Thursday, September 10, 2009

Too Uptight for Your Own Good?

WHEN I WAS A YOUNGER ZEALOT, I remember asking a simple, pragmatic priest for advice before going on vacation with my family. I was concerned about the "sites" I was bound see

Yes, these are the things I used to worry about. I miss that kid.

I remember that he didn't laugh at me, but sort of just said without too much reflection that I should be simple and that if I saw "something," to treat what I saw as nothing. In other words, I was better off being normal, making nothing of it, not thinking about it too much, and moving on.

I thought about this conversation as I read the following passage from The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare, by G.K. Chesterton:
Syme, indeed, was one of those men who are open to all the more nameless psychological influences in a degree a little dangerous to mental health. Utterly devoid of fear in physical dangers, he was a great deal too sensitive to the smell of spiritual evil. Twice already that night little unmeaning things had peeped out at him almost pruriently, and given him a sense of drawing nearer and nearer to the head-quarters of hell.
He is considered "a great deal too sensitive" to the point that things that would otherwise go unnoticed ended up peeping out at him "almost pruriently" (i.e., in a sexual way).

I think part of being spiritually alert is being careful to avoid unhealthy obsessions and fears. Obsession can give temptation more life and power.


Jake said...

I loved that book. I remember reading a commentary that said Syme was actually supposed to be autobiographical of Chesterton himself. Interesting perspective Nader! Thanks!

Nader Alfie said...

Hey thanks, Jake. That makes a lot of sense. People like Chesterton like to poke fun at themselves subtly in their writing. It's a typical act of of humility by an intellectual.