I think CS Lewis said a man reserves his most violent rage for the trap he most lately escaped. It is why I look upon the trap of rationality with such disgust. For it is not rational at all. It is the opposite. Because if it means nothing else, “rational” means that whatever is happening makes sense. Yet after all the decisions and happenings in my life that came and went, and before all the others still to go, my only sense was this: I was in a cage. With bars of Fate. On a train that progressed, but on predestined tracks to nowhere. It was my trap. And the bars I beat against at 44, were the bars of my own hypocrisy.
Because even though I had the arrogance to question everything, I never had the courage to ask for anything.
I would only think. I would consider that midnight house. Of the God within. Of the darkness. Of the things He may or may not give. And wonder and wonder why. And complain about my home and my friend with no bread. But never was I shameless enough, never was I audacious enough to go across the street and lean my head against the dark door. I never once had the courage to ask. And yet I blamed God for not answering, for not giving me what I needed.
It was a long time before I learned how. And it slowly dawns upon me, day by day, that this was no abstraction. For me, the dangers of rationalism and determinism, of Calvinism and fundamentalism, of modernism are not simply theologies or philosophies to discuss or hash out; they are terrifyingly real. They are cages to be escaped.
Jesus has this beautiful circle he creates at the beginning of Luke 11. He starts by raising our eyes to heaven; directing them to himself; to the divine son asking his divine Father for bread. But gradually He directs our eyes to earth; to the mortal son asking his mortal father for bread. And, again, this is no abstract lesson for me—the precise way Christ showed me how to live again, that things were ok, that IT was real, that it would work out, that all my needs would be fulfilled; was by following his gaze, not up to the Father above me, but back to the family around me.
Asking can only really matter, in the sense it is audacious, the moment it shouldn’t be done.
Seeking can only possibly matter, in the sense it is shameless, the moment it is shameful to do so. Knocking can only really matter, in the sense it is persistent or annoying, when its too late.
The first thing a man, let's say Mr. Smith, finds in the Theory of Evolution are principles. Yet according to the Theory of Evolution, principles are things Mr. Smith must never find in himself. Mr. Smith must look up his specialized nose in a book of comparative anatomy to find the "Principle of Superiority." But he must never look down it at the Holy Bible and find it in himself. Mr. Smith must learn all about opposable thumbs to find the "Principle of Efficiency." But he must never stop twiddling them and find it in himself. Mr. Smith must compare his own forehead to a Neanderthal's to find the "Principle of Selection." But he must never compare his least favorite classmate's forehead to a beluga whale's and find it in himself. And it is right here that the Theory of Evolution and maybe even Mr. Smith both seem to forget something. And what they forget is the first thing found in man's theory of anything—nay, even man's thought of anything--from God, to religion, to public education, to government, to hopscotch and hadron colliders--is man. And his principles. For the very good reason that principles (like man) are first things, not last.
But what seems also quite overlooked, is that Mr. Smith's and Evolution's principles are not merely first and universal, but universally the same principles. Here is one good example out of thousands: The primary principle of Nature according to the Theory of Evolution is: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! (or, its corollary, Never give up!). Which also happens to be the primary principle of schoolmarms and Boy Scouts.
Which simply means Nature (Mr. Smith's cosmic Mother), who birthed herself by a blind and random accident from nothing, was also accidentally born with a rigid and clear worldview. Born, as it were, not with a silver spoon in her mouth, but with the silver-haired schoolmarm's wooden ruler in her mouth. Which means, and this is my main point, despite the most nihilistic Evolutionist's dream of a cosmos without principles, of schools without schoolmarms, of an existence where Mr. Smith is born with nothing in his mouth and dies with nothing in his heart; the reality is the Theory of Evolution was itself born with a rigid morality, or more accurately, is a rigid morality. And like all moral things, is found, not at the end of the process, like an epiphenomenon, but rather fixed, by definition and inescapably, in the heart of man--at the beginning--as the primary principle of life.
A verbose historical figure remains, through his own words, alive even when he is dead. But as one reads through John Calvin's own words, one becomes gradually unsure if John Calvin was ever alive even when he was alive. One gets the strange sensation when reading, for example, his explanation of the decretum horribile, that while damning a large chunk of the world to Hell may have been difficult for John Calvin's God, it was rather easy for John Calvin. To read him very long is to find a man who perpetually seemed not so much a stranger in his homeland or at home in a strange land, which are both perfectly Christian discoveries, but rather that saddest of all men: a stranger in a strange land; which is a man who isn’t at home even in himself.
John Calvin’s view of Christianity is like a rather poetic robot’s view of Christianity, or Mr. Spock's view of Christianity. It is a view of Christianity by someone who never fully grasped it, not because he never knew what it meant to be a Christian, but because he never knew what it meant to be a human.
Evolutionary Tenets (or “How to Survive”):
These tenets may or may not be a great way to make a giraffe, but they are a great way to make a monster.
Religious Tenets (or “How to Live”):
These may or may not be a great way to make a giraffe, but they're the only way to make a savior.
And lastly, and I guess I should’ve asked this earlier, how the question came up to you, since it may have been something quite particular you were looking for, but the last thing I’ll say about “The sons of God and the daughters of men” is that it’s poetic. It’s mythic. It’s a story. And this is really difficult to describe, because it’s indescribable, and no explanation will be able to explain sufficiently to any person, but especially to modern persons, that it is just the case, to me anyway, that the poetry in the epic poem of our lives and the fairy in the fairytale of our lives are the most real part of what we mostly call real life. I know it sounds incredible and hard, but it is actually true. The reason why people overwhelmingly prefer novels and fiction to non-fiction, is not because they are more exciting or more popular or more simple, but because they are more true. They are more true to reality than “real” books. And it is simply the case that reality is made out of what you don’t see. You get the sense, in that little paragraph in Genesis, that there’s no way that any of what is being said should make any sense, but somehow it does make sense. It is the kind of sense, that if you stop for a second and just let it be, you know deep down that it is saying something about existence—prehistoric existence, post-historic existence—just existence. It covers everything from the most complicated idea of the realities of what humanity is, all the way down to the simplest idea of sons and daughters.
