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June 1, 2016

Look Away from the Naked Emperor

Look away from the naked emperor. Just because the emperor is naked, don’t expect him to blush or look away. He will still glare at you like you are the odd one. Beware. If you allow either the emperor’s nakedness or the emperor’s glare to occupy your vision, you yourself will be twisted. So frequently and for long periods of time, look away. Find things of beauty and truth and contemplate them, meditate on them, write them, paint them, cook them, cherish them. There is enough truth and beauty for a lifetime of sweet contemplation, but you may need to stop your ears and avert your eyes to avoid being swamped by the ugliness. Like a boat aiming at a point on a distant shore, bring the prow of your life back to that which is worthy of your attention. Over and over again.

There is no way to “re-clothe” the Adventist fear of contemplative prayer or geology or Roman Catholicism. But we may look elsewhere to nourish our souls. We can practice contemplation. We can respect the work of earth scientists. We can discern between the goodness and the perverse that are both so evident in Catholicism. We can let go of our insistence that the “end times” must happen according to our hundred year old charts and cultivate instead a confidence in the God of history and a carefulness to cooperate with goodness.

We have an obligation to speak truth in the world. We are obliged to resist evil. We will fulfill these obligations best if we have a practice of contemplation of the divine, the good, and the beautiful. We will hinder the spread of evil best if our own souls are saturated in goodness. 

So, most of the time, we do well to simply turn our faces away from the naked, screaming emperor.

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