Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Those of you who have been following me and read a previous post know that have been working on some exercises that are Ignatian in origin, but I find them to be a really neat combination with my Benedictine leanings. My next few sessions in these exercises are difficult, in the sense that they deal with what is pretty much my least favorite spiritual topic--sin.

Sin is one of those topics that I tend to have this visceral knee-jerk reaction, because over the years, the things I have often struggled with in the years I had told the church universal to take a hike, centered around the way other people liked to beat me over the head with their concepts of sin. I'd rather just be like Calvin Coolidge and state "I'm agin' it," and let it go at that. We all tend to get just a little too self-absorbed about sin, either taking it to heart and over-personalizing it, or putting on our God hat and plopping our butt in the Seat of Judgment and proclaiming what's wrong with everyone else. I really get uncomfortable with my nature to do both of those things now and then.

I'm also very much not a fan of Hell, a la Dante's Inferno. I have a hard time buying into that concept. I mostly think the Hell of fundamentalist pipe dreams doesn't exist. But I do believe there is a "place" (and whether that place is spiritual, physical, or metaphysical, I don't know) where people can be totally separated from God, and in our quest to understand it or understand God's dominion over it, we assign a name to it, much in the same way that Adam getting to name the animals was a symbol of his understanding of his dominion over them. So we give that "place" names like Hell, Gehenna, or Sheol.

But one of the exercises asks me to ponder the nature of sin as it relates to the whole world, not just to me or to others. To think about what that feeling of separation is all about. To think about it in terms that even the angels have done it. To think about what its global nature is all about.

As I was sitting and meditating, an image for the power of how sin separates us from God kind of popped into my brain in a very innocuous package--the blind cave fish.

I've always been fascinated by these fish, even as a child--that they evolved over millions of years to have no pigment and no eyes. I've heard people refer to them as "ghost fish", and when you think about how a lifetime of sin without any desire for reconciliation and no insight from the metanoia of trying to do things better might affect a person, it probably is very applicable to think of those people as "ghosts" of themselves.

My mind's eye focused on a fish with eyes and normal pigment. I thought about how over millions of years, as these fish evolved, the slow, insidious, incremental loss of color they must have had occur, and the process of them "losing their eyes." Perhaps first their eyes clouded over. Then a thin membrane began to develop over their eyes, then fish skin. Then over more millenia, those eyes slowly shrank to mere stubs of eyes, then faded into nothing. Eventually, they were albino, and eyeless, with only divots to mark where eyes once were.

If you took these fish, and brought them to the light, they would not live their lives any differently in the light as they would have lived in the darkest blackness of a cave. They have no means to even see or appreciate the light.

Maybe that is how it is with our own problem with sin. Maybe that is what those people who are those people capable of the most evil atrocities in this world are all about--left alone in the darkness, evolving into a creature that no longer even has the sensory ability to recognize light. That thought filled me with an incredible sadness--that human beings with color and eyes to see light could evolve into eyeless albino ghosts with no color, nothing to link them with the color and vibrancy of humanity. They can't escape their fate because they no longer have the end organs that sense it. They are hopelessly trapped.

Then, as I was getting ready to find a picture for this blog post, something really interesting caught my eye as I was Googling for a picture. I saw a link to this article in National Geographic about something that is one of those "miracles of biology."

If you take these blind cave fish from different cave populations, and breed them to each other, within ONE GENERATION they can produce sighted offspring. Suppressed, mutated and inactivated genes from one population of blind cave fish are different genes in a different population of blind cave fish. In fact, the further the geographic distance the two populations originate from, the more likely they can produce sighted offspring!

That simple biologic fact buoyed me in a spiritual sense. When we think about that state of separation from God, and of concepts we have of these "places of separation from God," does this biological fact open a window of possibility and hope? Can the mutated spiritual DNA of these tormented souls, in the presence of each other, allow them to, in a sense, breed and give birth to a sighted being? I want to think it is something that might allow those people to "devolve" into an opportunity to at least see light, and move towards it--that they do not have to remain blind and colorless forever.

I realize that in some theological circles, this thought is out and out heresy--some might even consign me to that place for even saying I believe it--but I admit I really do like this thought and like entertaining this possibility. It's always seemed so "un-Gospel-like" to me to offer no hope for the hopeless, no relief of pain for the chronically and perpetually agonized, no salvation for any child of God who became overtaken by evil. After all, if Jesus conquered sin and death, there are mechanisms out there for that process. Perhaps those with a lifetime of being blinded by sin CAN eventually see light again.


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Interesting. Thank you (I didn´t like the little stubbs of eye talk since I´ve recently had four retina tear surgeries and am currently without a lense in my left eye..perhaps perfect timing)...but like your blind fishes I woke up the other night and we´d had a blackout...since I can´t see well out of my left eye I´ve been concerned about my right eye...there I was, in complete darkness, stricken, actually starting to tremble and called out for help from Juan Carlos who was in the next room and quickly brought a flashlight...whew, being in utterdarkness would drive me insane I, I also think would unrepentant sin (of the most pridefilled variety) matter how hard I huff and puff and demand and insist that ¨things¨ are different than they REALLY are I put myself in a state of near panic...blindly unable to see what is in front of me...that is, until I call ought to GOD to HELP ME SEE!

¨out¨ to God...(but you knew that...verdad? I can´t always see).

I hear you. I think people who have visual deficits understand that fear, or if their need to see is their livelihood. For instance, I depend on my eyes to make a living, looking down a microscope. I won't get LASIK surgery simply because I cannot afford the risk of ANY complication, no matter how rare.

But I'm like you; I don't want to be in ANY kind of darkness without the Light. I would be with you calling out, even if what the Light reveals is painful or hard to handle! It is just hard for me to imagine that subset of folks...the mass murderers, truly evil people in the world, be at a point where they not only cannot see, they no longer respond to Light.

I think about many of your own blog postings over at your place. How can people "in the church" be so blind and simply UNABLE to respond to the Light?

I share your view of hell.

I like the analogy of the blind cave fish. The National Geographic article is interesting, and I like the hope it offers in your analogy.

I get so confused we have a perfectly lovely looking (in a Archbishoppy sort of kind way) Archbishop of Canterbury and a perfectly joyful looking Archbishop of York (Ugandan whose Mega Church Pastor in Uganda has been accused of horrid homosexual stuff by other Protestant/Fundie Pastors)...yet both of these Archbishops, including the ¨first amongst¨ have nothing to say about the anti-lgbt ¨killer¨ (literally) legislation pending in Uganda (forget Bishop Orombi entirely)...speaking of LIGHT...what do these gents need for LIGHT? I think they need to be struck by lightening! Truly, thank goodness my source of light doesn´t come from ANY OF THEM!

Whoops...¨whose BROTHER¨ is the Pastor/owner bigshot healer at a Mega Church in Kampala!

Meanwhile, silence from EVERYONE!



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I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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