Introduction to Theology, Serial No. 01116

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to go through this kind of thing, if it was possible, and it seemed to reason enough to
volunteer to do this.
Especially as I was writing for the Numbly group, I met a very brave old man, who eventually
died as a result of the way they were treating him, but he knew he was a kind of guinea pig
and he didn't mind this, it was probably a good sense of a way to end one's life, I mean
they were not going to be able to save his life anyway, so he thought they might as
well learn something from it, so he was being very free in a very determined situation.
He died very suddenly and very pathetically actually, in the middle of one of these experiments.
I think such a person wouldn't regret having done such a thing, I don't think I regret
the kind of risks I've taken in these sorts of situations, because they nearly always
do give you something, and give something which is not just for you, but for other people
too, because the deeper levels of this in spiritual life aren't so variable from person
to person, but we're all of us living through this, and I suppose to the extent to which
we're able to share these experiences with each other when it's the right time, we do
help each other to make the necessary changes which make human survival possible.
Has anybody got anything else they want to talk about?
I'm quite open to it.
You were talking about that old man who died, and you said that he was very free in that
very determined situation, and that made me think that freedom is essentially an act of
Well it's an interior act.
It is, to the extent, this is one of the things we're going to say tomorrow.
Thomas is going to say that freedom is of course essential, the very conception of the human
will at all, that necessity is the contrary, the voluntary, and of course what is necessary,
what is going to be the compelling thing, is in a way always a matter of choice.
As you probably know, for instance, one of the things certain survivors of the concentration
camps had to discover was why they had to want to live.
I think it's Victor Frankl who tells the story of a woman who lived by simply watching a
tree outside the window, going through the seasons and so on, and its actual survival,
and clinging to this experience of surviving with a tree, and so surviving in itself.
And I heard another case of a man I think in Eastern Europe who was in prison for a
very long time and only had toilet paper and a pen, but managed to write something on this
with a pen over the days to keep himself quite sane and so on.
So the external necessity is, while you can't say if you like that one should create these
situations for anybody, it's not normal and it wouldn't be right to expose people to
these kinds of pressures indefinitely.
It seems that those people survive who regard it as a challenge to freedom, who find out
in what way they don't have to be necessitated.
Even then, when Peter brought up the thief on the cross, that's kind of a...
Yes it is, it is.
Actually during this particular period these two thieves became very, very real to me.
And of course I need hardly say another piece of synchronicity at that time, but somebody
sent me a picture of the rebellious thief with his hand held up, you see, free from
me, but saying no to the situation.
Whereas in fact what I had to do was say yes to the situation.
And then that was all right.
Then he got through.
If you want to have it in your control, while this kind of thing is going on, it's nothing
you can do.
So you simply find a way, either laughing about it, if it can be laughed at, that's
not always possible to do that, but you begin to look around and see in what ways it could
be an effort.
It might give you an enormous amount of information, I think it has given me a great deal of information.
I think it's perhaps the most concentrated piece of education I've ever had in 14 days,
going through this.
It's much more valuable than anything I've done in the classroom.
And it was, in a way, it was also made more, partly more valuable I think, because it was
obvious that a great number of people didn't understand what was going on and thought I
was just playing them up.
Several of those people eventually were able to say, you know, I hope it goes all right
now, because, and they'd come round to seeing that it really wasn't, I wasn't playing
them up at all.
Even people who'd been quite hostile eventually came to see that there was no ground to their
And yet, you know, you wonder about so many of us who are in such, well, such inhuman
determined situations, where the level of freedom, even that freedom that we were just
talking about, seems almost impossible.
You know, people who cannot even, even their biological and vital needs are not even met
because of clothing and food.
Yes, I know, this is exactly, as I say, that's really why we have a very large measure of
responsibility, where we become aware of these others in these circumstances, to see
that they're relieved of them, if possible.
I mean, of course, as you know, some people just because they haven't got the kind of
tea they wanted this afternoon are making as much tea as they've ever dined.
And other people are dying without making fuss at all.
And that's, the difference of attitude is vast.
But as you say, there can be.
Yes, I've certainly, we've had, for instance, one of the very remarkable doctors I know,
who was a woman doctor, who opened a little home for severely damaged people, either in
old age or youth.
She'd got a lot of drug addicts, and living in a house, a little kind of convalescent
home with elderly people.
And this worked out marvellously, because they were all, their starting point, their
common ground for action, was that they were all handicapped.
And so they had to try and help each other through this.
And it worked out splendidly.
It really helped take them under control.
Of course, there were the kind of sins and dare-ups and so on.
And they were all limited people who hadn't got the ideal physical or psychological equipment
to cope with difficult situations.
But the fact that the difference of their ages and so on, the difference of their experience,
meant that somewhere or other, somebody was nearly always able to intervene in such a
way to relieve the kind of tension which otherwise would have existed, if they'd all said,
isn't it all terrible, we're all finished.
And once you say that, then you're psyched, of course.
It's sort of like what's going on in Champagner, isn't it?
Yes, Larch is working on much of those kinds of principles, I think, yes.
Well, in line with what Mark was saying in terms of the destitute that some people experience
in a large portion of the world, in a sense it almost seems like non-Christians are justified
in that, well, I feel justified to say, well, Christianity has failed.
It would seem, if we think that the Christian experience of Christ should change him, you
would think he would do something about the situation.
