Friday, October 31, 2008

Long Version: The Song of the Futilitarian

De Futilitate

This life of yours, it has an end.
You’re being slowly torn apart
In gears of vast and broke machine,
And in each honest story told
Since Man began to lose his life,
Decay and Death, and Death again.

You can’t ignore for long this noise,
Once heard gives ample time to hate
This end to all you do on earth,
And screams won’t even slow it down.

In passing goods and seeming gains
We find a path of beauty still,
For Times arrive for eye and ear,
To get, enjoy, (but never fill),
With Good and Wise and Known and Joy.
But even Joy is now and gone.
As is “embrace”, or “war”, or “wife”,
Or artful “stones” we put in piles.

Until arrives the death which comes,
Those passing goods and seeming gains
Presume to answer “Bigger Barns”.
But God replies, “Tonight, you fool,
This night, your soul must die.
Moths will dine on what you saved,
And fools will spend what else remains,
With worms to tidy up the grave.”

Say it aloud that we have sinned.
Then God remade the good world bent,
That none of us can make it straight,
And, with it, we are bound and dead.

You can’t ignore for long this noise,
Once heard gives ample time to hate
This end to all you do on earth,
And rage won’t even slow it down.

Will you take Hate of pointlessness
o’er Joy in all the passing good?
Both cry of crushing vanity,
But hatred is, for you, a sad
Belief this world was something else.
This choice you make, do choose it wise.
There’s more and much that Hatred miss’d,
The Beauty of those certain Times,
That leaves in fatal Vanity
A chaos uglied unto death.

But who can know the time of things,
Their time of beauty understood?
It’s he who serves the Living God,
The God who made all heav’ns and earth.
For in such fear is wisdom deep,
And in this terror knowledge fine,
And Joy to seek the sought and found.
So in futility enjoy!

‘Tis all a great calamity
Of chaos, close and personal,
For all things made and suff’ring it.
Ask them if dying has a hope,
A hope God carved into Death.

Not that they hope to die or not.
And though they pray without a voice,
Unspoken groans we share alike,
(for where our treasure is, our heart).
We do not fear a killing will
That which, after it did us dead,
Can nothing more to any do.

For we, and all of Nature here,
Have feared, enjoyed, and wait for Him.
He who, after He has us killed,
The soul He can destroy in Hell.
Yes, Him we fear in single faith.
And having feared the Living God,
Find His good servants faithful still
With Joy and Wisdom, Known and Lov’d
Within the bright Futility,
Welcomes to Death, with each “Well Done!”
And enter they the Master’s Joy
Hereafter and Forevermore.

by Evan Wilson

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Short Version

That you will die is certain.
All that you do is dust.
Enjoy it as it passes by,
In fear of God the Just.
For after death is judgment,
To punish or reward
If that day goes well for you,
Again enjoy,
Enjoy the Lord.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Of Governing

"the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient," I Timothy 1:9

I was thinking about how governments differ in effecting an obedient citizenry. Civil magistrates rely on the promulgation of laws with the threat of pain for the violator. Parents do this for a time but as age and maturity (and the wisdom of earlier laws) have their effect, the children are rightly granted a different relationship to their erstwhile rulers. Wives actually begin in that different than law and order relationship when they marry their husbands. We are told from the outset to not be harsh with them. And yet there is still a governance between husband and wife. The church shares that kind of rule in that elders are told not to be domineering.
It is with the church we get a sense of this shift in governing type. The government which has the legitimate expectation of, or actual existence of a shared desire, (the virtue of the ruler's desired ends for his fief), the task before the ruler is to shape his imperium to express, not with commands and their attendant punishments, but with a pattern of example. Example is what desire needs to grow into a more obedient citizen. In this case the citizen truly wants what the ruler wants and needs but the guidance of the exemplar. Even in a political society, an advanced civilization enjoys many benefits from a citizenry which desires the same peace (say regarding traffic proprieties) and that desire lays a foundation of an example based obedience which a third world traffic situation fails to even recognize.
Where the desire of the citizen is not engaged then various other forms of adjustment into obedience are necessary. The completely resistant criminal class faces pain. The slightly more understanding citizen, while still perhaps disagreeable, adjusts behavior with the threat of said pain. Those that understand the benefits promised to the obedient, obey, not for desire of the ruling virtue, but for a reward arbitrarily connected to the act.

I speak generally and I am sure it might raise numerous questions but for these purposes, enough has been said regarding my schematic. The problem of the criminal, threatened, or promised classes is not that they exist, for they always will. God has appointed magistrates attending to this very thing. The problem is that some, which ought to be moved by desire for the shared virtues of the ruler, are not. They remain perniciously in the lower forms of governance. I speak of older children (teenager and up), wives, and Christian parishioners. Justice says that the causal agent is responsible to the degree causal. Insubordinate children, uppity wives, and unresponsive pew dwellers should certainly carry all the fault, oughtn't they? An order was given, and (horrors!) it was not obeyed. But the peace of a fiefdom is the measure of its ruler. Can or can not the ruler correctly and capably police the confines of his assigned borders and bring about peace? All too often the ruler believes that a failed obedience (acting like the lower class of citizen) on the part of one of these close type of citizen, requires the application of doggie biscuit promise, or increasingly voluble threats and punishments. He descends to the level they chose to occupy. The aroma of the home or ecclesia becomes an odor.

