Every day was much the same. Day in, day out. He sat upon his doorstep, his thin, deeply tanned naked arms resting on his knobby knees. Knees worn by years of a hard life. Cleaning the shoes of the rich and elite, he was an old man, overlooked as insignificant while the city councilmen and religious leaders made back alley deals with the poor people’s money. Too often he listened as they traded citizen rights for parks or sweet delicacies or thicker lined silk pockets, his silver head bowed low while he carefully and meticulously washed the dirt from their muddy sandals. He might be able to clean the mire from their feet but he would never be able to wash the filth from their hearts. This much he knew.

His heart broke and hardened again and again as he listened and watched the greedy elite trample the heart and soul of the poor people. So he washed his feet, symbolizing his own heart and bowed low praying to a god who seemed deaf or impassive. Morning and night he sought reprieve or vengeance upon the swine he worked for. Evening and afternoon he was met with stony silence except a vague: follow me. Oh how he wailed, rending his heart, clawing at his breast: justice! justice! Until one evening near the twilight hours an idea ignited within his feverish mind. Perhaps he could purify the people, burn out the impurities with his own refiner’s fire. He fell into a deep sleep where he dreamed of rich men turning to ash and the homeless street children glowing brighter than gold.

He dreamed of children dancing around burning limousines and expensive sedans. He dreamed of children dancing around burning effigies of corruption in hedonistic pride. He dreamed of children throwing Molotov cocktails at rich homes where slaves served caviar and the rich incessantly fucked on king-size beds, and then dancing to their shrieks.

He needed to bring down one man. Silas Cordova. ‘You must free them! Silas must meet the flame!’ A terrifying voice roared, and he woke sweating. Could it be? Was he chosen? He’d spent his life having lost two wives to disease and two sons to political corruption. They were Silas’s children more than his today.

He walked the streets of Cordova town. The place had recently been renamed after its ‘crown jewel’. Some folks took pity on him and offered him bread and cheese and wine which he graciously accepted. ‘Hey, Moe. Cordova’s organizing a festival today. You coming. I heard your son John won’t make it. He’s doing some construction business for Cordova down in the suburbs,’ said Simon the Baker.

Construction work in the suburbs. A certain sign and a call to test his strength. Old Moe decided John was going to become the first victim. He went to the local gun store and said, ‘Hey Walter. I need a flamethrower.’

‘A flamethrower. What the hell do you need that for?’ Walter asked him.

‘The weeds in my yard, man. The pokers and stickers are fucking thick this year. My hands are shredded. My garden is overrun.’ And in a way it was. Silas had made sure of that.

‘I don’t sell no fecking flame-throwers, Moe. Just burn them out with accelerant and a match like everyone else.’

Ideas formed. ‘….Yeah. I guess I could do that… yeah… they’re thick this year, real thick… taking over everything….’ he wandered out of the store still mumbling to himself. ‘….gotta burn em… leave a message to the future… to the children, the children…’ Walter just shook his head and wiped down his counter again.

It really only took him a couple days, but he drew up a plan. The location. The equipment. The time. Evening arrived on the jobsite and with it came an old man carrying a burlap sack. Looking around himself, and finding himself alone, Moe carefully withdrew each item from his threadbare sack. Meticulously, he poured the fuel on the piles of lumber and in corners. In the center of the yard he wrote, ‘vengeance is’. Packing up his sack, he stared out of his handiwork for a moment. Etching the moment in his mind. Then his wrist flicked, he dropped the lit match, and turned and shuffled away into the shadows.

John checked on his old man now and then. He found his dad eating a muffin at the Bakery. He kept muttering to himself: ‘The children will dance…the children will sing…the children will listen to shrieks and screams and delight in burnt corpses and fires…’ John looked at the baker. ‘He’s been like this all morning. Maybe you should take him to the doctor,’ said Simon.

‘A doctor! I’m not spending the money Silas gives me on this old bastard,’ John scoffed. ‘He’ll be fine, Simon. Now get me one of those cheeseburgers, will you?’

