The Night the Stars Fell from Heaven

at last something broke you
and that thing, it was you
you were closing your eyes
you were seeing it through

you blew up and sold
the world outside and within
and i fell on your black day
you showed me how to live

you showed me how to die
and no matter how hard i try
to stare at the sun
it is black to my blind eyes

and suddenly my eyes are open
somehow things begin to focus
high

we are all illuminated
light is shining on our faces
blind

until our rapture
falls to pieces

these are stolen
bits and pieces

*

new york is hot
how i loathe where i’m living
Bharata, you fought
now it’s i who is giving
up 
and now fly

now fly from your empty cage, girl
you are rust and the sky
always killing the bird
see, i am the night
jesus christ i suppose
see, i am the light

i don’t mean to remind you
of anything you gave me in song
you blessed my muse with your light
what you did was so wrong

the light in us was darkness
how the night is so long
light a fire, wait for summer
we black stars wander on

smoldering embers
september’s come and gone
here comes my december
half beast
and half gone

*

broken and cold
but all is still holy
halleiluah and through you
yes everything, holy

did we want it darker
so you turned out the light?

now i’m doing time
playing with meter and rhyme
longing to be in the house
of my own secret life

until the sea must free us
i’ll wait for you there
you came just to see us 
all we sailing where?

all of us sailors
rowers, keep rowing
now no light is showing
now the danger’s approaching

row gently, never gently!
upstream to ignite
row never gently!
rage at that night!

oh captain, my lying captain
turn around and take me home
a long time ago
i thought you’d died alone

everybody knows this boat’s leaking
all the white horses stopped sleeping
the ponies stopped running
i the band just keep playing
though the girls now are aging

lilac wine, sweet and heady
how my hand is unsteady
how aghast and unready
like my love that is ending
like the last night you danced me

when the music was over
you turned out the lights
you kissed me goodnight
with a thousand goodbyes

still in my dreams you walk dripping
from the sea where i’m slipping
from the sea that shall free me
to my hut that is ripping
through the masterpiece 
tripping

how my soul is worn thin
i can’t even begin
to speak
so i’ll speak no more

and if it be your will
i’ll sink beneath your wisdom
like a stone

like a stone
i’ll wait for you there

alone

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my eyes reflect
the void
i walk in
children walk by
i avert my gaze
they don’t need to see it

4/23/2016

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heavy

the burden of all being
rests heavily on me
for i am

the poet’s madness
communicable disease to the masses

memory I grasp at
who I was
what I was
before I was

this body
this story
unparalleled glory
unfettered and gory
seer and seen all the same

the one of infinite names
always coming and came

i bleed words into being
i breathe verbs into doing
what they’ve always done before

eternal occurrence
repeating endurance
faith discarded, acquired
again and again

this moment is heavy
my hand is unsteady
breathless and heady
thin air where i’m treading

prepare the unready
within you that’s getting
worn out and sold out
with every beat of the sun

nothing new
nothing special
and average at best you’ll
never find rest till
the tiller is turning you

the sun that is burning you
gives life through the chlorophyll
and finally free from
your burden of thought

~ justin aptaker, 7-28-2018

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Looking Inward

What if I were to stop reading voraciously, literally as if my life depended on it? What if I were to stop browsing the web constantly, craving it whenever I’m awake? What if I were to stop looking for the ideas or words of others to save me, to bring me solace, and instead simply looked inward?

Looking inward, can I find anything that is not just tropes recycled from everything I’ve taken in from the outside world? Can I find anything that exists prior to all that sensory input, rational processing, animal instinct, and social conditioning?

How would I distinguish the voice of my Self from all the other voices chattering inside my head?

I’m not quite sure, but I think it is at least time to start listening.

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8/30/19

Everyone’s been talking about how 
the universe will either expand 
indefinite cold star death
or collapse and then repeat itself

meanwhile i’m a slave proper
in every sense of the word physical
bound to the elements hunger
a criminal for speaking my thoughts aloud

a loud or a soft noise unheard
unseen and unknown and unthinkable
still I would try to define it
humanity, always effing the ineffable

i’m one and apart and the same all the same
the universe cloaked in name after name
every man and woman a star
in their own drama melodrama how dramatic

i am in a word addict
again you might say i’m back at it
rhyming with rhythm but static
sense or nonsense and i’ve had it 

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The Argument from Beauty: Another Defense of Christian Universalism ~ Section II

