Sundays are (apparently?) the day for me to remind myself of a few things. Before I begin, and talk somewhat about those, I would like to set the stage somewhat.
Have you ever heard of; "a recursive loop"? As I survey my own life, and those peeks I have into the lives of others; the phrase, recursive (or zero-sum), loop keeps coming to mind. I say it this way; "The universe is very accomodating. Whatever you seek to prove, you will (in time) find some evidence for."
For instance, I was listening briefly last night to "Coast To Coast", an AM radio show in the middle of the night. Don't ask me what it was about, I have no idea. But, a loop sequence was being displayed. It was to the effect that a "galactic civilization", using the Sun as portal (and other stars too?), has "long been known of" by a cabal inside the government. . . Or something? Now, the key problem here is that we can never really know, until such time that the cabal in question releases the secret information. So then, it remains a secret, but a very poorly kept one, and it cannot be either ratified or fully denied, until some future action changes the shape of the discussion. It was a pretty crazy conversation to listen to, but my point here, is that if this formats as a recursive loop (a kind of zero output system), which is based upon itself, we do not get an "alien" construct, but a very, very human one! People love building these things.
In my opinion, we all have some kind of recursive loop, "down and in" us, which is "prevented" from making any headway until such and such, which is outside of our control, "changes things". And so, we "do laps", the poor, they (mainly) "wait".
Over and over again, for years and then for decades, we keep making the same kinds of blunders, or offenses, or failures. There is a recursive loop inside us! Now, the fact is, the thing functions as a kind of trap, but the design is so foolproof, that not even the best puzzle-master can find the way out. Do you see my meaning here? The world's best puzzle solver would (by definition) build a much more sophisticated trap!
Over in Christianity-land, the talk along these lines is often rotating about the axis of "my besetting sin". That is, recursive loops are not morally neutral. People are (at minimum), vaguely aware that their own loop-trap "works", and (incidentally) is never identical with their neighbor's. And just to muddy things up some, many people fail at even noticing that they personally have the disease, and this recurring blindness of their's, formats as a main part of their loop! So, there is a toxic kind of brew cooking here, and I think that most people, for most of the time, would simply rather not open this can of worms. The discussion, as it is thus, (if it even exists!) ends up a kind of recipe for "success", a "three easy steps" for overcoming addictions, or something along those lines?
All this to say, there is no working solution, because it is a zero-sum. Young men in high powered cars prefer "to do doughnuts" in dirt parking lots. This accelerated spin function, with lots of noise, plus dust, and some excitement; all the while getting precisely nowhere, is a pretty darned accurate snapshot of recursive loops in general. They lead you right back to where you began, and yes, some dust was thrown, true, some rubber was burnt off, with some fuel wasted. We (men at least) build these loops on the outside, because they are present on the inside!
The thing which needs to change, never changes, and so, forward momentum is not really expected, and sho'-nuf there is none! But, didn't we know that going in? We can spot these types of loops in others, and freely offer "help", only to find a very frustrating "lack of progress" in our victim. And incidently, in our "trying to fix" them, we often note that such "helping", somehow or another causes our own zero-sum loop to come back into service?
A swimmer in mid-ocean, cannot "get out" of the water, and "effort plus determination" has nothing to do with the situation. His fellow swimmer cannot lift him out of the water, and only makes things worse. Positive affirmation of dryness, goal setting of finding shoreline, and giving it 110% effort; still leaves the guy in the water. Face it, your options are to sink or to swim. Getting dry is not on the menu, and it is just here that we loop. Something "must change before", and we have no control of that something.
Years ago, I wrote a C.P.E. with either the same or a very similar title. I don't even recall when that was, or what I wrote, but that very same loop sequence; (the integrity of sin) is yet intact within my person, and so I plagiarized my own stuff (title-wise at least). Gosh, I hope I don't sue me! I couldn't afford that. . .
There are things (I suppose) that a guy would tell his wife, which he would not tell any other person? Self-disclosure being what it is, to openly say certain things is to make yourself appear weak, uncertain, or vulnerable. Well, I have never married, and nearly certainly; never shall. So, to whom do I speak, concerning the integrity of sin? We definitely have here, a recursive loop, with the standard zero-output, so why even bother speaking of it? There is no "fix" available from inside my system. The cage which I built for myself, you might easily escape, but can you escape your own? Ah, now that's the question!
Before I wax duller yet on the topic at hand, I would like to offer an observation which I believe to be correct. Zero-sum loops have in common "something" or more accurately "Some-One". That is, the moral failure, and the guilt and/or shame involved in our loops are directed "backwards". It might be a bit like firing a bazooka in reverse. We are aiming "above and behind" ourselves. We are "officially rejecting" a truth which others appear quite able to swallow. We are fighting God Himself "somewhere", and the "place" for that battle is (typically) at our weakest point. And that point has a name, it is called; "Where I am right!".Tactically then, it is a hopeless endeavor, it remains a longing to "get dry", by the man about to be swallowed by the deeps . . .
