Pelagian commitments

Are we so sure we are the answer

as time goes on toward entropy?

Or do we persist in our Pelagian devotion

devising formula and information to solve every problem presented.


We commit ourselves to a world without grace and without God

the divine

something within…

Isn’t the continued self-destruction enough evidence

tearing us down, crumbling to our knees

that there must be more than this material world

unwinding toward entropy

the clock stopping, the end of all things.

in an age of confusion and anxiety,

can we only cling to our self?

or are we humble enough to admit we are not the answer …

ecclesiastes

this existence of mystery

a vapor, smoke-filled room

vision obscured

meaning of this life uncertain and unclear.

fear and trembling of obedience to the God of life

Isaac, Abraham an anxiety in obedience

to live without despair

without affliction,

unavoidable?

gift us with grace, with faith

to trust, to obey despite feelings and emotions involved…

we are not Stoics, nor should we be…

our vision blind, blurred

until grace knocks us on our knees

even then this life continues in mystery

but always grace present–at times helping us see through the smoke…

modernism

The modernist, the post-modernist, whatever we are currently have something in common. The common factor is to tear down whatever current construct we humans have created. Modernism started as responding to and criticizing capitalism. The ills that capitalism had created must be destroyed or altered into another system. But how much better will another ism be? I would say not much. We as humans tend to turn our structures of society into modes of oppression or injustice. The French revolution desired to destroy the monarchy, but something worse took its place and then went back to monarchy and finally toward a republic. But the modernist reacted toward the unfamiliarity of this new modern world and that was in the 1850s.

I would say that consumerism has terrible problems, everything becomes a commodity, something to be used. Everything can potentially be bought becomes the driving force. Our faith in science becomes paramount. Our faith in ourselves has always been paramount–consumerism bolstered the idea of looking to yourself to fix yourself.

What is the contrast? The Christian story tells something different. Seeking direction outside of the self is the healthy formation of the human being. Left to our own devices leads to our self-destruction, self-deception. Each person has worth but not defined in what that person does, but who that person is… a being created in the image of God. Who is the model we follow and hope to desire to be more like? A celebrity? A leader? Political or otherwise? No. The ultimate human and divine model is Jesus Christ.

So what does this look like in the “modern” world? Believing the Apostles/ Nicene Creed. But living out what one believes. To be like Christ, but not by one’s own power, but by the grace of God, the grace who is Jesus Christ. Those leaders (priests, pastors) who live the life of Christ by the Holy Spirit present in each temple (body), in joy, in suffering, in wisdom leading us toward Jesus Christ and His kingdom.

The modernist didn’t like this idea in the 60s and probably still doesn’t in 2020. Looking back and studying the church fathers and mothers and taking ancient wisdom in is a good way to go about this Christian life. It is not nostalgia because wisdom is timeless. Take this wisdom and present it in this current time moving forward with it.

The church is something that carries on what has always been true in all times, places and people. Jesus Christ is always good, true and beautiful, pointing us toward the Father–teaching us how to live. And Christ is embodied in the church–what Paul called the body of Christ.

We humans continue to deconstruct the past and current systems that we have put in place, this really isn’t anything new. Some things and ways of thinking should be put aside, while other ways and understanding don’t need to be completely obliterated. Systems rarely work well. But we continue to hope in Christ and his kingdom.

A and D

Apollonian order

reflection of perfected

things as they ought to be.

Dionysian chaos

Bacchanal,

wild nature

drink today for tomorrow we die.

Despair in the world presented

tearing down images of self,

myths and idols–desiring a world created in my image.

Apollo forgotten.

Modern and Romantic minds see the world blinded from reality

Incarnated Son born into a world chaotic and uncertain

through suffering the world reborn

until the final day when kingdom realized,

permanent,

ideas of utopia erased

perfected kingdom reigning.

mirror

The modern reflected in the mirror thinks of the self, the despair, the illusion, delusion of reality. All seen is consumed. Desires and wants to use all things. Meaninglessness. The reflection of the person with distant, detached gaze. Making a fantasy of all presented. Stuck in the mind. What is real? “Who are we, who am I?” the gazer asks. Or is there no thought about the self only a despair and melancholy of all realities and perceptions?

The Romantic only sees pain and suffering. The sublime that instills fear, astonishment of the dangers of nature and the ills and evil of the human being.

The Baroque gazer in the mirror sees the world as shadow, but is reminded of the perfected world. Suffering and mystery of the world. Death, a reminder. We are but mortal.

The medieval views the world of shadow, the perfect world above. Reminded that this is not the only existence, the image broken, yet to be reformed in perfection.

We see the mirror as the teller of perceptions. It is the world of the gazer, no longer the world of its Maker.

The mirror broken, yet One longs to restore the image–only if we are willing.

Is it easier to see this reality as illusion? Or as a broken, shipwreaked world yearning for redemption–that has come and is coming?

harmony

season of despair

of melancholy

as leaves blaze in color

their funereal parade

to fall to the ground

in repose, becoming dust,

part of the earth.

