Wednesday, November 6, 2013

On the Spirit

Self-aware evaluative beings are termed "conscious." To be a self-aware evaluative being is to be aware of one's evaluations, i.e., to evaluate one's evaluations. To evaluate something is to deem it good or bad, better or worse. To be self-aware also involves having one or more evaluations regarding one's overall evaluative framework. Thus, it involves the capacity to see oneself as valuing rightly or wrongly.

In general, noting an overall coherence in one's valuings is experienced as a kind of peace. Further, a system of valuings all pulling in some direction, all saying together, as it were, "Act! Do this!" Gives rise to a kind of passionate engagement in the world. This latter is not limited to cases where each part of oneself calls one to the same act, but frequently in my experience has arisen from all my values in collision with each other saying, as it were, "You have no hope but to do this. Go!" A collision of guilt and the desire to be free of guilt gives rise to seeking God. A collision of not knowing what to do, and needing to do something, gives rise to seeking a way of seeing which makes sense of things like that. It is not necessarily an action done out of need, per se, but it is one done out of passion. Here is what I am to do, whether I can restrain myself or not. Indeed, it is often like the case of setting food in front of a hungry man: he may not need to eat now, exactly, he could probably wait five minutes, but why should he? Likewise, when a problem in philosophy is set before me I see that I do not have to think about, and that even if I do think about it there may be ways other than philosophically, but that is not relevant to me any more than the possibility of not eating is relevant to the hungry man. Now, the point here is that passional action is done in very much a different kind of way than other kinds of action. It is acting with one's whole self. We can do a great deal without involving our whole selves, and we often do. I do not say that it is bad to do so, but it is better to act with one's whole self.

This is the kind of drivenness which should characterize our worship. In fact, I would characterize worship by seeking this kind of drivenness towards God. To worship is to seek God with one's whole heart, to commit oneself to God as one's whole self. In corporate worship, it is at the same time to commit to one another in the same action, by necessity since our union in Christ makes us one body. By this definition I mean to delimit worship. I do not mean worship to be limited to singing, or even any of those things done within church walls, but I mean to speak of worship as an act of one's whole life. Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory--do all as worship to--God.

I suspect that this kind of wholistic evaluation of oneself is only possible for those, or else is, perhaps only in part, constitutive of, having a soul. I suspect that this is what we do not see in normal life, and I suspect that the lack of this kind of passion in life makes us easier to ignore. I mean, I think our culture is a culture made up of practical solipsists. We do not think others have minds the way we do.  We do not recognize this kind of awareness of self in others. We know that we are, ourselves, troubled by our sins, yet we look around at people who all look fine. It makes AI easy, if all we want to do is replicate the part of us which we see. There is more, though, and it should be made apparent. Surely, the Church should be a place where it is evident that there are others living in this kind of complicated life, this life where how we fit into it matters, and it is not easy. Where we are sinners. We do not currently recognize ourselves as human in the way we ought.

Logic is easy. Performing good acts is easy. Performing good acts for the right reasons is hard. It can only happen by a change in the will. Our struggle, our distress, in being these kinds of people who struggle against sin, should be visible. We should be tormented simply by being sinners, and comforted simply by being saved, though it is not easy to comprehend. That comfort must also show itself in passionate action, in commitment to God and neighbor. What agony we should feel at seeing others in sin! We should see the world as God does, and that will draw us to action in the love of God. How do we see the world as God does? By love of God. And how that? By knowledge of God, by prayer and reading, by seeking him. And how that? By love of God. Yes, but how do we get there? By God loving you in Christ Jesus, who sacrificed himself to save you and draw you to himself. By the Holy Spirit coming and showing you who God is, revealing himself to you so that you will, so that you must, in some way, to some extent, love God in the depths of yourself. 

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