A Thanksgiving Meditation

meditationby Glenn Fairman   11/24/16
It is perhaps one thing, on this Thanksgiving Day, to offer praises to God for His blessings when our circumstances are a net positive, or even tolerable. But how does one do it when they are not? How, in all sincerity, does one overlook the evidence that their life, as they have known it, is coming undone?  And whether it is our material resources that have gone fallow or the inexorable decline of a beloved’s health, the subsequent prayer of Thanksgiving rings hollow and leaves a bitter taste on our lips. To many on the outside, it appears rote and contrived – “Thank you Lord for this cancer,” or “Bless you for our impending bankruptcy.” How does one lift their hands into the sky, like Job, and offer praise for the calamities that seemingly beset us on every side?

I certainly wish I knew. C.S. Lewis, perhaps the greatest Christian apologist of the 20th Century, and producer of some of the greatest books uplifting our faith, was driven nearly mad from the loss of his wife Joy from cancer. For all his intellectual knowledge and internalized reasoning, he was left mired in the ashes with her two young sons and a notebook in which he scrawled his agonies: bleak words that would eventually become “A Grief Observed.” In this damning indictment chronicling these darkest of days, he questioned not the existence, but the very character of God. Having been given the love of his life at a mature age, only to have her snatched away into the opaque abode of eternity, her death rocked his foundation as no other loss could. Indeed, his suffering caused him to groan to that silent celestial door that appeared bolted shut, “So this is what you are really like?”

Loving is a dangerous sacrificial act at best, because it involves a vulnerability that reveals our nakedness.  If we love the World, we will one day lose it. If we love a man or woman, or even a child, will not the same occur when all flesh eventually runs its cruel course? We love to know that we are not alone, and yet, we are ultimately left alone to all but the mercies of God.  There is no getting around this, and only God Himself has run the gauntlet and emerged at the other end victorious, but not unscathed.

It is such a victory that He has in mind for us; yet, it requires no less a sacrifice.  In shedding our reliance on the things of this world – our riches and even our loves – we are borne up by His power through that gauntlet of despair that afflicts every life.  I wish it were not so, but since I cannot see beyond the end of my street, let alone the rim of the world, I must disengage from my pain and anxiety and trust in that Whom I have no power to manipulate. It is only when we come to the end of ourselves that something beautiful can finally happen. Only then can terrified eyes open — and begin to see. Therefore, Paul tells us:

Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NASB)

How do I thank God in my affliction? This will only come when He dwells within you and begins that mysterious work. And would that this could be accomplished in pleasure. But it seems that man is constructed in such a way that pain, rather than plenitude, is the most efficient vehicle for our schooling. For it is in our sufferings that we begin to listen and allow Him to draw near. Left to our own devices, we would vector out into eternity and continue running from the only source of true lasting joy in the universe. But God has made us for His own good pleasure, and there will be no end in His pursuit to have and to perfect us as His own valued possessions, until that time when our ultimate rejection makes His efforts finally for naught.

And so on this Thanksgiving, the bleakest one in my memory, I will offer up no laundry list of wants and needs to Him, for he knows them far better than I.  As Lewis would say, “The pain I have now is the happiness I had before.  That’s the deal.”  If I cannot offer Thanksgiving for today in a clear conscience, I know I can offer it for joyous days past and for the days to come when I will one day fully understand the reasons for these sleepless nights and endless tears.  For then, I will see through that mirror plainly: in the same manner that He has watched lovingly over me—-all the blessed days of my life.

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Glenn Fairman returns from the wilderness and writes from Highland, Ca.
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88 Responses to A Thanksgiving Meditation

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    A very difficult report to answer. I’ve had a lot of bad days since Elizabeth left, and particularly as my own physical decline continues; one thing I mentioned in a blog post elsewhere today was that I was thankful not only to be alive, but to be thankful to be alive. A lot of days I’m regretful instead. But I at least have the hope that Elizabeth and I will finally manage to get together, probably within a month, and NOT in this now-too-large house. I have hope. To have my current life, without any such hope, would be so much worse.

    • Glenn Fairman says:

      Tim: My heart goes out to you. And you are in my prayers. Our house is too large also and comprised of many levels that make it exceedingly difficult for my wife to navigate through. Not only is it difficult for her to walk, but lifting her leg up more than several inches is a task. It will not get any easier, I am afraid. Having just attained her 60th birthday, it all seems so unfair, as Darla has always carried within her a vitality that pleased others and contrasted favorably when compared to my general dour outlook on life. I thought of you when I wrote this, and I hope it gives you some solace. No human can last long without hope. But the question remains: in what or Whom does our hope reside?

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Believe me, if I had Trump’s fuck-you money (you all know that term, right?), I would buy gold-plated retirement homes with personal nurses built in for all of my dear friends who are suffering.

      One thing I would caution, and you don’t sound at all like you need it. But don’t die before your time. I was sitting around a table full of old people tonight who were all talking about their ailments. I just wanted to get out of there. I longed to be at a table where, for example, Glenn Fairman might give a blessing that would make us all tingle from the head to the toe with warm fuzzies as people tried to pretend they’d gotten some salt in their eye as they daubed with their holiday napkin.

      Please, none of you, do not die before your time. Share your pains here, yes. We all need to offer each other support. But always view your life as half full. And if not half full, a quarter full. And if not a quarter full, an eighth full. And if not an eighth full, a sixteenth full.

      I’m not the most optimistic, joyful guy in the world and won’t pretend otherwise. But one reason for the change in policy regarding political articles is that life is just too short to go on bitching. By all means, charge up San Juan Hill if that is what someone wants to do. But in the meantime, measure out that 1/16th or 1/32nd that is still left and do something noble with it. Cherish what you can, even if it is just the pain of this life.

      That idea makes no sense to the princess-and-the-pea culture of marshmallows for whom any light discomfort is reason for deep resentment. But I think some of you understand it. This is my Thanksgiving meditation, wishing I could take away some of your pain but knowing that I can do little but offer the forgotten balm of old-fashioned words.

  2. Gibblet says:

    Words of comfort seem like an inadequate balm to apply to human suffering. I offer to you Glenn, and to Timothy, my contemplation and heartfelt grief over the painful truth you have shared through your stories and comments, and prayers for you and your loved ones.

    • Glenn Fairman says:

      Thank you, Gibblet. BTW, you were delicious in our gravy.

