Tag Archives: Love

On Fathers and Their Children

Dear Father,

I was locked in an interesting discussion the other day with a friend back at home. Having recently discovered that I had left the House completely and was not, as I’d let most of my friends and family believe, simply checking out another wing in the vast domicile, she had taken to evangelising to my wayward soul. Where our conversations were normally about our mundane and carefree lives they quickly became about you and the Brother-Saviour, about coming back home and giving my life back to best Father in the universe. Very many times she failed to understand the depth of my doubt, often telling me that I was simply being difficult, that I would believe if I really wanted to. She is not the first person I have heard this from. Many of your children, it seems, genuinely do not understand how some of us could fail to believe. They think it is simply a matter of choice, that our lack of faith comes from a purposeful effort to undermine you, and not a genuine position of ignorance and confusion. Perhaps this is why many of the people I have spoken to about my predicament have failed to turn me back to you. There appears to be a fundamental disconnect between all of us, a wall that stops believers from truly empathising with those of us that have crossed the golden gates.

Our conversation on that day was about freedom and its consequences. As you know one of the central issues that drove me from home is the presence of evil in the world you have made. My friend had just finished extolling the beauties of nature, the magnanimity of our Father, a being that loved the world so much he suffered and died for it. And I asked her – much as I ask myself on many occasions, and as Doubt asks me on the days I am feeling more amenable towards you – I asked her about the people currently suffering through famine in the continent of my ancestors. There are children there, who despite the best efforts of their brethren (some of whom neither know you, nor care about you) will be born, only to die shortly after from disease and starvation. There are those who have known only pain and poverty their entire lives, with nary an inkling of joy. I asked about the war-torn regions in the Middle East, where the children of the Star and the Crescent are locked in what appears to be constant war; where extremists, marching in the name of someone that bears a striking resemblance to you, are murdering people by the hundreds, intent that all on this earth bow to their holy vision. I asked about these things and she said, almost nonplussed, “Did Father do any of those?”

In her mind, as in the minds of almost all the children in the House, you have given us free will and so are absolved of all responsibility for the actions perpetrated under this freedom. I was wrong, she said emphatically, to blame you for the deeds of your children.

Ignoring my trials (and failures) at grasping the true meaning of free will, her question brought me to an almost stunning realisation. None of your children would treat their children the way you have treated us. Think for a moment Father, on how parents (the good ones, at any rate) raise their children. An earthly father does not see his two infant sons fighting, with one in real danger of killing the other, and shrug it off, claiming that they possess the freedom to do as they please. An earthly mother does not see her baby waddling towards a burning flame and allow it, claiming that the baby has chosen the fire and so she will respect its choices. Even if the child had already burned itself and still sought to approach the fire no parent would justify leaving it to the flames; no parent would say that because the child really wanted to burn they would let it.

The way we treat our children is centred around circumventing their freedoms, because we see quite clearly that their minds cannot use these freedoms properly. We make our homes childproof; we mash their food into tiny little bits; we swaddle them with the softest clothing. They are young and foolish and fragile, and that is how we, in our love for them, treat them.

But they are children, came my friend’s swift reply. We can distinguish between right and wrong; we know what’s good for us; we are not children. But once again I could not agree with her. Of course when compared with our children we are not children. But when compared to you we are even less than children. The differential between your intellect and ours is far, far greater than that between ours and our kids. And in spite of the fact that the children we birth eventually make it to maturity, we never stop trying to prevent the harm they cause. In my musings on justice I made the point that in its idealisation the justice of your children would aim to prevent harm, using punishment only as a deterrent and not as a tool of vengeance. When our police hear of a potential murder they do not shrug it off and claim that the participants are free. No; they do everything in their power to stop that murder from happening.

And yet it seems our Father in heaven, who loves us far more than we can ever know, refuses to afford us the same courtesy. You know, Father, that we are weak. You know that even when we have the best intentions we still fail. You know that some of us, for whatever reason, do not even have the best intentions. And yet you have not stopped the dictators from murdering millions, the warlords from grabbing children from their homes and shoving guns into their arms. The free will excuse seems immensely shallow because no loving Father, in full knowledge of the limitations of his children, would allow them to destroy themselves so wantonly, especially when the countless threats of the fiery pit down below have done little to quell their bloodlust and violence.

