“St. Augustine became a Christian when he heard a child’s voice singing as he sat in a garden on the edge of the Alps. He raced into the villa, opened St. Paul’s Epistles and saw the line “Not in reveling and drunkenness, not in lust and wantonness, not in quarrels and rivalries. Rather, arm yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ, spend no more thought on nature and nature’s appetites.”
“I would not wish his fate on a dog. I cannot imagine what it is like to spurn nature and nature’s appetites.” Charles Bowden
The cat has demonstrated no spiritual virtues this week and has left me without pious ruminations about her behavior.
Thus, I’m left with the ruminations of the only person I spend as much time with these days, Mr. Bowden.
I have long felt a unique kinship with Bowden…we seem to have had similar personalities and we both write about cartels.
His cartels distributed drugs, mine distribute religion.
Both will try to destroy you if you interfere with their business.
We both depended on sources to write accurately because these organizations mainly operate in secret.
We both understood that it wasn’t the product that was the problem, it was the people buying, selling, and profiting from the product that needed examination.
“All the saints seem to see the world as a barrier to their spiritual lives and personal salvation. They find personal salvation more important than the world itself. And they find women to be a menace to their souls. This is clearly the best case that can be made for seeking damnation. Heaven and Hell do not concern me, nor does the state of my soul. Scorning the world is beyond my understanding. Why be here then?”
He wrote things like the above that shocked me and made me laugh at his impudence…and made me think uncomfortable thoughts.
I have grown to love uncomfortable thoughts…indeed, to take comfort in them.
They indicate that I have not sold myself to one of the cartels.
Drugs and religion can be distributed by cartels or by doctors and pastors, to enslave you or to heal you.
Be careful where you buy your dope.
“A faint shower last evening brings up the raw scent of the grass come morning. The sun rises as a disk of gold, the hummingbirds descend with lust in their hearts, acorn woodpeckers pillage the feeders and a vulture sits high in the cottonwood across the wash and basks in the early light. A great blue heron flaps across the sky.
I am always puzzled when I am told life is meaningless.
I am always puzzled when I am told the meaning of life.”
Make your own application…
I love his realness. Yours too. Thank you for this great piece. I wonder if he wrote this before or after he met El Pastor?
Michael, this is some of your best stuff….
I first read the quote about scorning the world years ago…and remembered it when I was reading N.T. Wrights take on eschatology.
Between the two of them they convinced me that it was holy to love my dirt…and I do.
Most will not agree…but I think that is my point…
It is always uncomfortable when someone from outside the camp identifies the irrational tenants of American evangelicalism. This brings many questions to mind. I can only hope that Bowden’s disillusions with Christianity are due to his own inability to see, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. It may be due to the fact that we are bad representations of the truth, and are ambassadors of a belief system of our our making rather than divine truth.
Perhaps we the church, at best, have departed from the foundations of the faith as given us by the apostles and early fathers. At worst, we have contributed to the damnation of the world that many of us hate, and thereby placing our own souls in grave jeopardy.
“It may be due to the fact that we are bad representations of the truth, and are ambassadors of a belief system of our our making rather than divine truth.”
Beautifully written. It made me uncomfortable.
Thankfully, Chuck did most of the writing and I just provided commentary…
This causes me to think outside my comfort zone, something I typically avoid. But there are real people with real questions out there, and the old party line platform, with its neat and tidy answers, isn’t cutting it. Lord, give us wisdom.
“His cartels distributed drugs, mine distribute religion.”
don’t know if i can say this clearly… but that never stops me…
it strikes me that Bowden is not so different from the believing folk he’s offended by… both are attempting to justify themselves
not too many true believers who do not revel in the creation – the skies, the storms, the antics and the beauty of God’s creatures … this morning we watched goldfinches and junkos giddy with the promise of their spring rituals, i fed the horses and one stopped to press his nose against my hand as i leaned on the fence watching them eat and i thanked God… i too hate evil… i don’t live in a dream world of denial, the beautiful world is corrupted – ugly – and i’m sorry that Bowden never (maybe he did) dug a little deeper and gotten past the composting surface that seems to have formed on our Faith
There are no neat and tidy answers, there is only a cross.
Blood and mystery are never neat.
Thank you for being here, my friend.
Bowden was not offended by Christians at all…
We always assume that difficult questions reflect opposition…in truth they simply seek equally difficult answers or the acknowledgement that there is no answer difficult enough…
Michael, did Bowden ever make peace with God or was he just so angry that he couldn’t?
“The cat has demonstrated no spiritual virtues this week and has left me without pious ruminations about her behavior”
Deep stuff Michael…. keep flinging your shovel on your keyboard.
To my knowledge, Bowden was never angry with God.
I sit here surrounded by his books and articles and have found not even one negative remark about Christians.
