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[personal profile] napoleonofnerds
I'm pretty sure the only evidence I have that Christ is at work in my life is that I want evidence that Christ is at work in my life. Don't most of you believer types at least have something in your life to show for it? I know historically I haven't cared nearly as much, but I'm concerned lately with trophies and prizes, with objective measures of worth and value for my life that I can measure in the present. Even things like influence and respect, what might have once been called gravitas, are sought after but rarely found prizes these days. Maybe it's because I can't stop feeling like a sell-out no matter what I do anymore.

Date: 2010-04-15 12:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alasthai.livejournal.com
Um, there are no objective measures of worth and value: value is always relative to application. Also, it does rather sound like you are looking for a God who is into bribing believers' compliance.

This is very much where I like Kant and Kong-zi: do what is good because it is good, and let the Deity/ies worry about the afterwards.

Date: 2010-04-15 08:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] napoleonofnerds.livejournal.com
Objective here was meant to imply tangible and knowable. Honors, in the ancient Greek sense of that word. I don't want God to bribe me to believe, I want society to bribe me to stay in it and have God be okay with that arrangement.

Alex and I spent all afternoon debating Kant.

Date: 2010-04-15 10:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alasthai.livejournal.com
Society will bribe you to stay in it if you play its game and play well, i.e. effectively, not necessarily fairly. If you play fairly, I do not see why God should be unhappy with that.

You do seem to be conflating honour before people and honour before God, though: the love and respect of some of your peers and the occassional debate trophy would would indicate only society's approval, not God's. Celebrities, tycoons, and monarchs get the former, and have already received their reward in full, whereas the latter belongs to hospice janitors, who have honour yet to come.

This is why I quote that Idealist mantra, because I am firmly convinced by Kant's view that good activity performed for reward is not really good activity. The means and the end are not separable.

Date: 2010-04-15 12:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gorski.livejournal.com
I think Christ shows Himself in one's life enough to help keep you on track, but He needs to let you build your own spiritual muscles too... if it was all supposed to be rock-concert awesome feelings all the time, may as well be Pentecostal; if it was all about earthly reward, well--even Protestants I know aren't too shy about using the word "heresy" to describe the notion that you should get rich if you believe in God, which is kind of the logical extreme of "something to show for it".

I haven't read her letters or journal or whatever it was they found, but didn't Bl. Teresa of Calcutta have a giant dry spell for many years over the end of her life where she just didn't "feel" God anymore? I believe somebody told me that, and she just had to keep going on faith. (I seem to recall the newspapers trying to flaunt her as a fraud over that, and my Catholic and Eastern Orthodox friends who "get it" going "wow, she was truly a saintly person!")


it ain't easy (for me either)--good luck & prayers

pax et bonum

Date: 2010-04-15 08:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] napoleonofnerds.livejournal.com
I don't want the Jesus high and a million dollars, I want, like, the love and respect of some of my peers and the occassional debate trophy.

Date: 2010-04-15 01:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] charged-chaos.livejournal.com
If faith is in fact a gift, then God withholds it from some and gives it to others. Perhaps experience is a gift, too, and God also chooses not to give it to some.

Beats the hell outta me. I've never experienced Christ, and my experiences of God are more often than not completely incongruous with what Christians often go on about. Sorry, I just totally answered your question with a non-answer.

Date: 2010-04-15 03:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cinchntouch.livejournal.com
I go through long spells of spiritual dryness, then on occassion I just get a sense of knowing that he is there.

Though I have had a few consolations. One involved what I think was a guardian angel back in high school. I will spare you the details (it involved props gone beserk in a high school theater), but there were witnesses and it seems that my guardian angel rides a skateboard.

The second experience was right when I became a Christian and I had an experience of time and space standing still and all that existed was Christ Crucified. This was followed by about three months of a really intense awareness of the presence of the Spirit. This was the oddest time, I would become aware of Saints standing watch at mass and the various intercessions they perform in our lives. I don't know how real any of this was (was it spiritual, chemical, wishful thinking?) and I would never base theology on this kind of experience - as per my spiritual director at the time, who actually didn't think I was crazy.

What was odd, was I would become intensely aware of (for example) St. Therese being present at mass, almost to the point where I think I could see her, but I never actually saw her (or any saint for that matter). I also had occurrences where it seemed as though there were demonic presences as well. That was deeply unpleasant. I think those experiences were so unpleasant that I started to shut down. At there worse, I would have these really awful impressions of things in my room denying me sleep for days at a time. It was pretty miserable.

