Friday, 13 October 2017

More on Truth and Love

I’ve written before about truth and love and the necessity to keep a proper balance between them. Lean too far in either direction and you will fall into error either through rigidly enforcing law without mercy, as a political far right might do, and so becoming hard-hearted and dogmatic, or else by abandoning law for the sake of a sentimentalized love that recognizes no distinctions and no overarching truth, as the left does, thereby consolidating and confirming people in sin and ignorance. We can even look at these as masculine and feminine type reactions, at the same time noting that they are often provoked by an extremist attitude on the other side. Extremes breed extreme responses. To get this right requires a high level of discernment as well as honest motivation, and it is one of the primary tasks of the spiritual aspirant though really it is the duty of any individual to make some steps along this path.

The Pharisees condemned Christ because he favoured mercy over the law. In their eyes anyway. Actually he did not. He just didn’t reduce mercy to insignificance when set against the law. He kept the balance between the two and responded to each situation on an individual basis rather than an inflexible, set in stone one. Unlike the Pharisees he treated human beings in a human way not as impersonal objects to be fitted into an unbending dogma. But he also worked from law and truth as can be evidenced in numerous passages of the Gospels, for example when he said that he did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfil it or when, in John chapter 14 verse 15, he stated clearly and unequivocally "If you love me, keep my commandments".

The point is Jesus looked into the heart and if he saw goodness there he aimed to bring it out. He saw rigidity in the hearts of the Pharisees so contested them. Not because of their adherence to the Law but because of their hard-heartedness in enforcing it. He looked into the heart of sinners and sometimes he saw true spiritual feeling there, albeit overlaid by sin. So he encouraged them to come to him but that required a willingness on their part to repent of their sins, certainly to recognize that they were in a state of sin and do their best to move out of that. He reached out to people and called them to repent and change. If they were not willing to do that and wanted spiritual reward without being willing to renounce their sinful ways he would not have persevered with them. They would have been as bad as the Pharisees, at the other end of the spectrum of sinfulness. Their spiritual sincerity and desire to change were paramount.

It can never be repeated too often. Jesus did not come to make us happy in our earthly selves but to bring us to holiness. He loved and he forgave but above all he was the Truth and he required all those who followed him to walk in the way of truth. If they did not, well then they could not be his disciples. You cannot have Jesus and sin any more than you can have God and Mammon. If you love me, keep my commandments means if you don't keep, or at least try to keep, my commandments then you don't love me. Jesus brought mercy but not a cheap and false mercy that overlooked sin because sin is fundamentally what separates a person from God. To warn people against sin and the spiritual self-injury that results from it is not hard-hearted but truly merciful because it frees the soul from captivity.

We are all sinners but the spiritual person recognizes this, accepts it and tries to put it right. He doesn’t try to excuse or justify his sin. Likewise the spiritual teacher will talk of God's forgiveness but forgiveness is conditional on proper repentance. Again, truth and love must go together. You cannot have one without the other.

This idea has a bearing on the current difficulty in the Catholic church. I am referring to the so called 'filial correction' issued by some senior members of the Catholic hierarchy to the Pope. This is in response to his apparent opening up of Holy Communion to those who have disqualified themselves from receiving it by their way of life, principally, as I understand it, divorced people and others who have broken with traditional sexual standards. The reasoning of those who support the Pope in this is that he is bringing more people to God through the exercise of mercy and forgiveness. The concern of those who are against it is that he is offering forgiveness regardless of any repentance and thereby rebranding sin as not sin and starting the inevitable slide into moral relativism. 

It does seem to me that at the very least the Pope is being naive if he thinks that lowering the bar of what it means to be spiritual will do anything other than reduce God's truth to a worldly parody of it. You may increase quantity. You will certainly reduce quality. You simply cannot compromise truth and the excuse of love is no justification. At the same time you cannot use the excuse of truth to act unlovingly to God's children.  What the Pope should do is affirm traditional teaching while saying that the door is always open for repentant sinners who will be welcomed home as was the prodigal son. But note that the prodigal son had to return to his father. His father did not go to him. Yes, Jesus did come to us as that was his special mission, but he still required (and requires) us to come to him on his terms, the terms of truth, not on any of our own. There is no way round this. I can understand and sympathise with Catholics who regard this revised teaching with alarm, and I can appreciate their dilemma in that they have to go against their supreme authority on Earth. But there is a higher authority and they have to be faithful to that above all. Frankly, they've rather got themselves tied in knots with their doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope which comes very close to idolatry in my view.

