Jesus and the historical record

The obscurity of Christ

It is a little known fact that the neglect of Jesus by the historians, and his apparent lack of interest by important people and writers during his lifetime, the kind of obscurity and irrelevance which many modern people interpret so that they can say 'Do you know, Jesus probably never existed', or some kind of phrase common amongst adolescents and practically taken for granted amongst the ordinary man and woman - this obscurity of Christ is no problem to us.

As far as Pascal is concerned:

" ... Jesus Christ lived and died in an obscurity (according to what society and the common man knows as obscurity) such that historians who wrote about important events of state and politics, hardly noticed him at all." (Pensees, Chapter 19, 2).

If Christ had left any important marks on history other than the word of mouth accounts of those who were his intimate friends and disciples, then he would not have been what he was: the man in whom God emptied himself out completely, abased himself and died ignominiously on Earth, for us. At his last hours, Christ is abandoned by even these close friends, and finally even by his Father. That history abandoned and ignored him is only right.

That the world abandoned Him is more proof of what the Father had in mind when he died on the Cross, in the Son. That is, that everyone coming later should find himself and must go and seek out Christ, and in Christ's death shrouded in absolute darkness, find himself and the absolute light which was to be discovered there, each by himself for all times.

The First Principle of Ethics

Self-centredness

By comparison with other attitudes toward life, reality and the self, the following principle is by far and away the single most important one.

Both the Christian and the unbeliever must put their own self first. That is, the Christian must first set up a relationship between him/her self and God. The Christian must set aside time, if not all of his time, to the relationship to his true self with God.

This will, admittedly, lead to a completely unselfish approach to other people. But on the other hand, if anything interferes with that first principle, that is, if any works for other people endangers the principle of the self being able to approach God, then the selfishness and guard over the self should take precedence in any ethical choice.

See the Aristotelian care for the self of the God-man; the Socratic injunction, etc.

Paradoxically, such a principle will inevitably lead to a serene indifference to our own fate. Our heart and care for others grows, our greed, and our love of distraction and petty interests and games falls aside. We come more intelligent and love peace more, more generous, etc., etc.

But only if the first principle of love of the self is our foundation. Our eternal self, that is.

The First Principle in Church governance

The Most Important Thing

The Church should not compromise with modern, entirely atheistic attitudes and behaviour. The truth of the creation of the world by God, and our eternal life is the primordial idea of Christianity.

Therefore:

1.1 The Church must never compromise its teachings in any way, and particularly:

1.1.1 In these times, the Church should promote the idea of the human being as the creation of God and as having an eternal foundation at all times.

1.2 The Christian Church should oppose any other interpretation of existence with its own truthful, careful teaching.

1.3 When faced with atheism, it should not be encouraged, and the basic teaching of the Church should be defended.

1.4 To the extent that it is in the ability of the Church members to do so, the truth about reality in this life should be talked about and presented to atheistic modern people.

Depression and Despair

When I am Depressed

From a reading of Kierkegaard, I have always known depression under the English word 'Despair'.

Talking the other night about my general emptiness with my wife, I reflected with her on the double manner of interpreting depression. A psychiatrist might call it 'major depression'. I call it despair only when reflecting on it from a distance.

Generally, one feels depressed due to conditions prevailing. Common things like an ex-wife who stops us seeing our children; a means of earning a living which is not congenial, pressure from clients and working conditions; the general 'stress' of events and external circumstances and tiredness.

And, at midday, I feel totally empty, emotionless, cold, sorry for myself. This is a recurrent mood, and could be called depression. She also feels it these days, for similar if not exactly the same reasons. And, in a couple, a mood and sense about the world can be intuitively shared, and the mood of the one brings about the same mood in the other.

Interpretation

As a contemporary man, I would be advised to find ways of making myself happy:

a) find a new job, resolve the problem with my distant family.

b) look on the bright side

or, what is strangely popular in this contemporary situation, or amongst common people

c) ask a doctor for diagnosis and medication.

As a Christian

But as I was at pains to express, and what is more, the way that I actually experience depression, is as something of an existential given in life.

Effectively, depression and despair are the fundamental moods which we experience as human beings. The world is flawed, it is a 'fallen' place. We are from the beginning of life falling.

My feeling of depression is, furthermore, owing in part to an inappropriate life style, but more fundamentally, a failure of my relationship to my eternal self and to God. My eternal foundation in life with God as the actual Person which I am is not something I can always and easily recall or connect with.

And, as a result, for the most part, I am depressed. And it is at moments of tiredness and weakness that this becomes apparent.

So, my depression is a failure to recognise and make use of the insight that God is essentially what I am; and that the conditions in which I live ought to be neither here nor there.

And, from another perspective, I am failing, when in depression, to be happy for my life and situation and my role.

I suspect that a little prayerful meditation cures my depression. When it is thick and compacted with layer on layer of unhappiness and bad luck, then prayer might take longer to work. But it works for me because it is the only way, and, as far as I am aware, these methods are part of the absolute truth.

In addition

Expressing it in these terms will strike many as foolish and, in this day and age, 'dangerous'. But I feel that modern society is the danger, certainly to me and a person taking my position. While I don't want medication, or desperate attempts to complain about my lot in life, I don't begrudge others if they want to do or take these methods.

And yet, all around us in the unspoken and usually spoken account of life and reality, the explanation of it all in terms of God and the eternal soul is an old and broken one.

But what works for me, and moreover, how I understand reality is as follows:

  1. The world is not real independently of me, and it is made to suit me
  2. In every way, supernaturally and in a more banal sense, we have a world which is here to teach and lead us toward knowledge of the eternal quality of our self
  3. Therefore, and concurrently as an assumption, the world is not essentially what it seems, and never will be what it seems. It is an illusion.
  4. The truth is, our common egoistic self is the core of the illusion
  5. The self is not real either, and we must gently renounce it by means of prayer and a relationship with God, and by long study of the philosophers, the mystics, saints, and the Biblical texts.
  6. And we may finally end up with a reduced idea of selfhood, with the gradual and ever stronger vision of ourselves as already eternal, undying, and grounded in the Father here and now and throughout life and reality.
  7. At which point, depression seems selfish, and despair no longer applies to us.