      • Gibblet says:

        “delicious in our gravy”

        That’s funny Glenn! My Dad likes to give us all nicknames, so my husband is Chicken Gibblet since our last name is Gibbs. We are known as the Gibblets amongst family and friends.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          When I was young we had giblet gravy with our family Thanksgiving meals, but in recent years Elizabeth and I haven’t gotten a whole turkey (and this year I was on my own), so we didn’t (though she improvised dressing and gravy last year). I plan to discuss this further in giving my list of reasons to be thankful at Glenn’s other Thanksgiving piece (where it seems more appropriate).

  3. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I can understand grief and temporary despair, but I have always thought the greatest thing Christianity offers is the knowledge, to those who believe, that everything one must endure in this life is as nothing compared to the joy which God has prepared for his own.

    And since I believe God understands very well that life is a huge burden, I think he may be a little more forgiving than many appear to believe.

  4. Lucia says:

    I believe that certain changes happen in a person that can only come about through the experience of suffering. Becoming like Christ is a work of the Holy Spirit and not something we can do for ourselves. Suffering is how we learn who Christ is. Ordeals are the means to grow our faith, our patience, our compassion for others, and our joy. Never in a million years would I voluntarily go through those difficult places in life, but I’m thankful that God has already provided a way for me to come out on the other side and as a better person for it.

  5. Rosalys says:

    Glenn, this is a beautiful piece. Pain and suffering is something that is common to the all of humanity; and yet, when we are going through it, it seems as if we are the only ones. Part of the problem is that we cannot see into the future, and therefore cannot see how the plan of our lives works itself out. Looking back at a horrible time, several decades ago, at the time I believed everything – my life, my family – was over. And here it is, twenty-five years later. Situations have changed, I have changed. There were lessons that needed to be learned, that would not have been learned without going through The Horrible Time, and I trust I am better for it. I know I am better for it, because now I can trust Him in a way that I never had before. Still not being able to see into the future, I know Him who sees all and that must be enough for now.

    To both Glenn and Timothy, I offer my empathy and prayers for your peace and comfort through your Horrible Time.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Wonderful Horrible thoughts.

      “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
      You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”

  6. Glenn Fairman says:

    This will be featured in AT tomorrow in a slightly altered form, since it did not arrive by deadline.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      There are some heartfelt comments there. You tend to bring out the best in people. Perhaps that’s why there’s only 22 comments. I consider AT to attract the same-old, same-old crowd who are mostly in it for the bitching.

      But an essay like yours is real. It’s reality. It’s hard reality. It’s not “truth to power” or some stupid slogan such as that. It’s frank talk about life.

      It’s easier to just bitch and pile on. It is very very difficult to reach down inside yourself and say something real. I think one reason more people don’t is not only because their thought processes have become trivialized but because they are so out of practice. Every human life has such joy and pathos involved in it. Few will speak of it. The typical treatment is drugs or alcohol, not words.

      Glenn, we pray for you and your family. I expect my prayers are about as good as my faith. Hopefully they’re at least as powerful as my sincerity though. You will make it through this. Good will come from all this pain, have no doubt.

      • glenn fairman says:

        I really hate the AT comment board. I don’t go there anymore unless I feel a hankering to be scourged. you know what they say about conservatives…. they are the first to knife their own wounded.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I’m either getting smarter or dumber, Glenn. I’m not sure which. But the kind of writing that used to be of interest to me is not now of much interest. Rare is the article at AT (or anywhere else) that I find expresses much more than fancified outrage at this or that offense (usually real, but barking at the moon is still just barking at the moon).

          Frankly, I don’t like seeing what we’re turning into as a political and social movement. There is an element of nobility missing. I think so many of us have become small, whiny people. So when something more substantive comes along, I find that important, if only for its rarity.

  7. Ron Elmore says:

    I just read your article “A Belated Thanksgiving Meditation” on the blog post of American Thinker. Your words described how I feel with my wife’s illness. Thank you for being vulnerable. I will pray for you and your Beloved. My heart goes out to you as you journey onward.

  8. Phillip Wise says:

    I initially was inclined to pass on a comment regarding this article by Glenn Fairman because misinformation in the fast flowing web river is commonplace but due to the fact that I consider Glenn Fairman to be one of the most formidable voices in the current landscape of what I call the last great battle of time I had to set things in order. Glenn is just flat out wrong. To say this is a disingenuous accusation toward God is an understatement. He did mention his hero Job. But Glenn’s woe is me diatribe is more akin to Job’s wife. It’s the same old stuff one hears in so many churches, if God loves me he will make my truck payment or if God loves me he will heal me. There is really not a whole lot of difference. Let me help everyone out on this one, it ain’t gonna happen. God’s has, cut all the deals he’s going to cut, because of, if God loves me God will send Jesus and God did and that is the end of it. Job made all these excuses as this article has done as well as many people who are in a battle for their home, their lives, their prosperity and God’s response to Job is the same as to us. The devil attacks us and the devil is our adversary. Job’s response to his trouble did not confront the cause, but made excuses, pointing at everything but the source of his trouble whereas God saw Job as nothing more than a defense attorney for the devil. The Bible says that unless the strongman is bound the thief enters not. When the thief gets in he doesn’t go for the strongman because that is his means for encroachment. The wolf doesn’t attack the big rams but the ewes and little ones. The thief is the devil Glenn. He tells us that this is just a circumstance of life and uses our intellect to beat us down, confuse us, gives us a reason for our sickness and uses fear to keep us there. You can continue going down that road, scrapping your boils with a pottery shard. Or you can determine otherwise. We have a choice, faith or fear. We take control by faith and lose control by fear. God only respects 100% faith. 99.9% faith is nothing but abject unbelief. Faith has been preached for the last fifty years. Most people think that it is nothing but the creation of the marketing departments of televangelists to increase revenue but Glenn, faith is not “a” end time message, it is “the” end time message. I don’t have the time to tell why here. But just know this that God doesn’t want us to wait for some healing evangelist to come to town, we need help now. My son was rushed to the hospital after an attack. Half his blood was gone. We called two people we knew was absolute in their faith. Our son lived. My mother came out of the 1950’s with this message of faith and it burned in her. If you were going to church during this time regardless what church it was, someone in that church was given this message of faith. It may not have been the pastor or a deacon but a Sunday school teacher or what we referred to then as one of the holy women and that was my mother. She met many other people with the same message and corresponded with them. Today we call that networking. I turned six years of age in 1960 and I can tell you I saw many miracles with my own eyes in my growing years. No seminary can teach that. One of the most disgusting articles I have read here was by Patricia Dickson in 2014 regarding prosperity preaching and how she had heard all that and it didn’t do her any good, it was her education that promoted her. This was from a woman of tremendous success. The Bible says not to lean on our understanding. Why is that: because faith is not subject to reason. Speaking those things that are not as though they were is not intellectual stuff. A man I knew once told me of his mother in law who was dying from cancer of the lining of her stomach. I asked if anyone had laid hands on her and prayed for deliverance. He growled and said they didn’t believe that stuff. I said that’s easy for you to say, you’re not sick. My wife and I have prayed for many people and Glenn, God is every time, not just here today and gone tomorrow. God is not a maybe I will, or, they are learning a good lesson with this disease. Those are lies told by preachers who are cowards and are depending on their intellect to explain everything. We don’t have to know all or explain all just that God is and God is a rewarder of those that diligently seek him and God has blessed us with all things that lead to life and Godliness and all the promises of God are yes and amen. Let God be true and every man a liar. The kingdom belongs to the Lord and he has given us keys. Vanity dictates that we have to do nothing for those keys because we deserve it just like we don’t deserve the battles we fight. But we have to fight for them and claim them. God gave Jesus all the nations but oh what a price he paid. Stand up. Be who God ordained you to be. Glenn put off all this “why doctrine”. All it brings is failure. Here is what you and anyone else who is suffering tribulation and affliction are going to do. First, pray for forgiveness for unbelief then go to your wife and pray this prayer. “Lord I take authority over my home and my family and in the name of Jesus I command this spirit of infirmity to leave “NOW”. And I claim the healing that was provided by the stripes and by the blood of Jesus “NOW”. Amen”.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I don’t have the mental space to process and carefully read everything that is written here. So after reading what you wrote, Phillip, I went back and more carefully, and completely, read what Glenn wrote. I suggest you do the same. I can’t see where your rebuttal is at all pertinent.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I had the same thought.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Mr. Kung, on the way to a short, but rigorous, hike, I was listening to a local radio station playing Christmas music. It may as well have been July for all the sympathy I felt for the tunes.