Most recently, I had an experience that God finds most of what folks go on about to be sort of silly. I think he wants us to laugh at ourselves a bit more. Perhaps it is a gentle push towards humility. I am starting to wonder if a lot of hostility we experience among Christians is because we hate being humble. Perhaps a good sense of humor is a path to humility. I also feel a greater pull to understand how Christ is present to me in other people. I think I am being challenged to overcome selfishness.

Despite these experiences though, most of the time things are pretty dry and dull. I don't understand why different peope experience Jesus differently. I do think that we aren't meant for our experience to stand in isolation. I think the people who have spirituality that is dry need to share with people who lots of encounters that might be more unusual and so one and so forth.

Date: 2010-04-15 08:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] napoleonofnerds.livejournal.com
My thing is that I think I'm doing what my circumstances allow for the bit of vineyard I've been given, I'd just like some indication that I'm doing what I'm supposed to with whatever I've got. It's like a D&D dungeon where you have a key and don't know which door to open with it.

I can't help but feel like there should be some way to tell if I'm getting it right, some product of whatever work I'm trying to do. If I don't feel a calling anywhere and keep not being able to get out of where I am, it seems like this is the knot I need to untangle and I can't even tell if I'm making it better or worse, if on a given day I'm nearer to or farther from whatever it is I should be doing down here.

Date: 2010-04-15 09:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cinchntouch.livejournal.com
Well, I'm not a spritual directior, I'm not knowledgable about these things and I am thinking in generalitits, so bear with me. I will bore you with my own personal vocation experience since it concerns making decisions. I may not even be talking about what you're talking about.

In an interview with Karl Rahner once they asked him about discnerning a vocation. His answer was (and it was short) "Is it what you want to do and do you want to do it well when you start off?" His language was fancier, but that was the jist of the point.

For years and years I struggled with the question, should I be a Franciscan or should I be with my partner. I kept waiting for God to give me a sign. I kept expecting some Dorothy Day moment of meeting the right person and circumstance and then it would click and everything would be explained to me (or at least enough explained to me so that I wouldn't feel foolish). I realized that in a way I was trying to force God's hand. Kind of like demanding a sign. In my case, I also think I was trying to get out of free will.

What I think I had forgotten is that God gave me a brain and the ability to think over my life and my experience. In my case it took almost twenty-years to come to the realization that I was never actually called to the priesthood. I was called to be holy (everyone is), but I had equated wanting to be holy and a passion for theology with becoming a priest.

Ever notice, when someone chooses to spend their life with another person they don't run around asking, This is what God wants. They make their choice because they search their hearts and realize that this is what they want and that they are willing to make the sacrifices, etc, etc to make it work. They make the choice and then they ask God to help them live up to that choice. I think too, that it is really hard to deal with doors that should have been there and have been slammed in your face because of prejudice, money, whatever. I don't know if shit like that ever resolves itself because it is an injustice.

All vocations/life choices are the same thing. What do you want? That is an answer only you can answer. Sometimes I think the easiest answer comes when you stop thinking and just do what comes naturally. God can help in mysterious ways, other people can provide guidance but the door you open is your own. I think its ok to want to be happy by the way. I think suffering for its own sake is over rated.

Date: 2010-04-16 03:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stonecold4jesus.livejournal.com
To recognize Christ in your life I think you need to meet him in love, which would either lead to raw faith that he's working in your life or the 'Jesus high' that is mentioned/alluded to in other comments. If I have 'anything to show for it' then it's probably that I'm provided for, that to a certain measure I trust that I will continue to be provided for, and that I experience profound joy from time to time (but sometimes I also get a sense of dislocation akin to a dry spell, but I'm starting to just connect it with sleep deprivation and the passage of time...). Also, I guess the fact that I'm easily pleased and see blessings as frequently as possible helps. If you're looking for something specific, though, you might not find it. Oh, and I'm really stubborn, so I guess even when I don't see God at work I demand myself to recognize that he is anyway, or something like that.

Sometimes God privileges the least worthy with signs and tokens, such as an answer to a very specifically-commanding prayer (eg "God, if this exact thing happens, I'll believe in you"). I think you're definitely way beyond that point, and I think you know it well enough. If I experience significantly more spiritual consolations than someone like yourself, then I think it is probably because of the fact that I am relatively young and green, and without them I might not fare so well. It might also have to do with the road I have to travel ahead, but either way the point is that maybe God just wants you to try harder. You're a big boy, and I don't mean that in a condescending way.

In the meantime, I should probably start getting used to the idea of not using training wheels...

Date: 2010-04-16 05:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tepintzin.livejournal.com
"Why do I feel like a sell out no matter what I do anymore" is the question you need to be asking. If you feel like a sell-out no matter what you do, than no matter what you do, you will feel like a sell-out.

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