Especially in countries that seem to be predominantly, or at least they call themselves Christian,
and when they have the means...
Yes, but on the whole, Christian identification is like a house of cards, really, isn't it?
You don't have to pretend about that one, I think, at all.
There's nothing to it.
The more they rant about being Christian, the less likely they are to be so.
They have to do it towards these kind of things.
But does it...
There's very few people who don't see through that one.
Well, it seems like, I guess the thought that keeps coming to mind is I never promised you
a rose garden.
I understand that our experience, God is not saying, well, your experience with me, you're
going to go out now and be able to transform yourself, even.
Exactly, exactly.
That's a very good book, that, isn't it?
Did you see the film?
I didn't see the film.
They made not a bad film of it.
It's quite a challenge to make a film about a book like that, but they did it, and not
too badly.
Another thought comes up to me.
Does everybody else know the book?
It's very, very well worth reading at any time, if anybody's interested in this kind
of thing.
Sometime in your life, you should read it.
It's an account of somebody who really went through a very difficult kind of mental illness,
and it really is a description of the way therapists helped her through this.
And the therapist, of course, had to keep on saying, well, look, after I didn't promise
you, there wouldn't be any more difficulties.
The only thing we have to do together is find out how to deal with these, if that's where
you are.
Obviously, the kind of thing Mark is referring to is something about which something can and
should be done.
Because, as you know, one of the pains when one's conscious of this, especially the social
dimension of this, is that in no perfect world, for instance, if we none but eat our
supper tonight, it won't help anybody in the starving country.
So there's no direct way in which we personally can deal with this, until somebody is prepared
to deal with it on a social scale, is there?
I mean, we may, of course, refrain from our supper, if it's wise thing to do, as we're
praying about the thing.
But in the long run, we shall have to eat supper someday, because we have to keep going.
And that's part of the charity we owe to the people who are right about us and so on.
It's the only way in which we can ever at least make other people aware of these things.
Even if we can't do it directly, at least we may indirectly produce some result.
I was wondering, earlier the thought came about, I forget the context, but the thought of Christian
suffering, because in talking about the concentration camps, the few stories I've read, these people
and other stories where people have been under such duress, I think that's funny to
cry with.
But I mean, after all the suffering they've gone through, to come through that experience
and not have hate for their captors, but pity for them and a certain liberation.
This, of course, is one of the essential conditions of getting through, isn't it?
Let's say, one of the things one always has to find out about everybody is what they're
doing with their anger.
Because if it's only acting negatively, then it's always going to, they're going to be the
ones who suffer.
We always have to transform our anger into patience and perseverance and all those other
kinds of things.
If we don't do this, then it either makes, and sometimes it makes us directly ill, and
it's certainly much more destructive of us than it is of the people we hate, isn't it?
It seems to me, at least from the accounts of the martyrs, outside of a direct experience
of Christ holding you in a situation that's suffering, it seems to me that the only consolation
I could see in terms of suffering outside of such a direct experience would be in terms
of looking for the good in that.
Was it very interesting, since you started talking about things from a psychological
point of view, the very first set of obviously authentic dreams we've got connected with
martyrdom are those connected with martyrdom's perpetual felicity.
Remember, Perpetua has a dream of coming before the throne and being fed with wonderful food,
just before she's about to be thrown into the arena.
And this is, of course, obviously very, extremely important.
This is where she's actually given the strength.
There's no reason why God shouldn't give one strength through a dream.
One shouldn't really go to bed to dream in order to get it.
But I can't always.
There, of course, there is a subliminal psalm, isn't there, which is one of the father's
psalms, which says something about being taught by God in the deeps of the night.
And of course, all theologians have always been a bit cautious about this, but it doesn't
mean to say that we don't ever learn anything from our dreams, which we do.
They obviously are a very important kind of food for them.
In fact, I suppose we ought to value everything that happens to us, in some way.
Well, in terms of the outlook, because I'm thinking like, say, a paraplegic.
I mean, he could be very bitter because his life is useless.
But if he really looks at his life and says, well, I live my life to the full, and the
fullest is as far as I can live it in terms of the situation.
And there are lots of people on two legs, and the quest is rather deep and so on, who
are utterly miserable.
They're utterly confined.
Well, that's what I was saying.
That woman you were talking about, who fell down, you know.
Oh, she had to look at the situation as it was and say, well, here I am, like a beetle
on the ground.
But, I mean, she could have been very bitter about it.
I was advising another woman, of course, seeing how extremely bare she was.
It was a very extraordinary case.
A woman I saw in the same hospital where I was myself being treated, who had had to have
new soles put on her feet, because she had been treated by a very primitive kind of treatment,
which had actually burnt the soles of her feet.
And so the plastic surgeons had given her new soles, which you can do by transferring
skin from one portion of the body to the other.
And so there was a woman of 40 having to try to learn to walk again.
And to do this when you're an adult size, it's very, very difficult.
She had to go on to waving her arms to get her sense of balance, you see.
And using a frame, she had to try to recover a sense of balance.
And it required very great courage to do this for an hour every afternoon.
But she was obviously going to get through, because she was determined to see that this
was not going to be an obstacle.
She would be able to walk again.
And no doubt she won through.
I didn't see the end of that particular one.
I think there you see the kind of inner, the marked point about the inner attitude, about
the, this is where the freedom lies.
It's the attitude you take towards what is happening.
