What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music…. And people flock around the poet and say: ‘Sing again soon’ – that is, ‘May new sufferings torment your soul but your lips be fashioned as before, for the cry would only frighten us, but the music, that is blissful.
― Soren Kierkegaard,

I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran.

I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.

22 But if they had stood in My counsel,

And had caused My people to hear My words,

Then they would have turned them from their evil way

And from the evil of their doings. (Jeremiah 23:21-22)

Ezekiel 33:30-33

“As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ 31 So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. 32 Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them. 33 And when this comes to pass—surely it will come—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

James 1:22-24

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.


Such words as love, truth, beauty, goodness, sincerity, grace, reconciliation, righteousness, “words which imply an almost total indifference to contrasts of value have come more often from their [the surrealists’] pens” as Simone Weil writes, “than words which contain a reference to good and evil.” Moreover, she adds, “this latter class of words has become degraded, especially those which refer to the good, as Valéry remarked some years ago. Words like virtue , nobility , honor , honesty , generosity , have become almost impossible to use or else they have acquired bastard meanings; language is no longer equipped for legitimately praising a man’s character.”

Similarly, as Christians we ought to refrain from pimping sacred words that constitute the nomenclature of historic Christianity out to the world, as if they were merely some kind of Lyotardian language game, or perhaps rather more egregiously, some sort of bromidereligion as the opium of the masses. One may have gathered a sense of late, that everything is up for sale, but press pause for a moment, and let us consider our ways. After all, as Dylan reminds us, “you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” Perhaps the tables that are being flipped, and the merchants who are being chased out of the temple by the Masters whip are not over there, but rather, they are over here—on the wrong side of history? Jeremiah carried the same burden as Jesus, as he warned the people of God, that they should not trust in the deceptions of those who cry: “The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these…Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 7:4; 11; Matthew 21:13 ).

We need shepherds, not sophists. We need Pastors, not pundits. We need evangelists, not star-struck entertainers. We need the ministration of the Holy Spirit, not sorcery and divination. We need Christ-like leaders, not politically expedient clowns. We need spiritual fathers, not fools (though fools for Christ are in short supply). We need the full gospel, not a discombobulated or reconfigured gospel, which is really no gospel at all. Can you not see this world is fading away? Why are Christians so desperate for the approval of fallen men and women, in a world that is dying? We lament without understanding what it means to be in Lamentations (1:19): “I called for my lovers, But they deceived me; My priests and my elders Breathed their last in the city, While they sought food To restore their life.” We are in the midst of a spiritual famine ― not of bread and thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the Word of the LORD. And it shall be, like priest, like people (Amos 8:11; Hosea 4:11). We still arrogantly refuse Jesus’ words as he rebukes the accuser of those who continue to faithfully keep the commandments of God: “…It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)

We are called to judge ourselves first, so that we are not judged with the world. Have you not seen, have you not heard, Judgment begins in the house of God?

Try to be pure at heart, they arrest you for robbery
Mistake your shyness for aloofness, your shyness for snobbery
Got the message this morning, the one that was sent to me
About the madness of becoming what one was never meant to be

Don’t know what I can say about Claudette wouldn’t come back to haunt me
Finally had to give her up about the time she began to want me
But I know God has mercy on them who are slandered and humiliated
I’d a-done anything for that woman if she’d only make me feel obligated

I’m gonna set my affections on things above

and let nothing stand in the way of love

not even the Rock of Gibraltar

if you see her on Fenton street

tell her that I still think she’s neat
and the groom’s still waiting at the altar

We are in the world, not of it. A ‘church’ [ekklesia] that is merely a mirror image of the world, is not a sanctified bride without spot or wrinkle―but rather it is a shadow (a simulacrum), having a form of godliness but denying the power of God (see 2 Timothy 3:5). It is a social club, and In fact, that’s putting it in socially acceptable terms; the Bible tells us that a church seeking friendship with the world, consists of an adulterous people and ultimately, is a “harlot” (see James 4:4; Revelation 2-3, 17-18; Ezekiel 16). This is the outworking of a ‘church’ cravenly seeking validation from the world. It is not of God, the Father of all spirits, and the Father of lights from whom every good and perfect gift emanates, and in whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

Cities on fire, phones out of order
They’re killing nuns and soldiers, there’s fighting on the border
What can I say about Claudette?
Ain’t seen her since January
She could be respectfully married or running a whorehouse in Buenos Aires

I’m gonna set my affections on things above

and let nothing stand in the way of love

not even the Rock of Gibraltar

if you see her on Fenton street

tell her I still think she’s neat

and the groom’s still waiting at the altar―Bob Dylan

All of this fainting couch finger-wagging, at the speck in the eye of some arbitrary straw man, in lieu of removing the plank from ones own, seems more reminiscent of filthy rags righteousness than imitation of the ONLY Wise God. We do not need puerile (or racialized) false dichotomies, we need men and women like the children of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what to tell Israel [the church] to do. Let us not cunningly conflate the issues besetting us, in this politically charged moment. The distinction is not subtle here, it is made plain:

But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a revller, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?” (1 Corinthians 5:11-12).

“Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers.” (1 Corinthians 6:1-6)

No doubt, you noisy shepherds—you are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.

Nevertheless, this also remains true for those sealed in the Beloved, in the spirit of Elijah, he will return the hearts of the children to their fathers and the hearts of the fathers to their children, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse;.and turn the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. (Luke 1:17; Malachi 4:5)

Not just in commerce but in the world of ideas too our age is putting on a veritable clearance sale. Everything can be had so dirt cheap that one begins to wonder whether in the end anyone will want to make a bid. What our age lacks is not reflection, but passion.

What we call worldliness simply consists of such people who, if one may so express it, pawn themselves to the world.― Søren Kierkegaard

Photo Credits: Georges Rouault, “Christ’s Apostles”

Reference: Simone Weil, “The responsibility of writers”, p.168