Pangs of searching & groping, the tortures of spiritual crises and exhausting treks of the soul – purify


Was it a coincidence two days before Christmas? Maybe. Maybe not. In an excellent op-ed essay by David Brooks in yesterday’s morning paper and in “Calvary,” yesterday’s evening movie, the themes were conjoined. Doubt and Faith. I share some excerpts on both below.

David Brooks, NY Times, The Subtle Sensations of Faith:

With Hanukkah coming to an end, Christmas days away, and people taking time off work, we are in a season of quickened faith. When you watch people exercise that faith, whether lighting candles or attending Midnight Mass, the first thing you see is how surprising it is. You’d think faith would be a simple holding of belief, or a confidence in things unseen, but, in real life, faith is unpredictable and ever-changing…

Marx thought that religion was the opiate of the masses, but Soloveitchik argues that, on the contrary, this business of living out a faith is complex and arduous: “The pangs of searching and groping, the tortures of spiritual crises and exhausting treks of the soul purify and sanctify man, cleanse his thoughts, and purge them of the husks of superficiality and the dross of vulgarity. Out of these torments there emerges a new understanding of the world, a powerful spiritual enthusiasm that shakes the very foundations of man’s existence.”

Insecure believers sometimes cling to a rigid and simplistic faith. But confident believers are willing to face their dry spells, doubts, and evolution. Faith as practiced by such people is change. It is restless, growing. It’s not right and wrong that changes, but their spiritual state and their daily practice. As the longings grow richer, life does, too. As Wiman notes, “To be truly alive is to feel one’s ultimate existence within one’s daily existence.”

Xan Brooks, The Guardian, Calvary review – ‘a terrific black comedy that touches greatness‘:

The movie veers between the profane and the sacred, the damned and divine…Your best advice is to sit back, hang on to your rosary beads and enjoy the ride while it lasts…How refreshing it is…to see a spiritual saga that is smart enough to take the route less travelled, the low road to glory. Calvary touches greatness. It crawls clear through the slime and comes out looking holy.

Here’s the movie trailer:

The op-ed opinion article in its entirety, the movie review and the movie are highly recommended.

Photograph Credit: maxresdefault



  1. Faith morphs, seasons of holiday cheer are occasionally interrupted by thoughts of greater importance and fluidity. Are we ‘in faith’ or are we ‘faithful’ and if the latter, to what? Have to see this movie.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes. Profound question Mimi. As to seeing the movie, it is as the reviewer says, profane and violent in parts, but moving. I can understand why many have assigned the movie of the year label to this film. By the way, it’s now out on Amazon Prime Instant Video.


  2. Looks really good! I love this stuff 😉
    Thanks David.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I saw this movie over the Thanksgiving weekend; it has gotten so little press, at least I haven’t seen any. The acting was brilliant, though I had to strain at times to understand the thick Irish accents. It was well-written and thought-provoking, posing unanswerable questions. It shook me to my core.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. yes, i love this. faith and doubt and questioning and trying and fits and starts are all closely intertwined. i believe it it rare for someone to find a purely straight path.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s definitely on my must-watch list — it looks most thought-provoking.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, the movie looks wonderful. Can’t wait to find it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Faith is truly a tricky thing, and so very personal. I am leery of those who are too prescriptive–we must each find our way home, I believe, and it isn’t always textbook. Movie looks fascinating–into the queue it goes… Merry Christmas, pal…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This…

    Insecure believers sometimes cling to a rigid and simplistic faith. But confident believers are willing to face their dry spells, doubts, and evolution. ….

    Yes. Yes.

    Love this. I must also see this film. Thank you for bringing this to the forefront for me.

    Liked by 1 person

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