Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ancient Doorways in the Brickhouse: Fields of Green in your Dreams

There's a little diddy by a band called "Populous with Short Stories" by the name of "The Holy See."  I was thinking about it tonight, listening to the lyrics as I drove home from a meeting.  Beautiful lyrics.  Truly wonderful.  The music I've listened to my whole life has hinted toward spiritual concepts.  The lyrics go: "
By the cross where you hang
Has buried my effigy
I don't think you'd hang for me
In a pond of your blood
Grand as the holy see
Drowns the antiquity
I'm looking for
With every single line you cast
I can't be bothered
I won't be bothered
With all the broken trust that's past
I won't be bothered anymore."

Fascinating.  Very fascinating.  We've lost more than we can imagine, if we can't see it.  No and no again.  I could never be bothered with the message of the cross.  The literal event of the cross, in such stark reality, devastating the antique aphorism I'd always held in my mind.  Such brokenness, I can hardly conceive of it.  It can hardly move me.  That's when one is truly lost.  Unable to perceive!  When one is unmoved by the powerful moments of life, by great sorrows and great joys, then one has truly been lost, and is experiencing soul death.  How many dead souls I see walking the streets.

Another song I was thinking of, again with probing spiritual undertones...  Fascinating.  It's like God was hinting toward me, or I was hinting toward God.  This was all pre-joining the team.  Way back you know, back in the years of confusion.  A song called "Hallelujah" by a band called "The Helio Sequence."  

The second verse of the song, and the final chorus went like this:
Still we could not conceive the call
The midnight fell, we felt the measure fall
And we were feeling down
Some eyes were looking down at us
And waiting pensive, sad, and look
Up to the stars and counting all the suns and all the moons
How sad it was that we could not believe

And everyone who believes
And everyone who believes
And they said,
We all said Hallelujah
We all said Hallelujah
And everyone move around with ease
And everyone fell right to their knees and then,
We all said Hallelujah
We all want answers anyway
We all want answers anyway

It exemplifies a very powerful era of my life.  Very, very powerful.  Reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell's college experiences.  Just roaming, no particular direction, losing a job because his sleep schedule was crashing around 5:30 AM and waking up sometime in the PM.  I used to leave the house around 4:00 AM and walk the streets until sunrise, watch the sunrise, then go to bed.  
As Brandon writes in "Hallelujah" he could not quite conceive the call.  That was my experience as well.  I couldn't quite conceive of it.  I couldn't quite connect the dots.  Waiting, pensive, and always watching the stars wondering.  That was one way that I never, ever fell into the camp of outright atheism.  Like C.S. Lewis wrote in the Screwtape Letters, wonder is a powerful doorway to the supernatural.  I could not spend so many nights walking, pondering and staring up at the stars and fail to recognize pervasive powers at work beyond the material.  
I couldn't make the leap either though.  As Dr. Ravi Zacharias says, the truth is often surrounded by a bodyguard of lies.  When considering Christianity I immediately pictured the pews.  I pictured the people at Catholic mass shouting "hallelujah!"  I'm sure at least some of them meant it.  But I didn't.  
I reflect on my Catholic upbringing sometimes.  Though I wouldn't call it that really.  As I've often said, I was raised in the practical religion of much of Wisconsin, the Green Bay Packers and the Wisconsin Badgers (football).  That was the religion.  Catholic mass and CCD was something more arbitrary.  
But I do recall, very vaguely, one year at CCD, just one, we had this incredible teacher for the Wednesday classes.  She captured my imagination.  She talked about God as if he was really real.  I don't remember a lot of the details.  I was only in about 3rd or 4th grade.  What I do recall is a conversation with my mother.  It was the end of the Catholic programming for that year as far as CCD went.  And my mom had seen me going and actually starting to look forward to going.  But that year was ending.  I said Mom I'm afraid.  I'm afraid because next year we won't have this teacher anymore.  And the other ladies don't explain it like she does.  My mom told me "well honey maybe you'll have another lady next year who really cares too."  But the next year came, and sure enough, it was another lady who didn't seem to really believe it.  
Your heart aches at times.  Aches for moments when possibly maybe all the destruction could've been prevented.  But there isn't such a way, is there?  The past can't be changed.  It's there, and I must make peace with it.  Yet again, yet again, how can I prevent this from happening to future generations?  How can I prevent dead men and women from teaching dead doctrines to my children?  How can I prevent suffering?  That is the vital thought.  
You can create the perfect curriculum, the perfect catechism, the perfect book, or even the perfect form of government. But at the end of the day it all comes down to the person at the desk, and how much they care, and how much they pour into what they're doing.
I'm a sentimental man.  I think about stuff like that.  I love art and creativity.  I love writing, reading, philosophy, music, and discussing issues.  I like integrity, morality, and justice.  Dad has slowly encouraged me to love people as well, and to love mercy.  And even to walk humbly.  Big Dad.  Dad in the sky.  God the Dad.  God the Father.     

