“Don’t imagine I’ve been selected to go to Perelandra because I’m anyone in particular. One never can see, or not till long afterwards, why any one was selected for any job. And when one does, it is usually some reason that leaves no room for vanity.”—C. S. Lewis. “Perelandra.” 22.
I am not done with “Xenocide” by Orson Scott Card. It’s a dense and intense 600 page book. I’m at 358. I have no idea how it will end, Card tends to be good at that. And I don’t want to know how it ends.
Here are some thoughts thus far in my literary journey:
(1) When persons convince themselves uncompromisingly of who are “God’s/my enemies.” We are willing to commit atrocities, i.e. murder and genocide.
(2) When we encounter the “other,” we tend to want to put ourselves higher. Once we do, it is so much easier to convince ourselves the “need” to control, maintain, or kill them off.
(3) Despite our “rationality” and “intellects,” we humans can be very easily fooled if it hits our core, i.e. religion, rationality, race, ethnicity, etc.
“…Valentine had long ago observed that in a society that expected chastity and fidelity, like Lusitania, the adolescents who controlled and channeled their youthful passions were the ones who grew up to be both strong and civilized. Adolescents in such a community who were either too weak to control themselves or too contemptuous of society’s norms to try usually ended up being either sheep or wolves—either mindless members of the herd or predators who took what they could and gave nothing.
…Inner strength and outward respect. These are the people who hold a community together, who lead. Unlike the sheep and the wolves, they perform a better role than the script given them by their inner fears and desires. They act out the script of decency, of self-sacrifice, of public honor—of civilization…There really is civilization in human history, thought Valentine, but only because of people like these. The shepherds.”—"Xenocide" by Orson Scott Card, 353-354.
“The hand of Yahweh came upon me. He carried me away by the Spirit of Yahweh and set me down in the middle of the valley. It was full of bones. As he led me around among them, I was surprised to see how exceedingly numerous they were there on the surface of the valley, and astonished at how extremely dry they were.
Then he asked me, ‘Human, can these bones live again?’
I replied, ‘O Lord Yahweh, that only you know.’
Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy over these bones. Declare to them, “O dry bones, hear the message of Yahweh. Thus has the Lord Yahweh declared to these bones: Look! I will infuse you with breath, and you will come to life. I will attach sinews to you, cover you with flesh, and overlay you with skin. I will infuse you with breath; then you will come to life. Then you will know that I am Yahweh.” ‘
So I prophesied as I had been commanded. While I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound! The bones came together, each in its proper place. I stared in amazement as sinews appeared on them, flesh grew, and skin overlaid them. But there was no breath in them.
Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, human! Declare to the breath, “Thus has the Lord Yahweh declared: Come from the four winds, O breath! Blow into these slain corpses, so they may come to life.” ‘
So I prophesied as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they stood up on their feet, an exceedingly vast host.
Then he said to me, ‘Human, as for these bones, they represent the entire house of Israel. Look! They are saying: “Our bones are dried up; our hope has vanished; we are doomed.” Therefore, prophesy and say to them, “Thus has the Lord Yahweh declared: Look! I will open your graves, and I will raise you up from your graves, O my people, and I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you will know that I am Yahweh, when I have opened up your graves, and raised you up from your graves, O my people. Then I will infuse you with my Spirit and you will come to life. I will set you down on your own land, and you will know that I am Yahweh. I have spoken and I will act. The declaration of Yahweh.” ‘”—Ezekiel 37:1-14. Daniel I. Block’s translation.
“I spoke unclearly. We are using two different meanings of the words truth and belief. You believe that the story is true, because you responded to it from that sense of truth deep within you. But that sense of truth does not respond to a story’s factuality—to whether it literally depicts a real event in the real world. Your inner sense of truth responds to a story’s causality—to whether it faithfully shows the way the universe functions, the way the gods work their will among human beings.”—Card, Orson Scott. “Xenocide.” 89.
I wonder…is there any significance that Jesus always offer broken bread and not nice, perfectly formed, whole bread? During the Last Supper, Jesus breaks bread and pronounces, “This is my body, broken for you.” But does this have any spiritual significance and ethical implications for us? This is not to say that we are the Bread of Life that is broken and served during the Eucharist. I want to make that clear. But as servants and even imitators of Christ, could we say that Christ delights in serving broken bread or broken people as a blessing?
On the one hand, there is the salvific signifiance of Christ as broken bread. On the other hand, there is spiritual significance of broken people as broken bread. One of the many functions of the Eucharist (very big subject) is to remind and proclaim Christ’s death until his second coming. That sounds similar to our calling as redeemed broken people.
Our brokenness testifies our fallenness. But Christ serving and using our brokenness testifies his grace.
