Do Not Fear the Darkness, Love

Do not fear the darkness, love,
No monsters hunt you in the night;
So do not fear the darkness, love,
Let terrors fade with fading light.

Close your eyes and sleep, my love,
Lie safe within my arms this night;
Yes, close your eyes and sleep, my love,
Know peace until the morning light.

Do not fear the darkness, love,
Dream your dreams in hope this night;
No, do not fear the darkness, love,
And rest to rise with rising light.

-Charles Baldon, November 2014

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In Speech, Grace

The Word is pretty clear: your tongue is a raging forest fire… to which the anonymity of the interwebs is gasoline.

Let me ask you to consider three things as you discourse to the glory of God online, or even in person.  By which I don’t mean texting each other in the same room.  “In person” is that quaint old-fashioned notion of looking another human being in the eye and fully communicating, with all its verbal and non-verbal components.  Give it a try sometime!

Gracious in our speech often comes down to our consideration of the person with whom we are speaking…

 

Do we consider them as a human being, with feelings, thoughts, ideas, and desires, none of which completely line up with our own?

This is not to say that every idea holds equal merit, but to recognize that we start at different places, travel along different trains of thought, and arrive at different places.  Things connect for one person very logically or very emotionally, and the next person might not follow their reasoning or the chain of feeling.  Take the time to think it through.  Ask clarifying questions before you decide you know exactly what someone means, how they got there, and where they’re going.  Think especially hard before you tell them where to go and how to get there.

 

Do we consider that a person’s goal should be differentiated from their methods?

Take the oft-very-calmly-discussed (/end sarcasm) issue of gun control.  Vehement disagreement surrounds this issue, but let me point something out.  Many of the people on both sides of the issue have the same goal in mind.  We read a story about a child accidentally getting shot, or a man killing his co-workers, or a government oppressing its citizens, and what do we want?  We want fewer dead children.  We want those co-workers to still be alive.  We want citizens to thrive under good government.

In other words, the goal is the same, for both sides.  An enormous difference lies in the various methods we advocate to get there.   But if you want to keep the conversation civil, simply continue to call to mind (even when insulted) the heart of the other person, this living person made in the image of God with whom you are disagreeing.  Generally, they want what you want.  They want a better world.  They disagree about how to get there.  As an aside to Christians reading this, it is often a better witness to interact with a person like Christ would than to cram the Gospel down their throat as quickly as possible.  The time may come for an explicit conversation about Jesus: in the meantime, trying speaking like Him as often as you may be tempted to speak about Him.

 

Do we consider why a person holds the positions they do?  Often the issue is not the issue.

It is so very easy to classify and label people, then dismissively file them away in our brains as if we completely understand them.  This really ties into my first point above, but why someone believes what they believe is critical to truly understanding them.  That gun control nut you can’t stand might have had a curious nephew who found a loaded gun.  If you’ve ever attended the funeral of a child, the reaction is visceral.  You passionately never want anyone to go through that experience.  That gun wacko with 15 assault rifles that you know is just waiting to shoot an innocent person could have a family that was home and unprotected at the wrong time and place.  What would your opinion be about a gun in the home if you were robbed, your kids beaten and your wife raped?  Would you want others to experience that helpless agony?

When someone believes you care about them enough to understand the deep motivations behind their beliefs, trust is built, the type of trust that can survive even the most profound disagreement.  Seek to know a person’s heart, follow their path to understand their goals and their methods for achieving them, and you’ll have a solid foundation for real discourse.  As another aside for Christians, you’ll begin to show a person the love of Christ.  When the Word speaks of not judging others, its not that we don’t call sin, sin, and everyone just does what they feel is right.  It means at the deepest level, we freaking care.  And very few do.  This level of caring would set the Church far apart.  This level of caring could – and will – make the hard ethical truths we espouse much more intelligible to those we are called to love.

Catechized: Confessions & Reflections (6)

Q. 6. How many persons are there in the Godhead?
A. There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

A triune God is, of course, a physical impossibility, a contradiction in terms… according to the laws that rule reality under the Sun.  Yet God transcends (a word to keep in mind during your prayers and meditations on Scripture) His creation.  For God to be transcendent, He must by definition be larger than His creation.  He is beyond our understanding.

And yet He makes Himself known as three Persons in one essence.  And from the glorious relationships we see here – between God and Son, between Son and Spirit, between God, Son and Spirit – we find the pattern for every human relationship.

