Sunday, February 17, 2019

The God Hole

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'Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty"'.

(John 6: 35)


Some people never find God.

So they assume He doesn't exist.

Maybe in reality, they do not exist.


It's perfectly possible to drown-out God for your whole life. To accept the world's terms and the world's arguments: to play the game of life without God being a factor. We can always play the card of 'nature': funneling all of reality through the lens of our senses only. To play on these terms is to live only in and for the senses: in other words, a selfish life for and of pleasure and avoidance of pain, only.

But then your wife dies. Your child is born - it's Down's. Your car is crushed, your job ends, your pleasure sours, your life's a ruin. OR IS IT? A life that implodes when all seems lost is not life: just the end of the what you thought life was about. Suffering now brings enforced pondering, enforced reassessment. Maybe life is more than getting stuff, using stuff, and gratifying the ego (even through supposed relationships and 'higher' satisfactions).

In short, we have to go deeper. We have to allow God to shape us. We have to find God and He's to be found in the space within us known as the soul. The deepest truth about us lurks in the soul. For many, it's not a pretty place to visit. Since they never do, it's a surprise to find the soul at all. But then it's found to be full of dross and lies and smut and sin and death. Another reason to find God, who still loves us even in the midst of the soul's unswept state.

The soul is the God hole. Do you stuff it full of garbage or sweep it out and let God enter? Do you let God dwell inside your heart, mind, and soul, or do you 'believe in yourself' your whole life, missing thereby the point of life itself: to love God with all, commune with Him in joy, and radiate His love to others even as you love yourself aright? God is closer than we think; our deepest yearning is to know the Lord and be with Him forever.

But in lieu of finding the soul and finding God, there is a world of distractions to try out to plug that hole, which becomes a void. Entertainment, cranial pursuits, pleasures of the flesh, trivia, ambition, competition, wealth accumulation, knowledge, sport, family. food and drink, exercise, you name it. If you know a deep yearning that is not satisfied by the world's terms of play in this life, the world will tell you you're sick or mad. You are actually being called to something real and lasting: relationship with God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Nothing else can satisfy the hole that God alone can fill, empower, grace, and balm. To make you whole and real and full of life and love.

Experiencing the hole is a call to prayer. Boundless ennui is God taking away worldly means in order to enable the ultimate and most important end: communion with Him. It really means He wants to be with us and to share His presence. It's a God telephone call, if you like. The only question is, do you want to know God personally or just carry on as though all the things that never satisfy deserve another million chances? 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Does God hate Theology?

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'Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

(Ezekiel 37:4-6)

Theology: why bother?

If poor and uneducated folk are the true inheritors of Christianity, as so many Christians tell us, does that mean that academic theologians are just a kind of useless savant? 

Since all agree that we 'can't understand God' just by syllogism, argument, and rhetoric, what place does theology really have in our modern (anti-intellectual) world?

If God is love, should love really be all that difficult to comprehend? Of course, I am not saying that love is God; this would turn anything - from loving cheeseburgers to loving mothers - into God. Yet divine love is surely not all that hard to understand. Does this not render redundant the speculations and theses of academic and dogmatic theology?

We also have the putative contrast between 'head knowledge' and 'practical living' of love in the 'real world'. A professor of theology who does nothing practical about 'loving God and neighbour' could be judged as a complete failure as a Christian, in spite of having 'understood' things. Yet what if a 'practical' Christian runs around inconsistently without bothering to check that what they do is compatible with their faith? Are they not also guilty of presumption?

In the Gospels, Jesus seems to have harsh words for Pharisees and Scribes, who 'knew theology' but were pervaded with hypocrisy and legalism, making it harder for ordinary folk to live the faith of their fathers. Experts who want to be congratulated, and to rule the roost and wield power and soak up prestige and honours, are indeed insufferable. But isn't that what the Church has been doing for millennia? 

Allowing ourselves to be touched, led, and changed, by God is no easy task. Head knowledge can only get us so far to the truth. It does need to be lived, but it's clear that many people want to be congratulated, and to rule the roost and wield power and soak up prestige and honours by being 'successful practically' - no less than the intellectuals might do. Anti-intellectualism seems no less one-sided that the savants do. 

God wants us to get to know Him personally. But how do we achieve this? We can't - on our own strength. We need to be taught by the Spirit and to receive the gift of understanding, wisdom, and charity. There are many 'atheist theologians' these days who know stuff about beliefs and practices, but who neither believe nor practice; for them truth is now a language game revolving around themselves rather than being a portal into their hearts and lives. Theology in itself is good: we can hardly do without official teachings and binding dogmas and remain Christian at all. Truth is not our enemy but our friend. But all this head-candy seems to be very basic, beside the point, and hardly the advanced theology of love which we should all aspire to.

