……..

I don’t want to pick up any weapons against my brothers. I don’t want to be a threat to Christ’s Bride.

And if that means throwing out all my ideologies, then I will do it willingly. If it means that I have to shut my mouth, then I will do it. All I want is to be a safe haven for people that are out in the open.

I do not want to be a growling rottweiler. If Christ’s Bride were to have any dog for a pet, it would be a poodle. She wants something soft to put in her lap and close its eyes. We are all sheep.

Being a faithful follower is not about feeling stupid and small. It is about feeling secure and powerful in her lap. And Dad is reading a book before bedtime, before the fire.

I don’t want to argue with people. I want to have a conversation if they do. I want to build things with them, to explore this world.

If we really are going to talk, I don’t want to attack your ideology. And I do not want to bring my own. I want to explore ideas with you. When is it ever helpful to attack?

It is only helpful to attack, when our enemy is ideologies that bind people with guilt. I will die dismantling wicked tools that bind the consciences of people as weak as myself. These things that shift weaklings’ security put them in authority. And anyone who is in authority is the most insecure of us all, the most threatened. Give the authority back to Dad, he can handle it. Rest your head and close your eyes.

When is it ever helpful to bring yourself or to see yourself? Don’t we own enough mirrors? Close your eyes. Rest your head.

I don’t want to see myself! I am constantly in the way of living faithfully, of spreading the truth that the Gospel brings security. I am only secure because of the Gospel.

We can separate truth, beauty, and goodness, but if we do our interactions with them all are through words and opinions. They are united and we best interact with them when we live lighted lives. When our lives emanate light, then we possess the truth, the beauty, the goodness. Enough talking, disagreeing, arguing, nuancing, qualifying. I don’t want to talk with you, I want to sing with you.

Enough talking. We’re not in junior high anymore, we are almost dead. More singing, exploring, loving.

 

…….

Everything we consume and speak is tied to trust. Flying like Icarus, unshakable as a solid gold feather.

We consume and speak for future generations.

Every word is a shovel I use to dig a cathedral out of my nose. It is risky, like feeding pine nuts to a six-toed giant from Zimzummim.

What makes visions sterile is if their father never lets them fly from his mouth. Visions lay eggs in skulls that hatch and peck out of strangers’ sockets and eardrums. That is why visionaries worship like they are drowning.

Take these words or leave them like all the millions of words we ignore. Some other time, then.

 

……

The urge to share and speak to an empty auditorium is a right enough to do it, as long as you’re the janitor, holding the keys, dismissive and dying concert pianists running past you during the day, and at night, darkness. Go ahead. Sing. No one will hear it anyway, except you when the echo comes back and sounds like someone singing to you through you, through the empty chairs. The echo of you encouraging yourself, “Keep singing!”

…..

When you are feeling lonely, know that you are not alone in feeling that way. And when you search and see how many are lonely just like you, it becomes clear that it is a pandemic. It is only fun to be lonely, when you are sure that you are the only one who feels that way. When everyone walks around with slumped shoulders, you should just think, “What the heck?” And the sweet twisted taste of your own loneliness should become silly. And that is when you go and give some loner a hug.

Christ, the Mysticismal

I, a dirty peasant leaning on my rake, looked across the rocky shore and sea to a black square sitting on the horizon. That disturbing and angled square suggested that nature is more geometric than I first presumed. Perhaps, God was covering an embarrassment with a divine censor? It was a distant island – perfectly natural – and I could make out a small copse of trees sitting on the top of it. Or was it a building?

The cold halls echo with the sound of two flapping intruders. They are pigeons and they are in love. Behind a wooden door, a monk sits over his desk scribbling his thoughts. “For He can well be loved,” he writes, “but he cannot be thought. By love He can be grasped and held, but by thought, neither grasped nor held.”

He puts down his pen and rubs his eyes with his palms. He sighs and looks up in the top right corner of his simple room. “God,” he says, “God, God, God…” A patch of spring light from the grated window covers his hairy cheek as he rocks in his chair. “God, God, God…”

This is the author of The Cloud of Unknowing. For this man, the only way to communicate with God is through intentional denial of all knowledge. God, pure truth, was attained through a private experience of love. His prayer was the pursuit of an esoteric spiritual ecstasy.

This Christian monk was drunk on mysticism. His prayer, closer to Eastern meditation than Christian prayer, indicated his skepticism of language. His pursuit of Truth was an internal wordless journey, not an external realization of the only revealed Truth.

