Thursday, July 23, 2009

Transfigurational Living

The poet’s words infuse the cosmos with magic. Dewdrops become diamonds, every rose a ruby, every leaf an emerald, every golden sunrise a glorious chariot, and every silver moon a divan upon which the goddess Love sits enthroned. Christian poets ennoble the romanticization of nature, and in their happiest moments envision every good man a knight-errant in quest of the Holy Grail, and every good woman a virginal lady-in-waiting for her virginal Galahad, golden chalice in hand, "rose red with bleatings in it."

In particular, Charles Williams attempted to incarnate the Divine in his literary and poetic characters. T. S. Eliot said of Williams, "He attempted to do with language that which cannot be done," that is, to write in such a way that divine light emanates through the writer’s pen and upon his page, not just lodging in the reader’s mind, but twice transfiguring the reader’s mind, once in his imagination, a second time in his will as the reader incarnates the very vision Williams conveys. Heavily influenced by Dante’s vision of Beatrice as "she who doth imparadise my soul," Williams’ literary heroes, both male and female, are loci of paradise (loco with Paradise as well). Williams’ artistic endeavor is not without biblical warrant.

When Jesus Christ spoke of His Father’s house in which there are mansions (monai.), He did not mean elsewhere beyond the stars, but rather Divine Mansions erected in the souls of men and women. How do we know this? We probably don’t know this because we have been preconditioned by bad preaching to think of heaven’s Mansions as possibly far away in time and certainly distant in space, but that’s a completely wrong idea. If we carefully follow Jesus’ words in John 14, and listen keenly to the Son of God’s explanation about the "mansions," He tells us that His Mansions are inside us,

"If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our mansion (monen) with him."

All the major translations miss the mark, and almost every preacher. Call it what you will–mansion, room, resting place, dwelling place, abode–call it what you will, but Jesus does not say that the Mansion is there and then but rather here and now. Paradise has come down from heaven to earth, not just through the Incarnate Son of God, but through every person in whom He and His Father have built their Mansion. Who does not know this?

Judas Thaddaeus (not Iscariot) does not understand what Jesus has said, that "He who grips and guards my commandments also loves me, and whoever loves me, both my Father and I shall love him, and I shall manifest Myself to the one loving me."

Judas Thaddaeus is really puzzled now, "Lord, what has occurred that you are going to manifest yourself to us and not to the world?"

Dr. Robertson says that Thaddaeus is "caught on the word emphanizo," weakly translated "manifested," better translated somehow associated with the substance "light" or the action of "shining," since emphanizo derives from phaino, "to shine." More colloquially expressed, God’s Mansions are lit brightly from within. Paradise radiates from within the soul’s Mansion and through its windows. And it is that radiation from Him through us by which our lives are transfigured, and by which we transfigure others’ lives as well. How do we do this?

Just as Jesus told Thaddaeus, "Grip and guard my commandments, and love me."

Thus we see that a transfigurational life demands both an ethical and an emotional radiance of Paradise; ethical in that we grip and guard Jesus’ commands, emotional in that we Love Him. As surely as God commands ethical obedience, He also commands emotional obeisance; in fact, all moral obedience is subsumed within the emotional obeisance of Love, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and spirit and your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets." By ethical and emotional adherence to the Divine commandments, our souls prove themselves to be Mansions of God, the windows of which shine upon earth with the radiant fire of heaven.

Unless Jesus has tricked us by what He said about building His Mansions in our souls, then "I go to prepare a place for you" cannot indicate His departure from earth to take on a celestial architectural endeavor; but rather, "I am going to Passover; I am Passover; and I shall purchase a Mansion for your soul, not with corruptible things such as silver and gold, but with the incorruptible currency of heaven, the precious blood of the Passover Lamb."

Old Israel had the Paschal lamb’s blood upon her hovels in Old Egypt, and light in her houses. New Israel has A Better Stain upon her Mansions in this present evil world, and a brighter light through her windows.

Shine, Fair City, Shine! Transfigure, ye transfigured!

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