The Issue of Significance
I beg my reader's indulgence for covering these various streams within Western Civilization, making an already long essay longer, as well as running the danger of making it more tedious because of the pessimistic, depressing nature of the subject matter. However, it is the very pessimisim and despair inherent within our current civilization that I want to highlight.
At the same time, I feel my inadequacy to accurately describe the actual feelings of smallness and helplessness that flood in at the lonely times of life to those who either do not sense the huge weight of a vast, empty, and uncaring universe, or who have successfully integrated the eternal significance of the Resurrection into their thinking. How do I describe feeling like an immature rabbit torn from its burrow and placed in the middle of a vast desert without cover in the middle of the night, unable to do anything more than pull its body inwards into the smallest ball possible, remain immobile from the uncertainty of what to do or where to flee, and just shiver?
I do not write the above based on a very old memory, for although such feelings were always my lot, and struck very hard on Sunday nights all through College and Graduate school, it was a rare month when I did not suffer from only two such "deep blues attacks", for my most recent was July 19, when I was led to read Ecclesiastes. My reluctance to read it was due to the real concern that doing so would only make the dark feelings even darker.
At this point, I shall make a confession: my focus for Suppression and Variance Management was to control my compulsions so that I would just stop sinning. Despite having written the section in "The Symbiotic Refinery" about the ability of the Spirit to control one's mental climate, I confess that I accepted it like a nice, but strictly coincidental, side-effect of getting one's sinful thoughts under control. The "Sunday night blues attacks" had continued, but no mental alarms had been raised because, while unpleasant, they were not sinful. What was sinful was the use of online porn to divert my mind from the pressing weight of an overwhelming, uncaring, and unfeeling universe. In my mind, I believed that the Spirit had reasonable incentive to help me suppress any compulsions that led me to deal with the "sunday night blues attacks" in an inappropriate way. Addressing the blues attacks themselves simply did not enter my mind.
However, since July 19, I have not felt the "sunday night blues attacks" in two months! In my experience, this is extraordinary! The solution was not to apply Suppression and Variance Management to them because they were not sinful thoughts that had to be suppressed. It was not that the Spirit was unable to suppress them, which would imply a limit on His power. It was also not that the Spirit was unwilling to suppress them, which would inpugn the divine Goodness. Rather, the Spirit was using them to provoke me into a search for the truth, which is entirely consistent with His job of leading us unto all truth. These attacks arose because I was embracing an incorrect set of thoughts and beliefs that had to be replaced with a correct set of thoughts and beliefs if they were to disappear.
The "Right" Cure for the Problem
This underscores a very important behavioral factor when dealing with the Holy Spirit: He would rather attack and resolve root causes rather than treat symptoms that would disappear by themselves once the root causes are properly addressed.
As part of my research for Manipulation, I have been reading John Crowder's book "Miracle Workers, Reformers, and the New Mystics". It is a compilation and analysis, from the first century to the late 1950's, of the phenomenon of miracle workers, mystics, and faith healers. It is a compelling work that effectively refutes the belief that miracles actually ceased. I warn you, the website is quite "wild", and the claims made by Mr. Crowder are equally "wild", but his history of post-first century Church mystics and miracle workers seems quite solidly done, even if one questions his conclusions and predictions. What I found significant was his claim that the effectiveness of the Jesus Freak movement was due to individuals experiencing what the ancient mystics would have called the bliss of seeing the Beautific Vision. He cited the testimony of converts experiencing "highs" immediately after conversion, and even before conversion, that were caused by the Holy Spirit. He cites testimonies of these "highs" being regularly reproduced after bible reading or long periods of prayer. Despite being an enthusiast, Mr. Crowder dutifully documents the failings of the leaders of the Jesus Freak movement, most notably that of Lonnie Frisbee, who died of AIDS contracted from homosexual activity. Indeed, his entire book is a record of how entire revivials sparked by miracle workers failed for various reasons, including personal sin.
