The Other I

August 4, 2017

Test of my faith

As the regular readers of this blog know, I was born and raised as a Roman Catholic, and spent 9 years in an order of nuns which I believed was rather like becoming a life-time Peace Corps worker for the poor and disadvantaged.  But I was never sent to work among the poor and finally left the convent.

A t the same time I came to understand the bible as the Hebrews understood most of its stories – as metaphors and parables, rather than as literal truths.  And I came to accept the Hebrew translation of “faith” as “faithfulness,” rather than adherence to a strict set of doctrinal beliefs.  Eventually, what remained for me was a belief beyond either proof or disproof that existence is good.  That however mysterious it may seem, to be is its own meaning, and that consequently to respect, to love, to care for the world and for the living organisms within it is my greatest fulfillment.

For the first time in years that conviction was shaken when I read two articles  earlier this week by scientists giving us no more than a 5% chance of ultimately avoiding irreversible climate change so drastic that the human species, and potentially all of life on this planet, could be destroyed.

I’ve been aware of the extreme dangers of the climate change we humans are producing and I have taken it seriously.

Image result for the universe

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140211-are-we-alone-in-the-universe

But the potential of our losing this battle and of our becoming one of the millions of extinct species that have inhabited earth filled me not only with sadness, but with something closer to despair.  Are those who believe that life has no meaning right after all?

I haven’t reached that conclusion.  I continue to live by the conviction that it is we who must help create the meaning of existence, of life, of our individual lives.  And “Love” is still for me the best summary of the way I believe we can best live in this Mystery of Life.

But it hasn’t been since my adolescence that I appreciated that “faith” in this sense is no simple achievement.

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3 Comments »

  1. Hope…what we live by.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by tskraghu — August 4, 2017 @ 7:22 pm | Reply

  2. Recently I came across this quote from Emmanuel Levinas, which got right to the heart of the matter for me: “Faith is not the question of the existence or non-existence of God. It is believing that love without reward is valuable.”

    I hear what you’re saying about our chances as a species and agree that the outlook is very bleak; conscience is a relatively new development on the evolutionary scale, and predatory, short-sighted self-interest still predominant in our instinctual make up. But if you take the long view, we’re all toast anyway, whether we wipe ourselves out, perish when the sun becomes a red giant, or fall to entropy in the Big Freeze—so whatever meaning life has happens in the moment, as we live it. But that’s no small thing, as anyone can attest who has ever been truly loved, or given that gift to someone else, even for a brief moment!

    Such events seem to be illuminated by an energy beyond the reach of thermodynamics, let alone the possibility that humans might flame out. My other favorite quote describing faith is from Teilhard de Chardin (I forgive him for being a Jesuit just because of it, and because he was also a scientist): “Throughout my whole life, during every minute of it, the world has been gradually lighting up and blazing before my eyes until it has come to surround me, entirely lit up from within.”

    I don’t think that despair is necessarily incompatible with joy—and certainly not with love, even though, as you say, living with that paradox isn’t simple!

    Take heart.

    Like

    Comment by Barbara Sullivan — August 6, 2017 @ 1:27 am | Reply

    • Barbara, thank you so very very much for your extended comment. I wondered when I wrote the post if it wouldn’t sound like babbling self-absorption. But you have understood completely. I wasn’t familiar with Lavinas’ quote, but it is says perfectly what I was trying to say.

      I do have posted on my bulletin board another way of saying the same thing which also sums it up: “Love is hard enough. But it is also enough.”

      I too must forgive de Chardin for being a Jesuit. Especially an obedient one who stopped writing when Rome told me to stop. I wish he’d been a little more like Galileo and that we now have access to at least his private notes. But if they ever existed, I fear they were burned by his fellow Jesuits after his death.

      Again, mega thank you. I suspect you know what I mean. Terry

      Like

      Comment by Terry Sissons — August 6, 2017 @ 4:20 pm | Reply


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