Saturday, February 26, 2011

Truth is a Verb

When Pilate asked his famous question about truth he had already missed the point. He assumed that truth was a noun.

Truth is something that is done, not just something that is known. Theology can easily become nothing more than a distracting hobby for the Church. Our discussions and speculations about truth are both essential and irrelevant. Description becomes a distraction if it doesn't take us to the point of incarnation and then castrate itself. (Selah)

We need fewer declarative sentences and more declarative actions. The gospel is not merely to know the truth, the gospel is to be set free to love God and incarnate God's love to the world. We must translate truth into a verb. We must be truth-doers - truthers.

This is because truth - in order to be Truth - must be incarnated and actualized. Truth is absolute* but not static. The possibility of the Kingdom of God is not "out there" to be studied and theorized about: it is within you. And I have a good source for that.

What you say or think or intend is not as important as what you do.

“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you."

What makes a theory true or false? Is it what it contains or how (or whether!) it is carried out? You don't have to look far to see that "true" theories can be used for hate and destruction and "false" theories can be used for love and encouragement and reconciliation. Doing right is a lot harder than being right. Knowing all truth and explaining mysteries without love just makes you more annoying percussion, and the world doesn't need more annoying percussion. Truth is a package deal, which means we need deeper and more patient definitions of right and wrong. Woe to those who call good evil and evil good. Amen.

Having right beliefs is good, but that's not the point. Remember James and the demons. The fruits of the spirit are not theological merit badges; they are all qualities that are evidenced in actions. Knowledge of God is experiential rather than intellectual. You do not know God with your mind. Love knows God; non-love doesn't know God. And I have a good source for that too.

*What we can learn from the postmodern Church is that truth is absolute but we are not. Because we see through a glass darkly, our intellectual apprehension of truth is relative, shady, and imperfect. We cannot know all of the truth. But because of the Holy Spirit we can operate in a mode that is consistent with all of the truth. That is better.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Pablo Picasso

Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.

Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.

Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.

If there were only one truth, you couldn't paint a hundred canvases on the same theme.

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.

Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.

The more technique you have, the less you have to worry about it. The more technique there is, the less there is.

Art is the elimination of the unnecessary.

You have to have an idea of what you are going to do, but it should be a vague idea.

Friday, February 4, 2011

We Know in Part, and We Prophesy in Part

You are awake, standing up to your shoulders in a sea of shredded paper under a clear blue sky. There is nothing else visible on the four horizons, except here and there other people, stranded as you are. A few are just within shouting distance.

The paper is loose, and yet you do not sink. A leisurely motion with your legs is all that is required to stay comfortably on top. You have no thoughts.

Picking up one of the bits of paper, you notice it has a word printed on it: "grey." You pick up another: "caboose." And another: "wedding." Every bit of paper carries a solitary inscription; as you look at each word its meaning is imprinted on your mind. "hoarse-wishbone-ulterior-upset-tangerine-froth-road-contents-bark-looking-incident-carryover-favorite..."

Gradually you start building a collection of the most interesting words, forming them into interesting combinations, and then interesting sentences. Occasionally a wisp of breeze disturbs your work and forces you to start over.

Your mind begins to quicken and expand. It is like playing with chemicals and fireworks - these sentences. You notice prepositions are in short supply and start keeping them folded in your right hand. Each sentence brings you closer to something - or somewhere. You do not know what you should achieve or where you should arrive but somehow you feel that trying is worthwhile. More words. The world swimming in black and white and blue.

"most houses are red"

"tangerine solve problems"

"future makes contents"

"nothing rightly sounds but never"

The wind confuses your sentences or simply blows them away. You wonder if you ought to feel perturbed about this, but somehow you sense it is how it should be. We look for the unknown; we accept arbitrary obstacles. It sounds noble.

You find an unusually long word: "prognosticative." You cup it in your left hand, feeling it must be useful; why else should it be so long? Heavy tools are for hard tasks.

Someone shouts to you over the rustling sea, cupping their hands around their mouth: "What words have?"

You do not have those words but you understand them when you hear them. You shout back: "tangerine - contents - prognosticative!" You are conscious of feeling envious that they have a "what."

Someone else shouts: "Where is land?" It is a good question. You wonder if they also are lacking a "what."

Someone else: "Who is iron horse?" The iron horse lives under the iron sea, or maybe under the iron fist. There are many fists. Maybe there are many seas. Maybe the world is just shredded paper. You wish you had more words.

Someone quite close to you: "Stapler nobody have?" He sounds excited.

The conversation continues through the afternoon. Sometimes there are many people shouting at once. This hurts something that is not your ears.

As the sky turns to rose and apricot colored tendrils around sundown, someone shouts excitedly from the South: "What meaning say is world?"


"I am hoarse."