Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Who is God?

"What is your beloved more than another beloved?" - (asked by the daughters of Jerusalem in Song of Solomon)

How God is obscured in the dim glare of our everyday. We have thrown him into a great heap of religious relics and gold-plate, useless artifacts thick with the dust of age, but none of the deep patina'd sheen of the ages. We've covered the Living God with stale incense and dull chalices full of murky potions, the magnificence of cumbersome robes and gothic arches, and the choking must of books unread and out-of-date. We have exchanged the shining splendour of One who wraps himself in light like a garment for the smoke-and-mirrors flash of long-robed pastors (or pirates?) on healing tours.

Where is the God who dwells in cloud and rides on the wind? Where is El Shaddai, the many-breasted God? Who has seen that One who also calls himself Love? Have you heard him, seen him, sensed him - the deep One of the Ages? There is nothing of western sophistication about him. He is wild and ancient and vibrant and warm. He is wide and pure and great and humble and free.

I saw God this week, in a son of Punjab who stooped to touch his father's feet; in a field of snowy whiteness and a gold-flushed sky; in a dog full of eagerness and trust and single-hearted patience; in a bundled baby, warm and round. He was there, in the bright flutter of a scarf; in the spin of a bicycle wheel; in the bent back of an old man shovelling snow. I heard him in the voice of a friend; in the howl of a wind that bent trees; in the beat of an eastern drum.

God is all about, everytime and everywhere, and he is almost nothing that they say he is. He is Great and Good. He is Love and Life and Light and Truth. I long for the day when every energy in the universe will bend itself toward him, loving and singing and spending itself in and for the heart-breaking beauty and the deep fullness of the One who is Love.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

God and the Politics of Christmas

I hear a lot of grumbling this time of year about "the reason for the season" and "Merry Christmas" being the new un-PC greeting. Come, come. Christians have never had sole claim to Christmas - why do we figure we need it now? The "reasons for the season" are about as various as the people celebrating it. Do you suppose Jesus was born on December 25 under a Christmas tree? Do you suppose God is bothered by people who say "Happy Holidays"?

The trouble with all of this wrangling over what Christmas means and who is allowed to celebrate it and how, is that it completely obscures the real issues. It gives us a sense of control because monitoring people's words is something we can manage. It's measurable, and in our world, value must be measured. But it shines a light on us and sticks God in a dim corner. It causes us to forget who it is that we are asking people to celebrate when we stubbornly call out "Merry Christmas" to the grocery store clerk. We are glad to tell people of a God who became a human, who knows our weakness, who was a baby before he was our Saviour - but we present him as a small-minded disciplinarian, more focused on the shape of the words than their actual meaning.

This Christmas, what if we ignored the encroaching darkness around us, and took up arms against the darkness within us? What if we gave up selling Bethlehem as a tourist destination and instead, bowed like awestruck shepherds inside our own hearts before God-become-human? What if we quit looking around at who else was there with us, and got a good peek instead at the babe called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace?

What would that say about the season?

Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Happy Holidays to you all!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

God: My Father and My Friend

There are so many people out there who want to tell you about how pure and high God is, and still more who want to tell you about how loving God is. You know, the thing I really appreciate about God is not that he is holy, nor that he is dear - but that he is holy AND dear. He is high and pure and all that a God should be, yet he's never too stuffy to come near and hold out a warm hand when I'm fed up or lonely.

What would I do in this howling wilderness of a world without such a Friend?

I don't care whether it can be explained or not. He is every bit of the beauty that I know. He is all the richness, all the deep, mysterious wonder, all the warm, thrumming energy, all the loveliness that I know. Only in him my weary, bone-tired, self-seeking, self-berating soul finds rest from its endless trying to be; only in him I find fluttering warmth and spreading peace.

His name - God - has been mustied and muffled and garishly painted over: but He remains. What are the theses I have been offered in that Dear One's place? Beside Him, the vast sweep of philosophy and the measured step of science and the unfurled banners of ancient history and the colored skein of modernity are but mutterings and platitudes, after all. All their promised textures; treasures; sapience, drawn out, are paper and shadows. In all that I have sought and seen, there is nothing that compares with Him.

You may have the visions and the miracles, the blessings and the wonders and the signs. Keep the great cathedrals and the stirring hymns and the flowing robes. Take the inspirational poems and the well-expounded sermons and the bullet-proof apologetics. Call me naive and deluded. Call me a reactionary and a romantic. Call me a fool, a fanatic, a Jesus-freak.

How I love him - my Father and My Friend.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Better Gifts

I've been working a lot lately. A lot. Long hours, at three jobs. Just thinking about it would have been enough to make me tired a few years ago. But since then I've spent some time unemployed, and now I look at work very differently. You could even say I enjoy it. Work not only makes me feel productive and useful, it also saves me from my lazy, time-wasting self. It sets parameters in my day. I lie down at night with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

I often remember what my grandfather used to say from his big Lazyboy chair: "You know, the trouble with doing nothing is that you can never stop and take a rest."

So I've been thinking a lot lately about work, and where it came from. I've also been re-reading the Old Testament during my lengthy Skytrain commutes. One day I was making my merry way through Genesis as the Skytrain went skree-ing in and out of stations, when a single paragraph leapt right off the page and punched me in the eye:

"...cursed is the ground for your sake, in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you…in the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground..." (Genesis 3: 17-19)

One thing that always puzzled me is why God would curse the earth for Adam's sake. It seemed a petty, thing to do; more like the action of a child smashing his Lego castle because someone had bumped one of the towers and knocked it off than like a God full of redeeming grace. I imagined him pouting beneath his snowy beard, or worse - scowling vindictively: "You've really gone and done it now, Adam. I am going to make sure nothing is easy for you from here on out. I'm going to mess up nature so that you'll have to work like a slave just to get food in your belly. How d'ya like them apples, huh? That'll learn you two ingrates!"

