Transcending this Suffering

suffering eyeby Glenn Fairman   3/11/14
Without freedom, there is no love. Without choice, there is no freedom. The choices we are offered? Either follow after the light or else burrow into the darkness of self-will. In this existence, liberty will ever be interconnected with the unfathomable pain that attends free human agency and the natural consequence of severing the mirrors of our lives from their illuminating source. We hear this same plaintive cry following every monstrous evil. Where was God in the massacre? In truth, He is where he has always been: at the doors of men’s hearts knocking to gain entrance. He could kick the door in, I suppose, and crush evil before it had formed its nasty intent, but that is not the universe He created. But if he did, and since it is His ballgame, what makes you so certain it would not be your own brittle house that came crashing down around you?[pullquote]Pain and loss become the necessary means to awaken us from that animal slumber, and without them we would be trapped in bodies where brutish appetite and sensual desire reigned over our wretchedness with indifferent eyes.[/pullquote]

We really should get this straight. If there is no God, and we each comprise the moral centers of our universe, then suffering means nothing and assailing such an evil in light of our own limited mortal perspective is fruitless. And if such a judgment were in fact true, then there could be not one chance in hell for anything other than fleeting animal happiness. Moreover, with every massacre, every tsunami, with every suffering soul who has been wracked by cancer or watched their loved ones die of it, all these surviving miserable wretches must ultimately succumb to the forlorn conclusion that such a dismal Godless life is a hollowed out existential absurdity. In truth, we should not even dare ascribe meaning to suffering, because in an anthropocentric universe, suffering has no real logic. And in a world without objective truth or meaning, we all suffer together and alone as pathetic creatures from some black comedy where nobody, even those who dare laugh, gets out alive.

The fact that we as a race, to an overwhelming extent, resists this bleak characterization of life — is because it is a lie, and because it is contrary to the moral law that God has laid upon our hearts. Without this glimmer of Divine consciousness, we could never even begin to question our collective fates, or shed tears for them any more than a lizard does when devouring her own young. Thankfully, it is not in some Darwinian existential grappling that we fulfill and transcend our humanity. It is, however, our reconciliation of the pain and anguish we experience as humans with that objective moral consciousness that allows the transmutation of our suffering. Pain and loss become the necessary means to awaken us from that animal slumber, and without them we would be trapped in bodies where brutish appetite and sensual desire reigned over our wretchedness with indifferent eyes. Without pain, we would never know pity, mercy, or humility.

Listen carefully: God, in the truest and broadest sense has never slain anyone or allowed anyone in the history of the world to perish. Since we as eternal beings merely step through the door of one tiny room into the halls of a grand Pavilion, it can never be said that the Father of Lights has lost a single precious child to the black void of the outer darkness. This being said, the sufferings of we who are left behind and who must cope with these searing losses soon understand that suffering is inextricably bound to the mysteries of faith, redemption, and grace—all of which coalesce and become intelligible in the paradox of the Cross. Nothing beautiful that has ever been made has become so without a cost, and a sovereign God, as C.S. Lewis writes, uses pain and suffering as megaphones to rouse a deafened world. In pain and virtue God fashions men. There is no other way in a world that has been destined to be free.[pullquote]The most wretched of God’s creatures are those whose teeth have been broken by biting down on modernity’s candy coated humanism: that saccharine lure which has always concealed its nihilistic core.[/pullquote]

The most wretched of God’s creatures are those whose teeth have been broken by biting down on modernity’s candy coated humanism: that saccharine lure which has always concealed its nihilistic core. As tragic beings that refuse to believe in the possibility of joy, they take a perverse comfort in their fears and sufferings, like little children hiding in a darkened closet with eyes held tightly shut. As darkness descends upon the world, causing tears to fall as copiously as a winter’s rain, please understand that there is more depth to the universe than unawakened selves will ever know by virtue of their own unaided strength. As the dam bursts and the broken veneer of our pain washes over us in her unrelenting embrace, perhaps it is only then that we can fully grasp this final truth: that we are treasured more than all reason and measure by the overflowing heart of God — a being who even now stands before us in the guise of a Great and Suffering King.
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Glenn Fairman writes from Highland, Ca. He can be reached at arete5000@dslextreme.com. • (4235 views)

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33 Responses to Transcending this Suffering

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    That image of the totally godless reminds me of the dwarves at the end of Lewis’s The Last Battle, unable to see the banquet around them because of their lack of faith. But the notion of meaning reminds me of the role of religion in providing some sort of meaning and solace in death. In one of Dean Koontz’s books, there’s a little scene in a cemetery that includes a grave for a child who died at birth, with the epitaph: “God loved him so much He called him home at birth.” I read that, and wondered how the militant atheists would react if they witnessed the funeral.

