Power

Power. There is something magnificent about the martyr, the one who would stand firmly, march forward ever pro-actively, never retreating, never passive, never passive aggressive, but always full of love. The ignoble ones are the ones who cry out for peace and love but retreat and never face down hate and evil. The ignoble ones are the ones who harbor secret urges to kill and maim their opponents, who use the occult and their own homebrewed incantations to try to bring harm to their aggressors in fearful retaliation. They will not inherit the kingdom.

There are those who cry for more equality, more voices in the room, and what they are really crying for is to be the ones in charge. They will not inherit the kingdom.

Power can be found in every living thing staking its claim on the earth, standing its ground. The abysmal sort of ever-diminishing power comes from both the bully and the one who fetishizes their victimhood. The universe was created with love, by love, for love, and then handed over to a neutral space so that some beings might be given the opportunity to choose love or death and fear. What good is love if it is forced upon you, if you are not given the opportunity to choose it, to seek it out, to truly love it? Love is magnified by those who conquer fear and hate and empty themselves out unto this world with their love. How can an infinite thing be made magnified? Such is the mystery of love. But, perhaps, evil, which also spins off into a negative kind of infinite lack, can also be made magnified in a negative way.

Love is not easy. Love can be boring. Love can be humiliating and unexpected. But Love pursued with all of one’s intensity is the Love worth having, the life worth living. Imagine you are a faucet full of infinite water pressure. You just have to turn the faucet on to full blast to let it all come out. If you don’t turn it on all the way, then the pressure diminishes and becomes full of gaps and cracks for the darkness to steal its way inside.

Your time in middle school is to the adult life as the adult life is to the infinite way of Being. You were class president in middle school, but that means nothing in adulthood. You were the fattest kid in class, but that means nothing in adulthood, unless you let it mean something. You were a bully, you were bullied…had big glasses, acne, braces, etc. — it only still means something to you as an adult if you carry it forward with you and never let go of it. So it goes with this “real world” of presidents and governments, kings and corporations. Trump is President in this world, this time and place, but it will mean absolutely nothing in eternity. You were persecuted, you persecuted others…it will only mean as much as you and others take with them into the next bardo. So, if you still hold grudges when you die, or others hold grudges against you when you die, this will impact what happens next to your soul. This is why we forgive our debtors as we ask our Lord to forgive us our debts. This is why we go reconcile with our brothers and sisters before bringing our sacrifices to the altar.

If this is just a computer program that we are all living in

If this is just a computer program that we are all living in…and the “real reality” is something much more than this, abiding in a higher dimension, then why wouldn’t it be beyond the realm of possibility that we mean next to nothing to our Creator? If such a Creator decided to just pull the plug one day and eradicate everything, how different would this be from some programmer who decided to abandon their work and leave the machine and program running–and one day it just ends or another programmer comes along to shut it off and make something else?

I have a few extra-sensory experiences of being a part of Love and something bigger than myself that was good. I don’t think I am able to get to faith in an all-loving God solely from scriptures. Even Jesus seems to be constantly threatening those of us who aren’t being very faithful at the moment he returns.

Rationally speaking, it seems most convenient to be an agnostic rather than an atheist. The evidence of misery in our world overwhelmingly points to a kind of God who isn’t interested in interfering in our affairs on a regular basis. There seem to be miracles only at the local level, and they are impossible to replicate. What is the intention of a God who would create a world that behaves a certain way, with certain rules we’ve come to accept as Truth from scientific inquiry, but this same God lives and moves and breathes (your ways are not my ways) in a realm of entirely different laws and “stuff.”

In other words, a computer programmer God. Which, in my estimation, can be vastly more superior to the Deist watchmaker God, but still could be better understood this way.

The reason for approaching God this way comes from watching people like Elon Musk and others talk about designing technology to break them out of the Matrix or keep them from aging. The problem with their thinking is, if you are utterly and completely stuck in a different system than the one in which your Creator lives and moves, you are ultimately at the mercy and whim of your Creator to continue to live, move and breathe in your own system, no matter how much you perfect technologies to upload your consciousness to longer-lasting materials, and redownload them every fifty years into cloned bodies of your original body. At the end of the day, if the Programmer turns off the machine, then that’s the end.

