So what does a country boy see out there in the “REAL” world? What are the “world problems” that I think might affect myself, my family and my life here in rural flyover country, what gets on the radar?
I am thinking about peace and conflict, and how I choose to drink at springs of peace or springs of conflict. After yesterday’s outburst of emotion, about observed events which I chose to observe and judge, courtesy of lots of folks with nothing to do but emote and “create content”.
“Wind of the Western Sea” Bill Douglas, from the album “Songs of Earth and Sky”, (1998)
Am I one of those “emoticons in suits”? Well, maybe an emoticon in Levis, and pretty thread bare Levis at that. No suits around here any more – that was all in a previous life, long, long ago. Don’t even have a tie anymore.
It’s 06:55 and the sun is coming up on a cool dawn. With quiet time for second thought, the truth is, there are not really any problems anywhere which directly affect my immediate life … my “real” world is full of beauty, and peace, waiting for room in my soul … if I make the time and make the room to just let it in, if I don’t fill it up with other stuff.
So, I pray for “Purity of Heart”, that purity that goes beyond simple passions and pleasures. Speaking of purity here I am intending to evoke the purity which not only implies an absence of sin but goes much further to invoke the absence of all earthly affections.
I think that is the scriptural sense of “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5,8), and with this Purity of heart, this directing of my entire capacity for affection and attachment towards God alone I may achieve clearer vision of my ultimate goal.
I get glimpses of the target but they are frequently obscured by the up-welling of my passions and self-love and I frequently loose sight of the path, and the world struggles mightily to re-establish dominance in my soul … and I fall … again …
“O Lord, give me right sentiments about You and grant that I may seek You with a simplicity of heart. My heart says to You, ‘I will seek Your face.’ When my heart seeks You, O Lord, it is Your presence it is seeking. Your home is where You dwell, and where do You dwell, if not in Your temple? My heart is Your temple: teach me how to welcome You there. You are a spirit, and I must adore You in spirit and in truth. Come into my heart, and all the idols shall fall.”
“Now I shall listen to Your voice and learn to long for You and to prepare myself to see You. Blessed are all who see You! And if they do see You, it is not because, while they were on earth, they were poor in spirit, or because they were meek or merciful, or because they mourned or hungered and thirsted after justice, but because they were clean of heart. Humility is good for attaining the kingdom of heaven; meekness is good for possessing the land; tears are good for receiving consolation; hunger and thirst after justice, for being filled; mercy is good for obtaining mercy; but only purity of heart permits us to see You.”
“My desire is to see You; what I desire is great, but it is You who tell me to wish for it. Help me to purify my heart, because what I desire to see is pure but my means of seeing it, impure. Come to me, O God, and purify me by Your grace; purify my heart with Your aid and strength. If I receive You into my heart during this present life, after my death You will admit me into Your presence.” (St. Augustine)
“Come, Holy Spirit, speak to my heart; or at least, if You wish to remain silent, may Your very silence speak to me, because without You I am always in danger of following my own errors and confusing them with Your teachings” (St. Bernard)
My last thought, in my last post was “Sitting under a tree, weeping, thinking … praying …” accompanying the above image by Hong Yi. I think the image is intended as “the Buddha sitting under the tree rather than as a self portrait – the source site is unclear.
My prayer would be something like “O Lord,because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful.” …
A GOES-13 satellite image captured at 17:45 UTC on January 2, 2014, depicting an ongoing blizzard across portions of the Ohio River Valley and the Northeast United States as cold air from Canada moves across warm air from the Gulf of Mexico
I purged over 4 thousand emails yesterday from assorted accounts. Found an item from my pre-blog era when I was busy annoying email contacts with long rambling emails about what was wrong with the world IMAO. Can’t hear myself think over the barking of my EGO.
So out of my personal Way-Back machine from the dark winter of 2014, back before I started my ranting in this blog … this monster rises from the slab of my Atelier …
A writer of great talent and no small amount of clarity regarding our daily grind and happily, at last call, still amongst the living, at least we are happy he is still around even though his mileage may vary, finding as he does that the Hoi Polloi for the most part do not share his sensibilities with respect to eternity. It sometimes seems to us that the Progressive idea of eternity is how long it seems between coffee breaks. But that for another day.