          And then on comes Frank singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” It’s an unusual song in that it is not so upbeat. In fact, it used to be worse. According to online information, Judy Garland had the song’s co-writer, Hugh Martin, change “It may be your last / Next year we may all be living in the past” to “Let your heart be light / Next year all our troubles will be out of sight.”

          That seems a definite improvement. In 1957, the Chairman of the Board asked Martin to revise the line “Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow” for his upbeat-titled album, “A Jolly Christmas.” It became, “Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.”

          The version (not this particular one) I heard while traveling in my car was the one still with “muddle.” And just like in the classic “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” you could see my heart grow just a little. Not twice the size, but perhaps 1/10 of 1 percent.

          That’s all I’m likely to do is “muddle through somehow” this Christmas. And I’m sympatico with that lyric. In fact, it impresses me as downright Fairmanesque. It’s reality-based yet hopeful.

          Other online info notes: “In 2002, NewSong lead singer Michael O’Brien noted the line “through the years, we all will be together if the Lord allows,” which was part of the original song, was purged and replaced with “if the fates allow” to remove religious reference when the song was released.”

          I had no idea there had been so much tinkering with that song. But, really, that’s what we humans do. We tinker. We often don’t leave well enough alone but sometimes we make things better.

          As you’re well aware, Mr. Kung, I’ve never been so down on Christians as I am right now. They have sold out in large numbers in pursuit of power, payback, and prestige. Perhaps I should take the plank out of my own eye first. That is a quite valid criticism. And yet the spirit doesn’t escape me completely because of people such as Glenn.

          Glenn has faith. He doesn’t, in my opinion, turn God into Santa Claus or into a simplistic formula. God, for Glenn, is clearly large, mysterious, and relational. Some things, on other subjects, he probably does sugar-coat a little. In this essay, he was blessedly honest and direct in a way that is neither self-indulgent nor treacly.

          Who can read that and not offer up a prayer? although I’m careful with mine because I’m very sure God does not listen to me and I would not want to spoil Glenn’s chances for a miracle because of the company he keeps.

          But that’s a truly Christian perspective he gives. This is not the Prosperity Gospel being evinced. It’s the Gospel Gospel. Life is full of grief. What we can do is take our afflictions with at least some grace while believing in ultimate Grace.

          We’ll muddle through. Somehow.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            Brad,

            On our own, I think the best that we mortals can do is muddle through. I have muddled through for years.

            This is why Christianity is so important. It gives reason, meaning and instruction to a true Christian’s life. Life becomes more than a muddle, it becomes a pilgrimage on one’s journey to God. The journey may not always be enjoyable, we may not like all of those we meet on the road and we certainly don’t have much control over the condition of the path we travel. Sometimes is goes up, sometimes down. Most of the time it is very poorly paved.

            If we truly want to get to our destination, we avoid the more obvious detours leading us astray. This has always been a huge problem, but I believe it has become an even larger one in modern times. Socialism and technology have done much to create a false reality which entices people to their spiritual ruin.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              This is why Christianity is so important. It gives reason, meaning and instruction to a true Christian’s life. Life becomes more than a muddle, it becomes a pilgrimage on one’s journey to God.

              At a slightly higher elevation than the rest of the city (about 265 feet), we received a dusting of snow last night. Or this morning. I woke up and there it was. Who knows when Jack Frost did his work? What, do you suppose, is our elevation at StubbornThings?

              I’m fairly open-ended about “the path to god.” Some might find it through art, through their families, through their work, through their relationships, perhaps even through sex. The Catholic Church won the war (not without some casualties) that the world is not inherently evil. And although I might quibble with the “survival of the fittest aspects” that clearly pertain, I agree that they are heretics who see this great wonder of creation as an evil to be transcended at all costs.

              There is, I believe, a sacrament in living…if not in living well, then in living faithfully, with grace, and with just a mustard seed of gratitude. But at the end of the day, I’m quite “liberal” in terms of what is and is not orthodox. Protestants have expanded the liturgy, quite appropriately I would say, past earthly institutions. But not without some cost. Protestants are now a melange of heretical notions and just goofy shit. Hey, but at least we’re not those dreaded Papists, or so many think.

