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February 2nd, 2010


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12:28 am - A thought for the day
...brought to you by Richard Adams, from Watership Down.


One of the first, and cruelest, tests that Hazel and his rabbits face after leaving their warren is being tricked into staying at Cowslip's warren--a big, beautiful place too empty for its size, where the rabbits make art and sing and are well-fed and gorgeous, but also sad, strange, and more than a little terrifying to Hazel's seer brother, Fiver. But Hazel and the rest won't listen to Fiver; they're tired of running and want to stay put.

The last straw is when they gather with the rabbits of the warren and learn that these rabbits don't like the old, traditional stories of El-ahrairah and how he tricked the enemies of rabbits. Instead, Cowslip's people prefer stories about their own lives in the warren. One of their poets, a wild-eyed young buck named Silverweed, speaks.

It's a beautiful poem, talking of fate and death and longing in terms of sky, water, earth and sunlight, in spiritual terms. He ends:

Frith lies in the evening sky. The clouds are red about him.
I am here, Lord Frith, I am running through the long grass.
O take me with you, dropping behind the woods,
Far away, to the heart of light, the silence.
For I am ready to give you my breath, my life,
The shining circle of the sun, the sun and the rabbit.


Fiver is both attracted and repulsed by this performance. It almost sounds like something Fiver himself might write, were he a poet instead of a seer, and yet....

Trying to explain why they must leave the warren NOW, Fiver babbles to Hazel. "You felt it, then? And you want to know whether I did? Of course I did. That's the worst part of it. There isn't any trick. He speaks the truth. So long as he speaks the truth it can't be folly--that's what you're going to say, isn't it? ....Did I say the roof of that hall was made of bones? No! It's like a great mist of folly that covers the whole sky: and we shall never see to go by Frith's light anymore....A thing can be true and still be desperate folly, Hazel."

That, right there. "A thing can be true and still be desperate folly."

I think that's not something we, especially perhaps those of us who are artists, always remember. It is good to tell the truth (of experience and of knowledge), but even truth must be sorted for its meaning, for how true it is and in what way, and for whether it should affect us or not. If Fiver had fallen for Silverweed's truth, they might have stayed in the warren and died one by one. But because Fiver recognized that truth, and the folly that accepting it would have brought, they escaped.

I wonder what truths I have accepted that are desperate folly.

Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

(14 lit candles | Light a candle)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:kerravonsen
Date:February 2nd, 2010 10:15 am (UTC)
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Ah, yes.

The other side of the same coin: There are some questions that should not be asked. Of course, that statement is Totally Unacceptable in this modern, materialist, science-worshipping culture. So why did I dare to say it? How could there ever be questions which should not be asked? It is because a particular kind of question brings presuppositions which are rebellious against God. They are not "honest" questions.

Can God make a stone which is too heavy for him to lift?
Who created God?
... and so on.

Fiver is both attracted and repulsed by this performance.
I am reminded of an SF novel (or was it a series?) by Richard Cowper, set in a far future where an evil Church rules, and the only rebellion comes from a new religion, the religion of the White Bird. The story both attracted and repulsed me, because the religion of the White Bird (complete with miracles) was Christianity without Christ. It was both true and false at the same time. It was like Soylent Green: it tasted good, and it was horrible.

I wonder what truths I have accepted that are desperate folly.
Therein lies madness, for we cannot see into our own hearts. I will share with you a hard-won truth: if God can save us from our sin, surely he can save us from our stupidity.
[User Picture]
From:rj_anderson
Date:February 2nd, 2010 01:37 pm (UTC)
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if God can save us from our sin, surely he can save us from our stupidity.

I want that on an icon, or possibly a t-shirt. Or maybe I should just go straight to having it tattooed on a highly visible part of my body, upside-down so I can read it.
[User Picture]
From:kerravonsen
Date:February 2nd, 2010 11:02 pm (UTC)
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(grin)
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From:scionofgrace
Date:February 3rd, 2010 12:10 am (UTC)
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Seconded.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:February 2nd, 2010 06:09 pm (UTC)
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It is because a particular kind of question brings presuppositions which are rebellious against God. They are not "honest" questions.

Unless I am misinterpreting you, I may have to disagree a bit, here. I definitely AGREE that there are questions which are dishonest because they are constructed to point to only one sort of answer, or because they are syntactical games that have no basis in reason and logic. Those are the sort of questions you give examples of here.

But there are plenty of questions that many Christians would see as rebellious against God that I believe MUST be asked, if only because as long as they remain unsaid they remain unconsidered and unrefuted. "Why does God allow bad things to happen?" "Why, even though I have followed Him since childhood, is He not helping me right now?" "How can you know that the Bible is the word of God?"

I'm guessing you weren't referring to those. But I felt I should say it anyway, since I know many questioning friends right now and have asked more questions (about how God works, about how I relate to him, about the world in general) in the past 2 years than any time since I was a young teen first trying out my powers of reason on Christianity. :)

I wonder what truths I have accepted that are desperate folly.
Therein lies madness, for we cannot see into our own hearts. I will share with you a hard-won truth: if God can save us from our sin, surely he can save us from our stupidity.


