What Do The Druggies Mean?
|There is an enormous number of people on drugs around us. That number
steadily grows. New and more bizarre drugs are constantly invented to fill the old
markets and to create new markets. The people wanting these drugs want them bad enough to risk
arrest, pay sometimes most of their money for them, and to risk social
There are so many people taking drugs that we need to look at why. In talking with druggies and counseling with them I find a goodly number are confused individuals. They have to be confused and lacking self-esteem to risk arrest and jail besides becoming chemical addicts.
The truth seems to be many have a desire for a heightened awareness of life and the temporary moments of pleasure that come with drugs. Not only do they want these feelings, they are desperate for their high feelings in their moments on “ecstasy” and “speed” and “crack” and “meth” etc. The number of types of drugs is mind-boggling. How the drugs are made is usually disgusting, particularly “meth.” Some of its contents are under the kitchen sink cleaning chemicals whose effect inside their bodies has to be negative.
The truth is that I have some understanding of many druggies. I have a sense of heightened awareness, moments of joy, illuminating confirmations of life, and a confirming of creativity and creation through my religious faith. These are highly pleasurable experiences. I would not want to do without them. I could not imagine a good life without them.
The defect to druggies in these pleasuring experiences in religion is they cannot be summoned up by taking a pill, shot, or sniff. They are not subject to immediate “instant” gratification. In religion I find you just don’t know when the pleasurable experiences are going to arrive, if at all. Now I find the pleasure experiences in religion do arrive but at times that are not scheduled and sometimes surprising. They come at various times and in various ways for various people.
But then there are many religious folk who seem to get no pleasure out of their religion at all. I neither envy these dry as dust folk nor admire them. It seems to me they are missing a lot they don’t have to miss in faith, but that is their affair. I go about my business and leave the dry and sour ones to God unless I can help them in some way. I am glad to help them, but otherwise I leave them to Heaven.
I feel sorry for all the church people who find no joy in religion. They miss so much in pleasure and feelings of confirmed creativity, a glory in God’s creation, and an awareness of divine love. How do these people make it, who have never any “heightened awareness of life.” They miss so much.
I find myself on the side of the druggies, telling them I know what they want, but drugs are not the way to get it. But the way they are used to, is “instant” like everything else, as “instant” pudding for example, and they want instant feelings of God and grace.
Unfortunately I have to tell them that God does not offer “instant” gratification. But being modern Americans in this day of “instant” everything, they do not understand why God is not instant. The younger people in particular are spoiled and have difficulty in this: they want God to wait on them instantly, but not to wait on God with patience as Psalm 37:7 suggests: “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” But when you are lusting and retching for the chemicals your body has grown accustomed to, patience is a hard thing to have. How sad it is this age has lost its “patience” or even a concept thereof.
Druggies are used to paying money and then getting a sniff, shot or pill to make them feel better at once. Therefore it is a difficult thing to explain to them that God can’t be bargained with. He is sovereign and we approach Him on His terms. We cannot “do” God to get positive religious feelings. When you worship God for a manipulative motive, then God tends to remain un-cracked and hard shelled. He does not open up. You do not receive His essence.
God to be worshipped truly must be worshipped in an unselfish manner, to obtain nothing. We worship to give God praise for the Creation of the world and His later redeeming of it. When you worship God uprightly and unselfishly, then God will respond to you more likely. Only, if you worship God to manipulate Him out of something, this rarely works, and what you may ask God for selfishly, God may wink as He gives it to you, and that answer will turn out ironically. God is no fool, nor is He mean, but He is subtle and ironic. You put nothing over on God. He will pull down the clever from their seats, and the insincere and the manipulators He will send away from Him.