              But then the Catholics have elected a Marxist pope, so surely from my perspective we need better guidance for our lives than just the free market of fads.

              I have no answers. Maybe you do. Maybe Glenn does. But one rule that is inescapable is that nature abhors a vacuum. Man without decent and wise moral training is vulgar, ugly, and often insane.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                What, do you suppose, is our elevation at StubbornThings?

                Hard to say, but there is little doubt that we have our eyes on the summit.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            It may as well have been July for all the sympathy I felt for the tunes

            I can understand your lack of sympathy. These days, most anything to do with Christmas seems to be something like a gift in Japan, all package and little content.

            I particularly dislike the way stores and many radio stations start off with their Christmas themes before Thanksgiving.

            Even during the Christmas season, I don’t listen to a lot of Christmas music, but there are times when I really like it. Some of these are when we decorate the tree, have a cup of hot chocolate on a cold night or on Christmas Eve.

            At those times, I have a few standards which I have been listening to for close to three decades. One I have been listening to since I was a child. These are:

            1. Bing Crosby’s “Merry Christmas” album, which starts off with “White Christmas.”
            2. Ray Coniff’s Christmas Album.”
            3. “White Christmas” by the Boston Pops with Arthur Fiedler.
            4. “O Come All Ye Faithful”, by King’s College Choir Cambridge.

            These four albums cover the gamut of, in my opinion, good Christmas music. Some is secular, but most is religious. All songs are traditional, which is very important to me during Christmas time.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              I have some of that, I believe; the friend from whom I get most of the music images collected a lot of Christmas music. I also have a number of collections of Christmas novelty music, including 3 by the Bob Rivers Comedy Group, 2 put out by Dr. Demento, and a Paul Shanklin collection. In addition, there is an odd Dinosaur’s Christmas CD image that includes “Hark the Pterodactyls Sing” by Maureen McGovern.

              • Gibblet says:

                Tonight at church we had Carols And Communion By Candlelight. I wish you all could have been there. In addition to singing traditional Christmas Carols of the Christian variety, two children read the story of the birth of Jesus, while many other children of about 4 or 5 years, acted it out dressed as Mary, Joseph, Angels, Shepherds, and Sheep. At the point when the angels appeared to the shepherds proclaiming good tidings of great joy, the little angels, sheep, and shepherds were milling around the stage for several minutes. They were so fun to watch as the sheep rolled and crawled over each other, angels waved at their parents, and one shepherd tried to bring some strays back into the fold. But the very cutest thing was when a wooley sheep and a winged angel joined hands in an impromptu dance and twirled innocently around the stage.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Elizabeth’s church has an annual Christmas dinner and programming, which used to include skits about Christmas. (In recent years they’ve just had music performances — including Elizabeth, a member of the choir.) We had a table for years, but last year Elizabeth decided she couldn’t handle it anymore — but someone she knew had decided to get an extra table, so we were able to use it. This year, with Elizabeth in the nursing home, we won’t be going.

                I’ll note that we always have friends (the tables seat 8), and there are always at least a couple of religious skeptics there — but we always treat the prayers etc. with respect.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                That sounded like a quite charming performance, Gibblet.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Looking through our MP3 images, I find that we have Bing Crosby’s White Christmas and Frank Sinatra’s Christmas Collection. The former doesn’t include “Do You Hear What I Hear?” (unless it’s on the unlabeled track 10). At some point I’ll be playing them.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Here’s that King’s College Choir album. I might send the 10 bucks and get the mp3 version.

              I concur regarding Der Bingle’s “Merry Christmas” album. It is extraordinary.

              And I think nothing warms the heart like Dean’s “A Winter Romance.” I find this album to be a nice mix of Christmas songs and winter-themed songs. “Christmas with Dino” contains some of the same songs but is a more traditional mix, but not without some fine diversions such as “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm.” His version of “Rudolph” is far and above my favorite and, in my humble opinion, simply unmatched. With Dean singing, you can feel the warmth of the hot toddies.

              I believe when you register for this site there is some fine print that says you must be pro-Sinatra. If I had the means, I would hand out as a Christmas bonus his ”Christmas Collection”. His “Christmas Waltz” off that album is a real charmer. And I won’t claim that his is the finest rendition, but it is a good one of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

              And don’t forget Elvis. No well-rounded collection would be complete without his ”Elvis Christmas”, a wonderfully eclectic album and one of the finest renditions of “Silver Bells.”

              Last but not least is Bing’s ”That Christmas Feeling.” No one can match his rendition of “Christmas is A-Comin’ (May God Bless You)”. His ”Christmas Classics” is another good source of Bing material, including his truly extraordinary “Do You Hear What I Hear?” This is why Bing is unique.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                I find the King’s College Choir album very old European and religious in tone. It is something for the traditionalist.

                I also love Bing’s “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

    • Gibblet says:

      Phillip, I agree with Brad and KFZ. You have not understood and have indeed misinterpreted Glenn’s article. Much like Job is often misunderstood.

    • glenn fairman says:

      All I can say is this. I have prayed in a fervent manner for 6 years, and so have hundreds of people. My wife is a much beloved human being, and is far removed from the sulking moody son if a bitch that I can be. she has been anointed with oil and had some wonderful people lay hands upon her. But beautiful people die from horrid things. I know there is a plan, but I’m all ears if one of you out there has some kind of direct connection to healing. I will drain my bank account and pauperize myself if someone could heal her or motivate God to do so. The offer stands. My paper kingdom for the life of my wife.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I remember a few years ago praying for a friend of mine who was wasting away with cancer, pleading that because this vessel was so poor, so unworthy (not false humility, I can tell you) that surely this voice raised (and so unusually heard from) might be listened to. But my friend died all the same.

        And she was a very very religious and pious lady, as tuned into god as one could reasonably expect to be. This is why my faith, such as it is, is fairly open-ended about these things. That there is a Creator. Check. Yes. I get it. All that we see and have could not come about by “chance,” whatever that would mean.

        And yet as much as we humans back-fill with rationalizations and see plans within plans, I confess I cannot tell happenstance from a Plan. I do not know where indeterminacy ends and a Plan begins.

        This is no comfort to anyone, including you. Had I the power, every single member of ISIS would drop dead and your wife would be instantly cured. But I don’t have that power. And I’m not sure that life wouldn’t turn into a Twilight Zone Episode if I did have those powers.