‘You’ll be fine, you old bastard. At least you’re not as crazy as some anarchist freak who did something stupid at the construction site. Silas says he’ll chop the bastard’s hands off,’ said John with a lopsided grin.

Suddenly filled with rage, Moe took out a lighter and a can of a deodorant and burnt John’s face off.

‘Aaargh! Fuck me! Aaargh! The old bastard!’ John shrieked, and Simon came running to find Moe walking away.

‘Hey come back here!’ he shouted.

Hands in his pockets, whistling a lyric-less tune, Moe meandered through streets and alleys. Looking first right, then left, he crossed a dirty street and cut through another alley. He heard shouts, a woman and a man. The woman screeched like an animal in a trap as the man slapped her repeatedly over the head.

‘Fucking pay your rent, you bitch! Silas was kind to let you skip one month and now you take advantage of his kindness!’

‘AHHHH!!’ she screeched louder. ‘He wants rent in the form of my wretched body! Nooo!’

Moe kept walking but he knew the thug, had seen him around plenty of times. The guy managed a shop down Briscow Lane which was owned by Silas himself. Perfect. Absolutely fucking perfect. Tonight, his target would be this jackass and his shop. Moe knew he worked late nights. Even more perfect.

He went to the woman the guy was harassing. She was known for hiding people Silas wanted. He told her he needed a place for a few hours and he’d repay her in a way unimaginable. What kind of trouble did a guy like ol’ Moe get into? Shelly wondered, but she decided against asking him.

‘You got some blow?’ He asked her when she put him in a room hidden by a cabinet.

‘What’s gotten into you, Moe? You come here saying you need shelter, and now you ask me for some blow,’ she said.

‘You got some blow?’ he asked again.

‘You’re a crazy old bastard Moe,’ she said and gave him a little. ‘I don’t want you to have a bad trip or something, so, here’s my iPod. Listen to some jazz or something light, okay.’

She walked away after shutting the cabinet door and Moe snorted the crack, played ‘Short Change Hero’ by ‘The Heavy’ and he dreamed of children dancing around burning corpses; he dreamed of fiery landscapes where children wore Bautas and masqueraded as demons and used pitchforks to torment Silas’s men; he dreamed of threesomes with his two dead wives on a burning bed; he dreamed of dressing Silas in a clown’s costume and setting his party nose on fire only to find it on a plate buttered and served like an Indian dessert that he tore and devoured.

He dreamt of sonnets of fire and elves; he dreamt of villanelles of burn marks and lust; he dreamt of kinky shit and violent shit; he saw a thousand reflections of himself in a thousand scenarios where his life was different but lit them all ablaze and chose the real now.

The now was power and giving the children freedom. The now was seeing his ingrate son in an ICU receiving treatment for third-degree burns. The now was Silas’s men hunting him, and him hunting them. The now was Moe the motherfucking arsonist. The now was Moe the motherfucking antagonist. The now was Moe the motherfucking anti-heroic harbinger of the next generation hedonist. The now was Moe. Just motherfucking Moe.

He got up. It was time.

First thing he did as he stepped across the threshold was to turn and lock the door. ‘What the fuck…? Oh, hey Moe, what you up to, old man?’ the surprised thug asked.

‘I’ve got the payment Shelly owes you…’

‘Huh…I guess she can’t do her own business, eh?’

Moe set down his burlap sack and his chest squeezed tight, a little pain dosed out for the pain he would hand out. Slowly he opened it up and reached inside, unscrewing a bottle out of sight, his next movements swift as threw the contents in the thugs face.

‘Aaauughhhh you motherfucker!!!’ Screamed the man, clawing at his face as acid rapidly melted his flesh away. ‘Aaarrrr oooooohhhh!!!’ His shrieks of pain turning to whimpers, his eyesight quickly gone.

Moe carefully pulled gloves on, tied his deserving victim up, then doused the shop in fuel. Etched in the front window were the words ‘pain retribution’, lighting the match, he tossed it and walked away to the melody of a piss-soaked, eyeless bastard crying out for a mercy he would not experience in this life.

