Thursday, 13 August 2009

Positive Thinking.

It was an interesting but strangely unsatisfying workshop today. Some very basic psychology for a framework and an emphasis that we can change the world by changing our perception of it. That hasn't been my life experience and I wondered about it. What was missing? Then it hit me: the sense of there being a higher power outwith ourselves capable of transforming situations or us. It was all very "me" focused. "I can change". But some of us can't under our own steam. We try and try and try - and fail. Thinking of thought as an energy - fine, power of the mind to change it's perception - doesn't sound too clever to someone who knows their mind can be wounded and utterly dysfunctional due to depression. Yes, meditation etc can help prevent this but it isn't the exclusive answer. It's something of a solution for the whole people, but it's too damn heavy a burden for the wounded to bear successfully. Self-consciousness self awareness, self knowledge are all good, but on their own they are not enough.

All that Augustinian heritage of the necessity of grace makes me firmly programmed agin the idea that we can save ourselves. But we do need to co-operate with the power that comes from outwith ourselves: it's not Pray and God, like the good fairy, waves a wand and bingo we're painlessly fixed. No, unless we co-operate with grace we cannot grow. We can resist or refuse grace. We can depend on self and come eventually to despair. We are co-workers with God in the work of our salvation - indeed, in a sense, we are our own co-redeemers. We cannot save ourselves but God could, had he not chosen to work with us in and through Jesus Christ.

That said there were certain bits of common ground: the answer being in our own backyard ties rather with the Benedictine idea of redemption lying not in a distant journey but in the place where we are planted. It was by no means a pointless our worthless exercise. But I don't think Yoga struck me as much of an alternative to the Gospel.


  1. "Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity". That's the Second Step of the Programme of Recovery in AA.

    It was a long process for me, because I believed for so long that salvation came from my own powers of determination and my strong will. That somehow I could save myself. I couldn't, and it wasn't until I actually came to believe that I got better! I thought I had all the spiritual answers! I was a priest for goodness sake! I knew the counselling I would give others. I had to come to believe in a Power that would do it for ME!

    Today, I'm learning that it's a partnership, and so my morning prayer always consists of something like, "Today, Lord, nothing is going to happen that you and I can't handle together!"

    But we really DO have to work on this! Coming to believe, really believe, is a difficult process, especially for the ordained or the spiritually proud.

  2. Following on from Kenny's last statement: do you know how much more interesting and helpful - yes, helpful - your blog has become recently?