To Die as God

Epicurus asks of the theist, if God has the will and the ability to prevent evil, why is there evil in the world at all? The question reminds me of one of the temptations of the Devil when our Lord was fasting in the desert: “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'” [Matthew 4:6 NIV] One imagines, whatever the Devil says about how things are, had the Lord jumped from the building, he would have seriously injured himself. It’s not what the passage meant. And of Epicurus’ interpretation of what God is supposed to do, he thinks not of another possibility in the apparent inaction of God: would things have happened for a better end, for all eternity, had some finite evil been allowed to prosper in the world? One might think then that it is quite worth it, the suffering that we spend.

I have written before that all pain has source in that one who rebelled at the beginning of time, at the end of time: Lucifer invented the concept of that which is wrong. But he is not the Logos, he is not how things come to be in the world; could it be true, however, that he was power enough, that in expending his whole potential, he could force the hand of even the Most High? One thinks of this passage, of what kind of curse Lucifer might have uttered: “To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee; For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee.” [Herman Melville] I once had a vision of Lucifer with a dagger in his hand, with a great stab into the back of the Lord Jesus Christ, right where neck and shoulders meet. Was this image as it is written in Revelation, the Lamb slain at the foundation of the world? It might truly be the case that there is a certain way things must transpire in the world, for prophecy needs be fulfilled, and the will of God must be made manifest.

One might think that it is in those terms that any sort of pain happens, even the greatest natural disasters. Being Logos and omniscient, the Lord knows exactly what happens, and how. And the why may seem long separate from the event, but it is there, too, somewhere in the matrix of all. Even his own death, he is the means by which it happens, for the Logos is the Holy Reason by which all things transpire: the very logic of logic. So in that sense, it is true when God says, “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.” [Isaiah 45:7 NIV] But that there needs to be disaster at all: Lucifer threw a wrench into the gears of the Godhead. This was when he invented pain. I have written of this before, his committing of the first sin, and thus the formation of his daughter, who is also called Error, as well as Sin and Pain. To Lucifer and his own were given an aeon in which they might have influence, in which we live. And so there is pain.

It is not as if God spared Himself pain, for as we know, Jesus Christ was God, and he was executed in tremendous suffering. One might suppose that it was not his preference to go in that way, being that the night before, he prayed that that cup should pass from him; but not his will, but his Father’s was what he would follow. Once again, one must think that Lucifer had an irrevocable hand in the whole thing: he was out to kill God. This was the ultimate showdown of good vs. evil (it was literally that). The Passion, and the Cross—the Devil and his angels amassed in the air above Jerusalem to multiply the suffering as greatly as they could—but what they may not have realized: given the circumstance, this is how the Lord wanted things to be. “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.” [John 10:18 NIV] There is a controversial scene in The Last Temptation of Christ where Satan tries to get him to die like a man—yes! on point: in real life, he died as God.

In the words of Blue Oyster Cult, “I’m living for giving the Devil his due.” In the death of Christ is indeed shown the clash between good and evil, for under threat of pain did Christ never think to strike back, never to have overcome the physical forces that were before him, so that he would not be spared the effects of the evil that permeated the world. Bitten into the very stone were the possibility of pain, and none escaped. But in the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth, a grand lesson to be learned about the consequences of one’s choices. In giving the Devil his due, letting there be so much pain in the world, the Lord shows him that it could be matched by the good, that love conquers all. And so the Lord shows the rest of us. What good would it have been had all evil been prevented from happening? Surely we talk of a worse adjective than it being “academic”, then. Not to say God wanted evil to exist! Can you see a grander view of the Kingdom? He will use what is at hand, but it is of one’s own God given free will to commit the wrong, what is not of God.