I wondered why a God who is Love would punish innocent animals for human disobedience, and afflict the pure world of nature with poisons and pestilence - all to prove a point. It just didn't seem fair, or good, or any of the things that God is. Try as I would, I couldn't get around the conflict in my imagination.

But there in my Skytrain seat, I understood something at last: the earth was cursed not to punish Adam, but for his sake; for his blessing. Perhaps I have learned something from being unemployed. Humans don't become better when we have it easier. We become worse. Fast.

Indeed, the whole Western world stands as a testimony of the destruction too much leisure can bring. Set free from the scourge of leprosy and plague, we die by the thousands of diseases that are the direct result of our selfish lifestyles. The most common ailments among us are not the result of parasites or virus, but depression. We lack not food, nor clean water, but purpose; meaningful work to usurp the tyranny of Self.

I have learned a lot through work with the elderly in different provinces and countries. It has given me a unique glimpse of the other end of life. I have seen the results of lives lived comfortably, full of the best that life can offer. I have seen, too, the results of lives lived scrabbling, full of the search to satisfy Self. But the life which remains beautiful, even at the end, is a life full of work that has been difficult enough and meaningful enough to produce perspective and humility.

God wasn't throwing a temper tantrum; he was being a merciful and careful father when he cursed the earth. I was a fool to judge God's motives by my own. Pride had done in me what it always does, and made me narrow-minded. God destroyed his precious creation in order to protect humanity from its own selfishness. In fact, everything that He did was a means to contain sin; to keep its destructive power from gaining ground too widely or too quickly.

Get leave to work
In this world — 'tis the best you get at all;
For God, in cursing, gives us better gifts
Than men benediction . . .
Get work, get work;
Be sure 'tis better than what you work to get.

- from Aurora Leigh (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

Saturday, 20 September 2008

The (Real) Secret

"He'll meet the soul that comes in love
And deal it joy on joy
As once he dealt out star and star
To garrison the sky;
To stand there over rains and snows,
And deck the dark of night -
So God will deal the soul, like stars
Delight upon delight."

(author unknown)

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Something Borrowed

Stumbled across this in my travels. It's from Rachel Tulloch at RZIM's Slice of Infinity:

"God’s love is terrible, in a way. Think of all it includes.”

I have often been asked, “Could not God have forgiven people without going through the pain and the violence of the cross?” As nice as that sounds, reality forces me to ask: When is forgiveness not painful? True forgiveness cannot occur unless the hurt is acknowledged and called for what it is. When you look a wrong full in the face but choose to accept the hurt instead of returning it on the one who did it, that is always painful.

Jesus illustrates forgiveness by telling the story of a servant who owes his master more money than he could possibly repay (See Matthew 18:21-35). The master originally threatens to sell the servant’s family and possessions to get some return for the debt, but when the servant begs for mercy, the master is gracious and forgives the debt. Yet the same servant not only refuses to forgive the debt of his fellow servant, but also has him thrown in prison as punishment.

Sometimes we treat forgiveness and justice as though they are mutually exclusive. If we choose the way of justice, we think the options are reparations or retribution--either the guilty person makes up for a wrong or is punished for it. These are the only options the servant offered his debtor. Since the second servant could not repay, he was then punished. However, the master chose the way of mercy when he forgave the debt, neither requiring reparation nor inflicting retribution. If God has really forgiven us like the master forgave the servant, we ask, then why all the pain and death of the Cross? Does the Cross undermine God’s mercy? Is it merely an underhanded way for God to force repayment from humanity or exact punishment on us?

In asking these questions, we betray a misunderstanding of both justice and forgiveness. Justice can never be achieved by reparation or retribution alone, because like the servants’ debts, true wrongs can never be repaid. The hurt and pain caused are not reversible. Punishing the guilty person does not undo the hurt either, even if it brings brief satisfaction to the victim, just as the first servant did not get his money back simply because the other man was in jail. Justice must be about much more than balancing out the wrongs of the world. It must be about making things right, about the kind of restoration that does not reverse the pain, but moves beyond it toward something new.

And just as wrongs cannot be erased by punishment or repayment, they cannot really be erased by simple forgiveness either. When the master forgives the servant’s debt, the debt does not simply disappear. The master takes the loss! He accepts the full brunt of the debt himself. Similarly, when a person forgives, he or she accepts the full brunt of the hurt or injustice rather than returning it on the one who caused it. Although it is painful, this is the way that healing and restoration begin. This is why there is no way to avoid the bloody Cross. And this is why God’s love is terrible. Think of what it includes: us, with our best and our worst, with our failed attempts and outright cruelty, with our wrong motives for right actions and our right motives for wrong actions... us, with the mess we have made of the world, with our brokenness and despair, with our rebellions and inadequacies. We are the ones included in and redeemed by the deep and wide love of God. Paul is astonished by this reality when he emphasizes that Christ died for us while we were still sinners! (Romans 5:8).

Instead of demanding that we pay what we cannot, instead of punishing us for not paying what we cannot, the God we see in Jesus Christ accepts the loss himself and opens his arms even to those who would murder him. The Cross does not represent God’s mercy being tamed by his anger; rather, it demonstrates that God’s mercy is much bigger than we think. The Cross is a graphic picture of God’s terrible love. Think of all it includes.

Monday, 18 August 2008

On Praying and Prayers, and Why Some of Them Don't Get Answered

Why do we need to tell an omniscient God what our needs and secret desires are? Shouldn't he know already? Why does he make us wait? Does he take pleasure in our grovelling? Why doesn't God just give us what we want?

Why have we fasted and You do not see? Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?' Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire, And drive hard all your workers.
Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist. You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high.
Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself? Is it for bowing one's head like a reed And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed? Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the LORD?
Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke?
Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; You will cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.' If you remove the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,
And if you give yourself to the hungry And satisfy the desire of the afflicted, Then your light will rise in darkness And your gloom will become like midday.
And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
(Isaiah 58:3-11)

You ask for something but do not get it because you ask for it for the wrong reason-for your own pleasure. (James 4:3)

We squeeze our eyes shut and rhyme off a Christmas list, address it to God instead of Santa, and sit back with the idea that God is somehow bound to deliver. This is not the prayer the Bible describes, nor does it give us a handle on the Living God.

