I am not going to discuss this book here. The topic requires much more respect and discernment from those who have read the book in its entirety. There is much to be misunderstood and I believe that there is no easy way to understand what Peck has labored to share. You must read it for yourself. But if you have read it, I will be happy to discuss it with you....you may leave your contact information in the comments here.
I have to say that both of these books are important reads. For two main reasons:
- Peck is looking to be the bridge between religion and science ... from the science side as a gifted thinker and physician, and from the religion side as a mystic and seeker who got all the way through the seeking to the finding. And he did, in fact, find Jesus. His embrace of Jesus as Messiah was complete. Now, there will be those who will not agree with some of his theology. Go and do your own searching before you turn away. Tolkien's call to "suspend disbelief" in order to understand fully comes to mind here. The unfortunate rift that was torn in the whole cloth of Truth, in order to take the "mystery" out of science is in need of restoration -- the divorce of the natural from the supernatural -- and Peck was ahead of his time on that front. I find his books to include more than a pinch of the much needed salt of humility. He was, indeed, a Cracked Eikon ... and we would do well to heed his example of looking at the Truth head on so that we may learn from our myriad mistakes.
- What passes for "calling out evil" these days seems quite pathetic to me. This is probably where I will do the most pondering in subsequent posts -- most likely because it is really a byproduct of sloppy thinking and deficient discernment concerning ethics and morality. Too often we call "immoral" that which is not aligned with what we think or desire ... and "ethics" is becoming a form of Political Correctness. If we are to return these important disciplines to their rightful place, we are going to have to spend time thinking deeply on root issues, not sidetracked by circumstances and emotions and talking points.
One of the things Peck says is that human evil is basically concerned with taking the wide path, as it were. When confronted with difficulties (whether relationally or economically or physically or spiritually or intellectually), the choice always exists: (a) do I take the narrow path of love and discipline -- of my heart and soul and mind and strength -- wherever it leads and do what is right ... or (b) to take the wide path, the easy way, where my problem are not really MY problems that I must wrestle with and allow the Holy Spirit to both convict and instruct and heal -- but someone else's problems that relieve me of responsibility for my actions, or inaction.
Take a minute to read Matthew 7 ... the whole chapter. If you have time, read the entire Sermon on the Mount. Make this a regular practice, reading the Sermon on the Mount. Read it in a different version every day.
In the end Peck says that we cannot deal with human evil "out there" until we deal with the evil in our own hearts ... where we allow the Holy Spirit access to the shadows in order to shine the Light of Truth and dispel the lies than ensnare us. Only then can we look unblinking at our own laziness and ask for Jesus to disciple us. To teach us. To work the hardest of work in our own hearts.
This is another aspect of The Purple Martyrdom ... this work within.
The reason that there are so many monastic traditions that have these three chapters as the foundation of their rule is that they have an understanding of this important personal work that must be embraced and walked every day of their lives. Every day. There is no end to this discipleship ... until until we are fully conformed to the image of Jesus. When we are released from this body of death and are clothed in the imperishable, that work will be complete.
Embrace it ... there are those who will journey with you on that narrow path. There will, no doubt, be many more "Peck Posts" ... stay tuned. And better yet ... get the book for yourself and follow along!