Tuesday, December 26, 2023

“The steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet.”

Paul Kingsnorth describes a journey: "After years of atheism, I went searching for the truth. I found Buddhism, then witchcraft, and eventually, Christianity." From "The Cross and the Machine":
.... “The story of Christianity,” wrote Moriarty, “is the story of humanity’s rebellion against God.” I had never thought of that ancient, tired religion in this way before, never had reason to, but as I did now I could feel something happening—some inner shift, some coming together of previously scattered parts designed to fit, though I had never known it, into a quiet, unbreakable whole.

A truth I would surrender to. What was this abyss inside me, this space that had been empty for years, that I had tried to fill with everything from sex to fame to politics to kensho, and why was something chiming in it now like a distant Angelus across the western sea?
For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me,
And that which I was afraid of is come unto me.
Something was happening to me, and I didn’t like it at all. ....

Every living culture in history, from the smallest tribe to the largest civilization, has been built around a spiritual core: a central claim about the relationship between human culture, nonhuman nature, and divinity. Every culture that lasts, I suspect, understands that living within limits—limits set by natural law, by cultural tradition, by ecological boundaries—is a cultural necessity and a spiritual imperative. There seems to be only one culture in history that has held none of this to be true, and it happens to be the one we’re living in. ....

G.K. Chesterton once declared, contra Marx, that it was irreligion that was the opium of the people. “Wherever the people do not believe in something beyond the world,” he explained, “they will worship the world. But above all, they will worship the strongest thing in the world.” Here we were. ....

None of this is rationally explicable, and there is no point in arguing with me about it. There is no point in arguing with myself about it: I gave up after a while. This is not to say that my faith is irrational. In fact, the more I learned, the more Christianity’s story about the world and human nature chimed better with my experience than did the increasingly shaky claims of secular materialism. In the end, though, I didn’t become a Christian because I could argue myself into it. I became a Christian because I knew, suddenly, that it was true. The Angelus that was chiming in the abyss is silent now, for the abyss is gone. Someone else inhabits me. ....

I grew up believing what all modern people are taught: that freedom meant lack of constraint. Orthodoxy taught me that this freedom was no freedom at all, but enslavement to the passions: a neat description of the first thirty years of my life. True freedom, it turns out, is to give up your will and follow God’s. To deny yourself. To let it come. I am terrible at this, but at least now I understand the path. .... (more)

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