Then it is true power: to be able to force the hand of God. It must be the case that the most powerful being in creation was given power in truth. Pain is intrinsic to the structure of the universe: this is Lucifer’s magnum opus. This is that wrench in the works, which you cannot get out else the whole thing falls apart, because now, it is part of the puzzle. Satan knew what he was doing. For now, for God to be just, to show that He doesn’t win by a sort of “deus ex machina”—to give the Devil his due—bad things must happen. You can see that quite readily if you’re a scientist, that if you have such things as plate tectonics, the drift of land masses, then you will have volcanoes and earthquakes. And sometimes, there will be people in their vicinity. So, some of us will throw up their hands and say, “bad luck, chaps,” and some will say they must all have been sinners. None of the above. What’s actually happening? “There are many things which do not concern the process.” [Joan of Arc] There’s a bigger picture we’re not seeing. Perhaps that we don’t want to see.

For blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted. [Matthew 5:4] I will go further: blessed are those who fail, those who are confounded when they try and do good; blessed are they who exert a mountain of effort for a molehill of a reward; blessed are they who are paid back evil for a good they gave; blessed are those who are humiliated for no reason at all; and blessed are they whose lives are brutish and cut short, for lo, thy reward is great in Heaven, where fate is not subject to the whim of evil—but is laid out by Holy Reason himself, whom you call Jesus Christ. He forgets none who have been robbed of life or dignity, and his will is the last word in the realm called Eternity. Jesus Christ died as he did to show you exactly whose side he was on. And there will be no stone you can crawl under that will not be overturned, nothing done in secret that will not be exposed. Woe to those who have something to hide, who has done his neighbor wrong.

The main point? There is always a reason why. The Devil will randomize the pain where he can, and bad things will happen to good people. Don’t be deceived. Nothing is outside the jurisdiction of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Logos, yea, Holy Reason itself. Even if it all ends horribly, that is not a permanent condition. Why did it have to happen like this? If you truly saw what was at stake for the things that transpired in this world, in this life, you would not ask such questions. Count it all joy: and that, too, will be rewarded. One day you will see why things unfurled as they did, and rejoice when your faith was shaken, but did not buckle under the strain to comprehend why. No natural disaster is larger than the purpose that undergirds it. We are greater than any pain that has run through us; we are made larger by it. This is the mystery of the quotient: tragedy makes a saint of any of us.

Do not concern yourself with any thing. Nothing is wasted. Even the evil ones, who are burned into nothing at the Last Judgment: the harm they have caused has gone to good use—in the making of the saints. Do not imagine any setback has slipped from the accounting of the angels. And it is not so much the important that the saints we are to be will go to Heaven when we die, but that in being saints we bring Heaven down into the world by the love we show. Not to hide a lamp in a bucket, but to shine it from the rooftops. And all of us are to die as God did, who in the worst of it yet loved the world. This is to take part in the Resurrection. And pain? It points to that deeper way, that there will be now what is called justice, which in the days before the world ever was, it was not known: because it had no context where nothing was ever wrong. A fascinating birth, in the world as we know it: justice. There will be justice wherever there has been pain. It is what God made out of fire.

If you like what’s written here, check out my book, Memoirs from the War in Heaven.

The Mathematics of the Judgment

“Very few people in the world would care to listen to the real defense of their own characters. The real defense, the defense which belongs to the Day of Judgment, would make such damaging admissions, would clear away so many artificial virtues, would tell such tragedies of weakness and failure, that a man would sooner be misunderstood and censured by the world than exposed to that awful and merciless eulogy.”
– Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Come Judgment Day, what exactly would you say to the Face from which heaven and earth fled—“I meant to”? I once figured it out this way: out of two choices, for your entire life, would you rather expose it all to the world, every event and decision, or would you rather cast it all into darkness? Saved, or damned, this to mean, and there I was toying with the mathematics of the judgment, that even with a life that was full of wrongdoing, if the soul had the courage to reveal it all—be as reviled in the Kingdom of Heaven (if that is even possible)—then that one heroic gesture might indeed save them. There are myths of judgment aplenty from the ancient world, from weighing your soul against a feather to walking a tightrope across a fiery pit. And some pictures of damnation are more horrible than others. What does it mean, exactly, to be saved?