Striving, theorising, as much as activism and presumption, forget that God has to do it all and to will both our knowledge and our practical response. Yet this is not quietism or denigration of human capacity. It is just to say that we need to be open to inspiration and the synthesis of faith, reason, action, and contemplation. 

Our theology (Theo-Logos) is ultimately Jesus himself. A person. Who shows us how to live and how to love. If theology goes no farther than scholasticism, it is arid indeed. It is rather through living day by day in faith, hope, and love, that we transcend the desert of mental prestidigitation. We have to let go of mere 'thinking' and let God in. By suffering and living for others we come closer to the truth of Christ's passion, death and resurrection. That is the experience of theology we need, to be living as opposed to ossified, Christians. 



Monday, January 28, 2019

Keeping it Simple

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Life always brings with it storms and uncertainties. Be that Brexit or just a risk to one's job; the pressures of modern life or mundane worries and trials.

It's easy to be sucked into a vortex of stress and insanity.

But whereas some people have to constantly fortify themselves by 'getting ahead' or competing with others for recognition or status, or 'creating' their own values (having abandoned faith) - we are fortunately set free of all this by Jesus.

What does God want from us, in the end?

It is quite simple really: to keep hold of the Christian faith, the Church's teachings, to put our hope in Christ day by day, and to love God with all we have - and our neighbour as ourselves.

Just being ourselves and entrusting all to our loving Father is sufficient. We are not expected to resolve the world's problems directly, nor to master all theology and wisdom, nor to affect to be more or less than we truly are: children of God in Christ.

This does not mean that we won't be affected by turmoil beyond our reckoning and control. Being alive means enduring sufferings and anxieties, but through it all allowing God to steer our lives through the gales and storms. Jesus is with us: having trusted, we will also see the truth and power of God in our lives. So let God provide.

One temptation is to despair: to lose hope and to allow the world to dictate terms to us. Have we done enough? What evidence have we for our hope? Why aren't we (the Church) winning? Upon deeper reflection, however, we realise that the world has never offered anything that lasted or satisfied at the deepest level. Nor can we offer our hearts and lives to a world that has lost an awareness of the presence of God, and the promises of Christ.

So what comes after trusting, in the midst of the cacophony of this world? It is simply to rest in Christ having unloaded our fears, worries, anxieties, and to surrender to God alone. The courage to rest in Christ is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. We can only do so much, then God must take over (He was always in charge in the first place, and always will be).

Do you have the courage to simply be a Christian? To persevere through trust and allow God to intervene in your daily life? To 'do nothing for Christ' and thus allow God to work His salvation in your life?

What's the worst that can happen? It's only death; which will come what may (in Christ, there is no fear of what Christ has overcome). Death or its fear should not put us off from loving and living each and every day, and experiencing the joy and peace that comes from Christ.

May God's will be done.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Time to Jack it in?

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A new year brings reassessments. Is it now time to jack in the Catholic faith, for example?

Arguments for and against:

1). NOTHING EVER CHANGES

Pray, don't pray. Sin, don't sin. Attend Mass, don't attend Mass. The variables are constant. We all have a limited capacity in or out of Catholicism. Nothing ever changes. There are no miraculous novelties, breakthroughs in normal life, or alleviations to mundane suffering. Should faith, religion, spirituality, be this boring?

Response: Boredom is a mood; the Catholic faith is the truth you need tomorrow. So why jack it in, when there's nothing better out there, and boredom can strike in the world as much as out of it?


2). CHURCH ISN'T WINNING

For centuries the Church said it was 'militant and triumphant'. The triumph bit was finally in heaven, I suppose, but REAL change and victory on earth was foreseen in efforts such as global missions, systematic theology, and brave telling of the inconvenient truth. Today all is in flux; where's the militancy and triumph when all we talk about is a flaccid 'mercy' devoid of content and oomph?

Response: The struggle is daily and personal. It is true the Church doesn't seem to be 'winning' from a worldly perspective. But there is no resurrection without crucifixion. In the end we do win. And if you are suffering, remember that we all have to die. There is a limit to suffering after all.


3). SPIRITUALITY A SHAM

I've now read about 4 books by Fr. Richard Rohr. A Franciscan who never mentions the content of the Catholic religion, speaking in woolly generalities (moi? never!), while advocating a 'generic' spirituality all about going 'beyond binary judgments' and loving all. I do not contemplate myself, but I understand many people are absolutely hooked on the thing. To me, however, it is impossible practically, unless you could by daydreaming on a bus.

Response: There are non-dodgy 'spirituality' gurus out there. In lieu of spiritual direction, just go out and find some!


4). MUSLIM SAVED, BUDDHIST SAVED, SECULARIST SAVED...

