Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cartesian Roots.


We all come from them. Our societal upbringing has made it so. It is as though we were bathed in its understanding from the minute we came out of the womb.
I just spent the entire day working through the concepts of knowledge and reality that can be found through a study of Chesterton's orthodoxy. I myself studied these concepts a little over a year ago. Now, as I go back through them at a completely different stage of life, I am affected in an entirely different way.

We talked about how the modern man boils down his reality to what he can understand. He has tried to understand it all but discovered he could not. So he simply rid himself of everything he could not rationalize. We discovered this process leads to an insane simplicity; an unhealthy and untrue simplicity.

Then we went on to the connections of this with other thoughts; specifically that of humility and mysticism. We discovered that it takes humility to step outside of your nicely constructed frame and look at a reality which may not directly be yours. At the same time, in order to understand a reality which is not your own, we discovered, you need a healthy appreciation of the unknown. You need a healthy balance of understanding what is and the possibility of what could be.

After the eighth time we went over this, I discovered a contradiction for myself. Comparably, the existentialist view we have of life is a direct antithesis to what we were created for. I think I discovered this a few months ago, but the phrasing of this is so important. The existentialist view states ". . . the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts" (dictionary.com). This is the materialist's view. This is living within a self-contained box that we control. We discovered that not only does this lead to insanity, but also to incredibly hardened hearts. When you take away any question, any doubt, any grey, you take away all freedom. Thus, I've never met an sane existenialist.

When we try to have all the answers, when we try to be the center of everything, we get hurt. We give up relying on anything greater than ourselves, so we need to be strong. We need to be stronger than everything else that may come up against us. This leads to hardened hearts. This leads to bitterness and anger and envy and strife. This is not what we are called to.

What we are called to is to have softened hearts. We are called to not have the answers but to allow Christ to rule in our lives in a way that gives peace and allows us to live with the grey. When we put our faith in the unfailable Christ, we are given a foundation that can never fail. When we stand upon that foundation, therefore, we have the freedom to question and doubt and live. Mysticism therefore is a call to softened hearts.

We all come from them. But they don't have to define us. Our world is the direct antithesis of what we are called to as followers of Christ. What choices are we going to make then, to live apart from that?

1 comment:

francine said...

wow han...i had to read it twice to really get it. and then i read it again cuz i liked it so much.