In fact, he was careful to note how much good people of faith were doing in the places he was most concerned about.
He questioned Christian beliefs about appetites and origins and wondered about depravity and truth.
For my money, he’s a theologian on par with Calvin and Packer…though he would probably not have appreciated me saying so.
I’m trying…and trying to keep from burying myself in the process…
thank you, Michael, it sounds as if he was an honest man or, at least, a guileless one…
“For my money, he’s a theologian on par with Calvin and Packer…though he would probably not have appreciated me saying so.”
noun ( pl. -gies)
the study of the nature of God and religious belief.
• religious beliefs and theory when systematically developed : in Christian theology, God comes to be conceived as Father and Son | a willingness to tolerate new theologies. – Oxford New American
hmmm… okay, i will ponder this a while
“He questioned Christian beliefs about appetites and origins and wondered about depravity and truth.
For my money, he’s a theologian on par with Calvin and Packer”
From what I’ve read here and elsewhere…agreed.
“His cartels distributed drugs, mine distribute religion.
Both will try to destroy you if you interfere with their business.”
Wow and yes, exactly!
Bowden is the Lenny Bruce of Christendom…
Bowden was not a “Christian”.
I do not know what he and God decided before he died.
I do know that Bowden understood things and spoke of things that deepen and enrich my faith while asking questions only outsiders are free to ask.
Except, I’m inside and I’m asking them too.
“Bowden was not a “Christian”.” there are many followers of Christ who will not accept the label
and i think the Church is a mystery that we can’t or don’t fully understand… we know that many came before the Church that are God’s children (“children”as distinguished from His creation – an unpopular distinction with some)… i haven’t found a definitive answer to the question, “must one, in the Church age (sorry), be in the Church to find their salvation?”
should have added that there is no salvation outside of Christ Jesus, but that needs some unpacking, by a more theological person than i
Honest but sad. All thanks and glory to God for the ability to “spurn (my) nature and (my) nature’s appetites”.
I talk a lot about “freedom”, but this is the liberty that really matters.
Maybe our appetites and our nature are gifts from God…tainted, broken, but still gifts.
Control is a gift from God as well…spurning may be from the pit.
Some. Still far too many inherited from Adam, at least in my case.
how about 1Timothy 6:17 ?
I raise your 1 tim 6 with Rms 7:15-25 🙂
And don’t forget to turn the page for the really good stuff in Rms 8!
weell, Timothy is talking material riches (our stuff and bank accounts) – they are God-given, to be enjoyed and and most of all to be shared – but not with TV preachers – IMV 😆
on the other hand, Paul (or whoever wrote Romans) is addressing the dichotomous nature of our flesh and the new spiritual life – IMV
we can, and probably should, spend our lives fine tuning these aspects of living
just my not so humble opinion – again
QUOTE ABOVE: “ .. Paul (or whoever wrote Romans) ..”
“All Scripture is inspired by God …” 2 Tim 3:16 – NASV
“All Scripture is breathed out by God …” 2 Tim 3:16 – ESV
I think your vision may be too horizontal. Begin looking up.
Your walk with the LORD will improve exponentially when you
accept HIS Revealed Truth that 66-men did not “write” the Bible.
Obviously, HE utilized different instruments to present HIS
Thoughts much like a master painter would utilize a specific brush
to add color and texture to an certain area of his masterpiece.
Remember, had JUST Paul written anything it would NOT be in the Bible. (thankfully)
Consider getting your eyes off these 66-men and those horizontal others that the world holds in such high esteem …
Augustine (a foundation of two cults),
Calvin (Augustine’s mini-me)
Luther, both J-Macs, Mohler, Dever, ad nauseam …
Seek HIS Word and KEEP LOOKING UP
firegears, i smell hot metal…
write as in “scribe” …
I will never cease to be amazed and irritated at those who truly believe that they do not need the Spirit filled teachers of yesterday and today.
Such utter nonsense.
without the Holy Spirit the canon of scriptures is just a dry and perplexing history of the world…
but our teachers who are in submission to God the Holy Spirit stand one generation after the other on the shoulders of those teachers before them… IMO the Bible is so layered and rich that every Christian down thru time has an incredible, bottomless, life enriching – life giving – well of Truth to draw from and our teachers are God-given to instruct, correct and reprove,,, what a privilege and what a responsibility
Firegears – there are 66 books in the Bible, but no one claims that there were 66 writers. For example, Moses (along with God) wrote 5 books; Paul (along with God) wrote perhaps 13 books; Luke (along with God) wrote 2; Peter (along with God) wrote a couple and John (along with God) wrote about 5.
So, this gets us down to about 40 writers in the Bible NOT 66 as you claim. But you would know this if you studied under someone instead of making up stuff yourself.
I asked you last time you brought up this topic – who taught you that studying other people is bad? Who is your mentor … or did you make that up also?