As expected my friend refused to see my point, insisting that the freedom you have given us trumps all else, that somehow, even though we are less than children before your awesome eyes, we are still to blame for the terrible things we foolishly do to one another. Perhaps she is right. Perhaps fathers everywhere would do well to follow in the example of the greatest Father of them all. I suspect the recent holiday commemorating fathers would have taken on a very different tone if this were the case, however. I doubt anyone of us, burned and scarred by the flames, would have found it in our hearts to celebrate such fathers.

With love,

Your Prodigal Son

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On Words and their Meanings

Dearest Father,

As you have probably surmised, my discoveries on free will and justice have not exactly set me ablaze with love for you. Where I sought to discover the freedom in your children that absolved you of the harshness of your justice, I found instead puppets and strings, little subjects moving to the whims of their master. I have thought long and hard on what these conclusions mean for my prospects of returning home, and I must say Father that it does not look good. I do not understand the crude nature of your justice, but if your children are not freely choosing to turn their backs on you, how is their punishment fair? How can you condemn them to an eternity of suffering when they are simply fulfilling the very destinies you created for them?

Of course I would be remiss if I did not mention that my once little friend has not been silent as I have thought these thoughts and asked these questions. He has tried all too often to find flaws with the reasoning that brought me to this point, and he has failed at almost every turn. One of his statements, however, has stuck with me these past few days and it is one I wish to share with you. I do not think he has found a way to give me hope though; in fact the implications of his words may have served to drive me even further away from the House I once called home.

His words to me were thus:

“You cannot say that your Father is not just, or that you are not free, because he has said that he is, and that you are. He is the Great Arbiter; his word is truth.”

If you remember Father, in our bid to discover the meaning of truth we realised that a lot of what we took as fact was nothing but simple arbitration, statements that appeared to make sense but lacked the proof that would reveal their real truth value. We concluded then that absent verification all statements must remain arbitration, neither true nor false but open for discovery and deliberation. We also concluded that even under such rules you remain untouchable, for you are the Great Arbiter; your arbitrations become truth from the sheer force of your will.

We referenced this viewpoint when we discussed free will. Unwilling to accept that you were a simple machine, bound to always pick the good option when presented with a choice, we surmised that you must be above good and evil. You made good and evil; whatever you dictate to be good becomes good. Whatever you dictate to be evil becomes evil.

Applying the same concept to justice and free will gives you the crux of Doubt’s statement to me. You are the Great Arbiter. Whatever you define to be free is free; whatever you define to be just is just. I cannot claim that your justice is unjust. It is your justice; it cannot help but be just. I cannot claim that our freedom is bondage. It is your gift; we cannot help but be free.

If one ignores the powerfully circular nature of this argument it would appear that Doubt has floored me completely. But as I mentioned before his statements only served to drive me further from you, as the true implications of this point seem almost too terrible contemplate.

I would like you to consider what his statement really means, Father. It means that we cannot, not now, not ever, know what anything means. Your children, of limited minds and hearts, have (for as long as we can tell) used signs and sounds to communicate. When we say or do certain things there is a tacit agreement amongst us for what those things mean, or what they are supposed to mean. It is this agreement that has enabled to us to form societies. Without it even your noble House would not have been built, as the children that remained after the Brother-Saviour would not have been able to communicate with the world and spread your word. This tacit agreement is what allows us to have general feelings (if not outright definitions) for such words as good, evil, love, freedom, and justice. Now these definitions may vary from culture to culture, from House to House, but within these cultures and these Houses they are generally agreed upon. The very existence and survival of their institutions depends on this.