And of course, in the more difficult situations, we do have to pray about this, because this
is where our openness to God in the situation to rescue us in the way that we need to be.
I don't think we can ever put somebody else on the spot where God sometimes does put us
on the spot.
We should never do that.
Absolutely never.
It's very, very wrong to do this.
Sometimes it can be a puzzle, for instance, when you're trying to help somebody, why God
doesn't put them on the spot.
But that's his affair.
And we must never try to arrange it artificially, I think, because it's too dangerous.
Speaking of all this poverty, there's one little story that always encourages me, they've
all heard it before.
Used to, whenever they would read the gospel about the widow with the mite, and our Lord
was standing across from the surgeons, people put in this huge amount of money, they'd ring
the bell, and they'd say, ooh, look what I've got.
And here comes a widow with her half-penis.
She puts it in, and our Lord stops and says, now look, she has given more.
And our Lord would always say, Lord, I wish you would have given her some money to make
her rich.
Why didn't you feed her?
And then one time, it came to me, I says, the woman was rich.
And our Lord meant her rich, she had just been one more poor rich, given out of her
But she was happy, because happiness is independent of circumstance.
The woman, she gave all she had to live on.
So, I think among the poor, probably there are a lot of those.
And then Mother Teresa of Calcutta, remember that story?
I always remember.
One of the degrees of humility is to be satisfied with the worst.
To be happy with the worst.
To think that even the worst is too good for you.
Mother Teresa said that she went around the streets picking up people who were dying,
and they picked up this old woman and took her back to the home.
And she was dying, and Mother Teresa said she just, because all she could get down was
a little drink and sip of water.
So she said, the woman looked at her after she gave her the water and said, it was the
most beautiful look, and she said, thank you.
And then she died.
And Mother Teresa said, now, she said, I asked myself, had I been in that situation, what
would I have said?
I'm hungry, I'm cold, I'm dying.
But no, this old woman was satisfied with her condition, and she says, thank you, and
had a beautiful death.
Not in poverty, dying on the street.
Well, as I say, this is rather like the story I told you about the old lady with the cat,
deciding, she was the one who certainly, of all the people who passed the house, could
at least afford to give me half a can.
She was the one who did it.
That's enormous freedom, and as you said, it's enormous wealth.
And I've known a great number of very poor people like this.
I had another experience with an old lady, a rather strange one, which is called also
its fate aspect.
Not very far from there, I was going, it was a November afternoon, I think, probably, I
was going past Trinity College, and I suddenly heard a voice calling to me, can you help
And I saw a very small old lady clinging to the railings, and she said to me when I went
over, can you, I'm in such pain, can you take me to my doctor?
And I said, well, if you tell me how to get there.
And she said, well, it's not very far away.
And it was, in fact, only just down across the road.
I took her across the road and down.
So when I got to the house, it was quite evident to me, this was not the house where a consulting
physician was normally sitting, because otherwise he would have had a pluck-out.
But it was a doctor's address, all right.
So I rang the doorbell and went in with the old lady, and the doctor then took me into
another room, and after he'd spoken to her, and he said, you know, this extraordinary
thing, this old lady, in fact, you must have been a patient of my father, who practiced
in this house, and she remembered that this was the house.
And so he said, don't worry.
And I said, well, I've, in fact, got no money, because I hadn't got money at all.
I had no reason to ask the procurator for money.
I was religious, so I hadn't got the money in my pocket.
And he said, well, it's all right, I'll pay up to taxi for her now and send her to the
So she got to the hospital, all right.
And she survived, too.
She said to me, before we went to the doctor, she opened her purse and said, look, I've
got enough to pay him.
She had just about enough to pay a doctor.
At that time, it wouldn't be enough today, but it was then.
It was a rather long time ago.
But she got, I think she got through.
I remember seeing her sitting on a seat in the park some months afterwards, so she must
have survived.
But, oh, yes.
I think I've got a whole range of those kind of people.
I have a scarf of an old lady in my room still, a big sir, which I've carried around with
me for years, which belonged to an old lady who was known to my mother.
And my mother was the only person at her funeral.
And she's got, had the old lady lived one week longer, she wouldn't have had anything
to live on at all.
She had, she'd come down, right down to her last pound.
There was nothing else left in the house.
Well, I don't know whether I've helped you very much about that.
You all seem to be far gone this afternoon.
I see I must have didn't do something.
I guess you've worked too hard.
Maybe we get more tomorrow.
Well, it'll be worse.
Well, it'll be worse.
At any rate, I'm going to, tomorrow I'm going to try to draw together the kind of dogmatic
things and see just then what the raw materials are.
Because what we've been talking about is right over the edge of, if you like, the area of
freedom and so on, the area of choice, which we all of us have got, which means that we
are really making our image.
I mean, this is what we've said about these old ladies and these old women, old men too,
old men in the scene, like the old man doing the experiment with the doctors.
Because they have got a very high degree of liberty, a very high degree of humanity, because
they've chosen to make something out of a difficult situation.
And this is obviously, sometimes it may be an act of, a very special act of grace, and
it could sometimes be the mark of great holiness, couldn't it?
Like the Mother Teresa of Torrey mentioned, it could be, really.
To be able to say yes to God is the best thing to be able to do at all.
That's me.
I don't think we have to prolong this any longer.
Just for the sake of two minutes, because in fact we've always run over time at the
end of the day.
