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Re: [mythsoc] Digest Number 992

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  • Steve Law
    Hi Susan, thanks for your reply. My own experience with this -- as someone who s become Episcopalian within the last five years -- is that stories that had
    Message 1 of 4 , Sep 9 2:25 AM
      Hi Susan, thanks for your reply.

      "My own experience with this -- as someone who's
      become Episcopalian within the last five years -- is
      that stories that had always seemed faintly, or more
      than faintly, ridiculous (great phrase!), gradually
      not only began making sense, but began seeming
      indispensible, like keys that unlocked doors I hadn't
      even known existed before."

      It is strange how beliefs that aren't 'rational' and
      don't belong to the world of common sense somehow have
      their own practicality and usefulness. It's hard to
      understand on what level they work.
      My father is a very down-to-earth person, not really
      religious and not an intellectual. But he suffers from
      unaccountable spiritual epiphanies that occur almost
      at random when he visits certain churches and
      cathedrals. He recently had one when he visited the
      shrine of St. Alban at the cathedral of St. Albans
      town north-west of London, and just doesn't know how
      to understand it. These moments are (apparently) like
      the goosebumps you might get while listening to
      particularly uplifting music, but 100 times more
      powerful. He tries to make sense of it, and I end up
      telling him "it's mysticism, it's a mystery, It's
      just not rationally explicable - if you try too
      fiercely to pin the experience down it will probably
      stop happening". I hit him with Chesterton's notion
      that ones mystical faith should be like the sun: it
      warms and illuminates everything around you, but you
      shouldn't look directly at it. Dad's still thinking
      about that. :-)

      "And there's also the concept that the stories we
      choose to believe shape who we are, and allow us to
      shape the world around us. (A few years ago, I gave a
      conference paper on this process in Gordon R.
      Dickson's WAY OF THE PILGRIM and in the film
      GALAXYQUEST; both are stories in which people tell
      stories they don't themselves believe, which proceed
      to come true because other people believe them.)"

      Yes that's a wonderful idea, like self-fulfilling
      prophecy. A good argument against pessimism.

      "Mind you, I don't mean to imply that you're
      necessarily in the middle of your own conversion
      experience . . . "

      Not so far, but I'm on a mission to "understand"
      christianity and suspect it might get me instead of me
      getting it. If christian truths exist on something
      like an imaginative 'emotional' level then,
      frustratingly, all the long-winded abstracted
      intellectual waffling I learnt at university is
      useless. I'm actually going to have to get my hands
      dirty here.
      Bah.


      Regards,


      Steve Law
    • William
      Tell your Dad to try C.S. Lewis biography Surprised by Joy and his use of the concept of sehnsucht . Might hit a familiar note. Regards, William ... From:
      Message 2 of 4 , Sep 9 9:43 AM
        Tell your Dad to try C.S. Lewis' biography "Surprised by Joy" and his use of
        the concept of "sehnsucht". Might hit a familiar note.

        Regards,

        William
        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Steve Law" <purpleom@...>
        To: <mythsoc@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Monday, September 09, 2002 2:25 AM
        Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Digest Number 992


