Monday, November 23, 2015

In the quiet...

In the quiet...
In a recent article from "The Weekly Standard", Joseph Epstein writes an inquest entitled "What Ever Happened to High Culture." Frankly, I don't know that I care what happened to high culture; I mostly
find it the interest of elitist who claim things have culture simply to have something to make them feel they are different than the bourgeois. (Of course, the living-with-a-chip-on-their-shoulder middle class, in turn, calls the monetary elite "bourgeoisie", so what do I know about culture on any level? Or any form of the word "bourgeois"?)
I digress. In Epstein's article, there was an extremely gripping quote; Epstein said, "The acquisition of culture requires repose, sitting quietly in a room with a book, or alone with one's thoughts even at a crowded concert or art museum. Ours is distinctly not an age of repose. Thy rhythm of our time is jumpy."
See that? Does it grip you?
It grips me.
It grips me, not because I care about high culture, but because I care about culturing from on high. I care about the saints of God engaging with God with the expectation of God culturing the inner man. In that regard, Epstein's idea about acquiring high culture is also true of culturing the inner man. It requires repose, or something like that.
It requires quiet. It requires thought. It requires reflection. It requires articulation. It requires abiding. It requires stillness. Frankly, the sort of repose one needs to pursue inner culturing is difficult in the jumpy rhythm of our times. We have trained our senses to count as normal multiple things going on at once --many screens, many voices, many directions, much stimulus-- to the point that if we are not stimulated in every sense simultaneously, we often think there is something wrong; something missing.
Well, I call that hogwash.
Even Jesus went alone to pray! (see Luke 5:16, Mark 1:35 or Matthew 14:33 for examples)
Jumpy rhythm; that's a good way to put it. We need quiet. We need solitude --yes, that means time alone. We need to think. We need the discipline of consideration. We need the blessing of meditation. We need repose.
Mind you, this is not mere leisure. It's not finding some other thing to do; another stimuli from the world's storehouse of distraction ingredients.
I know, I know, it feels counter-intuitive to hear me say "slow down" in our fast paced culture, but don't hear me saying "slow down"; hear me saying go strong toward the right things. Be fast in running to quietness with the Lord.
Learn to contemplate.
Learn to digest a passage of Scripture.
Learn to long for God in prayer.
Learn to listen for God in the stillness.
It's not high culture our spirits yearn for, but the Most High God. It requires repose, and may we all love it. May we all learn that quality of coming apart with God, no matter where we are or how many people are around us, that we might hear Him amid the din of life's jumpy rhythm.
Consider this reading, beloved friends:
"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." (Joshua 1:8, Psalm 119:97, Psalm 1:2, Psalm 19:14, Psalm 119:15, Psalm 104:34, Philippians 4:8, Isaiah 26:3 ESV)

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