In delivering this lecture, and I usually have been running about and so on, is because,
as you see, I did in fact manage to get, I think, something which is not an illusory
I think it doesn't feel convincing, the perspective of Irenaeus that I gave there.
I really think it doesn't force the text in any way.
I think it does sufficiently represent Irenaeus' characteristic, theological point of view.
These two factors, the one of looking right through history to eschatology, and of course
the other is, as I say, when you set down to report what is actually said in scripture,
there's very little indeed.
So we're presented with...
And tomorrow we should be looking, as I say, at the few dogmatic things that concern us.
And seeing how St Thomas also copes with these things.
Is there anything anybody wants to ask about?
Yes, Peter.
I have a sort of two part question.
You mentioned an illusion to conversion.
You said an illusion to conversion, rather than conversion.
No, I think what I was saying is that many of the textbooks, for reasons which are quite
easy to understand, do sometimes want to put the question, you know, what is the process
which is going on?
When does it begin to be a gracious process?
When does it seem to be a process of grace?
And it seems to me that in the concrete, of course, we can never know this.
In fact, I suppose the presumption is that if somebody comes and asks something about
the faith, the probability is that some work of grace is already there.
As you know, there has been, I think, one of the ways, somebody said to me recently,
I can't remember who it was, that prior to the Council, the great discussion was about
natural and supernatural.
And then since the Council, it's tended to have a Christological centre.
And I really didn't want, of course, at this stage, because this is meant to be an introduction,
to launch a full-scale discussion of the question of grace.
Because we would need very much more time than we've got in these few days to bring
out all the aspects of this.
But I suppose precisely because in our own period we've got so much more used to looking
at psychological processes, it's become necessary to see that if any of it is a cut-and-dried
way of talking about this, it's not wholly satisfactory.
And we've always got to remember, and it seems to me this certainly was not taken account
of sufficiently when I was younger, by most people teaching and talking about these things,
that the work of redemption and the resurrection of our Lord must have produced,
in principle we must say that it produces effects upon the world as it is now.
And these must be manifold in ways which are not confined to ecclesiastical expression at all.
Well, you had mentioned the psychological...
Let's say...
Come on, Peter.
Oh, well, I was tying that all together a little with what you were saying.
You had mentioned about some of the saints having a sense of cleanliness, and I just
started wondering how much of that in a neurotic sense, because when you look at some of the
saints, some of them never bathe...
Yes, well, of course, I think we always know cases of people who are quite neurotic.
Well, I was going to make a few other points.
I was just thinking too, we were talking about desires and all.
How can people have a sense of delight in God if they don't even know what delight is,
if they have no experience?
Yes, you're absolutely right about this.
I think this is one very important reason for...
Leading up to...
Yes, yes.
My main thing I'm trying to hit on to is tying this all together.
Well, I guess, in a sense, does the Christian anthropology lead to a purification of our
affectivity, of our affection, of our...
Well, it can only do so through the virtues, can't it?
This is really why I'm still working on this.
I don't think I'm going to be very satisfied with the result at the moment, but I suppose
it is extremely important, I think, one knows this from the kinds of things which come up
as problems for everybody in religious life.
And I don't just mean in religious houses.
I mean, say, all Christian people who try and lead the Christian life today.
One often has to discover whether their difficulties are primarily connected with some kind of
psychological hang-ups, rather than with real theological difficulties.
For instance, fairly early on in my piece of life, I learnt, especially when speaking
to women about certain kinds of their difficulties with the church, I found that if I asked them
the question, do you have a devotion to Our Lady?
And I got the answer, no.
Or the equivalent of no.
Some people don't want to say it so strongly, but they'll say it anyway.
And I always found that that was telling me, in fact, they had a problem about their own
And if I could solve that, their problem about Our Lady ceased.
And as I said, it's very, very difficult for people with a problem about either father or
mother to feel very comfortable in situations where these concepts are going to be very,
very vital for their lives.
In the diagram yesterday, in terms of will, conscience, and free choice, it seems to me
that they immediately act, ultimately act, in terms of our free choice.
Sort of our acts, in a sense, will either mar that image of God or help us...
Well, obviously they do.
In fact, one of the things you're going to see tomorrow is that, of course, the image
is primarily a very, very dynamic concept.
It's very much concerned with living.
It doesn't read like that in the sum of...
That's what the theory comes to, anyway.
And I suppose, really, one of the things we do have to be very cautious about is trying
to measure which bits of this, if you like, are processes which anybody may go through.
Let's say, if you want to isolate which bits with a special braces, one just doesn't know.
I mean, as you probably know, a man who worked for many years with very difficult kinds of
mental disturbances and troubles, like cardio, said that when the cure comes, if it does,
it comes like a grace.
He said, of course, he was a member of the Assembly, but in fact I think he always felt
rather like a spoiled archbishop.
Who is he?
Carl Jung.
Carl Jung.
And that's to say, in other words, there doesn't seem to be any relation between what you do
in a therapeutic process if you are the therapist, and the result when it comes.
Because it is a kind of gift.
This is, of course, a tiny bit of what teaching is like, also.
You never know what's going to happen.
I would say that most of the time I've found, when I've felt I've given a bad class, I've
gone home saying to myself, no, why didn't they see?
It's my fault, I ought to see.
Why they haven't seen.
And sometimes one will help people see something by a story, or by an accent, or by his fooling
about, even.
But in a sense, in terms of grace, like you were saying, you don't really always see grace
crystal clear.
