In the Beginning…

What is life?

Everybody asks this one way or another, at one time or another, and tries to answer it. Life is a rat race, we say, or a bed of roses, or not a bed of roses; or it is a battle to the death, a pain in the neck. This is the language of poetry too. Life is the flight of a bird that swoops out of the darkness of night into the great fire-lit hall of a castle. He wings his way wildly, batting against the walls, the ceiling, until finally he finds a window, then out into the darkness again.

Life is what we would be dead without. Life is what we are. Life is our little portion of Being itself. But that is only to define one mystery in terms of another. You and I and the most distant star and the dragon’s fly wing and the rustle of leaves as they fall-these all have one thing in common, which is that they all are, we all are, part of Being.

What is Being?

Think of this world. Think of the great globe itself, the cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples, and all the people of this world. Then take it all away…. Think of the universe itself. Then take away all of the planets and the stars, take away space itself and take away time. What is left? All that one might say is left is the absence of all these things. Now take away this absence. Nothing is left. Non-Being. So Being is what we have instead of this. Your Being and mine, the Being of our world and of all the unseen worlds. This is the great miracle. That Being is? It might have not been. Where did it come from? Why?

We are not asking a scientific question now, and if I tried to give a scientific answer, if I started talking in terms of the Big Bang theory… if in other words, I tried to tell in the language of science how everything got started, I would leave you still unsatisfied because even if I could prove my theory to be true, your question would go deeper than my answer. It asks not what the process by which Being came to be, but what is the purpose. Not how was it created, but why was it created. Who created it? Because that is the way in which both poetry and religion finally ask it. Who?

If anyone says that is a pointless question because there is no way of arriving at a definite answer, all one can reply is that, be that as it may, one cannot help asking it even so, if only because life keeps asking it of us.

An excerpt from the second chapter of Frederick Buechner’s book entitled “The Magnificent Defeat”.

13 thoughts on “In the Beginning…”

  1. <>All that one might say is left is the absence of all these things. Now take away this absence. Nothing is left. Non-Being. So Being is what we have instead of this. Your Being and mine, the Being of our world and of all the unseen worlds. This is the great miracle. That Being is? It might have not been. Where did it come from? Why?,<>I’ve been running this concept of ‘being’ thru my mind since I read this and all I can think about is God and that whole “I AM” thing…He was never absent… and in Him we have our ‘being’, according to scripture…I’m not sure what all that means, but you sufficiently kicked on the ’tilt’ light in my brain, with this post…

  2. “If anyone says that is a pointless question because there is no way of arriving at a definite answer, all one can reply is that, be that as it may, one cannot help asking it even so, if only because life keeps asking it of us.”This guy is right on the money with the ‘not quite ready for prime time’ debates over religion and science. I think I will have to to check this book out or just keep coming back here to read these wonderful excerpts.

  3. marc david, do you mind? We’re having a discussion here. If you just want to be a prick, take it somewhere else. jimmybob, you may always rest assured that I love you. Just read what I said. Don’t read into what I said.I’m not sure what led you to conclude that I advocate abandoning all truth. Read it again. What I said is that I’m learning that God’s grasp of the big picture is beyond mine, and that my understanding on many topics cannot be cast in cement. I offered what I thought was a pretty good example in describing my conversation with a friend this morning. On my site, when I wouldn’t strongly affirm that homosexuals are worse than everyone else, a few people had cows. You know what? I still don’t have a strong belief nailed down. I’m content to let it percolate for now. There was a time when I would lay awake, not content until I had come to a position that I could hang on to. Too much of that going around. It gets in the way of the two commandments.I believe that Jesus is God (I do not understand the intricacies of the Trinity, and it doesn’t bother me at all). I believe that His command is to love God and love others. I believe He died. I believe He got up from that. I believe that because of that, I’m going to see Him again. I do hope He’s happy to see me, but I often wonder. Beyond that, I mostly know what I think, but I’m not willing to bet the farm on any of it anymore.

  4. Dorse, now you know me a little better than that too. However, I must first apologize for the knee. It was an accident. I was trying to be careful.I asked a question, <>“Are you saying…?”<> This is because you said, <>“I am only now slowly coming to understand what it means to dwell in the mystery of God, <>never ceasing to wrestle and question<>, but likewise, <>never deceived into believing that my understanding is absolute<>. This box into which I keep trying to cram God and His universe must be cast away, because <>that box is my own arrogance.<>“<>You could have responded by saying, “To answer your question…NO.”I’m wondering exactly what it is about God or His universe you are now realizing that you have believed out of arrogance? I asked for further explanation. As a reader, I also want to learn.I am not sick that you haven’t figured it ALL out. I haven’t either. But, your statements led me to believe that you have come to the conclusion that having anything figured out is putting God into a box and therefore, arrogant; making it impossible to <>dwell in the mystery of God.<> And if it’s not having EVERYTHING figured out, then what types of things can you be certain of without being arrogant? All these questions popping into my head made your statements seem ambiguous and fluffy.So, if you can get past our communication dilemna and humor me with answers, I would be forever grateful. I’m resting on the fact that there is nothing I can say that would make you love me less. I love you too.

