Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Faith and Risk

It occurs to the Bear that baptism by a good old-fashioned dunking is a perfect representation of Faith. A jump into deep water from the high dive. Once I was dry, but now I am wet, was blind, but now can see. Once you jump, you can't stay suspended in the air. You're committed.

A Snail Crawling On the Edge of a Razor

In the movie Apocalypse Now, the maddeningly sane Colonel Kurtz broadcasts a message about a snail on the edge of a razor blade. This is, at least for the Bear, a better description of the either-or proposition of faith than the common notion of "struggling." There are few difficulties and no doubts at all, only let the snail stay cleanly on the razor's edge.

Another image is the charmed circle. As long as you're in the charmed circle of faith, you're safe. Step outside, though, and the whole thing: the Church, apparitions, miracles, angels, devils, Heaven, and Hell, and all the rest look utterly ridiculous. It dissolves like the dew before the sun of reason and common sense.

The Bear has sympathy for those on the outside who can't even imagine what it is like to believe. If you look just at the faith, it does run counter to ordinary expectations. We simply don't see showy miracles like seas parting, virgins don't get pregnant, and no one ever comes back from the dead.

Converging and Convincing Arguments

But if you turn away from the faith and look at the world, it is no less mysterious. There are what St. Teresa of Avila called "lovers games," the flashes of divine inspiration, to which the Bear would add odd coincidences, intuitions and hard-to-explain experiences. Not to mention a whole universe popping out of nothing, and birds and bees performing unexplainable feats.

Then there is the one who marvels at all of this -- and if his head is on straight he cannot help but marveling -- the greatest marvel of them all: a conscious and curious observer capable of a sense of wonder.

So, taking it all together, this fine-tuned cosmos, and a Creator God, each sheds light on the other. "Converging and convincing arguments" is the elegant phrase the Catechism of the Catholic Church uses (31). Either fideism or materialism are unsatisfying. But put them together, and you have a glory of truth.

Risks of Trust

This leads to a related thought. The Bear suspects the most argumentative among both materialists and believers are the weakest in their faiths. As long as they keep their nose buried in Darwin and St. Paul, respectively, they don't have to really look at the world as it is. 

The Bear has sometimes wondered if we Catholics don't become addicted to the dramas within the Church because it is a very comfortable place where we need never be challenged. After all, Puppet Masses do not pose a close question. We can be 100% sure of our ground. It feels good to be right. We like blogs that validate what least needs validation: our certainty that we're right.

And this is not to say we're not right. It is only to wonder why we keep beating dead horses week after week, long after they are well-tenderized. Yes, the Bear is being introspective again. Could it mean our faith is not all it could be, and we need to take more risks of trust?

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I agree. There are a lot of Catholics out there who like to be caught up in the "drama". Whether it's in their own church or something they hear about. I totally agree with your bear logic, that we must challenge ourselves in our faith. If we don't how will we ever grow in it? Good post. Thank you!


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