Posts Tagged ‘heaven’

Paradiso

April 19, 2014
Dante and Beatrice speak to Piccarda and Constance

Dante and Beatrice speak to Piccarda and Constance

Dante and Beatrice speak to the teachers of wisdom

Dante and Beatrice speak to the teachers of wisdom

Led by Virgil through Inferno and Purgatorio. Virgil was born before Christ and can go no further. Dante is led through Paradiso by the beautiful Lady Beatrice.

Souls who made Holy Vows but failed to keep them.

Souls who sought Glory, but forgot the end does not justify the means.

Souls who enjoyed the sexual pleasures, but also remembered spiritual love.

Can we question the Will of God? If not, then we lack Free Will.

Finally, Dante is led into the presence of God, but before, he is questioned by Peter, James and John.

A very beautiful and moving dramatisation by the BBC of Paradiso, the third part of The Divine Comedy. All the more the pity only on-line for seven days.

“I’d rather be in hell”

December 31, 2011
heaven or hell - Ken Crane

heaven or hell - Ken Crane

As soon as he died, Juan found himself in a gorgeous place, surrounded by all the comfort and beauty he had dreamed of.

A fellow dressed in white approached him and said, “You have the right to have whatever you want; any food, pleasure or amusement.”

Charmed, Juan did everything he dreamed of doing during his life. After many years of pleasures, he sought the fellow in white and asked, “I have already experienced everything I wanted. Now I need to work in order to feel useful.”

“I am sorry,” said the fellow in white, “but that is the only thing I am unable to give you. There is no work here.”

“How terrible,” Juan said annoyed, “I will spend eternity dying of boredom! I’d much rather be in hell!”

The man in white approached him and said in a low voice:

“And where do you think you are?”

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

Rob Bell describes something similar in his excellent book Love Wins, a world of boredom for all eternity, for many that would be hell.

Heaven is not some otherworldly place. Is that all life has to offer, we hang around waiting to go some place else?

Heaven is here on earth, it is what we choose of our life here and now. Or we turn it into hell.

We are the ones who have the choice, to turn swords into ploughshares, spears into pruning hooks, new wine will drip from the mountains, all nations, that is all colours, all races, all creeds.

But we prefer to create hell on earth.

Fundamentalists tell us that if we do not believe what they believe we will go to hell not heaven. They are of course the self-appointed chosen ones who will go to heaven.

Hell is not a mythical place. It is here on earth, we create it.

It is Rwanda. It is the nine-year-old girl raped by her mother’s boyfriend or the parish priest. It is Iraq as it descends into hell.

The Truth as Iraq descends into Hell

And yet even in Iraq, as it descends into hell, the people find joy, love wins.

To heaven with Scribes and Pharisees

November 21, 2011
Ecce Homo - Tony Mujica

Ecce Homo - Tony Mujica

It was as a Galilean Jew that he befriended the poor and the despised. It was as a Galilean Jew that he thundered against the powerful and the haughty. — Howard Jacobson

Jesus was living like a good Jew, going to the synagaoge, praying and living according to the Law of Moses in his house. — Fr Eugenio Alliato, Studium Biblicum Franciscanum

Yeshua was a Jew and an observant one … He stressed Torah and love – but in this he drew upon the Jewish tradition. — Leonard Swidler, American Roman Catholic scholar

To heaven hell with Scribes and Pharisees: A priest and a rabbi take a fresh look at the Jewish religion and its leaders at the time of Jesus.

Speakers:

– Rev Marcus Braybrooke, author of Meeting Jews
– Rabbi Jackie Tabick, chair World Congress of Faiths

The Revd Marcus Braybrooke, a retired parish priest, was awarded a Lambeth Doctorate of Divinity by the Archbishop of Canterbury in recognition of his more than 40 years contribution to the development of inter-religious co-operation and understanding throughout the world. He is a former Executive Director of the Council of Christians and Jews and is a Co-Founder of the Three Faiths Forum and also President of the World Congress of Faiths, of which Jackie Tabick is the chair.

