Emptiness - in Western Culture - Christianity

Christianity

In Austrian philosopher/educator Rudolf Steiner's (1861–1925) thinking, spiritual emptiness was a major problem in the educated European middle class. In his 1919 lectures he argued that European culture became "empty of spirit" and "ignorant of the needs, the conditions, that are essential for the life of the spirit". People experienced a "spiritual emptiness" and their thinking became marked by a "lazy passivity" due to the "absence of will from the life of thought". In modern Europe, Steiner claimed that people would "allow their thoughts to take possession of them", and these thoughts were increasingly filled with abstraction and "pure, natural scientific thinking". The educated middle classes began to think in a way that was "devoid of spirit", with their minds becoming "dimmer and darker", and increasing empty of spirit.

Louis Dupré, a Professor of Philosophy at Yale University, argues that the "spiritual emptiness of our time is a symptom of its religious poverty". He claims that "many people never experience any emptiness: they are too busy to feel much absence of any kind"; they only realize their spiritual emptiness if "painful personal experiences -- the death of a loved one, the collapse of a marriage, the alienation of a child, the failure of a business" shock them into reassessing their sense of meaning.

Spiritual emptiness has been associated with juvenile violence. In John C. Thomas' 1999 book How Juvenile Violence Begins: Spiritual Emptiness, he argues that youth in impoverished indigenous communities who feel empty may turn to fighting and aggressive crime to fill their sense of meaninglessness. In Cornell University professor James Garbarino's 1999 book Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them, he argues that "neglect, shame, spiritual emptiness, alienation, anger and access to guns are a few of the elements common to violent boys". A professor of human development, Garbarino claims that violent boys have an "alienation from positive role models" and "a spiritual emptiness that spawns despair". These youth are seduced by the violent fantasy of the US gun culture, which provides negative role models of tough, aggressive men who use power to get what they want. He claims that boys can be helped by giving them "a sense of purpose" and "spiritual anchors" that can "anchor boys in empathy and socially engaged moral thinking".

Spiritual emptiness is often connected with addiction, especially by Christian-influenced addiction organizations and counsellors. Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, argued that one of the impacts of alcoholism was causing a spiritual emptiness in heavy drinkers. In Abraham J. Twerski's 1997 book Addictive Thinking: Understanding Self-Deception, he argues that when people feel spiritually empty, they often turn to addictive behaviors to fill the inner void. In contrast to having an empty stomach, which is a clear feeling, having spiritual emptiness is hard to identify, so it fills humans with a "vague unrest". While people may try to resolve this emptiness by obsessively having sex, overeating, or taking drugs or alcohol, these addictions only give temporary satisfaction. When a person facing a crisis due to feeling spiritually empty is able to stop one addiction, such as compulsive sex, they often just trade it in for another addictive behaviour, such as gambling or overeating.

Just as religion influences addiction counselling, it has also influenced other therapies. Some eating disorder therapists argue that bulimia and anorexia are caused in part by "spiritual emptiness, recognized as “hunger” of the soul", in which women who face "isolation, emptiness, pain, fear and a profound sense of disembodiment" become an "empty vessel, devoid of life" which needs to be filled with comfort-giving food. People who have an "empty self" may try to "fill up on food, excitement, substances, relationships, consumer products".

Read more about this topic:  Emptiness, In Western Culture

Other articles related to "christianity":

Human Rights In China - Civil Liberties - Religious Freedom - Christianity
... The "official Catholic" metropolitan bishop was elected in China in 2007 to replace the deceased Fu Tieshan instead of appointed by the Pope as is customary ... According to Pope Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church in particular is viewed as a foreign power in a situation somewhat analogous to that in Post-Reformation England, and so the official church in China is state-controlled ...
Christianity - Criticism
... Main article Criticism of Christianity Criticism of Christianity and Christians goes back to the Apostolic age, with the New Testament recording friction between the followers of Jesus and the Pharisees and scribes ... In the second century Christianity was criticized by the Jews on a various grounds, e.g ... By the third century criticism of Christianity had mounted, partly as a defense against it, and the 15 volume Adversus Christianos by Porphyry was written as a comprehensive attack on ...
Karen People - Origins
... a relatively modern creation, established in the 1800s with the conversion of some Karens to Christianity and shaped by various British colonial policies and practices and the ... After Christianity was introduced by missionaries during this period, some Karen-speaking Christians began asserting a distinct identity from their non-Christian counterparts, and garnered special ...

Famous quotes containing the word christianity:

    If Christianity is pessimistic as to man, it is optimistic as to human destiny. Well, I can say that, pessimistic as to human destiny, I am optimistic as to man.
    Albert Camus (1913–1960)

    But, with whatever exception, it is still true that tradition characterizes the preaching of this country; that it comes out of the memory, and not out of the soul; that it aims at what is usual, and not at what is necessary and eternal; that thus historical Christianity destroys the power of preaching, by withdrawing it from the exploration of the moral nature of man; where the sublime is, where are the resources of astonishment and power.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

    The conversion of a savage to Christianity is the conversion of Christianity to savagery.
    George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950)