Shelob

 

And of course spiders aren't evil but the thickness of the web and the death all around and the way that the hole at the top was a lair from which It at first wasn't present but then from which It suddenly and silently appeared when I wasn't looking, 

made me think of Shelob, 

Tolkien's evil sideshow that killed for the sake of death, and served "none but herself...weaving webs of shadow, for all living things were her food, and her vomit darkness."  

"Shelob the Great, last child of Ungoliant to trouble the unhappy world." 

And scattered around THIS spiders web were what was left after the feast.  Remnants of physical forms that once walked of their own power towards their own purpose for their own satisfaction,

And the scene begged the question:

"If the main thing you have to do in life is stay alive, how could you so easily walk into your death?"

for the evidence of wanton death was clearly visible to them in their sentience, and yet they still carried themselves towards the web, willingly wandering into their deaths, seemingly relegating themselves by choice into dust and nothingness.  

And it is a curious circumstance, and I pause to think of Shelob.

For Tolkien knew how to disguise the riddle. And while Shelob was great evil, 

there are struggles that are bigger than Darkness.

And so….

the dead that lie around this web in this Churchill Drive basement maybe wandered into their deaths with what amounts to grateful oblivion, not knowing the danger, and maybe not caring, 

and, as Frodo warily followed Gollum, we see the imminent distractibility that occurs when fear grabs our minds,

And as we walk to our own death, advancing through a world which preys on insecurities (where even religion christens us “God's Unhappy little sinful children”), echoing self-talk so damaging we need therapy and medication to survive it,

the struggle isn't between us and Darkness, 

or between us and great evil.  

The struggle is between us and our own selves, navigating this world with impossible vulnerability,

 

from which wise Tolkien knew, there was no escape.  

Comments 8

 
Rosy Cole on Tuesday, 12 January 2016 18:04

You're right. The struggle is between us and ourselves, but there are opposite poles of good and evil at work in the world. I need help all along the way, Amy, and I need it from the God whose grace is sufficient for all my needs and who cared enough to become one of us and walk in our shoes, then and now. Don't let any so-called 'religion' twist this truth for you.

We are loved and forgiven and undertaken for when we appeal for help and guidance.

God bless you and send good and uplifting things your way. x.

You're right. The struggle is between us and ourselves, but there are opposite poles of good and evil at work in the world. I need help all along the way, Amy, and I need it from the God whose grace is sufficient for all my needs and who cared enough to become one of us and walk in our shoes, then and now. Don't let any so-called 'religion' twist this truth for you. We are loved and forgiven and undertaken for when we appeal for help and guidance. God bless you and send good and uplifting things your way. x.
Amy Brook Palleson on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 00:45

Thank you for commenting, Rosy, and with a good philosophical mind rather than platitudes (a word I harvested from Katherine's recent work; love this word!).

I will be honest. I am deeply God-centered, which in Utah can frighten some people because it seems that here, there are often only two categories of people--Mormons or recovering Mormons--and talking about God often feels like you're either inviting proselytizers or preaching to those who have a serious distaste for God-talk. Honestly, I also don't talk about it a lot simply because I find it prideful, for whatever reason. But I believe in God, and couldn't help but do so even if I tried, for God is a feeling and it rests in all of us, and I have felt "it" and would never dishonor myself nor "it" by denying it's existence.

I just cannot see God through the filter of Man which is what religion is; because God is a feeling, and the words spoken about God make us "think" rather than "feel", an example of which lies in the recent Mormon proclamation that the children of gay parents have to denounce their own parents in order to be part of the church, leading to a mental health crisis as Mormon teens considered suicide rather than have to make the choice. If religion was "feeling", the Mormon leaders would have known how wrong this was to put a child through.

Anyways, God bless you too, Rosy, and I genuinely mean that.