Assuming that Mr. Crowder's book is factually and historically true, it is obvious that these experiences of what he, and the ancient Christian mystics, call "the bliss of God" can be explained symbiotically. Rather than suppressing the compulsions of physical addictions in some people, The Holy Spirit elected to massively stimulate their brains to emulate the drug highs they were reporting. In a way, this is not treating the addiction as much as changing the type of "high inducer" being used. My belief is that this was a grace granted by God to them, and would fall under Manipulation rather than Suppression. This also explains many of the failures that arose because of personal sin in one's life. Despite coming from the same Spirit of God, suppression requires a different mix of protocols and methodologies than what appears to be required for Manipulation, so it should be no surprise that what works in one area of one's spiritual life doesn't work in others. Paul's famous thorn in the flesh was self-identified as a "messenger of satan", and many make much of the fact that he got no relief when he prayed to God about it when they talk about the (non)effectiveness of prayer. However, those skilled in the practice of casting out demons would be the first to tell you that casting out a demon requires that it be confronted, addressed directly and personally, and verbally evicted. This methodology is repeated so often in the Gospels that it is a wonder that Paul didn't "get it". To be sure, the occasional extra powerful demon may need advance preparation such as fasting and prayer, such as Jesus practiced before exorcising the demon from the boy that the disciples failed to exorcise. What is important to see is that the actual exorcism itself was conducted in the usual manner, which is why the disciples were confused as to why they couldn't cast the demon out.
When we look down on the disciples because of this failure, we fail to appreciate what they did to handle that failure. When they saw Jesus doing the same thing they did, but getting different results, they didn't throw their hands up and ascribe the difference to God's inscrutiable will or a special bestowal of favor upon Jesus. Instead, they figured that there had to be some factor that they were not aware of that made the difference, and asked Jesus what that difference was. One of the core capabilities of this stage, Illumination, is to augment "debugger mode" to facilitate this problem discovery and reolution process but with the Holy Spirit taking the place of Jesus. (I use computer programming terminology. Engineers in the field would call this process "troubleshooting". Same process, different terms, same solution, same augment.)
Running Debugger Mode
This is my situation with the "Sunday night blues attacks". On July 19, while I was fighting it mentally by invoking Suppression and wondering how to spin it as a sin to extract some cooperation from the Spirit, I began to worry about how feeling the blues would affect my behavior Monday morning. After all, as I documented in "The Symbiotic Refinery", the Spirit generates and maintains my cheerful, peaceful attitude that had been helping me tolerate what would have driven me to anger and a deep cynicism at work. Indeed, so happy was I appearing that I worred that my management would think, "If Gerald is looking happy and content, then we surely are doing things right!" when the fact of the matter was that things were going to hell in a handbasket at what looked like an exponential rate.
Then it hit me: I had ALWAYS been feeling the "deep blues" on Sundays, but since April or May of 2006, I'd be hopping out of bed feeling super chipper and ready to tackle the day with the Spirit's help. The only times that were different were later diagnosed as personal "dark nights of the soul", whose symptoms were markedly different from the "Sunday night blues attacks" even though they were experienced during Sunday nights.
So what, exactly, was different now between Sunday nights and Monday mornings?
Obviously, I didn't know, so I did what I hope my readers will learn to do: I switched from trying to invoke Suppression to get the Spirit to stop me from feeling a feeling, to invoking Illumination to get the Spirit to lead me to an understanding of the situation.
In other words, I invoked Debugger mode.
I asked Him mentally, "Why am I experiencing these horrid and dark feelings of insignificance and helplessness on Sunday nights?"
He answered with the following thought: "WHY should you feel horribly insignificant and helpless if you are asking ME this question?"
It is said that a person cannot truly feel two feelings at the same time. One way to replace a feeling is therefore to replace it with another feeling.
At that moment, I stopped feeling blue, insigificant, small, and helpless.
And started feeling very stupid.
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