Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"I'm spiritual, but not religious"

I received today a very interesting comment on my Obscene Posting.

W,

Just before I read your post I was writing about the idea of being
"spiritual, but not religious." I see an unthoughtful, inherent neo-gnosticism in such a sentiment. Do you think that the elevation of "spirituality" over religion has anything to do with our denigration of things physical?

Jason Kranzusch

I felt that this deserved an entry on the main blog, so here it is.

It is my belief that what people mean by the statement, "I'm spiritual, but not religious," is usually "I crave some kind of deep fulfilment beyond the reach of my physical life but I refuse to be bound by any commitment to an established belief which threatens my own way of thinking." If I'm wrong, then please correct me.

This belief manifests itself mainly in the picking and mixing elements of various religions, a bit of Buddhist meditation together with a smattering of the Rosary and a dash of Dervish dancing, despite the fact that these religions teach very different things. And why is it that people who are spiritual but not religious (SBNR for short, I think) always attach themselves to old established expressions of spirituality, instead of inventing their own? I suppose that they see the spirituality that they crave manifested in a particular activity which they then adopt, being careful not to adopt any belief which is incompatible with their own thought.

Now that, as Jason says, is Gnosticism since many SBNRs will be looking mainly for an escape from the physical world (a salvation if you will) through a certain knowledge and practice, and hence involves the notional separation of the spirit from the body "spirit-good, body-bad", though I wonder how SBNRs would have fared in a Decian-style persecution. Are they willing to die for their beliefs?

However, just what is the spirituality that an SBNR seeks? It can only be a spirituality of the self, since the spirituality is put together by the self from elements that appeal to the self. In these matters, the spirituality is largely an aesthetic commodity that seeks to lift the soul from the consideration of things physical and yet is based only upon what gives the best spiritual high in life. Now, this doesn't stop the SBNR from possessing some wonderful altruistic properties.

Many SBNRs are fond of the idea of Karma, which drives them to demonstrate proper acts of respect and consideration of others. But still, the adoption of Karma apart from Buddhism and Hinduism, is the adoption of something that feels right, but there is still the refusal to commit wholeheartedly to being a Buddhist, or a Hindu.

It's the refusal to commit to anything which punctuates SBNR belief, and why this belief is largely self-justifying, self-orienting, and self-obsessed. It's a belief that cannot be shared with others; there is no koinonia, communion, or coherence, so this cannot be a belief that is truly societal. In some sense, an SBNR ought to regard Satre's "l'Enfers, c'est les autres" as being very true, for it is the existence of others that threatens the sheer individuality of SBNR belief. Since we live in a society, and have to live in a society, we can only conclude that SBNR belief, along with the great modern doctrine of Individualism, is not for the good of society. Indeed, Individualism and synchretism (essentially the method of compiling SBNR belief) have been great concerns of Pope Benedict.

We are human beings, body, mind and spirit (or body and spirit for dichotomists) and to ignore a part of our make up is a great mistake, for we ignore part of who we are and how healthy we are. Since we are truly unable to see who we really are, we have to rely on others' interactions. I can't tell how healthy my teeth are, I need someone (a dentist) to look into my mouth and tell me if there's anything wrong. If I refuse to see a dentist and declare everything to be okay, despite a niggling pain in my tooth, then it's me I'm hurting ultimately, and needlessly. Likewise, in order to know that my eyes are healthy, i need an optician, an other to help me.

We will only find true fulfilment by committing to beliefs in which other people form a vitally important part in sharing in that commitment. This commitment will involve difficulty, wrestling, searching, and much discomfort, conforming to rules, and praxes of that society, but can only contribute to our growth as human beings. However, such a commitment will constitute a religion, and the SBNRs will not like that.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

An Obscene Posting.

Does it strike anyone as odd that all of our swear words and cuss words are mainly refer to sex or bodily functions?

It seems really silly to me, because the human body is so beautifully engineered, wired, plumbed and supported. It takes so many thousands of pounds and a lot of scientific hard grafting to recreate just the simplest of human movement like a walk or a run in the laboratory. And yet we constantly degrade it by viewing it as a disgusting object.

The very act of bringing a new human being into the world, working one of God's most brilliant miracles, is regarded as something to be laughed at, or regarded as obscene. It shouldn't. But then that doesn't mean that I want to see instances of what is the most private act emblazoned upon every screen. The cheapening of this act by society is certainly an obscenity.

