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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Knowing is overrated

In order to be valid, everything has to be thoroughly parsed by my brain first.

Isn't that the way we often approach things? It's an insult to have a statement brushed off as "mindless" or worse, "uncritical". We have a far greater horror of appearing gullible than we do of sinning. We examine and reexamine, we split hairs, we make sure everyone in earshot knows the details of our differences with our favorite political party, we have to avoid at all costs accepting anything without having "thought it through."

Then there's the good sense found in those who put intimacy with God ahead of intellectual over-analysis:
When I first stumbled upon the Benedictine abbey where I am now an oblate, I was surprised to find the monks so unconcerned with my weighty doubts and intellectual frustrations over Christianity. What interested them more was my desire to come to their worship, the liturgy of the hours. I was a bit disappointed -- I had thought that my doubts were spectacular obstacles to my faith and was confused but intrigued when an old monk blithely stated that doubt is merely the seed of faith, a sign that faith is alive and ready to grow. I am grateful now for his wisdom and grateful to the community for teaching me about the power of liturgy. They seemed to believe that if I just kept coming back to worship, kept coming home, things would eventually fall into place. (Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk)

"Things would eventually fall into place." Is there anything more exasperating to those of us addicted to intellectual rigor than an attitude like that? But can any of us deny that, if we had been Peter, intellectual rigor would have kept our gluteus maximi firmly planted in the boat instead of walking toward Jesus on the water?

HT to the charmingly titled Velveteen Rabbi.

4 comments:

Kansas Bob said...

The quote reminded me of my recent Dark Night of the Soul excerpt.

I like it that the monks weren't concerned about her doubts and agree that (expressed) doubt can be a seed.

Therese Z said...

Having doubts seems to mean that the person cares about the answer.

The serene reaction of the monks is very attractive. No arguing, just interest and care.

Kansas Bob said...

Make that this Dark Night of the Soul excerpt.

Roz said...

Thanks, Bob.

 

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