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suggestion boxIf there were such a thing as a divine suggestion box, I’d suggest that God make things easier. Or if not easier, at least clearer.

I would love this book to close with something more substantial than empty faith, unattached love, and hopeless hope. I would love to be able to make practical suggestions about how to identify and claim the transformative qualities of the dark night [of the soul] in your own life.

I yearn to offer something that would really make the hard times easier and bring a definite sense of meaning to the unavoidable sufferings of life.

It would be so wonderful to be able to prescribe effective methods or understandings that could help us all get a grip on our dark nightdestinies.

But the nature of the dark night does not permit that.

It comes as a gift and in obscurity, as and when it will, taking us where we would not and could not go on our own. And though in truth we say yes to it, we have little control over it.

The reason for the obscurity, John [of the Cross] says, is to keep us safe, so we don’t stumble because we think we know where we’re going.

I do not want to trust that.

Gerald G. May
The Dark Night of the Soul:
A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection
Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth

pp. 194-95

[Gerald May was one of many who helped guide me years ago through some unexplored theological territory, which eventually led to The Sin of Certainty.]

 

Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works. Tweets at @peteenns.

12 Comments

  • gingoro says:

    Maybe the whole Christian thing is just a delusion or illusion? After all the bible is just people riffing.

    • Gary says:

      Is not “inspiration” in the same categorical bucket? I believe mentioned a narrative across. If so, what’s wrong with fantasizing about an eternal banquet feast, where all things are made new, with a Lamb on the throne?

      How would one get started making that world come to be?

      While I struggle mapping such to bathroom bills and about 99% of Christianity, my imagination can run quite free.

      Riffing is good. Can be very good.

  • gingoro says:

    Maybe the whole Christian thing is just a delusion or illusion? After all the bible is just people riffing.

    • Gary says:

      Is not “inspiration” in the same categorical bucket? I believe Pete mentioned a narrative across. If so, what’s wrong with fantasizing about an eternal banquet feast, where all things are made new, with a Lamb on the throne?

      How would one get started making that world come to be?

      While I struggle mapping such to bathroom bills and about 99% of Christianity, my imagination can run quite free.

      Riffing is good. Can be very good.

  • Gary says:

    I wonder if the question’s shaping reveals much.

    One can imagine God to be anything one wants. One can pick and choose among countless God. Even the Christian God has been shaped innumerable ways.

    I don’t think it’s God that anyone wants to be different; I think it’s reality.

    I wonder if this pattern of reflection reveals this more than anything: I want greater control over my reality. I want things to go my way.

    Perhaps in this context, for instance, it’s easier to make sense of others’ notion of Dukkha and why contemplation that all of life is suffering is the beginning of a spiritual journey.

    God doesn’t seem to have a suggestion box. Instead, our tradition suggests he wrestles, even through the night. But then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

    But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

  • Gary says:

    I wonder if the question’s shaping reveals much.

    One can imagine God to be anything one wants. One can pick and choose among countless God. Even the Christian God has been shaped innumerable ways.

    I don’t think it’s God that anyone wants to be different; I think it’s reality.

    I wonder if this pattern of reflection reveals this more than anything: I want greater control over my reality. I want things to go my way.

    Perhaps in this context, for instance, it’s easier to make sense of others’ notion of Dukkha and why contemplation that all of life is suffering is the beginning of a spiritual journey.

    God doesn’t seem to have a suggestion box. Instead, our tradition suggests he wrestles, even through the night. But then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

    But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

  • Marshall says:

    You don’t think prayer is a suggestion box for God equally as the self? Not that every suggestion is going to be implemented anywhere. Like Mom Zebedee asking that her two sons be crucified with Jesus, one to the right and one to the left. Mat 20:22, “You don’t know what you’re asking”

  • Marshall says:

    You don’t think prayer is a suggestion box for God equally as the self? Not that every suggestion is going to be implemented anywhere. Like Mom Zebedee asking that her two sons be crucified with Jesus, one to the right and one to the left. Mat 20:22, “You don’t know what you’re asking”

  • charlesburchfield says:

    here are some quotes from one of my favorite authors and psychologists Robert Grant. he wrote a book called The Way of the Wound. I found it in my local library several years ago and it has been a source of healing and help on the journey for healing recovery. I have done quite a bit of editing on these quotes!