Anyway, he once remarked on ways to lose readers … mention church (and hell) … mention the poor … criticize a (any) Liberal Bureaucracy. And in a “Me Too!” sort of way I leapt on board his wagon.
The Church Militant …
On the topic of Church:
Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, in his Erasmus Lecture for 2014:
“If we ignore the poor, we will go to Hell. If we blind ourselves to their suffering, we will go to Hell. If we do nothing to ease their burdens; then we will go to Hell. Ignoring the needs of the poor among us is the surest way to dig a chasm of heartlessness between ourselves and God, and ourselves and our neighbours.”
Or the poor:
“This is so true that, it would seem, the opposite is also true. This is Christ’s dismissive reply to some liberal posturing from Judas, when He said, “the poor you will always have with you, but me you will not always have.” suggesting that if we ignore God, we will go to Hell.”
Or criticize a (any) Liberal Bureaucracy:
Ambassadors of … a Big Red Shiny …
“Our progressive society has programmized fraternal charity in a desperate ongoing attempt to sanitize and manage reality out of existence and has created the perfect system to facilitate ignoring our neighbours.
Enter the The Nanny State, queue marching bands … Big Red Shiny Maple Leaves Forever … long may they wave from Sea to Shining Sea … over the home of the brave and the land of the free lunch, in which daily we willingly participate, and which State provides us with a wonderful opportunity to ignore the poor, in our spare time while we are ignoring God full time.
The Pool of Worship …
After all, there’s not much time or room left for God when every waking moment of consciousness is totally focused on self worship. Said State even gives cover and plausibility deniability for the murder of any fellow inconvenient souls in the name of dignity and health care, at least until our turn comes … It allows every enfranchised taxpaying citizen to declare glibly, “I gave at the office.”
Meanwhile, the bureaucracy itself ignores the poor, reducing them to an economic transaction, within an administrative routine, whose heartlessness must be experienced, to be believed.
So what’s the point here? Who’s the target here? What are the goals which lead to the perpetuation of these heartless situations? What are the Brass Rings of goal, desires, and rewards of this life, this road, this set of choices for a secular self centered society?
REALITY CHECK FOR PROGRESSIVES: Not too many years ago I spent 18 months pushing the bureaucratic system strings to get a 50-something year old handicapped man enrolled into a program to assist the handicapped for which he had been manifestly qualified as a candidate for almost 50 years.
running Rachel …
Nobody cared enough to ever do anything about him. Because nobody cared, nobody helped, everybody thought somebody was looking after the poor handicapped nobody.
Then I got involved! WTF! Why has nobody ever done anything for this somebody? And even with myself, a motivated, talented highly vocal, champion working hard on his case, phoning and following up and visiting face to face, and – well you get my drift – it took a whole bloody year and a half to get get him enrolled in the program.
The government agency and program which existed solely to help people like this man was mired in requirements and vacant positions and proofs and every conceivable bureaucratic obstacle to prevent people from qualifying instead of helping them to qualify.
Truly, Truly, Heartless. The real goal of the managers and directors charged with overseeing these programs is to PREVENT candidates from qualifying because then you can preserve your budget for doing the things the management bureaucrats think are important. Actually Helping Candidates? Where’s the fun in that?
I’ve was told many times, over the years, by those infinitely my superiors, while working in Social “Services”, “Justice”, and “Health Care”, that the situation merely has to be properly “managed”. Heartless, the putative target of my self-righteous anger and judgement is the uncaring self centered bureaucrat and his/her self centered goals and objectives. But didn’t someone famous recently say “Who am I to judge”?
“Eternity’s Sunrise”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Eternity’s Sunrise”, (2000)
Lots of going to hell and pissing in other people’s soup in the above topics, BUT, IMAO, the ultimate fart in the elevator show stopper is to mention Man’s (or even worse – Woman’s) frailty, especially in a spiritual context:
Frailty from an old site called “Liturgy that Works” even thought some of the links therein seem to no longer work as they originally might have.
Let us pray (in silence) [that we and the whole church may be kept by God’s love]
“God of grace and goodness, you know that by reason of our frailty we cannot but fail; keep us always under your protection and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord who is alive with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever. Amen.”
