A Light in the Evanescence

Hey! It’s me again. I know, you probably thought I died or something because it’s been so long since I said anything here. Rest assured, I have not passed on but am instead alive, very well (thank you for your concern), and trying to restart this blog before IT dies.

Speaking about dying (bad transition, I know, but you’ll have to move on because I’m not changing it), I have been struck lately by how transient this world really is. From our births, we are stuck in a cycle that is doomed to end.

Whether it be fame, money, careers, youth, or even relationships, the cycle cannot last forever. Money is fleeting: princes have become paupers overnight. Youth only lasts for so long. Relationships very often end before they are properly started. And as for fame… can any of you name all the American Idols? I can’t. See. You can’t do it either. Case closed.

Even at its most basic level, life itself, we see a clear starting point and a definite end. Our world is built upon things that cannot and will not ever last. But, for some reason, we lose sight of the fact that the now is not the only thing that matters. It is so easy to get caught up in mindless entertainment and the trivial matters or today that we take our eyes down from the Goal and look down at the ground, or, as is oftentimes the case, into the gutter.

Everyone has their own things that distract them from the Goal. For some, as I mentioned earlier, it’s money. For some, sports. For some, relationships. I’m more of a I-want-as-much-personal-and-particularly-juicy-scoop-as-you-can-give-me sort of person. I’m not a gossip. Honest. Your secrets are safe with me. I promise. It’s just that I need to know what’s happening in people’s lives like some people need to know who won last night’s football (a.k.a. “soccer”) game. To me it’s just that kind of important. So when I heard that, for example, Carrie Underwood was getting married, I was very excited. Probably overexcited. But that’s not the point. Or, for something that more people can relate to, the Royal Wedding.

But what got me thinking was this: If a personal detail in the lives of a few people entire unconnected to myself can get me so excited, why can I not get so excited about what God (Someone very important) has done and is doing in me (someone entirely connected to myself) or my friends? Why can I not have at least the same level of concern for the salvation of those around me as for the floor I will get at Wheaton next year? What have I gotten out of knowing about Carrie’s wedding except for the ability to (finally) have a something to say in a conversation with an avid hockey fan (she married a hockey player)? Why would I rather spend my money on a new shirt, song, or video game when I could (and probably should) be thinking how to best maximize its impact in a place that matters.

I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people that has to take everything to an extreme. Nothing is half-hearted. I either enthusiastically throw myself into a project or don’t even give it a second thought (or a first thought, for that matter). I either exercise fanatically or not at all. I can’t just like a singer – I either love her or hate her (keep your comments about Enya to yourself as we move on). But any one of those things – my hard-held opinions – can change in a heartbeat. A big mistake or continual frustration can quell my passion for the project I’m working on. A rainy day that throws off my workout routine can be enough to get me out of the gym for weeks. A few lame songs and I don’t really like the singer as much as I used to. Getting up a few minutes late or saying “I’ll do it later” can result in days without a quiet time.

But thanks be to God! For He is not like us! He is constant. Even though we may change, He is our firm Rock. He is an island in the chaos. He is our unwavering light in the cycle of evanescence (that’s my favorite word, just FYI). He is the Goal to which we should be striving, not the fleeting moment. I will die. My aviator sunglasses will go out of style and I will look back at the picture of myself and laugh in shame. I might end up hating my friends so much that I never want to see them again. I will get old and fat and ugly (and don’t you get so smug, because so will you). As Isaiah 40:6-8 says, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” Nobody’s going to remember or care who did what and who wore what at which awards, who beat whom at which games, what your wore, what you ate, how clean your house was, or anything like that 100, 50, 20, 10, or even 5 years from now. But what will matter is how we have spent our time serving our Lord and making His presence known on the earth until He returns. And I pray that when He returns He will find that I did indeed utilize all the resources, gifts, and talents He gave me to my best ability and to His glory alone.

Is the Created World Good?