Jackie Tabick, rabbi at the North West Surrey Synagogue at Weybridge is also on the executive of the Interfaith Network. When Jackie studied medieval history at the University of London, her speciality was church history. She went on to study for the rabbinate at Leo Baeck College.

A Jewish-Christian double act.

Jesus was a Jew! He was a faithful Jew, brought up in a Jewish household, adhered to the Jewish faith.

Pharisees insisted on the letter of the law, legalism.

We need a historical reappraisal of Jesus as a Jew.

From a Christian perspective, Jewishness is seen as compliance with the law.

Was Jesus a Pharisee or an Essene? He was sufficiently conversant with the law to argue with the Pharisees on equal terms.

Jesus’ arguments with the Pharisees, as reported in the Gospels, were no greater than the arguments amongst the Pharisees themselves. There were sharp differences amongst the Rabbis, for example, between Hillel and Shammai, and their respective followers. It needs also to be remembered that the Gospels were written down at least thirty years after the death of Jesus and in part reflect the growing tension between the synagogue and early church, which is clearly illustrated in the Acts of the Apostles.

On the death of Jesus and the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple, there were two main religious groupings, the followers of Jesus a Jewish sect were one. These slowly draw apart until by 134 AD they could be seen as separate and distinct.

It is worth emphasizing that the split between church and synagogue took place over a long period and only in part for theological reasons. There was no sudden break. Rather, Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism are two developments, drawing on similar sources in first century Judaism, which gradually moved further and further apart, rather like a couple becoming estranged, who discover that in more and more ways their lives have drifted apart. By the end of the second Jewish revolt in 134 CE, despite some remaining links, ‘Christian and Jew were clearly distinct and separate.’ Over the centuries bitterness and hostility between the two communities increased and has only begun to be reversed in the twentieth century.

Jews were blamed for the death of Jesus. This is a bit like calling all Germans Nazis.

Pontius Pilate was a cruel Roman governor. He was recalled to Rome because of his cruelty. Judaea was a troublesome province. Any hint of insurrection, a leader of a revolt claiming to be the King of the Jews, would have attracted the death penalty. The Gospels, aiming at a Roman not Jewish audience, attempt to shift the blame onto the Jews.

It was not until 1965 that the Vatican issued a statement that the Jews were not responsible for the death of Jesus.

Did Jesus claim to be the Messiah, is that how his followers saw him? Later yes, but during his lifetime no. Son of God did not mean what we think today. It was a title.

The great Jewish New Testament scholar David Flusser was once asked after a talk to a group of clergy, ‘What do you pray for when you pray for Christians?’ He replied, ‘I pray that you will be more like your Master Jesus.’

Torah should be seen as teaching not the law.

Why did Pharisees get a bad press, and this was not only from the followers of Jesus, it was also in the eyes of other Jews?

It was a period of change and turmoil, out of which rose Judaism and Christianity. There were two other great Jewish teachers apart from Jesus, but these are unknown to Christians. The Jewish teachings did not end with the Old Testament, The Torah, to be replaced by the New Testament. Jews were developing their own scriptures in parallel with the New Testament.

What is known as The Torah came out of Babylon.

The High Priests were corrupt. An understanding of Jewishness was needed outside of the Temple which was central to what it was to be a Jew.

Jewishness had to be re-invented outside of the Temple. This became even more important after the Temple was destroyed.

Synagogues existed at the time of the Temple. They were centres of learning not prayer.

It is a Jewish tradition to argue for the sake of heaven. One does so with good heart, not enmity.

Jesus argued, he was following a Jewish tradition, he was a Jew!

Pharisees and Christians become the two main groups. Pharisees could exist outside of the Temple, the High Priests no longer existed. A whole new set of sacred literature was developed.

