This process can be brutal, but it is absolutely necessary. Otherwise the “I” that I am cannot separate from its identification with its own thoughts and feelings. Most people become their thoughts. They do not have thoughts and feelings; the thoughts and feelings have them. It is what the ancients called “being possessed” by a demon. So we start with wiping the mirror until we can see what is objectively there. But let’s go further than that: wiping the mirror until even the eye that is watching the mirror is not taken too seriously. The watcher can become self-preoccupied, which only distorts things further. So we have to observe, but also not let the observer become an accusing tyrant. If we get past that temptation, we no longer ask questions about whether we’re doing it right. We stop pestering our soul with questions like “Am I pure?” “Am I holy?” “Am I good?” “Is my technique proper?” They all fall away. It starts with mirror-wiping. It starts with doing the discipline faithfully. When the veil parts and we see love, the self-conscious watcher, preoccupied with doing it right, just forgets the self (Mark 10:18). After worrying that I don’t know about myself, a lovely question then arises. Who cares? My watching and judging don’t change what is, but often become a concern with watching and judging itself. Prayer, however, is not finally self-observation but rather to “fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).
Richard Rohr Everthing Belongs
Frank releases a CODA episode which contains one of the most powerful conference messages he’s ever delivered:
Christians, then, believe that an evil power has made himself for the present the Prince of this World. And, of course, that raises problems. Is this state of affairs in accordance with God’s will, or not? If it is, He is a strange God, you will say: and if it is not, how can anything happen contrary to the will of a being with absolute power? But anyone who has been in authority knows how a thing can be in accordance with your will in one way and not in another. It may be quite sensible for a mother to say to the children, ‘I’m not going to go and make you tidy the schoolroom every night. You’ve got to learn to keep it tidy on your own.’ Then she goes up one night and finds the Teddy bear and the ink and the French Grammar all lying in the grate. That is against her will. She would prefer the children to be tidy. But on the other hand, it is her will which has left the children free to be untidy. The same thing arises in any regiment, or trade union, or school. You make a thing voluntary and then half the people do not do it. That is not what you willed, but your will has made it possible. It is probably the same in the universe. God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go either wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong; I cannot. If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata—of creatures that worked like machines—would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they must be free.
Lewis, C. S. (2009-05-28). Mere Christianity (pp. 47-48). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
“No one has yet believed in God and the kingdom of God. No one has yet heard about the realm of the resurrected, and not been homesick from that hour,
waiting and looking forward joyfully to being released from bodily existence. . . . Death is hell and night and cold, if it is not transformed by our faith.
But that is just what is so marvelous, that we can transform death.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
The first verse of the Bible has no parallel for sublimity and comprehensiveness. In scope it is declarative, not demonstrative; affirmative, not argumentative; and historical not philosophical. There is no attempt to prove the Being of God. He is the unprovable Fact upon which all else is built, and only “the fool’ will say, ‘there is no God.’
Here the uncreated God is seen creating, and in such a manner that, as Andrew Fuller declared, a child can learn in five minutes from this verse more than all the ancient sages ever knew.
In character the verse is entirely positive, but it rules out all that is false in the thoughts and theories of men about God and the universe.
The simple statement denies at least six false doctrines.
It denies the Eternity of Matter. ‘in the beginning’. There was, then, a commencement; ’the heavens and the earth’ had a ‘beginning’; they were not eternal. The antiquity of the universe is beyond human computation; but there was a time when it did not exist.
It denies Atheism. The atheist says there is no god, but the Bible begins by declaring His Being. Geology and astronomy may claim a hundred million years for the existence of the universe, but whenever it began God was there; He did not begin; He eternally is. Atheism creates a crop of problems, and solves none.
It denies Polytheism. If creation were the work of many gods, the unity of the universe would have to be accounted for, and it can be accounted for only on the hypothesis that God, the one Eternal Mind, created all. ‘God created’.
‘God’, Elohim. This designation, which is plural, occurs 35 times in Chapters 1:1, 2 , 3, and in The Old Testament over 2,000 times. It certainly does not mean gods, and must be something more than plural of majesty. In the light of the entire revelation in the Bible we must regard this designation of God to be a fore gleam of the Divine Trinity (cf. ver. 26).