        The beauty of Christian belief is that it runs counter to what we see in the everyday world. And yet it does run counter. We don’t know if our faith is whistling past the graveyard or carrying a lighted torch in the night. God has his methods and we have our wishes and needs. Others find that they can have a “relationship with God.” I don’t do so well with that concept because the relationship seems so one-sided, if distant.

        It is perhaps lucky that I don’t have power over life and death. The movie, Bruce Almighty, shows some of the practical difficulty of playing God. Yes, everything I have said is offensive in terms of the real suffering being experienced by gentle and innocent people. But what can one say? What can one do? No one really understands this aspect of living. Many of us feel trapped in an ant farm for all the good praying and faith seem to do.

        It seems to me there is much that we are not in control of and probably shouldn’t be in control of. All I have to offer are nostrums such as “Let go and let God.” Let God do what? Let loved ones die despite our most sincere efforts to turn way from this course?

        But if death is not the end, it is not our call to make. We did not make ourselves to begin with. We do not have ultimate control of our destiny. Do we believe in the journey or not? Is life a journey? I don’t know. So much remains uncertain and there is vast pain in trying to make the uncertain certain.

        May your wife gain strength and let God decide the exact meaning of that word.

        • Gibblet says:

          Brad, your comments here are beautiful and profound. (No, I’m not vying for another t-shirt).

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          So much remains uncertain and there is vast pain in trying to make the uncertain certain.

          I suppose the hardest question for Christians to answer is “Why does God allow so much suffering in the world?”

          It is one thing to accept man’s inhumanity to man, but why pestilence, cancer, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and the like?

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            The “official” answer to that is natural suffering verses the suffering caused by sin. This parses and categorizes much of it, but certainly there is that large category remaining of “shit happens” and “no good deed goes unpunished.”

            And the overall answer to this, as best we can grapple with it, is that if you want to have a world of real meaning and freedom where people are not mere robots and can chart their own courses, it is inevitable that shit will happen. Bad things will happen to good people. Etc.

            Utopians pine (understandably so, to some extent) for the elimination of all suffering (the worst suffering apparently being the lack of “equality,” which is more a state of envy than anything else). Libertarian utopians pine for the place where (and I saw this bumper sticker the other day) the formula that cures all is “Don’t tread on anyone.”

            All Utopian plans are either naive, evil, or just plain stupid. But all require either the law of the jungle to be the rule (for you can’t tread on anyone, even those treading upon others) or an authoritarian totalitarianism to reduce human action to — well — little more than a robot within totally prescribed limits.

            As we see the miserable failures of the various attempts at Utopia, we may not be able to explain the problem of pain and evil. But we can perhaps understand it goes with the territory if we are to have any world at all.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I have the “Brad’s Turkey Vegetable Soup” therapy going. I can highly recommend it. No gimmicks, just lots and lots of the very best (for you) vegetables, low salt, low fat, low carb, and high-taste.

          And I would always recommend cooked foods because it is a known fact that many vegetarians have trouble getting all the nutrients they need from raw fruits and vegetables. It is the cooking that aids in incorporating and ingesting (digesting) the nutrients. Plus I would be careful of any diet that had a lot of sugar in it, whether from fruit or otherwise. Just my two cents.

          And any gimmick with “enema” in it really doesn’t interest me. I’ll ingest at the normal end, thank you.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            When I was young, the family often had vegetable soup. I had chicken noodle (or minor variants occasionally, such as chicken and rice) instead.

            The raw vegetables I eat are generally in salads, though I do start my lunch with raw fruit (usually Granny Smith apples, occasionally grapes or bananas).

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            And any gimmick with “enema” in it really doesn’t interest me. I’ll ingest at the normal end, thank you.

            But Mahatma Gandhi was a proponent of such practices.

            • Stuart Whitman Stuart Whitman says:

              Coffee enemas are mentioned in the Bible as well.

              • Gibblet says:

                Seriously Stuart? Where is that written? I’m missing out on this aspect of my spiritual life. If this practice becomes popular, the warm and happy Starbucks experience could be revolutionized!

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                I fear that Brad will soon have to set up a separate blog for this subject. No doubt it will be called something like, “Colon Corner.”

              • Stuart Whitman Stuart Whitman says:

                Okay. I can’t cite a specific text. It was a quick reply on the way out the door. But there is a long history to this subject.

                The Essene Gospel of Peace is said to have been translated from an ancient manuscript hidden in the secret archives of the Vatican. Here’s an excerpt of what’s inside.

                “I tell you truly, the uncleanness within is greater by much than the uncleanness without. And he who cleanses himself without, but within remains unclean, is like a tomb that outwards are painted fair, but are within full of all manner of horrible uncleanness and abominations.”

                “Seek, therefore, a large trailing gourd, having a stalk the length of a man; take out its inwards and fill it with water from the river, which the sun has warmed. Hang it upon the branch of a tree, and kneel upon the ground before the angel of water, and suffer the end of the stalk of the trailing gourd to enter your hinder parts, that the water may flow through all your bowels. Afterwards rest kneeling on the ground before the angel of water that he will free your body from every uncleanness and disease. Then let the water run out from your body, that it may carry away from within all the unclean and evil-smelling things of Satan.”

                http://www.naturalnews.com/026990_colon_cleansing_body.html

                “Throughout history people have been using enemas as a tool to cleanse the colon, as a central tool of preventive medicine. In the Bible, ancient Egyptian documents, Papyrus, the Hindus, Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Sumerians have all used this bodily cleansing tool to make their lives and their health better.”

                http://www.health-information-fitness.com/enemainfo.html

                My comment was meant to provide Glenn an option. And the Gerson Diet is more about what goes in than what comes out but the latter, in the form of detoxification of the liver, certainly deserves more investigation and less ridicule. But happy to be the pinata for a short time if it is helpful.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                The Essene Gospel of Peace is said to have been translated from an ancient manuscript hidden in the secret archives of the Vatican.

                More likely written by that famous apostle Edmund Szekely, who appears to be one of the original health food fanatics.

                Szekely’s claims regarding the finding of this “Gospel” at the Vatican have been refuted.

                But happy to be the pinata for a short time if it is helpful.

                Do I detect a note of “persecution complex?” One becomes a pinata only if one’s comments are left dangling for all to wack.

                Don’t take the observations written on ST personally. Everyone questions everyone else.

