On Madness

madhatter

Lately I’ve been stirred to make many of my views known to the general societal public. I think the motivation, however brave it may be, is to allow others to peer into my understanding in order to, in devout hope, arrive at something that they had not known previously. I also believe that this is a time in which many are ascending higher into particular realms of influence, and, God graciously grant, that I might have an influence that forms a degree of consecration in others during such an ascension. Be it so that this blog is a blessing to you, an insight into the diverse understandings that are subject to Christian followers, and many, many others. The topic of this blog is: On Madness.

I believe the philosopher, and especially the prophet, are prone to fits of madness. Of course, when I say madness I don’t intend to entirely mean anger, although that is a nature of it, but instead I mean the consequence of mental illness, the nature of some chaotic and eccentric behavior, and often the solidarity of reason. When God equips a man’s reason, then there may be a time of development in which solidarity (I wouldn’t hesitate from saying isolation) becomes necessary. Aristotle seems to allude to the nature of this madness as an understandable point in which the human intellect and the chaotic fervor of the beast conjoin with each other:

[In order for man to live alone he must be either a god or a beast, or both, a philosopher.]

Surely we understand then that God made both gods (Jesus remarks upon this towards the religious leaders of his day, “It is written: you are gods,” John 10:34) and beast, and thus, the goodness of each. Madness then, in a peculiar enough way, is to the benefit of the man over the beast. Madness, being possessive in the natural man also, is but another advantage and sharp contrast to the beast, because the beast cannot exercise the goodness of both the natural man and the beast himself. Even the donkey, speaking with the voice of man, did not exercise his own madness (2 Peter 2:16), but rather rebuked madness! So what does man to gain from madness, if there be anything to gain at all? Do the scriptures speak of madness as good, or evil?

Undoubtedly, madness is associated with the pandering of the beast (Dan. 4:28-37; Zech. 12:4). However not altogether evil to be associated with the beast, the denotative meaning behind the scriptures’ discussion on madness is considerably wretched. Of course, the wretchedness of a thing gives some place to see the good in it, or else, how would God ever see the good in the wretchedness of us–that is, the desire to redeem such wretchedness?In the sense that madness consecrates man to the Imago Dei, then madness is good. In the sense that madness is a punishment for wrong-doing, and thereby causes man to despair in everlasting separation from God, then madness is, well, considerably evil.

Now, in view of the sanctification, consecration, and holy furnace of the trials of God, I’d like to allude the reader’s attention to the philosophical nature of God. In philosophy, the Divine Command Theory holds that an action is morally good, necessary, and sufficient if it is committed by God. In this sense, the will of God in permissively (or rather absolutely) allowing madness means that madness is, in the very least, beneficial. One would refrain from saying that madness is good, being that a virtue or vice is not necessarily entirely directly tied to the nature of Divine Command Theory, thereby directly tied to God in His sufficiency. But, does God bestow madness upon others? I believe the answer here is a resounding yes:

“In that day,” declares the LORD, “I will strike every horse with bewilderment and his rider with madness. But I will watch over the house of Judah, while I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. (Zechariah 12:4)

Clearly we see the actions of the king Nebuchadnezzar bring about madness from the hand of God (via an interlocutor from heaven). Understandably, we realize that many actions are perpetrated by the Enemy, but nevertheless ordained by God. Too long have Christians argued in vain against the problem of evil, without ever taking into account the Supreme Sovereignty of God in the matter–submitting to the nature of free will (God allows evil because of free will) is a fine thing to say, but we must not neglect the consequences of disobeying and thereby enacting evil upon us! This evil may very well be ordained to “refine us in the furnace of affliction” as the scriptures bear out (Isaiah 48:10). Why would one ever presume there is no ordination to these grand actions? In my high estimation, to say such is foolishness.

Madness (in the good sense of the word) is grown and sanctioned through the forbidding of madness. This “forbidding of the madness of the prophet” (2 Peter 2:16) is what stands to gain–that is, the calming quench of the wrath of God. We remember the prophet Elijah, cursing the young men in his madness whereby the bears devoured the young men (2 Kings 2:23-25). Likewise we might recall the stern rebuke he probably faced. Interestingly enough, there seems to be an association of the wrath of God, through the instrument of man, in madness. This must be the relatively good sense of the word. The accompaniment of both the wrath of God, and the consecration of man to God, are the benefits of madness. Yes, and this is a comfortable feeling to entertain.

I’ll conclude with one of my favorite quotes from the popularizer and thinker G.K. Chesterton:

[It is not that the madman has lost his reason, rather, he has lost everything but his reason.]

All my love in Our Lord,

Lance

Advertisements

Martin Scorsese’s “Silence”: Apostasy, Religious Symbolic Imagery, and the Love of Christ

silenceI visited the movie theater the other night to see Martin Scorsese’s new film, Silence.

I was not disappointed in the slightest.

