?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Eroticdreambattle [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Tony Grist

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

Full Circle [Jun. 2nd, 2008|10:58 am]
Tony Grist
When last night's TV film about Florence Nightingale (informative but - as a film- not very good) revealed that she undertook her mission as a result of hearing the voice of God, my reaction was not- as it might once have been- "Dear me, what a loon", but ,"Seems like my kinda gal"- which shows, I suppose, that I've finally completed the circular walk I took off on 22 years ago.

At the time I didn't know it would be circular. I though I was walking away from Christianity for good. But that's not how it works, is it? 

As T.S. Eliot says-

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
.

Also, yesterday evening, I finished Balzac's Le Cure de Campagne- a novel about guilt and redemption which quite unashamedly bangs the drum for old-school catholicism- and, instead of chucking it accross the room, I laid it aside with thoughtful sympathy.

No, I'm not going to ring the bishop and ask for my dog-collar back, but- well- I have to admit the thought has fleetingly crossed my mind. 

What I care about- what I have always cared about most deeply- are the things of the spirit.
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: saare_snowqueen
2008-06-02 10:46 am (UTC)

What I care about- what I have always cared about most deeply

- are the things of the spirit.

Probably why we became friends. It seems to me that one of the great challenges of our time is to arrive a an understanding of spirituality which is as free as possible of the encrustations of dogma but which still can contain the beauty of our shared histories.
The attempt to understand 'faith' - what it is, why we have it or don't have itis no easy task. I am very happy for the spiritual growth that you seem to be achieving.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-06-02 10:59 am (UTC)

Re: What I care about- what I have always cared about most deeply

"an understanding of spirituality which is as free as possible of the encrustations of dogma but which still can contain the beauty of our shared histories."

Yes, I like that way of putting it.

It seems to me that I am returning to Christianity in order to reclaim what is beautiful in "our shared histories".

It seems like a natural process. My hand may be on the tiller, but it's the current that's carrying me.


(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: solar_diablo
2008-06-02 01:13 pm (UTC)

Re: What I care about- what I have always cared about most deeply

Perhaps the tiller can be thought of as a religious system's surface dogma and ritual? We chafe at not being able to steer our boat where we like in the current, so many of us cast the tiller away, not realizing its purpose until we're foundering on the riverbank, or making very little forward progress.

Part of me thinks that should I ever return to organized religion, the only thing that will do is to let go and start seeing the rules not as something repressive and anachronistic, but more a means to cull distractions and obstructions from the course so that I can more easily see the underlying purpose of the whole affair.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-06-02 01:43 pm (UTC)

Re: What I care about- what I have always cared about most deeply

I think that's a very good way of looking at it. Creed and ritual are attempts to express, acknowledge, affirm a truth that continually escapes us.

I don't suppose I ever will return to the church- if only for the not very profound reason that church services bore me terribly- and always did (even when I was conducting them).
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: wolfshift
2008-06-02 01:55 pm (UTC)

Re: What I care about- what I have always cared about most deeply

Creed and ritual are attempts to express, acknowledge, affirm a truth that continually escapes us.

I think you're right -- though I think there's also a trick to it, to realise that some of the "rules" are in the nature of mental and spiritual discipline to help focus on the mysterious aspects, but other rules may in fact be repressive and outdated. A religious tradition grows from many different sources, not all of them necessarily good or bad.

I guess what I'm aiming at is that if one intends to participate in an organised religion, one should do it "properly" but not blindly.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: saare_snowqueen
2008-06-02 02:04 pm (UTC)

one should do it "properly" but not blindly

I think that here you have hit upon one of the key criteria for holding a living faith. I definitely agree.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-06-02 02:11 pm (UTC)

Re: What I care about- what I have always cared about most deeply

Properly but not blindly- that's a real tightrope walk.

I find I no longer have any desire to practice a religion- but I still need a language in which to talk about spiritual things- and the language of Christianity is the one I'm most familiar with.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: wolfshift
2008-06-02 02:22 pm (UTC)

Re: What I care about- what I have always cared about most deeply

Exactly -- it's difficult to find the right balance. I expect the line is in different places for different people, and it takes work to find it.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
From: bodhibird
2008-06-02 02:01 pm (UTC)

Re: What I care about- what I have always cared about most deeply

I've found that embracing Buddhism has given me back much of what I loved in Christianity. Jesus makes a lot of sense from a Buddhist perspective, and Christianity and Buddhism resemble one another, I think, more than they resemble polytheism or even Judaism and Islam.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-06-02 02:15 pm (UTC)

Re: What I care about- what I have always cared about most deeply

I've always been attracted to Buddhism- and especially to Zen.

If I chose to use the language of Christianity it's because it's the one I know best. It's to do with familiarity, with a sense of coming home.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: saare_snowqueen
2008-06-02 02:02 pm (UTC)

Re: What I care about- what I have always cared about most deeply

That's another good description.

