“Imagine” Juxtaposed

Previous posts attempted to expose the Epicurean influence on modernity: the exclusion of God from the garden of good and evil and replaced with Darwinian materialism under the influence of man-made reasoning: “cogito ergo sum”.

The posts also revealed the inclusion of ‘reasoned’ or ‘rational’ people into the high-horse club of scientism. This exclusive club is governed by those who have the power, perhaps the raison d’état, to control the inputs and outputs of desired ‘truth’. “What is truth?” Pilate asked (when he thought he had the force of the whole Roman empire to define it.)

As I wryly mentioned in my previous posts the above either/or, God/science dichotomy came, at first, philosophically, from what I call Epicurus’ “High-Horse” Mal-ware. This mal-ware has since been downloaded over the centuries into each century’s modern man’s psyche. The devastating effect of the Mal-ware was to disable the AND gate of your truth tables. It was not to be used in queries.

Now, like the historically recorded scene of two thieves each hanging on cross with Jesus hanging between them, I offer a similar juxtaposition of two end results, two disparate “Imagines”.

One “Imagine” is Epicurean, God dismissed, materialistic, nihilistic and personified in the likes of former atheist Christopher Hitchens, materialist Barack Obama and fatalist Beatle John Lennon:

 The other “Imagine” is God-inclusive. Here, God is the nucleus, the epicenter of being and meaning. Here, God and science coexist as Lion and lamb, creation being the sublime work of His hands, His signature found in the molded clay.

God’s Kingdom, now begun on earth, has become a dwelling place for all who see His light and follow it. True reality is made known to His followers by the Holy Spirit. The earthly spectrum of sodium street lights, of tungsten lights, of neon lights, of mercury lights, of halogen lights, of xenon lights, lights all of which enable us to see our way on earth are sourced from the Prism of Eternal Light.

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” C.S. Lewis

At His appearance we will then know Him as He knows us. That Eternal Light you see is Love, not short-lived Epicurean fireworks and party favors. 

 

Footnote: The above song by MercyMe was played during my son’s funeral service, about fourteen years ago. Justin was eighteen when the Lord took him home in a freak car accident. The police reported that it was a clear, sunny and dry day in Texas as Justin drove down a frontage road and lost control of the car. No other cars were involved. No drugs or alcohol were involved according to the Police report.

 Justin had recently graduated from high school. The afternoon of his death he was driving back from his girlfriend’s house. We don’t know why this happened. We just know that we will see him again and this is not final. The Joy that only God’s True Love can give replaced the deepest loss I have ever experienced.  Physics caused the physical death. But, Justin lives on.

 Sure there is pain, loss and evil in the world. But God is greater than any of these, if you let Him be God in your life.

One Nation Under Epicurus?

Previous posts have exposed the false either/or thinking of Epicurean philosophy and its now universally subverting High-Horse Mal-ware, a mal-ware that bifurcates mankind’s worldview.

At ‘ground level’ there is science, scientism, facts and secularism. In the attic are God, religion, values and meaning. Richard Dawkins and other angry atheists such as the former Christopher Hitchens, both keenly Epicurean, would opine “There’s probably is no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy life. Here is your ground game:  avoid pain, seek pleasure and BTW there is evil in the world therefore God must be AWOL.”

The "Great Divorce" bus? vide C.S. Lewis

The “Great Divorce” bus? vide C.S. Lewis

The Epicurus “High-Horse” Mal-ware landed on the shores of the New World ready to create a new saeculum- a new age. Thomas Jefferson declared himself to be Epicurean. Look at your dollar bill: ANNUIT CŒPTIS NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM=“Initiate the new world order”. The new world order of America was to become the Enlightenment’s gift to the world-Governor John Winthrop’s “city upon a hill” (1630).

