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Jesus Christ Saved My Soul, No Doubt; But Paul Morel Helped Me Too!

Updated on April 26, 2016
D.H. Lawrence's Passport Photo
D.H. Lawrence's Passport Photo | Source

Religion is a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because it leaps ahead of the inward life to warn us of consequences from God if we do this or that (keeping society in order); and it is a curse because it removes the active individual from his spiritual roots and soul. How does it do that?

Though religion offers some solace to those within this spiritually collective but mass-minded constituency, for the many among us that probe a greater depth, religion never succeeds to satisfy the spiritual thirst of the inward life, which, ironically, was its original purpose and calling. Like a man found aloof and minuscule against the totalitarian state, religion has put the cart before the horse and brandished the inward man, once again, forcing him to face God alone. And though the inward journey is tougher today, some may say this is good – but is it? Rather, ought not the church redefine its calling for the individual man? After all, was not the individual and Apostle Peter’s faith the "rock" and true meaning of “the church”?

Pure religion alone can never truly help us navigate our inward wasteland by mere “confession” or an outward show of “good works.” The pain is often too great for that. And, since man in his “corporal” nature cannot conceive of a “spiritual” life away from the church, religion alone often leaves the individual weak and mystified when they are confronted with that proverbial “knock” from the unconscious that religion alone cannot give answer. (Why am I this way? How can I change?) Thus, religion is limited like a lighthouse is to a ship in storm, and although it is used to guide or dictate what is good and what is evil in all its material aspects, and warns us always (i.e., about that which is not “seen,” “heard” and “spoken”), if the inward life or psychology of the individual today challenges its authority, the institution being lost to its former convictions, the individual is not likely to find solace. Religion thus has evolved to represent a kaleidoscope of projected emotional matter consisting of archetypes for the mass man alone, and abandoning the individual that, for whatever reason, has become more insignificant than any other time in history, while he is, ironically, crying even louder for his purpose than ever before.

[Jesus Christ spoke for the individual too when He said, ""Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law." (Matt. 10:34-35) (Please think on this quote from scripture as you read on.)]

I do not know about you, the Reader, and what your thoughts are regarding the mass shooters of the last decade, but for me they are a symptom of the great loss of our individual importance in society as a whole; which is why we are more often than not confronted with the characterization of the assailant as a “quiet” and “shy” individual or “loner;” in essence, an introverted soul or person who possesses a self-consciousness and aloofness that is painful to imagine and, if you are one who had difficulties in youth and can recall your own struggles, painful to feel.

It is therefore important to speak to these youth about the fact that how they feel in adolescence, or at any given moment, is not forever. They ought to know too that an introverted personality is not in and of itself abnormal, but that a forced isolation from achieving an understanding of one’s uniqueness is. It is why I believe educators are not doing enough to teach students, and themselves, about how many have gone before who were afflicted with the same emotions and triumphed without resorting to violence, and rarely do educators teach children who those people were, are, or where they can be found.

Before I became ill from a neglected medical condition, I wanted to be a teacher. I was enrolled at a major university in its graduate program and prepared to begin my first semester when I suddenly had to withdraw due to illness. I wanted so much to be a teacher because when I was a teenager, I remember it being one of the most difficult times in my life, and I remember it was one teacher’s small effort to reach out to me that helped me realize what is most important.

She asked to meet after school to work on my grammar (which is better today but still not perfect), and although our meetings only lasted three days, it was in the last two we had a conversation about my personal difficulties that were spoken in strict and cherished confidence. I will not go into all that transpired, but the phrases she used to remedy my predicament were a godsend to me at the time. There was indeed one that I thought came from the Bible (but later found out did not). It was that marvelous, “THIS TOO SHALL PASS” - that when you are young (if you think about it) is so difficult to comprehend, right? (Do you remember when it felt like the end of the world if you just said, did, or even wore, something that was not "cool"?)

When we’re young, days seem to last forever; and the pain of not being accepted for who we are is often too painful to bear. We adults forget how many young minds simply feel powerless to let painful feelings just “roll off the shoulders.” When I was young, I would skip school to avoid feeling it and then depressed and terrified of what would become of me. But what saved me from collapsing under the weight of my pain was that one simple phrase: “This too shall pass.” [Or, could it be, I now ask, that I had a teacher who cared to take notice?]

Thus began my journey to find myself, not as the world expected of me but only as my inward life plunged me on to do. I began to read books to escape the world and its requirements. One of the first books I read was “Sons & Lovers,” a book I chose because of its title and because of it being characterized as a young man’s psychological struggle to find his place in the world. To those who are familiar with this work of fiction, you must also know Paul Morel. Paul Morel is the book’s main character; and D.H. Lawrence, its author, was Paul Morel.

