I look for good thoughts, that is what is true, or what makes me think about truth, what helps me in my struggle to live a life worth living. That is my shorthand for the restless ranging of my minds relentless dilettantism. I am slow to break out of my accustomed parameters, but eventually it will sometime happen, and the freshness of the venue will create a receptivity to “the good thought”. Sometimes that has to work itself down into my worldview and constructs, sometimes it just stands alone in a brilliance that I run after to try to understand more of where it leads and what the purpose might be.
Usually, in my religious experience of life I tend to gravitate around Protestant and especially Evangelical or Charismatic sources. Occasionally, like today, I venture back into the Catholic in some roundabout way. I discovered Eve Tushnet. Yes, I know she has been blogging a long time, her archives dating from 2002, but I am just now looking at her blog and her style of thinking (while far more erudite than mine could be) strikes a chord with me. She looks at feminism, truth, and beauty… in the big question sense. And I’m tired of some of the god-blogging eternal arguing over fine points. There I said it. I stood on what I needed to say about Cessationism, and such points of contention, and don’t need to worry it like some stubborn little terrier.
In a side blog of hers she threads out a helpful breakdown of reason and faith. We would go in circles less if we took time for such defining breakdowns of what we are actually talking about, and forced the opposition to encounter the same. ie
There are good but non-rational reasons for believing things. (I take “irrational” to mean “anti-rational, contrary to reason,” and “non-rational” to mean “not using the processes of syllogistic reasoning but not contrary to such reasoning.”) “Non-rational reasons” may sound like an oxymoron, but let’s take a look at one important example: aesthetic judgments. What process of syllogistic reasoning can lead us to conclude that Hamlet is a greater work of art than The Long Goodbye, or that Goodbye is nonetheless a terrific book? Beauty and sublimity are encounters, not conclusions of philosophic reasoning (although the conclusions we draw from reasoning may make it easier or harder for us to see or accept beauty or sublimity in certain places…
So I think it might help clarify matters if, when we talk about “faith,” we cash out a little more clearly what the term means. Loving trust in someone’s promises–for example, God’s promises? (That’s a fairly standard Christian definition of one kind of faith.) Non-rational beliefs that nonetheless can be discussed, justified, or convincingly described? Everything that isn’t based on evidence of the senses + axioms of logic (“A is A”)? Random belief in whatever toxin happens to be flowing through the culture-stream? Many Objectivists write as if Christians themselves believe that faith is basically irrational rather than nonrational, leading the Objectivists to assume that faith is necessarily either random or a capitulation to an evil cultural trend.
Of course it takes times and level-headedness to discuss things in that way. Not a mainstream occupation in debates if what I have witnessed is any measure of that. just saying. It isn’t that people generally aren’t smart enough, but that they are proudly invested in making their points more than in the discovery process.
… and as she ended that side blog endeavor:
What have you found to be true that you absolutely wished was not true? In other words, when have you overcome a desire for comfort over truth, or personal happiness (even short-term happiness) over truth? When have you “wrestled yourself and lost”? And, to get to the heart of the matter, why did that conflict arise?
I wonder if we can make much progress in the Christian life if we don’t venture that wrestle with ourselves in this way. But then, I think the answer of Jesus to another question is the answer here as well: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”
Thanks be to God for His unspeakably great and wonderful gift to us in Christ.
And therein is my good thought for today.