(That those who rely more on their own natural intelligence and human learning than on the common doctrine and guidance of the Church are decieved.)
SOME there be, that although they be not deceived with this error as it is set here, yet for pride and curiosity of natural wit and letterly cunning leave the common doctrine and the counsel of Holy Church. And these with all their favourers lean over much to their own knowing: and for they were never grounded in meek blind feeling and virtuous living, therefore they merit to have a false feeling, feigned and wrought by the ghostly enemy. Insomuch, that at the last they burst up and blaspheme all the saints, sacraments, statutes, and ordinances of Holy Church. Fleshly living men of the world, the which think the statutes of Holy Church over hard to be amended by, they lean to these heretics full soon and full lightly, and stalwartly maintain them, and all because them think that they lead them a softer way than is ordained of Holy Church.
Now truly I trow, that who that will not go the strait way to heaven, that they shall go the soft way to hell. Each man prove by himself, for I trow that all such heretics, and all their favourers, an they might clearly be seen as they shall on the last day, should be seen full soon cumbered in great and horrible sins of the world in their foul flesh, privily, without their open presumption in maintaining of error: so that they be full properly called Antichrist’s disciples. For it is said of them, that for all their false fairness openly, yet they should be full foul lechers privily.
Cloud of Unknowing - Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Yes, i know. This is tough love. The monk wants no one to go to hell. so he has to give it to us straight. The monk is certainly not a Dominican, maybe a Franciscan. Here's my problem (besides being over educated and too prideful):
The history of religion is far more a history of politics than a history of faith. The churches were born in conflict within and without and the victors in those conflicts, some bloody, all political, became the determiners of scripture and doctrine. Why were certain books included in the New Testament and others rejected (Were it not for Nag Hammadi we would not know their actual contents, only the opinions of them held by their victorious opponents) Mack says the canonical books supported the authority of bishops while the non-canonical books did not. i am hardly enough of a scholar to have an opinion about this, but it fits in with what i know about Church history. For three centuries Christians disagreed with one another, but they usually did not inflict bloodshed until some Christains gained support of the Roman state. Suddenly heresy became a big problem and the Church used the state or the means of the state to put it down. The "orthodox" were the successful "majority," the "heretics" were the unsuccessful (and sometimes dead) minorities. I don't think one has to be a heartless brain to see problems with Holy Mother Church (which is neither holy nor a mother, although, by definition, a church). I know many good Catholics who also know the history of the Church, but i have been unable to be one of them; i read Dostoyevski's Brothers Karamazov when i was too young and too impressionable.
Many wise and good people have contributed to the doctrine, maintenance, and charity of the Church, but many others were silenced or excommunicated or did not go near the door of the Church in the first place. I read some of these other people and can see nothing depraved or senseless about what they say. I don't know what grace is, but i'm pretty sure that if it is important it is available to non-Christians (especially since i was raised by people who said not -- and by Christian they meant Fundamentalist Prostestant.) I am afraid that i will always read people who say "my way or the highway" * ** as bigots.
Another issue raised by this chapter (the hard way to heaven vs. the soft way to hell) is discipline, All mystical traditions
suggest discipline and some branches of every tradition require very rigorous discipline. I have little doubt that there is truth in this. I have chosen, so far, to try to make a path which cannot be animistic, probably wont be Taoist or Buddhist. and will not be one of the monotheistic paths. But i am not a self-disciplined person and i have not yet learned to trust the Tao to keep me on its way, I badly need a spiritual director, but almost all that i know of are Roman Catholics, and though many are contemplative, tolerant and understanding people, i can't see how this would work for me
*One of my father's favorite expressions
** or is it "my way or the low way"