So truth and love, always together. Neither one without the other. This is how it must be.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

The Archbishop and Homosexuality

A few days ago in an interview the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was unable to give a clear cut answer as to whether he thought homosexual acts were inherently sinful or not. See here

I'd like to help him out. If you mean by sinful spiritually unlawful then yes they are. An act against nature is an act against God and that is a sin. And these are acts against nature because, at the simplest level, they are using organs either designed or evolved (it makes little difference which word you choose in this case) for one specific purpose in a way that is quite contrary to that purpose. You may say homosexual acts are natural to a homosexual but that is irrelevant. Suppose I have a bad temper. Losing my temper is quite natural to me. That does not justify it. The bottom line (goodness, it's hard not to make double entendres with this subject) is that homosexual acts are a sin because they are a misuse of the creative energy of polarity for purely personal ends. Of course, much heterosexual activity also falls into that category and there the same rules apply. We would never have come to this position were it not for the inroads the sexual revolution has made into all aspects of human sexuality just as feminism, the female revolt against the male, would not have come about if first there had not been the male revolt against God. One thing inevitably leads to another. It's a slippery slope and it always leads downwards.

Actually I sympathise with the Archbishop. He is caught between two stools, that of the spiritual beliefs of the church he leads and that of what it means to be a good and decent person according to contemporary liberal ideology which basically amounts to treating everybody in exactly the same way regardless. But he should learn a lesson from the person he supposedly follows. I have quoted from the passage in the New Testament where Jesus confronts the crowd baying for the blood of the female adulterer before on this blog because it seems to capture so much truth in such a perfect and concise way. You will recall Jesus told the mob that he who was without sin should cast the first stone at the woman at which its members shamefacedly dispersed. Then he told the woman that he did not condemn her either and that she should go and sin no more. So her act clearly was a sin. That should help the Archbishop make up his mind. But at the same time she was not condemned, though one has to assume that she did repent and not sin any more for her forgiveness to be properly operative. Or, if she did sin, she at least recognised that it was indeed a sin and did not try to justify her act as pure.

There is the idea that in the context of a faithful, loving relationship homosexual acts might be acceptable to God. But this is to ignore the reality that they are a distortion, almost an inversion, of the energies of creation which energies are fundamental to the existence of this universe and so about as sacred as anything in our experience can be. To transgress the sacred is surely sinful, regardless of the excuse of love which word is misused anyway since the true motivation here is really desire. There is no sin in two homosexuals living together or even loving one another but their love must be pure which, in this context, means not expressed sexually. Undoubtedly such an attitude will be widely rejected nowadays and anyone holding it condemned as prejudiced, if not hateful, but that just shows how out of kilter our contemporary civilisation is with spiritual truth which it either rejects altogether or else sees in the light of the priorities of this world.

And that is the Archbishop's problem. He is spiritually weak. He is a liberal before he is a Christian so he sees acts as moral or immoral according to whether or not anyone is hurt by them in their outer worldly self, not according to whether they are in line with or against spiritual reality. He is more concerned with injuries to personal feelings than he is with those to the soul. He is right not to condemn the sinner. He is wrong not to condemn the sin. Indeed, by not condemning the sin he is condemning the sinner to spiritual error and its consequences and thus doing him greater harm in the long term. Surely the greater love is to lead people to the truth that sets them free.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Atheists and Believers

The self is a prison from which we all yearn to escape. But at the same time it is also that which frees us from fate and necessity and opens us up to the reality of love. How can we reconcile these two things? There is only one way and that is through God.

What is the difference between the self-hatred of the nihilist and the recognition that he is a sinner of the saint? Both are reacting to the reality of their selfhood and its enclosed nature in different ways, but one reacts from the self itself while the other reacts from awareness of a truth beyond the self.

Continued on Albion Awakening.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Gareth Knight and Experience of the Inner Worlds.

Although you wouldn't guess it from the title this post is about the stages on the spiritual path as defined in Sufism.The stages being:

  • Conversion and repentance
  • Fear of the Lord
  • Detachment
  • Poverty
  • Patience
  • Self-Surrender
  • Union with God
Brief commentaries on each stage are to be found on Albion Awakening.