About two months ago, I presented a prayer of thanksgiving for the Bacculaurate service on my graduation day. Without the intention of being humorous, I have said, “For some of us, we (the graduating class of 2014) have the gift of moving back in with our parents…,” which I think represent somewhat of a financial haven. In retrospect, I can see the humor, but in reality I was quite sober. These past two months, I’ve gotten a taste of the “real world,” I like it to call it “post-undergrad life,” and it is shockingly frustrating.
Life is too damn expensive. That’s what I’ve been realizing over and over, again and again. I’ll admit I’ve been quite uninformed concerning the “hidden and unadvertised costs” of life. Ignorance is bliss to a certain extent. If there are pertinent knowledge of future cost and/or benefit, then ignorance is that cataclysmic Trojan Horse. Perhaps in this case it is more accurate to say that ignorance is the quiet, “female-dog” sister of bliss.
And strangely, I’ve been having cyncial optimism concerning God’s provision. It might be easier to repeat “God will provide,” but my broken humanisitic hopes could easily warp how God should provide, therefore, it could be more accurate to say, “The God I envision will provide in the way I hope.” Of course God will provide; all provisions are from him. But I absolutely refuse to formulate the details of his provision. Who knows, I might go bankrupt, job-less, homeless, etc. Just because I trust in God does not mean I am impervious to financial crisis, societal injustice, psychological shock, etc. What I think trusting in God means is to be stubbornly confident that God loves me, however that looks like.
With only two months out into this season of my life, which I like to call it “post-undergrad life,” I am once again being taught “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” And that is bliss.
An interesting “would you rather…or” question I’ve been asking has been: “would you rather be an orator that seizes the immediate attention of an audience but dyslexic or a prolific writer that captivates any eye of a reader but with speech impediment (stuttering, stage freight, mute, etc.).
I would rather be a prolific writer.
Probably because I like public speaking, it’s nerve-racking, but it’s also exciting.
But it’s most likely because I know I am not a captivating writer. I’m not. I’m really not. And that sucks.
“Now that we had our vitamin-c for the evening (we just had deliciously glazed cake).
Can you tell I am NOT a professor of Applied Health Science?”—// Dr. Adam Miglio | ARCH 418: Akkadian | 03.31.14 | 7:47 pm
“God, you know how much I have been struggling and doubting myself about being a professor. It’s a daunting dream, one I probably should not put too much hope in. But, God…I pray: may I love the people you entrust under my responsibility with a love that desires to see them flourish in your presence.”—for more context: http://sooholee.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/inspiration-dr-john-h-walton-03-27-14/
but hidden behind that thanks lies a deep-seated insecurity that never fails to remind me that i’m really not smart.
this insecurity is rooted in my fear that i might never be what i love: professor and/or pastor. sometimes it’s easier to say you are afraid and “learn” how to handle the possibility of disappointment early on than have the courage to persevere.
In the Ancient Near East, to live “forever” was accomplished through memory. To remember someone or something someone has done was to keep them alive, in a sense. Perhaps, this is what Yahweh meant when he commanded through Moses to the Israelites to remember what he has done for them.
Perpetuating past memories of divine providence into present reality accrues a vibrant relationship with the Divine. In other words, to remember is to love.
nope. not going to say it. i refuse. no commitments this time.
it’s spring break with extra time floating around. been thinking a bit more than usual, perhaps it’s because the campus is empty and there are less people to run into and have small talk. as great as these small talks are, they ruin a steady stream of consciousness. so, without these delightful interruptions today, i had some time to think.
i’ve changed. i’ve changed a lot. i can’t even remember how freshmen-year-sooho was like. i can’t believe it’s almost the end.
One of the Triad Confessional Statements concerning God’s Presence in one’s daily life is the hardest to find genuine: “I believe God is with me.”
In reality, the most popular statement concerning a believer’s perception of God’s presence in his or her life is an intermingling of the first two statements: “I don’t feel like God’s with me, but I know it.”
Now, keep this in mind as you read on ahead: I ain’t no pastor. I ain’t no professional theologian. I ain’t that wise. I ain’t that old. I’m just a regular 21 year old who loves to have conversations with other believers concerning their relationship with God and found this issue bothersome to me and others.
It’s absolutely heart-breaking to hear someone say those words written above (“I don’t feel like God’s with me, but I know it”). This is a complicated issue since some equate feeling and emotional assurance as true belief, whereas others equate it to knowing and rational assurance. While I do believe belief needs both (“feeling” expressed as profound and confounding peace and “knowing” as inexpressible confidence), it’s a tricky balance to find; something that would take a life-time to develop due to human’s changeable nature and the innumerable challenging and differing situations each goes through. New situations demands each believer to wrestle through this question: Where is God? Therefore, there is no such thing as a one time confession, but rather a daily and continual confession.
