Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Let This Mind Be in You - Tape 4
Don't Get Sucked In is the Western Culture's mantra which has been highly influenced by the Gospels, and though it is sound advice be aware that attempting to stand separate from the Gospels in a self-possessed posture, with even a virtuous character, is only the first stage of being possessed by something else.
We have grown up under the cloud of the Enlightenment Age and have been taught that one can take or leave religion (or simply compartmentalize your life so it has little or no meaning). My son, who worked at a printing and copy shop years ago, brought home the poster I have attached here because he thought I would like it. I have used this over and over in seminars on the problem of living without God as the center and focus of one's life. I would often conclude that the trajectory of one's life seems to always be misfiring and/or aborting when God is not at the heart of your life. So it seemed to me that the poster fits the lesson of this tape.
Summary of tape 4: Conversion is something that happens to us – it is not something we do. What we must try to do in the mean time however, is not to get sucked in to something that substitutes for it. We cannot avoid getting sucked in by remaining self-possessed or by thinking that all you need is a virtuous character. We can only fundamentally and finally avoid being sucked in by being sucked into something else. The problem with the Western Culture mantra is that if you work at not being sucked in to anything you could miss what happened to W. H. Auden as he writes from "Forewords and Afterwords:"
“One fine summer night in June 1933 I was sitting on a lawn after dinner with three colleagues, two women and one man – we liked each other well enough but we were certainly not intimate friends, nor had any one of us a sexual interest in another. Incidentally, we had not drunk any alcohol. We were talking casually about everyday matters when, quite suddenly and unexpectedly, something happened. I felt myself invaded by a power which, though I consented to it, was irresistible and certainly not mine.” (inserting comment: This experience is obviously NOT self-possession.) “For the first time in my life, I knew exactly – because, thanks to the power, I was doing it – what it means to love one's neighbor as one's self. I was also certain, though the conversation continued to be perfectly ordinary, that my three colleagues were having the same experience. (In the case of one of them, I was later able to confirm this.) My personal feelings toward them were unchanged-they were still colleagues, not intimate friends, but I felt their existence as themselves to be of infinite value and I rejoiced in it.
“I recalled with shame the many occasions on which I had been spiteful, snobbish, selfish, but the immediate joy was greater than the shame, for I knew that, so long as I was possessed by this spirit, it would be literally impossible for me to injure another human being. I also knew that the power would, of course, be withdrawn sooner or later and that, when it did, my greed and self-regard would return. The experience lasted at its full intensity for about two hours when we said good night to each other and went to bed. When I awoke the next morning it was still present, though weaker, and it did not vanish completely for two days or so. The memory of the experience has not prevented me from making use of others, grossly and often, but it has made it much more difficult for me to deceive myself about what I am up to. And among the various factors which several years later brought me back to the Christian faith in which I had been brought up, the memory of this experience and asking myself what it could mean was one of the most crucial, though, at the time it occurred, I thought I had done with Christianity for good…”
Auden continues: “Not the least puzzling thing about it is that most of the experiences which are closest to it are clear cases of diabolic possession as when thousands cheer hysterically for the man-god or cry blood thirstily for the crucifixion for the God-man. Still without it, there might be no church.”
For other posts on Gil Bailie's tape series, Let This Mind be in You:
Athos notes here
Athos notes on tape 9B link here
Aramis notes on tape 4 here
Aramis notes on tape 3 here
Aramis notes on tape 2 here
and you can see our first post regarding this tape series by clicking here