Jesus in our time – 10

Jesus in our time – 10

There is an incident rather embarrassing to your narrator, author, and editor.

It took place one evening in the small one-floored, two-bedroom bungalow Amble and Susan shared with Jesus when he whiled in a valley of trees along a river controlled by double-breasted up-shouldered ravens in broad conspiracies within spring-budding trees and upon shoals of rounded river stones. That’s the place.

Neither your narrator/editor, nor your author/supplicant remembers the scene very well — the former was suffering from the after-effects of a desperate flight to the bottom of the sea (as a great whale entombing himself ‐ both divine jailor and rebellious miscreant Jonah); the latter from the combined effects of alcohol and tainted loves. Fortunately, Amble’s wife Susan was there, and she recorded the evening with copious notes, written in a fast, ferocious hand, all the while clucking her judgeful tongue and shaking her beautiful head with its silky raven tresses.

The evening started innocently enough. Amble Whistletown and Bartleby Willard — each in his respective stupor of self-indulgent excess — were arguing salvation, and bragging up their system.

Bartleby paced in front of the sofa in the living room. The living room with front windows and windows on the side away from the kitchen — which had its own windows, and which entered onto the living room through a center doorless door frame. Behind the living room a hall to the bedrooms and bathroom. And that’s it! Plus I think a basement, but we don’t speak of such things in today’s literature.

The small TV on its little wooden table had been tucked away in a corner by the shake of Bartleby’s (oh so magical) thoughts.

Bartleby said, “I tell you the world needs Something Deeperism like never before! And we’re just the team to bring it to them! Especially now that we’ve got Jesus on board!”

Amble sat cross-legged on the sofa, his face full and eyes dilated by sweet red wine and wretched potions of love tainted with romantic triumphalism, patriotic swells, proud-pities, self-ecstatic faux generosities, and all manner of perversion.

Amble said, “Big hire! Big hire!”

Susan, across the sofa with her arms folded, snorted in disdain and pain. She opened her mouth to say that nobody hires Jesus Christ for anything ever; and that in fact … . But instead she went into her room and picked up a notebook and a pen — a fateful decision.

Bartleby said, “But the guy doesn’t seem to get the intricacies of the system — you know? I mean, yeah, he understands the upshots of a Something Deeperism founded on a Pure Love that never lets you down and tempered with a Hurt that never lets you be: But does he understand all the logic behind this most triumphant of systems?”

Amble shook his head from side to side, “Nope! And without that foundation, the superstructure is like a home built on sand! Not how a wise man builds his theoretical home — Jesus knows that much!”

And just as Bartleby was explaining to Amble that they needed to tutor Jesus in the finer points of Something Deeperism and Amble was explaining to Bartleby that they were just the ones to do it; Jesus came in from the sagey, brown-grassy, sandstone-bouldered, and -mini-cliffed foothills that loom all around their nice, shady, older-trees neighborhood.

Susan — the only sober mortal in the room — looked up with nervous eyes; bound out of the sofa, and rushed into: “Oh, hey!, Jesus!, Hey!, let’s have some dinner — let’s make some, let’s you and I go into the kitchen and make dinner the old-fashioned way, with pots and pans, and ingredients and measuring cups, and … ”

“Oh, Jesus!, speak of the devil!,” Bartleby butted in and paced up to Jesus, setting his right arm (in a light blue button-up dress shirt) under the Messiah’s right (bare and oiled by sun and exertion), and clenching the King of King’s sinewy right forearm with his soft left hand. “Are you hungry, Susan?, here this should tide you over,” and with the shake of his mind Bartleby filled the small square wooden table with a full Thanksgiving feast — heavy on the vegetables and with olive oil and red wine and salad on the side. Susan scowled and sat back down on the sofa.

“Thank you, Bartleby, for doing the honors,” said Jesus with eyes, lips, and voice all a little narrowed in confusion and — aware both of Susan’s distressed- and Bartleby’s and Amble’s manic-states — concern. But, famished from a day spent alone in the hill country, fasting and praying for guidance (saddled with another faithless and perverse generation!), Jesus was ready to eat. The table floated out to the middle of the floor (I don’t know if Jesus or Bartleby did that). And Amble and Bartleby eagerly, Jesus with wide-wary but hopeful-hungry eyes, and Susan with head down and face fallen, made their ways to the table.