After a handful of deep talks with myself and others, I tend to land on this disturbing position: Is my feeling, knowing, and/or belief in God’s presence in my life dependent on me or on God? In other words, do I determine whether or not God is near me? I can’t help but see that sometimes when we say, “I don’t feel like God’s with me” it’s not that we have searched long and hard and was disappointed with the results, but rather we have closed our eyes, plugged our ears, and babbled lies to further cancel any noise except our own voice.
Furthermore, saying “…but I know it” tends to place empty faith on rationale with empty words. Is there any integrity between what you are confessing and what you know? Unless you have a different definition of “knowing.” “Knowing” is wholly engaging all human activity with truth; not just the brain. For example, an adult driving a car comes to a complete stop (hopefully) in front of a “Stop” sign and allows a car on the opposite side to take a left turn because she was there before him. The adult knows fully the proper rules of driving through Driver’s Ed. If he was to compartmentalize knowing to just abstract brain activity, then his foot would never have let go of the gas pedal to switch to the brakes.
How much of our feeling and/or knowing based statements are dependent on us or on God? Therefore, I would like to opt for the last and the most arduous statement: “I believe God is with me.” Again, it’s easy to confuse belief too much with either feeling or knowing. There needs to be a paradoxical balance between the two with God as the foundation. There is only one reason why we can believe God is near: God is near. It’s not fully because we feel God is near. Nor is it fully because we know God is near. We can only believe God is near because God is actually near.
Yet, how do we hold this claim? Trust. Trusting in God is wholly submitting all feelings and rationale to God. It is from this posture we began to truly feel and know. We feel not what we want to feel, but what we need to feel. Feelings of loneliness, abandonment, betrayal is inevitable. Same with doubt, confusion. But the solution is not receiving joy nor knowledge first. The solution is wholly dependent on God. What is require is wholly surrendering and trusting to and in God. Then comes profound peace. Then comes profound confidence. Peace from God. Confidence in God.
In this light, remember God’s grace and faithfulness is much more effective than perpetually wallowing in fear and doubt. He is calling you, he is reminding you, he is speaking to you, he is with you.
“Our theology needs to apply a total Christology to our understanding of power and privilege. Jesus’ life is a reflection of both suffering and celebration. His life reflects one that yielded power for the sake of embracing suffering on the cross. This suffering, in turn, leads to a place of celebration in the resurrection. In contrast to how American society or even the evangelical church views power, we need to embrace a powerlessness that is evidenced in the life of Jesus. A proper Christology demands that we intersect the theology of the cross with the theology of the resurrection. Celebration and suffering are found together in the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.”—
// Soong-Chan Rah, “The Next Evangelicalism,” 153.
furthermore, not to twist and turn Dr. Soong-Chan Rah’s eloquent words, but to enhance them with little bit of context, both theology of suffering and celebration are properly executed in diversed communal setting.
wallowing in despair, because the future looks dim and dark. finances were always a root of fear.
i refuse to claim jeremiah 29:11 as an entitlement, a sense of a “right” because i’m God’s child.
i want to wrestle with the possibly of the worst and find that God will still be there and be confident of that. rather than blindly hoping for the best and passively live naively.
oh lord, my lord. oh Yahweh, my Yahweh. assure me of your presence. if you do not go before me, if you do not go with me, then do not send me. do not commission me. do not command me, unless you come with me. because there is no hope, if you do not go with me.
and i beg of your presence. i do not claim it as a right, but as a confession of my utter weakness. if i do not have you, i am nothing.
“Surely, I am not insane! Surely not! Until I share my thoughts to others, then I see my insanity. Yet, in consolidation, you realize that you are both sane and insane. That carefully measured balance makes you you.”—
“Besides kitchens, bakery, hospital, and shop — what we called out ‘utilities’ — there were many other forms of work necessary for our common life. There was the leisurely, comradely, but otherwise unappealing task of keeping the three men’s latrines clean. The two-man crew in charge of the one near our dorm consisted of a middle-aged American missionary and a retired British banker. The casual naturalness with which they went about their job showed the radical changes camp life had wrought in attitudes. Instead of being horrified at their work, these men made the most of its friendly, social possibilities. They laughed and joked with each client — and everyone was their client!”—
A little excerpt from “Shantung Compound” by Langdon Gilkey.
"Now, my daughter, you may sleep when you wish," said the Hermit. "For your wounds are washed and dressed and though they smart they are no more serious than if they had been the cuts of a whip. It must have been a very strange lion; for instead of catching you out of the saddle and getting his teeth into you, he has only drawn his claws across your back. Ten scratches: sore, but not deep or dangerous."
"I say!" said Aravis. "I have had luck.”
"Daughter," said the Hermit, "I have no lived a hundred and nine winters in this world and have never yet met any such thing as Luck. There is something about all this that I do not understand: but if ever we need to know it, you may be sure that we shall."