Posted on February 1, 2013
I’m going to die.
Four words. True words. Shocking words. We all know it is going to happen, but we spend our lives attempting to flee it, all the while knowing we never can.
Since the day I was born I was destined for this one dance, this last dance, this dance with Death. Death, who follows me like a shadow, stalking me since my infancy. With every passing heartbeat, with every step I take, it is one step closer to my final dance, my dance with Death.
I’m going to dance. A final dance, my last dance. But, even Death has not the power to destroy me, though he is the great enemy of us, there is with me the victory over death, Death dances with me, but we dance not to the grave, and there to rot, but into Heaven. We dance from a world of shadows, to a world of light.
Death also takes some on a darker dance. The dance that does not end in joy, but in sorrow.
Even now he follows me, haunting me, always hanging over me. Ever is he but a moment away. We do not always know the hour upon which we dance. It may be tomorrow, it may be some decades off yet. I do not know my final hour.
Since the beginning, I’ve heard the chimes, ringing. Every hour, another passing hour. It is but one more hour upon this Earth. And while I look forward with great anticipation to the hope of Heaven, I know that I must dance, and await, patiently. Not fearing Death’s hand, Death’s key, Death’s dance. Neither inviting him or refusing him. He will always follow, he will ask in the right hour.
Every moment, of every day, of every year, of every decade, is a gift. Treasure your time here, for it is short. Death is both a great tragedy and yet a great blessing for those whose time has come, and whose hearts are ready. The dance with Death releases some from the torments of life, while bringing others into the torments of death. Time is short, and we all have a choice to make, but Death will always dance with us. Always. There can be no fleeing from him. He is patient, so very patient. We all have a choice to make. We do not know when our hour is up.
I say it again, I’m going to die. I’m going to dance.
Should I forget to live in the fear of the shadow of Death? Or should I live, knowing I will dance with Death, but that my present moment is given to me, to live?
I’m alive. And it is beautiful, but in this world, I do not live forever, but in Death, I will be more alive then I am at present. To me, my death is like the approach of the end of a very long day. I am awake for awhile, but a day will come, as it does for all, when I shall sleep.
So while I am aware of the appointment to dance my final dance, I do not fear it, but find hope even here, in the darkest shadow.
I’m going to Heaven.
Posted on February 1, 2013
I desire in my eyes and heart the gift of beauty, I want to consider things as though they are precious gifts, because what do I have that is not a gift graciously bestowed upon me? So should I not view the world in light of that, in gratitude and wonder? Contentment and gratitude open the eyes and soul to see the fullness of the beautiful. How can I not desire that?
It is an amazing time to be alive, there are so many beautiful things to see. As I’ve been learning more about different languages and cultures then my native one, I’ve learned just how small my world is, and just how wonderful it is to learn about what’s out there. On one hand with every language there is an entirely different way of looking on the world, on the other hand I’m struck by how fundamentally human we all are. Regardless of what language we speak, at the end of the day, we’re still human. Thus, every culture has something in common, even if it is gathering for a meal, or singing songs. We’ve got something in common already, before we even speak one word with anyone in this world, we have so much in common. I wish I could learn every language, and learn every culture, but I know my life is too short to accomplish such a task, nevertheless, I’m determined to try to learn about the cultures that have always particularly fascinated me. I may not be able to understand the world, but it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try.
What I’m really finding, is that I’m delighting in the embracing of my humanity, and in finding my own, I’m delighting in others.
I find the human race to be extremely fascinating, and my experiment in trying to learn new languages has already helped deepen my appreciation for other cultures and people. I’m in love with the French, the Korean, the Chinese, the Japanese, and the Spanish cultures, and am growing more and more interested in more and more as time passes. I love how different countries have different ways of doing things then my own, and I find delight in our differences as well as our similarities.
I love how I’m learning to love and appreciate people who are different from me, which is nearly always a good thing. I’m learning to see the beauty in others, and not the ugliness, which reminds me of what we are designed to be, an image, a symbol, of God. This too is good. It is good for me to learn of others, and to see them in light of being so beautiful, if for no other reason then the beauty of being a human being, an image of God, created in the likeness of God, how can we help but be beautiful? It’s in our very nature as human beings to be beautiful. I’m delighted to find that my eyes are beginning to see it. It can be so easy to look at the world around us and see only the ugliness. But easy doesn’t mean it is the correct way of viewing the world around us. The truth of the matter is, the life of the human being, the fact of its existence alone, is a beautiful thing, My soul cries out for beauty, but beauty is already all around me, I just need to open my eyes, and I will see.
Life is a gift. Treasure it. Our time here is beautiful, our world is amazing. These are good gifts indeed.
So while my road is long, and the adventure is just at the beginning, I’m honored to find myself here, in this, amazing world full of amazing people, doing amazing things. It is a delight to me, and such a gift.
I don’t want to miss the bigger picture by being self-consumed.
There is life, live it!
Posted on February 2, 2013
There are things I do not understand.
I do not understand the goodness of God. I can comprehend his greatness, easily enough, I do not deny the greatness of God, but I struggle with his goodness. Sure, God is great, that doesn’t unsettle me. Why should I care whether or not there is an all powerful being reigning over all the realm? Greatness is easy. It is reasonable. It is understandable. Goodness, on the other hand, is not. Especially the goodness of God. The greater he is the more difficult it becomes to understand his goodness. The greatness makes it harder to accept the goodness. It is why we struggle, why I struggle to comprehend the sadness of the earth. Such a little world, why so much pain? How can someone be both great and good? One or the other, I can comprehend, but to be both? I do not understand it.
And it runs deep. So very deep. A gift of God is immediately rejected, despised even fought against. Why? Because we cannot accept that God is good, that God would give us something good. We know he can, but refuse to believe he will.
Why do I find delight in so many places, why do I keep finding wonderful people, people I didn’t even know of their existence until, suddenly, out of nowhere, there they were, and then you wonder how it could be that the world could, and even did, ever exist without them. You find yourself more willing to accept that these people might have existed from outside time itself, that the world never could exist without them, then to accept that God is good.
I do not understand it. Amidst the joys there is great pain, suffering, and everywhere there is darkness, so much darkness. How can a great God be, when there is so much of these dark things to be found? And because he is great, how can he be good if these terrible things happen.
Where was God? Why did this happen? Why did an all powerful God allow this?
We ask these questions, our heart is desperate to know the answer. From the moment we were born to the moment we die, we know pain. Our first breath and our last breath are most often ones of suffering. From our earliest moments, to our last, we are in the torment that life has brought us. A struggle, a terrible, long, struggle. We decay from our first moment, never being what we were, but always growing worse, growing older. Even the healthiest of us will die. Everyone dies.
How can this be? How can God be both good and great?
I do not understand. I do not doubt the greatness of God, it is his goodness that I struggle with.
I think to an extent, at one time or another, it is something all have struggled with. We know that it is nothing for God to be great, but it is everything for him to be good. And pain demands an answer.
Only God can answer, and there can only ever be one answer, if God is to be both great and good, he must therefore take upon himself every suffering, every pain, everything. If one thing is lacking, then he cannot be both great and good.
I still do not understand.
Even so, why do the truly innocent suffer? Even animals, for example, experience suffering. The only explanation I can come up with is that humanity is the crowning glory of all creation, and when the crown falls, so does the kingdom. Death comes to all, because death came to humanity. In asking why we suffer, why creatures of all types, suffer, I think we underestimate the importance our role as humanity plays in it. Perhaps it is a truth too terrible to face, perhaps it is hard to accept our responsibility, perhaps it is that we simply do not understand. I do not understand. Maybe it has something to do with our perception of time, and in reality all that we call darkness is but a little thing, but even the tiniest thing can overwhelm when you are in the midst of it.
These are questions I do not know the answers to, nothing satisfies it fully. There is always another question that needs answering, and in the end it always comes back to the first question, how can a great God be a good God?
But he is, and I do not say that blindly, or out of desire, but as a fact that needs to taken into the picture.
One guess is that perhaps God’s attributes cannot contradict one another. For example, his love cannot contradict his justice, his goodness cannot contradict his greatness, and so forth. An infinite being with infinite attributes, all working together in perfect balance.
Also, it must be considered that the standard for these attributes, such as goodness, is the same for God as it is for humanity. There is not one morality for God and another for man. There is one alone. So yes, God’s goodness must conform to the idea of goodness that he has laid forth for man. It cannot be that God can get away with doing something that man cannot because he’s God.
God is the attribute. It is often said that God is love. Yes. He is the word, he is the thing itself. He is the standard by which we draw the concept of love, of goodness, and so forth.
God is good, because God is good.
But, let us ask, if God did not have his attributes, would he still be God?
Perhaps. But he wouldn’t be the same as he is. For example, a God without goodness, the only reasonable thing we could do against such a being is rebel against him with everything we got. A God without truth would not be worth heeding. A God without beauty, we would not know what beauty is and would dwell in an even bleaker world then we do, with no hope at all, we would only ever know something more akin to Hell. A God without justice, and we would lack any concept of the difference between that which is good and that which is not. There could be neither rebellion or obedience to a God without justice, and we would have no choice at all, but would be subject to the whims of God. We would be secure one day, and considered enemy number one the next. We certainly couldn’t call a God without justice a loving God. We couldn’t trust that he means it when love is demonstrated. It would be like a faithless man who tells someone he loves them, but doesn’t, and continues doing the very opposite of love towards them. God must be just, because he is love.
Taking that into consideration perhaps that there is goodness to be found at all is an amazing thing. Of all the infinite attributes of God, they all work together in perfect harmony. If one of them was even the slightest bit off, the whole thing would fall apart. Such perfection is hard to comprehend, and I could spend the rest of my life trying to describe just a small handful of the attributes of God and would still fall ridiculously short of the actual reality of God, but hopefully, I can at least convey the idea of why it is that God can be both great and good.
God is the attribute. Things we call love and justice, our concepts of these things, are drawn from the thing that they actually are. We would not know them if they didn’t exist first in reality.
Think about it for a moment. An infinite God with infinite attributes.
Yet, we ourselves are separate from God. We are individuals. We are not part of God, but separate beings from God, independent from him, something other. It is hard to describe how something can be other, when something is everywhere, but there are a lot of impossible truths, riddles even, it’s why we keep asking questions.
Separation provides us with a choice, to follow, or to run. Some run, some follow. The truth comes down to the peculiarity of the fact that we are separate entities from the entity that created us. We remain however, an image of God, this is important to understand.
So why suffering?
Because we can make choices. Once we gained the knowledge to choose between good and evil. It is curiously spoken that such a state is being ‘like gods,’ ‘like us,’ and so forth. But because we hold an additional attribute, knowledge of evil, it doesn’t make us a better person, nor does it make us gods, only our nature as an image, as mirrors if you will, give us an additional attribute. Knowledge of evil. We are not purposed for evil, but in learning it, put it into practice as well. Every action begins with a thought.
So why Hell?
Again, because we chose to. Let us consider for a moment that in the bigger picture of things that we exist not as timelines, with a past, a present, and a future, but that we are eternally a product of a choice, that we have two roads if you will, and we all start at the crossroads. Where we end up depends entirely on which road we take from there. But when the choice is made one way or the other, that is the choice that is made for the whole of our reality. We are either creatures of Heaven or creatures of Hell, because we always were, always are, and always will be, one or the other, depending on which path we chose to take. But it is important to understand that it is entirely our choice that brings the outcome. Thus, those who are in Heaven are in Heaven because they chose to be, and those who are in Hell are in Hell because they chose to be. God did not send, does not send, and will not send anyone to Hell. But people will go there if they chose it. And that is where they always were. We are one or the other, because we chose to be one or the other. It’s quite simple really.If you hosted a party and you invited a bunch of guest, some came to the party, and were at the party, while some did not come, would you say that those who did not come, were at the party? Of course not. Why? Did you send them away from the party? No, you invited them all to come but they did not come. If a man stays home, you can’t exactly drag him to a party he doesn’t wish to attend. If one choses to refrain from a party, he has chosen to do something else. That something else, for us, is Hell. It isn’t pleasant, like the party is. But, if you were to refuse an invitation, who is to blame for your not being present at the party? Certainly not the host of the party.
Why doesn’t God just drag us to the party ‘for our own good’ then? Remember what I said earlier about all the attributes of God having to work together in perfect unison or he ceases to be God? God cannot do so, because it violates his attributes to do so, and he is the attribute, he can no more break it then he can break himself.
Which is why Christ crucified changed everything that is, everything that was, everything that ever will be. Because, all that we are, he became, so that he could take upon himself, everything that we are, in turn he gives to us everything that he is. Because he is love, and because he is just. The most fair and unfair thing that ever happened had to fall upon himself.
But we still have a choice in the matter.
At the end of the day God is God because he is God.
Even if we had everything he has, all power, all knowledge, and so forth, that doesn’t automatically make us gods too. It isn’t his attributes that make him, except it is, except it isn’t. It is perhaps best summed up in the name: “I AM”. He is, because he is, because he is. Even if he didn’t have all that he has, he would still be God, because he is God.
Yes, there is a lot I don’t understand. The hardest thing for me, is the goodness of God.
It is difficult for me to comprehend God apart from comprehending God.
I do feel a little overwhelmed by the study of an infinite God. Infinite will do that.
I do not understand, but at the end of the day, I have to believe what it is that he says of himself. If he says he is good, then good he must be, even if I have a hard time making sense of it, it doesn’t make it any less true for my not understanding it. In the mean time, I keep asking questions, perhaps someday I will know the answers, but for now, it is questions, lots of questions. But in the consideration of an infinite God, with infinite attributes, there must be an answer for every question. And not just ‘Because I said so.’ that is an empty answer with no meaning or reason, even for God. There must always be a reason. Always. Is God accountable to me? No, but he is to himself. Thus, I do believe there are answers to every question, reasons for everything that is, and so forth, I’m just not comprehending it right now. It makes perfect sense, I’m just not keeping up, if you will.
So I keep asking questions, and I expect I will keep asking questions until the day I die, perhaps there will be more questions after that even, perhaps not.
After all, that’s the way it should be.
Posted on February 3, 2013
There are people out there, people who I do not yet know. Amazing people. Wonderful people. People so beyond my ability to imagine them, that the fact that they are there will prove to be a surprise and a delight in and of itself.
It keeps happening. I keep finding myself surprised by something, delighted by something, changed even. Most of the time, that something comes in the form of being someone.
How is it that little things can sometimes change us the most? For me, the changes are not usually the result of some great event, either tragic, or spectacular, but little things. Small notes of encouragement, little paintings, just watching people do what it is they love to do, little things.
When I consider how I started learning the French language. I was inspired by a YouTube video that told a fantasy story using Spanish, which inspired me to finally take the time and effort to begin studying the French language, which is something I’ve desired to do for years. A little thing, but the effects of it might change the entire course of my life. I might find myself places I never, ever, imagined myself as a result of that one little thing that set the things that followed in motion. Among them was the discovery of Mandarin Chinese as another language to learn, which has proven to be a far more fascinating and beautiful treasure then I expected it to be. Languages and cultures go hand in hand, and I find a love for the people to whom these languages belong to, has arisen in my heart. I wish I could learn every language and culture, and love every person. I might now be able to learn all those languages in my lifetime, but love transcends all these things. It doesn’t mean I can’t love the people of the world.
That is but one example of a little thing altering the greater. In many ways, this is the story of our lives. Little things, precious things, that is where the real story is told. We’re not like a product package with a few of the benefits listed on the label, but a complex and wonderful creature, a human being, with a heart and a soul.
Of course many times there are events that change our lives unexpectedly, sometimes these are tragic, sometimes they are not, but they do occur, major, and sudden change does occur.
But more often, it is the little things. Most of my friends did not suddenly just drop into my world out of nowhere, becoming my friend at once, not that that can’t happen, but generally speaking, there is a period of developing, a process, or if you will several little things that comprise the bigger thing. A laugh shared here, a little compliment, a handshake, a little lunch, the sharing of little joys, delights, and our sorrows. The sharing of tears, and the unveiling of our hearts. These are the things that form our friendships, not unexpectedly, though it may seem that way, or suddenly, but it is usually formed as a outworking of many little things changing to form a friendship between two people. Sometimes it takes but a few hours for the friendship to go from a little seed planted to a beautiful flower. Sometimes it is a process that takes years. Either way, these little things are the precious moments, the little moments, these are the treasures of our hearts.
The little things. A smile, a laugh, the things we want to remember forever. Those are the things that change us, and those are the things that change the world.
I confess, I am often so enthralled on how the little things change me, how they change my life, that I forget that sometimes I’m doing the same for others, little things that I do, are changing those around me too. It’s what we do. We need each other, we change each other. That’s how it works. That’s why we need our relationships. It’s why we need to share our talents with each other. It is the gift of ourselves.
We are never happier then when we lose ourselves and turn our focus outward, seeking to benefit our brothers and our sisters. We are never more miserable then when we are inward focused, excluding those around us.
That said, I really need to understand that my gifts are not given to me to horde towards myself, but to share freely with the world around me, for the transformation of those around me, and even myself.
It’s why I need to speak more openly, and not be afraid. It would be wrong for me to deny the giving of the little things that I have to those around me. My gifts, my talents, while I might find great happiness, delight, and personal fulfillment in using them, are something for the benefit of others, and when I use them for that purpose, to help others, then I will find all that I, myself, desire as well. I am convinced that it is in the nature of being focused upon others that we cannot help but find ourselves filled with the very things we most desire, but when we seek them for the sake of ourselves, they always seem just out of reach.
The YouTube channel Blimey Cow has a saying that is perfect for that: “You’re doing it wrong!” (It is a fun channel by the way. Worth watching.)
I’m beginning to understand, it’s okay to just be myself, to let myself use my gifts and talents, and that in sharing them, I help others. How? Just by being myself. I keep finding myself absolutely astounded and delighted by people who are just being themselves, and are just using their talents and gifts. Just doing what it is that they do. It’s okay to be yourself. You are you! And, when you are being you, in most cases, you become a gift to those around you. You’re not just some mindless zombie that corporations like to call a consumer. Sadly, that is about what we come when we turn our focus inward. When life becomes about what we can get out of it, rather then what we can give, we do become rather like zombies.
An example from my greatest failing: One of the gifts I’ve been given is a beautiful singing voice, and a beautiful voice in general. But, the one thing I am more terrified of then anything is speaking. God has given me a gift. What a waste it would be to let fear rob both me, and the world around me, of it.
This is a tragedy. That I have been given something beautiful, but do not share it. This is wrong.
Everyone has something beautiful to give. Let’s be ourselves. Does it really matter what other people think? Is image worth the price of robbing humanity of the beautiful gifts bestowed upon us? We are beautiful gifts, precious people, we are gifts to the world around us. Will we let pride and selfishness rob ourselves, and those around us, of the blessings we have to give? Is it worth it? Or is the self-centered human the greatest tragedy ever to be seen in this world?
Let us be the gifts we are meant to be. Go out, be beautiful, be wonderful, be brilliant. Be yourself. That is what we are after all.
Posted on February 4, 2013
It is astonishing how much you can learn by learning something new, it is more than just words, learning new languages is like opening the door to a whole new world, a whole new way of looking at the world as you already know it. I will not deny that it is an exhausting process, and I still have a long road ahead of me on both my Mandarin Chinese and French studies. While I’m tackling the languages two at a time, I have several others I want to learn in addition. I want to at least get to the point of being able to construct sentences in a language before adding another one. I think having someone to speak with would be helpful, true, but right now I don’t have that. Which is okay, I could use any number of services designed for the purpose, but I’m not ready for that just yet.
In addition to Mandarin Chinese and French, I desire to learn Korean, Japanese, and Spanish. It was my love for music which inspired the Korean desire, I can’t resist exploring new music, and through music, new ideas. Then there is how much I love the ‘alphabet’ (not sure if it is an alphabet.) Also, I’ve heard the Korean language is an extremely logical one. Taking into consideration all of that, I’m fascinated already. It is the styling of the characters, and a fairly lifelong fascination for the culture of Japan that inspires me to desire to learn the language, and Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages, and a Romantic language, I would like to learn it more for practicality then being particularly fascinated by it, although, I expect I will find it much more fascinating to me once I start studying it. That is what happened with both the Mandarin Chinese and French.
I’m sure I’ll find more languages I want to learn. There really isn’t such a thing as an isolated language, and they tend to cross over a bit, you might find a word ‘borrowed’ from another language, changed, then ‘borrowed’ again by another language. They are all tied together somewhere. Anytime I follow those ‘links’ I seem to discover that I find the language they lead to fascinating as well. But right now, these are the languages I’ve been trying to learn, or want to add to my language learning. I’ll probably attempt Japanese and Spanish next, then the Korean and something else after that. Right now I want to get my Mandarin Chinese and French much more firmly established.
Regretfully, English is the only language I have achieved any measure of fluency in. But, I’ll never reach fluency in another language if I give up, and don’t keep at it. We all have to start somewhere. It is expected that at the beginning of a journey you cannot see the destination that clearly, so it is with language. After all, it has always been to my shame to not know more languages. That, along with fascination and desire, motivates me to keep at it. More importantly, there is the fact that there is a whole world of fascinating people out there, and language is what is used to talk with them. I’m not just opening doors to new words, but new worlds.
That is why I’m trying to learn languages after all, to talk with people. The funny thing is it is improving my ability to talk with people in English as well. Something I rather like, and has been something I’ve been needing to be better at.
Speaking of people:
What I like about people is how precious they are. I find there are people everywhere, most of which are a lot more then they might initially appear to be. It can be easy to take a cynical view of the world, especially when you consider the fact that there are those of the human race who have turned to the darkness, those who would seek to harm, and not help, those who love evil, and have no qualms about using people for their own selfish gain, about ruining the lives and hearts of many, and so forth. I not only speak of those who might pop into mind at the word ‘criminal’ (even this is far more complicated to be accurately summed up in a single word, not all ‘criminals’ are ‘evil’, sometimes the law is at fault in regard to what is morally right and wrong.) but I speak more of those of various industries that encourage, thrive on, are built on, the objectification of the human being. For example, a good portion of the entertainment industry is dedicated to the promotion of objectification of humanity, dehumanizing both men and women, people of all religions and ethnicities, and so forth. I personally think there should be an outrage at the way woman are objectified for example, in our commercials, in our movies, the overwhelming message seems to be far too often ones like: A woman isn’t worth anything, unless she’s an object for a man, a prize for a man, acts like a man (I have no qualms about women warriors, but why is it that in most movies and such that I’ve seen them in they are basically men in all but looks?), serves men, delights men. And so forth. Am I sensing a common theme here? A bit of a barbaric one even. Here we are fresh off a sporting event that from what I gather, is designed to further the cause of the superiority of men. Hello, this 2013, why are we still dealing with this? It is an absolute disgrace that we have prominent industries built on the foundation of broken hearts, denied spirits, objectified bodies, stolen dignity, and public disgrace of the souls of others. I am an artist, I support art, what I do not support is hijacking art for the exact purpose of destroying all that the artist works for. The artist is one who seeks to build and refine the human being into something better. That does not describe the entertainment industry as it stands today. I pity many of those in it who are under immense pressure to perform, or lose. What happened to being an artist? Why do we have to turn everything into a win or die situation?
Sounds rather like “The Hunger Games”. This isn’t art, this is totally barbaric. This is wrong.
I’m not looking for ‘fluffy’ movies either, or ‘sanitized books’ or what have you. That’s missing the point entirely.
What I’m looking for is a restoration of the sacred, the beautiful, the true. The exalting rather then the tearing down of the worth of the human soul. That is what makes art worthwhile. There is very little that you can’t do to tell a good story, good doesn’t necessarily mean that it is safe, that it doesn’t face the darker side of things, that it doesn’t address the uglier side of life. By no means. The best art in the world often deals with the darker things of life. Proper art remains faithful to what is true, not some idealized world that doesn’t exist, nor does it exalt evil for evil’s sake. A work of art can be beautiful in unexpected ways, beautiful doesn’t always mean pleasing to behold. Art builds, it doesn’t mock the human soul, it builds it. Even if some of the works are those that hurt, that makes us face things we’d rather not face. They still build us. Imagine a world without the darkness. Without the darkness, what would A Christmas Carol be like? What if there was no ghost in A Christmas Carol? What would the end of the story look like for Ebenezer Scrooge? He would have remained a bitter, old, miser. Sometimes the road to redemption takes us right through the valley of the shadow of death. Sanitized ‘art’ is just as repulsive to me as the works of the industry. It is equally damaging to the human soul, in some ways more so. One seeks to exalt the valley of death, the other seeks to pretend it doesn’t exist. The truth of the matter is, both to exalt and ignore it is to destroy the soul of the beholder. One because it strengthens the power of the darkness without hope of the light, and the other is to chase after the light, but ignoring the presence of the darkness. Either way the darkness will swallow up the traveler. The first because darkness is strengthened, the second because the traveler is weakened.
As we seek to create, we must remember what it is that we are. One thing I’ve been learning is the foolishness of ignoring the, for lack of better term, sacredness of the body. When we treat the body as being nothing sacred, when we forget how special the whole of the human being is, we turn the body into nothing more then an object. Something to be used, something to be taken advantage of.
Sadly, the two biggest perpetrators of this in my own culture are the two who should be defending the sacredness of the human being. The entertainer and the church. We hear talk about the sanctity of life, but forget to remember what it means. What is the point in defending the existence of life if you cheapen what it is to be alive to the point of being nothing more then a commodity, an object to be used, and then discarded? In some ways the human is better dead then being made an object of.
Can you think of anything worse then being forced into being made a horcrux? To borrow a concept from Harry Potter. It is a fate worse then death to have your soul stolen from you.
That is what these things do. The objectification of the human being is to steal the soul from people.
This is, again to borrow from Harry Potter, what Dementors do.
As an artist, I’m repulsed at the notion of the work of the Dementor, a dark creature with the ability to steal a persons soul, leaving them worse then dead, being called work of an artist.
As a human, as an artist. I must say, this is wrong. This is evil. This has no place in our culture, or any other.
I am puzzled as to why the body is so frowned upon by the church, however. Not in all the church, to be sure, but in my culture, America, there seems to be in much of, not all of it, but in much of the church, the confusion between ‘the flesh’ and ‘the body’. In my mind, they are not the same thing. The flesh is more akin to a zombie then anything else. It is something to be killed, even though it will be restless in its grave, and will keep coming back to haunt you a second time. The body on the other hand is sacred, a critical part of the whole of the human being.
It is amazing what you can learn by watching people, pondering what it might possibly be that makes them what they are. In my mind I am almost haunted by trying to figure out, what is it that makes people so precious? I keep coming back to people being precious, because they are indeed very precious. And the more we see people as precious, the better things will be, when we see people as precious, we can’t help but be horrified when we see people, these precious, precious, beautiful, lovely, wonderful people being turned into objects.
This is worse then the works of Lord Voldemort, again to borrow from Harry Potter. Lord Voldemort’s horror is in his denial of the sacredness of his own body. To him, it was just another means to an end. The objectification of others, is the forcing on others, the work of Lord Voldemort towards himself. It is horrific, and we should be repulsed by it.
Instead we do nothing, or we support it. Some fight it, I won’t deny that, but we do support it.
Even I. While I try not to, even I cannot deny that I am guilty of not treating people as precious.