Many consider the book autobiographical, and it is. That is because D.H. Lawrence was also, by witness accounts, an extremely shy and nervous child. He was also a “sickly” child, and in this book Paul Morel describes his “palms sweating” when merely speaking with others. The degree of psychological pain he felt as a young man from a dysfunctional family in matters of sex, life, work, etc., his hopelessness and despair, and his triumph over his inward life is, to me, one of the most remarkable stories of an individual’s triumph over his environment in all of literature.

D.H. Lawrence spoke of the richness of the inward life despite his pain. He was keen to observe man’s inability to see themselves as they truly are. Anyone who reads this work of fiction (which is considered one of the great stories of all time [to me too]) will be mesmerized by the writer’s ability to turn his weaknesses into strengths.

Lawrence summarized the plot in a letter to Edward Garnett on 12 November 1912 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sons_and_Lovers):

It follows this idea: a woman of character and refinement goes into the lower class, and has no satisfaction in her own life. She has had a passion for her husband, so her children are born of passion, and have heaps of vitality. But as her sons grow up she selects them as lovers — first the eldest, then the second. These sons are urged into life by their reciprocal love of their mother — urged on and on. But when they come to manhood, they can't love, because their mother is the strongest power in their lives, and holds them. It's rather like Goethe and his mother and Frau von Stein and Christiana — As soon as the young men come into contact with women, there's a split. William gives his sex to a fribble, and his mother holds his soul. But the split kills him, because he doesn't know where he is. The next son gets a woman who fights for his soul — fights his mother. The son loves his mother — all the sons hate and are jealous of the father. The battle goes on between the mother and the girl, with the son as object. The mother gradually proves stronger, because of the ties of blood. The son decides to leave his soul in his mother's hands, and, like his elder brother go for passion. He gets passion. Then the split begins to tell again. But, almost unconsciously, the mother realizes what is the matter, and begins to die. The son casts off his mistress, attends to his mother dying. He is left in the end naked of everything, with the drift towards death.

Here, D.H. Lawrence is speaking of the “unconscious” self. Paul Morel then is a character who became, as the psychologist Mazlow would term, “self-actualized,” when the elements of attachment to family life become understood, and then shed, and a new self is reborn. The death? The death is the death of his ties to his mother and his child self, his break from her psychological grasp, her hold too on this young man’s “sexual self.” When one gets to the end of the novel, it is the shedding of attachments to mother that, at least to me, put Paul Morel, on an individual path with an inward conviction and confidence he had not previously been conscious. His break from his mother does not diminish his mother in any way, but her love the necessary catalyst by which his greater inward life as an individual could emerge.

(Lest there be doubt as to my rendition, D.H. Lawrence did in fact go on to worldwide acclaim as a poet and short story writer.)

[It ought to have been noted – but it is not - that the “Oedipus Complex,” uniformly credited to Sigmund Freud, is depicted here in the life of Paul Morel 50 years BEFORE Freud even conceived of the theory, which is further proof of the magnificent insight D.H. Lawrence possessed.]

Is it then by coincidence only that the spiritual, the Word of God, is all about the inward life as well? Its chief concern is for the mind, the thoughts and machinations that plague the individual, and if only we could hear His Word is our yolk (our life) made easy, and our guilt erased when we BELIEVE we are forgiven. But the application of biblical exegesis, to life’s bows and arrows, is often ignored by young persons. That is because it is an inherent quality of youth to think in terms of the Bible as a “religion” not relevant to his inward life. But quite the contrary is the truth.

As mankind becomes more concerned with satisfying others’ expectations to be “included” or “accepted,” the individual becomes less and less relevant, and when that happens so too is the respect lost to another’s individuality.

I regret not finishing my education, but I could not. However, if I were an educator today I would make “Sons & Lovers” required reading for every one of my students, man and woman alike. It not only teaches those with an introverted nature that their disposition was worn by so many throughout history who went on to achieve great things, but it is a book that will enlighten other students who are not so introverted by showing them that those whom they exclude from their “groups” might one day in fact be a person whose potential exceeds their own and why everyone is deserving of respect.

I hope the Church of the future can take us down the road of ecumenism of the heart and only the heart. For the spirit of God is not for the world stage, He is for the individual. “He careth for you.” And as we go through life we can supplement our understanding of who we are by examining how others with similar challenges like our own turned their weaknesses into strengths – like D.H. Lawrence did - and this we can do whether we believe in God or not.

