Friday, January 28, 2005

Weepiness as a worldview

My eyes are filled with tears. My emotions have been heightened upon the pitches of the waves, like a vessel idly moored in a harbor. I can't help it. When the guys on the team place their jerseys upon the desk of Dan Devine, and say, "Let Rudy take my place, Coach", that's when my throat becomes clogged, my eyes wet, and my whole being grovels on the 'low ground of feeling and emotion".

The underdog perseveres. He's recognized within the stadium as having heart.

I think I'll have another drink of coffee and weep. I love this movie.

I love any story that makes me feel. Feelings, emotions are suspect characters. Especially in women. We are often chastised, explained away, reduced, stereotyped by the full volume of feelings that we may have. Feelings are dangerous; when we express them at times, we may receive silence (especially from men who are nervous?), and we may decide that they are not worth the expression. Feelings and emotions have been scapegoated as unreliable -- the heart is deceitful, etc. The mind is more steadfast and responsible.

In the traditional Christian writing, we hear this echo of a worldview which received its influences from stoicism (as opposed to epicurianism) and rationalism, and we wonder: do we serve God well by limiting emotional influences? Most of our inherited religious thought would say 'yes'. Some like Julian of Norwich , who was considered a mystic, were exceptions. But chances are, most of old our church fathers most likely did adhere to the rationalistic influence of progressive western thought.

We've inherited this way of thinking throughout the ages. Here's a quote from Mrs Charles Cowan (can you imagine authoring a book this way nowadays?) which talks about the perils of the emotional landscape:

Do not remain in the haven of distrust, or sleeping on your shadows in inactive repose, or suffering your frames and feelings to pitch and toss on one another like vessels idly moored in a harbor. The religious life is not a brooding over emotions, grazing the keel of faith in the shallows, or dragging the anchor of hope through the oozy tide of mud as if afraid of encountering the healthy breeze. Away! .... If we remain groveling on the low ground of feeling and emotion, we shall find ourselves entangled in a thousand meshes of doubt and despondency, temptation, and unbelief. \
Mrs. Charles Cowman in Streams in the Desert

She wrote this in 1925, but I daresay in religious circles and thought, these views on emotions still hold true. I felt the implications of this throughout most of my exposure to religious ways of thinking. However, I must admit, my church now is steeped in the validity of the emotional life, although our "recovery ministry" is based upon correcting/helping/aiding the emotional wounds (ironically enough which often manifest themselves in the way we think, rationalize, etc). So, it's a marriage, a blend, and I just resist when emotion is scapegoated as being the problem. I believe emotions are the harbingers of spring, of thaw, of the pulse of life, and, yes, they annoy me at times (especially the less productive ones of anger, resentment, grief), yet to stuff&stifle in the name of what is proper and good (rationalism, stoicism), always is more irritating to me, especially when it's portrayed as the way to a better life of faith. Bularky. Rudy brought all of that out in me this morning. Ru-Dy! Ru-Dy! Ru-Dy! Thank God, for a more colorful canvas than we often want to allow ourselves!

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