Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Platypus and Freedom

National Banned book week is coming up. All over the country, people will be gathering together to read books currently banned by the U.S. government in support of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. The slogan in one college newspaper runs: "Exercise your Right to Freedom of Speech". And I realized that a shift in our understanding of freedom has occurred. For Locke and the American Founders, Freedom was about being left alone to pursue life, liberty and property. Today, our understanding has changed. Freedom is no longer a state of governmental non-interference, but an action, an assertion of will. Do you catch the shift? It has moved from a negative, a lack of governmental interference, to a positive, asserting one's "rights". It has turned from "let me be" to "I will". The Founder's view is simply the Founder's view. I am not asserting that since it is prior, it is on that basis "correct". What interests me is the shift and what it bodes for our nation. What does a society look like that reveres freedom and understands freedom as the action of pushing against any boundaries that inhibit the will? It is a society in perpetual revolution, perpetual revolt. It is a society defined by doing, not by being. It is progress for progress' sake.

"I held it truth with him who sings to one clear harp in diverse tones, that men may rise on stepping stones of their dead selves to higher things, but who can so forecast the years and find in loss a gain to match, or reach a hand out as if to catch the far off interest of tears?"

The world is much larger than politics.
Then why does the wind howl so loud?
It is the illusion of movement.

The wind blows wherever it pleases
you hear its sound but you cannot
discern where it has come from or
where it is going -so is it with everyone
born of the spirit.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Platypus Musings: Gates and Gardens

There is a door in the wall. -old and wooden, with an iron bolt and lock. The wall is high and made of dark grey stone overgrown with moss and ivy. I've always wondered what was behind that door. Was it a garden? -overgrown and tangled with disuse? What would you find there; briars and nests for wild animals? When I was young, I had no way to draw the bolt and get in; now that I am old, the wall and its door have passed and I cannot find my way back.

"Thus spake the old Sir Bedeviere to those with whom he dwelt; new faces, other minds."

The angel stands with fiery sword before the garden door, looking out upon the waste.

What was behind that wooden door?
In the morning mist,
In the morning of the world?
Where God once walked with man,
and held his hand like a little child's.

I don't know.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Il pluer et le Platypus chantes

On the Rain:

"All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Chanting bird and flowing fountain call us to rejoice in Thee."

Thunder breaks forth like heaven's laughter
And rain falls like mercy, making the world new.
Come and wash us, Lord. Renew your weary world.
Change all the clours that we take for granted
until the world seems strange again and we can
experience it like little children.
Make our joy to bubble up like a child's, for we
have sinned and grown old.
Ancient of Days, let your grace break forth
in newness of life.

Amen.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Platypus in Autumn

Tonight I read Calvin and Hobbes. No Gnostics, no source-criticism, no Crossan or Finkelstein or Pagels, just a funny little kid running through Autumn leaves with his tiger. And life is wonderful. Praise God.

"Beyond all shadows rides the sun and stars forever dwell, I will not say 'the day is done' nor bid the stars farewell."

The Platypus rests.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Platypus and the Neo-Gnostics

Neo-Gnostics. The new synchratists. It's the best way I can find to describe the work of scholars like John Dominic Crossan and Elaine Pagels and popularists like Dan Brown. What makes a Neo-Gnostic? First, there's the insistance that the Bible makes sense only if you have a special knowledge. For instance, the Church was wrong for 2,000 years about the account of Jesus' resurection and crucifixion. The authors never intended it to be undestood litterally, merely "prophetically". Christianity is really supressed goddess worship, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Second, an attempt to reinvigorate the the Gnostic writings in order to create a "special knowledge" that serves as a key for decoding or even flat out re-creating a new Christianity. Funny how the new Christianity that's found always harmonizes so well with the spirit of the age... We've seen these sort of attempts before, and the fact is that however well-intentioned they are, they die out the minute the fashions of the age change. Only orthodoxy marches on, refined by the passing ages, now swerving this way, now that, but always there just when we think we've seen the last of it. You can follow the documentation of 2,000 years and come to your own conclusions. The Platypus reads on.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Platypus and the Patristics

So I picked up a copy of the Gnostic Gospels today. I've been skimming through it and so far I'm thoroughly unimpressed (I will read them through patiently next week or the week after). They're quite obviously an attempt to syncratize Apostolic Christianity with the prevailing winds of Grecco-Roman popular religion and pop-philosophy; something that was a matter of course in the Ancient World. Read Plato, Plotinus, Epictetus, The Apostolic Fathers, the Gregories, Origin, Athanasius and it all makes pretty obvious sense. The only religious value of the gnostic gospels seems to be for modern syncratists who want to create a neo-gnostic Christianity that can be harmonized with American pop-culture, pop-philosophy and pop-religion. Historically speaking, they are a treasure-trove of data about the world of late antiquity and its attitudes toward religion. The Platypus recommends reading the Patristics if you want an accurate understanding of the evolution of early Christianity. Whatever your religious commitments, you will find much more of what you're looking for there.

Friday, September 02, 2005

T.S. Platypus

Have you seen the eyes of fire, burning in the night?
Have you felt the gods clashing over windy Troy?

We are the whisperers, those who dwell in shadow.

A man can move to higher things
To grasp the stars
To dance the dance
And raise his voice a song to sing
To fight the fight
To dance the dance
Send up his thoughts upon a wing
To grasp the gods
To dance the dance
And all comes down a tumbeling.
For we've forgotten how to dance.

Delenda est Carthago
Deleta est Carthago