Stranger Than Fiction

I got a letter from a dear friend of mine

A story of a spiritual awakening.
She wrote of her love returning in kind
She let me know that she’d be waiting.
And I ought to be on my way right now.

– James Taylor –
Stranger Than Fiction
A man has a spiritual awakening.  Not that he recognizes it as such immediately.  But gradually he becomes aware that, despite what modern and postmodern philosophy (and all too often theology) has taught, he is not alone in his world.  There is an Other.  Apparently, an omniscient other.  An omniscient other who has revealed to the man that the man will soon die.   Unsure of what to do with this sudden revelation – and decidedly unsatisfied with the general content of the revelation –  he seeks advice.
He goes to Psychiatry.  But Psychiatry, convinced that there is no Other, insists that the issue must a problem with the Self.  The only reasonable solution is medication.  If one has come to believe that there is an Other, then by proper medication, that belief can be made to vanish.  It is not the Other that needs to be dealt with, but the Self.
But the man knows that this is not simply a matter of chemical imbalance.  He understands himself well enough to know when something that appears to be outside of himself (yet seems intricately and inexplicably within himself) is making itself known.  The insistence that he is crazy or delusional doesn’t hold water.  He isn’t crazy or delusional, he has just become aware of an Other.  It would seem to this man that Psychiatry itself must be rather crazy or delusional, if it cannot at least hypothesize the existence of an Other.
So the man seeks further help.  If there is an Other that seems to have some import to his life, he should go and seek out the advice of an expert in Otherness.  A medium.  The Church, let’s say.
The Church is not initially very convinced.  After all, a great deal of the Church has come to a similar conclusion to Psychiatry, and has in fact been replaced largely by Psychiatry, though the clothes and actions are changed soas not to cause alarm to those unaware of the differences.  An Other – if it exists (as the Church must say to a greater or lesser extent, or else it becomes fully Psychiatry and the change of clothes is undone) – is not likely to be communicating directly to the man.  And if an Other is, then it is necessary to determine what sort of Other the man might be dealing with.  Does it mean the man good or ill?  An investigation into the nature of Otherness ensues.  
At the prompting of the Church, the man examines himself and his life.  He sees the need for change.  He desires something better than what he has, in his relative ignorance, carved out for himself.  He pursues interests.  He relates to other people.  He opens himself to meaningful relationship to another person.  He gives and receives.  But the Other is still there – though less noticably now that the man is distracted with other things.
Eventually, it is revealed to the man who the Other is.  Ahhh, says The Church.  If *this* is your Other, then there is nothing for it but to accept the decree of the Other.  Nothing can be done to change the decisions of the Other.  Nothing *should* be done to change the decisions of the Other, because the Other has crafted an absolutely perfect set of circumstances, and nothing better or different can – or should – be imagined.  Accept your faith, the Church tells the man.  It is the will of the Other.
The man decides to confront the Other directly.  To communicate to the Other directly, to relate to the Other.  He asks the Other why.  Why must he die?  Must he die?  Isn’t there another alternative?  The Other appears unmoved (affected, but unmoved).  The Other directs the man to the sacred text of the Other.
The man is unwilling to read for himself this text though.  He seeks the interpretation and advice of The Church.  The verdict remains.  What the Other has ordained is good and right and perfect.  He needs to accept his fate.  The man, although trusting the basic interpretation of the sacred text, is still unwilling and unable to accept his lot.
 So the man goes directly to the revelation of the Other.  He reads the sacred text of the Other.  And he must admit, the Church seems right.  The text does explain everything rather well.  It does seem obvious that he should simply submit to the will of the Other.  The man resigns himself to this fact.  It is not what he wants, but he is only himself, and the Other knows far better, as evidenced by the sacred text.  The man prepares himself for his death.

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