01 June 2007

This feels wrong

Okay, first submission is here! Dan hails from Tokyo. He is former roommate, long-time friend, and a student in the truest sense. I'm excited to have a writer whose words you have to think about before responding. If you'd like to see more in the future, please, demand it. Let the dialog begin!


Thanks to Stephen for generously if unwisely opening his forum to lesser writers. This particular open essay will be brief, and it will be about something in the very conversation that gave rise to the opportunity for writing it. There's a word for this. I don't mean "apropos" or "ironic." It's something much more deeply profound to the modern mind than being appropriate or even deep... it's clever. And if I can't thereby gain an audience of millions, as have so many who are thus established in the world, I conclude, at least, by simple reduction that someone somewhere will read this...

My youth pastor had, and still as a senior pastor has if I'm correct, the common weakness of demanding instant approbation for his assertions of truth. I wonder if it's ever occurred to him that someone might sincerely say "no."

A: Is this true? Is this true? Look at the person next to you and say 'yes'! ... You didn't say it.
B: I'm not quite sure, sir, that I agree with the entire thrust of your argument.
A: These are the words of one far greater than I.
B: All the more reason you may not understand them aright.
A: An enthusiastic response indicates very directly the state of your soul!
B: Then, sir, I will all the more enthusiastically say "no." I heard someone say that I ought to be very sure about my morality for the simple reason that I will probably have to suffer for it. I don't think I'm sure enough to suffer for the principle of saying yes at your command. But there are some words which also aren't yours for which I am willing to suffer.
A: What are those?
B: Thou shalt not bear false witness.

I don't intend this as a satire on a single man, but only on the example I know best as representing something larger. He happens to tell a story which he gives as a parable to represent without question the very heart of Christianity, so that my example representing the whole actually offers a succinct epigram to represent the whole. I call this ideal. We can thank God he was wrong in any historical sense, or the world would long ago have been overrun by Manichees.

The story goes that a man's son is shot and killed intentionally by a young gangster. In court the father requests that the condemned be released, upon which he adopts the boy and gives him the room he had specially designed for his son. I've often wondered, on the assumption that God does his best for every man, if it really was best for the reprobate that he was aquitted.
But such a short piece as this cannot attempt the righting of such massive wrongs, much as I may hate them, except to say that, as this very essay has done no justice to the admirable character it uses for its own purposes, so his words misrepresent God.

-Submitted 06/01, Daniel Ryan, Tokyo, Japan

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