The reason why Harry Potter starts in a cupboard under the stairs on Number 4 Privet Drive is because everyone who has ever grown up in a house with a family starts in a cupboard under the stairs on No. 4 Privet Drive.
They know exactly what it means without explanation. What they don’t know, even when it is explained to them, is what “The Sociological Effects of Child abuse in preteen Development in Suburban Foster Care” could possibly mean. Not because it is dull, or overly complicated, or full of too many statistics and facts, but because it is FALSE.
I suppose the critics of Genesis 6 would prefer the Bible to say something else (I think the rationalistic Christian has no idea what they want it to say). But what else could the Bible say? It just says what it says. I suppose the critics would want it to say, “Chapter 6: A Study of The Unexpected Decline of the Prehistoric Sumerian Empire Secondary to Sociological and Philosophical Influence of Feminine Diversification in Near Eastern Civilization.”
But it’s obvious that nobody will ever want to read that paper. Because the average human is first and foremost a poet and a mystic and is like a son of God and a daughter of man and is emphatically not a collection of dry, false statements loaded with wrong assumptions found in the humanities and religious studies of modern man.
Because anything with the breath of a human in it is divine. Anything—anything written, sung, studied, interpreted, or analyzed—anything that includes a human being or passes through a human mind is instantly mythic and psychological and spiritual and divine, and must be seen from the inside; otherwise those human studies are not merely complicated, pseudo-intellectual, overly factual or any of those things we might say about historical papers and journals or even everyday opinion, rather they are simply inhuman and therefore simply untrue.
It is like Jesus is saying, “You know... you don’t have to get married.“
Or, “You know...you could castrate yourselves.“
And strangely I can not really imagine saying the former anymore than I can the latter to either my children or anyone upon whom that was not already forced. It disturbs my sensibilities. And just as much as a man in 36 AD would have found it, we today find it disturbing to the point of not comprehending it.
It’s like man has this deep sense of a covenant relationship with the other; of a blood bond that’s somehow both one time and eternal with another. A sense that a bridegroom is not merely a bridegroom of brains or brawn, but a bridegroom of blood. And then society, which almost by definition is mankind’s deep sense of things in aggregate and brought to the surface, brings them so much to the surface that they become superficial, and the deep sense of things is lost. And then over time, what’s on the surface has growth, but it is a stagnant kind of growth. And what occurs is a kind of curdling, which man can enjoy but it is a necessarily spoilt enjoyment because of the effort required and because it is an acquired taste. But the exact point is that all of this has lost the freshness of milk, which is one thing made of many parts but it is one thing, and it is most clearly one thing at the beginning.
So as society develops into something thought and talked about, it corrupts marriage because it corrupts everything it touches; corrupts it in direct proportion to how long it has handled it; which is not far from saying: in direct proportion to its legality. But Jesus says marriage is, and always has been, either one time and one life—or it’s adultery, which is a sawing and a bloody hacking and a self-mutilation of one body. And so, if you are unable to commit to the oneness that is not merely required by marriage but is marriage itself, then it IS possible to sever the sense and choose voluntarily, in the sense of castration, separation from this idea from the beginning for the sake of oneness with God.
The biggest risk to a person of faith and religion is to walk into the trap of the rationalist. One with the same walls and bars as his peers. Walls made of rationalism and materialism; high, unreachable windows barred with adamantine determinism. Caught in the complex gears of a machine rather than strolling in the simple daylight of a miracle.
The biggest risk to a law abiding person is to no longer abide in the law, but die in it.
The biggest risk for the Christian is to no longer bear his cross but buck against it.
I thought I wrote something especially fine last week. But it was, and is, nothing compared to my brother’s most marginal note at the farthest edge of his roughest draft. It is only now—so late and so old—reading the writing on the wall through spectacles and impatiently scrawling on my own, I see he sharpened himself in the spirit world, a world filled with angels and demons, saviors and satans, since youth. He trained against Leviathans and behemoths, wielding his sword over the tallest heavens and under the deepest hells; his words honed breaking chains, his wit a thing drenched in fire and blood, both edges of his truth gleaming in the sun. Whereas I walked away from this world at the same age into a world of dollars and cents and molecules and atoms; believing in the smallest things because I believed they could not be split. But they could be split. And it was exactly this splitting of the smallest and falsest truths where all the energy was released; enough to destroy everything or enough, when harnessed, to power chariots of fire.
When does something (a thought, an idea, a message, a hope, a prophecy, a god) come true?
When what one thinks might happen finally happens? No, that is mistaking truth as a thing one thinks about, a thing sitting on a road up ahead somewhere beyond the horizon. One day it passes by one’s life, finally realized, but only as something that happened; something a little too little and a little too late. But whatever is beyond tomorrow’s horizon doesn’t one day arrive, it is always arriving; always passing directly beneath one’s feet. If one searches the horizon by always looking back, he completely misses it. The truth is now. Truth comes alive right in front of a person, not when the truth gets there one day but when the person does.
The sun will rise again. This is not a truth to think about and so ignore every morning. It is a truth to believe and so live among horizons and bathe in endless suns.
Truth only becomes true when it is believed.