Archives For Consolation

Having been buried in the topics of theology, specifically Christian history and political theology. I haven’t yet had the chance to fully engage with a lot of conservative philosopher, Roger Scruton’s work.

I’m indebted to an internet friend for posting this video on his blog otherwise I’d have completely missed it. Scruton is interviewed for an hour and half by Dutch journalist, Wim Kayzer as part of a series called ‘Of Beauty and Consolation‘.

The whole interview is worth watching. Since it is quite lengthy, my purpose here will be to share some of the more stand out points.

What this interview serves to show, among other things, is that, unlike modern liberalism and its cult-like followers, conservatives (and they’re allies) cannot be truly pinned down. Sure, extremes exist and there is [slash] are basic, tried and true, propositions by which conservatives work.

Conservatives,however, and in a lot of ways, those aligned with them, cannot be placed into a neat little box, then pushed aside under a plethora of reckless labeling that often comes their way. The freedom of religion, speech and conscience allows for the freedom of thought and the challenge of ideas.

Of everything discussed, the content between 53:00-58:00 is, to me, among the most significant.

Here Scruton states:

“Hysteria dominates modern politics … I think it’s no accident that the loss of faith in our century [20th Cent.] immediately was accompanied by the rise of totalitarian government. Communism; Nazism; Fascism. All of which are atheistic creeds growing out of superstitions [& hysteria]; growing out of a loss of the God-head”

This is the high point from which the documentary takes flight. The interview, from this point, spreads out in a range of answers to questions about society, theology, politics, philosophy and marriage.

Overall the interview follows its own organic course. The only thing planned were the questions. Outside those, Scruton leads the conversation the entire time.

Other points worth mentioning include: His response in 1:03/49 is very Barthian, and second, Scruton’s statement that marriage was a “creative endeavor”:

“Marriage is a creative endeavor that lifts us out of the animal realm and inscribes us into the eternal”

Scruton is candid, having no issue with opening up about his battle with social anxiety and how learning to overcome it has informed his philosophy; his search for truth. This is also evidenced by his thoughts on where modern (post-Christian) society is at.

“The problem with the modern world, in my view, is that people no longer dwell on the earth. They move as nomads around it. In search of something they know not what, and never finding it. Moving from person to person, place to place.”

The pandemics of “panic”, meaninglessness and emptiness which now plague the world are largely driven by anxiety avoidance and a “lack of awareness about its own state of unhappiness – it is the panic of the isolated individual“.

“People are totally [lost] at sea without the religious sense/awareness of that which exists beyond ourselves;that God feeling. With the loss of moral equilibrium that is provided by the Divine, and their detachment from where this is made real, people become prey to superstition of the most appalling kind.”

The interview is centered on the human concepts of experience, beauty and consolation. The conversation which follows is casually worked out from there. Ending with a return to Scruton’s comments about meeting his wife during a hunting trip.

The topic of consolation is the centerpiece of most responses. One stand out part is the distinction he makes between fake consolation and authentic consolation.

“False consolation, like finding refuge in wine or alcohol, does not involve over-coming. Consolation comes from having confronted trouble and elicited  from the heart of trouble the resolution of it.”

This lengthy interview caught me by surprise. I was not expecting to hear anything about Scruton’s battle with anxiety, his troubled home life as a child or his views on modern politics. Another surprise was learning that Scruton was a musician.

As was pointed out to me, Scruton’s theology is ‘not as refined’ as some might like. His theology does slide away at some points. Scruton struggles to find the right words. To his credit, when this happens he moves to assert that he is not a theologian, and even though he is discussing theology, “he [therefore] can’t answer those questions with the same acuity”.

I wasn’t a fan of the tone given out by the interviewer, but given the differences between Europe and Australia. Perhaps this can be graciously put down to being a kind of cultural tone I’m not used to hearing. Nevertheless, I sat through the entire interview and devoured it.