    I was also reminded of this Sunday when I happened to watch the Shirley Temple movie Bright Eyes on TCM and her pilot godfather had to tell her about the death of her mother. He talked of Heaven, and that her father (a pilot who had crashed some years earlier) was there, and said that her mother had gone to visit him and would be living with him now. She asked if that meant she had cracked up just like him, and when he admitted she had, naturally started crying. But no doubt the thought that her mother (lonely since the father’s death) would be with him helped mitigate the pain.

  2. Pokey Possum says:

    “It is, however, our reconciliation of the pain and anguish we experience as humans with that objective moral consciousness that allows the transmutation of our suffering. Pain and loss become the necessary means to awaken us from that animal slumber, and without them we would be trapped in bodies where brutish appetite and sensual desire reigned over our wretchedness with indifferent eyes. Without pain, we would never know pity, mercy, or humility.”

    Glenn, having experienced what you express so well, I couldn’t agree more. I came to the saving grace of Christ while skipping through the flowered fields of childhood, July 21, 1968. But it wasn’t until I suffered many years the painful consequences of my own rebellion that I saw beyond my own selfish motives, realized the omnipotence of God, and conceded to His good purpose for my life. I have since wondered how a person comes to a very deep relationship with our Lord without first experiencing a terrible trauma. It seems to be what our own sinfulness necessitates.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Oh, goodness. Suffering is such a big subject. Let’s split this up into three basic components or outlooks:

    1) Teleology: There is a purpose to suffering. It’s included as one of the basic components of the universe (like consciousness) for the reasons Glenn has given.

    2) Shit Happens: self-explanatory

    3) Points 1 and 2 combined

    I don’t put as much stock as others do into the idea that suffering exclusively exists in order to make us better people. There is much suffering (far too much) that is gratuitous. But truly the best people any of us have ever known have suffered and come out the other end a wiser person. This is not my opinion. This is the truth of the world, especially regarding the various Christian mystics and saints. They didn’t get that way by living inside a bubble.

    Suffering also has the capability to warp a person. In my view, there is just too much in the mix, too many ways that suffering plays out in real life, to get too gushy over its existence. Frankly, we humans have probably always spent a great deal of our energies into trying to reduce suffering and hardship, and for good reason.

    But what is certainly true is that you create thin, trifling, superficial and banana-headed people if you try to protect them from all suffering. This is one of the key harms of the supposedly do-gooder welfare state. Most parents understand that a skinned knee isn’t the end of the world and that there are some lessons that little Johnny has to learn the hard way. Why these same “compassionate” people then turn around and vote for the welfare bubble-boy (Pajama Boy?) state is anybody’s guess.

    In the end, I think some version of Point #3 is what perdures. We live somewhat in an ant farm with some basic rules, but the contingency factor (Point #2) is so often in play that it is very difficult to say “Suffering is a purposeful thing.” Sure, sometimes it is. But very often it is not. But it certainly is, and we have one of two ways of dealing with it: Vote Democrat (the party of the eternal victims) or try to grow the hell up and perhaps follow the examples of others (such as the Christian saints) who have come before us and have known real suffering.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      That’s a good point about the alternate effects of suffering. Some people are made stronger by it; some are broken. This depends often on chance (what breaks person A may not break person B, but then what breaks person B may not break person B) as well as internal strength (which, particularly for children, owes a great deal to good parents). Of course, by “suffering” I mean the real thing, not the minor incidents of childhood.

      • Rosalys says:

        In other words, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” Suffering and adversity can give a person perspective.

