Adventus

"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Friday, June 05, 2015

I will bow and be free



That atheism is "parasitic" of religious belief cannot really be gainsaid.  In a world where no one believes, who would count themselves an "a-theist"?

But more interesting is the argument of many on-line atheists (at least) that religious belief is all about certainty, and so it is a fairy-tale version of reality. Yet it is scientists and atheists who seem to assert the virtue of certainty over all.

Lawrence Krause describes religion as a "precursor" to science; meaning science has displaced religion because the former has better answers now than the latter.  It's a definition that might have found some purchase among British intellectuals in the Victorian Era, but it's really about as absurd a definition today as to still argue radio somehow moves through "ether" to the receiving antenna.  The idea of the electro-magnetic spectrum has made that older idea (which lingered well into the 20th century) completely obsolete, and anyone who mentions it seriously is automatically marked as benighted.  Krause would be similarly marked for his statements, if more people were less ignorant on topics they think they know everything about.

That ignorance is buttressed by certainty.  Yet is is certainty that religious believers are supposed to cling to.  If I am challenged on my religious beliefs by an on-line atheist, the challenge usually takes the tack that I'm actually an atheist, because I don't profess the religious certainty of a fundamentalist.  But I find religious belief based on certainty to be the most brittle and fragile of states of mind, and I don't pursue the certainty of the fanatic, of the "true believer," for that very reason.   Certainty is arrogance; and the one thing life (to give it a name) seems to hate, is certainty of opinion.  On that which you are most certain, is that upon which you will be most shaken.  This is why a sound seminary education is a challenge to anything you hold dear.  Seminaries focus on a professional degree:  a Masters of Divinity, a degree for practicing ministers and priests.  If there is one thing you will face in ministry, it is a challenge to everything you hold most certain.  If you declare the bedrock upon which you stand, expect the storms of life to attack it with all the force life and muster.

And if you think it is your obligation to stand on that rock and never be moved; woe be unto you.

I will bow and be simple,
I will bow and be free,
I will bow and be humble,
Yea, bow like the willow tree.

I will bow, this is the token,
I will wear the easy yoke,
I will bow and will be broken,
Yea, I'll fall upon the rock.

That is not a sentiment you are likely to hear from Rick Santorum; or, for that matter, Chris Hedges (who recently received his ordination).  That is a beautiful hymn to humility and simplicity and trust. The only certainty in it is humility before God, is servitude to whatever God requires, to whatever God presents in life.  That is not the certainty of the blustering fundamentalist, of the Jerry Falwell or Jim Bob Duggar or Robert Jeffress.  That is the humility of the faithful.  If is a faithfulness and a humility I have known in my extended family members who belong to the Primitive Baptist church (which, in many ways, is as "primitive" as the name implies), or in many family members raised in the church for generations, but in no way influenced in the ideas of the Duggars or other like-minded groups.  As ever, there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

And God is more than anything humanity has ever dreamt of; which is why God is God.

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