Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”
And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
- Matthew 13:54-58
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
- 2 Corinthians 5:1-10
“You can’t step in the same river twice.
“Everything changes but change itself.
“Heraclitus [ca. 470BC] was called ‘the Dark One.’ His ideas were interpreted pessimistically. They create more than merely a philosophy – they constitute a MOOD, almost a worldview of nostalgia and loss.
“You can’t go home again. Your childhood is lost.
“The friends of your youth are gone.
”Your present is slipping away from you.
“Nothing is ever the same.
“Nevertheless, there was something positive in the Heraclitian philosophy. There existed an unobservable Logos – a logic – governing change that made change a rational phenomenon rather than the chaotic, arbitrary one it appeared to be. This Logos doctrine deeply impressed Plato and eventually became the basis of the notion of natural law.”
- Donald Palmer, Looking at Philosophy, The Unbearable Heaviness of Philosophy Made Lighter
For those who I graduated high school with, I was thinking of you as you were partying. I wrote this post during that time. But to see life through the eyes of Heraclitus, it would be impossible to return home – so can you really have a high school reunion, or if you missed what was called a reunion, was it part of reality?
Heraclitus lived 500 years before Jesus’ ministry. If he were still around, he would agree with Jesus. You cannot go back home, as the first Scripture suggests, but for different reasons.
For those who live far away from where they graduated high school, if you do not go ‘home’ with regularity, you might find yourself lost on a very familiar street upon your return. Some buildings are destroyed. Other buildings are built in their place, most of the time. More confusing if your favorite store is now a playground or park. According to a John Grisham novel (not remembering the title now), once Wal Mart comes into town, the Mom and Pop stores close, unable to compete with the lower prices due to shrewd negotiations and an efficient supply system. So, the downtown area becomes a ghost town in many cases.
With this in mind, I remember helping my bus driver. When I was a high school junior, the bus driver asked me to drive his VW bug to the school. He had a substitute driver drive the bus that afternoon because he had to go elsewhere. I had about 10 minutes of experience driving a stick shift at the time. At one red light in town, I sat through three red lights as I popped the clutch and caused the car to go dead, panicking to make it through the green light on time and failing. And it was level ground. I did not have a hill to blame. I say this, because all the intersections in the downtown area are now four-way stops. All the traffic lights have been removed. When most towns are looking to put up more traffic lights, my hometown went the other direction. All the through traffic by-passes the town anyway, and the high school is not where it used to be either, so I would be lost trying to find the faculty parking area now.
And I wonder if Heraclitus was right in that my friends do not live there anymore anyway. I know a few that still live in town.
Of course, Heraclitus is using the “stepping in the river twice” argument to relate to the hometown. Things have changed, so simply turning around and stepping into the river again means that the water that made your foot wet is now further downstream. Thus, it is not the same river. Towns change, but not instantaneously as a river does.
In the first installment of the philosophy essays, I mentioned that Thales of Miletus claimed that all things were composed of water. This philosophy surfaced during the age when everyone thought that there were four elements: Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire. Thus, everything had to boil down to those four things. That makes me wonder about the musical group, “Earth, Wind, and Fire.” Why did they eliminate water? Were they anti-thalesians?
But to get to the point of Thales, when you burn something, the gaseous result becomes “air.” We know now that air is mostly nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (21%), and we know that the gases from a wood fire comprise carbon dioxide, water vapor, the nitrogen that had been in the air, and some unburned carbon (smoke) for the most part. But he sees “air”, thus fire is really air, but then the rains come. Thus, air becomes water, and as the water erodes the soil into the sea, the mud becomes water. Thus, everything is water.
But Heraclitus sees change and everything being water does not fit. It does not allow for change. He proposes that everything is “fire.” Thus, he embraces change. The drawback is his conclusion that “War is King,” since war, in his day, meant the ultimate in change.
Heraclitus would fit in well in the modern business paradigm. A friend loaned me his copy of Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, a book that teaches that if you are not in a mode of constantly changing, you will be left behind to wither and die. I liked the metaphor of mice finding cheese. I don’t like mice, but I like cheese. And a world without cheese would cause me to wander to look for a new world, but change???? Never!!! I do not like it – but my name is not Sam.
Oh, how I agree with Sheldon, but sometimes it beats starving to death waiting for the cheese to return to its original spot.
What is my point here, other than I am missing my friends who I saw only once in fifty years, at the 40th reunion? That is other than an occasional, sometimes accidental, meeting one-on-one. I think each of us has that inner Sheldon Cooper within us. In spite of all the reasons to keep up with the change in this world, we miss that innocence of our youth before the world, or a bully, slapped us in the face.
The reunion that really matters is the reunion that the Apostle Paul talks about in the second Scripture above. We have an everlasting home that awaits us. There will be no lost innocence. Innocence will be restored by the cleansing of our souls by the blood of Jesus. We will have new bodies and we will be with Jesus forever.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.