New Zealand Prayer Book p. 571b
Glenstal Abbey House
The old monk was asked, “So what do the monks do here in this monastery?” To this he replied, “We fall, we get up. We fall, we get up. We fall, we get up.” It is a story just as applicable to ordinary Christian life. Another version has it ending with variations of “…one day we fall and we get up in heaven.”
For you Latin Scholars, this Gelasian Collect for Trinity 15 in the Sarum Missal(11th century) read, “Custodi, Domine, quaesumus, ecclesiam tuam propitiatione perpetua: et quia sine te labitur humana mortalitas, tuis semper auxiliis et abstrahatur a noxis et ad salutaria dirigatur.”
Cranmer translated this for 1549 (Epiphany 5) as:
“KEPE we beseche thee, O Lorde, thy Churche with thy perpetuall mercye: and because the frailtie of man without thee, cannot but fall: Kepe us ever by thy helpe, and leade us to al thynges profitable to our salvacion; through Jesus Christe our Lorde. Amen.”
An Irish Abbey …
The 1662 revisers restored “for all things hurtful” (lost again in the collect at the top):
“KEEP, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy Church with thy perpetual mercy; and, because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
International readers of this page may echo my surprise: I cannot find this collect revised in any Anglican prayer books except New Zealand’s! Do let me know if your province’s revised prayer book has it. Just when the church needs all the prayer it can get – as well as acknowledgment of our frailty!
Roman Catholics have this collect tucked away for Tuesday in the second week of Lent, where ICEL has it translated as:
“Lord watch over your Church and guide it with Your unfailing love. Protect us from what could harm us and lead us to what will save us. Help us always, for without You we are bound to fail. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”
The great roaring hairy EGO devouring all …
Our frailty, never more immediately obvious than in my own comments here, designed to provoke those who may not share my own views of reality and eternity. How does what I have said above conform to what I wrote on September 23rd, Saturday last.
Everything mentioned may be provably true but the focus is on the frailty of the undefined persons embracing the problems by ignoring them or just walking away, “Sniff …” obviously crass lower castes, every mother’s son of them. The great roaring hairy legged EGO strikes again.
So behold the position of man, with respect to the spiritual life, like a young childe who, finding himself at a fork in the road, cannot proceed alone and knows not which road leads to his home. Two roads lie before him, one leading to the kingdom of the spirit, the kingdom of God, and the other to the kingdom of this world, the kingdom of the flesh, of Mammon.
Which to choose, the calm peaceful kingdom of the spirit? I think we all inherently wish to choose the kingdom of God, but unfortunately the Kingdom of Mammon also has it’s attractions, and these attractions try to seduce us to their path. We struggle against these attractions and allurements, “For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary one to another, so that you do not the things that you would.” (Gal 5, 16-24)
Oliver Ridge, 2016
So just where WAS I going with this? Oh yeah! Two Kingdoms, two paths, two realities, two universes, one centered on self and spiritual stagnation and the other centered on God and spiritual growth, and the choosing, Ah yes, the choosing … seems obvious when regarded at leisure, in calm thought, seems obvious, the path of Peace is rooted in humility, the path of Mammon is rooted in pride.
Pride in seeking the first place, at table, at meetings, the first place spiritually, the esteem of others, the regard of others, our self love always tries to make us take a higher place than that which is due us.
There is great harm and great evil in wishing to elevate ourselves above what we are and in preferring ourselves. And we choose the direction in which we proceed, and from these choices flow our joy or our unhappiness.
Last Days Of Summer, 2016
If we have trouble translating these ideas into real life then perhaps a tangible media example of this idea works for us, as portrayed in the film “Last Days Of Summer” which won a gaggle of prizes and critical recognition in late 2016. This Festival Circuit darling, produced by British born OLIVER RIDGE, appeared at the Whistler Film Festival.
Having taken the grand prize for best feature at the Rhode Island Film Festival, the acclaimed drama starring WILLIAM FICHTNER competed at the prestigious Canadian event.
And our point is: “The film tells the story of a suburban husband whose quiet life is turned upside down when he becomes obsessed with the beautiful young woman who moves in next door”. Obsessed with the things of this world, earthly affections, sensual pleasures, all the golden rings of our material society.
