Spiritual Alienation, Yet Extroversion

I got a lot read of M. Scott Peck’s The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace.  A significant part of this book overlaps with Peck’s Further Along the World Less Traveled, in the sense that Peck discusses the four spiritual stages and tells some of the same stories.  That tells me that I’d probably do well to read Peck’s People of the Lie next, and after that to move on to something else entirely.  I’m somewhat interested in reading about American socialist Norman Thomas, who was also a Presbyterian minister.

In my latest reading, I noticed a paradox.  On the one hand, spiritual growth can lead to greater loneliness, for a person who is spiritually mature does not always value what other people value.  On the other hand, spiritual growth can provide one with the tools to be a part of a community, to lay aside one’s own selfish desires or prejudices for the good of others.

I’ve heard this sort of insight before.  For example, at an Intervarsity meeting that I once attended, a guest speaker was telling us that, as we spiritually grow, we will feel more and more that this world is not our home, and yet we will be having a redemptive effect on the world.

Do I identify with this, in terms of where I am now?  Well, I can’t say that I feel at home in this world, but that’s not so much because I’m spiritually advanced, but rather on account of my Asperger’s—-or whatever socially inhibits me and makes me appear unusual to others.  Not sharing certain interests with other people—-such as sports—-can also alienate me from them, somewhat.  Do I feel alone when it comes to my spiritual interests, as the men in Peck’s book whom I mentioned yesterday did, leading to the formation of the Basement Group?  Yes and no.  I’d say “yes” in the sense that I don’t feel that too many people value what I have to say when it comes to spirituality, and that can lead to a lonely feeling.  (UPDATE: I don’t mean my church’s Bible study here, since I am accepted there, whether people agree with me or not.)  But I’d also say “no” because there is no dearth of places where people can discuss spirituality, especially online, and one can probably find people who are roughly on the same page: for example, I can find places where the people discussing religion seek spirituality but don’t particularly care for conservative Christianity.  Another point that I’d like to make is that, while I enjoy reading and listening to the insights of others because that can be edifying, I myself don’t particularly care for discussing religion and the Bible with other people.  I like to read the Bible for myself, for in that context I’m not put down for being stupid or for “missing the point” (as if there even is “the point”, as opposed to your point and my point).

I can’t see into people’s hearts, but I have met some who probably do feel that they are lonely because they are so spiritually advanced over others.  But, if they’re so spiritually advanced, why are they impatient with those who are not on the same stage of the spiritual journey as they are?

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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