“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8 (KJV)
(continued from Part 1 )
Now, I must be honest, this next, Godliness, one is a bit puzzling to me. “Eusebeian”. Godliness. This word apparently has a bit of different meaning depending on who you ask. It is, at it’s most basic principle, the veneration of God. This article on what we can take away scripturally on how to live godliness, which boils down to a kind of threefold harmony of the fear, desire, and love of god. But I want to take it a step further and, maybe as a tangental thought, reflect on the absurdity of belief, and how i think this relates to the idea of godliness.
In fact, the idea of being ‘god like’ or ‘approaching a mode of being similar to God/Christ” seems not only categorically impossible but also a quest that would be similar to asking someone to move a mountain with only a mustard seed of faith. Paul admits that “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)(KJV), Yes, he may have been mostly chiding the Romans for their lack of righteousness, but we must consider that no one can be in totality Christ, otherwise they would be Christ! Does that make sense? You and I are humans, and although we strive to strip away the sinful aspects of us in favor for holiness/godliness, we will always fall short. this presents an inherent contradiction- what is even the point of striving? We will continue to fail, and we might as well give up and live freakish and fleshed out.
Silence! The defeatism of this is staggering in its whiny cacophony! Yes, we may never achieve Christ like living in totality, but this is exactly why we strive originally for virtue and for knowledge and for temperance and for patience- that we may have even a taste of the Divine. Because it really only does take a mustard seed of faith to move a mountain. Because we as humans can construct the Kingdom of God both outward and inward, and we can strive to disrupt the modern mayhem and the System!
this kind of absurdity of faith is best understood through Kierkegaard’s “Fear and Trembling”, in which he makes the argument that Abraham’s acceptance of the absurd notion of faith in a god that would demand something so unthinkable as to sacrifice his only son, one that took much strife to come to existence. Abraham did indeed do as he was told in full obedience (Kierkegaard even begins the book with scenarios of what could have happened, but not what did- expressions of anger, doubt, confusion, and so on.).
The current modern dogma leans heavily on cold, hard facts of scientism. No longer are we spiritual beings, we are merely brain chemicals and neurons, we are stimulus and stimulation, beings that of instinct and patterns. Faith in a higher power is not rewarded. Faith in a higher power can never be true. “Science proves this, logic determines that.” The System is always going to demand faith to itself, to money, to sex, to power. It plays at the reptile part of the brain, the one that wants satisfaction and not tranquility. Faith doesn’t serve the system, unless it can directly profit (which is why, quite honestly one should avoid mega churches and the like. The original version of the church, a group of people getting together to discuss the scripture, is decentralized and provides an alternative to institutionalization of the Spirit, which in turn can be a benefit to the System).
this is maybe why absurdist humor is so popular among millenials and younger. Absurdist humor seeks to parody the very notion of logical thought, and to take what are established truths and subvert them. The internet diffuses absurdity by creating a shared memetic language of humor that evolves and is meta-referential. And this shared humor is a reflection of the current global tension, and even the contradictions of the technological system- we recognize on an innate level that something is wrong, that despite being in the most comfortable time in human history we are also more depressed, anxious, and suicidal. That we can be more connected to one another than ever before and still be without a fundamental unity.
And, turning to the absurdity of faith, of christian faith to be specific, we see the jesters and the mockers slither out of their holes to be martyr by the tongue- ‘well what about this contradiction that I haven’t contextualized! what about this metaphorical passage I’ll take hyper literally! hello?? Little faith idiot! Prove to me using only my method of proving things!” Let me tell you this folks- I no longer care. Yes, we must learn to succeed in countering these, but I am no apologist, I am simply am. we can actually look at the chad vs. virgin dichotomy to illustrate this idea- while the virgin over thinks, and while the soyjak seethes with rage, the chad quietly embodies the absurdity and lives with it. I choose to go towards spiritual ‘absurdity’ because it actually contains holy unity by living through christ, which cannot be found in the modern day morality and dogma. Which is all a flowery way of saying ‘why should I choose boring ‘is what it is’ secularism that is built on shifting sands of morality, when i can choose to follow a forever enriching path with lit cosmology.’
Here’s a parable I just made up to illustrate this- There are two farmers, one a man who has studied greatly the techniques of growing, the other who lives as a simple farmer- the Learned Farmer and the Simple Farmer, respectfully. The county fair is hosting a contest to grow the best crop of tomatoes, and both farmers desire greatly the blue ribbon. So the Learned Farmer schemes to himself. ‘I can manipulate my crops to grow faster, bigger, and stronger than the natural methods. I can spray pesticides to kill the bugs, and I can use knowledge of flavor to make it taste the best as well!’ And so he goes about, and he grows quickly the biggest tomatoes you have ever seen, all equal in size. Not a single bug touches the flesh, and he expelled little labor, for machines and robots pick the tomatoes.. However, he grew very bored. He had so much free time, and yet he didn’t have anything he wanted to do. His boredom gave way to frustration. So he visited the Simple Farmer’s home. The Simple Farmer provided the Learned Farmer with bread and ale.
-Tell me, Simple Farmer, what methods do you use to succeed in growing your crops?
The Simple farmer gazed quietly out the window. “I use the methods of my father. I till the land, i plant the seeds, water the ground, and keep careful attention to my crop. I pick through each leaf the aphids and bugs, I fertilize the crops that need fertilization, and tend the weaker ones so they may grow stronger. and then, I pick each one.
The Learned Farmer gawks and dismisses him.
