Saturday, 25 January 2014

HUMAN DARKNESS MADE VISIBLE

CONVERSION OF LIFE; HELL ON EARTH?


In our recent book by Francis Spufford, he made much of the human propensity to muck things up (code name HPtFtU) and the importance of being able to move on - as well as the very benign influence that a recognition of this propensity would have on our tolerance of others. 

A vow to believe in the possibility of change

In the context of the benefits of the vows taken by religious communities, Timothy Wright, former Abbot of Ampleforth, has written this: 
Neither stability nor obedience could make sense without the third promise, that of conversion of life. ... The call to conversion of life is in effect a vow to change, to never remain still either in self-satisfied fulfilment or in self-denying despair. There is no room for the person who thinks they have got it all sorted out, nor for the temptation in so many to believe that we will never even get started. It is a vow to believe in the possibility of change in ourselves, and also in others.[taken from The Rule of St Benedict and Business Management: A Conversation (2002)]

We have made enough Hell on earth


Our February author, Richard Holloway, writes candidly of his adolescent temptations and the very strong influence of the monastic community at Kelham which he had chosen to join at 14. It could make depressing reading if it wasn't for the adult and contemporary slant which he puts on all these matters as he recounts them in his very readable memoir. In the context of the HPtFtU and some of our discussions at Wychwood Circle of modern understandings of heaven and hell and the nature of God, it is interesting to come across this passage:
I never found it hard to reject the vulgarity of the idea of Hell and see it only as human darkness made visible. We have made enough Hell on earth to know how creative human cruelty can be, not excluding its grimmer theological metaphors. It was never fear of Hell that was to haunt me. It was the lacerating sadness of disappointing God that hurt. The idea of the heartbroken God reaching out to his children for their love and being rejected by them is emotionally powerful. [from Leaving Alexandria - A Memoir of Faith and Doubt (2012, 2013)]
Richard Holloway was later to leave that community and, much later, the church, having by then been Bishop of Edinburgh for a number of years.



We will be discussing Richard Holloway's memoir at our regular monthly discussion at Wychwood Library (OX7 6LD) on February 9th. Philip Pullman describes the book thus: "Endlessly vivid and fascinating ... A delight and inspiration to believers, non-believers and ex-believers alike."

The group is very mixed and newcomers and occasional visitors are always welcome. At time of writing the library still had a spare copy available to borrow - 01993 830281. 




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