In my faith, God appears before us all the time and yet we do not see God's presence. But sometimes it is so over-powering even we cannot look away. This often happens in moments of great suffering and pain, in my experience, as if the veil we place over our eyes to protect ourselves from God's overwhelming love is somehow lifted paradoxically by suffering. I have never felt closer to God than during some of the worst moments of my life.
In suffering the attack on New York, some people were filled with the euphoria of oneness, the elusive and almost orgasmic thrill of being utterly absorbed by the group, no longer alone in fear and pain. For one moment the fear was repelled by strength of numbers, the alienation and loneliness replaced with perfect acceptance and unity, and the sense of relentless exploitation by our consumer society replaced with a sense of righteous common purpose. Then the burden of daily reality came flooding back, leaving the people even more afraid than before. They yearned with every fiber of their being to regain that orgasmic euphoria, and so we began the bombing and invasions.
This yearning for transcendence, through god worship or war or sex or heaven-knows-what is irrational and deadly. If you want to feel good about yourself, stop telling yourself that you're a sinner in the hands of an angry god. Stop looking to others for acceptance and a sense of purpose and look within. Accept who you are, like who you are, and do good to feel good.
"as if the veil we place over our eyes to protect ourselves from God's overwhelming love is somehow lifted paradoxically by suffering."
1. as if
This is not poetry; this is the language of wishful thinking and self-delusion. If you can see the world as it is (or, worse, as it has been), and still talk about "God's overwhelming love," you are not dealing with "paradox." You're inventing and sustaining something that isn't what you tell other people it is, and isn't what you tell yourself it is. How that differs (or doesn't) from psychosis is beyond the scope of the present discussion.
I'm still stuck at the idea that Jesus died to end suffering, yet by suffering you please Jesus.
I don't think it's transcendence as much as a sense of clarity and righteousness. Also, the self-delusion Mr. Wonderful mentioned, but they don't view it as that.
Art and love can be pretty "transcendent" - but movement conservatives hate the former, and in a sense the latter with their war on compassion. I suppose they find double wetsuit and diaper sex transcendent. But hey, consenting (or paying) adults, and after you've de-funded the arts, I guess ya take what ya can get.
On the JC thing - most Christian theology would hold that JC eliminated a specific type of suffering, but your point is still valid - for many a church, that is. Gotta sell that guilt! I'm reminded of the self-flagellation scene in The Seventh Seal.
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