Two Kinds of Faith

The last section ended by stating that it may “take a bit of faith” to believe the message of universal salvation. However, I’ll argue now that is also takes faith–more faith, in fact–to believe that God will not eventually save all people. To see what I mean by this, begin by looking at the following quote from a different article I wrote:

“If God is Love, then surely he wants the best for every person. Many scriptures support this. 1 Timothy 2:4 says ‘God … wants all people to be saved’. He “does not want anyone to perish, but for everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). I also believe God is powerful enough to accomplish whatever He wants. Isaiah 46:10 says ‘I (God) will accomplish all that I please’. When Christ’s disciples once asked him ‘Who can be saved?’, part of his response was, ‘With God, all things are possible’, by which we can infer: God can save anyone! If God desires that every person be saved, and he is able to bring about all that he desires, how can anyone not be saved? The doctrine of eternal damnation suggests that either God’s love or God’s power is deficient.”

From An Argument for Christian Universalism: Why I Don’t Believe in an Eternal Hell

In fact, there are many passages from the Christian Bible that indicate that God will save all people. Here are more examples.

Now, if you believe that the Christian scriptures were, in fact, inspired by God, all these scriptures should present you with a major problem if you also believe in an eternal hell. Setting aside, for the moment (I will return to the topic), the idea of free will, consider the faith now required to believe in eternal torment. You must now take it on faith that the statements from these scriptures, although inspired by God, are in some way not quite true.

Consider that the passage from Isaiah, quoted above, is not merely stating that God can accomplish whatever He desires, but that He will accomplish everything He desires. Then the other scriptures, quoted and linked to above, unequivocally state that He desires that no person “perish”, but that all people be saved. Therefore, from a scriptural standpoint, all people will be saved. To believe otherwise now requires a great deal of faith.

I’ll have more to say about “free will” later, but if one believes the passages quoted and linked to above, then one must conclude that no person will eternally and freely choose to not be saved, for God earnestly desires that all people be saved, and God will accomplish all He desires.

Again, the Christian scriptures say, “God is Agape (Love)” and “Agape never fails” (1 John 4:8, 1 Cor. 13:8). So, the “free will” of humans will not thwart God’s plans or wishes. Universalism is the only position that is in full harmony with the nature of God, as described by Christians and the Christian scriptures

So, if one believes that these scriptures were inspired by God, it should now take less faith to believe that God will save all people than it takes to believe that He will not. To believe that He will not save all people requires one to somehow believe that God’s nature is not what scripture says it is. One must believe that either He will not, in fact, accomplish all that He wishes to accomplish, or that He will accomplish all He wants, but He simply does not want to save everyone. If you believe the scriptures, you’ll realize that only Universalism causes no contradictions about the nature of God. So, to believe otherwise, I imagine, would take a lot of faith.

So, you must now choose between two beliefs. They both require faith. One of these beliefs, however, requires faith that contradicts both scripture and the Divine Nature. The other belief requires faith that agrees with scripture, and thus ascribes only the best attributes to the nature of God.

One of these beliefs is the belief that Being/Reality is beautiful. The other belief amounts to a perception of a Reality that is ultimately not beautiful at all.

If you must, by faith, choose between one idea that life is beautiful, and another idea that life is not beautiful, wouldn’t you rather believe in that which is beautiful?

Beauty is a Big Deal

As I began doing my research for this series, I became acutely aware that, until now, I had not given the concept of “Beauty” nearly the amount of thought that it merits. I further realized that I was not alone in this.

It turns out that Beauty is a central concept in sacred literature from all religious traditions. Moreover, it is a pervasive concept in science, mathematics, metaphysics, and mysticism. Indeed, for how central the concept is to the grander domains of human thought, it is given shockingly little popular attention. Or rather, the popular attention is directed mostly towards cheap social ideas of beauty, such as those that the magazine covers urge us to strive for. However, beauty, as a concept, is far more than skin-deep.

