Saturday, September 24, 2022

The Problem of Evil

     The existence of evil is one of the greatest enduring theological dilemmas. If God is both all-good and all-powerful, why is there sin and suffering in the world? Why did God put that fruit tree in Eden, and how was the serpent corrupted? It seems like Adam and Eve were set up to sin, and then they and all their descendents were punished for it ever since. Theologians have come up with various answers to this dilemma through the ages, none of them satisfying.

    And then there's Julian of Norwich, my favorite medieval mystic recluse, with her wonderful series of deathbed revelations. That is, it was expected to be her deathbed, but she recovered to write this all down and spend the rest of her life meditating on it.

    Dame Julian wrote that God told her these mind-blowing words: "synne is behoovabil." OK, maybe that's only mind-blowing after it's translated into modern English. Unfortunately, there is no simple translation for the word "behoovabil." It means something like, sin exists for a purpose, it needs to exist, there's a good reason for it. And this shocking sentence is the immediate context for the most famous words from her whole book of revelations: "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well." 

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Spirit and the Law

     Lately I've been thinking a lot about the phenomenon of religious trauma, and how incredibly lucky I am to have missed out on it. I hear people talking about being raised in a thick atmosphere of guilt, shame, and fear, under the constant threat of eternal punishment. It comes from the whole spectrum of Christian churches, from the most tradition-bound, high-church Catholic and Orthodox all the way to the newest, most fundamentalist, Bible-literalist Protestant sects. I am SO glad I wasn't raised in the Church! I'm so glad I came in through the side door, as it were, as an adult, and got what I really think is a much healthier and holier relationship with religion than what seems to be typical out there.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Becoming a "mature hermit"

     Being a hermit can be a very vague kind of a thing. I have a Rule of Life, but it's only a 2-page outline of the principles by which I intend to live, some notion of parameters for the life. I pray the monastic Office, I read and meditate on spiritual literature, I live alone and celibate. But then, less than a year ago, I abandoned my nice forest hermitage and moved across the ocean, where (for now) I live in a city apartment. And now I'm preparing myself to work with people, as a life-coach or mentor of some kind, and with a focus much more on neurodiversity than religion (although, stay tuned for something on healing religious trauma in upcoming weeks). So what do I mean by calling myself a "hermit"? What is a hermit, anyway? 

Sunday, September 4, 2022

The meaning of "happy"

     I find that I am constantly having to re-examine myself in the light of all the studying I'm doing about the psychology of trauma, giftedness, and neurodiversity. It's a very energy-intensive process, involving not just my rational mind but all my emotions and intuition as well. Evaluating and harmonizing all the things I'm learning with what feels true about myself, my understanding of myself, is really tricky. 

    Does this or that description or definition ring true, or not? Is this or that trait part of my fundamental personality, or is it a weakness associated with being gifted or ADHD or autistic, and what's the best kind of scaffolding to keep it from hampering me? Is my love of solitude all good and healthy, or am I keeping human relationships at arm's length as a dysfunctional result of trauma? Is it healthy boundaries, or cowardice? How can I know? 

Sunday, August 28, 2022

About Time

     The ancient Greeks had two different words for time: Chronos and Kairos. You could think of them as left-brain time and right-brain time. Chronos is the kind of time measured by clocks and calendars, by which we make appointments and set deadlines, and generally coordinate our activities with those of other people who aren't alongside us all day long. It's linear, it's sequential, it runs out. Chronos can be wasted by procrastination or indecision, maximized by efficiency, extended with a healthy lifestyle ... but nothing in the world stops it. It is relentless, bearing each of us onward from birth to inevitable death, with (sometimes it feels like) nothing but shoulds and musts, hurry up, and what might have been in between.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

I, sea-monster

     Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like an alien? Maybe you were literally an alien, in another country or cultural setting, or you're a minority in your own country. Or maybe, some time in your life you got some devastating, life-altering news -- even good news, like falling in love and then finding out it's mutual -- leaving you feeling totally cut off from the ordinary, oblivious, everyday lives of all the people around you. Or maybe you're just a teenager, when feeling like nobody understands you or ever will is pretty much normal. 

Sunday, August 14, 2022

On Chastity

     I have an embarrassingly counter-cultural confession: I don't miss sex at all. I do not want sex, and I never enjoyed sex. Yes, I'm going there, even though yes, it's an uncomfortable subject. Chastity is not hard for me! It's a relief, actually. And another relief is discovering how common my dirty little secret is among people with autism. Not all autistics, by any means -- plenty of them love sex every bit as much as the world says we're all supposed to. But I'm finding that both the low desire for sex, and the sensory processing issues that make it impossible to enjoy sex, are very common among this tribe I never knew I belonged to.