(RL2017)

H/T: Kevin Davis, Of Beauty and Consolation  sourced 12th May 2017 from After Existentialism, Light.

In a pub once, a close friend blurted out these words to me:

‘’mate, do you know what you’re problem is?’’…

…‘’ You care too much’’

I have always wondered what motivated his emphatic observation.

Perhaps he saw my struggle with anxiety and depression. My feeble attempts to breathe through a mess that was making a mess out of me? Perhaps, without my knowledge at the time, it was the baggage of a broken existence on humiliating display for all to see.

Today I was browsing through some material I had written back then. As I was doing so I came across a quote from Frank Peretti’s novel ‘The Oath’ that must have stood out to me:

‘…and according to Levi, who believed the dragon was sin, the solution was to get right with God. Find Jesus…With the acknowledgement of God, came a sense that somehow the order of things could be reversed, that destiny could be changed. For the first time, Steve felt hope. Hope made fighting for his life worthwhile. It made formulating a plan worthwhile…’

(-Peretti)

Theologically speaking Peretti’s moral pivots on a climax. This is identified by the empowering care initiates when motivated by an authentic acknowledgment of God and the hope this inspires. The ”find Jesus” comment is a metaphor for responding to rescue. I say this because in my view it is clear that we cannot ”find Jesus” unless we acknowledge we are first found by Him.

Can we care too much?

Ignatius Loyola

Ignatius Loyola (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That all depends on our understanding of the difference between care for others, self-care and the balance we either find or don’t find in the midst of attempting to do both.

It seems to me that caring ‘too much’ would only occur when we neglect to care for ourselves along side our care for others.  Perhaps a good indicator of whether or not our care has become a self-serving, form of ‘blind compassion’ is to position it against the dichotomy between desolation and consolation that Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) unpacks in his 16th Century discussion on ‘Spiritual Exercises’ and decision making:

For instance:

Consolation:

‘I call it consolation when some interior movement in the soul is caused, through which the soul comes to be inflamed with love of its Creator and Lord… When it sheds tears that move to love of its Lord, whether out of sorrow for one’s sins, or for the Passion of Christ our Lord, or because of other things directly connected with His service and praise. Finally, I call consolation every increase of hope, faith and charity, and all interior joy which calls and attracts to heavenly things and to the salvation of one’s soul, quieting it and giving it peace in its Creator and Lord’.

(Loyola, S.E Kindle Ed. Loc: 1533-1534)

Desolation:

‘I call desolation…darkness of soul, disturbance in it, movement to things low and earthly, the unquiet of different agitations and temptations, moving to want of confidence, without hope, without love, when one finds oneself all lazy, tepid, sad, and as if separated from his Creator and Lord. Because, as consolation is contrary to desolation, in the same way the thoughts which come from consolation are contrary to the thoughts which come from desolation’.

(Loyola, S.E Kindle Ed. Loc:1534-1540)

When we act on consolation we acknowledge the guidance of desolation by rejecting it. In doing so we are empowered to drop all pretences of caring, recover and begin to care responsibly. Here we choose to hope (Heb.6:19). Consequently we love (1 Cor.13) wisely, truthfully and confidently. This act is an exchange, employing faith and trust in response to the Great Care Giver’s faithfulness – the ‘author of peace’ (1 Cor.14:33). Who is carrying out His promise, through His Spirit to never stop acting for us on a plan formulated, worthwhile and cemented in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ (Rev.19:11).

(Updated: 9th Sept. 2013)

This post is otherwise affectionately known as ”How to Vote Like a True Believer”. Playing on the phrase ‘true believer’ and the social shift in the West towards new  religions (cultism?) grounded in the hysterical support and fear of political parties.

Source:

Gerkin, C.V, 1997 Introduction to Pastoral Theology, Abingdon Press.
Loyola, St. Ignatius The Spiritual Exercises Kindle ed.
Peretti, F. The Oath