Religion Revisited

Two years after my last post and comments still get posted on some of my old entries.  Maybe I should start writing again in my free time…. Oh yeah, that’s why I stopped writing in the first place.

My post titled “Religion” recently recieved a comment saying that religion means “to be tied up again” which is very similar to what I wrote when relaying my professor’s definition of re-binding based on the latin words for “again” and “ligaments.”

What I did not try to answer was whether or not there is only one religion.  The comment suggested that only the Christian and Jewish God is the only legitimate God who we can be re-bound to.  All other “religions” were termed as “cults.”    That debate is not one I want to enter here.

The thing I did want to ponder is the broad need for re-tying ourselves to Diety (I say ourselves because I feel that need and I say Diety in order to help keep this neutral).  Why do some people feel a need to connect with something Other, something bigger and some people scoff at the idea of insubstantial powers?  Is it genes? Is it upbringing? Is it social values?

Whew, my brain is out of practice and I’m out of time.  If any comments roll in in the next week, I’ll try to post again and continue discussion and enforce some pondering time upon myself.

Bound

My heart is cold, my words are curt. My eyes

callously conceal the warmth trapped inside.

Do I care? Don’t I? The truth and the lies

are mixed with love, hate, compassion and pride.

A gentle touch is longed for, yet abhorred.

To give openly, freely is unknown

for this soul’s prince lies in a chamber doored

with fear, bound with pain, fettered, lies uncrowned.

What key can parody Pandora’s box,

prying open this heart to survey all

peril creep past eternally lost locks

to fetter my poet’s soul for a thrall?

Yet unless the gift is opened, no hope

can enter either. Who will risk such gifts:

hope, fear, beauty, malice, toil? Who will grope

in the dark to see fear’s weights, by love, lift?

Someday, someday the bonds will be broken.

My heart will be unshackled, I believe,

my soul freed to love, and my love spoken

will bind again in a more sublime weave.

The greatest joys are found in tragedies.

The most tranquil living waters spin near

strong currents; harbors lie in eddies.

Unsurpassed love must root in conquered fear.

Who shall plant that seed, fight along side

me to make sure it grows and my fears wane?

Together we can triumph: when allied,

bound in love as one, can conquer two’s pain.

a Quatrain from a Rough Poem

Obviously I haven’t been blogging much lately.  Life has been a little hectic.  I’ve been a bit depressed lately which means new poetry is stirring in my brain.  It is pretty rough right now, but here is a quatrain from it that I like:

The greatest joys are found in tragedies.

The most tranquil living waters spin near

Strong currents; harbors lie in eddies.

Unsurpassed love must root in conquered fear.

I’ll try to revise it and hone it to a bloggable state this week.

A Reflection from Psalm 4:4

Keep your friends close and enemies closer

They say.  My enemy sleeps next to me at night

And only speaks as a cruel composer

Of insightful insults born out of spite.

Ours is a hellish marriage. We are bound

In conflict, so bound up in mutual

Hate that our situation must confound

An observer into seeing one soul.

Yet we are two. I swear it, we are two!

I despise my demonic counterpart,

Always proclaiming lies as wholesome truth

To deceive and rend my innocent heart.

I see myself in stark relief: white, black;

The little strength I have, so much I lack.

Introspection…Ugh

Do you ever go through those times when you look in your soul and the only words to describe what you see and how you feel are expletives?  I’m in one of those phases.  In no way do I measure up to what I could and want to be.

            I have allowed anger to cause rebellion.  I have allowed human philosophy to dominate my spirituality.  Rebellion and philosophy have almost obliterated my sense of the sacred.

            Right now the only sacred thing, the only doctrine I adhere to is “Christ, and him crucified.”  Everything else I believed to be true and pure and good has either been tainted by human misuse and manipulation or has been attacked by philosophical rationality.  Somewhere during the past two years my basis for decisions has shifted from seeking and following God’s will to my own reason.  I consult myself, not my Father.

            The only thing I hold to be true—and that in the face of tenacious doubts—is Christ and him crucified.  The ethics of the church and the ethics of human thought are gone.  People give Pontius Pilate a hard time for asking “What is truth?”  I find a brother in that question.

            What we do when we have nothing left, only a thread of hope, defines who we are and who we will be.  Where and to whom will you turn when all else fails you?

