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Self Interrogation [Apr. 27th, 2009|09:51 am]
Tony Grist

An evangelical clergyman asked me about my back story yesterday- so I told him.

What- everything?

Not everything. About being a priest (ordination is indelible, right?) and a Wiccan. That was enough to be getting on with.

How did he react?


He thinks you're a brand plucked from the burning?

Something like that. He sort of rubbed his hands together and talked about God working powerfully. I forget his exact words.

Did you disagree?

I was a little uncomfortable with his way of putting things
The God talk?


Why exactly?

Discussing God as if he were the man next door seems a little- not irreverent, exactly- a little presumptuous. Besides, it's not my tradition.

And that's important?

Not as important as I once thought it was. All talk about God is nonsense- so one vein of nonsense is probably as good as any other.


God is beyond human understanding.

So how did you reply? 

I gave him my Mona Lisa smile and told him how puzzled I was by the things that are going on in my life. 

You were evasive.

I was

And what exactly are these things?

It's hard to explain. Let's just say I've been responding to hints.

An inner voice?

Not quite. I don't hear anything. I just- quite suddenly- know I need to act in a certain way. 

And you trust these promptings?

I do.


So you agree with your evangelical clergyman- don't you- really- deep down?



Yes. I suppose I do.


[User Picture]From: sorenr
2009-04-27 10:46 am (UTC)
(...)All talk about God is nonsense- so one vein of nonsense is probably as good as any other.


God is beyond human understanding.

Well, let's go off on a tangent, here. I thoroughly believe in the importance of talking about things that are beyond our understanding. If nobody had ever talked about the solar system, would we have learned that Earth revolves around the sun? I'd rather say that it's nonsense to talk about things one understands, than to talk about things one doesn't understand. If one does not understand something, it's important to talk about it, make statements that may suddenly reveal themselves as truths or falsehoods in order to gain a better knowledge or - as is the case with Faith - a more personally justifiable belief. (Mind you, it requires that you are yourself prepared to suddenly admit your previous statement to be a falsehood... Rarely the case with very religious people, sadly. They often seem to believe that Faith can replace the Free Will that their own gospels assume us all to be granted with.)

To talk about things one understands is trivial repetition of knowledge, and that is nonsensical; to talk about things one does not understand - or have any hope to fully understand - is the only thing that brings us forward, and this is the most sensical thing we could possibly do.

And having quarreled with your expression in a rather petty manner: I love the format of the auto-interview. I used to write a lot of those, and perhaps I should do that again. It can be a nice way of doing what I mentioned above; making statements and then upon examination judge them either valid or invalid. We should all question ourselves every so often.
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[User Picture]From: ideealisme
2009-04-27 12:08 pm (UTC)
C. S. Lewis put it well when he said that not all human inquiry was of the highest nature either. If we ask a nonsense question, we cannot expect an answer.

I loved this post - thank you!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-04-27 12:37 pm (UTC)
I'm reminded of Chesterton's Man Who was Thursday- in which the mysterious Thursday- who may represent God or the universe, though it's never made explicit which- tantalises the people who are hunting him down with statements of the purest gibberish.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-04-27 12:29 pm (UTC)
I take your point. Of course we need to talk about the things we don't understand- just so long as we realise that all our theories are provisional and partial and may be very silly indeed.

I found the interview format helped me clarify my thoughts- and move things on a step or two.
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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2009-04-27 01:10 pm (UTC)
Whenever I do an "interview with myself" I always learn something about my way of thinking. I tend to write these more often as private exercises, simply because it allows me to be a lot less rationally founded and much more unguarded in my statements due to the private nature of the interview. It's like an intimate one-to-one with a very close friend. The closest. The one who can challenge everything you say without the least fear of you being insulted by it.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-04-27 03:16 pm (UTC)
I should, perhaps, do this sort of thing more often.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2009-04-27 12:38 pm (UTC)
I had a conversation on a related topic with my stepson yesterday. We'd just participated in an Episcopalian baptismal service and he found it so much mumbo-jumbo. I suggested to him that various people could assign their own meanings to God -- ranging from "the force of being part of a community" right down to the Gray Bearded Guy With Stone Tablets -- and that the ceremony can have meaning for each. Ditto for sin. And something, for good measure, about the importance of binding rituals of community.

He was okay with that. He had a little trouble wrapping his mind around my next concept: "I'm not a believer but I have faith." That's okay...faith means you don't have to wrap your mind around it.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-04-27 03:19 pm (UTC)
I like that distinction between faith and belief. Belief is always belief "in" something. Faith is a little more nebulous. You can say "I have faith" without specifying an object.
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[User Picture]From: greybeta
2009-04-27 12:51 pm (UTC)
Not all the voices in our head are bad ones. =)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-04-27 03:34 pm (UTC)
The problem is knowing which is which. Relying soley on inner voices can get you into some sticky situations.
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[User Picture]From: shullie
2009-04-27 09:39 pm (UTC)
mine is so full sometimes..lol.. I have to shut the door and tell them I am busy!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-04-28 08:52 am (UTC)
I can imagine.

I guess you have techniques for filtering out the nuisance calls.
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[User Picture]From: daisytells
2009-04-27 02:24 pm (UTC)
I can argue with almost anyone about almost anything, but argument with self is another story. It was "hints" that began working on me so long ago...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-04-27 03:36 pm (UTC)
You have to listen to the hints- but also be prepared to "test" them.
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[User Picture]From: zoe_1418
2009-04-27 10:42 pm (UTC)
I love this!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2009-04-28 08:53 am (UTC)
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