Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Lord: Chapter 46, “Belief in Christ, Imitation of Christ”

Dear friend,

There is so much value, so much beauty in Romano Guardini’s book about Jesus that I hope you’re reading along with me. If not, you have to taste a sample. I’ll use this post, the 46th in a series of 88, to quote a lengthy excerpt from this chapter. I’ll footnote it (#) with brief personal comments at the end, but please—first listen to Guardini without my interruptions.

In the chapter “Belief in Christ, Imitation of Christ,” he writes: “Jesus demands not only that we consent intellectually to the correctness of his proclamation—that would be only a beginning—but that we feel with all our natural instinct for right and wrong, with heart and soul and every cell of our being, its claims upon us. (1) We must not forget: the whole ship is headed for disaster. It does not help to change from one side of it to the other or to replace this or that instrument. It is the course that must be altered. (2) We must learn to take completely new bearings.

“What does it mean, to be? Philosophy goes into the problem deeply, without changing being at all. (3) Religion tells me that I have been created; that I am continuously receiving myself from divine hands, that I am free yet living from God’s strength. Try to feel your way into this truth, (4) and your whole attitude towards life will change. You will see yourself in an entirely new perspective. What once seemed self-understood becomes questionable. Where once you were indifferent, you become reverent; (5) where self-confident, you learn to know ‘fear and trembling.’

“But where formerly you felt abandoned, you will now feel secure, living as a Child of the Creator-Father, and the knowledge that this is precisely what you are will alter the very taproot of your being.” (6)

My notes:

(1) In college days, at a time when I had given up churchgoing, I used a line from Mark as a personal mantra: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Today this reminds me that although my mind had rejected the Lord’s “proclamation,” my heart and soul wanted Him anyway. 

(2) This idea that the whole world is going to hell in a hand basket is acceptable to me. Anything less than the total solution Jesus offers is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

(3) Again to speak of prep school and college days, which we shared together, old friend, I recall how little connection academic philosophy made with my heart. This may have been a function of laziness. But though I had rejected “religion,” I was much more in tune with it than with dry intellectualization. I wanted my being changed, not my brain alone.

(4) I love that: “Try to feel your way into this truth.” I think this defines in a few short words a pathway to greater understanding: coming to feel what your mind has read. 

(5) And I love the word reverent. 

(6) Amen.

I urge you to read Guardini for yourself. Catholic, Protestant, agnostic, or atheist, you will be challenged, inspired, moved—heart, mind, soul, strength.

Best always, 

This series of posts continues here with chapter 47. 

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