Monday, January 01, 2007


Sigmund, Carl, and Alfred on belief in the absence of evidence.

There are days that all believers struggle with belief, injustice and evil. ‘Oh Lord, why hast Thou abandoned me,’ is universally understood- and felt. Those days require faith, not lack of faith.

Non believers would argue that belief in God is a kind of crutch- and it is in that argument that we can see that they do not understand the meaning of ‘faith in God.’ In fact, real faith is assuming a burden, obligations that would otherwise be ignored. The Jewish notion is particularly illustrative- it is one of assuming ‘the yoke of Heaven.’

With real faith there is no respite from those obligations. In fact, the obligations and ‘ascent’ are unrelenting. There is a never ending field that must be plowed so that who follow the believer will find spiritual nourishment and meaning. There are no vacations from the obligations believers assume.

Those believers who struggle with those beliefs at one time or another, are the real people of faith. To struggle with faith is as much a part of faith as anything else.

The Anchoress on the crisis of faith in the face of adversity.

In one of those weird co-incidences that seem so providential, sometimes, a reader with whom I have never corresponded before wrote to me out of the blue, about the same themes that were going ’round in my head. The last thing he wrote was this:

Fr Nouwen reminds us of how the Eucharist defines our life.
First Christ takes us as we are.
He blesses us.
Then He breaks us.
And gives us to the world to bless.


In another part of [Rumer Godden’s novel In This House of Brede], a nun who has entered after a life of heavy secular responsibilities scorns an admonishment to be more willing, more open, to what is required of her. “I have done my stint,” she says.

“Your stint,” an older nun replies, “that sounds like a measure.”

“It is a measure,” the first nun says, “my full share.”

“I think you will find,” the older nun councils, “that God does not work in measures.”

Gagdad Bob on feeling at home in the world.
Now, one thing you must immediately bear in mind is that neither of these comments were intended to convey contempt. Far from it. Rather, they were expressions of a familiar kind of pain that apparently has no name, and which I myself had never adequately articulated until reading these passages. A decent person will not automatically blame the world for the fact that he doesn't fit into it. Rather, in the absence of some kind of emotional support from like-minded people, he will naturally blame himself: the world is right. There's just something wrong with me. I am a misfit. I need to change myself so that I can be like the others. But this is no solution. Rather, it will simply exchange one kind of existential pain for another. A lion can try to fit in with the other sheep by eating grass all day, but that is far from the ideal solution. But what can you do if you've never even met another lion?

The human world is an interpersonal world. It is a tapestry of humanness that comes at us from every possible angle, high and low. Each of us must find our place within this tapestry, but it is much easier for some than for others. An "average" person apparently feels "at home" in the world, for the simple reason that the world was made for him. But if you are far from average, the world is going to literally be an alien place. It is going to be much more painful -- even bizarre. To take a mundane example, the world was made for righthanded people. If you are lefthanded, you are going to have to deal with all kinds of trivial inconveniences for the simple reason that the world literally wasn't made for you. In the not too distant past, parents would even force lefthanded children to be righthanded, which would cause real damage, similar to "enlightened" parents who try to raise their children without a strong sexual identification.