30 Oct 2004

In addition to the general situations in which men find themselves today, there are those things in personal life which have always tested faith: the inexplicable tragedies and injustices; the suffering of innocent people, especially of children; the seeming uselessness of prayer, and so forth. It is surely life itself that makes against belief in most cases. It is the contradiction in real life between any image of God as good — whether God is “above”, “beneath”, or “within” — that makes men atheists. Yet how few books and how few sermons touch on this basic problem! Our theological libraries are crammed with books devoted to every aspect of textual and higher criticism of the Bible; but of genuine theological thinking about the things which drive religion from men’s hearts, there is appallingly little to be found. The archaeology of Christian origins seems largely to have replaced genuine theology.

– O. Fielding Clarke

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:17 am

I am numb as the day pours over me and solidifies into the past. While I am still soft and pliable, still able to change, I sit as if waiting for the end of the world, as if all action were meaningless. Thought is too heavy: the wheels of my perception are thick and made of lead, too much inertia to move. Thought is too light: it floats off before I can make sense of any pattern. Time is a messenger whose tongue I do not understand, only to realize so much later that something important was being said. I only wait. While somewhere, at any given time, someone’s heart is being broken, I have only a dream that love ever was — and I envy those who have felt enough that its lack is painful. I imagine I am a fool. And I guess, in the end, no one ever promised me a future — it’s just that I look around and there is all this present going to waste, with nothing to wrap it up in and bring it home.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:09 am

29 Oct 2004

God did not make the world out of nothing. He made it out of love.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:09 am

You remind me of a poem I can’t remember, and a song that may never have existed, and a place I’ve never been to.

– Abraham J. (Grandpa) Simpson

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:04 am

Sometimes, I find that my heart breaks for no reason at all.
Maybe I have secret loves, ones that I don’t let myself in on.
An entire life I have forgotten, lived — every time I blink….

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:01 am

28 Oct 2004

Dawn, exhale a day to stream through the vapors of my soul like a hundred spring breezes distilled into a single breath. I have dreamed of perfect hours, balanced at the very edge of fate, and this morning begins as if it were seven prophecies all coming true at once. I slip into the waking world full of heart. There is phraseology for when you cannot tell where your life ends and Heaven begins, when you forget that you are a mortal being: it is called epiphany, when God opens up the world and shows you the truth underneath it.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:09 am

26 Oct 2004

There are many things too big for me. If I think on it, for one, the classic Problem of Evil overwhelms me — the cruelty that is in this world is huge and inexplicable, permeating every scale of existence. Even merely to eat is the closing of another window into this existence, maybe more than one: the sheer amounts of random pain seem extraordinarily wasteful uses of living organisms. I try to absorb it in philosophy, try to drown it in words, but these are meager weapons on such a monster. To say that God has a reason that we will find out about later is such an infinitesimal alleviation, a band-aid on a maiming gash — that there is a reason may well be true, but it is to try and heal a disease by telling you that it’s only temporary. Life, after all, is temporary, but there are a lot of spaces within it to fill.

There are two opposing responses to the situation, both valid in their own ways. (If it does not affect you, to the positive or the negative, my thinking is that you do not understand the problem, or have not thought about it enough.) One response is to shut that which may be your faith, the other is to surround and cocoon yourself in your believing. A rational man, examining the claim of providence, comes upon the sounding of such a strong argument — that a greater power does not exists else we would be shielded, all we creatures, from such incredible experiences of pain — that he suspects that the argument is true. If all this pain is necessary, then either God is not all good or He is not all-powerful: that is the consequence of the Problem of Evil. Or at least one of them, for the reaction may justly go in the opposite direction, and why so goes into the emotions involved.

For however calmly and logically the rational man outlines the argument against believing, it is ultimately an emotional response that he is making. It is not complaining about minor pains, but that there is so much, so great, so prolonged, so random suffering — and not just caused by free will (the classic refutation to the Problem of Evil), but also by “acts of God”. It is a passionate rebuttal to the believer’s conjecture of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent being. But one might think of it thus: logically, if there were to be recompense a hundred-fold to any suffering a creature goes through, one might think that you could make good on even the greatest of pain. It may sound cruel, but only because we do not know what that recompense could possibly be. All of it could be somehow worth it, and what if it only meant something if we suffered so that it came to pass? Pain’s answer might be the bigger thing….

But no, I am not trying to solve the Big Question. Ultimately, for the believers, we are left with only mysterium tremendum, and the doubters are left with meaninglessness. As has been said, the Problem of Evil is a monster that will not drown in words — but lo, I find I must make it through this night holding onto that which I believe, for my faith saved me. My reaction is therefore to its utmost defense. In the end, it comes down to trust: I trust that there is something greater than I can comprehend that I understand as love. God is love, remember? It was a leap I made long ago, and I burned all my bridges on the road there. There are many things too big for me, but my faith makes my smallness all right. For this is my response to the Problem of Evil: that the problem deserves an emotional answer, just like the ones the doubters make without knowing it: believe, and love can be bigger than that.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:12 am

25 Oct 2004


We are made
in the image of the endless —
somewhere in us
there is the shadow of the eternal.
What there is
of true passion
is the glimmer of the
boundless light we cannot comprehend,
yet which through all things
expresses itself:
the know of all meaning.
We are where
the infinite
touches being,
the cutting edge of creation,
where the above
encounters what is below,
and imagination forges its solid engines.
Do not forget
your responsibility,
earthling, that we
make of the world what we dream,
that we conceive
the future of the entire world
from nothing.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:03 am