    • Lucia says:

      Jesus healed in obedience to the Father’s immediate will for that person. We can know the mind of God in general way because of the written Word of God. But do we always know the immediate will for a person for a specific time? Sometimes God gives us the faith to know it, but most of the time He wants us to trust in His nature and cling to the promises in His Word. It takes more faith to trust God to take care of us even unto death than it takes to demand that Satan leave us alone. Besides, death is like “birth pangs” of a body releasing our living soul unto our forever life. Why should believers fear it?

      • Timothy Lane says:

        It can be difficult, but the last 24 hours has taught me a little something about how one can manage. I’ve been feeling very much like a borogove, for reasons I will hint at shortly, and yet for the most part I haven’t wished to die (though I’m none too eager to go on living), even though it will be much longer than I had hoped before I can get out of this (now over-large and unmanageable) house and see Elizabeth. As long as there is hope.

        As for my main current problem, it reminds me of a joke I read in Underground Office Humor. It seems the body organs were trying to decide which one was boss. The brain, the heart, the lungs, the stomach — all had their basis for a claim. Then the asshole put in a bad, only to be laughed at by all the others. So it went on strike, and after a few days with the asshole not doing anything, the others were ready to accept its claim. This shows that you don’t need to be a brain to be boss . . . just an asshole.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          borogove

          I learned a new word.

          You and Elizabeth remain in our thoughts and prayers, Timothy. God only knows why our burdens are not shared equally.

          Your joke reminds me of the reality of garbage collectors. We could do nicely without lawyers, gameshow hosts, politicians, community organizers, and weathermen. But whenever the garbage collectors go on strike, we realize their importance.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            We could do nicely without lawyers, gameshow hosts, politicians, community organizers, and weathermen

            I want to put in a word for gameshow hosts and weathermen. Dishonest types do not necessarily gravitate toward those occupations. So while they may not be as vital to society as garbage men, they are certainly on a higher level than the others you mentioned.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Gameshow hosts are indeed a step up, morally speaking, from lawyers. Here’s the people I would most not want to be without:

              1) Law enforcement
              2) The military
              3) Doctors
              4) Garbage men
              5) Firemen (Mr. Kung’s suggestion)
              6) Educators (not to be confused with a mere “teacher” on the public payroll, although some may be and surely are)

              And although we need lawyers, because we need law, perhaps we don’t need so many of them.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                Some thirty years back, I read that while the USA with a population of about 250 million had about 800,000 lawyers while Japan with a population of about 125 million had about 60,000.

                American lawyers are a particular sub-species. The “ambulance chaser” does not exist in any other society I have seen.

                I would add firemen to your list.

              • Stuart Whitman Stuart Whitman says:

                We are a “nation of laws” and live by the “rule of law”. Argentina, Iran, and Soviet Georgia could use more. Guess one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

                And remember that the Soviets didn’t fear our military as much as the writers, artists and musicians. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                We are no longer “a nation of laws”.

                With the Federal Register approaching 80,000 pages, and the tens of thousands of pages of State and local laws, nobody can know the law, much less understand it.

                We have become a nation ruled by caprice, managed by bureaucrats, elected and non-elected, and their handmaidens, lawyers.

                Were we a nation of laws, we would not need so many lawyers.

                Along those lines, here is something I wrote many years ago.

                http://www.stubbornthings.org/the-new-clergy/

          • Timothy Lane says:

            “All mimsy were the borogoves” from Lewis Carroll (“The Jabberwocky”). “Mimsy” is a combination of miserable and flimsy.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Mimsy. Sounds like a pet Victorian name used in the rarified air of the upper class. I think Monty Python had a sketch where Palin’s love was “Mimsy.” Does that stir any memories or recollections?

              We should invent our own words. My contribution this day is Merry Christmuddle. You get it.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                I don’t recall the sketch, and since I memorized the poem in 6th grade, I’m sure I would have noticed. I haven’t seen all that many Monty Python sketches, since I didn’t know about them at the time they were on.

                Incidentally, just a short while ago I came back from another trip to the bathroom, and I can (FINALLY!) report success. You don’t know how good it feels. There were 4 logs (one very large, and no doubt the cause of the problem). and it took 4 flushes (and a little overflow) to take care of the toilet.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                I’m sure there’s a limerick I could do for that, but I haven’t the guts. No pun intended. 😀

        • Gibblet says:

          Dare I hope, Timothy, that soon you feel more like a goose than a borogove?

      • glenn fairman says:

        Like all finite sentient beasts, we dread the unknown, even should they prove salutary. It is not so much the finality of death-I understand, at least intellectually, the comfort of the promise. But it is the degradation and pain that accompanies this slow motion horror, and the inability to do nothing in order to alleviate it. Although I know that God has intervened in the suffering aspect, it is at a level to me invisible until I reflect back on it.

        • Lucia says:

          Death is our enemy, a ruthless robber of our dignity, sanity, and power. It tortures us long before it rips out our hearts. I hate it with every part of my being. Thank God we live in Christ who has delivered us from deaths victory.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          But it is the degradation and pain that accompanies this slow motion horror, and the inability to do nothing in order to alleviate it.

          Glenn, I can’t imagine losing my life’s love. There are no words to soften that. You and Lucia are so harshly correct about the nature of death.

  9. Stuart Whitman Stuart Whitman says:

    My two cents worth is that we can’t understand all the forces of the universe. The Bible instructs us to keep the faith. It doesn’t provide complete understanding. Yet we seek and take comfort in the security that a relationship with God provides. But like many things in life it works until it doesn’t. And as others have stated, we muddle along.

    If you muddle along often enough you learn that things can rebound as quickly as they faltered for reasons often as inexplicable as the original turn of events. And you may even be able to smile and laugh at hardship knowing that tough times are part of the plan. To me that’s grace per 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

    But I can forgive and even applaud Glenn for sharing his grief, uncertainty, and disappointment. Because he’s human. And that’s the point. We suffer regardless of how enlightened we imagine ourselves to be. My prayers go out to all who wonder. We will never have all the answers we seek but may you have comfort in the void.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      We suffer regardless of how enlightened we imagine ourselves to be. My prayers go out to all who wonder. We will never have all the answers we seek but may you have comfort in the void.

      I think that, and the rest, is very well said, Stuart. I find such articulation to be another lit candle in the darkness.