Did liberal Jesus save us all? Does liberal Jesus allow non-Christians to go to heaven? If so, WHY THE HELL CONTINUE BEING A PRACTISING CATHOLIC? This is soul destroying stuff, as non-religious people who are selfish and do whatever, plus those of other religions CAN go to heaven, meanwhile a BAD Catholic can't. Why not jack it in and be a liberal Jew, or a Jain, or a Mormon?

Response: The Catholic faith is the fullness of the truth. Others have some truth to them, but by jacking it in and jumping ship you have to learn and uphold NEW legalisms, annoyances, futilities, and pretend they are MORE true than Catholicism. Better the God you know, then, surely?


5). WEAK, IRRELEVANT, JOYLESS, FUTILE!

Who cares what Catholics think, say, or do? Have you personally converted anyone? Wouldn't annoyance and incomprehension be the result of trying to do so? Why are BELIEVERS' lives so narrow, closed, ineffective, and cripplingly futile? Where's the Holy Spirit? Has he abandoned the legalistic, the morally upright, the bored and the benighted?

Response: We are indeed all the above. In God's eyes, who sees the heart, however, we are united with Christ and thus saved. You have to acknowledge the PAIN of belief today, but also rest assured that living in a state of grace is better than the alternative: MUCH, MUCH, BETTER.


6). CLICHES, CLICHES, EVERYWHERE! (AND THEY'RE NOT EVEN TRUE - well, not all of them)

Love others. (Groan.) Do your best. Best's not enough. Grace and works. Faith and works. Works not right. Works a fruit. Receive the love. Keep on loving. Community is good. Must marry. Must be single. Should do good. Nobody is good. God is good. We aren't good. GROAN!

Response: Truth is not a truism, and a truism is rarely the truth. Sift the truth from the words. Stay humble and realise that God speaks in silence, not in constant babble (worldly or 'theological'). You may already KNOW the truth, so now it is time to LIVE WITH IT.


Frustration, annoyance, impatience. The list goes on. When tempted to jack in your Catholic faith, you have to acknowledge that these things are real. But God is MORE real. God is in charge. There is no point in putting effort into another way, another path, another religion, or even a lack of religion: it is still energy and effort that you DO NOT NEED TO USE in YOUR OWN RELIGION, because you have experienced its truth, known God's presence, and have to keep fighting! There will always be inconsistencies and failures in the Church as a human institution. But experience of such teaches long-suffering. Only God is flawless, and we have to follow the example of Jesus who DID WHAT HE COULD,. and GAVE IT ALL, and that all was accepted by God and was our salvation.

So, sigh and carry on!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Demographic Apocalypse

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Skating on thin ice?

The population of non-English non-white people in London has reached 60 per cent.

A nation needs several things to thrive:

1). Demographics - a healthy birth rate

2). Religion - to anchor its culture and provide a cohesive reason to exist

3). Language - to distinguish the nation from outsiders

4). A culture - neither invented, nor anarchy-based populist subjectivism, but a living tradition which reinforces the previous 3 factors. A living culture does not need to analyse itself, it just is VIABLE.


What does God mean by allowing the enfeeblement of western Europe, while at the same time supporting the demographic rise of Islam, China, India, Africa, South American countries?

What does God mean by allowing the rise of Russia in geopolitics, while the likes of Britain are reduced to hangers-on in the big wide world, devoid of policy, influence, and power?

Could it be that "The West" is paying for its rejection of God? It now has a low birth rate owing to contraception rupturing the sacred link between sex and procreation. The West is thus losing the battle of demographics to immigrants such as Muslims. Having jettisoned its religion (Christianity - more fundamentally, Catholic Christianity), "The West" has no purpose to its existence, except self-indulgence, subjectivism, and atomising individualism: neither good and all very bad at resisting undesirable demographic trends. English might be a language, but it has no sway over culture: anyone can use English to say and do what they please. Languages such as Polish and Mandarin imply a culture which they uphold and serve. Englishness as a result is devoid of meaning and very weak as an identity. As to culture in general, "The West" substitutes laissez-faire-ism and "tolerance" for true values (such as Christian values and faith, family values, and respect for virtue, education, and objective morality).

Is it any wonder that people have been flailing around and asking themselves how we got into this mess and how to stop it? Because the way we are going, demographically, Britain will be Muslim within a couple of centuries. Will that still be Britain, or rather the revenge of neo-colonialism? As a Pole, why should I care anyway? Well as someone with dual-nationality I do care about the future of Britain. What can we do about the nadir of godlessness, demographic decline, and cultural decadence?

It just shows that God can shape any land's history as He pleases. By apostasising, Britain has become prey to the vagaries of nonsense and a spiralling decline it cannot reverse. Those who reject God, objective morality, and reason, will go to the wall - either temporarily or permanently. Liberalism cannot reproduce itself quickly enough nor hold back the mass of disaffected Britishers who will rise up rather than accept Islamisation. By saying that all cultures are equally valid, liberalism really says that it is not any better than any culture. So, might and numbers rule all comers. Thus democracy rightly votes in Sharia law, and disbands itself. There are only so many accommodations that you can make in a "multicultural" society before ANARCHY in culture, values, and expectations, becomes the norm in an individualist postmodern society. That it is all hanging together does not mean we are living in a multicultural paradise: there is no community, solidarity, or meaning left.

