We are both desperately seeking, and repulsed by the idea of an absolute authority by which we are held accountable.
One night recently i lie awake in bed thinking this thought. Two quotes, bookends if you will, came to mind that frame this thought. First is Socrates when he charged “the unexamined life is a life not worth living.” The second is from Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.” I would like to purpose that we could widen that to “mankind” rather than just a particular nationality. Throughout history these thoughts are echoed, but i am struck by these two quotes because the sample two specific and widely different culture (high philosophy and pop culture) that both are wrestling with the the thought of being both repulsed and drawn to the idea of an absolute authority by which we are held accountable.
Some throughout history have sought to place their own thoughts as the standard. Most them went mad along the way. One man who finally succeeded was Rene Descartes who was finaly able to make his own thoughts his standard, but only by locking himself in a oven for a few days. Yet we still seek to elevate our own thoughts to being the standard, the absolute. The folly of that idea is apparent to even ourselves so we, in our wisdom construct an “oven” of our chosen community to shelter us from the reality around us. We gather those who are different enough to label as diverse, but at the core share the same feeble idea of absoluteness of our own thoughts. This shelter provides us with bubble wrap community – unobtrusive, shallow, hanging on in quiet desperation.
We have raised community up to be a hero to fulfill our need for a hero and for community. Yet we create a hero fashioned after ourselves with no authority to question thoughts conceived in an oven.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
The reality is that there is an authority by which we can speak. It is not from our own thoughts, but from the power that allows to take those thoughts captive. It is the standard by which we can look, we can weight and we can see what is left wanting. It is what our ovens fear and our souls crave. It is our hero that we can form communities around.
It is often stated that this standard is no longer relevant. This is true. It is no longer relevant as long as we remove it authority as that absolute in our lives. It is no longer relevant as long as our communities sit silent in it’s own thoughts and hold no standard.
It is true, we have no authority in ourselves to approach another. We are neither judge nor jury. Let us never seek those seats in our hearts, words or actions. But the authority is there, and we are not community outside of that authority.
Meanwhile my brothers and sisters sit in quiet desperation