Realizations

Philosophy in the Middle of the Desert

On the Tips of our Tongues April 24, 2014

Father, order my thoughts and make them words.

There is something on the tips of all our tongues.  It’s the look on the face of a dying man, just released from the hospital, sitting with his eyes closed listening to his friends read a book with him, resting in the gift of that moment.  There’s something there. Something so powerful that I’m speechless, and I don’t dare to interrupt the embrace of that bliss. We all felt it but we couldn’t grasp it; we didn’t know what to do except savor it before it was gone. There are no words for that feeling. We just don’t get it. It’s on the tip of our tongues but we can’t say it.   On the tip of our hearts and souls but we cannot comprehend it.

It’s when a random song starts playing and it unexpectedly brings you to your knees, brings tears to your eyes, and all you can think to do is stretch out your hands to praise God, the only one you can think to attribute such euphoria to.  We don’t understand why or how, but it’s there. There’s something there which we just can’t get at.

But very soon all will be complete and we will see it as it truly is. We will become real and experience reality. We will sense with maximum perception.  For we will no longer glimpse the divine with fleeting experiences, but we will live the divine.

When you smell a fragrance you haven’t smelled since childhood and the nostalgia overwhelms all your senses and melts you inside, bringing you close to unconsciousness, it is a taste of what is to come.  Though right now we can only taste it on the tips of our tongues.  There’s something happening in our midst that is deeper than anything we can ever know right now.  Something is about to burst at the seams.  And when it does we will look back and laugh at our finitude.  But until then all we have are snapshots into the Director’s commentary, glimpses of the divine.

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Cave of Lusts/Entrance to Paradise December 9, 2012

[written on 112812, with additions on 12812, Jeremiah 9:23-24, Revelation 7: 14b-17]

There is a cave that leads to Paradise.  7 men went in, hoping to come out on the other side.

One man, a coward, left the cave soon after entering, too paralyzed by his worries of the unknown to continue.

In the cave, the 6 found an abundance of the rarest mushroom delicacies in the world, and one man couldn’t help but start eating them.  Upon gorging himself, he grew an unnatural smile and sank to the floor, as the mushrooms had intoxicated him.  As the 5 moved through the cave they came to a wall with a small opening at the bottom.  If they were to continue they would be forced to crawl under it to get to the other side.  Unfortunately, the fat man was too dazed at that point to continue with them.  The group tried pulling him under the wall with them, but he just couldn’t fit and had to be left behind, though they doubted how much further he would have made it even if he could have fit.  But he told them he’d meet up with them in Paradise (though he acted like he was in paradise right now) after he slimmed down in size (as he popped another mushroom in).

Once the 5 all made it under the wall, they found themselves in a tunnel, with what sounded like flirtatious giggling echoing in the distance.  They followed the tunnel towards the noises and turned around a corner to find a band of extremely attractive, nude women.  The 5 moved awkwardly through their midst, trying to ignore eye contact.  But one man couldn’t help at least looking.  He caught eyes with one of them, and soon after was in conversation with her.  The tunnel opened up into a large cavern, but the lecher stayed behind, already being caressed by the women, saying that he would follow them shortly.

The 4 saw the flickering of light bouncing off the cave ceilings up ahead and entered into an elaborate treasure room.  After being amazed by the vast treasure, the group continued, coming to a small ledge that they had to climb over.  But one man shouted “Paradise indeed!” and, finding a treasure chest, filled it with as much gold as he could and planned to follow them out the other side.  However, the rich man could barely drag his heavy chest, and certainly couldn’t lift it over the wall.  They figured he’d figure out the futility of his plight and soon follow them.  He never did.

It looked like whoever had owned the treasure room also had an armor room.  The 3 stepped into a room lined with great, metal armor and powerful weapons.  They thought this would prepare them for whatever lay ahead in the other rooms, so they suited up and grabbed one big weapon each.  However, the only exit they could find was a small, dimly-lit hole towards the top of the far wall.  As they tried climbing the wall, they soon realized how difficult it was to climb with all of their heavy accessories.  2 men, giving up on trying to juggle the weapons in their hand while climbing, threw them to the ground and were able to climb much easier after that.  However, once they reached the hole, they couldn’t fit through with their armor and were forced to jettison it.  Meanwhile the strong man below was still struggling to even climb on the wall, not willing to give up his means of power.

The 2 fell with a crash down into another room, much lower than the previous one had been, and were bruised.  After a few minutes of recovering, they noticed a hole in the ground.  While light made their current room at least dimly visible, this hole below was pitch black.  As the one man sat on the edge preparing to climb down, the other man blasted him.  “What! Are you crazy?  You saw how far that last drop was, and that was through a dimly-lit hole.  This hole has no light at all!”  “Well, it’s our only shot of reaching Paradise.”  “Well, who really said this cave leads to Paradise in the first place?  I’m starting to think it was all made up.”  “Believe what you want; I’m going for it.”  “You fool!” said the smart man.  “It’s common science that if there’s no light then there’s no other exit down there! You’ll fall to your death or get stuck with no one to save you!  This was fun and all, but it’s time to go back.  Was the life we had so bad anyways?  Not even paradise is worth this.”
“Say what you will.  I’d rather die trying to get to Paradise than be stuck in the Hell we were in before.”