“The Beatitudes”, from the album “Biscantorat – The Sound Of The Spirit From Glenstal Abbey” – The Monks of Glenstal Abbey – (2009)
In the face of all that life has to offer, honors, satisfaction, affection of creatures, comforts and riches, the path of peace offers humility, to desire nothing more than what one has, even to give up what one has, not to be eager for riches and pleasures, consolations and fame, or any earthly affections and sensual pleasures. And we choose the direction in which we proceed, and from these choices flow our joy or our unhappiness.
Son rise …
The things of this world, the golden rings of our material society, do not occupy our soul nor cause it harm. The things of this world are neutral with regards to man.
But out of the will and desires of man spring all the evils and joylessness which plague our lives. When we remain attached to our own will and ideas, or remain too fond of our independence, we are “rich in ourselves”, in our self love and pride.
It seems to me that if we seek the affections and approval of creatures and the joys and satisfactions which they can give us, we find only increasing hunger for more.
We find unhappiness with what we actually get, and instead of satiation we get misery with what we find. And we choose the direction in which we proceed, and from these choices flow our joy or our unhappiness.
Choose Wisely, lest we be overwhelmed … (The Great Wave at Kanagawa (from a Series of Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji))
We choose … so choose wisely … so far I am trying to choose NOT to be critical of the choices of others, at least not vocally.
I am choosing NOT to preach about how I think things should be done (and why).
I am choosing not to express my annoyance when things are not going my way.
I am choosing, so far with mixed results, but lots of opportunities to try again keep showing up so I will keep on trying.
And praying … “O Lord,because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful.” …
This Purgatorial struggle to choose the right path, to choose to put away self and make room in my soul …
“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)
So many gifts …
“Even the poorest beggar, having nothing to give in return for the alms he has received, can always acknowledge a kindness by showing gratitude to his benefactor. … Yet this, a natural need of a humble soul, is a duty so often neglected even by good people, even by those who have received the most favors.” Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.
So much freedom …
We have received a plenitude of natural gifts, talents, circumstances, opportunities, freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from war, freedom from fear, freedom from gratuitous persecution.
Most of us have a reasonable expectation of good health, and a long life barring natural disaster or mischance. Or at least we did have these freedoms in the past before we and our fathers ceded away those freedoms in return for the empty promises of Napoleon the pig.
Freedom from fear …
In this culture we still have an abundance of economic opportunity—so much economic opportunity in fact, that it is more a case of choosing which opportunity to pursue, rather than desperately seeking just ANY old opportunity, and as Mark Manson says:
“there existed (in the Anglo West) an abundance of economic opportunity—so much economic opportunity that it became far more valuable to present yourself in a certain way, even if it was false, than to actually be that way. Trust lost its value. Appearances and salesmanship became more advantageous forms of expression”... trust lost it’s value, honesty lost it’s value, sincerity lost it’s value, gratitude lost it’s value …
Even under the current regime in Edmonton, and with the current economic climate we still have the luxury of looking for “appropriate” work rather than any work, and we don’t trust or appreciate anyone whilst getting ours first …. Why is Calgary a squalor of failing business (28 thousand a year at last count), while Edmonton is a thriving metropolis of growth and burgeoning government payrolls? Is there more fear in Calgary than in Edmonton? What do you see when you look around? What are we grateful for?
Freedom from want …
Yet, even here, in this global centre of resource riches, we have the poor. Jesus remarked “the poor will always be with you.” and so it is to this day. The programed poor, the working poor, the abject poor the handicapped poor, the psychologically poor, the spiritually poor, all are with us everywhere around us.
Often, in our busyness, our selfcenteredness, we don’t even notice those in need, those less well off, those who are losers in the lottery of life. When we look upon those all around us who have been gifted with less, even, in some cases, a lot less, then for all that we have been gifted we would think we should feel some need to express gratitude, shouldn’t we?
But we are also supposed to be, identified as, citizens of a womb to tomb nanny state which has promised everyone that all our “needs” will be met if we just acquiesce and faithfully follow our leader’s instructions. Following Napoleon’s instructions blindly, blindly, blindly …
Freedom of Speech …
Are all these things which we receive as gifts, the talents and circumstances mentioned above, are they received as gifts from the all powerful state? At some guaranteed minimum level we are promised free health care, free education, free housing, a guaranteed income sufficient to our basic needs, and so on.
So what about those talents and circumstances which provably don’t derive from our political and societal masters, which seem to spring from the human person in spite of the desires of our masters? Where do all those gifts come from? And if our masters truly are capable of meeting all our needs then how can there be poor people?
