|Downtown Eureka Springs, Arkansas|
I am writing this late at night in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, one of the most charming and bizarre places on Earth. And so I pass along a few observations, which may or may not be "eureka!" worthy ...
- Fidelity to our vocations is part of fidelity to Christ. Our identities are tied up in our vocations. Thus, if a man cheats on his wife, his very identity is compromised. Likewise if he cheats on his vocational calling in the world.
- "History is a long defeat" is not only true for world history, but is true as well in our own lives. We'll never be perfect, and if our zeal for God gets translated into zeal for perfection, we become impossible to live with - so much so that we can't even stand ourselves. We must strive for perfection and be ever frustrated that we don't reach it. This keeps us humble. As does getting old.
- The key to the Kingdom is humility. To enter the vast cathedral with its heaven-high ceiling, you must bow very low to fit through the door, smelling the dirt on the way in. And most of that dirt you smell is yours.
- One of the best ways to be humble is to smell that dirt of yours - to realize you're always prone to sin. This explains why the effects of original sin are allowed to linger in the baptized, even when the guilt is removed and sanctifying grace is given. It is more important to be imperfect and aware of your own failure, than it is to be perfect and self-satisfied: for self-satisfaction is the uroboros. And of course, self-satisfaction is an imperfection - which is why to be truly perfect, we need the cross. Thus the cross is the great symbol of defeat, and by embracing this lifelong defeat, we take up our cross and are remade.
- Gradualism, the gradual sliding into serious sin, is pernicious, much more pernicious than we can imagine. We will slowly slide toward doing things that we would never imagine ourselves doing were the temptation presented to us immediately and outright. Gradualism is grooming and grooming is gradualism. A man will slowly slide into becoming a vile sinner by crossing one small boundary at a time, over many months or years.
- I have invented a word for the childless contracepting shacking up Yuppies and gays who love effete cultural activities: the STERILIGENTSIA. Here in Eureka Springs, the steriligentsia go to the fancy restaurants, crystal shops and aroma therapy spas downtown; the rustic reproducers go to the Passion play and country music shows and all-you-can-eat buffets on the ridge. And in the same way that there are two competing cities described by St. Augustine of Hippo: the Earthly City and the City of God, so are there two other competing cities described by St. Kevin of Hipster: Sterility City and Toddler Town.
- We become what we love.