In the end, only love (of which faith is a particular form) can achieve the well-nigh impossible goal of seeing a situation as it really is, shorn of both the brittle enchantments of romance and the disheveled fantasies of desire. Clinical, cold-eyed realism of this kind demands all manner of virtues—openness to being wrong, selflessness, humility, generosity of spirit, hard labor, tenacity, a readiness to collaborate, conscientious judgment, and the like; and for Aquinas, all virtues have their source in love. Love is the ultimate form of soberly disenchanted realism, which is why it is the twin of truth. The two also have in common the fact that they are both usually unpleasant. Radicals tend to suspect that the truth is generally a lot less palatable than those in power would have us believe, and we have seen already just where love is likely to land you for the New Testament. In one sense of the word, dispassionateness would spell the death of knowledge, though not in another sense. Without some kind of desire or attraction we would not be roused to the labor of knowledge in the first place; but to know truly, we must also seek to surmount the snares and ruses of desire as best we can. We must try not to disfigure what we strive to know through fantasy, or reduce the object of knowledge to a narcissistic image of ourselves.
Most would agree that reason is near the top of any sensible list of virtues. But, among those for whom devotion to reason approaches religious fervour, you won’t be hearing wisdom like this:
Reason is a very good solvent of nonsense but is not necessarily a very good constructor of sense.
The above is from Rowan Williams’s excellent article Critical Solidarity Between Faith and Enlightenment courtesy of the consistently high quality ABC Religion & Ethics portal.
The fear of failure is insidious. It paralyzes you into inaction—the worst action possible—perfectly designed to actually fail every time.
When you’re used to success, or live in a culture that demands it, the possibility of failure becomes the guiding principle. Which means that you never, ever, do any worth doing, since things worth doing are generally risky, unproven, and require a leap of faith.
For success (whatever that actually means, which is a whole other topic) to mean anything, failure must be built in as a possibility. To not risk is to already fail before you start. The fear of failure offers us the cloying scent of safety and stability, masking the stench of stagnation.
Seize the day, don’t seize up.
I’ve had Steven Bouma-Prediger and Brian Walsh’s Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement sitting on my bookshelf since early fall, but haven’t gotten around to cracking it until now. If the rest of the book is as good as the two paragraphs below, I’ll be kicking myself for waiting so long:
Displacement. To be displaced. To be disconnected from place. To “diss” place. That’s our current place. We in North America live in a culture of displacement. “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through” is no longer the sentiment of a certain kind of dualistic pietism; it is a culture-wide attitude. Whether we are talking about the upwardly mobile who view each place as a rung in the ladder that goes up to who knows where, or the postmodern nomad with no roots in any place or any tradition of place, or the average consumer who doesn’t know anything about the place where she lives or the places her food comes from, the reality is the same — we are a culture of displacement.
Christian faith is a faith that is always placed. Places in a good creation. Placed in time. An incarnational faith. A faith rooted in one who took flesh in a particular place. And it continues to be a faith of embodied presence. The church is the body of Christ, and bodies can only exist in place. Moreover, this is a faith with a placed hope a new heavens and a (re)new(ed) earth. This is not a faith about passing through this world, but a faith that declares this world this blue-green planet so battered and bruised, yet lovely — as our home.
Steven Bouma-Prediger & Brian J. Walsh, Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement (Grand Rapids, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008), xii.
As promised, here’s the question and answer session which followed my thesis reading. Various students and faculty members asked me a variety of questions.
Feel free to chime in with any of your questions.
Next up should be a chronicling of my post-grad trip to NYC.
If anyone is still reading this blog, I plan on beginning to write on here again. Expect posts related to my just-completed B.A. Honours thesis called A Restless Faith Seeking Reason to kick off catch-up-with-Matt’s-life mode here. Let’s begin with this audio file of my thesis presentation.
The full and very descriptive title of my thesis is A Restless Faith Seeking Reason: An exploration of themes in postmodern philosophy as they pertain to understanding the relationship between faith and reason. I drew largely on the work of John D. Caputo, Merold Westphal and James K.A. Smith to show that philosophical postmodernism is far from the bogeyman that many make it out to be. Indeed, it says many things that we need to take to heart.
Below is a link to the audio file of the presentation of my thesis to the SSU community on April 17. I haven’t listened through the whole thing, but I think that I managed to clean it up decently. The introduction is done by my supervisor and all-around-great-guy Jeremy Wiebe (no relation), and my presentation proper begins at the 6:40 mark.
I’m not going to post the pdf of the thesis itself here, but if anyone is interested, you may find my email address on my about page and ask me nicely that way. Also, if interest is expressed, I might throw up the QnA session which followed the reading.