  5. jimmybob, you had better get some ice on that knee, cause if you keep letting it jerk like that, you’re going to put someone’s eye out.<>“Are you saying that everything you’ve known to be true about God has all been born out of your own presumptions?”<>Where do you get that? What I said is that my presumptions are the box with which I have attempted to limit God. I’m a little troubled that you’re nauseated simply because I don’t have it all figured out. I believe what I believe, but I don’t know what I don’t know.

  6. Here we go with the constant bickering again. Can’t we move on to some less controversial materal like say, Are homosexuals going to go to heaven? or Is a fetus alive at conception? JimmyBob will you keep me in your prayers as well? I am not certain whether I need the prayer or you have the need to pray for me. Whatever works for ya, though, as long as it does somebody some good.

  7. Wow. Nice, Steve.<>“If anyone says that is a pointless question because there is no way of arriving at a definite answer, all one can reply is that, be that as it may, one cannot help asking it even so, if only because life keeps asking it of us.”<>My comment isn’t about life or being, but this passage really speaks to one of the key elements of SCP that we’ve been talking about for the last year+. SCP demands that we never be caught without an answer. So great is the drive to “have” the truth, SCP is willing to settle for a lesser truth rather than to say, “dunno.”Just this morning, I was talking to a friend who is really struggling with my inclusive attitude towards homosexuals. As we dug into the reasons for our respective positions, he conceded many points as simple insecurities, and ultimately said, “I don’t know. These are really tough questions.” But still, he could not leave it there. He had to stand by his irrational position until he had proof of another, erring on the side of “safety.” There is no room in his worldview for loose ends.I am only now slowly coming to understand what it means to dwell in the mystery of God, never ceasing to wrestle and question, but likewise, never deceived into believing that my understanding is absolute. This box into which I keep trying to cram God and His universe must be cast away, because that box is my own arrogance.

  8. It sounded like you wanted a list of my absolutes (if I had any). I was afraid you were trying to put me in a box. I’ve gotten a little claustrophobic since my MRI ::chuckle:: Fuggedaboudit.

  9. <>I know, I know. This is probably an overreaction on my part, due to my lack of comprehension.<>Knowing my brother, I’d say this is probably the most accurate thing you said, jimmybob🙂

  10. Here’s one for you, davids, since you want to be so all-fired-up for a discussion…..BTW, you really ought to go check out more stuff elsewhere if this situation don’t agree with you, and quit bitchin about someone else’s sandbox.OK, Jesus is The Savior. God so loved the world (or at least the little part He really liked) He gave His Son to be the sacrifice for all mankind’s sin. Now, for those that haven’t heard of Jesus, ever, does that mean they are in Hell, because He chose not to share His Son with everyone ??How can you say that God is an Awesome God, that He is worthy of praise, when he has sentenced all those people to Hell ?? How dare you exalt His holy name if He has destroyed more souls than all abortions combined ?? And, if there is some sort of salvation for those who have never heard of Him, then why bother telling them about Jesus, and having them risk Hell and damnation if they reject Him ?? The Germanics, the Hordes, the Asians, the American Indians, are all Pagans that have gomne to Hell with NO chance of redemption ??Let’s not cheat, and see if Big Dave has the answers.OH, and don’t ~EVEN~ think about giving me that pussy answer–“That’s not your business, it’s God’s business”

  11. Dorsey, I have to admit, your equivocalness turns my stomach. Your comment here is so vague I’m left wondering: What the heck are you exactly talking about?Are you saying that everything you’ve known to be true about God has all been born out of your own presumptions? No proof and all guess work? Hopefully you’re just saying that a good amount of former beliefs have been challenged and not the whole.As one who has grown with you in the Christian faith, I find this stuff hard to hear. I love you and I’ll be praying.I know, I know. This is probably an overreaction on my part, due to my lack of comprehension. But, please exlain further.

  12. “not how it was created but why” is always the thing that prompts us to put our pants on in the morning. If there is no attempt at the “why?” of life, then we have no more reason for life!

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