Paris and Forgiveness

Three days after the terrorist attacks in Paris, I had two lucid dreams. I copy them from my Dream Journal, including my thoughts before bed, and my interpretation of the dreams:

Before bed, I prayed to be able to forgive our enemies, for in truth I do not feel hatred for the attackers, I pity them. I have heard the stories told by those who escaped about how all they thought of was their loved ones, and how they heard others dying and trapped telling each other how much they loved each other. Terrorists do not know what love is, but hating them will not take back their terrible actions. Our souls are all in God’s hands, and it is for Him to judge and dispense justice. I must pity people who are so deluded, so tormented, so possessed by the evil that is in all of us, and which strives to control us. Pope Francis said that to kill in the name of God is blasphemy. Perhaps those who choose to believe in such a hateful God have already damned themselves. But Christ tells us to love our enemies, so I pray for their souls.

Lucid Dream #1:

Don’t know how I become semi-lucid as I get up. Arthur is sprawled on his back asleep to my left in this clear white space. Facing a wall that is a mirror, I begin tap dancing with my white shoes. I am tapping out a specific rhythm, one I somehow know, and which means something. I alternate between looking down at my white heels, and over at my reflection. I am holding a gun in my right hand, which is strange, but also makes sense; it is part of this mysterious choreography. But so is eventually throwing the gun away. I try to do so, with a wide forceful sweep of my arm directing it toward the dark windows on my right, but when I feel I might also go flying with it, I retract the gesture. I try again, and this time succeed in tossing the gun through the glass panes with a measured strength.

Becoming lucid, I walk over to the windows, and step through them slowly, head first, and as I do so, I hear a quiet, roaring-buzzing sound that is almost musical. Outside at night, I am pulled up into the sky as I slip back into hypnagogic imagery. Hoping to fall completely asleep again, and re-enter a lucid dream, I study the countenances of Middle Eastern-looking men being formed from—smoothly sculpted by—the flowing darkness, their skin the color of ancient stone statues, their eyes closed. This goes on for a few moments before I wake.

Lucid Dream #2:

I have left the place where I was, ostensibly on my way to the rendezvous I set up, but something is going wrong. I am in some sort of small vehicle with a man who is being shot at, attacked in some fiery way. It is dark out; all I remember is the color red, and the faintly luminous outline of his form so close to mine. I am not afraid as I wonder what is attacking our vehicle, and realize it is unlikely I can escape the violence. Indeed, as I seem to exit the “car” I feel myself being hit by the bullets and/or fire, and there is nothing to do but accept that I will die; I feel myself disintegrating like a character in a video game, which will soon go black… But I become lucid, and walk away from the line of fire. I open my arms, which feel like great invisible wings, and rise up into the sky. Below me, I distinctly make out partially bombed out concrete buildings stretching out across a relatively flat landscape. I lose the dream.

I see the dance I was doing in my white shoes as the proper steps to take as a Christian when it comes to forgiving, but also punishing, my enemies. The important thing is not to hate them, which is what I feel like doing, hence the gun I was holding. My violent reaction, the gesture I made holding the gun, threatened to take all of me with it. I had to restrain myself, and get rid of the gun in a gesture of self control. This dream seems a visual representation of the passages from CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity which I just so happened to hear today in the process of listening to the audio book, synchronicity at its most profound.

In my second lucid, I was in the same vehicle as a man under attack, who was consumed by flames. I feel he represents those souls who commit murder, especially indiscriminate mass murder in the name of God—they are destroying themselves, condemning themselves to hell unless they repent. I was in the place of the victims when I knew I would die, but I was not afraid, for I fully believe in a loving God. 

I am listening to Mere Christianity by CS Lewis, and what he says resonates very strongly with me, for this is perhaps the hardest thing to do in the face of brutal attacks like the one in Paris:

“It is laid down in the Christian rule, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ Because in Christian morals, ‘thy neighbor’ includes ‘thy enemy’, … we come upon the terrible duty of forgiving our enemies…

“Christian teachers… would say, hate the sin but not the sinner. For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life—namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it… Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things. Consequently, Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery. We ought to hate them… But it does want us to hate them in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry that the man should have done such things, and hoping, if it is anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere he can be cured and made human again.

“Now a step further. Does loving your enemy mean not punishing him? No, for loving myself does not mean that I ought not to subject myself to punishment… The idea of the knight—the Christian in arms for the defense of a good cause—is one of the great Christian ideas… (But) even as we kill and punish we must try to feel about the enemy as we feel about ourselves—to wish that he were not bad, to hope that he may, in this world or another, be cured: in fact, to wish his good. That is what is meant in the Bible by loving him: wishing his good, not feeling fond of him nor saying he is nice when he is not. I admit that this means loving people who have nothing lovable about them.” – CS Lewis, Mere Christianity