Saturday, July 10, 2010

Science so-called, faith so-called, and the dread of reading

Leap of faith - no.
Science in conflict with religion - no.
Literal readings of myth and poetry possible - no.
The denial of sin - the denial of the good - compatible - yes
The uniqueness of the Revelation of Jesus, Anointed supportable - yes.

What is possible evidence in the individual life and in the corporate life of the world?

It seems daunting to try and address such questions and still maintain the imagery of the Anointed Jesus as power, word, and example for us. Word of invitation, example of a faithful self, and the power given to all to hear and follow in that same path. This post is entirely in English. There will no salting with unreadable words.

I have already raised too many issues for one post. Science so-called is an allusion to one of the pastoral epistles where the writer addresses the reader with the problem of dispute. What is it we are disputing when science, a method of testing, confirming, and predicting behaviour of things conflicts with our thought processes that arise with some readings of the canon of ancient writings called the Bible?

Faith so-called is a counterpoint - how can we have the faith of this or that historical confession and somehow identify it with the faith referred to in the Scriptures? Is Calvinism a faith? Or Methodism? Or Evangelical fundamentalism? If these are sets of definitions encompassing a practice of 'the faith', then perhaps they are stepping stones to the real thing, but if they in any form define and limit the individual in that person's work of faith, then they are a stumbling block and to be put aside. Faith in the Scriptural sense is an invitation to trust an invisible person and is not a set of rules to which intellectual assent must be given. In fact, real trust involves exactly the same things that scientists do when they test, confirm and predict behaviour of things. We too are to taste and see that the Lord is good. We are to take other people's word for it, and also discover the same for ourselves. There is no leap just an assent to 'try me - and see'. (Not me of course)

The dread of reading. One who tastes of the heavenly gift will be called to learn and the learning will be very matter of fact and tangible. It will be word made flesh in that very one who trusts - i.e. in you, whoever you are. It is a marvel, is it not, that humans have language and can teach beyond their death in what is written. Why you may even be reading this after I have died. Certainly we read Calvin and Luther, Shakespeare, the Countess Mary Herbert Pembroke, Milton, Blake, the Wesleys, Eliot, Lewis, Milne, Christie, James, and so on after they have died. And some are dated and some are not.  Do I dread reading? I find it hard to define such a dread, but I think it expresses itself in my ignorance. I cannot help the fact that I know so little. But this helps me not to insist that I know so much that I should impose my ignorance on others.

That is the secret of hearing spin. Stop and listen for your own insistence that everyone think like you. Then spin the other way. That is listening to the other. The problem with fundamentalists is that they are too shallow. They are not fundamental enough, seeking the true root. The true root is not subject to our definitions. Science recognizes this by stating assumptions and when things don't work out, revising theory to meet the changed perception of reality. (This changes their reality also - and ours!) So the proton is now a bit smaller than thought - scientists gasp!

So how do I read Genesis? With love. With Love. Is it subject to my idea of what really happened? How could it be! Am I concerned with a special creation? Of course - I read this book as Adam and as Eve in my male and femaleness. I read it as one who has sinned and is in trouble (of course I know more about this from the Psalms - but it is right there in Genesis, not to mention that it is right there in my life.) I read it as a real person in conversation with the author and with the Author - and I keep asking questions. And every day I get more answers - not so I can stuff them in my briefcase and tell my friends to obey my reading - no no no - but I get them from the Living One who teaches me in real time even though I forget also in real time. But some things I do not forget.

I am sieve incarnate. I retain some and I shed some - but the Water keeps flowing. And this tells me I know little about time, about consciousness, about memory, and about something else [gravity, glory] I can't remember at this point, but it also tells me that I am somehow in this Anointing Anointed One and known in this Mystery - and somehow fearless in my dread.  That they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. The rest is not so vital - and often not life-giving. In fact the objections from our scientists to the foolishness of faith should be taken seriously. For some they are true objections.

Where do I come to a border of my faith? It's easy to say. I lived through the most brutal of centuries so far in the great circle of time. We killed more people, more animals, more trees than all other centuries combined. We have the worst record for persecution and abuse of all prior centuries. We grow in our ignorance and greed. Even the self-styled righteous non-profits can suck the teat of donations and grants and blame the corporations while not understanding a whit about the responsibilities of running a business. Saint and sinner alike can pretend to deny sin and can say 'it is good' out of one side of their mouths and 'give me more' out of the other - even when they have enough. This has not changed since Ecclesiastes. There is just more of it.

But - you will say - no Adam, no Christ? What! Did you define Christ for the world? And have you known the full mystery of the Anointing in the Scripture?  The uniqueness of the Revelation of Jesus, the one who is called 'the' Christ, the one to whom the Spirit is given without measure, this uniqueness is supportable without reading the Bible wrong. It is as simple as 'taste and see'. And impossible without letting go of our trust in our own reading. We are not complete in ourselves. But in the gift of God, there is no end to our completeness.