A week passed, and Moe spent a week in Shelly’s cabinet room doing blow. She was frightened and wondered if she should tell Silas. His hounds were looking all over for Moe. But Moe scared her more. And so she told Moe that he should confess.

‘But the children need to dance to the rhythm of the flames,’ he whined drooling, the spittle coating his jaw.

‘What are you talking about Moe? What Children?’

‘The children dancing around the fiery abyss. The children smoking while the corrupt burn. The children, Shelly baby. The children,’ he said and did a twirl and grabbed her ass.

‘Get off me! You perv!’ Shelly screamed.

That was the last straw. She decided she was going to tell Silas and plead for his mercy.

So, the next day she went to his mansion. The guards stopped her. ‘I know the arsonist,’ she said. Quickly they ushered her through. There she stood in a large ornate room, set up like a throne room, of course it was, because this was Silas Cordova afterall. The bile rose in her throat.

And there sat Cordova himself, on his gawdy throne, perched, she felt, to appear almost sexy. It was ridiculous, really, the smirk on his oily face. A commotion arose behind her and she turned to see Moe, eyes wide, spittle running down his silver beard, shuffling in and laughing like a maniac. Shelly saw the hand gesture Silas made which stilled the guards beside her.

‘You motherfucker!’ Moe cried as he drew near. ‘You goddamned motherfucker! You took everything! You worthless piece of shit! I’ll watch you burn! The children will dance on your burning flesh!’ Dropping his bag, Moe knelt and reached inside while his onlookers watched with macabre interest. ‘The children…. yes, the children….’

Looking at Silas with hatred and pure fury, Moe rose unsteadily to him feet. ‘Vengeance is—!’ he cried as he collapsed and died instantly, his body convulsing and then stilling. The smell of piss and shit rising.

‘…..well,’ Silas chuckled. ‘That was interesting.’

© Nitin Lalit Murali & Tara Caribou (2018)

This is a collaboration between me and Tara who’s both my twin and a great writer. We decided to do something different and we had fun doing it. Please follow her. She writes from the heart and you’ll find more of her amazing work here

What is sin? Kierkegaard initially says that it’s defying the will of God, but then goes further and terrifies you by saying that it’s not just things you commit, but a state. So, sin is essentially a state of despair. So, before salvation everything you do is sin, because you’re living in a sinful state. And after, you’re justified by faith in Christ.

Jude and Samantha have decided to live separately. She loves him and says she’ll support him financially, until he can get back on his feet. Jude’s grown cold. Nothing affects him anymore. He’s dead and spiritless. He hardly showers, doesn’t shave and just exists. He thinks he’ll never be forgiven though some hope resides deep within him. A hope that resurfaces for a minute before he’s back to being cold again. He doesn’t yell or abuse Samantha anymore. He’s given up on pretty much everything and if not for that hope that shows itself now and then, he’s just a walking corpse.

In his anger, Jude wrote blasphemous things against God, embraced Nihilism and even proclaimed that God is dead. He’s now on medication for Bipolar Disorder and loathes everything he does. But this loathing isn’t an active loathing, but a passive one. It’s a mute, whispered, submissive loathing. He’s done with active loathing and I guess that’s because somewhere deep inside he still has a conscience. And maybe this moral compass is the hope within him that appears before vanishing.

Man isn’t free. Crime and Punishment is the best novel that explains this concept in tremendous detail. You’re not free to do whatever you want to, which is why a drug addict goes back to his needle, the alcoholic to his drink, the sex addict to his women, the tortured artist to his art, and Raskolnikov to his sordid streets with his head bowed down. It’s guilt. Heavy, intense guilt that torments, plagues and crushes and man in his desperate need to be free from it goes back to an ephemeral cure that’s only destroying him. He cannot find God and so, he seeks substitutes, until they destroy him completely. And Jude’s like every other guilt-ridden man. He hates writing, but writes because it’s his fix. He hates alcohol but drinks because it’s his fix. He knows drug-addiction is affecting him physically, making his hands tremble and giving him blurred vision, but he needs his fix.