It seems to me that some of these guys, like other New Agey mystical types throughout history, including Crowley and so many would be gurus, actually believe that they can somehow meditate or perform magical rituals to ascend to a God consciousness in which they too become gods. This would be patently absurd–like artificial life teeming in a network like the Internet that becomes self aware and attempts to break out of the Internet into our reality and become human.

If I start from the premise of: I am in some kind of system that was created by a Higher Intelligence, and I am wholly incapable of ever being such an Intelligence, then my purpose should be found solely within the body and brains I was born with. In other words, attempting to augment myself, even through a technology like this one–writing–is getting me away from my ability to directly carry out my mission here on earth. What’s more, my mission may be utterly banal, like passing on my DNA.

On the other hand, if I am benefiting from technology that was wrought from the use of an intellect provided by a Creator, then it would seem to me that I should be capable of incorporating such technology in my overall quest to carry out my mission here on earth.

Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly carrying me where I wanted to go–where I want to go is to a place of utter simplicity–I live a life that is pared down in every way to just the very essential things I should be doing, and I learn to not get caught up in diversions and distractions.

Seminary has been good for me

Seminary has been good for me, though I am loath to consider myself as one of those individuals who come to seminary looking to be fixed. I don’t think of myself as being any more or less broken than anyone else. I may never be the perfect sort of pastor, but I don’t see why I can’t become successful in at least a small capacity of loving and helping others in a disinterested sort of way–by disinterested I mean something like being altruistic, not concerned with how I am paid back, if ever.

Maybe I won’t ever be a pastor or chaplain, but I certainly would like to find that church which really does need more helpers to sustain its life and community and presence in the world. I don’t need to be the star of the church recognized in every bulletin or seen at the front of the church every Sunday with my hands in everything, sitting on every committee and trying to help out in every single way imaginable. But likewise, I don’t want to raise my hand fervently as someone who wants to do more and be a part of more and then get called upon once a year to deliver a bucket of ice and few jugs of tea to a committee of the really important and recognized people of the church. It’s kind of the same thing with life and places I’ve worked at–if you ask to help too much people become suspicious of you and either avoide asking for your help or they decide you are a subhuman worthy of being used up in every imaginable way.

Seminary has taught me a lot about slowing down and meeting people in various modes of time and space that aren’t necessarily set to a calendar full of blocked-off meetings and walled-off moments where they are deigning to give you thirty minutes of their extraordinarily precious and valuable time. There are still people out there who will pause and have a human conversation with you without tapping their foot impatiently because they have somewhere more important to be.

I think that I will come out of here with my faith much stronger, because it has been so rigorously and thoroughly tested. What remains is a deep love for Christ and a desire to be in a more profound relationship with Christ and have a receptivity to how the Spirit moves. What is gone is my sense of a need to be a part of a given denomination, or carefully build up a social justice resume by being seen on Facebook doing highly visible things. What only lingers a little is a sense that I can somehow find something of deeper meaning by reading more and more books. I do think that books are ultimately just distractions if they become the go-to when you are seeking to have a more meaningful and thorough relationship with Christ in your everyday life. Books before prayer, books before communion with others and taking communion, books before worship, books before the Book, books about everything tangentially related to the time and place of the appearance of Jesus Christ, but never a moment of just putting all of the books aside and talking plainly and directly to Christ while reading some of His words from the Bible.

The honest and immediate nature of the act of being seized by the face of the other–Levinas–is a great gift from the seminary. This is much closer to how I think Christ intended us to respond to and interact with others as Christians. Being a better Christian is ultimately about becoming a better human being in all of the most virtuous and ethical ways imaginable, without getting caught up in human-generated laws, norms, codes and straitjacket ways of being that can drive you crazy no matter which side of the political aisle or what brand of Christianity you attempt to align with.