Painted from Velasquez in acrylic.
Painted from Velasquez in acrylic.
A flower is a beautiful object but it also often has a wonderful smell, a nice texture and graceful movement in the wind and of course, a life. That is the true reality that we are typically oblivious to; we are rather only conscious of what we had for dinner, what we have to do at work tomorrow, whether we should have worn a heavier jacket – but the Reality of the flower escapes us. We live in an artificial world; a world of appearances. Jesus lives in a mystical world – he is connected to Reality because He created it. His perception of a flower is infinitely greater than ours as an artist is connected with each brush stroke of his painting while we only perceive a pretty picture.
Even though Jesus is the exceptional (and only) true mystic, because He is the only one in touch with Reality, he still practiced the tried and true methods to achieve mysticism – simplification of life and the singleness of heart oriented around God and separation of self from the dazzling desires of the heart.
Meditation is extreme attention – or not, depending on how you want to practice it. Jesus often meditated through prayer – forty days and nights without food was no casual walk in the desert. And Jesus prayer in the garden was agonizingly intense and focused.
The natural and ultimate expression of the mystics life is in action: Love.
I will try to learn to mediate on a flower, on the image of Christ hanging on the cross or praying in the garden, on the disciples hanging on to a frail boat in a tempestuous sea, on the peaceful scene of a baby lying in a manger, on Christ as He rises into the sky with the promise that I will follow one day. I will apply myself to become a mystic – to attempt to perceive a larger universe.
Here is great little read by Evelyn Underhill: Practical Mysticism and it is the impetus and determined much of the direction of the poor expression of my thoughts above.
It is a free pdf file: http://www.holybooks.com/wp-content/uploads/Evelyn-Underhill-Practical-Mysticism.pdf
“The very mainspring of
your activity is a demand, either for a continued possession of that
which you have, or for something which as yet you have not: wealth,
honour, success, social position, love, friendship, comfort, amusement.
You feel that you have a right to some of these things: to a certain recognition
of your powers, a certain immunity from failure or humiliation.
You resent anything which opposes you in these matters. You become
restless when you see other selves more skilful in the game of acquisition
than yourself. You hold tight against all comers your own share of the
spoils. You are rather inclined to shirk boring responsibilities and unattractive,
unremunerative toil; are greedy of pleasure and excitement, devoted
to the art of having a good time. If you possess a social sense, you
demand these things not only for yourself but for your tribe—the domestic
or racial group to which you belong. These dispositions, so ordinary
that they almost pass unnoticed, were named by our blunt forefathers
the Seven Deadly Sins of Pride, Anger, Envy, Avarice, Sloth, Gluttony,
I don’t have any enemies in the sense that there is anyone that wants to kill me or me them. I can’t even think of anyone I hate and I have never wished anyone dead. Yet, I do have enemies in the Faith – those who do wish my belief in God was dead – occasionally those who wish I were dead. I class most of them under the name of Atheist.
I think the first real Atheist I overtly encountered in my studies was Carl Sagan whose books I devoured and reread many times. I loved his presentation of science but eventually he turned science priest and advocated that all men should dispose of their religious propensities. Others that identified with his prescriptions (or he with theirs) was Christopher Hitchens, Dawkins, Sam Harris, Danial Dennett, and lots of atheistic scientists, philosophers, celebrities, materialists, et al. They are the only real enemies I have.
So I have sometimes imagined how they would (will) react when falling into the hands of God. I have pictured the shock of surprise and confusion on their faces when they “wake up” after they have died to the presence of something rather than nothing. I even have felt some glee and sense of justified revenge. For that, I am sorry.
Now I have decided that my proper response is not to even pity them, but to pray for them – those who are still alive, that they may come to know the confidence of belief in an invisible but loving God, and for those who passed on, that God may still forgive and comfort them in their separation from the Creator and His kingdom.
There have been many famous personages who have converted from atheism to theism and Christianity. I am thinking of CS Lewis, Francis Collins, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Antony Flew, and others. So it is possible for a Dawkins or Harris to refute their unbelief and that is what I want to pray for now. I pray that some critical event will take place in these peoples lives that will allow them to question their passionate distaste for what they perceive as an irrational trust in a divine and all-knowing watchmaker. I pray that God will intervene in their lives and use them to bless a world that is quickly turning away from Him in great numbers. After all, we are all relatives at some point in our ancestry and eternity will be a great opportunity to get to know our missing family members better.
I watched a movie about Alan Turing, the brilliant mathematician who helped solve the riddle of the German code machine. Once he was able to read the enemies coded messages, he had a conundrum: if the British Army showed up at every place the enemy showed up, it would tip the Germans off that their codes had been broken. So, they had to use statistics to help decide when to intervene and when not to. That meant sometimes lives would be saved and sometimes they would let them die – playing God.
Is this how God works too? Does he use statistics to decide that one time He will intervene in the laws of nature and save a life and another time He won’t. Obviously He can not cure every disease and save every life – that would tip us off that He is here working among us and that would obliterate any need for faith. Also, it would be a terribly crowded world.
If this is true then it seems that life and death struggles are little more than chance and I have a difficult time accepting this conclusion. What then is the necessity for intercessory prayer? I believe we can alter the odds in our favor sometimes by prayer and failing that, we can always expect that He answers our prayers and provides the best solution. I have seen both responses from God and when I really stop and think about a particular situation – I have never failed to receive the best possible answer from Him.
God is a statistician but a crafty one.
Over the past five years I have build a few simple ball juggling machines. The simplest just throws a steel ball bearing from one “mitt” to the other. A second type actually bounces the ball into the other mitt. My goal is to build a Claude Shannon bounce juggling machine that passes three balls back and forth. I have been able to bounce juggle two balls for a few exchanges before it misses one of the throws. My first machines used low torque geared motors but my linkage setup proved inadequate and the low torque couldn’t move the mitt arms consistently, it would vary the speed of the arm and so the timing would be thrown off and the balls get missed. Here is my latest attempt at building a juggling machine using a motor:
I then decided to go to a servo controlled arm and did get a few single ball throws working but there was too much slop in the control linkage. When I finally got the linkage problem sorted out I found out that the servo has too much play to make the juggler work so I have abandoned using the servo and now will build a more mechanically stable arm and linkage and go back to using a motor. I plan to use a bicycle axle and bearings to hold the arm and metal arms for the motor and linkage. That should give me consistent performance. The only problem may be that the motor is still too under-powered to give consistent results.
Next: going back to motor.
Check out the video:
(Stephen Hawking wakes up in a spiritual domain.)
What? I should be dead – nothing. Yet I still am aware. Something is amiss. Ah, there’s Chris Hitchens and Carl Sagan. I’ll ask them what’s up.
Hi guys. Fancy meeting you in this place.
Yeah, I guess we are sitting around anticipating a meet with this mystical Eye in the Sky but all I’ve seen are a bunch of whiners and moaners in a big waiting room.
Yes, there must be billions and billions of souls in this place – a veritable cosmic household of humanity – all wondering what will be the outcome of our situation.
Well, Carl, I guess we were wrong about atheism – sure as hell hope the Christians were wrong about hell.
Yes Chris, I suppose I should have said: “The Cosmos is NOT all that there is or was or ever will be.”
I’ll wager a subscription to The Christian Chronicle that we’re going to wish we were vanishing black holes. There must be a formula for our current predicament. Have you seen a blackboard anywhere? That is if Albert will give it up.
(fade to black… holes?)