Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Chasing Phantoms and Living in Reality: 1 of 3, The Life of the Heart

I recently realized that my heart isn’t necessarily in such great shape. Right now my Bible reading is in Proverbs, and it has occurred to me that the meaning of the term “heart” in that book isn’t exactly what we might expect as we approach the text. Such realizations, along with recent experiences and studies centered around my work (as an architect) have lead me to question my vocational calling. I have been lead to begin to regard my previous attitude of alienation and deep inner pain in regard to our contemporary economic system – which controls my industry, along with everything else - as less of a helpful and true attitude and more of my falling into a deep pit or a mean trick. This, then, serves as the first of a series of three posts to explore these recent goings on in my life and in my soul.

Proverbs 11: 19, 20 - "Take your stand with God's loyal community and live, or chase after phantoms of evil and die. God can't stand deceivers, but oh how he relishes integrity." Proverbs 13: 19 "Souls who follow their hearts thrive; fools bent on evil despise matters of soul."

Proverbs, I am just now suddenly realizing (fully, at least, I suppose), is a call to me for a moral backbone. Its also a call to freedom and abundance, the expansive living of the referenced moral uprightness. Proverbs 4: 23 - "Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."

To approach what is meant here by heart, interestingly, Proverbs 6: 16-19 says:
"Here are six things God hates,
and one more that he loathes with a passion:
eyes that are arrogant,
a tongue that lies,
hands that murder the innocent,
a heart that hatches evil plots,
feet that race down a wicked track,
a mouth that lies..."

For another example, Proverbs 7: 1-5
"Dear friend, do what I tell you; treasure my careful instructions.
Do what I say and you'll live well.
My teaching is as precious as your eyesight—guard it!
Write it out on the back of your hands;
etch it on the chambers of your heart.
Talk to Wisdom as to a sister.
Treat Insight as your companion.
They'll be with you to fend off the Temptress—
that smooth-talking, honey-tongued Seductress."

Here, when the wise teacher speaks of the life of the heart - which apparently we are to "follow after" - he is not talking about Hollywood phantoms of fame, celebrity and the perfect life of unending ease and pleasure, which doesn’t exist anyway. Nor is he talking about some American Romantic(ism) notion of "following your heart." Nor, even, is he talking about a bit of a differnet American dream of “liberty” and/or “freedom” that supposedly died in 1968. He's talking about the phantom idea that our desired good life actually arises from an immoral life of cheating, empty talk and general empty-headedness, such as irresonsible American Romantic notions, dreams of Hollywood ease, or other things to be explored in the coming posts.

What Proverbs is talking about, though, is the abundant life with a full heart. If that’s what he’s talking about, and if such a life is fulfilled in morality, then apparently our heart, in which even eternity is embedded, is made morally good.

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