The movie is said to be Scorsese’s passion film, and surely, within my reason to believe, the film is perhaps the greatest religious film to come out of Hollywood since Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. The movie is based on Shusaku Endo’s masterpiece about the lives of Jesuit priests who had come to a hostile Japan in order to preach the gospel and retrieve a missing priest, and yet the movie showed itself to be a unique depiction of certain themes recorded in the book.

Throughout the film I noticed several immensely philosophic and theologic themes: the nature of apostasy, the nature of religious symbolic imagery, and the nature of Christ’s love based upon scriptural teachings–that love being the manner in which God is married to the betrayer through his election. What was beautifully striking about these themes was in the way they stirred up the imagination to believe in the living nature of the gospel; Scorsese arranged the story to display how the gospel lives, breathes, and displays properties that are not only supernatural, but, dare I say, magical.

I’d like to take some of my time to write about these philosophical and theological themes, because I believe the Church has lost a severe interest into the nature of understanding. We have lost the wonder and enchantment that God provides, and without such wonder and enchantment we will find, in those difficult and testing times, that our faith falters beneath the weight of trial.

Apostasy, a major focus in the film, is what I define to be the dimensional relation of rejecting the faith. Apostasy is dimensional because it traverses many subtleties. Apostasy is not merely the vocalization of denying Christ, thereby denying the Christian faith, but rather transcends mere vocalization by means of action, thought, and character. Surely Peter denied Christ in words (Luke 22:54) whereas Judas apostatized in action, thought, and character (Matt. 26:14-16). Titus 1:16 discusses the deeds of men in apostatizing, and Luke 13: 26-27 hammers down the nature of apostasy as that by which one refuses to be in fellowship with Christ.

In the film, Christian converts are called to step on an image depicting Christ, blaspheme the truth of the virgin birth, and other acts. While watching the film, a further question was aroused: is the desecration of religious symbolic imagery an act of apostasy, or something not to be taken too seriously?

Christian symbolic imagery, from here on out to be understood as religious symbolic imagery, has had a longstanding reputation in the Roman Catholic Church. Many such relics have been presupposed as venerable, and as being worthy of veneration. My sincere inquiry became a thirst for righteousness and truth, and likely enough my attention was directed to the scriptures for inspiration. Religious symbolic imagery as it associates itself with the work of God is certainly not forbidden in the scriptures. God not only commanded the Israelites to fashion the Ark of the Covenant (and when desecrated by Uzzah in 2 Samuel 6:7, God struck him down for his “act of irreverence”) but furthermore, He commanded Moses to fashion religious symbolic imagery (a bronze serpent and staff) to act as an item of healing for His people (Exodus 10; Numbers 21:9). But, does this carry into New Testament times? Well perhaps it does within a scriptural understanding; John 3:14 mentions that, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up.” Why is there a parallel here between the religious symbolic imagery of Moses’ icon, and the iconic symbolic imagery of the Cross of Christ?

In philosophical schools, we would likely resort to the study of metaphysics (the study of ultimate reality) to discern between the literal undertakings and other effectual capabilities of scripture. We would be wise to ask ourselves the question of: what IS the meaning of such relation between the symbolic and iconic images of Moses and of Christ? But not simply from a literal example, but instead a metaphysical example of the supernatural nature the scriptures exude in a spiritual manner.

Now, many will immediately remember the prophetic utterances of the seed of Woman’s womb “crushing the head of the serpent” (Gen. 3:15) so therefore undoubtedly the Cross of Christ can be understood as a depiction of the serpent and staff–but is that the only the manner in which we should understand it? Is this not a call to venerate symbolic religious imagery as it pertains to the work of God? After all, veneration (that act by which Moses crumpled before his wife’s Father) is different than the worship of something. We would be wise to ponder the nature of religious symbolic imagery, but not from the position of presuppositions about religion and superstition–instead let it be from the inspiration of the scriptures, and the breath of God into man for the edification of his understanding.

Lastly, the film so beautifully depicts the love God has for His people; although man is prone to rebel, apostatize, and deny the Lord who bought them, God loves them still. This relationship is shown through two characters in the film (one a Roman Catholic priest and the other a recent convert) where the recent convert continually (and I mean like five different occasions) betrays the priest and his fellow Christians by either apostatizing, or in ratting his fellow Christians out. Each time the man betrays his brothers and sisters, he falls at the feet of the priest to ask for absolution in his confession. The priest, grudgingly, listens to him and absolves him over and over.

What moved my heart to the point of break was in the final scene where the love of Christ was so preciously shown: the priest, having apostatized and being nearly forced to live the rest of his life in Japan, sits before the man who betrayed him over and over. He dearly listens to the man, and forgives him for the betrayal of so many Christians to their death. Immediately, I encountered precisely how much Christ loves us. The man betraying the priest was a depiction of myself; I was that natural representation of a man who denied His Lord over and over, but came back time and time again. However, the difference was that my Lord does not grudgingly accept me–instead He welcomes me back with arms of love and grace. He understands my pain, because He suffered for me.

