CHRIST OUR SAVIOR
Roman Catholic Parish
MANCHESTER, VERMONT

 
 

July 7, 2019

Dear All,

I keep hearing that theology is tough stuff and that it seems useless. That's a little like saying that computer science is too tough to be necessary. Where would we be without out laptops, our tablets, our phones? I know, we don't often think about the amazing complexity and sophistication that goes into one of these devices. We just turn them on and expect them to work. When they are slow or require two or three tries to get and app or a use running … arrrgh!

Theology calls for even more sophistication than a computer. Just to think through the implications of the simplicity of God - his absolute undividedness and indivisibility (for example) can cause a headache.

But what a tragedy if we were to allow our religious thinking to focus only on morality! It is so easy to think of morality in terms of rules and of rules in terms of exceptions. This makes us lose sight of morality as just one branch of spirituality, of learning to live with a God who is beyond our wildest imaginings. Worse still, rule-keeping is about us, not about God. Self-disgust or self-complacency are some of the nastiest qualities of the 'religious people' - of ourselves.

It becomes easier then, almost a temptation, to decide that religion and religious feelings are the sole domain of our relationship with God. This is like reducing a boy-girl relationship to romantic stuff or the ten things that guarantee marital happiness - as if every relationship between a unique male and a unique female could be analyzed and understood in these and only these terms. Rules are good for the early stages of a relationship; they keep us from hurting one another. But as acquaintance moves into friendship and friendship into love and love into a life-long commitment, something more is called for and needed.

In our relationship with God we move from obedience to love, from non-murder to positive care, from non-adultery to true purity of heart, from non-stealing to real generosity. This movement happens, not because we have thrown the rules out, but because we want to be more like God. And that is something quite different from being like all the rest of the rule-keepers.

There are a lot of books on 'spirituality'. These all have one thing in common, they are lists of rules for one step above the rules - or maybe two. But real holiness and joy in Christianity depend on knowing God. For that knowledge there are no rules except those that make love a joy -- self-forgetfulness and other-mindfulness, eagerness and patience, humility and unlimited hope. and so on. If you have noticed that these qualities have a certain opposition to each other, go back and realize that they are opposed only by the object of their focus - the self and God.

All of this makes me think that it might be useful to take some time looking at some false ideas of God, or at the false gods we create out of partial knowledge of the true God.

Really and truly and theologically yours,

tm

 

     



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