Saturday, 20 February 2010

ears to hear, eyes to see.

"The God who made the world and everything in it...He Himself gave to mankind life and breath and all we see". Acts 17:24.

Why is it that 'religion' can be little more than candy floss, which is employed for all the wrong reasons, to cover the cracks?

I was reading a book today, supposedly giving a 'christian' insight into beauty. The introduction jogged along about our living 'between' awakening and sleep (birth and death), and how we found our ground of meaning, our shelter, here, by observing beauty, which granted some insight to the divine - the beauty of God. The author referred to the ancients, especially the Greeks, as an example of that, but there's the problem.

The Greeks certainly had a notion of the order of things, and sought to emulate that in their religion and art, but it was a beauty which alienated, not genuinely esteemed the value of the world. Women were viewed as an ultimate embodiment of evil - the physical incarnation of all that was vile- the physical world itself, and artists were only tolerated because of their skills to express the true goal - to step beyond the immediate to the spiritual perfection beyond.
It amazes me just how much Christian spirituality still hankers after this dualistic nightmare, but Paul before the Greeks speaks of a very different beauty - a God who works with the earth, and redeems only by the salvation of all He has made, for this is His work.

Genuine truth and beauty can never be divorced from the 'common' life we have been given - the bestowal of charisma, notes Paul, to all men because of God's grace. It is amidst the bare breath, the whole of life that we are to see something of His work, not merely in some ecstatic moment of gnostic transport.

Beauty of any import is found here, amidst the trial and the joy.
Philosophy or religion may wish us to divorce God from such a vision, but life teaches us differently.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Beyond these small conceits...

"Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are religious".
Paul at Mars Hill -Acts 17:22.

It's always popular to adhere to what is commonly termed as "spirituality" - the notion that we genuinely enrich ourselves and others by ascribing to the 'good' aspects of our humanity... employing our virtue or morality, perhaps ascribing to some (not to determined) perception of the divine - deism or gnosticism perhaps, but in truth ascribing to something which never totally or radically impinges upon the here and now, in the 'lifestyle choices', the compass of our own suppositions on the nature of things.

In the week before His death, Jesus challenged those who held a similar status quo in Jerusalem,
telling the people that these 'spiritual' folk were truly to be avoided for there was no genuine substance to their words or deeds - they went through the motions, but there was nothing but a void, a total lack of genuine spiritual insight and maturity at the heart of who they were and what they did.

In the same fashion, Paul comes before the 'learning' of his age, and finds it wanting. Why?
Because it does not address aright the basic questions of who and what we are - of how we were made and why we now have a propensity to a 'spirituality' that is crooked. It also fails to understand that the world in which we live is not a 'closed' system, but one often touched and thereby altered by the work of God.

The same man, notes Paul to the Athenians, that God raised from death, calls us to change, for there will be a day when our race will be judged by Him. Jesus Christ calls us to move beyond the shallowness of what is deemed 'right' - spiritual, by us, to a life replete with the significance God has given.

The day is approaching when God breathes new life into all He has made and redeemed. Does our 'vision', our first steps into spirituality begin to furnish us for the 'largeness', the totality of that reality, or actually diminish and negate the true 'glory' of His handiwork?