-No, surely you jest! We now know this is not the best method to grow crops. You cannot crush all the aphids, you cannot water all the plants, nor sew all the seeds, nor pick each one. You will lose surely the contest, and many of your crops, this way! Yes, you are indeed a ‘Simple’ farmer!
And so he laughed and laughed at the Simple Farmer’s foolish ideas, and still ate from his table. The Simple Farmer simply smiled.
At the fair, the Learned Farmer presented his crop to the judges. And indeed, it was the biggest tomato any of them had seen, so big as to rival the size of a slab of meat. The judges cut into the tomato with fork and knife.
Then, the Simple Farmer presented his tomato. It was misshapen, small, a tender little thing. The judges gingerly cut it apart and tasted what little was there.
There was little deliberation. The judges stood up and proclaimed-”The blue ribbon for the Simple Farmer!”
Boy, you should have seen the Learned Farmer. He was in a rage and a tizzy, stomping on his hat and throwing his tools, even kicking his robots.
-what is the big idea? I grew more crops, I kept bugs away, I used the best and most expensive chemicals, and genetic splicing of cutting edge fashion.
Everyone sat by embarrassed by the Learned Farmer’s lamenting, until the Simple Farmer stood up.
“You may be a brilliant chemist, a genius geneticist, a master of psychology, and fully knowledgable on all matters of the mind. But despite this, you are not a farmer. I am.”
Sorry if that seemed all messy, but I must communicate my thoughts as they come, I keep the Kerouacian stream of consciousness going in order to capture the excitement I feel! We move on now to ‘brotherly love.’ The original greek word is very familiar- Philidelphian. This is where even the secularists rally behind- yes, you should love everyone. That is a basic, common principle of righteousness.
Brotherhood is not always touchy feely though. In fact, Love as we understand it for a kinsmen doesn’t just mean you accept them for all their faults, or simply dismiss their sinful ways as an embodiment of whom they are. It’s a cynical thought, no? That people are essentially whom they are, unable to escape their sins.
A prime example is myself here. During senior year of high school, I began to accumulate weight. In retrospect, it was more likely than not due to some romantic struggles I was having at the time, and my sense of confidence was shattered. I began to nervously eat and eat, and gained maybe 15 pounds. Since then, I probably gained another 15 pounds! My health was clearly poor, and even though I would temporarily lose weight working out or eating better, I tended to fall back into my old sloth/glutton ways. It was simply easier to eat crap and lounge than to work at improving myself. And I had used modern tactics to justify it- ‘it’s ok to be big!’ ‘you’re not fat, it’s a societal standard imposed on you’ ‘yeah you may be clinically obese, but these are just old rubrics and aren’t a wholistic perspective of who you are or your health!’
And do you know what they don’t tell you about being fat? or chubby? or ‘big boned’? or ‘round’? How much it sucks for your self esteem. You know you’re this way, and everyone including yourself dances around it. It’s like a secret everyone knows but won’t utter. Or a joke with a mysterious punchline, but you are the joke. there is without a doubt a kind of terrible fat person psychology that you cannot escape this largeness, that you simply are fat and there’s nothing you can do. Excuses abound as to why you can’t eat better or work out or practice proactive methods. It’s a dark place, plane and simple. You are trapped in a labyrinth of misery you have constructed for yourself. And then you extend a kind of angry resentment towards others. You loath them for their skinny selves, you hate women for not swiping right on you on tinder or whatever, you loath meatheads for ‘not being as smart as you’ because you work out in the library.
Real love would have been anyone pulling me aside and going ‘you gained weight my dude, you ok? what’s up?’ is it an uncomfortable conversation? of course! I would have been heartbroken in the moment, enraged even. But you know what? had a friend come to me, open hearted, and proclaimed they were there for me, but I was getting out of shape and fat, I wouldn’t have had to deal with kidney stones and a negative self ideation. I had to tell myself this, and have lost a fair amount of weight, gained strength/muscle, and feel more confident. The only person who seemed to have courage to say anything was my father, and it was only a slight aside and not a full sit down conversation.
Now, bear in mind, I’m not bitter about this, despite the tone this previous few paragraphs may have held. I simply want to illustrate how frustrating it is to live in this dark place, and one in which is physically obvious. I don’t blame others for not saying anything, as again it is a tough and hard conversation to have, and we have been conditioned now to accept Fat as some normal standard (well, as an aside, I guess it kind of is. With processed food composing most of people’s diet, chemically treated treats and drinks with tons of sugar and more stimulating than natural whole foods, and with fresh fruits and vegetables sometimes not available in food deserts, I understand that this is perhaps the System tinkering with our flesh directly, and ‘hate the sin, not the sinner’) and so many would have simply accepted my growth as a grotesque but natural part of ‘growing up'.
True brotherly love is being there for your bros and gals. it means each taking admiration of the others virtues, sharing knowledge, encouraging temperance, comforting us towards patience, and of course assisting one another in living godly lives.
Finally, we get to charity. Agape. i touched upon this last time, so I’ll keep this brief. Agape Love is the ultimate expression of Christian love. Granted, we do it to seek ‘the reward of the kingdom of heaven’, but remember- ‘the Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” We walk the path towards Christ, with Christ, for Christ, simultaneously and harmoniously. If we do this successfully, then this kind of selfless love that seems contradictory is fully achievable.
So, briefly, we see the following ordering of christian transcendence:
The peak of virtue -> Personal knowledge -> mastery of the flesh -> steadfastness of the spirit -> godliness -> brotherly love -> selflessness of the highest order.
And with these humble but powerful tools we can defeat the antichrist.
and we shall not be barren or unfruitful in the knowledge (epignosis/transcendent knowledge) of Jesus Christ.