It seems to me, in terms of a Christian...
In one way, I suppose, because grace is really so much like nature, for all practical purposes
we have to carry on as though we were going to plant and do most things.
Well, isn't that sort of how it is?
I'm affirming that, and I think that seems to me how it is.
Is that how I've experienced it?
I'm sure this is true.
I do remember, after all, all human experience is necessarily psychological.
And let's say, if we're going to talk about it, we're going to have to talk about psychological
We have to have a fully human approach.
And then, of course, there are the kinds of things you get Augustine talking about in
the Confessions, where he just simply hears a child saying, pick it up and look at it,
pick it up and look at it, you see.
He picks up the epistles of Paul, and this leads to his version.
Now this, you might say, is a sort of accident, but because it's really contrary to a fatalistic
conception of the world.
So there is...
Perhaps I'd better just...
This is one of the things I might have got up and talked about, perhaps I will now, because
I haven't yet...
I'm still wondering whether I'm going to give even a whole lecture on this.
I'm mentioning the lady I'm going to entertain on television, of course, which is...
It's a very, very extraordinary thing, isn't it?
A woman who constantly gives horoscopes.
I mean, she is the absolutely top one on television, it seems.
Or has been for some time.
And I suppose you can see that, in fact, the early Fathers were very reluctant even to
use the word fate at all.
St. Thomas does do this, and I've talked about it in most...
I think in most of the books I've written, and I think it comes in some way or other,
is that...
You see, the fact that we're all here in this room at this particular moment,
it's partly a kind of fate, isn't it?
And that's to say, what isn't fate is whatever degree of free choice there's been about it.
Now, I suppose a great number of our decisions are not made with a very high degree of freedom.
Though I would have thought that most people who come to this kind of life
have made a fairly conscious free choice, in so far as it can be so.
But sometimes, of course, they've gone to the nearest richest house there was,
and it happened to be there, in Bonaire.
And a few inches from this kind of thing, they went there and they saw it,
and it seemed to them in a certain sort of way, and they got hooked.
And there they are.
And sometimes they're there, of course, and sometimes this is what novice minds tend to discover.
Sometimes they're there because they've got hooked on something which perhaps is not really,
doesn't really look as though it's anything like a vocation.
When that time comes for knowledge, that we know who we are.
Well, I can just give one example of a piece of counselling I once had to do,
with a sister who approached me, and on the fourth interview with her,
I said to her, well, you're only sitting there wearing that habit,
because you're afraid to go and tell your father that you're going to go home, aren't you?
And she said, yes.
So I said, all right, well, we'll have to find out what to do about it.
And she came from an Irish family, I knew they might know differently,
so I said, have you got any relative about in London?
The story behind it, I may say, was a very, very extraordinary one,
but I'm not sure, and I've met one or two others,
I shan't give you the list of all that I've met,
but this is one that happened to come first to mind.
But I've known similar things.
This girl was walking down a country lane in Ireland, one evening, in dusk,
and a car stopped and two nuns got out,
and one of them, who was everyone's superior,
said to her, well, if you'll come with us, we'll give you an education,
which is what she'd done.
Now, of course, this might be the beginning of something that was quite real,
but it didn't look as though this was the case.
And that's how she felt it, when I was able to put into words for her,
and then she was able to say, yes, that's exactly what it feels like,
it just feels absolutely bogus.
So eventually I found my delight that she'd got a brother living in London
who was working in an ordinary store, a rather well-known chain store.
So I said, all right, I'll ask him to come and have supper with me.
And so the brother and I talked about this situation.
We decided that he would have to explain the family in a way which was acceptable,
what had happened and why it really wasn't going to work out.
Because this would have been a fate, wouldn't it?
In other words, she was simply locked in a situation
in which somebody else had placed her rather than herself,
and she didn't quite know what to do or say about it.
I suppose we all stop in a certain element of fate
in the kind of body and temperament we've got,
because we don't choose our parents,
and we don't choose what happens to us during our youth.
But the way St Thomas talks about it is by saying this,
that the more you're attached to the second, you'll see everything has a cause.
Everything has a cause.
A causes B.
And B may put me in a given situation.
Now, within that situation, I can be less or more fate-bound
according to my attitude in what's happening there.
You see, the more I insist on something or other that I must have,
whatever it be,
I must have clothes, or I must have a certain kind of house,
or a certain kind of car, whatever it is,
all those kinds, it can go quite a long distance,
all those things, people consider it to be absolutely essential
for their survival and their safety.
The longer that list is, the more fate-bound they're going to be.
As I say, the man who is most free is the man who is able to choose
by estimating how far the causes really compare to him
to take a certain sort of action.
Do you see what I'm getting at?
Could you give an illustration or two?
I think I'm close to seeing it, but I don't entirely see it.
Well, what I mean to say, let's put it rather silly kind of illustration.
If I, as I say, have to have a certain kind of food for my breakfast,
and I always have to have my lunch punctually at one,
never at ten past one, and all those kinds of things,
and I never have to be disturbed during my afternoon nap,
so the telephone always has to pull down,
and I have to have some particular person to bring me to my supper
at exactly half past six, and all other kinds of things,
and I always have to have hot water put into my bed
exactly half an hour before I get into bed,
and all those kinds of things.
You see, eventually I've got a life which is an absolute web of determination,
and it's determined by things rather than by me,
and I say the things eventually come to rule me.