Mankind in this New-Age-New-World, already exposed to “High-Horse” mal-ware, was thought by many to be made of random atoms which materially evolved without any help from above. Ergo, mankind would just as ‘freely’ determine its fate via scientism using a co-opted and modified European/Westphalian system of order (17th century) while keeping God at attic’s length. The pilgrims did inject a belief in an Epicurus defined fear-mongering God but their distant “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” Deist God would later only be mentioned at funerals and never mentioned on resumes. (I realize that I am summing up at lot in a short post.)

Now that you have heard about the Epicurus “High-Horse” Mal-ware you will begin to see its effects in every day life. For instance…

Recently Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a potential 2016 POTUS candidate, was asked if he believed in evolution.

 “Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a potential U.S. presidential candidate, on Wednesday declined to say whether he believed that humans evolved from other life forms, a theory widely supported by scientists but rejected by many American voters.

 “That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or the other,” Walker said during a question-and-answer session at Chatham House, a London think tank…

 …When asked by the moderator whether he accepted the theory of evolution, Walker also declined to answer.

 “I’m here to talk about trade, not to pontificate,” he said. “I love the evolution of trade in Wisconsin.”

 Scientists widely agree that humans have evolved from other life forms over the course of millions of years, as English naturalist Charles Darwin first proposed in 1859.

 But the theory of evolution is rejected by many evangelical Christians, who view it as conflicting with the Bible’s story that the universe was created in seven days.

 More than four in 10 Americans reject evolutionary theory and believe that God created humans in their present form, according to a Gallup opinion poll conducted last June. Creationism runs strongest among older, more religious and less educated voters, the survey found”

Wow! “less educated voters”!! Talk about pompous “High-Horse” Mal-ware social manipulating scripting!

The intent of this line of questioning reported here and by other high-horse trolls was to expose Walker as intellectually weak: “Are you a “down-to-earth rational being who believes in science and evolution or are you another one of those silly Christians who believes in Creationism created by an AWOL god?”

The interviewer was hoping Walker would click on the “High-Horse” mal-ware message, make a fool of himself with a reply and then get spammed by the media. The question (Obviously I can’t read the interviewer’s mind but the question itself in this context was meant, I believe, to divide ‘rational’ believers in Darwinian evolution and materialism from the silly ‘superficial’ believers in a Creationist God.) The intent also, as I see it, was meant to contrast those who consider themselves really really smart, proud of their belief in scientism, Epicurean in their default cynicism against those who (in the interviewer’s mind) hold ‘silly’ religious “God is not dead” views. And, this question was posed to divide Walker’s base constituency of Christians. There are those who still hold to a young earth literalist Creation and there are those who have moved on with science and accept theistic evolution. These latter Christians accept that the first two chapters of Genesis are poetic in nature and are not to be interpreted as literal. These latter Christians also accept that these two chapters most definitely give us God’s perspective on mankind’s origin and purpose–Humanities 101.

Here’s another similar post ‘taken over’ by “High-Horse” mal-ware:

 

“Scott Walker Humiliates Himself On The World Stage By Dodging A Question About Evolution”

Walker was asked if he was comfortable with, and believed in evolution. It was a simple question that made the Wisconsin governor look like a fool, “For me, I’m going to punt on that one as well. That’s question a politician shouldn’t be involved in.”

Moderator Justin Webb of BBC Radio4 took Walker to task, “That is a question any British politician right or left wing would laugh and say, “Of course, evolution’s true.”

Gov. Walker replied by digging himself in deeper, “To me, I’m here to talk about trade, not to pontificate about other issues. I love the evolution of trade in Wisconsin. It’s going really well, and I’d like to see it even bigger.”

The implication being here, if I may, that “you are way too stupid to govern you silly little man, Scott Walker, if you don’t agree that science is the court of last resort and far superior to any irrational belief in a god.” “High-Horse” mal-ware defaces truth once again.