What is the purpose of prayer, if it is neither the exercise of reciting our wishlists nor the wrestling into submission of a reluctant deity?

Prayer is first of all my recognition of who I am, and who God is. It is my opportunity to relinquish my responsibility for the lack - to lay the burden of my need and my longing before the One who can take responsibility for it. Prayer draws me into the very heart of God and allows me to share his thoughts and his great longing heart.

As I come near to the God who is Love and lay my burdens down, I am drawn into a circle of shared understanding. I begin to see, not through my own priorities of fear-driven pain-avoidance, but as Love sees. As I name my hurts, my worries, my wants, he puts them in with his own, and I am allowed, as much as I will, to see things as they truly are. Most amazing of all, I am allowed to join Love in his great aching and longing over his own broken creation. I participate in the hurt of his loving, and I know the comfort of his love toward me in my brokenness.

In prayer, I am reminded that Good is far greater than the petty ideas of comfort and self-satisfaction that we humans seek so doggedly. As I pray, my self-centred wants are deepened and transformed until I begin to long after those things that God himself longs after: the redemption of the broken, and the filling of the whole universe with Love and Light and Truth - beginning with your heart and mine.

When my requests remain un-granted, I am sure of this: the God who hears is ignoring my worded request for good things because instead he is satisfying the cry of my heart after the Good I cannot name. There are two reasons I am sure of this: the Bible promises it: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28), and I have tried it. Never has God refused my request for a good thing and not given me instead the Good I couldn't have imagined. Every bitter, painful thing I have surrendered to him in prayer has been sweetened and time after time I have seen the very thing I begged to be set free from become the means by which I have received my deep heart's desire.

The God who hears my prayers has proven himself faithful to his word again and again and again. He doesn't always save me from hurt or hunger or embarrassment. He doesn't make me immune to the difficulties or the indignities of ordinary life. But God is changing my selfish thinking, bit by bit. I have been surprised to find him less like Santa Claus, and more like my Mother. He is filling every corner of my life with a Good that is more like carrots than candy, and with every passing experience, I learn that His love doesn't always mean giving me what I think I want.

He hears all my prayers, but sometimes he doesn't obey me. Thank God.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Shopping for God

God is not easily seen in our lacquered, branded, and packaged world. He hides himself even from those who say they are looking for him. Some have looked long and hard - up and down the theological mall, and even in through Sunday sermon-markets. They've read treatises, attended churches and conferences and camps, tried their best to have faith in healings, participated in book studies and prayer groups. Others have searched online, asked questions of their leaders, studied apologetics. Why does God hide his face?

Oh, there's a plethora of God-shaped toys and God-labelled substitute deities - all cheap knock-offs that are sure to let you down when you most need them. There are God-rituals to participate in and God-songs to sing and play and God-movies to watch and any number of God-clubs to join. There are books about the most efficient ways to follow God, and scientific discoveries that pinpoint which brain cells are used when thinking about God, and university courses on the history of world-wide philosophies about God. There are God-stickers for your car, and God-approved political parties to vote for, and theological God-alternatives.

But where, oh where, is God? What else can we assume, except that what so many are looking for doesn't exist?

Thank God, it doesn't.

The kind of God you can go shopping for and pick out the same way you pick out a pair of shoes is blatantly and hopelessly non-existent. Our lives have become so padded with comfort, so bloated by excess, that we have little concept of what it means to need. We are more burdened by the results of too much food, too much leisure, too much choice, than we are by any sort of lack.

‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked... (Revelation 3:17)

Our society is looking for a commodity - an accessory; a divine talisman that can be toted about with even less trouble than those cute little be-ribboned dogs poking their heads out of purses. We want a magic genie who will make our troubles go away and rewind-and-erase our little slip-ups, and so save us from our guilt. We want a friendly grandfather who will scratch his chin and forget just how things really are, and who will just step in with gentle words and smooth over things in our relationships when we need the help. We want a pretty little God-pet that will do back-flips in his cage to impress un-believers. Oh, we'd be happy with any of the above, actually, so long as God, when he shows up, is well-documented in scientific journals. Or at least approved by the scientists they interview on the nightly news. The thing is, we'd like this God to be real - we aren't going to be hoodwinked like generations before us. We want a well-pedigreed Dog, er, God - one with papers.

And the search goes on, because there is no such thing.

You might shop 'til you drop, but none of us ever finds the God who is Love until we see our desperate, awful need of him. When we find ourselves, dizzy and sick, at the precipice overlooking the dark caverns of selfishness in our own souls; when we awake to the fact that the poison eating away at everything of ours that is pure and good comes bubbling up from the inky depths within us; when we have grown bone-weary of the struggle to fix the broken-ness that increases its destructive force as we take arms against it... When we cry out in utter helplessness for the Love and the Light and the Truth we so terribly need - then is revealed the God who Is.

He's not waiting for us to manipulate our skepticism into blind belief. He doesn't expect us to join the 'right' religion, or pretend we don't think evolutionary theories are likely. But God is neither philosophy nor meat. He is not consumed at your whim or mine. He cannot be sought as one seeks a new rug. It is our understanding of our need that defines what it is for which we search.

The Living God is freely known, but never cheaply. He comes warm and swift as a rushing wind into the awful vacuum created by the admitted need for what He alone is - Love. Light. Truth.

And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Expectation and Experience and India, and God

I didn't really want to go to India. I had never actually been there, of course, but I'd read books and seen bits in movies and heard stories. I knew about as much about it as I cared to, and it just didn't seem all that interesting. For one thing, everyone said it was dirty. And crowded. The music sounded whiny, and wasn't there a rather inhumane caste system still to be dealt with? What else was there to know?

