Tuesday, November 15, 2005


... so that the truth will out, though not if you force its meaning or try to possess or twist it to your own ends. It's manna, after all. As Simone Weil suggests, in an exposition that becomes slowly more meaningful to me:

We do not have to understand 'new things', but by dint of patience, effort and [proper] method to come to understand with our whole self those truths which are evident.

The most commonplace truth, when it floods the whole being, is [therefore] like a revelation.

We [also] have to try to cure our faults by attention and not by will. The will only controls a few movements of a few muscles... What could be more stupid than to tighten up our muscles and set our jaws about virtue, or poetry or the solution of a problem?...

Inner supplication is the only way, for it avoids stiffening muscles which have nothing to do with the matter [in hand]...

Attention [to reality], taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer. It presupposes faith and love. (Adapted from Gravity and Grace)

As for the methodological part - well, broadly speaking, epistemology models ontology. Or to put it another way, the true nature of something, in both its apparent availability and non-availability to us, conditions the appropriate means by which we might patiently, experimentally, gradually get to 'know' it.

In the case of an object or the relation of objects this is relatively straightforward. In the case of persons, not at all straightforward. And in the case off God, strictly speaking, it is impossible. For as Weil also explains:

We have to believe in a God who is like the true God in every respect, except that [this God we believe in] does not exist, [because] we have not yet reached the point where God exists.

How we 'know God', then, the true God who is beyond our capacity to exist, is by learning deeds of love, companionship, justice, peace and compassion -- not by metaphysical speculation or by seeking to exercise demonstrative power. This is so because God is love rather than will, excess rather than essence, gift rather than possession, act rather than being, possibility rather than prescription.

This is also why 'killing for God' (the most ancient and modern religious disease) is in fact the ultimate act of non-belief, against which atheism is the highest, most Christlike virtue.

Jesus was 'killed for God'. That is, he was killed by the religion of power, and in this event the lie at the heart of religion was exposed -- the lie which keeps us from the true God who awaits us as love beyond vengeance.

Waiting for the 'more' that is God is essential if we are not to foreclose truth in our procedures. In this way 'faith' (loving expectation) is not an antonym to reason, but a condition of its very reasonableness.

This, I think, is why St Paul and those around him needed to speak of the indivisibility of knowledge and love in the transforming economy of divine communion (Colossians 2.2, Ephesians 3.19, etc.).

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