The interviewer’s question not only echoes Epicurus but also a Garden of Eden questioner. Remember the Genesis account of a ‘serpent’ speaking to Eve in the Garden? “Did God really say that you could not eat the fruit of that tree?” This could be taken as, “Does God really get involved or care or even know about your daily life? He shows up now and then. And what about that rule “don’t eat the fruit of that tree”? Would a ‘good’ God deprive you of the pleasure of ‘that’ fruit?

Epicurus would later answer (supposedly), “No, don’t deprive yourself. In my opinion even if there was a god he wouldn’t mind if you took your pleasure in the fruit of that tree. And is there a god? Men do evil and no good god would allow it. Let go of your fears. Go on Eve “Let It Go”, eat it. Any more questions?”

Now, if I were Scott Walker in that situation, my response would be, “Yes, I accept theistic evolution-a finely tuned theistic universe, a personal cause of the universe and a theistic objective morality. Science is only one of several tools for understanding the material world we live in and it won’t supply meaning. Science does not prove or disprove whether there is a god but it most assuredly hints at there being an Omnipotent Outsider. And.…(deep breath) I also accept the historical facts of the birth of God Incarnate–Jesus Christ, His “Sermon on the Mount” life among us for thirty years, Christ’s death on a cross, and his bodily resurrection. I accept the historicity of each of these facts. And, (another deep breath) I accept that all of this was done so that God could set up his Kingdom here on earth among men in order that He could make the earth righteous as he is righteous by redeeming and reconciling His eagerly awaiting creation to Himself. There will be no more bifurcation of heaven and earth. Any more questions?”

 

As I write this the U.S. is one nation under Epicurus, but not for long. The kingdoms and rulers of this world will soon be under submission to the One True God-The Lord Jesus Christ.  This King of Kings and Lord of Lords shall reign for ever and ever.

“Worthy is the Lamb…”

 

Adoration of the lamb Jan van Eyck (circa 1390-1441) Ghent altarpiece

Adoration of the lamb
Jan van Eyck (circa 1390-1441)
Ghent altarpiece

For further theistic evolution information see the Biologos website.

Epicurus “High-Horse” Mal-Ware v. 2.015

As my last post noted Greece, the home of the ancient philosopher Epicurus, rejected fiscal restraint and austerity in exchange for “Hope is coming” debt finagling.

Epicurus sans hammock

Epicurus sans hammock

 “Syriza” or “Let the Good Times Roll Without Repercussions Party” has won a short-lived victory in Epicurean Greece: “Avoid pain or at least spread it around. Give it to someone else. Let us work a few hours a week and then let us seek our pleasures. Let us surround ourselves with good friends and good drink. Forget the creditors. Those fools believed we would pay them back”. And so it goes in ancient modern Greece.

 Well, back in the day Epicurus had an even bigger dilemma than a fiscal crisis. But it was a problem that he was able to philosophize or finagle away with even bigger denial than today’s Greeks. I am talking about the problem of evil.

 The problem of evil–whether viewed as a man being burned alive or as a Roman crucifixion or as someone stealing cigars from a mini-mart or as one neighbor lying to another neighbor-is in our face daily. This enormous topic can only be glanced at in this post. I will give you a perspective to consider. First, let’s see what Epicurus foisted on his followers from his hammock ‘high horse’.

 From Wikipedia Chapter One, verse two:

Logical problem of evil

The originator of the logical problem of evil has been cited as the Greek philosopher Epicurus and this argument may be schematized as follows:

  1. If an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent god exists, then evil does not.
  2. There is evil in the world.
  3. Therefore, an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God does not exist.

This perspective of the problem of evil is held by many in the world. It is a perspective which atheism willing points to and one that bothers agnostics. It is a perspective that lends itself to the myopic religion of scientism where everything can only be validated through scientific proofs or, basically, through one’s senses (a more refined Epicurean philosophy). Yet, the above logical problem of evil is self-defeating. It assumes knowledge of good and evil.

