There is a phenomenon we have all experienced, and most of us have not, for the most part, been able to name. I call it the MACHINE, and it is the face of the BLACK IRON PRISON as it is visible to the common eye. Philip K. Dick expressed it as, “The Empire never ended.” You can see it too: whenever someone follows the rules in cold calculation; blind to all but the exacting of the regulations; where instead, compassion could be shown: this is the action of the MACHINE. They let a piece of their soul die rather than to have a heart. This is how it proliferates. This is where we die, as black iron infuses our blood.
It is the mechanism of LAW, over LOVE. That being by which, according to the Apostle Paul, we are damned by brute, efficient justice. This is “just following orders”. This is us standing by because we were told not to interfere, when evil happens right in front of us. And we know we can do something. It is the opposite of the Golden Rule, to follow the printed word rather than to feel for our fellow human being. It is the remnant of the Age of Iron, where such things as live sacrifice was necessary.
You can see it in everyday transactions. Where instead of being a human being, they forego humanity to become one with the mechanistic cold calculations of the Black Iron. Something simple like not letting someone pay $3 instead of $2.50 on a cold January night — just because the rules say you can’t do that. You know what? This is the one time I’ll swear: FUCK the rules. Be a human being. This is to say that being “only human” can work in the other direction, too. May it be that you are “only human” and have a heart. Why would you rather choose death over life?
As Philip K. observed, to fight the MACHINE is to succumb to such mechanistic process, because its nature is violence. (If you fight the empire, you become part of the empire.) To become one and the same with it is a living death. This is why the Lord told you how properly to deal with the MACHINE: love your enemy, turn the other cheek, pray for those that abuse you. This is how the Lord ultimately defeated it: He let it win. This is the mystery of the crucifixion. Because the MACHINE is not God, and knows not from where things come, nor to where things go. It is the Lord who is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. What the MACHINE lets go of, the Lord picks up. And it is not in all things: split open a piece of wood and it is the Lord who is there.
Heed this advice: whenever you can give someone a break, do it. God is watching, and He’ll remember all those little things. If you need rules, let love be your rule. This is the path of life. For by becoming part of the MACHINE: this is what it means to die. Not of body, for even though what is given to us in form is precious, God made you from the dust, and can make you anew when you return to dust. It is our temple, but we know that what we are, what is truly our life, is in the decisions that we make: so out of which font do you draw your inspiration? The narrow way, that leads to life, or the broad gate, that leads to destruction?
Those who say that they are Christians are not magically immune to the machinations of the MACHINE. In particular, those who say that they are followers of the Lord but are such as Fundamentalists, who hold to the letter of the Bible, so it is then that they die by the word. For the Way is not the Bible. The scriptures speak of the Way, and they point to the Way, but salvation is not the words of the Bible. It never has been. Before there was a New Testament, all that being Christian was were the questions, “Do you believe in a resurrected Jesus Christ?” and “Have you received the Holy Spirit?” That’s it. The Way has always been in Christ, and what did He tell us was that Way? Love God, love each other. This instruction from the Scripture overrules the Scripture. It is how one defeats the MACHINE.
Remember that most falls from grace do not happen from one grand gesture, but small whittlings on our souls. Remember that there is always a line you should not cross, for if you cross it once, twice, enough times — then that line is gone. This is what it means to be lost to the darkness. It begins and ends with your choice: choose life, instead of the mechanism that is death. Do not think, “it is a little thing” and decide unwisely; think instead to start small in the positive. If you have not yet, start. Today. For there is no other day than today!