EP Today – In the dark or the light?

This morning I was reading Daily Life in Palestine at the Time of Christ and came across these two quotes (tweeted above).

It made me think about how the spirit can influence our outlook. A church, for instance, might look like a silly, rigid place if we are not able to appreciate the presence of God within its walls. But if our hearts and minds are open, that physical space is literally transformed, as we ourselves can be.

And so it probably is with Jeremiah and Cicero’s wildly different takes on ancient Jerusalem. On the one hand, we have a great prophet in touch with God. On the other hand, an intelligent, well-meaning Roman statesman who writes about the ancient Greek and Roman gods.

Cicero via Wikipedia

Cicero goes down in history as a good man who was generally respected by the early Christians. But what about those people who appear to be obsessed with the dark side?

I try to stay open-minded about people seemingly obsessed with evil. Artistically representing evil in a healthy way may be one thing. But sometimes I wonder if something is bothering some people fixated on evil.

Mind you, some Christians give off horrendous vibes. I try to avoid them because I just can’t afford the pain – literally – of associating with some of them.

With both Christians and obsessively “dark side” people, we have to look for the human heart underneath the layers and influences and try to nurture a person’s authentic self. Hopefully over time we all learn how to tell the difference between darkness, lesser lights, and the true light.

Embed from Getty Images

For some it might take many years, even a lifetime. But we have to remember that Jesus didn’t always hang out with holy people. He came to help those in the dark. And in our limited capacity, so should we.

¹ https://youtu.be/boX8zNyhaL4

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  1. It seems that many Christian churches are obsessed with “Satan” – and speak of it every week.
    Churches have become more and more gloomy, in my opinion, because of this.
    Even their music has become creepy. The songs speak of fire, and evil.
    I agree with you, but even Catholicism has a lot of “creepy stuff” in it. It always has.
    The only way you can avoid talk of Satan, etc – is to avoid mainstream religion – entirely.
    Which, is probably why people head towards New Age, paganism, etc.

    Just a thought.


    • It’s hard to know where a lot of people are coming from when they address the belief in evil. Are we projecting what’s really in ourselves? Or are we discerning different types of power?

      Interestingly, in Canadian Catholicism (I’ve attended and informally studied the Mass fairly regularly since about 1993) there are at least two main strands, with many variations of those.

      On the one hand we have the homilists who disdain anything that doesn’t fit within the traditional mold. On the other hand, we have the ‘liberals’ who consider changes.

      Since my PhD is in psychology and religion, I tend to pick up on discourse relating to that field. The way in which issues relating to mental suffering are addressed tells me a lot about how a priest thinks.

      For some, we pray for those with “mental illness,” which to me reinforces an uncritical acceptance of all things psychiatric. For others, we pray for those “obsessed or harassed by evil,” which is a more traditional view of distress.

      For me, the truth lies somewhere between these two extremes. No single system of thought is going to capture everything, imo.


      • Personally, I avoid organized religion – it’s quite expensive. Does the RCC still require 20% of your income? I remember reading that in our church bulletin – right across the top.
        As far as mental “illness” – our priest would have nothing to do with people who needed guidance of any sort. He listed, on the same bulletin, the name and phone number of a local psychiatrist on the bottom right

        Liked by 1 person

      • Replying to “Personally, I avoid…”

        That’s pretty shocking. Where the heck are you? US? UK? It’s supposed to be a gift not a command. I remember hearing something like 10% but I’m not sure. I figure if they have more money than me, which they do, they get very little from my pocket. I don’t want to pay for their sex abuse lawsuits, and all the other carefree spending I’ve seen.

        Surprised to see me write that?

        Earthpages.ca – Think Free is not called that for no reason.

        I think the prejudices and abuses in the RCC turn off so many people. And that’s a shame. Mind you, some seem very content to not attend any kind of church. I wish I were like that sometimes. It does take a lot of time and energy. But for now, it’s a necessity here.

        As for RCC and psychiatry, we have to remember that they are legally bound to do the ‘right thing’ according to what the powers of a given state demand. If a priest doesn’t suggest a psychiatrist, and a person then proceeds to do violence, the priest might be in hot water himself.

        Complicated stuff.


      • I am in the U.S. – it was clearly a command for 20% tithing.
        The priest had a reputation for avoiding anyone who needed any type of guidance – including spiritual. I was told that he “was just a man” and to forgive him.
        I quit the RCC soon after -never to return. But, that’s my journey, no one else’s.


      • Yeah I can understand that. I take days off when I get fed up with things. Not only with some clergy, but also the formality, the simplistic justification for some teachings, the hypocrisy, and also other parishioners who can be a pain.

