Random Ruminations on Spiritual States of Mind

Rumination 1 - What is the answer to the question of why humans should feel guilt?  Why should one not just accept his mistakes, remedy those he can, and not worry about the others?  The answer lies in an analogy:  One whose sensitivities to music have not been developed may be satisfied with a mediocre performance; he feels insufficiency in a musical rendering only when his sensibilities are enhanced to show him what is possible.  In the same way, only divine perspective can show sin, because it is an offense against God.  If one is content to limit his view of things to this world, he may very well not feel guilt, since the consequences of his wrong actions in that light are only practical, not spiritual.

Rumination 2 - It is indeed true that one can tell no difference between trying to be “good” by his own will power and obsessively seeking to be made “good” by God’s power; because in both cases one is primarily concerned with an image of himself, rather than with his being an instrument of God to bless others.  He is concerned with his own goodness rather than God’s, and his prayers are for God to help him be “good” in the eyes of others in order to glorify himself, rather than God.

Rumination 3 - A major barrier to yielding to God and the work of His Spirit within us is that it’s initially humiliating.  It’s hard to admit that we need Someone Else to chart our course, and that the good we do is the result, not of our righteousness, but of His formative power.  But a consoling corollary is that God also takes on Himself, through Christ, even our bad actions and their consequences.  Thus, we can give Him all of our actions with the confidence that He understands their nature and their outcomes even better than we do.  We should not make it our primary goal to “be” virtuous, but to let His power—which we freely choose and seek to understand—produce virtue within us.

Rumination 4 -  Habitual melancholy is such a luxurious feeling, because it is egotistically romantic, connoting (in some distant way, above logic) one’s isolation from ordinary people.  Occasional melancholy may be only thoughtful sadness, but perpetual melancholy is likely to feed a scornful outlook (all the more dangerous because often veiled).  If melancholy shields us from the world, it can also hide us from ourselves.

Rumination 5 - Only the pure in heart will see God.  One is indeed responsible for his actions, but his ultimate responsibility is for what, from the depths of his heart, he wants.  The choice that is wholly his is whether or not he will desire something more than his “heart of darkness.”  He can either nurture that dark heart, or cry out beyond it.  Worst of all, he may choose to pretend it doesn’t exist.




Elton Higgs

Dr. Elton Higgs was a faculty member in the English department of the University of Michigan-Dearborn from 1965-2001. Having retired from UM-D as Prof. of English in 2001, he now lives with his wife and adult daughter in Jackson, MI.. He has published scholarly articles on Chaucer, Langland, the Pearl Poet, Shakespeare, and Milton. His self-published Collected Poems is online at Lulu.com. He also published a couple dozen short articles in religious journals. (Ed.: Dr. Higgs was the most important mentor during undergrad for the creator of this website, and his influence was inestimable; it's thrilling to welcome this dear friend onboard.)