Posts Tagged ‘The Road Less Traveled’

Growing Against Entropy And Being Made For More

As I’ve been reading M. Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled I stumbled across a forgotten, but familiar idea. It’s found in the section on Grace under the chapter The Miracle of Evolution. The idea is that one grows spiritually in the opposite direction of nature. That is to say nature eventually wears out and decays; essentially entropy. However, even though we as humans are a part of nature we grow spiritually. So in a sense we transcend nature.

Our bodies follow the laws of nature and wear out, yet our spirits grow. Peck notes that this growth is for the better or worse, but regardless we still grow. His statement and diagram, on page 266, explain this idea quite thoroughly.

Again and Again I have emphasized that the process of spiritual growth is an effortful and difficult one. This is because it is conducted against a natural resistance…

M. Scott Peck - Spiritual Growth Vs. Entropy Diagram

Not only does Peck state this is a miracle, but he states on page 268:

Among humanity love is the miraculous force that defies the natural law of entropy.

Two questions immediately pop in to my head. The first is why? That is why does love defy the laws of nature? I mean how is it that internally–or spiritually–we defy nature, move forward and grow instead of wind down and decay? Nature winds down and decays and we’re part of it, right? Joseph Addison expands this thought in The Spectator here:

But a man can never have taken in his full measure of Knowledge, has not time to subdue his Passions, establish his Soul in Virtue, and come up to the Perfection of his Nature, before he is hurried off the Stage.

There must be something more than simply growing contrary to nature and then being “hurried of the Stage” by death. That is some sort of reason, place or something which we grow in to. If not, then all this contrary growth would be wasted. The mathematician, Kurt Godel, poses and answers this question far better than myself in a letter to his mother here:

If the world [Welt] is rationally constructed and has meaning, then there must be such a thing [as an afterlife]. For what sense would there be in creating a being (man), which has such a wide realm of possibilities for its own development and for relationships to others, and then not allowing it to realize even a thousandth of those [possibilities]? That would be almost like someone laying, with the greatest effort and expense, the foundations for a house, and then letting it all go to seed again.

Godel assumes our spirits grow contrary to nature, but also are within the confines nature. Then he supposes the world is rational and has meaning, concluding there must be something our spirits are growing in to. That “something” only makes sense if there is growth continuation, that is to say an afterlife. C.S. Lewis expands this thought and question in The Weight Of Glory:

A man’s physical hunger does not prove that man will get any bread; he may die of starvations on a raft in the Atlantic. But surely a man’s hunger does prove that he comes of a race which repairs its body by eating and inhabits a world where eatable substances exist. In the same way, though I do not believe (I wish I did) that my desire for Paradise proves that I shall enjoy it, I think it a pretty good indication that such a thing exists and that some men will.

So we’ve established all this growth leads into something more, an “afterlife,” and it’s not simply wasted upon death. That answers the first question of why. Which leads into the second question: what is love? According to Peck, love is the force or reason behind all of this, but what is it? To answer that question I’ll refer again to Joseph Addison in The Spectator:

There is not, in my Opinion, a more pleasing and triumphant Consideration in Religion than this of the perpetual Progress which the Soul makes towards the Perfection of its Nature, without ever arriving at a Period in it… The Soul considered with its Creator, is like one of those Mathematical Lines that may draw nearer to another for all Eternity without a Possibility of touching it: And can there be a Thought so transporting, as to consider our selves in these perpetual Approaches to him, who is not only the Standard of Perfection but of Happiness!

Concluding that all this growth and headway really only makes sense if we truly are made for something more than this life. And the truth is finally revealed: love is the Creator. I’ll leave arguments about the Creator for another post. That something more or afterlife is a part of the Creator’s design. That is to say growing after death is part of the plan. C.S. Lewis always seems to take the cake when it comes to explaining, so I’ll leave you with his quote from The Weight Of Glory:

When human souls have become as perfect in voluntary obedience as the inanimate creation is in its lifeless obedience, then they will put on its glory of which Nature is only the first sketch. For you must not think that I am putting forward any heathen fancy of being absorbed into Nature. Nature is mortal; we shall outlive her. When all the suns and nebulae have passed away, each one of you will still be alive. Nature is only the image, the symbol; but it is the symbol Scripture invites me to use. We are summoned to pass through Nature, beyond her, into that splendour which she fitfully reflects.

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M. Scott Peck – The Road Less Traveled (page 261)

I do not think we can hope to approach a full understanding of the cosmos, of the place of man within the cosmos, and hence the nature of mankind itself, without incorporating the phenomenon of grace into our conceptual framework.

M. Scott Peck – The Road Less Traveled (page 261)

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The Deceptive God Badge Of Confrontation

I’ve been listening to Fiction Family’s new album, which features a track titled God Badge. The song is amazing and has been spinning around my head for the last few weeks. Some of the lyrics go like this:

Put your God badge down
And love someone
Unlock your heart
And love someone

There is no us or them
There’s only folks you do or don’t understand
You’re not your own idea and neither was this town

The lyrics are asking us to put our God Badge down, but what’s a God Badge and how do we put it down? A God Badge, simply put, is a justification—generally found in morality or religion or the bible—for our actions towards God or one another. The song tells us that we avoid loving one another and hold up a God Badge for justification; in vain of course. Then the song tells us to change our ways. Similar to the third commandment from Exodus 20:7, which reads:

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

I’ve also recently been reading M. Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled. Pondering the lyrics, a chapter from the book titled The Risk Of Confrontation popped in my head. It’s no coincidence that the two were in my head at the same time.

Let me explain by starting off with a synopsis of the chapter. The chapter is in a larger section titled Love. The main point of this section is to explain ways to love each other well. This particular chapter points out one must risk confrontation with another in order to help them spiritually and personally grow. Our actions are sometimes wrong and sometimes others know better than we do (or vice versa). Therefore out of love we have a responsibility to risk confrontation and correct. M. Scott Peck, on page 153, goes as far as to say this:

To fail to confront when confrontation is required for the nurture of spiritual growth represents a failure to love equally as does thoughtless criticism or condemnation and other forms of active deprivation of caring.

The chapter explains this idea very well and I would suggest reading it in detail if you’d like to grasp the idea further.

So how does this relate to the God Badge thing? That question has been eluding me for quite a few years now. Probably by choice at some level that I’ve just carelessly overlooked. Here God Badge is simply using the bible (or religion or morality) in an attempt to avoid confrontation with someone and thus forsaking love. A verse that has been often be taken out of context and used to justify this is Mathew 5:38:

If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

I should mention that I’m generally a non-confrontational person and this subtlety may be lost on people with a more in-your-face personality. In that case the God Badge looks more like the using the bible (or religion or morality) to justify judging and condemning others.

Loving each other well is hard to do and important to see from all angles. I’d go as far to say that in modern American culture loving someone would never look like conflict or confrontation. So the God Badge can be as loud as judging and condemning your brother or as subtle as not confronting them in love.

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M. Scott Peck – The Road Less Traveled (page 131)

This idea just keeps coming up. First in Too Kill A Mocking Bird here.

Then the other day on a John Wayne poster:

Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.
John Wayne

Then in The Road Less Traveled today:

Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the making of action in spite of fear, the moving out against the resistance engendered by fear into the unknown and into the future.
M. Scott Peck — The Road Less Traveled (page 131)

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