Here are just a few examples:

  • In the Genesis account of the creation, when God proclaims everything “good” over and over again, the word translated as “good” is the Hebrew word טוֹב, which also means “beautiful”.
  • In Jewish, Christian, and mystical traditions, the idea of “completion” is central. In Genesis, for example, God declares His work “finished”, and then rests on the seventh day due to that fact. Thus, the number seven is associated with completion. Also, just before Jesus died on the cross, He is said to have proclaimed, “It is finished”. This theme of completion is closely connected in religious and linguistic ways to both the concept of “perfection” and the concept of “beauty”.
  • Beauty has long been, and continues to be, a guiding principle in mathematics and science. This is related to the mathematical/scientific concept of “symmetry”, which has long been thought indicative of a theory’s likelihood to express something true. This emphasis on symmetry has come under attack in the last few years, but the likely result will not be that we jettison the idea of symmetry entirely, but rather, that we balance it more appropriately with other principles. This, I believe, will not amount to a rejection of beauty as a guiding principle. As explained below, it will more likely result in a more subtle definition of mathematical/scientific beauty.
  • While mathematics and science have long sought beauty in symmetry, Heraclitus proclaimed millenia ago that “the most beautiful arrangement is a pile of things poured out at random”. The word he used for “arrangement”, naturally, was the Greek word “κόσμος”, that is, “Kosmos”, from which we get the English word “Cosmos”.
  • If Heraclitus was correct, and if the contemporary scientific consensus about the general randomness of the universe is correct, then perhaps Leibniz, though ridiculed for supposing that we inhabit “the best of all possible worlds”, was also correct. I digress. However, my point is also that there are infinite such digressions, and so it turns out that “Beauty” will lead us on a very deep and wide journey.
  • Consider the common fact that the human perception of beauty in another human face is directly related to the symmetry of that face. However, upon second thought, this is only partly true, as the symmetry in question is entirely that of symmetry across the vertical axis. Were a human face to be also symmetrical across the horizontal axis, it would not look beautiful. It would look grotesque.
  • Perhaps then, beauty is actually a balanced juxtaposition of symmetry and non-symmetry. That is, perhaps it is equal parts Heraclitus and contemporary mathematics/science. After all, isn’t the beauty of life, in all its diversity, on planet earth, in some way the beauty of the juxtaposition of all that order against the background of apparent cosmic randomness and chaos?

I’ll conclude this line of thought for now, as I think I’ve sufficiently illustrated just how far the contemplation of Beauty can take us. This illustration doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface, as we will later see.

Shame is Also a Big Deal

What is shame?

May I propose that shame is nothing other than our perception of ourselves as being ugly in a deeper-than-cosmetic sense. We often feel shame when we commit deeds that we perceive as ugly deeds.

Note: this chapter on shame will not end here. It is presently unfinished, but will be completed shortly.

Much more to come very soon…

Here is a very rough, very early outline of future sections in The Argument from Beauty. These are personal notes made into a mindmap.

The author lovingly dedicates this article to the memory of two dear friends: Gary Amirault, who passed from this world on November 3rd, 2018, and his wife, Michelle Amirault, who preceded him in death on July 31st, 2018. Gary and Michelle lived their lives passionately in love with Love, and on behalf of Love. Indeed, this article would likely have never come to be, were it not for Gary and Michelle’s love. Gary and Michelle tirelessly promoted what they called the “Victorious Gospel”, otherwise known as Christian Universalism or Universal Reconciliation. In short, they proclaimed to the world that “Love Wins”. Tentmaker Ministries (https://tentmaker.org/) is just one of their enduring legacies.

Far more importantly, however, Gary and Michelle were both the embodiment of the kind of relentless love that they preached. They were the warmest, kindest, most hospitable people I have ever known. I believe that anyone who was graced with knowing them personally would say exactly the same thing.

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Laudanum

how can i afford the cure? 
the cure is my disease
how can i speak with words still pure? 
my doctor poisons me
yet will i laud
and make it
soft
the words of the wise
are plainly lost 

Written ca. 2011

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koans

like koans
halting in their tracks
your logical thought
processes like a train, black and long
when it runs in a padded room
small, silent, white

Written ca. 2006

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Kerux

the angel called out to me
Recite! 
But I said, 
“what will I recite with these unclean lips? “

So the angel ripped my larynx
out of my throat
and set it on fire
until it burned to ashes

then I began to recite

ca. 2011

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Just More Nonsense From Within Our Captivity

i and i wept
by the waters of Knoxville
remembering Zion
repatriation, what a notion
slowly, we came to our senses

the brave new world
closing in around us
we sought our refuge
at the doors of perception

timothy leary and
Marcus Garvey
were on a bad trip
together one day
when it began to snow outside
like grace
from heaven, falling
i was there with them
the angel of death

my thanatalivity
is all i know now
i will make it
to the end

ca. 2012

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