Monday, March 28

hearts and minds

Over the past few days, I have had a few conversations regarding a number of theological concepts and read at least two or three more which has brought me to this subject.

There's a lot of religious discussion which is commonly couched in methods most akin to either the academic or forensic arenas.  From the use of specific jargon which is shorthand for entire schools of thought and reliance on formal logic to citations of scholars or scripture as support for arguments, the discourse is lodged squarely between the ears.  For lack of a better term, I will call this the Theology of the Mind.

There is a separate and distinct religious conversation which is mostly devoid of these things.  In this dialogue, the religious experience has an entirely different vocabulary which uses pseudo-psychosocial terminology to describe esoteric and mystical events which can neither be reliably repeated nor explained through reason and logic.  It is the Spirituality of the Heart.

Here's the trouble.  Both are the allegorical blind men standing in front of the elephant, vehemently arguing that the other is a fool.  Without the Spirituality of the Heart, the Theology of the Mind is an exceptionally elaborate set of metaphysical exercises and philosophical constructs which use logic and reason to lead into a blind alley of mental masturbation - personally satisfying but ultimately fruitless.  Without the Theology of Mind, the Spirituality of the Heart floats like so much incense in a haze - sweet smelling and pungent but eventually cloying and directionless.

For a more accurate representation ( for we can never gain a truly complete or accurate understanding of the ineffable Divine), one must unite the two disparate vocabularies and have a discussion of both simultaneously, interchanging one and the other in a harmonious marriage all the while recognizing that both are still only a partial description of what is going on.

Put differently...
For what man knows God's counsel, or who can conceive what our LORD intends?  For the deliberations of mortals are timid, and unsure are our plans.  For the corruptible body burdens the soul and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns.  And scarce do we guess the things on earth, and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty; but when things are in heaven, who can search them out?  (Wisdom 9:13-16)

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