Wowsers, some C.P.E.s are definitely more trouble to write than others. I think that at least two rough drafts of this thing, plus a couple of false starts, makes this Holy Man essay one of the most difficult I have ever attempted. I do not ordinarily pay much attention to "writer's block" as an explanation or excuse for why things do not get written; but it certainly seems valid today! Our hectic lives are missing one crucial element, and I keep finding it nearly impossible to discuss.
We can all agree (I think) that we live in a wild time. It seems that the amount of data, information, rumors, and mindless trivia with which we are hourly and daily bombarded is making the the real into the unreal. It is like an electric charged caffeine buzz, built upon nervous twitch reflex. It is "real" enough, but we forget due to excessive involvement in the mess, that it is a man-made construct. The floating feel, the never ending rounds of input, always spiraling downward and in, it all looks so dire! And like a slot machine junkie, we get so "into" the turning wheels, and the action that we cannot recall the source of it all as we ourselves!
Along these lines then, can anyone correctly guess where to begin, so to accurately describe America, circa 2015 A.D.? You know what I am talking about, this sense that something very like the collapse of the Roman Empire is being duplicated before our eyes, but in record time! What once took a couple of centuries as far as rot and moral decay goes, to obviously manifest as dire scandals, lies, and double-dealing treachery in ancient history, is being duplicated in weeks or even days before our eyes? Everything culturally American appears to be falling to pieces, pretty much; all at once. And yet, for all the doubt and chaos in evidence, these collapses barely scrape the surface of the sense of things just now.
The fears of an unknown future, the redefinitions (galore) of what is past, and all this, as part of an unrecognizable present generates a sense of dislocation. It is a kind of dreamy and floating unreality which we here note. Further, all these changes are linked to an inhuman rate of knowledge intake, a regular Niagara of facts, volcanos of quotes and ideas exploding on every side. We gorge upon perspectives, gallop through viewpoints, and exhaust ideals about as rapidly as they can be hatched.
Very clearly the times, they have a changed, and nearly unrecognizably so. One of the main points to consider is that as things shift away from old norms, they also do so predictably. Any deviant form, any alien ideology, any inhuman misery, all are considered "normal". The short version is that people are nowadays not afraid to claim to have been born homosexual, or that they are in fact "star children" seeded by aliens; or perhaps that they are in contact with some ancient, unruly and invisible power? In our time, to admit being addicted to some chemical, or to have a destructive vice or a perverse love of the dark side, all this blends right in. People are not at all bothered in the least that satanism or witchcraft might be (in this hour) socially "legitimate". Militant atheism in our world barely generates a yawn any longer. So, the wide deviation from the old norms is clear enough, but it is also followed by a severe impossibility, and Ì believe that would be the holy.
Our era might believe just about any idiotic thing, but the one thing it cannot and will not abide is the idea that what we humans must have more of is "holiness". Now, as a side note to my reader, I promise not to use quote marks again through the remainder of this essay for the word holy. But I did it just the once, to help illustrate how unthinkable, how truly undesired, and unimagined the holy nowadays really is.
Just listen to what people say; "We need relevance, or we need power!" And let's not forget the needs for education, dignity, a living wage and fairness too, eh? It turns out that we humans have a regular grocery list of all the things which we "need", and those items are the ones which we believe or imagine might make our lives, our culture, our world "better". That list appears to be endless.
I can, as a plumber however; certainly affirm that I have never once heard another human assert that what we really (and actually) require during this present upheaval is the sacred, what we need is a big dose of the holy. That answer just does not (and predictably so) arise . . . ever.
And really, I am not even so very certain what the word holy means, except to say it is related to our verb "to cut". So, think of; "To make a separation, to divide", as the idea here; but how or why such would ever arise to the top of the human wish list, in order to make life livable remains unknown, and remains to my knowledge mainly unthought.
And in this plumbers' opinion, I think holiness has gotten a bum rap. Listen sometime to those Christian shows on T.V. or radio. The holy guys have a regular way of talking. All of the vowels are kinda softened and rounded. Is that a semi-southern accent we detect? The use of the rising inflection? Turns everything into a question? The "indoor" voice is king (queen actually) and holiness becomes a pose, a predictably unruffled outer smiley face gig.
Part of the pose is a seemingly boundless vault of good advice, mixed with a prudish sort of stance on things "moral". In brief, if that mess is in fact holiness, nobody in their right mind could ever surmise that this is the junk which is what the race requires, ever!
This radio type of holiness and sanctity tends to posit a rather odd premise. But, nobody really believes it. It proposes a kind of semi-glow-in-the-dark type of looking down upon others. It is an insider's view, a kind of "helpful" and patient enduring of those; the unenlightened and ignorant. In brief it is just another superiority complex. We already have way way too much of that garbage around here. Trust me, it is not more of that which we need. So, we end up with the one thing on Earth which is in dire shortage (holiness) being so wildly misrepresented, and poorly characterized; that nobody could really ever get around to wanting it!
I don't do well at describing the holy for the same sort of reasons that I usually fail to well describe the real. Uh, the real as opposed to what? And it seems to me there are only two classes of the unreal to consider. There is the consciously unreal, as in the imaginary. And whether we speak of novels or fables, or any fiction worth its' salt, there can be a "private reality" of the mind or heart. Think of the enjoyment of a well told story, the smiles a good movie brings. But, the other unreal is not conscious, and this is our main problem here. In describing unreality of this sort, we have forgotten something crucial. Incidentally, it is also the very same problem in discussing the topic of the unholy!
