Friday, 12 February 2010

Rock Solid Parable

Altars in the Old Testament had to be constructed from naturally occurring, uncut stone. It was a work of craftsmanship unlike any we get to see today.

Dry stone walling is probably the closest equivalent we have to this all but lost skill, where rocks and stones of contrary shapes and sizes are all skilfully placed together by a master builder.

Something like this, perhaps...

What holds this wall together is not some synthetic artificial foreign agent like cement, but the wisdom of the craftsman who knows exactly the right kind of stone needed and where to put that stone so that it perfectly contributes to the form and stability of the whole.

Modern red brick constructions can be built in a matter of hours, but dry stone constructions are a much longer, and with it painstaking, proposition. In the same way, the rhythms and ways of Man are not like the rhythms and ways of the Living God.

Man, in the lust of his eyes, throws out all things that do not conform to his agenda. Red bricks are his philosophy. Whether he be World Leader or Everyday Joe; in building the empire to his own glory, man seeks (by force if necessary):
  • a flattened and passive uniformity, (one size of brick), so that he can build rapidly.
  • controls to coerce his subjects and that enable him to feel the ascendancy of his power (use of cement).
  • freedom from the physical and natural limitations that surround him (all redbrick walls look essentially the same wherever you find them).
As an aside: I don't believe this is the kind of "rule" God had in mind when he gave the world to Adam and Eve.

God however, in their wisdom, take active pleasure in patiently collecting all kinds of rocks and stones, no matter how crazily they're shaped, no matter where they have been strewn, and incorporating these beautifully, meaningfully and justly into their purpose. They do so without any kind of coercion or rape of identity and dignity and without divorcing them from the context in which they find themselves.

When it comes to building spiritual spaces (altar / temple / house), then in the eyes of these Divine Craftsmen, there's no such thing as a useless rock. There are simply those rocks that have been called into sync with the divine purpose and those that refuse to be.

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