Monday, October 25, 2010

Homily 15: Life as Art (as preached by an orthodox rebel)

"Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not...." Daniel 1:8a

Life is like art: it involves drawing the line somewhere. The construction of ourselves and the shaping of our souls entails making true choices that result in solid stances. Going "with the flow," as an ultimate principle of life, is never a good idea. We can "flow" with peripheral issues, but at the center we must be stable. Without that central stability, we are no better than a wave caught in the winds (James 1:6).

Now, by "peripheral issues," what is meant is circumstances. In one sense, we can and should "flow" with circumstances in that we have no control over them: only God does. He constructs what we go through; what is left to us is how we go through it. It is that latter part that is central: when it comes to our environment, we must be as easy as a breeze; when it comes to the moments of choice, of character and holiness, of Christ-likeness (especially in the moments that we do not expect), we must be as solid as a rock.

Look at Daniel: He flowed with the peripherals of life. When the Babylonians came and took him as a child, he did not resist, nor did he fuss at being made a part of the king's court. However, he was solid on the essentials: "Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself." This instance is not unique. Look at Joseph: He did not resist his servitude and imprisonments, but he still fled from Potiphar's wife. What we see in these stories is a very difficult yet liberating truth: being a man or woman or principles does not mean a life of paralysis and petrification. On the contrary, without sure and settled principles, choices and actions are impossible. Without a fundamental understanding of where you stand and where you will and will not go, there is no possibility of any movement whatsoever. If the basic lines of your life are not set and stable, the there is no possibility of a picture.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2010


  1. Reminds me of the definition of liberty as freedom within a set boundary. It is the boundary itself that allows us liberty within it. Without the boundary, we do not have liberty, but rather anarchy.

  2. Indeed. This is my own (much more vanilla) attempt at Chesterton's "Authority and the Adventurer" argument.

  3. Thanks for the great post on my namesake!