...Never?

I do not believe that. I cannot believe that, because it would mean that, short of divine, miraculous intervention (which I have not been experiencing lately), there is no hope for us to be set free from lies or lying truths we have bought into. We're trapped with no escape.

I surely believe that God is able to save us from our stupidity, but do you seriously think that we have nothing to do with it? I will grant that such self-questioning can be taken too far (I am prone to that, out of fear), but does that mean it isn't useful?
[User Picture]
From:kerravonsen
Date:February 2nd, 2010 10:59 pm (UTC)
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But there are plenty of questions that many Christians would see as rebellious against God that I believe MUST be asked, if only because as long as they remain unsaid they remain unconsidered and unrefuted. "Why does God allow bad things to happen?" "Why, even though I have followed Him since childhood, is He not helping me right now?" "How can you know that the Bible is the word of God?"

I'm guessing you weren't referring to those.

Indeed, I wasn't referring to those. Those are seeking questions, honest questions, questions to which the seeker wants the answers. I am NOT saying that doubt is a sin, though some Christians believe it to be. Yes, yes, I know that Paul said that "all that is not faith is sin", but we are also supposed to worship God with our mind, as well as our heart and soul. And that can mean asking questions. For how can we worship God with our whole self if our heart and mind are at war?

The kind of questions I was referring to are the "Have you stopped beating your wife lately?" kind of questions. Dishonest questions. Mocking questions. Questions to which the questioner doesn't really want answers.

It is the other side of the same coin because (a) questions are opposite to truths, and yet are truth-seeking (b) "questions that should not be asked" is paradoxical and shocking in a similar way to "truths that should not be embraced". People think that questions are questions (and that questioning is a Good Thing) and that truths are truths (and that all truths should be embraced). It is shocking, and goes against our culture, to question these axioms.

I will grant that such self-questioning can be taken too far (I am prone to that, out of fear), but does that mean it isn't useful?
That, I think, was my point: not to take the self-questioning too far. Introspection is one thing, a good thing. Second-guessing yourself, doubting your own reason, that is a bad thing. And I guess I responded the way I did because I felt (perhaps wrongly) that you were doing the latter rather than the former.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:February 5th, 2010 05:57 pm (UTC)
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Okay, gotcha. :)

It is the other side of the same coin because (a) questions are opposite to truths, and yet are truth-seeking (b) "questions that should not be asked" is paradoxical and shocking in a similar way to "truths that should not be embraced".

Oh, yes, this is a very good point. Two sides of the same shocking coin. When we question at least those conclusions, we might end up somewhere much more free and much more actually truthful. *nods*

Introspection is one thing, a good thing. Second-guessing yourself, doubting your own reason, that is a bad thing. And I guess I responded the way I did because I felt (perhaps wrongly) that you were doing the latter rather than the former.

Well, for good reason, I expect. You've seen me do the latter too often, haven't you? *slaps self*

I think what grabbed me about this wasn't that it's another reason to second-guess oneself, but that it gives me permission to do the sort of introspection where I *don't* have to second-guess...or where, if you will, I get to second-guess (and maybe reject) the "truths" that lead me to second-guess my life and reasoning in the first place. Very freeing, to remember that sometimes someone else's "truth" may lead to desperate folly--that not all "truth" must be taken into my account of my life and my living.
[User Picture]
From:kerravonsen
Date:February 6th, 2010 07:48 am (UTC)
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I get to second-guess (and maybe reject) the "truths" that lead me to second-guess my life and reasoning in the first place.
Ah yes, I see how that would be freeing.
[User Picture]
From:honorh
Date:February 2nd, 2010 10:55 am (UTC)
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I recently started reading WD, and just got to the part with Cowslip's people. I'll be looking for this bit.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:February 2nd, 2010 05:38 pm (UTC)
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Ooo, for the first time? I wish you much enjoyment! WD is one of my "desert island" books--I don't think I should ever get tired of re-reading it. "Hoi, hoi, u embleer hrair, m'saion ule hraka vair."
[User Picture]
From:rj_anderson
Date:February 2nd, 2010 01:43 pm (UTC)
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I love Watership Down and have read it umptyzillion times, which is probably obvious to everyone by now. But clearly I need to go and read it again.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:February 2nd, 2010 05:39 pm (UTC)
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Yes, I believe I remember swapping quotes in Lapine with you at some point? *g* And it's been something like 5 years since my last reread, so I am really enjoying it this time, seeing so much that I either didn't recall or totally missed last time through.
[User Picture]
From:scionofgrace
Date:February 3rd, 2010 12:09 am (UTC)
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I think you (and Richard Adams) are absolutely right. ::ponders::
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:February 5th, 2010 05:40 pm (UTC)
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Feel free to enlarge upon this at some point, if you will. I'd be very interested in your thoughts on it. :)

(wow, I really need a WD icon. I should go see if there are any out there up for grabs...)

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