Well, yes, there are some bodily functions which are not all that pleasant, and yet they still have a certain potentiality about them - the potential to bring forth more life. I'm aware that you won't appreciate me waxing lyrical about things best not mentioned, but the question remains: Why do we prefer to mention killing, murder, rape, oppression to that which we regularly flush away, or do naturally. Why don't we regard "I'll kill him" as the most grotesque of obscenities? Why don't we turn away from the word "war" in disgust?

It seems that our expletives are evidence of how little we think of ourselves, others, and ultimately God. The Psalmist says:

"I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well."

Every bodily action is worthy of wonderment, from the complexity of digestion, to the blink of an eye.

And then, thanks to Fr Basil Matthews, I think of the blessed body of the Saviour in which not only did all these actions take place as they do in us, but they all took place in the full, sinless service of God, even the ones we daren't mention because they are embarrassing. When he was tiny, Our Saviour's dirty nappies praised God and were done in full service of the Divine Will. We don't like thinking about that, but it's true, because Our Lord is that wonderful "amalgamation" (for want of a better word) of Humanity with Divinity.

I suppose I'd like to live in a world in which the mechanisms of the human body are treated with more respect than the shameful acts that the human will invisages. Do you think this is possible?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Care of the Community

Finding Sanctuary is a helpful little book by Fr Christopher Jamison, the Abbot of Worth Abbey. (I keep wanting to say Abbot of Fort Worth, but that wouldn't be right, or would it...?)

Of course, one of the big cruces of Benedictine theology is the importance of Community. Community is regarded as rather negatively in modern society. We want to be independent, have everything our own way, do what we want. Well, the horrors in the Middle East prove one thing, this sort of attitude is destructive. It pulls people apart.

I look around my own parish, and I do see a Community. It's usually a community of teenagers in baseball caps, hoodies and tracksuit bottoms in procession around the streets preaching gospels of abuse at the different and vulnerable, tearing apart public edifices and waging war against my own little parish church.

It's interesting that they hate vulnerability so much, that it actually drives their community to stick together. An individual is vulnerable, a pack is not. And now we've moved, from human behaviour into the behaviour of wolves or chimps. If the leader shows weakness, he is torn from his throne and replaced by a stronger. See a group of chimps tear apart a colobos monkey, and now compare with the actions of a mob. Maybe Quatermass and the Pit had it right all along.

These communites are generated by a lust for power over the members, and to be honest, they are very stable up to a point - vide the Roman Empire. but notice how there is no stability for the individual: they cannot rely on anyone but themselves for fear that their position in the Community will be usurped.

And now we see Our Lord's prescription for His followers:- take up the least positions in the society ruled by men. Although you are treated like garbage, no-one will covet your position. The lowest of the low can always trust each other, provided that they are not consumed with gaining power.

So we are faced with two positions: face the world as an individual, or become part of a fear and power-driven community. which would you choose.

No, there is a third. We look to each other, see the needs of others; search out the vulnerable and provide them with protection and stability. It's genius! Through commitment, we gain stability, trust, even peace of mind. We can get on with enjoying life knowing that we are safe. Of course, being human, there will be ructions, and plenty of ructions happen in religious communities. The thing is, if the Rule is obeyed correctly, sheer honesty about the ructions provides the means to solving them. It's only greed for control over others that stops us from living like this.

The Lord wasn't just a pretty face, now was He?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Needling Christians










I had one of my "visions" while at Elmore. Not, one of the great ecstasies of St Hildegard of Bingen, or, I hope, the ravings of a religious nut, but just a thought that occurred to me as I looked at the sign post to Speen and mused upon the meaning of conversatio mores.

I saw a landscape rather like the bell of a trumpet or a tuba, only in darkness. Above the central abyss shone the light of Christ and around it were Christians represented by compasses who were pointing to that Light. However there seemed to me to be only one path from the ground of the landscape to the Light, all other routes would lead into the dark depths of the abyss beneath. I am sure that the compasses represented the Christians inclination to Christ, but that their position around the abyss meant that if they followed the direction from that position, they would fall into the abyss still pointing Christwards.

It doesn't do just to be magnetised to Christ. We need to be where He wants us to be in order to progress to Him.

Elmore Abbey

Well, my week on retreat is up, and I'm now back from an oasis of holiness to my usual little den of iniquity.

Seriously, though. For those of you who don't know, Elmore Abbey is the latest reincarnation (or regeneration for you fans of Doctor Who) of what was Pershore and Nashdom Abbeys. I've gained an awful lot during my visit here and so will anybody who pays a visit.

