This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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General allowances for emotional strain

It is of the utmost importance that one be prepared to discuss the most important matters in a spirit of detachment. In particular, when the person concerned is distressed or timid, it is all too easy to drive them back within themselves, since they know they take a risk in exposing themselves and are always prepared to go on the defensive.

Remember that anyone seriously pursuing spiritual answers will spend a great deal of time straddling the fence between ignorance and breakthrough on a particular question. Thus, an emotional response to an unfamiliar answer should not be taken as evidence that this person is hopeless or incapable or unwilling to accept the counsel offered: they are simply on the precipice where unsteadiness is to be expected. This analogy also presents an opportunity for a further warning: even if it appears that the individual could best be served by simply ‘shoving them over the edge’ of the precipice via some hard statement of truth, it is rare that this is the proper course of action. It is not necessary to soften every statement we make, but gentleness is the rule and hardness the exception. Irritability is symptomatic of strain, and strain is the condition to be expected of one who is striving for apprehension of spiritual truth. If you begin to display irritability and defensiveness, the individual seeking your counsel will, even if unconsciously, begin to sense that you are not really in the possession of the certainty he seeks, and he may just be correct. The signs of one in possession of certainty is the absence of fear, which expresses itself through patience, serenity, and sincerity.

Here we can point out a difference between the type of counsel we have in mind, disinterested and revolving around the needs of those seeking it, and the approach of contemporary evangelicals who might be tempted to situation their way of speaking within a traditional context where it has no place. I myself have experienced a number of times their attempts at proselytizing, which has no concern, except ‘theoretically,’ for the person being addressed, but where the end goal is within the evangelist and the evangelizing is more for their own edification than anyone else’s, and where any ‘converts’ are tallies–souls ‘won’ for Christ in a kind of combat. For this reason the evangelicals are experienced as aggressors not sought out but endured, with the result that anyone ‘on the fence’ about a particular matter is rudely shoved to one side or the other, for better or worse.

Regarding blunt answers, we point out a case where they are appropriate, and that is when it is discerned that the inquirer has already made up his mind and even though he approaches with humility, professing an open mind, he is really seeking validation of a decision already reached: he believes he knows already what you will say and what value it has for him, and simply wants to confirm himself in his judgements. In the modern era of ideology and pre-packaged systems, this is unfortunately a frequent case, all the more unfortunate because even if one’s answer is not the ‘expected’ response it is nonetheless pigeon-holed alongside ‘the opposition’ and is again utilized only to confirm the inquirer in his pre-judgements. Here it does no good for you or for him to try and adjust one’s firmness to an acceptable level because there is no acceptable level, and so a blunt response that is neither harsh nor soft but simply detached is the best way to bring things to the inevitable impasse.

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