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Stephanos
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0 posted 01-28-2008 08:12 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

I just recently reread portions of "The Pilgrim's Regress" by Lewis, and was shaken by the descriptions of temptation, moral evil, and the prospects of escaping or succumbing to their end.  

I know this is not a philosophical discussion per se, but perhaps a Theological one.  However this forum is the closest fit for such discussions.  I was just wondering how these ideas affect you, or what you think of them?  

If nothing else, you'll get to enjoy and ponder a provocative piece of writing, as the Pilgrim John and "The Guide" walk along discussing what they see.


quote:
... (The Guide)  ˜The Landlord has taken the risk of working the country with free tenants instead of slaves in chain gangs; and as they are free there is no way of making it impossible for them to go into forbidden places and eat forbidden fruits.  Up to a certain point he can doctor them even when they have done so, and break them of the habit.  But beyond that point - you can see for yourself.  A man can go on eating mountain-apple so long that nothing will cure his craving for it; and the very worms it breeds inside him will make him more certain to eat more.  You must not try to fix the point after which a return is impossible, but you can see that there will be such a point somewhere.'


'But surely the Landlord can do anything?'


'He cannot do what is contradictory; or, in other words, a meaningless sentence will not gain meaning simply because someone chooses to prefix to it the words 'The Landlord can.'  And it is meaningless to talk of forcing a man to do freely what a man has freely made impossible for himself.'


and ...

quote:
After this, John looked up and saw that they were approaching a concourse of living creatures beside the road.  Their way was so long and desolate (and he was footsore too) that he welcomed any diversion, and he cast his eyes curiously upon this new thing.  When he was nearer he saw that the concourse was of men, but they lay about in attitudes and were so disfigured that he had not recognized them for men ...

One old cripple, whose face was all gone but the mouth and eyes, was sitting up to receive drink from a cup which a woman held to his lips.  When he had as much as she thought good, she snatched the cup from his hands and went on to her next patient.  She was dark but beautiful.

'Don't lag', said the Guide ‘this is a very dangerous place.  You had better come away.  This is Luxuria.

But John's eyes were caught by a young man to whom the witch had just come in her rounds.  The disease, by seeming, had hardly begun with him; there was an unpleasant suspicion about his fingers - something a little too supple for joints - a little independent of his other movements - but, on the whole, he was still a well looking person.  And as the witch came to him the hands went crawling out for the cup a second time, and again the man wrenched them back, and turned his face away, and cried out:

'Quick! The black, sulpherous, never quenched,
Old festering fire begins to play
Once more within.  Look!  By brute force I have wrenched
Unmercifully my hands the other way.'

'Quick, Lord! On the rack thus, stretched tight,
Nerves clamouring as at nature's wrong.
Scorched to the quick, whipp'd raw - Lord, in this plight
You see, you see no man can suffer long.'

'Quick Lord! Before new scorpions bring
New venom - ere fiends blow the fire
A second time - quick, show me that sweet thing
Which, 'spite of all, more deeply I desire.'



And all the while the witch stood saying nothing, but only holding out the cup and smiling kindly on him with her dark eyes and her dark, red mouth.  Then, when she saw that he would not drink, she passed on to the next; but at the first step she took, the young man gave a sob and his hands flew out and grabbed the cup and he buried his head in it;  and when she took it from his lips clung to it as a drowning man to a piece of wood.  But at last he sank down in the swamp with a groan.  And the worms where there should have been fingers were unmistakable.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (01-29-2008 01:39 PM).]

TomMark
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1 posted 01-28-2008 09:12 PM       View Profile for TomMark   Email TomMark   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for TomMark

Dear Stephen, I was going to talk about on other thread. Since here you made it very  clear, then I'll tell you what I think. together with your other comment.

quote:
If one is not faithful to his spouse, will he be trustworthy in other dealings?

Jesus said to pluck out your right eye, and to cut off your right hand if it causes you to stumble ... so that the whole body might not be ruined.  (of course he was speaking spiritually here).  The principle is the same:  One cannot so compartmentalize life that one part does not touch the others.


I read BillyGraham's "Just As I am" some years ago.. When I read the part when he and his other three staff went into their own hotel room and listed out the thing tempting them during their crusade. The first three or four were same.,...woman, money (I tried to find this part today. has not yet though).  I think that he is a true man to be this honest.

To acknowledge our weakness that we can be attempted is the first step to not get trapped in. (to be away from it)

and also to acknowledge that we have have feelings and needs.

I'll talk more later.
Stephanos
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2 posted 01-29-2008 08:58 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

I thought Lewis' use of the "worms" was quite interesting.  A worm is something with a seeming will of its own.  Its peristalsis and gyrations are restless; and it seeks dark and unclean places.


To me this is very descriptive of temptation yielded to, where choice eventually becomes compulsion.


Also his comparison of unquenchable "fire" with the unruly desires associated with temptation.  The yielding of temptation (as a substitute for true drink) then becomes less free enjoyment, and more desperate relief of torment.  And yet this cycle is a torment itself.


