The Killing of Desire
by Kathleen Ann Thompson
The Zeal of the Lord will accomplish this. Isa. 9:7
Guard your heart, for it is a well spring of life is the admonishment of the writer of Proverbs. It is ironic that we have been conditioned to accept chemical manipulators of our moods and temperaments, extreme thrill sports and invading public voyeurisms into our personal intimacies as camouflaged substitutes for the true answer to our twenty-first century maladies. Maladies that range from depression to boredom to disorientation to alienation to angst plague the family of man, traversing all ages and socio-economic groups. While science and the medical world hold a plethora of resources to deal with the newest bacterial agents inflicted on man, they stand helpless before the life-threatening infirmities of the soul, while the cardinal force of God’s mind-transforming, soul- satisfying intimate passion lies ready to heal to the bottom of our hearts…yet alas, in a dormant state.
This burning Desire of God and His unquenchable love for us is seeded in our hearts with the potential to release a like force. In its unabated, relentless form, it is capable of driving depression from us, overcoming cowardice, lethargy, selfishness and undisciplined chaos, while moving us toward a courageous, purposed destiny. That destiny is the intimate bond between us and our Creator who is jealous, self-sacrificing and all-enduring for us. It is a relationship of fulfilling passion designed to empower us for greatness. His commitment to rescue us from the fallen world we choose, and bring us into the most envied of relationships, is spawned out of His desire. This is the same Desire He has placed in the depth of our hearts for Him. He promises not to frustrate, but to fulfill this Desire. We too, like King David, can say: As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness. Psa.17:15
Lust is in and Desire is out. Desire has been exchanged for lust in a clever sleight of hand maneuver. On the surface it may look the same, but there is one huge defining difference. Lust can never be satisfied and drives us toward greed, while God’s Desire in us promises to be fulfilled and propels us toward destiny because it is a Desire for Him. Lust is the counterfeit of God’s Desire in our hearts. Its effects are readily observed in our society as we monitor our various genres of communication and influence. Movies keep raising the ante of perversion and cruel crimes of humanity, the internet has become, in part, a showcase for vileness and filth, while T.V. shows and advertising have invaded the most intimate areas of human life with dehumanizing exposure. The extremism inherent in lust is a desensitizing procedure which inevitably deadens the soul, rendering it unable to feel sensitively the passionate deposit of God’s love. That’s the plot.
Evil is overcome by good in God’s plan for our world. However, the ability to distinguish good from bad, the courage which eclipses retreating fear, a willingness for self-sacrifice to emerge victorious over selfish egotism, and the resolve to persistently endure beyond predictable limits are all necessary equipment for that battle. These character tools are fueled and empowered in us by The Desire placed in our hearts for God. The picture of the Shulamite maiden in the Song of Solomon models for us this experience. She receives the call of her Beloved to come away with Him to the high mountains of spices. Her fear of hardship and danger on the mountain peaks, which come complete with lions’ and leopards’ dens is ultimately overcome by her passion for Him. His heart is ravished by her as they leap victoriously over the mountain peaks. In spite of the fact that our palms sweat at the prospect of confronting that kind of danger, our hearts palpitate for a moment in a desirous quiver. Then, with a slow envious sigh we dwell for an illicit moment on the realization of fulfillment she experiences with her Beloved. But all too often, we slap our cheek and return our face to the mirror. We peruse our anesthetized life which, like Hansel and Gretel, contents itself with the smallest crumbs of satisfaction, and ignore our deepest longings for a love like that. Our soul feels cheated and under-challenged, but we slough it off with a heavy drink of contemporary cynicism. We paint our own image with a pastel hue of the benign cultural norm for which we have settled. God’s purposed destiny in us has been successfully thwarted by a lethal addiction to lust and a suffocating of Desire. Without this combustible Desire for God fed and nourished in our hearts so that it becomes an activating force to accomplish God’s will in our life, lust leads us down a pathway of greedy materialism and self-centered apathy, while exotic thrill activities try to assure us that we are still alive and can feel something. We become like dependent junkies for possessions and cheap transient satisfaction. We trade intimacy with God for free sex and exchange real fulfillment for false stimulation until we are so clouded in terms of what is of lasting value and truly satisfying that we have no awareness of the fact that true Desire has been murdered within us.
Is there a plot here? Can it be that there is a concerted master plan to derail man from his potential to accomplish change and fulfill his destiny here on this earth? To have Desire begs the very presence of resistance. Desire has no conceptual definition without the presence of a hindrance to having what we want. If what we want is relationship with God, then anti-God forces opposed to his character of Love, Faithfulness and Peace are certainly present to resist us. However, we are commanded to seal our hearts with a fiery passion for Him and then to wear a seal upon our arm. This image in Song of Solomon bears an unmistakable mark of recognition that, once our heart is sealedl in passion toward the Lord, our arm will be empowered to serve His will. We are able to resist our opposition and reach our destiny if our heart burns in passion for God. But, a life desensitized by extremism and borderless allowance is confused and not capable of distinguishing in an absolute form, good from evil, life affirming from life destroying, and human ennoblement from de-humanization, but rather, lives in a fog of neutralism without clear structure and perceptive alertness to dangers.
