Responses to Confusion

When we proceed into a time of spiritual confusion there are different responses. Here’s a few:

Reversion: Because the intellectual confusion is so foreign and overwhelming to us, we revert back to our previous posture. The new conditions actually feel wrong to us. Even heretical. The strangeness is so intimidating that we assume we are going against our consciences and that we would be sinful to persist in that direction. All kinds of people and scriptures come pouring in warning us, threatening us and condemning us. We revert back to preserve our sanity, our sense of security, and our social network. Some forget about ever going in that direction again. Some always wonder if they did the right thing by reverting back.

Aversion: Again, the intellectual confusion is so profound that it stupefies and invokes a kind of terror, from mild to monstrous. But, adversely, reversion is so repulsive that we wouldn’t even consider it. It would be a shameful betrayal of ourselves. But the way ahead is as dark as a starless night. In fact, it is so dark that it is like a wall. There appears to be no way ahead. So what we do is abandon the project altogether. We leave the faith, forsake belief, change or lose our religion, or get diverted into another philosophical paradigm or religion or spirituality. In some cases this is not an unhealthy move. But sometimes it’s not the best.

Conversion: The intensity of the intellectual confusion doesn’t subside. The darkness deepens the further we proceed. But something compels us forward. We will not settle for more of the same… just an amplification or modification of where we’ve been. That is just as objectionable. We are like alchemists who refuse to give up on the belief that we can experience true conversion… deep, lasting and transformative change. We are somehow certain, if we can just hang on long enough, that pushing through will change everything, and that we will pass from knowledge to wisdom.

I’ve tried all of these. Many times. We don’t encounter epic confusion just once, but many times. As many times as we are willing to be transformed.

About David Hayward

David Hayward runs the blog nakedpastor as a graffiti artist on the walls of religion where he critiques religion… specifically Christianity and the church. He also runs the online community The Lasting Supper where people can help themselves discover, explore and live in spiritual freedom.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    “We don’t encounter epic confusion just once, but many times. As many times as we are willing to be transformed.”

    Funny… I’ve never had that problem.

    The pastor, or layperson says “take and eat, this is the body of Christ, broken for you.” “Take and drink, this is His blood poured out and shed for you.”

    So I do. And I am being transformed. How? How should I know?!

    But since the Lord commanded that I do it, I figure He is in it, doing what He will through it.

    I and many others who partake in this command/gift just do it. We walk by faith…and not by sight.

    Thanks.

  • Rhonda Sayers

    This article explains a lot. I guess I have been stuck between aversion and conversion for a little while.
    It is helpful to know that what has been happening is not uncommon.
    Do you have any tips to make the process quicker and less painful?

  • http://free2b2much.blogspot.com Beckie

    So what is the best course of action when you find yourself in a place where you are just holding on in the blackness. Not moving forward or backward just waiting… treading. You have already been told you are a nutjob and a sinner to boot. You won’t go back. You don’t know where forward is. You know conversion has got to be stinkin better than this. So you hold on…and on…and on. bummer.
    you meaning me…of course.

  • http://journeyofoneaishah.blogspot.com/ Aishah

    when i feel converted to confusion, or face struggle, the best way out for me is to just stop struggling, and just surrender and submit and just float back into reversion to my most natural state, what I feel is right, is right, what i feel is wrong, must be wrong for I am not able to avert anything, nothing is within my control and I am in the hand of my creator.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Since the devil can show up all dressed up as an angel of light, and since we really can’t trust in what we say, think, feel, or do with respect to how God feels about us…we might as well relax like Aishah suggested, and trust God at His Word.

    He’s told us that He loves and forgives sinners, the ungodly (that is ALL of us). He’s told us that nothing we DO can can make Him love us more than He already does.(you parents out there know what He means)

    So, it is finished. He has made a decision…for you. And to make sure we get it, He’s baptized us and He continues to give Himself to us, feely in His Supper. No matter how you might feel about the whole thing.

    That’s the gospel.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

    @Aishah and Steve Martin,
    I have no problem with others believing and doing as they will, but at least call things as they are. Now, I’ve made some contributions to the discussion here and there, but for the most part, I’ve managed to operate as a lurker. But, enough is enough and I’m going to say what needs to be said, especially to you Steve.
    No matter how it’s sugar coated, what you are speaking of is total and complete abandonment of the intellect as well as a refusal to accept responsibility for your own life.
    That’s right, don’t think too hard about anything and whatever you do…don’t ask the hard questions and always take the path of least resistance. Anything else is just too painful and scary.
    Somebody or something else has already made the decision for you. All the answers are ready made and served on a silver platter, so all any of us need do is to STFU and play along, right Steve? Steve, when reading your comments, on occasion I see the faint glimmerings of what was once or possibly could be a decent human being. I’d like to think that I am right about that, but when you start off comments with smarmy, self-righteous horseshit like, “Funny… I’ve never had that problem.”, I see fear and insecurity masked by bullying arrogance. Here’s hoping you might strive to do better than that for yourself in the future.
    As far as trusting your god at his word…well, I think this video clip puts it much more eloquently than I ever could. Suffice it to say that your god as defined by his alleged words and actions in your “holy books” is NOT a good god, and therefore not worthy of my trust, much less my worship.

  • Jeannie

    I find myself cycling through these three again and again, like some kind of cosmic version of that movie, “Groundhog’s Day”. I want to wake up to a different song then what plays in my head all the time about spiritual things. In a way I am envious of those who never questioned. I miss the innocence and having all the answers. I am always journeying and never arriving. Bleh.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    yep jeannie. welcome to the ride. buckle up!

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    “Steve, when reading your comments, on occasion I see the faint glimmerings of what was once or possibly could be a decent human being.”

    Oh, thank you very much much!

    I was really worried that my proclaiming the GOSPEL here on this site was going to make me unpopular.

    Christ Jesus told us that it would make us unpopular. That we would be despised for it. That it would not make us friends. And that there would be those who would even want to kill us for it, to shut us up, as they did to Him. That’s the way it is when God tries to bring His message of love and forgiveness to a godless world that just won’t have Him.

  • George Hill

    A new way to speak and understand God is being fought and debated. 
    Pre-modern concepts in which Christianity has traditionally been taught no longer speak to the
    post-modern world we live in. 
     When our organizations, our beliefs, their essential purpose, their processes and structure by definition are bankrupt and when our beliefs go unquestioned or unchallenged and have become our ‘drug of choice’ the confusion you describe mirrors the symptoms of any addict going through withdrawal. 
    The addictive system in individuals and organizations are a closed system where no new information is allowed. Denial is used as a way to avoid reality. An alternate reality is created and becomes powerless against the addictive process. 
    “but something compels us forward. We will not (any longer) settle for more of the same.…just an amplification or modification of where we’ve been. That is just as objectionable. We are like alchemists who refuse to give up on the belief that we can experience true conversion…deep, lasting and transformative change. We are somehow certain, if we can just hang on long enough, that pushing through will change everything, and that we will….” (find a way out of the fog to a new way of understanding and relating).

  • http://obscuritus.blogspot.com obscuritus

    Conversion has moved me from accepting a boatload of sea bass to the hopeful possibilities of landing a marlin.


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