Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Sunday, April 4, 2010
John 3: 3 tells us that "no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." The meaning of what it means to be "born again" still remains unclear for Christians today. Early Christian martyrs who were in the face of persecution tended to conceive the resurrection as pertaining to the body, for this point of view proved meaningful for their circumstances. But does salvation actually comprise of new embodiment or does it constitute a kind of postmortem bliss, free from the constraints and limitations of the physical body? Ancient Jewish and Christian ideas concerning personal resurrection were surrounded by debate over the precise nature of the post-resurrection body. Some anticipated another flesh-and-bone body immune to physical decay and death while others presumed that God's followers would adopt bodies like those of angels. During the Roman period, many others viewed the human body as a prison from which the soul would finally be liberated at death and therefore looked upon bodily resurrection as a repugnant proposal. In Jesus' time, however, resurrection was not universally affirmed as some devout Jews, particularly the Sadducees, scoffed at the idea and considered it to be ludicrous. In Mark 12: 18-27, the Sadducees taunt Jesus with the question of whose wife a woman who has married seven times will be after the Resurrection. Jesus strongly affirms resurrection and portrays the Sadducees' question as a reflection of their ignorance of God's power. Regardless of the differences, and sometimes contradictions, among Christians' views of resurrection, Jesus was seen as the paradigm in all cases, and believers hoped for a similar fortunate fate to befall them.
Are Christians to carry out their faith solely through the convictions of their hearts, or is bodily implementation of that same creed necessary in addition to avoid the accusation, from either man or God, of apostasy or hypocrisy? Early Christians who believed in bodily resurrection identified with the latter view and deemed it crucial to live out their faith through their outward actions while retaining their inner beliefs. 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 appears to support this notion, for the passage states, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." Elaine Pagels, a scholar of early Christianity, has argued that Christians who viewed the body as insignificant, perhaps the Gnostics, were more willing to make gestures of acquiescence to the Roman Empire as a result of their belief that only pure intentions of heart mattered to God. An argument may be made against this perspective if one considers the message of James 2: 26, which asserts, "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead." This reference suggests the importance of practicing what one preaches. In addition, in the book of Revelation, the church in Laodicea is severely chastised for observing a watered-down, "inoffensive" form of Christianity, in which worldly and spiritual matters have become almost irrevocably amalgamated into a "lukewarm" dichotomy. In this letter, God strongly urges church members to abandon their tendency to straddle the fence and take a stand with regards to the revealing decision of whether they truly love Him.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Calm, serene, peaceful, tranquil, uneventful, desolate, deserted, empty, quiet, still, static, stagnant. Pathos pervades the atmosphere, the clock strikes noon, yet this bucolic side of town is not without vitality. A gentle breeze from the north carries the flowers from the Bradford pears like snowflakes to the deep green grass, occulted from the naked eye. Tulips line the edge of the center, circular garden bed, bright red and brilliant yellow. Leafcutter ants dot the sidewalk, inconspicuous in the breadth of the vast landscape. The streets are silent, taciturn, the homes uninhabited, abandoned, dead. The chipped paint and the straining planks a tribute to toil, the wandering words drifting through my mind one to tautology. Poignant, nostalgic, reminiscent memories float through time, space appears surreal, dimension retains no form or shape and begins to resemble a tesseract, tangible characteristics steadily disappear. Gravity capitulates, and for a few moments, the universe, still intact, lies prostrate, motionless, frozen. Introspection breeds doubt, questions, qualms, the use of singular indefinite nouns that have lost their amateur status to deduce broad, all-encompassing but often misleading, generalizations. Dreaming of another place, another time, counterfactual thinking overwhelming, curiosity overflowing, pressure suffocating. The eras begin to blur, all phenomenology and ontology a whirling, convoluted spiral, evocative of the Mandelbrot set, till time readopts its fleeting nature, the porch boards gradually reemerge, and the gentle back-and-forth motion of a rocking chair can once more be discerned.
Friday, April 2, 2010
Confidence. She saunters through the halls at an andante pace like a gentle wind, soft but purposeful. She glides through the atmosphere with drops of Jupiter in her hair. Resolute and beautiful, determined and graceful, prepared and powerful. Unflappable in the face of adversity and precarious uncertainty, firm and secure in her faith. She knows where she stands, says, "I know exactly who I am." Though blessed with strong sense of self, pretentiousness evades her and humility, her longtime friend, accompanies her everywhere. Loving, compassionate, altruistic, a heart possessed by only a few, she gives generously, without discernment, discrimination, distinguishment of any kind. Made pure is her heart, soul, mind, body by the blood of another to whom she is eternally grateful and devotes all her strength. For this One does she live; for Him does she give. Freely and openly, liberally and wholly, absolutely and completely. Holiness flows from her bosom, envelopes her essence, her presence penetrating, overwhelming, pious. Lovely, surpasses a lady, more than wonderful because of He who is unfathomable, indescribable, uncontainable, untamable, all-powerful, incomparable, unchangeable, perfect. She strives to bring her Father glory and marvels at His magnificence. She prays His name not fall into desuetude for the fault of our churlish attitudes, lacking in servitude and gratitude. Lost feels she when unable to see His plans for all that is to come, occur, happen, take place, unfold before our very eyes. Reliance, trust, hope she places not in transient, fickle, capricious wants and desires, passion and fire, fen or mire, but in treasures stored in heaven, her heart, paradise, uncontingent on her part, Faithful and True, to obtain nothing can one do but believe in the Word, listen to the Voice of Truth, and serve.