Epistemic Mirrors

I’m sorry, but we can’t love eternal, evergreen Truth and “like” Salon. Or Fox News, HuffPo, NYT or NPR etc. Best to see oneself as an observer of such fare and not a consumer of it.

In fact, we can’t love Truth and trust ANY people who sell information– often cloaked as entertainment– purely for profit.(NPR hosts do it for love, sure, but they have to keep the BMW payments current.)

Playing with the Truth is the devil’s only real power; he can’t create a single thing. I don’t think he turns away from such an effective and long-proven weapon against the human soul. I think he makes it fun! with lists! and memes of outrageous! tragic! righteous! heroic! exclusive! and mostly, a/musing.

We naturally tend to heap our “likes” on the cultural information that reinforces our self-image– especially if it makes us feel morally fit. If we’re honest, it’s more real-time comforting to us than God’s divine assurances of our loveliness and acceptance in Christ’s atonement, because that was so five minutes ago.

Every “like,” “share,” and “comment”; every click of the mouse, is reinforcing to ourselves who we are. Every selfie is our attempt to convey who we are, and if we are honest, we know we are “selling it” to our best advantage. And we think folks who get paid to do such things are above “selling it” to us for their best advantage? Do you know who they are when they’re not selling ideas to you? Do you care?

Look, we don’t have movies because we want a calm and contented world-view, we want escape. And we have made-up “reality” shows because we want to experience otherness… CHANGE. We positively ache for newness every morning but we substitute it with mere news: who died, who offended, who sang, who is our new champion of the moment? It’s in our DNA. It’s a powerful and attractive force.

But we don’t seek the newness of God’s mercy. Nor the joy of His Truth, or the beauty of His creation– a force that wants to awaken us to CREATE instead of CONSUME. God’s in the creation business and your spirit, if you’re a Christian, is hungry for it. The enemy is in the distortion business and your human soul is satisfied with the empty calories of it. You’re soaking in it even now, in this stew-pot of likes and shares and selfies.

The layers of editors, salespeople, CEOs, managers, accountants and crony politicians behind everything we consume in the big publications, newscasts, and commercials is more than we can know– so we choose not to. We shut down our brains where we most need to employ them. But it’s our duty, if we love Truth above our cultural preferences and intellectual conceits, to be skeptical of the dietitians of our information consumption.

To be in the world and not of it, we must step away and observe it without consuming it. Let’s make sure we’re not existing in a hall of epistemic mirrors, enthralled to the selfie we find there.

Un-Democratic Parents

Last night a friend was expressing her gratitude for her parents’ non-democratic style of raising their family. They wisely refused to be bullied or blackmailed by their children’s threats of withholding affection. They ignored such tactics and went on with the business of building a future for the little ingrates. They had the long vision and the advantage of years and authority and weren’t afraid to use them. Completely un-democratic upbringing results in adults who are able to enter into the human community with mature expectations of what a representative republic looks like. It looks nothing like “democracy.”

We were having a discussion about fairness and envy. I offered up as how, being the last of eight kids, I often heard my mother chiding us with, “Do you have enough in your own belly? Then why do you care what your brother has?”

This moment of political clarity brought to you by [good] moms everywhere. You’re welcome.

Sunday Gospel: Uncreated Light. . . and camping out.

Matt 17: 1-9
Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
“Rise, and do not be afraid.”
And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,
“Do not tell the vision to anyone
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

***

I’ve been around the spiritual block within and without the Catholic church, as well as the non-denominational attempts at creating a community. In the early 70’s the Charismatic Movement made it to North Florida and with that fresh awakening blew in all sorts of strange fire and dubious doctrine. But when it was True, it shone with goodness. And when it was good you wanted to own it. The adrenaline and excitement and spiritual overload was pretty heady stuff.

I wonder, because my own heart can be so puny, if Peter wasn’t just stoked with the status of being on the mountain with the Heroes of the Faith. Nevermind that Jesus was glowing with the brightness of Uncreated Light (I cannot take that in; it is too wonderful to contemplate) which may lead one to think that Peter was basically babbling with overloaded senses. But, have you ever met your idol or someone of Great Import? Yeah, you babble like an idiot, short-circuited by the moment. Do you know where that nervousness originates? It comes from being in the presence of a greater power; it drives the innate fear we feel when we seem inadequate to meet it face to face.

Regardless, Peter was confronted with a vision so real that his basic quotidian instincts set in: we have visitors, really great visitors, let’s make them comfortable. In those days, a visitor from afar wasn’t just popping ’round for a quick “hello.” You would be expected to house them and provide for their comforts. I love Peter’s all-in acceptance of the vision, his careless forgetting of his own status, and his commitment to doing the right thing. A poor fishermen, undaunted by the power-gap, remembers his manners. Peter gets so little credit sometimes.  He exhibited no fear until a “bright cloud” cast a shadow and a  Voice called out. Think of that! A Light so great in orders of magnitude that it outshines the earthly, physical manifestation of Jesus’ glorious Light. I do not doubt that the Heavens themselves opened up from beyond the physical realm of knowledge.

Jesus, after revealing Himself as uncreated Light, adjures them to secrecy, and back down the mountain they go, back among the GenPop; a trip which can only define the term, “anti-climatic” at this point. His admontion to them is almost like Moses’ wearing of a veil when his proximity to the Uncreated Light left his face so aglow that  his very presence smote the conscience of the Israelites. They begged him to shield them from his awesome power. It was overwhelming for Israel. Yet Peter took it in stride. He got it, and Jesus knew that it had begun its transfiguring power in the disciples’ life. Had they spoken openly, that same power would have eminated forth in their telling. He knew that smitten consciences would not abide it.

Lastly, I consider that Peter, James and John would have known historically of Elijah’s association with a fiery chariot (Light) and Moses’ glowing creds. To see Jesus in like status with two other prophets whose earthly fate did not include a known place of burial, and whose presence shone with the likeness and glory of the Creator, would be to cement a solid idea of His true nature.