            I begin a process of building anew.  My foundation is not my habits, the standards held by other Christians, the standards held by any philosopher.  My foundation is Christ, and him crucified.  What does that mean?  It means I will turn to Christ in my choices.  It means I must trust in no man, not even myself, to know what is right, except for Christ.  It means that I will try to live my life after the cross as Christ lived his before the cross.

            I do not look for a good man in me, or a wise man, a smart man, an evil man.  I want to see one thing in me when my eye turns inward and that is Christ, and him crucified.

In Praise of an Ice Cube’s Lie

Please don’t melt my heart.

I’m comfortable with ice.

Ice is safe.  It can’t hurt.

It’s numb to pain and lies.

Maybe I am too cold

but if I can’t feel your

touch, I won’t have to hold

my tears up off the floor.

A frozen heart knows no

tears, nor loss, nor pain, nor

worries. A heart of snow

won’t smash itself ashore

like a passionate wave

trying to override

the stony beach that paves

its rocky prison’s sides.

Frozen my heart is safe

from all caress or shove

but is dead from life

and feels nor offers love.         

My, isn’t that a pretty mask

Why is it that when I have a rough day, the last place I want to go is to church?  Why, so often, is church a place you do not feel safe acknowledging your own failure?

These questions have been on my mind for a long, long time and have been quite present lately.  Specifically I have been wondering why church is a place you do not feel it is okay to confess your sins, fears, failures, and needs.  Isn’t that exactly why God instituted the church, so that we might love and encourage each other?  What hit me is that very few pastors and teachers confess their sins, fears, failures, and needs.

Teachers and pastors are supposed to be examples of Christ.  They teach and admonish and try to represent integrity.  Don’t get me wrong, teachers should have integrity and be Christ like, but when they expunge their humanity and need from grace from their teaching the need for grace is lost in the eyes of those they teach.  A mask of godliness covers up our deep need for help and forgiveness.  Underneath that mask of righteousness great struggles, destructive habits and addictions all go unnoticed and untreated.

People can spot a fake.  People see through masks.

Even more importantly, when we hide our sin, we are creating a false image of the gospel.  None of the apostles ever said, “Be my disciple, I am the perfect one.”  One apostle repeatedly said that he was the worst of sinners. 

A ministry of teaching integrity and obedient righteousness is incomplete without being a ministry of confession and repentance.  If the church is to be a place where sinners can turn and repent, if it is to be a place the mourning can find comfort, those who lead must not hide their mourning and repentance. 

If the church is to change and reflect a more complete vision of the gospel, it is only you and I who can change it.

Slow poster

Yeah, so I know I haven’t posted in a while.  School started, my second job started, I got lazy, and so on and so forth.

I’m strongly considering another six or so years of schooling to get a masters and a ph.d.  A professorship sounds like an awesome job to me, but I’m not quite ready to take on so much schooling.

 The problem is, if I don’t have some sort of gameplan in place when graduation rolls around, I’ll end up just sitting around.  We’ll see what happens.

 This update is lame, I know.  I’ll try to post something more in my usual style in the next week or so.

Poem of the Week: Sonnet

Yet another sonnet phrased about love

But at a loss to find the words to write.

Is it this? Is it that? Ah, who can prove

That love is such and such: this wrong, that right? 

It is all looks and smiles, as Leo once wrote.

Tender, soft looks and smiles are the words by

Which love whispers and with which now has smote

My heart and hastens me to smile, to cry, 

To look, to speak with more than looks to her.

What words can express our joy and passion?

Who can compose a sentence that whispers more

sublime truths than smiles seem to fashion? 

I cannot find the words with which to say

“I love you.”  Know I say it anyway.

Soul?

Somehow, those deep, almost unanswerable questions always pop into my mind at times that are completely unfeasible to answer them.  As I was driving to a barbeque I suddenly began to wonder, “What is the soul?”

Bad timing.  That isn’t exactly a topic of conversation for bocce ball.

The greatest commandment commands that we love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength.  Most people have a good idea what is meant by heart and mind, but soul?

Webster’s is the furthest I have been able to research the question so far.  The soul is what inimates us, moves us.  Aristotle wrote about the soul in the Nicomachean Ethics which will probably be my next read.

I feel kind of sheepish that I have never inquired into the nature of the soul before when it is obviously so integral to philosophy and faith.  Most people seem to only have a vague idea what the soul is.  As I begin this persuit, I am sure I will post on this subject again.

If you have any pointers on where to look for instruction or any knowledge about the nature of the soul, please comment.

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