Birds call, sing their evening dirge

as the setting of the sun blends with colors of autumn.

the earth rotates to rest on the northern hemisphere

the moon bright in the black, darkness

calling to Venus and Saturn as the day is in repose.

soon the snows to freeze the earth

bodies slow, trees seem dead

although life pulses and moves within

life is movement even slight

But all the earth awaits the spring where life is continually present

cycles at rest

always brightness, joy, in solitude and communion

at this present moment all things moving toward death

yet a hope of rebirth in perfection

echoes in the harmonies amidst the calamities we witness each day.

this existence full of despair and melancholy days

on the verge of breakdown

yet grace shines through even the darkest day,

occlusions and blindness

Christ’s body suffers in this world between worlds

before the final day,

resurrection and renewal of all things.

leaves crunch beneath weary feet

a weight like lead upon our shoulders

a silent pain

reminding its presence even on the brightest days

a silence present that will soon break upon the universe to close the Day of weariness

and dawn the new day. We can’t hear the music because it is always present.

The crescendo is near to bring the coda

and continue the harmony perpetually.

fragment on despair

Kierkegaard found despair as a misrelation of the self from the self. The aesthetic, the ethical and the religious. It is the point of the person not being in relation to the true self, the religious; in other words, the person not living toward the good and in relation to a person’s Creator–God. When we are in misrelation to our self, we are in despair. Kierkegaard saw this as pretty much a universal reality.

We define the eighteenth century as the Romantic era where a shift in thought occurred. The idea of dread and the sublime was prominent. The sublime was the feeling of dread or fear and death when encountering nature in all of its unpredictability and danger. In the nineteenth century (when Kierkegaard wrote) it was the age of industry and category, defining things to the enth degree.

In a way, by defining and categorizing, we give ourselves some understanding and hope for some kind of control over things we cannot understand. The Romantics recognized the uncertainty of this world, those of the nineteenth century strove to define and understand things that were a mystery. This actually describes most eras of human history.

We tend to be in some kind of despair no matter what era we are in and what our understanding of this material world is. We hope in science and are continually let down by human error (think of the NASA space program), no matter how precise and calculating we are, catastrophic error may and usually does occur. We are finite creatures striving for the infinite and are continually let down. Why? We want to be in control of our life and possibly lives of others? Our knowledge is limited. Faith in others will at times lead to despair because there is a let down or hoping the finite will be infinite.

Faith in the infinite, really God, is highly important because God is the truly steadfast one. The perfect one, the good, the true.

Our faith in anything else will usually lead to despair.

Departures. Life

We long for life; we lament death.

There is a scene in Departures, a Japanese film from 2008 that is striking. The first assignment the main character has dealing with the departed is a difficult first assignment. He must help his business partner remove a body that has been dead for two weeks. It is almost too much for him and his teacher lets him take the rest of the day off.

At home he and his wife are about to eat dinner. There is raw chicken on the table and he nearly wretches because it reminds him of the rotting death he encountered earlier that day. (His wife knows nothing about his job–he won’t tell her what he does because of shame). His wife is very concerned, and he clings to her, touching her everywhere and pressing his ear against her heart, holding her as close as he can. He wants all semblance of life before him. Death is always a shock to the system. The statement, “death is a part of life,” is a gross contradiction. Death is the exact opposite of life.

I think we long for life and fear death because death was never meant to be. Death is always a heartbreak. “What is this life that we should die?” some ask. We cling to life before us, but know one day they will die; we will die. So what do we do in the meantime?

Jesus died, but was resurrected. This is the promise that he has given us. Not that he should give us death abundantly, but life abundantly. Life is the gift that life himself has given each of us. We long for life that is fulfilled and without suffering, but we first go through the crucible of this life that we made be remade, transformed into Christ’s likeness.

Like in the movie Departures, we long for those we love to be physically alive with us always, clinging to the gift. Jesus reminds us that death does not have the last word, although it seems that way.

Departures. The dignity of the body.

I watched a 2008 Japanese film called Departures. It is a beautiful film that honors the human body in death.

The plot is a man who plays cello for the orchestra in Tokyo loses his job (the orchestra is dissolved), and he and his wife move back to his home town. He replies to an ad that is looking for someone to work in “departures”, but it is a misprint. He finds out the job is working with the departed. He is hired and works as an assistant to the NK agent, as it is called.

The NK agent prepares the body in front of the family before placing the body in the coffin. The preparation is a ritual. First, they wash the body to wash away the cares of the world and to prepare for the next. They cover the body with a cloth and undress the body and redress with precision a ceremonial cloth–all done with dignity and without ever showing any skin. Then the body is adorned with makeup. All the while, the family watches with great ceremony and emotion. It is a beautiful thing to watch.

The beauty of this film is showing the ritual of preparing the body. You, as the viewer, are with each family, grieving with them. You are shown the great respect for the person as the body is adorned and prepared.

Our bodies are with us all of our lives. All of those who know us encounter our physical body. The person is body, mind, spirit, but our body is most visible to others. Even in death, the body must be shown respect. Although there is not life pulsing through the form anymore that is still a person, though incomplete. The reason I love this movie is because it reminds us the importance of the body and the hope of the resurrection of the body. We may be bodiless temporarily, but this ritual of preparing before the family reminds us of the importance of the physical form. We are not ghosts in the shell, and the shell is discarded. We are complete human beings with bodies, minds, spirits–anything less is not quite human.

When someone dies, we don’t miss abstract ideas of that person, we miss the actual physical person. The Christian teaching is that we will be embodied once again, the cares of the world washed away, sin washed away–we will have departed, but arrive in a physical reality, with physical bodies, in a physical world that no longer breaks down.

The ending is a powerful display of forgiveness. (I won’t give it away).

Watch this movie if you would like. It is well done, has a little comedy, but overall is beautiful, good and true.