Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Psalms

The Psalms
Fr. Dale Matson
As someone who is attracted to the Mystical writing of St. John and the linear intellect of St. Paul, the Psalms have been somewhat of an enigma for me. The Psalms have an affective quality, an emotional rhythm and an internal dialogue that is sometimes difficult for me to grasp. Is the Psalmist talking to himself, to God or is God talking to the Psalmist? Sometimes it seems to be all three. In our lectionary for yesterday (Psalm 32), the psalmist seems to be talking to himself in verse three. “While I held my tongue, my bones withered away,*because of my groaning all day long.” In verse five he seems to be talking to God. “Then I acknowledged my sin to you,* and did not conceal my guilt.” Yet verse nine seems to be God talking to the Psalmist. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go,* I will guide you with my eye.” The Psalm taken as a whole is a mini-Gospel dealing with transgression, un-confessed guilt, suffering, confession, forgiveness and deliverance.
In Morning Prayer we say the Psalms in courses (by the number of the day in the month) and we pause at the asterisk. There is even an occasional epiphany for me during the pause. “The Lord will look with favor on the prayer of the homeless;* He will not despise their plea. (Psalm 102: 17). As I read this verse stopping to pause at the asterisk, I looked out the Chapel window to see homeless people gathering by the benches. I also looked at our two attorneys who had come to Morning Prayer before court and the thought occurred to me that we may be among the homeless also. All of this occurred during the pause for an asterisk.
There is a very human and humane quality to the Psalms. The range of emotion expressed there more than contains and expresses my own feelings. It is my hope and prayer that the Psalms will continue to offer consolation to me in a life no longer confident in my own strength increasingly asking for God’s strength and mercy. “For your hand was heavy upon me day and night;* my moisture was dried up as in the heat of summer.” (Psalm 32:4) Amen.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Original Sin and the Death Instinct

Original Sin and the Death Instinct
Fr. Dale Matson
Psychologists have long attempted to understand human behavior in general and self-destructive behavior in particular. It is ironic to me that Sigmund Freud would study and generalize human models based on the broken lives of patients in his clinical practice. Is this a fair sampling of humans or a stratified sample that is skewed? It is not the model that Abraham Maslow later developed based on self-actualized individuals. I suppose it depends on whether one thinks that humans are essentially healthy and good or born broken and sinful.
12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men,…”—(Romans 5:12, NIV) As Matthew Henry (“Commentary on the Whole Bible”) succinctly puts it, “Adam communicated sin and death to all his posterity.” God told Adam not to eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam already knew what was good and in disobedience chose evil. Adam, with his disobedience, estranged himself from God. There is no life apart from God. Deuteronomy 30: 20 states in part, “For the LORD is your life…” I believe Adam’s sin of disobedience led to a state of estrangement from God that was passed on to his progeny. In creation, God declared that things would reproduce in kind. We were thus destined, once Adam sinned, to be estranged from God, to be sinners and to die. All of creation was corrupted by Adam’s sin." In “Beyond the Pleasure Principle”, Freud attempted to explain the death drive that ran counter to and overcame the pleasure principle. He saw it as, “…an urge in organic life to restore an earlier state of things - the inorganic state from which life originally emerged.” How does that compare to the following? God cursed Adam, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19). The death drive then manifested itself in the individual creature as a force “whose function is to assure that the organism shall follow its own path to death”. Freud later theorized in “Civilization and its Discontents” that the death drive can also be externalized as aggression.
Later, Karl Menninger in his book “Man Against Himself” Discussed the self-destructive life of individuals who are simply killing themselves on the installment plan using drugs, enveloped in neurosis, inflicting injury on themselves and others.
There is only one solution to the original curse and estrangement of humankind from God and a self-defeating and self-destructive life. It is to seek life once again in God through Jesus Christ. We must turn from this life of death and ask Christ to make us a new creation in Him. “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) Amen

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Thomason Ordination on October 18th

God willing, Deacon Derek Thomason will be ordained to the priesthood on Monday, October 18th at 7:00PM - the Feast Day of Saint Luke the Evangelist at Saint James' Anglican Cathedral. Your presence and prayers are desired. Clergy - Red stoles.