My daughter - whose a Pagan - and I have had many discussions across the past few years (Gods bless LJ) to try and discover how and where my beliefs interact with hers - and vice versa. It's been very, very interesting.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-06-02 02:21 pm (UTC)

Re: What I care about- what I have always cared about most deeply

I've been a Christian and I've been a Pagan- and still believe I'm a bit of both. I feel no great dislocation in moving between the two modes.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: shullie
2008-06-03 12:09 pm (UTC)

Re: What I care about- what I have always cared about most deeply

i had thought about this post and the comments over the last day, I still miss 'bits' of Christianity, some of the love, and some of the people I knew... though I have come to undertsand that the love and the honesty love that I got from thos epeople was something that was spiritual rather than just Xn.. though I am sure some of them may disagree. I find myself singing hymns every so often... because the words touched me... though I couldn't ever go back to Xnty... as for me it felt too alien, too much of a misogynist playground, and most of the time I felt that I was reading a different book from the rest of them... I did make the mistake of saying once ( while in a bible study...) that I found Jesus more of a lover than a husband and/or father figure... a which didn't go down well ( husband and fathers not being particularly great for me at that time)

I thought for a while it was just my particular church(i.e building and congregation) /denomination/experience etc.... but the more I spoke to other professed Xns and the more I read/learnt I realise how far away I was from what they preached and was happy to be so. My understanding and experience of a/the Divine was not and never would be there's.

Some one told me I was perhaps a Gnostic rather than a Pagan... but either way I would burn... as I had turned my back on the HS...(the unforgivable sin I believe) lol and spend the rest of eternity in Hell... I offered to save them a seat :)

I tend to say I follow and have a belief in the more female aspect of the Divine these days - when asked ...:)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-06-03 01:20 pm (UTC)

Re: What I care about- what I have always cared about most deeply

I can relate to everything you say. The church is a cultural and moral backwater- and seems to be getting more narrow, bigoted and ignorant with time. A couple of decades back there were still British Christian leaders capable of challenging the establishment and setting a radical moral agenda; not any more.

Oh- one exception: Sentamu- the current Archbishop of York. I've got a good deal of time for him.

I don't see myself ever returning to church life. Too stultifying. Too boring.

But I can't go into a church (preferably medieval) without feeling I'm coming home. The Christian tradition is full of riches- including the vein of mystical thought- grounded in The Song of Songs and fostered by such orthodox figures as Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and George Herbert- which speaks of the love of Christ for the individual human soul in frankly sexual terms :)



(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: daisytells
2008-06-02 01:18 pm (UTC)
Me too! The circular walk? I like that descriptive phrase. I started on mine when I was twelve years old from one Christian sect to another, then out of the churches altogether and into exploration of other faiths, other paths until I came to the place of non-religion, yet still had faith. Ultimately I returned to Christianity. It seems to me that the author of proverbs might have been through the circular walk himself when he wrote "train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is OLD he will not depart from it".
Is not that the way it was for C.S. Lewis, too?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-06-02 02:07 pm (UTC)
I suppose Lewis went a similar journey. Lots of us do.

I think of religions as languages. For me Christianity is like English. I know how it works. I can read and even speak a bit of French, but because it's not my native tongue I miss a lot of the nuances.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: daisytells
2008-06-02 07:17 pm (UTC)
Good simile!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: kinderheldin
2008-06-03 04:01 am (UTC)
I just thought I'd let you know -- I looked up that very T.S. Eliot quote today (from one of the "Four Quartets") before I read this entry of yours. I guess we're on the same wave-length.

When Things of the Spirit Come First -- the title of a set of Short stories by Simone de Beauvoir.

I try to keep things of the spirit first, although sometimes I confuse them with things of the mind. :>
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-06-03 09:12 am (UTC)
The things of the mind are very easily confused with the things of the spirit.

There are passages from the Four Quartets (mainly from Little Gidding) which I've carried in my heart ever since I first read them forty years ago.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2008-06-03 09:31 pm (UTC)
Today I was listening to music in the car--church music--and for a moment only I thought I understood God and the universe and everything.

I'm feeling weepy today anyway, because Obama is about to become the Democratic nominee, and only this afternoon I came across an old photograph in a book that showed a ticket booth at a Mississippi movie theater: Colored Entrance Tickets Only. I am so thrilled for him, and for us for doing it right for once.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-06-04 04:49 pm (UTC)
Such moments are treasurable.

And, yes, it's great news about Obama. I think he's the right person for the job.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: craftyailz
2008-06-04 03:57 pm (UTC)
Erm - if you do want to - can we talk about it, before you pick up the phone??????
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-06-04 04:50 pm (UTC)
Actually, they'd like me to be Archdeacon of Rochdale, starting next Tuesday. Whaddya think?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: craftyailz
2008-06-04 05:16 pm (UTC)
Does it have to be Rochdale - Manchester - London - Durham somewhere interesting please!

(My mother will be proud of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)