Monday, February 14, 2011

The age of confusion

How do you get a prophet to take his own advice? You can't use words; those are the weapons of his craft. Just try to shout down a prophet and all you get are more words--two persons shouting past each other. Even in that battle, the person with the biggest weapons doesn't win: hurtful words shouted through a megaphone are no more effective than whispers of apathy. Indeed, when it comes to a prophet, words are futile devices.

And yet, prophets can be so annoying, what with all their talk about the wrath of God and the end of the world. So, how do you warn a prophet? How do you say, "you've gone too far" or "you're simply a madman"--especially when all prophets (even those whose prophecies came true) are mad. Even that word is fascinating to me: "mad" used to mean "crazy" but now it means "angry." In fact, that's the picture most of us have of prophets: angry men who say crazy words. It is madness that drives some men insane.

But, what is sanity? One man's madness is another man's passion. In fact, even prophets speak of love and faithfulness and truth. Sometimes we hear sane people talk about love, but its quite apparent even they don't know what they're talking about: to them love is twisted, selfish, destructive, myopic, painful, vain. Love under the guise of encomium leaves us confused and dazed, wondering where truth can be found.

This is what I hear in Sufjan Steven's apocalyptic world of Adz. The dualism of the age is not between love and hate, faithfulness and betrayal, truth and lies, life and death. All of these things overlap in the age of Adz. Instead, the constant struggle, the eternal dialectic, is between clarity and confusion. We're all looking for moments of clarity, even from a madman. And, those who say "they understand" often admit they're troubled and confused. So, in a world where perspective is reality, does anyone have eyes to see and ears to hear?

It depends upon not what you say but where you walk.