        However, in my case, I find I just have to return and am happy when I do. I go for the spiritual presence. All the rest is secondary. 🙂


      • I wasn’t laughing at you or at the truth you believe you have found. That’s between you and God. I was laughing at the situation you described. It struck me as amusing that you “found it” by leaving the place that claims to “have it.”

        Pls feel free to spell out your intended meaning if you feel it would help in understanding.


      • I find it illogical that any would think that the presence of God could be found within deception. On the other hand, which returns us to the beginning of this conversation – which spiritual presence is, indeed, found within deception? Goodnight Dr. Clark, always a pleasure…


      • Res Ipsa Loquitor – in response to your many true statements about the RCC found in your comment above… 😉


      • From Wiki – “The earliest known use of the phrase was by Cicero in his defence speech Pro Milone.”

        Good way to tie in my original quote, tweeted. 🙂 I guess I’m more on the Jeremiah side of the fence.


      • With all the defenses the RCC has placed to ensure their survival, both historically and into the future, a question came to my mind:
        “I wonder if the word ‘Sociopath’ was created as a result of a diagnosis of a RCC priest.”
        No offense to you, but it if you really consider the meaning of the word ‘sociopath’ – it does, indeed, apply to the entire structure of the RCC.


      • I don’t know. I think many well-meaning priests enter the seminary. They feel called. They gradually find out – or don’t – what’s really going on. They explain it in terms of “there will always be evil in the world.” And they just deal with it, always being guided by the Holy Spirit, which is also present and far more powerful than any creep or creeps.

        One monsignor whom I met when discerning a possible call to the priesthood actually mentioned the topic of corruption in the Church. During a Mass at a major Cathedral he asked us to pray for corruption, including corruption in the Church. And I think the latest Pope is following in the same direction. So all is not lost.

        But really, will we ever be rid of corruption? I’m not one of these “Earth will have a golden age” people. I think that’s New Age fluff. I imagine evil extends into the far distant future. I wrote an unpublished sci-fi novel about two types of bio-cyber entities (in the distant future) that can reach through and influence people back thru time. One is basically “good” and the other basically “evil.”

        In short, I just think evil is. Some can see the difference and some can’t. 🙂


      • The RCC has, historically, defined “evil” as anyone who doesn’t follow their dictates. Hence, burnings, hangings, murders, etc.
        But, in the big picture, what is my opinion worth? I think, in a hundred years, humanity will look back at the RCC and wonder how it lasted so long.
        Just my opinion.


      • I think in a hundred years or so women might be priests, and further down the road, the whole thing will morph into something else as we extend thru the cosmos. What if we do, for instance, get hard proof of ETs? How does the Jesus story fit in there?

        I don’t have all the answers. I just know how certain activities make me feel. Can’t deny that. All the thinking and theology is secondary, really. And I know there have been incredibly influential people in my life who are non-churchgoing Catholics, non-Christians, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think, too. I think that the saddest truth of all, which could be proven a million times over, is that if the Angel Gabriel himself would give you the answers to your questions listed above – you would reject him.
        If Jesus Christ appeared to you, and told you his deepest truth, you would deny him.
        Humans have been tainted by their own imagination.
        Their own dogma.
        Their own quests for ego-based theories.
        The truth of our daily existence was wiped away, thousands of years ago, by the very structure you hold dear to your heart. And, my friend, that structure is made of granite.
        Solid. Cold. Granite.


      • Mmm. Actually I don’t really hold it so dear to my heart. If anything I’ve been trying to convey how unusual it is that I gain significant spiritual benefit from a structure that is so different from what I am used to.

        I converted to Catholicism in 2001. I was an entirely non-churchgoing Anglican before that. So church structure is not something I grew up with.


      • Gosh I don’t know. Interestingly, last Sunday when I went to that night Mass, I met a man with whom I struck up a conversation afterward. He claimed that he had direct experiences with angels… a very nice man. We talked about a lot of interesting stuff, from political correctness to organized crime.

        I love that night mass. Downtown core and mostly quiet due to it being later on, Sunday night. Although the parish itself has become somewhat formal and slightly authoritarian after a (reportedly) $128 million renovation. I wish I had that kind of money at my disposal! 🙂


      • I wouldn’t say “for sure” unless I had had some kind of definitive, direct experience.

        But I will say that I believe they could manifest in human form. My guess is that they are predominantly spiritual beings.


      • I believe angels would reside in heaven but possibly assist human beings on Earth… like the saints. They probably refresh in heaven and then descend near to us to do the work of helping people become aware of heavenly realms.