      There is no proving this or that. I think many Christians have often tried to turn their faith into a proof, and the world has suffered for it. Islam is, of course, the worst case in this regard. Not only is it a degenerate system but it is one that makes the world groan whenever their quite worldly beliefs are forced upon the world to try to prove their supposed other-worldly metaphysics.

      Islam is religion run to excess, as is atheism its polar opposite. Both tend to bring ruin as they try to force their narrow other-worldly beliefs to fulfillment via reshaping the world, usually in a totalitarian way with totalitarian means.

      That said, not all beliefs are the same (something ignorant “secular” types do not, or will not, understand). Christianity is well-founded in the idea that the world is not an accident. This is its prime divergence from atheism. And it does not believe that the world should be made into a Utopia just because God is envisioned to be perfect, all-powerful, etc. The world is the world and so much of it is a deep and abiding mystery. But Christians understand that a rush to a Utopian certainty brings only disaster, even if it is a worthy endeavor to make our hearts pure. Islam, like atheism, longs for the perfection of their visions being forced on a world that inherently has many gray areas and much freedom of choice.

      Christians in their quest for “social justice” have gone insane as they adopt the materialist or utopian paradigm. We should help others when we can and in ways that are truly helpful, but it is not an “injustice,” so far as we know, that everyone doesn’t have the same amount of “stuff.” After all, “social justice” implies an injustice. And the preponderance of the evidence of what “social justice” means is that “the poor” are poor because the rich have screwed them in some way. It is a complete ass-backwards (and thus degenerate) view of life. The lesson to be learned, if this is the lesson one wants to teach, is how wealth is generated. The normal condition of human beings is vulgar poverty.

      Thus we human beings need our lit candles, in regards to both spiritual and material poverty (with wisdom able to balance the two). But all we tend to get these days are clever deceptions (“social justice”) or black voids in the guise of rap music, dishonest politicians, vulgar pop culture, etc. And although a good Christian, let alone a good small-r republican, ought to put up with a good amount of true diversity, it is also wise to pick carefully from the many detours, as noted by Mr. Kung.

      A very hard truth is that having faith often means eating a shit sandwich and doing so with a grin. You’ll not find this stated in such a way by Thomas Aquinas, but that is the core truth. The Christian faith instills a view longer than just one’s nose. Imagine how easily it is to fall into a ditch if one is looking no further than ten feet in front of you. Even so, much mystery remains. And prayer, silence, and selfless service are the means, however tentative, to gain a mystical union with that which exists outside of and above an increasingly vapid pop culture.

  10. Stuart Whitman Stuart Whitman says:

    So much thought provoking writing here from you and the others. I hope to contribute something more substantive this year beyond commentary. A book review? An article revealing my perspectives? Perhaps just a recipe. Only if you’ll just stop Obama’s face from coming up when I click on the Stubborn Things bookmark! Thank you.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      You’re right, Stuart. It’s time to change that “slider” graphic on the home page. That’s usually one of the last things I find time to do. But it’s easy enough to just delete it for now.

      Okay. I deleted Obama. Oh, if only it were that easy.

      And regarding submissions, all I ask of people is to do something other than the standard bitching. Educate us. Entertain us. Make us laugh. Make us cry. Make us consider and think. Give us something practical like a recipe or book review. But we don’t need a laundry list of the Left’s offenses any more than we need to see that picture of Obama that I had attached to an otherwise very nice article by Mr. Kung.

      People shrink back from stating their opinions for various reasons. One of those should not be because you think you have to be as eloquent and well-written as Hemingway. In my opinion, the only people who embarrass themselves are the ones who put on too many layers of hifalutin.

      The internet simply groans from too much pretension, posturing, and pointlessness. I don’t know. I just thought here we could have a place for people outside of the beltway (and outside of the beltway mentality) to say something real. On my dime, unless, of course, one is in a position to hit that little Paypal “Donate” icon at the bottom of the page, but it is by no means required.

      • Stuart Whitman Stuart Whitman says:

        In due time on the donation. And I hear you on the rest as well. The blogs I’ve mentally written are “….75 miles east of (fill in town) there’s a successful enterprise which (fill in blank) … followed by a neat but concise story about the product or service they provide, what made it possible, and the impact it has had on the community. Contrasted by neat and concise examples of the forces that work against them. Heavy use of cause and effect and dry sarcasm.

        There are potentially thousands of such stories. And if written well, serve to underscore the arguments for liberty and private markets and provide examples of what we are for rather than what we are against. Which is what will counter the socialist narrative and keep conservatism as a majority instead of a minority. Wish me luck.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          My goodness. The story of production, of actually making a product. That is one definition of America. And it’s a great story.

          I was looking around my office yesterday in a moment of either thoughtfulness or boredom. You have to be struck by the fact that we are surrounded by products (hi-tech or low-tech) that are quite beyond our means of producing, let alone understanding. We take them for granted and many are miracles of technology that are so inexpensive that they are disposable.

          I’m no engineer. I’m a relative dolt compared to the geniuses who come up with this stuff. And theirs is the story of hard work, innovation, and profiting themselves and mankind by their industry. We ought to put our material “stuff” in proper context of the many other things that have value. But the “stuff” does have some great value.

          Then you have the socialist narrative where the producers are “greedy” and the moochers are “victims.” That really really chafes my butt. And there are plenty of “nice” people (people who have genuinely worked all their lives to produce something) that mindlessly throw in with this notion. They should know better.

          • Stuart Whitman Stuart Whitman says:

            You touch on a very important but obscure fact right there. Conventional wisdom says we don’t make things here anymore but nothing is further from the truth. What we make are advanced manufactured goods. What we’ve outsorced is low skill assembly and widget production. The problem that remains is that the world can’t afford our stuff. So to recapture the dollars spent on imports we produce and export debt in the form of treasury notes. Bankers and politicians have sold us out. This is a particularly astute observation of mine that I hope to write and explore further.

            ***UPDATE***

            Kevin Williamson of NRO writes on this today…but conveniently refers to the debt as “investment assets”.

            http://www.nationalreview.com/article/442828/donald-trump-trade-deficit-ignorance-and-misunderstanding

  11. Gibblet says:

    “My comment was meant to provide Glenn an option.”

    Stuart, your compassion for Glenn (which we have in common) is evident.

    “But happy to be the pinata for a short time if it is helpful.”

    Being a piñata, and being happy about it, are necessary qualities of an ST commenter. Thank you for being here. Hang on to that rope.