So where does Jude stand before God? The truth is that he doesn’t know. He believes there’s still hope but he’s hopeless to do anything at this point and so he waits. God is often silent making man wonder if he exists at all, but those are the times that he’s working the most to restore an individual to him through some mysterious way. This much Jude believes, and I guess that’s all he can do at this point.

Jude has decided to not talk about God anymore. He’ll just keep quiet and try getting his life together. Reconciliation with Samantha is impossible, but reconciliation with Christ is possible. There are times when he doubts this and plunges into extreme despair, but he gets through each day by just existing, by just breathing.

And what about Samantha? Well, all of us serve God’s purpose, and I’d like to believe that God has a beautiful plan for her life because he knows how much she loved Jude. Sure, she’s corrupt, just like everyone else, but somewhere God who led her this far, will not forsake her. And that belief, whether it’s faith or not, keeps her going.

Maybe this story will end with Jude dying this way, or maybe he’ll be restored. He’s deep in sin and loves it, but also fears God. He’s a paradox of a man and perhaps he’ll stay this way. And then there’s mental illness. The Church is often quick to dismiss it. They say, ‘It’s a battle in the mind, or it’s something you conquer through faith,’ but they forget that we live in a fallen world. This world is already a post-apocalyptic one that is only getting worse. And in a world of disease, death and corruption, mental illness exists. So, perhaps like Jude’s loving mother always told him, ‘God understands.’

P.S. I originally planned to write more, but I’ve decided that this is a fitting conclusion to this series. Thank you for reading.

(Inspired by The Sickness unto Death by Søren Aabye Kierkegaard and Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky)

The End.

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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)

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(P.S. Please comment if you feel the need to. I’ll respond once I’m done with the series)

We live in a time of a Pentecostal hysteria and showman pastors and faith-healers. And one common notion prevalent in these churches is that possession by an evil spirit creates the demoniac. And then you have the pastor yelling, ‘Get out, you dirty spirit!’ Literally pushing a man, as if a mere shove can cure him. Oh, how far they’re from the truth! But what creates the demoniac? The man who breaks shackles and rebels against humanity, nature and himself?

If you delved deep into the Kierkegaardian stages of despair, you’ll get the answer. You’ll first find the comical despair or instability. Here’s a man who despairs over something earthly or something transient. Jude despaired this way when he was in college and still does sometimes when deprived of some want. Each time he didn’t play football well, he’d spend the day in utter misery and seek validation. He’d burden his poor mother with his failures, going to extreme details to explain technical terms to her, and then deluded would ask her, ‘Will I make it ma?’ And the poor woman had no other choice but to share in his delusion because she loved him immensely, and would say, ‘Yes. I’m praying for you.’

He remained this way for a long time with a self made of plastic. Crushed, but his lack of insight gave him a modicum of hope, and he clung to it with all his might fueling his fancy, though the winds of reality howled and shrieked. He called himself a Christian then and even attended church, but his faith was insipid and tasteless, just like the faith of those who believe in the prosperity gospel. He tried using God to elevate himself. ‘Give me a beautiful girlfriend,’ he’d pray and then seek his mother’s validation again.

Traces of this despair remain in Jude, but over the years he gained insight. It tore him, and he stopped craving for the materialistic and looked for love. And then entered Samantha, whom he began idolizing. Youth looks to the imagined future and finds itself trapped there, while age looks back through recollection and finds its own trap. And this explains Jude’s relationship with his mother who was also a woman who’d seen much suffering. His masculine ambition sought hope from someone flawed and finite, while she like those rare women who lose themselves completely by loving someone; literally forsaking themselves wanted the best for him and went out-of-the-way to get him a better life. And yet both cases are tragically despair. The former a selfish one, while the latter a selfless one. Oh, what a burden God has placed on humanity that even being altruistic doesn’t qualify as goodness! And I can’t help but ask if this is fair? Is God just? Is being born into this world the biggest curse?