We need to see people as being beautiful, wonderful, and precious. Otherwise the darkness that is the heart of the problem will continue to destroy them.
In short, I do have a problem with what it is that a lot of is currently a part of the entertainment industry.
Seriously, I’m not trying to blame many who are in the industry, there are many in it who are not of it, but the industry as a whole, needs to be questioned. Why is it that commercials, movies, books, and so forth, can get away with objectifying people? Why do we hardly raise an eyebrow at the use of human bodies to sell products? Why are we not outraged that something so precious, beautiful, and sacred, is being used to sell something?
All that said, I wish I could be more open and honest with people. I really must open up, be a little vulnerable even. I find the fact that there are those who enjoy talking to strangers to be rather inspirational. It’s lovely, it is the opening of the heart to the appreciation of those around them. It is inspirational to see that in people. I also hope that I can learn to be a little more forthright, yet not cold. In being interested in the welfare of others, we learn to appreciate, and love others.
We begin to see the people around us as being precious, and that is how we can turn the tide on greater evils then we can comprehend. It is the little acts of kindness, the little things, that make all the difference between life and death. Between the preciousness of the soul, and the pillaging of it.
It is the little things that win the greatest battles.
Nevertheless, I don’t know exactly why, but I find myself very inspired to do great things myself in light of seeing others being wonderful.
Also, I am tired of being so secretive. It is killing me, yet I feel so trapped by it. I am tired of second guessing everything I do. Why do I do that? It may feel safer perhaps to try to deny passion, but it is a false safety. Now, I’m sure all great people have their Voldemort, to borrow from Harry Potter, but I admire how they are so passionate about their interest. Passion can be a good thing, a very good thing. Why do I fear it?
There are so many people who I’ve seen that are absolutely brilliant, and inexplicably precious, it would be a sad world without them. I pray that they remain. Precious souls, and gleaming jewels, lights in the darkness. Even if I don’t know them, personally.
These people, these people who change the world by using their talents, their gifts, the little things, I don’t know if they better described in terms such as: The stuff of nightmares, the oncoming storm (to borrow from Doctor Who), the children of the sea, the hand of shadow, the warrior, rather then terms such as precious one, and so forth, not that they are not precious, they are, but sometimes these people are fierce creatures, the wrath of which the sea alone can compare, fire and ice run through their blood, a raging storm, untamable, unstoppable. Terrible and wonderful. A storm doesn’t do them justice, they are more than a storm in their terror. But, despite the fact that they are so very perilous, they are still very good. It is possible to be both exceedingly perilous, and exceedingly good.
That is what the artist is after all. And it is true of many people, if we can but understand them.
Posted on February 5, 2013
I suppose in an odd way it is almost as if I care about people just because they come crashing into my world. It is a phenomenon that astonishes me. That merely existing and doing your own thing as opposed to intentionally setting out to do good for goodness sake, a greater good is produced, and it is real, it is not a faux-goodness that is more about boosting one’s spiritual brownie points in the religious community. It is a true goodness.
On the other hand, there are other’s who it seems as though nearly everything always comes down to being about them and a lot of it is how “Spiritual” they are. Even quoting scripture almost always comes in the form of “look at me, I’m so spiritual!” It is a common problem. It is frustrating, because it is damaging, it is extremely damaging, both to the person themselves, and to those around them. It is a poisonous thing, the false-spirituality of some. I do not pretend that I myself am free of this hypocrisy. By no means, I look down unjustly on others at times, I lack love for some, I see others as being ‘less spiritual’ then I at times, especially if it is a situation where I look better for it. I myself am among the ranks of this hypocrisy. I am not proud of it, but it is there, in me. I cannot deny that.
When you encounter those who are genuine it is like taking a deep breath after having not breathed in a very long time. In one sense you could say that these are fairly genuine creatures who do not fear their own shadow. And that right there can make all the difference. Half the problem is people are afraid to even acknowledge the shadow within, not to mention, face it. The inner Voldemort, the old zombie self, whatever you might call the darker side of you. Some are brave enough to acknowledge it, few are courageous enough to face it. For those who I see who seem genuine, I do not know if they courageous enough to face it, but I think brave enough to try.
It is also fascinating that people can be so extraordinarily, ordinary. She is what she is, no less, no more, she is who she is, and she is that alone. He is what he is, he is no more, and no less then what he is. It is both beautiful and refreshing to see a human being who is not ashamed of what it is that they are, a human being, who is who they are. This is a state where the person has come to terms with the truth of who and what they are, and has accepted it, they are content. I cannot deny that people who are true, are truly beautiful people.
Sometimes it is more obvious then seems rational to explain, for example, one might find that just through their YouTube videos, or even other social media that there is a refreshing spirit to them. As though all their soul is revealed, and is found to be a precious jewel and not a thorn. Or it might be that you can hear it in their voice when you talk with them, or it is seen on their face. Unspoken in words perhaps, but you know it is there, this unearthly inner beauty, a beauty that shines the brightest, curiously enough, when a person is just being what they truly are, no more, no less. Neither pride, nor false humility is clouding the inner light, these are the truly humble people, and they are gorgeous for it. It astonishes me because, in being themselves they are a blessing to the world, but all they are doing is being who they are. Perhaps the most holy people are those who do what they are to do, make movies, compose music, write books, design fashion, speak languages, tell stories, take photos, etc. rather then those who seethe with the spirit of “look at me and how spiritual/godly/pure/etc. that I am.” that I’ve grown both weary and wary of, and fear myself to possess this. I desire no hypocrisy in myself and I find it repulsive in others. It surely is equally repulsive in me as I find it to be in others.
I believe that I surely must possess some measure of it, every person I know sees a different version of me, I am dreadfully secretive and rarely reveal my true self to anyone but hold secrets, always. Always. I nearly always am wearing a mask, and rarely am just being myself. I always have my secrets. Never am I content to just be known to be what it is that I am, but always must seek to hide behind walls I build to present an imaginary me, that doesn’t exist.
Now, I acknowledge that it is perhaps impossible to be completely transparent. However, it gets to the point of absurdity at times with me. For example, when asked how I am doing, I almost never give a straight answer, or if I do, it is an answer that is vague and the more meanings it can have, the more likely I am to use it.
An example of this sort of absurdity in me is seen with the fact that I mention to no one that I am attempting to learn several languages. I mean, I only spend most of my time trying to do it, when I’m not attending to responsibilities and so forth. When I watch things, it is nearly always something in the languages I’m currently trying to learn. A lot of my music is foreign and there is also the active study of the languages.
How do I brake free of this hellish shell that demands my silence? I am weary of it. How do I learn how to open myself up to others? I think I am mostly afraid, not so much of speaking, no, it is the fear of intimacy more then anything, I think. I am absolutely terrified of making myself known as I am. I fear any form of intimacy with others, and have an irrational fear that there is no point in opening myself up, letting myself be known, no point in relationships, because if I try to get close to someone, the irrational fear is, well, they are surely going to leave, or will walk away, or what have you. It is again, a fear built largely on the doubt of the goodness of God. It is fueled by those who say things like ‘If there is anything in your mind, your emotions, your heart, etc. that is bigger then God, if you spend more time thinking about, focusing on, etc. then it’s an idol!’ Now, I’m denying the existence of idolatry But I also don’t believe in accidental idolatry either. It is impossible to have an idol unconsciously, it can only ever be a deliberate, willful, choice. Furthermore, we can only think about any one thing at a time, be it God, the dog, the fog, or the pizza we’re making for dinner that evening. Just because you are putting a lot of thought into making sure the dog is fed, the pizza is made, and to ensure you can drive through the fog and make it home in one piece, doesn’t mean any of those has become an idol to you.
This can be devastating in human relationships. I mean seriously, if not for relationships with other humans, is there really a lot of point to us still being on this Earth? Our mission, if we choose to accept it, is to form relationships with those around us. It’s what we are here to do. Yes, our relationship with God is important. But those who say that we ought to ignore the human beings around us, are doing it wrong. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have any reason to be here. Also, if you are always worried about setting up people as idols, unconsciously, you are not going to invest yourself in them, you’ll always be holding back to make sure that you’re keeping God first.
It is in giving ourselves away to those around us, in investing in others, rather then ourselves, it is becoming interested in others, it is being an others centered entity, rather then a self-focused entity that you begin to resemble the character of God.
The one who is others centered will not have to deal with idols being formed, they will be too busy living out their faith for something that can only be fed by self-centeredness to live in a person’s heart. An idol will starve to death before it can set up camp in a others-centered person’s heart.
There are other horrors as well that result from the idea that we can mistakenly set up idols in our hearts, for example, the inability to be receptive of gifts, the denial of the goodness of God, the focus being upon you, your own performance, and so forth.
We are here, and it is good that we are here, and we are here, to be a gift to those around us.
Which is why I desire to be true, and not hide behind mask, to not be hypocritical, to not deny my humanity, to not delight in the goodness of God, to not accept my role as a gift to those around me, and so forth. To accept that it isn’t about me as much as we might think. Yes, we do have a personal relationship with God, that is true, but that doesn’t mean that is the ultimate goal of our life, of our walk with God, and so forth. We are not so much involved in a play tailored strictly for our benefit, but we are there to benefit those who are present. We will benefit as well, of course, but the main purpose is for us to be the benefit to the other people around us, not to be the central focus, but a participent in the story as a whole. It doesn’t do to be so focused on ourselves that we forget to be of any use to our fellow man, many of whom are in desperate need in some way.
So I have to ask myself, what are some practical ways I can open myself up in small ways? This blog has been a great start, and I am finding it to be surprisingly healing, and helpful to me, but what are some other ways I can be the gift I am meant to be.
Also, I have to ask questions like: I wonder if it is better for me to be more interested in the people themselves then in observing them. For example I was to observe some folks, but they themselves remain fundamentally, strangers. There would be a vast difference between the observation of someone and the knowing of someone, would there not? I could spend the rest of my life, and theirs perhaps, observing them, but never knowing them. I could observe what it is they do, but never know what it is to be them. An observer can never climb inside their world, but can watch only. Knowing them requires being a participant in their world. In such a case, I could not claim to know them, but I can only ever be an observer. I may make accurate guesses of what their world is like, but without being a part of it, it is not a real world to me but an illusion, a cold set of facts and nothing more.
These people are living things, not cold facts. They are more real then cold facts allow for. But apart from knowing them I can never know them, and I am doomed to watch only.
Posted on February 6, 2013
Or, what you can learn from Sherlock, Gandalf, and some Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins.
I am, and always have been, something of an observer, I like to observe things, to watch, to see what conclusions I can come up with, and then compare them with information I may later learn. More often then not, I’m right.
There is a part of me that feels a little like there is something wrong with me, because when I find something, or even someone, interesting, I get genuinely fascinated by them. I have to admit, I am genuinely interested in how it is that people think, work, act, and so forth, and I have always enjoyed the art of observation, and the lessons I’ve learned through it about how it is that people ‘tick’ as they say.
Before I continue on, I should say that something to note, however, is to be aware of assumptions and so forth. For example: It is true that for many people, there can sometimes mistakenly appear to be an obsessiveness here, when all it really is, is observation, the appearance that can be presented is pretty much regarded in popular thought to be romantic things, crushes and so forth, or to be maliciousness; stalkers, perverted folks, etc. These things are better defined as an obsession.
My interest in the art of observation is neither romantic or malicious, it is that I sometimes find people to be particularly fascinating, it is a genuine curiosity about people and how it is that they operate. If it is an obsession it is the obsession of scientist for his study. Observation seeks to know, obsession seeks to take. There is a vast world of difference between the two. Nevertheless, it is something to keep in mind, as it will not do to creep people out if you can by any means help it.
You could say that people, especially on an individual sense, are my study. I like learning how it is that they interact with the world around them, and in some ways I think it gives me ‘new eyes with which to see the world with’ as it is an art that gets me out of my own head and my own world. You have to climb into the worlds of others, even if all you ever do is observe them. But you will see things differently if you do. I appreciate the empathy and compassion it brings me for those around me, to get out of my own head and consider how things might look from their perspective.
A good example of what good observation is like, is Sherlock. Sherlock has an astonishing ability to observe little details, think about them differently, and come up with a conclusion that others missed.
It is true that I sometimes so accurately predict people based on observations of them that it can seem at times I know them more then they do themselves. They do something, and are all surprised at it, but I was expecting it. I’m often wrong of course, but it is weird, I’m often right as well, and people do exactly what it is that you thought they would.
Here’s the thing, people are people, and will repeat themselves, and will generally act within a very select set of parameters First, they will act within the confines of humanity’s abilities. Second, they will generally act within the confines of their language. Third, their culture. Forth, their sub-culture(s), Fifth, their beliefs as a whole (for example their religion in general). Sixth, their beliefs as a part of a group, (for example a particular church or denomination), Seventh, their individual beliefs, blindnesses, and prejudices. Eighth, within their perception of their peers, friends, and relatives and the expectations perceived as desirable by these groups. Ninth, their fear. Tenth, their feelings. Eleventh, their intellect. These all narrow it down significantly enough that you can make a fairly good guess about what it is that someone is going to do. Yes, I am just scratching the surface of the complexity of the human psychology but the point is, people are far more predictable then they might realize. This doesn’t even take into account habits, rituals, and the like. It is purely deductive reasoning, and is highly useful, and presents a fascinating ability to know people better then they believe themselves to be known. Hense, caution must always be taken on my part not to creep people out by spilling out all their, in their minds, most deeply guarded, but completely obvious to an observer, secrets.
People believe that they are known only by how they make themselves known. In other words, if they hadn’t told you about something, usually in words, then it remains unknown. This isn’t true, this is almost completely untrue actually. The reality is, an observer can pick up on the slightest clues, just by watching you for a little bit, and then applying human nature to it, come up with a fairly close idea of what it is you are up to. There really are very few things you can actually keep a secret, if any attention is at all paid to you.
As an observer you can use to your advantage the tendency of most to think primarily of themselves. It gives you a fairly good notion about what is most likely on a persons mind at the moment. Probably something that centers around themselves in some fashion. Usually this can be confirmed by how they speak, you’ll know in seconds how this person’s thought processes go once they speak, then you’ll have a fairly well versed idea of what this person thinks about almost any given topic.
Remember though, these are guesses alone. Still, people reveal a lot of information about their thinking, a lot more then is intended. A single sentence can reveal vast areas of your personality, what and how you think, what your strengths and weaknesses are, your prejudices, and so forth. Sometimes even a single word.
Then there is body language, as they say. People speak a lot of what they are feeling and thinking, a lot of times, not even intending to, just by how it is that they are carrying themselves.
If you know how to observe these things, it can seem as though you know a person, but remember, observation is observation alone, you can’t really know a person on observation alone, but only by empathy, and by putting yourself in their shoes, do you even begin to understand what it is that they truly are. You have to be involved with people, personally, in order to know them. You have to offer yourself, your time, and so forth. It takes effort, and understanding, a forgiving heart, a tolerant mind, and the ability to forgo all these preconceived notions we just spoke of in the face of new information, something we didn’t learn before, or something revealed that changes our expectations. Once we realize that our expectations and preconceived notions of a person are all based on our own desires, thoughts, and such, we have to choose whether or not we care about the person even if they don’t match what we think they are supposed to be. Are we willing to accept people as being an individual person apart from our expectations of them?
Now, this doesn’t mean we do not offer council, help, and interveine as required, which is why I cannot ask if we are willing to accept people as they are. I understand what is meant by that, but sometimes accepting people as they are is wrong. What do I mean? Sometimes how a person is, is well, it’s kind of like asking a doctor to not give a patient help because the person should be accepted as they are. To not seek to help those who are destroying their own bodies through destructive habits and so forth, is it right or wrong to not try to help them or to help them? I believe sometimes, it is required to interviene for a person’s greater good, rather then present comfort. Not an easy thing to do and it is an exceedingly fine line between genuine concern for a person’s welfare and just getting involved in something that is none of your business. If the first, you may cautiously proceed, being careful to not force them, manipulate them, and so forth. If the second, you are better off leaving them alone and minding your own business.
It is an exceedingly complicated matter and their are no cookie-cutter solutions to it. You really do have to take people on a individual basis. You have to personally invest, sometimes sacrificially, with no thought of return, on a personal level with them. You have to make yourself vulnerable.
We humans will do anything to keep ourselves from having to do that!
As you observe you learn the most fascinating things about humanity: For example, two people who are otherwise fairly similar may be exceedingly different, almost on the order of being different species, but a quick glance will lead you to believe that they are nearly identical in thoughts, beliefs, actions, and so forth. A lot of stereotypes are formed because we never take a closer look at someone, but just let the quick glances be our guide to our entire perception of what it is that a person is, and reenforced when we hold to it, even if new information is presented to us that says we’re wrong. We’d rather be bigoted then right in most cases.
People are nearly always so much more then what they appear to be. They will always surprise you. Always assume you are wrong about people, especially if the belief about the person is a negative one, and always consider that perhaps there is a great deal more about them then anyone realizes, including themselves.
It’s what Gandalf saw in Bilbo Baggins, and even Bilbo didn’t know these things about himself. So, be Gandalf, and be compassionate, but yes, be Sherlock as well. Observe your fellow people, you might learn some interesting and beautiful things about them, and you might just set them off on an adventure of their own as they discover it about themselves.
Posted on February 7, 2013
There is a desire in me to seek answers, and I have the most difficult time giving up on seeking the answer. I am thankful for this natural curiosity of mine, this drive to know. It is one of the most driving forces behind all that I do, the unquenchable thirst for knowledge, and learning, the impulse to see what it is that something does. To see the button, I have to ask, what’s it do?
I am troubled when I hear people say that if we could understand God, then he wouldn’t be God. Why not? If God could cease to be God simply because I understood him that wouldn’t speak very well of him now would it. Think about it. “You’re only special if you’re a stranger.” it sounds all nice and reverent perhaps, but kind of misses the point. Not only do I believe that the seeking of understanding God is a good thing, even if we can never attain a full understanding, but that if we could, in theory, understand all that there was to know about God, how exactly would that diminish him as God? Is God a slave to being known? Is he so weak as to be vulnerable to knowledge of himself? These cannot be. Even if we could not only understand all that there is to know about God, but could do everything that God does. Would that diminish his status as God?
No. It would not. Even if we were also all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere-perhaps everytime. We would still be human, and he would still be God. These are not things that can be stolen from him, taken from him, diminished, divided, or what have you. God is God, because God is God. Not because of what God does. This is an important, but surprisingly often ignored, distinction. God is. I cannot help but consider that he refers to himself as “I Am”. Just “I Am”. Curious answer, but it makes perfect sense in light of him being God because he’s God, because he’s God, rather then being God as a result of having God’s qualities. He is, because he is. Not because he possesses certain attributes, but because he simply is.
Thus, keeping in mind, that God is God because he’s God. I can acknowledge that fact, which to me anyways, is honoring to him, because it is believing that he is exactly who he says he is, and loving him for his own sake, not necessarily what he did or is doing for me, though all that I have are gifts he has given. I don’t want to love God because he’s good, I don’t want to worship him because he’s great. I want to adore him. And is there a stronger word for worship? I need a word that expresses the complete and total abandonment of the human soul to, the complete giving over to, honor of, obedience of, love of, esteem of, the reckless abandonment of our whole being to something outside ourselves? Worship just doesn’t come close enough. Of him. But not because he is good, and not because he is great, but because he is. I want that he is God, to be enough of a reason to esteem him as such. Not what he has done, or can do, or will do, but because he is.
And so I can’t help but seek after the knowledge of him, seeing him, as he is, brings ten thousand questions for every one thing that has an answer. In reality I doubt I shall ever, not even if I had all of time and space to work with, ever understand, fully, the full glory of God.
And I’m okay with that, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to try to understand as much as I can learn about him. At what point do I want to say, that’s enough, please, I don’t want to know anything more about God, I am content to stay put, and never see anything new about him that I didn’t know about before.
There are places where it is good to be discontent. Knowing God is one of them. I don’t want to ever be content that I know enough about God, that I have arrived, but to always be learning something about him that I didn’t understand before.
There is in me an unsatisfiable thirst, not only for knowledge, if I could I think I would try to understand the sum total of all of human knowledge and then some, I can never find enough knowledge to satisfy my curiosity, I always want to know something more about it. Always. But also in my desire to know God, I cannot help it, I have a drive to always learn more about him, even though I know that it is someone who is an infinite being. Infinite. There is no end to the knowledge of him. I can always learn something. Always. No matter how much I learn, there is always infinitely more.
But, whether I understand him or not, he is God.
He is God even if I do not understand anything about him at all. Which is something of an impossibility as well, considering that, generally speaking, we have something to go on just by being alive. But in theory, suppose it was possible to remain absolutely ignorant of God, would he cease to be God if we were absolutely ignorant of him? Of course not. He isn’t a part of us, in the sense that, he is not formed by our minds, but is separate from our ideas and thoughts, he is not merely a product of our imagination, whether we speak of an individual or collectively as the whole of humanity throughout all of history. We know God is. It’s a fact. Some folks might not agree with it, and even I am sometimes, to be honest, troubled by the fact that there is a God. But wishes are not reality, and never can be. I can’t wish or wish away anything. There is, and always will be, a reality that is. Not a reality that is desired, but one that is.
I do not believe that we can ignore the truth, not absolutely. Yes, we can delude ourselves and we do, even I hold to numerous delusions, most likely, hundreds, if not thousands, of illusions, but the fact that we walk around believing thousands of lies doesn’t change the nature of the truth one bit. The true thing will always remain the true thing, regardless of how delusional I am about it.
We cannot make things as we hope them to be, but must face things, as they are, because that is what we have been given, no more, no less.
And while we can argue about the nature of reality from now until the end of time, if that exist, itself, it doesn’t change things any. Things are what they are. That’s what they are, and that’s what they will always be. The question is how willing are we to accept it?
I am beginning to believe that we humans do not think rationally except for on very rare occasions. If we did, we wouldn’t be so violently opposed to things we disagree with, especially in regards to things that are true. Instead we believe things that we are comfortable with, and understand. We don’t like to believe things we don’t understand. But this is irrational. If we were rational creatures, we’d be a creature far more accepting of things that horrify us, we wouldn’t be so afraid to acknowledge ourselves, our weaknesses, our sufferings, our hopes, our dreams, things we don’t understand. Rationality demands honesty, humility, courage, and so forth. But we would rather wear our mask then be rational about things. Especially about ourselves. We will do anything to avoid coming to terms with ourselves as we truly are. Even if what we are is something beautiful, we are afraid of such transparency. In some cases we fear it more then we fear death. We hate the idea of being known, of being transparent. We like our mask, our disguise, whatever it is that you want to call the immense lengths we go to to avoid seeing ourselves as we truly are.
But, if we come up against the reality of God, we have a choice to make, we can either believe it, or we can ignore it. Because it is a reality that is, there is nothing we can do about it, nothing at all. We can try, but we cannot succeed, at the end of the story, he’ll still be there, just as he always was. He simply is.
Let me ask you this one simple question: If you learned one day that God wasn’t good, or that he wasn’t great, would you still hold him to be God? If God is God, then God is God, even if we’re delusional in our beliefs about his goodness and greatness. Thankfully, I do not think we are, I think God is both truly good, and truly great. But he doesn’t have to be. He is, but he doesn’t have to be, not to be God. He can be God even if he’s not good. If he is God because he is God, then yes, he would still be God. But if he is God because he good, if he was discovered not to be good, what is he? It is a strictly hypothetical question, not a question designed for the purpose of teaching a truth, but a hypothetical consideration of what it is about what he is, and why it is that he is what he is.
Would you stil believe him to be God, even if all he ever was, was God, and nothing else in addition to that. No goodness, no love, no greatness, nothing.
It is an odd question, I get that, but a consideration I’ve long had, and I believe that God is God because he’s God. It is the best answer I have to why it is that God is God and not me. Because God is God and not me. It’s a simple truth, and if it is a truth, no matter how fundamental or basic, it might seem to me. It is still a truth, and to me, must therefore be accepted as such, whether or not I feel like it.
I desire to see people think rationally on these things, and about things in general. But I must admit, I am rather bothered by the blatant disregard for anything that we are uncomfortable with. If we don’t like something, or are troubled by it, we simply ignore it, paste a smile on our faces, and pretend nothing is wrong.
Who are we kidding? Nothing is wrong? Tell me then, why do bad things happen? Why do people do the horrible things they do? Why do good things happen? Why do people do the wonderful things they do?
It isn’t all bad news, but the world isn’t all good news either. It’s not wrong to hope for a better world, but it is wrong to ignore the truth, even if it is a horrible one.
I understand it is an emotional survival mechanism. We can’t bear the thought of acknowledging the trail of suffering that even we leave in our wake every day, as the effects of things we do, and say, work out throughout the world. For example, we might buy something, but a part of that something, or even the whole thing, might have been made by someone’s suffering. For example, slave labor. Even on my desk, I am certain there are a number of things that have at least components that were made unethically. Whether it be a wire in my computer monitor, or the screen on my iPhone, or even the paint on my coffee mug. It is a cruel world in places. That is the reality, and that is just the possible suffering, the human suffering, present on my computer desk.
I need not continue on, but I will a bit more, whether we speak of environmental damage that might be caused by driving to work, I’m not saying that it does or does not, but assuming that even minute damage to the environment occurs, it must be considered that we are causing it. We live in a world where suffering exist. Where things do happen, and do get messed up, sometimes terribly.
Who are we kidding that things can’t go wrong? Oil can and does spill into water, but we seem to believe that it won’t if we just ignore the possibility of it.
We are uncomfortable with accepting anything that makes us uncomfortable, and believe me, I find the notion of God, of his existence, at times, I find it the most uncomfortable truth imaginable.
Other uncomfortable truths, that cannot be ignored, would be things like my own existence. I would be lying if I didn’t say that there are times that I question why it is that I even exist. It is an uncomfortable truth at times, you know you exist, but you’re not exactly comfortable with the idea of it. If you’ve ever wished you’d never been born, you know exactly what I mean by that. Even if it was a passing thought, you do sometimes feel like you are more of a hindrance then a help to the world. This doesn’t mean it’s true that you are, though for all I know, you might be, I don’t know, I do like to consider every possibility, no matter how unpleasant but I also believe that every person is a purposeful person. There are no accidental humans, and never have been. There was never anyone who was truly a mistake. Whether we speak of the greatest humans ever in terms of kindness and so forth, or the most evil people imaginable. There are no accidental people. They all are because they are supposed to be. Knowing this, I can hold fast to the belief that we exist with a purpose, and there can’t be someone who is more of hindrance then a help innately. There are no accidental people, therefore, there are only purposeful people. This is tremendously encouraging to me.
I desire to accept things as they are, not because I desire them to be different do I want to think for a moment that what I desire, is what really is. I don’t wish to be deluded that there is not some things I am going to find uncomfortable, unpleasant, that suffering exist, that pain is real, and that beauty exist, and goodness is real. Delusion isn’t always in regards to things to horrible for us. Sometimes we can be just as fearful of accepting things that are wonderful as we can be about things that are horrible.
