This page is an archive from the previous version of The Row Boat, which is why it doesn't look and work the same as the current version. However, these archives are fully functional and integrated with the new system.
Why does this site permit advertising?
Powered by Little Logger
The Row Boat
"Had we but world enough, and time..." *
From paradox to peace11/20/2005 19:07:46
It is an odd place my study is in, the secret study I do, which has no temple and goes about like an exile (all the while knowing that the holy land is being resettled, that a place exists where I'd be welcome if I could only welcome myself there!). That is to say, practicing secular religious studies and continuing to do so while all the time actually thinking theologically.
Really they are one thing is what you discover.
One example is in the manuscript of a professor of mine, in which he suggests an understanding of paradox along the lines that Mary Douglas describes ritual purity in Purity and Danger. That is, there are conditions in which a paradox is an acceptable thing in a religious system and others when it is not. It can take all forms. Very often the contradiction, enshined as paradox, comes to represent the sacred feeling, the mysterium tremendum. Kierkegaard is an example he is interested in a lot, how SK puts such wild religious value in Fear and Trembling etc on the contradictions that Christianity implies.
Then there are times that paradox must be rejected. Really, my professor argues that a contradiction is simply a contradiction, leading to a resuctio ad absurdam of the whole proposition. He uses this at one point to demonstrate the nonsense of a transcendent being to begin with.
But I have come to see great theological possibility for the discussion. Put ourselves in the place of the sociological religious community. My friend last night brought up the question of when we can, for instance, accept communion from our enemies: Augustine's Donatist scenario. To what extent can we make peace with them, be unified in our contradiction, and when must we finally declare their injustice and fight for what we are sure is right? My theological tendency is always to the former, while my friend's is to the latter. The religious studies theory, once phrased in terms of the theological community, as we accept ourselves as somewhat sociological actors, we obtain some means for talking about our disagreement: why I am satisfied with the paradox and he is unsatisfied with it.
(Indeed, I find the paradox sacred. The more my enemies and I oppose each other, the more holy becomes the sacramental peace we make at the Mass. Here I become SK in a sense, erecting irreconcilables so that God can knock them down in his glory.)
Could this idea be developed within theology? Probably not. Likely, it takes one bent on destroying religion to save it sometimes. In this way I have been coming closer to a Rahnerian notion of anonymous Christians except not quite so much in terms of salvation but in terms of ecclesiology. They are anonymous members of the body of the church. All around us, whatever their affiliation are our teachers, and have a hand in the great story of God or no-God, the holy truth, however much in word they might at one time oppose it.
The peace in the Mass is when we realize that the scale of our impressions, opinions, and existence is just as false as it is real.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -