THE BEST ANALOGIES EVER
by Robert Dick
[Address and telephone number omitted.]
"Heaven and Earth will pass away. My words will never pass away."
--Jesus of Nazareth
I have heard it said, I forget where, that a sign of high intelligence is the ability to reason by analogies. Therefore I would like to present to a highly intelligent readership what might be called The Gospel Analogies Test. This is a little harder than a conventional intelligence test, because a conventional test is all signal and no noise. The Gospels are, I believe, far from being entirely The Gospel Truth. They are rather a mixture of good and bad, wheat and tares.
These analogies are not just of the form of "this : that :: these : ? They are mostly of the form the Kingdom of Heaven is like . . . For example, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant in search of pearls. When he has found a pearl of great price he sells all that he has and uses the money to buy it. I.e.
A searching merchant : pearl of great price :: the Kingdom of Heaven : (potentially) YOU!
Jesus was very unsentimental. He said harsh things like "To him who has, more will be given. From him who has not, even what he has will be taken away." His message in a nutshell was not love, no, that he defined as the message of the Old Testament. No, his message was "Enter into the joy of your father!"
Let me tell you about joy, the joy we can share with God. I have put more effort into writing what I call the joy list than into any intelligence test, and it felt like the same sort of effort, except as I say that most intelligence tests have no noise. I read in Psychology Today that the method of the highly intelligent is to spend more time encoding information than do the less intelligent, and then less time in applying the coded information to solve problems.
Where can we find Jesus' most fundamental statement! In his opening words of Matthew's Sermon on the Mount. This so-called sermon is a rapid-fire discourse of deep ideas, the complete opposite of conventional sermons, which are expositions on a single theme.
I am talking about the Beatitudes. For years I considered them sentimental mush, but when I went to encode them like a highly intelligent person should do I was startled at their beauty and power. Let me present to you my finished product, and then discuss it for a while.
honor their father
get new joy
renew the world
try hard to do right
grow new strength
get new help
aim for just one thing
see the One newly
are like a new
child of the One
do right even though
they get hurt for it
honor their father.
It has been said that the Psalms are poetry with rhymes of ideas. This list is like a mandala of ideas, deeply interconnected and all pointing toward a wordless core. Again, this list is like a recursive computer program, a recursive if-then list, an operating system. Bear in mind that this is an ultimate high-level statement. It defines all the joys we can share with God. For example, those who try hard to give help grow new strength. Those who help give joy get new help. They who give trying-hard-to-do-right are like a new child of the One.
You see, religion isn't really about stories about things that are unknowable. To Jesus the only important thing is doing joy. The Gospel says of the Pharisees "They have their reward already. " Far from taking this as a put-down, I say joy is its own justification and reward. These joys are, so to speak, like the axioms, the first principles of Jesus' system.
For example, I claim the conventional picture of heaven isn't as joyful as it might be. There is no poverty in spirit, no mourning, no persecution for righteousness' sake there. Thus at least three of the eight fundamental joys are missing.
My encoding of the Beatitudes is like a reformulation of Maxwell's equations in electromagnetics. These equations explain almost everything about electromagnetic fields, and they come in two versions. One is the integral form, the big picture. The other is the differential form, action on a very small scale. Both forms are equivalent. I believe I have taken Jesus' integral equations and put them in differential form.
Note the pattern that my joy list has only words of one and two syllables. That is deliberate. As one professor put it, "Mathematical French is kindergarten French." As one linguist explained, Chinese seems to some people like baby talk. But actually it is the most mature language on earth. I put the Beatitudes into baby talk to get at their pure essence. I wish somebody, anybody, would appreciate that.
1) Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Spirit is like breath. One might say the small of breath, the small of life. Hence they who live small. For one thing, small livers consume fewer resources. For another, they are like our Father, who holds himself back to allow a space for not-God to flourish. The first petition of the Lord's prayer is Hallowed be Thy name. Honored be our Father. Only living small is like a small father, not a Father. Hence the lower case.
2) Blessed ire they that mourn, for they shall be comforted, Mourning is sorrow, being comforted is growing in joy. True, mourners are at a low ebb of joy, and being comforted only raises them slightly. But gaining in joy is joyful, regardless of the amount. Note here, as in all the middle-six Beatitudes the future tense comes in. I represent that by the word "new," allowing me to put each statement in a kind of timeless condition.
3) Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth. this came to me in a flash after weeks of meditating. The meek deserve to own the Earth because they stop endless cycles of revenge and counter-revenge that could eventually kill everybody. Hence, they who forgive renew the world. Here is my prophecy of when the world will end: when it runs out of meekness and forgiveness.
4) Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. Here we have the image of food and drink, which make the starving stronger. This must be a common experience in dire poverty. today, though, many people are wealthier than ever before. It is exercise that makes them stronger. But true strength comes from right exercise, which may or may not be the strengthening of physical muscles, for example. Hence they who try hard to do right grow new strength. This is my answer to those who say all have sinned and come short of the glory of God: Trying hard to do right, even if you fall short is blessed. That is, it is God-blessed, not condemned.
5) Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. When someone is in dire need of mercy he doesn't yell "Mercy!" No, he yells "Help!" Hence my interpretation. My version also, I think, brings out the universality of this saying.
6) Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. This is actually almost a direct quote from a Psalm. It's as though our hearts are windows. If clean, we can look through them to god within us. Again, Jews are the original Unitarians. God is One. Being pure in heart means something like being a monomaniac. Or again, blessed are the simple-hearted (But NOT the simple-minded!). At first I threw in the word "new" by saying see the new One. But that is not consistent with Jewish thought.
7) Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. Not "they are," but "they shall be called." The "are like." For a long time I considered this mush, because of all the frauds who quote it urging unilateral disarmament in the face of evil. But what does a new child do? Give joy. This is my answer to the Buddhists and Hindus who say that merging everything in Nirvana is the only real joy. On the contrary, our Origin and Destination sending out new beings is joyful, very joyful.
8) Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. I think it was Isaac Asimov who wrote in his Bible commentary that the last consequence is the same as the first because of a lack of new ideas. On the contrary, they are the same like the clasp on a neckjace. We begin and end with blessings that happen in the present. Being poor or hurt can be terminal! The poor and hurt can't wait for the future. I am influenced here by the Jewish saying that religious martyrs suffer "for the sanctification of God's name." Another reason for "honor thy father." Again, when a medal is awarded the hero is complimented for reflecting honor on his organization and country.
9) There is a ninth Beatitude, but I consider it a corollary to the eighth.
There you have it. This is the highest item in my three-part personal Consfitution. Send me a SASE for a photocopy of the whole thing.
How dare I reformulate the words of the Son of God? A cat may look at a king. I do it because I have to. It is the only way I can formulate what is most important in my life.
And now "friends," are you my friends? Who is my brother and sister and mother? They who hear the word of God and do it. To be joyful you must do joy. I hold this truth to be self-evident.