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To them all faith is blind faith

To them all faith is blind faith

Postby deadwhitemale » 10 Mar 2009, 04:59

On the few other message board forums I haven't been exiled from (yet) -- on the few where I am tolerated chiefly just as a laughing stock, the butt of relentless ridicule, mockery, and personal attacks/smears (usually of a really nasty, vicious, below-the-belt sort) -- they think I have too much faith. I, of all people, when what I have is little or no more than a cold, dull intellectual assent to a set of doctrines or dogmas. I just think it's true.

But "the devils also believe, and tremble." I don't think God is on my side. I don't quite see how believing any of it helps me or works to my benefit in the here and now. I shake my head in bewilderment at these people who have suffered some ghastly misfortune -- like that country musician whose daughter was run over and killed in his own driveway, or the family of that woman who was mutilated by the chimpanzee -- who go on TV and talk about how their faith has sustained them.

I get no such sustenance from my so-called "faith." I am actually afraid to pray anymore, since I can usually count on the exact opposite of whatever I pray for happening. I feel like whoever that was the Psalmist cursed to have his very prayers rebound or ricochet onto him as curses. I have relatively little confidence that I will even get any of the pie in the sky, by and by.

And yet, they mock me for having a faith that can hardly be called a faith, and consider me too religious, even crazily so (and they are all amateur psychologists, and love to throw out pseudo-medical diagnoses like "paranoid" and "crazy") for just barely believing Christianity is true, at least in its essentials.

They are unable to distinguish a miserable, wretched clod like me from these people (whom I call "Jerkies," after those folks in Lewis' unfinished novel, The Dark Tower), who wear permanent, frozen, rictus-like grins, hopping up and down in place with hand claps and glad little cries of "Praise, praise!" or whatever.

They think everyone who believes anything at all is like that, or else is some kind of abortion clinic bomber. (And they seem to think there are an awful lot of abortion clinic bombers running around loose. I can only name one, off the top of my head, and I believe he's in prison.)

A lot of days I can't even open the mail anymore. I can't even go down and get the mail, or take out my trash, or go out and buy groceries, and I have no one to help me with anything. I'm just growing old and I guess dying alone, like I always knew I would. (And now someone will say "always knowing I would" made it happen, that it's a "self-fulfilling prophecy." Yeah, they really believe in the power of positive thinking, that "wishing (or fearing) makes it so." I might say they're the ones with the blind faith. Maybe I always had pretty good idea how things were going to play out because I was relatively good at reading the writing on the wall.)

Aaand I just realized I probably posted this in the wrong forum. I guess it should really go in Religion, Science, and Philosophy. Feel free to move it there, whoever can. I won't kick.

DWM
"It is when we try to grapple with another man's intimate need that we perceive how incomprehensible, wavering, and misty are the beings that share with us the sight of the stars and the warmth of the sun." -- Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim(1899?)
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Re: To them all faith is blind faith

Postby postodave » 10 Mar 2009, 08:52

You remind me of some of the darker psalms - I wish I could think of the numbers - but the ones where David feels everybody is mocking him and his God. In my darker moments I have taken comfort in David saying 'I would have despaired if I had not believed I would see the goodness of God in the land of the living'. And I am sure you are in many ways closer to God than some who are more at ease. What happens if you read some of the darker strands of Christian poetry, the despairing believers like Hopkins terrible sonnets or Donne in his moments of doubt or Lewis in A Grief Observed. Can you perhaps find some fellowship with those who have trod the dark path in the past.
So I drew my sword and got ready
But the lamb ran away with the crown
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Re: To them all faith is blind faith

Postby john » 10 Mar 2009, 08:55

deadwhitemale wrote: Aaand I just realized I probably posted this in the wrong forum. I guess it should really go in Religion, Science, and Philosophy. Feel free to move it there, whoever can. I won't kick.


It wouldn't have been difficult for you to save me the trouble by copying and pasting your own post. But since you didn't...
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Re: To them all faith is blind faith

Postby deadwhitemale » 10 Mar 2009, 12:32

john wrote:
deadwhitemale wrote: Aaand I just realized I probably posted this in the wrong forum. I guess it should really go in Religion, Science, and Philosophy. Feel free to move it there, whoever can. I won't kick.