Desire is put within our hearts by God and He promises to fulfill it with Himself so that we are in full recognition of His likeness, able to distinguish genuine value and eternal worth from life desecrating evil. However, in the holy name of tolerance, we have allowed fashion to level the perceptual plane of evaluation between good and the evil. But, it is a great error to confuse generous tolerance and human elevating inclusiveness with a lack of clarity or courage of commitment to identify and stand against vileness and fashionable licentiousness. Without our Desire for Him, we lose sight of true God-ordained value and virtue. This blindness leads us away from the otherwise, inexorable march of contemporary mankind toward a permissive fog of insouciance, while authentic fulfillment and satisfaction drop off the radar screen of perceptible scanning. I remember when I first decided to become a vegetarian. For the first three months, vegetables and grains tasted to me like left-over boiled water. My palette was so distorted in its taste with the spices, condiments and processes of commercialized pop food that I couldn’t even perceive food’s natural flavor. However, persistence paid off and slowly my taste buds awoke. I began to relish the sweet taste of almonds and carrots, the fine herbal flavor of fennel and argula and the spicy kick of peppers and radishes. I recognized the deception I had participated in and was aware that an advertising deception was leading me down a pathway of immune deficiency, illness and early death. God has put a natural motivator and recipe for success within our hearts. It is an investment and a promise which signals the possibility that satisfaction and fulfillment can be ours here on this earth. Depression, angst, disorientating alienation are all contemporary symptoms of the waning of true passionate Desire in our souls. If that Desire placed deep within our hearts for intimacy with our Creator is replaced with a ravenous lust, we will only seek more intense levels of depravity and conscienceless stimulation in hopes of finding that ever elusive satisfaction.
Passion and strong fiery commitment are out of fashion, politically incorrect and embarrassingly in your face. But, is that a valid reason for denying that we are passionately loved by God and thereby imbued with the like capacity for fervent love toward Him? Is that a justification for not fanning the fires of Desire for God within us? There are those activities that bring destruction and death to the soul and those that affirm life and its inherent Creator, assuring us of an unsurpassed fulfillment here on this earth. Keeping Desire alive in us is essential to avoid the spiraling down of humanity to a sub-species level of existence where the refrain of the old song of the 60’s, I can’t get no satisfaction, is the relentless anthem.
© Belleherst Productions 2006
A Call to Arms: An Offense Against Relativism
by Kathleen Ann Thompson
Where are we? The battle in the arts rages on and The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is in the cross hairs.
With The Enlightenment over, the fall of Modernism has left relativism and political correctness as the spinal cord of the Post Modern age. Like it or not, those of us living our life out in this age are stared down by the resulting two options. We can either choose to act on the basis of relativism and moral skepticism (which is oh, so convenient), or we can belly up to the bar of responsibility and moral clarity.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer had no moral skepticism or doubt about the action he took when he left the United States in 1939, just a few weeks after he had arrived, and returned to Nazi Germany to make a stand against its unholy powers. His coming to America was at the invitation and expense of men who were longing for his extended influence as a theologian, pastor and writer. But shortly after arriving, Bonhoeffer saw that Germany was in the hands of a mad man. In spite of ominous warnings and pending danger attached to his decision, he caught the last ship leaving for Europe before the onset of World War II. His defense was ‘certainty’: “I must live through this difficult period… with the Christian people of Germany. I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this same time.”
Dietrich lived fully within the culture of his own times, but was also able to look ahead of his times to the relentless march of relativism and a religionless Christianity. He acted with a certainty, not of the outcome, but a certainty of faith. He contributed to the downfall of Hitler and his Nazi ideology and had an immense impact on the rebuilding of the church in Germany. This, because he knew freedom was impossible without action. Strong and deliberate action is the result of deep and certain belief. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed April 9, 1945 at Flossenbürg extermination camp (not very convenient) because he believed, most absolutely, in a moral antithesis: right versus wrong, good versus evil. He understood that the antithesis between the world and the church must be borne out in the center of the world for all to see.