There's a worry though. The Abbot left recently to embark upon a new phase in his vocation is San Francisco, leaving 5 monks behind. This is too small a number to be lead by an Abbot, and so they are now under the auspices of their conventual prior, Dom Simon. Of these five, Dom Kenneth and Brother Hugh are, quite frankly, feeling the ravages of Time, though remain utterly committed to their profession. Despite the arrival of Brother Gordon and over 300 Oblates, the remaining 4 more able-bodied monks are struggling to keep their Abbey in order as well as maintain their commitment to the Benedictine Opus Dei (i.e. the Divine Office, not the Roman Catholic Organisation).

The world needs places like Elmore, more than ever in a society that is against the idea of community other than a means to gain social power and standing. These monasteries around the world, committed to the timeless Rules of Life and Faith according to the most influential Christians of the past, are our beacons to the Christian way of living in peace, in love and holiness. If Elmore were to fail, then a light would go out in England which would mark a terrible depth to which the spiritual health of this nation has fallen.

I do ask that you would pray sincerely with me for the wonderful Brothers of Elmore, and that they may be given strength and new members to continue their arduous and assiduous task.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A good reason why I shouldn't ever, ever be given a pen.


The Poetreader Posted by Picasa

Not one of my better doodles. It's supposed to be my friend Ed Pacht from the Anglican Continuum blog. I've done better than this but he's usually being chased by ravening wolf-spiders and vampires. Says a lot about our friendship doesn't it?

A Hell of a Time.



The other day I was on prayer ministry duty in Church with my fellow prayer-worker and to fill the gap between praying and waiting for nobody to turn, our conversation turned to the topic of Hell. Of course I was a little uncomfortable:
Hell seems the last thing that any Christian wants to get talking about, after all, Hell is the place that most people want to avoid.

I was telling her about how Hell was created out of the sheer love that God has for his children. I think we all know that we expect love to respect the object's free-will, and if we choose not to love God then, out of respect for that choice, God withdraws His "encounterable" self. The place where God will not be encountered is Hell. It's a place where He stands outside watching, and perhaps weeping, so that those who have made their choice may live the effects of that choice for Eternity.

The images in the Bible paint a picture of Hell being a place of fire and torment. Personally, I'd actually expected Hell to be ice cold, a place with no warmth, no light, and certainly no love, but then I got to thinking about what Hell-fire really is, and my thought is hardly original!

It's hunger. All beings have a hunger for God, and human beings in particular do so since we possess the image of God. We hunger after meaning in our life, self-definition, some sort of understanding of who we really are. While not all of us indulge in the pursuit of philosophy, all of us wonder at some point about the monotony of life, of the emptiness of human endeavour, the aimless meandering on this terrestrial ball. The Book of Ecclesiastes paints a picture of this sort of life - a life without God.

What saddens me is that I see so much of the elements of Hell in today's society. So many people seek to fill the emptiness of the soul with all kinds of pointless and meaningless behaviour. Actually, any behaviour can become pointless and meaningless when directed toward the self. Human beings require more than just the self. One can look at the media to see its preoccupation with sex and power and money.

The dogged pursuit of any of these is meaningless. Think what would happen if you had the power over everything in your grasp, if you had all the wealth and had slept with all the people you wanted. What then?

In God's Debris, Scott Adams suggests that the only challenge that God faces is that of destroying Himself, of tearing Himself to pieces, there is absolutely nothing else for Him to do. The thing is, that this is precisely what any finite creature would do if they were suddenly to find themselves with omnipotence a la Bruce Almighty. In Hell, where God is not, its inhabitants will be omnipotent: finite beings with all the power they need, but no challenge, no original thought, nothing left to do, the same-old same-old. You only have to look at the gangs of bored teenagers who, with nothing better to do, go rampaging on the streets. What if these poor creatures had nothing to do for all Eternity?

It certainly frightens me, and I hope that it frightens you. The only way to fill the emptiness of our being is to fill it from an eternal source - The Eternal Source, the Stream of Living Water which gives such refreshment and renewal. Now here is where we can turn our vision of Hell around and start to see the beginnings of the vision of Heaven. On Thursday, I go off on a retreat to Elmore Abbey in Newbury. Following the Traditional Benedictine Offices, these committed and venerable Christians say the same Offices, week in, week out, the same words, the same tunes, the same liturgy. While there are times when these seem samey, each of the Brothers senses a renewal, a freshness that comes from the same scripture. By confronting the monotony of life, each Brother sees deeper into his reality, and catches a glimpse of God's reality, despite the fact that nothing changes.