But I was going. I had been roped in with a group and India was the chosen destination. So I went.

And oh, how I long to return to India. The colors and the casual grandeur were breathtaking. The rich, deep, age-old culture that lay, multi-faceted and palpable, draped over and under and interwoven with everything, and the people - warm and smiling and open-hearted, and the life-energy running through and around it all, humming and vibrant... I fell in love with India and all that she is. The dirt and the crowds were there, but they didn't seem tedious and annoying as I had imagined. Even the fine dust that blew through the air and ruined my clothes and wouldn't be scrubbed from my skin bespoke a simplicity, and seemed a subtle reminder of the humble origins of humanity and our vital connection with the earth. The vaulting of the sky seemed much higher and grander than I remembered it being in Canada. The jostling commotion of the crowds wasn't all pleasantness, but it made me feel a part of something great and vital. The very air thrummed with life and living and a kind of drumbeat, felt rather than heard. Color and sound and rhythm streamed like long banners overhead. India wasn't comfortable - it was hot and old and dusty and dirty and noisy and even unkempt - but somehow, comfort didn't seem to be all that I had felt it was back home in Canada.

This is a little how it is when one really comes to know God for the first time. Oh, you may have seen 'The Jesus Movie', or maybe you've been brought up in the church and listened to a million sermon-stories. Maybe you've even read the guidebook. But God is nothing like you've imagined. Like India, he is deep and rich and warm and dear and living, and filled with a wide freedom and a captivating sweetness. Like India, he is not comfortable - but he shows comfort for the meagre, pitiful thing it is. Like India, God can be ignored and shoved onto the shelf in your mind marked "religion", and you might go your whole life with your assumptions, never really knowing what you're missing...

Sunday, 15 June 2008

'til Love Returns

"'That there is brokenness,' he says quietly. 'That this world is brokenness. But within brokenness is the Unbreakable Name. How the whole earth groans 'til Love returns.'" (Joy Kogawa, Obasan, 1981)

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Looking for Love

Evangelical Christians commonly offer Christ to mankind as a nostrum to cure their ills, a way out of their troubles, a quick and easy means to the achievement of personal ends... What we do is precisely what a good salesman does when he presents the excellence of his product as compared with that of his closest competitor. The customer chooses the better of the two, as who would not? But the weakness of the whole salesmanship technique is apparent: the idea of selfish gain is present in the whole transaction. (A.W. Tozer)

The sales technique works - there are many who follow the Christ in hope of some 'blessing'. They will find in the end that they have purchased an empty package. Unless what we seek is a freedom from that driving selfishness; unless we first find that ugliness destroying all that is beautiful and true in us, we may spend a lifetime steeped in Christian culture and church work, but we will neither seek nor find the only One who can and will set us free.

Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ “Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from me, all you evildoers.’ Luke 13:25-27

But to the sad truth that some are wrong about their acceptability to God, the Bible adds a promise that those accepted are not, as some assume, limited to the western world:

...And they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. (Luke 13:29)

We are not acceptable to God on the basis of our piety, but on the basis of our reaching for his mercy:

[Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:9-14)

Thursday, 29 May 2008

On Arrogance and Awe and Dr. Suess

Dr. Suess's Yertle the Turtle is an ingeniously prophetic work. It is the tale of the modern Western man. Yertle is a turtle who has a yen for leadership. He wants to rule. As king of the pond of Sala-ma-Sond, he soon grows dissatisfied with the rock that serves as his throne. So he piles up all of the other turtles and steps on them, one by one, until he reaches the top. He styles himself king of all he sees:

I'm the king of a house! And a bush! And a cat!
But that isn't all. I'll do better than that!...

But, while he was shouting, he saw with surprise
That the moon of the evening was starting to rise
Up over his head in the darkening skies.

In the end, though, all it takes is a burp from one little turtle and Yertle finds himself king of the mud.

Aren't we Yertle? We've stepped on everything that can be put under us - nature, philosophy, history, humanity - exploited it and discarded it and climbed up on it until we really think we are the kings of all that we survey. We fancy ourselves infinitely more wise than any people groups who have failed to come, fawning, to buy and sell in our marketplace, and whose cultures have not yet been laid humbly before our own mass-mediated philosophies. Cultures throughout our world and throughout history have been aware of a world higher than the natural world - but WE alone are un-primitive and un-ignorant, so we can pity the poor sods who just didn't have our understanding of things. We can scoff at global warming and the energy crisis and the dearth of nutrients in our soils - because we are the greatest, and we frankly can't imagine a crisis that the omnipotent mix of our scientific forces and technological advances wouldn't be able to put to rights.

Like Yertle, one of the things we have lost is a sense of awe. Because science has allowed us to arm-wrestle nature into a kind of submission - at least for the time being - we think we can rule it. Because we can name scientific laws - some of them - we think we can control them. We toss around the bits we have learned about particle physics and black holes and we think we are the rulers of it all - because however little we actually understand, we can talk about it - a little. Just like Yertle, outraged at the moon, which dared ascend higher than him on his turtle-pile.

One little burp is all it's going to take for this pitiful little 100-year, several-country flash-in-the-pan to go Plunk! in the pond.

If only we had some inkling of the powers that are over us, and around us. We could see them, if only we could first admit our own weakness.

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
Above it stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
(Isaiah 6:1-5)

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

We have seen the enemy...

In the collective consciousness of at least Western society is a half-fantasy, half-fear of alien invasion. In our daydreams, the aliens are coming to destroy us. Their dark powers will spread throughout the universe unless they are put to death by charmingly innocent and grandly idealistic us. Sometimes they are robots; sometimes borgs; sometimes mind-forces. At all costs, they must be stopped before they destroy the whole universe.

