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.
The good life is something a man doesn’t count on. Rather, he bets on it. Because if a man counts on it, he—in the most essential place—risks nothing. Obviously. Because he has it all figured out. The answers are all known. It has all been arranged and explained. Everyone agrees on the plan, encouraging the simple math. “2+2=4!” A high school diploma plus a college degree plus a 401k equals the good life. Therefore, the counting-on-it man is, quite simply, an accountant. Living by theory, but no great theoretician. Speaking about hypotheses and art and worth, but no originator of hypotheses, art, or anything worthy. Claiming things he never paid for. He parrots and copies. In the game of life this man places no great bet upon the table. He is merely a technician applying the most rigorous science to his faith while keeping the most rigorous faith in his science. His is an existence lacking in wonder or amazement. Where the only surprises are bad ones. When what he counts on doesn’t happen, he will stand in awe of his calculations, but because they are miscalculations, it will be an awful awe. He will become a tale of all the good that never happened.
To put it another way: Anyone counting on the good life as a reward for his sacrifice, nullifies the sacrifice. In essence, there is no real sacrifice to his sacrifice. In its essence, its aroma is foul. Because from his point of view whatever he sacrificed FOR was already his. “See, it’s already written down in my book,” he says tapping the page. “I risked 2, then I risked 2 more. And 2+2=4!”
But this is the opposite of risk. His sacrifices are always bloodless. His life is not a bet, where everything is on the line and he MAY YET win, but rather a safe and secure transaction on an alter loaded with expectations and assumptions and limp second fruits; where the only thing sure to be in short supply is Abel’s pleasure.
If there is no real risk, there is no real life. In reality, if there is no real risk, there is no reality. Because to really live is to risk it all.
On the day a man is born, he is born neither a blank page nor a completed instruction manual, he is born an adventure. It begins on page one with “Once upon a time…” and is followed by page after living page typed today, written a thousand years ago, chiseled ten thousand years ago, spoken ten thousand years from now, and sung forever. “And will he win? Will he love? Will he fall? We he rise? Is it a good one? Is it a good life?” You may ask.
“Don’t count on it." The man smiles. “Bet on it.”
Being like a Berean is like being in love.
But not in love with knowing, which is being right; but rather the opposite: being in love with not knowing, which is probably being wrong.
It’s like being in love with a person.
Like Solomon’s beautiful personification of Wisdom.
To be in love with a thing or a bit or a fact is to be in love with something dead. But it is better to be in love with something alive.
Better to be in love with life.
"I don’t need a weatherman to tell me which way the wind blows."
I don’t need rules to know how to follow them. If my heart is right, the rules follow me.
The pessimist: “Oh that’s not real!”
The optimist: “I know it’s not, but it’s awesome!”
You objectified Thinking and Actions. You rationalized when rationality was not yours to set before you as a thing of highest value, then prostitute yourselves unto.
Judgment and Reason—the gold and silver that beautifies and adorns you—-is not yours: it is from God.
The modern Christian man’s delight in a 9 year-old child’s “decision for Christ” and the associated “baptism”—and I claim this, not as theology; nor any other kind of “-ology;” I only claim it as a human being—is a feeling less like delight and more like relief. The relief of something finally finished rather than finally begun. The relief of catching a child just before he tumbles out of the golden arms of paradise into the painful rationality of adulthood, rather than the delight of letting a child go; of watching him fly brightly on his own; plotting his course courageously and with spirit across a jagged landscape. There seems a desperate relief in this strange “decision”—a finality. It reveals something about us, below what we can see. Perhaps, having ourselves forgotten the way back, it is our unconscious, last ditch effort to trap the child in the sinless land. Perhaps, although too frightening to ponder maybe, perhaps we are welcoming him with open arms into the trap in which we ourselves stepped. Or possibly it is a vain, blind, inverted attempt to scrape the last vestiges of golden light into his pocket; maybe one day to find again and gain his way back.
“Enjoy your cake!”
"A warm welcome!"
--In reality, freezing the child before he steps out of the Kingdom of God rather than into it.
All the anxious adults ply the children with axioms written on the ancient door that separates them. Axioms written in runes the adults themselves no longer understand and no longer speak. This door, at which all have gathered yet none understand—the children on one side, the adults on the other— opens upon the broken kingdom of religious rationality, rather than the Kingdom of God. And the parents, the grandparents, the prophets, and the priests lean close, whispering to the children through the door, “Can you hear me? I know you’re in there! I can feel you just about to come out! Do you trust me? You do? Then, just say the words. Did you say the words? You did? Well then, you made it!” And as the children, now “accountable,” step into dusty and fearful arms, the exit from Paradise clangs shut. And the words “NO WAY BACK” glow briefly in the moonlight before fading into inexplicable symbols once again. With strange relief, the family turns and walks away.