Myself In Other Writers – boring post

I’ve been reading a lot lately and I’ve noticed a part of myself in almost each writer.

I read Dostoyevsky and the one theme I get from all his books, especially Notes from Underground, Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov is that painful level of self-awareness. This and the irritation I (or the main character in these books) sometimes get. The irritation which paralyses you. The kind that says: “If I endure another 5 minutes of this, all my problems will be solved. But I do not want to endure another second.” The instances of self-awareness is implicit in all the books I’ve read by him, though in Notes from Underground he makes it explicit:

“I swear to you gentlemen, that to be overly conscious is a sickness, a real, thorough sickness.”

The irritation is very aptly described particularly in The Brothers Karamazov and, again, Notes from Underground. In the former you see it in the character of Dmitry, passionate, noble yet short-tempered Dmitry: Very amiable but very specific things, especially pedantic ones, are able to send his fury through the roof. In Notes you find in the “hero” of the tail constantly changing between loving and hating people, notably that whore whom he abused, then inspired, just to bring her down again. Not out of spite. He truly hated her at first, loved her at second, and despised her at last.

Obviously there are other aspects such as the passion and deep aspects I like of Dostoyevsky, yet being irritated as I’m writing led to me focus on the above two aspects.

For the more amicable writers…

I read G. K. Chesterton and the one thing I have in communion with him (which he perhaps imparted onto me) is that childish sense of wonder. Consider the following from his book, Orthodoxy:

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

Chesterton has always been my favourite author. In his detective novels – and his philosophical books – he always has a way to see the humorous and yet more true part of a story. I wish I had that ability.

Following on Chesterton is C. S. Lewis. No writer has impacted my soul and mind as much as him. In each of his books one can see the utter peace in which he wrote. His style is so logical, yet so profound. Like the wise friend who – if only you bothered to listen to him – will expound everything to you in the most clear and most loving manner, leaving you with no doubts.

Last year I gained an interest in apologetics, which led to me partucularly focusing on the historical facts for Jesus’ resurrection. A few weeks ago I started reading Lewis’s Miracles. Boy is that a good book. I wish I read it at the start of my research. Do yourself a favour and read it. Anyway, what I have in common with him is his interests. Here I am doing research on Christ’s resurrection, only to find that Lewis already wrote a book on it. Here I am liking G. K. Chesterton, discovering that it was Chesterton which “baptised” Lewis’s mind. I’m watching debates on God’s existence, and here I am reading a book by Lewis on the topic which, if I did not know him, I would have thought was written only last year. Before I started reading his work I enrolled for a mythology class, only to find mythology to have been Lewis’s main interest in life. In his whole autobiography I see glimpses of my life in his. I just wish I can have a tenth of the intellect and knowledge that Lewis had.

This month I picked up Ravi Zacharias’s autobiography, From East to West. And also William Lane Craig in On Guard. In them I share the longing for purpose in my life. The longing to reach out to the sceptic not just with facts, but (and I’m still learning how:) with love.

I guess we all have some common traits. Yet seeing these people with whom I share a part of my soul, seeing what they achieved in their lives (or in the case of Dostoyevsky, what he felt) inspires me more than anything else in this life other than God himself.

Meaning

At this moment I am sitting on the patio. It is a warm summer day with an icy wind. Above my laptop I see the ocean waves crashing on the beach with the beautiful, hazy clouds above.

This week I started reading C. S. Lewis’s Miracles, which is amazing and I’m finishing Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, probably the best novel I’ve ever read. Yesterdy I bought two new books. The one is the classical Arabian Nights and the other is Annals by Tacitus, the renowned Roman historian .

I really love my books. Not any books, but the books I like; apologetics, classics and history.

There’s another thing I like: having a life. Besides God nothing is more precious to me than spending time with my friends. Last night as I sat at this same spot I got this very strong urge to walk around the neighborhood in the dark. What I would have given to have my friends here, perhaps sitting around a fire with them on the beach.

As I’m writing everyone in the house is asleep. I was on my phone on Facebook when, as often happens, I get consumed by this feeling of utter meaninglessness of my life. My life has meaning in Christ and that is something no atheist will ever have. The meaning I lack, or think I lack, refers to things I do which will have no lasting impact. Will reading my apologetics books ever truly help someone on his quest for truth? What is the point, ultimately, of reading these classics, such as Dostoyevsky?

As I wrote the above paragraph I realised that there is some use in it. The apologetics is bound to come in handy, yet I am never able to convey to others what I learnt. The life stories I read in Dostoyevsky, I admit, will probably impact my life and influence the direction it will take. So I guess there is some meaning.

Yet this sense of meaninglessness also goes to my studies, international relations. At the end of the day, and I know it is dark to say it, it doesn’t matter whether or not people in the Middle East died of age or died by barrel bombs. There is no eternal significance in it. The only part with true meaning in this sense is their souls. Getting them to the true knowledge of Christ will not just give them hope in this lifetime, but lead to life eternal. Eternity. That is what matters.

Do not get me wrong. Because I have empathy for the suffering in the world I am studying politics. My goal is (was?) to use my political knowledge to hopefully, in some way which is seeming ever more obscure, some day, alleviate the suffering of these people. I realise this is also not without meaning. We are created in the image of God. That in itself and His love for us give us  intrinsic worth and therefore we have reason in trying to help others achieve a better living in this life.