Is this the ultimate penalty for apostasy from Christianity? If you choose to get rid of God, God must respect that choice: it also means that the boons of belief (such as cohesive society, meaning, morality, and rational culture dependent on universal norms and truth) are abolished. The abolition of morality, standards in culture and discourse, the abolition and belittling of religion, and the promotion of non-Christian cultures and "diversities" is finally the extinction of Englishness and perhaps even Britishness as a whole. Individualism leads to atomisation, and the destruction of consensus and democracy itself, as "anything goes" - until there is total moral and social chaos, and another culture takes over?

However it turns out, I will be long dead. Yet, Deus lo vult! (God's will is always done.)

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas

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Stuffing your face with roast turkey, chocolate, and cake, because a Jewish carpenter called Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem around 2,018 years ago?

Gifts, songs, good cheer and "Christmas" related paraphernalia?

A do-nothing Christmas: watching World War Two films while gorging on smelly cheese or downing fine red wine, English Breakfast tea, or some such?


Why do the pagans cling to this time? Aren't they embarrassed to be celebrating something they don't believe in? Should we pity them or approve of vestigial Christ-related activities? At the end of the day Christmas is another distraction for those who have no firm beliefs of their own. It is also a victory for Jesus who came to earth as a humble baby in a stable, which I find validates all claims about Him in the bible. No one could have thought up such an absurdity: it really happened, because it has no use and no power in the conventional understanding of "messiahs" and "saviours".

So, enjoy your Christmas: real, imagined, meaningful or groggy. It is proof that Christianity does permit a "good time" after all, irrespective of whether or not we believe or practice our faith.

Emmanuel - "God with us" - is the message I take away this Christmas. We do not have to do anything because God has come to us this season. Accept that and receive the joy.

Have a hygge Christmas, dear readers.

God bless,

Piotr

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Skin in the Game

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What do we risk by following Jesus?

What do we have invested in our faith?

Can we find all by losing all?


Now Christianity is no game. But in worldly terms, you have to have 'skin in the game' for anything to truly matter in your life; to have a personal stake in a desired outcome. 'Skin in the game' means we take a risk for what we commit to; if our Christian life is just externals and has no inner depth, we are liable to fall away. There has to be something upon which we stake all, are prepared to lose all, in order to win all in Christ.

So what is your 'skin in the game'? Are you prepared to turn away from sin, to change and start again each and every day if necessary? Are you prepared to obey God and the Church's teachings, going deeper and deeper? Are you willing to commit to the 'long-game' of faith, allowing God to work in your life not just today and tomorrow but always and everywhere - a carte-blanche for the Holy Spirit?

We do have to surrender and make ourselves available for God to work in our lives. We also have to be prepared to face difficulties and suffering. The risk of failure and disappointment is a real one, since we must be prepared to grow in faith through adversity. If God is love, then we have to believe that His plan in our lives will be worked out as He chooses. In this sense faith needs hope to make real the trust we have to have. By trusting in God's will we can let go of control and worry, and rely on His providence.

What do we lose from practising our faith? We lose nothing if all that we had in the world without faith was proven to be insufficient for our eternal wellbeing. We no longer need to invest in the trappings of the world or its attitudes and toxicity, for the aim of being better than others, richer, more exalted. Instead, the risk of faith becomes the certainty of faith, when we experience God's love which truly does fulfill us. Faithfulness is tested in the world repeatedly, but is supported and rewarded by our loving God. There is an answer to our needs and when we break through to God, He breaks into our lives.

Rumours and realities of atheism, sin, secularism, war, worldly success, falsity of religion, can be disparaging to our faith and undermining our relationship with God. But if we truly believe, we know that Jesus has overcome the world. We can rest in humility, trust in the Lord, receive grace and forgiveness, and be built up and persevere in our faith. We have 'skin in the game': the truth of the Gospel of Jesus, and the evidence of lives changed, conversion, experience of God's presence, and the love and mercy of the Father in our daily lives through Word, prayer, and sacraments. We have received all and we maintain all with complete assurance.

So in the end, going deeper and going all the way with Christ is the 'only game in town' that gives total assurance, real healing, and makes complete sense. Having invested the whole of our lives in Christ, what can we fear? Trials may come, but they also go. Rooted and grounded in Christian faith, we stake our lives and souls on Jesus, and receive the grace and mercy of God, the substance we seek and the truth we come to know. That is the journey and the arrival that we commit to daily. So there is nothing left to fear because what we risk in the world we get back a hundredfold in the Kingdom.