One has to ask, how did Epicurus determine good and evil and the truth that defines them? Did he feel their effects via his physical senses? Did he and his friends determine what is good and what is evil via their collective senses? Did Epicurus make up ‘truth’ about good and evil by what his friends let him get away with saying? Or did Epicurus as a proto-Foucault define ‘regimes of truth’ as “the historically specific mechanisms which produce discourses which function as true in particular times and places”? Or, did Epicurus, as President Obama has recently done at the 2015 National Prayer Breakfast, use moral equivalency or relativism (in this case, high horse lecturing Christians with historical error) as a basis to decide what is a good and what is a bad by comparison (with God as a rubber stamp). It should be noted that none of these premises and perspectives is based on a perspective outside ones’ self or on an Absolute reference point. At the epicenter of these premises is self-serving man, ergo the likes of the American Humanist Association and their motto: “Good Without God“.

 If you believe as pre-Darwin-pre-Enlightenment-pre-scientism Epicurus believed-that humans are just randomized atoms (as he called them) that “swerved” and collided to form the materialistic world-then how did a rational concept of good and evil enter our gardens of random atoms? Remember, in Epicurus’ worldview god had been expelled from the garden of good and evil.

 This early formulation of the logical problem of evil, as I see it and now describe it, is when the Epicurus “High-Horse” Mal-ware began its download hactivism into the software of our networked psyche creating a down-through-the-centuries botnet. This Mal-ware put God in the “Recycle Bin” and made Him inaccessible. It also redirected our boot up executable file to scientism, making it our default root drive. Social manipulation by amoral hactivists and humanists keeps the botnet going.

 The Epicurus “High-Horse” Mal-ware searches for any thought of God and seeks to delete it from your consciousness. It causes doubt spam and creates a zombie-like effect with regard to outside-your-senses thinking. You are made subservient to a ‘regime of truth’, to those who now have the power to control truth. And, there are many who would desire to do so in this present age. And remember, Pontius Pilate asked Jesus “What is truth?” as if Pilate could willy-nilly define truth through his earthly power.

 For the sake of brevity I think you will agree with me that the logical problem of evil comes down to premises and perspectives. You may also agree with me that there is a need to wipe clean the hard drives of our minds of all Epicurus “High-Horse” Mal-ware.

 Here is a proper perspective from Dr. Ron Rhodes regarding the existence of evil:

 …it is impossible to distinguish evil from good unless one has an infinite reference point which is absolutely good. Otherwise one is like a boat at sea on a cloudy night without a compass (i.e., there would be no way to distinguish north from south without the absolute reference point of the compass needle).

The infinite reference point for distinguishing good from evil can only be found in the person of God, for God alone can exhaust the definition of “absolutely good.” If God does not exist, then there are no moral absolutes by which one has the right to judge something (or someone) as being evil. More specifically, if God does not exist, there is no ultimate basis to judge the crimes of Hitler. Seen in this light, the reality of evil actually requires the existence of God, rather than disproving it.

If Epicurus had read the even more ancient book of Job perhaps he would not have been so clueless and the “High-Horse” Mal-ware would never have been downloaded with its intent on hacking into our truth files.

One more perspective regarding truth, good and evil and moral equivalency:

C.S. Lewis has a few words to say about the matter, too:

“If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.”

 “Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.”

 “There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him.”

Epicurus Wins Greek Election or Pain Must Be Shared to Be Fully Enjoyed

My last two posts took you for a ride in the “Wayback Machine”. The ride, with no cost to you and minimal effort on your part, took you back to the time of Epicurus, the Greek philosopher. Then I forwarded the machine to our present time, the age of the Angry Atheists. Today’s post will take you for a ride in the “Lean Forward” Machine.