Now consider yourself, dearest Father. We are told that you love us. That all the other Fathers and Mothers and Uncles and Aunts in all the other Houses are not only false, but that they do not love us the way you do. Only you truly cares. Only you truly wants what’s best for us. These messages, coupled with the sacrifice of the Brother-Saviour, have been among the biggest reasons that many have been brought to the House, and that many have stayed within it. And accompanying these statements is a fundamental understanding of the concept of love, of benefit, of harm. That which brings fulfilment is borne of love, that which brings happiness is beneficial, and that which causes suffering and pain is harmful. You are none of the latter, Father, and all of the former, or so we are told.

Against this one looks at the world born from your lips and sees pain and suffering, fear and hurt, bondage and predetermination. We see a justice apparently motivated by as much negativity and spite as the crude offerings of your flawed children. We see punishment for punishment’s sake, pain for no other reason than pain itself. We see children created solely for salvation, and others only for damnation. And if we are to believe that you are the Great Arbiter, and that you have termed these things good and loving and just, then we must also believe that this pain and suffering, this our lack of freedom, is indeed good and loving and just.

Thus the words that we use to communicate the love and justice and freedom and happiness that we believe come from your House are apparently meaningless, for they can have their meanings changed at will. They can mean one thing and their complete opposite at the same time, for you have spoken it. Does freedom today mean bondage? Does it mean predestination? Does it mean captivity? Does good today mean genocide? Does it mean the condemnation of little children for the sins of their fathers? We cannot, of our own admittedly feeble faculties, say. We must first consult with you, and hope that you deign to bestow upon us your answers.

Perhaps more terrifying is the fact that this means that a good amount of the people called to your House have had the wrong impression about you from the very beginning. It is hard to believe that those that heard about your all-encompassing love believed that within that love lay the capacity to create some children solely for the purpose of burning them. No loving parent on your green earth would do such a thing, yet a quick study of your world and a short perusal of your Book reveals such acts in great detail.

Of course there are some within the House that believe that our lack of understanding comes from the less than perfect nature of our minds, but this, much like the assertions made with regards to the First Brother’s faculties, does not vindicate the state of your world. Ignoring our apparent lack of freedom this would mean that the salvation of a good chunk of your children is purely circumstantial. If our fundamental understanding of love and justice, the intuition with which we analyse the world, is not complete due to our failings, then there is nothing but chance to dictate who comes to you of his own volition. The very tools we have to understand what you do and why you do it are flawed. That anyone comes to you in the first place is a wonderful combination of luck and opportunity, and that people fail to understand your ways should be expected. In fact, if one looks upon the various Houses and tents and institutions the world over, all separate and distinct from the House of the Cross, this is exactly what we see: a vast majority of your children that simply does not get you. And yet true to form you have taken it upon yourself to condemn these people, and to cast them out of your sight. And this is good, Father, because you have said that it is.

And therein lies the problem with the belief in you as the Great Arbiter, dearest Father, for if your justice, an institution barely distinguishable from that of the lowest of your children, is in fact fair and good and loving, then those words have lost their meaning. And if our freedom, a state barely distinguishable from the pre-arranged motions of actors in a scripted play, is in fact freedom, then that word has lost its meaning as well. And if words can lose their meaning at your whim Father then what is the point of even trying to understand you? What has been the point of my journey, my quest for both you and the great Sophia? In a single moment this very page could mean something completely different simply because you willed it to be so!

I suppose in the end my journey truly is nothing but a pointless exercise. After all, Father, wasn’t my fate already decided before I was born?

With sadness,

Your Prodigal Son

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On Births and Beginnings

Dear Father,

A few days ago we celebrated the birth of the Brother-Saviour, and in a few days we shall celebrate the start of a new year. As a young boy growing up in the House I was always pleased and displeased by the coincidence that separated both of these dates. Both celebrations gave the holidays purpose, pointed clearly to why we were offered breaks from school and allowed to waste our days at home. The birth of the Brother-Saviour also came with the reception of gifts from the fabled Father Christmas, and this was a tradition I cherished even after I grew old enough to know that Father Christmas was my father and mother working in tandem. However, gifts and holidays notwithstanding, both days also meant late church vigils and early morning masses; my parents, much to my dismay, were intent on entering and spending a good chunk of the celebratory days in your presence, giving you thanks and asking you favours. As a child I found such endeavours useless and felt that they stole away precious time that could have been spent playing with friends and toying with presents.

