Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Uselessness is Inevitable

The mother of Jesus is creepy. She's a pale, shawled statue with a blank face. But if you hold her up to the demons in your haunted paintings, she'll scare them away. That should tell you how creepy she is. If the demons can't stand the sight of her, you know you're dealing with something terrifying.

Every day, humans look more and more like giraffes. Legs for walking, and necks for swallowing. These goofy constructions of bone and flesh, cloaked by the fabric of sheep and other mammals. Are they good for anything other than sex? High heels tell me "no."

Still we  sit and think. We have this cursed freedom to actually think about ourselves. Instead of grabbing those legs and spreading them open, we restrain ourselves. Any other animal will lunge at the opportunity for a good hump, but we remain civilized.

The Garden of Eden has never been so poetic. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. We were once naked, banging each other whenever we felt so inclined. Until we started to think. Oh God. and now we cover ourselves. Now we feel guilt and shame for our natural tendencies. We are the most absurd creatures to ever exist, freaks of evolution, utterly foolish in all of our wisdom.

It's a wrong that can't be righted. Since we feel guilt, we always feel guilt. We die guilty, and only then are we released of our sinful nature. Into the ground we go, where we are all intended to remain. From dust we came, to dust we return. Our time away from the dust is a brief vacation.

And while on vacation, we make up all sorts of stories. We tell ourselves that we have a purpose. Our purpose is to be useful. A useful person fulfills his purpose. So we fulfill our purpose by being useful. 

The evolution of arrogance sets us apart.

Our purpose is actually uselessness. This is also the purpose of the giraffe. And coffee beans. And quasars. And electrons.

Purpose is eternal, unlike us. We do not live forever. We die. We return to dust. When we die, we return to dust.

To all of you interested in Heaven, step back a few inches. Perhaps in contrast to eternal torment, Heaven sounds nice. But everything you know, everything you understand is a result of contrast. It has become a popular Christian argument against the problem of evil that God's love is only possible when there is the availability for a lack of love. Why is there evil in the world? Well, God wouldn't be able to reveal his love and grace if everything was perfect now, would he?

So now you're in Heaven. For weeks you live it up, without a problem or anxiety to be found. It is bliss, and you look forward to living this way forever. Forever. But after a few years, you start to wonder if anything different will ever happen. You've marveled at the pearly gates and gold streets for a while now, is there anything else to get blissful about? Oh but our Lord, he is to be praised for all eternity. How can this get boring? He is worthy of all our praise!

How long can you keep that up? A decade? A century?

Maybe you've sang a song in church that really touched you. You felt the Holy Spirit wash over you, and you raised your hands and closed your eyes. Wouldn't that be a great feeling to have for eternity? That feeling lasted for a few minutes in church, but what if it lasted a whole day? A week? A year... A decade........

You know what, Heaven sounds awful. It sounds monotonous and terrifying. Where is the dust? Where is the stuff that we came from, the stuff that made us into useful beings? Oh, right, we're not useful. We just praise God for eternity. That's not a purposeful existence. That's slavery.

Freedom requires contrast. In heaven, it doesn't exist. So you still want to go there? You want to exist forever in a place that offers no choices? You want to forget about the dust that made you feel like you had a purpose?

Oh to have eternal joy, there is no such thing!

Then again, to be back to our natural state sounds pretty good. To be rid of this cursed freedom sounds like a relief.

But realize that Heaven and Hell are places for our vacationing existence. Between dust, we ponder the two extremes. We can get no darker than Hell, and no brighter than Heaven. But we can only ponder them on vacation. When we are dust, we are dust. There is no pondering of anything, let alone extremes.

While you're here, do not desire an extreme. Ponder it, but do not try to grasp it. Surely, if you take an extreme, you will have left the beach for the slave-ship. Avoid slavery while you wait for your return to dust. Have sex and occupy your cursed mind with poetry, imaginations and jokes.

It didn't mention it in Genesis, but the giraffe also came from dust. And to dust, so the giraffe also returns.

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