Saturday, 12 March 2016

The crux of the matter


Lent 2016: Day 32

After three days of intellectual drought, during which I found no new insights to inspire me spiritually, AdTheLad comments on my latest post. Great! There's nothing like a bit of dialogue to spark off a train of thought that moves on towards a new synthesis. And thanks also to Aidan for lunch on Thursday, during which a dialogue on matters spiritual also occurred.

The crux of the matter, as AdTheLad said, is the question of the divinity of Jesus Christ. For Christian believers, 'the way, the truth, the life'. The only-begotten son of God.

For the 4.6 billion human beings who are not adherents to Christian beliefs, this is somewhat problematic. To benefit from the grace that Christian sacraments confer, you have to buy into the notion of Christ as God. And here, I stumble.

The Nicene Creed, setting out what Catholics (in particular) are obliged to believe, is for me, difficult. This is not a manifestation of the Sin of Pride. It is rather an intuitive inability to grasp the notion of God as 'Father' and 'Lord' (are these but metaphors, or are Catholics expected to see the Deity as a) male, b) paternal and c) feudal?) And the idea that God, the creator or all things visible and invisible (and here I'd tend to agree, although wishing to understand this notion better) manifested Himself but once to Humanity in 1st Century Judea?

The big problem with organised religions is their innate exclusivity based on beliefs in absolutes. Those who do not buy into your central tenets are damned. Or are they? The Christian notion of salvation, as it applies to non-Christian, is elastic, even within the very Catholic Church (depending on how traditional one is).

For me, a deeper understanding of the nature and - crucially - the purpose of God is more important than notions of 'grace' or 'salvation'. And this is an intellectual journey and yes, it does demand an understanding of philosophy and science, and I know I have so much to learn, to discover and experience - and a single lifetime is just too short for such a journey.

The journey is not a search for comfort but rather enlightenment. Comfort I can find in the warm fug of the familiar. Curiosity is the driver of Mankind along the path of evolution. Having an innate belief in progress, in the ongoing transition - rarely smooth, yet inexorable - from barbarity to civilisation, from the bestial to the angelic, we cannot sit still in one place and say "yes - that's it - let's stick with this, for this is the final, absolute and utter truth". We must question and seek. I do believe in synthesis, looking for what is common across all faiths, and building upon that.

There is still two weeks of Lent to go. Each Lent, I notice the number of page views on my blog falls (roughly halving over the 46 days). From 20,000 to 10,000. Few people are that interested in my spiritual quest; that is not my purpose. Re-examining my writings from past years proves instructive; milestones that I can measure my journey with.

Incidentally, today is the 80th birthday of Fr Michał Heller, there's a good potted biography of him in weekend edition of Polska - The Times. More from his book Filozofia przypadku soon (once I've ploughed through the mathematical part and moved onto the philosophy!)

This time two years ago:
10,000 steps is a lot for one day

This time three years ago:
Bary mleczne - Warsaw's cheap eateries

This time four years ago:
Nikkor 45mm f2.8 pancake lens reviewed

This time five years ago:
Old Town, another prospect

This time six years ago:
W-wa Śródmieście - commuters' staging post

This time seven years ago:
Filthy ul. Poloneza
[five years on, there's finally prospect of change]

This time eight years ago:
A sight that heralds the coming of spring

4 comments:

adthelad said...

Dear Michał,

You write : "The Nicene Creed, setting out what Catholics (in particular) are obliged to believe, is for me, difficult. This is not a manifestation of the Sin of Pride. It is rather an intuitive inability to grasp the notion of God as 'Father' and 'Lord' (are these but metaphors, or are Catholics expected to see the Deity as a) male, b) paternal and c) feudal?) And the idea that God, the creator or all things visible and invisible (and here I'd tend to agree, although wishing to understand this notion better) manifested Himself but once to Humanity in 1st Century Judea?"

In the spirit of 'wishing to understand', I heartily recommend (to one and all) listening to this while riding the bus or pottering about at home - if you can take on board what it said, I think you will a bit closer to comprehending some of the nuances that are contained in the dogma of Father. It might have you ponder a bit more your intimation that Catholicism is an 'organised' religion and one that therefore began in order to wield and maintain social control.

Warmest regards,
A

adthelad said...

Ooops!

When I said 'listening to this' I meant This :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgou9QDR4KM

Yes - it lasts a bit of time but that's the cost of effective inquiry :)

best, A



Michael Dembinski said...

It's eminently possible for one to defend the Church's position on women priests - but I have no axe to grind one way or another. Dr Kreeft's arguments are based on the Scriptures and little more than the Scriptures - 'God said this', 'Jesus said that'. OK. I fundamentally reject the Scriptures as being the Absolute Truth handed down by the Supreme Being to man. I tyle.

It's like saying "science stopped 2,000 years ago. No new facts, no new debate, everything's done and dusted, believe this, there's nothing else worth considering". Fundamentally disagree.

adthelad said...

The talk is not just about women priests, it's about the idea of Father and what that entails, and it's about absolutes and it's about that which has been revealed :) If your not getting the message then the only basis you can operate on is that if there was a message then it wasn't a very good one. Most people think they understand the message, even 'good' Catholics, and it appears that you are amongst some of those who don't and who go on to think that truth has something to do with science. Oops!

Not to worry though, it's not a permanent condition and can be treated. It just requires wanting to find out rather than thinking you've grasped it all:) One prime example of such a misconception is that the truth is based on scripture, which is said to be inerrant.

Seek and ye shall find :)