Thank you for commenting, Rosy, and with a good philosophical mind rather than platitudes (a word I harvested from Katherine's recent work; love this word!). I will be honest. I am deeply God-centered, which in Utah can frighten some people because it seems that here, there are often only two categories of people--Mormons or recovering Mormons--and talking about God often feels like you're either inviting proselytizers or preaching to those who have a serious distaste for God-talk. Honestly, I also don't talk about it a lot simply because I find it prideful, for whatever reason. But I believe in God, and couldn't help but do so even if I tried, for God is a feeling and it rests in all of us, and I have felt "it" and would never dishonor myself nor "it" by denying it's existence. I just cannot see God through the filter of Man which is what religion is; because God is a feeling, and the words spoken about God make us "think" rather than "feel", an example of which lies in the recent Mormon proclamation that the children of gay parents have to denounce their own parents in order to be part of the church, leading to a mental health crisis as Mormon teens considered suicide rather than have to make the choice. If religion was "feeling", the Mormon leaders would have known how wrong this was to put a child through. Anyways, God bless you too, Rosy, and I genuinely mean that.
Rosy Cole on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 12:14

Thanks for taking the time to explain, Amy, which I truly appreciate. I understand your position very well. There are so many distortions of the concept of 'religion', so much putting the 'God stamp' on self-interested deeds, that I always prefer the term 'faith'. God is Spirit, incomprehensible to mortal minds, except in fleeting glimpses (and often we create God in our own image, not the other way round. There can be a tendency to pray to the mirror of ourselves and then wonder why things don't work out to best advantage all round!) But belief in Jesus as the Son of God, the counterweight to Adam, simplifies a lot for me and makes God accessible every moment. It can even be viewed in mathematical terms, as a vast cosmic - and utterly essential! - equation.

Though Britain is a secular nation, despite its heritage, we're lucky to have a more disciplined view of established religions than some. We either identify with them or we don't. It's not permissible to set up 'churches' under any heading and creed and attract followers, though there will always be argument about how to construe biblical sayings, and that's why we need the clarifying light of love, in Jesus, and the example of how he approached prejudice while having a deep and humble respect for the religion of his culture. Even the Dissenting churches here, Protestants that split off from the Anglican Church in recent centuries, took a long time and a lot of struggle to become legal and also to be recognised as part of the wider Anglican Communion.

God be with you, Amy. That's the main thing. And bless you for your post!

Thanks for taking the time to explain, Amy, which I truly appreciate. I understand your position very well. There are so many distortions of the concept of 'religion', so much putting the 'God stamp' on self-interested deeds, that I always prefer the term 'faith'. God is Spirit, incomprehensible to mortal minds, except in fleeting glimpses (and often we create God in our own image, not the other way round. There can be a tendency to pray to the mirror of ourselves and then wonder why things don't work out to best advantage all round!) But belief in Jesus as the Son of God, the counterweight to Adam, simplifies a lot for me and makes God accessible every moment. It can even be viewed in mathematical terms, as a vast cosmic - and utterly essential! - equation. Though Britain is a secular nation, despite its heritage, we're lucky to have a more disciplined view of established religions than some. We either identify with them or we don't. It's not permissible to set up 'churches' under any heading and creed and attract followers, though there will always be argument about how to construe biblical sayings, and that's why we need the clarifying light of love, in Jesus, and the example of how he approached prejudice while having a deep and humble respect for the religion of his culture. Even the Dissenting churches here, Protestants that split off from the Anglican Church in recent centuries, took a long time and a lot of struggle to become legal and also to be recognised as part of the wider Anglican Communion. God be with you, Amy. That's the main thing. And bless you for your post!
Amy Brook Palleson on Thursday, 14 January 2016 13:00

I just wrote this big involved reply and then deleted it because I'm not even sure I can adequately analyze this issue from where I'm standing as an ingrained/indoctrinated American.

