Tag: God

The True Meaning of Christmas

This Christmas season has not been an easy one for me. Here I am, Christmas Day, and I’m unemployed, with no idea when or whether I’ll find another job and barely enough money to get me through another month–and that’s after spending several weeks, a month or two ago, looking for work. Financially speaking, this has probably been the most difficult time of my life, and it hasn’t been terribly easy in other regards either: I’ve felt distant from loved ones often, have suffered a lot of fear and uncertainty about my future, and struggled against the crushing feeling that I am sinking back into a routine of life that is going nowhere and profiting me nothing. It has certainly not been a time of carefree joy and happy togetherness.

And yet, as all this has been going on, I have also been more deeply aware of the true meaning of Christmas than ever in my life before. “The true meaning of Christmas.” That’s a phrase that gets bandied about a lot nowadays, especially in those sappy “family films” that we all know and love (or hate, as the case may be). And yet, with all this talk, it seems that the meaning of Christmas is still surprisingly elusive. The modern world, by and large, takes that meaning to be as follows: Christmas is a time for giving, for being together with loved ones and reconciling your differences, for being magnanimous towards others and for spreading good cheer wherever you might find yourself. Then of course, there is the commercial side of it, fueled by that very spirit of giving but still all too often erupting into something unhealthy, dry, withered, and ugly. Those things are not bad things (not even commerce, if kept under control–after all, buying and selling brings prosperity!). Yet it seems to me that the secular modern (and all too often, even the religious) world’s understand of Christmas is like a person who looks at an empty house and mistakes it for a home. The soul is missing from the modern notion of Christmas.

So, what is the true meaning of Christmas? The things I listed before are not that meaning, but only its effects: they are a celebration for which the cause has been forgotten or pushed to the background. And that cause is the most profound event in history: that God Himself, the eternal, changeless being, the cause of all that is or ever shall be, the Infinite, Who know human can ever understand or comprehend, chose to become incarnate in human flesh; and what is more, in the flesh of a helpless baby, born of a human woman lowly in all respects save for the extraordinary graces that she was given. Let that sink in. God is infinite, immanent and yet transcendent; He took on a face. God is too vast to be named; He took on a name, and one as common as Jack or Bob, at that. God is all-powerful; he became a helpless baby, utterly dependent on His mother, so fragile that to be left alone for a day could have spelled His death. And He came so that we humans, the oath-breakers, who by right should be cast aside, might become adopted into God’s family and made brothers and sisters of Christ, flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone.

That is the mystery that we celebrate, the great paradox, the incredibly wondrous event which is at the heart of all the joyful outer trappings of Christmas. Christmas as we know it, with all those things that have come to be misidentified as its “true meaning,” would not exist without the Incarnation. The festival has become so great only by the power of faith which has borne it up all through the years; and even though the soul has gone out of it in so many places, that ancient wonder is still there holding it up, and will surely continue to do so as long as it is remembered.

Back to the beginning: this Christmas season has been pretty tough for me. But even in the most difficult times, there is still beauty to be found, and I think it is very fitting that I have seen the beauty of Christmas more strongly than ever before in this, my most difficult Christmas season to date.

Merry Christmas!

~ Jared

Trinity and Duality

During my life and in my experiences of the world, I’ve come to notice something which I think is interesting. It may or may not be of any real significance, but the observation intrigues me. Doesn’t it seem, when looking at the world, that most everything comes in twos? Dark and light, good and evil, tall and short, fast and slow, scientific and mystical, logical and illogical, man and woman, human and beast. If there is one thing, then it tends to have something else which is its opposite or complement. There is always another side to the coin. I’ve long thought that everything exists in such a duality, that dual natures run through the heart of man as well as the fabric of the world. I think that the most healthy and successful people are those who can reach a balance between the two sides of their nature, who can take the sane middle path between science and mysticism, or between romance and practicality, for a couple of examples. And thus I strive for moderation and balance in all areas of my life.

 

Before I move on, I should clarify that I’m not saying I think that everything comes in extremes–the two sides of everything often seem to intermingle and create something that mixes both to varying degrees. But there are only two streams flowing into the central river.

 

At any rate, I recently had another realization–or maybe more of a remembrance–and that is that God is triune. He exists in three parts, and not in the two parts which seem to be typical of the reality that He created. God is a Trinity; He is three-dimensional, whereas those of us in the plane that He created are two-dimensional. Could this be one of the things that removes God from Man? One of the fundamental differences that makes Him so much bigger and greater than us?

 

I can’t say that I have any particular application for this idea. But I thought that the observation itself was intriguing, and maybe others will find it so, too.

 

Peace!

~ Jared

In Which I Return to Ramble about Life

Hello! Been forever since I last posted something. That’s partly because I’ve been busy with various things and partly because I just haven’t had much to post about. But there have been some fairly unconnected thoughts knocking about in my head and I figured I might as well write a post about them. So, here goes.

 

Thought number one: I don’t understand humans. I really don’t. The older I get and the more I see of life and what the world is like, the less I feel I understand about humanity. I cannot comprehend how people are able to commit the atrocities that they do. Tormenting others, taking lives, cruel words, raping and stealing and greed. I don’t understand what drives one person to say unspeakably cruel things about another who they have no emotional connection to. I don’t understand what drives some people to look at another and cast aspersions on his humanity because he has skin of a different color, or what gives anyone the gall to say that he is better than anyone else.

Lately, the weight of the exquisite preciousness of life has been pressing down on me. Life can be destroyed by cruel words as easily as it can by physical actions. It is so fragile, and yet it will always return to be beaten down again, fueled by a paradoxical strength. But I don’t understand why some people want to spread death and pain, or how most of the others can do so without realizing that they’re doing it. Life is so unspeakably precious. A human is an eternal being. Everyone you look at is a monster and a saint embattled for all time. Everyone you look at is as good as you, whether they have been born yet or no, whether they have your skin color or no, whether they speak your language, hold to your beliefs, follow your gods, whether or no they have the same level of riches as you. Why is that so hard to see?

The more I see of humans, the less I understand them. I feel like an alien. Of course, I suppose I am; a sojourner in the mortal realm, passing through my childhood of flesh before continuing on to my adulthood of spirit. But I always thought when I was younger that I would understand people more as I aged, not less. I don’t think I want to understand. I don’t think I need to understand every facet of the beast which drives people to commit atrocities; I don’t even know if I’m strong enough to understand it. It’s a good thing, then, that I don’t have to face it alone. God understands it and gives us the strength to fight it.

And that, I suppose, is all there is to it.

 

Thought number two: Everyday life is an unparalleled drama. This is connected with what I wrote a couple of paragraphs up, about the preciousness of life and the eternity of a human being. Humans are not just short-lived primates scuttling around on a world that will die in the incomprehensibly distant future. We are eternal souls, breathed to life and made in the image of the entity who created all things. Therefore, everything we do is important. The act of getting out of bed on that morning when you are crushed by the weight of lost love and do  not see how life could go on–that is an act worthy of song. The slow soldiering on through a world that seems meaningless, your only hope a distant and perhaps unattainable light, there is a story worth sagas. There is an awful solemnity to the love of a mother, who would give her life for her child; a terrible recklessness in the lovers who would give each other their fragile and eternally precious hearts. A divine joy suffuses the acts of imagination and sub-creation. There is no mistaking the gravity of life, but yet, as in all things, a paradox! Life is also full of joy! Glee and laughter can fill the darkest of times. A child’s silliness can bring a smile to the saddest of forlorn mothers–and isn’t that a heroic act in and of itself? Birds sing in the morning and drive you out of bed with their racket. Such outlandish creatures as sloths and okapis exist to wander the world’s jungles. Gold is there to glimmer; the rain is there to sing. There is an undercurrent of levity in the ocean’s resounding waves.

I suppose it is this consciousness I have lately been gaining of the massive importance of normal actions which has been making it harder for me to understand humans. I wish that everyone could see how glorious and wretched their lives are. How glorious to be an eternal soul–how wretched to have fallen–how precious to the one who made us. As a writer, I can say that even the silliest stories I wrote as a youngster are still held safe in my heart. How much more would an eternal God hold us, his words brought to life?

 

~ Jared

Sub-Creation

I am having thoughts today. Isn’t it wonderfully beautiful, how humans can create things? Isn’t it wonderful how we can mimic God? I think that one of the highest things a human can do is to create something beautiful. To make art. To sub-create, pour out the wondrous creative energy of God that resonates through all time into our own, flawed, incredible creations. It’s one of the holiest of things. I’m in awe of the creative power I’ve been blessed with. I have to use it. I have to create. If I don’t then I’m denying my greatest gift. I want to live my life doing nothing but sub-creating, and shaping, and working magic.

 

But then I’m always faced with the harsh reality that this creative gift is not so highly prized by the world. That I can’t just sit in my basement creating beautiful things. That’s worship. It’s spiritual communion. But it doesn’t pay any bills. And that fact is so incredibly frustrating. The best thing I can do doesn’t give me anything to live off of in our terribly money-shackled society. But some people can live off their creating. I want–need–to be one of those people.

 

It’s just so hard to be noticed, and I’m deathly afraid that I never will be, and I’ll be stuck never being able to fulfill my purpose of creating. I think the fear is hindering me. Making it harder for me to step out. It’s like a wall. I’ll have to siege it. Can I have some Ents?

