Ever notice how the admonition of Timothy (2 Tim. 4:3) regarding “itching ears” needs to be repeated in every age and also how if one starts scratching them, the itch only get worse and one usually goes from novel doctrine or practice to embrace even more novel doctrines and practices? It has baffled me in this age, after 2000 years of good religious thinking, which can fill a library to its uppermost racks, that we still are not satisfied with what has proved helpful and sound knowledge and advice for our spiritual lives.
I am not against those who genuinely use their gifts to add to that library or to build upon it; for that is exactly as it should be. But why would I want to read that which the Church, to which I owe my allegiance, has declared to be unsound thought when there are so many good, uncontroversial ones to read? The same can be said about practices etc. Why do we edge closer and closer to the occult or the New Age? Is it that men just love the forbidden fruit and the danger of the path? Or might it be a search to know something that no one else they associate with knows? A small slice of the gnostic spirit so to speak?
It is disturbing that since the dissolution of the Index of Forbidden Books (and Films), that people flock to those books as if they have suddenly been found to be useful. That is far from the case: the censorship still stands and you read them or watch them to your own detriment, unless one is studying the errors and trying to correct the faults. I’m thinking here of authors such as Anthony de Mello (Sadhana – A Way to God), Anthony Wilhelm (Christ Among Us), Helen Shucman (A Course In Miracles), Maria Valtorta (The Poem of the Man God), and many others – not to mention those who prefer their theologians to be controversial as well; e.g. Rahner, Kung or more popularly, Teilhard de Chardin. I have had many a Catholic and even many a priest recommend such reading to me, sadly.
When I was younger and you wanted me to do something, you probably only needed to forbid me to do it. That is the rebelliousness of youth and I plead guilty. But in my elder years I have finally come to a point in life where my mortality is constantly reminding me of the preciousness of the time that is allotted one in life. Why, I ask myself, would I waste my time in a practice or in reading the thoughts of those who might confuse or lead me astray? Is it not enough for me to try to continue my walk by filling my head with wholesome things and tried and tested direction for the Spiritual life to which I now aspire? It is my task now to attempt to pick the best of the lot and am happy to leave the rest to those who are so inclined; for I do not know when my time will come and I fear that it will come at a moment when I am most unprepared.
So though I sometimes get the itch, I now self-regulate myself in conformity with the Church, to try my best to resist the urge to scratch. After all, I get enough of the novel without looking for it. After all it is everywhere.