Sunday, December 16, 2007

forceful men

Due to the fact that nobody seems to care to post anymore and I am therefore not sufficiently entertained, I thought maybe I'd post for once. I shouldn't have to do this, though. Don't give me your excuses: that it's Christmas, or that you're writing a book inspired by your blog, or that you need to spend more time with your family, or that you're in the hospital having a baby. I've heard enough. Get back to work!

I'm snowed in, however, and have lately been thinking of things I'd like to post about, so I'll cut you some slack for now.

I've been describing my semester (yes, I still think in semesters) in terms of the difference between a chisel and a sledgehammer. These are two metaphorical tools that God uses on my hellbound devotion to spiritual greatness.

Over the years, He's been kind and gentle: "tink tink" goes the chisel, oh so softly. Lately, it's been otherwise. He's coming at me with the ferocity of a rescuer, crushing that little beast within with a sledgehammer or a jackhammer or a hammerhead shark. What have you. At the risk of seeming melodramatic--oh forget it, the whole point is not worrying how I "seem"--this has been ridiculously painful. I'm really attached to my little beast. I feel comfortable with it, though it does trap me and keep me perpetually depressed.

I believe God is teaching me to be happy. I've never felt I deserve to be happy unless I prove I have the discipline and maturity to handle it well. BUT "the splendor of a soul in grace is so seductive it surpasses the beauty of all created things" (The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning).

Find the overarching theme here:

"Her world has collapsed. The God she had fashioned in her own image, so pleased with her piety, has vanished." (TRG)

"Many of us do not want the truth about ourselves; we prefer to be reassured of our virtue."

"A vast horde of souls were rumbling toward heaven. [They came] marching behind the others with great dignity, accountable as they had always been for good order and common sense and respectable behavior. They alone were on key. Yet she could see by their shocked and altered faces that even their virtues were being burned away." (Revelation, Flannery O'Connor).

"I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it" (Matthew 11:11-12).

Could it be that "spiritual greatness" is of very little consequence? After all this time?

The forceful men and women taking hold of the kingdom are the tax collectors and prostitutes, the dim-witted disciples and the little kids; these are the people who truly know Jesus.