It wouldn't have been difficult for you to save me the trouble by copying and pasting your own post. But since you didn't...



I'm sorry. I didn't realize I was allowed to do that. I thought it took a mod or an admin to do it.

DWM
"It is when we try to grapple with another man's intimate need that we perceive how incomprehensible, wavering, and misty are the beings that share with us the sight of the stars and the warmth of the sun." -- Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim(1899?)
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Re: To them all faith is blind faith

Postby deadwhitemale » 10 Mar 2009, 12:42

postodave wrote:You remind me of some of the darker psalms - I wish I could think of the numbers - but the ones where David feels everybody is mocking him and his God. In my darker moments I have taken comfort in David saying 'I would have despaired if I had not believed I would see the goodness of God in the land of the living'. And I am sure you are in many ways closer to God than some who are more at ease. What happens if you read some of the darker strands of Christian poetry, the despairing believers like Hopkins terrible sonnets or Donne in his moments of doubt or Lewis in A Grief Observed. Can you perhaps find some fellowship with those who have trod the dark path in the past.



Thank you. That's very kind. I hope you're right,and not giving me more credit than I deserve. Yes, I find some fellowship in some of the Psalms, and in some of Lewis' writings, including A Grief Observed. One thing Lewis said I really appreciated, but my memory has gotten so bad I can't quote it without looking it up. Well, I looked it up and here it is:

' It is hard to have patience with people who say "There is no death" or "Death doesn't matter." There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say that birth doesn't matter. '

I only know a few lines of Donne's, mostly picked up in passing from movies, such as "I run to death, and death meets me as fast, and all my pleasures are as yesterday," used as a sort of epigraph at the beginning of The Seventh Victim (1943?). Oh, yeah, and the one that provided the title and epigraph of For Whom the Bell Tolls. And I think there was something in 84 Charing Cross Road . Hopkins' work I don't know at all. I must look it up.

I seem to think a lot about death lately. Not just biological death either, but also the "death" of non-sentient (as far as we know) things like hedges and trees, and inanimate things like houses, or other things my father built, or the social milieus and "worlds" built and bequeathed to us by earlier generations, and abstract things like hopes and dreams.

Anyway, thanks.

DWM
Last edited by deadwhitemale on 10 Mar 2009, 13:21, edited 2 times in total.
"It is when we try to grapple with another man's intimate need that we perceive how incomprehensible, wavering, and misty are the beings that share with us the sight of the stars and the warmth of the sun." -- Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim(1899?)
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Re: To them all faith is blind faith

Postby Karen » 10 Mar 2009, 13:11

DWM, I'd stay away from message boards where you're being mocked. Why deliberately subject yourself to more pain?

postodave has suggested some excellent reading. I would add St. John of the Cross' Dark Night of the Soul, which you can read online here.

It's pretty clear to me that you're suffering from depression, but there is help available for you. Please, please, get in touch with your local mental health center. If you tell me where you live (either post it or by PM), I'll be happy to look up the nearest place for you.
I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library. -- Jorge Luis Borges
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Re: To them all faith is blind faith

Postby archenland_knight » 10 Mar 2009, 14:09

Karen wrote:DWM, I'd stay away from message boards where you're being mocked. Why deliberately subject yourself to more pain?


Yeah! Why bother with message boards where you're being mocked? It doesn't sound like you're trying to "reach" them, which would probably be futile effort anyway. Forget about them. You don't need them. Right now you only need things in your life that help you solve problems or that lift you up emotionally and spiritually. Everything else, you should trim away.

Karen wrote:It's pretty clear to me that you're suffering from depression, but there is help available for you. Please, please, get in touch with your local mental health center. If you tell me where you live (either post it or by PM), I'll be happy to look up the nearest place for you.