It is not relevant for purposes of preserving our individuality in society whether one believes in God or not, for it is the “inward” or introverted life of mankind where our individual purpose lies. We want to be free as individuals and our Will be our own, or we want to be free as individuals and do God's Will, and this is the only difference between us. So can we not we at least equate a humanist view of consequences to those consequences felt by the religious or spiritual man when they are both “knocks” on the door of our individual consciousness? They are our reminders that something greater within is watching our every move and passing judgment, and while we navigate, whether we come face-to-face with our own Grim Reaper, or Jesus Christ, is not worthy of contempt from others. We are first individuals that deserve respect. One is left in life only to navigate between the two extremes from which they either triumph through integration, or perish through self-destruction that we as humanists or believers in Christ can come together and be unified to help stop.

So I guess my point is that what saved my soul can be surmised as first by my love of God and the teachings of His Son, Jesus Christ, and then second, by my love for Paul Morel, who helped me, in conjunction with God, to see my life as an individual, and who showed me I was not alone in how I felt, or insignificant, and that it was okay to be me, even when it hurt so much. And it did not matter that D.H. Lawrence believed in God. What mattered was that his story, his experience and struggle, was so much like my own; and also that he survived and rose above his emotional difficulties meant that with the help of God and faith in Jesus Christ, I would rise above mine as well.

Education does do this kind of thing, you know. It teaches us to navigate using our minds, and increased my understanding in my youth (which hope eludes the young often) of what it means in the Bible when it tells us to "renew" our minds - Romans 12.2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

© 2013 cynthtggt

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  • cynthtggt profile image
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    cynthtggt 4 years ago from New York, NY

    Thanks, James, for returning and writing your comment. Aside from you and Faith (see comment below), I don't get many comments from other believers and I wondered if I were the only one who thinks the way I do. For that, then, I wrote you, simply curious and wanting clarification. Thank you for providing it. I feel relieved to know. God bless.

  • James A Watkins profile image

    James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago

    Cynthia,

    I apologize for my errors and poor choice of words. I simply did not articulate well what I was thinking and I misunderstood a small part of your message.

    As I said in my first comment, "Your article is fabulous! I enjoyed it so much."

    You write, "I believe the inward life is EVERYTHING and what we do that the world sees in only symptomatic of how we think but not always. Hence, one cannot judge another. They can fairly judge inappropriate behavior or the breaking of laws, but they cannot judge the heart of any person. We do not yet know what we will become. . . . God is concerned with the inward life of a person"

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. And I made a note to read your Hub soon on "Brucellosis."

    You mentioned something that reminded me of an excellent book by an acquaintance of mine, Os Guinness: "When No One Sees: The Importance of Character in an Age of Image"

    You write, "Throughout our lives He shows us who we are. He wants us to look at ourselves and sift and analyze our thoughts and motives. . . . God KNOWS WHO YOU ARE BETTER THAN YOU KNOW YOURSELF. It is astounding His love, is it not?"

    Yes, it is. I agree with you.

    God Bless You!

    james

  • cynthtggt profile image
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    cynthtggt 4 years ago from New York, NY

    I have to add this poem from Emily Dickinson as evidence of the depth of our own guilt if only to shed light on what I mean by the inward life that God knows, even surpassing our own knowledge. Emily Dickinson captures it so well in this short poem:

    That I did always love,

    I bring thee proof:

    That till I loved

    I did not love enough.

    That I shall love alway,

    I offer thee

    That love is life,

    And life hath immortality.

    This, dost thou doubt, sweet?

    Then have I

    Nothing to show

    But Calvary.

  • James A Watkins profile image

    James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago

    Cynthia,

    Your article is fabulous! I enjoyed it so much. I have not read the book but it surely sounds interesting and eye-opening.

    You write, "if the inward life or psychology of the individual today challenges its authority, the institution, being lost to its former convictions, the individual is not likely to find solace"

    Yes, you are so right, my friend. I think this is why the Main Line Christian denominations have lost half their members to Evangelicals over the past fifty years, and are now mostly congregations of people too old to change churches, and young folks who do not believe the Gospel at all but love the Social Gospel. They see Jesus as a man who was a good teacher and that's it. Not presenting a clear truth that is different from the sort of truth you can get at any rally of the Democratic Party does not compel folks to get up on Sunday and go to church.

    You write, "I do not know about you, the Reader, and what your thoughts are regarding the mass shooters of the last decade, but for me they are a symptom of the great loss of our individual importance in society as a whole; which is why we are more often than not confronted with the characterization of the assailant as a “quiet” and “shy” individual or “loner;”"

    I think you are onto something there. I also think it has to do with kicking God out of the public schools, and the hostility toward the Christian Faith in television, film, and other media. I have a textbook right here for Social Studies that plainly teaches—and there will be a test on Friday—that we, human beings, are not created beings at all but evolved from Chimpanzees. It also says flatly that the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) is not true. Now I think that if you tell children that there is a God, He has moral rules for behavior, He sees everything you do, and you will come face-to-face with Him one day to be Judged; I think you will get a different set of behaviors than you will if you teach kids that they are nothing more than a random accident, a set of chemicals that formed and one day will dissolve and that's that. There is no God, no Judgment, no Afterlife, no Purpose, no meaning to life other than that of the pollywog, as Clarence Darrow said so famously: “The purpose of man is like the purpose of a pollywog - to wiggle along as far as he can without dying."

