Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tragedy as Necessary for Beauty (as explained by an Original Orthodox Rebel)

The following is an excerpt from Oswald Chambers' book Baffled to Fight Better (pp. 11 & 16). Here Chambers talks about the reality of despair in human existence, a truth that G.K. Chesterton called the "pagan sadness". All life outside of God is fundamentally tragic, and the wisest of the lost have known this to be true. It is that truth that makes the truth of the Gospel so powerful, so compelling, and so beautiful. If we lose the truth of tragedy, then the Gospel loses all strength and beauty. This is a fact in sermons, stories, or songs.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2010

Facing facts as they are produces despair; not frenzy, but real downright despair, and God never blames someone for despair. Anyone who thinks must be pessimistic; thinking can never produce optimism. The wisest man who ever lived said that "he who increases knowledge increases sorrow." The basis of things is not reasonable but wild and tragic, and to face things as they are brings one to the ordeal of despair. Ibsen presents this ordeal; there is no defiance in his presentation. He knows that there is no such thing as forgiveness in nature, and that every sin has a Nemesis following it. His summing up of life is that of quiet despair because he knows nothing of the revelation of God by Jesus Christ. [...]

When we get to despair, we know that all our thinking will never get us out; we will only get out by the sheer creative effort of God. Consequently, we are in the right attitude to receive from God that which we cannot gain for ourselves. [...]

Optimism is either a matter of accepted revelation or of temperament. To think unimpeded and remain optimistic is not possible. Let a person face facts as they really are and pessimism is the only possible conclusion. If there is no tragedy at the back of human life, no gap between God and man, then the redemption of Jesus Christ is "much ado about nothing."

Job is seeing things exactly as they are. A healthy-minded individual bases his life on actual conditions, but let him be hit by bereavement, and when he has got beyond the noisy bit and blasphemous bit, he will find, as Job found, that despair is the basis of human life unless a man accepts a revelation from God and enters into the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

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