Just as Peter denied His Lord three times, so too did that same Lord accept Him again. Just as the scriptures say, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28). Even elsewhere the message is so clear, “And to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen” (Romans 9:4-5). The adoption of man unto Christ is perhaps one of the most beautiful theological truths. Surely we can rest in the abiding love Christ has for us–so let us call it to remembrance.

So what do we as Christians gather from a movie such as this?

I think a few points need to be emphasized:

(1) Silence displays not only the supernatural and magical properties of the gospel, but indeed the living gospel. 

(2) Interdenominational necessity: the reliance upon hearing and knowing the truth first, and denominational affiliation second.

(3) A call to wisdom for Christians to realize the urgency in “shedding blood” for the cause of Christ (Heb. 12:4).

(4) A return to Christian community

(5) And the need for spoken-word argumentation–the need for the Reason of Christ.

All my love,

Lance

The Altar of Philosophy

The intention of this article is to present a problem: a problem of intention and meaning. Lately, my musings have been concerned with these two problems of intention and meaning within the realm of philosophy. Now, to avoid these two problems when discussing philosophy one must understand what is meant and often times intended with the usage of the word ‘philosophy’. It is almost never intended to be the original designation of ‘the love of wisdom’, instead, it is a usually referenced as a system.

What is this system? Well, without any foundation, they are systems of thought that seem to do nothing but puff themselves up with faulty assumptions or vain thinking. However, upon a foundation, they are useful tools in the evangelization of the truth. Upon a sound foundation of a particular philosophical system these other philosophies serve as useful tools. If philosophy is not used as a means to an end, then it will do nothing else but breed heresy, skepticism, and will horrendously damage the truth, the truth understood as the Gospel, or literally the “Good News”. To demonstrate the point, the philosopher William James has noted that we don’t ask whether a hammer is true or not, but whether it works in producing the desired effect; this is the glory of philosophy, and the beauty in pure reason.

So then, what is this altar of philosophy of which this article is so sternly named? It is a worship of the lesser-system of philosophical thought without regard for the particular foundation of philosophical thinking. One might ask, well certainly, but what on earth can this particular philosophical system be? Will it cause you to recoil at the thought of myself stating objectively what this particular system is? That this is not something that is based upon one’s own feelings, but rather is absolute and entirely objective without regard for what one thinks of it. I speak of this Person Christ. The very Word upon which all creation hangs.

So what do we make of this? Have you been granted an intellectual mind? Good! Use it for the glory of the truth. The only thing you have left to discover, is precisely this: discover the truth. Seek it in Personhood of God, ask, and receive. Call upon his name, the name of Christ, and receive the due justice of a renewed mind that is conformed to the very object of pure reason.

“Goodbye Innocence”

little girl

             "Goodbye Innocence"
               by Lance Gracy

Goodbye innocence, hello grim reality;
Goodbye effortless, hello saintly totality.
Goodbye, goodbye
It was bliss while lasting.

Goodbye ease of soul, hello harrowing;
Goodbye earthly pleasures, hello longing.
Goodbye, goodbye
Now for such arduous belonging.

Farewell all you who rest in ignorance,
Farewell to your joyous sense;
For life may be a frightening fit,
A solemn existence, a prison, an unrelenting bit.

Goodbye O world, so long, farewell;
Goodbye, of your secrets I do tell.

Goodbye world, in you I do not belong;
Goodbye you mockers, play your lucre song.

Goodbye, goodbye,
For where shall I find my rest?

Goodbye, goodbye,
In Christ I find my best.

 

“A Light Missing”

A light missing-
Chaos and Calamity
A light missing-
Mind ensuing insanity

A light missing-
A solemn retreat to pain
A light missing-
My Soul waxes and it wanes

A light missing-
A touch of darkness so well known
A light missing-
An awful, blackened, desperate sort of moan

A light missing-
O, so evidently seen
A light missing-
To be acquainted with that not-so-friendly fiend

A light missing-
Hope, an ever distant friend
A light missing-
This heart must break to mend

A light missing-
Healing must come soon
A light missing-
Your love and grace the remedy, the boon

Night Recapitulation

I dreamed of You and Your work.
Such wonder I held before You.

Today was marked by a mesmerizing jolt of blessedness. O, how my heart sang with joy! It sure was You that shined upon me; I wish such an occurrence were to happen often. There is so much life in You- so why do I lack this abundant life? What tyrannical mechanism has stepped in between You and I?;

Stop this foul tyrant, Lord of Hosts! Delay no longer! For, today is the day of Salvation!

Sing me Your lullaby and grant me a melodic chord to dream peaceably with You. May my days be sustained and full of Heavenly life; May the praise of a blessed earthly existence be ever on my lips- eager to exalt Your name.

As I glance at my canine companion, I know You are Maker. Such waggish workmanship You have ordained for my pleasure. O Lord, I bless Your name. Great are Your deeds, and greater still Your thoughts from mine. Now, Good Lord, let me sleep a sleep from Heaven. Guide me into Your Spirit and afford me the privilege of perception that I may know You more. Do not let me go. Cleave tightly to me and never, never let go.