  4. Glenn Fairman says:

    I have dealt with the two-edged sword of suffering in other articles. And it seems that suffering will bring some to ruin and some it will refine. The amazing thing is that often the ones who appear the most “together” will sink into despair and those who tilt at the edge of disaster rise up. But if a man views reality from the perspective that life is one long banquet of pleasures, then any sudden and sustained downturn will embitter him. If I view life as a proving grounds for joy, that that perspective is softened measurably. It takes a mature psyche to process suffering and get from the “Why me? to the Why not me? Ravi Zacharias has mentioned in his talks, however, that the most pathetic beings are not those who have despaired of pain and suffering, but those who have despaired of pleasure — there is nothing left for them within the bounds of the material world to seek solace in, and they generally end badly.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      But if a man views reality from the perspective that life is one long banquet of pleasures, then any sudden and sustained downturn will embitter him.

      Yes, surely you are right. Attitude counts for much. Psychological studies have shown that if man is in control of his suffering, he fairs much better and suffers much less. In fact, we may gladly become our own tormentors (otherwise known as “jogging” or exercise).

      That’s what I did this Sunday. There was a break in the weather and I hiked up and down the mountain (setting a personal record for time as well), huffing and puffing all the way up and down, pushing myself quite into new thresholds of pain. If someone had forced me to do this, it would have been greatly resented. As it was, it made for a truly memorable and pleasurable day. (This is a trait perhaps unique to Northwesterners who, having survived several months of rain and bleak weather, rejoice — dancing to the pipes of pan at the drop of a hat — should the sun peek out even for a moment as spring nears.)

      People often suffer horrible things that have absolutely nothing to do with sin, or even the “sins of the father.” I don’t believe we live in the kind of universe where sin is always, or even mostly, meant to be instructive or act as a punishment. There are just too many people suffering random misfortune to believe that.

      But I do think the Christian thing to do is to find meaning in suffering, to alchemize it into something that perhaps is even beautiful. Part of this is simply accepting that some amount of suffering is unavoidable. But I’m not sure that anyone is required to think of suffering as always being deserved, although often it is. It’s such a mixed bag.

      My own suffering I can say probably has left me a bit embittered, but also more compassionate toward others. I guess if I was really embittered I would be a man of the Left, hate George Bush, and transfer my psychological angst into a sublimated hatred of men by being kind to Bambi. But I don’t do that (and am still kind to Bambi as well).

  5. D.P. Smith says:

    Beautifully written article! This is a tad reset of subject but recent experience in a men’s group finds me questioning my understanding of basic principles. We were discussing man’s free will and were all in agreement that without it, loving God is not possible. Almost immediately, a senior member of group talks about his salvation and how God decided that he was still rebellious and needed modification.. So he is involved in a car accident and a couple of other “whippings” and realized that he was not who he needed to be. My question revolves around the way this is presented–it sounds like he is saying that God arranged for the accident to teach a lesson. I get that God can use any situation for His purpose but it doesn’t seem biblical that God is causing car accidents to teach lessons. I hear this same type explanation so often in church and from those who profess that we are not puppets. I am relatively new to Christianity and still don’t understand many things. Any thoughts on this appreciated.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      God decided that he was still rebellious and needed modification.. So he is involved in a car accident and a couple of other “whippings” and realized that he was not who he needed to be. My question revolves around the way this is presented–it sounds like he is saying that God arranged for the accident to teach a lesson. I get that God can use any situation for His purpose but it doesn’t seem biblical that God is causing car accidents to teach lessons.

      This is one reason I remain at arm’s-length from religion. So much of it is about human rationalization. There’s certainly nothing wrong with making lemonade out of lemons. The central aspect of unavoidable suffering is our attitude toward it. Do we become embittered or are we made wiser and more compassionate?

      But apparently Islam, for instance, believes that every little thing that happens is “God’s will.” This becomes a problematic conception because in this arrangement we become puppets. In that kind of universe, we have no free will. It, frankly, becomes an oppressive universe where every act (painful or otherwise) is “for our benefit.” Thus God becomes the stern schoolmaster with no “off” switch. There’s no room for just being us. It would be like living under a nanny-state Obama regime, times ten.

      This universe is obviously constructed in such a way as to allow not only for free will but for contingency (aka “shit happens”). To the best of my understanding, it is transforming or transmuting suffering (whether we were culpable for it or not) into something meaningful and even beautiful that is the Christian way. But I would find it an oppressive mental picture to have to live with wherein ever spilt glass of milk was interpreted as a lesson from God.

