At the age of 55 I have to admit how little I understand about God or the world. I have no idea what He wants me to do. I’ve been lucky enough to have fallen in, at various times, with almost any brand of believer or scoffer you can imagine. I’ve not been able to get convinced of anybody’s Version.
I’ve been reading the Bible all my life and my confidence that I understand it goes down with each passing year, not up. I’ve listened to all the theologians, preachers, pundits, bloggers, poets, and skeptics. My problem is not so much that I disbelieve them all as that I believe so many of them. They all have straightforward biblical statements to work with; they all have what they need to mitigate the rest. There’s a bunch of canons imbedded within the New Testament.
The skeptic’s sophomoric conclusion — “see, full of contradictions, therefore false” – doesn’t help, either. I don’t why a hypothetical God should be required to emit words that pass our coherence test. There’s a logical circle there that none of us can get off — the skeptic and believer alike weary me because they just wave opposite hands in the same act of self-hypnosis. That the universe should be a random occurrence makes no logical sense to me. The biblical picture of the universe also makes little logical sense to me.
I have no problem believing, as a matter of faith, that the Bible is the story of God’s redemptive work. But I’m only believing; I do not actually see a coherent body of thought represented by all the words in the New Testament. I don’t understand why it should take 500 page monographs to articulate, clarify, or debate the meaning of statements God ostensibly thought were clear enough in personal letters for simple and illiterate people to grasp. (And I’ve read, and even enjoyed, plenty of those monographs.)
I don’t understand why God has said nothing for 2,000 years.
I despair of people, including myself. I despair of peoples’ ability to communicate with each other. I listen to politics and shake my head in disgust. The best and brightest minds treat each other like we teach our kindergardners not to treat each other, and it is normal. I turn, to listen to Christians and they just bite one another, like those who have no faith. There is no visible love among those who say they are saved from darkness. All the words of the human chatter sound to me like cacophony in a vacuum; if God does not unify the attention of humanity by saying something, we are not capable of unity. No hope.
It apparently is not enough that the Creator might have spoken in the past. We just kill each other over what it meant. Revelation just furnishes one more causus belli, this one with the claim to ultimacy that justifies the slaughter we already wanted to indulge.
The unrelenting chatter circles back and back upon itself. We fight over every shard of wealth. We fight over the fight. We fight over the schemas of salvation from the fight.
The one thing I am absolutely sure of, empirically sure of, as sure of as I am of this keyboard’s materiality, is that the biblical description of man is accurate down to the jot and tittle. The heart is desperately, desperately, desperately wicked. And full of striving after wind, and, in the end, tired.
2 thoughts on “Vanity, All is Vanity.”
Very well said my friend, my brother…
Arlan, hi! One of my darker days.