    “Okay. I can’t cite a specific text.”

    Stuart, there’s a good reason you wont find that specific text in God’s Word: The Holy Bible. The book you referred to, “The Essene Gospel of Peace” is one of those deceits of Satan that takes familiar sounding biblical scripture and pairs it with half truths and lies.

    • Stuart Whitman Stuart Whitman says:

      Thank you for the good words. Suspect I’ll always be thought of as the potty mouth here. Or some variation there of …

      *Note to self: Think more before you post.

      • Gibblet says:

        “*Note to self: Think more before you post.”

        I think the price of redemption is to submit a new article.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I can’t help think that cleaning oneself, inside and out, would be a good idea. It’s still amusing to read that even the royalty of not long ago took only a few baths a year. No doubt people did some washing and brushing up between times. But I can’t imagine going without a shower every day. That is most definitely good for one’s health. Glenn is looking for any and all options and I’m sure he’d appreciate all extremes of cleanliness as an option.

        But I read a bit of that “The Essene Gospel of Peace” and no wonder it was in a secret vault of the Vatican, if that is its provenance. It’s a purely pagan creed.

        Now, granted, it’s an interesting idea that we can dispense with sacred texts and read from the world all the wisdom we need to know. But as Dennis Prager notes, dogs, frogs, and hyenas don’t build hospitals. It is an odd thing for the Divine to have built a world that has many implicit messages (such as survival of the fittest) that we ought to ignore and transcend. But that’s the way it seems to be. Nature is a bit of a monster and should not be used exclusively as a model for human behavior.

        Also, what I read seems more like a fetish or superstition regarding the body. To equate the natural processes of waste elimination (disgusting as they may be in detail) with Satan is a urinal-too-far for me.

        • Glenn Fairman says:

          Gnostic theology always carries with it an elitism–special knowledge for the seeker that the mundane of the world are excluded from by virtue of a dearth of asceticism, the want of the pristine vision, a deficiency of self-instituted holiness. The gnostics were fueled by the philosophy of Alexandria which placed their Platonic and Manichean wisdom at a premium. One sees a duality between pneuma and bios -spirit and body: generally with a disgust of the flesh evidenced by mortification and ceremonial washings. In some instances, Gnosticism manifests itself in a total disconnect between soul and flesh where the upper chambers can participate in the holy of holies while the flesh is allowed to cavort in debauchery. Christianity, while denying the works of the flesh, encourages us that in faith our inner war can be victorious without flagellation, celibacy, monkish denial, an excess in ritual. We are to live in the world, but not to be of it. Moreover, one day our redeemed spirit will be joined with a new body, just as Christ’s was as a first fruits of The New Creation.

          An interesting side note is that the Marxian species of the collective is a modern example of this gnosis–an elite Dictatorship of the Proletariat forms a vanguard that leads the world towards its own secular New Jerusalem. Everything old is new again.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Thanks for that background, Glenn. Either out of a lack of self-esteem or something else, my instinct is to shy away from elitism, “secret knowledge,” and circle-jerks…even while I believe striving for excellence can be an enriching thing.

            Nor is false modesty anything but another form of elitism. One of my friend’s favorite quotes is “The light shines in the darkness…” When one comes to grips — not a full understanding, just “to grips” — with how much darkness each one of us aids and abets, it’s a sobering thing. And it lets more light in.

            But true depth of understanding, which I believe comes in many forms, isn’t superstition. It isn’t fideism. It isn’t fundamentalism. It isn’t libtard “social justice” ism. It isn’t “all about me” even if I am part of the story. We’re all born pinheads and most of us get pinheadier as the years pass. We can be the most gigantic pinheads even while espousing total faith to religion.

            But I think a depth of understanding, or the accumulation of wisdom, does exist and needn’t be connected with secret knowledge. It seems to me that Gnosticism is a tricky way to make the human ego central. “I’m so good, I see that the world is a terrible place, therefore I set myself above it.” Libertarians seem to me to evince that Gnostic strain. But the saints and sages (not the posers) have tended to be deeply connected to the common, setting themselves above no one, perhaps mirroring “I have not come to be served but to serve.”

            I believe there is a place for asceticism, but recognize that it has to be anchored in something other than a disguised elitism. It has to be tamed as any other human endeavor. But I don’t think it’s wrong to laugh at the follies of the world, of the inordinate weight people put on trivial things, possessions, and passioins…especially if one actually believes the tenets of one’s faith.

  12. Glenn Fairman says:

    If the ascetic’s aim is to extinguish the false flame of inordinate desire and disown personality and maya for amalgamation in the Atman, then that is spiritual nihilism. We must take care that the root of our asceticism doesn’t develop into either a will towards annihilation or lead us to focus inward into a quasi-deification. Both miss the mark from diverging vectors. We are not God, but if we seek Him in truth, He will make the wooden boy real.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I don’t make enough to be an ascetic and too much to be the humble poor. I am the boring man who must suffer the pleasure of finding great things not in his own Tweet, as it were, but in the often overwhelming enormity of this world’s small great things.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I’ve heard that there are dangers to asceticism. And to each his own. Some people need to be surrounded by other people at all times. Others are fine with just some of the time. Still others are fine with most of the time to themselves or with only a very close-knit circle.

      We know there is madness in crowds. We know how easily the most preposterous ideas are enlarged and given human legitimacy simply because of that magic word, “consensus.” On Star Trek: The Next Generation, the chief villains are The Borg who wish to assimilate everything into the “collective” whether or not they are willing.

      I think truth can be a very lonely place. I think when substance is a function of mere consensus, we are living in a house of cards. Our society right now is composed of dozens of beliefs that, if not arbitrary, are based only in the will and wishes of The Collective — a Collective that has become more and more disengaged from reality.

      I think to err on the side of disengaging from this is a good thing. The noise of the normal conduits of culture are enemies of man’s ability to be rational, sensible, and even-handed. As a culture, I believe we’re becoming addicted to novelty and thus to idiocy.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        One thing to note (I get the impression you’re thinking this way, but I want to make it explicit) is that collectivist thinking can happen anywhere. It’s more or less the same thing as groupthink, after all. Thus, leftists are inherently oriented toward the collective rather than the individual, but it’s likely with any extreme of identity politics (including extreme nationalism and racism). It can even happen with individualist views, cf. Life of Brian. (“You are all individuals.” “Yes, we are all individuals.” “Uh — I’m not.”)

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