Real(m)

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(2012) Theologian Paul Tillich characterized existential anxiety as "the state in which a being is aware of its possible nonbeing". According to Tillich spiritual anxiety can be accepted as part of the human condition or it can be resisted but with negative consequences. In its pathological form, spiritual anxiety may tend to "drive the person toward the creation of certitude in systems of meaning which are supported by tradition and authority" even though such "undoubted certitude is not built on the rock of reality".

My life's pages are increasingly punctuated by moments of horrific existential anxiety. I've unloaded some of it onto this surface, but it's merely a cup's worth in a deluge of doubt. Dismissing the comfortable illusion of an absolute set of "knowns" has me seeking the questions rather than the answers. So I soldier on through it in my own way, trembling and shaking as I fumble for the elusive light switch in the dark.


“The Church in its currently existing form is then an institution that helps us to cover over our anxiety and encourages us to think that faith is lived out in singing songs, engaging in certain rituals, and believing certain things. The Church thus ends up helping us maintain psychological equilibrium and integrate into society as it presently stands rather than throwing us off balance and being a catalyst for the transformation of society.” -- Peter Rollins, Insurrection

"Anxiety is being 'afraid' when there is nothing to fear. We struggle with something in the dark, but we don't know what it is. From somewhere and yet nowhere seeps out a vague feeling of threat. Floating around in our body, unsettling our stomach, a generalized sense of menace possesses our whole being. This uneasiness has no identifiable cause. Our anxiety is seldom an object of consciousness that we can focus on; rather, it seems to be a deep, inner state of our being, which makes itself felt without the aid of conceptual thought —indeed against our fervent wish to be free of anxiety. In angst we confront the fundamental precariousness of existence; our being is disclosed as unspeakably fragile and tenuous. And when it bursts through the protective shell in which we try to encapsulate it, our anxious dread renders us helpless." -- James Park