Jude’s insight into his deluded condition, helped him slowly find release, and though he remained in misery, he wasn’t given to wishful thinking anymore. He wanted now to forsake himself; rid himself of his sin and guilt. His abusive nature and idolization of Samantha was eating him alive. He wanted to break the horrible cycle. Samantha now became a mother figure to him and he poured his heart out to her, and she listened and loved him deeply. Despite her bitterness, she too had an altruistic aspect to her. A big one. And this made him love her deeply, but he couldn’t change. Love isn’t just action, and neither is it just emotion. It’s emotion that acts. Jude had the emotion, but couldn’t act, couldn’t prove his love. While Samantha had both and proved her love for Jude. But Samantha lost herself completely loving Jude and displaced her standing with God. Now no relationship is perfect but a healthy one has God at its core, because God is infinite love, and finitude is capable of only a fractured love, prone to mistakes and sorrow.

After Jude lost God, he became the demoniac, the poet or the tortured artist. He’d transcended earthly despair, and the despair of wanting to lose himself. He’d even transcended the despair of wanting a new better self. He now wished to remain in active rebellion against God and had attained the despair of wanting to become God. He wanted to replace God, and this is precisely Satan’s rebellion and Adam’s fall. But Adam reconciled with God and Jude couldn’t. He had a deep-seated hate for God and blamed him, and so found himself in perpetual turmoil. He’d have moments of peace before he’d lash out, and since it’s impossible to lash out against God, he’d hate Samantha and use her as an object of his rage. Perhaps this in a way echoes Cain and Abel.

Jude has now realized where he stands, and it’s a paradox isn’t it? You can never forsake yourself and yet you do precisely that when you change for the worse.

(Inspired by The Sickness unto Death by Søren Aabye Kierkegaard)

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Samantha loved contentment. She loved the temporal now, but disdained the eternal now, and what’s tragic is that she was completely oblivious to this fact. A bourgeois existence pleased her, and gatherings, social events, people and nature thrilled and exhilarated her. She never investigated her true spiritual condition, although she professed to be in Christendom. She was spiritless, but longed for rich aesthetic experiences, and when she received them believed that they were signs of her union with God.

In this world we have hedonists and thrill seekers, introspective quiet people, lovers and quarrellers, but irrespective if you’re rich or poor, logical or creative, impassioned or bitter, you’re in despair, and the worst despair is the ignorance of despair. The false peace that lulls a deceitful heart, telling a terminally ill spiritual you that you’re rosy cheeked and healthy. And this false peace is found in chiefly two kinds of people: The hedonists and the embittered. The former live in a continuous state of pleasure and try satisfying all their desires and lusts. They live a life of wild, reckless abandonment and they’re happy, but here’s the mystery they’re secretly unaware of: If you peeled the layers of the onion, you’ll find that they’re just as sick as people who’re self-conscious and despondent. The latter have seen so much hurt, loneliness and bone-crushing pain, and develop a self-righteousness. You’ll find some of them in the realm of professing Christendom; others in other religions—monotheistic and polytheistic, and still others in even atheism. Their pain sadly gives them a false sense of entitlement and their motto becomes, ‘we’re good people,’ and this shroud of false gold envelopes them and when confronted, they become indignant. And this in one sense creates the self-righteous elder son in that famous parable in the Gospel.

Samantha had seen so much pain in her life; she’d endured many trials, and this gave her a false sense of entitlement. Jude wasn’t a good husband. He’d both verbally and physically abused Samantha so many times, but his veneration for her made her love him and accept him each time he came back guilt-ridden and wept and apologized. ‘You’re my angel,’ he’d say, and this kept the wheels of a rocky relationship moving, until the day Jude found God, and confronted Samantha with tears in his eyes, begging her to see that she was lost. This tilted their world upside down and suddenly the roles changed, and Jude found himself backed against a wall while Samantha hurled abuses and screamed and shouted.

Oh, the mystery of God’s ways! Who can fathom him? He gives the degenerate an introspective, self-conscious mind and the polite a mind that refuses to dig deep because it’s terrified. Jude needed to break the cycle of abuse and so he didn’t seek Samantha and sought God and found him in repentance and knew that another died in his place, that another took his sickness unto death upon himself.