 The “Lean Forward” Machine is not like the “Wayback Machine”. Whereas the “Wayback Machine” records and regards history in its travels as an annotated time line worthy of informing present decision-making regarding morals, social concerns, spirituality, politics and economics the “Lean Forward” Machine says “phooey with all of that”:

 “Let’s go full steam ahead to the future. “We have the omniscient and omnipresent being-‘perfected’-as-we-speak-with-your-tax-dollars Government (of Titanic proportions mind you) to pilot us (in ad hoc fashion mind you) to the Elysian Fields of the Brave New World.”

 At this point you should know that the “Lean Forward” Machine is regarded by some as a religious temple. Some even call it by the sacred name of its goddess-“Progress”.

 But, before we “Lean Forward” into unreality let us take at quick look at Epicurus’ homeland today to get a reality check on effects of his philosophy:

 

Epicurus' party pic

Epicurus’ party pic

Left-Wing Syriza Party Wins Big as Greece Rejects Austerity

ATHENS — Greece’s left-wing Syriza appeared on course to trounce the ruling conservatives in Sunday’s snap election and could win the absolute majority it wants to fight international creditors’ insistence on painful austerity measures.

Tsipras’ campaign slogan “Hope is coming!” resonated with voters, weary of austerity after six years of constant crisis that has sent unemployment over 25 percent and threatened millions with poverty.

“Hope is coming!” Wait! Where have I heard that before?

 Anyway, Greece, the land of the ancient philosopher Epicurus, has rejected austerity and forsaken posterity!: “My friends, let us make Epicurean lifestyle the epicenter of things! Eat, drink and be merry with impunity! Run up the tab! The gods don’t care. Why should we?”

 There you have it my friends. Sorry to say but it appears that the ticket for the “Lean Forward” Machine return trip would cost you everything. And, if you did go, you would not see your children and grandchildren flourishing. Rather, you would not find them at all, having vanquished in the Farmworkers’ Grape Pickers Camp; having been cast into the great winepress of the wrath of Progress.

 

I’m not going with you to look for my future in the “Lean Forward” Machine. I have not lost the Spirit or my faith in God. I have the Kingdom of God here on earth to tend to whether or not my belly is full. The Kingdom of God is my vocation, my calling, my camp.

 

“Instead, make your top priority God’s kingdom and his way of life, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew’s Gospel 6, verse 33

Aren’t You a Bit Solipsistic?

My last post “Aren’t You a Bit Epicurious?” acquainted you with the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus. I presented also several of his main theories, three of which in particular bring us to today’s post” Aren’t You a Bit Solipsistic?”

Epicurus believed that you could learn everything you needed to know through your senses, a form of solipsism but with his close friends at hand just in case he was wrong, I suppose.

Epicurus also promoted Demetrius’ proposition of Atomism-random, unguided ‘atoms’ (as he called them) smashing and swerving into each other, creating the world and life around him.

And, Epicurus also believed that the gods were distant and uninvolved and therefore unrelated to‘thinking’ and ‘sensing’ man’s life. Today, Epicurus’ philosophy is found, mutated, in the DNA of our zeitgeist. This post deals with the Epicurean presupposed philosophical divide between science and religion. So put on your thinking cap, Sherman.

 Critical thinkers now that you have your thinking cap on and a pot of coffee brewing sit back and listen to Alvin Plantinga, Christian philosopher, discuss the topic at hand before students at Biola University Center For Christian Thought. (Note: Just after the one hour mark there is a Q &A session. The video upload is dated 2012.)

Suffice it to say, ‘n’ & ‘e’, is self-defeating and can’t rationally be accepted; evolution is compatible with “mere Christianity”.

And, solipsism is inherent in Darwinian materialism, narcissistic identity politics and predestinational behavioral social science.

No Way But Up

What’s at the core of America’s problems today? Is it partisan politics or is there a greater rift in the American people?

 Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Soviet and Russian novelist, dramatist, and historian during his commencement address delivered at Harvard University, June 8, 1978, gave us his diagnosis.  His speech is a stinging indictment of the West –  its materialism, its enabling of the abuse of individual freedom, its self-serving inbred media and its disavowal of its spiritual roots:

 However, in early democracies, as in the American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted because man is God’s creature. That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility. Such was the heritage of the preceding thousand years. Two hundred or even fifty years ago, it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual could be granted boundless freedom simply for the satisfaction of his instincts or whims. Subsequently, however, all such limitations were discarded everywhere in the West; a total liberation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice. … State systems were becoming increasingly and totally materialistic. The West ended up by truly enforcing human rights, sometimes even excessively, but man’s sense of responsibility to God and society grew dimmer and dimmer.

 And…

“If humanism were right in declaring that man is born only to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to die, his task on earth evidently must be of a more spiritual nature. It cannot be unrestrained enjoyment of everyday life. It cannot be the search for the best ways to obtain material goods and then cheerfully get the most of them. It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one’s life journey may become an experience of moral growth, so that one may leave life a better human being than one started it. It is imperative to review the table of widespread human values. Its present incorrectness is astounding. It is not possible that assessment of the President’s performance be reduced to the question how much money one makes or of unlimited availability of gasoline. Only voluntary, inspired self-restraint can raise man above the world stream of materialism.” (emphasis mine)

And…

“It would be retrogression to attach oneself today to the ossified formulas of the Enlightenment. Social dogmatism leaves us completely helpless in front of the trials of our times. Even if we are spared destruction by war, our lives will have to change if we want to save life from self-destruction. We cannot avoid revising the fundamental definitions of human life and human society. Is it true that man is above everything? Is there no Superior Spirit above him? Is it right that man’s life and society’s activities have to be determined by material expansion in the first place? Is it permissible to promote such expansion to the detriment of our spiritual integrity?”

Take a look at what drives you and perhaps you will see why America is no longer a nation under God, no longer a nation of civil courage, of moral decency.  Perhaps you will see why people would vote for a president who uses class warfare rhetoric to promote the sands of material security as foundational to life and not the rock of spiritual fortitude.

The Tree of Life Envisioned

Recently I viewed Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life. It would be difficult for me to adequately describe the effect this movie had on me, the emotion and reflection evoked from me as a Christian parent who has lost a child.  This movie operates, more than any I have ever seen, on an intimate meaning-of-life level while the breadth of its vision enables us to direct our eyes away from ourselves and out into the vast cosmos. And in doing so, synchronicity with creation is summoned.

 Life’s deepest and most pressing questions, the universal “whys” behind all of life are posed using the simple narrative of the lives of the O’Brien family of five. Underlying the film’s basic premises of wonder and questioning is the ancient wisdom book of Job, for me the touchstone of the film.  I believe that each viewer’s prior contemplation of life’s deepest questions would certainly individualize the film’s impression on the viewer.  Without individuation, though, the movie is just an amalgam of exceptional pictures and music – a mood piece. I see The Tree of Life as being a spiritual movie and not a religious documentary and therefore I believe it will affect each viewer differently.

 Without going into too much of the narrative detail, detail which may deprive you of the movie’s impact, here is my initial impression of Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life:

 Though I was ready for the usual exceptional visual imagery – Stanley Kubrick’s movies come to mind – that is part and parcel of Malick’s cinematic talent (see also his Days of Heaven) I was blown away by the large scope of the movie:  creation, the meaning of life, the existence of suffering, nature and grace and the Creator. 

One of the visual and emotional pleasures of this movie is that the images are offered to us in prolonged time frames – there are no frenetic montages matched to every blink of the eye. The absence of the modern movie restlessness allows us to contemplate the force of those images. We are then able to react with deeply held authentic feelings and at the same time not feel the need to immediately dispose of those feelings so as to be ready for the next emotional roller coaster ride of images. In this way the movie parallels life:  creation and real life takes place over time.  I believe the movie honors the fact that God takes time to accomplish His purposes – in the universe and in the saga of our lives. And, as the movie depicts, we do not understand God’s ways but, as I have seen, God, who is outside of time, uses time to reveal His Nature and His Grace to us.

