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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Conduit to our Souls

There is a book going around, written by someone exploring his faith, struggling, and trying to come to terms with it. It is a work of exploratory fiction, and, as a writer, I've done the same thing in trying to understand God.

Many people, even those who are Catholic Sisters (none I know personally nor whose theology would be considered to be faithful) hold this work up to be something wonderful. Never mind the Trinitarian heresies that abound. Are the heresies intentional? No. But they are there, and many people who are also seeking God read such works and attribute wisdom to the author that the author himself does not claim or possess.

I have not read the book, will not name it, but am glad the author is so deeply seeking God.

What disappoints me, though, is that those who should know better give this book credence where none is deserved. It is being upheld as something all Christians should read, even though it does nothing to edify the foundational beliefs of Christianity.

What are we allowing to enter our souls?

When I first began my graduate studies, I had a professor who addressed the problem of how information comes into us. He pointed out that what we read becomes a part of us in some way. It feeds our souls, for better or for worse, for we are both body and soul. We are constantly bombarded by images and words, everywhere we go. If you are reading this now, you are being bombarded by my own thoughts, my own opinions, and perhaps the teachings of the Church.

Are you willing to continue reading? Are you willing to take that risk? What if what I write is eternally damaging to you?

We all must ask those questions, throughout the day. When we examine our consciences, we must consider those things that have crossed our path; have we willingly taken them in? Have we practiced custody of the eyes?

"Custody of the eyes" does not just apply to things having to do with chastity, but other areas of our lives as well.

I can give an example from my own life.


For years, I read horror stories, and there are a few I still enjoy, although I know I should not. Yet I no longer want to watch horror movies, and the last horror fiction I read has left such an imprint that even today, at Mass, I was so sickened I nearly had to leave.

Some of what I read or saw (ie Faces of Death movies) was for the deliberate attempt to desensitize myself to violence; stuff I knew I might see in the career to which I aspired. It's been a long time, though, since I've been out of that career and even now, not much bothers me.

But months ago, maybe a year ago, I read a book by John Saul. I remember enjoying a great number of his books, most of which did not involve gore of any type, but suggestion, suspense, and terror. Yet this particular book involved Catholicism (a very, very warped version of it), and blended something diobolically awful with the Sacraments. I was so sickened by this and the images from that book that I actually threw the book away, something I almost NEVER do.

Every so often, the image from that book comes to mind (as it does now, even as I write this), and did this morning during Mass. I wish I had never read the book. I wish I didn't even know about it. But now...I can't erase the images. I can't undo the imprint upon my memory and upon my soul.

Ask St. Augustine about this very problem, maybe in book 10 of Confessions.

The reality is that what we take in is imprinted upon us in some way.

My professor, then, asked a very good rhetorical question, one for all of us to ask ourselves: What, exactly, are we allowing into our souls?

I let that book into my soul, and now I can't get rid of it.

It begs the question: why would I SEEK something that I KNOW to be damaging? Why would I go out of my way, for some frivolous reason, to read something I know to contain heresy?

Perhaps it is necessary if I am an apologist and it is my job to protect others who might be weak from such damage. Perhaps, if I were a Bishop, I would read it in order to clearly denounce it and with examples and proper teaching.

It is not that I fear for myself, for if I read the book I cited in the beginning of this post, I know my own faith is strong enough. However, I DO fear for those who are seeking, who have not been properly formed in their own faith, those who don't know who God is and have fallen into the gnosticism of modern feminism. I've been greatly saddened by such as these, and was even led astray by them for a time.

So I say to all of you out there...before you read a book or watch a movie that might be damaging, consider the reality of its imprintation upon your soul. It is said that "the eyes are the windows to the soul." Before you recommend such a book to another...are you willing to be responsible before God for the damage done to that soul?

What are YOU allowing into your own soul?

I ask you again: What are you allowing into your soul?

WHAT are you allowing into your soul!?????????

*** Related post: Ascent from the Descent


MJTA said...

Incredible and thought-provoking post. I'd say that even some demonic influence can come through books.
I'd say perhaps it's best to read a book only if you would be willing to read it in front of the Blessed Sacrament, but then again maybe I'm being a bit puritan.
I wonder what I've let into my soul? Can I get rid of it? Certainly I can be rid of the sin through confession, but can I ever remove the effects?

Anonymous said...

I agree very much about what we let in. And I have an extraodinarily good memory. I've found it helpful to pray simply & consistently for God to heal my memory. While stuff doesn't entirely disappear, I do find it does recede very much, so it very seldom comes to mind. That applies to events, not just books and movies.

youknowwho said...

does the popular novel put Jesus in modern society, as if her were alive today?

And I agree... we must watch what goes in. Ever watch a baby or toddler? They are virtual SPONGES... well, the mind continues to soak in. and soak in. and soak in. never stops. We are sponges. Careful what you CHOOSE to soak.

ug said...

should have been "as if HE were alive today." not her. sorry. bad typing.

Iona C. said...

About a year ago, when I first became a Christian, one of the very first things I did was buy a lot of praise and worship CDs. As with any new relationship the beginning is usually when you feel most "on fire". In addition to buying new CDs, I began to go through the music on my mp3 player and realized that there were many songs which were, to put it plainly, vulgar and detrimental to a walk with God.

It's sad that within a years time I have already begun to "cool off" and I find myself struggling a lot when it comes to falling back into the old routines: listening to questionable songs, watching violent films, reading things that definitely don't nourish my soul, etc.

This post was very timely and the question you posed is one that I know God has been pressing me to ask myself for a while.

Thanks for being faithful with your posts and not beating around the bush with the serious questions we all have to ask ourselves if we truly want to surrender everything to Christ.

Adoro said...

MJTA ~ I think these effects are part of the temporal punishment. :-(

youknowwho ~ I'm not sure it does that, necessarily, but it is about a man encountering the Trinity.

Iona ~ We all struggle with those things. A secret: when I write these posts, I'm talking to myself and often scolding myself!

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Joe's soul is being filled with Adoro's blog :)

Maggie said...

Just a guess... are you referring to The Shack? Because I've had about 156,983 people tell me it's "wonderful" and "so spiritual" and "changed their life." And then I looked up a few Catholic (=orthodox, Magisterium-following) writers/bloggers and their opinion of it was generally "bleh." Or even "stay away."

Adoro said...

Yup, that's the one

Anonymous said...

Oh, dear. Some of my Opus Dei friends recommended it, so I bought it for my sister-in-law who's been away from the church. How bad is it?


Anonymous said...

Sorry... I hit submit before I finished the thought. I haven't read "The Shack" myself. Is reading it as bad as reading Joan Chissiter (spell?)
Should I throw out the copy I got?


Adoro said...

ML ~ I've not read the book myself, but on the basis of informed reviews, I've decided I'd rather spend my precious time reading Flannery O'Connor and Garrigou LaGrange, OP.

If you google "Catholic reviews of The Shack" you'll get a good list. I couldn't get the article on Cathlic Exchange to load, but think they had a good review, if I remember right.

Otherwise, this is the first one I read:

It may not be all bad, but it depends upon your perspective in the reason for which you are reading it. Use your own judgment in that regard.

It's legit to read Dan Brown's stuff if you have the right perspective. But people of no or weak faith might better benefit from something that doesn't involve heresy. Typically, heresy does NOT beget faithfulness.