What the ruler should realize is that these citizens are in desperate need of his example. And the example is pointless if the ruling virtue (that which he designed his fief upon) is not desired. What "kind of peace" the father, the husband or the pastor wants obeyed in his fief is the primary villain in theis post. His designs are the culprit, the actual disobedience and crime against his attempt at peaceful rule. If the natural virtue of a child's admiration or a wife's love, or a congregation's indwelling of the Holy Spirit is turned away because the proper task to be desired is not promulgated by the ruler, that ruler will have to fall back on domineering or violent tactics to crush the rebellion he asked for.

Might the Apostles recommend a few simple things?
Fathers, do not provoke your children, husbands, honor your wives, and pastors, set an example of Christian conduct.
and with due humility, the Oracle would like it if you would perhaps check on something as well.

If your children, wives, or congregants don't desire to be just like you wish, is it because you are no example of what you ask or is it because what you ask is "world-without-end" silly?

Friday, October 17, 2008

On the Scots

J. Buchan (peace be upon him) described the Scots as a people of "fevered beliefs and unprofitable loyalties". Besides the poetic brilliance of such an observation of his and my people, it came to mind that it also described a certain type of American citizen. They can be very bright. They can even be good looking. What they lack is that "fey" charm of standing about in mists tootling on some contraption which, by all reports, must have a dying cat of irritable sentiments sewn up in its bag. What I mean is these Americans of fever and unprofit are not charming nor are they historic or attractive to tourists.
Politically it would be the Greens or Ron Paul supporters. Religiously, the fundementalist or atheist. Culturally, the neo-agrarians or comic books aficianados.
Perhaps you know or are such a person.

There is no medicine for your fever better than being chased through the damp heather alone and forgotten.
Your loyalty can be perhaps enjoyed, as the Scots learned, as a lost cause.
The Oracle suggests those two remedies. Take daily for two to five centuries and you too might finally find that you have gained respite from what about you annoys the heck out of everyone else.
You will be, with the Bonnie Prince, charming. (no pun intended)

Monday, October 13, 2008

In Search of Fools

The “praise” of Folly, faint and damn’d thereby,
Gives op’ning vents to tongues that wag with wit
And writings pen’d with acid, drunk with lye,
Which wake we wise to serve it up with spit.

As prizes go, they wallow slow and low,
Galleons of Spain aload with stolen gold.
Then we, the Raleighs, Drakes, on sight, below
Our decks, broadside what sixty pounders told.

Or big game shot like buffalo these days,
No longer Injun style in race of man
And thund’ring horse and herd. He hunts who pays
For pastured beast, to shoot them where they stand.

Are we made wits by stolid prey? Are we
In piracy engaged, excused by Queen?
Are we those hunting that which cannot flee,
And in such ease become those fools we’ve seen?

by Evan Wilson

Friday, October 03, 2008

Take the Red Pill

St. Paul found himself at the end of his life with martyrdom staring him in the face. His ministry was slipping in its support as "all in Asia have turned away". At this point Timothy, in the second letter of, received a very encouraging reminder of what the Christian life is all about.

When the haze of your excitement in getting followers and creating movements fades, you are left with whatever remnant of spiritual reality your sorry soul actually has.
It is an imperative in chapter 1:13 that strikes me poignantly: "Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me".
Without a movement around you, without your Christian rap album being successful, without whatever adolescent wish fulfillment fantasy in which you engage in the name of Jesus Christ (and call the resulting whimper "faith"), with what are you left to "follow?"
A "pattern" is when things, in time or place, sit in repeated reference to each other.
To be "sound" a claim has to have an demonstrable integrity.
And "from me" is a presumption of authority.

Timothy's responsibility, and I hope yours as well, is to follow the guide of these things. In more modern terms, there is a "systematic" which exists for your discovery and submission. For the more modern yet, a "matrix" exists objectively along side many fantasies.
The pattern that St. Paul confers on Timothy is one that Timothy can actually experience, and "see". The pattern will show how the parts of it sit in reference to the other parts. It is an empirically enjoyed pattern, one that we follow while standing in the midst of it in wonder.

Paul has wrapped this invitation to patterned living in two more epistemological claims. He seems to think that it is important that his teaching of the pattern and the pattern itself be rational. Without reason the "soundness" is unexaminable. Teaching "patterns" often involves specious claims and fallacious arguments. Many rituals in life (and for life) have no visible means of support. The purveyors of these hope that no one examines them for a while so that soundness is now measured, not by reason, but by magisterium, movement loyalties, and loud hollerin' about orthodoxy. One of the benefits of that which is "sound," is that its rational integrity can always be revisited. Along side that rational defense of the pattern he offers, St. Paul offers his own bona fides. "From me" matters. I cannot say the same. The authority I report to others of the pattern is no different that of the Apostle's. It is not a difference which separates St. Paul and The Oracle. It is distance.
I, too, offer that which must exist in pattern to be both followed and enjoyed, experienced empirically by the saints so taught.
I, too, must appeal to reason to sustain the testing of my pattern and celebrate the triumph of "soundness".
I, too, will refer to authority. But those to whom God spoke have a relationship with revelatory authority that is decisive. It is an epistemological authority regarding which I stand (in using) both at a distance of person and time. I can offer only the revelations of the Apostles and Prophets that have been communicated to me. If I support a pattern to be followed, other than what Reason and Apostolic Revelation say, I must claim to be inspired. I will not. Others have. It is suspected that such fall into another category of Christian teacher.
"and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. " Acts 20:30
This prophesy came true. It was given to the Ephesian elders. The next few verses of II Timothy 1 let us know that Ephesus of Asia is central to the desertion of St. Paul.

The Oracle suggests that you, yourself, find the pattern declared by Reason and the Apostle. Live by it. If you run into the Orthodox, smile, be sweet, and know they took the Blue Pill.