Moving right along then, the integrity of sin is my name for my own loop. I am guessing here, that you might be able to easily navigate your way out of it? As for me? I'm stuck, and have been so, for the majority of my life, "right here". To get the gist of this particular loop, go back and re-read Romans Chap 7. I am convinced that Paul found his way out of the loop, and simply; I have not. It is about that complex. I don't ordinarily cite scripture in my essays, but this time I make an exception. Look for the words in all caps, and also note the parenthetical comments along the way, to see if you can catch a whiff of my recursive loop, okay?
"For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate (Bingo Bubba!). But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good (and apparently, that I ain't!). So now, NO LONGER AM I THE ONE DOING IT (What? That is outrageous!), but sin which indwells me." (Uh, sure pal) . I hope that you are getting the idea here? Verse 20 is a lulu! "But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I AM NO LONGER THE ONE DOING IT, (Pul-eeeze!) but sin which dwells in me."
I can recall reading this for the first time, or at least I think I recall it? My thought both then and now is; "What a cop-out!. And who precisely are we fooling here anyhow? Just how is this going to work over in reality-ville?", a chap might ask. "Yes, your honor I was speeding while drunk, but since I personally reject such behavior, clearly we can see that I was not the driver." What was that? What did you just say? "Yes, I am personally opposed to violence, so the fact that I smack my wife around, demonstrates that it is not I who do so?" Hey, did I miss something over here? What sort of lame-brained, logic-chopping blather is this, anyhow?
And so, we note, that true to form, "somewhere" I am opposed to God Himself. Not "if", but "since" this passage in Romans qualifies as Scripture, I am at war with the gutless drivel I find in it! What do you mean Mr. Apostle "IT ISN"T "YOU"?" So, a hostility, a warring is present in me, and predictably so, as we warned earlier, all such systems must park near "here". Maybe you can see your way out of this, but at 57, and dealing with it, off and on for decades, I cannot.
I cannot with a straight face, address the Almighty and with bald faced lies, say; "It wasn't me". Hell no! I will tell You the truth, Sir! And that truth is, yes; of course it was me, who else were we expecting? Yes, I did so, and I did it precisely because I am rotten! Why else would I do so? By this standard, I will never "be good enough" because I am not (in fact) good enough. What else were we expecting? Deal with it already, and quit nagging me to be something I am not; because I am not that "something". Do I have to draw you a picture?
The only thing that I am any good at at all, is failure, and even that I occasionally screw up, by inadvertently getting something right. But, what this loop is "secretly" about (I think) is the idea of; "Welcome". If love be thought of as a receiving, a welcoming of the other, it is my fixed opinion that I am (instead) "tolerated". And there is a BIG difference between the two! No matter how much "effort" I apply, I simply cannot "shake" this supposition, for the excellent reason, that; I think I'm right! Furthermore, it is by this standard that I estimate all other ideas, in any case. So, to remove it (supposing that were possible), is to remove the "me-who-knows". And just precisely how would the me in question, go about doing that?
Simply said, I am about work, not play. People invite me over, not because of my stellar charisma and good humor. It is because I do filthy work on the cheap. I am a plumber, and I deal with some pretty gross problems, and do not grump about it. But do you see? I am "not good enough" on my own, such that others would want me around. I am only good enough to deal with dust, sewage and chaos so that they may retain "clean" hands. Furthermore, the integrity of sin predicts just such stuff as this. If I am as bad as I presume to be, then neither God nor feminine society actually wants me around. . . Unless. Unless I can do for them some small thing, so that they retain their "clean-ness". It is "who I am".
Well, I can't seem to get a solid rejection from YAHWEH, but polite society more than makes up for His lack, let me tell ya!. If you presume something to be true, then; you will indeed find some evidence to sustain your idea. Even if your premise is that aliens are using the Sun as a portal, you will . . . indeed, "find something"!
This is one of the reasons that these essays of the crazed-pants variety so frequently end up being written on Sundays. Monday through Saturday, I am "killing rats". I am doing the work that nobody volunteers for, I am fixing the screw-ups, finding the blank spots and solving the problems. It is "who I am". But Sundays are a different animal altogether! Beautiful girls who find me to be invisible, wealthy success-story guys, hunting an audience to speak down to, and moral success stories, who wish to lecture (again). . . Remind me of why I go to services? The whole "spiritual" environment shouts to me; "You do not belong here. . . But are being tolerated". Which (conveniently enough) ratifies (yet again) "who I am"!
Now, let me clear something up right away. It is not as if my church was some sort of degenerate country club for those who are rich, white and having only straight teeth. What I am saying is that even in a warm and kind environ, we will ferret out the "evidence" which we went to go find in the first place. We cannot-not-do so! This particular loop of mine is so emotionally taxing that the only way I can get it out of my system (so to prepare for tomorrow's rat killing) is to either take a long, long walk, or. . . Write!