The only way to avoid Hell is to go to the Spring of Living water, where the unbearable emptiness of being is filled with Light.

So apart from the encounterable presence of God, what is the difference between Heaven and Hell?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Painting the Invisible King.

This may be a little difficult for those not indigenous to the U.K., though I'm sure similar problems and solutions have been argued about wherever you are. In order to control speeding offences, the British Government decided to introduce speed cameras to photograph cars that are travelling at illegal speeds. Initially they were meant to be hidden but, at the response of angry motorists, they were moved into open view and painted orange. In Blighty, there was a large debate as to whether this defeated the object. For Swanscombe, however, I was inspired to preach this.

Sermon preached at St Peter and St Paul's Church, Swanscombe on the Sunday next before Advent 2005, based on St Matthew xxv.31-46.

At the bottom of the hill
the speed camera stands
at the beginning of a sharp bend.

Its once muddy grey colour
has recently been changed
to the garish orange
of an embarrassed satsuma.

Daniel breathes a sigh of relief.

When the speed camera
was that invisible grey colour,
and half-hidden in the trees,
he would often get flashed
as he zoomed past.

It has cost him a fortune in fines.

But no more!

He now knows
when to slow down in his car,
and when to speed up again.

No more fines!

[PAUSE]

Sonya is happy too.

On too many occasions,
she has nearly collided with a car
speeding in the other direction,
even though she was keeping
to the 30 mph limit.

On the whole,
the number of accidents
has decreased since
the speed camera was painted orange.

Are speed cameras a good way
of reducing the number of drivers
speeding on the roads?

Daniel thinks they are
a cynical Government ploy
to claw back yet more money
from the motorist.

Do you think that speed cameras
should be made visible,
or kept invisible?

Whatever your thoughts may be,
one fact remains:
at the very least,
drivers do slow down when they drive past it.

This does mean that
Daniel does not knock anyone over
or collide with anyone
round this dangerous bend in the road.

Does this alter your views?

[PAUSE]

Crash!

The seventh seal is broken;
the seventh trumpet sounds;
the stars fall from the skies.

St John the Divine
looks exceedingly smug
that the Day of Judgment
is taking place
just as he said it would
in the last book of the Bible
- the Apocalypse.

Like everyone else,
you stand before the shining figure
sat upon the throne
in His resplendent glory.

His eyes are fixed upon yours
as He makes His decision.

Are you a sheep or a goat?

Do you go to His right hand
and life for all Eternity,
or to His left hand
and to a place that is rather hot?

Well, really that's between you and God.

But when you put yourself
into the picture in the Gospel,
then that very question awaits us all:
are you a sheep or a goat?

And it's a question that none of us can escape!

Jesus is showing us
that the answer is very clear cut.

Those who feed the hungry,
clothe the naked,
give drink to the thirsty,
shelter the stranger,
go upstairs.

Those who don't, go downstairs and smolder.

The Ancient of Days says to each of us in turn:

"Whatever you did
for the least of My brethren,
you did it for Me.

Whatever you failed to do
for the least of My brethren,
you failed to do it for Me."

[PAUSE]

A shout goes up
from a departing goat
destined for the Pit:

"No fair!

You should have been visible.

We'd have treated you
with some respect
if you'd been visible."

What do you think
as you stand before God?

Has he played fair
in remaining invisible?

[PAUSE]

What possible reason
does Our Lord have
for hiding His glory from us?

Surely we all want to see Him as He is,
in all His majesty?

Wouldn't it make it easier
for us to worship a visible God?

The answer to this isn't hard.

Until we are made perfect,
the full glory of His Majesty
would destroy us.

Remember, Moses on the mountain
is only permitted to see God's back
as He passes by.

Good though he is,
Moses isn't perfect,
he cannot see God and live.

But God has walked among us
- Jesus Christ -
and He didn't dazzle us
when He showed Himself
to us 2000 years ago.

Why hasn't He stayed with us as a visible king?

Then, when we see Him coming
we will know to
- help the poor,
- feed the hungry,
- clothe the naked,
- take care of the stranger.

At least then, all thos needy people
would get help.

Isn't that what God wants?

All the ills of the world cured
in one fell swoop!

If only He'd be here
then we'd know what
we're supposed to be doing.

[PAUSE]

If we think like that,
then we miss the point.

Do we really want
to paing god orange like the speed camera,
so that when we see Him coming,
we suddenly start paying attention
to the Big Issue seller,
or the starving refugee,
or the people standing
on street corners rattling tins,
all who are usually ignored?

