The Mirror of Infinity

Somewhere between fifteen and twenty years ago I was praying to God, or I was having a conversation with myself, or rather I can’t say exactly what I was doing as the whole ordeal was a bit confusing, and yet a bit of enlightenment came in the midst of the chaos.

The conversation arose out of a moment of intense introspection. I was examining myself, over turning every stone of motivation, and desire, looking for signs of grace in my soul, and feeling rather depressed, fearful, and angry. I was crying out to God, asking for inner transformation to match my outward amendment of life, trying to figure out why in my depths I had been so little touched by grace, and in the midst of this it seemed that God said, “F*** you, you little sh**!” And I thought, “Hold on, what was that? ” Something doesn’t seem right. Sure, God might confront me, point out my sins, he may very well judge me, but “F*** you, you little sh**,” seemed too much like Axl Rose, and not very much like God.

I once heard a theory of the atonement that went something like this:

Jesus, became human to offer himself to the Devil on behalf of mankind, and the Devil, full of pride and blind in his egoism, took Jesus’ self offering, and in doing so overstepped his boundaries. Thus, once Jesus was in the depths of hell he, being God, broke free and led the captives (us sinners) to freedom. Consequently the Devil lost his reign over hell and the human condition.

So, here I am thinking, “F*** you, you little sh**!?” which led me to ask, “Who am I talking to?” because it seemed like some boundary somewhere had been overstepped, that much like the Devil egoistically over extending himself, the voice in my head that was playing God over extended itself. I mean, I couldn’t imagine that God, even in his most wrathful moments, would say, “You little sh**,” particularly when prefaced by “F*** you!”

So now I felt a sense of peace knowing that my troubled soul was the result of some kind of circular conversation I was having with myself, in which the Super Ego had occupied the place of God in my consciousness, and was criticizing, cursing, and persecuting the hell out of me (or into me) for not being the little god it wanted and expected me to be. At that moment Freud came to mind, and I imagined him  stroking his beard and saying something like “veerrry interesteen” while looking at me with pity and a kind of bemusement reserved for fools. I also thought about Feuerbach and the mirror of infinity, wherein religion is said to have its origin in self-consciousness, the very thing that separates humans from animals. Religion, or particularly God, is the product of projecting this self consciousness onto eternity. Drawing upon another source, I have heard it put this way, “God created man in his image, and man has returned the favor.” Of course, Feuerbach denied the first part of this equation.

Anyways, at that moment it became clear to me that we are indeed complex creatures: a composite of a unique psychological disposition, social forces, and spiritual realities that come together and get tangled in a neural skein called consciousness. As a result of all this, I have learned the importance of discernment, and related to this, I have learned to pray with C.S. Lewis, what he called the prayer preceding all prayers:

May it be the real I who speaks.
May it be the real Thou that I speak to.

5 Responses to “The Mirror of Infinity”

  1. Roger Green  

    No, God only said “F** you, you little s***” to Job.
    I jest, but only a little.

    I think it’s sometimes (often) difficult to discern the distinction between God and our imagining of God. Though I can’t recall having that rude of an awakening. Don’t know what that says about me. Or you, for that matter.

  2. K.L.B.  

    If one believes there is a God, that same one must also acknowledge the existence of a Devil.

    It’s a natural law, one from which there is no escape – the law of non-contradction.

    In their 1993 album “Heat It Up,” the duo DeGarmo and Key put it succinctly, “God good, Devil bad.”

    The Scriptures indicate quite well that all of humanity can come to know that God exists simply because of what can be observed in nature.

    If we are able to know God and hearing His voice, then we are also able to discern the voice of the wicked one.

    There are, after all, many voices in the world, and not all proclaim that Jesus is LORD.

    God, of course, never condemns us, but our own sense of guilt in our conscience does serve us well, if we are attuned to hearing and obeying it. (“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21 KJV)God gives us the gift of a conscience, and if we keep listening to it, He can guide us with it. Our consciences can also be so calloused to the extent that we cannot hear it. Most often we think of hardened criminals and cold-blooded killers when we think of a calloused or absent conscious.

    Self condemnation, however, is a pit into which we can fall. And I am fully convinced that in such unfortunate reality, our arch enemy Satan has some ability to speak words to our souls that would, if we believed and gave them heed, keep us in self-condemnation.

    Words of grace, love, mercy are those which come from the Almighty. Yet a loving heavenly Father is not a marshmallow when it comes to violation of those laws which He created, and by which the natural or spiritual world operates. Just try and violate the law of gravity, for example. You will suffer for such misdeed. So it is with violating spiritual laws.

    Any escape we have is by and through His mercy.

    I don’t agree with the statement “God created man in his image, and man has returned the favor.” That is not an inherently Judeo-Christian idea.

    And yes, we are complex creatures. Yet though you write “I have learned the importance of discernment,” I don’t sense any type of discernment in this entry that illustrates, differentiates or discerns between the what is the ostensible voice of God and the voice of Satan.

  3. Anthony Velez  

    Roger – Yes, it certainly does seem that Job did receive a big metaphysical F*** You. However, the Devil was there in the details egging God into a wager of sorts regarding the veracity of Job’s righteousness. Of course, given the sovereignty of God, perhaps it is an overstatement to speak of the Devil egging God. So, I suppose God was working out his will, using the Devil unawares, to accomplish what he wanted in Job’s life. Sure, it was a tough path Job walked, but he ended up in a good place, both spiritually and materially.

  4. Anthony Velez  

    Kevin – The statement, “God created man in his image, and man has returned the favor” is not intended to be an orthodox expression of how humanity ought to properly relate to God, but rather, how humanity actually does relate to God. In our fallen state, because we are stumbling in the darkness of egoism, we all have projected our likeness, both collectively and individually, onto God. I mean, ask a liberal about the justice of God, and lo-and-behold God is ideologically liberal, and, of course, likewise can be said of conservatives, and perhaps more so, since they tend to identify with traditional religious convictions.

    Regarding your last critique, where you say, “I don’t sense any type of discernment in this entry that illustrates, differentiates or discerns between the what is the ostensible voice of God and the voice of Satan,” you have basically hit the nail on the head when you referred to the “ostensible” voice of God. The point is, not all that speaks from a position of supposed righteousness is of God. What I discovered is that the voice of self-criticism was really my own fallen ego appropriating Scripture and other religious affectations, and accusing me of basically being fallen. As far as Satan is concerned, I don’t really think he, or any of his retinue was involved. This is not to deny his existence, but rather to acknowledge that amidst the complexity of our existence not all accusing voices are that of the Accuser.

  5. Rachel  

    I often have similar problems in so far as I assume the accusing voice in my head or the self-condemnation beating at my heart to be the voice of God. The result of this is often despondency, immobility, paralysis. I was having one of my self-bashing sessions one day and my Dad looked at me and asked, “What does the fruit of God look like?” I looked at him dumbly. “What do you mean?” I asked. He smiled in his oh so patient way, “What does the fruit of God look like?” He repeated. “Does it free or bind? Does it empower or enslave?” My Dad then went on to suggest that the next time I started to let the part of me that only wants to focus on my failings take over I should try asking myself what the real implications are of being made in the image of God…