Murmurs and Antagonisms

Orthodoxy via Heresy

Month: January, 2014

Failure

There’s an obsession in the world today with making an impact. As if that’s the end goal of our being. Which, frankly, it’s not. At all. Nor is it the rather common refrain of living for the glory of God. More clearly, the goal of humanity is to realize the rather odd irony of Jesus. This irony is one which states, quite bluntly, that failure is the way to impact the world. Sure, Christians would say Jesus achieved something for us on the cross and by the Resurrection, and, while not opposed to this idea, I want to suggest that Jesus failed on the cross. Precisely: Jesus failed at being God and human.

Unless you were not aware the historical person known as Jesus died. He was brutally murdered. But throughout it all he never once protested in an attempt to retain some sort of absurd dignity. Humans want their pride, their dignity, and Jesus essentially says that those pursuits are meaningless and trivial. In fact, the want for dignity seems counterproductive to what he wants to achieve, the acceptance of the rejected and ostracized. His failure to be, well, human, a man, as we understand it is the acceptance of everyone.

But his failure as God seems much more absurd. God(s) aren’t supposed to die. (Anyone who says God didn’t die on the cross is playing the game of semantic masturbation, pleasing themselves for comfort sake). God died on the cross. No question. And somehow the point almost seems to be that Jesus wants us to see that God is really, truly, malleable within our hands. God is subject to man in the most important moment.

Meaningless Triviality

Such is the way of Christendom. Take up our crosses and follow Jesus as we take on ourselves the mental anguish associated with apologetic work or arduous debate with other believers. We’ve reversed the importance of mental acuity and the importance of obedience. I come from a homeschooling background and within this sphere/sub-culture there exists potential for great feats within the public realm of discourse (namely, the meaningless circus known as politics or media culture) mostly because homeschooled kids have a ton of mental agility and think well. It’s drilled into us in some of the more popular curriculum and in our obsession with things like TeenPact and debate clubs. I come from this background and am slowly learning, albeit very slowly, the impotence of these discourses on eschatology and whether or not paedobaptism is biblical or not.

  Now, I admit. I enjoy a good discussion. And the bible is to be dealt with in community and some of these debates and arguments are fun. But where in the bible do we find a debate on the most inane of topics? Nowhere. Yes, St. Paul (primarily), in his letters calls out fools and people who would do damage to the Church but then goes on to teach those churches how to live in this world. Jesus doesn’t give two rips if you’re a Calvinist, Pelagian or not. In fact, while doctrinal orthodoxy (which is too often a phrase for “fortress theology”) is important (doctrine does motivate and move when presented right), the importance of praxis is being undermined. Sure, Reformed folk of the theonomic stripe argue for the “Regulative Principle of Worship” which basically is a how to guide for worship from the bible, but most times the bible doesn’t care for specific on how you embody the way of Jesus. In fact, the bible is more concerned that you actually do embody the Way and learn. 
  Look. All this is coming from the mouth of a guy whose probably going to major in philosophy in college. I love arguing, discussing, and debating trivial things. But it’s becoming apparent to me that unless those seemingly trivial ideas can become practiced then I am basically blowing steam into an area of nada. If it cannot be practiced it is, almost always, an meaningless waste of time.  

On Faith

Faith, being that which names an Object and thus obliterates it in the name of following, is that thing which no one can seem to speak clearly about. Mostly since faith eludes naming, at least true faith eludes naming. As Critchley argues in Very Little…Almost Nothing (paraphrased), “Adam was the first serial killer.” Why? Because he named things. Faith does this all the while being unnameable itself.

I claim faith is unnameable (undefinable) because in any attempt to define it becomes simplified and therefore, most times, meaningless. Faith kills that which it has as an Object since it tries to grasp and name that Object. But at the same time faith is oddly needed.

Maybe the beauty of Christianity is that it requires a faith which, in naming as its Object the person of Jesus, can kill God because God has already died. In so doing, then, we find life.

Dirt:Rib

I thought, today, about how the world revolves around beauty and truth.

