The Judge defiles, corrupts, and destroys everything wherever he goes in Blood Meridian. Namely men. Throughout the bible the devil’s chief purpose is to deceive and destroy God’s creation; especially His masterpiece- humanity. The characters which hold my interest are Tobin the ex-priest and the Judge.
Judge Holden. A 7 foot tall hairless albino. He is a philosophically inclined war monger who advocates both violence and lawlessness as a new order. In this novel, the Judge seemed to be either the devil or war incarnate- displaying supernatural strength and intelligence. No man I have ever known could wield a howitzer cannon with one arm or lift a man by his head and execute him by crushing his skull. Nor do I know anyone who could off the hip cite American and British case law or quote philosophers with startling relevance to any matter at hand with a dark, malicious twist.
The Judge found John Glanton’s gang of scalpers in the wilderness poorly provisioned; and he saved them from the pursuit of Apaches. By doing so he enabled and encouraged the posse’s murder of innocents and purging of created things. Judge Holden later comments: “You can find the meanness in the least of creatures, but when God made man the devil was at his elbow”. Certainly the Judge was at these men’s elbows.
The ex-priest. Tobin’s origins are not expounded. At some point he left the ministry to join Glanton’s gang. As the gang travels through the southwest of North America the ex-priest warns the protagonist, only known as “the Kid”, to not look at the Judge and ignore any of his requests. There is not much interaction between the ex-priest and the Judge. In fact, the ex-priest avoids the Judge. This begs the question: what reason did the ex-priest have to avoid him? I posit that he feared him- he was afraid of his wickedness and power. The ex-priest shrunk back every time the Judge or scalpers promoted atrocities to and within men.
When confronted by the Judge after he delivered his speech on war as the supremacy of man’s existence he cowered back yet again. He claimed he was never a priest but was rather a novitiate of the order. “The priest does not say”. Tobin’s own words summarize his character in 5 words. The novel’s representation God’s church and moral order passively allows the new order of wickedness rule in the American west. Tobin hid behind his beliefs, never fully committing to them or his comrades in the gang of scalpers. He is the epitome of the passive non-commital man. He commits to nothing, thus simply exists as a timid floater.
Tobin receives his death blow while creating a diversion for The Kid. The author describes him as chanting some obscure liturgy in Latin while carrying a hastily fashioned wooden cross before him. The Judge shoots him through the neck with a 50 caliber rifle ball.
Christian men are not to hide from duty behind their beliefs. Rather, they are to be empowered by faith in Christ to do justice, love sacrificially, and care for those around them, and all of this to the glory of God.
Why do men not seek community personally with others? I posit they are afraid. Afraid they will not be accepted. Afraid they will be found out for “what they are”. In order to reject vulnerability and the love of fellow brothers they justify the continuity of self destructive (sinful) acts which they either overtly embrace or hide from others. To reject community which lives out the sacrificial love as Jesus exemplifies is ultimately a rejection of love. The affection, encouragement, strength and rebuke from a brother all flow from sacrificial love after the very heart of Jesus of Nazareth. If I fail to communicate love genuinely my community will fail. If others feel genuine love, they may feel welcome enough to partake in Christian fellowship. It has always been about Jesus and loving people. Lose this and you’ve lost the point.
Now, my concerns. The digital facade. Smart phone commanders. Playwrights… Lord, break my heart and melt it through your hands.
Community is difficult because it means sharing life. The default of western thinking is individualistic self sufficiency. Sharing both shame and celebration is difficult for the selfish man- for if he is unwilling to have others bear his shame how much more will he be unwilling to share in the joy and fruits of his life? There exists a fractal mist: the appearance of true fellowship with no substance. It is the act of appearing to be in community yet remaining relationally distant or un-present to others. What sordid tragedy is this? A man is fooled into believing he is part of life or even providing some vitality to the community when in fact he is a consumer. Equivalent to a suckling piglet -or yet worse- a leech. I will not apologize for such harsh terms. The distinction between a consumer and maturing person is that of heart. Specifically, the desire to grow, dream, share passion, contribute and live in community.