We would like to believe that the darkness; the destruction, is something out there that may be met on the portals and finished off by the essential goodness of humanity. We need to face that fact that we are the the dark aliens. We are not the idealistic children we always let ourselves be in the sci-fi movies - we are the mutants, the devouring borgs who are systematically destroying every square inch we have the technology to reach. We have almost sucked this amazing planet dry. We are doing a thorough job of robbing it of its rich biodiversity and intricately balanced eco-systems. We have reached, as far as our technology allows us, into space.We pride ourselves on our scientific and technological achievements and our social sophistications. We forget the hideous and spreading corruption we have authored. We ignore the violence and oppression that run rampant despite our complicated societal codes.

The dark aliens aren't coming - they are here. They are us. And who is going to keep us from destroying the whole universe?

Oh, I am so disappointed in us. In people. In me.

We are so lovely, but for our wretched selfishness. That wicked, sucking heart of darkness reveals itself time after time, and we make excuse after excuse, but we know, if sometimes dimly, the truth.

There is only One who is lovely, trustworthy, pure. His name is Love and Jesus Christ. He doesn't hate us, the destroyers in a universe of beauty; he pities us. He comes without ray gun or flashing light sabre, but holds out his hand.

This is my body, which is broken for you... Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do...

When I am tired of the weakness, the lies, the unreliability of my own heart, I take refuge in One who is Truth. I am content to rest, then, at his dear feet. Somehow, though, he bids me come closer. If I will, he can set me free - free from that dark, clawing within that isolates me and eats away at all that is pure, making me something alien, to be feared and loathed.

He is not the God I have imagined, bending magnanimously to bless the humble penitent with his fingertips. Here is a Father and a Friend.

He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble... Psalm 91:15

I have sought in vain such a friend among humanity's hordes, but in Him alone my heart finds rest. He has given me pain, but never out of selfishness. He has let me cry and rage, but he has never deserted me.

Isn't this the One we need?

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Wise Men on Wisdom

"There is no happiness where there is no wisdom;
No wisdom but in submission to the gods.
Big words are always punished,
And proud men in old age learn to be wise."
- Sophocles, Antigone

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding."
- Proverbs 9:10 (KJV)

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Earth, Idealism, and God

I think I might be a bit of an idealist. I don't like that. I mostly like to think of myself as realistic, but from time to time, I sense the idealist shoe fitting pretty snugly about my little foot. This might be one of the reasons that I so often find myself disappointed. I don't realize, most of the time, that my expectations are anything more than modest. That is, until I come smack up against reality. -Pop- goes my shiny bubble, and I'm left wiping soap scum off the computer screen.

The boys in the reading club I teach are in the middle of a book about an alien who comes to earth. He writes back home about his experiences, and one of his observations is this: "Earth is a tough neighbourhood." I liked this statement. He's right. We humans are always trying to build trust, and always letting each other down. We talk about brotherhood and peace, but deep down, we only want those things if we can have them and all the other things we want, too. At our very best, we are broken.

There is only one thing in my life that has been better than I expected, not less; that hasn't left me feeling flat or disappointed: only God. Only He has been more warm, more kind, more lovely, more rich, and more trustworthy than I dreamed he would be. Only He has kept every promise. Only He satisfies, surprises, and delights the idealist in me with her high-flown expectations. What a sweet relief after I have got a look at the disappointing weakness of the human heart, and the failure that dogs the most noble of us.

And this is the message which we have heard from him, and declare to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (I John 1:5)

Oh, here I can rest my weary heart...

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Jesus still calls...

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matt 11:28-30

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Waiting to Be Free

This is what the Lord says-- Israel's King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Isaiah 44:6

Perhaps the hardest thing a human being can do is bow herself before the God of Eternity, to recognize his awful authority and right. There is something deep and dark and long-clawed within us, that lays hold on the heart and will not let us go without blood.

I am waiting for the day when I will be free of that squealing, squirming self that reaches always for supremacy and rages in bitter disappointment against the God who refuses to give up his place.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Words and wishing, and God

The trouble with talking about God is that we all use the same words, but they mean such different things. When many people talk about "God", they refer vaguely to a magical being who decides how everything is, and yet - despite the horror and confusion we see around us - is also somehow good. People talk about love and mean warm, fuzzy feelings that make you want to talk all night and buy flowers for no reason.

The "God" I want to tell of is not God because he or someone else decided that he could be, nor because he won a shootout with the other powers in the universe. He is God because he is Love, and Love is the most powerful force there is. The "love" I speak of is not the thing they make movies about. You know you've encountered it because it sits like lead in your chest. It forces you out of bed in the morning, and half- sets you free and half- kicks your butt until you find yourself choosing to do things you hate doing. It stomps with heavy boots on your pride, and hurts more than anything else has the power to hurt. It's wearying and difficult and sore and will make you grow up if you can just stand it.

So, a God who is Love is not all gumdrops and roses. He is difficult. If we would reach out to him, or attempt to join him in loving, we will ache and weep in bewilderment. But let me say again that, in the end, he alone is enough.

Oh, if I could only draw back the curtain and let you see his vast beauty and his intricate order and his deep warmth... But you've seen snows and sunsets; ocean and sky; stars and dogs - and the eloquence of words must be laid aside when such speak.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Why This Waste?

I'm tired. Tired of waiting. Tired of hurting. Tired of leaving myself bare, tired of feeling foolish, tired of pushing down my wounded, squirming pride, tired of hurting for what seems like no reason, tired of waiting for God to replace my withered love with His strong one. I try to remember - well, half-remember, half-imagine - what it's like to love and hurt and still not need.

I sit outside a tightly closed door and wait. The door was once open to me, and I went in and out of it at will. I begin to forget, just now, precisely why I wait, but Love, that charming child, is somewhere about me, and for what seems like a long time, his presence has been enough.

Pride comes stalking about from time to time, making indignant thrusts and reminding me of the privilege from which I have fallen, and drawing my eyes to a plentitude of other doors open to me which I might more independently go in at. But Love rises up and silences his angry talk with a bold look.