It is my belief that by attempting to seek what is the actual reality, the truth of a matter, that things we be done far more effectively then if we were to remain in a dream of our own making, that doesn’t exist. Yes, our little dreamworlds may be all cheerful, and pleasant, where everyone smiles, and gets along fine, and what not, but they are not real, and it would be a terrible thing to confuse them with the reality. But, that is exactly what we do, that is what I do, and it is something that is as capable of causing as much suffering as willful intent can cause. Just for the sake of a wish, is it worth it?
For my part, I desire to be a person with a mind that is open to accepting new things, approaching something willing to accept that I might be proved wrong, and holding to the truth of a matter over the temptation to delude myself into believing that things are only a matter of how I think they are. My thoughts are not the only correct thoughts in the universe, for which I am very thankful. But that is what we are essentially holding as our core belief, that only our view of reality is the true view and if we imagine it to be something different then it will be, rather then accepting the fact that this is where we live. If there is going to be a relief of suffering, it is by people actually doing something about it, not just hoping that it goes away if they ignore it, or by thinking it will be better, or that, heaven forbid, it is actually something beneficial, or brought on by the person themselves. (Though this can sometimes be the case, in a number of cases, it is not so much an individual that is to blame but the unwillingness of those around them to care that is to blame for their suffering.) I’m not saying that all men are victims of society, and that sometimes things we choose to do not have dire consequences, that isn’t true, and we know it isn’t. We are all too aware that our choices fo have consequences, and sometimes we ourselves are actually to blame for our suffering. But, it is also true that a good part of the whole picture of human suffering is brought about by the hurting of one man by another. A murderer kills another man, leaving suffering, caused by the murderer, who in turn may well have been harmed himself by any number of factors, or he might have chosen to do this thing, either way, suffering is caused by the choices of someone, and the suffering extends to more then the person who made the choice, whether that person is the murderer himself, or someone else, it comes down to someone’s choice, and someone else having to suffer for it.
Yes, it is true, our choices do make a difference, but that doesn’t mean that everything that happens is result of our choices. So while a great deal of things are influenced by the choices we make, there is also a great deal of things that happen that are not influenced by the choices we make.
So, for my part, I am determined to seek what is true, even if it makes me a bit uncomfortable, or what have you. The greater good then my comfort is the knowledge of what is true, and when I walk in truth, I then have the eyes to see things as they are, not what I wish they were, which frees me to actually be able to love people and do what I can, to actually seek to help them.
To acknowledge the truth, we become more genuinely human. We become a people that is actually able to reach out and help those around them. All because we don’t ignore what we don’t want to deal with. That’s just how it is.
Posted on February 8, 2013
Why do we care about those around us? Really, why do we care? What is it to us that we are not alone? Why do we need other people in our lives? People have a herding instinct, at least that I’ve observed. We have a natural tendency to form ourselves into groups. I suppose this is because most of us have families from the time of our infancy, we have some sort of group of people around us. We usually have people around as infants. We grow learning the value of being a group. The funny thing is, we maintain our groups in our cars. Have you ever watched people driving? They have to keep their cars together. They do the same thing with their cars as they do when they are out of the car. The cars, in a sense, become an extension of the driver. If you watch cars, not as individual cars, but as a group, you start to see that there are more often then not, several cars all packed together in a part of the road where it would make much more sense, and be much safer, to be much more spread apart. I don’t think it’s strictly just impatience but our herding instinct kicking in. We feel threatened when we drive. No surprise there. Regardless of whether there is an immediate threat or not, we feel threatened by the whole of the driving experience. When we’re threatened we do what we do, we run to the group. We form a group, to make a bigger threat against our perceived threat. In this case, our driving. So we herd together even in our cars.
All this despite it is more often then not that we actually find that the biggest actual danger is not the perceived threat, but the herd we join. Rational driving says keep your distance, but we drive too much on instinct to be rational, so we drive too close to each other, and errors lead to crashes a lot more often then is necessary if we had been driving, not on instinct, but by driving rationally. Saying, okay, if we keep all the cars far enough apart, then it will be a lot easier to stop in time if something unexpected happens. Road design caters not to reason, in most cases, but to instinct. If we were designing roads to be safer, we would never put two lanes that go in opposite directions on the same road, that’s just asking for problems, but when we first started building roads, we never took into consideration the technology we have for driving on them now. We were thinking about walking, and horses. Not cars. Most roads we have today are not built for cars.
Of course the cost of changing all roads into divided roads would be astronomical, especially in areas where there is a lot of buildings and such in the way. But, we still keep building our roads wrong.
But even if we designed our roads for cars, we still have to deal with the problems that the herding instinct cause. Namely driving too close together. I honestly don’t really know of a good solution to keep people from driving too close to each other. Laws don’t have any effect, the instinct is too strong.
Smarter cars perhaps could help the problem, but it would be quite costly to implement, and maintain. We do not have the money to afford it, even if we have the technology to do it. For example, if we had a device that would automatically reduce the cars speed if we drove too close to another car, it would have to be in every vehicle because it would have to be adjusted to compensate for the change in one car, in all the cars in the proximity. At the time, too much can go wrong with this system, and where is the computing power to do the thinking going to come from? And how is it going to communicate with the vehicles at a high enough speed to make the alterations in milliseconds? In theory, we have the components to design such a system, but the practicality and cost would make it rather difficult. The truth is, any time the car takes over an aspect of the skill of driving, the drivers skill will diminish, so even if the driver has the knowledge of what to do if the components fail, he will not do it as well as he would if the system was not in place to begin with. So, in case of component failure, we still can’t rely on the driver to respond in a manner that with a positive outcome. Nothing is really solved, so smarter cars do not really help that much.
So the questions we need to ask about our driving is what can we do to help us drive rationally? We need to look for ways to make our cars safer, but one of the first places we need to look is not the cars, but the driver. How do we deal with the instinct of humans to herd? How can we resolve the problem of two opposite lanes on the same road in a cost-effective manner? How can we redesign our transportation system to be safer? For example, stop signs might not be the best method to ensure safety at an intersection, is there a better solution? (I think there is something called a roundabout, which aside from being fun to say, I’ve heard is a better solution to the problems that stop signs are supposed to solve but do not. I’m not very familiar with them, as they are not part of my regular driving experience, I’m not sure if I’ve actually ever driven on one actually.)
I am convinced, however, that there are better solutions then what we have now, some of them will require drastic changes, but others are not so drastic, only just different then what we currently are used to.
All of this brings me to what I really want to talk about. I would love to see us look to solve things in a rational, civil manner. The current world works on some very ineffective methods. It works, but I’m convinced it could be better, a lot better. It would make much more sense for cooperation over competition for example. In most cases competition is only useful to a certain extent, but after that it works against success. What do I mean? Technology provides a great example of the value of cooperation. The Compact Disc. Instead of hundreds of competing formats, and some very frustrated and confused customers, we had for a number of years a more or less, single standard, which I could play in players made by a variety of companies. I could expect the same disc to play on my home stereo, the car, my personal CD player, or my computer. And it would work relatively the same in all of the devices. It was a better system then if I had to be stuck with a particular player for a particular disc. It was a system that was good for everyone overall. We have and we have not learned from this experience as we’ve moved now to other formats such as digital files over the internet as our primary source of obtaining the data we once obtained from the compact disc. I still cannot buy a song on iTunes and then play it on Amazon’s cloud service, even if I already bought the same songs for example on iTunes, I’d have to buy it again on Amazon to do that. (Well, there is an upload function on Amazon’s service, but it’s kind of more of a patch, then a solution to the problem.) There are some disadvantages to how we do things currently, but overall, there are some advantages. At least for the most part we’ve realized that digital rights management was a stupid idea for everyone, whether we are talking about the buyer, the seller, or the producer. It was a bad idea to begin with, only providing an illusion of protection for the producer, but for everyone, including the producer, one massive headache was all that one really got out of it.
Which brings up another point. If we could somehow have a number of music stores for digital music, not competing with each other, but cooperating, I think we could all but destroy piracy. Piracy is often used when something is more difficult to obtain by paying for it, then it would be to obtain it by piracy. For example, say a song was not on iTunes, or any of the other major stores, could be ordered on a physical CD as an import, but otherwise, not legally available. Which do you think is going to happen in most cases? The hassle of ordering a physical CD or simply doing a Google search for the files that contain the desired content? Probably the Google search. A good part of the time it isn’t because people don’t want to pay that we have piracy, it is because obtaining it isn’t easily within reach, and sometimes it is completely out of reach altogether. Whether because something isn’t available or because it doesn’t have a good payment system, if it gets to a point where it is too difficult, it will be pirated. Instead of fighting the demand, the solution is to provide a workable solution to fulfill the demand. What you have is a system where there are people clamoring for your product, but if you don’t give it to them in the format they actually use, not even for sale, they’ll just take it anyways. If you force them to buy a CD when all they want is to play it on their MP3 player, what do you think is going to happen? This isn’t rocket science, but I am astonished at how often I cannot find something I’m looking for in the desired format, and so must go without, or pirate, not that I advocate pirating, I’m just making an example of what is left to do after failing to find a means of obtaining otherwise.
What we need to do is approach the entire system in a different way. But between the current system of competitiveness and the fact that the industry has always been a bit slow on the uptake about what the better solution to the problems is, in more cases then not, actually fighting it, and making the problem worse then actually fixing anything. Again, I have to bring up digital rights management as an example. It didn’t really fix anything, and if anything only prompted more piracy then anything else.
We need to rethink how we do things as a whole. We need to shift our focus to a system that is dedicated to finding solutions to problems, rather then what we have now, in which companies must do things to maintain something distinct about them to set them apart from the competition. But distinction often only provides a solution to the smaller problems, rather then what it is we set out to do in the first place. Which is why we need to form a culture of innovation, to be solution minded, and to cooperate for the benefit of everyone.
What competition is good for, is creating the initiative to innovate, but after that it tends to kill the products it works so hard to create. This is a problem. There are some fantastic ideas that end up dead before their time.
I’m convinced that the way we do things now, is broken, and a bit of common sense, cooperation, and innovation, will work wonders. But in all this, I am aware, that there is also the need to have distinction between various companies. As I said above, competition is actually mostly useful for spurring innovation, but after that breaks what it works hard to create. All I am trying to say is that our current system focuses too much on competing and then continuing to compete after its needed, which is why we keep running into more problems then solutions.
I’d like to see companies working together more often then against each other, if it is needed to create a better end result. I’d like to see more innovation taking place, while at the same time, keeping things standard enough that we do not have frustrated customers.
Now, I don’t really have any experience in corporations, in companies, and very little in driving, so I’ll admit, I might be missing something quite obvious. Still, these are my observations of the system as I see it, and perhaps it holds some value. Even though I’m not exactly an expert on it, perhaps expertise isn’t everything. I am a human, which is something, and as a human, I am most qualified to have thoughts about it.
I have to say I like what I’m seeing on YouTube, even though YouTube itself isn’t exactly helping it. You have individuals creating things, and then essentially becoming someone formidable in their particular field, when if they had tried to do it traditionally, we probably wouldn’t have ever heard of them. For the first time in a very long time we have a system in place where extremely talented and gifted people can create things, by themselves. And while there is a lot of junk, there are more geniuses that would never have seen the light of day in a hundred years by the traditional system. The traditional system, unfortunately relies more often then not on marketing then on talent. Ever notice the number of artist under the traditional system that sound the same? It’s not for lack of talent, in fact in most cases, it’s not the artist that is to blame. But, for some reason, it has been decided that only such and such sells, so only such and such is permitted, because it is marketable. But, art doesn’t work according to the market. It isn’t something you can be that selective about. But now we see people who are not part of the industry creating things, independently, and as such, their art is allowed to thrive, whatever direction they take it in. This is a good thing. And, big surprise, a lot of it goes viral. People want something new, and refreshing, and they are tired of being force-fed whatever it is that the industry is throwing at them. Up until now, that was the only well in the desert, but now there are a lot more wells to be found. Some of them have quite a bit better water. Where do you think people are going to drink from? Again, the industry has a lot to learn or it’s going to go the way of the dinosaur. It’s just a matter of time. Either turn the focus from profits to the art. Or get out. People will pay for good art, but if you are not allowing good art, they’ll start looking elsewhere. You’ll still make a profit, but right now? You’re doing it wrong.
The film, music, and traditional publishers, in particular, the big corporations, the giants of the last century, had a successful model once. But that model is now severely broken and outdated. And you can’t expect yesterday’s success to keep you afloat. We need to find new ways to do things.
Again, I like what I’m seeing when the artist take it into their own hands, and just make great art. Whether or not they ever get a contract for it or not, is irrelevant, the passion for the art is the primary goal, and for the artist, that is what it should be. Or, it is missing the point. If art is not the focus of the artist, then something is lacking, and while we might not always be able to put our finger exactly on what it is, we are good at spotting it, and we feel not enjoyment, but repulsion. As an artist, unless it is something designed to repulse, the last thing I want people to feel when they see my work is to be repulsed by it.
Again, I’m not an expert. I’m just an artist, and I desire to create great art. I do not particularly desire fame, fortune, or what not, I desire great art. For me, the current state of things is not a help but a hindrance to great art. I have a feeling that I am not alone in this frustration.
For my part, I would like to see empowered, innovative, individuals as being the artist we know in the future. The current system undercuts empowerment of the vast majority, squashing them instead of building them up, squanders innovation that isn’t deemed marketable, (Along with the Beetles, whose guitar was on the way out. You probably know the story about how they didn’t find acceptance at first in the industry.)
Again, competition is a hindrance more often then a help.
So why are we so bent on competition? I don’t know, perhaps it is because there are a handful of things we humans will go absolutely mad for, cravings, desires, and what not. Safety or more accurately the perception of safety, Food, sleep, violence (blood), and reproduction. Of these, it is our desire for violence and security in particular that makes us compete with each other. Despite that we would find better solutions in working together then in competing with each other, we still compete. Why? I would guess that we do not act according to reason, but according to instinct.
The same is true of politics. Do you know how many wars could be prevented if we didn’t act according to basic human desires, but instead chose to discuss things rationally? Wars do not make any sense, rationally, but in light of our human desires, they are the expected result. We must have blood. We demand it. So we go to war. It is also the desire to increase our perceived safety. And an instinct to have access to more food. Again, though, that comes out of the desire for a perception of safety. Our craving for blood is perhaps the least rational, but also strongest desires we have. And whether on the battlefield, or in our corporations, we demand it to be fulfilled. So we compete.
So, I make the suggestion to look at the fact that we crave things, and then start discussing things rationally, and cooperating when that will produce a better result in a better manner then what we would have otherwise. Letting reason be our guide. To be rational instead of basing our decisions on desires designed to keep us alive, that is to say, the whole of humanity, in the wild. I think in most cases, the survival instinct works against us, when it comes to developing better solutions. It can be useful, and will ensure our survival as a species, it fosters innovation to get there, but it works against us in maintaining it.
Thankfully, we’ve been given the ability to say no, and to use something beside our instinct to make a decision. We can be rational when we choose to be, and reason is superior in decision making to instinct more often then not. Not always of course, but reason will lead us to coming up with better things, then we would have come up with if we allowed instinct to keep us confined to its rules in most cases.
So my question is, why do we have a system built off of, and catering to, not reason, but instinct?
It was a system that worked fine once, but as we advance in our knowledge, it works against us. Technology is altering how it is that we, as human beings, function. We need to consider that as we adjust to these changes, but instinct prevents us from adjusting very well to it, and so we fall behind. It is the adaptation of the human race to change. Now, obviously progress isn’t always the ultimate goal. If we make progress the goal, we start losing what it is to be human beings, and when that happens, suffering follows.
Which is why not only do we need to find ways of working out problems in a more efficient manner then what we currently have, but we need to find ways to do so in a manner that promotes doing so ethically. We need to seek to find ways of reducing suffering wherever, and however, and whenever, we can. Whether that is seeking ways to ensure environmental integrity for future generations, or insisting on doing things ethically now, even if it means dealing with other challenges, such as not being able to meet demand as fast. Human rights should be our first priority. Apple for example, while I like them as a company for the most part. Except for this one thing, I cannot ignore that in light of the high demand, and so forth, that there have been lapses in human safety in the production process of some Apple products. I recall hearing for example about iPhone screens and the chemicals used to clean them at the factory, and true or not, I’m not assured of the safety of the workers who worked with them. I want assurance. And while it is a vastly complicated system, I would like for products to be ethical from the inside out. No matter how obscure or common the component or where it was produced, I want to have the assurance that people are not being harmed in the production of any part of it. Now, to be assured of this, we may have to learn to get used to significant delays in production, but human safety needs to take precedence. So while, I do not protest to the point of boycotting Apple products, I do advocate opening up discussions on the darker side of iPhone production, and then seeking to find solutions to it. I understand that demand is high, and loss of time is loss of profit in todays consumer market. So to the companies, I hope that we can see a dedication to the reduction and whenever possible, elimination, of human suffering.
There will always be a small amount of suffering in any work, we are human, some work does need to be done, and work produces discomfort sometimes, it’s just part of the job. That’s not the kind of suffering I’m speaking of. I speak of dangerous working conditions where solutions exist. And more often then not, the solutions are not complicated, difficult to implement, or expensive, but simple, common sense measures.
But, we live in a world where we rule according to instinct rather then reason. And as such, we will do whatever it takes to get what we want, when we want it, because our instinct to have a perception of safety demands it. There is a sense of safety in hording things, and it is the hording that is responsible for our demanding things when we want them, where we want them, and so forth. It is because we believe according to instinct that if we hord them, we will have what we need to remain safe. It isn’t necessarily true. But we operate as if we are the only important humans on the planet, and if we are the ones with the stash of goods, then in our minds we are more guaranteed of safety then those who do not have the stash of goods.
Again, it is our instinct taking over, rather then reason.
It’s why if there is two boxes of tea on the shelf at the grocery store, and I only need one, how many do you think usually end up in the cart? Two. The hoarding instinct, the perceptive safety instinct says in order to be safe, I need to have both boxes of tea. When I only needed one when I arrived at the store. That fact hasn’t changed. I still only need one box of tea. So why do I bring home two?
That’s how the world works these days, but that is also something we can do something about, if we have the mind to do it. It’s not a matter of having the tools or not, we have the tools, and they are readily available to us.
Our heads really are quite useful, we should use them more often.
I’m not saying this is the problem or the solution, things are not quite so cookie-cutter as all that, but it is an idea that I offer to those who might find it useful, at least in part.
And I’m pretty sure this wasn’t the article I read, it more or less offers a good introduction to the issue of the iPhone screens and factory conditions I mentioned: https://www.cnet.com/news/no-more-islave-an-activist-fights-for-iphone-workers/
Posted on February 9, 2013
I love to learn, I have a natural curiosity and thirst for knowledge that I do not believe will ever be quenched, even if I were to learn all of the knowledge that is found in the world, including those things not yet discovered or thought of, I would be satisfied that I know enough. I value intelligence, in myself and in others. But it isn’t the only thing that I admire, but very few things in life make me as happy as when I’m learning something. Even as I write, I am learning, as I think through the things I’ve already learned, I am solidifying them in my mind, rethinking them, spotting errors, confirming truths, and so forth. There is the initial stage of learning, the discovery of something, that can happen in an instant, but it can take the rest of my life to refine that thought. I’m alright with that, the joy for me is in the learning, not the answer of the question, but in the asking of it. I like to know things, but I enjoy knowing that there is often more to something then I can currently comprehend. I do not know if I can pronounce it to be true that I hold complete knowledge on any given subject. And that’s okay. It’s alright not to know something, and there may well come a day when I learn something new about it.
But I enjoy learning, and part of that is experimenting. This can be fun, you ask a question, and try to consider every possibility you can think of, then you take those possibilities and you try them out. Some succeed and some fail. There is often more then one correct answer. In most things there are multiple answers that are correct. The sun is both round(ish) and bright. It isn’t round or bright. It isn’t round and dark, square and bright. It is true that it is round and it is true that it is bright. The fact that it is bright doesn’t subtract that it’s also round. Yet, we often approach life as though it can only be one or the other. It’s not just the sun, or Cymbeline as I call her, but almost everything in life. There is multiple things that are true about them. Why do we keep looking for single answers then? I suppose there is comfort in certainty. But in my mind we can never be absolutely certain about anything, not really. Why? Because there is always the possibility that there is something we do not know yet about it. There is always the possibility that we do not know something, so unless we know everything, we really can’t be certain about anything. Now, that doesn’t mean we should disregard things, because we’re not 100% certain of them, by no means, all it means, is that we cannot be 100% certain without 100% knowledge of any given subject. This is a discomforting fact perhaps, and I cannot be certain of it, but I am convinced of it. Which, in the end, is all we ever are, is convinced creatures. We can not be certain creatures, only convinced.
How can we be? Do we know everything? By no means. I do not even know all of human knowledge, not to mention all knowledge, human or not, including that which has not yet been thought of. I do not have that. Therefore, I cannot be certain of being correct about everything, but I can be convinced of what is, what is not, and in most cases, if we persue it, we can become 99.99% certain of thing, but never 100%. That small difference is all the difference between absolute knowledge and attained knowledge. There is always the possibility of being wrong, however minute a possibility that might be on some things. There comes a point where we have to take the matter, any matter, and consider it to be true, because that is what we believe it to be. We have to take everything with at least a minute measure of faith in the end, because there is always the possibility of being wrong, however a minute possibility it might be. If it can be thought of, it is a possibility, because consideration of an alternate possibility, no matter how astronomical the odds of it actually being the correct way, still demonstrates that it is a possibility.
This is a surprisingly troubling thought to almost everyone I’ve ever mentioned it to, yet it is just a simple conclusion based on the observation of the possibility of being wrong. That’s all it is. And while there is still a lot farther I could take the thought, I try to take it as far as I can before I simply run out of ideas of what to do with it. Trying to consider it in light of everything I do know from experience. Though experience itself is a poor teacher of facts, it is still a teacher, especially of concepts. Things are not always what they appear to be, your senses are not the most reliable ways of deducting correct information, even if they do a pretty good job at it. They simply do not have the capability to be refined enough to notice all that there is to know about things. There are physical limits to how much we can see, what we hear, what we feel, smell, and so forth. If we have a limited sensory experience, it follows that there is things that we do not experience, yet nevertheless are present, even if we can’t detect them with our detectors. Something doesn’t have to be detected to be present, things can be true, even if we don’t know about them. There is that. I do not believe absolute truth may be discovered by experiential means. A fact may be exceedingly supported by our experience, but it cannot be decided with absolute certainty. We simply do not have that luxury available to us.
We cannot even be certain of our own existence, not to mention anything that is around us. Now before you throw a fit, just stop and think about it. How do you know that you are here. I mean take that thought as far and as extreme as you can. At some point you’re going to come up against the fact that you believe it, because of experience, but experience always has the possibility of error. You cannot put your faith in your existence based on your experience.
So, where does that leave us? It’s really quite simple, suppose there was someone who claimed absolute knowledge, and what we know, no matter how small a percentage of the entirety of the knowledge of the fact, but what we know supports the claim of the being with absolute knowledge, it’s quite simple, we can ask the being about it. If they are as they appear and possess all knowledge, then they should be able to tell us if we are what we appear to be. But only they are qualified to make that statement with absolute certainty. Anything that a being with absolute knowledge would have to say, would be absolutely certain, because uncertainty is nothing more then a lack of knowledge, an incomplete fact.
I believe that God is the one who holds absolute knowledge. Yes, it is a belief. But, it is a belief I can be more certain of then I can be of my own existence, then the universe and all that is within it, which is a pretty good certainty.
It’s really quite simple.
There is the unspoken assumption that what we see is what we know, that things are what they are seen to be, and that is all that they are. That what we experience is the only basis for what is reality. That anything that falls outside of the realm of what we know by experience, is therefore false, by default.
I don’t know, can I agree with that? I don’t have the faith in something that has proven shaky time and time again every time something new is discovered in fact, to be my definition of absolute truth. Not that there is no value in it, our experiential knowledge is extremely valuable, but it can never be mistaken for complete knowledge. And that is the error in our unspoken assumptions concerning it.
In my mind, the only thing that can be known with absolute certainty, is that we can’t know with absolute certainty unless we can be absolutely certain that what we know is absolutely certain. And to know that with certainty, I must have absolute knowledge. As a human being, I do not have the luxury, so I can therefore not be absolutely certain about anything.
But that’s alright. It’s okay to not have all the answers, for me, the delight is not found in the possession of absolute knowledge, but in the seeking of it.
Five years from now, my ideas will be different then what they are today. I’ll have learned new things, discarded ideas that seemed to be good ideas at the time, but later turned out to be just pretending, and will have learned new things. And yes, I know I said I will have learned new things twice, that is intentional. Think about it.
To my mind, the basis for learning, is in finding out the basis for knowledge, which I believe to be God, and whatever God has to say about things. That might not be acceptable to you, but I respectfully ask that you allow me to hold my belief to be true in the matter, you are free to believe differently then I do if you wish, I’m not saying you’re right, but you are free to do so if you so desire. Right, wrong, true, false. These are the things we ponder. For me, I like to try to narrow things down to whatever it is that is the essence of that thing. For my part, I believe that knowledge can only be absolute in one who is absolutely knowledgeable. I do not have any evidence to suggest that there is anything that God does not know, therefore, I conclude that God is a pretty good candidate for someone who holds absolute knowledge. The reason that this is important, is because that makes God qualified to make statements, and have those statements actually have meaning to them, rather then just being a sum total of a bunch of beliefs turned into a word. God has the word, not just the idea of it, but the word in its fullness, because God has absolute knowledge, he holds the right to define the word, and he who defines the word, defines the nature of what it is that the word represents. Without the word, we are nothing. Nothing is anything without a word to give it definition. Reality is little more then words made manifest. So, what are words? Ideas, or information. Ideas come from a mind. A mind, is something that is intelligent, something that knows, something with knowledge.
Knowledge. Ideas. Words. This is the foundation of what we call reality. The essential building blocks of the universe, of whatever it is that is outside of the universe, if such a thing is even a possibility which I think it is, simply because I have the idea of it, even before we get into quarks, sporks forks, and orcs, are words, or information. Information is the essence of all that we call reality. When you narrow it down it becomes information.
I have seen this in only one place, storytelling. Maybe we’re a story before we’re anything else. Stories are not the products of accidents, but are purposeful, and the more well thought out, the more complex the story, even if it is told so well, that one forgets that they are part of it. We are the story. All of humanity, all of history, everything we ever were, are, and will be, are but a story. A story implies a storyteller.
For my part, I believe the storyteller to be God.
It’s quite simple really. It’s just narrowing things down as far as possible, then seeing what is there, and drawing conclusions on it. Not saying I’m right, or wrong, I am an observer of the world around me, I study it, I consider it, I think about it, and I draw conclusions based on my observations. Knowing, all the while the possibility of being wrong, but it is freeing being able to be wrong, because if I can be wrong, I can also find that I am right. It is a comfort to me to know that I do not know all the answers, and probably never will possess absolute knowledge. But that’s alright, I do not need to understand everything, to enjoy it, to learn from it, and so forth.