I think it's quite useful for oneself sometimes,
I can remember, for instance, when I was in my twenties,
I remember once deliberately changing my job
because I was afraid I couldn't do it,
and I had to prove to myself that I could.
As I say, I took the risk, it actually was a quite sensible risk,
it was a fairly shrewd calculation behind it,
in the sense that the place where I came from eventually just folded up,
so it would have been quite a mistake to say anyway,
I would have been much more of a fix,
though I did take a high degree of risk,
and I also did when I came to America, of course.
And that was a quite important kind of exercise in freeing oneself,
because at the point at which I made the decision to come to America in 1918,
I'd been consciously preparing for the possibility
that I might very well have to die in the place where I was living,
and so I was preparing myself for the sort of life which was necessary,
when suddenly it became clear that perhaps God wanted me to do something else.
I had to give that up, and some aspects of that were rather silly, I think,
in a certain way, and yet they were very freeing.
You see, I think when you bind yourself by specific conditions,
it's quite, quite different from being carried by divine providence,
which can always break through those things,
but only on conditions you can accept the liberation of not knowing what's going to happen.
So in a way we have a say over whether what we're caught up in is fate or providence.
Exactly, exactly, and this is really always the case.
There's always an element, and I suppose a difficult situation becomes free
in the moment in which you let go your insistence,
it's got to have this or that result.
We have the freedom to see the best in the situation,
even when circumstances or fate is something we can't control.
Like you have two men behind bars, one sees mud, the other sees stars.
That's all their point of view.
I was wondering, in terms of fatalism,
it's a thought that struck me.
Perhaps in the past, we look to authority, the church, or the Pope,
or somebody out there should be doing something about the situation that's around us,
versus, say, our own self-actualization and determination.
I think this is one of the factors, certainly, at work in our own period,
and because it's very hard to know whether it's confined,
it's certainly not confined to the church alone, is it?
Because, in fact, really nearly all social structures are breaking down,
because they have to, in fact.
The world is, in fact, organized in such a way
that if we're to go on as one surviving planet,
we can't go on with national governments as they are, really.
This seems to be more or less something we must accept.
Now, of course, all organized systems have an inbuilt resistance to it again.
It's extraordinary how long most of the things I thought would break down
take much longer to break down than they actually,
the one that one thought in advance.
Organizations can go on for very, very long periods
unless you have kind of inertia on this.
Sir, one of the phenomenons of man,
I always remember reading about an experiment
where they trained the rat to go down a certain maze to get the food,
and then after a while, once he was broken in,
they took the food away and just gave him a shock,
and it took the rat like ten tries to,
before it stopped going down that maze,
so it didn't get shocked.
They tried it with a dog, and it took the dog like 300 tries.
And they tried it with a man,
and the man just kept on going down.
He just kept getting a shock,
because his mind is such that he wants to control...
It depends very much on the man, doesn't it?
It depends very much on the man, there's no doubt.
I mean, some people would give a very great deal
to keep whatever they regard as important for their status.
Well, in terms of this breakdown of society,
would you see that as possibly why
people's own lack of self-actualization,
being able to determine their own lives,
what they want in life,
would you see that as, I would say,
for me it almost seems like a primary or the primary cause
of this idea of fatalism we sense today in society,
and possibly the Lord using that,
maybe asking man to evolve in his faith.
I think there's absolutely no doubt about this.
There is a challenge to an evolution in human consciousness.
And of course consciousness is a burden.
There's no doubt about that, isn't it?
And the more you know about a situation,
the more responsibility you have.
That's why not everybody wants to know.
But isn't it, I find it, because of the fear,
but I find that myself, I find that liberating.
I find myself more fully human, more fully alive.
Well, of course it is.
It is liberating to live with the degree of risk
which being a human being does involve.
It's a very risky business to be human at all.
And I find it's opening up other dimensions of consciousness
in terms of, I think, a sensitivity to the spiritual life, to God.
Yes, it does, of course.
Working in my life.
It does.
And obviously, but for this to happen to large social blocs
is very difficult.
To some extent, of course, because in some ways
the more dependent you are upon getting something or other
to eat every day by specific means,
the more limited your life is going to be.
Not necessarily, of course.
There always are a very few people who can break through even that.
One wonders just how much that is not tied up
with their physical constitution in some cases.
Some people are tougher than others.
Some people can go without food for longer periods than others and so on.
But to be very, very, very independent is very hard in modern society.
And, of course, it's harder in towns than it is in the country
because you've got absolutely no...
If you're in acres of concrete, there's very little you can do for yourself.
If you're really out on your...
If you've walked through all the grids and so on,
you're finally out on the street.
It's very hard to know where we're going to turn.
A very remarkable Norwegian novelist who lived in Oslo
and died in 1946,
Life's Man, called Silly Fool,
has a number of very striking novels
about a feeling of that particular city
which Carl Munch also had, I think,
which is very comprehensible to me.
It's just that there's endless streets,
grey streets in which you know nobody.
You wonder what's going to happen to you.
Have I made it worse or clearer, Isaiah?
I think it is.
And let's say, if you like,
it's obvious that life is determined,
but it doesn't have to be fate.
Let's say we do need to eat,
we do need to do some of the things
which I've mentioned rather silly for,
in some form or another.
But where it begins to be fate
is where you either insist upon
its taking a specific form,
or you simply submit to other people
making the decision for you about everything.
