Sunday, September 7, 2014

Musings On The Moment of Revelation - A Passing Scene & More On Phillip K Dick

"When one has lived with prophecy for so long, the moment of revelation is a shock."

I've begun reading Phillip K Dick's EXEGESIS, an extended meditation (the unabridged version is 7,000 pages, I'm reading 700 pages, very large pages, very small print) on his religious experience from the spring of 1974. You can read a more systematic account of that experience here:

The problem with that essay is it only scratches the surface of what Dick experienced. It wasn't one experience, either, it was really a series of encounters with the divine (or what he perceived as the divine) that took place over an extended period of time. What is striking is the way it changed who Phillip K Dick WAS. I mean the weight of the whole thing obviously all but overwhelmed him.

So much of what Dick writes seems in some strange way familiar. Yet other parts are so far away. It reminds me of a series of experiences I had in conjunction with my study of the Book of Revelation. It isn't too strong to say it sparked an obsession within me, as Dick's experience sparked one within him. I feel today that I will not truly be able to understand the Gospels until I fully grasp what the Book of Revelation is about. I am not the first to be so influenced by this book. Many Christian thinkers have encountered the book and been overwhelmed by it, captivated by it. But whereas this sparked in them an intense need to match up the book to future events, in other words to use the book as a road map to the future, I've found an intense need to use the book as a kind of contact with God. It is a way to understand the Gospels, for me.

In fact, I realize only now that the Gospels are incomplete without John's Revelation. It truly is a fifth Gospel. Does the book hold knowledge of the future? I'm not sure. But I don't think it matters. I don't think prophecy in terms of future-knowledge is what the book is PRIMARILY about. I think it is PRIMARILY simply about who and what Jesus Christ actually is, and what it means to think of Jesus Christ as actually divine.

Dick's experiences brought him striking insights but also drew him far off course. He lost the truth somewhere. Is it because of the experience the Shadat Mepes had? Was it the shock that shook him off his rocker and down a bad path? Or is it simply here that we see the necessity of scripture and reason? Without scripture unaided reason and unaided experience simply draws one away from God rather than towards Him. You need that account of God's self-revelation to mankind, you need that record of God entering into history, you need the words of God as understood over millenia to check yourself. Wild flights of fancy are always a danger when it comes to encountering the divine.

The whole thing is just too big, too grand for someone like me. Of what use is such experience in the hands of a dullard like myself? I feel only a person with the skills of a great quantum physicist, a PhD in theology and an ability to create great art could ever even begin to fathom the likes of what I have seen in the face of God. And how often does THAT combination come around?

It is like being struck by lightning or something. There is a randomness to it all. But once it happens, it happens and there you are. You have to do something with it. Phillip K Dick did some stuff with it, but it obscured as much as it revealed. Do I do the right thing with it? How far afield am I? The truth is I ask these questions less and become more sure of myself on certain key issues as time goes on. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. It is telling, I think, that Dick's deep depression and endless doubts stayed with him throughout his life.

Anyhow, this is just some stuff running through my head. And that kind of musing makes for good blogging.

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