For many, many years, the world has wrestled with the question, “Is the physical world good?” Many have attempted to answer this question, ranging from the Gnostics to Marcion and Cerdo of the early church. The main viewpoint of those previously mentioned is that anything physical is evil – if something is possible to be experienced on a physical level, then it is evil. The early church condemned these heretics, routinely denouncing them as anathema.

What do the Scriptures seem to say on this subject? When the Lord is creating the world, we read that God says that His creation is “good” or “very good” seven times in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis alone. Thus it is very evident that the world, at least in its original state, was good, not evil.

However, after Adam and Eve sinned, the world became cursed (Genesis 3:17) and death became a natural part of life (Romans 5:12). This begs the question: did creation cease to be good after it was changed through the fall, or was it merely “less good” or did the fall make no difference on the quality of creation? It is probably safe to eliminate the first question when we examine the verse, “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:4 – 5)

We are therefore left with two possibilities: did the fall make no impact on the inherent goodness of creation or did the fall merely lessen the goodness in creation but not totally eliminate it? The answer may be found by pondering the following question: could God, in His perfect deity assume a material form if matter has even a drop of evil in it? The answer appears to be “no”. Thus we must assume that, although our world is fallen and in bondage to sin, as we see in Romans 8:19 – 21, the goodness described in the first chapter of the Bible has not been marred.

The Martyrdom of Polycarp

Polycarp was one of the early church fathers who was martyred for his faith at a very old age. Many Christians were being martyred in those days by the order of the government. However, salvation was offered them if they would merely say “Down with the atheists!” the atheists being, of course, the Roman term for the Christians because they worshiped only one God whereas the Romans worshipped many gods. Polycarp was one of the Christians who, under the reign of either Antoninus or Marcus Aurelius, was martyred.
The martyrdom of Polycarp has great spiritual significance for Christians today. Jesus foretold this persecution on many occasions, such as in Luke 21:12 (“But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name”). Yet the Christians did not try to run from it, and neither did Polycarp. He stood firm in the face of opposition and did not back. Even though he was offered the opportunity to save his own life he merely said, “For eighty-six years I have been his [Jesus’] servant, and he has never done me wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” Martyrs in the past, as well as many, many martyrs that die daily for the Faith prove to the world that Christianity is not a religion that can be suppressed by human hands. Martyrs are very important to us as Christians, not only for the obvious reason of showing us what an example of someone “sold out” for Christ, but also proving to us that the Christ who gave the martyrs strength to face terrible deaths is the same Christ who will give us courage to face the things in our lives that seem, rightly so, small in comparison.

To Go Beyond

To continue on the poetry theme, here is anothre poem I found recently by a guy named Nathaniel Elm. I like it alot, even though the ending might be a little harsh.

“To go beyond this moment and look
Into another, or to go beyond yourself
And find another soul, there.

To go beyond what is missing and discover
How much you really have, or to learn what you have
Been given and know that it is yours

To go beyond this time and look upon the next and wonder
When you will get there, or to go beyond and do what
There still is left to do

To go beyond and think about when there is not
Want, or to go beyond and take another step
And ensure that no others have want, too

To go beyond this present pain and think
About when it was safe, or to go beyond and dream
Of peace and bring it back again

To go beyond and run the extra mile when you know
You didn’t have to, or to go beyond the call of duty
When others do just their part

To go beyond and heal the rift, close
The gap and mend the wounds, or to go beyond and
Wait until the storm has passed without giving in.

This is self-discipline”


This is a beautiful poem I just came across by J.R.R. Tolkien, author of “The Lord of the Rings” to his good friend C.S. Lewis just before Lewis came to Christ.

“To one [C.S. Lewis] who said that myths were lies and therefore worthless, even though ‘breathed through silver’.

Philomythus to Misomythus

You look at trees and label them just so,
(for trees are ‘trees’, and growing is ‘to grow’);
you walk the earth and tread with solemn pace
one of the many minor globes of Space:
a star’s a star, some matter in a ball
compelled to courses mathematical
amid the regimented, cold, inane,
where destined atoms are each moment slain.