Stephen
TomMark
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3 posted 01-29-2008 02:29 PM       View Profile for TomMark   Email TomMark   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for TomMark

Dear Stephen,

Some one else used the "worm" too to represented as demon or desire. ( can't remember, a Russian writer). I don't see that there is any difference between the "worm" and the "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate." and "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

I think that  it is really the work of our desire and the freewill who tempted us.

It is great pleasure that our desires are meet and we are built in this way. But if we worship our desires as god, or above God, then all problems arise

and at my age i really do not need a book to tell me what temptation is. I have been through many.

15 years ago, when I put down 10 dollars on the wheel, I learned how my heart was craving for more money. I am the type that till today care the least about what a bank letter said. ( probably this why I am not rich). I blamed nobody for my greedy. I learned that how a dormant seed was waken up!!

And there are more examples in self-righteous, emotion, food, Piptalk..

The temptation is really started within. But why we are given a free well, desires and many happy feelings and at the same time, demon  as a seed of original sin is with us at the same time?

To tell you the truth, sometimes struggle  is as tough as going through death.

A example, A very bright young man, fresh man of Wustl, from a divorced family, shared  many his thought with me. I encouraged him a lot. More than double his age of 19 and quite a sluggish type of me, I treated him as my child. And we were in a group of people. One day when we talked about a movie Madagascar, he wanted me to go with him to watch the movie. I thought that was too much. (a temptation of self-righteous...I am not a .....). I immediately  recalled all what I have done. I saw no wrong. I knew that he trusted me. So I have to keep a distance gradually...this is quite tough to treat one so pure hearted. But I have to really take his family background into consideration. (so, John, teacher-student affair is purely the teacher's evil fault. She obviously mislead a pure heart). I do care about him. And I know that I could give him more lessons about life with a firm stand.(He was a young Christan.)  I did not. I absolutely did not want and very clear aware of not to touch a young heart by my kindness. He went back to school after summer vacation. A year later, he came to my working place again, much mature and told me that he was the vice-chair of certain music committee.
and he was going to UK for a year to study economy related course. And he told me that , half year ago, his mother was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and went though radiation treatment and his only younger brother was diagnoses with young type rheumatoid arthritis (incurable so far). I asked him that why he did not send a mail to me. I couldn't imagine what he had been through. Since 8 years old, his mother and his younger brother were all he cared in his life. I lost my words and tries to control my tears. I said that I was very sorry for not offering any help.  And this young man said "it is alright".

Life is very complicated and we try our best to be best of ourselves. But temptation is not there, it is here in our own heart. It is not that outside worm but the egg of the worm since beginning of life.  It is in all kind form. and every form wants to replace God.

Do I know how evil I am sometimes? you bet. I blame nobody. (see how self-righteous I am? since very young. Since 2 yrs, my parents have given up trying to change my judgment    


[This message has been edited by TomMark (01-29-2008 05:40 PM).]

TomMark
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4 posted 01-29-2008 10:53 PM       View Profile for TomMark   Email TomMark   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for TomMark

Have I misunderstood you, Stephen? are you talking about temptation or addiction?
Stephanos
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5 posted 01-29-2008 11:36 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

No, I don't think you've misunderstood.  Temptation and addiction are always somewhat intertwined I think, though I wouldn't necessarily equate them.  One is a spiritual word, and one is a medical/clinical word.

Stephen
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6 posted 01-30-2008 02:09 PM       View Profile for TomMark   Email TomMark   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for TomMark

As an Atheist, the struggle of something tempting me out of my comfort zone or out of my value system was very easy to handle. I just went with them in most of time, until my parents said "no!" or "you will get into jail" (for my loud political talking at home. Ron, you have to know this, at my home, if someone passing by and heard it and reported me to official, I could be put into jail. I was reported once... my parents did not know. and Stephen, that immediately  tempted me to revenge mood for many years. If the reporting was done 30 years ago, I would be in jail definitely. Ron, there free of speech is clearly printed in the constitution.)

The handling a temptation for a Christian is very different. And the temptation is different too.
A example.
My friend, had stomach cancer at 40 and she has two young children. She was in charge of Children Sunday school. During her surgery and recovery time, she was unfairly treated by pastor and the elders.  She told this to some people and she told me two months later after operation.
The temptation here
1. Did I want to sound out all dirty words from dictionary?  Yes, I wanted.
2. Did I want to tell everyone? Yes, I did want to and I myself was not a gossiping kind.
3. Do I wanted to call the pastor immediately to scorn him? Yes.
4. and myself was in great anger.
5. Should I ignore him when I met pastor again? yes. This, I did ignored him once.
6. when everything is over. Every pastor I knew, four of them, told me that she (my friend) should not talk her issue around.
Shall I follow them to say the same thing as my friend should be as perfect as God?  
7. And Last Sunday, she was titled pastor. I knew that she was graduated from Missioanry school, but why now, being given a title ..I thought that it was a PC).