Son submits to Father (God).  Spirit submits to Father and Son.  God directs the Son, and Son directs the Spirit.  And yet, in their roles and responsibilities, all are equally and at the same time God and one God.  It makes you a little dizzy, but it is also a wondrously perfect unity from diversity.  When you consider relationships, such as those laid out in Ephesians 5-6 and 1 Peter 2-3, here is the pattern.  Are men and women equal?  Masters and slaves?  Parents and children?  Absolutely, in one sense.  Are there differing levels of authority and responsibility between them even as they are equal in substance?  Absolutely, in another.  Men are not more valuable than women, nor women more so than men.  Yet in marriage men lead, and women follow.  Equal even as they carry out differing roles, roles assigned by the Creator and modeled within Himself.

God has taken a small piece of His Mystery and made it known to us.

Catechized: Confessions and Reflections (2)

Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

There are a lot of ideas floating around our culture, and a lot of ideas about those ideas, and ideas about whether even having ideas is a good idea, and whether anyone’s idea can be called any kind of idea, good or bad, and even whether ideas like good and bad are a useful idea.  And so on.  It’s enough to make your head spin, Exorcist-style.

Here’s the thing, though.  You can have all sorts of ideas, and all sorts of discussions about those ideas.

But at the end of the day, you have to actually start somewhere, within the realm of reality, and do something.  You are going to live your life, and you are going to live it according to the principles you think are the right ones to live by.  Even if your guiding principle is that there are no (other, at least) principles, you have to live by principles.  Something is true, and your belief in its truthfulness is expressed when you do anything: when you shop, when you eat, when you work, when you play, etc.

A Christian is a person who follows Christ, by definition, and following Christ (also by definition) means following his words, his commands.  Christ Himself told His original 12 disciples – and by extension us, His modern ones, if indeed such we claim to be – that if we love Him, we will obey Him.

His words, taken collectively throughout much of the course of human history, we call the Bible.  It tells His story, which means it must be an integral part of our story, as well.

Sublime

I drown in tears that do not fall
Each smile a lie I do not tell
Each breath a page I do not write
My life a book I do not read

In shadows vain we seek for light
Blind guides who call our stumbles dance
Our wretched shrieks a symphony
Our groping hands a deep romance

How long, O man, how long until
With eyes to beauty drawn we see
The truth that lies beneath the sun
Sublime divine simplicity

-Charles Baldon, April 2014

Demons (Imagine Dragons)

To find a love that overlooks your flaws… that sees a greater potential within you than you know… I would define true love (amongst people) as a decision made to place the well-being of a flawed individual at the forefront of your mind, and living in a such a way as to bless them in what you do.  Marriage is that decision made into a vow, a covenant.  But this song expresses the counterpart to such love, that deep and oft-abiding fear that the one we love will look closely and find us wanting… wanting, as we truly are in our more honest moments.  Great song.

When the days are cold
And the cards all fold
And the saints we see
Are all made of gold

When your dreams all fail
And the ones we hail
Are the worst of all
And the blood’s run stale

I wanna hide the truth
I wanna shelter you
But with the beast inside
There’s nowhere we can hide

No matter what we breed
We still are made of greed
This is my kingdom come
This is my kingdom come

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

When the curtains call
It’s the last of all
When the lights fade out
All the sinners crawl

So they dug your grave
And the masquerade
Will come calling out
At the mess you’ve made

Don’t wanna let you down
But I am, hell bound
Though this is all for you
Don’t wanna hide the truth

No matter what we breed
We still are made of greed
This is my kingdom come
This is my kingdom come

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

They say it’s what you make
I say it’s up to fate
It’s woven in my soul
I need to let you go

Your eyes, they shine so bright
I wanna save that light
I can’t escape this now
Unless you show me how

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

-Imagine Dragons, from the album Night Visions

Frozen: This is What Disney Movies Can Be

Frozen-movie-posterWe just watched Frozen as a family; for me it was a second viewing, having seen it in the theatre with my wife.  Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and highly recommend it.  A proper definition of true love that elevates the good of others over ourselves, that values sacrifice at great personal cost.

This is what Disney movies can be.

I was thinking through the fact that this has been a number one film, with a number one soundtrack.  And yet the number one song from that soundtrack is a song with a message that flies in the face of the film’s heart.  Within the greater context, the song serves the story well.  Removed from its context, when the song alone becomes the story, it promotes something sadly twisted.  A definition of self-love that elevates desire above others, that values personal advancement no matter what the sacrifice.

This is what Disney movies can be.

The war within us can be no more clearly illustrated that our cultural love for this song on one hand, and the movie it’s been torn from on the other.  Reminds of this book I’ve been reading.  It starts off really well –perfectly, in fact – but the heroes… well, they let it go, and the consequences for everyone are devastating.

Thank God that the Story has reached the true love part.