Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Thursday, May 22

Sitting at home feeling morose

I have not gone to work today.

The car is in for a service, and I'm waiting for some guys to come and install our new oven.

I'm also supposed to be catching up on loads of letters that I have been procrastinating for months, and some more urgent tax matters. So you are very privileged that I am writing to you, instead!

I have a strange life these days, in a complete limbo.  I really don't know where I am heading.  I have fallen off the conveyor belt of life and am now trash on the factory floor.  My calling to be a Vicar seems to have been totally destroyed by my wife's situation.  I would hate to go for it alone without her also going for it.  And to be honest, her theology has largely destroyed my faith.  My faith has always been grounded on the Scriptures, and I have always poo-pooed those "godless theologians" that have to scrutinise every scripture to find a reason why it is not valid.  Yet she tells me form her MA studies that in fact they are largely right. And of course given her situation as the victim of bullying and sexism from her Bible-bashing vicar, it is easy for her to agree with those who say that the Bible was written by men for men at the expense of women, and that scriptures showing a more egalitarian approach to women were suppressed by a male-dominated church and culture.

She loves all this new theology: to her it makes sense and boosts her faith, restoring her confidence in God.  But for me it is like finding out that the man you have always called Dad is not your father.  I feel utterly betrayed and lied to by God and the church.  And if I were to be ordained, I no longer know what gospel I would preach.

This is compounded by her belief in a spiritual rather than physical resurrection, which seems rather pointless to me. I have no desire for that.  It is also compounded by our curate's rejection of a hell of eternal suffering - he preaches that eternal damnation, the second death, etc. all refer to annihilation.  Which, contrary to my wife's vision of heaven, I find quite appealing.  Isn't that what a suicide wants?  Just an end of everything?  So if I were to try to persuade a potential suicide not to do it, the message would be "Choose between a life of constant self sacrifice as a Christian and annihilation".  I think he would jump!

But that is the position that I am in.  I have very little pleasure in life.  The truth is, if I spend time on my own pursuits I feel guilty that I should be doing something for the poor, or for the church, or for the family - these are all so much more important than setting up a train set in the attic.  I spend all my time doing stuff for other people.  I have ceased to exist as a person in my own right.  This may be very Christian, but it also destroys you.  And I do often lean towards suicidal thoughts, wondering about the various techniques to kill oneself, etc.   But I never would, because I would feel sorry for the person that finds the body and for the family as they struggle without me.  So I only live for other people.  And since I believe in a physical resurrection - after Tom Wright's view that God wants to reconcile the whole of creation to himself, not get rid of it - then the things we have learned as Christians in this life must have a purpose in the life to come, i.e. the resurrection is also a life of constant total self sacrifice.  Do I really want that?  Bring on that annihilation!  The only reason I live on and serve God is that I am afraid of a hell of eternal suffering.   (eternal suffering in hell v eternal self-sacrifice in heaven - is that a real choice?  Are they not the same?)

So, now that I am feeling very morose, perhaps its time to look at those tax letters ...... !

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