My intention last night was to establish a method for investigating this question of my belief, but I gave out before my purpose was accomplished. To try and get a bit further on this path, I thought I would start looking at what I am sure of.
After these 35 years of my life I am convinced that one cannot choose one’s beliefs. Belief may change and we may commit ourselves to a particular doctrine, but real belief is simply an understanding of what is and as such cannot be chosen. Instead, we discover our belief by coming into contact with those ideas that agree with our belief – our perception of reality on a subconscious level. Where this leads to further facets of our belief that we hitherto were unaware we become excited and feel we have uncovered more of the reality of the world, when our waking awareness has simply encountered more of what the subconscious already knew.
Of course, this presumes that we are, at the most basic level, wholly present to the Truth of what is, but our cognitive faculty, experiencing that Truth through the infinite myriads of Space and Time as differing essences and substances, becomes enamoured of difference and is not aware of all our connections. From the standpoint of modern physics, I am talking about our quantum awareness (the subconscious) and how we as minds suspended in Space-Time experience universal entanglement. I cannot entertain the possibility of the opposite being the case any more than I can doubt my own awareness or that I enhabit a universe wherein other minds are likewise suspended.
This means that my belief is the result of a process of discovery, uncovering what I already believe. This is why I say that I am at a crisis of confession .i. what belief, already held at a subconscious level, do I admit and maintain – do I confess? At this point I cannot admit to fully believing in the view of Christian Orthodoxy when my conscience clearly believes certain heretical doctrines from the fourth and fifth centuries .i. the tripartite division of human essence.
This doctrine stated that, unlike the orthodox view which held only two halves of human nature, we are comprised of three parts: corpus, anima (incorporating the mens or mind) and spiritus (note to self – must figure out how to print in italics for these posts). In this view, humanity had a direct line to the divine in the spiritus: a bright, incorruptible spark of divinity which could be accessed through concerted effort and ‘right’ living. The Orthodox view of two parts (corpus and spiritus) held that both were corruptible and thus tradition, as revealed by the grace intrinsic to the apostolic succession, was the only viable means of encountering the divine and keeping with Its will. Certain early medieval writers show a cagey loyalty to this earlier view, one of the best being Virgilius Maro Grammaticus – a notably Irish writer.
I have been able to maintain a tenuous sort of orthodoxy over the course of my life because the enormous range of belief found in the history of Christianity has allowed me to point to specific points and say that, because I agree with one point – even if it (and therefore I) disagrees with current doctrine – then I am at least maintaining a traditional view. Funnily enough, I have never had difficulty with doctrines like the immaculate conception, the resurrection, or other various miracles, but with what comes after .i. the great attempts by the institutional church to nail down facets of the faith. Just as strangely, its attempts to create a great structure of belief I wholly accept, but these were largely discarded during the Early Modern period.
I suppose that, looking at all the traditions of Christianity, the one in which I would have been most comfortable would have been that of the seventh, eighth and ninth centuries in Ireland and Scotland, and were this all there was to my dilemma .i. attempting to reconcile myself to Christianity, then I would happily go through the rest of my life unassociated with any church, but confessing Christ risen in my own, idiosyncratic way according to that tradition. Unfortunately, there is more going on …
… but that is the subject of my next entry.