But I will say that Religion here is complicated by the fact that we are a young and egoic nation where a good portion of its citizens have overly compartmentalized ideas of what God and faith are, and believe that nuanced problems can and should be solved using bombs or assault rifles. Add to that, that we idolize capitalism to the point where Money (and those who have it) quite literally have become the false idols that have been spoken about, and people don't even have the capacity for self-reflection to even realize it. It frightens me a bit, frankly, because it means that there is a disassociation between the human psyche and the feeling of God (aka, "Source" or "All That Is" or "loving Other" or whatever word fits our personal feelings about the God experience) which means that the inner guidance system is all catawampus. And if the inner guidance system is out of whack, it's just a hop, skip and jump away from abusing the world in the name of our religion.

Deep breath. These are some treacherous, transformative times in America. For sure. Hold hope for us, Rosy.

I just wrote this big involved reply and then deleted it because I'm not even sure I can adequately analyze this issue from where I'm standing as an ingrained/indoctrinated American. But I will say that Religion here is complicated by the fact that we are a young and egoic nation where a good portion of its citizens have overly compartmentalized ideas of what God and faith are, and believe that nuanced problems can and should be solved using bombs or assault rifles. Add to that, that we idolize capitalism to the point where Money (and those who have it) quite literally have become the false idols that have been spoken about, and people don't even have the capacity for self-reflection to even realize it. It frightens me a bit, frankly, because it means that there is a disassociation between the human psyche and the feeling of God (aka, "Source" or "All That Is" or "loving Other" or whatever word fits our personal feelings about the God experience) which means that the inner guidance system is all catawampus. And if the inner guidance system is out of whack, it's just a hop, skip and jump away from abusing the world in the name of our religion. Deep breath. These are some treacherous, transformative times in America. For sure. Hold hope for us, Rosy.
Rosy Cole on Friday, 15 January 2016 14:04

As an onlooker, I think you've nailed the problem perfectly, Amy. 'Pick and Mix' attitudes never work out and require no discipline from us, whether that's directly to do with religion or any other approach to life. When we choose the harder path, or even make a wrong decision, our identity is being forged and strengthened. Who we are is confirmed and refined in hardship. And all we possess in real terms is the power to deal with what life throws at us.

What would concern me about the United States is the overwhelming peddling of the Prosperity Gospel, particularly by 'Ministries'-type organisations,, with the construing of 'prosperity' as affluence. Nowhere do I see that in the Bible as an end in itself. Provision enough for needs, yes. Prosperity in terms of well-being and the appreciation (in the Bank Interest sense) of every kind of gift, which becomes a celebration of life itself. We have to accept that some are born, or endowed by fate, richer than others and theirs is a very heavy responsibility indeed. But the lust for money is a mask for deep-seated interior problems, whether on a personal or national level. Money cuts corners. It prevents the need to address uncomfortable issues and take a good look in the mirror.

On the face of it, good things happen to bad people, and vice versa. Once the tide is rolling, there's no telling how the dice will fall. But that transformation you speak of can only take place from the base upwards, through individuals deciding to swim against the tide, and their ranks gradually swelling. I really do believe change is already happening below the waterline, out of sight of (crass and designing) politicians. God is on the side of any who humbly invite him in and are prepared to take what comes, believing that, ultimately, he will not fail them.

Thanks, Amy, for taking the time to discuss these things. You are in my thoughts, I promise.