      Just my two cents, D.P.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Not only does the Muslim view allow no free will, but it allows for no scientific laws. We stay grounded not because of the force of gravity, but because Allah wills it. Light travels at the speed that Allah wills, and perhaps he doesn’t always will the same speed. Etc. It makes it hard for Muslims to play a significant role in modern science.

        • Glenn Fairman says:

          that is true. And that is why Islam fell behind the West, although they will tell you otherwise. The great scientific minds from the Islamic world were greeks and jews who had been subjugated. It took several hundred years for the smothering mental death of Islam to put those sparks to rest.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I agree, Timothy and Glenn (especially Glenn’s point about the subjugation of Jews and Greeks…Much of Islam’s supposed “Golden Age” is built merely upon plunder and upon subjugating those who were above the level of barbarians).

          But one of the Thomistic philosophical points (or Augustinian…or both…I forget) is the idea that God embraces and energizes every single particle of everything with his will. And if he did not, it (and we) would all vanish in an instant.

          And, really, if you stop and suppose why matter should be persistent at all, he (Thomas?) has a great point. Surely the mechanics of it are far more complicated than a marionette pulling strings. But if one thinks deeply about the persistence of existence, it’s an intriguing idea. Not only must we consider the “Why is there anything?” question, but the “Why do things remain existing from moment to moment?”

          In a truly pointless, nihilistic, quantum-foamish type of universe where nothing truly means nothing and anything can just pop into existence, then one has to ask the logical question: Why don’t things pop out of existence? Why are the “laws of nature” consistent across the universe? In a universe truly underpinned by chaos, why should not this be typical? Haphazard would be the expected norm.

          Instead we have this odd coherence and persistence, as well as very precise and amazing attributes (such as consciousness) hardwired in.

          • David Ray says:

            Well put.
            And by the way (which I’m certain you already know), they’re Hindustani numbers – not arabic.

            Just a thought on the vehicle of sheer observation.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              For those interested in the history of displaying numerals (and the various rules of arithmetic associated with them), I highly recommend The Universal History of Numbers by Georges Ifray.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              they’re Hindustani numbers – not arabic.

              Thank you thank you thank you thank you. I’ll try to remember that, David. 🙂 Coincidentally (and I forget how the subject came up), but I was talking to my little brother about how Islam had so badly raped, murdered, and pillaged India. That is the untold story of “the religion peace.” The Left can do nothing but obsess over supposed Christian atrocities.

  6. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    “But I would find it an oppressive mental picture to have to live with wherein ever spilt glass of milk was interpreted as a lesson from God.”

    That is an interesting thought.

    I do not think Christian theology requires God personally intervene in every single occurrence in a person’s life. Perhaps God’s touch is simply felt because we exist in his creation and living is in itself a type of education/lesson. There are certain constants in life, gain/loss, love/hate, pain/joy, etc. and every human being has to experience these. And humans are expected to learn lessons from experience. So perhaps every experience is, in fact, a lesson from God. That is not to say every lesson is earth shattering, but many small lessons can add up to great experience/knowledge.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Mr. Kung, I think there are as many ways of interpreting and dealing with suffering as there are people. I’m just less fundamentalistic about this stuff. We all know people who have gotten sick or were in an accident that had nothing to due with their conduct (aka “sin”).

      This is a world that has known so much suffering. Simply understanding this is what can keep us from being a fragile, narcissistic, Pajama-Boy type of person.

      One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies (“Lawrence of Arabia”) regards the reality of suffering. Lawrence is tiring of it all near the end of the movie. He’s starting to be overcome by the anarchy and suffering. I think this line occurred just after they took Damascus and their “Arab Council” was in tatters. Auda Abu Tayi (Anthony Quinn) tells Lawrence:

      “What is it? Is it this? I tell you, this is nothing. Is it the blood? The desert has dried up more blood than you could think of.”

      Yes, that’s also a quite savage way to rationalize barbarity and war. But, if you look at all of history, what else can one say sometimes?

      One element of Buddhism that is certainly consistent with Christianity is that simply the expectation of being a pajama-like bubble boy, free from all angst, leads to enormous suffering. But if you simply accept that certain amount of it will occur, then you can get on with life (as best one can) and not regard oneself a victim or martyr as one’s central identity.