At bidding of a Will, to which we bend
(and must), but only dimly apprehend,
great processes march on, as Time unrolls
from dark beginnings to uncertain goals;
and as on page o’er-written without clue,
with script and limning packed of various hue,
an endless multitude of forms appear,
some grim, some frail, some beautiful, some queer,
each alien, except as kin from one
remote Origo, gnat, man, stone, and sun.
God made the petreous rocks, the arboreal trees,
tellurian earth, and stellar stars, and these
homuncular men, who walk upon the ground
with nerves that tingle touched by light and sound.
The movements of the sea, the wind in boughs,
green grass, the large slow oddity of cows,
thunder and lightning, birds that wheel and cry,
slime crawling up from mud to live and die,
these each are duly registered and print
the brain’s contortions with a separate dint.
Yet trees are not ‘trees’, until so named and seen
and never were so named, tifi those had been
who speech’s involuted breath unfurled,
faint echo and dim picture of the world,
but neither record nor a photograph,
being divination, judgement, and a laugh
response of those that felt astir within
by deep monition movements that were kin
to life and death of trees, of beasts, of stars:
free captives undermining shadowy bars,
digging the foreknown from experience
and panning the vein of spirit out of sense.
Great powers they slowly brought out of themselves
and looking backward they beheld the elves
that wrought on cunning forges in the mind,
and light and dark on secret looms entwined.

He sees no stars who does not see them first
of living silver made that sudden burst
to flame like flowers bencath an ancient song,
whose very echo after-music long
has since pursued. There is no firmament,
only a void, unless a jewelled tent
myth-woven and elf-pattemed; and no earth,
unless the mother’s womb whence all have birth.
The heart of Man is not compound of lies,
but draws some wisdom from the only Wise,
and still recalls him. Though now long estranged,
Man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Dis-graced he may be, yet is not dethroned,
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned,
his world-dominion by creative act:
not his to worship the great Artefact,
Man, Sub-creator, the refracted light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with Elves and Goblins, though we dared to build
Gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sowed the seed of dragons, ’twas our right
(used or misused). The right has not decayed.
We make still by the law in which we’re made.

Yes! ‘wish-fulfilment dreams’ we spin to cheat
our timid hearts and ugly Fact defeat!
Whence came the wish, and whence the power to dream,
or some things fair and others ugly deem?
All wishes are not idle, nor in vain
fulfilment we devise — for pain is pain,
not for itself to be desired, but ill;
or else to strive or to subdue the will
alike were graceless; and of Evil this
alone is deadly certain: Evil is.

Blessed are the timid hearts that evil hate
that quail in its shadow, and yet shut the gate;
that seek no parley, and in guarded room,
though small and bate, upon a clumsy loom
weave tissues gilded by the far-off day
hoped and believed in under Shadow’s sway.

Blessed are the men of Noah’s race that build
their little arks, though frail and poorly filled,
and steer through winds contrary towards a wraith,
a rumour of a harbour guessed by faith.

Blessed are the legend-makers with their rhyme
of things not found within recorded time.
It is not they that have forgot the Night,
or bid us flee to organized delight,
in lotus-isles of economic bliss
forswearing souls to gain a Circe-kiss
(and counterfeit at that, machine-produced,
bogus seduction of the twice-seduced).
Such isles they saw afar, and ones more fair,
and those that hear them yet may yet beware.
They have seen Death and ultimate defeat,
and yet they would not in despair retreat,
but oft to victory have tuned the lyre
and kindled hearts with legendary fire,
illuminating Now and dark Hath-been
with light of suns as yet by no man seen.

I would that I might with the minstrels sing
and stir the unseen with a throbbing string.
I would be with the mariners of the deep
that cut their slender planks on mountains steep
and voyage upon a vague and wandering quest,
for some have passed beyond the fabled West.
I would with the beleaguered fools be told,
that keep an inner fastness where their gold,
impure and scanty, yet they loyally bring
to mint in image blurred of distant king,
or in fantastic banners weave the sheen
heraldic emblems of a lord unseen.

