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Beginning of the Week Thoughts

Last week, I received a short reply from Redlefty of the blog Megaloi, responding to my question of whether or not he’d found any good books to read about Jesus’s humanness or divinity (or both).

His reply:  “…I’ve certainly had the same doubts/thoughts about Jesus.  Honestly, I don’t know how I used to read the resurrection stories in the gospels, with their inconsistencies, and not doubt.  But in the end it’s not a big issue for me because my walk is modeled more on following Jesus’ example, not worshipping a metaphysical idea!”

I like that.  Because whatever we believe doctrinally doesn’t really matter, if we’re not living it.  End of story.  We can discuss and argue until we’re blue-faced Violet from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and we still won’t be any nearer to the truth.  It’s all about living the truth.

Which brings me to a wondrously insightful excerpt from Annie Dillard’s For the Time Being.

“‘Spiritual path’ is the hilarious popular term for those night-blind mesas and flayed hills in which people grope, for decades on end, with the goal of knowing the absolute.  They discover others spread under the stars and encamped here and there by watch fires, in groups or alone, in the open landscape; they stop for a sleep, or for several years, and move along without knowing toward what or why.  They leave whatever they find, picking up each stone, carrying it awhile, and dropping it gratefully and without regret, for it is not the absolute, though they cannot say what is.  Their life’s fine, impossible goal justifies the term ‘spiritual.’  Nothing, however, can justify the term ‘path’ for this bewildered and empty stumbling, this blackened vagabondage–except one thing: They don’t quit.  They stick with it.  Year after year they put one foot in front of the other though they fare nowhere.  Year after year they find themselves still feeling with their fingers for lumps in the dark.

“The planet turns under their steps like a water wheel rolling; constellations shift without anyone’s gaining ground.  They are presenting themselves to the unseen gaze of emptiness.  Why do they want to do this?  They hope to learn how to be useful.

“Their feet catch in nets; they untangle them when they notice, and keep moving.  They hope to learn where they came from.  ‘The soul teaches incessantly,’ said Rabbi Pinhas, ‘but it never repeats.’  Decade after decade they see no progress.  But they do notice, if they look, that they have left doubt behind.  Decades ago, they left behind doubt about this or that doctrine, abandoning the issues as unimportant.  Now, I mean, they have left behind the early doubt that this feckless prospecting in the dark for the unseen is a reasonable way to pass one’s life.” [Bold emphasis mine.]

Do you feel the ebbing of doubt, as compared to where you were a year ago? Five years ago?  Ten years ago?

Or rather, does doubt continue to magnify for you?  And is this okay with you, or do you feel paralyzed by it at times?

For me, I’m beginning to think all-she-wrote is in the daily details, how I actually live my life.

And that’s an encouraging thing to me–since the more I read, the more I hear, the less I seem to know.

How about you?

*    *    *

As you may know, I contribute book reviews every once in a while to a magazine (both print and digital now) called Books & Culture.  Imagine taking a flashlight into the vast, limitless world of culture and shining light on various parts of it.  That’s what reading it is like.  It’s an eclectic mix: reviews on novels, theology-based books, movies, sports, and history.  Some of the writers are clearly understandable and seem to want readership; others are more obscure, as though they’ve been stuck in academia too long…and they’re not quite sure how to approach a topic for the layperson.  But, all in all, there are gems in every issue.

I have two copies of the Books & Culture May/June 2010 issue to give away.  If you’d like to check it out, please either comment below (with whatever you feel like), or you can e-mail me at comment4elissa at gmail dot com, and you’ll be entered.  Deadline: Wednesday at midnight, PST.

Have a lovely day!  Are you awake yet?

[Post image: Partial of For the Time Being by Annie Dillard cover]

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The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

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