“The Church, though dispersed throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: [She believes] in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God, and the advents, and the birth form a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His [future] manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father “to gather all things in one,” and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, “every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess” to Him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all; that He may send “spiritual wickednesses,” and the angels who transgressed and became apostates, together with the ungodly, and the unrighteous, and the wicked, and the profane among men, into everlasting fire; but may, in exercise of His grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept His commandments, and have persevered in His love, some from the beginning [of their Christian course], and others from [the date of] their repentance, and may surround them with everlasting glory (Against Heresies, Book I.X).”
All children love treasure maps, the same way all Rabbis love the Torah. A little child will spend hours hovered around a treasure map, his or her youthful eyes carefully considering every signpost and legend. If it is true that a Rabbi hopes the Lord will write the words of the sacred text upon his heart, then it is also true that a child hopes the Lord will give them the grace to memorize the map key. If it is true that a Rabbi will carefully consider every letter for the purpose of drawing some spiritual insight from the sacred text, then it is also true that a child will carefully consider every crooked tree and collimating river. The Rabbi knows that there is a Treasure beyond all treasures in the sacred text, the same way a child knows that the rivers on the map feed into some hidden lagoon, which once hosted a Pirate’s Armada bloated with bullion. And, of course, the focal point of every treasure map is that formidable and mysteriously looming X. It is always bold and black, stylized by the nuances and curvatures of some ancient font.
All types of joy and excitement are identified and contained within that mysterious X, for it is equal to some known unknown, the same way an X is used in a basic math problem. For a child, the X represents all the joy that newfound discovery has to offer.
Today, however, children are no longer seeking after buried treasures. The youth of today have grown up too quickly. They are too much like their parents, for they no longer care to be surprised by joy and they no longer care to commit themselves to the pursuit of the known unknown.
The youth of today have replaced the symbol on the treasure map with another image, a symbol masquerading as the original symbol. This new image lies in their living room. It nearly always makes the list denoting contents of their bedrooms. If you stroll along any parkway or in any local bookstore, you will see it referred to on billboards and magazine racks. It has pervaded their every thought, even to the point that their newest gaming console has been constructed in the exact shape of their imposturous symbol. It is just as obvious as the X marked on a vile of poison, a label which declares the presence of dangerous contaminants. And it is this new X, the one displayed on billboards and in magazines, the same image which is sitting upon their living floors, which prophetically utters, in the same fashion that a vile containing poison does, “Do not take a single step closer, for the thing before you is known to kill. Mystery and game do not lay herein, for only pain and disenchantment are derived from such things. There is no mystery, only the ability to end all mystery; and there are no games, only the possibility of ending all games. And if you fail to pay attention to my advice, then you will have forfeited your ability to ever again be surprised by discovery and joy!”
These new youth, though there is nothing original about them, are counterfeit. Some people say that youth is wasted on the young, but this is not true of the youth I was formerly speaking of, but it is true of these latter youth. The youth of today have failed to fulfill their duty to participate in the games naturally created by life. They no longer choose to participate and fulfill the requirements of what it means to be a son, a brother, an extended family member, or a child. They do not look to the sky and wonder, and they refuse to look at something as static as a treasure map. They want dynamics, and because of this lust they have abdicated their responsibility as little children to run around wild as mother wit, yet all the while maintaining reverence for mother wisdom.
And the tragedy of it all is this: The youth are not to blame, for they have been misled by those who came before them. It is you and I who are responsible for their shortcomings, for we handed them snakes and rocks, and in so doing, we failed to give them wine and bread.
The old adage “mind your own P’s and Q’s” originated in European pubs. Occasionally when the congregants of those joyful establishments gathered they became unruly, and in such cases, the bartender would then tell the patrons to “mind their own pints and quarts.”
Now, there is a little lesson to be learned from the words of the wise bartender, who was acting as a cleric of sorts, and that lesson is this: though man and all of creation surrounding and within which man inhabits was created by God, it is oftentimes the case that man becomes unruly, for he is a fallen man.
Unfortunately the type of unruliness that plagues man most often is in regard to his treatment of leisure. It is not sinful for a man to enjoy a strong and aged drink, just as it is not sinful for mankind to enjoy the entertainment provided by that sport originally called “football.” The drink and the competitive spirits are both commendable. In and of themselves they are good, but a virtue is always mirrored by a vice, and this situation is without exception. We live well when we honor God through the participation and enjoyment of His blessings of leisure, a category in which strong drink and sport consist. The vice of such enjoyments occurs when we become unruly, and in so doing, we fail to mind our own P’s and Q’s.
Oftentimes we have witnessed a man at our favorite pub that provokes others into an intoxicated brawl. Likewise, when athletes become unruly, they perform deeds by which they display unsportsmanlike conduct. In both scenarios men have failed to mind their own P’s and Q’s. Mankind can either thank God for strong drink by not drinking too much, or he can drink too much and rob God of thanks and honor. An athlete can either thank God for sport and competition, or he can conduct himself in an unsportsmanlike fashion, much to the dismay of robbing the Sovereign Lord of praise and honor. If we have failed to mind the P’s and Q’s of leisure, then we have failed to honor God appropriately and reverently.
The advent season is a time in which Christians celebrate the human birth of the Son of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who was a gift to creation from the Master of the Universe (John 3:16). We ought to celebrate well during this season, but in order to do so we must ensure that we mind our own P’s and Q’s. We will accomplish this by not allowing the other gifts of God, especially the gift of entertainment and leisure, to replace the greatest gift of God, the gift of Jesus Christ!
1. I have attempted in a vague and personal way, in a set of mental pictures rather than in a series of deductions, to state the philosophy in which I have come to believe. I will not call it my philosophy; for I did not make it. God and humanity made it; and it made me.
2. Modern masters of science are much impressed with the need of beginning all inquiry with a fact. The ancient masters of religion were quite equally impressed with that necessity. They began with the fact of sin — a fact as practical as potatoes. . . . But the cross, though it has at its heart a collision and a contradiction, can extends its four arms for ever without altering its shape. Because it has a paradox in its centre it can grow without changing. The circle returns upon itself and is bound The cross opens its arms to the four winds; it is a signpost for free travelers.
3. You cannot call up any wilder vision than a city in which men ask themselves if they have any selves.
4. I have always been more inclined to believe the ruck of hard-working people than to believe that special and troublesome literary class to which I belong. . . . As long as wit is mother wit it can be as wild as it pleases.
5. And my haunting instinct that somehow good was not merely a tool to be used, but a relic to be guarded, like the goods from Crusoe’s ship — even that had been the wild whisper of something originally wise, for, according to Christianity, we were indeed the survivors of a wreck, the crew of a golden sip that had gone down before the beginning of the world.
6. And the more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.
7. The only intelligible sense that progress or advance can have among men, is that we have a definite vision, and that we wish to make the whole world like that vision. If you like to put it so, the essence of the doctrine is that what we have around us is the mere method and preparation for something that we have to create. This is not a world, but rather the material for a world. God has given us not so much the colours of a picture as the colours of a palette. But he has also given us a subject, a model, a fixed vision. We must be clear about what we want to paint.
8. A miracle simply means the swift control of matter by mind. . . . A holiday, like Liberalism, only means the liberty of man. A miracle only means the liberty of God. You may conscientiously deny either of them, but you cannot call your denial a triumph of the liberal idea.
9. The man who lives in contact with what he believes to be a living Church is a man always expecting to meet Plato and Shakespeare tomorrow at breakfast. He is always expecting to see some truth that he has never seen before. . . . Joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic surprise of the Christian.