Friday, January 14, 2011

There's too much riding on love

In a simplified version of biblical apocalypticism, there is a thoroughgoing dualism--a struggle, a conflict, a fight--between two forces. Typically, it is the final battle between good and evil, between God and Satan, between order and chaos. Apocalyptic prophets see the battle in vivid panoramic terms, most often visualized as war. In this cosmic fight, the world is a mess because evil seems to run amok. The determinism of a world filled with death and injustice robs humanity of the dignity of hope. Nothing ever seems to change. But, the seer knows it won't always be this way. The warning goes forth (even though no one seems to want to hear it): God is going to invade the cosmos, riding in like a man on a white horse--guns blazing. Then evil will finally be put down. The wicked will get their just desserts. It will take a lot of death to pull it off, a lot of violent conflict, a lot of chaotic warfare to bring order. But, this is the way it must be: it must get worse before it gets better. In the meantime, in the face of such pessimistic determinism, the weapon of the righteous is faithfulness. The prophet's message is: hold on, grit your apocalyptic teeth, and warn the world with words.

In the face of this apocalypticism, the prophet Sufjan challenges the idea of faithfulness as the only recourse of the righteous. Instead, he wants to believe in the power of love. Indeed, the open-endedness of love is our only chance of overcoming such a mechanical view of the world. Rather than give in to the machinery--the pretense of pessimism--the Seer claims that love conquers all. But, there is a problem. What is true love? Mere words will never suffice. Intimate knowledge is an illusion. We all are screwed up people. How can we love without truth, without a prophet to tell us what is true? So, A new dualism of perpetual struggle is born: the final conflict is not between good and evil, love and hatred, order and chaos.

It is the age of Adz.

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