For instance; in a dream, you are often too busy, or too involved in the action or the mystery to halt yourself in mid-dream; and remark; "Hey, it doesn't really matter about any solution, since the entire framework of the drama is a fake!". The busy-ness of business as usual helps us forget that the schema, the entire environ in which we are attempting to solve, is one hatched by, and maintained by we ourselves.
So, if holy corresponds (in this case) to the really real, then it is nearly impossible for me to discuss that reality, with persons deeply involved in their own daily psycho-drama. Is it a work addiction, or money-security fear which seems "realer" than the real to you? Is it girl troubles, or mysterious aches and pains? Whatever it is, while we are in that loop of our own making, the solving-for trumps all other claims.
Have I lost you? Here is an illustration, go in sometime to a casino, and observe the gamblers as they interact with their machines. They are deeply focused, they ignore all else around them. We observe them mechanically repeating actions over and over. We can clearly see that their reality is a lessor real one than the actual, but they themselves are far too busy to notice such things! These little realities of ours require constant attention, input, and maintenance. These "worlds" are a bit like those folks who "cannot miss" their favorite T.V. show. There is a pattern established, and it "must be" maintained. The inner and small drama has somehow become equal to the outer and actual reality (or seemingly so). And my guess is that the hook, the reason we find such mini-worlds so compelling, and small realities important is an if-then premise. Managing small drama argues that we could (possibly) master realities in general and so, once we get good at it; perhaps we could make the major and actually real "manageable"!
In the dinky-real, we can filter out the ugly, we can feel better about our efforts as we order our own tiny domains. And this, as the second type of unreality, I think is far the worse of the two, in that we forget that it is we who have built and maintain the sucker. Being so casino-like focused, we end up confusing what we have built with what actually is!
Do you grasp the concept here? In my book, the holy is precisely of this sort. Whatever holy is, He Is Holy! He is the Is behind Am. Think of the verb "to be", He is that, In Person! The Holy Name, comes out something like "I Am He Who Is". The angels and elders in the book of the Revelation are shouting something. "Holy, Holy, Holy! LORD God, the Almighty, He Who Was, and Is, and Ever Shall Be!" I say that we have no good way in our language to correctly join the elders.
In Mike-speak, it sounds something like; "He Is, and because of His speaking power, all else which is, also is. But, nothing exists, unless He made, directs and sustains it. There is (literally) no-thing to contrast being to!". There is no "un-being or anti--is". If something is not God, and if something is not part of His creation, then it is either no-thing at all, or yet another lie. And lies will (one day) end. But I wander from my point!
I say, the one thing we actually need is the holy, or more accurately; He, The Holy One as Author of Is (and there is no "opposite" to Him); it is He we need! The astounding miracle, the whopper grand-daddy marvel of the ages, is that He spoke, and what is, came to be. By His word authority, that which is, coheres and remains and is directed to its' end. The whopper fact which we are unable to notice is the facty-ness of fact, with Him as the sole guarantor. Things are real, but never "of themselves".
If we return to the image of the dream for a moment, He is the Dreamer, and we are the dreamt, except not. We are the real, in that He (The Real) so says.
I hope some of this is making sense? What the world needs now is the strong and unshakable, what it needs is the meaningful and the true. What the world needs is hope of significance, and security from all fears. We the weak, we the wishy-washy, we the confused and sad, we the failures, cannot locate within ourselves, nor within creation; the rock solid joy we must have. And so, we stupidly assume that such joy "cannot be real"?
Therefore, such is obviously not in, or of us, nor is it "part" of our world. It is "cut and made separate". But that doesn't make it unreal. Rather, we are thirsty for The Real (Himself) who is coming into the world! True, it is "cut". Yes, it is "separate" from things as-is, but that is the same as saying; "Hope lives!".
A tree "knows" that it needs soil and water and sunshine, but it cannot "make" any of them. A man knows that he requires meaning and truth and gladness, and he is like the tree. Something "separate" from him is shown best by its' lack.
And so, the King says things holy. "Blessed are you hungry, and blessed are you poor", but why? Is there something grand about skinny broke guys that we don't know? No, but the central Rock, the mountain which is unmovable, He, the Personal underwriter of all fact, He the Owner and Guide of every scrap of history, He the Builder and Maintainer of the real; it is He we require. Both the real, and the holy; shout that we must awaken out of our small money worries, we must leave behind our workaholic fables and ditch our ambitious little soap operas. The grand vista of Is beckons! It, the unshakably real, is; because He Is. We, coming to this knowledge, find rest.
The canoe of life has an outrigger to steady it, and His Name is Jealous! He Personally "takes an interest" in our lives, our deaths, and so too our living again.
He is so "cut" that death itself is no boundary at all for Him. He roars His fierce welcome-home at His childrens' return from the grave!
We have no good way to describe holy for much the same reason that we can barely define the real. But without these, life means nothing, history is just a lot of bad people doing stupid things, and death reigns supreme over the hearts' cry for meaning.
But the Holy One is saying that, that very cry for meaning was placed in there, on purpose by Him, that one day we would find in His smile, and wildly glad embrace, our true home!