A consumer does little for community. His existence is dependent upon taking from a collective of individuals. Servitude and socializing in themselves can be a pretexts to taking part of true community. These two things in themselves are not necessarily the fruit of one who gives life and serves the mission or purpose of community.
True community is loving the consumers and welcoming them with love to partake in the fellowship of Christ. I wrestle with this concept. How do I love those who abuse others tacitly or openly? The only thing that seems to work for me is by looking to Christ loving the others as Christ does. Nothing else does it.
The balancing act which ensues is awareness of being used as a means and wisely making yourself available to a consumer. There is a breaking point where one must be aware they are being used or abused, present how they feel, and if necessary create a healthy distance for some time. This could be the most loving thing to do with one way relationships. Never stop loving the person- have compassion and remember them in prayer. When the time is right, extend your hand in fellowship.
It’s about the heart. Do you serve out of selfless love for your brother or for your own glory and legacy? Are you using or abusing community? Build, don’t break the bride. Community as God intended it meaning looking out for the interests of others and humbly counting others more significant. (Philippians 2:3-4)
Fair trade. Time and passion for four years. I must pay now. Crossing through red tape to execute what must be done. They’ve tasted fine grit sand, sweat, blood, rocket propelled grenades, and the salty air on return. Scorched by the desert sun they now are the dwelling place of rattlesnakes and vermin. Quietly they stand as chipped and discarded toys. I’ll do my part.
To do more with less. There’s more yet. Stay in the game.
It is no surprise that my affections for Christ are lowered when my affections for other “things” are in a greater focus. The truth is I cannot will or discipline myself to view Christ higher. As a person born pre-wired for rebelling against God, my default is confidence in the flesh.
What does this mean? I naturally put more trust in my own gifts, education, pedigree, talents, and strength than in what the Lord can do. I desire to rebel and deny His existence and purpose. This is my default; I am born this way. In my core I will do anything to rationalize Him away and write God off as a mere idea or fictional authoritarian. If not in my mind then with my own actions. If we’re honest with ourselves we all do it… Yet so subtly. No one likes being told how to live when they believe they have the best in mind for their own life.
You see, living with faith in Christ itself is supernatural. It goes against the trajectory of the human will. Only by God moving first could faith be possible! Only God Himself could redeem our desires to be in control and to be our own “lawmakers”. God does something miraculous in a person’s heart for them to trust Him above themselves. God’s continual work on the heart is where confidence in the flesh diminishes and the miraculous begins.
“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Jn 1:4-5
Where are the hearts of men? Where are they left for dead?
Sly cameras and the Banana Republic before wilderness and war;
MMA and haircuts to surpass training and doctrine?
Success measured in flirts, friends and self revelation of shaky prowess-
How long will they ride the old war horse? They’ll say it isn’t their fault.
Tired old heart, get up and die as a warrior-poet.
Drag them through hell, out of hell, and show them.
Stir up a platoon, equip the battalion, and move.
Take back- no regrets.
“Our basic plan of operation is to advance and to keep on advancing regardless of whether we have to go over, under, or through the enemy.” ~GEN Patton
If you have read any of my thoughts here, I hope it is clear that my heart is for the church. That is the people of the church, the growth of the church based on biblical principles, and for new people to become part of the church community. What I mean by the church is a collective community of people trying to follow Jesus.
What I bring to the table are the observations of a layman. I have no “bible degree” and no seminary training. I am a logistician by profession, a university graduate- and most importantly- a follower of Jesus Christ. In all this I can only boast in Christ, who has given me all things. Everything I have is a gift from my Creator; and from the beginning these were intended to be used to glorify God.
I believe that criticism without desire and action to improve the subject is cold, detached cynicism. Enough of that exists out there, so I refuse to waste my time with such immature and unproductive expressions.
With that said I will continue. I was warned of consumerism in the church before I graduated, but wasn’t sure how I would see it played out. A little over a year later, I now have a clearer picture of what this looks like: it is comfort laced with the attitude of individuals desiring to be entertained and emotionally or intellectually stimulated. Consumerism is far from the community of the new testament church (Acts 2:42-47). If I understand correctly, church should be a community of people focused on Jesus and the needs of others.