I will not walk with your progressive apes,
erect and sapient. Before them gapes
the dark abyss to which their progress tends
if by God’s mercy progress ever ends,
and does not ceaselessly revolve the same
unfruitful course with changing of a name.
I will not treat your dusty path and flat,
denoting this and that by this and that,
your world immutable wherein no part
the little maker has with maker’s art.
I bow not yet before the Iron Crown,
nor cast my own small golden sceptre down.

In Paradise perchance the eye may stray
from gazing upon everlasting Day
to see the day illumined, and renew
from mirrored truth the likeness of the True.
Then looking on the Blessed Land ’twill see
that all is as it is, and yet made free:
Salvation changes not, nor yet destroys,
garden nor gardener, children nor their toys.
Evil it will not see, for evil lies
not in God’s picture but in crooked eyes,
not in the source but in malicious choice,
and not in sound but in the tuneless voice.
In Paradise they look no more awry;
and though they make anew, they make no lie.
Be sure they still will make, not being dead,
and poets shall have flames upon their head,
and harps whereon their faultless fingers fall:
there each shall choose for ever from the All.”

The First Half of My Re-Written Version of “Macbeth”

Act One
Scene One

The world was shrouded in darkness. Not a single light shone, either in the heavens above or on the earth below by which a weary sojourner could find his way. The darkness was almost tangible – alluring and taunting – yet elusive – always hiding just out of reach, like a spider web with fine gossamer fibers that one can never quite brush away. The darkness was absolute; it seemed to hold some sort of a spell. Nothing stood long within its path – the darkness laid desolate every living thing that stood in its influence. Every tree, every shrub, and every blade of grass, it seemed, had long since surrendered its life to the iron will of the darkness. Not a single soul had ventured into the Dead Plain for over a hundred years. Not a creature dared to take refuge beneath the gnarled, rotten limbs of withered oak trees. Not a word. Not a sound. Only darkness.

And then something moved in the darkness. It was a feeble, quaking limb, shattered into many pieces, then a trembling fist; and, finally, a rasping breath forced its way out of a twisted, parched mouth into the plain, ringing across the darkness like a war cry on the field of battle. The air was still thick with the stench of blood and the screams of the dead and dying. A solitary form, decrepit with age and misuse, crawled like a worm across the desolate plain through the carnage of the previous day.

An icy wind whipped over the plain, rattling the rusty branches of the trees and the very bones of the living and the dead into a lifeless submission, and a torrential rain drummed ceaselessly against the lifeless forms, running tiny eddies through tangled and blood-matted hair. No life, it seemed, could endure such devastation. But the form did not give in. Bracing herself — for it was a woman, if one could call such a deformed creature thus — against the frozen blast, she pulled up, seeming to draw strength from her macabre surroundings. With a hideous shriek that was a death rattle and a victory shout and a vulture’s croak in one, she thrust her hands into the sky. Suddenly, the field was ablaze in an unearthly light. Each of the bodies that lay upon the ground was within that moment consumed by an eerie blood-red flame that was not extinguished by the torrential downpour.

And the witch was not alone. Two other figures very like the first crawled through the muck and gore and joined her in pagan incantations. The hellish light grew stronger and more powerful until the light was almost blinding. Yet the three sisters carried on, as indistinguishable from the light as one filth from another.

“I feel my strength returning, sister,” croaked the first.

“I, too, sister,” snarled the second.

“And I, too, sister,” hissed the third.

The sisters turned to one another in pagan glee.

“Our work here is almost complete, sister,” said the first, rattling her skeletal wings slowly behind her.

“When shall we three meet again, sister?” queried the second, tail methodically swaying from side to side, as in a trance.

“And where the place, sister?” demanded the third as her forked tongue flicked in and out of her mouth to catch the scent of decaying bodies,

“When the battle’s lost and won – ere at the set of the sun,” cawed the first, “upon the heath.”

“There we shall meet Lord Rían,” responded the second.

The women, having completed their plans, joined hands. The fire that had once consumed the bodies at first tricked then erupted in a giant cascade out of the bodies of the witches and formed a giant pillar of fire and smoke that reached as a thousand grasping tendrils trying to bring down the foundations of Heaven itself.