The journey is important!  It's super important.  It's of vital importance.  I think of something Carl Jung said, "The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are."  Let me tell, that one is the straight up truth.  How many can say that in this life they've come even close to becoming who they truly are?  So much pain gets in the way.  There are so many things that happen, so many addictions and problems that drive us off course until the true self seems buried forever in compulsion and fear.  

Then of course there is the sin nature upon the heart of every human.  So to project even further from Carl Jung's original statement; How privileged a Christian is, to one day become who they truly are, freed from sin, freed from death, flesh restored, and restored to community with God, Son and Spirit.  That is a rare privilege indeed.

I listened to a great deal of music in my time on the way here.  It was the soundtrack of my life.  In replaying work by Death Cab for Cutie, and Dismemberment Plan, there was a great deal of atheism smuggled in.  There was a great deal of skepticism in those tunes.  

Elliott Smith, Blur, Nick Drake, the Postal Service, Coldplay (I know, shut up), Sonic Youth, Boards of Canada, Radiohead, French Kicks, Filter, Foo Fighters, Thursday, Bon Iver, Deftones, The Walkmen, Spoon, Grizzly Bear, Mew, Clint Mansell, Bear McCreary, Pavement, The Album Leaf, Explosions in the Sky, Stereolab, Fourtet, Travis Morrison, Arcade Fire, Passion Pit, and on and on and on.  All these bands, diverse styles and sounds, all with one common thread: they awoke curious realities within my mind.  They triggered the creaking open of ancient doors, denied and rejected in the naturalism driven modern society that disallows anything that might lead away from consumerism.  I was inexorably drawn by wonder, complexity, and something that might just be.. beyond all of this.  Who could know it?  

I also was unwilling to believe that the truth was simply determined by my personal preference.  What kind of nonsense would that be?  I'd been told that, but it seemed like an extension of the dollar menu society I came from.  No, there had to be concrete truths independent of my own feeble preference.  

It may have started with romantic love, or sex, or lust, the demigod of fashion culture, the miraculous, all powerful, invisible, and all fulfilling sexual relationship.  Some will never go beyond that as their ultimate.  How sad for them!

It's a secret door, very hard for anyone to block out.  It's the secret door of the imagination, the secret door of wonder, of awe, of mystery, and curiosity.  One can battle for and build of brick house of naturalism, like the public school naturalism indoctrination centers.  They can cover the screens with sex, alcohol, depravity, and buy, buy buy.. but they couldn't stop me from reading A Wrinkle in Time.  They couldn't stop me from watching Donnie Darko, or The Fountain.  They couldn't stop me from searching out and finding bands like Radiohead and Mew.  Despite the megaphone, I found myself nestled in a corner reading 1984 by George Orwell.  

The God I understand, he loves to put little cracks in the system, for people like you and I to sneak through, and watch the stars, while the rest ramble on, sex obsessed, unwittingly addicted, and set upon oral pleasure induction at any cost, unending, penultimate.  That is the permanent office of so many, such unrelenting devotion.  Ironically, isn't that promising?  That kind of dedication takes special determination.  And how they love to be determined, don't they?