But Jude’s conversion didn’t last because he returned to venerating Samantha, and then backslid. The intense love in his heart for Christ faded and he slowly stopped feeling altogether. Jude succumbed to fatalism. He was intensely aware of his despair, but couldn’t see God as a possibility anymore, just a necessity and this in many ways is a demon’s despair. And Jude slowly became twice the demon he once was, and the vicious cycle emerged again. But something was different this time. Jude both hated and venerated Samantha, and his veneration now was more of a conscious effort, and Samantha saw through this and couldn’t forgive Jude like she once did anymore. So while the old pattern continued, a new one of distrust paralleled it.

(Inspired by The Sickness unto Death by Søren Aabye Kierkegaard and The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller)

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Jude woke each morning resigned, having given up on faith and hope. He yearned to forsake himself completely, rid himself of his soul, but he knew that just like every other human being he existed in two realms: the finite and the infinite, and though the body dies and decays, the soul lives forever. It’s one of the beauties of creation, the ephemeral and the eternal existing parallelly in the same being birthed from dust and ashes. Jude knew this but wished for utter, complete mortality. He wanted erasure, to have his name wiped away from the eternal blackboard. But once born, you’re handed this twin truth, and death doesn’t resolve anything, because it’s only the physical body that dies, while the spirit lives on. And this the root of despair—the inability to both forsake or find yourself spiritually. And the only way out is faith in an eternal God, because then you both root yourself in the infinite and forsake yourself more and more. Otherwise it’s a sickness unto death.

Some people believe in the universe, but the cosmos is only finite and expanding, and there is a God who sustains it, and the old book that most of us shelve tells you who the creator and sustainer is. It’s only logical that finitude (sentient or not) cannot sustain itself. There is someone greater, someone infinite who gives it its grounding. Jude knew this but couldn’t reconcile with a faith he once possessed because he often peered too deep, especially when it came to the root of all evil. He questioned his faith and riddled it with unnecessary doubt.

Jude loved Samantha, but they grounded their relationship in fancies of who they were and ideas of who they thought they’d become. And since human love isn’t celestial, but Jude made Samantha his all and a replacement for his faith, he grew despondent and disgruntled. Despair is part of the eternal aspect of the human condition, and it’s often better to know you’re despairing than to live in contentment, completely oblivious to the fact that you’re fundamentally flawed. Happiness is transient; moments shared with a loved one fade, become memory and slowly find themselves replaced; peace drifts away, and ambition falls short.

So, what we need is someone fantastic who transforms our emotion into something brilliant, our understanding into strong wisdom, and strengthens will and inclines it to eternity. Losing ourselves to God and not conforming to the world is the only way, and yet Jude claimed he was a nihilist. But in truth, he was either a doubting saint, a backslider, an apostate, or someone who tasted God but fell away because he secretly loved his despair though it gnawed at him like a worm nibbling on the core of an apple. Or Jude’s love for Samantha was so strong that he practically venerated her, replacing true worship with an idol in the form of a lover.

Possibilities filled Jude’s mind. Dreams, both sorrowed and ambitious engulfed him. He sought answers somewhere within, but the temporal realm offered him a plethora of choices. You can call it just daydreaming, or like psychologists these days call it ‘maladaptive’ daydreaming where a person has unrealistic expectations or gives himself to hopeless reverie. Jude’s life was catching up to him, but he stayed trapped in a cellar of chimera. To root yourself, you must go further than getting a hold of your life, because changing and working hard is grounding yourself in routine and not reality. True reality is unseen, infinite, but was also seen and died at Calvary for the sickness that plagues our souls, tainting it with sin and creating despair. True reality is the eternal now, and despair creates thirst, which creates need, which only the cross satisfies. Jude knew he had to root himself by finding himself by grounding himself in God, but trials made him weary and he kept trying in vain to forsake himself.

(Inspired by The Sickness unto Death by Søren Aabye Kierkegaard)

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