      Teleologically, it’s difficult to say what this universe is really about, and why it composed the way it is. That’s why there are the Psalms. They say, “Oh, Lord, why does shit happen to me?” Of course, the actual language is much more eloquent, but that is the gist of many of the Psalms. We can clutch at meaning and try to make sense of it all, but ultimately we are but guessing. We simply hope there is something more going on than a nihilistic, impersonal, and pointless “quantum foam” behind it all.

  7. Glenn Fairman says:

    While Islam holds that God is capricious and everything is determined. Orthodox Christianity would hold that although God knows our choices (he stands outside of time and today, yesterday and tomorrow are all in the eternal now) within that knowledge is our capacity for free will, and seeing something occur is not the same as willing it. The question remains, did God will your cancer or did he allow it to occur? Since god is not the author of evil, perhaps we need to penetrate what the effect that cancer had on the chain of events in your life. Did it bring you closer to God? Did it shake you out of a self-satisfied carnal life? The earth is the proving grounds of the soul and the battleground where the character that we will have throughout all eternity is begun. God would have us crippled and toothless without a penny in our pockets as we enter His great pavilions if it served to perfect us towards what He deems beneficial to our eternity. Whether we can see the hand of God in our sufferings is often problematic from our rational limited perspectives. So often, it is only years down the line that the “aha moment” arrives, and we see the grand chain of consequences that flowed from that error or suffering. It is with this perspective that the scales fall from our eyes and the curse is transmuted into a blessing that reaches back and turns our suffering into a necessary good. For the believer, it is necessary to trust and have faith—pressing on until our vision clears. So often, this time in the depths of sorrow tests us to our very limits. But God knows what we can handle and applies the right measure of medicine for what ails us. He has promised to keep us, and in no way will forsake us. It is He who will turn evil to good, the Father of Lights in whom no shadow lurks.

  8. D.P. Smith says:

    Allowing seemingly contrasting ideas to have a seat at the table may be difficult for those of us with limited resources…if we acknowledge that God is not the father of evil and that we don’t always see the big picture, then maybe what we perceive a evil may turn out to have been necessary to produce spiritual fruits. But thinking of anything that resembles a predestined existence seems repulsive (which does not make it false). Dostoyevsky writes of the torture of innocent children in “Brothers Karamazov”and that to consider it meaningful in the long term is simply absurd.
    Coming to Christ late in life(and this is not a preference or advantage) makes me a little like a fish that somehow has lived without water…those who have been in the water for most of their lives seem to accept so much without giving it any thought. Understanding that life is not a math problem with perfect answers, makes for a more joyful trip. Thanks for all the excellent feedback. DP

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      then maybe what we perceive a evil may turn out to have been necessary to produce spiritual fruits.

      I do think we should try to make lemonade out of lemons. And another idea consistent with Buddhism (no, I’m not a Buddhist) is the idea that one is never sure that “misfortune” is actually misfortune. It’s roughly analogous to the guy who is late the airport to get to a crucial business meeting. But the plane he was going to be on crashes.

      Or, more down to earth, one might not get the job one wanted, but get another and find out that this turned out to be much more to one’s liking.

      Surely part of the idea of “judge not” is because if we judge too fast we may miss out on a lot and mess up a lot of otherwise good stuff that is coming our way.

      As for a predestined existence, I certainly don’t have the DNA of a Calvinist. I really can’t understand why anyone would abide by that idea. Nor, given what we know of quantum physics, does any kind of predestination even appear possible anymore. The clockwork universe is thankfully dead. How odd, therefore, that politically we are devolving back to the idea of man as a mere machine, a functionary of the state who can be precisely programmed so as to produce a Pajama-Boy-like utopia of complete top-down order.

      One can perhaps gain some appreciation for random suffering if only because we see the smarmy, schmaltzy, and schmuck-like alternative, which is to basically be a Bubble Boy.