Hundreds of years later, the secular thinker Ludwig Wittgenstein searched for the perfect language. If a perfect language could be found, then humans could finally pierce “the cloud of unknowing” that hangs over all of us. Plato, finally, could talk about the forms as a material being!

If only.

His exploration turned up no results. He concluded his search with the famous words, “What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.” These very words pierce to the core of cloudy mysticism. Mysticism is the belief that truth can be seen or experienced, but not described or stated.

Had God never interacted with His Creation, mysticism would be the most realistic model of the world. What would be the root of truth? Humans could only pursue truth sensually or through imperfect language. For this reason, mysticism is fundamentally empirical. Worse, it is frustrated empiricism. Mystics are obsessed with experience, but as soon as an explorer asks them a question, they blow smoke in their face.

Mystics do not believe that truth exists outside of abstraction. The Forms are the only truth, the Divine language, shrouding this concrete world in illusion and fruitlessness. Mystics are dragged into swirling hypocrisy! If truth only exists as a sensual experience, is truth not then rooted in a world of illusion? Death is their ultimate experience of truth. As dead spirits, at least we know what God has to say to us.

Mysticism unchecked by a physical body is a destructive hurricane. It draws in weak swimmers by its force and pulls them under the murky surface of soggy newspapers and spinning stop signs. They deeply experience the reality of truth, but they are unable to distinguish between truth and death.

They curve in on themselves, drawn deeper into their own minds, creating elusive worlds in place of the world that pulled them out. Instead of taking walks with friends and breathing, they drown in silence and the starvation of pleasure. The body is only weight for people who cannot swim.

Philosophers looking to tame mysticism defend that truth is partially rooted in the material. Undistilled mysticism is poison, so some want to theoretically balance it. The opposite theoretical perspective of mysticism is materialism. Materialism is the belief that truth can be described and stated perfectly.

This is a failed labor from the start. Materialism relies too heavily on the human intellect. It disregards the truth that language is frequently insufficient. Thinkers who swim in the stream of materialism rarely agree. Their work is frustrated by the unreliability of the only tool they rely on.

Truth is not a balance of these two extremes. A balance would merely be a human approximation of the truth. Furthermore, the materialistic response to mysticism does not understand what makes mysticism so dangerous.

Mysticism is not dangerous because it is theoretically false. Mysticism is dangerous because of what it makes people do. If people try to conjoin materialism with mysticism, the only thing diminished is the potency of truth. Both extreme positions are hypocrisy and cultivate further hypocrisy together.

The only perspective of truth that functions is a total mysticism with one exception. In order for mysticism to work, there must be at least one materialistic exception. The exception would have to be a truth that is seen that has a name. This truth would function as a holy anchor dropped onto this solid world. Creation and God are separated by a chasm of language, but this chasm is crossed.

It is impossible to say that God intervenes for us, if there is nothing to intervene over. Mysticism provides the gorge of darkness necessary for intercession.

Jesus of Nazareth is the response to mysticism.

Wittgenstein observed that the lynch-pin of truth was the perfect language. A perfect language would have to be the Divine language incarnated for human use. He searched for it like a hungry hound, but it was found in the “gibberish” religion he denied. Since he could not find it, he fell back on a sophisticated and clean Western mysticism. Ah, Ludwig my friend, how close but how far.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Christ is a direct satisfaction of the search for a perfect language.

A blind mystic, the most pitiful creature imaginable, would likely be unsatisfied by Christ. He might ask of Jesus, “What is truth,” hoping for a statement in the Divine language. Christ, however, did not bring propositional truths of Divine language. He brought Himself. By bringing Himself, He was able to use our own imperfect language perfectly. He spoke parables and sermons. And His words were hotly disputed, so much so that a group of skeptics conspired to assassinate Him. Only those who received the mystery understood His parables.

Christ answers mysticism, but He ultimately decried it as hopeless and blind without Him. A sensual experience of truth is possible, but what is it worth? Christ said:

‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing

you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people

have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their e-

-yes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes

and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with th-

-eir hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.’ But blessed

are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for

assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men

desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear

what you hear, and did not hear it.’

The mystic who sees truth and does not perceive it as Christ might as well not see anything.

You might ask, “Why retain the paradigm of mysticism at all?” We retain it, because mysticism acknowledges that truth is above us. Christian mysticism goes a step farther and acknowledges that truth came down to us. This has a profound practical implication in this life. It is the very response materialists fail to provide.

The monk who wrote The Cloud of Unknowing needed to be reminded that Jesus was a body who did things. The mystery is solved, the Word has been given, and it cannot any longer be pursued like the blind mystic. The mystery is that truth has a belly-button, can be kissed, hugged, whipped, and killed.