It is self-evident Jesus was a Jew. To understand his teachings one has to place them in their first century Jewish-Roman-Greek context. Many churches fail to understand this. Jesus behaved like a Jew. He nearly always answered a question with a question. That was the Jewish way. The Gospels were written for different groups, some more Jewish than others. Often the emphasis was on the difference to separate what were two competing religious groups, each claiming their Jewish heritage.

A common heritage, Jews, Christians and Muslims. For Jews the written word is the path to God, for Christians it is through Jesus, for Muslims it is the Koran.

The Bible speaks with many voices, often contradictory voices. What cannot be found in one source can often be found in another.

We hear a lot of Islamic fundamentalists, less of Christian fundamentalists. Those who lack doubt, who do not question, are bigots. We learn by talking to people of other faiths.

Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho is a devout Catholic, but he recognises there are many paths to God, no one person has a monopoly. As he describes in Aleph, he questioned his faith.

The Koran tells us that God made Man of many faiths and we should respect them.

Guildford Seeking Common Ground Lecture for Interfaith Week at Trinity Centre, Holy Trinity Church, top of Guildford High Street Monday 21 November 2011.

Behold! The Jewish Jesus
Christianity: A History – Episode 1: Jesus the Jew
Oneness of Humanity and the Unity of Religion
Choosing the best road
The Bible A Biography
What a Rabbi Learns from Muhammad
The Gospels
Where does the New Testament come from?
– Jesus Wars
Love Wins

Choosing the best road

November 21, 2011

When Abbot Antonio was asked if the road of sacrifice led to Heaven, he replied:

‘There are two such roads. The first is that of the man who mortifies his flesh and does penance because he believes that we are all damned.

‘This man feels guilty and unworthy to live a happy life.

‘He will never get anywhere because God does not inhabit guilt.

‘The second road is that of the man who knows that the world is not as perfect as we would all like it to be, but who nevertheless puts time and effort into improving the world around him.

‘In this case, the Divine Presence helps him all the time, and he will find Heaven.’

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

Love Wins

Love Wins

August 31, 2011
Love Wins - Rob Bell

Love Wins - Rob Bell

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:8

If you judge people, you have no time to love them. — Mother Teresa

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels … and though I have the gift of prophecy … and have all the faith so that I could remove mountains … and have not love, I am nothing. — Saint Paul

Pictures at an Exhibition.
A quote from Ghandi.
A note is pinned.
Ghandi is in hell.
Who says?
How do you know?
Are you sure?

If Ghandi is in hell, what hope is there for the rest of us?

If darkness is the absence of light, then evil is the lack of good.

Good cop v bad cop. God the bad cop, Jesus the good cop.

What is good, what is evil? Why are some thrown into hell, not others?

We sit in judgement on others. How do we decide what is right, what is wrong?

Why would a loving God wish to throw us into hell, see us suffer?

Those who wish to see us cast into hell, always seem to belong to the group who will be saved.

Jan Hus, a Czech religious reformer, was burnt at the stake in 1415 for heresy for offering the chalice of of communion to the laity as well as the clergy. Even today there are those who can and those who cannot accept Holy Communion.

In the Witch of Portobello, Athena is denied Holy Communion when it is learnt she is divorced. She curses the church. Jesus is portrayed outside looking in saying even He would not be welcome there.

During His life Jesus welcomed all. At the Last Supper, he offered the wine as His blood, the bread as His body.

The popular misconception of heaven is as an otherwordly place some place else where people wander around aimlessly looking lost. St Peter is a bouncer at the gate ensuring only those on a higly selective guest list gain access.

The one word to describe this heaven would be boredom. For many it would be hell.

In the Gospel of Thomas Jesus explicitly said where heaven was. It was not some place else. It was all around and within us. Seek and ye shall find.

Christians mumble some half undestood litergy. Sing His praises, but everyone else can go hang.

Do we do good to gain that much valued ticket into heaven, or should we do good because it is the right thing to do?

The Koran recognises and preaches tolerance of other religions. Those who believed in the one God and did good had a special place, theirs was the path to salvation.

Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in the last Day and does good, they shall have their reward from the Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.

