Do I marvel?

This is a black and white image of the mountains covered in snow. I've chosen it because it suggests ambiguity like my poem which makes me wonder if I should marvel at God's mysterious ways or lament.

It’s as if God casts some unseen net on the lives of some,
Perpetually trapping them in cords of deepest grief,
Not even offering them glimpses of bleak, beaten skies,
Or ashen barks, or the discordant angry rooks who caw.

The wicked prosper while the good lie buried with their deeds –
Unknown to all, except those who did benefit from them.
Perhaps the Lord sees time in the eternal present, and past
And future belong to mortals who need strongholds in stories told,
And lessons learned in paroxysms of acute death pangs.
But still, this never tells us all we need to know and hear,
And blind faith doesn’t suffice despite few saying otherwise.

Look at Auschwitz where devils embodied men and God said, yes,
Look at farmers poisoning themselves because of debt,
Look at lynching and mob violence; children hanging on trees,
Look at hellfire and damnation for man’s sin and shame.

I’ve known a thousand roads of suffering and few of joy,
I’ve heard the sound of rasping waves assailing the timid shore
And the song of the melodious thrush that brings in dawn,
I’ve learned and learned more with a thirst for learning so much more,
I’ve studied the realms of meaning with intense adventure and lust,
But I’ll never know the ways of God and his disdain
Or love.

And must I praise, lament or leave it at Amen?

 

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Hold me fast Lord

This is an image of the galaxy. i chose this because I want the God who holds the universe to hold me though I lack faith.

I have these urges to say goodbye to it all,
My self-indulgent life and thespianism,
To wander from the mountebanks’ unclean parade
Of gaudy brouhaha and clickbait melodrama,
I have these urges to lay down my pen, tear page
And never come back to mooching off my misery
To fashion lines that stab more than they ever saved,
I have these urges to fight the fight and run the race
To soldier on for Christ until his grace is sight,
But do I really have grace or was I hoodwinked
By a deceitful heart that slyly feigned conversion?
I markedly recall the day I wept with grief,
And quoting Lyte, said, ‘Jesus, I my cross have taken,’
I cried then for the sinner I was and met mercy
At Calvary where lives of men were bought at a cost,
A priceless, bloody, brutal, terrifying cost,
I then knew love, a love so deep and unfathomable,
But thinking back I wonder why it faded away,
And today I’m seven times the son of hell I once was,
My sin besieges me and a dark cage holds me,
‘I once professed and even journeyed,’ I say flatly
And echo the pilgrim who regressed so thoroughly,
But perhaps this is all God’s mysterious intent –
A bitter bud now but a flower sweet one day
Like Cowper put it, or like Solomon says, weary
From hedonism and chases of the flesh –
Who can interpret God? He does what he wishes to. But
Regardless of how my story plays out; heaven or hell,
I have these urges to say goodbye to it all
And if you’ll have me, I’ll gladly pick that cross again,
And though it’ll tear me asunder to lose family,
And watch friends become foes, good ignoble, love hard hate,
I’ll carry on as you hold me fast through fear and pain.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

I need a glimpse of Glory

I hate writing. It makes me miserable, but I keep at it because I’ve made it my idol. I’ve replaced God with art, and worship at an altar of futility. I’m a hypocrite, a liar, a sinner and a vainglorious worm like William Cowper puts it. I write blasphemous things, proclaim that God is dead though I know he’s very much alive, I use language and imagery that goes against my conscience, and I do it for validation, the likes and the comments.

Self-pity courses through my veins and what is it but bruised pride? Me feeling sorry for myself because I don’t get what I want. I am a narcissist, but then again, who isn’t? You have the arrogant, sitting-on-a-pedestal, feelingless narcissist and the low-self-esteem fueled one, and then you have those in the middle with moderate self-esteem, but selfish to the core, and I guess I fit into that last bracket.

Humanity is totally depraved. There isn’t a single soul who’s good at heart. We may not be out there murdering people, but we’re as murderous as that death-row inmate inside. We fail to see this though because our self-righteous hearts deceive us into thinking we’re sweet and innocent.

I hate when I lash out at people using writing, but I do it anyway. I hate when I check, check and check some more if someone has liked or commented on my posts, but I do it anyway. I hate when my writing and comments are filled with lies, but I do it anyway. I hate being miserable but I do the very things that cause me the deepest misery. The truth is that I’m not addicted to the things of the world as much as I’m addicted to myself. Sin is eating me alive, and there isn’t anything I can do about it, except wait for a miracle of grace.

But will God redeem me? Me, the chief of sinners who has lost all direction. Will he abandon the 99 to find this black sheep? Will he restore me, and thaw this hard heart? Or is darkness my only friend?

I remember when I once walked with God, and he loved me and me, him. I remember having faith and knowing in my heart that Christ lived the life I never did and died in my place. I remember tears of repentance not for the things I’d done, but the man I was. I remember a picture of glory in my mind’s eye and chasing after that infinitely precious glory with my heart and mind. I remember how God found me and delighted in making me his own, despite who I was.