The rest of this scene is too painful for me to paint out. I will instead outline it as if it were a mere philosophical argument, and not Bartleby Willard and Amble Whistletown making fools of themselves in front of One Like A Son Of Man.

I. Something Deeeperism — based on Pure Love and tempered with the Hurt — is the best philosophy.
[Bartleby (“Now, I think we all know it goes without saying … “)]

A. Something Deeperism is the general worldview that there is a Truth (something absolutely, rather than relatively true); and the Truth is something like “Love is Real” or “Love = Reality = Knowledge” (no gap between Love and Reality, into which meanness might slide! no gap between Love/Reality and Knowledge into which error might slight!); and people can relate meaningfully to that Truth — but organizationally, poetically, and not-definitively*; rather than directly, literally, and/or definitively.

*[not-definitively: requiring ongoing self-observation, -critique, and -adjustment / being always somewhat provisional.]

A1.Explication of Something Deeperism’s two primary assumptions:

Assumption 1.
Something Deeperism assumes it is (for all we know) possible that there is a Truth shining through all things, including each conscious moment; and we could organize our feeling, thinking, and acting around the Truth; and we could translate the Truth into feeling/thinking/acting imperfectly but still meaningfully — like how a poem can capture/point-to a human moment imperfectly but still meaningfully. Something Deeperism assumes it is conceivable that we are all filled to overflowing with Godlight, and we can organize our feeling/thinking/acting around Godlight and relate to It meaningfully enough to translate it meaningfully (though not perfectly) into life.

Assumption 2.
Something Deeperism assumes that we should only attempt to relate to the Truth organizationally, poetically, and non-definitively — rather than directly, literally, or definitively. Because the Truth would have to be wider and deeper than our feeling/thinking/acting (Love = Reality would have to be wider/deeper than our ideas and feelings about It for It to count as Love = Reality). Think, then, of how a human moment can be captured in human language meaningfully but only imperfectly because a human moment is wider and deeper than human language. And consider, please, how much trouble we humans make by confusing our own little notions for the great big “Truth”. (Note that we make the error of confusing our notions for the “Truth” all the time: even when we don’t say “my ideas and feelings are True”, we still clench them desperately as if they were the Absolute FOREVER TRUTH).

A2.Something Deeperism seeks a whole-being*, ongoing, experiential proof of “Love is Real”.

*[Assuming the Truth does shine through each conscious moment and each conscious moment can relate meaningfully to the Truth, then a “whole-being insight” would be ideas + feelings + the Truth shining through everything, including each conscious moment — all together and relating meaningfully — but of course not directly, literally, definitively, or in any way perfectly — with one another. (How can an idea relate perfectly to a feeling? And how could either ideas or feelings relate perfectly to the Truth? Let’s actively work against our tendency to make Great Gods out of our own whims: let’s work to remember both that we need to relate to the Great God, and that our ideas, feelings, and notions are never equal to the mind of God.)]

Human beings cannot prove the Truth with ideas or feelings — by definition, the “Truth” would exceed our ideas and feelings. (Anyway, we can’t prove anything with ideas and feelings because we cannot use them to prove their own foundational assumptions.)

However, we could perhaps organize our ideas and feelings around the Truth shining through all things; and in this way flow off of and translate the Truth into life — not perfectly, but maybe meaningfully-enough that our thought-as-a-whole (ideas, feelings, and the Truth that we hope is shining through all things) could gain a meaningful, active, ongoing insight into the Truth. An experiential proof of the Truth that allowed us to grow in wisdom (insight into the Truth) and goodness (living the Truth out into life).

A2a. Parameters of the Proof
But for this to work, we need the Truth to ratify and explicate (a) our inner sense that the only thing 100% Real is a Love that chooses and is enough for all; and we need the Truth to ratify and explicate (b) the universal values (aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, compassionate, loving-kind, joyfully-sharing).

[(a) because otherwise the Truth would be too lonely, boring, confusing, and all-around alien for us to understand, believe in, or care about It.] [(b) because we can only understand, believe in, or care about our own thinking to the degree we follow the universal values; therefore, to be meaningful to ourselves, we need the universal values to be shored up by, not ignored or contradicted by, the Truth.]

Note also that (a) assumes that everyone is essentially the same: creatures centered around Pure Love that can and should relate meaningfully to Pure Love and to one another.