There are wars and unholy forces in our own times just as lethal as those of World War II. Some of them maintain just as globally a focused vision as Hitler had. There are wars which are so visibly intrusive into our nightly news and morning newspaper that we can’t help but pay attention. But, there are other wars right under our nose which we don’t even recognize as a battle. These are the most dangerous of all, for the enemy is in disguise. Just as Jesus stood as a mere man in the center of the world unrecognized as the divine incarnation of God by all but a handful of people, so the Evil One stands today in our midst, virtually unnoticed by most. One of his fiercest battle fields is our culture. The church’s response to the unholy aspects of our culture is often to run inside the borders of its sacred grounds and lock the gates crying: “We’ll have no part of that!” Meanwhile, the battle rages on and the enemy wipes up the field with us in a total massacre because we have abandoned our post. This is not the way to win a war. And win we must or we will be occupied and stripped of all potential to communicate The Truth, The Way and The Light to the world through the arts and media.
Culture is the thumb print of society, defining its basic identity-values, morals and ethics. We cannot opt out of culture. It simply is and we are a part of it–even locked inside the sacred grounds of the church. There is no greater power monger creating culture in the image of the Enemy than that of media and the arts. Here, the senses are stimulated and manipulated for the enemy’s gain. The soul is palpitated for heightened responses — responsive to what? – the cry to take up arms against the massive blurring of moral values and clear ethics? No! It’s more like a call to step back, chill a while and just go with the flow. If our culture is dominated by convenient and cozy feelings of a benign, your O.K. and I’m O.K, and all paths (no matter what they include) lead to Nirvana, it is because the media and the arts have not been met on the battle field by the armies of God. The arts are in need of being liberated from the dictatorship of postmodern relativism, spongy morals and fashionable skepticism. Where are we?
When God identified the enemies of Israel with global ambitions to occupy the very land He gave to His people, he called for all out war:
“Who is this like the Nile in flood? Like its streams torrential?
Why, it’s Egypt like the Nile in flood, like its streams torrential,
Saying, I’ll take over the world. I’ll wipe out cities and peoples.”
(Jer. 46:3-4, MSG)
In response to the godless nation’s arrogant claim, God called Israel to arms:
“Present arms! March to the front! Harness the horses! Up in the saddles!
Battle formation! Helmets on, Spears sharpened, Armor in place!”
(Jer. 46: 7-8, MSG)
It’s the fear of paying the disturbing price and experiencing the inconvenient circumstances which come as a result of believing deeply and absolutely in something that keep people from entering the battle. They not only fear the pricy results of certainty, but also claim their intelligence is marginalized by believing so deeply in something that they will actually have to stand up and fight in order to protect it.
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest free theatre festival in the western world. Its cultural impact is huge on its audience (in excess of one million visitors), as well as its artists, who will imbibe a legacy of ideas, philosophy and influence which they then will pass on to the world in geometric proportions during the next years. Here is a real live battle field. It is one for which, as God said to Jeremiah, we must take up arms and go to war over. Relativism creates apathy and confusion. If there are no clear lines drawn in our culture, we end up not knowing what we believe and certainly not being able t to take the kind of action Dietrich Bonhoeffer took when he return to Germany to fight the present evil in his world.
Four words burned in my mind on the Ukrainian border three years ago as I verbosely complained to God about the monopoly the postmodern cultural ideas in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He seared my soul with these four words: Get up and go! Belleherst Productions is devoted to the battle. But, no one can be largely effective alone. There’s a need for an army. The artistic warriors who have entered this war zone are skilled, trained and courageous, but they need your aid if they are to win.
What can you do? Here are some of the support techniques that can make a huge difference for the fighters who are on the front lines in Edinburgh and in other media and arts arenas.
- If you live within one hundred miles of Edinburgh, make the sacrifice to go and pay for a ticket and support these productions that are injecting that world forum with Life, Light and Truth.
- Go to the trouble to write a review on the Fringe web site associated with the production or on the company’s personal web site.
- Make a further step of commitment to write a letter to the papers which are reviewing these shows in Edinburgh. Your public opinion counts to them.
- Be an active mouthpiece creating word of mouth excitement about the production which encourages others to go and causes Edinburgh to take notice.
- Communicate over the web sites and emails of the involved artists who need encouragement and letter from home.
- Financially support artists making the huge financial sacrifice to take a production to Edinburgh. It costs anywhere from 2,000—7,000 Euros to produce a show at the Fringe for one week. Unless, the show is a five star hit, the overwhelming majority of shows perform at a tremendous financial loss.
- Actively search back home in your churches for those who have the ability to learn and participate in this cultural battlefield of the arts. Assist in support of their training and in sending them forth onto the field.
Belleherst Productions has committed for three years to enter The Edinburgh Fringe Festival and make an offensive move against relativism and ‘fashionable doubt’. Last year, 2004, Belleherst presented OF FOOLS AND LOVERS. This coming August they will present a play on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, his influence and legacy. The production is called: CANDLES IN THE WINDOW and will play at the Quaker Meeting House August 15-20. We feel very alone on the front lines and are sending this letter back home to the churches to request the rest of our army.
© Kathleen Ann Thompson, Belleherst Production