 Malick rolls out before us a grand sweeping chromatic scroll of the universe. The visual imagery, often shown in natural lighting is enhanced with beautifully evocative musical selections including works by Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Smetana’s The Moldau River, Preisner’s Lacrimosa, Cassidy’s The Funeral March and Górecki’s Sorrowful Songs Symphony. Such music invokes us to come present to the spiritual within our souls.

 The awe-inspiring and overwhelming dynamic universe centers around and is grounded by a tree in the backyard of a family’s home in Waco Texas, circa 1950s. Using a minimalist script this family of five provides creation’s human narrative: father (emblematic of nature), mother (emblematic of grace) and their three young sons.  The father, the mother and Jack O’brien, the eldest son and main character give us our viewpoints. Later on in the movie Jack’s character is played as an adult by Sean Penn. The adult Jack becomes an architect who creates buildings derivative of his own hard-edged “nature”.

 Within this family life narrative we see birth, growth, maturation, anger, relational distance, death, sorrow, loss, envy, survival, strife and sin. Along the way the ever pressing questions of life are whispered to our ears using voiceovers.

 As I mentioned the display of the immensity and dynamism of the created universe provides the backdrop for these most important issues of life, questions that this family of five and certainly any sane person on earth ponders at some point in their life:  Where is God?; Does God see what is happening?; Does God care? Are we left on our own? What about evil? What about the loss of a child? Why is there suffering?

 After the death of her son Mrs. O’Brien asks, “He was in God’s hands the whole time, wasn’t he?” “If God is good and cares about us, why does he make us suffer?”  Throughout the movie we are engaged to ponder these hard questions and to once again look through a glass darkly for the answers.

 Watching this film I was also reminded of Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and the philosophical lessons Smerdyakov learned from Ivan, regarding the impossibility of evil in a world without a God.

 In depicting some of the range of God’s creation we see vast spatial distances which hold myriad galaxies and we also see, looking through other end of the telescope, intricate microcosmic details.  We are reminded that the Creator God is ever beyond our finite comprehension. For this reason I am thankful that Malick chose to countenance theism and not a Woody Allen-type nihilism that turns its back on God and mocks Him every time.

 The movie begins by referencing the oldest piece of wisdom literature in the world, the book of Job. The stage is set with God responding to Job who had cursed the day he was born after being overwhelmed with trouble, suffering and loss.  From Job 38:4, 7:

 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation … while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”

 Throughout the movie there are other paraphrased Scripture references including Job 13:15, “I will be true to you whatever comes.”

 I believe I also heard a paraphrased reference to Paul’s letter to the Roman church during a scene where Jack is praying: “I know what I want to do but I can’t do it.”  Also, there is an oblique reference to Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church regarding the character of love:

  “There are two ways through life:  the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow. Grace doesn’t try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries. Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it. And love is smiling through all things. The nuns taught us that no one who loves the way of grace ever comes to a bad end.” Mrs. O’Brien, The Tree of Life

 Beyond the infusions of Scripture, I saw revealed man’s unconscious need to bump up against someone bigger and stronger than life itself. And though we are infinitesimally small compared to the enormous universe we matter to God.  In another wisdom book of the Bible, the Psalms, the shepherd boy David speaks in awe of God’s intimate knowledge of His creatures,

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”

  The film doesn’t seek to answer the questions of life but only poses them offering up grace as the consummate reconciler. As a believer in Jesus Christ I am transformed daily by God’s grace.  Just as important, I am forgiven and reconciled with God because Jesus Christ was nailed to another tree – the cross. His resurrection now provides me access to the Tree of Eternal Life. I know the One Who is the Answer.

A tree of life was planted in the garden long ago…

  “Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”…

 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

 

While we ask God “Where are You in all of this?”, God is asking us “Where are you?”