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.
Sometimes people are too close for you to see. They have become 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.
Is your life half gone?
“When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them, and in the end they will prove to be fools.”
That is the fate of the man who gained riches by unjust means.
It is speaking of false character and false spiritual wealth—NOT material wealth. That is exactly Jeremiah’s point. We think we understand the difference between material and spiritual worth. But we fail to understand that ANY worth we give to our “material world” (in essence, “what ‘matters’ to me”) comes from somewhere. We fail to understand that we siphon DIRECTLY from what really matters. We are stealing treasure from somewhere we can’t even see. And then, when we finally look back—because we sense the hollowness underneath—we see that our true treasure chest has been emptied out. We are like the baron stealing oil from underneath the preacher’s neighboring land in “There Will be Blood.” We are actually both those characters. The false preacher winds up empty; equally as impoverished as the oil baron.
Jeremiah is saying that when you polish your character (or soul) as a thing outside of you, and believe it can be improved and maintained by a false morality—you are LYING to yourself; stealing from yourself. The worth you stored up within material wealth built up over half a lifetime turns out sadly to be your worth—even worse, it turns out to be you! And when you reach out, it sublimates away because there was nothing there. You had foolishly poured your worth into thin air.
The last chapter of Genesis concludes the story of life. It deals with a question. Maybe the ultimate question: Do you trust life? Or do you mistrust life?
For the anxious man, the obvious answer is to be generally suspicious of life because it is out to get him--to hurt and kill him. And his healthy suspicion of life keeps him safe from...well, life. If the suspicious man wants to live--and by "live" he universally means “a long time"--then he will bend all his attention in service of safety, protection, and security so as to remain alive.
So if the anxious man's fundamental view is that life can not be trusted, and since God IS life, then the dark secret beneath his ground is that God can not be trusted. And because this man is made in the image of God, then his God’s fundamental view must obviously be that man can not be trusted.
Again, if you are suspicious of the life God gives you; it is only fitting that God must be equally suspicious of the life you give him.
But wait…that can't be right...because all relationships are built on trust. Truth, trust, is PRECISELY what binds two into one—moreover inextricably defines it: two things bending and flexing, opposites moving and dancing, juxtaposed voices singing in harmony. This is a reality that, technically speaking, can not be broken. The only way to break it is to hide that reality under the darkness of an idea; a thought; an illusion: the only one I can trust is me.
So what is the proper vision of life?
The anxious man claims:
“The best thing I can do with something I have a relationship with (a system, a morality, a polity, a person, a faith, a view of the world, an idea, a God) is use it to tell me whether or not life is behaving as I expect. It extends the vision of my eye over an ever-sweeping arc that pays attention to this suspicious world so I can be a good ruler of the living; rather than a good savior of the dying. My world, and hence God’s world, is made up of rule followers and rule breakers. That’s it. Obviously what I can not see can not be trusted."
If the suspicious man asks himself, What is going on behind my back?
His basic assumption is: It can’t be good.
He is like Jacob in the last chapter of Genesis ordering his beautiful son Joseph to spy on his brothers. He does not trust the world--he does not even trust his own children. "Brotherhood may be a fine dream, Joseph, but brothers need to be watched."
If this is your view of Life; then this is your view of God. And your philosophy of life is a kind of totalitarianism.
But that is not God’s view life... or you.
God is truth. Which means God is trust.
God is life.
Trust life. He trusted you with His.
"Christianity" is not a Life 360 app (in the same way a parent is not an "all-seeing eye"). It is not an “application”—an external thing that applies only when you open it up. If so, then it is just one more technically complex hieroglyph to interpret incorrectly, view sporadically, and then use tyrannically. If so, it only increases anxiety and mistrust.
Christianity IS life; in the same way "to parent" is to bring forth life--rather than inspect, or suspect it. It courses through every fiber. To fully utilize this marvel; you can not simply turn it on and check on other’s locations compared to your own—and then call that true, and right, and safe, and good—THAT’S WRONG! Believing that WHERE someone is, has ANYTHING to do with WHO someone is: that is a lie; and one everybody begins to believe. That my position relative to you, tells me who I am and where I am relative to God? That’s the exact trap Moses laid for himself: a stranger herding sheep that weren’t his own. You must go. You must journey to Egypt and do battle. You must uncover the Rosetta Stone engraved upon the heart! The secret stone which interprets all hieroglyphs, all complexities. That stone—that key— is what you give your children. It goes inside and turns locks. It works inside out—not outside in. It fills every crevasse of their world; reaching into places you can never go; telling them who they are no matter where they are.