S04 Ep09 – Book Study 1 – The Shattering of Loneliness

Book Study – The Shattering of Loneliness by Erik Varden


00:00 – 02:33 = Intro

02:34 – 04:31 = Book name, author’s introduction and context (Book Study).
04:32 – 07:17 = The beginning.
07:18 – 17:17 = What we get to know from initial chapters (Chapter 01 and 02)
17:39 – 18:13 = Message to patrons.
18:04 – 20:11 = Truth, beauty and goodness.
20:12 – 20:22 = Closing.

Chapters 1-2 

Erik Varden begins the book by inviting us to walk along with him as he shares some of his childhood experiences.

  • In particular a story his father shared that helped him encounter evil as something that could be so close to his life. That particular encounter was quite pivotal for him, and I think if we begin to search our own lives and memories – drawing you into consider and reflect how we all have memories when we recognise that we know when evil is  we can find a similar lesson in a perhaps a different way. 

The world I came to see, was a place of menace; human life carried immense potential for pain; someone had to to answer for it. (Page 2, Kindle edition)

In so many ways this sums up the entirety of Varden’s work. There is pain. Someone has to answer for this situation! Well someone did. God himself did. He answered on our behalf, forever altering the destiny of man in such a way that his pain and his suffering have meaning, and thus they must never be forgotten.

(Amazing for a kid to come to this idea!)

There’s something that sits beneath the ‘suck-age’ – something beneath suffering.

“When I realised the scope of sacramental action, by which all that is in heaven and on earth is drawn into a single moment, the Sense of things held in the hands of a broken human being to be broken, yet holding, healing all, I knew I had come home.” (Page 6, Kindle)

The Church’s liturgy is truly an act of remembrance. There is a point in the Mass called the Eucharistic prayer, it is the high point of the liturgy. Here the Church remembers the work of the Lord. However it is not an empty remembrance (anamnesis). It’s a remembrance which reaches into the past and makes present to the now those moments of so long ago. In doing so, those moments immediately present to us, speak of who we are in the eyes of God.

It tells us who God is and who we are and allows us to participate in the drama of the liturgy.

Everything that is broken finds its way to be made whole in the liturgy – found in the divine drama of human suffering – Christ on the cross.

“A human being is dust called into glory. To remain within that tension is a challenge….To accept that my nature is defined by a sense of incompletion so vast that it cannot be repaired within the order of creation – not by any possession, any accomplishment. Any relationship – is to embrace radical poverty.”

Dust called into glory. That is a tension! I’m a created being who is not satisfied by the created world around. For all I share in common with the dust of the world, I am not to find my satisfaction in it. 

To speak of remembrance is to speak of identity’ (Page 10) – my origin is purposeful,.

To dust you shall return – ‘Standing before God in this way, I profess that I am not God… I accept the uncomfortable otherness of God. He is what I am not, yet my being bears his mark… I walk this earth as yearning incarnate’ Pg 15  

The idea that – I am not whole. There is something more.

Beautifully put, the difference between us and God, that is an essential starting place for us to be humbled to embark on a journey of wanting to be more like Him, in Whose image we’ve been made. 

He also makes the point that the difference between God and humanity isn’t something just outside of us (as in the darkness, and suffering in the world), but also interior to us. 

‘The hand that shaped me in God’s image, that refashioned me when I had lost my likeness to that image, reaches out to me now to raise me and carry me home… To return to where we came from may require all our strength. Humility is not a coward’s virtue, its beatitude is found through an abandonment in faith that touches the heroic’. (Page 22)

While integration the identity we find, and acknowledging it is not by our own effort. – recognising that it is God reaching out to be carried home. – We need to be carried home.

God will save and redeem every aspect of us, our past, our scars – do not ignore the past.

Only by recalling what I was can I acknowledge what by grace I have become. 

Our past is not be forgotten. It is to be glorified in the end

 ‘Chief intoxicant of spiritual life: Self-righteous ingratitude’ (Page 42)

  • a biblical remembrance that we were not always free, and have been set free from slavery. God has set us free – we forgot we were slaves, our history and who we are.

‘He learns that, before God, merit is as nothing, that what matters is to know one’s need of mercy and to receive it thankfully’.

  • Merit -looking for affirmation and validation from achieving is not the way forward. Instead we need to remain receptive to others. 

‘The peace of heaven… is only for those who will have preserved it on earth’. I must seek reconciliation with my past. I must never forget my redemption. I must learn to be grateful and live a life worthy of the freedom won for me… Even the memories of time spent in the cruellest captivity can become a source of peace, erupting praise.’ (Page 57)

– There is beautiful meaning in being able to look at our own lives, the turns we have taken and the sufferings we’ve faced when we can see it in the light of redemption. 

It can be turned into something good. We have to be willing to receive that light into those places.

Next week – Chapters 3 and 4

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