I do not see the quest for knowledge to be a bad thing, I can only see the seeking of knowledge, chasing it as far as we possibly can, to be a good thing. It will, if my assumptions are correct, always ultimately point back to the truth in the end, we can’t ever find the anti-truth to be true in the end, because a lie can only ever be a lie, it can never be true or it ceases to be a lie. Lies will find correction, but never verification. Knowledge, and the seeking of it, is a virtue, as far as I am concerned, it is not good to be ignorant, but to learn, is a good thing. I make no apologies for my curiosity, nor for my unquenchable thirst to know more, they are among those things that can’t ever find completion unless they are fully complete. I will never run out of new things to learn until I learn everything there is to learn, then, and only then, can I know anything, but as there is an infinite number of things to learn, it is quite out of my reach to attain such a knowledge. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try.
This was supposed to be about learning languages, and the conclusion of the matter was to be about trust, and how I have a difficult time with trusting people, but alas, it seems the post has gone in a different direction then I intended. That can sometimes happen. I think I desire to conclude this post with this thought, however, instead of attaching new subjects to it.
We can have more certainty in God’s words then we can have in our own existence. But, if what God’s words say about us confirms it, we can be certain of our existence, but only because that is what is spoken of us. We can have more confidence in the words of God then we can have in reality itself. That is the conclusion I have at least. Which is why I trust God, I think. Because God possesses absolute knowledge, I do not have to hide anything from God, and if God says something about me, then that is what is true, regardless of whatever else may appear to be true, this is what is true.
Posted on February 10, 2013
I am noticing lately that language is better at expressing ideas then it is at expressing words. Which is interesting, and I have to wonder, how exactly it is that we process words, language, and so forth in our minds. My frustration with writing post is finding the words to describe the ideas, I have no shortage of ideas going through my mind, my head is just bursting with them, but finding the words to describe them, ah, that is the hard part. Sometimes I think I have it, but then I try to write it out, and the idea of it is lost. Our primary way of viewing the world, is through our language, everything in life is filtered through some sort of language system. Whether we speak of English, or any other language, or even just pictures in our heads, they’re still technically a form of language, even though it isn’t the sort that can be shared with others. You still are communicating with yourself with the use of mental imagery. You’re still passing along information, even though you’re probably the only person in the world who can understand it. Nobody else speaks your language.
On most things, I love how it is that I see the world, it’s very beautiful. Sometimes, however, dreams are woven into the reality. How do you know which is real and that which is imagined? Our minds influence how it is that we see things a great deal more then we believe them to. Call it perception, imagination, or what have you. There is the matter that you and I can see the same tree, but come away with completely different perspectives about it. It is still the same tree. The tree hasn’t changed any, but our view of the tree makes a vast difference in how we see the tree. For example, you might see it and think it would make good firewood. I might look at the tree and admire how beautiful it is standing there, so full of life and helping to sustain the life of others by providing oxygen.
It’s the same tree. Totally different perspectives on what the tree is useful for. Is it wrong to use the tree to keep warm? No. Is it wrong to use the tree to breathe? No. But it’s still the same tree. The tree hasn’t changed any, only our view of it.
This is how we view everything in life. I must wonder, if each and every person has a completely unique perspective on the world. I find it a bit distressing that we have to argue about it so much if one sees that the tree is good to look at, and another says it is good for firewood. As though we all ought to only view trees as firewood or as ornaments.
It’s a tree. Relax.
I suppose I’m a little concerned that as a society we seem to be moving in a direction where there is only ever one right answer to problems that were never meant to have just one correct solution. Whether it is in our laws or our public discourse, we insist on being right, over being real. The truth is, sometimes both people are equally correct, and this is why hot chocolate could save the world.
Why do we not take this opportunity to sit down with our fellow men, our neighbors, those who think differently then we do, and try to come to a sort of understanding, not necessarily agreement, but understanding at least. The hot chocolate is useful, because it provides something for us to bond over, to relate with one another over, and it doesn’t have to be hot chocolate, that is just what the Elves and Dwarves did to resolve their differences, it doesn’t mean we have to. It can be tea, coffee, or what have you. Orange juice even. Nevertheless, I am troubled by all the anger I see in people about things. Yes, these issues are important, sometimes life or death important, but how is getting angry about it going to help? It is my belief that peaceful, rational, calm, discussion, understanding, and the agreement that on hot chocolate, at least, we have something in common will accomplish things in a much more agreeable way, or at least aid in the prevention of further suffering in the future.
Revolutions are almost always wrong, they accomplish nothing more then provoking a great deal of anger, but very little peace. Respect and peace will help you a great deal more then revolt and anger will.
Yes, I know that history tells that we prefer to resolve our differences with violence. But just because it is the way we’ve always done it, it doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way.
It’s a tree. Relax.
I’m not necessarily asking for compromise or agreement, I’m sure there are indeed things where there is only one solution to the dilemma. But, I fail to see how anger and violence will resolve even the most puzzling challenges. I suppose there is a bit of daring in desiring to be peaceful, to resolve things rationally. It’s just not the way things are done, and so forth.
Why do we instead resort to violence, intimidation, manipulation? When we could be enjoying hot chocolate together instead?
Call it delusional, as if, rose colored glasses, a dream that has no basis in reality. Whatever.
Why not? Why can’t we take the higher road? Why can’t we do things better? Why not resolve our problems through peace, understanding, and reason? Again, this doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. But what I do suggest is that we change the tone of our conversation from being fear based, violent, and manipulative, to being one based in the seeking of peace, reason, and truth. Manipulation always undercuts the truth, and is nearly always the result of fear, fear that things will go wrong, so we manipulate to ensure it, but in reality, all we do is bring about division, strife, and harden the hearts of those who disagree with us.
Activism does have a place, but never by violent, manipulative, or intimidating means. Then the activism is not of any more worth then the system it is protesting.
In short, what we, as a society as a whole, do, our discussions with our fellow human beings, even on Facebook, do matter. Even here, it is wrong to be angry. It is wrong to rant and rave on Facebook. The anger I see, it is more like a poison then a medicine, even if it isn’t a wound to me, or I agree with the statement made by the ranting and raving post, it is still a poison, and does nothing to further the cause, except harden me against it. After awhile it produces not more anger, but apathy. The survival instinct against taking in so much poison and bitterness after awhile, you just start to turn apathetic against it. Apathy is never the solution desired in any sort of thing.
Keep calm, keep civil. Be a peaceful person. Lay aside your anger, your fear, stay strong, but be kind, be gentle, use wisdom, but don’t manipulate, keep your head on straight and be rational. Use logic, it will help you. Let reason, rather then passion be your guide. Drink hot chocolate, love much, and acknowledge reality. Minimize human suffering, and the suffering of all. Act in the interest of others, and remain humble, even if you are right, and those whom you are speaking with are indeed, quite wrong. Consider well, and hold fast to that which is true.
That is how I dream of our discussions going, and I hope, that even if we are still talking about the same things that are troubling us today in our society, that we can do so in a much more civil manner, from our facebook post all the way to our government discussions. True, the American way has had a touch of radical civility, but we’re losing that. Is a few rants on facebook worth it? Or this blog? I have to say that even in writing this, that there is something in it of the very same spirit against which this article is written. Forgive me for that, and hopefully, we may understand better in the future, how to remain civil.
I dream of a world in which we will drink more hot chocolate.
Posted on February 11, 2013
I was tempted to begin this post with a warning not to believe any of it, but I can’t honestly find a way to warn against it without it turning into doubting the aspects I do know to be true among the riddles I look to discover answers for. So, this is the warning, some parts of the post are meant to be taken as a possibile solution, and are not being presented as the solution to the riddles. That’s all.
Love, it is a such a small word, but such a big word. It can be nearly impossible to define in words, but seems at times, something rather to be shown then spoken. Yet, it is a great mystery, why do we love, what would compel us to willingly set ourselves aside for the sake of another? Why do we take another’s best interest to heart, refusing ourselves to exalt them? Sometimes we will forsake anything of our own, if those around us can benefit from it, but why do we do that? Why do we love? I mean, what particular reason do we have to be anything but selfish creatures? It seems to me that the very fact that we are able to get outside ourselves, to transcend ourselves, if you will, and love someone other then ourself, is a miracle, a true miracle.
We should be wholly selfish creatures, in theory, so why are we not?
Why do we love?
Then again, I cannot speak from much personal experience, for most of my life, my heart has been a righteous heart. My heart was made new, a greater miracle then that we love, when I was three years of age. That means there is only three years of when I had a heart that was not whole. I don’t remember much of that time, to be honest, so I must look at this knowledge of the evil of the heart of man not from personal experience, but from theoretical knowledge alone. I can only guess what it is like to not hold a pure and holy heart. I do not know what it is not to be righteous. I’ve been a perfect man for nearly my entire life upon this Earth, because I have the identity of Christ himself, and have held him as my identity since I was three years old. Everything that he is, so I am, by holding as my own identity, himself. He is my identity. I am in Christ, so all that he is, I am through him. I put on Christ at three years of age and I am secure in him forevermore. I cannot escape my new creation, my old man, the person I was at the age of three and below, has been dead since. He has already been crucified with Christ, and I now am a living creature who walks in wholeness. A new man. The man I was when I was born is dead. The man I am now, is a regenerate man. I’ve already faced my death, and I am dead, it is more of akin to a rest that I await, but I am already in Heaven, even now. And so I always was, the moment I was given life, when the choice was made, everything I am, the whole of myself, the past me, the present me, the future me, all of me, that choice sealed my wholeness of who I was, am, and will be, all in one thing. Oh, I don’t know how to describe it, other then to say that I am in Heaven, I always have been in Heaven, and I am going to Heaven. All three are true, at all times. I’ve only ever been a creature of Heaven. Just like those who reject Christ, have only ever been creatures of Hell. Once the decision has been made, the identity of what creature they are is made, if they choose Christ, they become what they always were. If they reject Christ, they become what they always were. In this manner, we are free to make our choice whether to choose Christ or not, but it can also be known whether or not we chose Christ. But the crossroad of the matter is entirely our choice, whatever road we go on for there is the road we’ve always been on, always will be on. Once we make the choice of which road we are traveling on, that is the choice of which road we are traveling on, and it is the only road we will travel on. But every single person has the crossroad, some choose the road that leads to life, and others choose the road that leads to destruction. But it always was, and always will be, the choice of the traveler, which road it is that they will travel.
It is the resolution of whether or not we are free to choose our fate in regards to our destination, or whether we are destined one way or the other, regardless of what we wish. Yes.
Hell has long troubled me, I think it exist, but as to what it is, that is where I start asking questions. Did God create it, yes. But if he did, why do people end up there, if it was never designed for humans, then it seems a terribly unjust oversight on behalf of God. I hear it said that “Hell was never designed for humans.” the problem with that, is it is at conflict with the justice of God. If Hell was never designed for humanity, then for humanity to end up there as result of God’s judgement is at conflict with his being just. Let angels face the Hell of angels, but for God to be just, let men face the Hell of men. Otherwise, God is not just, to set upon men, the judgement of angels.
So, what allows for Hell to be, and not be in conflict with the nature of God?
How about if Hell was an indirect creation of God. What if, it is not God that builds the Hell that humanity knows, but it is we ourselves. We are the ones that build it. We build it for ourselves. It’s like this, we build up walls against God, we reject him, his love, and so forth, by building our little fortresses. We keep building our fortresses, and unless we surrender, and accept his help to get out of them, we will keep on building our fortresses until the day we die, we keep on building it, and when we die, it is finished. But, the fortress we spent our entire life building? We discover that it isn’t a fortress, it is a prison. We built it ourselves, to be a fortress. But fortress or prison, it is but a matter of perspective. Our death alters our perception of our fortress, and it becomes our prison. We built it, and chose to remain there, but it is a fortress once complete that we cannot escape, not even by dying. It is the perfect prison. One designed to keep God himself out of our life. We could not build a more perfect prison then this, it keeps out all. Leaving us in absolute and perfect isolation. In essence, Hell, is getting our wish. To be the god of our domain. We get it in the end, and we call it Hell, but it is wholly, and absolutely, ours. We spent our lives building it, and we will spend the rest of our eternity in absolute and utter isolation. We can’t even have anyone else in our domain, because then the illusion breaks. We cannot be gods in the presence of other gods, but must be completely and absolutely, alone, if we wish to see our greatest desire, the desire that will overcome all desires in the human heart, fulfilled. To be master. To be the supreme ruler of our hearts. Hell is getting that.
Humans are not meant to be so wholeheartedly self-centered. Hell is the complete turning inward of the self, the implosion of the human being into a realm so completely self-centered, that everything else ceases to exist. You become the only thing to remain in existence. Not even God can be made known to you, even if he is right there. You cannot, at this point, see outside of yourself. You are hopelessly blind to everything, and everyone else, even if someone else is all powerful, you still cannot see them, nor can they open your eyes. You’ve completely lost all capability to see, and you’ve absolutely lost the ability to even find it again. There is no hope of being able to know anything other then yourself at this point, the work is too complete, too absolute, for it is a matter that at this point, is completely taken to its utter and absolute end, there is nothing else left except yourself at this point, and that is all that you can ever know. It is a state of complete hopelessness, there is no longer any hope to be anything other then this. It is again, the perfect prison. You cannot by any means escape it, and you are the one who built it, it is the success of your greatest endeavor. To escape God. If you run from God, where is it that you are running to? If not to the complete inward turning of the human being, then where else is there to run where God is not? God is everywhere. Except, for those who have lost the ability to see. There can be two reasons why the presence of something can be removed. The first is the thing is removed, the second, the ability to sense the thing is removed. Obviously if God is everywhere, sees and knows all things, and so forth, then it cannot be true that God is not in Hell, or that Hell is the absence of God. The only possibility that remains is that Hell is the loss of the ability to know the presence of God, not because God has changed, but because we’ve changed too much to retain that part of us, we succeed in running from him to the only place we can succeed in running from him, the perfect prison of the inward turned, self.
Hell is to be the god of our own creation. We do not have the capability to do it, and so no greater torment can there be then to be the god of our own creation. There is only one entity that is able to withstand the wholeness of what reality is at its most fundamental level. If anyone else tries, the idea will destroy them. Hell is us, succeeding in becoming our own god, unable to know anything outside of ourselves.
God can. Which is why he can create reality, and not have it turn to hell, but when we try, and succeed in that endeavor we we cannot sustain it as anything other then what it is we are made of, which is ourself. God, is the truth behind all goodness, he is at the most fundamental core, the very thing, the thing we get the ideas of truth, beauty, goodness, love, and so forth. All of these are rooted in the true thing that they are, the greater reality, which is ultimately found in God. We, take from God, these attributes. It is but us acting out of God’s attributes that we do good things, find things beautiful, and so forth. All of these are stuff that have their source in God himself. When we succeed in creating our perfect prison, the ties that bind all men to the source, are cut. We die, and the threads we had that gave us these things, truth, beauty, goodness, love, and so forth, are cut, and we’re the ones who cut them. It was the last brick we laid in our fortresses, and it is the key that changed it from a fortress into a prison. We’re left, to ourselves, as ourselves, without any concept of truth, we can only ever know lies after this, any concept of beauty. Nothing will be beautiful, because beautiful is not in our ability to understand anymore. We can only ever know ugliness. Love is lost. After this point, we can only ever know hatred, and hatred appart from even the illusion of love. Love in any form, ceases to exist in our understanding, at all. Not even as a memory. Goodness is lost, and we may, after this last brick is laid, only ever know evil. It’s all that we are left with, because, death is the last brick we lay, and in so doing, we cut off all ties to that from which we drew these things. We lose everything that ever made us human, and become the antihuman. Yes, we succeed in our endeavor to be the god of our fortress, but in so doing, we’ve also succeeded in closing the door to the perfect prison, and once that door is closed, neither we, or even God, can open it again. It is impossible.
God doesn’t send people to Hell, and he didn’t create it, neither does he force Heaven on the unwilling heart. That too would be just as much a Hell to the person who doesn’t want God as what I’ve just described: If you were a person who remained imperfect, you do not hold the ability to survive, as you are, in the presence of God, without anything guarding you from his presence. To have the entire reality of love, of goodness, of truth, of righteousness, of beauty, come upon you without having the ability to deal with it would also destroy you. You would literally be destroyed as a human being if the full reality of these things were to come upon you, and you were not equipped to deal with it. The closest thing I can come to describing it is that if this was to happen to you, it would be as though you never existed, at all. Ever. Not even as an idea, a memory, or a thought. You literally would not ever have been, you wouldn’t be, and you couldn’t be in the future if you never were to begin with. Probably not a perfect description, but it is as close as I can find words for. And yet, you would exist, so you would be aware that you couldn’t be existing. You would have the idea, even if nobody else did. This too would be a torment. Unregenerate man in the presence of God, unmasked, unveiled, with nothing between God and man, completely unable to withstand the full reality of God, you’d be completely undone. Where would you go? Again, the only place you could. Inward.
The only idea of Hell that I can reconcile with God and all of his attributes, is that we are the ones that build our Hell for ourselves and we send ourselves there. It is all our own doing, and only our own doing, and there is nobody, not even God himself, that can help us, if we don’t want to be helped. If we insist on building our fortress, we will eventually place the brick that changes it to a prison, or we must accept help, abandon our project, and be made whole, holy, righteous creatures, who because of their identity in Christ, can stand before the fullness of the reality of God, and not become undone as a result of it. Surrender is the only option in our salvation, or we must continue building our fortresses and when we wake to find ourselves in prison, the only thing that can be true, is we sent ourselves there.
It is my guess that God cannot defy his attributes. Therefore, we must have the ability to defy him and send ourselves there. If he snatched us against our will, he would be violating his attributes, and not even God can do that. If he forced us to keep at our project, he violates his attributes. Because we may chose to accept or reject God, we are the only ones who can chose whether or not surrender or to maintain our project. Yes, there is a surrender involved, but like the fortress/prison being a matter of perspective, so it is with surrender. Is it us surrendering or is it us being rescued? Depends on how you look at it. If you have us surrendering, but there is nobody there to surrender to, then we are not rescued. If we are rescued but dig our heels in and fight it instead of surrendering to the rescue, we also are not rescued in that case either. Call it surrendering, call it rescuing. They have to happen together for it to work, and they have to take place wholely in the one who needs rescuing. You cannot save that which does not want salvation. Particularly if you are a being that is the full reality of all that is righteous and true, all that is good, and beautiful, and just. You cannot manipulate, force, or violate. You can only ever save, that which will be saved. All others must be left to keep building their fortresses until they either surrender, or succeed in building their prisons.
It is all a matter of perspective.
As a matter of some amusement to me, I set out to write something more about Valentine’s Day coming up this week, but it turned into Hell. Sorry about that.
Posted on February 12, 2013
What is love? I don’t know, not fully.
I desire to be a man that loves many, even though in regards to love, even romantic, I bear not one regret, save one: That I do not love more. Would that I could love passionately, and with the fullness of my heart. I have only ever regretted not loving more, and holding back, or worse, holding bitterness, but, I can’t help but wonder if it can be true that we can love too much. I do not know, it depends on what kind of love it is I suppose. It certainly isn’t good to be obsessive I should think, but then that would not be of love, that which is not of love, is not love.
Now, doubtless, romantic love exist, and is a God given state, but care must certainly be taken, we cannot love everyone in that way, obviously. This is one form of love I am unfamiliar with, personally, I’ve never had anyone, not really. Which is fine, I do not need to define my worth as a person by what it is that I do not have. Furthermore, it may yet come to be, but we shall see. Nevertheless, I am a blessed man, with or without romance in my life. I do not know what my future holds in regard to this, only that I’ve never truly known it in my past, or at present. Nor do I know what it is to be loved by another in this manner, never in my life have I held the knowledge of being loved by one like this. As such, this form is fairly alien to me in terms of living it. Yes, there is the matter of reading books, but a book and a life are not the same thing. One is experienced, the other must be lived. I have not lived it.
This is not wrong, nor does it mean I am any less a person for it, perhaps I do not yet know the wisdom to love and love truly in this way. Perhaps I never will. I do not lament this, I am not angry about it. I am a little curious, I’ll admit, what it is, and what it is like, and whether or not I shall ever learn that, but I am content.
Again, that which is not of love is not love. Love is the seeking of the best for that which is other. In other words, it is proper for me to love people with a love that seeks their good, it is putting the interest of another ahead of my own.
All that said, I should not be surprised when I find people of whom I discover I love, which I can best define as the seeking to, the placing of their importance over my own. So, upon the discovery of this, I may wonder what it means, but I think it is a good thing, if nothing else. Even though I may not have any particular reason and I am still a stranger to them, to care for their interest above my own, that is a very good thing.
This is not to say that love can only ever be love if it remains unknown, by no means, love can, and perhaps should, be made known, and it is not any less if love is returned. Not all love must be unrequited, regardless of what form of love it might be, sometimes it isn’t accepted, nevertheless, that does not justify hatred, or bitternes. We are to love, without condition. Sometimes, a love that is true, walks away. If love is undesired, sometimes it is the act of a love that is true, to walk away, to respect the choices of another. I’ve heard it in songs, television programs, and have read of it in books the idea of love not holding on, but letting go. I think I’m starting to understand the idea presented to us by the artist of our day, but it is a journey that I am still on. I do not fully understand how it is to love with a love that is true, but I suppose as I said, love is not love if what is done is not of love. To smother, and allow overzealousness to overtake you, and call the ruling of your passions, love. I do not know if this can truly be called a love that is true. Sometimes I think it is not love, but fear, and fear, especially in terms of relationships, can be a most deadly poison. When we are acting out of fear, we are not acting out of love. The two are opposites of each other, love and fear. I do not know if it is possible to allow fear to be a measure of love, or in other words, how much you worry about a person, translating it into how much you love them. I confess, I constantly worry about those who I love, it is my single, greatest, worry in life. But I must also ask, is this healthy? And to be honest, I cannot believe that it. Both for me, and for the people I love. In many cases it shows for those I love, a distrust, and is more smothering of them then freeing, for myself, it is not good for me to worry. Worry will destroy me, or at least, it will turn me from the kind of man I ought to be to a man consumed by fear, and fear makes men into monsters. I do not want to be a monster, but a human being. I want to choose to love, and to love with a love that is true, and fear not.
For me, this is a trust issue, above all else, I am not trusting. And the lack of trust is at the root of much of my fears, my insecurities, and consequently, my pain. Perhaps it is not the sole reason for these things in my life, there is something deeper still then fear, condemnation, that has nothing of value in which to teach me, but as it works out in my heart, my soul, my mind, it destroys me, it wounds, it tears down me in body and in spirit. Condemnation is the great enemy of my soul, or perhaps the greatest weapon formed against it, but whether condemnation is the enemy or is a weapon of an enemy, it matters not. It is equally destructive in either case, and it will destroy love, the most powerful thing in all the realm is love, but condemnation will poison it, and destroy it. Like an arrow that can wound the strongest warrior, so it is with condemnation, it may not be as powerful as love is, but it wounds with a precision that destroys. Because I am in Christ, all condemnation is worthless, empty, devoid of its power, except that which I give it. Christ took the just condemnation upon himself, but I can still throw myself upon the arrow. That’s what it is for me to allow condemnation to reign in my heart, instead of letting truth win, I believe a lie. There is for me, no condemnation. That is the truth of the matter. Either I am in Christ or I’m not. If I am, then I am as Christ, and I dare not condemn Christ a second time, he has placed upon me his name. I literally belong to Christ, or, if you will, he is my identity. The name Christian originally meant “Little Christ” and was intended to be an insult. I hate to say this, but in many ways, it has returned to its status as an insult, only because it has lost its meaning as a word representative of the nature of Christ, in most cases. Not that image is everything, but misrepresentation is a very serious matter. And while it is not always good to allow the entirety of culture to define our words, sometimes, we must acknowledge the change of language, and the meaning of words. So the question I ask myself is, how do I redefine in the mind of society as a whole the word “Christian” to reflect what it is meant to be, as a word that is representative of the very character of Christ himself. Maybe the question we need to ask ourselves is not so much ‘What Did Jesus Do?’ or ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ but ‘What Is Jesus Doing?’. I keep coming back to the idea that what did Jesus do, is merely turning him into a set of rules to follow, and is actually a barrier to revealing the true nature of Christ, as rules set up a screen between the true nature of Christ, and our perception of him. Asking what he would do, is a similar notion. There is a sense of separation between Christ and the representative of him. It ignores our identity in Christ, denying that we belong to him, and are his, and in him. Again, this is setting up once again, the veil between God and man that was destroyed by the finished work of Christ on the cross. So, that leaves us with what is Jesus doing. All we have is the present moment, not rules, not laws, but what is it that Christ is doing, and working through us to accomplish? I cannot stress the importance enough of trusting Christ to do what it is that he wishes to do. It doesn’t matter if he works through me, or someone else, the important thing is that the work of Christ is done. That is why he has gifted me, to accomplish his works, which God has prepared for me to do. To be a co-laborer with Christ. It is an unspeakable honor that God would use us to accomplish his work. We have no claim to God, after all. He owes us nothing, and is never in our debt. Therefore, that he would use us, is an honor beyond measure. In the culture of today, I fear the understanding of the word Christian is not one that represents accurately what it is that a believer in Christ actually is. This is the nature of language, to evolve and to change, and the meaning of words change. But, Christ has not changed. If the word Christian is to represent Christ, then it must be a word that represents Christ as he truly is. In our language of today, I’m not sure the word does that. I do not have a suggestion as to what to use instead. But perhaps the solution is not in finding a new word, but in revealing the true nature of the word, and in time, perhaps it might come to hold its true meaning again. There are some christians who reveal the true nature of the word christian, making it into a word of blessing, but there are also some who turn the word into a curse on the tongues of many, a bitter poison to them. It is the same word, but because of the nature of the use of it, it makes all the difference between something beautiful and something horrid indeed. Christ is always beautiful, and it is my belief that beauty has Christ as the root from which the idea of beauty even has its beginning. Without Christ, we would not know even the idea of beauty. So it is with love, and with truth, peace, goodness, and joy, and every good and perfect thing. That is to say we find things beautiful because they in some way remind us of the true nature of Christ, even if we do not quite have the words to describe why it is we feel we love the things we see. I believe in the truth of eternity being set upon our hearts. And, as such, when we see beauty, our hearts burn within us, because this is something of home. We long for it, even if we do not acknowledge the longing, we still find things that remind us of what we are meant to call our home, to call to us, and be precious. Because beauty is the nature of Heaven, if you will, when we find beauty here upon the Earth, we cannot help but treasure it. We know in our hearts that before us is a little bit of home. It makes sense I suppose, that beauty would exist, but it is such a precious gift that we even see beauty in this world at all, but it is abundantly found, and you really have to work hard to avoid it. All of humanity is made in the image of God, and therefore, even though we might not consciously call it such, everyone is something beautiful, and if God thinks that you are beautiful, then you are beautiful. No use arguing, you are truly beautiful. It is impossible to avoid beauty, not without losing all traces of your humanity. This is why I desire to reflect truly the nature of Christ if the word Christian is to apply to me, because if I am not being revealed in a manner that reveals the true nature of Christ then there is something amis. The word is but a word, it is the nature of a thing that defines it. I do not wish to be a false definition of the word Christian, but a true one. And to do so, I need to trust what it is that Christ is doing.