I've really got to agree with Karen on this. It sounds like classic, textbook clinical depression. It's not your fault, but it's also not something you can just "snap out" of. You need treatment.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "Karen and Arch, are either one of you trained Mental Health practitioners?" Well, I don't know about Karen, but I'm not. However, let me offer an analogy.

If I'm walking down the street, and I see some poor guy laying on the ground and bleeding profusely from a hole in his chest, I don't have to be a surgeon to know the dude needs medical attention.

And when someone has the symptoms you have, it's pretty obvious that he is suffering from genuine depression. Like I said, no one blames you for it! You've been through some awful things, and it's no wonder you're suffering. So it's time for you to take care of you for a change.

Karen or I either one will be happy to help you find somewhere, as no doubt will any hospital or Mental Health facility in your area. Please don't let this get any worse than it already is.

And now, in keeping with the spirit of Through the Wardrobe, some encouraging words from my personal favorite Lewis chacter, the archdemon Screwtape:

Screwtape wrote:Now it may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He [God] relies on the troughs even more that on peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else. The reason is this. To us a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense. But the obedience which the Enemy demands of men is quite a different thing. One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself—creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is filled and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct.
........

Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon the universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.


(Emphasis mine.)


DWM ... get some help for your depression, hold fast to the faith, and someday I am certain (probably not tomorrow or the next day, but some day), you will be brought through this and out the other side, and you will know that in fact God was with you all along even though you can not perceive Him at the moment.

I'll be praying for you, bro.
Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
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Re: To them all faith is blind faith

Postby john » 10 Mar 2009, 14:41

deadwhitemale wrote:I'm sorry. I didn't realize I was allowed to do that. I thought it took a mod or an admin to do it.


Only the administrator or moderator can move a post, but a member can copy their post from one location and paste it elsewhere. ;)
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Re: To them all faith is blind faith

Postby Peter P » 10 Mar 2009, 19:08

DWM -

this probably won't help much, but I think it was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who wrote in his prison diaries (just before being executed by the Nazis in April 1945) that "We serve a God who forces us to live in a world without God".

Not quite the stuff of uplifting hymns, and I've struggled long and hard to try to understand what he really meant by it, and whether I agree with it.

But Bonhoeffer was a special man. And the saying is a very "hard" one, and for those two reasons alone I'd bet that it's true!

To be honest, it does ring true in my own experience....

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Re: To them all faith is blind faith

Postby AllanS » 10 Mar 2009, 20:51

Many forums are orc-pits that confirm Lewis's vision of Hell. The very air is toxic. It takes a special breed of angel to live there for long.

Remember Job. "Though he slay me, yet will I love him." Let the mockers have their moment. As for you (and me), seek God defiantly. Even heroically.
“And turn their grief into song?" he replied. "That would be a gracious act and a good beginning."

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Re: To them all faith is blind faith

Postby postodave » 10 Mar 2009, 23:30

I did wonder after I wrote my reading suggestions about adding John of the Cross - so thanks Karen:
Here is Hopkins at his bleakest - indeed it is probably one of the bleakest Christian poems ever:
NO worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,
More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.
Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?
My cries heave, herds-long; huddle in a main, a chief
Woe, world-sorrow; on an age-old anvil wince and sing—
Then lull, then leave off. Fury had shrieked ‘No ling-
ering! Let me be fell: force I must be brief’.

O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne’er hung there. Nor does long our small
Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep,
Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all
Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.

And here he is in a brighter mood to show the contrast:
7. God’s Grandeur

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

The point is these perceptions are all his, all part of the one spiritual journey. One of the best books I have read about depression is Gerard O'Mahoney's 'Finding the still point' O'Mahoney a Jesuit Priest like Hopkins is himself diagnosed as manic depressive and has a lot of wisdom on coping with that. If you can find a copy it's worth a look. And talking of the still point there is a lovely passage in Mother Julian (Mother Julian calls God the still point)where she says that it is when we feel nothing in prayer, when we are empty sick and weak, and feel we are doing no good that our prayers are most precious to God. Do please follow up on the suggestions to seek medical help.
So I drew my sword and got ready
But the lamb ran away with the crown
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