What do I have to do to do good for eternal life, who is my neighbour? These were put to Jesus. He answered with the story of the Good Samaritan.

Dalai Lama:

I am convinced that human nature is basically affectionate and good. If our behavior follows our kind and loving nature, immense benefits will result, not only for ourselves, but also for the society to which we belong. I generally refer to this sort of love and affection as a universal religion. Everyone needs it, believers as much as non-believers. This attitude constitutes the very basis of morality.

To understand the life of Jesus and what he said, we have have to understand the first century context, the Roman-Greek-Jewish culture.

Many prophets spoke of heaven. It was not someplace else but the earth in another age, an age to come.

If our behaviour is bad now, greed, failure to care for the environment, why should it be any better in heaven? Why therefore should we be granted access to heaven?

It is what we do now, we bring heaven into our era.

Our role is as custodians of Gaia, partners with God.

The Greek word aion has two meaning. Another era or age but also a different state. Heaven was also used to mean God. There are some who even today, for example Canon Andrew White, who out of respect and awe, use G-d not God.

If our popular misconception of heaven is wrong, what of hell? Is it not a pit of burning flames and nashing of teeth into which we will be cast?

Would a loving God cast us into hell to to be tortured for all eternity for wrongs in a finite life? Worse still, because we do not believe that which fundamentalists say we must believe?

Do we not have free will? Are we not free to choose? If yes, then we have to be free to choose what we believe.

When Jesus spoke of hell he was talking of a valley outside Jerusalem where the rubbish was dumped. Fires burnt day and night to consume the rubbish, wild animals fought over the scraps of food.

Man is more than capable of creating his own man-made hell.

The trenches of World War One.
The Soviet Gulags.
Nazi death camps.
Pol Pot killing fields in Cambodia.

Hell is when we love someone, we think they love us, then they go out of their way to destroy us.

The eyes are a window into the soul. Look into the eyes of a heroin addict to get a glimpse of hell.

A paradox: Those who work hard to eliminate hell on earth seem less concerned about a mythical hell in a mythical afterlife. Those who worry about hell in the afterlife turn a blind eye to the hell here on earth.

Fundamentalists use hell to generate fear, a crude control mechanism. If anyone is to be cast in hell, they must surely be first in line.

Jews asks questions, Christians seek answers. Jesus answered questions with a question. That is the style of Rob Bell.

There are those who do not go into church for fear a thunderbolt will strike. There are those who think themselves superior to those weaklings who need a crutch. There are those who just feel uncomfortable.

Rob Bell sheds a much needed spotlight on the perversion of scripture, the damage to people’s lives by Christian fundamentalists.

Controversial? No.

Unpopular with Christian fundamentalists? Yes.

Whilst reading Love Wins, passages from The Shack kept coming to mind. Love Wins is the ideal companion to The Shack, but read The Shack first.

Aleph is a good follow on to Love Wins.

Francis Chan has written ‎Erasing Hell as a counter to Love Wins. It begs the question why?

Christians are hypocrites. They are quick to tell Muslims to put their house in order, to deal with Muslim extremists, then turn a blind eye to their own extremists and the damage they do.

Christian funadamentalits are not envoys for Christianity, on the contrary they cause a lot of harm and give Christianity a bad name.

Meddling by Christian fundamentalists in Iraq has led directly to the slaughter of Christians.

Love Wins is a breath of fresh air, Rob Bell shines a light onto the activities of Christian fundamentalists, their perversion of Scripture, the spreading of poison, the destruction of lives.

Some of the most unpleasant people I have met have been Christian fundamentalists, rude, intolerant, ignorant, lacking in grace.

What is it with evangelical Christians?
Why are evangalists such a pain in the arse?
A lack of grace

I was in the courtyard of New Mosque in the old city of Istanbul. I had an interesting discussion with three young Muslim women on whether or not the Koran demands the wearing of a headscarf. The discussion was held without rancour, in good humour. I cannot imagine a similar discussion with Christian fundamentalists.