Of course as a much older person the significance of both days is much more apparent. It is not lost on me that we celebrate a birth on one day and the beginning of a new year on the other. Births themselves mark a beginning. They inform us of the start of new lives, filled with possibilities and hopes and chances yet to be taken. And a new year for many marks an opportunity to give this life another go, to try once more to achieve that of which they have already spent years in pursuit. There is a strong sense of finality and hope in this week, even amongst those that do not share a belief in your House and the things it represents. The start of the new year is enough for most to look to the future with anticipation, to offer their fevered and expectant prayers to you and other Fathers in other Houses for what they wish to achieve or meet or see in the next 12 months, regardless of whether or not they truly believe in you or whether or not they have faithfully kept your edicts.

And so Father, as I am as much a child as the rest of my brethren, I once again put aside the questions and feelings that have arisen from my journey, and I allow myself to be filled with hope for the future, hope that your earth will become a better place in the coming year; that fewer will suffer, that fewer will lose the things they hold dear; that more will be happy, that more will be fulfilled; that fewer die in their youth and that more die ripe with age, ready to leave the wonderful lives they have led and rest once and for all. I allow myself to hope against history and Doubt and pessimism that wars will end this coming year; that the poor will be clothed and fed, and that all your children, regardless of creed and colour, would grow closer, inspired by the understanding that the many things that make us different make us stronger. I allow myself to hope that the love exemplified by your sacrifice (pointless as it may seem) will be more evident in the coming years than it has been since, and that more of us understand this kind of love and manifest it in our lives, sacrificing our wants for the needs of those less fortunate.

My once little friend, ever ready with words of contradiction, shakes his head with pity, but for the next few days I will not care; I will allow myself to hope. May my hope not be for naught, dearest Father; may it not be for naught.

With an expectant heart,

Your Prodigal Son

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Anniversary

The sun was bright today Father, and the winds were slow. The heat was high, and the chill was low. And as I sat to write to thee, my heart was calmed, my mind made free.

I smiled to joyous passers-by; I beamed at flitting birds on high. And even to my friend black as night, I offered a hand devoid of spite.

He sat with me and grinned in turn, content to put aside his scorn; and looking up at the great blue sky, we wondered and pondered, “soliloquied”.

Our talk of things brought you to mind, and all the people we’d left behind. And soon we found our thoughts abroad, on home and hearth, on warmth and Words. I saw my father, stout and strong; I saw my mother soft and young; I saw the elders wise and old, and I saw the body, bright and bold. Their hands were lifted up in praise; their eyes and hearts were set ablaze, and their mouths aflutter with chants most holy, giving their all to sing to your glory.

My chest was hurt, my eyes were stung, and my lips began to move with song; for deep inside I remain the same: a child alone, his Doubt untamed. My guilt, my fear, they have not waned; my joy and cheer are still unchanged. I am a Universal child you see; this guilt and awe? They’re baked in me.

And so my smile was turned to rue, and my heart once more yearned for you. My questions, demands, were cast aside; the splendour of home was all on my mind.

I sighed and stood and brushed my clothes, and stared far out at the House that glowed. Glass and steel and gold and stone, its lights a reflection of your throne.

“T’would be sweet,” said Doubt to me, “To return to your House once free from me, for then your smile shall light the skies, your faith immune to all my lies.”

His words rang true to my aching breast, and so I put my thoughts to rest. Though weak by nature I will forge ahead; I will see this quest to its bitter end.

