Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Mocking God

Saul prophesying at Ramah - David Martin (1639-1721)

Yesterday I wrote about Bad Theater and Bad Liturgy.

Today I'm wondering - how did we get here?  How did we get to a point where we allow offensive art to be spread around on the streets of our cities, streets where children and families walk?  How do we endure such ugliness and in-your-face assaults without taking sledge hammers to them?  How did we get to a point where we patronize shoddy dramas and applaud and congratulate lame actors and insipid playwrights?  Why don't we rear up and demand our money back?  Why do we put up with anti-Christian bishops, Pagan Education masquerading as Catholic Education, priests who are weird at best and pedophiles at worst? Why are we all joining in a great act of make-believe, pretending that the fecal matter we're served on a platter is a thick and juicy sirloin steak?

The same way we got to a point where the use of hard core internet pornography by married men and children is winked at.  The same way we got to a point where we all have to pretend as if anal sex between two men is a glorious and heroic thing, and that not applauding it is akin to racism.  The same way we got to a point where we all have to make believe that our economy is based on something other than usury, fraud and flim-flam.

If we are to be salt of the earth, we ain't doing our jobs.

***

Once there was a man like you or me.  He was king.  He had authority and power.  He was jealous of his authority and power.  He was jealous of others.  He was jealous, period.  He knew that God had given the crown to him, but doing things his way was much more important to him than doing things God's way.

So he ignored God and started to live for himself.

Therefore God took His Holy Spirit from him.

And he grew depressed and miserable and convinced that everyone had it better than he did, even though he was king.  And the one thing that made him more upset than anything was to see God's Holy Spirit at work in others.  The precious gift he had been given and which he had squandered was not only no longer his, but was the gift of others who appreciated it and thanked God for it, and that made him livid.

So he sent messengers to find David and kill him.

And the messengers who were sent found Samuel the Seer, who was sheltering David the True King.  And the messengers became prophets in the presence of the Prophet.  And he sent more messengers to the man of God, and they too became prophets.

And he himself went to do the job on his own and rid himself of the one whom God had favored.

And he, Saul, was struck by the Spirit and prophesied.

He tore off his clothes and lay naked on the ground all day and all night, prophesying in the presence of Samuel. The people who were watching exclaimed, "What? Is even Saul a prophet?" (1 Sam. 19:24)

A thousand years later, Jesus would tell a parable of the owner of a vineyard who sends messengers to collect rent from his tenant farmers.  The wicked tenants kill one group, then another, and even kill the son that the land-Lord sends.

***

What is the point of these two stories - the one from the history of Saul and David; the other a parable told by Jesus that seems to echo it?

I dare not plumb the depths of these stories, but one thing is for sure.

Mock God and pay the price.

Kill His messengers, murder His son in order that you may "seize on his inheritance" (see Mat. 21:33-46) and you'll find that you're permanently evicted, while those you have dispossessed become heirs of the Kingdom, "co-heirs" with the Son (Rom. 8:17).

Arrogate to yourself the power and authority that comes only from God (as each of us does every time we sin, and as Saul - like Herod - does when he persecutes the anointed one), and you'll find that in mocking God, you are mocked yourself, becoming an unwitting instrument of the very Spirit that you have chased from your own house.

***


  • I once worked at a family run restaurant where the oldest brother was a cocaine addict.  One night the police arrested him for running around naked in the suburbs in a psychotic state, knocking on people's doors and screaming at them.  His family bailed him out and the next day they put him to work as a bartender, dealing with alcohol and the general public.  And we were supposed to pretend that nothing unusual was going on.

  • I know a family who deals with the addiction of one of their members by systematically ignoring it and smoothing over all the rough edges and messes that result.

  • An older man I know married a woman who was much younger than he was, almost 30 years younger.  This impressed some people, but behind closed doors he paid the price.  Her self esteem was so ludicrously low that he had to stroke her in some manner every minute of every day, praising her for even ordinary and normal things that she did and overlooking everything about her that was annoying and stupid.  His trophy wife exacted a huge investment of time and energy on his part, and the two of them expected every one else to play along, to pretend as if this gold digging bimbo was as smart and clever and fascinating as the old man kept telling her she was.  They were an exhausting couple to be around.

  • I've known many young couples who deliberately put up blinders about one another, entering into marriages that were clearly wrong-headed and possibly doomed - and yet no one - not family, friends or clergy - pointed out the obvious.  "You know, this man is quite controlling and will make your life miserable" or "You both seem to be getting married because your parents want you to" or "He's far below the kind of man you could marry if you weren't so desperate to sell out and settle".  These things are never said.  People pretend as if everything is just fine.  And marriages happen and lives are ruined.

We live in a world of grade inflation, quantitative easing, and collective fictions like "gay marriage".  We live in a world with a Church that we allow not to be a Church and art that we allow to be ugly and vapid.  We live in a world where it's considered obscene to point out the elephant in the living room, but kind of funny that 12-year-old boys are masturbating to images of hard core pornography that only the most street wise and seedy perverts viewed fifty years ago.

And we think nothing of it.

We think we can catch the owner's son, throw him out of the vineyard, kill him and "seize on his inheritance", taking it for ourselves - cheating both the Son and the Father.

And cheating the Holy Spirit.  

We think we can snatch the Lord's anointed right out from under the gaze of the seer and laugh at the very Breath of God.  We can do this.  We're the king.  We can even cheat the Holy Spirit.

Until He breathes and walks within us and we find ourselves - even against our will - in a daze, naked and babbling, speaking His very words and prophesying.