      No, life is not a math problem, although I did dig up an interesting C.S. Lewis quote the other day:

      As regards material reality, we are not being forced to the conclusion that we know nothing about it save its mathematics. The tangible beach and pebbles of our first calculators, the imaginable atoms of Democritus, the plain man’s picture of space, turn out to be the shadow: numbers are the substance of our knowledge, the sole liaison between mind and things. What nature is in herself evades us; what seem to naive perception to be the evident things about her, turn out to be the most phantasmal.

      That is another way of saying, pure reason leads us down a dead-end. Existence is indeed not explained by logic, nor could it ever be, for existence itself is gratuitous. It didn’t have to be.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        The idea of it turning out to be good luck to miss a doomed flight shows up in a Twilight Zone episode, “Twenty-Two” — one I actually remember from my youth and not just from seeing it in syndication. An actress in a hospital for some sort of nerves has a recurring nightmare of going down to the morgue (room 22) and being invited in by a nurse saying, “Room for one more, honey.” Eventually she’s reckoned cured and is about to board a flight home when a stewardess (who looks like the nurse from the nightmare) invites her on with that same quote. She runs off, and the plane explodes immediately after takeoff. (The episode was based on a story in a Bennett Cerf collection.)

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          I recall the episode. Like so many “Twilight Zone” stories, it hit a nerve.

          My closest childhood friend’s father was a pilot in WWII. He was scheduled to fly a PBY/Catalina out of San Francisco and for some reason the mission was given to another pilot. The plane took off and had trouble gaining altitude, moved up and down, before it turned nose down into the bay. There were no survivors. Apparently, it had been overloaded.

          • Rosalys says:

            And yet there were other men on that plane that went down, some of them the fathers of someone else’s childhood friend. Every day people are born and people die. Some die “prematurely”; some die against all odds many years beyond when they “should” have. Even those who live the longest – I heard about a woman who died last week at the age of 110 – their life is as a blink of an eye in the face of eternity, which is why we must embrace that eternal perspective which only Christ can give.

            I worked with a bitter, bitter man who was just miserable to work with and was his own worst enemy. He committed suicide, which I suppose was the logical outcome of a miserable existence. But very, very sad. He was given the Gospel but he did not want it; or maybe it would be closer to the truth to say he wanted it but on his own terms, not God’s. One guy at work, who should have known better as he professes to be a Christian said of this bitter man, “Well he is at peace now.” I looked at him and said, “You really think so?”

            Contrast that with one of my Christian friends who for the past several years has suffered with almost content splitting headaches, the cause of which the doctors cannot find. Plus all the other stuff she has going on in her life right now. Seriously, I ask her every week how she is doing because you’d never know to look at her. She always has a smile, a genuine smile.

            Most folks I reckon fall somewhere in between. I’ve had some adversity and I have trouble pulling off the smiley face – I’m don’t have much of a poker face – but somehow I’ve lived through the trials. I couldn’t really see much purpose while going through them. It took looking back to see God’s loving hand at work.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              I don’t know how much permanent pain I could take without becoming bitter (it probably depends on how well I could sleep), but I can take a certain amount. It helps that, no matter how poor my own health is (after all, congestive heart failure isn’t as bad as it sounds), most of my friends are even worse off (hey, at least I was able to enter the hospital on my own feet when I went to the ER 2 years ago, unlike my friend who needed an ambulance a few weeks later after his stroke; I figured he won moaning rights with that). When you reach my age, that usually is all you can expect.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                Actually, it is amazing how much pain one can endure when there is no other choice.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                Stoicism is a dying philosophy in America. It used to be widespread.

                Of course, it must be crushed for the liberal agenda to take over.

  9. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    There’s another aspect of this that I find interesting. And nothing I say here is meant to contradict Glenn. If anything, perhaps it is a resonant elaboration.

    One thing about being a Christian is that you sign on for the suffering. You are to carry your cross. If you want to avoid suffering, the religion for you is the secular religion of Leftism wherein various social services are the supposed path to earthly comforts and escape from psychological and moral angst. In this religion, the guiding influence is sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll, not the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

    And many Christians choose that secular religion (even if the outer forms are still traditional). If I had a dime for every bumper sticker I saw that proudly announced they were a Catholic along with a few other stickers for left wing or Democratic names or causes. If you are Catholic and you support abortion, you should be excommunicated from your Church. You are not a Christian, let alone a Catholic.

