There are cooking pots with handles that point to the left, and there are pots with handles that point to the right, and there are pots without handles, but those are called auto-busses. There are auto-busses that go left, and there are auto-busses that go right, and there are auto-busses that do not go anywhere, but those are called cooking pots. There are pots with handles to the left . . . The Shaddock (a late 60’s French satirical cartoon)
If you think about it, you are not really here. I mean, you might be sitting in your chair at a very specific location on the globe that can be measured but you are not really there. If someone checked on your presence in, say, 1942, you would not be in that spot.
Ah, you say, but I am here now! But, I reply, being a bit of a wisenheimer, I asked about here not about when.
It is of course a bit of a logic game one can play because we are 4 dimensional beings. We live in space but also in time. The place we occupy is defined by some version of spacial coordinates but also of the answer to the question: When.
Once the question: “When,” is on the table many attitudes towards it are also in play. There are those who look mainly to the past and there are those who look mainly to the future and then there are those who look neither way. Like Shaddocks, they all have interlocking names I suppose.
A Hassidic Rabbi once told the story of God coming to earth to find a representative. He asked savage: “Who are you?” “I am an animal.” He asked the philosopher” “Who are you?” “I am a divine spark.” He asked Abram: “Who are you” and Abram said: “I do not know but inside me an animal seems to be fighting with heaven,” and God said: “You shall be my messenger to all the ends of the earth.”
We all live in strange dichotomies. In time we are heirs to the past. We are also heirs to the future. Yet, we live the whole mess here on earth in the present.
Some of us are proud to be looking toward the promise of the future: “You shall be with me in paradise,” only to be proudly accused by Marx that they are too heavenly minded to be any earthly good. Yet, the promise is true.
Some of us are proud to look at tradition and continuity with the apostles only to be accused of obscuring Jesus because we have let old dead men colonize the true faith. Yet, the treasure of the mysteries handed on to us are true.
Some of us are proud to live in the “here and now” ( I think the Erlangen School — Ehlers, Althaus, etc came up with that phrase) only to be accused, in some form, to be too earthly minded to be any heavenly good; to be making it up as they go along. Yet, here we live and we do it in our time.
Further, like Abram/ Abraham yes, we are animal, with all the passions and instincts that entails. Yes, we are somehow divinely blessed and claimed. Yes, we are a battleground between the two.
Some of us say that we ought to follow our instincts because certainly they are God breathed and are called libertines, schwaermer, and antinomians. Yet, who and what we are matters.
Some of us say we need to live according to the law of scripture and are called pharisees, legalists, and fundamentalists. Yet, the word of God in all its beauty matters.
Some of us say we need to find a way through what is an obvious contradiction of “is and ought” and are called all of the above. Yet, the battle between our instinct and the will of God matters.
The servants in Jesus parable know they are servants. It is not a new reality that suddenly springs on them. They are servants and they know it. This identity happened in the past at some peculiar moment in time. They know that their master will return at some peculiar moment in the future. How will they now make decisions for today?
Somehow yesterday and tomorrow must meet in the lives of the servants for them to live today. They cannot be servants and forget to wait for the master’s return. They cannot wait for the master’s return and forget they are his servants. To do either is to forget and therefore loose the relationship to the master.
Abraham needs to live between the peculiar moment of being shown the stars and the birth of Issac. How will he do it? Will he fail? Will he succeed? Will he do both in their turn?
Will you? I ask again: Where are you? When are you? Do you remember who you are? Maybe that gives clue to the struggle.