        > Hi Susan, thanks for your reply.
        >
        > "My own experience with this -- as someone who's
        > become Episcopalian within the last five years -- is
        > that stories that had always seemed faintly, or more
        > than faintly, ridiculous (great phrase!), gradually
        > not only began making sense, but began seeming
        > indispensible, like keys that unlocked doors I hadn't
        > even known existed before."
        >
        > It is strange how beliefs that aren't 'rational' and
        > don't belong to the world of common sense somehow have
        > their own practicality and usefulness. It's hard to
        > understand on what level they work.
        > My father is a very down-to-earth person, not really
        > religious and not an intellectual. But he suffers from
        > unaccountable spiritual epiphanies that occur almost
        > at random when he visits certain churches and
        > cathedrals. He recently had one when he visited the
        > shrine of St. Alban at the cathedral of St. Albans
        > town north-west of London, and just doesn't know how
        > to understand it. These moments are (apparently) like
        > the goosebumps you might get while listening to
        > particularly uplifting music, but 100 times more
        > powerful. He tries to make sense of it, and I end up
        > telling him "it's mysticism, it's a mystery, It's
        > just not rationally explicable - if you try too
        > fiercely to pin the experience down it will probably
        > stop happening". I hit him with Chesterton's notion
        > that ones mystical faith should be like the sun: it
        > warms and illuminates everything around you, but you
        > shouldn't look directly at it. Dad's still thinking
        > about that. :-)
        >
        > "And there's also the concept that the stories we
        > choose to believe shape who we are, and allow us to
        > shape the world around us. (A few years ago, I gave a
        > conference paper on this process in Gordon R.
        > Dickson's WAY OF THE PILGRIM and in the film
        > GALAXYQUEST; both are stories in which people tell
        > stories they don't themselves believe, which proceed
        > to come true because other people believe them.)"
        >
        > Yes that's a wonderful idea, like self-fulfilling
        > prophecy. A good argument against pessimism.
        >
        > "Mind you, I don't mean to imply that you're
        > necessarily in the middle of your own conversion
        > experience . . . "
        >
        > Not so far, but I'm on a mission to "understand"
        > christianity and suspect it might get me instead of me
        > getting it. If christian truths exist on something
        > like an imaginative 'emotional' level then,
        > frustratingly, all the long-winded abstracted
        > intellectual waffling I learnt at university is
        > useless. I'm actually going to have to get my hands
        > dirty here.
        > Bah.
        >
        >
        > Regards,
        >
        >
        > Steve Law
        >
        >
        >
        >
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        >
      • Christine Howlett
        ... Dear Steve, For what it may or may not be worth, I have my own conversion experience to relate that to me rather resolves the tensions between emotion and
        Message 3 of 4 , Sep 9 1:05 PM
          >
          > Not so far, but I'm on a mission to "understand"
          > christianity and suspect it might get me instead of me
          > getting it. If christian truths exist on something
          > like an imaginative 'emotional' level then,
          > frustratingly, all the long-winded abstracted
          > intellectual waffling I learnt at university is
          > useless. I'm actually going to have to get my hands
          > dirty here.
          > Bah.
          >
          >
          > Regards,
          >
          Dear Steve,
          For what it may or may not be worth, I have my own conversion
          experience to relate that to me rather resolves the tensions between emotion
          and intellect. Having had some very emotionally trying problems with a
          Christian friend, I asked another friend where all this was coming from.
          And she said, well I don't know the specifics but here's a book that will
          give you the basics of what this person believes. That was C.S. Lewis' Mere
          Christianity. I had a very emotional, gut-level reaction to the
          'mythopoeia' of the book and decided to find a church. I am a person who
          distrusts the emotional almost always, so I can't explain this reaction. I
          did however immediately start studying my new religion, reading intensely,
          taking classes at the local Episc. seminary (bless them, wonderful
          professors in the lay classes). I had thought (well, assumed) that religion
          was something that somehow narrowed the horizon - I mean if something is
          already settled then no need to go further. To my amazement, the reading
          and studying I had started seemed only to be the little gate in to a road I
          would never have time to take the whole way through. Every writer referred
          me to a dozen more, every class deepened the perspective. The emotional joy
          is something which I look forward to on occasions, but the intellectual
          grasp is what sustains me between and heightens the joy. For me, the two
          met in the middle and held each other which seems the best evidence possible
          of genuine truth.
          Christine
          > Steve Law
        • Steve Law
          Christine wrote: To my amazement, the reading and studying I had started seemed only to be the little gate in to a road I would never have time to take the
          Message 4 of 4 , Sep 13 4:25 AM
            Christine wrote:
            "To my amazement, the reading and studying I had
            started seemed only to be the little gate in to a
            road I would never have time to take the whole way
            through. Every writer referred me to a dozen more,
            every class deepened the perspective. The emotional
            joy is something which I look forward to on occasions,
            but the intellectual grasp is what sustains me between
            and heightens the joy. For me, the two met in the
            middle and held each other which seems the best
            evidence possible of genuine truth."

            Thanks Christine. I didn't mean to imply that there
            isn't a strong intellectual aspect to Christianity,
            just that in addition there's a visionary / emotional
            aspect which seems essential to understanding the full
            picture. Having learnt the skills necessary to grasp
            modern philosophies which don't require anything other
            than brain-power (and in fact forbid or actively
            discourage any subjective interpretation or response),
            I find Christian thought more relevant to my whole
            self, more encompassing, and therefore much more
            challenging.

            There's a certain irrational fear I feel, that if I
            read too many chapters of "Mere Christianity" I'll
            have some kind of blinding epiphany and become
            'someone else'.

            But as nice as it would be to turn this list into a
            discussion about my anxieties I feel there must be a
            more appropriate place to discuss these sorts of
            issues, hopefully with the kind of well-read and
            thoughtful Christians that post here. Can anyone
            recommend such a list?



            Steve Law



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