While in Gudalajara, I noticed the great interest (maybe even obsession) with the supernatural. The hunger for Jesus was quite intense. However, in places (and faces) the spiritual darkness was palpable.
It is fascinating to me that the darkness here in the US is a different kind of darkness. Spiritual hunger is not as present and spiritual darkness is masked, yet I know both exist. It is notable that material goods and spiritual emptyness go together and that poverty and spiritual hunger do as well. And I do not think it has anything to do with education or class. What thinkest ye?
9 thoughts on “This Present Darkness”
Screwtape advised Wormwood that to be successful in his work he should encourage two views of the reality of the Devil. First, that there was no Devil…he was a myth for the uneducated or the naive. In this version, using a caricature of a red-horned, barb-tailed comic character that appears at Halloween has been useful. His existence is then made too little of. In the second approach, the Devil’s existence is distorted in the opposite direction. He is seen as powerful and real, and, in the vacuum left by the church’s “belief” that he doesn’t exist, the people are left to believe that he overshadows Christ, because evil is so omnipresent.
America has both views. “Intelligent” American people don’t believe he exists, the naive believe he rules. This says to me that the best mission field is to those whose worldview allows them to appreciate salvation. The “intelligent” ones are too sophisticated to believe that they need to be saved from anything, except gullibility and superstition. They are doomed. Screwtape’s advice has been followed scrupulously in America, which has proved to be a fertile mission field for Satan. The flock is unguarded because most Shepherd’s don’t believe in wolves!
Father may we have some definitions first. What spritual darkness are you referring to?
I don’t have much to say about this, but it is always lovely to the the icon of the Ladder of my patron saint…
I just noticed the picture accompanying this post. You know the significance that has in our lives now, don’t you Fr. Neo?
I have no idea about the spiritual darkness/consumerism thing except that what you say is true. And just this morning at liturgy we were reminded that we are to be salt and light to the world. Not to be influenced by the world, but to influence it. What good is it if we have lost our saltiness? I think part of losing the saltiness is becoming so caught up in the consumer culture and becoming “Sunday go to meetin'” Christians instead of trying to work out our salvation every day, all day…I felt convicted. So, I wonder if it isn’t that mentality of “I’ve said the prayer, I’m saved” that contributes to the spiritual desert in the U.S. Solely my opinions.
I do agree, morpheus, that there is a dichotomy in the US concerning the perceptions of the devil. It is interesting to note that the lesser educated class of US Americans has an unhealthy obsession and/or belief in the devil as well as other super-natural beings. I have encountered many people who are convinced that they are watched over by a guardian angel. Yet there is also that category of people who only wish to believe in the good supernatural beings such as guardian angels, but refuse to believe in the existence of a devil or demons. Perhaps they do not want to add to their present sufferings with the existence of supernatural evil that they cannot control. I note that you use quotation marks when referring to the intelligent people who do not believe in the devil. Am I correct in assuming that you may believe the truly intelligent people are the ones who do not dispel the presence of supernatural beings but nor do they believe that such beings as the devil are all-powerful? I myself would say that those who are well educated in mind knowledge but who are humble enough to believe that everything cannot be explained by reason or science alone are perhaps the smartest of us all.
Spiritual darkness as in the demonic.
I agree with everything everyone has said. having nothing further to add, I am a bit curious. Fr. Neo, what kind of supernatural encounters have you had? If you wish to respond privately by email that is fine.
You are correct in your surmise, WIGIAT. “Foolishness to the wise” is still our lot in the Christian community. However, it is also true that there are many well-educated Christian brothers and sisters out there. Do you know about http://www.touchstonemag.com and the wonderful Touchstone Magazine? Check it out.
thanks, morpheus…i’ll look into it. and it is true, many brothers and sisters are very intelligent. I encounter many on a daily basis. I often have great respect for those in the church who are able to pursue much more than I in higher education without allowing their knowledge to override their belief in the necessity of faith. I, although I greatly value knowledge, am one of those that struggles with having high-intelligence and still being dependent upon faith. whether this is a weakness or not is yet for me to determine.