Jesus was offered an easy route when he encountered the Devil in the desert. He declined. His disciples asked that he used his powers to gain believers. He said no.

Dostoevsky tells a story, retold by Philip Yancey and Paulo Coelho, of Jesus visiting Spain during the Inquisition. Jesus is recognised and thrown into prison. He is told he will have to be executed as he cannot be allowed to undo the good work of the Church, that he should have accepted the offer from the Devil. [see The Grand Inquisitor

Paulo Coelho in Aleph has a chilling account of the Inquisition. People were tortured to confess their sins, thrown on a fire so that flames could cleanse their unclean souls.

You cannot force people to believe. They will not believe in their souls.

Rob Bell welcomes debate and discussion. A Christian bookshop invited discussion, then censored the discussion.

Muslim fundamentalists are not brainwashed by evil clerics, they are self brainwashed. They read a book or watch a video from a Muslim bookshop, or hear something in the mosque. This changes their worldview. This worldview then filters what they see, reinforces itself. before we know it, they are on their way to a training camp in Pakistan.

It follows, Christian bookshops need to be very careful what they are promoting, that they are not on a slippery slope to hell.

We saw in Norway what happens when Christian fundamentalists have access to weapons. Slaughter of the innocents follows.

Intolerance is not a pleasant characteristic, on the other hand there are things we should not tolerate. The sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests and the cover-up by the Church. The rape and pillage of the planet. The lack of clean water. Torture.

Synchronicity: I had almost finished reading Love Wins when I read The Redeemer. Much of Love Wins can be found in The Redeemer.

The Shack
Aleph

A saint in the wrong place

April 30, 2011
heaven - Ken Crane

heaven - Ken Crane

‘Why is it that some people can resolve the most complicated problems really easily, whilst others agonize over every tiny crisis and end up drowning in a glass of water?’ I asked.

Ramesh replied by telling the following story: ‘Once upon a time, there was a man who had been the soul of kindness all his life. When he died, everyone assumed that he would go straight to Heaven, for the only possible place for a good man like him was Paradise. The man wasn’t particularly bothered about going to Heaven, but that was where he went.

Now in those days, service in heaven was not all that it might be. The reception desk was extremely inefficient, and the girl who received him gave only a cursory glance through the index cards before her and when she couldn’t find the man’s name, she sent him straight to Hell. And in Hell no one asks to check your badge or your invitation, for anyone who turns up is invited in. The man entered and stayed.

Some days later, Lucifer stormed up to the gates of Heaven to demand an explanation from St Peter. “What you’re doing is pure terrorism!” he said. St Peter asked why Lucifer was so angry, and an enraged Lucifer replied: “You sent that man down into Hell, and he’s completely undermining me! Right from the start, there he was listening to people, looking them in the eye, talking to them. And now everyone’s sharing their feelings and hugging and kissing. That’s not the sort of thing I want in Hell! Please, let him into Heaven!’

When Ramesh had finished telling the story, he looked at me fondly and said: ‘Live your life with so much love in your heart that if, by mistake, you were sent to Hell, the Devil himself would deliver you up to Paradise.’

I posted this story by Paulo Coelho last summer, but as it is such a lovely story, I have followed the example of Paulo Coelho and posted again, this time with an illustration by my good friend Ken Crane.

Another lovely story

https://keithpp.wordpress.com/2011/04/29/story-of-a-maths-teacher-and-her-small-exercise/

The world would be a better place if we all carried out random acts of kindness every day.

Even Hell can be transformed!

The Hound of Heaven

March 1, 2011

I fled Him down the nights and down the days
I fled Him down the arches of the years
I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind, and in the midst of tears
I hid from him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped and shot precipitated
Adown titanic glooms of chasme d hears
From those strong feet that followed, followed after
But with unhurrying chase and unperturbe d pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat, and a Voice beat,
More instant than the feet:
All things betray thee who betrayest me.