But here I am today, unsure of my election or worse yet, knowing I’m this reprobate heading straight to eternal perdition, and not being able to do anything about it.

Calvinism is one hundred percent right, and there’s so such thing as free-will. Having said that God works in mysterious ways and maybe one day I’ll know why he took away all the affection I had for him. Yes, I mean affection; overwhelming emotion for Christ which includes love, joy, peace, Godly grief, and even righteous hate. Without that, you’re a cold Christian or perhaps not one at all. I’ll end by saying, ‘Man, I need a glimpse of the glory of Christ again!’ Because despite how hard I try to do the right things, I’ll either only fail or pretend to be virtuous when I’m so full of vice.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

On the nature of depravity

To examine depravity using a lens of reasoning, we must ironically first examine its origins using a lens of faith. What is depravity and how did it originate? Science has a plenitude of answers for all aspects of the human condition except the soul. When it comes to matters concerning the spirit, the scientist, being the rationally minded fellow he is, rests on a pillow of logic, and covers himself with a blanket of atheism or agnosticism. There are exceptions, but this is the normal trend.

The scientist comes close to being a Kierkegaardian Knight of Faith but stops right where he’s supposed to make that leap and grasp the abstract. ‘The abstract? That’s philosophy’s realm!’ He exclaims and strives and strives some more using his utilitarian approach to examine the mysteries of the universe. He gains knowledge, and his mind expands, but the sheer ‘absurdity’ that there is a God threatens his very schema of reasoning. He knows that all he knows will indeed seem like trash if he believed. So, he inches and inches; never making progress while paradoxically making progress. It’s a strange dilemma.

Now, before you think my reasoning is flawed, please note that I’m only analyzing the scientist of today. The scientist of tomorrow might just live in a five-dimensional world, and fully evolved and fully equipped may be able to peer beyond space and time into matters of the soul and picture things non-linearly.

So, what is depravity? Some say it’s ignorance; others say it’s active rebellion against what’s right. Now, let’s go further and ask ourselves how we distinguish right from wrong. This falls into the realm of morality. Now, none of these things are proven, but they do exist. It’s sadly ‘common sense,’ and there isn’t any research on the subject. It falls into the realm of theology, theodicy, and philosophy.

My view is that depravity originated from a passive act and then took an active form, which brings me to the story of Lucifer. How did he fall? His fall (if you believe in the Christian viewpoint) was the original act of depravity. After much introspection, I’ve concluded that God caused it in a way that didn’t make him evil. Harsh, but not evil. Now, before I continue with this train of thought, I want to define evil by saying that there are two kinds: a metaphysical evil and an innate evil which originated after the fall of Lucifer. God is infinite, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent and hence the gap between an infinitely good God and finitely good creation itself is evil. It’s metaphysical evil. So, the only way to bridge that gap is through grace. The grace of God holds a being in place and prevents him from wishing to become his own God. In Lucifer’s case, God for mysterious reasons withdrew that grace and hid his glory from Lucifer, which in turn, made the cherub want to be God. And that was the first sin or the first act of depravity.

Then came Adam’s fall where something similar happened, and then depravity completely overwhelmed man’s very essence. He became corrupt, selfish and innately evil. Sadly, this is the only way I can explain depravity. But what about morality? What about the conscience? If man is totally depraved, why does he feel guilt or often make the right moral choices? I can only explain this using religion again. Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Hence there is a hardwired knowledge of good (the conscience) in every person. But every person is also naturally predisposed to evil.

I’ll end this essay by saying that I’m willing to be proven wrong by counter-arguments and I’m willing to listen (even if I don’t agree) to other viewpoints. Perspectives are fascinating and beautiful and have this raw quintessence. And as far as evolution is concerned, I’m no Darwinian, but I do believe that the earth is millions of years old and there is so much more we as a species haven’t discovered yet. Finally, some of you might ask the all-important question: Why did God passively orchestrate Lucifer and Adam’s fall? The answer is that God is using the worst possible of all universes (the one we live in) to bring in a new heaven and earth, which is the best possible of all universes, where his name will be glorified, and all his attributes praised. God needs evil to proclaim his righteousness. His notion of good and evil works both collectively and individually. God will judge each person individually, but he uses evil to collectively bring about a greater good.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

For The Literati Mafia 

An ode to the now

One day when this long fight is over and
I stand before the throne, asked if I ran
The good run, or pushed that aesthetic hand
Away and chose to be a reckless man –
So self-indulgent, will I say, ‘Oh Lord!
I tried and tried but some scars never heal.’
Or will I say, ‘Though I was this harsh chord
Your grace kept me through and you held, did seal
This sinner who forsook you and said, No!
How you reached out and pulled him from below
The filth and grime of his depravity
And gave him wealth beyond insanity!’
I don’t know what that golden day will bring
But now, despite my pain, I’ll simply sing
A song of thankfulness for the now, here
A song of joy that slowly brings me near
Redemption’s gold or the strength to rise, move
And paints my day with a soft, strong blue hue.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

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