But I do know that true worship of God to me and many others provides as a reward many “tender moments” that are “thy tender mercies and thy loving kindnesses.” (Psalm 25:6) These include moments of grace, times of transcendence, heightened awareness of life, grace filled moments, pleasant visions and sweet guiding dreams such as those of Joseph of Egypt, and Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary, who when warned in a dream, took Jesus for safety into Egypt. Such dreams are found frequently mentioned in the Bible and they go on today in some few but not all dreams. By these pleasant fragrances of grace, these tokens of God’s concern, our lives in Christ are confirmed and steadied by pleasant feelings and heightened moments which truly are God’s tender mercies and loving kindnesses.
if you think all such things used by God at times, all means of grace, superstitious, then that is only a sign of how these flattened times, so often literal and so often graceless, have deprived you of your heritage of mystery in the Lord. lt is you who have lost the faith, who have been oversold, so you do not believe in mystery but your lives are still a mystery to you.
Remember Proverbs 19:21 “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless, the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.” I loosely translate “devices” of the heart as “secular, strange and temporary views” but they are temporary views made from the age the people are in, and according to passing intellectual fashions in thought, but the methods the Lord uses to counsel and confirm, these endure and stand to be used again through all ages. Once used, they can be used again.
Certainly there are those who get no positive feelings out of religion. They do not trust their feelings or they do not have any so the question of trusting them is irrelevant. To worship God is a responsibility of man who himself gets more out of his worship than God does, because worship puts reverence for God and life, awe and the ordering of life into his life. Worship is rightly done with dignity and in order, and people in performing worship rehearse the attitudes needed in the serious part of their lives.
So we do not “do” worship to get good feelings, that would be a manipulative faith to receive emotional satisfaction or “emotionalism,” and there is more to religion than that. But when we worship God purely as we may and unselfishly as we can, given what we are as sinners, then in our lives we often receive much grace in feelings of joy and heightened awareness that are not guaranteed benefits of religion as well as not scheduled to appear at regular times, but, nevertheless, fall in our lives like drops of rain on parched and thirsty earth.
I have these feelings as many worshippers and religious people do. I appreciate these feelings. I would not want my life to be without them. And I daresay religion in the past has often furnished them. But our modern religion often does not furnish them. Our contemporary religion, as most of you well know, are empty buckets coming up from dry wells. So much of modern religion is the passing of a counterfeit item called “Reason” for God.
What has happened so that we pass a counterfeit religion? What has happened to modern religion so it gives few feelings of grace and not positive answers to people? Why is it unfulfilling to so many? Has God turned from us? No, God has not turned away from us. He is faithful. But the church members really deep down do not believe there is a God. This partially the fault of the secular schools we have and secular cultures.
I will put this forward because I know it to be at true, at least partially. Most of the peoples in the churches, especially the Mainline Protestant churches no longer really believe in a personal God. How could they possibly have the religious experience or the religious feelings needed to enrich society and culture with their dead feelings when there is no sense of any or much real feeling for God in them. How can those spiritually dead lead those spiritually dead? How can the blind lead their fellows? They fall into the well as our society has fallen into the ditch of reason.
Why can’t this society believe? I suggest it is because they have fallen into the feeling that God must be proven to exist first. That’s ridiculous. God must be proven NOT to exist. That has not been done. But there is first a feeling in the unbelieving, a feeling of whining negativism about God that is the heritage in religion the balding liberals have left us. Why do we have to prove God exists? I know of any number of diseases and problems science can not now cure. If it can’t solve these on our earthly frequency, how could it possibly prove anything so deep and infinite as there is no God.
But I do not maintain there is just a God. So what if you have that Deistic principle God made earth, set up laws, and moved on? If that kind of God is around, who cares? He’s not going to do anything for anybody anyway now. I maintain there is a personal God. That there is a personal God does not always mean God is able to act in a personal manner, considering He is a General in a universe moving in battalions as well as indirectly counteracting. A general leading a battle may speak to individuals but he often has to move in groups, where personal issues cannot be considered.
The problem shortly said, is the churches have castrated God to the glory of Reason. Now it is not irrational to say as I do, God is above reason. Reason does not exist on its own. It is not an Entity. lt is not a Spiritual Being. Reason is a factor to be applied. It is an imaginary force, a balance, that finds life in application but it has no independent existence.
