Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Homily Magnus: On Death and Life (as proclaimed by an orthodox rebel)

"...for why will you die...?" Eze. 33:11b

Our world is made of antitrust. Over one-hundred years of unchecked, rampant skepticism has corroded away the image of trust. Suspicion is our new religion, forged on the altar of self-deification. All other things, whether they be friends or family or strangers or institutions or traditions or customs, are a threat to our own self-actualization. We must hold all others, however dear or precious, at arms length, taking with a grain of salt everything that they say or give. They must not be allowed to shape or dominate us. They must never own or conscribe any part of us. So we retract into ourselves in recesses beyond thought, in dark lairs of corners of our minds, and in those dungeons deep we forge in secret our master self, pouring into it our will with which we thwart all others. Our selves are always sword and shield, never true open arms and welcoming embrace. Something will always be held back, something no one is worthy of in our eyes, i.e., our real self, made only by the hand of God and the Fall. Such is the lonely, oh so lonely narcissism of our fragmented world.

God has a word for such self-centered isolationism. He has a strong, simple term for our sad division: Sin. It is from Sin that we cut ourselves off from all things. It is Sin that lifts high the banner of self as the flag of the world. It is the sin-sick soul who sings, "I am a god. I sit in the seat of God in the midst of the seas" (Eze. 28:2b), "My river is my own, and I have made it for myself" (Eze. 29:3b), and "I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will be like the Most High" (Is. 14:13, 14). Our narcissistic fragmentation is not a result of postmodern liberation and deconstruction, nor of heroic and idealized self-assertion, but rather the monstrous pride that sets the self at the center of all things. Our exaltation of self, having degraded and degenerated into a horrid and absolute skepticism, eventually collapsed from a hyper-individualism where we are the only star in our lonely little universe. There are no gods or kings or even man; there is only me. No man is an island, but every man dreams of a private island, and no island is more private than the island of self-love.

We all have been drawn away by our own lusts for our will and way and self above and against all others, even God Himself; and when that lusts conceives, it brings forth sin, and when sin is finished it brings forth death (James 1:15 KJV). The soul that sins shall die (Eze. 18:4b). There is no other alternative. It is a law of existence just as much as gravity is a law of nature. It is the only reason and explanation for this living death that we are in: our noise and insanity, our fashions and futility, our callousness and frigidity, our decadence and apathy, our lusts and lunacy, our ugliness and horrible, horrible depravity. We are the hub of a lone wheel, trapped in the mud, spinning endlessly in an infinite rut, digging our own graves as we whirl in maddening stillness.

Hear now the word of the Lord who made the heavens and the earth and your self: "Why will you die?" Life is never found in the self; rather, it is found when the self is finally forgotten, given away, killed outright for the sake of another; and God is the ultimate Other: "He who loses His life for my sake shall find it" (Matt. 10:39). Herein is life, not the uncompromising worship of our self, but the unconditional surrender of the self into the love of God. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His only Son to save us from the dark tyranny of Sin that makes the self a god, so that we might know the only true God, know in the most intimate and sacred of ways. As Father and child. Friend and friend. Lover and lover. It is only when we take that first step, that first step of trust in the God who made us and loves us, that first step off of our lonely precipice to fall headlong into the infinite ocean and drown therein, only then will our sad division cease.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2011

"We all are lonely, Maker -- each a soul
Shut in by itself, a sundered atom of thee.
No two yet loved themselves into a whole;
Even when we weep together we are two.
Of two to make one, which yet two shall be,
Is thy creation's problem, deep, and true,
To which thou only hold'st the happy, hurting clue."

-George MacDonald (from Diary of an Old Soul)

1 comment:

  1. Funny, the husband and I were just talking about this the other night...