Freedom of worship …
In a society where even the least of it’s citizens are promised everything they need by their government what is there to be grateful for?
Unless there is something greater than the state, there really isn’t any reason to be grateful since everything we have is our due, and deserved, right?
What is there to be grateful for then, unless we look at the state’s relation to our talents and abilities.
The government line notwithstanding we are manifestly not created equal and there are great disparities of ability and talent and motivation within the bell curve of our population.
Even the notional IQ of 100 being considered “normal” for the purposes of program eligibility implies a tacit acknowledgement on the part of the state that some people are “more equal” than others. so what is one to make of this provable and acknowledged inequality of talent and ability.
Is there some higher source of those personal talents which we are born with, something beyond merely accident of birth, the lottery of genetics, and so on?
More on “Gratitude” in a future post …
So much to be grateful for … why do we throw it all away for a handful of glass beads and promises? Let the scouring begin.
“En Priere”, Bill Douglas, from the album “Kaleidoscope”, (1993)
20Then Job rose up, and rent his garments, and having shaven his head fell down upon the ground and worshipped,
21And said: Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: as it hath pleased the Lord so is it done: blessed be the name of the Lord.
22In all these things Job sinned not by his lips, nor spoke he any foolish thing against God. Job 1: 20-22
From Job 1: 20-22 Old Testament to Luke 22: 1-13 New Testament
The treason of Judas. The last supper. The first part of the history of the passion.
 Now the feast of unleavened bread, which is called the pasch, was at hand.  And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might put Jesus to death: but they feared the people.
 And Satan entered into Judas, who was surnamed Iscariot, one of the twelve.  And he went, and discoursed with the chief priests and the magistrates, how he might betray him to them.
 And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money.  And he promised. And he sought opportunity to betray him in the absence of the multitude.
 And the day of the unleavened bread came, on which it was necessary that the pasch should be killed.  And he sent Peter and John, saying: Go, and prepare for us the pasch, that we may eat.
 But they said: Where wilt thou that we prepare?  And he said to them: Behold, as you go into the city, there shall meet you a man carrying a pitcher of water: follow him into the house where he entereth in.
 And you shall say to the goodman of the house: The master saith to thee, Where is the guest chamber, where I may eat the pasch with my disciples?  And he will shew you a large dining room, furnished; and there prepare.  And they going, found as he had said to them, and made ready the pasch.
All is gift, and nothing have we here which we deserve or earn but by talents and abilities given us at birth by God the Father. And all that we earn is apportioned in goods of this world, all of which have their origin in God the Father. We do not create anything but rather are more or less talented manipulators of what the Creator made or set in motion.
St. Luke directs our attention to the actions and motivations of Judas Iscariot, and points out that Satan entered into Judas. Satan made use of Judas’ free will and his natural human propensity for self interest and evil.
All that follows is orchestrated by Satan using his “minions” and “useful idiots”. The conduct of the humans in this account and in the affairs in this world down through the ages reveals clearly what Satan desires.
Destruction, dissension, selfishness, suffering, dishonesty, suffering and misery, all the clear outcome of Satan stirring up all that is evil in the human heart.
And yet Christ has intimate and detailed knowledge of all that is to come, and Satan and humans, all creatures of the Father, have free rein because the omnipotent Father and the Son embrace that freedom in their creatures.
Satan and Judas freely decide to betray Jesus and Peter and John freely decide to obey Him. And all four of them equally prepared the Passover in accordance with God’s will.
C.S. Lewis calls these aspects “simple good” and “complex good”. The obedience of John and Peter is simple good, the good that comes out of the evil of Satan aided by Judas is a complex good, in other words good wrought by God out of the evil of mankind.
We are all of us faced daily with exactly this choice, to obey, or to disobey, and thereby choosing our path and the next set of choices we are faced with.
“It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.” Tolkien, “The Return of the King”
Do you ever do or say things that, on later thought, you are not real proud of? I can think of lots of things over the last 65 years or so. Saying I was sorry or made up for it or didn’t know any better or … whatever still doesn’t make them OK in my own estimation and I am very much self loving and self centered. How does it look to a loving Father to see His child behaving so badly?
