Friday, March 28, 2014

When Understanding is Folly

For a long time I've had the phrase "I write, therefore I understand" in the header of this blog. The title is all about that because naru hodo is like "oh, now I get it" in Japanese.

But I've learned that there is something more important than that. In fact, I can think of at least three things that are more important to have than understanding.

Faith. The only way that we can really function in this world that we did not create as persons who have not created ourselves is to acknowledge that we came from somewhere else. Faith is completely reasonable, although it does take us beyond what reason can deduce. And faith is really the only thing that gives me solid grounding under my feet, the only thing that can assure me of things I can't see. Faith in God is a supernatural gift that is available to every human being. When that supernatural gift functions in our lives it often requires one to do things that are reasonable, and yet beyond our understanding. So understanding bows before faith.

Hope.  God relates to us. He is relational, or rather we are relational and can begin to grasp what that means because He is relational and we are made in His image. Relationships are opened out beyond this moment. We don't know the what, but in knowing the who, or better, being in relationship with the who, we also have solid footing. We cannot understand things that haven't even come to be yet. But we can be in peace when the who is free to take us anywhere. So understanding bows before hope.

Love.  This is what God is. This is what comes to live in the heart of a human who is covenanted with God by baptism. This is the Holy Spirit alive and at work within us and through us. This is also the purifying fire of God. And this hurts -- like the dickens -- to the degree that we are open to God and yet embracing attachments that are not God. That hurt just flat out squashes understanding to bewildered smithereens sometimes. So understanding bows before love.

It is fine and good to seek understanding. But it is not fine and good to seek one's security in it. It is good, right and necessary to be at peace without understanding at times, especially when one is seeking answers that are personal and not in reference to specifically revealed truths, like the morality of ending life, or other questions that can be presented in catechism format.

When understanding it not available to rest in, one must realize the call is to rest in God Himself. God deeply respects our minds (He created them, after all!). He will give us to understand what we truly need. But the beauty of the understanding He gives is that it is the fruit of receiving His love into our hearts and allowing His love to shape us. Love gives understanding on that personal level. So without embracing God, without embracing love (with faith and hope -- they travel together), we never really reach the potential we could in human understanding.

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