The calling of the mystic is to be fiercely alive, raw salted muscles to the beating sun. Also, we do not meditate. We pray. The distinction is made, because in prayer, we have someone to call as a witness. We use words, because our language is made perfect in the sight of God. We do not empty ourselves of knowledge, we gorge on it.

More importantly, we bring the knowledge to the world. Where mysticism was sterile, the Gospel is explosively reproductive. By the revelation of Christ, the mystery is made known to usand it is finally possible to communicate truth.

Christ said to His disciples, every mystic with sight, “‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”

The square is lifted.

Now rake.

I’m trying to learn how to not just be a statue, but a living one, like in Las Vegas. I want to shock people on the street with sudden bursts of life, but that can only be done if I am as unmoving as marble.

..

The future is in some sense historical, because certain things in the present contain their own resolution.

Atheism is boring. And boring things do not last into the future, because it is human interest that preserves paradigms.

Human interest indicates what satisfies the human soul, which is a thorough foundation in the scope of history. If something is not interesting enough for its consistency to be defended by humans through tradition, it is not consistent with the evolution of humans.

We might equivocate on “evolution”, but the question for all worldviews is the same; how do we become better and leave behind our imperfection?

I am not defending the feeble attempts of Christians to understand the truth of Christianity in its entirety. But it is strongly indicative of Christianity’s truth that they try. What paradigm is so well-preserved by creed and tradition? Even when people try to throw off the shackles of creed and tradition, they lay in the grass waiting for the next generation to pick them up. Because of all the human attempts to preserve truth, Christianity itself is a cohesive and stable whole, whether the individuals recognize it or not.

What creeds hold atheism together? What doctrines or love or unity or traditions? Who gives it devoted attention like a loving mother? The eyes of Christian saints are full of tears and admiration for God and nature. Saints are in relationship with what they defend and love.

Who is taking care of rowdy atheism? Is anyone interested enough in loving and cultivating it? In looking it in the eyes and giving it a big kiss on the cheek? And does atheism move people to the widows and orphans to kiss them on the cheek?

Who labors together with joy, building the temple to atheism?

Labor has been put on the temple of God every day since Christ. Christianity is not only a stable and well-defended superstructure, it is one that continues to be built up.

Thank you, Lewis, Plantinga, Schaeffer, Stevens, Tolkien, O’Connor, Piper, Wright, Keller, and all the thousands that continue the labor. I wait eagerly for this generation of saints to continue the work.

Where is atheism going?

The world has seen no improvement in the theology and glory of atheism since the time of Lucretius. If anything, the aesthetic value of it has degraded since then. At least he wrote poetry and did not yell about everything.

And perhaps the knowledge of nature has expanded, but this knowledge was neither found by atheism, nor is it used thoroughly by it. Knowledge of nature is the greatest tool modern Christians are using to build the temple of God, but we could use it more.

Since the Reformation, there has been a clear expansion of Christian interest in the knowledge of nature.

And is this not an expansion of human interest, cultivated in Christianity?

Atheism has destruction written in its DNA. After Christians have labored more to continue the evolution of humanity, atheism will come back to enjoy what it did not obtain.

Week by Week 2

This Week: A discussion between Carson S, David H, and Caleb W. We talk about Billy Collins, Beowulf, T.S. Elliot, J.R.R. Tolkien, Keats “Ode to a Nightingale”, C.S. Lewis, Picasso, Job, sub-creation, darkness and light, the point of creation, the need for honesty, self-publishing, rap, the eschatology of art and in what it finds its purpose in, whether prayer is an art (the Valley of Vision), the importance of having something valuable to say in an age of aspiration and self-promotion, meaning and how a poem conveys it, reading poetry out-loud, reading poetry fast, eye-rhymes, and all various postmodern mouth-dribbles.

.

Make a list of people.

Describe them.

List the things they love. You know what someone really likes when they mention it in passing, never when you ask them. Now you know what to get them for their birthday – or better, any day.

List their talents.

List the things you love the most about them and what gets on your nerves.

Think of the things you dislike about them as deficiencies on your part. They are heroes in a major stage play and they have fatal flaws. And that is why we are all going to die.

Fast forward fifty years.

Does the way they smack their lips when they eat still bother you? Or do you look back at it fondly, wishing you could get the opportunity back to laugh and not sigh?

I wish I would have put my hand on his shoulder and said, “I love you,” instead of repressing the desire to think, “I hate how you eat.”

I am a fool. And why do I talk like that? Don’t I know you hate that I always say that?