A City With Two Suns

I think that I’ve had false notions of both beauty and love for most of my life.  I have created beauty and have been inspired by beauty, I have loved and been loved, but I now realize that there are truths and decoys in those arenas.

There is a lot of time and money spent on the creation and preservation of what we deem to be beautiful, and there is a reason why we spend all our efforts on it (constantly filling our lives with it)… and the reason is because most of this beauty is fleeting. 

Ironically, the most jeweled, painted, and dramatic displays of beauty are often in fact the mildest, plainest, and poorest attempts at mimicking the Beautiful One.  No diamond ring, designer gown, or emaciated supermodel can compare to the splendor of the world, and likewise no reality TV Show or Hollywood slasher film can compare to the genuine drama and atrocity of the world.

 The grandeur of the Creator (and creation itself) is not displaced, but rather our own eyes are deceived with the thinnest and subtlest veil… which veers us from reality ever so slightly, so that we don’t notice we’ve gone anywhere until we’re out of sight… at which point we reason that we’ve probably always been on this path and in this direction, and forget where we’ve come from altogether. 

We’ve become a post-apocolyptic society, minus the apocalypse.  We value what’s meaningless, and turn our backs on true living… like a culture that eats only bricks, while the food around us rots.  We enjoy being entertained by fake horror, and are indifferent towards true horror in the world.  We choose a select few people from society (who are no better or worse than anyone else), and worship them as gods.  We wear what they wear, we buy their movies, their music, their magazines… so that we can see them as much as possible, and know about their private lives, while never actually knowing them beyond pictures and speculation.  What agony it is for the people when the hero fails, when we find their fatal flaw… and how quick we rush to tear our teeth into them and forget the “love” we had for them.  The downfall of an idol (be it a celebrity, politician, athlete, etc..) can turn the entire city’s attention away from the mouths of starving children and the chains of the enslaved.

This perception deception desensitizes us to truth, in favor of the lesser, shallower, more glamorous injustices that require no responsibility on our part… much like the dreamy stranglehold that the entertainment industry has on love.  With these things we can safely keep love and horror at a distance, admiring them in their cages… we don’t want the real thing, we want the dream.

This often teaches us that love is not a place to abide, but rather is a means to something else.  Sometimes we see love as a road (one of many) to a city called Worth.  The trouble with Worth, is that you’re nobody unless you get inside; however, you must be someone in order to be let in.  For instance, “I’m loved by someone”.

Another road to Worth is called Achievement, but most of its travelers are there because they mistook it for the road to Success.  Some will pass through Success on their way to Worth, and others will do just the opposite, depending on what direction they’re coming from.  But it’s all false, and we don’t question it because we don’t recall where the ideas came from in the first place (which is the strategy of the False One). 

Even if people live in a beautiful world, you can fool them by fashioning a shantytown out of tinfoil… and convince them that it’s not only better than the kingdom they’ve been given, but you can actually lead them to believe that they’ve always lived in the shantytown and their domain doesn’t extend past it.  This is why we’ve grown so accustomed to worshiping our own creations, thinking that the idea of beauty is to create something so appealing that people will idolize it and grant it influence over their lives… but the danger is that people begin to resemble what they worship. 

This is why many of us are but a shadow of what we might be… and why our relationships so often end in divorce, because the love relationships which we’re bombarded with in film and media are entirely false, or alteast highly unlikely scenarios.  We’re taught very early on to have unrealistic expectations of other people, thinking that after you’re married the movie ends (and your problems along with it) and you live in happily-ever-after scrolling end-credits for the rest of your life.  Watching this as a movie may portray it as a perfect relationship, but in terms of real life, you’re using that person as a means to an ends if all you want is a happly-ever-after.  The manmade creations that we idolize are only shadows of reality, and the love that we go to great lengths to seek is but a pale copy of the original Love (through which everything came into being).

In the same way that we forget what real relationships are like by watching movies, we forget where real light comes from when we allow our hearts to be illuminated by false light.  This causes us to grant undue authority, power, and goodness to the fragile sun-copy which we want our days to be governed by.  We try to assimilate love and beauty to these bizarre paradigms, these fleeting notions that we create to entertain ourselves and later are indoctrinated with.  Like a gleaming spire jutting out from the center of the city, a hideous monument erected to throne our false sun, to elevate our creations above ourselves.  Like Atlas bearing the burden of the Earth, the pedestal holds up what we really believe to be our light source, this poor piece of junk… this beacon of exploitation.

Of course we wouldn’t believe the truth anyhow (that we live in a vast kingdom as children of a great inheritance, and that we are the beloveds of the original lover).  We would reason what nothing exists beyond the shantytown, because we can scientifically prove that the walls exist.  We would reason that the false sun is the true light source, because we can reach out and touch it (while the other sun is just a far-off shape).

I’m not saying there’s NO beauty in what we ourselves create (especially since that’s my biggest hobby), but beauty itself is an attribute of God (and there’s nothing new under the sun)… so when we create beauty we’re reflecting God’s creativity and cultivating that aspect of his image in ourselves.  He is the creator as well as that which is beautiful, and true beauty is that which bears his resemblance the most.  A supermodel on the catwalk can be beautiful, but there’s a different depth attributed to the beauty of self-sacrifice or random acts of kindness.

Similarly, many people genuinely “love” each other without actually “loving” each other.  Have you ever witnessed a married couple who make biting remarks to each other all the time?  Falling in love is relatively easy, loving someone as a commitment is much harder, which is why we prefer to use it as a means to something else. 

I think that’s one reason why Jesus taught love as a lifestyle: to love not only those close to you, but your neighbors and your enemies as well.  One question that brings up in my mind is: is every person worth loving?  Is my love for someone dependent on their actions?  If you believe that some people are not worth loving, then I think there’s a far greater possibility that one day you might decide that your spouse is no longer worth loving, or that you yourself are not worth loving.  However, if you adopt love as a lifestyle: showing grace to yourself and others, rather than forcing them to earn it, then you’ll find it significantly easier to fully love and appreciate one other person, and again you’re cultivating an aspect of the image of God.  I’m not saying it’s possible to love everyone unconditionally, but to maintain a spirit of Love… to acknowledge the worth in each person, the image of God in each person, and know that they’re worth trying for.

 The band Waterdeep wrote a song called “18 Bullet Holes”, and the chorus goes like this:

Oh God it hurts so bad / To love anybody down here

Why don’t you come and help me out / Cause I can’t even see clear 

Oh God it hurts so bad / To love anybody down here

But oh that’s right / You know so well

One thorny crown, three nails, and a spear

I pray that we can continue creating love and beauty, even more so than before… using it to fight (rather than further) exploitation, and to reflect what’s truly beautiful in the world, and to direct attention towards what is truly important rather than drawing attention away from it, and to show our innate worth rather than convincing us of our lackings, and using it to consistently grow in beauty and love rather than drinking it dry.

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