St Theresa of Calcutta
- Mother Theresa-
says that
looking into the faces
of her little children
was like looking into the face of Christ.

"First we meditate on Jesus...
and then we go out
and look for Him in disguise."

She sees the invisible King.

She doesn't need orange paint.

For her, Christ is suddenly made visible,
His glory shining forth
from the faces of little children
needing a mother.

For her, the begging bowl
becomes the golden cup
helpd by the King.

For her,
the rags of a vagrant
become the sumptuous gowns
of golden raiment worn
by the One
Who sits on the Throne.

[PAUSE]

We acknowledge
the Kingship of Christ each Sunday.

We bow reverently at the altar
to recognise Christ.

We likewise bow or genuflect
at the Aumbry
to recognise Christ.

We sing "Hosanna in the Highest"
which loosely means
"Save us, Holy King."

For us in Church,
we have all these things
to remind us
of the invisible King with us.

But how will we recognise
the Invisible King in our week ahead?

Do we need some orange paint?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Fire Extinguishers and Tea-Trays.

My first sermon at a church I've been familiar with for years.
It's amazing how each church has a natural rhythm for preaching, and I don't think this one really fitted that rhythm too well. Still, it made the point I hope.


Sermon preached at Holy Trinity Church, Dartford on the Feast of the Transfiguration, Sunday 6th August 2006 based on St Luke ix.28-36.

The phone rings.

Professor Pangnosis
of the University Theology faculty
answers it to a warm invitation
from the physics faculty
to see the new experiment
conducted by Professor Dold.

"We think you will find this rather interesting."

Accepting the invitation gracefully,
Professor Pangnosis moves
from his comfortable wood-panelled room
covered in bookshelves
to the plexi-glass and white-walled
surroundings of the physics department
and its vague odour
of burning rubber.

He is shown into a large room
with a complicated mechanism
occupying the far wall.

Professor Dold shakes him eagerly by the hand
and shows him a seat
- not the comfortable armchair
that he’s used to,
but a grimy metal-and-fabric chair.

"Okay, Clarissa, are you ready?"
Clarissa,
Professor Dold’s assistant,
gingerly climbs into the apparatus
and clings on to two handles.

Professor Dold
types something into the computer,
turns a dial and flips a switch,
and the machine suddenly comes to life.

As the Professors and other research folk watch,
the appearance of Clarissa’s face alters,
and her clothes become dazzling white.

Beside her,
two ghostly forms appear
in the same dazzling whiteness.

The whine of the machine changes pitch
and the motor starts to slow down.

The ghosts disappear
and Clarissa returns to normal.

[PAUSE]

"Well, Pangnosis,
you’ve seen that we’ve replicated
the Transfiguration of Christ in the Laboratory
and shown it to be a certain form
of St Elmo’s fire in which the subject
is reflected twice
producing those two ghosts,
rather like a bad
television picture.

I guess this explains it all away."

"Indeed," says Pangnosis,
"you have replicated
the transfiguration of a human being
in accordance with the description
in the Gospels.

The only things missing
are the cloud and the voice of God."

"Ah, well these are easily explained
as the low-lying thunderclouds
common to a mountain,
which would be necessary
to produce the St Elmo’s fire,"
says Dold,
"If you want,
we can easily replicate that
by setting off a couple of fire extinguishers,
and I’ll rattle a tea-tray for the thunder."

Professor Pangnosis sits silently a while.
"I have two questions,"
he says finally,
"My first is:
how do you know that the Transfiguration of
Christ happened exactly like this?

[PAUSE]

Professor Dold is irritated by Pangnosis' question.

"But don’t you see, Pangnosis?

We’ve explained that
the Transfiguration can occur quite naturally:
there is no longer any mystery
about how this was done."

"But it doesn’t answer my first question,
Professor Dold.

I certainly agree with you that,
according to St Luke,
you have replicated something extraordinary.

And St Luke is the perfect man
to use to build your device:
he is a scientist.

See how he writes the account scientifically
- all facts, no dressing up with drama
or unnecessary emotion.

Francis Ford Coppola would be throwing a fit
trying to direct this according to St Luke’s account.

But my question still stands.

How do you know that this is
precisely how the Transfiguration occurred?

Were you there when it happened?"

"I believe that it’s the most likely explanation," says Dold.

"Ah, then you don’t know for sure," says Pangnosis.

"This brings me on to my second question:
what’s the point of all this?

What have you got out of your experiment
that Peter, James and John haven’t?"

