It is one thing to write a thesis on a book such as this, Meditations of a Modern Believer, it is another thing to then blog about those thoughts, especially as I am attempting to identify and explain the psychological and spiritual dynamics of the author, of a flesh and blood human being with a name and a life and a family. I am so aware of the fact that my knowledge of this person is dependent on that which I read. If he was merely a character in a novel this work wouldn’t feel quite so intrusive, so presumptuous.
What gives me some comfort is the fact that my psychological reasoning tells me that what I ‘see’, ‘hear’, ‘interpret’ is as much a projection of my own psyche as it is an analysis of his. And so I engage this work and this book respectfully. Not just for the author, but for myself.
This book has moved me profoundly; I have read it and re-read it and then read it again (I do not read books twice. Just so you know!) I have had to read and re-read it as an academic exercise, it has been necessary, but as a spiritual exercise the reading and re-reading has been a joy. I resonate with his journey, there are nuggets of wisdom and truth and humanity on every page… and … it has helped me to grow in confidence – into both my faith and my doubt.
*listen* to this part:
If God is a salve applied to unbearable psychic wounds, or a dream figure conjured out of memory and mortal terror, or an escape from a life that has become either too appalling or too banal to bear, then I have to admit: it is not working for me. Just when I think I’ve finally found some balance between active devotion and honest modern consciousness, all my old anxieties come pressuring up through the seams of me, and I am as volatile and paralysed as ever. I can’t tell which is worse, standing numb and apart from the world, wanting Being to burn me awake, or feeling that fire too acutely to crave anything other than escape into everydayness. What I do know is that the turn toward God has not lessened my anxieties, and I find myself continually falling back into wounds, wishes, terrors I thought I had risen beyond.
Be careful. Be certain that your expressions of regret about your inability to rest in God do not have a tinge of self-satisfaction, even self-exaltation to them, that your complaints about your anxieties are not merely a manifestation of your dependence on them. There is nothing more difficult to outgrow than anxieties that have become useful to us, whether as explanations for a life that never quite finds its true force or direction, or as fuel for ambition, or as a kind of reflexive secular religion that, paradoxically, unites us with others in a shared sense of complete isolation: you feel at home in the world only by never feeling at home in the world. (:9)