Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Heart of Christianity (Marcus Borg)--Chapter 2--A Study

Dear Stevie et al,

I'm dragging through this book very slowly. Perhaps I'll ending up posting per chapter and long after your group has moved through the material. Oh well. I'll try not to be long winded this time.

As I read through this I am immediately reactionary. It comes from a life of reaction I suppose. Borg too is reactionary, but he is fighting it and so I will too. His Returning to Faith as Believing at the end of Chapter 2, shows that he is, indeed, fighting his own reactions.

I appreciate the four words that he presents as faith definitions: Assensus-Belief, Fiducia-Trust, Fidelitas-Fidelity or -Allegiance, and Visio-Vision. I think these are good, though I thought that the vision concept actually goes outside the bounds of the freight that faith is typically asked to carry.

Here is what I liked about what is said. Faith is not just a list of beliefs for us to tuck away in our heads and pull out whenever we are asked for our statement of faith. First of all, we are asked to do that very infrequently. Second, this list rarely helps us live, really live our lives.

Borg at first seems to say that our Biblical Credo is not much more important than a Steve Martin schtick, but he redeems his thinking later in the chapter. First he says, "Does God really care what is in our heads?" He answers that question with a "No." That was uncomfortable for me. Later though, he fesses up and says, "We cannot give our heart to something that our mind rejects." And lets face it, he is writing a book to convince people via their heads to think/believe a certain way about Christianity, ergo he must care about belief as "assensus," belief as rational content.

I have long accepted an image of my faith that fits his description under Faith as Fiducia (Trust). It is linked to Soren Kierkegaard and the expression he introduced in the book The Concept of Anxiety. Borg talks about Soren's floating metaphor. The metaphor I relate to is the Leap of Faith. This is the point of existential engagement when, not knowing for sure in the typical rational, empirical sense of knowing for sure, not knowing comprehensively because our minds fall short, we study and forget, we have only about 80 years to work through the material, we don't get it, when that. . . we take a leap into the not sure, ready to free fall in our belief, our trust.

Part of that Leap is not knowing, but knowing that we will choose this, nonetheless. That is how I feel about the teachings of Christ. I choose this. I affirm this. I say "Yes" to this kind of loving, this kind of good, this kind of justice, this kind of living. As far as my head can go with this, I say "Yes" and then my heart takes over and leaps to the arms of Jesus.

One last thing, Borg's description of modern use of creed reminds me in an eerie way of the last scene of the initial Battlestar Galactica movie, when the commander describes Earth, which he does not believe exists, and convinces everyone that it does, ending with a raucous, "So say we all, so say we all, so say we all."

I have been for some time been working on a new credal statement, one that revamps the worn and inadequate one we currently use, replacing the term "Father Almightly" with "Creator All Loving", etc. The creeds need work not vacuous recitation.

I love you,


1 comment:

Anne G G said...

Interesting . . . I've read both your letters to Stevie now, and I have a few questions.

1) You say that meaning slips out from under words, that even if they were once verbally inspired, they couldn't remain that way. But the conservatives say that words build concepts, and I agree with them there -- how do we communicate the inner feeling, or the action, or the meaning of the action, without words? But my tentative conclusion, unfortunately, is that meaning slips out from under concepts in the same way that it slips out from under words, because words, in the end, are the only concepts we can communicate to each other. If I don't mean the same thing as you do when I say "love," or "justice," we might talk an hour to figure out that we mean different things, or never figure out that we mean different things.

2) I was interested in your comment that Ordination of Women and Gays and Lesbians are "hot button issues," whereas Christian Exclusivism doesn't fit into that category. I think you're right in some ways, but I've found that in my interactions with secular folk, Christian Exclusivism is one of the things that really rubs them the wrong way (esp. when including hell), and is tied up with those other two issues. It certainly is a broader issue, but I'd be interested to hear you elaborate on Christian Exclusivism, and how you view it.

3) What are the other things you think need to change in the Christian creeds? I agree with "Father" and "Almighty" (although I also believe that historic words have a power, and so sometimes it's better to overlook the flaws in favor of continuity).

You don't have to get back to me on the blog -- I've already taken up way too much of your space!!! Love.