12 May 2018 #151
May I ask you why you keep it private?
A variety of reasons - but bear in mind I'm talking about Irish Catholics. Catholicism differs around the world. Irish Catholics are quite diverse in their views and range from very liberal like myself, to very traditional. I personally don't have any issue with sharing my views about 'the meaning of life'! I just don't want to bore the arse of people :))
Firstly, it doesn't come up in casual conversation very often. We don't talk about religion much in Ireland. It's just part of the fabric of life and taken for granted. Mostly these topics only arise in religious education or discussion settings.Secondly, if it does come up, it's a very personal thing and although Irish people are superficially extremely outgoing they're quite reserved about discussing their deeper feelings about serious issues. We tend to keep everything very light and if someone gets too serious a joke will be cracked and there's a collective sigh of relief that we're back in comfortable territory again. Finally, I think we're aware of the diversity of beliefs within Irish society and we don't want to risk offending or upsetting anybody by expressing a view that might be very different to theirs. I think you have to be especially careful talking about human suffering, death etc because you might be talking to somebody who, unknown to you, has lost a loved one in tragic circumstances or been through some terrible experience in their life.
"God deliberately does not interfere - not out of indifference, but out of great love............... to interfere would negate free will, terminating the relationship and hence the very purpose of creation."
Sorry I had to edit your words as the stupid, bloody word limit wouldn't let me use the whole thing. Anyway, this would be close to my own view. I don't know what religious education you received yourself but in the Catechism which used to be the first formal religious study in Catholic schools (I was four when I learned the Cathechism) you have a series of questions and answers which are designed to present you with a basic explanation of the principles of the faith. One of those is regarding why God made us. Why are we here? And the answer is 'to know, love and serve' Him. What does it mean to know God?
This will get a bit heavy, sorry! To know God, in my personal view, you have to experience the totality of creation, of existence, of life. That has to encompass suffering. Every human being will suffer, to a greater or lesser degree, but it's inevitable. Without it you are incomplete. God is the source of all life, including suffering. He understands it because He too feels it. I think when He sent Jesus, He was trying to give us the message, I am not merely an angry God, a wrathful God, a powerful God. I am the essence of your humanity, I suffer with you, I am suffering, I am joy, I am love, I am everything and I want to share it with you, that is why I have made you in my image - do you get it Othery, we are made in His image, we must experience all that is God and then finally return to our source, complete. I don't know if that makes sense to you and that's only a small part of my explanation of it but that's a start anyway.
I believe that in the next life the suffering you visited upon others will be visited upon you, in that you will be required to feel every pain or hurt you inflicted in your lifetime in order that you will reach full understanding. But I also believe that every joy or happiness you gave in this life you will be allowed to feel. And I think that completes your apprenticeship in understanding 'life'. Now, if you take a character like Stalin or Hitler as extreme examples, clearly they didn't learn anything of what we're supposed to learn as humans. However, the light of God is within all of us and even in them, even if it's the tiniest flicker, it can never be extinguished.So it's my belief that they will learn it in the afterlife but it will be far more painful for them than if they had learned it in this life.
I'll just give you a final analogy which is that when I was teaching, I rarely intervened in the childrens' behaviour. I would give them a few very simple rules to follow and then leave them to it. I would be watching them surreptitiously all the time but they weren't aware of it. I stepped in if it was going to get out of hand and result in hitting or kicking etc because I'm not God, I'm just a human being in charge of young children :) However allowing them to sort out their own quarrels and squabbles using the basis of the rules I've given them is far more beneficial to their development than running to teacher and having her deal with it. For human beings it's the same. We are God's children and there is no point in the human race existing at all if we don't develop. The nature of human existence is that it must be fraught with difficulties and challenges if it's to have any meaning, otherwise we might as well just be frolicking around in the Garden of Eden from the off. But that would make us 'spoiled' children who usually have very few attractive qualities and don't make very nice adults either. God, being the loving father that He is, doesn't want to do that to us so He lets go out into the world. But in this world, harsh and ugly though it can be, He also offers us glimpses of our true destiny. Some people's vision of that is completely clouded, some see a flicker of it through a mist and some see it like an endless vista from a mountain top on a beautiful sunny day. Keep your eyes peeled :))
There endeth the lesson!