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CS Lewis – the Problem of Pain
May 31, 2016, 10:48
Filed under: Christian, prayer, Thoughts

On Heaven. – C.S Lewis, “The Problem of Pain”

There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else. You may have found that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread. You know very well what is the common quality that makes you love them, though you cannot put it into words: but most of your friends do not see it at all, and often wonder why, liking this, you should also like that. Again, you have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all you life; and then turned to the friend at your side who appears to be seeing what you saw – but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realize that this landscape means something totally different to him, that he is pursuing an alien vision and cares nothing for the ineffable suggestion by which you are transported…

Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when you meet another human being who has some inkling (but faint and uncertain even in the best) of that something which you were born desiring, which, beneath the flux of desires and in all the momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for watching for, listening for? You have never had it. All the things that have every deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it – tantalising glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear. But if it should really become manifest – if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself – you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say “Here at last is the thing I was made for.”

Lord, how I long for that day when the the unspoken can be understood without the confusion of words. For when the “yawning gulf” between myself and another will no longer have to be traversed by my faulty, failing words. You are the perfect Word and I cannot wait to be in Your presence.

Blessed and fortunate creature, your eyes shall behold Him and not another’s. All that you are, sins apart, is destined, if you will let God have His good way, to utter satisfaction… God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love. Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it – made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand.

It is from this point of view that we can understand hell in its aspect of privation. All your life an unattainable ecstasy has hovered just beyond the grasp of your consciousness. The day is coming when you will wake to find, beyond all hope, that you have attained it, or else, that it was within your reach and you have lost it forever.

Lord, let me behold You and not another. I submit and ask that you would have Your way, no matter the cost or no matter the painful journey that You will lead me on. Because You know what I was made for and You are lovingly shaping and disciplining me that I might “fit” into Heaven, where I can have a relationship with You.


Quote from Bon Iver – “The Fight”
September 21, 2011, 11:38
Filed under: music, Thoughts

Bon Iver recently – bought the album on iTunes with the giftcard I won at an innovation session. Makes you rather weepy, doesn’t it, at work?

Because of the extensive use of vocal harmony on the songs of For Emma, Forever Ago, Vernon was concerned that there would not be enough voices to duplicate the sound of the songs on the album in a live setting. To compensate for this problem in early performances, Vernon passed out lyrics for some songs to the audience to sing along to. In an interview with Pitchfork, Vernon described this dilemma. “I don’t want to be the guy with an acoustic guitar singing songs, because that’s boring for the most part. The song actually needs 80–500 people singing or whatever the vibe is of that room, it needs that fight.”

Fleetwood Mac – Landslide
May 11, 2011, 01:05
Filed under: Thoughts

I took my love, I took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills
‘Til the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older, too

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I’m getting older, too
Oh, I’m getting older, too

Oh, take my love, take it down
Oh, climb a mountain and turn around
And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Well, the landslide will bring it down

And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills…
Well, the landslide will bring it down
Oh, the landslide’ll bring it down

the story
May 11, 2011, 01:02
Filed under: Thoughts

Pick up the story, dust gingerly its cover
Strange, yet unseen, but somehow familiar
Knowing unknowing, pictures and patterns
Of life and history, bound ‘twixt people and hours.

These pages that thumbed with absent eye
Nostalgia infilled – what knowledge inscribed?
What love remained? What knight did save?
What lady from whither tower token waved?

Such concoctions they made, such a gander had they
That even the old lady laugh’d the worries away,
You barely could breathe, for the breaths laughter took
And without warning were shocked by the story’s sharp turn.

Bright delight dwelling in each passing word
Winding in forests, all creatures and birds
Did speak tender words to the child to tell
Such whereabouts of secrets and finespun tales.

Do write in such stories, for such stories do hail
From afar, the bright hope of a world that is well
From within, calls young hearts of young years from the aged
And rise uplift once more prayers that still remain.

the visit
May 11, 2011, 00:59
Filed under: Thoughts

It was yellow and pale all around, from the walls to the complexion of the receiving nurse staff. I saw the world through wide eyes held plastically open, and I felt strangely numb, walking up to him for inspection before I could be received. I systematically handed him the flowers (no ceramic flowerpot), her computer and laptop charger (must be held by the nurse in the supervised room at all times), and he handed me her headphones with a shake of his head. “Put these in your purse, and put your bag in that locker,” he said, gesturing, “and don’t bring them inside.” I was beginning to see a trend.

He then inspected the clothes I’d brought in. He pulled the shoelaces out of the shoes. He tugged at the string of the sweater’s hood until it came out all the way. Then he held up the plastic bag I’d brought the clothes in.  “The last successful suicide attempt in this psychiatric ward was with a plastic bag -” His voice rang a knell in my empty chamber – “You’d better make sure that this bag comes out of the ward when you leave.”

Watching each item being stripped away I felt like layers of dignity and agency were being stripped away with them. I wanted to snatch these unoffensive offensive items from his hands and to hand them to her freely, to prove that she was capable of handling the shoelaces and the plastic bags of this world. I wanted to put the ceramic pot in her hands and urge her to plant something in it and let it grow and flourish. I wanted desperately for her to take the shoelaces and tie up her shoes and walk confidently out into the sun.

But I had nothing in my hands I walked down the hall to greet her where she was sitting, curled up in a chair, staring out the window. “Hi,” I breathed gently, careful to remove any sharpness from my voice. I tangled and interlaced my fingers behind my back as I looked at her. “How are you?”

