Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Honestly as a Theological Concept Part II

 A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it! Something of the awfulness, even of Death itself, is referable to this. No more can I turn the leaves of this dear book that I loved, and vainly hope in time to read it all. No more can I look into the depths of this unfathomable water, wherein, as momentary lights glanced into it, I have had glimpses of buried treasure and other things submerged. It was appointed that the book should shut with a spring, for ever and for ever, when I had read but a page. It was appointed that the water should be locked in an eternal frost, when the light was playing on its surface, and I stood in ignorance on the shore. My friend is dead, my neighbour is dead, my love, the darling of my soul, is dead; it is the inexorable consolidation and perpetuation of the secret that was always in that individuality, and which I shall carry in mine to my life’s end. In any of the burial-places of this city through which I pass, is there a sleeper more inscrutable than its busy inhabitants are, in their innermost personality, to me, or than I am to them?

No one, that I know of, has captured it better than Dickens in 1859, in this quote from A Tale of Two Cities. What am I talking about?  It is that disconnect between the surface of who we say we are and the honest reality of who we really are.  We are all enshrouded in secrecy. 

The late Francis Schaeffer (my personal hero) talked of the effects of the Fall of Adam, on us as an alienation.  We are not only alienated from God, but we are alienated from nature, from each other and even from ourselves. None of us truly know our own hearts, some much less than others. We also don't really know one another because between us, as Dickens alludes to, are layers and layers of oughts.  So we say the things that we ought to say, and do the things that we ought to do, as society mandates, but not necessarily what we really think or feel.

In the new, perfect world, we will speak with total candidness and it will not be offensive.  But now, when we try to speak about how we really think or feel, it is often taken offensively . But where do we strive to live now? This is the boundary where I've struggled. I find that by speaking more honestly, we are often alienated from others more. 


Mike the Geologist said...

In your previous post your account of your mother and aunt being helped by the two gay men and not their church immediately brought to mind Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan and how that must have sounded to his audience. "What?? How could God's love and justice be shown through those heathen who don't even know where or who to worship!!" Think about what Jesus was trying to get across with that parable. The religious (the priest and the Levite) failed the most fundamental hospitality even though they would have know the scriptures and been expected to follow them. Who was closer to the "spirit of Yahweh", the sinful Samaritan or the holy priests? Who was closer to the spirit of Christ; the "lost" gays or the "saved" Baptists?

j. Michael Jones said...

Great point

Johan said...

I'm with you on the desire to speak honestly. I've also been accused of sharing too much personal information e.g. in my blogs and social media. I have learned to at least censor myself a bit when I talk about work or my love life, but ideally I would strive for honesty there too. I shudder by the idea of wilfully present a false image of who I am to the world, because one of my main driving desires is to be authentic and grow as a person, to be more fully and really who I am. I am at the same moment conscious of the fact that the drive to be authentic can be inauthentic in itself, can be flaky or used manipulatively, and I try to be authentic about that too. In the end it's about love, I think, and about presence. That can sound very high minded, but I think to love, to really love, there's a need to be present. And we can only be really present, if we are honest. About who we are, flaws included. Else nobody will really feel accepted by us, and the other will continue to hide, even if we think we are loving.


j. Michael Jones said...

It is complicated, trying to achieve complete honesty in a loving way. Because we are not expected to be honest, when we are, we become targets of suspicion of alternative motives.