23 Oct 2004

Never get into a fight with someone who has nothing to lose.

posted by John H. Doe @ 8:31 am

I don’t know, really, what it means not to have enough, what is the experience of ordeal. It is a sheltered existence, and chances are, you too are limited in this understanding of the other side. I have never truly known hunger, or thirst, never lacked in the mobility of my limbs, never had to sleep out in the rain or the cold, do not live at the edge of death. I have not known any such utter affliction. We display how pampered we are by our complaints, and if I examine mine, how petty they all seem — how annoyingly weak my ability to tolerate the minor inconveniences that I call my suffering. In contrast, how heartbreaking the joys of those who are truly in need, that they feel happiness because they ate this day, or because their child did not die in a world where the possibility is never far. It is we who sing proper in the tune of “Amazing Grace”: we who speak that it saved a wretch like me. Those who have faced true hardship, true pain — these are our betters, so above such that is our wretchedness. How appearances can be deceiving when (if) we ever stoop down to help one of them up; what we should, instead, is ask them as humbly as we can if they could bless us, for all we can offer them are material things.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:08 am

22 Oct 2004

Synesthesia: I taste the music, the flavor of honey, rippling across the waters of my spirit like a stone of knowledge were dropped from my imagination sky. I am reminded of wildflowers reaching out to escape their earthly roots; I am wondering where I end and the experience of it all begins; or perhaps the experience is all there is to any of us, and any attempt to separate ourselves from the sensation is to deny the I am. Sometimes the imagination of the fantastic flows seamlessly into a dream, to awake having a clue to the mystery of time. Sometimes, a clue is all we ever get to all that really matters, for to reveal themselves, all that means most would have to vanish. I am reminded of a symphony of aromas conducted by the wind, a hint of a rose drifting deep into my hearing, a word that means something else, unspoken: synesthesia.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:05 am

21 Oct 2004

You are a man, not God; you are human, not an angel. How can you expect to remain always in a constant state of virtue, when this was not possible even for an angel of heaven, nor for the first man in the Garden?

– Thomas à Kempis

posted by John H. Doe @ 5:25 am

Let not your observation of the world miss the whole point.
None of us can ever be so right that we never compromise.
And sometimes, the best thing anyone can do is let it go.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:02 am

19 Oct 2004

I keep thinking: all we misfits, we pariahs, the collection of we who try and fail: it is we who are the children of God, for it is that our home is not here, and that we will never conform to the standards of this world: I get the feeling we are meant for better things. As He was, before us — the world did not know Him, this light in the darkness, for His ways were not the ways of the world, and the darkness comprehended Him not. He called us to do as He did, to be kind to those who despitefully use you, to pray for your enemy, to turn the other cheek; these ways are still incomprehensible to the authorities of this earth. And He told us that those in sorrow are the fortunate, for they shall find joy, and that the poor are the blessed, as theirs is all Heaven — that that which was above belonged to those who were far, far below. Did He not even heal the lepers, touching those who were called unclean? He understood all we outcasts, for perhaps this thing is so: we the botched, we the malformed, we the dirty and the faulty, we who have thought destiny had forgotten us altogether: it is to we, and about us, whom Jesus meant when He prophesied, “The meek shall inherit the earth.”

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:07 am

18 Oct 2004

The power of love: did I ever believe it? If I ever did, it was like believing in a dream, an insubstantial faith, a wisp of a conviction. For to believe is to make a stand, and when did I ever make a stand in the name of love? I had an idealistic notion of what that four letter word meant, and I think I understood it as sort of a universal salve, but when things got tough, it was not to love I turned — because it was never an answer to any one of the real questions that ever came up. The power of love was never to me any real form of energeia, but rather a potential meant merely for daydreaming. I never knew what it was, in the first place, for perhaps believing in its power is to have faith in humanity; I always had separated the two, thinking love was perfect and pure while human beings were flawed and corrupt. I never understood the key to it all, a simple realization that a child might make, a proof in the pudding. In the end, if we do not ourselves love, what power does it ever have?

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:05 am

16 Oct 2004


When there is a God,
He imbues our faintest deed
with the infinite, for we
speak of Heaven and Hell,
of endlessness: each step
is one fraction closer
to the precipice of eternity.
Death is merely a separation
between you and the
finite possibilities of this world.

In each of us all is
a candle to hold against
the wind of creation:
for some it is merely a
fragile light, but for a few
it speaks more profoundly
than a thousand voices.
Some understand
that we are to be a part
of the light that is a part of us.

How we waste everything,
yet nothing is wasted:
when you love,
the whole world loves,
and when you hate,
the whole world hates:
let us never forget
that there is naught
to all humanity
if you count yourself out.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:09 am

15 Oct 2004

“Can God make a rock He can’t lift?” — this was never meant to be answered, not in any meaningful way, a flippant questioning, making fun of belief in something so preposterous as an omnipotence. I have an answer, though….

There was a Zen master who was sitting quietly, when a student came and asked him what he was doing. He answered, “Thinking the impossible.”

When he was asked by that student how it was he was doing that, he answered, “By not thinking.”

So, here is the answer that the question, “Can God make a rock He can’t lift?” deserves. For I think God is capable at least of a Zen master’s skill. Can God lift the impossible? Yes. By not lifting.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:04 am

14 Oct 2004

Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you yourself shall be the miracle.

– Phillips Brooks

posted by John H. Doe @ 2:11 am

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