At least, I want it to revolve around those two spheres. It would be nice if the world revolved around those two and sin and evil and ugliness were not so prevalent. Sadly, or not so sadly in my mind, the picture of truth, beauty, evil, ugliness, is one much more haunted by intimacy than we would like it to be. Like a spiral of color where one ends the other begins and often times one can only guess at the end or beginning. 
If we’re honest this picture of reality – a potpourri of conflict – is based in the primordial reality of the bible. In the opening chapters of the creation account we find God molding out of dirt and rib humanity. Dirt and rib which is intimately linked to God by being made in his image. And then a chapter later we find man breaking down, the dirt and rib cracking, and the image of God becoming marred. 
But it is still there, haunting our every move, mixing in the sin and beauty into one rough cut whole. 

And as the story of the bible continues on towards its culmination in the Incarnation of the Word there are numerous stories of this complex interaction between the ugliness of sin and the beauty of God’s children. David, the man after God’s own heart, commits murder and adultery and causes people of his nation to be killed at God’s behest. Rahab, the prostitute, redeemed by faith and action (and oddly seemed to have faith while still a prostitute). Solomon, given wisdom, commits idolatry via marriage. 
The point is, the stories we tell often do not fit the stories of the bible. The language we use does not fit the language we find in scripture. 

Point is, horrible sinners can be decent people. Saints, good people we admire, screw up horribly, commit atrocities and horrors unspeakable. We are grace filled creatures with sin leaking in the cracks, made by dirt but breaking, created via life yet death creeps ever closer at every step. We are not only walking contradictions, we are walking dead. 
We are not sinner or saint. We are decent killers and indecent saints. 

Untitled

Here, now, sit I forever 

and ever. Amen. World without 
end nor beginning. As I eat
I eat with trembling hands-
lack of food or liquids or something
other and distant and something?- either
or I eat a new life. Life without end
it speaks as I chew. 

Being God Equals Loneliness

How horrid it must be to be God, to be alone, to be utterly alone. God, who is the ultimate “something” there is (admittedly, that idea might be a linguistic creation) is in a state of ultimate loneliness. There are no others like God. 

(Yes, I know, we have the Trinity in Christianity. Yes, it is three persons in one (which, is again, important but often practically meaningless language) and all three are equally God and individual, yeah, I’m not going into the discussion of Trinity, suffice it to say: useful but at time impractical because of the language used.) 
But God, as unified whole, the most complete whole, is alone. God is the only one like, similar to, in any way comparable to, God. It seems God needed a mission – unless of course the idea that God has himself to entertain and find joy in is true then I am wrong – to provide himself something to do, to be less lonely. Maybe that’s why humanity exists. 
We exist to glorify God and our glorification of him lets him know he is wanted (because everyone wants to be wanted). God created us to teach himself he is wanted. Maybe the courage of Nietzsche is letting God know he is unwanted. Maybe the courage of Christians is recognizing in Jesus that God doesn’t want himself but rather wants us. 

Grace

I read in the bible of a being that, with “truth and grace”, came into our world. What exactly does it mean that Jesus came in “truth and grace”? What exactly is grace? The sphere of Christendom I have grown up in has defined grace as “unmerited favor” or another odd, but no less abstract definition. But Jesus came in “truth and grace” or, rather, “truth and grace came through Jesus.” Either way, somehow I think I’ve missed the point. Grace is not some abstract concept. It might explain why the other more liturgical denominations speak of “means of grace.” 


Means of grace: word and sacrament: visible, tangible. 


Jesus brought grace into this world via Incarnation. Incarnation: real, visible, malleable, tangible, felt, and not off in the world of concepts alone. A conceptual understanding of grace demands nothing of us, has no long lasting effect. Grace is not for one time, one conversion. 


Rather, it is for all time, always reforming, always converting, and always being felt. And if it is not tangible and real it seems meaningless and lacking. 

Grace is…real and maybe it’s too real for our own comfort and maybe that’s why we put grace in the world of ideas because if it’s a reality found in the physical world, then it demands something of us. In fact, it is all around us.