Like I say, it is a trust issue. I know what is true, and right, and so forth, I know the truth of who I am in Christ, but I would be lying if I said that I’ve got it all together, and actually believe it. I may be many things, but I am a man. There is still, the one I like to call ‘my old zombie self’. Which is to say, there is the matter of what is called ‘the flesh’. Now, to be sure, I am becoming more and more convinced that the idea of ‘the flesh’ and the idea of ‘the body’ are not to be confused with one another. They are not the same thing. The body is something sacred. The flesh is simply the presumption to say that we know better then God. We hold no merit, but the flesh is to believe that we have merit. This is the very nature of the flesh, to presume that we have it in ourselves to accomplish what only God can accomplish, on our own. I would be lying if I said I do not attempt to try. The body, however, is not to be confused with the flesh, I was astonished at how much making the distinction altered my perception of things. I am able to see that I am beautiful, where before, when there was confusion between the body and the flesh, it was hard to see my body as being truly beautiful. This is something I’m only just now beginning to realize, and it hurts me to see how much damage this simple little confusion wrecks in my brothers and sisters. People talk about the problems of the church, but a lot of it is manifested from this confusion. We know what we are, and yet we mistakenly believe that what we are is something horrible. Because we ascribe evil to our physical form, whether we are conscious of it or not, we suffer all the heartache and pain of condemning ourselves for our own existence, because we truly believe that we are in our very nature, something horrible. The physical realm is not evil. We are not physically evil. This is important to understand. Your body is a God-given gift, how can we consider it to be something evil? No, the flesh must be something different then simply another word for the body.
I want to be free, and I want to see all of my brothers and sisters be free. I want to see all of humanity free from the lies that bind them so tightly they even abhor their own existence.
In the end, I suppose, it must be remembered that love must work in unison with all virtues, or it ceases to be love. In this way, love and loyalty work together, love and courage, love and honor. Love produces all virtues, when it is the ruler of our hearts. Love is the fire of courage, and from courage comes all virtue. We must love, if we desire to hold courage, honor, and loyalty.
Love of others is a love that seeks the benefit of another over the benefit of self. It is the turning outward, the transcendence of oneself to benefit of those that are around you. Love is most true when it is a selfless love, a love that seeks to give, rather then to receive.
Again, I suppose it is possible to love even when it is returned. Love in any form, doesn’t always have to be a thing unrequited. I mean, to love unconditionally doesn’t mean that favor, albeit it be unsought, will not be given to you on occasion. If it is true that you are not loving self-seekingly, that doesn’t mean that good things will not come to you just because you were not looking for them.
The key, I suppose, in matters of love, is selflessness. But, perhaps I just am struggling with the notion of taking, and still calling it love. I am troubled by anything that demands, under the banner of love. How can one take something, and call it love? I do not understand it, I cannot comprehend it. Only when something is given can it be taken and not violate the nature of love, but it must be a gift, and a gift given willingly by the giver of the gift, never taken, never forced. To force is not love, to take unwillingly, is not love. Manipulation is not love. Working in the best interest of another, and doing so in a manner of grace, is love, never hatred, or cruelty. Is the heart of love a heart given to the other? Or is there something, even obedience, that we desire out of it?
In most cases, the definition of love has very little to do with the romantic, which is what is usually meant by the word in the English language. I don’t know of a word that quite perfectly describes what it is I speak of when I speak of love. When talking of it I can only describe it by comparatives and the use of terms of endearment, but never can I name the thing itself. I know of no word in any language that describes what exactly it is I hold on behalf of those whom I love.
It is true. I’m constantly running into ideas that do not have suitable words, it is very frustrating. The truth of the matter is, most of what I wish to say, I do not have words for. The words simply do not exist, or they exist but do not go far enough, not nearly far enough. So much of the human experience falls outside of the ability of words to express them. The idea of love is such a thing, we have words with which we attempt to describe it, but the actual reality of it, all words fail to compare to the actual thing that it is. We spend our lives trying, desperately at times, to find the right word to describe it, but it seems as though we can’t ever seem to find it. Perhaps that is the way it is supposed to be, ever chasing the idea, but never reaching it. Perhaps our delight is more in the journey then the destination, perhaps it is the unattainability of finding a word for love that makes it such a wonderful idea for us, the unattainability is why we desire it. Our delight is not in the having, but in the seeking of it.
What is love? And what is the word I seek to describe it? I do not know, and perhaps never shall. Nevertheless, I desire to have a heart that overflows with love for those around me, a heart for humanity, and to truly desire the benefit of others above my own desires, and to not seek my own benefit, but the benefit of those around me. That is my wish.
Posted on February 13, 2013
Beauty, what is it, that draws us to the beautiful?
For my part I’m inclined to believe it is because it is a window through we see a little glimpse of Heaven, and that all beauty finds its source ultimately, in God himself. Where else would we get such a concept. Words, as far as I can tell, are but representatives of things, but every word must have something real at its root. There cannot be a word that has nothing behind it, a meaningless word. Words are very useful, but in and of themselves, they are nothing. They are only representatives of something more, something real. Beauty, the idea of it? Where does it come from?
The only place it can, something that is not just a concept or an idea, but something that is the thing itself. There can only ever be one possibility, and that is that beauty is found, the very root of beauty, that is to say beauty itself, is found in God. It is from him that we draw the idea from, whether or not we recognize him, we recognize his attributes. True beauty will always reflect the nature of God, because God is the source of true beauty. It is his nature to be beautiful, it is what he is. I suspect that there is an infinite number of attributes that God possesses, and every one of them that we have encountered has transformed us when we have found it, one can not explore an attribute of God without it leading one to the source. Him.
Perhaps we live in a world that is but a shadow of a greater reality, a world that is but an illusion, a word, something that is part of something more. I have questions, lots of questions, and among them: Can we actually exist? Can anything, does anything, exist? I mean, really, exist. How can it? It shouldn’t be possible that we even exist, but here we are. Or are we something far more abstract then we imagine ourselves to be. Almost more accurately described as an idea then a reality? What is it that we are? I do not know, or understand these things, but I do have questions, and above all I ask, what is it that we are? Are we real, or ideas? Can something be an idea and real? Is something less real if it is an idea? I suspect that the answer is something of an idea being not a lesser, but a greater reality then it being the opposite that is true.
By the speaking of words God created the realm, that is reality as we know it. Words. But it seems words are ideas that have a source. But clearly there is a distinction between God and his creation, they are not one and the same. This puzzles me, how can an infinite, eternal, God exist separately from his creation? Unless, unless, unless, creation is the manifestation of an idea made reality, but still remains fundamentally an idea.
It’s like an author who writes worlds into being in their own works. In some ways those worlds do not exist, apart from the mind of the author, but for the author, and for inhabitants of that world it is the reality they have, yet still only a reality in the mind of the author. From the perspective of the inhabitants, there is no reason to suspect they are only an idea in the mind of their creator, for they are real, their world is real, and the author is real. Just because they are an idea, doesn’t mean they are not real. The author is separate from the creation, but at the same time, the creation cannot exist without him being the source of it, the idea-reality of it, is the idea that is the reality, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real.
Oh, I don’t know, yet, how else can God be everywhere, and infinite, and yet remain separate from his creation, unless God himself is the greater reality that houses the lesser reality that we find ourselves in. That is the only thing I can think of, but that is by no means the final say in the matter. There may be fifty billion other possible explanations that I remain ignorant of to the dilemma, and my own guesses are laughable in light of the fullness of the truth. I don’t know, still, for my part I do not believe it is wrong to seek the knowledge of the truth of what it is that we are. To seek to discover how it is that that which shouldn’t exist, but does, is even possible. To ask questions.
I do not believe there is any question that will leave God stumped looking for an answer, even if it was the kind of question that even if you were to take all the humans from all of human history and combine them into a single entity with all the knowledge of humanity compiled together, would be absolutely stumped by. Unable to solve, even with all human knowledge at its disposal. The questions that seem to have impossible answers. Perhaps there are no impossible questions and impossible answers.
Also, questions that really puzzle us now, might seem so simple when we finally understand them. Even here in this world, I’ve had that happen, lots of times, I’ll have a real difficult question, and then one day, after I’d even forgotten about the question, the answer will present itself, so obvious, so simple, and completely overlooked, despite the hundreds of hours I might have put into the asking of the question, sometimes the answer is a word, sometimes even a simple word.
One of the questions that I keep pondering is that I keep searching for a word, but I don’t know what the word is that I am looking for, only a vague and ever expanding concept of the meaning of it. You could almost say that part of it is something to describe the innocent, platonic, passionate, desire for the well being for another, a word that binds, like an oath or covenant, a word that is a promise to seek the best of another at any cost to oneself. The love of a brother or sister, a word that describes both passion and restraint, peace, joy, goodness, truth, a love, but not a love of feeling, but something deeper then feelings, and yet part of the definition is a feeling of love as well, something that both transcends and is the root of love, all summed up in a single word, and ascribable to another person. Among other things, the word needs to sum up all of that. There are words that might cover one or two, but I know of no word that brings them all together. Yet, it feels as though the word is right on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t figure it out. For years it has been there, but I get the sense I could easily spend a lifetime trying to discover it, that in the asking of the question, I have started an endless quest to find an answer. Yet if a question is asked, surely an answer must be there or there is no point in asking the question. So I keep searching, and searching. But find it not.
So I continue to seek to define it in hopes of finding it, so I ask myself questions with bizarre, and seemingly unrelated answers, like: You ask me why I care about another? I respond that it is like how I care about this one, or even it is like how I care about that one, or even fictional people, such as Avalon, Winter, and Alex. It is something I don’t have a word for. It is important to find it, and the failure to have the word required has already dragged me to the edge of my sanity on occasion.
Ignorance of the proper word nearly destroyed me six years ago, words are unbelievably powerful and dangerous. Both in the words we use, but also in the words we do not. If I could turn back time and speak the words I know now, I would, and all that followed would have been altered. However, I also believe that I am a better person for facing the darkness and overcoming it then if I had never faced it at all, so perhaps it is a good thing in the end that I lacked the word. Still, the point is that words are our inheritance, and we must use or not use them wisely.
In many ways I still need to find the word I seek, somehow. But what is the word you would use when encountering a friend, a stranger, an enemy even, and you feel as though you would bend Heaven and Earth for them, as though they are the center of the world, as though the reality of their presence in the world changes the fundamental reality of humanity as a whole. If they did not exist, if they never were even a thought in the mind of God, that all humanity would be forever altered from what it is by their existing as part of it. In other words, to see them changes what it is to be human. That’s the kind of word I need to ascribe the reality of them. You could almost use the name itself to describe it. Or what have you. Whoever it is that alters the whole of reality itself by their existence.
All of that is to ask, what is the word? I do not know, I can only go on filling notebooks with descriptions of what the word is, but never the word itself. And so the search continues for a word I do not know, I have no idea what it looks like, what language it is in, how many letters, how it sounds. I do not know what letters it is built with, or whether it has ever been uttered upon this Earth before is a truly unknown word in this world. I think I’d know if I heard it, or saw it. But, in my 27 years I’ve not encountered it, though everything I’ve ever learned and known seems to define it.
What is the word?
It’s like beauty, you think you have an understanding of it, then you encounter something new, and everything you ever thought you knew about beauty changes, every thought, every feeling, even what it is to be human, can change in a moment by the encounter of something beautiful. Nothing seems to change the human soul so effectively as the encountering of the beautiful. Beauty is fire, it consumes, reforms, and defines you. Beauty is water, it cleanses and purifies you. It is earth, it grows you and nourishes you. It is the air you breathe, it gives and sustains life. Beauty is around us, within us, is us. But what is it? Is it in the eye, or the soul? Is it seen or felt? Known or it the mystery of a thing that makes it beautiful? Can we ever know beauty without destroying the mystery of it? I do not know.
I am human. I still am on my journey, and I have not learned the answers to my questions, nor discovered the fulfillment of the longings of my heart and soul.
So we ask about what it is that we are? We ask who we are, who God is, and how it is that we are, how it can be. Beauty tells us that God exist, the darkness tells us we exist. We know these things. We long for knowing more of the beautiful, and sometimes we forget that it is in darkness that beauty meets us most potently.
Beauty is the transformation of the soul, the refining of the mind, it isn’t merely the cause of these things, but it is the thing that does the great work within us, and it is the thing itself that makes it so beautiful.
Beauty, I find it in so many places, and it is hard to ignore it when one tries. We are to wired to seek it, even above all other things, including our own survival, our soul thirst for beauty, unquenchably, powerfully, unable to be content until it finds the source of it.
The beauty we know what is seen in the mirror, but we long to know not the reflection, but the thing reflected, and we cannot find contentment in the reflection, even though it changes us, refines us, and makes us more alike to it. Giving us beauty as well, the longer we look into the eyes of beauty, the more beauty works within us, changing us, making us beautiful.
We cannot escape beauty, not in this world. Only if we are to succeed in escaping the source of beauty will it finally cease to be. Needless to say, a world without beauty would be a bleak world. Even now we see hints of what a world without beauty looks like, it is why we see tragedies, evils, and so forth. This is what takes place when beauty is forsaken, forgotten, and fought. There is nothing left but ugliness. It is but a picture of the loss of beauty made complete. One must consider it well whether or not they wish to cut themselves off forever from the source of beauty, because the loss of beauty leaves one empty, cold, and without hope. You cannot even remain a human being, a human being is too beautiful, and without beauty you cannot be human. It is crucial to what it is that you are, that you know what it is that beauty is. It is part of what defines us, fundamentally, as a human being, is our being an image, a symbol, of God, the one who I believe to be the source of beauty. Succeed in running from him and all that remains to you are all the worst things in the world, the uglier things. Sometimes we see what running from beauty looks like, and we ask why bad things happen. It is the running from beauty, and all that remains is ugliness. Bad things are very ugly indeed, and the natural result of forsaking the beautiful.
For my part, I desire to chase after the beautiful, longing with all my heart, to know the source of it, and as I journey on that road, I will find myself changed in ways I did not expect, until when that journey nears its end, I become so transformed by the beautiful that looking back from where I started, I do not even recognize myself for the man I once was.
Either way, you will change, whether by the hand of beauty, or by running from it. Change is inevitable, a choice between the true and the evil must be made. Will we let beauty transform us, or run from it?
These are things I do not have the particular word for perhaps, but I keep searching, seeking, hoping, looking, desiring to find the words I seek. In the end it is words that I long for, I need the right word, and I have it not, though I long with all my heart, and all my soul, to know the word.
But, for all that, perhaps beauty, from our perspective, is what happens when Heaven invades Earth to reclaim that which was taken by Hell.
Things may seem dark indeed, but in light of the greater picture, we are both at the center of, and for the most part, completely ignorant of, war, the great war, the war on beauty itself. But beauty always wins. Darkness cannot win against the beautiful, it isn’t in the nature of the darkness to overcome the light, but to be overcome by even the smallest lights.
In the telling of the whole story, we shall see that everything that seems so bleak and dire to us now is but a small and passing thing, like a few words on the end of a page, hardly to be noticed among the splendor. But, that does not mean that they are without meaning. It is where we now dwell, and this is our fate, to dwell in the shadow-world for a time, and it is perhaps having seen the darkness, that causes us to appreciate the beautiful all the more when the page is turned to greater things.
Though we see the darkness, in our hearts we know that the entirety of the story is a beautiful story, and though we might not understand it, even these ashes are part of the story.
What is the word? I do not know, but like beauty, I desire to keep seeking it.
Posted on February 15, 2013
I hesitate to post this as so much of it is spent examining some of the darkest parts of the world we live in, and I do not believe I have mentioned this, but most of these blog post are written using my private journal musings as a starting point for what it is that I’m writing that particular day.
On this day, when the original entry was written, it was just after the Connecticut school shooting this past December when I wrote the entries that I’m drawing from, and also, now as I rewrite them for posting here, I have to report that it happened this week that I saw an irate customer at the mobile phone provider, and this will perhaps put the thoughts in a little perspective and understanding of what it is that I am speaking of as I sort out my thoughts about these events:
I confess, the shooting shook my faith in humanity, as a whole, and I wondered if there really was anything worth hoping for or if all of us are doomed to be wholly evil, even if we do not all have the opportunity to commit such acts of horror as happened here. I still feel a heaviness in my heart when I consider the lives that will never be now as a result of the selfish acts of one person, and yet, and yet, I know that pain would drive a person to do things so inhuman, that madness comes in many forms, and sometimes even the worst of humanity is more in need of pity then we are apt to give towards them. There is no escape from the truth, the coldness of reality, there is no bringing back of the dead, and no redemption of the lost. It is an entirely hopeless matter that even though I am an outsider in terms of physical locality, and lack of personal acquaintance with anyone involved, I find fills me with despair. Perhaps that I see the same mindset played out every day, as would be found in the mind of the inhuman soul who would do these things, even though the result isn’t so visible, there is in so many such anger and hatred, the same selfishness that, apart from opportunity, remains unseen, but not unfelt. It is but the opportunity to be a destroyer that separates these people from being killers, destroyers, and so forth. It is the same blatant disregard for the life of others, it may not manifest itself in such a tragic way, but it is of the same mind. I feel it in the thoughts of the irate customer at the mobile phone provider, in line at the grocery store, in the impatient driver, and most horrifyingly, in myself when the right combination of buttons happen to be pushed.
We must look first to the heart of the matter if we are to answer why it is that these tragedies occur. All thoughts begin first in the heart and soul of a man, a heart that is pure would not hold human life in such a state of disregard. It would not hold as its standard some twisted sort of justice, where the law of self-promotion, self-centeredness, and hatred provides sufficient reason to take the lives of children. Almost all hatred begins as a perversion of justice, usually some perceived hurt against oneself. Murder begins with hatred, it is a child of hate, never does one hate because they murder, they always murder because they hate. Hatred begins in the thoughts, and the thoughts that give birth to hatred? Perverse justice. What is evil? Evil can only ever be perversity, because evil cannot be created, only good can be created. Therefore, evil must always be a twisting and perversion of something good. In this case, justice.
Evil is what takes place when good is perverted, but I do not think there is such a thing as inherent evil. How can there be if all there was at the beginning was good, there can be no evil that is evil in and of itself, inherently. Therefore, all must evil must have something good from which it is but a perversion from.
These questions have to be asked. And while we should be seeking every possible practical solution to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again, we cannot ignore the reality of the heart of the matter, which is the heart of man. If we fail to take that into consideration, we will see tragedies occur again, and again, and again. The conversation begins, and ends, with the human heart.
It is central to the matter, and without taking it into consideration, we can do nothing to prevent these events from happening again.
It feels so hopeless, so discouraging, and rather frightening. For twenty years the soul of a monster walked the Earth, lived among us, breathed among us, laughed with us, and at us. He was part of us. He was us. Which of us will do things in the future, things we ourselves cannot even imagine? What great evils will take place because we underestimate the evil within?
It is a bleak picture of the human condition. I want so badly to think well of mankind, to see them as something beautiful, wonderful, and brilliant, but then something happens that shakes my faith in that, and I see the monster, not only in the heart of those who would destroy, kill, and wound the innocent, but I see the monster within as well. All men are mirrors of our own souls, and we share in the disgrace of the darkest of humanity when these tragedies occur, because we are human. We need to acknowledge that there isn’t this great wall of separation between the best of men and the worst of men, but that every one of us has within us the potential to be one or the other.
Because we are what we choose to be. We can choose to be a good man or a evil man, we do not become one or the other without having chosen it. It begins with our hearts.
Which is why, we must tame our anger over the little things, the problems at the mobile phone provider, the slow traffic, or the errors that might take place in the checkout at the grocery store. It is the same heart of darkness, and left unchecked will, not might, but will lead to greater evils then just getting annoyed with the person we are around at the moment.
We become the product of our daily choices. Every day we make choices, to do the right thing, or the wrong thing. These are the choices that matter. These are the ones that form our character and it is our character that defines us. Destroyers and monsters do not just happen, they are made as a result of thousands of little choices that defined their character. It is the choices of the moment that leads to the defining of our character.
These things happen because we do not tame the little monsters of our heart, but let them grow into bigger monsters, until they consume us, turning us, ourselves, into monsters. And when that happens, it isn’t just shouting at the people who might have made a mistake, usually a pretty minor and correctable one in the grand scheme of things, but we see such acts of violence, such disregard for the lives of others. This and all such events are preventable tragedies, and it is the responsibility of all men to acknowledge the truth of what it is that is in our hearts, and the problems of the daily little evils that turn us into monsters.
Thus, when these sort of event occur I lose faith in humanity, not only because I see the darkness in the one who destroyed the lives of so many, but because I know it is but a reflection of the darkness within. I too have the capability, because I am a human being as well. What is it that separates us? It can only be our choices.
We should first look at ourselves for repentance, before we heap condemnation on the monsters, we should check our own hearts, and see if we too are monsters.
The hurt is that we are. All of us. We are desperately hopeless creatures. And this is why we lose hope in our kind because of the actions of one.
We hate ourselves for it. And the cycle repeats itself, over and over again. We’ve not seen the end to the evils of the human heart being played out. These sorts of events will occur again, it might not be at an elementary school, but it will happen.
What question are we going to ask ourselves, and are we willing to acknowledge our responsibility in the matter? Are we willing to acknowledge the shameful state of what it is that we are? To see that the darkest actions of the worst of humanity is only a reflection of the hearts of all men? To know that we all have the capability to become this sort of man, and to take the opportunity to ask ourselves what it is that we can choose to do to enact change in ourselves?
To see a glimpse of the heart of darkness, it forces me to examine my own heart, and to my horror, see that it is the same heart that I hold within my own chest. Because we are humanity, and this is our shame.
However, it is also the same heart of the same race that throws herself before others for the sake of saving the innocent. It is the heart of those who lay aside even their very lives for the protection and benefit of others. To give some the chance to live, where others had that stolen from them, laying aside their own lives to ensure it. It is the same heart of the hero. It is the same heart as the best of humanity. Those who chose the light over the darkness. She who would give her everything, this is a good heart. These are those who have not chosen the darkness in the little things, but let their character become one that when tested, shined all the brighter for it. We cannot help but admire them for their courage, because this is the outworking of their character. These are those who give us hope, that tell us that the world is not so utterly hopeless, and evil. That there are people who, do the most courageous thing there is to do. They live. They try with all their hearts to tame the monster within, to make the right choices, and they make the right choices. They believe in doing good, and it is this that defines their character, even though all of us have the monster within, these choose not to feed it. And we see in these beautiful creatures, the outworking of their daily choices. These are those we love, and they give us hope in humanity, and rightly so. And there are so many of these people out there. Ordinary heros, who upon taking a closer look at, turn out to not be so ordinary after all, but true gems, who you cannot help but admire.
I love them for it.
These are those who make the right choices. Who do the right thing. Who live their lives, doing the little things, making the little choices to do the right thing. Whether it is choosing to be patient with the, perhaps truly incompetent sales representative at the mobile provider, or looking upon the fact that perhaps the reason the person in the checkout isn’t with it is because maybe it took everything they had within them to just get up that morning, whether it is chronic illness, or a broken heart, they still got up, and while they can’t smile and pretend everything is great, they did get up. This too is good. More people are deserving of our pity, our compassion, then our condemnation, but we are quick to condemn and slow to pity.
Like Frodo and Gollum, before and after Frodo saw Gollum, it was as though two different versions of Frodo was seen. Frodo, before, was quick to heap condemnation upon Gollum, even to the point of hoping for Gollum’s death. After he had seen him, he pitied him, and hoped for Gollum’s nearly impossible, but nearly is a such big and beautiful word for the hopeful soul, redemption. We have the choice in how we view our fellow man, will we be quick to condemn, or to pity, and to hope?
It is not just those who lay down their lives for the sake of others that are heros, they are, and they rightly should be praised for it, and honored, but it is also those who make the right choices in the little things, these too are heroes. We should praise goodness wherever we find it, and acknowledge that even though it is a little thing, perhaps, these are the actions of a human being. And there is nothing more heroic then having the courage to be a human being. But to choose to do good, however small it might be, this is something to be praised.
I am becoming more and more convinced that it is our choices, especially perhaps, our choices in the little things, that define us for what we truly are.
So choose good. This is my plea for humanity, that they would embrace the light over the darkness, in the little things so that when they come to the fullness of the thought, it is something beautiful that occurs, and not something so horrible that it is unthinkable. Make the right choices in the little things, and be precious people, or turn into a monster, it is your choice, and it is the little things that matter so much more then the bigger, more obvious things, these are the things that define us for what we truly are. I plead with you to make the right choices in the little things, for the sake of humanity, and for yourself.
I plead with myself to make the right choices too, and I pray that I do not forget, my choices matter, and I do not want to be a monster, but it is the choices I make today that determine that. Such is the burden of the hour.
Posted on February 16, 2013
The gift of transformation takes place, often, without you even being aware of it. What do I mean? The list of people who have had some sort of transforming, positive, impact on me, not by preaching at me, directly interacting with me, or otherwise attempting to purposely alter me, but just did whatever it was that they loved to do has gotten quite long indeed, and it reveals some interesting things about life, about people, and about myself:
I desire to know why it is that when I’m around certain people, We’ll call them Winter, Iris, and Autumn, Jordan, Mark, and Peter, or even see them in videos and what not, that it seems as though I have encountered something so wonderful, and so beautiful, I wonder how it can be true that they are a part of this world. There is such a radiance and inner light shining from them, that it feels as though there is someone who is not of this world before me. A sense of greatness, there is something I see in these people, I cannot deny it. There is something special about them, and I cannot quite name what it is, it something that is more felt than thought I think. These are those whom Heaven has given wings, and with them, they fly, they live, and live passionately, their very being is a testament to the goodness of their God, and their hands create works of wonder, and power, that transform the souls of all who they encounter.
One friend I’ve long sensed all this about, I’ll call her Alice, she holds this quality. I noticed it some years ago, but never knew quite what to make of it. One afternoon, I happened to overhear a conversation, and the topic was my friend, Alice, their words? Exactly what I had written in my heart as a description of her, but didn’t quite have the words for in my head, yet. But in essence, it was exactly the same. I know now I do not imagine these qualities in her out of desire, or imaging a better version of her than she really is. In a mental world of my own where I try to take into consideration as many possibilities and so forth as I possibly can, I believed myself to be mistaken, I was truly puzzled that my friend could be what it was that she appeared to be, that there must be something I was missing. I knew not whether it was good or bad, but surely, there was something I was missing. How could I not be missing something? So it was far more astonishing to hear the words of someone who didn’t know her, talking with someone who has long knew her, and having their words match my observations to perfection. The stranger and the one who knew her well. These are the words of witnesses, unclouded by my own internal ramblings, possible misunderstandings, and again taking as much as I can into consideration, perhaps unconscious desires or imaginations. To hear spoken externally, by a third party, all that was in my heart about my friend was a surprise, but a good surprise, I think.
There are witnesses to the greatness of others, many of which match my own observations. Words spoken of them, even lines written in books of their nature, and therefore, I do not doubt their specialness. The words of those outside myself are extremely valuable, especially when they reveal my internal musings and observations to be something of the truth, and not just some invention of my own imagination. I have to admit I am, and always have been, a person highly susceptible to thinking well of people, even to the point of seeing them as being something more than what they truly are, imagining them as better than they are, and I’ve had my share of disappointments accordingly, yes, and yet, I still persist in trying to see the best in people, or thinking well of them, even if I can’t find a reason to think anything other than ill of them, I tend to think well of them, in spite of themselves. But, this tendency has often led me to question whether what I see in a person is real, or imaginary. I never know, and it is only when I start hearing other people speak of these character traits being present or not, that I begin to be able the facts from the imaginations of my mind about those around me.
