Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Faith isn't a fix

I am presenting a quote for consideration from a piece by Carol Zaleski at The Christian Century through a post at A Thinking Reed by way of a post at Even the Devils Believe by Fr. Chris Tessone. Given my recent attempts to discuss issues such as a timeless spaceless sublime tranquility amidst the frenetic finitude of the phenomenal world (here and here) and the related issue of how to be rooted in awareness of such vertical depth while dealing with conflict (here and here), I thought this sentiment fits in nicely.

Some conservative wags like to say that liberalism is a mental disease. But the mental disease isn't liberalism and it isn't conservatism, it's utopianism—and the antidote to utopianism isn't apathy, it is faith. Faith isn't a fix. Faith isn't sure it knows in detail what's wrong with the world and how to repair it. Faith doesn't drive out doubt, but sits well with honest ignorance as to how hunger and poverty and war and prejudice and disease and ugliness and cultural degeneration are to be eliminated. Faith helps us discern the limits of what any government can do to improve our fallen human condition. Faith saves us from being seduced by totalistic schemes. Faith teaches us that politics is not the only way to serve the polis. Faith enables us to make prudential judgments with a measure of humility and realistic sangfroid. The bumper sticker says, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention,” but faith would have us pay attention to the world’s ills without outrage. Commitment with detachment—it’s a difficult road to walk, and only faith makes it possible.

{emphasis added}
Tessone comments: "I am not quite sure about those last two sentences. Rather I would say that specifically Christian faith should bring us to a place of joy with God's creation which nevertheless takes sin seriously..."

If we substitute deluded for fallen in the first quote, remove "specifically Christian" and "God's creation" in the second quote, and replace sin with suffering in that second quote, I think it works pretty well among multiple spiritual paths and traditions (in particular Buddhism). I personally would just leave the terms as they are, but I know that they can be a hang-up for some and I wanted to try to give the points under consideration the best hearing possible.

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