 

Anyway. I feel that sub-creating connects us to God. It’s an expression of our souls and an imitation of Him. It connects us into this divine continuum of power and growth and revival, building up and magic and birth. It is so. Brilliantly. Beautiful. And good.

 

Words fail me.

 

~ Jared

Words

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ~ John 1:1

And God said, “let there be light,” and there was light. ~ Genesis 1:3

 

Seeing as I have hitherto tried to avoid a religious bias in this blog, it might seem strange for me to open this post with verses from the Christian Bible. Nevertheless, I’m a Bible believing Christian, and what I’m discussing in this post relies on those verses. This is some very theoretical musing, so feel free to disagree… in fact, I don’t care if you disagree with anything I say anywhere in this blog. Disagreement leads to debate, which is generally pretty interesting.

 

Anyway. Words. Words have power. “In the beginning was the Word.” “God said, ‘let there be light.'” Words are eternal. The Word existed before anything else. Everything was made through words. Clearly, words are an extremely powerful thing. Humans have been blessed with the gift of words, of language, of speaking intelligibly and recording our memories in written symbols. Words are a holy thing. I’m sure you’ve always been told to watch your tongue, to choose your words carefully, that words can both heal and hurt.

 

In Webster’s dictionary, “word” is defined as “a speech sound or series of speech sounds that symbolizes and communicates a meaning, usually without being divisible into smaller units capable of independent use.” The origins of the word “word” mean things like “to say, to speak” or, more to my concern in this post, “to call, to name.” Words have been in use since the beginning of time and beyond–the only single thing for which this is the case. In light of all this, the old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never  hurt me” seems rather empty, doesn’t it?

 

So, words have power. But the difficulty comes in defining that power. Everyone knows how easily words can be used to manipulate others. With just a few words, you can cause someone extreme joy or lower them to the deepest pits of depression. Words can move nations to war, or bring peace and prosperity. They can record things that have long since faded into the past, incite all manner of emotions, communicate all manner of ideas and feelings. Words are the entire foundation of human culture and society, and one of the greatest gifts we have been given. This power at first glance seems like nothing special. It’s what we’re all used to. But stop and think. Is this not an incredible power?

 

But it is my belief that the power of words extends beyond these commonly accepted levels. This power is nothing so spectacular as calling down lightning or casting fire or other such things, which is, in fantasy, often presented as the mightiest culmination of words: magic spells controlled by means of a long-lost language. But nevertheless, the power is there. It may not have significant effects on the outer world, but is not the inner world just as important? One of the chief areas in which words have power is the area of naming. It seems that humans must name everything they come across. Every culture appears to have an obsessive fascination with naming things. This is, of course, a method of categorizing one’s surroundings so that they make sense. But when something makes sense to a human, that human has a certain measure of power over it. He or she may not be able to control the thing, but the human will certainly have the power to properly react to what it does. A great many ancient cultures hold the belief that to know the true name of a thing is to hold that thing in the palm of your hand, to have the power to control it. This belief is one of the oldest in existence. Naming, and its ability to create order where once there was confusion and chaos, is one of the greatest powers that words possess.

 

This power is mental or spiritual, but that does not reduce its efficacy. When it comes to the power of words, this is one important thing to remember… any power words have is almost entirely in the heads and hearts of humans. It might be argued that this fact means words have only as much power as humans grant them. To a certain extent this can be true, but think of it this way: the human head and heart are the center of our race. If someone can direct and influence those, then he has power, regardless of how much people allow him to affect their thoughts and feelings. Mental power, though often amorphous, is no less powerful because of being so.

 

At any rate, I believe that when speaking of powers beyond those commonly accepted, naming is the most important one, and the only one I shall mention here (honestly, I can’t think of many others… if any of my readers can, feel free to post your ideas). Expanding into the realm of fantasy, what if the belief that knowing the true name of a thing gives control over that thing is true? Perhaps the human race has forgotten the true names of things. Perhaps that is why we have this obsession for naming, because some deep part of us hopes to one day stumble across the true, ancient names that we no longer remember, that will grant vast power to those who know them.

 

In the end, then, names have a power that is really quite magical. Writers and orators are wizards in the truest sense, using this power as their tool. Of course, it might be more accurate to say this is a Holy and Heavenly power, seeing as we humans have received our gift of words from God. But call it magic or divine power, the power is there, and it is significant.I tend to have a fairly mystical mindset about things, but I hope that everyone can agree on this point, at least.

 

Well, that all might’ve sounded a bit pretentious, but hopefully someone will find it interesting. I might have more thoughts on this subject to post later, we shall see.

 

~ Jared

 

P.S. By no means take this to mean that I believe I’ll be able to gain magical powers if I can only properly name things. That was just fantasizing. I don’t think there is anything that directly contradicts that view, however, so who knows? Maybe it is true.