This is good only in that I have an exceedingly hard time disliking people. It is bad, however, in numerous ways. It causes me to hope, to see people as being something better than what they are, and once I’ve seen that, I hope to see them be that. This is problematic in that I grow disappointed in people when they fail to meet my expectations of what it is that I have seen them become. I know their potential, and I have seen them as they could be, but it messes with my view of how they are now. This breaks tolerance of faults, and gives me a very skewed perspective on what it is that they are. This is wrong of me. My crime is to hope, but it is wrong, because it causes my love for them, as they are now, to be cold, and furthermore, enslaves them to the notion of fitting my expectations or facing my disapproval and rejection. It is not the heart of love for me to hope. Yet, how can I not see people and know that they have within them the ability to be so much more. So much more. To see the creatures they could be, glorious and beautiful, and to see them as they are, fallen, so far, and not wish upon them, improvement from the creeping thing the have become, to the glorious being they could be? What does the heart of love do? Accept people as they are, or does it seek that which we deem to be the greater good?
I do not know the answer to that. Yet, nevertheless, persist in seeing people as beautiful, hoping for them to be so. It is my perception of them to see them as being people who are beautiful, wonderful, brilliant, and glorious creatures. But how do I know if what I am seeing is true or my imagining a better version of them up than that which is true? Or is all that we see in people a matter of perception? Are people what they are to us because that is how we see them to be? Or are their actual, real, characteristics of people, that no amount of perception on behalf of others can alter? There must be, or how could we have first impressions, except that we move with such preconceived notions and prejudices that we bring those, even to those we are just meeting for the first time.
That is why to hear words of others speaking of the truth of my observations is incredibly freeing, it is learning that there is something real, where you were uncertain of it. People do hold qualities, and they hold those qualities in truth, they are not entirely the product of your own imaginations, but actually exist, outside of your own mind and heart, they really do exist.
Like I say, I tend to take into consideration every possible thing I can think of. I can lose certainty whether or not people actually exist as I see them, or if they are the product of my imagination, and not be able to tell the difference between these dreams and that which is real.
Sometimes you know a person for years, you’ve watched them grow up even, from a wee little child to an amazing young woman or man, and they can still surprise you. Like Hobbits. You can study their ways for a hundred years, and they can still surprise you.
There is one such Hobbit-like soul, I’ll call her Aisling, who is the daughter of a friend of mine, who I’ve seen grow up over the years from a little child to what she is now, a young woman. And I found that she is just such a person. She holds an astonishing insight in one so young, an unearthly wisdom and perception. In times it seems as though when she speaks it is worth heeding her word, that it is not her but God speaking through her. She speaks forth with a hidden power, and holds the insight, of the strength, the precision of someone far beyond her own abilities. It is sharp, it is like a sword, it is cunning and powerful, and precise, like she has a sight that sees beyond the mortal eye to the heart of the matter. Believe me, I was absolutely astonished to discover that she was like this, despite having seen her grow up from a child to an adult, she still surprised me. If I had to name what she is, I’d almost want to use the term Prophetess. But, I don’t know, all I know was my complete astonishment when I heard her speak. I remember her from when she was a child, and I hear her now. She has grown greatly in wisdom, in insight, and holds within her a sort of hidden power, I pray she never loses it but remains as precious as she seems to be forever.
As it is to be so it shall be. My hope is that I will not look on with blinded eye, but see with vision clear, all that lies before me. My fear is that people are not as wonderful as they appear to be, that the darkness within is merely waiting, watching, hiding beneath the surface of their souls, lurking wraithlike within them. Waiting to strike, to seize the opportunity of evil. I do have the zombie within, who watches and waits, seeking to strike and seize the opportunity for all kinds of evil. If I have the zombie within, does it not follow that my sisters and brothers of the human race also have their inner zombie?
This troubles me, that even the righteous still contend with their zombies. Perhaps the thing that unites all these people is their standing as the righteous. But there is the problem of one who is not of the faith, not of those who hold the name, yet exhibit many of the same qualities about them that these others do. But how can this be so? How can one who is not of the faith exhibit the nature thereof, yet those who are, I believe, part of the faith, exhibit such behavior that is so contrary to the faith? How can it be that the prophets of lies can exhibit more truly the nature than those who hold the name? Should not the dead be as the dead, and the living as the living? What does it mean when the dead act alive and the living act dead? Are things as they seem? Are the dead truly dead if they are living and are the living truly alive if they are dead?
Am I do call into question one’s unregeneracy, but,if so I must also question if the other is of the living, there have been so many who walk one way or the other in the shadows, and are they alive or are they dead? I can’t always tell. So it is with some who I see, these creatures that are difficult to name what it is that they are. Which is why I fear when it comes to the aforementioned people: The Winters, the Aislings, the Peters, the Alices and so forth, that I referred to. What if they are not as they seem?
What if they are like one I will call Jenna, who appeared to be alive, once, and in her voice prior it is evident she held life, a more troubling thought than if she was never alive, is that she held it, than why does she lack it now? How can this be? How can one go from a light that shines to a creature of darkness in the passing of a year? Which brings up an even more frightening prospect, did I create the monster that she has become? Was it I that served as the catalyst for the darkening of Jenna’s soul? Look at her now, is it not so that she is a small and pitiful thing, a gollum of sorts? But did I do something to transform her from one on whose wings even the light of the sun would dance, to the small, wretched, creature she is now? She has become self-centered like I’ve seen few become. A dark and pitiful creature, the only feelings I have left for her are neither love nor hate, but compassion and sorrow. I knew her when the sun danced off her wings, I remember what she was. I se her now, and I pity her.
This is a sadness. That one so glorious should fall so far.
I am troubled in the consideration of the question: Did she become this because of me? Was it I that came, like a fire, and did the fire burn her and in the consuming of her, transform her from what she was to what she is? And if she once was a creature glorious? What of these other glorious ones? Can they too become pitiful Gollums? This troubles me. I cannot bear to see my brothers and sisters fall.
But we saw it once before, would it not be foolish to think it will not happen again? Sometimes I feel as if I am a burning flame, and I that see people in the light thereof, but some burn away and some endure. Would that all would endure my touch. I do question my responsibility, my role in the lives of others. I am not an entity separate from the rest of humanity, but part of humanity, and my choices, and my actions do have consequences both on myself, and on those around me. I must consider the possibility that I can serve as the catalyst for the falling of some, if they fall. I would be wrong not to examine whether without meaning to even, it was I who pushed them there. What blindness and prejudices, might I possess, what words might I have spoken that might have gnawed at their souls, and so forth? Our prejudices and blindnesses, even if we do not realize we have them can still hurt those around us, so it must be considered. These questions, however painful to myself, must be asked when I see those whom I love stumble, fall, or lose their way.
I wonder in light of Jenna what to make of others who look like she once looked. Will they too fall from creatures glorious to creatures pitiful?
Can I bear to see Alice as a Gollum-creature? Can I bear to see the inner light darken, and to see her become not a glowing jewel who is so glorious as to possess a measure of invisibility even, to a pitiful, self-centered creature? Can I watch Winter, Iris, Autumn, Jordan, Mark, or Peter lose the unspeakable preciousness they possess which remains elusive in trying to describe the wonder thereof. And Aisling is more special than she knows, yet will she also fall?
What is this? How do we take these things and not be troubled in our heart about what may happen? Does it now rob me of my peace and joy in the present when I worry about future events that may never be? All these may very well stand strong forever, never falling from the wonder of what they are. Jenna, however, is one of many who where once glorious and have fallen from a glorious creature, for whom the sun herself took delight in shining off their wings, to become a Gollum-like creature, lost, wretched, and deserving of compassion and pity, even though they fall so far. It is not unreasonable to consider that those who are precious now could fall also.
But, I must hope that the lost ones may come back.
I must also ask, is the consideration of the glorious falling worth losing myself over? Would it not be better to pour our thoughts, our hopes, our dreams, our energies, and so forth, into hope? Instead of fretting about them, we hope. We pray for them, that they will remain forever strong, yes, but we hope.
My motto for myself is: “I am fire. I am dauntless. I need not fear anything.” A little phrase I tell myself when I am frightened, or feeling inadequate to remind myself that I have nothing truly to fear, and I have courage, and dauntlessness with which to act. I am not without hope. Even that I identify with fire is in itself a highly symbolic reference to the overcoming of fears of my own past. The dauntless is a reference to the book that alerted me to the fact that I had fears to face, and I need not fear anything, is a reminder that fear is my enemy.
We can hope, can’t we? We can remember that I found hope, even in the most unlikely places, I can hope for others right?
Back to the original topic of discussion, the impact people can have on me, just by being themselves.
There are those whose channels on YouTube for example, I had discovered, and the result of learning of them has led me to more than one fascinating new study, not to mention the most extraordinary insights. And I keep finding people. I’m not astonished at how many, to put it in as polite a term as I can, idiots, there are out there, but what astonishes me is how many brilliant, wonderful, lovely, and beautiful people there are out there. It almost seems that there are far more of these, even if the first group, the idiots, tend to be the louder group. These precious creatures, these jewels among the ashes, they are everywhere once you start seeing them.
Sometimes, it is like they have begun to haunt me. But who are they? As though the people do indeed proceed to haunt you day and night with their brilliant work, and transform you. I do not even have to know them. Yet everywhere I look, there they are. They haunt me in a sense, and I cannot seem to forget them. It is a complicated thing, I suppose, but the best term I can use for how the works of those who just do what it is that they do, and do it well do to me as an observer of their work. Haunting.
It’s what beauty does. It haunts, it transforms. It’s what art does. It is almost a supernatural thing, and impossible to put into a bottle or a formula, it never happens the same way twice, and impossible to see repeated.
But why? What is it about these brilliant people that is so different than all these other people I meet out and about? It is almost as though they are precious to me but I have no idea why.
That is what artist do, but even knowing that, I still routinely find myself shaken, moved, transformed, and even fundamentally altered from who I was before by the work of the hands of the artist, and despite happening over and over and over again, it still surprises me, every time.
What am I to make of all this? I mean already I’m a different person for having encountered them. Nevertheless, in many cases the artist themselves remain strangers to me, I only ever know their art.
Sometimes, it’s like I can see things that are quite invisible to the waking eyes. I really can’t quite say that I can’t see these things despite that they are not things that are seen. It is like I see these things, even if I don’t quite comprehend them. It’s like I have this sense that all of us are part of something more, that what we do see, is but a small part of a much bigger story than all that I comprehend at the moment, like I can feel that to be true, but I can’t see it.
And where do I come in with all this?
A lot of times with these things, it is like one day they just dropped into my world in all their splendor. What am I to make of it? It is like awaking one morning to find kings and queens are on your doorstep asking for some tea. What is to be made of that?
I am surprised indeed, and it doesn’t make any sense, at all. Most of the time these precious people, they are strangers for goodness sake! In theory, they shouldn’t mean much of anything in particular to me at all. Yet they do. Why? I don’t know them, they just seem precious to me for some reason I can’t explain. This happens over and over and over again. I’m surprised by wonderful people suddenly appearing out of nowhere, with an unforeseen splendor.
I wish I could comprehend the matter, I seek to understand things, it is my nature to try to comprehend even the most remarkable things, but every time it is an unexpected adventure, and it crashes into my world with all the suddenness of and intensity of a party of Dwarves and a wizard named Gandalf in Bilbo Baggin’s Hobbit-Hole.
These people just drop in, crashing through everything, every wall, every defense, every distrust, every reservation, and enter into my world. It’s happened before, lots of times.
I honestly don’t know what this riddle means. It will make sense perhaps in time, but right now it is a great mystery, one that, try though I might to understand it, it doesn’t make sense. Sometimes I feel almost as though a community of people is being formed for some great purpose, but not one of them quite realizes it yet. Or I feel as though some great hand is moving and bringing together some of the most precious people I’ve ever encountered. But even so, what does that have to do with me?
Perhaps God does have some purpose for this odd group of odd people in mind. But what does that have to do with me? Or perhaps it is just an odd group of odd people with no particular purpose in mind. I really cannot say.
But one thing is clear, life is an unexpected adventure, even if you do not set out for it to be one. The adventure sometimes comes crashing into your world before you set out on it.
One thing must be asked, and forgive my humor but: “Odd too I am? People. We are. That much, know I.”
Posted on February 18, 2013
One of the things I am most afraid of in life is speaking aloud, I just freeze, and then when I do speak, it is a high-pitched, unnatural sort of voice, even though I do not have such a voice if I were to just talk normally.
Probably the thing I fear the most, is myself. I fear myself the most, I fear hurting others, or even making them feel awkward. I fear placing expectations on others, but most of all, I am afraid of myself.
Every time I hear about some horrible crime against humanity, I feel it, this sudden and inexplicable fear that if the circumstances were right, and I lost my character, and allowed my emotions to overtake reason, and so forth, what is it that separates the one who did this horrible thing, and myself. I find myself applying labels to myself that are not true, only because fear makes them more than they are. Even though all people capable of being horrific monsters, that doesn’t mean all people will be horrific monsters, but I cannot ignore that not all people are saints, even if all people are capable of being saints.
I subject myself to endless self-examination, and it is never just a
cup of tea, that I’m enjoying as a good and perfect gift given to me, as an object of beauty and wonder, a miracle in itself, that a leaf, a humble leaf, placed in heated water would blossom into this elixir of deliciousness, and would provide me with more medicinal benefits than we can imagine. A simple drink which around countless tables traditions have been formed, families and friends brought together, and has ceremonies passed down from generation to generation, all centered around this beautiful thing we call tea.
Yet, even tea has a dark side, and we live in a world where people are considered less important than profits, worse yet, sometimes people are seen as being nothing but a source of profit. Slavery’s not dead, and I think it would be foolish to assume that all tea, worldwide is entirely ethical everywhere. There must be some injustices somewhere in the tea production process. The world is brutal to the widows, the orphans, the wandering strangers, it is brutal to the disadvantaged, the hurting, the poor, the needy, it is brutal to all, but especially towards those who are already at a disadvantage in some way. Why do you think it is nearly always minorities that are picked on, blamed, bullied, and so forth? Even in America people are excluded because of what it is that they are, not who they are. I am a human being, I happen to be male, I am a human being I happen to be ‘white’ as they say, which really is a bad term to use for people, in its self-contained racism, I am a human being, not a child or an adult. I am a human being. Human beings, wherever they are, and whatever it is they might look like, they diserve dignity. I look within myself, and I see prejudices of my own, I see places where I support rather than fight against injustices against my brothers and my sisters of the human race. We are of one blood, we are one family. These are my brothers, these are my sisters. All of them. Do not harm my brothers or my sisters if you do not wish to stir up my anger, my wrath even. Don’t even think about it. Yet, here I am, harming them myself. How? My tea.
Because of how it is that the process of growing, harvesting, processing, distributing, and so forth work, I am convinced that there is bound to be ethically questionable practices somewhere in that process. From the field to the store, it is a long chain to not contain any suffering, I do not believe it, not even in fair trade teas. Which of the four brands of tea I have immediately in front of me in the form of tea bags, only one of them says anything about being fair trade certified.
I’m not blaming the tea companies, or the workers, or the grocery stores. But I do blame the systems of the worlds economies that place profits over people. We need to fight for human dignity above our own rights.
Then I look at myself, and I am struck with how much that is nothing but meaningless sentiment. If I truly believed in the inherent dignity and worth of my brothers and sisters I wouldn’t just sit here spouting off words about it, but would actually be doing whatever I could, wherever I could, even to the point of giving myself away if you will, becoming physically spent, emptying myself, so that perhaps a little suffering of these people might be relieved as a result of it. I hate that humanity suffers, and that both by doing something, and by doing nothing, in the end humanity still suffers. Yes, it is good that I feel that injustice, in whatever form that might take, is something to fight. But, to be honest, I feel powerless to actually do anything meaningful about it.
What can I do? I am no one. I hold neither power, nor authority. Only words, and a vision of a better world. But my frustration is that I feel like there is nothing I can do that will make a difference, an actual difference, and a positive one at that. How am I to judge whether or not something is going to cause more suffering later if I became involved in trying to stop a little suffering at the present time? That can happen too. In the fighting of a little suffering, a much greater suffering is brought about later. Would it not have been better for us to not relieve the little suffering in the moment? Or, is it true that whatever the consequences may be, we have a moral obligation to do what we can to help others in the moment, trusting that some good will come out of it, even though more evil is produced in the end? Is or is that not, our responsibility?
Yes, it is tempting to go out there and fight for people’s rights. But, hold on a second, the questions must be asked: Will this bring about more suffering? And what of those we fight? Do we fight against people who deserve our pity, or do we fight against the ideas that they hold? At what point does a person become so responsible for the ideas that they hold that they are no longer worthy of holding human dignity? I am distressed at how quickly blame is thrown about and basic human dignity is thrown aside, we are quick to tear down, slow to build up. I am distressed to find that I myself am one who does this. Give me any political leader, for example, that I do not like, and I would be to my horror, inclined not to give them the respect that, whether we agree with them or not, they deserve, first as human beings themselves, and because all authority is given by God, and whatever purpose he might have for placing these particular people in authority, well who am I to question the judgement of God in regard to his choices of authority. These men, no matter what they are, even if they are the most immoral, worst sort of men, are still the Lord’s chosen ones. I might not always know why, but I firmly believe that the disrespecting of authority is by no means a just way to fight suffering and evil. Evil works never produce good. Never. Nothing good can ever come out of my disrespect for those who have been placed in a position of authority over me.
But here’s the thing, respect doesn’t mean agreement with the ideas that they hold. It is the ideas, and not the man, that we are at war with. It is always the idea, and never the man. All humanity is created in the image of God, and as such, everyone is beautiful, everyone is deserving of dignity, of respect, as human beings. There has never been a human being alive that was not meant to be beautiful, not meant to hold dignity, and honor.
Yet, I ask myself. Why do I continue to drink tea? Even though I hold the knowledge that almost every cup is tainted by the tears, and the blood of my brothers and sisters, I still persist in drinking it? Why is that?
Tea is just a small example, there are thousands upon thousands of like examples, that we do every, single, day. It feels rather like attempting to fight a monster that grows two new heads for every head you manage to lop off. (Sorry for the gruesome imagery, but it does the trick.) I feel truly powerless when I stand and observe the suffering of humanity. It feels pointless to resist it.
Yet there can be no greater crime than to flee. It isn’t pointless to resist it, and even though it feels like a fight that we cannot win, we must try. It is our duty, and it is how we may honor those who we love, which is our fellow human beings. Our brothers, our sisters. These are the people we love, and these are the people we are fighting for. We must be careful in our fighting of the monster of suffering, that we do not harm these precious ones. It can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between the cause of suffering, and the one who is suffering. The monster of suffering is a master of disguise, and he will imitate those whom we ought to be fighting for, not against, so well that we far too often, attack not the monster, but the man. We must take great care in our fight against injustice, not to hurt unjustly.
We must not join the monster. We must resist, even though suffering is cunning, seductive, persuasive, and powerful, and seemingly invincible. We must resist him. We must always resist him.
First and foremost, we need to acknowledge the monster within. We have no hope of fighting the monster without, if we are being deceived and are bound by the monster within.
This is the part of me I am so afraid of. I tend to refer to it as my inner Voldemort. He is utterly ruthless, and self-seeking. Where I might, in truth, desire to show compassion and genuine interest in the lives of others, seeking to invest my time, my resources, even my life for their benefit. Here is the thing, the inner Voldemort comes along and starts screaming things like: “Stalker, pervert, selfish little idiot! Give them some privacy, keep your distance! You’ll make them uncomfortable. You’ll offend them! What if you do something wrong and end up hurting them? What if you become like that guy you heard about on the news and… You’ll mess up, you’ll do more harm than good, you’ll hinder them. you’ll stumble them, you’ll only enable them, you’ll only make things worse, for them, and for yourself. Don’t do that, they are a threat to your safety. Be afraid of that guy. Don’t have anything to do with that girl. Don’t be seen with that man. Don’t let that person touch you. Don’t let that woman be seen in the same room as you. Be afraid of saying anything to him. Be cautious when speaking to her. You’ll come across as some sort of (morally) sick person, don’t talk to them. They’ll only think you’re flirting. They’ll be afraid of you. They’ll be intimidated by you. They’ll feel like you’re judging them. Don’t listen to them. Don’t believe what that person says. Don’t trust that guy. Don’t give the benefit of the doubt. Don’t do this, don’t do that. Don’t don’t don’t.” He’ll even point at me and start telling me things like: “You’re worthless, you have nothing, you are nothing, you have no worth, you have no dignity, you are an evil man, you have absolutely no business helping people, you must have bad intentions, you must be acting selfishly. You must hate them, you must not love them, you are acting, you are a hypocrite you are a sinner, there is nothing good about you. You have nothing to offer, you will do more harm than good. You will deliberately hurt people. You are a liar, you are a perverted and sad excuse of a human being.” And I probably don’t need to go on, I’m sure whoever reads this will know that inner Voldemort’s voice all too well. I’ve yet to meet a human being that hasn’t suffered the torture of having his voice constantly nagging at you, telling you that everything is completely, absolutely, and utterly, without hope, so why even try to do good. It is a voice of condemnation, and I do not know if there is anything more damaging to humanity than condemnation.
Here is the thing, how do I get around the nagging little voice that not only tells me all those things, but also whispers in my ears, that there must be at least ‘a little truth’ in the accusing words.
People talk about the devil. In the scriptures he is referred to as “The Accuser of the brethren ” But for all intents and purposes, we can refer to him as “The Accuser.” here. I’m not sure evil looks like what we picture in our heads, so much as the one who speaks these utterings to us. That is what evil looks like. The words of the accuser, wielding the weapon of condemnation. I cannot deny that my soul is thus tormented, so therefore, whatever else might be or not be, I have to believe in the existence of my enemy. How can I ignore the wounded soul, not only of myself, but the wounds I see in my brothers and sisters. In all of humanity, we all suffer this common suffering, this voice that tortures us day and night, haunting us, killing us, destroying us. But above all, tormenting us into madness, if it can.
Part of the problem is that there is a part of me that joins the accuser’s army. A sort of betrayal of myself towards myself. Some call it the flesh, I tend to refer to it as either ‘the unman’ a term I borrowed from C. S. Lewis’s space trilogy, or in my own private musings as ‘my old zombie self’. It is also rather like a Dementor out of the Harry Potter universe, it has a natural allegiance to that which is evil. So, upon encountering the accuser, it doesn’t resist him, but joins with him and starts screaming at me too, and like the Dementor, it desires to consume my soul. It is my anti-self.
And, those who have not Christ, this is what they are left with, just themselves and their anti-self. No wonder it is spoken of as being dead. If we have any hope of victory over the unman, over the inner Voldemort over the old zombie, over all this evil within us. We have to rely on life, and life devine, being breathed into our souls, giving us a living spirit to live, so that we do not have to be all that we have left to us without it. Hense, why we need Christ in order to overcome the unman. As the self, we have not in ourself, the ability to defeat our anti-self, so we must have the power of another to do so. That is one of the things that Christ accomplishes for us, is the defeat of the anti-self.
I do not need to heed the voice of the accuser, anything he might have to say, even if it is true, has already been dealt with, nor do I need to pay any attention to my old zombie self. He is dead, and dead he ought to remain, heeding him only gives him undue attention, and attention is what he thrives on, it is his lifeblood, without it, he remains where he ought, dead.
The voices in my head, they speak lies. That is all they are, the words of liars. I need not heed them.
So, the question remains. How can I drink tea, and do so in good conscience?
First, I acknowledge that though this world is a world of suffering, the tea I drink is going to inevitably cause part of that, but it also will accomplish a great number of good things along the way. I already mentioned a little of how tea is good for society as a whole, by bringing people together. If we let it, tea could save the world, truly, I am convinced that there is a great difference between that which can’t be solved by talking about things, tolerance even if that doesn’t mean acceptance understanding even if that doesn’t mean agreement, and remaining calm, and finding something to unite us, and tea is something that has the ability to unite us, and that which won’t be solved, even if we are tolerant, understanding, calm, and enjoying the unity of the tea table. Can’t or won’t? There is a huge difference between that which can’t be done and that which won’t be done. A small change of perspective, but it makes all the difference.
Second, tea, like all good things, is a gift. And I ought to receive it with thanksgiving. It is a beautiful and wonderful gift, a good gift. It is for me to have a thankful heart for the gift of tea.
Third, abstaining from drinking tea will cause suffering as well. Does this mean I shouldn’t try to select the most ethically sourced teas? Of course not, no matter how small a difference, every little difference still does make a difference. It is the little things in life that make all the difference in the end. It is fighting suffering, in little ways, that help bring about the end of suffering in much bigger ways.
Perhaps being a good steward is more about paying attention to what brings about suffering amongst our fellow men, and I’ll throw in the environment and creatures and so forth, than it is about our finances, and acting according to what is the most, at least that we can judge, ethical option available to us. Perhaps it isn’t about that which is cheaper, but about that which is the more ethical of things. It is a stewardship of ethics, not finances, perhaps finance is a part of that, but it’s not the point of it.
It might mean having to say no to something we enjoy, instead of having our demands met at the price of blood, whether in human suffering, or in suffering in animals. (For example, the egg, there is a terrible price to be paid for cheaper eggs. A lot of cheaper eggs are because the chickens are not kept ethically, they suffer cruelty, such as confined spaces, overcrowding, having to be kept on so many medicines just to fight the diseases caused by this kind of farming’s methods, and so forth.) A lot of times, not always, surely, but a lot of times, products that might be cheaper financially, have the price of blood and suffering attached to it as well. Now, price is not an indicator of ethics, by no means, even the more ethical of technology companies employ components at least, in their products, that at some point in the production are either harmful to humans or to the environment. (Yes, call me an environmentalist if you’d like, I call it being a responsible steward of your living quarters, in this case, the planet.)
Now, please, please, please, don’t misunderstand me, I do not wish to condemn or place guilt trips on people, that is the last thing I’m attempting to do, what I do wish, however, is to create an awareness of the possibility of, and sometimes outright existence of, suffering in our everyday lives, even if it is in things that we cannot see, because the person who suffers for our choices is a thousand miles away, in a different country, or different city, or even our neighbor, we just don’t see it. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. I’m just not convinced that blindness and ignorance is the answer to these problems, so while I don’t want to make people feel guilty, I do want to implore them to learn about these things, and to do what little they can, even if it is something really, really, little, to help.
If we as a whole, do our littlest part, then change can happen, I’m sure of it. And small changes lead to bigger changes. Perhaps in fifty years we’ll have an ethics-centered economy rather than a profit-centered economy.
I dream of it, and even if remains a dream, I think we should still dare to dream it rather than to just say that things will never change, and there is nothing we can do to change it. It might not seem like much, but the little things really do make all the difference in the end.
And I still have not solved the tea dilema, but even in writing this I’ve started asking myself questions about just what is involved in my cup of tea here? Even the asking of questions is a good place to start, it is much better to ask questions, even if you do not presently see a solution to it, than to mindlessly consume I suppose.