The main equation seems to be simply this: “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Otherwise known as, “love your neighbor as yourself.” But then comes the main counterargument, being the curiosity as to whether some are born having innately more propensity for forgiveness than others, thus making the game a rigged apparatus… In the past, one merely figured that the Devil had his children, and God had His, the Devil’s children causing all the mayhem, God’s children are all the saints, and that’s that. You were simply born one or the other. But the modern reader might ask, how can that possibly be fair? If you had no choice but to be evil, how can you possibly damn that soul? Free will has since (from those days of ultimate predestination) become a key feature of this life of virtue and sin: you must have done things of your own free will for it to count, else life is a meaningless puppet show.

So, what becomes of the Son of Satan? Was he born evil? Or was he born good in circumstances which would make it impossible to have been anything but evil? Where does the free will factor in? The Devil is damned because he was born good and of his own choice and logic decided that that wasn’t going to work for him. We must ask, too, if even was Satan born with a conscience. If that were so, he has only the angel on his shoulder, the little birdy from his own inner sensibilities to try and keep him on the right track. He has no devil on the other shoulder, and so one might conjecture that evil was at that time the narrow way (to exit from the good) and the broad gate was that which was of God, the right. What a waste, how the story of the great Lucifer ends. What about them, though, the rest: his son, and the third part of angels cast down with him—by him?

What if one can genuinely say to the Face from which heaven and earth fled, “I was deceived, and knew not right from wrong”? Or there is the question of how one may judge him, he whom all he knew of the world was evil. Not just the Son of Satan, though he is an especially strong case of this, but those born of bad families. One may consider that God rather grades on a curve. Not as much a reward when a boy scout, whose dad was a boy scout, helps an elderly black granny across the street; but one whose father was KKK—that would be phenomenal. Does it get complicated, then, when we have to factor all the relevant factors in order to judge someone? Perhaps here we find the real reason for the Lord’s command, not to judge, that it is only God’s to judge: for only the all seeing can know why anyone lived the way he did, the rationales and compusions, what was inside him as he decided, and the roads not taken.

Verily, when we have the bold and outward actions of someone born into a culture of cruelty, when he breaks from all he knew because he discovered a greater truth—we can surely measure the heroics of such actions. But as we know, such displays of heart come only when certain stars align; they are not of the everyday, and the everyday is where one (even the hero) must live most of one’s life. Yet when the hero lives an ordinary life, when he abides by ordinary rules, he is roundly to be commended for his humility; but when things surface, like from World War II, the ordinary, everyday lives of those who ran the concentration camps—we feel a wave of disgust. Yet it is here where even a demon might redeem himself. The Lord said that when you fast, make it look like you’re not sacrificing anything. If an “evildoer” were to outwardly perform nefarious deeds, but hidden in his everyday were guilt, nightmares, tears and the true suffering of conscience—how do we judge, knowing that?

Surely, many of us will judge the man who keeps doing evil while being tortured about it as one who is in the final analysis destined for the fire. But one might say it is a case of, “There but for the grace of God go I.” If we had been born in his place, would we not have done the same thing? Thus might it be that the mathematics of the judgment are a mystery. Perhaps indeed, that if we had been given certain temptations, then we might have committed the wrong… but we were not so given, we did no such thing. And we cannot, in fact, actually make the supposition, if we were in that situation, or if they had not been in that situation, it would not have happened as it did. Reality is such an intricately woven web that we cannot cut out one small piece and hope to graft it elsewhere. It is so a mystery.

Indeed, we may speculate about the future, but of the past, speculation is ultimately fruitless. Change one variable and it is not in isolation—if it is reality—and we may find that even when we are correct in predicting the future, it may just be that we were not right for the reasons we thought, why it happened. The future comes into the present and we are proven right or wrong, but the past? We can never be sure of any theory, not until we have a simulator of the entire universe, and we can test one aspect’s change. And even there, it would probably turn out not as we expect. So we really can’t say, what might have been. All we have is what actually happened, what we did with what was given to us. We will not be judged on what we could have done, but on what we did. Is it in any wise unfair? For we may think life unfair, but the Judgment—this should be the great equalizer, correct?

