Labyrinthine Trap of Time

Competing versions of Christianity in the early church distilled into Roman Catholicism. The distillation process did not make the faith more pure as the flames beneath the beaker were money and power, lucre and death. An early version of Christianity — Arianism (not to be confused with that Hitlerian perspective about “Aryans” not the same thing at all) — saw Jesus as God’s son. There was none of this abstruse business of the “three in one” (which really does sound more like Twix — chocolate, caramel, cookie — than anything believable). God is God. At some point he had a son who is AWESOME and worthy of lifelong attention, and came here to help and redeem us, but who is NOT God the father.

Think of all the conclaves throughout the history of Christianity that attempted to explain the Trinity, all the blood shed over that (completely made up) question. This alternative view was labeled “heresy,” and as has happened throughout time, the label superseded the reality (“Sleepy Joe”). What IF Arianism had won out. The three Abrahamic religions wouldn’t be so far apart — all three would be worshipping the same Abrahamic God, and two would have their cool prophet, chosen by God, to help them.

I don’t think there is much that is truly spiritual in these religious competitions any more than I think there is much that is truly spiritual in today’s “Christianity.” I’m not saying that Christians are not spiritual people — many are. But no “ity” or “ism,” no conglomeration of people, can ever retain the intense focus of a spiritual life. Their elevated quest for God will always be dragged to a stop by the drogue chute of buildings, bank accounts, internal disputes, competition, interpersonal conflicts, the drive for consensus and approval from others.

Which is why so many of the early Christian saints went into the wilderness; why Jesus went into the wilderness. The elemental imperatives draw the human mind away from petty quotidian disputes.

History — like my own personal life — is full of turnings like that one, turnings where if things had just gone the other way, this moment would be different. Under everything in history (and my life) it seems that the trajectory of actual events resulted from ONE decision, ONE choice at each turning. Much as I dislike Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” way does lead on to way. The “temporal” world is the world in which time is boss. The word means “world of time.” That basically means that once a decision is made it is in the past and we are blocked forever from re-doing that decision. Hindsight might reveal what an idiot we were, but it doesn’t matter.