Monday, January 19, 2009

Frame focus

This is an open meditation. What is a mind? Milton says the mind is its own place and in it self Can make a heav'n of hell and a hell of heav'n. (PL Bk1 254) Christians are supposed to have the mind of Christ. How is this to be managed? Much of Christendom's history reveals a mind devoted to control and self-preservation and an evangel of coercion. Think like me or you're dead meat!

Psalm 1 begins with instruction concerning the wicked, the sinner, and the scoffer. It speaks of not walking, sitting, or standing with such. It is not about mind but about action.

In Isaiah 26:3 by the old translation, we have a use of 'mind' that seems potentially misleading to me in the 21st century: Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee. I wonder if mind might mean something more. What if mind is more like a framework (a suggested gloss for this word used in Isaiah, יצר)? A framework supported you keep in wholesome peace (shalom shalom שָׁלֹום שָׁלֹום) for it trusts in you.

A software framework is a set of routines and algorithms that enable quicker development of systems. A framework of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), a framework of focus on God (Isaiah 26:3) - is this more than a religious or pious thought? Will it bring forth more than wind? Perhaps a modicum of justice instead?

I note from Chris Tilling's meditation Beyond lost immediacy, that the encouraging words outnumber potential scoffs. Where is the action? It is too easy to be distracted and sit with the scoffers, or to walk according to imperfect counsel or to stand with those whose aim is poor. A good scoff is worth a laugh from others. Who has perfect counsel? And as for accurate archery, it hurts. And as for trust - what more subjective, unobservable, and elusive word is there? ... unless it leads to the visible fruit.

Here, Christendom (with or without the t) has a serious problem. The thorns and thistles grow with the fruitful vine. Maybe this is for the sake of the thistles - a kind of companion gardening. When the harvest is ready, even hell itself (PL Bk 4 75) will have had a role in the framing of the results.

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