Saturday, February 23, 2008


"At the bottom of the heart of every human being... there is something that goes on indomitably expecting, in the teeth of all experience... that good and not evil will be done... It is this above all that is sacred...The good is the only source of the sacred. There is nothing sacred except the good and what pertains to it." - Simone Weil, Selected Essays 1934-1943 (published in 1957).

Every time I turn on the radio and there is a discussion about belief, someone seems to equate 'the sacred' with religion and 'the secular' or 'the profane' with no religion. Theologically as well as practically, this as wrong as you can get. As ever, Weil hits the nail on the head. For her, the good we wait expectantly for, grieving over the tragics of life, is but a taste of the wholly unconditioned goodness that is God - a life-givingness not qualified by contingency, bargaining or conditionality (unlike anything we can approximate). By its nature, this goodness has the capacity to reshape and redeem anything and everything. To restrict it to the sphere of human activity labelled 'religion' is both blasphemous and non-biblical. The God of Jesus commits to the flesh, not 'religious flesh'. There is a legitimate secularity that seeks independence of the self-interest of religious institutions, but for those who see the whole of life as gift (which can only finally mean divine gift), there is nothing ultimately 'profane'. This in turn re-defines 'religion' away from self-interest and towards life-interest; beyond the rhetoric of the divine to the life that is the free offspring of divinity. As Weil also observed (and I am quoting from memory): "If you want to know whether someone is truly religious, don't listen to what they say about God, listen to what they say about the world."

1 comment:

Doug said...

Yes and again yes!

To live life is a gift is to live with open hands - removing the option of violence and opening to receive from others.