At The End Of Things

Magic is a real thing, I'm not sure if you knew this. It doesn't come out of wands and it doesn't produce bunnies from hats and it has nothing to do with mail-delivering owls and people can't turn invisible because of it, but it dwells in subtlety, is masked by serendipity, is targeted for unraveling and is entirely too often written off as childish. We've just adopted a new word for it: Mystery. And we've simply given it a shelf at a bookstore next to Twilight.

We are vehemently anti-mystery here in the post-post-deconstructionist North America. We are discontent with knowing we may never know. We've deemed it acceptable to boil love down to a chemical reaction or God to an outward manifestation of humanity's internal subconscious desire to be ruled or miracles as coincidence - the logical necessity of infinite rolls of an infinite number of cosmic dice.

They attempt to explain, of course, the feeling underneath your ribs as you sit in a chair in a lamplit room with a worn volume of Keats, the aroma of brewing coffee, and the sound of rain showering the grass, but where they fail is in the why. They'd say: "It's no magic at all that when you read the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence, your eyes well up and your heart beats faster and you feel like doing something with your life, because the words were chosen to stir up feelings of nationalism and freedom, which are rooted in humanity's instinct for survival: the necessity of individual choice to react to external stimuli (like attacking sabre tooth tigers or something) and the echoes of the evolution of homo sapiens as pack-mammals, who depend on community to sustain prolonged living. It resounds with your DNA and produces external manifestations that are interpreted by your brain and sent to your tear ducts and so on and so forth." But they are loath to answer why such feelings would have remained so long, for emotionality is linked with compassion and is, in evolutionary terms, quite weak. Such nonsense should have died out long ago when the fittest survived and the weak returned to the dust.

They will explain gunmen in Connecticut as "unfortunate outcomes of failing mental health systems" or as "products of a violent culture egged on by movies and video games," but Relativism breaks down in the face of a nation grieving for twenty six families in a small town up north. If Relativism (philosophical/moral, not anthropological/cultural) were true, the twenty six tolls of Newton church bells would be "nothing but vibrating metal, amplified by an acoustically designed structure and the forceful collision of a solid object against their sonorous exteriors for a duration of twenty six repetitions," not twenty six blows to a nation full of people's diaphragms, nor twenty six chimings of the celebration of innocent life, nor twenty six cries of, "though we do all we can to combat its existence, this is us raising our heads and shouting back in the face of evil that we acknowledge it crouching at our doorstep and creeping down our hallways, yet we will stand against it."

There is magic in grief like there is magic in love. There is magic in mourning like there is magic in celebration. There is magic in the cracks in our systematic understanding of the world - for they are cracks that cannot be described by lists or equations but rather by poetry; they are cracks that cannot be filled by experiments or textbooks but rather by God.

We've reduced God to religion and religion to silliness and tradition and Westboro and infidels and inspirational soft-light-filtered paintings, and then turn around with the same breath and argue for the defense of innocents and for rectification of injustice and love for fellow humans and the demand for reason.

Apocalypse is from the Greek and means "un-covering." It has nothing to do with Zombies or fire from the sky or the end of days, but carries the meaning of the veil being lifted off of a facade to reveal the truth underneath. We think of the end of days when it's used because of the apocalyptic writings of John or Daniel or Isaiah or Nostrodomus or the Mayans or whatever, but it's not because of their predictions for end times - it's because they are uncovering the truth underneath. John wrote of the end of days because it was God revealing to him the plan.

So in an apocalyptic age such as this - one where we attempt to peel the curtain back on everything we see, where mystery becomes something to unravel rather than to revel in - it is all the more imperative to remember who set mystery in the heart of man, who instilled the need for justice, who before all else abhors evil and will punish wickedness in His time. And perhaps the best way to do remember is sometimes simply sitting and relishing the warmth in your chest accompanying held hands or the heaviness of lungs and hearts accompanying tolling Connecticut church bells.

Hamilton Barber

The subject of this page is an introverted writer/musician/lunatic from Chattanooga, TN who dabbles in lexical dexterity, unorthodox thoughts on prosperity, and being overwhelmingly undeserving of the privilege of waking up every day. He hopes that everybody who reads these words takes them to heart and leaps higher than he ever could. He reads, thinks, and speaks too much; he listens, works, and loves too little; and he says “I” entirely too often. The words on these pages are not his: they are the words that were given to him.