What if resting, all by itself, is the real act of holiness?

North American culture of 2019 is like a house on fire. Words like ‘holy’ and holiness’ are . . . well… relics of tradition. We’re free thinkers, not … not like that!

It was, I suppose, a coincidence that this post caught my eye while reading G.K. Chesterton’s view of democracy and tradition, yet the two readings strike me leading upstream to the same source.

“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead,” wrote 34 year-old Chesterton nearly a century ago in a book with an arcane title (Orthodoxy) that sends us free thinkers running from a house fire.

Although it seemed outdated at the time, I now remember with nostalgia the rest I knew as a child on Sundays when the noise and distractions were stilled. We opened the windows, breathed fresh air, gave thanks we were still breathing, and went down for a long afternoon nap.

Click THIS LINK to open Live and Learn’s post featuring Margaret Renkl, from “What if resting, all by itself, is the real act of holiness?” (NY Times, October 21, 2019).

Thanks for dropping by Views from the Edge to see more clearly,

Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Nov. 10, 2019.

America – In Search of Wisdom

Though we Americans disagree profoundly on many profound matters, we are often united by a deeper conviction regarding good and evil.

Today in America we’re taking sides. Left-Right. Democrat-Republican. Christian-non-christian. Religious-nonreligious. good-evil. All of the splits have something to do with perceptions of the dichotomy of good and evil, the good guys and the bad guys.

Wisdom is always the victim. Wisdom is crucified by the race to goodness. It sits in the middle of dichotomous thinking, a way of life that Danish Philosopher-theologian Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1838), who was anything but a joiner, called double-mindedness.

In the Bible wisdom is personified as female.  In the Book of Proverbs Wisdom is like a concerned mother calling to her children who prefer simpleness to insight:

“You that are simple, turn in here!” To those without sense she says,

“Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.

“Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight.” Provers 9:4-6

Wisdom is maternal. Wisdom calls her wayward children – the simple ones — to “turn in here” to her house. “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Wisdom’ children are mature.

Could it be that the beatitude of Jesus “blessed are the pure in heart” is a call to return to Wisdom’s house of insight where the unity of all things is unbroken, instead of a call to simpleness? Simplicity of heart, then, is not simplicity of mind but rather to will one thing only: the goodness of wisdom (unity), as described by D. Anthony Storm‘s comments on  Kierkegaard’s Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing Only:

God is presented as “simple”. I use this term in the same sense as Aquinas. God is singular of nature, and is not divided or contrary in any way. By this, I do not refer to unitarian versus trinitarian theology, but simply that Kierkegaard sees God as a unity of thought, will, and being. The nature of God is changeless (see The Changelessness of God). Man, on the other hand, is divided by nature. [Italics edited for purposes of emphasis]

Wisdom holds all things together, honoring the unity already present in the nature of reality itself. It seeks the simpleness or singleness with is God, not the simple-mindedness of the warring children of light and darkness, joining the right “side” in a battle of good versus evil. The heart of Wisdom recognizes and celebrates goodness, justice, and truth in whatever venue they appear.

“You that are simple – those without sense, you that are immature – turn in here!”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, August 16, 2015

 

American Sniper, Selma, and Jesus

Sometimes, as the saying goes, a preacher goes from preaching to “meddling”. The sermon disturbs the listeners. Chaplain Randy Beckum preached a sermon like that in the Chapel of MidAmerica Nazarene University, a conservative evangelical college in Kansas. Focusing on the way of Jesus and American culture’s addiction to violence, Beckum’s sermon included comparison of the exceeding popularity, according to box office receipts, of American Sniper compared with Selma, the story of the Rev.Dr. Martin Luther King and the non-violent way of Jesus.

Views from the Edge had never heard of Randy Beckum or MidAmerica Nazarene University until this sermon went viral after the university president relieved the preacher of his additional role as Vice President of the MNU Foundation. Some sermons are hard to give and, apparently, they’re even harder to hear. That’s when you know a preacher’s worth his/her salt.

 

 

Time

My son once asked me “What is time?”

I answered, “I don’t know. It’s a perennial question of philosophers and theologians. But, so far as I can tell, time is what we have.”

Some people think that time isn’t real. It’s a human construct and only eternity is real. They think of time and place as the prison of the soul, the antithesis of, or the prelude to, eternal life.

It always seemed a bit strange to me. Like the imaginary friends children make up because they’re afraid of being alone in the dark. I could never understand.

“Time is what we have.”

The animals know what time is. They also know eternity. They wake and sleep with the rhythms of the sun – rising and setting daily – the markers of what we call time. They know nothing about clock time or the names of days, months, seasons or years, but they live in the reality of time.

Time is what we have between birth and death. Eternity is the depth of time, the Mystery beneath, within, and beyond the limits of time. We participate in the eternal, but we are not eternal. To think otherwise is to consider ourselves the exception to nature itself.

The illusion of superiority to nature – the idea that the human species is nature’s singular exception – is a fabrication peculiar to the species that considers itself conscious. The imaginary friend of eternal life may help us sleep better at night, but it leads to slaughter and, eventually, to species suicide.

Ernest Becker (The Denial of Death) saw the denial of death as bedrock to American culture. The denial of death – the refusal to acknowledge it as real; the flight from the knowledge of our mortality – not only deprecates life here and now; it takes into its hands the life and death of those different from ourselves. It builds towers to itself that reach toward the heavens while it plunders an earth it considers too lowly for its aspirations.

Time is our friend and time is our limit. We are meant for this. “Grace and pride never lived in the same place,” says an old Scottish proverb, for pride always seeks to exceed what is given (grace).

Time is what we have. Time is a participation in the glory of God. If there’s more, it will only by grace.

The Worship of Death, MPR

“Sandy Hook was a symptom of the American tragedy: our worship of safety — arming ourselves to the nines — turns out to be the death of us.  The idolatry of safety is the worship of death itself.” – guest commentary, GCS, MPR (91.1 FM, Dec. 20, 2012)

Click HERE for the entire commentary on safety and the worship of death aired yesterday on “All Things Considered” (Minnesota Public Radio, MPR, 91.1 FM)  The page you will see includes an audio link to listen.

The MPR site also provides opportunity for readers and listeners to chime in with your point of view to generate further discussion of safety, guns, death, and American culture.

On the day the world comes to an end, thanks so much for choosing to drop by Views from the Edge for a definitive, final word from a completely reliable source of all wisdom and truth. Later this morning I meet with a group of students to discuss the Mayan Calendar hoax and the misreading of the New Testament Book of Revelation  …assuming, of course, that we’re all still here at 9:30 A.M. Central Standard Time :-).

In that same vein – or is it “vain”? – last Sunday’s sermon at Shepherd of the Hill on the tragedy of Sandy Hook in light of the biblical tradition will go up on Views from the Edge. and the church website.