    We teach children in school that there is no objective right and wrong, and that the worst thing they can be is a person who has Good Judgment and isn't afraid to pronounce it. So how can we expect them to have good judgment as to their own behavior?

    You write, "We adults forget how many young minds simply feel powerless"

    Yes, but moral relativism is drilled into their little heads in our schools that teaches the powerless, immature little souls that they must, without having yet lived, define their own moral landscape, and if your parents or your church attempt to foist one on you, they don't know what they are talking about.

    You write brilliantly about "man’s inability to see themselves as they truly are."

    Indeed. And that is exactly what the Christian Faith does: Holds up a mirror to your true nature and your real heart of hearts. The difference between Christians and unbelievers is not that one group are sinners and the other is not; it is that one group KNOWS they are sinners and the other does not.

    I love that you added God, "He is for the individual."

    That's right, Sister. We are saved one at a time. You've got to walk that lonesome valley. Nobody else can walk it for you.

    You touched on "something greater within is watching our every move and passing judgment"

    I cringe a bit at the "within." I would say maybe somewhat within, as in the Natural Law is written on all hearts, but mostly "something greater WITHOUT US, is watching our every move, listening to our every word, reading our every thought, and one day WILL pass Judgment unless we have Jesus stand in front of us to shield us from it."

    Just a thought. Great work!

    James :D

  • cynthtggt profile image
    Author

    cynthtggt 4 years ago from New York, NY

    Thank you Moon and Faith for your comments: Yes, Moon, thank you; I shall look at Parrster's hub. I like too, Moon, your historical note about the Anglican Church. I believe we are on a course of a more "spiritual" renassiance in the church in response to the growing demand from its parishoners in a new age.

    Faith, I too believe as you but the striking hatred (as you I know experienced) is when non-believers are not convinced of spiritual truths in Christ's teachings. All is vanity, for sure, but on my path of self-destruction in my youth, to read "Sons & Lovers" and find a character who described feelings of "being a freak" or so shy that he could not speak described me. Do you know what a relief it was for me as a young child to read that there was another person describing how I felt? It was immensely freeing. It said to me that I was not the only person on earth who felt that way. I want non-believers to know that belief in Jesus Christ is a personal relationship and in NO WAY does Paul Morel usurp my Lord; but he brought a complement to my condition that I am sure my God wanted me to discover. Thank you for your kind comments. Always nice to see you both. And so apropo since Moon is an atheist and Faith a believer. The beginning of a new age is but a glimpse on my hub! Thank you both.

  • moonfroth profile image

    Clark Cook 4 years ago from Rural BC (Canada) & N of Puerto Vallarta (Mexico)

    CYNTH --You write SO well on these intellectually and spiritually demanding topics. It is indeed difficult indeed to fuse in accurate language the depths of what are often tangled thoughts on complex topics. You do it here, and you've done it before. As does one other Hubber--PARRSTER. I've referred him to your site, now I'm doing the same for you (http://hubpages.com/@parrster). He's a strong thinker and writer and takes on the challenge of a skeptic like me with respect, but vigorous argument as well. I think you'd really enjoy his Hubs.

    Your Hub reminded me of the grand ideals of the Puritans in 17th C. England--specifically, the towering respect they had for the individual worshiper, rather than the trappings of the Church. An image of this: Cromwell's troops were reputed to have used the Anglican Churches for church service, then pushed the gold goblets and brocaded linens etc. aside. . . .and polished their boots on the altars. What do you think? If we could sweep a magic wand and obliterate ALL Churches, forcing INDIVIDUALS to worship directly to God in fields, on buses, in boats, at the stove, in bed. . .whatever, do you think INDIVIDUAL Christians would get closer to their spiritual centres. . .or would it make no difference?

    Thank you for this stimulating Hub. I do hope you'll read some of Parrster's stuff.

  • Faith Reaper profile image

    Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

    Very deep thinking here on this profound hub you have written. For me, it is Jesus Christ and His saving grace, who taught me that I am perfectly fine the way I am, as that is how God created me, although our environments growing up have affected that, but later in life, when He revealed to me that I was not living my life as He created me to be since I was so influence by my environment. I do love D.H. Lawrence and "Sons and Lovers," as it is a most excellent book.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

    Excellent write.

    God bless, In His Love, Faith Reaper

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