It’s been a while since Jude’s last revelation. He’s taken to writing now and has become a poet with a religious obsession. I use the word obsession because he has no faith. He’s obsessed with where he stands before God, but deep down he knows that he doesn’t stand rightly before him. And this is another paradox in a life already plagued with complications and complexities.
Jude barely talks to Samantha and they sleep in different beds. He’s given himself over to smoking, alcohol, pornography and pharmaceuticals. He’s lost his job and leans on Samantha for monetary support. Samantha is a doctor and so Jude goes to her and asks for a prescription to get his Avil and cough syrups. He says, ‘I have a rash, and I’m sure you heard me coughing this morning,’ and she initially gave in. But she soon noticed that he’s becoming a junkie and said, ‘I can’t do this anymore. It’s like asking you to plagiarise when you write,’ and then came the barrage of insults and abuses hurled. It wasn’t anger, it was white-hot murderous rage. Sick, despicable rage.
Jude’s a caricature of a man now. He’s parody personified. He writes about religion while he’s on drugs or between trips to the bathroom to smoke his cigarette. He talks of humility but cuts people off with furious pride. He writes about love but is dead inside. He talks about possibilities but has succumbed to fatalism. He’s comical in a twisted, tragic sense. He’s a man who doesn’t practise what he preaches. He’s dual-minded and Janus-faced. His duplicity knows no bounds. He’s a pathetic wretch of a creature. Jude had an abusive father growing up and vowed to never become that man. But he’s become someone worse. At least his father had no proper insight into his condition. Jude on the other hand consciously rebels.
Jude’s in for a great, severe judgement if God doesn’t redeem him. He cannot change and slowly is moving to a point where he doesn’t desire change anymore. All this is taking a severe toll on Samantha and Jude feels it deep within, but he’s resigned and hopeless. All he does is read and write, negating responsibility and indulging in the pleasures of the flesh, which only leave him guilt-ridden, and the cycle continues.
Here’s another mystery that Kierkegaard explains so well: The logician is quick to dismiss God because he thinks that the notion of God coming in the flesh and dying on the cross for his sin and begging him to come to him is ludicrous. The artist on the other hand can imagine it because he can grasp the abstract. But often the artist stays there and doesn’t progress further to faith in Christ, and having known so much, he’s in for a harsher judgement. The artist doesn’t wish to progress further because he’s like Jude, clinging to both misery and wanting to stand rightly before God at the same time.
Now everything I’ve written so far is essentially borrowed from Kierkegaard. I’ve only simplified him and have made a story revolve around his philosophy. So, in that sense I’m guilty and a thief. But every artist is, and so is Jude because originality is the creator and all creation only imitates. We cannot exist without a relationship to something else, and we cannot perceive things without relating them to some aspect of our own lives. We grasp because we’ve lived. We know because we experience.
Socrates says ignorance is sin. Kierkegaard goes one step further and says it’s defiance that’s sin. Socrates says that if a man claims to know but doesn’t act rightly, it’s because he never knew at all. Kierkegaard says that he knows but doesn’t act rightly because his will is in defiance to the will of God. And goes further to say that only divine revelation will show a man his depravity. Otherwise he’ll continue in his ignorance which is really a defiance.
So, what about Jude? He once knew but lost. His will was once aligned to God’s will and perhaps he possessed faith, though the Calvinists will say he didn’t. And maybe they’re right. Maybe like John Piper put it such a man has high religious experiences but they’re all a delusion. Or perhaps like John Bunyan put it Jude is in the man in the iron cage. A professor who like Demas, Saul and Judas eventually proven counterfeit. A disciple who despite receiving the Holy Ghost eventually is severed from God in this life itself. And is that the unpardonable sin? The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost? An active defiance against God despite knowing him intimately once.
(Inspired by The Sickness unto Death by Søren Aabye Kierkegaard)
© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)
(P.S. Please comment if you feel the need to. I’ll respond once I’m done with the series)