As an onlooker, I think you've nailed the problem perfectly, Amy. 'Pick and Mix' attitudes never work out and require no discipline from us, whether that's directly to do with religion or any other approach to life. When we choose the harder path, or even make a wrong decision, our identity is being forged and strengthened. Who we are is confirmed and refined in hardship. And all we possess in real terms is the power to deal with what life throws at us. What would concern me about the United States is the overwhelming peddling of the Prosperity Gospel, particularly by 'Ministries'-type organisations,, with the construing of 'prosperity' as affluence. Nowhere do I see that in the Bible as an end in itself. Provision enough for needs, yes. Prosperity in terms of well-being and the [i]appreciation[/i] (in the Bank Interest sense) of every kind of gift, which becomes a celebration of life itself. We have to accept that some are born, or endowed by fate, richer than others and theirs is a very heavy responsibility indeed. But the lust for money is a mask for deep-seated interior problems, whether on a personal or national level. Money cuts corners. It prevents the need to address uncomfortable issues and take a good look in the mirror. On the face of it, good things happen to bad people, and vice versa. Once the tide is rolling, there's no telling how the dice will fall. But that transformation you speak of can only take place from the base upwards, through individuals deciding to swim against the tide, and their ranks gradually swelling. I really do believe change is already happening below the waterline, out of sight of (crass and designing) politicians. God is on the side of any who humbly invite him in and are prepared to take what comes, believing that, ultimately, he will not fail them. Thanks, Amy, for taking the time to discuss these things. You are in my thoughts, I promise.
Katherine Gregor on Thursday, 14 January 2016 09:16

I loved reading your piece, Amy, and then your exchange with Rosy.

I am one of the few so-called believers among, I would say, the 99% of atheists that constitute my friends and acquaintances. In England, and Rosy will back me on that, Political Correctness, can be stifling, a nurse has been reported for offering to pray for her patient, and I sometimes wonder when I'm going to start being told off for not being "inclusive" if I say "'bless you' to someone who sneezes. Having said that, I'm afraid that, if we're into labels, and if believing in God means subscribing to many religious doctrines, I'd also have to call myself an atheist. For me, God is the all-encompassing, all-permeating Power of Life, and Life is Love, or it would not be harmonious. In some ways, I'm a bit of a pantheist... I also hold certain early Christian beliefs that the Church banned around the 6th century. It can't think otherwise when I see the beauty and perfection of nature. A doctor friend of mine says that he started medical school as a convinced atheist, but as he studied physiology, he started believing in God because "No man could have created such perfection."

For me "Darkness" represents ignorance. For me, ignorance is the ultimate evil. Obviously, when I say "ignorance" I don't mean the lack of formal education or academic or even scientific knowledge (in six years in Cambridge I encountered a fair number of uninformed individuals – and that's putting it politely!). I mean the lack of knowledge we have when, in our (for want of a better word) hearts, we are out of touch with the Laws of the Universe.

I admire and envy Rosy's faith. I can't honestly say I have faith. I am too out of touch with my inner self, perhaps. But for me, the existence of a Higher Power just makes logical sense, like it does for my doctor friend.

God bless you, Amy – I mean that with all my heart.

I loved reading your piece, Amy, and then your exchange with Rosy. I am one of the few so-called believers among, I would say, the 99% of atheists that constitute my friends and acquaintances. In England, and Rosy will back me on that, Political Correctness, can be stifling, a nurse has been reported for offering to pray for her patient, and I sometimes wonder when I'm going to start being told off for not being "inclusive" if I say "'bless you' to someone who sneezes. Having said that, I'm afraid that, if we're into labels, and if believing in God means subscribing to many religious doctrines, I'd also have to call myself an atheist. For me, God is the all-encompassing, all-permeating Power of Life, and Life is Love, or it would not be harmonious. In some ways, I'm a bit of a pantheist... I also hold certain early Christian beliefs that the Church banned around the 6th century. It can't think otherwise when I see the beauty and perfection of nature. A doctor friend of mine says that he started medical school as a convinced atheist, but as he studied physiology, he started believing in God because "No man could have created such perfection." For me "Darkness" represents ignorance. For me, ignorance is the ultimate evil. Obviously, when I say "ignorance" I don't mean the lack of formal education or academic or even scientific knowledge (in six years in Cambridge I encountered a fair number of uninformed individuals – and that's putting it politely!). I mean the lack of knowledge we have when, in our (for want of a better word) hearts, we are out of touch with the Laws of the Universe. I admire and envy Rosy's faith. I can't honestly say I have faith. I am too out of touch with my inner self, perhaps. But for me, the existence of a Higher Power just makes logical sense, like it does for my doctor friend. God bless you, Amy – I mean that with all my heart.
Amy Brook Palleson on Thursday, 14 January 2016 13:33