    But many people are indeed attempting to have their cake and eat it too. They are, for all practical purposes, substituting the feel-good secular religion of Leftism for traditional and real Christianity which is not about self-fulfillment but about union with God. This is a sign of the times. But if you think back to how quickly — and supposedly after witnessing many miracles first-hand — the Hebrews under Moses opted for the Golden Idol. That is, they opted for Bacchanalia rather than the Cross (or, in their case, Jehovah).

    So, in my opinion, the point is not to try to find meaning in every bit of misfortune and suffering, although certainly these things can work to humanize a person. But it must be admitted that misfortunate and hardships can just as easily deform a person. So that is to say that rather than always trying to find objective meaning in every sling and arrow (which, to me, is crazy-making), the Christian understands that suffering with grace is a part of life. The point is not sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll.

  10. David Ray says:

    I’m gaining a scene that Glenn learned more from experience than from psychological reading material.

    Our Universities are/have become indoctrination venues. To wit: How many thousands of liberal/agenda driven psychologists signed a BS piece of paper ascribing Barry Goldwater to “insanity”?
    For One: Doesn’t that break the ethic of “confidentiality”? No, since Mr. Goldwater was never in need of their services, but that aside . . . (Insanity!? My money would be on Al Gore’s unending compulsive lying, yet even I would not sign my opinion on anything without first an interview to see first hand.)

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I seem to recall that this was the subject of a court case, but I think around a thousand or so psychiatrists were asked, and most (quite properly) refused to help the liberal cause. But a few hundred did, and in doing so every single one sacrificed his professional integrity for political expediency (an early example of the inherent corruption of modern liberalism), much like the psychiatrist or psychologist who provided Janet Reno cover in 2000 for her Easter weekend kidnapping of Elian Gonzalez.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      How many thousands of liberal/agenda driven psychologists signed a BS piece of paper ascribing Barry Goldwater to “insanity”?

      Integrity doesn’t exist on the Left. The last liberal of any integrity was perhaps Patrick Moynihan…which doesn’t mean that I approved of his views or shared his worldview or think that his worldview wasn’t inherently and inevitably one that depended upon dishonesty and half-truths. (One could, of course, deny these dishonest and destructive elements, at least in one’s own mind, and focus only on the rainbows and unicorns, as some naive do-gooders do, and be the sort of “liberal of integrity” of Moynihan…but that does not excuse him from being complicit in a destructive scheme.)

      One could theoretically be for socialism and Big Government and be honest about it. Someone could walk up to the microphone and say:

      “I know better how to run your lives than you do and I will save you the strain from having to do so. And for those who don’t think so, I will simply bribe you by promising you other people’s money. And for those who can’t be bribed and for whom life is not too hard to be lived of your own volition, I will stir up class envy. I will stir up hatred of business. I will stir up hatred of your very country. I will stir up so much angst that I will then, like any good cult leader, offer you a way out of your angst, your guilt, and your frustrations by voting for the party of Smart, Intelligent, and Beautiful People, and thus play to your conceits as well.”

      I swear, I might even shake the hand of a Leftist leader who was that plain-spoken, for that is their agenda. Stating it in such a way would at least be honest (not that Obama hasn’t come quite close to that for people with eyes to see and ears to hear). But how many on the Left fit this description? None that I can think of. Zero. Notta. Zilch. They all prevaricate. They all forward their cause with lies and half-truths.

      I don’t dislike Obama because I think he’s mentally ill. I think he and his worldview are malevolent and destructive. And if someone asked me to sign a piece of paper saying he was mentally ill just so I could score some political points, I would do no such thing. Once truth is out the door, we are lost. And right now as a civilization, we are lost, although many don’t know it.

      I’m friends with Christianity because it might be true. But also (perhaps mainly) because it is the best template for mankind that has ever arisen. And (properly understood and practiced) it is an aesthetically pleasing identity.

      I don’t just dislike the Left just because they are wrong, and liars, and are destructive, although they are all those things. I dislike it most because it is ugly.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        This is an important point, the need to retain integrity and ethical standards rather than sacrificing them to political expediency, no matter how dire we consider the situation. Of course, this is easy for those (such as most liberals) who have none to begin with. I believe the classic quote on the subject goes, “Whoever fights monsters must face the abyss.”

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