Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Life is not for us; Life is not for me . . . Life was not for him

Life is not for us; Life is not for me
These words came clear and true. These words dismantle thoughts and plans. There is simply no reason to believe that this life is for us. This certainly does not mean that life is not good. Our manner of living is the construction of spaces that allow us to experience as though life is for us. This is, I suspect, idolatry. An intermediary was required for the unforgiveness and overwhelmingness of nature. It is claimed that this too was the role of Yahweh and Christ's Father. I recently watched Into the Wild which dramatized the life of Christopher McCandless (aka Alexander Supertramp; self-photographed above shortly before his death). McCandless attempted to live outside the constructs of life-for-us as he wander the US with little or no money. His pathology eventually led him to Alaska and an ill prepared stint of living alone in the wild. His time in Alaska became more and more grim in the movie as food grew scarce. I knew the movie was almost over and I was waiting for a 'magical rescue' a la Hollywood so that all would be well. But Christopher died. As far as movies go, I am hesitant to say this, but I was happy it ended that way. There was no triumph of the human spirit (well there was triumph of the spirit but not of the mind or body). Is this perhaps the other end of the spectrum? Existence without the constructs of life-for-us is in fact non-existence. Life/nature has no need for us and will outlast us without flinching.
What then of the relationship between the biblical God, humanity and nature? First, we are by no means the gods of nature. We are neither her saviour or destroyer. I have no answer to this. I suppose that for now I went to be more fully convinced that life is not for me and that the constructs of life-for-us are in fact idolatrous. I think there remains though something of wild. Not perhaps of McCandless' wilderness but of a more holy as wildness. Here again my reading of Williams is not far from mind. Williams on Augustine's spirituality,

There is no rest in mere self-awareness, because to know the self properly is to see it in the midst of the vast landscape [read wilderness] of God's workings, a landscape with no human map, trusting only to the hand of God.
. . .
The mystery of Augustine's God is not the static and solitary purity of Plotinus's "One;" timeless and unchangeable as he is, Augustine's is rather the inscrutable God who speaks out of Job's whirlwind and makes himself known in a dying man - not "far above," but penetrating every corner, mysterious with the tragic and terrifying mysteriousness of experience and history.

The question then becomes the monastic one of fleeing the world (life) and still living in the midst of it; Of living outside the constructs of life-for-us and still promoting life, or of life after the death of life. But first let me contemplate simply that life is not for me, life is not for us. May this lead in part to a type death and so perhaps to a type of life. A life-for-God


pxpaulx said...

Hey Dave, I enjoyed reading this post quite abit. For what it is worth, perhaps we shouldn't strive to have a life-for-God, so much as a life-of-God's; of course definitely not in the sense that we are a God, but that we belong to God.

I just thought a life-for-God, using the word for implies that we still have some sort of possession of our own lives. though I can't pretend to comprehend it, I tend to think God is in control of our life whether we choose to believe it or not.

Unknown said...

Hey Paul! Long time. The last phrase just sort of happened. What you brought up is of course a significant distinction. To what extent do we turn or orient our lives towards God and to what extant is that simply the reality? The phrase 'life-for-God' can be taken to be much larger than an individual's existence it speaks to the orientation of reality. That was what I ended the post on, asking myself whether this was actually how I understand the world around me (even that phrase suggests that I don't) or the world that I am in.
All the best Paul.