Let us practically define consumerism in context: it is an attitude of being a “taker” rather than a “giver”. If you’re using the church’s programs, teaching, and people for approval or your pure personal gain- for the love of God- STOP. Turn away from this. These previously mentioned things exist in church to reach out to people with the message of reconciliation through personal faith in Christ. Let us shed light to a lie: if you think giving a piece of your paycheck every week or so to a church means you’re engaged in community or that it qualifies you as a “giver” you’re sadly mistaken- being part of biblical community means acting in humility and getting your hands dirty. The church was intended for and should be about Jesus and reaching people out of love.
Without the mindset for God’s mission the church becomes a country club. Slick programs draw people in and afford them entertainment and/or a few tips for life enhancement that may be selectively applied to the comfortable parts of life.
We can forget or blatantly ignore Christ’s words “…love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
We can forget or blatantly ignore our commission to “…make disciples of all nations… Teaching them to observe all that I [Jesus] have commanded you.”
The missional mindset for those who believe is to implore others to be reconciled with God by faith in Christ (2 Cor. 5:18-21). By faith I mean no blind leap, but faith based on sufficient reason from historical evidence and a cohesive worldview. We must love and implore others to be reconciled through Christ out of love. To not do so implicitly states we find greater joy in the pleasures and comforts this world offers us.
We are subtly influenced. But first let us first be honest with ourselves. Before we can grasp it we employ reductionism- by this I mean that our systems of thought are easily reduced to mere parts which attempt to explain the whole. This is a brutal thing which can destroy the beauty and mystery of good things. Perhaps this is something you deploy when you are afraid, insecure or need control.
Quickly we become masters of deconstructionism. Deconstructing wholes into irrational or meaningless parts. I am not advocating anti-intellectual approach to life. But I do feel we should pick our battles wisely. Let us make war against the lies which poison and kill the life which God wants us to enjoy to His glory.
This is a call to action:
-In what ways/why am I apathetic to knowing Jesus more?
-Where am I reducing things which are good and from God to perversion/futility?
-Where can I find what God wants me to enjoy for His glory?
Of course, none of this means anything if you don’t believe the Bible is God’s written means of knowing Him personally. To this, I challenge you to honestly apply the same skepticism and criticism to your own worldview.
Clinging to identity is the epitome of narcissistic self love. It is the manifest evidence of someone who makes something of themselves. Literally. And all this is to take good things and pervert them. Image, titles, positions, talents, and wealth- whether bestowed or self created- all are used to craft a “likeable” identity broadcasted to people from whom you “need” acknowledgement from.
Did Christ, fully God and fully man, cling to His identity when He came to earth for us? “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:5-7)
What would it look like if you lived as if your identity was not something to be grasped? In humility you counted your “rights”, gifts, and talents as something to be lost in order to suffer for others sake?
The call to follow Him is a tall order and it is no surprise that there are many Christians living nominally for Jesus.
There is hope though- give up your good Christian life and follow Jesus.
As people we seem to have the tendency to cling to particular views of what we hold as fundamental. And we will often build frameworks of interpretation, or theory, around what is most poignant to our emotions. Theories have the power to focus observation. The problem with theory is that they have the potential to blinker us to a more complete picture of reality. We don’t know if theories stand on absolutes until they’re proven. Something that stirs me is people’s views of God- not an “idea” of a god, but the God of the old and new testaments. The God that before any created thing existed planned the death and resurrection of Jesus to reconcile people with Himself; and all this in order to show His greatness.
I often hear people I know repeatedly express God or His works in terms of extremes or facets of His character: love, healer, reconciler, sovereign one, “predestiner”, revivalist, or helper. I’ve even heard God called a pleasure or bliss provider. Any view which views God exclusively as just one or a few things is incomplete. For example, we cannot properly view God as one who purely promises pleasure, for He doesn’t promise us bliss or pleasure in this life (Philippians 1:29). I acknowledge we can never fully understand or grasp all of God’s character- but this should not hinder us from attempting to understand Him. Does your view of God rest on personal theories shaped by emotions, or do they rest upon God’s primary way to make what can be known about Him available- His word.