This was, of course, the thing
that everybody was afraid of
about the welfare state.
But it hasn't, on the whole, I think,
substantially worked out like that, has it?
It hasn't, no.
It hasn't, I think, no.
I think people's survivability
does still seem to be fairly vital
when they really are challenged.
Not everybody, is it?
Some people get crushed by it.
Even on a national level, though, it is.
I mean, they're fighting it out at the moment
over the various industries.
And that's been healthy.
Yes, one of my Norwegian friends
thinks that things in England
would be one of the first post-industrial societies.
Can I go through a little different tack?
Yes, indeed.
Something that popped into mind
somewhere between one thing and another
was the word effectus.
And what I wanted to ask about
was the business of being educated
or formed by God
as a sort of second kind of thing
that Irenaeus puts forth
in the way of seeing fall.
I was reading the 26th tractate last night,
On John, yes.
Augustine on John.
I suppose because you've gone over it so well in class,
but the notion of being drawn to the Father
kept coming up throughout the whole thing.
And that's when I thought of effectus,
at least as I was taught.
And it is a kind of a tendency toward...
It is, yes.
It is, all right.
So what I'm wondering is
the seriousness with which
one might think about the fall
as portrayed, as we have it in our bones, so to speak.
And how we breathe it in.
If something is an educational tool,
even 50%,
it's not quite as...
You know, when I first discovered
that the three friends of Job were really...
Job probably didn't know
they came some centuries after Job.
It kind of took a bit of a punch
out of the book of Job for me,
in one respect.
Though almost anyone would have done,
wouldn't have done,
to say the kind of things they're doing.
They use a lot of very typical religions,
such as Zognes.
But I mean, the tool as such
then became a tool
and it wasn't quite as fascinating a story.
No, fine.
I mean, that was just my own reaction to it.
So what I'm wondering is that
in this, in Irenaeus' thing,
I'm wondering if the Church
to put across the point
has come...
has gotten awfully serious about the Fall
for precisely these reasons,
and perhaps it wasn't.
Do you see what I'm trying to say?
In other words,
as an educative tool,
is it as...
do we have to take it quite as seriously
as if it were, in fact,
something that was
strictly put into the Scriptures
and it was very clear?
I don't really know.
I mean, I suppose we...
you see,
I think,
if you like,
what the Council really...
and the Council pretends we shall see
when we're looking at the documents tomorrow,
which I'm going to present to you.
The Council is not...
is really
condemning saying
that this is something
which is only personal to Adam.
And of course it is really true
that whatever...
in whatever form
disintegration is passed on,
it is true that
this will have
some kind of determining effect on...
wounding effect on...
on everybody else.
It will have a social dimension.
It seems to me
that in every kind of personal crisis
one gets into,
there are always going to be elements
which are profoundly mysterious, aren't they?
The things you can't choose about.
I mean,
the kind of things you feel,
some of which...
some of the things you feel
you can't choose about.
You may have to learn
that you can have a different attitude
towards what you feel,
until you may not be able
to stop feeling it.
And I would have thought
that's quite an important piece
of one's spiritual maturation,
isn't it really?
For most of us.
Because it's one of the things
that catches up on you
in the sense that it changes,
I think,
as one goes along.
When one is
eighteen or nineteen,
one imagines
that life is going to be
rather different
from the way it actually turns out.
I think most people
are supposed to anyway.
We imagine
we're going to be very much
freer to choose than we
in fact are.
About the sorts of things
which we've been brought up
to think you should be able
to choose about.
By the way,
mentioning on that horoscope
and all these things,
I do remember a certain,
I think,
by the Janet,
Father de Janet,
de Cheney,
I'm saying.
I do remember
he wrote something
on this,
I think the name of that book
God and Yoga
and mentioned something
about his
his encounter
with a certain
I don't know how to say
what is it
on this matter
about the
And it seems to me
from what he wrote
on that
a piece about this
sort of autobiography
on that matter.
he came to a certain
that it did
there is a certain degree of
we would say
he was convinced that
there is a certain degree of
reality in that matter.
Of course,
now I am trying to question
his statement.
Of course,
he is expressing things
in his own experience
that it coincided with
I think it coincides with
everybody's experience.
All of us have something
that puts us on the spot.
I mean
when he met this certain man
I think
I will have to get back
to that book
before I could
in effect
it goes this way
At first
he was sceptical
about this thing
about astrology
and then he had
this person
who happened to be
a hobbyist
of astrology.
he was challenged
he would be able to
say much about
his past
and so on
and his
to a certain extent
and he said
he said
that encounter
with that person
greatly changed
his life's course.
Yes, I forgot
I've read
I think nearly everything
in the examination
has written
but I don't really remember
what you're talking about
and there may be a reason
why I don't remember it
but I don't
My thinking is going around
idea of
and of course
I am
This is a very different
kind of thing.