“I summon you, Tanwen,” cried the first over the silent roar of the flames.

“I come, Greymalkin,” shrieked the second.

“Dema calls,” murmured the third.

Then, as suddenly as the light began, it subsided into a smoldering, pulsating glow that crawled over and through the bodies of the slain warriors on the field. The field was empty – abandoned it seemed; desolate once more. But it was not forsaken entirely. For three creatures were making their way through the field: a skeletal vulture, a bedraggled cat, and a rotting snake. Their eyes shone feverishly with the flame of the fire that had only moments before enveloped the entire plain as the gathered around one of the fallen heroes and gorged themselves on flesh – biding their time until Lord Rían arrived. And then there was silence. Not a word. Not a sound. Only darkness.

Act One
Scene Two

A final shot rang out. The sound bounced off the rocky cliffs that enclosed the army as a box until it was able to escape like a captured bird out of its cage. Kennet, commander of King Ashton’s armed forces, strolled over to his target and kicked the man with his boot to ensure that he was truly dead.

“That’s the last of them, I would think, my Lord King,” Kennet said, as he bowed to show respect to the man who had just appeared behind him.

King Ashton of the Arnava looked around and surveyed the battlefield. He was a good man, Kennet noted for the hundredth time, with kindly features. The Arnava was an ancient species renowned for their delicate, detailed metallurgy and verbal prowess. Although he was only a few thousand years old, Ashton’s face was creased with crevices that demonstrated the great care and effort he took in ruling his country. From the white hair that flowed off his crowned head onto his shoulders like light dancing on the water to the beautiful iridescent white wings of the Arnava royalty that stretched out to the sky from his back, Ashton looked every inch a king; his presence instantly demanded respect. But his heart was the heart of a peacemaker, not that of a warrior.

Ashton nodded. “I should hope so,” he stated sadly. “I have seen many deaths in my lifetime and I should not like to see any more today.”

“Understood, Sir,” Kennet responded. He holstered his gun and walked slowly with the King back to the military outpost. “We won a great victory today, Sir. Today will certainly teach any other man who wishes to be a traitor to think twice before he acts.”

“I suppose it shall.” Then he paused. “Was today even necessary, Commander?”

Kennet faltered in his steps, a shocked expression on his face. “Sir, Lord Oscar was trying to take your throne! He was willing to kill you for your crown. Any such man deserves to die!” he declared passionately.

Kennet could see that the actions of the day were weighing heavily on the king. He shoulders were stooped; his face was puffy; and he dragged his feet as he walked, not bothering to even look up. “I suppose you are right,” he acknowledged, but then he quickly added, “but surely there was another way: another avenue we overlooked…”

Kennet sighed. He was very young in Arnava terms – only in his late eighties – and was known for his compulsive, aggressive behaviour that was uncharacteristic even of youth. Hence he couldn’t understand Ashton’s peaceable mindset. But Kennet was also fiercely loyal to his king and was willing to go beyond his duties for the sake of the State: qualities that led rapidly to his early promotion to the Commander of the King’s Army.

“There was no other avenue, my Lord. You know that as well as I. All negotiations failed years ago. It was time to act.”

It pained Kennet to speak so his king. It was Ashton, after all, who had saved his life as a child living in poverty and brought him to the palace to be raised and educated. Kennet had been all but adopted into Ashton’s family and almost thought of him as his father.

Ashton opened his mouth as if to say something and then abruptly closed it again. He saw a figure in a bloodied gown frantically making her way towards the two men. Kennet’s hawk-eyes strained to discover the identity of the woman. Then his eyes widened in shock. It was Dr. Dŵynwen, head of the army’s medical personnel, though her current state of disheveled anxiety hardly resembled the cool and collected surgeon that was so familiar to them both. Something must be terribly wrong, thought Kennet apprehensively, to make this woman behave in such a way.

