I’m reading the above book. Barely lighthearted Christmas reading, I know. I’m reading it for inspiration in my own writing. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy finding little snippets of joy that make us understand life a bit better, because life itself is too large and mysterious to write concisely about and get to grips with, that many antedotes can come across as ignorant or missing a fair bit, to throw it all in a nutshell. But when you do find something you agree with, it can make life seem a little less complicated than it really is. Am I confusing you?
I found this paragraph in a book about case studies of people with mental health disorders. I don’t know how famous it is in psychologist circles, but it’s very interesting window at how peoples’ lives can unravel over time or over just one event, big or small. The book is by Elton B. McNeil, who is a US clinical psychologist. I quite like the meaning of psychology, which roughly translates from Latin as “study of the soul”, although a student at the school I work at said it would be better defined as “study of thinking” but I think she was a bit dismayed that I said that sounds a bit like the definition of philosophy. The two often overlap, I added, but I think I’d already rained on her little parade.
Going back to “study of the soul” though, I have been reading a lot about souls in my classes to be Catholic, which I am finding surprisingly enlightening. I always used to think the 10 commandments was a blockade to having “a bit of the good time”, but I now see it as a guide to strengthening one’s moral fabric, rather than the thought of preventing us from committing countless sins (f–k me, I have been quite a sinner in my time), and thinking about our behaviour. I find peace going to mass on Sunday (it’s better than lying in and doing sod all). There are certain things I have trouble agreeing with, which are topics in the mass media such as homosexuality being a sin. I don’t believe it is. Punto. Under the commandment of respecting your parents, there is a part that states about respecting the authority in your country ie. Politicians. I find that very hard to get on board with, especially living in Honduras. They are some of the worst sinners in the country. They will be going to hell. I don’t need to wish it upon them. I just have an overwhelming inclination.
I think it’s helped with anger issues and helped me make improvements in my personal life; made me mature somewhat, take responsibility for decisions that have gone well or badly, but also made me forgive myself. If that’s growth of soul or the mind, I don’t know. I’ll leave for a psychologist and philopher to fight it out. Someone sitting on the fence will just call it personal growth.
I also find it most amusing to hear and observe certain people who claim to be good Catholics and have been all their lives, but they say and do certain things that contradict their very angelic self reflections. Some of those people have cursed me in the past for having agnostic ideas. Interesting times ahead in terms of finger-pointing and damning each other. I just don’t want people to feel bad in what they believe (unless they a racist bigot. I believe in free speech, but surely not for all people!! Power with responsibility, I think). I guess God will judge us all at the end of the day.
To many theologians, these must be basic thoughts from someone learning about religion and the role it plays in our lives. I have found it most interesting learning about Opus Dei, which is where I’m taking the classes. It is often seen in the mass media as the harshest, most serious and most damning part of the Catholic Church. However, I have personally been treated with the upmost respect, with welcome arms and the warmth that isn’t really spoken of. Even Pamela, who is of the Salesiano sector of the church, was wary of me receiving classes with Opus Dei. However, when we went to her local parish to talk about confirmation and having a Catholic wedding, we weren’t very well received. The priest seemed reluctant and rude (I thought he was having a bad day. Pamela just thought he was a bell end. Pamela’s mother had even more colourful nouns for him), which left Pamela in tears. However, through my classes at Espavel and getting to know the people, I was 99.99% sure that they would help us out one way or the other. Not only did Espavel do that, but they are arranging they I recieve Baptism, Confirmation and Communion in the biggest event of the Catholic calender: the Holy Weekend at Easter, by important members of the Clergy in Tegucigalpa, which is a lot more than either Pamela or I expected. I see that as a very warm and welcoming thing to do, which is not what Opus Dei has been famed for.
Anyway, going back to the original reason that I’m doing this update, here is a little paragraph about life that I took from The Quiet Furies.
As it’s Christmas, I also want to include Silent Night. A beautiful, peaceful song.