I indeed went to talk to pastor and asked him why and let him to understand what was in a young cancer's patient mind when she has two young children 10, 12.yrs.

And the whole thing is not finished. She now, is titled with Pastor and her husband is earning his phD in Fuller. Ironical event happened to them.

The temptation now:  shall I trust the pastor ? shall I listen to his preach again? Shall I say that he was not a Christian at all?
no, no, yes are my inner voice.

How much I  wanted to scream those organized religion???? (and how much we do expect what a church should be???)

But I try to make sure that my faith to God is not lost. No, it isn't.


Essorant
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7 posted 02-02-2008 01:23 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Did you ever read Confessio Amantis by John Gower?  It is eight books that use wisdom and enjoyable tales to demonstrate the seven deadly sins, and how men may avoid them or fall by them.  It is one of the most unique poems ever written in the english tongue.

Here is a link to a complete edition of the text with notes and glosses.

Confessio Amantis Vol. 1
Confessio Amantis Vol. 2
Confessio Amantis Vol. 3

"Gower is the first English writer to use "history" as an English word [...] Gower enters into a refined phenomenology where time, history, memory, and a fictionalizing of the past make discourse of the "now"-world presentable. "

[This message has been edited by Essorant (02-02-2008 03:58 PM).]

Stephanos
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8 posted 02-04-2008 07:12 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Thanks Essorant,

I will take a look at them.  I think this same theme (of temptation) is found in many examples of literature.  What struck me about Lewis's example was his tackling of the idea that there may be a "point of no return" involved in a human life.  It is the "binary" thing that Ron always talks about, that exists depsite all of the subtleties and complexities of life, good, and evil.  If we may be good, and redeemed, there is always the possibility that we may not.  I find that stark realization as healthy for me in my own spiritual journey.  Though I also recognize that it may be taken in a paralyzing, or even deterministic fashion, where fear rather than sound reasoning takes over.      

Do you know of any other literature that speaks of this idea?


Stephen
Essorant
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9 posted 02-06-2008 03:00 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Stephanos,


It is the binary thing that Ron always talks about, that exists depsite all of the subtleties and complexities of life, good, and evil.


Maybe, but is there not always a greater unity behind all things as well?  
Good and evil are really one thing: manners.   If we did not have manners we would not have good and evil.  Likewise if the world did not have the human, it would not have man and woman.  Me thinks there are two very strong distinctions in every twoness, but those distinctions are but variations of a wholesomer oneness.  



If we may be good, and redeemed, there is always the possibility that we may not.


But what likelihood is there that we may not be redeemed ever?  If we may not redeem ourselves after falling into an evil, God and his omnipuissance may redeem us.  If not God, then the process of natural evolution will turn us into something wholesome again, eventually.  I think it is impossible for anything to be in a rotten condition forever.  

Whether by nature, nurture, or outright force, everything must eventually change.


Do you know of any other literature that speaks of this idea?


I would say Dante's Divine Comedy, but I am sure you are familiar with that poem already           


  
Stephanos
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10 posted 02-06-2008 05:30 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
Maybe, but is there not always a greater unity behind all things as well?  Good and evil are really one thing: manners.


I would actually say that "manners" is only an outward sign of a deeper reality; and it is that deeper reality where things dwell which are truly and finally incompatible, such as malice and love.


quote:
Me thinks there are two very strong distinctions in every twoness, but those distinctions are but variations of a wholesomer oneness.


So you think the mingling of good and evil represents a permanent situation?  How can we really say that the distinction is even real (and not totally subjective), if such a dualism exists?  Have you ever read "The Great Divorce"?  I'd be interested to hear what you think of it.  


quote:
But what likelihood is there that we may not be redeemed ever?  If we may not redeem ourselves after falling into an evil, God and his omnipuissance may redeem us.


I am not denying God's ability to redeem.  I am more speaking of the willing and final rejection of the means by which he does so.  If there is an offer, there is a possibility of a refusal.  You of course would have difficulty with the "final" part, but it is true to life isn't it?  All opportunities are not indefinitely suspended for our presumptuous browsing.  And no, I'm not talking about a "here one minute, gone the next" situation.  God is patient.  But neither is God wholly subject to the will of man.  As Lewis mentioned, Omnipotence cannot mean to do the innately absurd.  And I would insist that to make God forever obligated to save the impudently unwilling, would be such an absurdity.

quote:
If not God, then the process of natural evolution will turn us into something wholesome again, eventually.


Why would an impersonal process be obligated (or even likely) to produce something 'wholesome' without God?

quote:
think it is impossible for anything to be in a rotten condition forever.


So then, you do exclude something in your vision of unity  ... a "rotten condition forever" just won't fit the unified whole?  I think your monism is not as all-inclusive as you say it is.        

quote:
Whether by nature, nurture, or outright force, everything must eventually change.


Change is a quantitative word, not a qualitative one.  Philosophically you must admit that change alone, does not mean something has to get better.


Stephen
 
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