I pleaded, outlaw–wise by many a hearted casement,
curtained red, trellised with inter-twining charities,
For though I knew His love who followe d,
Yet was I sore adread, lest having Him,
I should have nought beside.
But if one little casement parted wide,
The gust of his approach would clash it to.
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
Across the margent of the world I fled,
And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,
Smiting for shelter on their clange d bars,
Fretted to dulcet jars and silvern chatter
The pale ports of the moon.

I said to Dawn — be sudden, to Eve — be soon,
With thy young skiey blossoms heap me over
From this tremendous Lover.
Float thy vague veil about me lest He see.
I tempted all His servitors but to find
My own betrayal in their constancy,
In faith to Him, their fickleness to me,
Their traitorous trueness and their loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue,
Clung to the whistling mane of every wind,
But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
The long savannahs of the blue,
Or whether, thunder-driven,
They clanged His chariot thwart a heaven,
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn of their feet,
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
Still with unhurrying chase and unperturbed pace
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
Came on the following feet, and a Voice above their beat:
Nought shelters thee who wilt not shelter Me.

I sought no more that after which I strayed
In face of Man or Maid.
But still within the little childrens’ eyes
Seems something, something that replies,
They at least are for me, surely for me.
But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair,
With dawning answers there,
Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.
Come then, ye other children, Nature’s
Share with me, said I, your delicate fellowship.
Let me greet you lip to lip,
Let me twine with you caresses,
Wantoning with our Lady Mother’s vagrant tresses,
Banqueting with her in her wind walled palace,
Underneath her azured dai:s,
Quaffing, as your taintless way is,
From a chalice, lucent weeping out of the dayspring.

So it was done.
I in their delicate fellowship was one.
Drew the bolt of Nature’s secrecies,
I knew all the swift importings on the wilful face of skies,
I knew how the clouds arise,
Spume d of the wild sea-snortings.
All that’s born or dies,
Rose and drooped with,
Made them shapers of mine own moods, or wailful, or Divine.
With them joyed and was bereaven.
I was heavy with the Even,
when she lit her glimmering tapers round the day’s dead sanctities.
I laughed in the morning’s eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
Heaven and I wept together,
and its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine.
Against the red throb of its sunset heart,
I laid my own to beat
And share commingling heat.

But not by that, by that was eased my human smart.
In vain my tears were wet on Heaven’s grey cheek.
For ah! we know what each other says,
these things and I; In sound I speak,
Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
Nature, poor step-dame, cannot slake my drouth.
Let her, if she would owe me
Drop yon blue-bosomed veil of sky
And show me the breasts o’ her tenderness.
Never did any milk of hers once bless my thirsting mouth.
Nigh and nigh draws the chase, with unperturbe d pace
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
And past those noise d feet, a Voice comes yet more fleet:
Lo, nought contentst thee who content’st nought Me.

Naked, I wait thy Love’s uplifted stroke. My harness, piece by piece,
thou’st hewn from me
And smitten me to my knee,
I am defenceless, utterly.
I slept methinks, and awoke.
And slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
I shook the pillaring hours,
and pulled my life upon me.
Grimed with smears,
I stand amidst the dust o’ the mounded years–
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst like sunstarts on a stream.
Yeah, faileth now even dream the dreamer
and the lute, the lutanist.
Even the linked fantasies in whose blossomy twist,
I swung the Earth, a trinket at my wrist,
Have yielded, cords of all too weak account,
For Earth, with heavy grief so overplussed.
Ah! is thy Love indeed a weed,
albeit an Amaranthine weed,
Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
Ah! must, Designer Infinite,
Ah! must thou char the wood ‘ere thou canst limn with it ?
My freshness spent its wavering shower i’ the dust.
And now my heart is as a broken fount,
Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
From the dank thoughts that shiver upon the sighful branches of my
mind.

