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).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

Spiritual fathers

I use the phrase “spiritual fathers” loosely. When I employ it, I am referring primarily to the character or quality of a certain “spiritual makeup,” and not to any specific theological content, but rather a way of experiencing the life of the soul, and it should be fairly obvious that modern man’s spiritual experience, in this specific sense, has nothing whatsoever in common with St. Augustine of Hippo. Even less can he empathize with Jonah, who heard the voice of God so distinctly that he physically ran away. Modern man runs around all over the place, but he is never running from God. He doesn’t even know God exists. He’s just running, that’s all. Running from the voice of God would be a promising step for him. “Oh that men will someday once again run from God!” That should be the prayer of modern churches. Modern man’s problem is not that he feels compelled to hide, like Adam in the Garden while God goes walking by. Such physical concealment would imply a degree of intimacy with the Creator that is absolutely foreign to us. We cannot conceive of it. Our experience is all in the opposite direction. The chasm is too wide. We can draw principles and truths from scriptures (which is really all that scripture was ever meant for), but we cannot directly empathize with the people he finds there.

Our contemporary man, more likely, finds that he has something in common with Franz Kafka, or with Fyodor Dostoevsky, or even the obscene Henry Miller, or the alcoholic Charles Bukowski. He can relate to the pariah. Some may find this comforting, who have long suspected a somewhat impassible barrier between them and those men of the distant past. But this only applies to those who have been honest with themselves. Some, on the other hand, who have not been so honest, may find comparison disconcerting, those who cannot stomach the idea of learning about themselves through the tutelage of pariahs. Nonetheless, as we are speaking of our unique spiritual characterology rather than any sort of doctrinal content, then these are the men we are stuck with, because no one else can speak to us about ourselves with the lucidity and depth which we most desperately need. And perhaps that was how it was always meant to be: to learn from the lowly and to stop insisting on comparing ourselves to Peter and Paul. C.S. Lewis warned us against that sort of arrogance. He warned those who like to say to themselves “Wouldn’t it be so nice to have coffee with Paul and Jesus! Wouldn’t that be fun?” Lewis answers: “No.” Every sane person must answer “no.” Such an experience could be altogether overwhelming and immensely painful.

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