Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Reflections on E4 Part 1 – Dream Awakener/Calling, Jason Hesiak

In reflecting on beginning on writing this paper on my reflections on the first year’s first part of E4, I thought, at first, mainly of two things, which eventually became one. Firstly, and more specifically to E4 the program, I thought about all of our readings, which were all amazing; they both awoke deep laden dreams at the core of my soul, and affirmed much of what I learned in the previous eight years of my life. Secondly, and more related to my associations to E4 in the context of my whole life so far, I thought of what God has been doing in my soul, “character development” as Dallas Willard called it in one of our readings, which he says is essential and primary to the coming of the kingdom. In the past month or so, God has begun to cleanse me in the purifying fire in a new way. Upon further reflection on my journal entries for this first section of E4, concerning both the readings and what God is doing in me, I saw that they follow the same theme really – and not just the general theme of the coming of the kingdom (although of course that), but something a bit more specific to both my own life and to this particular section of E4.

The main theme of the writings that hit me is the thread of the concern with symbol and ritual throughout the Our Father Abraham readings, which reappears in the writings of N.T. Wright in a different way. Both show an awareness of an ancient world-view that does not necessarily separate body and mind, or body and soul. For ancient people’s ritual and myth were natural ways of life, which “reflect” their different world-view. Wilson, in many different ways, has undertaken a head on study of many of these rituals and symbols of the ancient Hebrews (and modern Hebrews as well). You can also see traces of such thinking in that he concentrates his studies of scripture under the context of the actual life of the ancient peoples. He does not study the scriptures solely as words on paper. He doesn’t treat words as mere nominal representations that remain forever locked in the world of the literal, as if trapped on an island with no one around. He treats words as the breath of life, moving air, the breath of God. In that way then, when you set your sights on actual air, you come upon the gaze of an actual world and a way of life of a people. And you find in his writings many very interesting and lively studies on the life of the ancient Hebrews, which calls back now to the core of our heart, asking us again to “Hear, O Isreal, the Lord your God; the Lord is One,” to take joy in the Lord. Wright, on the other hand, seems to generally show a strong awareness of the difference between ancient and modern, in many different ways. In general, however, he seems to understand, like Marvin Wilson, the connection between body and soul; and his writings reflect such awareness.

My life up to the start of E4 you could say was the quest for an understanding of that old world view, which you could also say really turned out to be a quest for Holiness, which is the source of wholeness (I was seeking healing from the inherent brokenness of modernity, the separation of body and soul, and of Man and God). Since the start of E4, my life and its quest toward God’s Holiness has turned in toward my own character development. Do not misunderstand me here, however, in referring to character development as "inward." That is the whole point of the Holiness which I have been seeking. Character is our appearance in the world playing a particular role, as a particular character. One of the Holy Ones of God or one of the Unholy Ones. When I refer to "character development" as "inward," first of all I am referring specifically to our reading of Dallas Willarard. Secondly, I am speaking under the less than common assumption that inward and outer are not spearate. God, in His timing, has revealed lust and anger in my soul, and began the healing work needed to reconcile me to past pains, going as far back as early childhood. He revealed these things to me through my outer actions, but this was to me exactly that - a revelation, a bringing into the light what was previously hidden within. All things that appear in the world are manifestations and revelations of some "inward" spirit; although properly speaking, the distinction between "inward" and "outward" breaks down. In Holiness there is one "whole" thing, and the "inward" and "outward" parts are just that, parts. Although even then, they are not necessarily separate parts in themselves, but only called out and named as two distinguished entities because we (the folks who do the naming) can see one of them (the outward one), while the other one is hidden from our view (the inward one).

For me, our reading of Mathew, Chapter 6 pretty much ties it all together – the readings of Marvin Wilson and N.T. Wright, and the development of my own soul. To me, that particular chapter centers on establishing the proper relationship between inside and out, body and soul, inner character and outward action. Don’t be a hypocrite, praying on street corners and doing acts of charity in public for all to see (Don’t be a Jacob, a deceiver), but pray and do your acts of kindness before your Father in heaven, who is your only real Father (be the Is-real you are called to be). “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” Don’t put your heart into false treasures, but into the only real one. Have a pure eye, so that the Spirit may shine through you, and through to you (don’t fix your eyes on the unholy half-truth of this world only, viewed by modern science as separate from the world of spirit). Don’t strive like the wind to be beautiful among men, but let God be beautiful through you (flowers don’t work to make their clothing). And don’t worry about the necessities of this world. The God who’s breath is the reason for it’s existence has it taken care of. The Lamb has overcome.

In coming to the face of God, Grace and perfection shine onto your face. In acting in the world, with your faith placed in God (and not the world), that light shines through (to the world), giving all things their true value (not just making us healthy emotionally so we don’t have to brag to our friends, but also bringing value to things, and making us properly valuable to be able to make a living) and their true place (the proper orientation between the inner world of spirit and the outer world of visible manifestations). All in all, this is another way of saying that, when God is the center of the world (and our center also of course), things then play their proper roles in the world, have their proper character. Numbers aren’t merely quantitative, but deeply symbolic of God’s presence and working. Emotions aren’t just thoughts that determine our actions, but are deeply indicative of spiritual forces calling forth from within.

Christ himself, God in the flesh, is the ultimate example of this connection between Spiritual and material, inner and outer, both in his simple appearance in the world, symbolically the “bread of life," and in his actions that demonstrate God’s loving “character.”

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