Such is. What is to be ?
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind ?
I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds,
Yet ever and anon, a trumpet sounds
From the hid battlements of Eternity.
Those shaken mists a space unsettle,
Then round the half-glimpse d turrets, slowly wash again.
But not ‘ere Him who summoneth
I first have seen, enwound
With glooming robes purpureal; Cypress crowned.
His name I know, and what his trumpet saith.
Whether Man’s Heart or Life it be that yield thee harvest,
Must thy harvest fields be dunged with rotten death ?

Now of that long pursuit,
Comes at hand the bruit.
That Voice is round me like a bursting Sea:
And is thy Earth so marred,
Shattered in shard on shard?
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest me.
Strange, piteous, futile thing;
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of Naught (He said).
And human love needs human meriting —
How hast thou merited,
Of all Man’s clotted clay, the dingiest clot.
Alack! Thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art.
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save me, save only me?
All which I took from thee, I did’st but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in my arms.
All which thy childs mistake fancies as lost,
I have stored for thee at Home.
Rise, clasp my hand, and come.
Halts by me that Footfall.
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
Ah, Fondest, Blindest, Weakest,
I am He whom thou seekest.
Thou dravest Love from thee who dravest Me.

— Francis Thompson

´The Hound of Heaven´ (1893) is a poem of five stanzas: the Soul´s Flight, the Soul´s Quest, the Soul´s Impasse, the Soul´s Arrest, and finally the Soul´s Surrender, the hunt is over.

The Hounds of Hell, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Hound of Heaven?

God cajoles, prods, pushes. The Grand Chess Master at work.

Jesus saw himself as a shepherd (Luke 15:3-7, NIV):

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

Santiago was an Andalucian shepherd boy. He worried over a lost sheep. [see The Alchemist]

Francis Thompson (1859-1907) was a failed Catholic Priest, a failed doctor, a failed soldier, a loveless childhood. He was found lost in London by a Christian couple who recognised the power of his poetry. R Moffat Gautrey wote of ´The Hound of Heaven´ in The Tremendous Lover (1932). John Stott discusses in Why I am Christian which I borrowed from the Scandinavian Church en Puerto de la Cruz en Tenerife.

For my lovely friend Sian who I am missing.

Heaven and Hell

November 23, 2010
old tree

old tree

A man, his horse and his dog were traveling down a road. When they were passing by a gigantic tree, a bolt of lightning struck and they all fell dead on the spot.

But the man did not realize that he had already left this world, so he went on walking with his two animals; sometimes the dead take time to understand their new condition…

The journey was very long, uphill, the sun was strong and they were covered in sweat and very thirsty. They were desperately in need of water. At a bend in the road they spotted a magnificent gateway, all in marble, which led to a square paved with blocks of gold and with a fountain in the center that spouted forth crystalline water.

The traveler went up to the man guarding the gate.

“Good morning. What is this beautiful place?”

“This is heaven.”

“How good to have reached heaven, we’re ever so thirsty.”

“You can come in and drink all you want.”

“My horse and my dog are thirsty too.”

“So sorry, but animals aren’t allowed in here.”

The man was very disappointed because his thirst was great, but he could not drink alone; he thanked the man and went on his way. After traveling a lot, they arrived exhausted at a farm whose entrance was marked with an old doorway that opened onto a tree-lined dirt road.

A man was lying down in the shadow of one of the trees, his head covered with a hat, perhaps asleep.

“Good morning,” said the traveler. “We are very thirsty – me, my horse and my dog.”

“There is a spring over in those stones,” said the man, pointing to the spot. “Drink as much as you like.”

The man, the horse and the dog went to the spring and quenched their thirst. Then the traveler went back to thank the man.

“By the way, what’s this place called?”

“Heaven.”

“Heaven? But the guard at the marble gate back there said that was heaven!”

“That’s not heaven, that’s hell.”

The traveler was puzzled.

“You’ve got to stop this! All this false information must cause enormous confusion!”

The man smiled:

“Not at all. As a matter of fact they do us a great favor. Because over there stay all those who are even capable of abandoning their best friends…”

From The Devil and Miss Prym by Pauo Coelho and reproduced on his blog.