The ultimate critique of pure reason is that it does not last. It exists as a quality to qualify some pre-existent state. Reason is rather like a parasite. When things get too bloody, the leech of reason is applied. But reason is only good to qualify another existence, it does not have an existence of its own. It is lost without a spiritual existence of its own. As verbalized in the Medieval Times, reason is a handmaid of the Lord. It is not the Lord. The Lord exists independently of the quality of reason.
In meeting God we go beyond reason to a meeting with an independent Spirit that has personal characteristics. He is I think, of another frequency above ours. He moves around on our frequency directly and acts mostly indirectly. We must realize God is on earth and in our universe. He cares. We have let second rate reason drive Him out of our awareness, yet God is still here around us, though some might not know He is around us. He is everywhere. He can be all to all persons.
I suggest what the “druggies” are telling us is, societies need the feelings of transcendence that God inspires. If society is to be whole, it must put God, a Personal Spirit, back in religion. Then the church may contribute again to a society’s feelings of “wonder and joy.” If the churches discover God as a real, free and transcendent Spirit, then religion will work and society will be enlarged and enjoyed. If the present counterfeit religion, castrated by unproven and untrue Reason, continues in the churches, then those who believe in “nothing warmed over” will have no real God and not contribute the real and positive religious feelings that humanity or mankind needs.
We tend to forget that religion is one, if not the best, of resources on earth for a richer and better life for humanity. We need it. It furnishes an emotional color to life as well giving emotional satisfaction. It furnishes compassion to society, “humanitas,” as the poet, Dante, pointed out. It furnishes integrity, aesthetic depth, morality, and order. It uses and explains suffering as beneficial and necessary but something that will be triumphed over. Any thinker could go on. Think it out yourself.
it is unfortunate all the washed out and dried up religion that we have today dropped on mankind at the same time as the Industrial Revolution. Industrialism put people to work on machines that guaranteed a miserable work life in a ugly factory. Then the assembly line came. The steady employment of people on assembly lines creating mediocre but standardized products took out much of the joy in working. If they were fortunate, people found less joy in their work, but more money from the assembly line. Enough money to live better but not really well.
Utilitarian philosophy that justified the worst in industrialism was bleak, as the factories of Charles Dickens whose novels go so deeply into the human situation during the high tides of the Industrial Revolution when industrialism made England the richest country on earth.
Deprived of a real God in churches of the time, the churches became second rate, degraded, and joyless. Deprived of much of their creativity in the factories, and not offered much joy in assembly line work, the people found a joyless second rate church and joyless second rate work. The aesthete, Ruskin, wrote much and well if sometimes superficially on this situation.
Today we have much the same situation. It is not right what druggies do, but I understand why they do it, and I sympathize with them. They want some joy and some heightened awareness in their lives. This desire is only normal, and I maintain former generations had this. They may not have known what they had, but I think we realize what they had today, and that we are lacking it today. Now they have to try get joy in life from a sniff, a shot or a pill. These drugs are last rate answers.
My goal is bringing joy back into religion. I think the only way we can do this is get the silly, shallow, superficial liberalism that castrated the churches out of the churches. We must get rid of Christian churches castrated for the glory of reason. Why did the clergy allow this? Because for the most part the clergy were tamed into insignificance by a secular education.
Their secular educations could be overlooked, but what the clergy really had need of, was to be sentenced for anemic religion to “forty days in the Wilderness alone with God.” They did not have, and because of their secular outlook were not able to invite or experience, true, real, living relationships with God. Had they known God as a transcendent Personal God, there would not have been so much emphasis on what man wants instead of what God is.
The same Christ-Spirit that walked the earth on the road to Damascus to meet the Apostle is still walking and waking. The God Spirit behind Albert Schweitzer, Florence Nightingale, Mother Teresa is still here with us. God as a Free Spirit roaming the earth has not vanished. I have met God. Many of you have met God. As for many of you who have not met God, I am confident a Damascus is awaiting you.
I pray you. Do not discount God or His grace, it is my desire that in the joyless churches of this still drab industrial age, we re-find the Living God of scripture, the Spiritual Being, the cleansing Energizer of the world. So that our Father of Christ may be reinstated in the churches that the people may grow spiritually again.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.