        In other words, to do the work of salvation.

        Why do you ask?


      • You seem to amble about from theories, dogmatic beliefs, different religious views and other various traditional mindsets. I’m just trying to understand where you actually “stand.”
        Not in science, apparently. One who stands in science, could see the traditional view of an “Angel” as a non-human, other-planetary being. Such as, for instance, an “ET.”
        Religion, according to the scientific minded, has simply labeled these intervening “beings” in their own terms, giving them wings and togas.
        A scientific minded person, would see them simply as visitors from another civilization. But, I can respect your desire to keep a traditional, religious (Catholic/Christian) view on this matter.


      • It looks like to me that you have made a kind of religion out of your understanding of science. Are you aware that there are various critiques of science? I have written about this at earthpages.ca Feel free to search there to see what I say on that topic.

        As for ETs, I believe they could exist, and also try to help us. I just make a distinction between ETs and angels.

        You say I “amble about” but from my perspective, I am open-minded and try to integrate as many different perspectives as possible into a unified worldview.

        To me that is more scientific than taking a limited approach and proclaiming it to be universally true.


      • There are equal critques on both science and religion.
        I know you have written quite a bit on many things, but many have written views that are quite the opposite of yours. I think our best navigational device is logic, something that religion could benefit from exploring.
        Since the invention of the internet, we are plundered with opinions. Both that would agree with yours, and many that would agree with mine. But, I think you made a good point when stating that you would need direct experience with an “Angel” in order to discern more fact-based viewpoint on its origin.
        Experience – overcomes all opinions. All books.
        All religions.
        And even, all science.


      • I think it’s also important to reflect on experience. For instance, someone has an experience that they suppose is ultimate reality. They hold that belief until they have an even greater experience. Then they have to revise their thinking about ultimate reality. And so it goes…

        Just because there are lots of opposing viewpoints doesn’t necessarily make them all equally true. Quite possibly some are more comprehensive, more accurate than others.


      • But all are simply opinions, nonetheless. The only facts you really have on this planet, are from your own life’s experience.
        As far as beliefs?
        You believe whatever gives you peace. But, what you know?
        Again, knowledge comes from personal experience.
        I disagree with your statement that I have turned science into my own “religion” – religion is a byproduct of science.
        An interpretation, if you will, for the masses. (No pun intended)


      • The way I see it is that we have an experience and then an interpretive process usually follows. That interpretation may be influenced by a variety of factors. That’s why it’s important to stay open to revising one’s opinions, beliefs, etc., even those based on personal experience.


      • p.s. now that I have a moment I should clarify –

        1128 This is the meaning of the Church’s affirmation49 that the sacraments act ex opere operato (literally: “by the very fact of the action’s being performed”), i.e., by virtue of the saving work of Christ, accomplished once for all. It follows that “the sacrament is not wrought by the righteousness of either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the power of God.”50 From the moment that a sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church, the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through it, independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them.


        In other words, the goodness or badness of a priest has no bearing on the effectiveness of the sacraments. But we do, as recipients, have to be in the right frame of mind.


      • I know what it means.
        I don’t agree with it, but I know what it means.
        It means whatever the RCC decides it means – correct?
        Scary stuff, when the answers you receive are given by the same entities that caused the question to be asked. And, of course, the answer is always framed in an appropriate way as to ensure the survival of those who created the problem – to begin with.
        Quite a suffocating thought, in my opinion.


      • From a purely philosophical standpoint I guess it’s called circular reasoning. But to me it’s not so far fetched because I agree another teaching, that we are all sinful to some extent. So how could anyone be good enough to “do” the eucharistic conversion, for example? Where would we draw the line? 50% good, 50% bad is okay, but 49% good, 51% bad not okay? Or would it have to be 51% good, 49% bad?

        You get my point. Nobody is perfect so the ex opere thang makes sense (to me, anyhow).

        It could be seen as circular reasoning if it just came from the minds of men (not being sexist but rather accurate here; it was and still is men). But maybe some, just some of all that stuff (and there’s a lot) is really divinely inspired.

        If so, it would not be circular reasoning because there’s a transcendental element involved… a.k.a God.

        Thank you for being so frank about your opinions. It give me a good soap box to stand on, expounding mine! 🙂


  2. @miluramalho “Humans are running to self destruction in big steps. No doubt about that, only don’t know when and what make it happens. Greetings from Portugal! Milú!”

    It looks that way sometimes. But then again, people felt that way with Napoleon, Hitler, etc. Human beings are smart and resilient. Also, God won’t let the deal drop until the time is ripe. Centuries and centuries is my prediction! xx Mike


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