Not real comfortable with yesterday’s post. Can’t take it back, but there it is, not comfortable with the actions and opinions of my yesterday self. Blogging has this good/bad side, in that you can reconsider what you have opined at a later date and no matter how hard you thought about it at the time, it comes about that later you may not feel that way or may see problems with your thinking, see the smart remark or acid image for what it really is, none other than a reflection on your own lack of charity and poor judgment. At the same time, having posted it one cannot deny that you thought and said it, can’t pretend to a personal superiority you don’t have.
Yesterday I posted a caustic image reflecting judgement upon some prominent people who I don’t really know at all, simply finding myself offended by their stated views I judge, and judge harshly. No only that but I share that judgement by way of this venue with other like minded viewers thereby compounding the harm that I do by my harsh judgements.
“Brothers, I want to send all of you away comforted today. So if you ask me my sentiment on the number of those who are saved, here it is: Whether there are many or few that are saved, I say that whoever wants to be saved, will be saved; and that no one can be damned if he does not want to be. And if it is true that few are saved, it is because there are few who live well.
As for the rest, compare these two opinions: the first one states that the greater number of Catholics are condemned; the second one, on the contrary, pretends that the greater number of Catholics are saved. Imagine an Angel sent by God to confirm the first opinion, coming to tell you that not only are most Catholics damned, but that of all this assembly present here, one alone will be saved. If you obey the Commandments of God, if you detest the corruption of this world, if you embrace the Cross of Jesus Christ in a spirit of penance, you will be that one alone who is saved.
Now imagine the same Angel returning to you and confirming the second opinion. He tells you that not only are the greater portion of Catholics saved, but that out of all this gathering, one alone will be damned and all the others saved. If after that, you continue your usuries, your vengeances, your criminal deeds, your impurities, then you will be that one alone who is damned.
What is the use of knowing whether few or many are saved? Saint Peter says to us, “Strive by good works to make your election sure.” When Saint Thomas Aquinas’s sister asked him what she must do to go to heaven, he said, “You will be saved if you want to be.” I say the same thing to you, and here is proof of my declaration. No one is damned unless he commits mortal sin: that is of faith. And no one commits mortal sin unless he wants to: that is an undeniable theological proposition.
Therefore, no one goes to hell unless he wants to; the consequence is obvious. Does that not suffice to comfort you? Weep over past sins, make a good confession, sin no more in the future, and you will all be saved. Why torment yourself so? For it is certain that you have to commit mortal sin to go to hell, and that to commit mortal sin you must want to, and that consequently no one goes to hell unless he wants to. That is not just an opinion, it is an undeniable and very comforting truth; may God give you to understand it, and may He bless you. Amen.”
Rather Sobering … not many “cheers” here.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free. In the end we are all free to choose whether to reject this world and all it’s temptations or acquiesce to the easy path. We choose to be free or to be slaves.
Continuing in my visit to “Finding True Happiness” by Robert Spitzer, PhD. The last post ended on the feeling of “cosmic emptiness”. We continue with “cosmic alienation”.
” …We may now consider cosmic alienation. Alienation from the vantage point of this world generally signifies “not having a place in” or not being “at home in” family, friends, workplace, community, or the culture. This sense of being an outsider not only brings with it “loneliness” but also an absence of worth or respectability — a sense of “not being welcome”.
Cosmic alienation has many of the same attendant feelings but does not arise out of “this worldly” contexts.
It is not unusual for people to feel perfectly at home with family, friends, community and culture yet still feel a pervading sense of not being at home or not being welcome, or being an outsider.
If they are reflective, they are likely to ask “Why do I feel a lack of acceptance or welcome, a sense of being left out in my own home, when I have a wonderful family and friends as well as an agreeable community and culture?”
They might notice that their feeling has a much more general context than the specific context of family and friends. “I feel out of sorts with everything, not at home with the totality of things, an outsider in the whole cosmos … they are at home in small and intimate contexts but not at home in the biggest context of all.
Atheistic existentialists would interpret this as yet another sign of the absurdity of life and the inevitably of despair… religious existentialists see this as God’s invitation to move more closely to our ultimate home — the transcendent, perfect and eternal home.
If we do not respond to this invitation,the feelings will persist and they can produce a sense of purposelessness, malaise, and cynicism about life. Yet these feelings need not do this, for they can incite us to search for the ultimate and the transcendent, which can lead us to our ultimate home.
