Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Follower's Manifesto


There are two distinct themes in the bible. First, God demands justice. He demands that we follow his law, that we love our neighbor, that we love Him more than anything else. Second, God is merciful. He sent his own son to die and redeem the people of Earth not to condemn them. There is now no condemnation for those who abide. For years I saw a contradiction between these. This was one of the things that pushed me to postmodernism.

However, the more I grow in faith I realize that there is no contradiction. The paradox is a coefficient of my own human ignorance. God is just, but he is also merciful. Every letter of the law stands, but salvation comes through faith in Messiah's gift alone. It isn't about being good, but it is about being blameless. I am a wicked, but I am saved. I really like things this way. No body has it all figured out, though some do abide. It is an formula that leads the seeker to a place of faith and humility, of hope and awe.

The Bible is not a history book. Its not a science book. It is the living Word-- the Logos of God that he has hewn out of the very lifelines of His people.

In the end, the bickering, the hand-wringing, the denominations are superfluous. I am a follower of The Way, a disciple of Messiah. Whatever else is true of me, I want these to be.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Descent toward the Ritual


I've discovered recently that I am given to quirky little rituals.  They are harmless repeated patterns that exhibit themselves in sometimes helpful, sometimes silly ways.  I'm not compelled to do them, this is not OCD.  It is more like a subconscious formalization of my behavior.  I can't close a locked door without checking for my keys for example.  In that sense it is an adaptation that I've developed because of being burned once or twice by actually locking my keys in places.

But recently I became directly aware of the progression toward one particular ritual.  I was playing Solitaire on my PDA (I'm old tech., I know, but smart phones are lame; that's another story) and I realized that I could cheat by moving a card to a blank column even if it wasn't a king. It was a bug in the program that I could exploit. I did this and eventually beat my high score.  It was great, but after a while I felt like a cheater. I felt like my high score was a lie. It really was the tell tale heart. Well, after a great deal of internal struggle (over Solitaire nonetheless), I cleared my scores and started afresh, this time with the intent not to cheat.  But it didn't remain just an intent.  I got to the point where I would resist cheating even when I knew for instance that I could win without cheating but doing so would save time.  It had become a ritual.   It was a behavior that I developed so that I could feel good about my high scores.

I've wondered since if this is how some religious rituals start.  We get caught up with our holiness high scores and so we develop formalized behaviors, we develop rituals.

Communion started with a group of thirteen brothers in a dimly lit upper room huddled close to keep warm.  Now we deliver the communion in gold-colored trays in perfectly portioned crackers and grape juice with our eyes closed and our heads bowed.  It is a ritual.  Now I'm not criticizing our contemporary church practices.  Rituals aren't inherently bad.  My Solitaire ritual does insure beyond any doubt that I deserve that high score.  I am just warning against loosing the point of a thing when it becomes a ritual.  The point, I believe, of communion is to gather together with our Lord and enjoy the company.  It is about shedding conflicts and differences that might be between He and us and each other and asking forgiveness. It is about huddling together in a very, very cold world.  Communion is about community.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Depravity

I think I am good. I do noble things. I even sometimes sacrifice a little for others. But I am too aware of my darker self. I have no illusions of holiness. The knot of flesh that seeks to rule my life, it whines and writhes in the agony of selfish pity; a self inflicted torment; a spiritual black hole. It is clear to me now that my sin is not merely an ethical schism. It is a prison for my mind.

I keep myself with personal and social checks that waver only in times of intense emotion. Most of the time I seem good, but painted across my chest is the scarlet letter of my inner most being. I am a devil. My inner child screams, "I am good!" But in this context, I know I deserve hell.

All of this is dark, but it is not depressing. Because of this, the salvation given to me is that much more amazing; that much more precious. It is a white hot crack in the encasement of my mind; a fissure in the chains that bind my will.

Sanctus, peccator... nosce te ipsum. Renascere!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Without God

The truth that the atheist offers is a silly plaything; a meaningless amusement while one waits for nothingness. Without God, you are left with delusion or despair. Camus was absolutely right; without God, there is absolutely no difference between living and killing yourself. When the summit of life is pleasure; justice, peace, goodness, and freedom are just buzz words used to make life more bearable. Without purpose, without God, there is nothing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Love to the Seeker


You have to understand, to a seeker, religion is like walking into a crowded room with everybody shouting "come here or you will die!" at the top of their lungs. Merely to maintain sanity, they must dismiss all of these claims as lunacy. For otherwise, which shouting voice is telling the truth? To whom should they go to avoid death? I prefer to stand and smile and when approached say, "I have found bread; come and eat." For the seeker is hungry, and I indeed have found bread.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Three Earths

Three Earths could fit in that storm system!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Thirst-Quenching Fire

Death to the machine;
The great mechanical dragon must die.
Much has been lost; much permanently;
Already.

Sacred things are gone.
The machine has a will to make us all alike.
We were born to be different, to be unique,
To be beautiful.

In your mind already,
There is a cynicism deep in your heart.
It devourers your joy, and through you others.
Kill it now.

Something was lost,
Already the frame of the world creaks,
In anticipation of something that is to come.
A thirst-quenching fire.