“Created’. In Genesis 1-2 three words are used which must be distinguished. Bara, which occurs in 1:1; 1:21, 1:27; 2:3; is used exclusively of God, and signifies a distinctively creative act. ‘Made’, asah, and ‘formed”, yatzar, which occurred in 1:7; 1:16; 1:25; 1:31; 2:2;2:3;2:7; 2:8;2:19; signify to construct out of pre-existing materials. This distinction is of the utmost importance of an understanding of the first two chapters of the Bible. The idea of evolution can be in make and form, but not in create; so that the bringing in to existence of the universe, of animal life, and of human life, was by successive creative acts of God (1:1;1:21;1:27). By the word of his power a cosmos was created of orders material, sentient, and moral.
It denies Pantheism. This teaches that God and Nature are the same, and so fails to distinguish between mind and matter, right and wrong, good and bad, and utterly confuses things which lie far apart. But this pernicious error finds its answer here: ‘God created the heavens and the earth,’ and as He could not create Himself, He, and the heavens and the earth’, cannot be the same.
 It denies Agnosticism. This affirms that it cannot be known whether there is a God or not. But the universe is an effect, and must have had a sufficient Cause; this building must have had an Architect; this design must have had a Designer; this Kingdom must have a King; and this family must have a Father. Legitimate inference challenges and discredits agnosticism.
 It denies Fatalism. Reason is against fate and chance. This wonderful universe could not just ‘happen.’ God has acted in the freedom of His eternal Being, and according to His infinite Mind, and what He willed was and is, and can be nothing else, unless He should will it.
The Unfolding Drama of Redemption; William Graham Scroggie
It is useful to consider Shore’s take on the Gospel of John’s initial words as heralding the Trinity–and by doing so having a grasp of the notion of the Trinity. Shore goes on to challenge the notion of accepting Jesus in order to have the Holy Spirit. This will make some uncomfortable. I find people come to God in so many different ways and circumstances that perhaps that notion should be challenged. It is however, how we “do” Christianity. I do know that Holy Ghost is the greatest Evangelist and He is unconcerned with orders and formulas we come up with. I also know the Holy Ghost operates on folks that are not believers.
The Sunset Limited (2011), is brought to us by a trinity of American artists. Author, Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men (2007)), Director /Actor, Tommy Lee Jones, and Samuel L. Jackson in perhaps his most powerful role. The HBO Films presentation (now streaming on Amazon Prime and DVD) possibly, eclipses Beckets Waiting for Godot because of this films accessibility, and honest post-modern take on the eternal conundrum. McCarthy’s drama for Television Cinema was originally a play first produced in Chicago and then New York.
Throughout the film, we have ourselves shoe horned into a small ghetto apartment with an academic atheist and a blue collar black believer in Jesus Christ. White, the atheist has attempted suicide by throwing himself in front of a train. Black, the believer, has saved him. The film opens with the two of them across a table from each other. A Bible is in the center of the table. White has a lifelong academic skepticism that has carried him to the point he faces, that begins slowly, but leaps out before the film is over. Black, a former criminal and penitent murder, has a surety from an experiential encounter with his deity. White, while at a distinct disadvantage to the higher ground his adversary has, because he has saved White’s life, begins an interrogation of Black, demanding “jail house stories” from Black. We begin to see a compelling Modernist conceit, which gives way to a dramatic answer that is only despair.
“I yearn for the darkness,” White says. “I pray for death. Real Death. If I thought that in death I would meet the people I’ve known in life I don’t know what I’d do. That would be the ultimate horror.”
Black who was initially in control of the dialogue holds onto what he has learned from the Bible, black preachers, and his sobriety and a changed life. He bows to the mystery while exhorting White and God to consider a change for White. Yet Black acknowledges White his autonomy without ever giving an inch toward the possibility that White might be right. White repeatedly wants to leave and is entreated over and over again by Black to stay knowing he may go again to try the Sunset limited.
Atheists/Agnostics may applaud White’s, determination to remain deterministic and his embrace of despair; but Christians will applaud the 2,000 year old Gospel delivered by Jackson. Superb editing and camera work, gripping dialogue by one of America’s greatest living authors and two of the finest actors in America, transforms a claustrophobic apartment and an age-old philosophical and religious argument into an action film.