Thursday, January 24, 2013

Life is Pointless

I don't mean that figuratively. Life is actually pointless. Both the atheist and the Christian agree on this.

Before burning me for heresy, pardon me a strange interlude.

Human beings can make pointless nonsense. Like art. Animals, planets, and the rest, must behave according to pre-set natures. They cannot act beyond these natures. Animals have sex only in season when instinct commands, "Procreate!" Humans, meanwhile, defy the point of sex and do it just for fun, all year 'round, because they are capable of the pointless. They can have sex just for the pleasure, and it still be called good.

Humans are the  exception to EVERYTHING in nature. We're awesome that way.
Humans aren't the only ones doing pointless, irrational things for pleasure. God does it too. In fact, when He made all of creation, there was no point, no objective, no end in mind, except His pleasure

We see a sliver of this divine pointlessness in man. Men do silly things all the time [and all the women cried, "Amen!"]. A child builds with blocks then knocks it down again. Why? What was the point? What did it accomplish? Nothing. He was not asked to build it. Building it gave him no sustenance. The child built it for the mere pleasure of building it. Nothing caused the child to build it. He built it of his own cause, for the child possesses the divine nature. His capacity for nonsense is an expression of the Imago Dei [the Image of God].

Then the bright-faced little Presbyterian lifts a Catechized finger [determinedly] and says, "No, we have a goal: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!"

The statement is true. But it is not a "goal."

We are still creatures with half our nature within time and matter. All of creation has the objective to worship its creator, and humans don't get out of it. That is the universal condition. It is the predetermined "cause" of the cosmos, but only so to speak. In reality, God did not make the cosmos to meet this cause, because He didn't need to. He doesn't need to be worshiped, glorified, or enjoyed forever. He is already as glorious as can be, whether I glorify Him or not.

We go eat because we are hungry. Hunger is the cause of eating. God has no cause, because He has no needs. He is no more or less God for having made creation than if He had not. The fact is we're useless to God. There was no cause for the universe. He created it of His own cause. He created us to please Himself, and we exist to please Him.

Humans, however, have needs. There are things that are necessary to ensure survival. We must eat, breathe, keep warm, and so on. But humans are not happy with merely eating or breathing. They must add some nonsense into it. The food must be delicious, the air sweet, the warm clothes stylish, and so on. Why must we make everything we do beautiful?

I would define the work of beautifying as art, and it is something only spirits do. art serves no point. The food doesn't have to be flavorful, the clothes don't have to be colorful, and the wall doesn't need that portrait. In terms of survival, art is unnecessary. Yet art is vital because it is unnecessary! The human must have more than what is required. He longs beyond what the world offers. He must have the useless, that is, the beautiful. Beauty is of greater importance to him than food and air, because a person who finds his existence ugly would rather throw himself from the nearest bridge than endure it. He often does. So much for survival.
We can make meaningless nonsense. Not all nonsense is pretty, but all prettiness is nonsense.
We must have art because it exercises lordship. It expresses the divine. We must compose, sing, paint, and sculpt, because we are gods. Like God Himself, creation must please us. Otherwise we murder ourselves.

Man is not an animal, only smarter. He is an entirely separate creation, with a peculiar nature and a leg in two separate worlds. We are everlasting beings, yet we operate within time. Miniature gods, we: in creation, yet lords over it. Art is something we contribute to reality as co-creators. To stop would be inhuman, ungodly. It would mean forsaking our role and dashing our crowns into the earth.

But not only is art pointless. So is worship.

If creation had an "ends," it would be to please its Creator. But this is no end at all! The act of pleasing is a process, not an event. Cutting to the chase, we do not worship to gain anything from it. Recall, there is no ultimatum. If there were, worship could be calculated, measured, tidied, and processed. It would be legalistic and agendized. God would be a celestial vending machine ["I give You worship, You give me respite, comfort, healing, salvation, etc - deal?"]. We would scheme how much worship would be required to produce a desired result.

The Church has traditionally called this heresy.

Moreover, if we worshiped to gain from the worship, our entire attention would be on the worship itself. We would look to our prayers to answer themselves; we would bank our salvation on a string of words; we would expect healing from the laying of the hands itself. The Holy Spirit has no say in this false worship. He is a thought in the attic, crowded out by piles of hymns, sacraments, and prayers. This kind of worship is false because it is given a point. So long as people are looking for something from the church, they will not find anything because they are including themselves in the worship. Worship occurs when the saint loses himself, his needs, and his sins in the Divine, and glories accordingly, not allowing his left hand to know what his right is doing [Matthew 6:3].

First there is God. The worship [if it be true] comes incidentally.

Man worships because otherwise he would not be man. To take it further, man worships, but the pleasure is in the worshiping. He doesn't "receive" the pleasure afterward in the form of a reply. If and when there is a reply, the result is not satisfaction, but stirring further to even more worship.

Worship only finds worth when the Christian realizes the worship itself accomplishes nothing. And God guarantees nothing from it, for He offers no objective but Himself. He is our all in all: the path, the guide, and the destination.

And that is the whole of Christianity. The saint worships for no point whatsoever except to please his God. He is a bundle of causeless, spontaneous glory! Creation worships God by "being," yet humans worship God by "becoming."

Becoming what? I'll answer in a moment.

The Presbyterian comes back and says, "Okay, fine. All you're saying is that Christianity and eternity are journeys, not destinations. I get that. However, though life may be pointless, it is not meaningless. There is so much meaning in the journey, though there is no point, in the since that there is no finish-line."

I reply first that meaning is cheap. As the psalmist puts it, we are gods. Inventing our own meaning is easy [however deluded it may be]. God is not interested in giving people a meaningful existence. He is interested in giving them Himself.

Second, life is meaningless so long as it's only "life." It does not find meaning until it is "life with God." Any meaning you find in the worship is something you are making up. Meaning is something God gives the worship. It is not in the worship itself, nor in your worshiping.

The odd thing about this whole business is that God does, indeed, reply. He does put forth promises, and faithfully preserves them. We worship because we must. Yet there is no "must" with God. He does not answer back because we worship. He does not save us because we seek Him [for, as He states, we don't]. He is causeless. His reply is nonsense. Nothing could have merited it.

My response to grace
Nonsense has another name. It is called Grace. What we are "becoming" through worship is what in the reality of God we are already.

"For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify [unnecessarily] the humble with salvation."
Psalm 149:4

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