[You can also prove the above point by noting that life is otherwise too lonely for us to stand: we can’t think/feel/act meaningfully-to-ourselves if we believe ourselves to be so lonely. You can also prove the above point by noting that if we aren’t all essentially the same, then we can’t imagine what to make of everything we’ve learned from others, which is pretty much everything. (We learn the basics of life via empathy: Dad stubs his toe, acts a certain way, says certain things; child recreates Dad’s feelings by mapping Dad’s facial expressions and movements onto her own [the child’s] mind/body map; and thus via empathy does the child learn.)]

A2b. Envisioning the experiential whole-being proof of Something Deeperism
We remain faithful to the universal values (aware, clear, honest, competent, compassionate, loving-kind, joyfully-together) and we open up from within. We turn ourselves inside out. We seek always to live in and through and for the Love that chooses everyone. That way we are at least at a starting point for being meaningful to ourselves.

And perhaps in time we grow a whole-being insight (ideas, feelings, notions and et cetera all working meaningfully — though of course not perfectly — with each other and with the Love that shines through each conscious moment) into that and in what way it is True to say, “We are all in this together — bound in and through and for the spiritual Love that creates, sustains, shines through, and at the ultimate level Is all things”. We reach a tipping point where it becomes more true for us to say, “Love is Real and Love is All” than it is for us to say, “I don’t know what’s Real or real, or if Real or even real exist”.

Here wisdom begins. And by working every day to better experience, cherish, and live in and through and for the Love that chooses everyone — well, in this way we grow in wisdom and joy. As we are imperfect and the Truth is perfect, the process is ongoing, requiring constant self-monitoring, -critiquing, -adjusting. Every moment we try again to live Love.

The Truth that Something Deeperism assumes and is seeking to experience/live is equivalent to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself” — just with a fuller explanation of the logic and psychology backgrounds that require and enable us to (perhaps, anyway) grow a more and more meaningful relationship to spiritual Love.
[Amble (“Yeah, and … “)]

Both this Something Deeperism and “the most important commandment” require a dual motion into the *spiritual Love shining through all things:
A motion inward into the Love as It shines through your conscious moment
A motion outward into the recognition that It shines through everyone else’s conscious moment and even bursts all our seams and flows as the One Light.
[Susan (“I think he means … “)]

*[“spiritual”: eternal, infinite, Absolute: prior to feelings and ideas / perceptions, reactions, & notions]

B. But I’m so lonely all the time! And when I try to sink down into the chaotic hurt blaring always and forever out from my gut, I get hit from the inside as if from the back of a shovel — I’m tossed out of myself. And so I have for so long now been separated from my own self and isolated from my fellows. There’s no one who wants to hear about and I do not want to speak to anyone about this spear of emotional trauma lodged into my gut that I feel viscerally, like a physical wound.
[Amble, blurting out, standing up, jostling the table, spilling gravy, turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and wine-sloshes onto the white magical lace table cloth.]

C. What about me? I listen! I want to be where you are — I want to be with all of you! I make an effort, Amble! Every day to know and love you better. (and quietly now, looking down at the tabletop, through a voice grown raspy and whispering-through-the-narrows with disappointment) to be your girl.
[Susan, standing up, but first pushing carefully back from the table, and moving as always with the poise and grace of a great dancer upon world-historic stages.]

D. Jesus, we don’t have time for Amble’s forever bellyaching right now! We need to move from personal Something Deeperism to the public sphere!

People can only be meaningful to themselves via a path of non-literal — organizational, poetic, and experiential/lived — spiritual insight, contained within the universal values and founded upon a Love that chooses everyone. Therefore, we as groups can only be meaningful (meaningful to each other, and thinking/feeling/acting meaningfully as a whole) by agreeing to agree upon those goods without which none of our worldviews are meaningful. To wit: we must agree to prioritize the universal values and the underlying spiritual Love that we individuals need to animate, justify, and explicate those values, and everything else we think, feel, and/or do!

D1. Agreeing upon the universal values and Pure Love (spiritual love — a Love that only loves) implies prioritizing the democratic process over individual policy victories. We will never agree on everything. However, it is counterproductive for us to sacrifice what we all do agree upon — what we all must honor if we, as individuals, are to be internally meaningful (i.e., meaningful-to-ourselves). And the democratic process prioritizes the universal values and acknowledges the underlying sense that we are all in this together, bound in and through and for the Love that chooses everyone.