I'm not yet
well informed
or experienced
in any way
I mean
I can give you
a fascinating example
from my own life
if you like
of synchronicity
it was
I was in a very
during the course
of the night
I'd heard
a voice
saying to me
you wait
you get
into that fire
you say
burns at ten
you see
there'll be so much
little bone
of you left
and the morning
after I got up
and walked outside
into the hospital yard
I mean
it wasn't a mental hospital
I was having an operation
the drugs
had produced
a very unexpected effect
on me
it was a problem
for the doctors
they were very worried
but the first thing
that happened to me
that I met
the man
who stoked the boilers
he said
we can't go on
with all this burning
we'd all have to be burnt
he said
we haven't got the space
to do all this burning
that's a very good example
of synchronicity
if you like
one thing
falling into a context
which the man
couldn't possibly have known
what my own
had been
at that particular time
he'd say
I'd say
it's kind of thick to me
it all seemed
very strange
I think this is really
all you were saying
about synchronicity
that's to say
in other words
it's when
if you like
a happening
which might look
like an accident
opens your eyes
to a sort of
and various sorts of things
within your own thinking
is unexpected
and of course
in the long run
this was a very liberating
experience for me
I don't know that I've
really answered
your initial question
have I?
I mean, yes
you see
I suppose we
perhaps what you were saying
I don't know
this is another
attempt to forget
what you were saying
you seem to be saying
well perhaps it doesn't
matter so very much
whether we take
original sin very seriously
and in some ways
I suppose
St Paul does have it
both ways
doesn't he in the letters
I mean that's to say
where sin abounds
there grace abounds
all the more
I think it's more than
not taking it seriously
but in fact
Irenaeus is presenting
a much more balanced
standing over you
with a club
and saying
well exactly he is
and that appeals to me
yes I think it does
to all
as I say that
I think that's really why
the Greek theologians
do appeal to us
take them on
so much more today
than the western ones
because they're not so
about the whole thing
I mean it's
so many
so much of our theology
in the
500 years
and so on
has been
has been
influenced by
the enormous
of Roman law
I suppose
in the codification
of canon law
has had
matters which
really were
moral problems
were dealt
with exactly
as they were
dealt with
like a law case
one gets the
kind of feeling
that man's
basic distrust
of man
is far more
at work
in a lot of these
I heard one
of the founders
of the American
who said
we must
with the law
bind people
in the
fetters of the law
I forget which
one of the
group it was
but one of them
said this
one of the aims
of the
founder of the
American constitution
was to create
a system of law
which would
prevent certain
things happening
there was
a great number
of ideas
getting into
this dilemma
thinking that you
could legislate
to make people
what have you
happened to
and we think
that better
would be
rather than
taking the
risk of
letting them
who they
have to be
well Peter
where have we
got to
I just
haven't made
that come
to life
very much
but I suppose
it really is
there's an
number of
who are
to the
extent to
about themselves
I think
if you like
the way
where fatalism
is very
is where
people get to
the point
where they
feel they
can't get on
or do
until they
have consulted
what the
I'm told
people get
into that
that very
Chinese book
the Yi
but I
don't quite
I've not
met these
kind of
so I
just don't
I find
it rather
to understand
the Yi
rather well
I think
it would
rather too
if you were
which would
release you
from that
kind of
that sort
of ties in
with man
that whole
seems to
tie in with
the fall
in terms of
man trying
to control
his own
life rather
than letting
trying to
seek control
of the powers
the principle
of power
and of course
you see
there's nothing
you see
really the old
Chinese book
which I'm
talking about
works on a
principle which
is perfectly
with the sound
of theology
that's to say
if I
take these
like this
and throw
them up
the way
they fall
every time
and that's
if I could
know in
what way
this was
there's something
about this
particular moment
in which we're
speaking to
each other
which is
never to
never go
never go
and if we
could see
all the
of this
it might be
good for our
even if we
could see
a little
tiny bit
of it
it might be
this is
I suppose
really what
the wiser
kinds of
have always
been trying
to do
that isn't
at all
the same
thing as
saying what
is going
to happen
it tells you
much more
what has
of course
in itself
always means
estimating the
relation between
one thing and
another doesn't
it a whole
series of
courses have
come together
and here am I
in this room
in this
does it
I think
I'm actually
here because
I'm free
free in a
a number
of people
have been
freedom to
and so
I expect
it's all right
one does
not have
to worry
about it
I have four
most rooms
if it's
then you
can order
there will
still be
to define
and so on
having the
bodies that
we have
we have to be
confined to
this don't
and to some
of course
this is really
one has
one of the
tasks in
the spiritual
life I
rather less
exalted sort
of task
but a very
important practical
one is to
find out how
you have to keep
yourself going
by recognising
what sort of
body you've got
or what sort of
psychological conditions
you've got
which make it
necessary to have
certain kinds of
things within
I suppose
the only time
when it's
necessary to
call in the
is when
it looks as
though there
are some
chemical factors
at work
quite be
in a way
that you can
cope with
sometimes having
a professional
help on
and of course
a willingness
to consult
the doctor
always going
to be
I should
if it's
and I've
always found
that those
doctors I
get to know
very well
I can always
say to
in the long
what you're doing
is very
guest work
isn't it
because in
fact you see
any single
human being
is so complex
this is really
why I have
this very
strange experience
this strange
series of
very strange
which show
in the night
was that
in fact
the doctors
have been
giving me
a number
to produce
specific effects
they were
obviously reacting
upon each other
in a way which
was destroying
in fact
it paralyzed
the left side
of my body
for about
14 days
not completely
but relatively
and so
of course
they were
and that's
their first reaction
was it shouldn't
have happened
it was outside
their calculations
and so
in fact
I agreed
to do a controlled
with them
but I don't
think they found
the answer
to what was
what was
it was a
very complicated
the nurse said
to me on the
third day
I don't know
what she said
I have a
I have a
she said