Saturday 29 April 2017

Dealing With the Modern World

We currently live in a world of such spiritual darkness that almost everybody, the apparently virtuous and the obvious sinner alike, lives in a state of deep illusion. Illusion about the world and illusion about themselves. Does that mean that if we are beginning to see through this illusion and the modem myth of human progress we can congratulate ourselves? A little perhaps. It is certainly to our credit if we do see through it given the forces ranged against us. Our education, our culture and often even our religion, if we have any, are all dominated by the modern ethos. However we should mostly respond with gratitude and humility. For if we do see through the illusion it is not primarily on account of our own personal qualities but through grace. Yes, in a certain sense grace has to be earned but, at the same time, it is God given and cannot be considered a right in the unfortunate modern way of looking at things. There are no rights in spirituality. There is love and there are gifts but there are no rights.

So education and the media, practically all contemporary arts and sciences and even much religion, all conspire today against spiritual truth. They would have it that we live in a world of chance, without purpose, and with beauty, goodness and truth being subjective realities that have no existence beyond the material world and our own minds. This is the artificial reality we have created for ourselves and for which we strive to invent a way of being that fits its emptiness but at the same time gives us some sense of meaning, however denuded of real meaning that is. Our false reality becomes like a self-fulfilling prophecy as the more acceptance we give it in our minds, the more real it becomes and a downward negative spiral that feeds on itself is created. The walls of our prison become thicker. If we want to escape we cannot accept some parts of this illusion and try to adjust any burgeoning spiritual beliefs we have to that. We must, if we are to liberate ourselves from its snares, reject it wholesale. If we don't do this our spirituality will inevitably accommodate itself to the false reality. 

This puts us in a difficult position and for two principal reasons. On the one hand, there is the temptation of pride. We are enlightened and pure. Others are blinded by ignorance and a refusal to see things as they are. The understanding that all truth and goodness is of God and if it comes to us then he has given it should help to deal with that. 

But then there is the problem of how we relate to those, the great majority, who are not only ignorant of spiritual truth but who actively reject it. This is a real problem, especially when such people may be our own family members. However I think the answer is simple even if it is not easy. We must just remain faithful to the truth as we know it and never compromise. That doesn't mean we should become confrontational but we should quietly yet firmly hold to what is right and true, not pushing it where it is unwanted but offering it where it might be needed. I have learnt (through long and sometimes bitter experience!) that there is very little point in arguing with those who deny or don't want to know spiritual truth. You can state first principles but should then leave it at that. The mind can argue for or against anything and you won't get anywhere by trying to persuade someone of something he doesn't want to believe. (Which raises the question of why people don't want to believe but that's a different story). So simply state the truth of God's existence and expand on that if asked to do so. 

Otherwise remember the words of Jesus that “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple." Clearly these are not meant literally and are not an excuse for cult members to abandon familial love and responsibilities for note the addition of one's own life. However they do point to the fact that truth must come before all else and if people close to us consistently reject truth we must not allow that to deflect us from the proper path.

Ultimately dealing with the modern world is not that hard. We have to reject its falsehoods and illusions, knowing that the Kingdom of God is not of this world. But then nor is this world separate from God and one day it too will be redeemed and made holy.


Bruce Charlton said...

Well said - although in my experience we are sometimes forced-into confrontation (for example in the workplace)... at any rate avoiding confrontation sometimes requires exceptional interpersonal skills and a rare temperament (neither of which I possess!).

I find it helpful to assume that I accepted to be born into this situation - with its particular spiritutal difficulties - and that this life was chosen for me (by God) - (overall, not in all specifics) because, potentially, it could do me the most good (plus my life has the potenital to do others good - but I think the personal aspect is likely to be dominant for most people).

This life, this world, is what I need most - and I should make the best of it.

William Wildblood said...

Yes, Bruce. I think your last sentence sums it all up and is the best attitude for anyone in this position to take. In fact, I was more or less told as much.