Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Thoughts on the False Self and Original Sin

Beth, writing on Inscapes, posts from a Christian perspective about "finding oneself," the effort to figure out or discover who and what one really is so that one can live in accordance with that truest nature--surely the key to true happiness.

I've used the term "false self" for some time now, even mentioning it here on Quotidian Light. It isn't an official term I'd found anywhere, but a simply a term I use in my own mind to describe the internal turmoil and tussle with habits and faulty/damaging thinking that I know are sheer nonsense but that have their sharp little talons sunken deep into my life nonetheless. Growing up, I was taught that all human beings are inherently bad, evil, from birth, a concept my teachers called "original sin." I may offend or horrify my more Calvinistic friends by saying so, but I don't swallow it. I didn't when I was a child (although eventually I learned to quit arguing with my teachers, since it only seemed to upset them), and I don't now. Traditional definition of "original sin" or no, however, it's fairly self-evident that human beings aren't all sunshine and sweetness by a long shot, either. We're pretty messed up, I'll be the first to admit.

Last week I was reading Thomas Keating's Open Mind Open Heart, a book on centering prayer and the contemplative dimension of the gospel, and I had to restrain myself from leaping to my feet and running around the room singing, "Yes!Yes!Yes!Yes!Yes!" Here are some excerpts of what struck me so forcibly:

"The term 'original sin' is a way of describing the human condition, which is the universal experience of coming to full reflective self-consciousness without the certitude of personal union with God. ..

"Original sin is not the result of personal wrongdoing on our part. Still, it causes a pervasive feeling of alienation from God, from other people and from the true Self...The urgent need to escape from the profound insecurity of this situation gives rise, when unchecked, to insatiable desires for pleasure, possession, and power...

"The particular consequences of original sin include all the self-serving habits that have been woven into our personality from the time we were conceived; all the emotional damage that has come from our early environment and upbringing; all the harm that other people have done to us knowingly or unknowlingly at an age when we could not defend ourselves; and the methods we acquired--many of them now unconscious--to ward off the pain of unbearable situations.

"This constellation of prerational reactions is the foundation of the false self..."

This seems to me a very clear and compassionate explanation, an explanation that grew out of no little understanding of human nature. I find very little of that in the Church in this area, to be honest--compassion or understanding either one. Churches around here seem to me to be very concerned with conveying "Truth"--with a hammer, if need be. But compassion IS part of Truth. Truth is incomplete without it. Anyone with understanding (real discernment) knows that.

I need a break from attending church, to be honest. I have very little trouble seeing hurting people AS hurting people except when they're in positions of self-satisfied authority in the church. (And self-satisfaction is, in a big way, one of those human coping mechanisms mentioned above--no one gets to be exempt from deserving compassion.)

It is very hard to love everyone. It hurts, because the people you love are hurting other people you love. No wonder so few of us manage to live consistently from our True Selves.

Newscast of Interest

Last night KOLR 10, a news crew out of Springfield, came and taped parts of the "Laura's Memories" rehearsal. The result should air at 10:00 p.m. this evening, we were told. Of course, all of us will be in rehearsal, but if any of you in the area are interested, you can check it out. If any of it goes on their website, I'll add a link later.

Slacking Off and The Teeming Brain

I've not been blogging. I've not been doing much of anything lately, it seems some days. Other days I think I've done far too much. We went to the Renaissance faire. It was lovely. My mother, older daughter and I hit a couple of fabric stores having sales and I bought roughly $350 worth of costume patterns for about $30 the same week. My sister had The Nephew, and since they've been back home, I've visited them to help with laundry (a matter of grave consideration and befuddlement for Great Scott and my sister's husband, evidently). I've made a costume for the Little House play and altered and/or repaired several more. I've been running the music, also, for rehearsals of the same. I've made earrings, a necklace and embossed stationery. A friend and I ate ice cream and haunted an antique store one afternoon, where I found a calligraphy pen with 3 tips in reasonably good shape for a good deal. I have slept late. I've bled in a shoe. I've been reading David Eddings' Elenium and Tamuli series and finding them to be very light reading, indeed--exactly what's been needed when the temperature is pushing into the high nineties and the brain is operating through a fog of heat and humidity only slightly eased by ice water and fans.

In short, I've really been doing a whole lot of not much.

Other people I know have not been slacking off, however. In fact, at least one of our friends has been keeping quite disgustingly busy, and being the blog material moocher I am, I'll write about him.

Matt Cardin is a high school English teacher, an increasingly successful horror writer, a pianist of considerable skill, and along with his lovely wife, Teresa, one of our favorite dinner guests. Dinner with Matt and Teresa is never boring, although I will admit I've occasionally felt a little lost when Great Scott and Mr. Cardin delve deeply into philosphical, cultural and even some literary areas. I am no dummy, but Scott and Matt can outdiscuss and outquote me any day. I listen as long as I can, and then I start taking notes--usually titles and author names to look up later. I hardly ever do, but it makes me feel smarter to be sitting there taking notes instead of letting my eyes glaze over.

Matt began his blogging excursions with Confessions of a Conflicted Cultural Skeptic , but more recently has started a new blog, The Teeming Brain, which I heartily recommend for any readers who have an interest in philosophy, horror writing, and topics with a mystical/spiritual slant. A couple of interesting posts up right now tackle the subject of angels and Lovecraftian bumperstickers. Drop by and tell Matt hello.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Friday Quote: 10 Kinds of People

"When you get right down to it, there are 10 kinds of people in this world: those who know binary and those who don't."

Thursday, July 06, 2006


The Nephew arrived today at 1:45 p.m!! The younger niece (22 months today) is staying with us for a couple of days until her mama (my sister) gets back home. We will take her to meet her new baby brother tomorrow.

There is much rejoicing.