With that, the last man slipped into the black, bracing himself for whatever lay below.  In the darkness he hit a rock which rolled him into another rock which rolled him into another rock and there he lay, in the darkness, in the silence.  After coming to, and somewhat in pain from the fall, he balanced himself to his feet.  There was darkness all around him as he felt around the cavern room for anything.  He thought that maybe the 2nd man had been right.  Then his eye caught a tiny beam of light coming out of a small hole in the wall, only the size of a needle’s eye.  The light danced around with wild colors, and as he pressed his eye up to the hole he could see glimpses of Paradise on the other side — green pastures and still waters — accompanied by cheerful voices and laughter.  Prying himself away from the hole and its bliss, he began frantically feeling the wall for a door or some kind of exit, as if his separation from Paradise had set him on fire.  He felt nothing.  The room around the hole was completely bare, with no ledge or anything to climb on.  With fury did he pound his fists at the hole, trying to break it open to the other side.  Futile.  Finally, he dropped back into the darkness to his knees, helpless.  There in the dark silence he could hear weeping and gnashing of teeth from his former companions in the previous chambers above, held in bondage by their lusts.

Yet here was this righteous man, who forsook all those temptations in pursuit of God and still couldn’t make it.  He was no better off than they.  In his depravity, the self-righteous man cried out, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

Suddenly there was a crash, and the needle-sized hole broke open, filling the room with phantasmagoric light.  Another crash against the wall and the hole opened more.  Then, with a 3rd crash, a sheep from the pasture burst through the rock, bruised and bloody from the struggle, and collapsed, dead at his feet.

It would be the easiest door he’d gone through of the hole experience.  But it was even easier than that.  He didn’t even get the chance to step forward before he was escorted out by a shepherd from the other side.  He had seen the sheep rush over, hearing the man’s crying from within the cave.  But the shepherd was content to have this new man take its place in his flock, saying to him, “I will guide you to springs of the water of life: and God will wipe every tear from your eyes.”

Which part of the cave are you stuck in?

//

 

Religion: √ Other February 18, 2012

[As written on 012912]

“What religion are you?”

This turns out to be a loaded question.
How would the first Christians have responded?  That was before the term “Christian” existed.
How would Jesus (does Jesus) want you to respond?
“Christianity.”
Oh, so Christianity’s a religion?
In most cases, Christianity is a person’s religion…that is, for a person who isn’t really a Christian.  Christianity is the religion of someone who doesn’t understand what Christianity really is.  Of someone who makes Christianity into a religion.

Or you could say, more appropriately,
“I have no religion.” “I don’t follow a religion.”  “I don’t believe in religion.”
As someone at work asked me,
“Are you religious?”
To which I confidently regurgitated the theologically-sophisticated answer I had been taught to believe:
“No.”
Wow.  I thought he was a Christian.  I didn’t realize he’s an agnostic. 
As I realized what he was probably thinking, all I could do is just stand there, stumped, unable to jump back on my train of thought and explain myself.  I just passed up the perfect Gospel opportunity.

In an ideal situation, their question would be:
“What is your religion?”
In which case, the simple, yet theologically profound, answer is:
“Jesus.”

Most people aren’t theologically aware enough to even realize what Christianity actually is, so most people would think,
Okay, Jesus = Christianity, so Christianity is his religion.
…and be on to the next thing.

But hopefully there would be someone who would at that point question you further.
“You mean Christianity is your religion.  A Muslim’s religion is Islam, not Muhammad.”
And then in that glorious, life-changing opportunity you fulfill the meaning of life, you obey the Great Commission, you plant the seed, you preach the Gospel to them in one sentence:

“Jesus didn’t start a religion; He personally took the place of religion.”
And if they question you further, you answer further.

It’s unclear exactly what the minimum is that a person must believe in order to be saved.  The best example of salvation in the Bible is the thief on the cross in Luke 23, who, to my knowledge, is the only instance in the Bible of someone who is clearly, definitely saved.  Of course the apostles were and all that, but I mean, the thief is the only person God Himself ever told “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”  You are saved.

Specific details aside, the Gospel as simplified as possible is this:
Christianity = Salvation by God’s grace through Jesus.

[42112- Perhaps the next time we fill out one of those forms that requires us to specify our religion we should check the box “Other”, and if it provides a blank to clarify we should write in “Jesus”.  That would throw off the nation’s statistics, perhaps for the better, perhaps for the worse (as it would seem to indicate Christianity dying off, when in reality it’s being resurrected in a new form, stronger and more alive than before).]

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