Betty Duffy

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Nun Wanna-be Waxes Philosophical

Nothing new here...no baby yet. Just posting old material. But I thought this one might be interesting. Sadly, I haven't really re-examined my philosophy in the past ten years, so I'd love to hear from any readers who have a different take on the subjects below.

February 12, 1998
Dear (Person Who Shall Remain Nameless),

What fun to think! Of course we do plenty of thinking during prayer but we’re confined by immaterial and infinite subjects. It’s not very often that I get to think about things I can actually put into words: Books, art, music, human nature…my favorite subjects. I notice you enjoy going off on quotes and commentary—isn’t it funny how letters are often more of a reflection of the author, the individual, than they are a means of mutual communication? This is not a criticism, rather, I’m glad that someone else besides me derives so much pleasure from the process of revelation. I’ve held myself back in letters at times when I’ve realized that I was writing for myself and my own enjoyment of writing rather than for the recipient of the letter. It’s nice to know that I won’t have to do that in your case.

Your thoughts on melancholy intrigue me. “Melancholy moments begin and end the search.” I agree, but I think there’s something missing in between there. You said that “in those aching moments we are most alive, alert and willing,” and that’s where I disagree. You’re really missing out on joy—deep, interior joy—the sustenance that keeps us coming back from our restlessness to rest in God. More often than not, joy is a memory, but that’s enough, because the fruit of the search is perseverance in something. And you can’t have perseverance without having experienced the ideal in some way or another.

Sure, only God has full knowledge of the ideal, but he gives us partial knowledge. He gives us himself in what measly portions humans can handle. But that measly portion of divinity, in my life has been enough to cause radical change, and happiness that is more alive, alert and willing than 23 years of stored up melancholy. That’s not to say that I don’t still feel at times the same old melancholy when I’m alone—and I often enjoy the melancholy very much—but it’s too easy to be the greater of the two “alives.”

And now… “The Banality of Evil.” Of course evil is boring. I didn’t used to think so, but that’s only because I didn’t realize how demanding, complex and intoxicating goodness could be. I think one of the easiest ways to express the dichotomy is that evil is finite, whereas goodness is infinite. The greatest evil that man can accomplish is complete separation from moral and rational capacities—becoming like an animal. And it doesn’t take much to get there.

People get caught up in what they think are the complexities of evil when they experience the dualism or division that is an innate desire for goodness suppressed by their passions, egotism, or misinformation.

The trouble is, this division—which is the discomfort of not working to be the creature God intended you to be—since it is uncomfortable, and since it is difficult to face, usually causes the individual to mutilate their conscience to enable the easier path of indulging passions. It doesn’t take much to give yourself everything you want. Everyone has the capacity within themselves for evil, but not everyone has the fortitude to trudge daily towards holiness. You have to ask for it.

But this raises another question in my mind: what are your thoughts on the devil? Because he’s really the only one who gives evil a little bit of interest--to think that there is another supernatural force at work in your soul. How does he get there? Why after all these years is he still at war with God? One of those hard pills to swallow in faith is that Christianity makes no sense without the devil, and yet the devil himself makes no sense to me (but that’s probably the devil making me think that).

Betty

1 comment:

JenX67 said...

Do we have a new baby boy yet?