Sometimes I wonder at the culmination of popular philosophies and worldviews and it seems to be the ultimate unity in diversity of interrelated interdisciplinary architecture all designed and implemented to reject, resist, and run from God and place man upon the throne.  Think about it... post-modernism, whatever I personally relatively believe is true.  New age, I am the deity, and I must realize it.  Evolutionary biology, all is material, there is no need for a god of any kind, the system is closed tight!  Materialism, everything is meaningless, so do whatever you want.  Determinism, everything I do is predetermined, so I am responsible for none of my actions.  And atheism, there is no god so I am accountable for nothing.   And to top it off, what is the one thing that has held back mankind?  Religion.  It all fits so neatly together as the unifying worldview of the amoral selfish child.  It cries of a person desperately seeking to give his poor behavior an all access pass from any measure of shame.  It points to an individual who has deified sexuality, and himself. The arrogance is monumental.

Even in the power of that system, God snuck in.  He showed himself to me in art, music, writing, cinema, and in so many other ways as well.  But I was not able to piece it all together.  It was clear by the end that I could not come to it on my own terms.  I couldn't quite break through the ice.  I carried a Bible around with me everywhere I went.  I read from it constantly.  But I couldn't break through the ice.  It's like I was forever circling the outside.  But I couldn't connect it to my life, and realize that the message wasn't just to be read, but to be invibed and lived.  

Reminds me of the lyrics of a song called "Beach" by Mew:

It is green outside
Where it seems magical
And if nothing works
We'll do nothing
I hope we're on time

And we shouldn't look at the sky
The perilous light
We were not allowed outside
And no one could tell us why

I got worried
With shaky hands
So we said the words that we kept
For worrying times

I was on my way, I swear
But I lost my way somewhere
And the trees were glistening

From the silver trickling water
When the rain returns

We had our suspicions
Thinking what my heart confirmed

It is sweet outside
Where it seems magical
And if nothing works
We'll do nothing

Save yourself tonight
Asleep in the dark
I hope we're on time 

Some of us can feel it, inside.  Like the line from the Matrix movie, "You've known it all your life, that something is wrong with the world.  You don't know what it is, but you can feel, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad."  The fallacy was almost perfect.  But Father God, found me there, broken and beaten, trying to find my way out of the interminable labyrinth of confusion in the world, in myself, and in my own guiding light, jaded, and sending me in the wrong direction.  God met me there, entered into my delusions, just where I was, in my writings, in my dreams, in my stories, and revealed himself in a way that I knew it could be no other.  And I also knew that he had revealed himself to me, not because of me, but because of him.  But as long as I sought, he seemed then willing to break into my fantasy and reveal his own reality.  That was the gift of immeasurable value.  I knew then I had not found it, that final truth, but that final truth had found me, and that truth was a person, named Jesus Christ.  He was willing, I was willing, so he saved me from the construct around me, setting me finally, with a cup to my lips, like water in a desert, here is the truth my son, I am the truth, the way, the life, come and follow me.  And so I did.  I had nowhere else to go, and he was willing to start there with me.  That is the immeasurable gift.  That is the wonder, the awe, the magic, the hidden conclusion of reality, that I could always sense and notice along the edges, the glitter at the edge of the storm clouds, but could never grasp into my hand, finally revealed, like through a glass darkly, but later to be revealed in totality, and what a glorious day that will be.  On that day I will know him, the truth incarnate, as well as he knows me.  He leaves the signs and hints along the way, but gives me the option to seek after those things or to go my merry way with the rest of the world.  Seek out the wonder, and seek out the mysterious.  Draw upon the creativity within, and explore the majesty without.  Perhaps you'll find yourself at wits end one day in a field of green in your dreams staring into the eyes of a man who says he is the truth.  

Until then, friend.   

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 

Colossians 1:15-17 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.  

Related Posts:
The Awe of Dreams and the Surreal
Daybreak: Examining the Problem of Pain
Rescue in the Labyrinth, Darkest Hour
Journey of the Christian through the Forest called Earth
Meaninglessness & the Embodiment of Meaning
The Human Hunger for Two Fundamentals: Love and Truth
Objective Truth on a Spiritual Battlefield
Good News in Untenable Circumstances
The Pursuit of God
The Entrenched vs. the Minimized: Five Paradigms of Western Society