If then, the true judgment is ultimately just, by standards that the Lord has (if we can even call them “standards”, for that in itself implies something static and rigid)—perhaps we cannot tell, the difference between the saved and the damned, and it is not our place to try and guess, to tell the Lord what He’s supposed to think. Mayhap this was why He told us to treat everyone well, to love even your enemies, for perhaps you might mistreat a saint, if you treat anybody badly. The only one whose salvation you should be mindful of (in the main), is yourself, and this you handle by acting out of love in everything you do. Do protect your families against criminals, etc., etc., but realize that you do not know the whole story about even they, even whom we characterize as the “bad guy”. “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.” [Oscar Wilde] You never know who’ll turn it all around.

And then, there are two things you should know about Christianity: 1) converting someone is more about saving them in this world, not the next: Christ is ready to catch you when you slip into that next world; and 2) there a lot (A LOT) of Christians who should be told either, “From these stones can God make sons of Abraham,” and “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not the things I say?” The first quote from Yohanan the Dipper (John the Baptist), the second from Yeshua ben Miriam (Jesus Christ). You see, the main problem of Christians, at least in America, is that they think they are just in the right. Because they are Christians, they think they are better—when God can of course make Christians from anyone. Because they are Christians, they think they know what it means to be righteous—when the one who says, “have mercy on me, a sinner,” he is the one justified. They feel they are qualified to understand, and believe they know by heart the mathematics of the judgment. And one thing I have come to know: we all of us know nothing.

So how do we tell, then, who is saved and who is not? In the final analysis, it’s none of our business. Even our own personal selves we cannot be sure if we’re on the right track. And this, my friends, is the correct attitude. If we indeed become sure that we are of the saved, it is at that point that our souls are in the greatest danger. The path of entitlement is what Lucifer followed, all the way to being kicked out of Heaven. (There are indeed many lessons we may learn from the War in Heaven, and the Fall.) And we come back to the question of the Son of Satan. Did he truly have a choice? Did he have a chance, at all? I tell you it matters not—not to us. We are not the ones responsible for throwing him into the fire. Our is to love everyone, even him, even to love our enemies. If you can fight for justice, by all means do, become an enemy as far as the darkness is concerned—but hate not that darkness. Call no one an enemy to yourself.

It is not to say we rebuke no one for their ill deeds. Our children must learn to do what is right. Stupidity must be called out. But we must stick to the facts. We must not think it is we who are given the charge to save souls: we cannot forgive sins, only the Lord; and only by the Lord’s grace are we any of us saved. So, ask yourself, if you consider yourself Christian: am I any better than the next person? or at least a certain class of person? If your answer is yes, you are indeed mistaken, and possibly dangerous. When your answer is no, you begin to crack the shell of the mystery, that whosoever would be first in the Kingdom must be a servant of all. There is no room at the height of the light for he who values his own life more than his neighbor’s. Comprende? It’s as simple and impossible as one, two, three… infinity: that is the mathematics of the judgment.

If you like what’s written here, check out my book, Memoirs from the War in Heaven.


evil is much furious gesturing, and posing
a conductor’s baton, a magic wand, a lonely song
we run in circles to dig a zero in the grass
and who am i? this dreamer exited stage left
i am behind the scenes as long as i don’t breathe
evil is a quiet, waiting snake of an emotion
a fire that dies at its most brightest burn
this criminal saw the light through the scratches
the glass, black, from the brushes of nightmare
do you dream it can be so easy to fly away?
home is that notion you have found some center
evil is a drama that shakes down the audience
a wind that never finds rest, to dissipate
i have found the exact star that calls me
as if i could reach—not so far—to pluck it down
but like a dream, it is seconds beyond my grasp
to awake to the rhythm of the churning city
evil is the world where cruelty is made cash
a spire that falls, how great is the ruin of it
none of us sure of our footing in the darkness
did we imagine we could escape the final light?
a fire to fear, that burns all the sin from us
evil is what we discard of life, a cold, cold no