    Child abuse, domestic violence, rape, violent crime, war, vehicular accidents, terminal illness, unexpected loss of loved ones and natural disasters are Trauma & can lead to variety of physical, emotional, interpersonal and spiritual problems. one’s life can become structured around addictions, avoidance behaviors and violence.

    trauma can lead to breakdowns. with proper support and guidance, it has the potential to transform individuals into compassionate and deeply spiritual beings.

    trauma can cause profound shifts in one’s consciousness. one’s Wounds, along with the implications they have for future living, must be integrated into new and more comprehensive approach to life.

    experiences of trauma can expose the lack of substance and cohesiveness one has assembeled in a lifetime of internalizations grounded in feedback from parents, family, teachers, coaches, spiritual and political leaders. near death and mystical experiences can project one into another realm of consciousness that enables spiritual dimensions of consciousness to be discovered.

    one who suffers trauma can experience spiritual & mental decay and bc fragmented. This is the realm from which both mystics and madmen emerge.

    many victims of trauma are misdiagnosed and socially isolated.
    one needs safe and supportive spaces in which to walk amidst the ashes of one’s former organizations of self, reality and god.

    the healing of one’s Traumatic injuries involves acceptance, love and discernment. one can develop empathy & offer encouragment for those who need healing & are still suffering bc one who accepts that they can be broken, overwhelmed and rendered powerless can encounter the brokenness and wounds of others without fear.
    one who has been traumatized and integrated it has the opportunity to discover the spirit living in one’s core being.

    If health is to be restored then the help of the Spirit and others is required. Acknowledging this fundamental dependency is a critical milestone.

    recognizing the amount of evil and cruelty in the world, along with the impact these realities have for images of God and the value of human relationship, demand careful consideration and continual contemplation. one who is traumatized must work this territory or be overcome by it. it is a life or death struggle.

    one needs to learn the skills to be able to progressively assimilate the demands of this realm that involve engagement w challenging existential and spiritual vulnerabilities, such as the inevitability of one’s death, the lack of certitude and security surrounding human existence and the lack of substance and unity making up the ego, political & or social self.

  • here are some quotes from one of my favorite authors and psychologists Robert Grant. he wrote a book called The Way of the Wound. I found it in my local library several years ago and it has been a source of healing and help on the journey for healing recovery. I have done quite a bit of editing on these quotes!

    Child abuse, domestic violence, rape, violent crime, war, vehicular accidents, terminal illness, unexpected loss of loved ones and natural disasters are Trauma & can lead to variety of physical, emotional, interpersonal and spiritual problems. one’s life can become structured around addictions, avoidance behaviors and violence.

    trauma can lead to breakdowns. with proper support and guidance, it has the potential to transform individuals into compassionate and deeply spiritual beings.

    trauma can cause profound shifts in one’s consciousness. one’s Wounds, along with the implications they have for future living, must be integrated into new and more comprehensive approach to life.

    experiences of trauma can expose the lack of substance and cohesiveness one has assembeled in a lifetime of internalizations grounded in feedback from parents, family, teachers, coaches, spiritual and political leaders. near death and mystical experiences can project one into another realm of consciousness that enables spiritual dimensions of consciousness to be discovered.

    one who suffers trauma can experience spiritual & mental decay and bc fragmented. This is the realm from which both mystics and madmen emerge.

    many victims of trauma are misdiagnosed and socially isolated.
    one needs safe and supportive spaces in which to walk amidst the ashes of one’s former organizations of self, reality and god.

    the healing of one’s Traumatic injuries involves acceptance, love and discernment. one can develop empathy & offer encouragment for those who need healing & are still suffering bc one who accepts that they can be broken, overwhelmed and rendered powerless can encounter the brokenness and wounds of others without fear.
    one who has been traumatized and integrated it has the opportunity to discover the spirit living in one’s core being.

    If health is to be restored then the help of the Spirit and others is required. Acknowledging this fundamental dependency is a critical milestone.

    recognizing the amount of evil and cruelty in the world, along with the impact these realities have for images of God and the value of human relationship, demand careful consideration and continual contemplation. one who is traumatized must work this territory or be overcome by it. it is a life or death struggle.

    one needs to learn the skills to be able to progressively assimilate the demands of this realm that involve engagement w challenging existential and spiritual vulnerabilities, such as the inevitability of one’s death, the lack of certitude and security surrounding human existence and the lack of substance and unity making up the ego, political & or social self.

  • Paul D. says:

    If there is celestial “suggestion box”, it’s round.

  • Paul D. says:

    If there is celestial “suggestion box”, it’s round.

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