And while I must acknowledge that I need not heed the voice of the accuser, that does not excuse me from behaving in a responsible manner. Responsibility is still an important thing to hold, and it is to my shame that I lack it in several places. Including, I feel, not seeking work as diligently as I ought, for no other reason than to be supportive of my parents. I wish with everything, that I could provide, for example, a new iPod touch for my mom, and a faster computer, she gets stressed out about both, and I don’t like seeing her stressed out about something that if I had work, I could very easily solve for her in a matter of a month or two of diligent saving. This is but a small example of the burden I have on me about not working at the moment, I really do want to work, so that I can give back to those who have given me so much, and while I like being with my family, if I did move into my own place, it would relieve my part of the financial burden of the family. My biggest problem? Ideas, and lack of knowledge. I have no idea, at all, what it is I’d like to do, and even when something comes along, I have no idea at all, about how to get started, or even how to attempt it. That is part of why i started this blog, so that I could directly combat the fears that are keeping me from seeking work, and the single biggest motivation I have for desire to work is to help relieve the burden I see upon my parents. If I happen to obtain a few funds for my own benefit, great, but what I really want is to help improve things for those around me with it. Again, a small thing perhaps, but for me, this is an area where I am not currently working in a manner that is beneficial to those around me, and to the world as a whole. Fear is the culprit behind my hesitancy, listening to the inner Voldemort telling me of my inadequacy and just simply being ignorant. These are factors, and perhaps I’ve turned them into excuses. That is wrong, and I hope that I can soon find something. Even if all it is something small. Forgive me, my pride is also a huge factor, if I truly cared, I wouldn’t care so much about what it is that I do, but I do care, what it is that I do. I can hear in conversations and such the subtle disapprovals of some jobs over others. Lets face it, CEO’s are often more esteemed than janitors. But, neither can function well without the other. All jobs are important jobs, I, however, have bought the lie that I am defined by what it is that I do, not what it is that I am. This is one area where I need to see a reformation of my thinking in, how it is that I approach the idea of working. So while fear is a factor, my pride and ego, are really at the heart of the problem of why it is that I am not content with doing whatever it is that is required of me to accomplish the greater good of bringing relief to those around me, in my case, that is my parents.
There is a mini-series/movie that deals with a lot of these questions, called North & South, it is a 2004 BBC drama that ask questions about suffering, present suffering and relief or what is the suffering caused by the overall picture, the idea of standing up in small ways for matters of the conscience, and the responsibility we have in helping those around us. It might seem a bit ‘old fashioned’ to some, but it deals with some very fundamental questions that still apply to the world we know today, and humanity is still humanity, regardless of when they live.
Posted on February 19, 2013
There is in me sometimes a bit of longing, something I really can’t easily explain, it is almost as though I long for something more, a state of discontent with what I am, an inexplicable restlessness, this sense that what I see isn’t quite all there is, but that there is something greater just out of reach. You could almost say that I desire to be a man who walks in the realm of the supernatural, so much so that it seems unnatural to dwell in the realm of the natural. There is in me a restless desire to be more, to do more, than what I am actually able to do. Nothing qualms this restless spirit within me, nothing calms these waters, they only ever return, and return stronger than before. It is like a unconsuming fire that burns within me, nothing can quench it, but neither can I find the means to satisfy it. It is a longing to do what is beyond human ability to do, but why? Why does this longing even exist, and why does it exist so strongly within me as it does?
For example I sometimes wish I had supernatural abilities such as flight and to walk across the water, and so forth. But all of that is really rather superficial compared to what it is that I really desire to see, which is transformation, healing, and hope.
Above all I wish I could heal those around me, and myself when need be, of their hurts, their pains, their illnesses I wish I could see the eyes of the blind open, the ears of the deaf, the tongues of the mute, the hands and the feet of the lame move.
I wish I could see hope in the eyes of the brokenhearted. Oh how I wish I could see the wounds of the inner person healed, these are the deepest wounds, so much more than blindness, than deafness, than lameness, than disease, and hurt. These wounds run deep, beyond the body, and into the soul. They hurt us, and continue to hurt, often growing, rather than fading with the passing of time.
What is it that I’m missing? I’ve seen these qualities in others, but how come I never seem to see them take place in my own ‘world’. Would that my hands could be the hands of a healer, to heal and not to wound. I feel too much like a soldier, and not enough like a healer.
I feel so powerless, so inadequate I suppose, when I say that I wish I had the ability to heal, I don’t necessarily mean, that I had the ability to heal, in and of myself, what I mean is that I wish that whether it was me, or someone working through me, or what have you, makes no difference, I only wish that those around me would be healed at my hand, I’m tired of wounding those who I touch, I want to help them, heal them, restore them.
Oh, I don’t know, it is a confusing thing to me, why must people suffer? Why do we not see the miraculous take place in our daily lives in my part of the world? I hear stories about other places in which these sort of things do take place, so I have to ask, why not here? What is it that is blinding me? Where is it that I’m misunderstanding some fundamental truth about what I believe? Wrong belief is the only reasonable explanation for it, but what is the lie that I’ve bought into? I need so desperately for the truth to shine through all the fog of my presumptions, blindnesses, assumptions, misunderstandings, misinterpretations, fears, outright perversions, and so forth of what it is that I ought to be believing, but am missing. There is something broken about what it is that I say I believe. I have the belief, but I see no evidence of it working out in my life, not like what I read about, and hear about. What is it that I’m missing?
It has occured to me that my faith isn’t so much about me, yes it is true that Jesus saved Me, he died for me, and so forth… But it’s not about me. There is something about a lot of teaching I hear, from all sorts of preachers, and I can’t quite ever identify what it is, but it doesn’t settle with me, there is something about it that just isn’t right, though I usually do not have a clue what it might be. It has occurred to me recently that maybe it is that so much of it is focused on the personal, you hear people talk about having a personal relationship, and so forth. A lot of teaching is directed on what it is that we can do or be personally. Or, what it is that we can receive personally. Whether it is giving or receiving, which is to say teachings on repentance (as understood as my turning away and my turning towards) and prosperity (as understood as my receiving any sort of thing), I think I’m troubled about the focus being on: Me. I am not God, why are we talking about me? It is a thing that has infiltrated my own thinking as well. I mean, even this very blog is an attempt to help me face my fears so that I might get outside myself a bit. But it is still a blog that is fundamentally about me. How do I become truly others focused, and even above that, high a calling as it is, Christ focused? It is a self-centric faith, and that is why it isn’t settling well with me. But how do I break this poison? Where can I find a renewal of my mind so that I no longer think about me first, but Christ, and about others before I think about myself. First, I desire to think about Christ, as the central focus around which all other thoughts revolve, second, about others. I do not know where I come in in all this, but I’m pretty sure that being the center, or even the secondary focus of things isn’t quite right. In the center I am my own god, and in the place where I ought to be thinking of others, I’m putting myself before others, or in other words, I’m being selfish. It would be a beautiful life to hold up Christ as my God, and live truly selflessly, forgetting myself as much as possible.
True, the self exist, I cannot deny my own existence, but just because something exist, it doesn’t mean I must give heed to it. I believe that the more selfless I am, the more the self is forgotten, the more fulfilled I will find my life to be. It is a desire I hold, to hold as my view, this Christ as central, others centered, for lack of better term, consciousness, rather than my current self-centered, self-consciousness. That is what I desire to possess. And I can’t help but wonder if the key to my not seeing the world around me being healed of its hurts is because I myself am standing in the way of it.
But how do I think about these things? How can I move out of the way without thinking about it? I suppose the only way one can, by absolute surrender to that which is greater than self, that which is central, and that which is the Lord over myself. To forsake all self-interest is my desire, but even in desiring it, I have an interest in myself. Therefore, I must realize that it cannot be by any merit of my own, but that all is accomplished at the hand of another. My part in the matter is to acknowledge the truth of what is accomplished, or in other words, to surrender to the truth that transcends even myself. It is the total surrendering of a soul to the one. And curiously, isn’t something I can accomplish in my own strength, but I can only surrender to the power of one who gives the power to surrender to the power that you need the power to surrender to.
It is supernatural, yet perfectly logical and reasonable.
The Christian faith isn’t about me, it isn’t about my role in it. Yes, I am part of the story, but I am not the center of it. The story isn’t about me. It is the story of the love and grace and greatness of God, but God is always the focus of the story, never me. I’m not needed for the story, I’m chosen to play a role in it, but I’m not needed for the story to continue to be a good story.
The Christian faith is the faith that shouldn’t exist. Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying it’s wrong, quite the opposite, it is a miracle that it exist, that’s what I’m saying. Think about it:
A God who created something he did not need to create, but created because he wanted to, then came into the creation himself. But when the artist stepped into the painting, he didn’t take up the authority he held? He did what? He was born where? He was raised in what town? He did what? Then he suffered? What? God with us? Who are we that God should come and dwell among us like that? What?It gets even more unbelievable. God, the very same person, comes and indwells what? Go back to the beginning, God didn’t need to create the world, he wanted to. God didn’t need to enter into the world, and even if he did, he could have chosen any way, he could have arrived with splendor, such splender as to shake the foundations of the earth from top to bottom, there would be no mistaking him, no misunderstanding him, all the greatness, and the terror, and the power of God laid out before us, who could stand? But no, he comes, as a human child, a little baby, and it gets even more bizarre. He emptied himself of his divine rights, and it gets even more bizarre. God himself, became a human being. Think about it. God, the author, the creator, the one above all other things, nothing, nothing at all can even begin to compare with the splender, the glory, the unimaginable beauty of God, and all poets and artist have been at work at trying to describe beauty, which is but a reflection, and a very poor one at that, since the day we arrived on this planet, and all that we know of the arts is beautiful even though it falls so very short of the reality of beauty as it truly is. But he became a what? A human? Have you seen these people? Now, I love people, I think they are beautiful creatures, and so forth, yet we are also nothing much to speak of in many ways as well. Little more than the dust we are made of. A being so unimaginably glorious and beautiful, taking upon himself humanity? How can this be? This is the sort of thing we might find in mythology, but in reality? It is as though this is the great myth, the great story, and it is a myth that is still being told, even unto this day. That doesn’t mean it’s not true. A story can be the best story in the world, but it doesn’t make it any less true for being a story. Yet, God remains the central character to the story he writes about himself. He is, because he is. It is okay for God to be self-focused. It won’t hurt him like it hurts us. He can deal with the focus being upon himself, we can’t.
This is the story of God, and it is an honor that he has allowed us to play a part in it, but it is still the story of God. It isn’t and never will be, the story of me. Nor should it be.
So while I desire to see those around me healed of their hurts, and so forth, I must ask again, how much do I desire to be forgotten by myself?
I guess what I’m trying to say, is that I desire to be emptied of myself, to be a tool for the benefit of others, but not for my own benefit, but for the benefit of others and more importantly for the benefit of the one who uses the tool. Would that it could be true that I would be so emptied of myself, that self, as I think of it, would no longer exist, but I would by nature be Christ-focused and others centered. That is the desire in my heart, it burns within me, I desire it more than anything, but I fear the falling short of it, and yet, I must be careful not to let condemnation into my heart, for that too is a focus upon myself. I desire to cease from thinking about myself at all, if that is at all possible. Even if it is not, I desire it. You can desire things even though they are impossible, the desire will still be of benefit.
I do not wish to be focused upon myself, nor upon the failings of others, which tends to do little more than exalt myself at any rate, be it in a twisted and something of a sick sort of way, it is rather like exposing the nakedness of others so that we can consider ourselves to be clothed. It’s twisted, it’s perverse, it’s sick. But we do it when we feel the need to expose the failings of others, when we have no business doing so any more than we have the business of stealing their garments from them. I cannot believe it is in the better interest of people to steal their garments from them. whether we speak of doing it physically, in which case we’d rightly find indignation and disgust, not only from the person, but hopefully from those around us as well. Or we speak of doing so in a figurative sense. That is, going around talking about people’s shortcomings, their sins, their failures, and so forth. We don’t have the business of doing that. It isn’t for us to expose them that way, not even if it is under the excuse of ‘well it’s for your own good’. Yet even though most of us would never dream of going around exposing people in a physical sense, we seem to think it’s alright to expose them when it comes to their moral shortcomings. I do it too, I hate it when I catch myself doing it, and I don’t want to try to justify my behavior in doing it, I am dead wrong to do this. How do I talk of this problem without doing it? I’m not exactly sure, but I suppose what I am trying to say is, don’t expose what you do not have the business of exposing, any more than you would in a physical sense when it comes to protecting the basic human dignity of your fellow people, what is more, these are your brothers and sisters, your heart is to be a heart of love, and love covers, it doesn’t expose, when it finds even a multitude of sins, it covers, yes, sometimes that means we have to give up our own cloak, so to speak, but what pretenses do we really have anyways? All that we have is what has been given to us as a gift anyways, we hold no claim to our own bodies, not to mention the cloaks we wear. We fight for our brothers and sisters, not against them. Our war is not a war against flesh and blood. We must not confuse our enemy with our brothers and sisters, even if he disguises himself to look like one. I have to have compassion on humanity. How can I help it, we as a whole, as a race if you will, are enslaved. Humanity is in need of compassion and love, and while I don’t know what to do about those who harm, hurt, destroy, steal, and so forth. (For example few people on earth disgust me that those who are trafficking their fellow human beings for a profit. Worse yet, this is such an underlying network for the world economy, that there is almost nothing about our modern lives that are not in some way supportive of the practice. Even in America this sort of activity takes place.) How do I hold a compassion for humanity as a whole, and yet fight injustice? I don’t know, I really don’t know how it is that these issues may be dealt with, yet I am convinced that I must both love my neighbor, and stand against evil. But how does one do so in a manner that seeks not only the redemption of the slaves, but the slavers? Again, my fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, these horrors are but the visible outcomes of a something darker. It is these powers that are ultimately responsible for the matter, and it is them that we are fighting against. How do I remain compassionate towards humanity though, when I see men abusing other men in ways too horrible to think about. How can I see the beauty in humanity, when sometimes it seems such an ugly thing?
Perhaps seeing the beauty in people is what is needed to save them. When we fight against humanity, we can’t see the beauty in them, however small it might be. We can only ever start to see them as something less than human. How can we fight against the bonds that hold even the worst of men, if possible, seeking ever to see the redemption of even the darkest, most horrible, side of humanity. It is hard for me to reconcile the ugliness of the dark aspect of humankind with the call to love them. But I am also convinced that we must operate in love, even though that might mean loving those who are really quite unloveable, and will probably hate you in return. It’s not our task to return an eye for an eye, but to love. That is our mission, to love, even the most hardest to love.
We need to walk in the supernatural for this to be, the natural man is incapable of loving in this capacity, I’m convinced of it.
It is the miraculous of the everyday, and why sometimes the least visible things are the most miraculous of all. Again, I keep coming back to this, but it is the littlest things around which the world changes.
Coming back to the question in the beginning, is the desire for something more, is it the call of my heart to forsake myself, or is something else? I am sorry, I sometimes feel a discontent with being merely human. There is in me this longing for something more. To be more than what I am now. You could even say it’s not so much my humanity I despise, it’s my weakness, my powerlessness that I despise. But where does this desire, this restlessness, come from? Is it the eternity written in my heart or is it the perverted desire to be gods?
Why must I remain so weak, so powerless? So common? So like other men? Why must I be so human? And yet to be human is to be of the same kind as those who I have seen that have astonished me, those people whom I’ve found to be so very wonderful, I have not the words to even describe them, they are amazing people. Does that not count for something? They are human, does that not count for something? Yet, it is also true that these monsters of humankind, those who hurt, those who harm, those who place profits over people, and those who enslave their brothers, their sisters, these too are also human.
I am a human being, it is both to my glory, and to my shame. But, at the end of the day, what does it mean? I struggle with my identity as one, on one hand I’m honored to be a human being, I’m thankful for it, on the other hand, I’m ashamed of it, seeing the darkness of humanity, I feel ashamed of my own, knowing that it is also in me to be this way. How does one accept their humanity, with thankfulness, yet acknowledge the truth of the darkness? I don’t know. But again, I do know that I am to love those around me, and to seek the redemption of those lost.
Posted on February 20, 2013
“The Universe is but a small and passing thing. It is, perhaps, bigger on the inside, on the outside it is but a scroll, rolled up, as a book, it is little more than a word. It is a shadow of a thought. I’d like to know the mind of the thinker.”
I suppose it is a little strange to quote oneself, but what if we were to look at the Universe slightly differently than we might be accustomed to? We tend to think of it as this big thing, this great big thing, too vast to comprehend even. I suggest it is perfectly comprehensible, and not as big as it appears. In fact, I like the consideration that the Universe is only bigger on the inside, on the outside, one could hold it in one’s hand, no problem. If one dared to hold such a sacred object as the whole of all creation. I do not dare. For one thing, if I dropped it, I don’t think an ‘oops’ would suffice. But I find the idea of the smallness of the Universe to be a comforting one. The whole of creation is small, and it is passing, even if billions of years were to pass by within it, it still is but a little while in light of the whole of reality, a little wisp of vapor that comes, and then is gone before its time. Billions of years passes like an instant in the greater view of things.
But at its root what is the Universe? It must be something, that much is obvious, but the only thing it can be is something comprised of information. How can it be anything except information? When you get down to the most essential fundamental essence of the Universe it is either present or it is not present. It is or it isn’t. I suspect that before anything else, the Universe operates on a sort of binary code, but instead of 1’s and 0’s it is something more like ‘on’ and ‘off’ or ‘present’ and ‘not present’ or even if you will: ‘real’ and ‘not real’. But it seems very clear to me that at it’s most fundamental level the base-code of the Universe, if you will, is a binary code. What the code is, I do not know. To be or not to be, that is the question, and in many ways it sums up well, the essential reality of reality itself. It either is or it isn’t. It is to be, or not to be. From this binary code comes the building blocks for more complex information, such as words perhaps. Lets say that each of the building blocks was made up of a complex string of information, and while I’m not good at math, I’m fairly sure you can have quite an extensive library of information at your disposal if you strung sequences of a binary code together, lets say for example that a single character could be made up of a sequence of either the ‘to be’ or ‘not to be’ and that the string of ‘to be’ or ‘not to be’ could be of infinite length. That’s just one character, but of infinite complexity. Now, that character is itself a small part of a code, which in turn forms an exceedingly complex word, that word in turn is part of a complex sentence. And these are the foundations of what we call reality. This is how something can be spoken into being. Because it is a digital universe, all things will eventually break down into a sequence of information, you have the right information, in the right order, you can turn that into things. Like sub-atomic particles, and yes, when things get much bigger, atoms, and much bigger than that, matter, and then things like stars, galaxies, peanut butter, and so forth. But it is all at its most fundamental essence, information. We must live in a digital universe. The Universe isn’t as a scroll, it is a scroll. It’s a book, it’s a story. It’s information, it is words. it is an idea. What we call reality is an idea. How else can all things consist in someone, except as an idea? The scriptures tell us that in Christ all things consist. It’s quite simple really. All things exist at their most fundamental level, as information. It is the idea and Christ is the one who is thinking it.
I keep coming back to the notion that reality itself is but an idea in the mind of Christ, and that is how it is that all things that were made by Christ, which is to say all that we call reality, including time itself, is sustained by Christ, who is the thinker that keeps reality, real. We are a story.
I mean, it makes sense to me, that if all things consist in someone, then all things consist, in someone the only way they can, if they are a thought, or an idea, before they are anything else. But it isn’t like our minds, which are easily sidetracked and such, for example, while writing this post, I got sidetracked writing about how wonderful it is to try to see how everyone is beautiful, and when I do everyone becomes beautiful to me, transforming how I see just about everyone I meet into someone precious. But, that is just me getting sidetracked from writing one thing. God’s not like me, in that sense, he can think about things, and continue to think about things, and keep on thinking about it. He has a focus I’m entirely without, and I imagine it isn’t difficult for him to keep his focus. It’s not like Angel Bob comes along, drops the proverbial pin, and God gets sidetracked by the pin with the angels on it and everything just ends. (Thanks a lot, Bob! I was busy writing something, and I haven’t published it yet. Humph!)
I could be wrong, but I am firmly convinced that the laying out of ideas, no matter how strange or even absurd they might seem, is more beneficial to the discovering of truth than to shoot them down because they don’t happen to fit what we think the things ought to look like. So I know all this might seem a bit strange, but it makes perfect sense to me, in five years I might find sufficient reason to think otherwise. But I pursue truth, even at the risk of absurdity. I want to know, not believe, but know, why it is that all things consist in Christ. So I start with the idea that all truth is God’s truth, and examine the Universe for clues to what it is that it is made of. All I can come up with, time and time again, even if I don’t quite understand how it is that I got there, is that it is first and foremost, an idea, a thought.
That doesn’t mean it’s not real. Quite the contrary. It doesn’t alter the reality of things to find the nature of reality itself is different than we expected it to be, but looking at something within it, is different than looking at something without it, and if it is something different than we’re accustomed to, of course it’s true that we can only ever have an imperfect understanding of it.
I am curious to see what I will find as I ponder the world around me. It is a beautiful world, and complicated. But my imagination brings about comprehension of that which I don’t quite understand, and helps me to understand it in a way that provides insight into what might actually be. You tell me the Universe is a word, and it makes perfect sense, but I can’t quite explain why it makes perfect sense, except that as an author myself, I instinctively know what it is to make universes out of words, I do it all the time. So, it doesn’t seem odd to me to consider the possibility that I happen to live in such a universe.
Posted on February 21, 2013
I do not trust people easily, and it has nearly always been a hindrance to me. For example, my writing, my art, and so forth, it isn’t written for me, not really, it’s written, as a gift, for humanity, for those around me, and though I pour out my heart and my soul, I do not do the one thing that actually is required of me, which is the sharing of it. What are fine words if I do not share them? Why? It is because I do not trust, and the sharing of these works of my hands and heart, is to be baring my soul. It is to stand before all, unmasked, and revealed to be as I truly am. No more, no less. What stands in my way is my lack of trust. This really is quite inexcusable, and part of the purpose of my doing this experiment with this blog is to open my heart, not only to those in my immediate vicinity, but to all. Only in so doing, will I find the freedom to express my work to those around me, though I confess, it is a bit unnerving to even attempt to reveal the thoughts of my mind and heart, especially, in a public setting, such as a blog that anyone may read.
Another thing I’ve noticed, and in many ways it goes hand in hand with my ‘trust issues’ is that I have a very difficult time getting around the fact that I do care what it is that people think of me, I want to be liked. And the fear of rejection is the ‘root fear’ if you will, of so many of my other fears that branch off of that particular shrub. I am always afraid to express what it is that I really think, because, if I do, in my mind, I will be rejected. This isn’t right, but it is present. There is a difference between something being present within me and it being something I want to be in me. I am tired of the fear of rejection, and the things I do to avoid it. In many ways I wear mask, one could even say, a different mask, for every person that I encounter. Nobody sees the real me, only the mask. This is not right either.
I’m not condemning myself, but I am acknowledging the fact that I am wearing a mask. I wonder what a world without masks would be like? I am sure I am not the only one who wears a mask to hide who it is that I truly am. I do it, everywhere I go, perhaps for fear of judgement, out of insecurity, or maybe because I simply want to be liked, and I know people are used to seeing the mask. If I was to take off the mask would they still like the man behind the mask? And this is the question that brings me back to the issue of trust.
I do not trust that they will. Even though I’d like to think that if those around me were to lay down their mask, I would love them all the more for their courage, their bravery, their confidence in accepting their own identity, their strength, their trust of me enough to let me see them as they are, I would love them all the more for it. Yet, I do not extend that toward others, I do not trust that deeply. I am convinced, wrongly, that I am a monster that lurks behind a mask of beauty, and when the mask is removed, people will flee in horror, and I will stand, desolate, alone, and afraid. It is a lack of trust, and it extends even unto God himself. I do not doubt his greatness. My greatest struggle in my faith is the goodness of God. I do not doubt his love, his justice, his greatness, or even his beauty. It is his goodness that I struggle with.
I know, I know, not everyone is trustworthy. But at what point does caution become a poison? Is it even my business to be concerned about what it is that people think of me? I don’t know
Fear, in my country, America, we live in a culture of it, at the present time, almost everything that takes place, takes place from a heart of fear. I’ve been watching my thoughts, and those around me, and I am astonished by how much we let fear dictate our lives, our decisions, everything. It is a cruel master, and we want it, we believe that our fear is our safety, when actually it is our fear that is destroying us. Safety, something of an illusion in itself, we seek it, to the point of madness. We won’t do anything we deem to be unsafe, even if we would be better off for it. We refuse to acknowledge the possibility that God is not safe, and in so doing, must have him in our box of what we deem to be a safe god. If he works outside the box, we do everything we can to try and put our idea of him back inside the box again. We’ve created a whole culture in our attempt to put God in our safety box.
This culture of fear works itself out in surprising ways, some of it almost amusing except that it is really quite tragic in how it works itself out. The number of men, for example, who are surprisingly threatened, by the cat. I mean, seriously. Thousands of men are so insecure and so terrified, that a creature full of confidence and grace, the cat, is considered to be a serious threat to them. Unfortunately, the fears that are the root of these insecurities are the same found in those who would abuse those around them. It may seem amusing that men fear cats, but it is this fear that also is at the root of men fearing anyone whom they perceive to be beneath them, or above them. At its root it isn’t about the cat, but about the ego, the perceived threat to the self, the worth of oneself. This fear of not being the center, always leads to the abuse of somebody. It is fear that fuels violence. Fear breeds more fear, and fear breeds violence, violence in turn breeds more fear, and the vicious cycle continues. It is safety that is being sought. The safety of the ego in this case. Our safety obsessed culture has made us anything but safe, and safety in itself really is more of an illusion than an actual reality. The solution of course, is not safety, but courage.
Courage, is in many ways, something that is manifested in the outworking of the virtuous, and it isn’t so different than acting from a heart of love. Perhaps this is why fear is cast out by perfect love, because love is the well from which courage is drawn, and from courage we act in virtuous ways. Fear, however binds us, and safety is but a fantasy, not something real. Courage however, transforms us, and those around us.
My fear, is the fear of others, what it is that they think of me. I must not fear what others think, but operate from a heart of love. In the learning of the loving of others, I should then find my heart is one filled with courage, and not one governed by fear, but a heart governed by love. It is so much better to be governed by love than by fear. Fear tells me to wear the mask, love says to not wear the mask.
My problem isn’t so much that I do not trust, it is that I am afraid. And why is it that I’m afraid, because I do not love. How do I love? By being loved. This is why it is so important to know that God loves us, and loves us with a perfect love. Because, in knowing that I am God’s beloved, I know what it is to be loved, and in knowing what it is to be loved, I cannot help but to love, and love will cast out the fears that bind me.
I need not fear, after all, it is true that I am loved by God, is it not? I need not fear anything.
Knowing that fear robs not only me, but those around me, it is part of why I consider fear to be one of my chief enemies. How can it be anything except an enemy? It is because of holding a heart full of fear that I distrust both God and humanity. It is because of a heart of fear that I refuse to be as I am, my lack of trust is born out of fear, and fear will destroy every good thing. It is not good that I am afraid.
