had reduced Jerusalem and Judah to rubble, losing everything.  His dream was fulfilled, as God told David it would:
28 All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” 31 While the words were still in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, 32 and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, muntil you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.”33 Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles' feathers, and his nails were like birds' claws. (Daniel 4:28-33, ESV)

Horton goes on to say in Gospel-Driven Life that "Faith in God is generally treated by the powerful of the earth as a crutch for the weak and foolish.  As Neb admired his accomplishments from his lofty penthouse (as did Howard Hughes), he was doubtless of this opinion.  However, he literally lost his mind (as did Howard Hughes).  It is not foolishness, but sanity that recognize the way things really are.  God is Creator and Lord; we are all nothing more than ants pretending to conquer the earth when we merely crawl on top of our own anthill.

The great part is that in this story about King Neb, we see God's grace at work.  He goes on to learn the hard way that God put him in the position he had and could take it away.  God, by His Grace, restored King Neb's empire after he "praised and extolled and honored" God's Kingdom in Heaven.  In verses 36 and 37 of Daniel 4, King Neb says "for all His works are right and His ways are just; and those who walk in pride He is able to humble."

You can see the similarities with both men are amazing.  The wealth and power, the insanity and breakdowns, all the way down to the hair and nails never being cut.  I just felt like the coincidence that led to this post was awesome enough to share.  So, don't get caught up in "Success" if it's not done for the glory of God's kingdom because when it's not, it's "just a mess of over-dos."