thread: 2006-08-31 : I think my expectations are screwed

On 2006-09-07, Ian Burton-Oakes wrote:

Wow, I don't think there is any good way to respond coherently to all that is going on, so I won't bother to try.

First, Darwin: Darwin cuts both ways on the tradition thing.  It is just as easy to make the argument that we are living in times so different that tradition does not serve us, that it maladapted and clinging to it will kill us.  What the meteor was for the dinosaurs, modernity might be for tradition.  I'm not endorsing that view, but just pointing out how poor an ally Darwin is.

Second, happy stories: see, I had the exact opposite response of C.S. Lewis.  Devout, but then saw the Christian story as just one happy story—not even the most powerful one for me.  Blame Jung for that.

Third, 'infinite value'—what does that even mean?  I hear infinite anything and unless we're talking mathematical formulas, I'm tuning out.  I think the idea that anything is infinitely valuable destroys our ability to make good value judgments.  It destroys the scales.  It also shifts us away from the person to this infinitely valuable soul.  I want this person, here, now.  If you want to take value out of the context of the relative, I don't think you are really talking about values anymore.  You may use the term, but it takes on an entirely new meaning.

It's Kierkegaard (who I love and respect in his way): God says to kill your only child, what do you do?  We can go on and on whether you are nuts or not, but the question is raw.  You can only say you're nuts if you don't abandon the relative value system. If you step into that infinite valuation, all bets are off.  All tradition is off.  Especially if you have a robust tradition, it will tell you all sorts of different things you could do, that great men and women have done.  Still, it's your choice.

Any statement of faith, to my mind, comes down to this.  If you are swayed by apologetics, you are either easily swayed (have not found your belief) or you realize that the source of your belief lies elsewhere than you thought.  The reasons themselves are irrelevant.  Tradition, reason (church and science for dramatic effect), all come after the fact, to make those nigh unbearable moments livable, to wall them up so they do not burn away your capacity to live in the world with others.

Maybe Jesus follows the sheep that has wandered off because it is only that scared and bedraggled sheep that can get him, the only sheep not guarded by tradition.  What is it Leonard Cohen sang?  "...only drowning men can see him"


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