The Unconscious Mind in the Sacred Scriptures

Was the unconscious mind unknown to the prophets and poets of ancient Israel? Or were they aware our awareness had limits? No doubt it would be anachronistic to attribute a modern understanding of the mind to the ancient authors, but I think there’s evidence enough that they knew of dark recesses within themselves.
Consider for instance the words of the Psalmist, who cries, “But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults” (Psalm 19:12) and “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
Though it is sometimes unclear whether the secrets of the “heart” being spoken of refer merely to that which is hidden from others or also to that which is hidden from self, phrases like “Who can discern their own errors?” seems to strongly suggest elements of self deception. As does the reflection of Jeremiah when he says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
Then of course there are figures like Daniel, who unpack dreams that are obscure to the dreamers. “As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than anyone else alive, but so that Your Majesty may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.” (Daniel 2:30)
An understanding of hidden depths to the self seemed to carry though into New Testament times also. The apostle Paul writes, “He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart” (1 Corinthians 4:5) and “As the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God” (1 Corinthians 14:25) and “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being”. (Ephesians 3:16)
And yet, it would appear that we are not without their own resources, for the Psalmist also writes, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)

 

Autumn in the air

Chills on my skin,
I feel an Autumn breeze,
Red, gold and orange
Glow upon the trees.
The air is crisp,
Refreshing to breathe in,
Excitement stirs in my heart
As starts a new season.
Lord Jesus, I marvel
The rhythm You create,
Surely but a glimpse
Behind Heaven’s gate.
With perfection and beauty
The seasons do dance;
Each one has its glory,
Each one its chance.
So amidst these changes,
As trees are cloaked in glory,
I remember all is Yours,
Your unfolding story.
The refreshing air,
The trees of red and gold,
Sing a song of Your love,
Extending from days of old.
The cool Autumn air
I delight to breathe in;
Excitement stirs in my heart
As starts a new season.
Yes, my Lord Jesus,
As I feel an Autumn breeze,
The glory of Your presence
Brings me to my knees!
– Caroline Gavin, 2013

 

Listening to God through the land

Did the prophets think God could only speak through them? Did they think the God was mute without them? On the contrary, the prophets recognised it was the Spirit of prophecy who enabled them to speak, and that God could speak through anyone or anything. Job was emphatic on this point:
But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
     or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
     or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
     that the hand of the Lord has done this?
Is it such a strange suggestion then, that God can still speak to us through the land?
Might we experience the stones crying out, even today?

Is entertainment the only cure for boredom?

Challenge_vs_skillWhen people say they find church boring, is it entertainment they’re lacking? Or challenge?

In his article, Amusing Ourselves To Death, Neil Postman said “I believe I am not mistaken in saying that Christianity is a demanding and serious religion. When it is delivered as easy and amusing, it is another kind of religion altogether.”

I find it interesting to consider this in light of what psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi found about flow, also known as the zone. Csíkszentmihályi defined flow as a mental state in which a person performing an activity were fully immersed in what they’re doing, with energized focus, to the point that they can lose their sense of space and time. Ever experienced it? I certainly have. Though rarely in a church service. Well, what Csíkszentmihályi found was that flow kicked in when both challenge and skill levels were high. To experience flow we need challenges that are commensurate with our skill levels. Making it easy can actually be counter productive to experiencing life to its fullest.

Jesus never set his expectations so low. Why should we?