Spiritual Reality and Psychological Deviations
He has shown strength with his arm, He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree.
Spiritual error, and we are all victims of it, comes from a lack of faith in spiritual reality, that is, in God. And since God is love, spiritual error signifies a lack of love. In other words, spiritual error is the result of spiritual impurity, that is, of vice, above all, of vanity and pride. And it is pride that lies behind psychological deviations. In general, the psychological deviations caused by spiritual error can be put into four categories. What are they?
1. Psychological Deviations without Faith
‘The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God’. Atheism is irrational, as it is impossible to say that God does not exist, only that, ‘I do not know if He exists’, or else that ‘I believe that He exists’. Belief is founded on spiritual experience - or lack of it. In reality, this irrational atheism is created by psychological deviations. These deviations are often patterned by reactionary attitudes towards those who by force imposed institutionalised religion on atheists in their childhood. In other words, atheism is a psychological reaction to oppression. In some cases, it is so strong that it can be violent. This is called militant atheism, which is a serious spiritual disease.
Favourite sayings of atheism are ‘Religion starts wars – look at the Middle East’ or ‘Religion is a crutch for the feeble-minded’ etc. The second saying shows the innate pride and narcissistic vanity of atheism; self-admiringly, atheism see itself as superior to all who have faith, to those who are, apparently, ‘feeble-minded’. The first saying shows atheism’s lack of logic, its need to revise its views and values. Religion does not start wars, it is the psychologically sick or nationally oppressed who use religion as one of their excuses to start wars. Generally speaking, atheism utterly fails to distinguish between ‘religion’ (institutional) and faith (spiritual experience), of which it deprives itself.
Agnosticism is at least more rational than atheism, but, unfortunately, it is all too often based on laziness and selfishness, the refusal to open oneself and then commit oneself to spiritual experience and so to spiritual reality. Agnosticism (‘I don’t know if God exists or not) is in fact a sort of indifferentism, often masked as ‘tolerance’. It can sometimes be a remarkably shallow illusion, created by Satan, who is of course a believer, and so an illusion ideal for our shallow consumer society age.
Agnosticism is then selective belief, or rather selective disbelief. Thus, it tends to flatter the ego, saying, ‘You do not have to make any commitment, because it is impossible to know if God exists one way or the other. Therefore, you can continue in your comfortable vice. You need not change’. Sometimes agnostics simply do not want to commit to something that will transform their lives and so eliminate vices, which are the source of short-term, egoistic pleasure.
2. Psychological Deviations with Faith
The modernist profile often comes from an underlying pride of mind. In recent history it has been shaped by the minimalist Protestant ethos. Its lazy minimalism conditions the modernist not to believe in the spiritual reality of the Church, the Body of Christ. As a result, modernism has little acceptance of the Tradition, of the inheritance of all that is spiritually inspired in the past. Rejecting the Tradition of the saints and holiness, atheism therefore has to ‘reform’ everything that exists in the Church. , this can only be done by the modernists themselves. Modernism says that only it knows best. In fact, this is intellectual snobbery. Modernism generally despises bishops, clergy, monks, the people and their way of life as ‘folklore’. Its intellectualism also explains why it admires Gnosticism and Judaism. This is why it is pro-Origenist, believing humanistically in the salvation of all. Modernism finds its intellectual fantasies reflected in Origen, who attempted to ‘adapt’ Christianity to pagan philosophy.
Modernism generally despises everything in Christian history from the fourth century on, from St Constantine to St Nicholas II. Its disincarnate intellectualism and rationalism explains why it cannot accept the sacred, the spiritual plane or dimension of knowledge (faith and wisdom). It is why it despises mystical and monastic teaching (obedience) - from St Dionysius (whom it calls the ‘Pseudo-Dionysius’) to St Theophan the Recluse. Modernism is caused by a weak faith. We have never yet seen a ‘devout’ modernist. This intellectual snobbery also explains why modernist teaching is anti-Incarnational, anti-St Cyril of Alexandria, anti-St Joseph of Volotsk, anti-St John of Kronstadt. This explains why it has little understanding of the sacraments and preparation for them, of prayer rules, fasting and confession. For modernism the Eucharist, for which it needs no preparation, such is its superiority, stands apart from repentance. In reality, the two go hand in hand.
Religion is always the first resort of the scoundrel to justify their evil. What better than to take something as noble as religion as camouflage for self-justification and exploitation of others? Nobody would take something ignoble as an excuse - therefore noble religion is always the first target. This is true even of the lesser forms of fanaticism - schism, sectarianism, ‘guruism’ and so-called ‘traditionalism’. Fanatical movements are often made up of individuals with unhappy, unbalanced and unstable childhoods. So are sects and cults founded. The first characteristic in these is dissatisfaction - nothing else is good enough, the members cannot accept what others accept. They are ‘different’ and ‘better’ than others, as can be seen in special dress, jargon or practices, which are often exotic.
In fanaticism there is much anti-social introversion, self-centredness and self-discussion, with condemnation of others and self-imposed exaltation and isolation, the failure to integrate. This is all the pride of delusion. We can see fanaticism in modern times, from the kamikaze of Shintoism to the suicide bombers of Islamism and the atrocities committed by nationalistic Hindus in contemporary ‘Hindustan’ - India. But of course people have also deformed Christianity to justify their evil desires. We need think only of the ‘Crusades’ of the Middle Ages, of the Conquistadores in Latin America, of the genocide of native North Americans by European settlers and of the Congolese by Belgians, or of the Nazis who went into battle wearing belts declaring ‘Gott mit uns’ – ‘God with us’.
The presence of pride can also clearly be seen in the history of heresy, which is spiritual error, coming from spiritual impurity. From the narcissistic intellectualism of Arius to the astounding egocentrism of Tolstoy or to any number of modern totalitarian sects, all heresy is profoundly and integrally penetrated by the pride of spiritual error. There is no theology here, only psychology and, in extreme cases, psychopathology. The danger is clear.