Friday, January 27, 2012
Faith in God is Not Tidy
The real question, John [of the Cross] suggests, is about what you are really after: Do you want ‘spirituality’, mystical experience, inner peace, or do you want God? If you want God, then you must be prepared to let go all, absolutely all, substitute satisfactions, intellectual and emotional. You must recognize that God is so unlike whatever can be thought or pictured that, when you have got beyond the stage of self-indulgent religiosity, there will be nothing you can securely know or feel. You face a blank: and any attempt to avoid that or shy away from it is a return to playing comfortable religious games. The dark night is God’s attack on religion. If you genuinely desire union with the unspeakable love of God, then you must be prepared to have your own religious world shattered. If you think devotional practices, theological insights, even charitable actions give you some sort of purchase on God, you are still playing games. On the other hand, if you can face and accept and even rejoice in the experience of darkness, if you accept God is more than an idea which keeps your religion or philosophy or politics tidy – then you may find a way back to religion, philosophy or politics, to an engagement with them that is more creative because you are more aware of the oddity, the uncontrollable quality of the truth at the heart of all things. This is what ‘detachment’ means – not being ‘above the battle’, but being involved in such a way that you can honestly confront whatever comes to you without fear of the unknown; it is a kind of readiness for the unexpected, if that is not too much of a paradox.
“Collective Emotional Spasm” Explained
Brian Micklethwait reads through the intro to a BBC Radio Times program titled My Child the Rioter and his attention is drawn to the phrase “Caught up in ...”, which, as the phrase is used in that intro, is intentionally meant to be understood as being caught up in an event, for example an ocean’s wave as it crests and thunders ashore, due to no fault of an individual’s own actions except for the fact that said individual is standing in the ocean. Brian’s response.
But the phrase that really caught my eye in this was where it says that son Liam got “caught up in” the unrest. You hear this phrase a lot these days, to describe what someone did, in a way that suggests that what he did was really done to him, by a malign outside force. The Unrest, you see, forced him to go out looting. The Unrest called round, knocked on his door, dragged him out into the street and there compelled him to misbehave. Liam didn’t do rioting. The rioting “involved” him. There the Unrest was, catching Liam up in itself. How could Liam himself be held responsible for what Unrest did to him?
Truly, we do live in a Wonderland.
This explains the power of a “collective emotional spasm,” which, evidently, all are powerless to resist, I guess.