Stream of Unconsciousness, Salem Witch Trials, Ghostly Creatures, & Barth

Writing a book is hard work. I have written about the rigors of writing elsewhere so I will stop whining now. Certain headaches aside, writing can also be quite fun. Either way, it is always an adventure.

Quite often I have no idea what is coming next. I pull and (with a bit of luck and a measure of sweat) the imagination pushes. My mind has a tendency to keep me in the dark as to the precise nature of my soon-to-be-articulated thoughts. Somehow my Subconscious Self is able to string together similes like so many links of a chain, and the Mental Me works the shadows constructing metaphors upon the cerebral stage that surprise me as much as anyone once the curtain is drawn and the veil is taken away.

Describing this process a couple of centuries ago in Massachusetts would probably have won me a place of honor among the characters in an Arthur Miller play. A few centuries previous still would no doubt have landed me in hot water (or oil) with the Grand Inquisitor. I suppose the fact that we can now refer to this strange occupation as “writing” rather than divination, necromancy, or consorting with spirits does say something about the progressive sanctification of history. Three points for the Postmillennialists!

Every now and then my conscious self breaks into that madhouse which is my mind and attempts to turn the chairs right side up again. These moments are rare so I have to make the best of them. So here I am trying to cut off the flow of yammering and come to something that vaguely resembles a point.

The purpose of this little article is to highlight a few quotes which I have turned up while writing my forthcoming book. I mention this in case those paragraphs above were not a dead giveaway as to my stated purpose. One does hate to be so on the nose but as I’ve already mentioned I have about as much control over the next sentence as you do.

Part of the fun of writing is reading other writing. Although it sounds either incredibly sadistic or obscenely morbid, there is little that I enjoy more than  poking around in dead men’s brains. Reading can do what neither archeology or medical science are able to do; reading can bring chunks of mental magic out of the ancient past and into the present, watching them wiggle with life in someone else’s mind as though those thoughts were born just this morning.

What follows are a few examples of such thoughts. I doubt that I will be able to include these in my book but since they are a few which have helped me I wanted to commend them to you just the same. These quotes are ghostly creatures—disembodied ideas—looking for bodies to inhabit in order to live again. Hopefully they will haunt the hallways of your minds, just as they do mine and the minds of countless others, until they become incarnate once more.

“God wants man to be His creature. Furthermore, He wants him to be His partner. There is a causa Dei in the world. God wants light, not darkness. He wants cosmos, not chaos. He wants peace, not disorder. He wants man to administer and to receive justice rather than to inflict and to suffer injustice. He wants man to live according to the Spirit rather than according to the flesh. He wants man bound and pledged to Him rather than to any other authority. He wants man to live and not to die. Because He wills these things God is Lord, Shepherd, and Redeemer of man, who in His holiness and mercy meets His creature; who judges and forgives, rejects and receives, condemns and saves.” ~Karl Barth

“Theology is not free speech but holy speech. It is set apart for and bound to its object – that is, the gospel – and to the fellowship of the saints in which the gospel is heard as divine judgement and consolation-that is, the Church.” ~ John Webster

“The Son of God in his incarnate Person is the place where we may know the Father as he is in himself, and know him accurately and truly in accordance with his own divine nature. The homoousion asserts that God is eternally in himself what he is in Jesus Christ, and therefore, that there is no dark unknown God behind the back of Jesus Christ, but only he who is made known in Jesus Christ.” ~ T.F. Torrance

“God’s high freedom in Jesus Christ is His freedom for love. The divine capacity which operates and exhibits itself in that superiority and subordination is manifestly also God’s capacity to bend downwards, to attach Himself to another and this other to Himself, to be together with him. This takes place in that irreversible sequence, but in it is completely real. In that sequence there arises and continues in Jesus Christ the highest communion of God with man. God’s deity is thus no prison in which He can exist only in and for Himself. It is rather His freedom to be in and for Himself but also with and for us, to assert but also to sacrifice Himself, to be wholly exalted but also completely humble, not only almighty but also almighty mercy, not only Lord but also servant, not only judge but also Himself the judged, not only man’s eternal king but also his brother in time. And all that without in the slightest forfeiting His deity! All that, rather, in the highest proof and proclamation of His deity! He who DOES and manifestly CAN do all that, He and no other is the living God.” ~Karl Barth

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