D1a. Open, transparent, honest, clear, accurate, competent conversation, debate, and decision-making that accounts for the needs of the whole nation is how democracy is supposed to work. That is an environment conducive to safeguarding and living in accordance with the universal values — an environment that rewards following the universal values and penalizes not following them. We have a representative system so that the average person doesn’t have to spend all their time working on the details of government; and also to create the proper balance between the need for the people to serve as a final check on madness, corruption, and evil in government and the danger of the people getting carried away by some woefully partial (both in the sense of not grasping the all the relevant details and in the sense of lacking objectivity) panic/hope/lunge (the majority knows best — except to the degree it becomes a stampeding herd, which invariably careen off cliffs onto sharp stones and dusty ground).

D1b. Democratic systems implicitly accept the premise that we are all in this together and that we all should share in the privilege and duty of government.

D1c. Democracy is founded upon the belief that everyone has both a right and a duty to help the nation think/feel/act well. That foundational value is in keeping with our own inner sense that we are all in this together.

In democratic systems, we prioritize the people’s ultimate control over the government as a way to keep the government from becoming a tyranny (the people serve as a final check on confusion/dishonest, madness, corruption, and ill-will in government) while the people together evolve both the conversation and the government.

Democratic systems value and select for win-wins: We accept the premise that what is good for you is good for me — that if we all respect one another and work together within the norms, procedures, and rules of representative democracy, we can find a way forward for all of us together; And by nurturing and working within these norms, procedures, and rules, we select for behavior that is in keeping with the universal values by conferring governmental power to those that speak honestly and work competently within the constraints of a system of power-sharing, fair regular elections, and checks and balances for the good of the whole.

By maintaining a nation that is open, fair, and free of corruption, we create this amazing wonderful place where you can be both happy and decent: you don’t have to cheat and lie and steal to get ahead; and you can know that if people cheat and lie and steal, in time they will be caught, and shut down.

This contrasts tyrannies — governments that seek first and foremost their own power, prestige and wealth; and that therefore are not even trying to be competent in the sense of governing well for the whole nation, nor are they even trying to reward businesses, organizations, and individuals that avoid corruption and work to be honest, transparent, fair, and serving the common good.

This is why democratic systems are preferable: Their goals are the goals of people working to grow in wisdom — respect the shared universal values and share the Love that animates, justifies, and explicates our shared fundamental values. And they maintain systems that make it easier to do the right thing and more difficult to do the wrong thing.

The more corrupt a state the more difficult it is to both do what is best for everyone and take care of yourself and your loved ones. That is the evil of thugocracies: they reward what hurts the soul with power, wealth, and prestige.

That is why We the People right here right now need to gently but firmly repudiate Trump and all who would coalesce around his anti-democratic behavior.

[Bartleby, now also standing up, but actually first turning himself into a parrot, and flying around and around while frantically philosophizing.]

E. I can’t do this anymore!

F. You’re not the only one!

G. A lot of ideas; a lot of feelings; a lot of commotion. You hold that to serve God with relentless loving-kindness we must work from a place within that is fundamentally prior to ideas and feelings. Okay: How can we do that? What do you read written your heart of hearts?

H. I’m so tired.
[Bartleby, as a parrot dropping into the sofa; then morphing back into this thin, see-through, in suits of plaid earth-tones, humanesque form.]

I. Me too.
[Amble, sitting back down, starting at the peas swimming in the gravy and olive oil that he mixed together when this meal was young.]

J. I read …
[Susan, sitting back down, but not pulling her chair back into the table.]

And Jesus drank of the fruit of the vine while eating a piece of whole rye bread dipped into salted olive oil in a saucer — for in all this big feast he ate nothing else, nor did he look covetously at the rich fare, nor did he overindulge in the red red wine, nor did he put very much salt into his olive oil, but in all things did he behave relaxed and with gentle joy, not with the desperate lunging pleasures of the addict and the show-off (I’m looking at you, Amble; and I’m not letting you off the hook either, Bartleby — though turning into a great whale and swimming to the bottom of the sea is a better way of blowing off steam than are lonely orgies of dry red wines and tainted loves).

Author: Bartleby Willard
Editor: Amble Whistletown
Copyright: Andy Watson

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