When I Have Fears…
October 23, 2010, 17:50
Filed under: Thoughts

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my tongue has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charact’ry,
Hold like full garners the full-ripened grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And feel that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love! – then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think,
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.
– John Keats, 1817

In the Days of His Flesh
October 10, 2010, 23:14
Filed under: Christian, Thoughts

[7] In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. [8] Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. [9] And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, [10] being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5:7-10 ESV)

This verse is one that has continually encouraged me since I’ve graduated from college and had to face many truths about myself. I wanted to do a quick in-depth bible study on it to solidify some of my thoughts.

+ “In the days of his flesh…” Jesus was, without a doubt, a man at one point. What does this mean? This means that he was subject to all of the same limitations, frustrations, desires, and weaknesses that we inherently experience as humans. What does it mean to be in the days of flesh? It means physical weakness. It means temptation to satisfy our loneliness by clinging onto people or daydreaming about being fulfilled through lust or romance. It means finding satisfaction in status or material things, impressing people.

Our flesh longs to be satiated. We long for transcendency, sufficiency, and attention… yet we attempt to satisfy it through the immediacy and tangibility of the flesh when we were made in the image of God, to only be fulfilled by God who is our living water of eternal life . Therefore our flesh is what we must fight, since we know the good that we ought to do, but cannot. Our flesh is the source of our sin, we fight against it a losing battle so long as we depend on ourselves.

+ ” Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears,” The word “supplication” derives from the Latin supplicātus- he who begs on his knees, submissive, suppliant (from the verb supplicāre). It is a physical act as well as a spiritual one – thus the act of supplicating in prayer is one of submitting both the body and the spirit in prayer to God. The prayer formed in the mind and heart is accompanied by a parallel action in the mouth and the body, devoting all parts of the self in address to God. Loud cries and tears are embarrassing, they are exposed, they are outright. Am I raw and honest in my prayers to God, clearly addressing my need with the proper attitude?

The flesh is such that even Jesus needed to offer up complete, desperate prayers the first part of healing occurs when we truly acknowledge the power of the flesh, and our helplessness against it. we know that Jesus understands the forces with which we fight and pities our enslavement to it. He understands it and its power, which is why he prays and anguishes as he does. Do I approach my sins and my flesh with the same sort of desperation? Knowing that I am nearly helpless against it, save for my convictions that are so weak that I even need to ask God to intervene for me.

+ “to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” There is no point in praying to a God who cannot save, or who cannot actually effect change. The prayer in part depends not on the tone or the desperation with which we are offering, but it depends on that entity, that being to whom it is being offered. After all, anything can be prayed to, or the object of supplication or desire. We too often lay our sacrifices at the wrong altars, altars that are temporary and indeed cannot “save us from death.” So many people nowadays sacrifice everything, family, friends, other relationships, investments, commitments, uprooting their own families and affecting other people, because a perceived career opportunity opens up. Somehow in today’s day and age this has been deemed completely normal. Abandoning all relationships except that one romantic relationship is now somehow seen as a right, a natural consequence that ought to happen. People run through each others’ lives, damaging and scarring others in the race to the top or to one-time self-fulfillment… so many things offered at the altar of self.

But are these altars able to save us from death? The resounding answer is no, no, and no! Despite the right career or the right spouse, death and time stop for now one, makes no exceptions. Ultimately they are not worth our supplications and prayers. These altars are not worthy of our stress, yet too often they are the main source of anguish in our lives as we strive to hold on and offer some of ourselves on the altar of God, some part on the altar of self.

With reverence in supplication, to the right and proper entity, God is able to save us from death (the helplessness of our flesh) in the same way that he saved His Son. Not an ephemeral altar, but an eternal one built upon the eternal character and promises of God. And miraculously, if we believe in the truth of Jesus’ death and Resurrection, then it actually can save us from death! Is there anything else in all the world that is worth our attention and our lives? All else is waste and  folly.

+ “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” The suffering is not pointless. Jesus was not made flesh just so that he could feel pain, but for a couple of reasons. One is so that Jesus could complete the symbolism of being the substitute for our sins, making the promise and the sacrifice real – if Jesus did not experience everything that we experience, then we would not be able to claim His blood as our salvation. The sacrifice would be incomplete, and it would not be valid. Only through suffering through the experience of the flesh could Jesus’ sacrifice be made fully manifest. And by being human, and fleshly, Jesus was ultimately destined to experience separation from God, as Tim Keller puts it, cosmic separation from God, being cut off from the one source of life and truth. He did this so that He could provide an example for us of complete obedience to God, even to death, with the promise of resurrection and eternal life.

Second, to display the nature of true love. True love elevates, disciplines, does what is hard and often unbearable in order to mold and shape a person to the best and highest form possible. Love from the Father, the creator of life and purpose, means subjecting our flesh to suffering and obeying because we know that this world is passing away… Another favorite verse of mine is I 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.” One day we shall not see truth through this clouded and tainted body that twists and distracts us from true vision. One day, then, shall we know fully God’s love for us, and we will no longer be burdened by sins incurred from our wayward hearts. Oh Lord, let that day come when we’ll be perfected in your presence.

“Whoever things that in this mortal life a man may so disperse the mists of bodily and carnal imaginings as to possess the unclouded light of changeless truth, and to cleave to it with the unswerving constancy of a spirit wholly estranged from the common ways of life – he understands neither What he seeks, no who he is who seeks it.” (St. Augustine)