We Who May Yet Be

And now, the shorter, more poetic, and (I think) more important cousin to my earlier essay:

The Earth That Was (We Who Were)
Mountains, forests, deserts, and seas, full of beauty and life. They are stark as reality but good as truth. There is freedom to explore, to go one way or another, to drink from this or that stream, to sleep now or later, to eat from the fruit of this tree or to be satisfied with the berries from that bush. Whether I go or stay, I rest in the comfort that there was no better choice than the one I just made. I trust myself as a creature amidst creation, I trust myself to be aimed correctly, to never fail to be appropriately situated for the appropriate function towards the appropriate result at the appropriate time. Right and wrong may exist, but if so, they exist as a land beyond the mountains at the farthest reach of my eagle’s sight. Success and failure may exist, but if so, they exist as an imperceptible cloud bank miles off the shores of the sea, held at bay by the unshakeable high pressure of the perfection of the land. At any rate, they are not worth considering. What matters is what is at hand, and what is at hand is pure goodness and joy. How beautiful and fine the brush of God, painting not End but Beginning, not Command but Possibility!

The Earth That Is (We Who Are)
The universe is a plane, infinite in front and below, but infinitesimal in width. It is a sheet of paper on edge, the cuts of which go deeper than any blade. The abstract has become the real, and the real has been flattened, coerced to serve a harsh and cold master. Life is walking the razor, the thin tightrope of Righteousness which is so ephemeral. To either side the void howls with a commanding rage, black maws agape and hungry. The line is safe but not sure. In fact, it is so thin the very molecules of my feet are sundered, falling into either abyss. I am slit, riven, sinking into the two-dimensional compression, and grasp at the gossamer strand. Oh, but it is made of sharply glistening diamonds and I am not! My hands turn to ribbons of flayed skin. How beautiful and cruel the spinneret of God, casting lines of hope that kill!

The Earth That Will Be (We Who May Yet Be)
The storm has come over the mountains, and has met the storm from over the sea. The land is ravaged, and not many survive. A great volcano was thrust up, and cast ash and unquenchable fire over the ruined beauty. The land is again ravaged, and now even fewer survive. I leave my shelter and weep over the destruction we have wrought. Where now the beauty? Where now the life? I stand on the plains of desolation and the sun pierces the ash in the sky. I am blinded; I have not seen the sun in a very long time. It illuminates the sludge in front of me. Look here! But it is a whisper of green, gently unfolding, a baby in the arms of mother sun. I remember the Hell where we have been, and Hope suddenly coalesces into Truth. My rebirth blasts Righteousness–diamantine no longer–into so many glass shards. With joy, I stretch my hand toward the naked and shy plant, and I sing. It responds with a movement more melodic than any lyric, dancing, unfolding new leaves, shaking brazenly in the sheen of a summer sun, an island of new in a sea of old. In a moment the buds, and before their fragrance has departed: fruit! Round, full, and inviting. I see that it is, without any doubt, good. I call to my brethren, to we who have outlasted both Ignorance and Knowledge, and with crucified wills we know what must be done. Come, Oak and Owl! Come, Pterodactyl and Tiger! How beautiful and loving the inexorable regeneration of God, crushing death itself with its power! Amen.

James 2:1-13 (Modern American Version)

James 2 came to mind recently, and I was struck by how much I brushed it off, or thought it did not apply to me (or to our small church). I got to thinking about it, and decided that it wasn’t because it shouldn’t apply, only that the specific context in James’ mind is not in our typical experience, and we thereby miss the message behind it. I decided to re-write a passage from the chapter using language and examples that would perhaps speak more clearly to us (or at least, to heterosexual men–others can see where to change things for themselves. You’ll see what I mean in a moment). I find that re-writing passages in this way can be a useful “shock” mechanism to get ourselves thinking further away from the words of the text, and maybe closer to the meaning of the text. You can see an earlier example of this at my old weblog (though the point there is message through irony rather than message through revision).

First, I’ll show you James 2:1-13 in the ESV:

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The Da Vinci Code

I just finished reading The Da Vinci Code (hereafter TDVC–or maybe I’ll write it out for SEO purposes). It was more or less, given all the fuss, what I’d expected. I thought I’d share some thoughts and reflections. Be warned–I will probably reveal things about the plot that you may not want to know if you are keeping a vow of Da Vinci virginity or something.

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23

After the pretty meaningful birthdays of 18 and 21 (at which points my tobacco- and alcohol-related habits were legalized), I’m beginning to realize how much you start to forget about your own birthdays. For instance, mine just snuck up on me. I hadn’t really thought about it that much, apart from wondering if some people should get together or something; but that’s not what I’m talking about. More the sense of anticipation, that pre-Christmas excitement that used to attend the days and weeks before a birthday…that sense was completely and finally gone this year. It’s now September 26 and there is no elation, no feeling of the specialness of the day. It’s sad, I guess, but part of the whole thing is that I don’t really care that it’s sad. Last year may have been the same, except we had a hurricane on my birthday so that made things exciting anyhow.

So while September 26 is no longer a cause for unbridled joy and wondering if I may have some good presents waiting, it is of course a good excuse to do things like take a midnight shot of sub-30-degree vodka. Mmmm.

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