not all smoke and mirrors

Small excerpt from latest project.  Peace be with you on this day!

The scene in the sixth chapter of Isaiah is rich and powerful.  God is surrounded by smoke and angels and we can imagine the smell of incense and the sheer holy weight of the air.  “Holy, holy, holy,” as we come into the overwhelming presence of the Divine.  The Proverbs tell us over and over again that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.  And in that smoke filled temple, Isaiah recognizes the overwhelming awe of the Master who has called him, crying out, “Woe to me, I am ruined!”  He is a broken man amongst a broken people.  And I love the image of Isaiah standing there as God asks whom shall He send.  I see Isaiah looking around with a dopey furrowed brow and saying to himself, “yeah, who can He send?”  Then realizing suddenly that maybe, just maybe – he can be an instrument for this incredible, smoky, perplexing God.  He changes in that moment.  He becomes a theology of conversion, a faith that rises out of the ashes of his humanness and brokenness.  By the very nature of this Holiness and our conversion, at that very moment, we are called to repentance.  The cost of grace is none other than our thereafter unceasing conversion.  With an awareness of our unworthiness we come to see that only because of Christ’s legal intercession – we are worthy of The Call.  Here I am, consume, change, and send me.  Father, accept our small offerings of metanoia.[1]
The Spanish Jesuit, Baltasar Gracian, opens his pensees in the Art of Worldly Wisdom as follows:

Everything is at its peak of perfection.  This is especially true of the art of making one’s way in the world.  There is more required nowadays to make a single wise person than formerly to make the Seven Sages of ancient Greece, and more is needed nowadays to deal with a single person than was required with a whole people in former times.   

This is not the musing of a modern social critique.  Gracian wrote in the 1600s.  Four hundred years ago and again today the flood of information presents old challenges in the makings of the wise.  Perhaps humanity has spent too much time trying to get God to explain himself. However you slice it, there are plenty of cutting agnostic apologetics.  As Gracian and perhaps even the shrewdest of clerics might observe, there is some risk in the proliferation of knowledge.  It goes back to the garden.  And yet, we find ourselves today in a state which is at the peak of its perfection.  I submit to you that we have a better opportunity today to know God than has existed throughout mankind.  We needn’t fear questions of progress and relevance.  Our current condition need not be interpreted as the inevitable and irreversible rejection of faith.  I submit to you that we are sitting on a powder keg of Divinity.   

[1] The classical Greek Translation is “repentance” or “new mind.”

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