Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Abi ponders Peck, Post #4

Okay ... I finished the book last night.  And got my copies of Peck's People of the Lie in the mail and started the the first few chapters.  It all came flooding back.  The hard work of looking at the truth that we would go to amazing lengths not to see is very difficult.  So much so that an increasing number of people are choosing to take the easy way out.  Laziness rears its ugly head....

I am not going to discuss this book here.  The topic requires much more respect and discernment from those who have read the book in its entirety.  There is much to be misunderstood and I believe that there is no easy way to understand what Peck has labored to share.  You must read it for yourself.  But if you have read it, I will be happy to discuss it with may leave your contact information in the comments here.

I have to say that both of these books are important reads.  For two main reasons:
  1. Peck is looking to be the bridge between religion and science ... from the science side as a gifted thinker and physician, and from the religion side as a mystic and seeker who got all the way through the seeking to the finding.  And he did, in fact, find Jesus.  His embrace of Jesus as Messiah was complete.  Now, there will be those who will not agree with some of his theology.  Go and do your own searching before you turn away.  Tolkien's call to "suspend disbelief" in order to understand fully comes to mind here.  The unfortunate rift that was torn in the whole cloth of Truth, in order to take the "mystery" out of science is in need of restoration -- the divorce of the natural from the supernatural -- and Peck was ahead of his time on that front.  I find his books to include more than a pinch of the much needed salt of humility.  He was, indeed, a Cracked Eikon ... and we would do well to heed his example of looking at the Truth head on so that we may learn from our myriad mistakes.
  2. What passes for "calling out evil" these days seems quite pathetic to me.  This is probably where I will do the most pondering in subsequent posts -- most likely because it is really a byproduct of sloppy thinking and deficient discernment concerning ethics and morality.  Too often we call "immoral" that which is not aligned with what we think or desire ... and "ethics" is becoming a form of Political Correctness.  If we are to return these important disciplines to their rightful place, we are going to have to spend time thinking deeply on root issues, not sidetracked by circumstances and emotions and talking points.
 There is much evil running rampant all around us.  Until we are willing to look in the mirror and deal with our own evil -- our own laziness -- our own unwillingness to exert ourselves for the best interest of the other ... we will continue to be blinded by the plank in our own eye and so unable to help the other with the speck that is troubling them.

One of the things Peck says is that human evil is basically concerned with taking the wide path, as it were.  When confronted with difficulties (whether relationally or economically or physically or spiritually or intellectually), the choice always exists:  (a) do I take the narrow path of love and discipline -- of my heart and soul and mind and strength -- wherever it leads and do what is right ... or (b) to take the wide path, the easy way, where my problem are not really MY problems that I must wrestle with and allow the Holy Spirit to both convict and instruct and heal -- but someone else's problems that relieve me of responsibility for my actions, or inaction.

Take a minute to read Matthew 7 ... the whole chapter.  If you have time, read the entire Sermon on the Mount.  Make this a regular practice, reading the Sermon on the Mount.  Read it in a different version every day.

In the end Peck says that we cannot deal with human evil "out there" until we deal with the evil in our own hearts ... where we allow the Holy Spirit access to the shadows in order to shine the Light of Truth and dispel the lies than ensnare us.  Only then can we look unblinking at our own laziness and ask for Jesus to disciple us.  To teach us.  To work the hardest of work in our own hearts.

This is another aspect of The Purple Martyrdom ... this work within.

The reason that there are so many monastic traditions that have these three chapters as the foundation of their rule is that they have an understanding of this important personal work that must be embraced and walked every day of their lives.  Every day.  There is no end to this discipleship ... until until we are fully conformed to the image of Jesus. When we are released from this body of death and are clothed in the imperishable, that work will be complete.

Embrace it ... there are those who will journey with you on that narrow path.  There will, no doubt, be many more "Peck Posts" ... stay tuned.  And better yet ... get the book for yourself and follow along!

Be blessed.


brad/futuristguy said...

As a general comment on the nature of evil, the past few months I've been grappling with how to discern the inner workings AND interweavings of what have traditionally been termed the three enemies of disciples: The World (i.e., cultural systems), The Flesh (sin and brokenness), and The Devil. It's difficult to hold all three together in a dynamic tension, and I have to wonder if many flaws in our spiritual disciplines and corporate practices come out of various forms of imbalance and overemphasis. And so we end up creating more of the very thing we said we were against: evil. We harm people by attempting to exorcise conditions that are not demonically induced. We harm people by denying the reality of the personhood of Satan, and leaving ourselves as an only option to attempt dismantling social structures of evil as if they arose simply out of lack of human enlightenment without any external opposition. We take the value-neutral approach to culture and declare it all equally valid and in no need of transformation for those aspects which perpetrate evil.

Seems to me that we've got a lot more to learn, even on the basics of how world, flesh, and devil amplify evil through our ignorance and arrogance.

Looking forward to your posts on some of the specifics thereof, Peggy ...

Dylan Morrison author said...


Over 25 years ago the writings of Scott Peck were a lifeline to my wife Zan and I during our time out from abusive Christianity.

Our stay in California introduced us to his psychological/mystical spirituality, providing a new lens through which to view the words of Yeshua.

We loved 'The Road Less Traveled' and openly wept whilst reading it during our recovery.

Scott's work on quasi community describes so much of religious/spiritual group dynamics - a must read for all seeking authenticity in life sharing.

Yes Peck went off the rails a little in the end by leaving his wife for his nurse but his earlier work did bring an honesty to spiritual discussion that was previously rare

AbiSomeone said...

Dylan, if you have not yet read Peck's "People of the Lie", I think it would be a good thing to do.

His thoughts about human evil are very important ... especially the propensity for human evil to hang out so frequently in Christian communities ... and other places where people feel they have to "hide" who they really are. The lies they have to tell to be accepted by the group build into such sad consequences--for everyone!

Apparently, Lily (Peck's first wife) finally left him because he had a pattern of extra-marital relationships that she was tired of "working through" ... but (as I said in the previous post), I do believe that his cancer and Parkinson's impacted his relationship with Lily before they were even diagnosed. I am happy to leave their private lives in peace ... and grateful for what Lily enabled Scott to do -- and for their years of serving community building together.

Blessings to you brother ... it is good to see you here!

Dylan Morrison Author said...

Hi Abbi

Thanks for the info on Scott. You're right that he came along at the right time for many of us and faith communities.

Yes, I've read 'Prople of the Lie' but many years ago ~ I'll revisit it soon. It reminds me of Brennan Manning's 'The Imposter' or Jung's 'shadow' concepts of inner self.I've found the model of Roberto Assagioli to be the most helpful in this whole area - it's helped me greatly with my inner 'demons?'



Janet Woodlock said...

Great book... I'll have to dust it off my shelf some time...