Conventional religiosity prefers contention without contrition, whereas Saint Silouan the Hesychast taught contrition without contention, preferring the immeasurable measures of love. Contention finds fault with those out there, whilst contrition knows the fault lies nearer home, but does not collapse into the narcissism of self-obsessed self-hatred, for here at home, love dwells where God dwells. Love leaps over the hyper-sensitivity of narcissistic pride, having cut through the empty vanity of self-centred vainglory. Contrition does not get entangled in self-interested contention because it is fiercely passionate in its dispassionate love, having lived through the purifications of the Song of Songs. Convention thinks it needs contention to convince itself of the rightness of its fragile opinions, but wisdom has no need of contention, being the truth of the way of love’s glory in God. If God be for wisdom, who or what can be against it? Wisdom is never conventional and so is not comprehensible within the confines of convention, which is why it is so often persecuted by the contentions of convention.
Contrition is humble without claiming to be humble, without presuming the high ground of humble superiority. Convention does not know what to make of humility, because all its attempts to be humble are proud, whether it is aware of it or not, because confusion between God and itself underlies all its profusions. It hides the self-obsessed idolatry it projects out on to others, which is the root of all its contentions. That is why religiosity can be smug, superior, stuck up and self-interested in its pretence to contrition, always comparing itself with those it disdains, always seeing itself as victim in its invulnerable vulnerability. Narcissism is very subtle, with its acute psychological acumen, invulnerable in its defensive negativity. Its contentions are endless because the void at its centre is fathomless. It misconstrues the void by fearing and dreading it, anything rather than surrendering to love.
Vulnerable narcissism cannot risk contrition but clings to contention because, for it, contrition tumbles it Into the nothingness of the void it fears, which is the nothingness of fear’s self-centred void, empty of love, empty of love’s infinite well-being. True self-emptying is impossible when fear imposes its nothingness as victim everywhere, for kenosis is true self-emptying only when inspired by love. It looks like a vicious circle, which in fact it is, until love dawns as light and shines as glory. Then, contentions stand back in favour of contrition and let love empty itself without confusion and negate itself without annihilation. Contention is finally silenced only by burning love, consuming confusion without narcissistic fusion, generating wholesome contrition without self-obsessed derision. Well-being is timeless when it is generated by uncreated love, spilling over into the nothingness of fear in wondrous ways. Fear dies to fear as it resurrects in love, the miracle of miracles that fear most dreads. Love is timeless well-being alight in uncreated light, alive as uncreated glory, wooing fear from fear, inspiring love with love. Contrition contends in the end with contention, humbly letting love enlighten fear, releasing fear into love’s immeasurable joy, filled to overflowing with unutterable glory.