I would normally not do this – quote someone as a “bad example” – but this tweet speaks volumes to me. (BTW: I have great respect for the person who wrote it as someone of insight and spiritual maturity and hence I have blacked out the name.)
“Allows an encounter with great doctrines”?? “Stay close”?? If the rosary, or any devotion (reading the Bible or saying the Office), keeps us close to a doctrine, all is lost!!! Not to put too fine a point on it, no doctrine will ever “save” us but only the person of God-incarnate, Jesus Christ. Yes, theology and doctrine is important. But it is the person who is behind the rosary – Our Lady leading us to Jesus – that is of the upmost importance. It is the person who is behind the doctrine. A devotion is never (!!!!!) an encounter with a doctrine, a teaching, an idea, a moral. It is always an encounter with a person.
My main problem – after much reflection and soul-searching – with modern forms of Christianity is that it has become a “philosophy” (in the broadest sense of the word) and has abdicated the encounter with the divine for intellectual consent. It feels to me like Christianity needs people to agree with it – culture at large or individuals – and they have a product to sell (one among many). All of this makes God an object and individuals “brains in jars”.
One of the strongest memories of my youth is of an orchard next to our house. Maybe it was not really an orchard but more of a hobby garden. at the front of this garden there was an apple tree that grew into the street. My strongest memory of growing up is hiding in the garage and eating the apples on a warm summer afternoon.
As you read that story (and be honest) what was the image of an apple that you had in your mind? Was the apple large or small? Was it sweet or sour? And was the apple green or red?
For the record the apples were green, small and extremely sour. When I hear the word “apple” that is the image I have in my mind.
So here is the “moral of the story”: can I assume that my experience of the world is anything like your experience of the world? I know I experience the world but can I abstract a common experience from my experience. Or is it an act of faith?
Now the post has SK and Merton – so we are winning right from the start. But seeing my journey reflected in other people’s journey is always an amazing experience.
I would love to be a writer but I know deep down that I will never be one. Nothing to say! Yet the post has reminded me that other’s have struggled with the same things and they have come through to the other side. So keep going!
I have been thinking about where I am intending to go with this blog (and hopefully the podcast). I really do not want to convince anyone of anything. I have no product to sell, no idea to proclaim, no party line to defend. I have absolutely no authority except my lived experience. Yet I know that life comes with many questions and many different answers to these many questions. And somehow I would like to be in that mix – helping finding answers rather than giving answers. So where to from here?
So while I was reading I came across this quote from SK about his task as an author:
“I dare not call myself a Christian; but I want honesty and to this end I will venture”
THAT IS IT!! Be honest with yourself. I want to be honest with myself and I want to help people be honest with themselves. I really do not care where you stand (right, left, gay, straight, theist, atheist, Catholic, or Protestant) simply be honest in your own position. And make it that – your own position! I do not accept negative positions – “I am [X] because [Y] is wrong”. But I do accept that all positions have a sense of paradox and individuality to them. So “it is right for me” is an answer and a reason.
So there it is! A new year and a new direction. So this year I hope to post a little more regularly and a little longer posts. And, of course, I will post some new podcast episodes.
I read a great article on SK and possibility this morning. It is especially useful since I am reading Sickness unto death. Anyway, here is a quote:
The important step for Kierkegaard is the concept “before God”. This is a Christian concept. He sees this actuality, standing in prayer before God, or becoming contemporary with God, as the highest for any Christian. Here the possibility of the offense is present, and must be ever-present. But here also the possibility of being able to become a believer is present and is ever present.