Yet what nags me is that, at the end, the preacher who saves their souls is doing an infinitely more meaningful thing than me who wants to save their mortal bodies.

P. S. Simply writing this post made me consider my own words: I am working to save the image of God, personified in all those who live. A new thought.

No Monster Here – Christian Analogy

The past few years, especially this one, I’ve been taking apologetics very, very seriously. I’m writing this allegory to describe what it feels like to constantly question your faith.

Suppose you had a dream. In your dream everything is very clear and yet very vague. You know what is happening and you have the answers to everything, yet nothing really makes sense.

Then someday someone wakes you up and screams at you about how you’ve been sleeping in a dark, cold, desolate, abandoned hospital room. You are shocked. You suddenly feel the stark reality of it all. As you look around you see two things: a small candle burning and next to it a packet of matches tied to more candles.

As you venture out into the dark, you feel very afraid that there might be some monster or spirit or demon or killer or whatever in the dark. You do not want to look deeper, yet you head onward. As you cross the first corner and look into a hallway, you realise there’s nothing there. Yet out of fear you do not go deeper (yet). For a while you only stay in your room while only going so far as that hall. In time you grow accustomed to the hall. You consider the walls and the roof and some peculiar marks on them. After a while you light a candle there and feel no fear at all.

Then you head past the next corner; still afraid (always afraid of the unknown which might just overturn your whole life)… only to find another empty hall. Here too you spend a while learning the outline of the hall, living there a while and eventually lighting a candle. And this you do until your last breath.

There are always fears and doubts – you are always aware that someday you will meet someone or read something which will turn your life around and make you deny God, yet the amazing thing is how you always find that what bothers you is without substance: nothing more than the lack of light.

 

Wrong things my Christian brothers/sisters do #1

This is not meant as being condescending in any way, though I apologise if it comes off that way. I admit that I become very irritated when my fellow brothers and sisters do these things. And I know I am also guilty of these things at times. My goal is simply to make you aware of this.

#1 We secularize ourselves

Now this I need to explain. Put simply secularism is a process through which the divine (God) is removed from actions, academics and the public sphere. To put it bluntly: to secularise something is to separate and remove it from God.

It is to say “Okay God, I will worship You here, but when friends come I will not play my Christian music… because it ain’t cool.” You are in effect taking God out of a part of your life. Christ should permeate our every thought and deed.

Last year on my birthday I got a couple of friends over. I wanted to play my music, but my two best friends… who are Christian… immediately had the up most concern that I would play my music there, as they know I am a huge fan of Christian music. Not because it’s boring, I mean YouTube a few artists like For King and Country or MercyMe to see it is far from it. But because, in their mind, a party isn’t the place for God.

This is not right. You shouldn’t say “Okay, this is a Christian song and this is not. I’ll play the non-Christian song”. There shouldn’t be a division. Christ should permeate everything. Once again, there’s nothing wrong with other music. Just make sure that you do not divide things into Christian and non-Christian, holy and secular, with God and without God.  To put it bluntly, make sure you are not ashamed of Christ. That you are not putting the almighty saviour who loves you and died for you into a box. If you are, you better read Matthew 10:33 (you can search it yourself).

Whenever I think of this topic, I think of Tenth Avenue North’s song All the Earth is Holy Ground

All the earth is holy ground

I don’t believe in secular things

Where ever I go the Sacred’s inside

I have the Sacred inside

 

P. S. For artists who do not believe in secularism, look for Michael W. Smith, Joe Niemand (if possible), Tenth Avenue North, NF, Lecrae, MercyMe, Casting Crowns and TobyMac.

We are all Dreaming

How long must I pray to You?

How long must I wait for You?

How long till I see Your face, see you shining through?

I’m on my knees

Begging You to notice me

Hold My Heart ~ Tenth Avenue North

I’ve just realised something. I believe I’ve lived under the illusion that I should always improve. I think of that verse where Christ says “Be ye therefore perfect” as a commandment to try to be perfect, even though we cannot be perfect.

But tonight I had a different thought. Perhaps the current one is true, but I really need to consider this one. Maybe were are already made perfect in Christ and that improving myself was just stitching pieces of garments to my torn clothes. Maybe, after all, I’ve been trying to improve my old self instead of fighting it.

Just today (or was it yesterday?) I’ve read the verse where Jesus talked about new wine in old bottles and new patches on old clothes and I could not understand what He meant by that. But perhaps I do now.

I’m a new creation, a pure, holy being in His sight. As Paul said, there are two people within me fighting for control. The things I want to do I do not and the things I don’t want to do, I do.

But I’ve gone slightly off topic here. I meant to write about being in God’s presence.

You see the majority of my time is spent, in some sense, away from God. I would do my work, always fight to do the right and pleasing thing for God and I would learn about him and all that stuff.

Yet every now and then I would just realise how distant I have been. That I should just open my soul and talk to Him.

Why is this so difficult? I’m sure I’m going to go sleep in a short while and then wake up again. Or rather, I’m not going to awake. Why can’t I stay awake?

Why can’t I stay in His presence?

If You’re everything You say You are

Would You come down

And hold my heart?