Homeland, Bill Douglas, 2002
Hope you had a peaceful and happy New Years Eve and on into the coming year. Next post we look at cosmic loneliness …
Hobbiton, near Matamata, North Island, New Zealand
This time of year invites consideration of things beyond the daily trail. I’m reading a very interesting book just now titled “Finding True Happiness” by one Robert Spitzer, PhD. He has many answers to questions and feelings which have been recurring themes in my thoughts for years.
Some brief excerpts: “… our five transcendental desires for perfect truth, love, goodness, beauty, and being (home) will continue to affect us whether we acknowledge them or not. We will still want to know everything about everything, even if we abandon the pursuit of truth; still desire perfect love, even if we think it does not exist; still desire perfect justice and goodness, even if we have been disappointed by people’s conduct and the judicial system; still desire perfect beauty, even if we believe that it is unattainable; and still desire perfect being (home) , even if we believe that there is nothing beyond us but emptiness and darkness.”
“… It seems that we have been created for transcendent life and fulfillment, and if Plato and many schools of transcendental philosophy are correct, then God (perfect truth, love, goodness, beauty, and being) is the source of our transcendental awareness, desire, and nature. We might infer that through our transcendental desires, God is giving us a gigantic clue about who we are and what will make us ultimately happy.”
And like so many things in life there is always two sides to the question, observation, view, depending on which way one chooses to look at things. Who has not felt, strongly at times, emptiness, alienation, loneliness and guilt? Who has not at times asked “Just what is the point of all this?”
Maybe we felt this way so strongly at times that the temptation to just end it all loomed large? Doesn’t everyone have these times, these dark nights where one questions everything? I wonder if everyone feels these things? I suspect that we all do, since I certainly don’t see myself as unique and special, that I have some elevated perception of reality that gives me a special take on things. I am just old ordinary Joe, like everyone else in this corner of the swamp.
O course Spitzer also has something else to say on the opposites to the above transcendental desires. He brings up the four negative states of being elucidated by existentialists like Kierkegaard, Marcel, Scheler, Jaspers, and Buber. These states are Cosmic emptiness, alienation, loneliness, and guilt. These cosmic states are something beyond this world’s feelings of absence of purpose in life, not fitting in or being rejected by people or institutions, the absence of family or friends, or feelings arising from doing harm to a person or a group of persons.
Eternity’s Sunrise, Bill Douglas, 2000.
“… Before examining them (the four cosmic negative states) we need to define the term “cosmic”. This term is used here with one of its common connotations —- “infinitely or or inconceivably vast”, which implies “the totality of being”. Thus “cosmic emptiness” is a feeling that there is nothing outside of us except emptiness, darkness, and coldness, “cosmic alienation” refers to a feeling of not fitting into or not having a real place in the whole order of things, “cosmic loneliness” refers to a sense of being alone in the totality of things, and “cosmic guilt” refers to a feeling of living beneath our true calling and responsibility in the cosmic struggle between good and evil.
These four feelings are perceived as negative because they indicate a radically incomplete state of being and suggest not only that something is missing, but “what is missing” is essential to our happiness, completeness, purpose, and fulfillment. … we feel like we are not our whole selves.
… let us begin with “cosmic emptiness”. For Kierkegaard andother religious existentialists, this feeling arises out of an absence of purpose not in the immediate world around us but in the totality of being. This is manifest by an overriding sense of boredom present even amid a beautiful family, a successful career, material comforts, terrific friends, and just about everything a person could want in this world. The boredom keeps telling us that there should be something more — yet it does not seem to be apparent in the natural world. … the longer we submit to the emptiness, the closer we come to despair.
… Atheist existentialists like Camus and Sartre exclude the possibility of transcendental fulfillment, meaning that these feelings of emptiness cannot be overcome. This makes life absurd and despair inevitable. However, religious existentialists believe that this cosmic boredom and emptiness are not a pure negative but rather a call beckoning us to go beyond (transcend) a merely superficial purpose in life. … “
More next post, read if interested or skip on to the next pasture if this is “boring”.
“May God grant you always…
A sunbeam to warm you, a moonbeam to charm you,
a sheltering Angel so nothing can harm you.
Laughter to cheer you. Faithful friends near you.
And whenever you pray, Heaven to hear you.”