I completely understand what you're saying, Katherine, for it seems as if "religion" as a category has turned off so many people that to even speak of believing in God is like inviting people to educate us on just how misinformed and delusional we are. OR (and this might be a strictly American phenomenon) how the God that we believe in isn't the "right" one.

That said, how can we not respect ourselves enough to listen to our own self (even if that self is your own logical mind), for if you remove the layers of judgment and pre-conceptions about God and religion, you can really listen to the whispers of the objective Universe and hear and see that,yes, there is Darkness (aka, ignorance) but there is also Love, and together they create something almost indefinable by human minds (with one not masking the other; simply improving the contrast to help us see each more clearly) which if you are wise enough, you can sit with for a lifetime, respecting its existence enough not to encapsulate its complexity with words.

For myself, I spent a long time studying religions and faith (of all sorts) and never found something that felt just right (and didn't like having my free will funneled down), so I'm now trying to "feel" my way more through life, for I believe that all find their own way, and I believe that "God" as an entity (free of the power and control and dictates of man-centered "religion") truly loves us enough to have faith that we'll all eventually turn from Darkness and find the path back "home".

Thank you so much for commenting, Katherine. You are always ready with such good discourse. (And it seems as if you are in fine touch with your inner self)....

With love, acceptance, and gratitude...

Amy

I completely understand what you're saying, Katherine, for it seems as if "religion" as a category has turned off so many people that to even speak of believing in God is like inviting people to educate us on just how misinformed and delusional we are. OR (and this might be a strictly American phenomenon) how the God that we believe in isn't the "right" one. That said, how can we not respect ourselves enough to listen to our own self (even if that self is your own logical mind), for if you remove the layers of judgment and pre-conceptions about God and religion, you can really listen to the whispers of the objective Universe and hear and see that,yes, there is Darkness (aka, ignorance) but there is also Love, and together they create something almost indefinable by human minds (with one not masking the other; simply improving the contrast to help us see each more clearly) which if you are wise enough, you can sit with for a lifetime, respecting its existence enough not to encapsulate its complexity with words. For myself, I spent a long time studying religions and faith (of all sorts) and never found something that felt just right (and didn't like having my free will funneled down), so I'm now trying to "feel" my way more through life, for I believe that all find their own way, and I believe that "God" as an entity (free of the power and control and dictates of man-centered "religion") truly loves us enough to have faith that we'll all eventually turn from Darkness and find the path back "home". Thank you so much for commenting, Katherine. You are always ready with such good discourse. (And it seems as if you are in fine touch with your inner self).... With love, acceptance, and gratitude... Amy
Rosy Cole on Friday, 29 January 2016 12:55

Would just like to add a footnote to this thread:

God is Love.

We are created in his image, to reflect that love in our interaction with each other and with his Creation. (Yes, we fall short all the time.)

What is Love?

When the chips are down, we test Love by how far we're prepared to serve the interests of another before our own. That means. particularly in times of hardship, we need to seek strength outside our own humanity to see it through. This the ultimate Golden Rule.

For me, it's as simple and challenging as that.

No easy option, I grant! :-)

Would just like to add a footnote to this thread: God [i]is[/i] Love. We are created in his image, to reflect that love in our interaction with each other and with his Creation. (Yes, we fall short all the time.) What is Love? When the chips are down, we test Love by how far we're prepared to serve the interests of another before our own. That means. particularly in times of hardship, we need to seek strength outside our own humanity to see it through. This the ultimate Golden Rule. For me, it's as simple and challenging as that. No easy option, I grant! :-)
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