Then Loneliness has a turn at me. He comes smoothly and coldly, laying with chill hands a thin blanket of melancholy about my shoulders as I wait. His pleading suggestion is a whine in the wind, but it matches the rising complaint in my cold heart: If you can't bear it, no need to stay. There are other doors open wide and warm. But again, Love arises in my defence and quells him with a word or two.

Last comes Reason, unsanctified. I hear the ordered measure of his footfall as he comes and it seems reassuring to my ear. He is neither angry nor pleading, but all matter-of-fact, and he seems not even to see me, but addresses Love directly: "Think carefully, my friend. Long have you sat outside this door, to what end? Are you not simply a bother to those inside? When they think of you at all, doesn't your stubborn waiting seem a burden rather than a gift? What can you give if the door is shut?" His unimpassioned charge is swift and strong, and even Love seems to stagger, his childlike trust suddenly made foolish.

Then softly, through the damp and gloom, comes One whose brow is wrapped in thorns, whose hands and feet are pierced and bleeding. He neither looks nor speaks harshly, but before him, Reason knows his place and becomes the humble penitent. Love runs to him as to a father and looks boldly out from amongst the soft, warm robes of the Man of Sorrows.

I, too, am compelled to take my place at his feet, and I remember why and for Whom I sit waiting. It is not for the ones on the other side of the door, but for Him who also waits with broken heart.

Like those frugal-minded souls who watched with only their eyes the glory of One for whom an alabaster box was broken and its ointment poured forth, I have questioned in my heart, "Why this waste?"

And then - a glimpse of Him before whom all is at once broken and made whole; Him before whom there is no waste, though I pour out the whole treasure of my deep heart on his dear feet; Him whose broken heart precedes every other breaking, and whose precious ointment lavished on me is the full of my own heart's store.

I am ashamed that I have forgotten for whom I wait and watch; that I have been deceived by that rogue trio into counting again the cost of the alabaster, into making measure of my precious ointment. Surely there can be no waste for the One whose own blood poured forth is of matchless worth.

Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. (Ecclesiastes 6:8)

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Why We Need A Jesus (Part 1): Great Humanity's Tragic Flaw

Why do people so often disappoint us? Why are we so deeply hurt when they fail to match up to our expectations? What keeps us hoping for a purity, a greatness of character that rarely fails to elude us, in ourselves and in others?

Isn't it that, despite the glaring flaws in the very best of us, there is something deeply a part of humanity that is inexplicably lovely - something so wonderful that it teaches us to hope, again and again?

We like to talk about "good people" and "bad people". A friend of mine stays with a man who hits her because "he's not a bad person". She sees something in him, despite his violence, that is pure and beautiful. Knowing what goodness lies within, she can't bring herself to toss him out, even though the very same man may someday, in a rage, kill her.

The truth we don't like to face is that there aren't any "good people" or "bad people". In each of us lives, side by side, a nature that is loyal, loving, kind, and true - and a nature that is selfish, hateful, spiteful, and proud. Whether because of personality or experience, some of us are better or less able to control which side shows itself, but both exist in us all.

Occasionally we meet people whose characters are so shot through with beauty that we begin to hope - perhaps they will be the ones to satisfy that stubborn longing within us that, seemingly without any basis, seeks purity, nobility, and an unfailing heart of love. And reality comes to bite us on the bum time after time. Oh, we still love them in spite of their failure to meet our expectations. We don't have any business doing it any other way, since we know ourselves to be so flawed. But the point is, we are disappointed.

What teaches us to hope? What is it about the human imperfection we can discuss intellectually, that doesn't translate to the subconscious us - the part that hopes, in the face of knowledge and experience, for someone (a friend, a lover, a mother or father) that won't let us down? How is it that such rich, dear, loveliness can exist alongside violence, stubbornness, arrogance, selfishness?

What else, but that we are made in the image of very God - so that our deep essence is no cheap thing, but a thing made with his own beauty and greatness and love? What else, but that sin eats away at that precious thing, destroying its usefulness but unable to nullify its rich value?

Our world is built upon a great tragedy - one that, to understand, we need not study science or history or theology. We have only to look with honesty at that thing we know both least and best - our own heart.

Outside of Jesus Christ, we have neither explanation for the tragic reality we know in every fibre of our lives, nor have we any cure.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

On Beggars and Choosers

Modern capitalism is based on the manipulation of desire. We find ourselves a consumer society; one that has gone softly into a long good night in which guilt and fear prevail, and longing is dulled and re-directed. Our need to choose has been substituted with the much more glamorous privilege of choosing from.

Willingly, we have accepted the outrageous lie that individuality and personality may be satisfied by making consumer decisions. Our need for freedom is sublimated in the exercise of consumer privileges. That I may select from twenty varieties of toothpaste, or twelve movies, or four electoral candidates, appears as freedom. We have become convinced that choice need involve nothing creative: it is enough for us to merely select from an array of options.

Ideas, too, have been added to shelves of the grand marketplace in which we all live. Having succeeded in throwing off our need to seek and think and feel and consider, we have succumbed and contented ourselves with selecting entire blocks of thinking, based on processed and packaged philosophies, theologies, and belief-systems.

Consumerism creates the illusion of luxury, which is tied to the act of selecting. Since beggars can't be choosers, we must all be first convinced that we have no needs, only desires. We are all choosers with no real needs, but only the luxurious privilege of selecting the goods and the packets of theory that best match our personalities.

In allowing ourselves to be transformed from thinkers to consumers, we have been elevated from scrabbling in the dust of reality and experienced truth. Instead, we discuss theories that we have chosen to ascribe to, but hardly even understand. From trusting and experiencing a God that we can't see, we have gone to trusting what amounts to little more than popular opinion. Science has been unjustly discounted in the Christian world; but much of what is passed off as scientific truth in the secular world is only that portion of science which agrees with other socially and economically convenient truths. We toss around scientific arguments and other "facts" as though we aren't simply trusting those who purvey them; as though they have been researched by us; as though we deeply understand why they must be true.