Dŵynwen stumbled up to the men, barely bothering to make a sloppy half-curtsy to the king before blurting out her news. Her eyes were wide with fright, her hair in a tangle, and her face and hands and gown were freckled with dripping sweat and blood. Kennet’s russet wings twitched nervously in anticipation of her news. “My- my Lord Ashton,” she began, gulping the air the way a dying man in the desert consumes water.

“What is it, Dr. Dŵynwen?” the king gently asked. The regal demeanour he had lost during the recent conversation with Kennet he bore once again with a kindly smile that masked growing concern.

“It- it’s your son, my Lord,” she managed to gasp between heaving breaths, “he’s been- grievously wounded.”

Kennet saw the king’s face blanche and knew his face was undergoing a similar process.

“My-“ Ashton began, voice cracking. Then he started over, clearing his throat, “My son… Finn?”

“Yes, my Lord King,” Dŵynwen stated, drawing herself up again. “He was wounded in combat with Lord Oscar not two hours ago.”

“Where is he?” cried Ashton. “I must see him!” Without waiting for a response, King Ashton dove towards the medical district, great wings beating the air into submission like a trainer would a disobedient animal. Kennet also stretched his wings out, their earthen tips extending wide, and raced with the king towards the dying prince. The king is going slow, he thought, faster than I have ever seen from him, but too slow. Kennet was young and powerfully built: his wings were strong and his body was lithe and designed for speed. The King, however, was old and unused to flight; time and again, Kennet had to force himself from beating the king to their destination.

Time marched on like a line of ants with no end in sight; the winds tossed them about like a discarded old toy. Desperation creased the countenance of the elderly king; tears mingled with the sweat and rain that were streaming down his face. Just as Kennet was beginning to have newfound appreciation for the unknown athletic stamina of Dr. Dŵynwen, he saw the medical district faintly in the distance.

It was a small structure of no remarkable features, for it had been set-up rather hastily as part of the last minute preparations for the oncoming onslaught… (To be continued)

Is St. Augustine Still Relevant Today?

When I first read St. Augustine’s popular book, Confessions, I did not see many ways in which this “antiquated” book could possibly be relevant to my life. Aside from further growing in the art of confession, the concept obviously derived from the title of the book, I feared that little would be left to learn. Fortunately, as I delved into the book rather hesitantly, I found to my delight that there are many truths to be derived from this classic work.

To begin, Confessions taught me that my presupposition of the work confession itself might have been slightly skewed. Confession to the Lord and to my fellow humans often becomes merely a list or an acknowledgement while completely ignoring the equally important aspects of true sorrow and repentance. The confessions of St. Augustine were very real – he made no attempt to justify the sins that were his own. This is another aspect in which I seek to grow. It is one thing to own to committing a sin; it is quite another to do so without making excuses or justifications.

While still unregenerate, Augustine’s search for truth was an all-consuming part of his life. This was a very convicting realisation for me as I examined the differences between his quest for truth and me for mine. Granted there is a rather stark contrast in the life situations which we find ourselves in: Augustine was born into a half-Christian home and was not raised with the Truth in the same way I have been. As one great teacher once told me, “It’s okay not to know, but it’s not okay to not know and be satisfied.” In other words, don’t be afraid to ask questions without knowing the answer, but don’t be satisfied in your ignorance. However there are ways in my life were I can see that I am content with not knowing, and this should not be so.

Perhaps one of the poignant ways St. Augustine has changed my life would be as an example of both sin and the effects thereof. I have meditated many times on the passage where he stated, “I was afraid that You would answer my prayer at once and cure me too soon of the disease of the lust, which I wanted satisfied, not quelled.” Unfortunately we as Christians are often caught in the state of the realisation of the fact that our sin must be dealt with but with the hesitation of dealing with that sin for fear of having our sinful desires left unfulfilled. Amid all this, though, is the joy that shines through we a transformed life is witnessed through the power of Christ working through a man to change his heart and his very desires.

Therefore, in my opinion, Confessions, though certainly very old, is hardly out-dated, for the truths and experiences are still very relevant to life today. The truths expressed in Confessions cannot change with time, for their Author does not change with time, and are consequently always relevant.