I’ve heard many arguments supporting or opposing the legalization of marijuana and drugs in general, most of them practical in nature, but almost entirely unsatisfactory. It seems more prudent, to this writer, that if we’re to have a meaningful policy concerning man — the mind of man, particularly –, we must first begin neither with opinion nor conjecture, but with truths about his very nature.
Consider this bizarre, bipedal being. One foot in the finite material realm, he senses all around him; action and reaction are his creed, his anchor in the mechanical, the steady, the predictable, in the usual. By calculation, he learns the laws of nature, learns to act, learns to walk, to survive.
But being created in the image of the Almighty, the other foot stands on far less stable soil. Half planted in the infinite, man’s mind projects his consciousness amongst the stars. He dreams of lands he’s never seen, meets people he’s never met, and sings songs he’s never heard. Yes, one half of him is firmly planted in what we humans collectively call reality; the other half treads not earth, but clouds. Like man’s actual two feet, one doesn’t walk without the other, but yet, neither are they entirely conjoined. The infinite moves the finite, but the finite in almost poetic irony contains the infinite.
The first portion of man, the earthly, is usually limited by the laws of possibility. The second half feels almost as though ready to burst, contained by something never meant to entirely contain, man knowing full well that could he reside entirely in his first reality, man could never truly be himself. But yet, he cannot truly embrace the second. It seems fantastical, unreal to him; he dreams and reaches for the ideal, only to have it melt between his fingers. This synthesis between finite and the infinite, Kierkegaard noted, brought man to the depths of despair, yearning for something which couldn’t be found, shy of in His Creator. In short, man is frustrated until he experiences unity with the Almighty.
Grounded in the first realm, but burning for the second, man feels condemned to die — and in fact, he is. And so as a child his life is full of possibility, full of romance and adventure and the mysterious, only to find that as he grows older, his dreams slowly disintegrate before his mind’s eye, like a series of bubbles, popping one by one, shiny, rising upon the winds, dancing with life, and then — poof, gone. Some say the middle of a man’s life is when he experiences a mid-life crisis; oftentimes they say it occurs because he yearns for the excitement of youth. I’m more likely to believe it’s because he misses the days when he dreamt loudly.
But, then, what are these drugs, these psychedelics and psychotropics? Psychedelics comprise a renaissance of youth, the temporary triumph — or so it seems, altogether shallow — of the infinite over the finite. Man enters the world of his mind, colors change as though law became alive, shapes bend and twist to music; words change meaning mid-sentence, carpets speak, the boundary between man and nature is crossed. With the psychotropic, man doesn’t necessarily experience something so profound, but the voice of the mind speaks by megaphone; man closes his eyes, and thinks new thoughts. Retracting his gaze from the “real” and stepping into infinity, his limitations become far less meaningful, he becomes a recluse — not within a home, necessarily, but within himself. Childhood is perpetual; the dream lives.
This seeming triumph of the infinite is precisely the danger with such drugs. Man is constantly imbalanced, searching for his infinite self; if by an act of Providence, he’s called to Christ, he finds the infinite, the possible impossible, the triumph of the ideal over the flawed, in God Himself (as Kierkegaard also noted). But what does he find if he stops so short of his destination, finding an impotent, hollow satisfaction in the recesses of his own mind, and not within the will and joy of the Almighty? He dreams, but he doesn’t dream the dreams of eternity. He dreams like a man in a coma, passing every second by and perhaps having the feeling of life, but slowly slipping into death. It is, in a sense, a leap into the eternal; but having neither root in possibility nor perpetuity, it is a lie.
In my youth, I said something that — for some reason, though I never knew why before — I’ve never been able to forget. I remember thinking to myself, in my room, high as could be, that when I was under the power of marijuana, that marijuana was my religion. At the time, it seemed like such a natural thing to say. It was my gateway to the infinite; I felt a heightened sense of morality, a sense of peace, an imagination which almost bordered on reality. And it was all the infinite I knew. I had heard of God, but never seen or felt Him. The mind was my portal, the temple, as it were, to the spirit realm I couldn’t access otherwise.
Consider this, dear reader. I can’t say with any sort of surety that legalizing marijuana (or any other psychedelic or psychotropic drugs) will increase or decrease the number of American users. What I will instead say, is that the American public’s gravitation toward such is indicative of a collapse of American Christianity.
We can say that Americans are still mostly Christian — if indeed they truly are. But how many nominal Christians are reaching, with drugs, into the infinity which Christ alone can grant? Not I, not anymore. But I’ve been transformed by Christ since then; my need for the infinite has already been fulfilled. The problem with our nation is, Christianity has become about the finite, and not about the infinite. Instead of drawing out man’s eternal nature, it has become preoccupied with wealth and health, action and reaction, business and morals.
This isn’t to say that moral teachings, health, or wealth are anathema to Christianity; but Christ must be more than that, or He cannot be God. He should be the dream of regenerated man, the true expression of eternity within the breasts of mortals. If He is our life, our joy, our hope, then He must overcome this finite exterior man, and champion what lies even within his imagination.
When the Christian dreams, of what does he dream? Does he dream of goodness, and the triumph over evil? Does he dream of souls in mortal peril, and the God-man who rescues them from eternal destruction? Does he see the shining Kingdom on the horizon, and witness its armies storm the gates of hell? The King in glowing apparel welcoming his servants home, the cheers of angels heralding their arrival? I ask again, what does he see? Does he see the broken heart mended, humanity’s tears wiped from sullen cheeks; the trumpet sounding, and Christ arriving on a white horse, His robe dipped in blood, and sword upraised? Does he see the spot of sin, being wiped away, and sins forgiven — man’s burden falling off a wearied back, his liberty ensured?
Man is an eternal being, and he will seek eternity in whatever way he can find it. We may blame laws, or cartels, or bands, or television for the spread of drug abuse; but if the above dream is not our Christianity, if we have not presented Jesus Christ as the dream of all dreams, the victory of the infinite over the finite, the summation of all things ideal and beautiful; if we preach that salvation comes without a profound transformation of the human soul, a magic, as it were, beyond comprehension; if we relegate miracles to the past, and pretend that God is not Lord over even the impossible; if we haven’t sought Christ as though something greater than the visible were at stake; and — above all — if the Lord Himself is not plainly bestowing us with His presence, then America’s drug problem is not the drug user’s. It is Christendom’s.