Friday, March 11, 2011

Barking At The Grinning Moon - Reprise

"A barking dog is often more useful than a sleeping lion." - Washington Irving

Washington Irving (April 3, 1783 – November 28, 1859) was an American author, essayist, biographer and historian of the early 19th century. He was best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle", both of which appear in his book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.

Irving, along with James Fenimore Cooper, was among the first American writers to earn acclaim in Europe, and Irving encouraged American authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Edgar Allan Poe. Irving was also admired by some European writers, including Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Thomas Campbell, Francis Jeffrey, and Charles Dickens. As America's first genuine internationally best-selling author, Irving advocated for writing as a legitimate profession, and argued for stronger laws to protect American writers from copyright infringement.

"Grace must find expression in life, otherwise it is not grace." - Karl Barth

Karl Barth (May 10, 1886 – December 10, 1968) (pronounced "Bart") was a Swiss Reformed theologian whom critics hold to be among the most important Christian thinkers of the 20th century; Pope Pius XII described him as the most important theologian since Thomas Aquinas. Beginning with his experience as a pastor, he rejected his training in the predominant liberal theology typical of 19th-century European Protestantism.

Instead he embarked on a new theological path initially called dialectical theology, due to its stress on the paradoxical nature of divine truth (e.g., God's relationship to humanity embodies both grace and judgment). Other critics have referred to Barth as the father of neo-orthodoxy — a term emphatically rejected by Barth himself. The most accurate description of his work might be "a theology of the Word." Barth's theological thought emphasized the sovereignty of God, particularly through his innovative doctrine of election.

When I encounter events in the spiritual life I press so hard against the edge of me that I wonder if I can move at all sometimes. There is something about seeing with the eyes of God. That resolves some paradoxes. However living today as I am, another bozo on the bus, all I get is that the paradoxes do resolve. Trust me on this.


There are no answers here, not real answers. There are dogmas, tenets, assertions. There is faith. If you try to hold one horn of the dilemma and then try to stuff the other in beside it, it won't fit until the other falls out. It's the shape of the mind, not even really the size of it that's the trouble. The paradox would fit if it was shaped more humanely or the mind shaped closer to God's shape.

There are something like higher dimensions involved. Those words do not have the right shape either...not higher dimensions, not in the scientific sense but yet these words evoke how the infinite is present in mortal life. So we say that eternity lies at right angles to spacetime and that has to suffice.

Barking At The Grinning Moon

Without God I'm fucked,
Without free will, this also
Screws me to the wall.

There is no matter
More important than my time
And what I might do
Yet nothing's required.
God, how shall I reconcile
Me with paradox?

If you think I know
The answers, then you're barking
At the grinning moon.
He taught me this truth:
It's the questions that move worlds.
Answers will kill them.

January 5, 2009 2:20 PM

This is the second half of yesterday's reprise, first posted May 23, 2009.


  1. Brutally honest and well-posed. The beginning and the end shine particularly strong.

  2. You are right, Joseph. I think I will leave it alone but I could dump the middle verse and nothing would change.

  3. "Without God, I'm fucked" straight up AA talk.

  4. beautiful and brave work in this post and the previous two. i can feel the fading and burning and it sings...
    i say brave because fearless does not seem to require the engagement with fear that brave does.
    your spiritual journey seems to be deepening and holding open these bold and direct glimpses into places of grace and disclosure.
    such a gift you give us.

  5. (((Harlequin))) you have been friend to me from across the pond. I am happy you are in my blog life. I bet you would be a good friend face to face.

    Yes indeed, "brave" does not mean "no fear".


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

Get Your Own Visitor Map!