“As a theological term, disillusionment is missing in the Bible. The word simply escapes us. The experience, however, does not. In Scripture, as in literature, we tend to feel disillusionment more than name it. We communicate the painful gaining of reality through tales and tears more than letters and labels.”- Alicia Britt Chole
In Chapters 4 and 5 (“What’s In a Word, Parts 1 and 2”) of The Night is Normal, Alicia Britt Chole delves into the nature of disillusionment. Furthermore, she contrasts disillusionment with three words often used as near (and negative) synonyms: cynicism, skepticism, and despair.
Most significantly, disillusionment possesses a unique element. For example, Dr. Chole explains, though:
- disillusionment is no stranger to grief or suffering, those who grieve and suffer are not always disillusioned.
- often expressed by emotions like anger or disappointment, disillusionment is not exclusively sourced in emotions but rather the mysterious connection between mind and spirit.
Therefore, disillusionment is still other. And that otherness represents the very key casting hope as the lead character in our night journeys.
Moving on to Chapter 5, Dr. Chole first contrasts disillusionment with cynicism. Early fifth-century cynics lived unattached to things and indifferent (and in protest) to societal norms. However, cynics today believe that nothing and no one is ever good enough.
In conclusion, Dr. Chole takes a look at the real nature of cynicism:
“Though often excused with ‘I’m just being honest,’ it seems to me that cynicism is more about interior discontent than honesty. Honesty is a means of honoring reality, whereas cynicism is a focus on any negative at the expense of all positive. . . . Disillusionment does something different in my soul. Temporary sadness over whatever illusion I have lost gives way to a quiet gratitude for what remains. . . .
Whereas cynicism is a bitter lens, disillusionment is an open door through which we lose ‘false judgments’ and gain reality. Uninfected realism is one of disillusionment’s potential outcomes.”
Today’s question: How do the tales and tears of disillusionment strengthen your faith? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “The treasure of disillusionment”