[PAUSE]

Professor Dold has missed
a vital part of the experiment.

Do you remember
that he did not fulfil all the elements
of the account of the Transfiguration?

If you remember,
he misses out the cloud
that descends and throws
Peter, James and John into a blind panic.

Although Professor Dold
dismisses the cloud,
he is actually dismissing
the big part of the situation.

What is the point of the Transfiguration?

[PAUSE]

Along with Peter and James and John,
we stand on the mountainside
and see something quite wonderful.

Jesus’ appearance changes,
Dazzling bright,
he’s met by Moses and Elijah.

The veil between this world,
the reality that we observe around us
and the universe that is usually
beyond our observation,
that veil becomes transparent
and both natures of Jesus,
the human and Divine
become visible at the same time.

Infinity breaks through into a finite world.

And then the cloud comes down
and takes it all away from us.

Does that bother you?

Most Modern Scientists look
to prove conclusively either way
whether God exists
without realising that getting close to God
necessarily means getting into the cloud.
Once in the cloud, we can see nothing.

Science is useless in the cloud
because all its instruments get fogged up
its RADAR snags
and its Infra-red gets clouded
and obscured
and so Science has to make guesses.


Of course,
in Science,
they are not called guesses,
they are called theories.

In America,
the Big Bang theory is in constant battle
with the idea that the world was created
on a dark October morning in 4004 BC.

Both are theories,
and indeed many of us believe
that the Big Bang theory is most plausible,
but unless we were standing next to God
when Creation began,
we cannot know for sure
whether either theory is true.

All that we Christians do know for sure
is that somehow
God created the heavens and the earth.

[PAUSE]
However,
as Christians,
we seek something more nourishing
than explanations.

We seek God,
and to gain God is to gain love
and to gain love is to gain God.

St Paul reminds us that
"knowledge puffs up, love builds up."

What does this say
to people with doctorates?

What Professor Dold has is a machine
that can change a person’s appearance,
only offering a partial explanation
for what could have happened.

Peter, James and John,
in experiencing the Transfiguration
are left without any understanding
of what has actually happened,
but they have met more deeply with God.

Who has gained more from the Transfiguration?

Professor Dold, or the disciples?

[PAUSE]


If we truly wish to come close to God,
then we must come into the cloud
where we can be sure that
we will know nothing
save that the Lord is present in love.

If we are to receive
Communion with God in this Mass then,
as we walk up to the altar,
we too must be enveloped in that
cloud of unknowing.

Any liturgy,
or sermon,
or prayer
which offers us an understanding
of what is going on
can only take us further away
from the cloud,
and from a deeper experience
of God in our Eucharist.

[PAUSE]

We live in a world in which facts are important,
and in which Science seeks
further understanding of the Universe around us.

But Christians
believe in an existence beyond science,
beyond test-tubes,
televisions
and tea-trays.

We believe in a God
whose existence is unprovable.

Indeed,
if it were provable
by human means,
He wouldn’t really be God.

How much do you really want
to understand about God, anyway?

Will building a machine help you?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Had to include this...

How could I not link to this?

Ever so 'umble

Diadochus of Photike says that humility means "never thinking about what one deserves."

I find this quite a profound little statement. Clearly to think that one deserves any reward is out of the question, yet we often pray that our reward should be the satisfaction that we are doing the Will of God, yet really we don't even deserve that!

I am not certain of my Salvation as an hitherto completed process, since I must continue to work that out with fear and trembling as St Paul said he had to. Is it possible then that to think that one is already saved is a at least verging towards a lack of humility? Certainly those who take Communion are not showing humility.

There is a flip-side though, if we mustn't think of what we deserve, does that mean that we shouldn't consider the punishment that we deserve? Certainly there is a lack of humility within anyone who refuses to accept the grace of God on the basis that they are unworthy. Of course, we are always unworthy to receive Communion, yet it is the presence of Christ who destroys our unworthy through the Blood that we drink. But not to receive Communion on the grounds that we are unworthy is hubris. I know, I've done that!

That there are consequences for our evil actions is very clear, and we do need to consider those consequences not in the manner of judgment and thus sentencing, since that would be supplanting Christus Judex, but as a remembrance of our fallen nature and need for repentence. This is why God gave us the Sacrament of Confession in order that our humility should not be damaged by presuming His judgement.

There are schools of thought that prefer positive statements to negative ones, and this maxim of Diadochus is of course phrased negatively. How might we phrase it in a positive aspect?

Humility: "always receiving gratefully the gift of God"

What do you think?