We look for ideas that have been well-packaged, endorsed by appropriate authorities or celebrities, and carefully branded. I select and carry about my preferred brand of truth as I might a new handbag. It's a fashion statement; something that sets me apart and tells the world what type of person I am. Even we who call ourselves Christians want to think it's enough to believe that Jesus exists; that on that basis we will be acceptable to God. The demons themselves know that he exists!

Because you say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked... (Revelation 3:17)

Truth is not something to be consumed. If I am to know it, I must first know my need of it. We are not, after all, choosers, but beggars, if we only knew it. The question is not, "Does God exist?" or "Who was Jesus?", but one that I may have a full answer to: "Who am I? What do I need?" If we can see the problem within that is utterly destroying us; which makes a mockery of all that is beautiful and true in us, then we know that, whether or not he exists, we need Jesus. That he is the only solution that matches our one great need. And if he does not exist, then there is no hope for us anyway.

The man who knows himself carried swiftly along a river that ends in a waterfall asks no questions about the rope thrown to him. He grasps it, because, though he knows not whether it may be trusted, he knows his problem. There is no shortage of solutions being bandied about by the philosophical and religious people of our world, and what can we know of their viability? If we know our problem, we will take part in no elevated selection of an appropriate solution, but a desperate grasping of what will meet our deep need.

Jesus Christ the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

My Scary, Surprising God

How can we be sure that our God is not a product of our own minds? How can we know that the God we believe in is not a projection of ourselves and our wishes and hopes?

This post is in answer to a challenge presented by DagoodS: "How does your god Frighten you? How does your God surprise you? How does your God change your thinking?"

Power can be exciting and comforting at the same time. What child doesn't like to imagine superheroes with great powers? In the same way, our imaginations of God make him an all-powerful genie, and Jesus the ultimate Superman. We can love this kind of a God because his unlimited powers are, in a way, at our disposal. He is on our side. We just have to pray diligently enough, sprinkle a little faith-dust, and *poof* - our wishes are granted.

The God of the Bible bears no resemblance to such a magician. His purposes are vastly different from ours. He does not grant wishes to his favorites. The privileges I am offered if I follow him are himself, and the privilege of knowing him - though my choice allows God to use his power for my benefit, he doesn't use it for my comfort; nor is his power given into my control. Similarly, we experience this in nature. As we take our rightful place in the natural world, the benefits of nature come to us - but never is nature under our control. The universe laughs at a person or people who think they can through study or industry bend the natural forces.

I love the ocean whose salt waves cool my body in summer; whose unseen depths and ceaseless tides at the same time calm and intrigue me. But though I splash and play in the waves, they are no playthings. The ocean is relentless. It is set upon principles that will not be denied, though I cry and beg. It is a thing wholly outside of my control, and is therefore a thing to be feared as well as loved.

So is God. His principles go far deeper and higher than my wanting. He is not controlled by my pleading. He is not devoted to my comfort. He let Joseph be falsely accused and languish in prison for ten years. He let the Hebrews be made slaves to the Egyptians. He allowed John the Baptist to rot in Herod's dungeon until John questioned all that he had lived for - then he let them cut off his head. Who would imagine such a God?

But wait - there's more. The same God who seemingly ignored the pleas and tears of those who followed him the most closely all through history showed that he is merciful, not by granting them favours (as you and I would imagine) but by becoming a man. He became one of us, with all of the human weakness that we despise in ourselves (except sin). He was tired, hungry, dirty, lonely, weak. He had, like us, to seek even his spiritual strength and comfort from heaven. The power that allowed him to give to others offered him no pillow, no home, no dainty food, no freedom from pain or weariness.

Even if it were possible for me to conjure such a God in my own thoughts, if he is an illusion only, then he is a God for contemplation; for philosophizing. When I am cold, I want a blanket. When I am hungry, I want bread. When I am tired, I want a place to lay my head. When I am lonely, I want a friend. The mere thought of a God as the Bible describes him is awe-inspiring when I sit comfortably on my couch and meditate - but such thoughts are easily quenched by the realities of life: loneliness, disappointment, tiredness, hunger, pain. Only the experienced reality of a God who sees and knows - though he denies my request - is enough then.

This sort of a God is frightening. He's too complicated. He's too big, not in the good, "my-Dad-can-beat-up-your-Dad" way, but in the "do-you-even-know-I'm-here?" way. He can give me pain. He can leave me lonely. He can let me be confused. On top of it all, he expects far more from me than I want to give. He's disconcerting.

Then, too, he surprises me. He doesn't do what I expect him to do. He reveals himself as a person I didn't expect him to be.

God surprises me by not being the person I expect; by being subject to reality in a way that he is not in my imagination. In my mind, no one characteristic of God has to have a bearing on any other characteristic, because he doesn't have to make sense except in the way I think of him. In real life, he has to be what makes sense even before I've gone over the parameters and the consequences of his characteristics; even before it makes sense to me. I have to know what he is before I understand why it's necessary for him to be that way.

I used to think that God was completely unlimited; that he could do anything - just anything. Of course, that left me with a million problems that began in my own life and ended in places like Darfur and Indonesia. The God I imagined didn't have to make sense - he could be good AND unlimited AND thus have both the ability and the will to relieve the plight of millions of suffering people down through history... but in reality my little daydream broke down. The God I came face to face with in reality looked astonishingly different because he was limited in the way EVERYTHING is limited in reality. He can't be what he isn't. He can't serve opposing purposes. He can't make a rock so big that he can't lift it. There are reasons for what he does. And yet, the Bible tells me what he is like without my being able to understand how that fits with what I see. It corrects both my imagination and my reasoned deductions. I can see what he does BEFORE I understand why; and I can know (from the Bible) who he is BEFORE I can reconcile that with the evidence. Both of those things are baffling to the imagination. But the fact that I can know who God is before I can understand why it is necessary for him to be that way offers me evidence that my knowledge of God comes from outside my own thoughts.