So, I would like to brag a bit then. Bear with me, eh? The integrity of sin says that I refuse to cop out. It says that I will own up, and say the truth. I tell you, and any who care to listen; that, yes, it was me that screwed up (again!). It was not some mysterious "un-me" lollygagging around here. I did it! And if that proves me a rotten son, or a lousy employee; or a bad neighbor, I accept that verdict, because I am all of those, and far worse. If you reject me, I tend to congratulate you on your good taste in humans! If I am not "good enough" for you, that is because I really am that way! Even I agree. I hope that you are getting the gist here? This is the sound of the brain-racket which I have to deal with, fairly often.
So anyhow, this basic set, this integrity of sin; revolves around acceptance of my person, and I expecting none; logically, do not find it too surprising when other people validate same. The crux here, is acceptance with God, and I must make a confession.
Ever since I was a boy, I have heard that "God (or Jesus) loves me". And this is my real bone of contention I believe. You are saying that the Almighty is awfully fond of back-stabbing gutless failures? Why so? You are saying His favorite flavor of creature is the cheating fool? And just how bad is His taste in people anyhow? And where do you get off, going around slandering Him like this? Are you also saying, He is all "ga-ga" over necrophiliac cannibals, murderous tyrants, and "has a thang for" child molesters? What kind of sick revolting criminal are you worshiping anyhow? Does He think The Marquis de Sade would be a fun guy to hang out with, does He play poker with Joe Stalin and Adolph Hitler too? In the Mike-book, this "love" angle just don't cut the mustard, do you see?
The thousand and one iterations of "Jesus loves you" tend (in my mind) to demonstrate fantastically poor taste in friends on His part. And who among us authorizes such? Not I. Simply, I always understood such assertions about God to be base and unruly lies. He doesn't love the evil, He hates it, and shall one day (Rightly so!) destroy it. I say; "Bravo! And the sooner the better!". I have no beef with The Righteous God thrashing His enemies. But my loop places me (obviously) in that same bunch. If I am not "good enough", nor humble enough, nor wise, nor charitable, nor patient, nor loyal, nor true, (hey! fill in the bank how you like), if I don't meet snuff, that would be because, in fact; I do-not, meet-snuff! That is who I am, and I refuse to blame my bad performance on some "not-me" floating around the neighborhood! So we can narrow the trap down to one basic flaw in me, and (I say!) it remains my flaw! Not some hocus pocus "anti-me" pulling off sin in my name. Never! It is the integrity of sin, I tell you.
If viewed then, as a case of "welcome home son" (an emotionally live phrase to me) or not, I am forced by orthodoxy to conclude that I am (indeed) welcomed, but CRUCIALLY(!) For "Another's sake". But that only re-enforces the loop!?
If it must be said that it is only, and purely upon the basis of The God-Man, and upon His obediance that I am welcomed, then I (myself) am apparently not welcome. He is the One-Welcomed, and we for His sake. This underscores my point, not minimizing or alleviating it!
It remains a zero-sum, only re-enforced from on-high! If we are accepted by mercy alone, then we (defacto) of ourselves; are indeed unacceptable. I have no bone with that, and this is precisely what I have been saying all along, in any case! Now, even He "get's it"? My testimony is; "No amount of strategy or figuring solves here".
You would be better served, to try and outrun your own shadow in my opinion. Now I am not overly bothered by all this, except to re-state one of my basic points from early on, in the essay. Whom does one tell this sort of thing to, anyhow?
You could quite easily attend my church for decades, as I have done; and never once have this basic human knowledge-set even mentioned, much, much less-so, "dealt decisively with". It is as if this silence will somehow cover-for, or negate the reality we bear within? And if the real set of who we are is never even mentioned, tell me again what all this "sweet fellowship" jazz is all about, will you please?
I don't know how to solve for this, and very likely shall die one day, yet still ignorant. My basic premise is, and has been historically along another track altogether.
I want to see Justice-Done! I want to see the enemy shattered, and all his works burnt down for good! That is all I really care about. And if, in that great day, the True and Right One finds me to be the enemy of truth, what can I say? "You are thinking of my invisible evil twin brother! You know, the one who was "doing the very thing I hate?". Yeah, it was him, see?" I (for one) say "No! Never!". I shall tell the truth then, even as I do now. Yes, it was me, and of course I did so. Furthermore, it was because I was formed in sin, and being born, I only made things worse. If you find me in error, it is because I AM IN ERROR!".
I (for one) refuse to pin my failure upon some some invisible kid hanging around here. I want Justice. And that is all! It is "who I am". And if the Almighty rejects me, well that is no surprise, even I reject me!
I don't like to finish an essay on a down-note, but maybe I make exception also for that today? The way out is down. We can take nothing with us on the route home, not even our identity!
He is taking away every scrap from us, even "who" we believe ourselves to be! He furnishes (among other items); a new identity! And I must conclude that the object of sanctification is to be thankful as His process of tearing us apart, occurs!
The early Christian believers were literally torn limb from limb while the drunken Romans laughed their heads off. Those believers were loyal to the death, singing hymns of praise in that fierce assault.
I know (then) practically nothing at all about being made holy. Yet.
But that can always be arranged . . .