The first thing a man, let's say Mr. Smith, finds in the Theory of Evolution are principles. Yet this is exceedingly strange since principles, according to the Theory of Evolution, are the last things Mr. Smith should ever look for in himself. Mr. Smith may look up his nose in a biology textbook and find the "Principle of Superiority." But he should never look down it at a Bible and find it. Mr. Smith may learn about opposable thumbs in science class and find the "Principle of Efficiency." But he should never stop twiddling them in math class and find it. Mr. Smith should compare his forehead to the Neanderthal's and find the "Principle of Selection." But he should never compare anyone else's to a beluga whale and find it. 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 is even more strange, Mr. Smith's and Evolution's principles are not merely first and universal, but universally the same principles. To give another good example out of thousands: The primary principle of the Theory of Evolution (or any endeavor or aim) is If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! (or, its corollary, Never give up!).
Which simply means Nature (Mr. Smith's cosmic Mother), who was born herself (Evolution says) by a blind and random accident from nothing, was also accidentally born with a rigid and clear worldview. As rigid and clear a worldview as the strictest schoolmarm’s. 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.
Once again, the Pharisees seem to think that man began with multiple wives and harems, and that Moses’ law moved him towards a more perfect knowledge of the complexities and impossibilities of marriage and divorce and adultery. But Jesus says, “Actually, no. Marriage was possible, and perfect, and perfectly understood between God and man and woman at the beginning. Moses’ law only came at the end of mankind’s long crepitant movement away from perfection; from what God had made possible and you made impossible. Your hardened hearts required complex etchings of symbols on stone for laws that, in ages long past, had been easily stitched on softer hearts.”
It’s one of those things that's easy to say in your heart but harder in your living room and certainly more so in your lunchroom. Loving your enemy is not a peaceful thing to do. Or rather, it’s a peaceful thing to do to your enemy, but watch out what it does to your friends and family. Watch what it does to your church.
“Do you suppose I bring peace? “
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.
Although sad and alienating, it is at least commonly known that many people walking through life with you simply wander too far away to be seen anymore. But what is no less sad and alienating, far less commonly known, and obviously far more dangerous, is that quite a few wander too close--becoming trapped in the sticky, frustrating glob that is you and your world. Easily hiding under your nose so high in the air, always getting under your over-sized feet, never free of your goo, unable to walk far enough away to be seen. It is a great and terrible thing that a savior comes with a sword to cleave, separating brother from brother, wielding the only weapon magical enough to slice the unsliceable so you can finally hate enough to love.
The desire for proof is not the same as the desire for truth. The desire for proof is actually the opposite of truth.
One’s desire for proof stems from knowing it pleases his intellect without the trouble of needing to believe. But belief is knowing the pleasure of God without needing intellectual proof. Strange as it seems, proof is actually cheating. In demanding truth prove itself true, one willfully cheats on the troublesome test of faith. Intellectually, one would happily prefer knowing the ruby slippers on his feet take him home right at the start rather than go through the trouble of the Wizard of Oz. But that’s a cheat because intellectually knowing how to go home isn’t the same as going home. There is only one way to go home. And the only way to prove it is to believe.
The adversary of existence wagered that if God’s hedge of protection was removed from a certain man, exposing him to pain and suffering, God, as a useful concept for making life worth its existence would become useless. God would progressively hide from him and as a result the man would curse existence itself. But the adversary miscalculated. Because for a man like Job, exposure to suffering did not hide a revealed God, rather it accomplished the exact opposite: it revealed the hidden God.
Through suffering Job was forced to confront his concepts of God versus the actual God.
As Job was sitting in the ashes of his life, scraping his sores with potsherds he was finally brought into an unhedged view of God. He and he alone.
In the cosmic court room, there is God and you. That’s it. When the verdict is given—the truth spoken aloud—Job walks out of the courtroom into new life. A life marked by understanding.
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.
Jesus is my best friend.
Because he is the best kind of friend. He’s says hard things. True things. True things are hard things. Harder than diamonds. They have to be so they can split coconuts. So they can split the hardest heads before the hardest heads split everything else.
What happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force?
Heck if I know.
All I know is the collision between myself and the hardest thing left a crater a thousand miles wide, east to west. And the person who walked out found existence softer and easier than he ever imagined. He could somehow feel the earth again in his fingers. A new ability to flex; to bend but not break.