I thought I could please God by being kind, by helping others, by doing my best to conform myself to the teachings of the Bible. I also thought that by pleasing God, I could expect some favours in return. Oh, not so simply as that. I wasn't thinking that God would ply me with sports cars and overseas flights because I traded in my time and money and tried to be kind to hurting people. But I did expect that there would be some kind of return on my investments. I thought there was some sort of perk to be had for those who follow Jesus. Not so, as it turns out. Well, not like I expected, anyway. No extra comforts, no signs that the King of Kings is my own father.

Just Him. He is the perk. There is deep peace in knowing him. There is joy and purpose, even in the midst of struggle, confusion, and depression.

The more I get to know him, the more he surprises me. He wakes me up early, just to talk. (Ask my mother how likely it is that I'd wake up early on my own!) He shows me the selfishness at the core of the sacrifices I make, and the pride that surrounds my most selfless acts. He bursts all my balloons, and replaces them with himself. Oh, he is lovely, but make no mistake - God is a party pooper. Just when I'm feeling great, patting myself on the back for a particularly selfless act, he sticks his foot out and I'm flat on my face. That's not just surprising, it's frustrating.

And just when I've got him in a nice, neat little box - the kind you can hand to someone like a present - I come smack up against a whole new side of him I've never seen before.

He tells me I'm wrong. In fact, sometimes he shows me that my whole perspective is wrong. I used to think that it was my job to point out sin - from my schoolfriend who lived a gay lifestyle to my sister who hurt my feelings with her carelessness. One day God showed me that judging is his job, not mine, and that being right is far from enough in his eyes. In fact, in trying to take his place, I am worse than those I judge! Do I like that? Nope. When somebody does what I know is wrong, I love the rush of knowing that I'm right and they are wrong, and I want them to understand exactly what the situation is. (There, now you know just what a little prig I am, though I usually try my best to hide it!)

Then, when I thought I was doing a pretty good job of showing what God's love is, He showed me that I don't know a thing about love. He pointed out how much of my "love" is emotionalism, neediness, and pride. He let me see how fast my brand of love turns to hatred and resentment when it is met with rejection, weakness, or apathy. But he didn't leave me there - this is the wonder and the loveliness of the God I worship! - he let me have a little of his love. I had to receive it myself before I could give it, and even then, it wasn't anything like I expected. As it turns out, God's love isn't a warm, smooshy feeling, but a heaviness. It isn't what makes me smile and hand out sandwiches to homeless people - it's what lets me come back for more when I've been kicked in the teeth; it's what lets me sincerely want good for someone who has rejected me; it's what makes me see the beauty of God himself in the kind of person whose sinfulness is all too evident to me; it's what allows me to want another's good at my cost. Don't get me wrong, I've experienced real love in trace amounts - but even the minutest grain of such a thing was enough to turn my whole thinking on its head.

Oh, I am smart enough to figure out what my weaknesses are - but God shows me the deep darkness and the flapping foolishness that entwine themselves about my strengths. The better I know him, the less I trust myself.

No, the God I worship is far more frightening, more complex, more deep, vast, and breath-takingly beautiful than I could ever dream up. I know myself more free as I am changed by him, but I am not released from the chains of selfishness with smooth sighs - it is a bitter struggle with one who is stronger than I. His purpose cuts across mine. He offers me pains that I could not and would not choose for myself. Many in our world have pain, but the pain God gives is different in this - it results in love, joy, and peace. It sets free those who choose Him.

The idea that I could imagine a God so wise, so pure, so full of the kind of love that doesn't even make sense to a human being, is not only laughable but indeed, if it were possible, it would make me - the dreamer of such a dream - myself worthy of worship. That I am patently unworthy is a fact beyond dispute.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Testing the Hypothesis

Research has always interested me, while the logistics of carrying out solid research have always repelled me. However, it is clear to those of us who study the unquantifiable that, despite the paucity of answers available through even the most painstaking and principled of research, without it there are no answers that may be communicated. I may hold any beliefs I choose about "the way things are", but without an appeal to primary research, I have no basis on which to offer my beliefs to others.

My life's thesis, that God is Love, must too be tested and subjected to experiment under varying conditions if it is to be communicated. It seems that Paul had the same idea about the responsibility of the apostles:

"For it seems to me that God has put us the Apostles last of all, as men whose fate is death: for we are put on view to the world, and to angels, and to men." I Corinthians 4:9

He saw the apostles' lives as a spectacle, a display - living, breathing experiments of their great hypothesis, Jesus Christ the Savior of the world.

If I live true to my own hypothesis, it will be tested. My life will become an experiment in which the reality of God may be tried and the results displayed to anyone interested enough to watch.

One of the great medieval biology experiments on the effects of rest and exercise on digestion was one ordered by a cruel emperor. He had two of his servants fed well for a month. After each meal, one was forced to rest; the other was forced to exercise. At the end of the month, the servants were brought before the king and disembowelled to determine which lifestyle was better suited to healthy digestion. Obviously, the knowledge gained in this case hardly warranted the brutality it involved. But the results were clearly more to be trusted than reams of arguments on the matter.

Whatever it cost me, may I subject to the necessary tests my life's hypothesis. Let me prove amid the rigours of life's inevitable weariness and bewildering unfairness and absorbing variety and strange, surprising happiness, who is that One who is more dear than solace and more beautiful than joy. Let me not speak with smooth, swollen words of such deep, darling, powerful, and pure things as God and love. Rather, let me eat them. Let the bowels of my self be ripped apart, that the precious results may be displayed to those who wonder.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Aha! Moments...

Why didn't anybody ever explain to me the vast difference between the things in life that make me feel good and the things that make me happy?

Or maybe they did, but it didn't feel good, so I didn't listen...