And so this day I give you thanks, for safety, protection, for a friend in my ranks. The year has been rough, confusing and bleak; there are days I’ve ended too fearful to speak . Here’s to another, more fruitful I hope, deeper in meaning and wider in scope. Perhaps I am doomed to never return. No matter dear Father…

Forever,

Your son

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On Guides and Fathers

Dearest Father,

Today your children remembered the birth of the House. Today they celebrated as they recalled the magical events of that afternoon many years ago, when you deigned to send your spirit down to your disciples and gave them the capacity to spread your word. Today, many say, marks the true beginning of the greatest House that ever was and ever will be. And today, dearest Father, I was reminded of how utterly and completely forsaken I am.

The significance of the today’s event is not one that can all too easily be brushed aside. For many it is a call to jubilation. Our Father, from his abode in the Great Upstairs, decided to send his spirit, his very essence, to guide and protect his children. This was the latest in a series of events aimed at humbling the terrible You-Know-Who and exulting your beloved offspring. First you took it upon yourself to take our form, that we may see you as we saw ourselves. Then you died for us, sacrificing the purest life to ever grace this earth, that our debt to you may be washed away and our souls cleansed of their iniquity. And then, to prove that even Death could not hold you, you restored life to yourself and gave your followers a reason to believe, to hope. And when you finally had to depart, dearest Father, you promised to come once again in a different form at a different time, to help your children weather the storms of their harsh, cold world.  Of course the day you selected for your second arrival was not one of little importance. It was perfectly timed, a day that already held deep meaning for your first House, the House of the Star. Not satisfied to lay the foundations for your new House on a new day, you decided to do it on a day the old guard celebrated a gift you gave them at their birth. You decided to arrive on the day of the Pentecost. And while I cannot speak for the rest of your children Father, I think I understand exactly why you picked such a day for your grand entrance; as with most things you do it has its significance in the day’s history.

I know you have not forgotten but permit me to remind you. The children in Egypt had enslaved the Stars, and after giving them many chances to let them go (while simultaneously ensuring that their King would not take advantage of these chances) you showed your might, taking first-borns and parting seas, and you delivered your children safely from their clutches. And seeing your children lost in the desert, you decided to give them a Law, a law to guide and protect them, to light the way in times of extreme darkness and to distinguish them from the rest of your unsaved and apparently unloved children. And impressed with your works, as you were wont to be at that time in our history, you commanded that they commemorate this day with a feast, the Feast of Weeks, so named for the weeks that passed between their deliverance and the arrival of your Law.

Looking at the history of the Stars and the Crosses, it is rather evident that you enjoy repetition, dearest Father, for the birth of your newest and greatest House followed the exact same template as that of its predecessor. Eventually, for reasons as yet only discernible by you, the time came to spread your love to the rest of the world and you performed this duty with the requisite flair one has come to expect. You sent the Brother-Saviour, and in a series of events just as magnanimous as those surrounding the first Pentecost, you had him killed and resurrected and ascended, and then you sent once again a guide for your people, this time in the form of a spirit. His death was to deliver, just as the death of all those boys in ancient Egypt served to deliver your children then, and your spirit gave the new House purpose, just as the Law did for the children of the old one.

I must stress that as it was with the Brother-Saviour’s sacrifice I appreciate the importance of today’s feast. The presence of the spirit is the only thing that gave courage to the early members of the House to go forth and spread your word. Children not originally in the House of the Star, such as myself, would never have heard about the Brother-Saviour and his wondrous sacrifice without the spirit, and some of us would never have had the privilege of being born into the House of the Cross. But as you can see, I am no longer in the House. I am a lost child, a wanderer, seeking that which would lead him home, and from my seat on the Outside I have but one very big question, Father: Why?

Do not mistake my query dearest Father; I am not asking why you sent the guide. That much is evident. The past few weeks have seen me list for you the troubles one such as myself has had with defining a concept as basic as truth. Every step of my journey has been plagued by the dangerous whisperings of my despised companion. While I doubt that the early children of the House had the very same issues that I do, I am quite certain they were beset with issues that at least bore a striking resemblance to mine. Doubt you see, is the parent of Fear, and it is well known that in those early days your disciples were quite afraid. Their meetings were secret, their ministry effectively non-existent. And it was only when your spirit arrived on this auspicious day, that they had not just the courage, but the ability, to go forth and spread the good news. The same goes for those early members of the still standing House of the Star. They were afraid, unsteady in their ignorance, surrounded by a land they did not know and presented with a purpose they could not understand. It was only with the guiding force of your perfect Law that they were able to progress.

