Tag Archives: existence

To think about the nature of lies.

“A lie seeks to make true something that has no true existence. It is an ‘alternate,’ make-believe universe to the one in which we live. Our desire for alternatives (and our fear of reality) are among the many motivations behind lies. It is revealing, however, to think about the nature of lies (which also reveals the nature of the truth). It is, at the very least, a matter of existence.”

“That which is true, is that which truly exists. As such, it is always its own strongest argument. If it truly exists, it will continue whether I believe in it or not. The truth does not require ideology. This carries the corollary of a lack of anxiety. If the truth abides, whether I believe it or not, then I am not bound to ‘make it so’ through the efforts of a culture war. It is, rather, for me to live it, to give thanks for it, and enjoy its fruit in the world.”

-Father Stephen Freeman, in this article: “‘Make It So!’ vs. ‘Let It Be!'”

My non-philosophy that is reality.

Karl Jaspers

Why would a Christian like me want to read a whole book about existentialism? At least a few of my readers are confused about that. I may in the future share more of my gleanings from this book as it helps me understand this modern age that we live in, but now let me just clarify that it is the enlightening presentation by William Barret that I find beautiful, not the anxiety and “spiritual homelessness” of the Europeans whom he includes in the lonely camp of existentialists.

In contrast to their interesting but ultimately unsatisfying way of thinking, Father Stephen Freeman writes about our existence in a non-existentialist way. If I hold to a philosophy, it is this non-philosophy, which is reality, my life in God:

“The modern movement of secular thought has been to move existence into an independent and self-defining realm, relegating God and religion to a specialized interest of those who find themselves religiously minded. This is the death of religion – or rather a religion of death. For as soon as our existence is moved away from God and grounded in something else, God Himself has been abandoned. It is not possible for God to be a lesser concern. Either He is the very ground of our existence or He is no God.”

“As Met. John Zizioulas has famously stated, ‘Being is communion.’ In such a context we are able to move towards authentic existence – a mode of being that is not self-centered nor self-defined, but that is centered in the Other and defined by communion. Sin is removed from its confines of legalism and mere ethics and placed at the very center and character of existence itself. Sin is a movement towards non-being. In contrast, to know God is to love and its greatest test is the love of enemies. As St. Silouan taught: ‘We only know God to the extent that we love our enemies.’”

“Christ is, as He said: the Way, the Truth and the Life. His death and resurrection are the movement of God’s love to rescue humanity from a self-imposed exile from true and authentic existence which is found only in communion with God… It presses the question upon us all: ‘What is the truth of my existence?'”

 

How faithfully your life is delivered.

The poem below expresses different aspects of my life of late. I’ve been reading David Bentley Hart’s book The Experience of God, and there is so much in there about how our life is a mysterious gift. We did not bring about our own existence, and we can’t keep ourselves alive, either. Why should we be here? Why is anything here? I’ve been meditating on that amazing everyday occurrence of waking up in the morning, even as I am coming out of my dreams into consciousness. Some days it takes longer than others for me to remember, “I am here, God was with me through the night and Dear Father, You are here with me in my bed this morning, and will be in me all day long.” Sometimes I lie there just being happy in His presence — especially when He wakes me up extra early.

Father Stephen Freeman spoke of the same reality in a podcast I listened to, saying, “If God did not immediately and relentlessly will good for us, then no one would even continue in existence. Being and existence are inherently good things. The very fact that we exist is itself a witness of God’s good will for us.”christ seeker of the lost-sheep-butryki-prison-chapel-moscow

I realize most people can’t be so slow and lazy about the start of their day. I am really really grateful, though, that most days I can take the time for this remembrance, because there is also this other attitude in me, of fear and unwillingness. I don’t like meetings with strangers about financial matters, or having to decide what work should be done on my car. It’s not a constant thing, but a feeling of vulnerability does distract me.

Once when we were on a camping trip in the mountains, four-year-old Soldier was looking out the window of the car at the curvy highway and the steep drop-off just to his left. He turned to Baby Kate and said brightly, “God is keeping us on the road, Kate!” He must have thought his father needed help driving. I need to remind myself in these morning meditations that this day I am not trusting strangers who might not be worthy of my confidence, but I am trusting the One Who gives me existence to give me whatever else I need.

TRUST

It’s like so many other things in life
to which you must say no or yes.
So you take your car to the new mechanic.
Sometimes the best thing to do is trust.

The package left with the disreputable-looking
clerk, the check gulped by the night deposit,
the envelope passed by dozens of strangers—
all show up at their intended destinations.

The theft that could have happened doesn’t.
Wind finally gets where it was going
through the snowy trees, and the river, even
when frozen, arrives at the right place.

And sometimes you sense how faithfully your life
is delivered, even though you can’t read the address.

–Thomas R. Smith