It is a process, I think. But I am glad that I am becoming aware of the fact that I even have fears, and that it is these fears that are at the root of so many of the evils and corruptions I might see, in a strange way, knowing what the reason is, is a bit of a comfort to me. Not that I desire to be rid of these things any less for the understanding of them, in some ways, learning of them, increases my desire to see them removed.
I pray that I can see not fear, but love, courage, and a soundness of mind be the ruler of my decisions in the future.
Posted on February 23, 2013
How can I bear the thought of living in ignorance? Yet, how often have I wished that there were things I didn’t know. Still, I almost fear the thought of being ignorance. Knowledge, I suppose is something of what they tend to call a “security blanket” for me. To know something, for me, is where I find safety. I therefore dislike the experience of being ignorant. Now, this drive for knowledge as a comfort to me, has provided a means to push me to learn, and I’m glad for that, but it does get wearying when I can leave no rock unturned, nothing unobserved. I see everything, but am too focused on learning from it to enjoy it. Things turn into obsessions, ideas get carried away, people become something to study like a mystery, or a character in a book. Yes, I learn, but at what cost? I sometimes wonder why I am not content to live in ignorance, but must seek answers to the matters that mystify me. Yet, I’m always startled, frightened even, when I find I don’t know something. I’m not sure whether my thirst for knowledge is an asset or not to me, on one hand, I enjoy most of what I learn, on the other hand, I sometimes would like to just stop, and enjoy something, without knowing what it is about. To enjoy a song without having to try and figure out what instruments are being played, what notes it is comprised of, and so forth, but to just enjoy the song as something of beauty and wonder and mystery without trying to take it apart. To see a painting, and not care whether it is oil, watercolor, or acrylic, whether it was painted on paper, canvas, or on a rock, but to enjoy it, for what it is, not what it is made of. To allow myself the element of surprise. Surprise, yes, that really, I suppose is what it is all about, surprise is something that occurs outside of my ability to predict or control it. It is a reminder that reality exist outside of my own head, and if ever I doubt my own existence, all I have to remember is that I am capable of being surprised. Sometimes surprises are pleasant, sometimes not. Surprise occurs whether I wish it to or not. Whether it is a terrible thing or a good thing, it always hits with the same sudden jolt, and my initial reaction is nearly always the same: Why didn’t I know about this?
There are things I do not know. How can I reasonably come to any other conclusion than to say that I don’t know everything. I can’t decide whether that is a relief or not. On one hand if I knew everything there ever was to know, perhaps I wouldn’t be so inclined to doubt, but on the other hand, perhaps I would, and this is actually far more likely than the first, I would doubt all the more for it. I suppose in a way, it is a gift that I don’t know everything, it makes judging from what little I do know at least a little less complicated.
I keep asking questions though, it’s almost like I’m addicted to it. For example let’s say I meet someone, I think well of them, I do not hate them, and so forth, I like them, and by a strictly technical definition of the word, it is a strictly platonic definition of the word ‘like’. However, my mind will ask me questions no matter how absurd, often ignoring the obvious in favor of the obscure, and driving me to the point of insanity in the meantime. My internal conversation might go something like: “Do you like them?” “Yes.” “Now, define the word like for me would you?” “I am fond of them, I like them, I wish them well.” “Are you sure there isn’t anything else?” “No, it’s not like that.” “I don’t believe you.” “Well it’s true.” “You’re just deceiving yourself.” “Actually, they probably don’t even remember I exist.” “All the more reason you think too much of them.” “What? It was just a person who works at the grocery store for pete’s sake! I don’t hate them, so I like them. How else is it to be explained?” Several aspects go into all that, some of them are good, some are not. It is good to examine the ideas, to ensure that they are exactly what they ought to be, but it is not good to be self-condemning, and so forth, and it is outright damaging where it isn’t needed, stirring up fear and awkwardness, and only making things much more complicated than they need to be.
Somewhere along the way, I think I’ve probably swallowed some lie about all thoughts being some ulterior motive, and that our intentions can never be ‘truly’ good. Whatever that’s supposed to mean. That we must always be out for ‘something’ and that ‘the heart is deceitfully wicked, who can know it’ applies to me. My inner voice sees to it that I don’t forget it. It doesn’t mean it is true.
While I, from what I understand about it, think positive thinking, as in that our thoughts have the ability to change physical reality around us, is absolute rubbish, and more harmful than good; I also realize that how we think of things does make a difference in our perception of that which is real, including physical reality. For my part I desire to hold as complete a realistic view as I can. Yet still finding wonder in the world, and keeping room for my imagination to create something of its own story of a better world, a dream of something being better than it currently is, if you will. It is why I can accept that horrible things do happen, yes, but also that truly wonderful things also happen.
Back to my inner conversations. Much of what torments me, is the result of something I am believing wrongly. This is why truth is desperately needed to confront these lies, because lies are damaging, even those we tell ourselves.
Of lies and of honesty, an interesting observation has been occurring to me as I’ve been attempting to be more honest and open with people: It is very freeing to be candor, to be honest, to be upfront.
This doesn’t mean being offensive. A lot of times people tend to just use the truth as an excuse to be offensive about something. There is in the human heart a vindictive streak, and we, whether we wish to admit it or not, enjoy offending people, and if we can do it by using something that happens to be true, we feel as though we are perfectly justified in offending people. No, no, no, and again, no. We are not justified, just because it’s true. In most cases it is perfectly possible to convey the same information in a manner that is not offensive, it just means we don’t get to be prideful about it. Ah, ah, this I think is the heart of the issue here, we are actually more concerned about our pride than about the truth. We want our pride validated, we don’t actually care about the truth at all.
There is a difference between being honest, being candor, being true, and being offensive. For example, it is possible to convey the information by accusation, but it is also equally possible to convey the exact same information by acknowledgement.
We are to be cunning, absolutely, but also gentle. We are not supposed to be cruel, but neither are we to be gullible, and we are not doormats either.
For my part, if I offend, I want it to be because someone dashed themselves against me, not me launching myself upon them. If I were a rock, and you were to jump on it and get hurt, it wouldn’t be accurate to say that the rock hurt you, but that you hurt yourself on the rock. If I’m offending because I’m launching myself upon them, I’m doing it wrong. By not offending, I do not mean that we tone down our message so that it doesn’t offend. I only mean that we don’t crush people with the message, because while it might be true, if used like a bowling ball, it still hurts like nobody’s business, and will not be accepted, but despised. There will always be those who launch themselves upon the rock, and if they find that it hurts, it isn’t the rocks doing. That is kind of what I mean by all this. Instead of toning down messages, we stay strong about it, but we don’t use it like an arrow against people, but like a fortress. It might be stormed, and those who storm it may find that it offends them, they can’t get through it, and what not. But all the fortress is doing is standing there. Unlike the arrow, it didn’t set out to damage, but to stand. It’s an imperfect picture and a complicated subject, but I am convinced that using truth as an excuse to needlessly wound millions of hearts is wrong.
Standing requires courage, once again, fear is an enemy here. It also requires humility, as sometimes we find we are mistaken in what it is we are standing for. We need to value the truth more than we value being right for the sake of our pride. It requires love. Our desire, and goal, in truth, should always be to hold heart of love. It requires a measure of selflessness. We can hardly love in truth, if we are more concerned about our reputation than we are concerned about the people around us, again, our pride is an enemy here. Love, however is a great antidote to pride, it is hard to be prideful if you truly love those around you. You start wanting for them to succeed more than you care about your own success in endeavors and such. Not that you want to fail, but you are more interested in seeing those around you be blessed than yourself.
For myself, I find a sense of freedom with being candor, with saying what is to be said, without holding back. Though, to be honest, I’m still learning about not holding back, and I still find I hold a lot back, nevertheless, I am hopeful to find that in the few little places I’ve tried being more open and honest, I feel an amazing freedom as a result of it. This was in itself a surprise to me, but a pleasant one.
Posted on February 24, 2013
She runs to know she’s alive.
Glancing out the window earlier, I caught sight of someone running earlier, and you see by the joyful expresion, that this was what it was to live, that when they ran, this was their passion, they felt life, to run is to live. I’m not sure if what she delights in is in the act of running, or of the feel of the wind, but regardless, the sheer joy of it could be seen on their face.
I suppose we all have our passions, the difficult part can be finding it. For me, I feel most alive when I’m either creating something, when I’m thinking, or when I’m surrounded by people. I tend to think of myself as being introverted, but sometimes I question that, as I when I’m in the middle of a lot of people, I feel suddenly alive, and full of joy unlike I feel with nearly everything else, except for when I’m immersed in music, or particularly powerful words.
For the person I saw earlier, I think she finds herself to be alive when she runs. It was but a brief moment, but upon reflection, I found it to be inspiring. I’ve been a little out of sorts, if you will, this morning. It’s hard to describe, but I feel as though I’m so withdrawn inside my shell that I can’t escape, even if I wished to. Which I do. These moods strike me from time to time, usually after I feel a moment of anxiety, or panic, which for the briefest of moments early this morning, I did. Catching sight of someone who was passionate about what it was that they loved, even though it was for an instant, dragged me out of myself for a moment, and I am thankful for it.
Sometimes I think we tend to drown our passions, seeking insignificance almost over that which makes us alive.
One of my passions is to help those around me understand just how precious and wonderful and beautiful they are. It is something I’ve always loved about The Doctor in Doctor Who is how he loves people and finds those around him to be beautiful, he delights in differences rather than shunning them. It is a passion that I share.
It is this that makes me detest these moods where I withdraw into myself, and perhaps this is why to me, I can imagine no worse torment than to be left with nothing but myself, to me that is what Hell feels like. Me, apart from others.
I have a hard time communicating with people what it is I think of them, but I find that I love them, and one of the things that fills me with the deepest sorrow is when I see others hurting, nothing angers me like someone being hurt, I love seeing people living joyfully, and I love seeing them living their passion. Whether it is lunch with friends, or being with their family. Reading a book, cooking, eating, writing a blog. This is delightful to see. Passion. It exist in many forms, and I am so happy just to see people who are alive, and doing what it is that they love to do. It cannot help but to lift my spirits to go places and just observe, I see people living, and laughing. But it can be a bittersweet experience, for among the laughter and the smiles and the passion, there are tears and sorrow, pain, depression. Those who hurt. The broken hearted, the cast down. They are there too. I feel both great joy and great pity as I look around me when I’m in the midst of a crowd. but all around me there is beauty, and wonder. There are people, and they are all created in the image of God, and therefore, if for that reason alone, are precious people. I do not think there is a person alive who is not precious to God, and as such, why should they not be precious to me? I am reminded that we are to love our enemies, bless those who would persecute us, and honor those who are in authority. I consider it a joy to see people as precious. I know that there are people who walk in the darkness, who love it even. There are even those who would commit monstrosities. Even these, I must look upon with compassion and pity. They were not always this way, and as long as there is life, there is hope. I cannot give up hope, even among wolves. In my heart I wish to understand that we are all part of humanity, and though some will walk in darkness. I am a light unto the world. I have to start realizing that I am not a prisoner, but one who brings light to those who are captives. I am not a prisoner of this world, I am a liberator. I don’t come to extinguish hope, but to bring it. It is not for me to condemn the world, only God has the right to do that, and he chooses to extend mercy to the world, his heart is to see these precious souls, all of these precious souls, set free.
I understand that these are dark times, but this world is not my home, and though a place of beauty, it still is a battleground, in some ways it is a prison, a world of shadows almost. I would expect to find it dark.
I am still learning a lot about what it is that I am passionate about, but I think one of my passions is to let people know that they are precious.
It hurts to see so many of them in pain, so many of them suffering, either because of things that have happened to them, or because of things they’ve wondered into. They are still precious people, and I must remember that.
One way I like to think is to think of people as being people first, regardless of whatever else they might be, be it gender, race, nation, or creed, that they are people before they are anything else. I want to see people as being people first so that I may remember how very precious they are. It helps me to not feel so frustrated with people, if i feel so inclined. Simply because if I am viewing them as being people first, I am reminded that they are not so very different than I am. It helps me to love my neighbor as myself, as it is said. It is a simple change in my thinking, but it makes a profound difference in how it is that I see people.
I’ve discovered that once I start seeing people in this light, they become much more precious and valuable, and I love them for it. It is like awakening to find yourself in an alien world, surrounded by wonderful, beautiful, brilliant people.
In some ways, my mission, my passion if you will, is to bring Heaven to Earth. In a sense, I am an ambassador of Heaven, and in Heaven, I believe my true self dwells. It is my home, and I am with Christ there. I look forward to the day when I see it with my own eyes, but strictly speaking, I’m already there. This world is not my home, Heaven is. Yet, as an ambassador, I am a light in this world of darkness. How can I not see the inhabitants of the Earth as being something precious?
How can I not love them?
One of the ways I am a light in the darkness, is living. Is embracing the gifts and talents that God has given to me, and hopefully, using them to bless those around me.
Like the girl who ran, she blessed me, and wasn’t even aware of it, dragging me out of my shell for a brief instant, just by doing what she loved.
So, in essence, go out, be the brilliant, beautiful, and wonderful person you were created to be!
Posted on February 25, 2013
This is something of a conflicted post, in that it is rather like thinking aloud, rather than attempting to provide answers. It is a reflection on the feelings that sometimes are felt about how it is that we are to treat those around us. To be honest, much of it doesn’t make sense, even to me, and I am the one who is writing it.
To be honest, when I find myself in a darker mood, I sometimes wish that in some ways that I was alone, completely isolated from all those around me, and unable to hurt them.
The reason is that one of the greatest fears in the world for me is that I would hurt those I love. It is terrifying for me to ponder the idea of it. I start asking myself questions, such as can I be something I don’t want to be? I don’t want to hurt people, but is it inevitable that somewhere, at some point, I’m going to hurt someone? My reason, says, yes, at some point I am going to hurt someone. Some of my worst memories are the times that I’m conscious of the fact that I’ve hurt someone. My deepest regrets are always when I’ve hurt someone I love, or even someone, whether I feel any particular feeling of love towards them or not.
There are so many whom I dread hurting. And the most terrifying thing can be to look in the mirror, and it’s hard not to see a monster there, even though in my heart I know it isn’t true. The question “What if?” haunts me. What if I hurt someone, and don’t mean to? What if I do mean to? What if I make someone feel uncomfortable, intimidated, and so forth. What if. It is a dangerous question to ask oneself, I suppose, one that can quickly turn to a self-imposed defeat before we even attempt to do good. Yet it is a question that continuously haunts me. “What if?” Two words, but upon them, there can hang in the balance, everything. It can be summed up in another word, a single word: Doubt.
The relationships between people can be complicated indeed. I have to ask, am I responsible for the reactions of others, or am I only responsible for my own actions? It isn’t an easy question to answer, though I suppose it depends entirely on the circumstances. If I am being kind to someone and they return evil, am I responsible for their evil because they returned evil for kindness? No. Now if I gave them evil, and they returned evil? Still, they are not responsible for my evil, nor am I responsible for their evil response, and yet, I am, because I did provoke them with my evil. This is where it gets complicated, and from what I can tell, the way to avoid being at fault, is to do good, and not evil. Seems simple enough, but it gets challenging when one suffers for doing the right thing. That can, and does, happen. Yet, it seems clear to me, that if we return good for evil, and are good and kind towards others, we cannot do wrong in doing so. But if we are evil towards others, we are not only responsible for our evil, but to an extent we are also responsible for the provoking of evil in the other, it will be more of our own fault than the other person, if we provoke them. Therefore, to do good makes sense. The question is, I suppose, whether I’m bound by fate and nature to have moments of failure and cruelty, or if I might choose to do right, in spite of both fate and nature. I find comfort in the notion of being able to choose to do the right thing, it means I do not have to be cruel because both fate and nature demands it of me. It isn’t human nature to be cruel, it is to be less than human. I cannot justly justify wrong-doing with my claim to humanity. Whether I am human or not, I am responsible for the evil that I do. But, there is also in this, the incredible freedom to make the right choice. My fears are unfounded, I do have a say in this matter. I’m not required to hurt people. Neither fate, nor nature, can rob me of the choice to do good. It doesn’t mean it’ll always be easy, in many ways, it requires a measure of constant vigilance. It becomes a matter of looking at the whole of ones character, rather than an individual theoretical incident. You have to have a character that responds, innately, with the right choice, rather than one that will be regretted. This is why it is a difficult thing, you’re not permitted to privately stew about things that you are angry or hurt about. It means you have to have a heart that responds in love, rather than bitterness. There is no room for pride, or self-centeredness, for the one who desires to respond correctly.
I suppose we must consider how we view ourself. Are we a curse or a blessing? I must stop and consider that perhaps those around me are blessed by my presence. How can this be? Who am I? I am no-one. I am the never-man, the man that never was. I cannot be a blessing to those around me, how is such a thing possible.
But then, ponder for a moment, are other people the product of your imagination? Do not these exist outside of my mind? These people were precious before I’d ever heard of them, or saw them.
Take for example, my friend, Alice, who is revealed to me in her mystery, something of a paradoxal being. She is more invisible than I, yet the more invisible she is the more visible she becomes. Yet, even with this extraordinary person who is and is not, I cannot deny her existence. There is no doubt in my heart and mind that Alice exist. That all my friends exist, and each of them has something special or unique about them, something that surprises me.
The others are proof of my existence, and in turn I must conclude that if I exist so do all these. The reality of the existence of these others, and that in one way or another they can surprise me suggest to me that I truly exist. We prove each other to be true, by the fact that we are separate entities from each other. It is the value of surprise.
Therefore, If I truly exist, and these truly exist, I am capable of not only being blessed, but more incredibly to my mind, being a blessing. The idea of being a blessing, is to me, a very thrilling one. Much more so than being blessed in some ways, as thrilling as that is, I am thankful for all the many blessings that come my way, even those that were not quite intended, sometimes, quite the opposite, are nevertheless things that can be received as blessings. I would not have my greatest works if not for my darkest hours. For that I must be thankful, time and time again, I have the honor, the blessing, of watching ashes turn to beauty, even in places where I thought I saw beauty turn to ash.
However, it is not with cruelty that I wish to bless others, even if I have received things that were cruel in their intent as a blessing once I saw what it produced, I would not wish that upon another, not by my hand. Therefore, I say no to the notion of ‘helping’ with cruelty, for while a good work may be accomplished, much more damage will result than good. I am not an advocate of violence-based, or even fear-based, disciplinary methods. They may produce some good, but the damage will always be greater than the good produced, and is not worth the little good that is produced. It is much better to train with gentleness and love, leading by example, with humility and honor, but never pride. Pride kills, pride destroys, pride brings all to ruin in the end. Never pride.
The difficult part, I suppose, is correcting without hurting. Few things can torment a soul like a wounded spirit, and too often in our desire to correct, we wound, rather than heal.
But where I find the courage? I do have to ask, however, what if the inflicting of hurt was the only way to save them? Could I do it? Would I? Again, where can one find the courage to do this, and do it right? I mean, I suppose one would have to be certain that one has not a plank in their own eye before they could remove the speak from another’s eye. Where can I find the courage to face the inner darkness that is in me so that I might help another with the little thing in them? In many ways, facing oneself in this way, is perhaps one of the most frightening things we might do, but I do not know if one can justly seek to remove the speck in another’s eye, if I have a plank in my own.
It is difficult to judge at times, what it is that causes harm, and what it is that heals. We must be cautious, so cautious, and remember that people are indeed precious. They are easily crushed, easily broken, and words can cause the greatest wounds. The break us, sometimes for years, or they may build us up. Speak wisely, and gently, even if a little wound is necessary. It is better to speak gently, but wound, than to speak flattery and intend harm. Nevertheless, do not seek to wound, without first seeking to heal, or you cannot help.
Again, I do not know if I have the courage to wound, even for the sake of healing, I so dislike the idea of hurting someone, that I cannot understand how this can be beneficial. It escapes my understanding how any sort of hurting in this way may be of more benefit than gentleness and grace. Perhaps, I am ignorant, and haven’t had to face these things experientially yet, perhaps. I don’t know. I do know, that I desire to build up, and not tear down, to encourage, and not break, to heal, and not wound, those who are around me.
Neither do I wish to flatter, as this is a form of wounding as well, in that it doesn’t tell someone the truth, it is a lack of trust, and a desire to flatter my own pride more than any real desire of helping. At the same time, I don’t wish to hold back my enthusiasm in being complimentary, if I feel passionately that someone did a wonderful job with something, how can I not praise them for it? Naturally, if I honestly believe that what they did well, was well done indeed, I cannot think that it is flattering them to encourage them, even enthusiastically.
In other words, it seems to me that relationships can be a rather complicated notion, but worth the effort, but it is important to be honest, and to seek to love, and be good, to not take advantage, but to seek to serve the other, to seek to bless, to heal, to build up.
I desire to be a blessing to those around me, not a curse. Yet, sometimes, it is hard to tell where the line is drawn between them. My dream is to bless, my fear is to hurt. My hope is to choose rightly, and fear not.
Posted on February 26, 2013
There are many mysteries in the world, and many mysteries regarding humanity.
It must be asked, is love in the obtaining of something, or the seeking of it? Is happiness in life, in all matters of the heart found in the possession of something, or in the desire? I believe it is in the desire. A man may be an heir to the world itself, which is to say that one has the possession of the world already in their hands, yet without the desire, they do not enjoy it.
Furthermore, it is in the longing for something that I find it interesting, but never in the attaining of it. This, perhaps, is foolishness, as it leads to discontentment, not in what I don’t have, but in that which I do.
If I might possess the world, but do not delight in it, yet delight in the name, Avalon. I take more delight in that which I do not have: The name Avalon, than that which I do, in this example, the world itself. Why should that be? Now, Avalon is an example, a fictitious person and a name from my stories, and is a girls name, which is important for some of the things later in this post.
Now, there is no doubt that Avalon the person is by far, more valuable than the name, Avalon. What is in a name? She might hold the name Avalon but by no means does that name hold her. Whether she holds the name Avalon or not is irrelevant to who she is as a person. What is a person? Are they a name only? Would not Avalon remain as she is if she was to be named, for example, Alyssa or Amy? She would be as she is, would she not? So, how is it that person is to be defined? What makes a person a person?
Firstly, we are comprised as an image, a symbol, a reflection. Therefore, we are an image of something other than ourselves. A triune God. We hold the image of God. In what manner? We also are a triune being, but in the way of an image, or a symbol. We but reflect a greater reality. You might say that we are Spirit (true self), Soul (mind), and Body (the sacred vessel). In our example, Avalon is a being that is comprised of these three elements. She is a spirit being, eternal, immortal, and almost god-like in comparison with the rest of her being. (Which is not to be confused with being like God, or being a god. I don’t know how else to explain this than to say that if this part of us where to be made manifest in this world, we ourselves in our current state of comprehension, would find it to be a being so glorious and so above our current imaginings that we would be inclined to think of it as a god, not that it would be. But our view of it would incline us to describe it as being such.) She is Soul. Avalon is one who possesses a brilliant mind and a unique personality. Finally, she is Body, and even this is sacred. Altogether she is spirit/soul/body. Altogether, she is a human being, an image of God, and we call her Avalon.
I don’t quite understand it, but humanity may well be unique outside of God as Jesus in being both Spiritual and Physical beings at the same time, and the only reason, possibly, that God is with us in this attribute is because God became, and remains to this day, a human being. What is this mystery? Why would one so high become something so lowly? What is Man? Why should God descend so far, just to lift us up? The more you think about it, the more of a miracle you realize the coming of Christ was.
What is it that makes some men seem like beast, while others seem almost too wonderful to be human? What is the difference between one and another?
How can one be the same as those who would kill, steal, and destroy innocent life? Those worst of men? What is it that separates one from the other? Why is one so bright and another so dark? Are we not all like men? One race?
So how is it that one and another is so different one from another? What makes a man a man?
I do not understand how we can fall so far. What am I? Am I a monster or a sacred vessel? What am I? What are they? Why do some shine so brightly, while others fall so far? Why are not all men equal? Why are some as shining stars, while others are little more than ash and dust?
Could it be that our choices truly define us as what we are? That some shine because they choose to, while others are dark because they choose to remain dark? But are there not ten-thousand reasons why this cannot be so? So what is it about us? Why do some do good, while others seem intent on evil? What is it that makes these people different from each other? In terms of what we are, we are the same. So why, being the same creature, can we act so differently? Perhaps choice is a matter in it, but we must be careful not to blame the victim, as we might start to think that all who suffer are a result of their choices, when often times, it is because of the choices of others. Slavery is a whole system built around the suffering of one man for the choice of another. We must take great care with these thoughts, taken even a little in the wrong direction can result in blaming the wrong person for what is the fault of another.
I think I find the reality of Avalon to be a great and wonderful reality, because of how very extraordinary she is. At the end of the day she’s just a girl, just a girl, neither a goddess or a devil, just a girl.
I find in Avalon, hope, and faith, in humanity. I love them, among other reasons, for restoring to me the hope and faith in the race of men. People like Avalon restore my faith in humanity, which I confess in light of those that kill, pillage, hurt, and destroy, was beginning to be shaken. To see that there are people who exist, who are real, who delight in their own arts, gives me hope. Yet, they remain, and are expected to remain, strangers. My faith is in strangers, my hope for humanity is in people I do not know. I know, I keep referring to a fictitious person, Avalon, as real, but I have met such people as she is described to be before, but created a character to represent them, if you will. It is one of the values of imagination, to create beings as needed, to represent people that are very real indeed.
In regard to the people who actually are real, I can only pray that God will bless them exceedingly and abundantly, that he will reveal to them just how deeply they are loved. They, like so many others, are blessed creatures, I do not wish to see them lose that preciousness that they hold. But the continuous questions remain. Why are they precious? What makes them so fascinating? Is it that they are so perfectly ordinary? Yet so perfectly extraordinary? What is up with these humans? They are so, extraordinary in their ordinariness.
Why these? To be honest, I am fond of each and every one of these souls, love them, care about them, but why? Is it that I find both hope and transformation in them? Yet, I also find something of the darkness in them.
Why is it that sometimes it seems as though there are people who, for lack of better term, it almost as if they seem like part of me. I mean, I know they are not, and that we exist as separate entities and all that, but It is like I find in each of these a part of myself. As if looking into the eyes of another, I see myself there, looking out at me. I suppose this is empathy, in a sense, but sometimes, empathy seems a great mystery to me, one that I am glad for the existence of, for a world without empathy would be dreadful, yet, I do not understand, why it would be that I would give a thought to the feelings of others, the thoughts of others, the hopes, the dreams, the aspirations of others. Why would I be this way? I do not know the answer, what is more, what would compel someone to sacrifice their own hopes, their own dreams, their own aspirations for the sake of seeing another succeed? What is this and why do we see it in people around the world, in every culture, regardless of anything that we might set up to divide us, any label we might give, we still find this in all but the worst of humanity. Ask any good parent, they’ll know what you’re talking about. I may not be a parent, but I know what a good parent looks like. One can understand by receiving if one has the heart for it.
Sometimes it seems as though we are of one mind, one spirit, one heart, one soul. Why this diverse group of friends, strangers, and enemies? There are even those who I’ve not gotten along with, in which it seems as though I can understand them, their feelings, and so forth.
Love is not love if it fails to conform to the greater reality of the fullness of love, the true love. That which is not of love, is not love, if you will.
This too is a mystery.