So I understand why you sent the spirit. What I do not understand, dear Father, is why once again, there was a need for all of this. It has taken you two Houses and more than a thousand years to see your wishes for your children reach its zenith. In the first case, you had to craft resistance from the Egyptian King in order to show your might. You had to sacrifice all those boys so that all could know that you were Father among Fathers. And even this was not enough, for it was not done for all of us. You spent time and energy and (innocent) blood laying the foundations of the House of the Star, all the while knowing that eventually you would replace it with a new one by means of another death that, on some days, seems just as superfluous as the firsts.

Even on the topic of why you sent the spirit, Father, one has to wonder why your children, children of the greatest Father in all the world, are in need of a guide at all. We have a perfect Father, one that does not – cannot – Doubt, one that is as conversant with the ways of Sophia as any being in the entire universe can be. Your Book tells us that we were moulded from your hands, that our breaths come from your lips. And yet, we are so very different from you, so much weaker, so much less… Underneath all these events, purposeless they might seem, is a very important message, one that I find driven home time and time again in the mythos of the House: It is never enough to just deliver your children. Even after we are saved we are still lost; we have no clue what to with our freedom. Given time we will eventually find ourselves in the wilderness of confusion and we will need your guidance.  And looking upon the wondrous nature of the one that bore us, one has to ask why, Father, why?

I mentioned that whilst my former siblings celebrated I was filled with sorrow, reminded of how abandoned this child of yours truly is. For on this day it was not enough for me to realise that regardless of what I do, regardless of how perfect my Father is, I will always pale before him. No, your 13th apostle, in the celebration’s second reading, did me one better. He went ahead to say that not only would I always pale before you, but in order to partake of whatever joys I found lacking while I was in the House, in order to truly be in the House, I would need to be bestowed with your spirit, I would need the wondrous guidance of my perfect Father. I, the lowly being that I am, cannot do this on my own, and until you show me the way this immense journey I am undertaking is a useless, pointless one.

Again, dearest Father, I understand. I understand the need for guides. Blind men need help to navigate the world. Ignorant men need teachers. Those with poor hearing need aids, and those with poor sight need lenses. Where there is a deficiency, Father, there is need for a guide. And if there ever was a being so deficient, it is I. Sad and confused I left my home in search of truth, and I have been plagued by Doubt ever since. It is quite evident that I do not know the things I need to know to believe, for if I did I will not be lingering on the Outside. Every thought I have will not be so easily attacked and dissected by my winged companion. Every House outpost I meet will not be a source of sadness and envy. And yet if the man so filled with your spirit, so guided by your hand is to be believed, the only way I can break free of these chains, the only way my deficiencies can be vanquished, is if you give me your spirit. I do not have your spirit because I am confused. I cannot be unconfused without your spirit. And you, Grand Arbiter that you are, can decide – no, could have decided – at any moment to send this guide down to me. And yet you have not. And so I ask once again Father, why? Why have you not yet chosen to send this spirit? What purpose does my torture serve? And if the only ones that can be in the House are those you have elected to give your spirit, what does that say about the multitudes we are told are waiting on the Outside? What kind of Father, dearest Father, will refuse to guide his children? Like your sacrifice its circular nature defeats its purpose. For if only by your spirit can your children spread the word, and if only by your spirit can your children accept it, of what use is all that happens in between?

But even all these are not reason enough for the depth of my sadness today, Father. That responsibility lies, once again, with my dear, dear friend. For as I thought these thoughts he saw fit to whisper to me a terrible question: What kind of perfect Father is so distant he needs to send guides to help his children?

With a heavy heart,

Your Prodigal Son

P.S. This letter would probably reach you after the Pentecostal festivities are over. Please be understanding; it took quite a while to pen it.

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