In monastic terms, the liturgy is the path towards an exalted “ecstasy”, a flight into the cloud of unknowing, the place where God is, and where the true contemplation of the creative stillness of God is possible. And this is a reality which is beyond the ability of historians, theologians, linguists, biblical scholars or even pastoral liturgists to express. Their contributions may even hinder rather than help. The intensity and intangibility of this experience can only be expressed through the arts.
This is why music of quality is a critical element within the life of the Church. It is a necessity, not a luxury. It is neither a frivolous confection nor an elitist distraction from the real business of faith. Music of quality, in the context of worship, does not entertain or divert. It reveals. By means of evolving harmonies, rhythms, textures, modulations, orchestrations, melodies, counterpoints, imitations, this rich art form has the potential to create an aural environment which enables us to contemplate the mystery of God.
Music of this calibre draws us into an engagement so profound that its sense can never be exhausted. Any work of art, be it sculpture, painting, literature, poetry or music, whose implications are immediately obvious and can instantly be grasped can never enlist our imagination, and so cannot equip us for mystery; and what cannot equip us for mystery cannot equip us for God.” —John Shepherd, Trite music blocks our ears to the divine in the liturgy -Times Online
If possible we must work our way through this scientific climate to God. We now see a little more clearly the relationship between science and religion. Science has reference to that which can be weighed and measured, and religion to that which can be evaluated; the one has reference to the quantitative aspects of life, and the other to the qualitative.
Science comes to a mother’s tear and defines it in terms of its physical structure—so much water, so much mucus, so much salt. But is that an adequate definition of a mother’s tear? Hardly, says religion, for there are ideas, emotions, values, meanings using the physical structure of the tear. Religion would evaluate those imponderables. Thus it would take the answer of both science and religion to give an adequate definition of a mother’s tear.
True. But the snag is this: You can verify that which can be weighed and measured; can you verify values? Why not? You can put values under life to see what life will do with them. You can test them by the test of experiment. If the values are real values, life will approve them, will back them; but if they are not real, they will wither—they will not be able to stand up to life; the universe will not approve them. When you live by them, you will fight a losing battle; they will let you down.” —E. Stanley Jones, Abundant Living, p. 9.
So, in John’s vision, the martyrs in the heavenly throneroom are models for us. They diagnose our true condition by showing that the world serves false gods, and they offer us a model to be emulated: like them, we must worship only the one true God, and put our lives on the line for our testimony to him.
Wayne Meeks writes about the Book of Revelation, “The business of this writing is to stand things on their heads in the perceptions of its audience, to rob the established order of the most fundamental power of all: its sheer facticity. The moral strategy of the Apocalypse, therefore, is to destroy common sense as a guide for life.”” —Richard B. Hayes, Carrying the Death of Jesus
Reading the profile after Mass today, it seemed to me that she gave up what is most entrancing about the Christian Faith, that promise from Love Himself of an ever-deepening knowledge of reality, which is to say Himself, with His promise to transform me to conform to it and to Him as part of His creation of a new heavens and a new earth. The fun is that things get realer. God clears the fog.
But this urbane English religion — this kind of high agnosticism — seems to move in the opposition direction. The fog thickens rather than clears.” —David Mills on P. D. James, in A High and Appealing Agnosticism » First Thoughts
D. B. Hart, In Self-Defense | Big Questions Online
on Absence of Mind
Insight questions can only be asked after you develop situation awareness. They are necessarily local and unique to the situation. When you are faced with a difficult situation, you will start as a prisoner of the unanswerable/too expensive formulaic questions, and your first job is to break out. The reason the weird “right questions” work is that they expose cracks in your default, formulaic mental model. By attacking those cracks, you force the useless default mental model to collapse, creating room for a new one.
As Einstein said, “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.”” —
The Dangerous Art of the Right Question (via Bobulate)
I would add to one of the comments here from Venkat that banality is in the eye of the beholder. An answer may seem banal from within your current mental framework but the seeming platitude may reveal an open secret.
The Einstein quote is also addressed by Polanyi.
Barbara Nicolosi, Save the Boomers, Save the World: Redeeming Culture
My mother, a boomer, is fully on board with this analysis
In the first chapters of Orthodoxy, we find Chesterton seeking to explain the limits of human confidence: there is a misguided confidence proper to the “Maniac,” of one who thinks the human will can demolish and transcend all limitations, but there is also a wise confidence proper to the human reason—one that, in modern times has committed “suicide”—which affirms that human beings by their nature tend to know what is real, true, and good. That we are so often mistaken should remind us that we can sometimes be correct, rather than sending us down into the darkness of doubt, relativism, and skepticism. Modern man, for fear of being wrong about something, refuses to think about anything, he protests; Chesterton would have us think boldly, trusting that our fellow men, God, and our own sense of reason will correct us when need be. Being wrong, after all, is a part of a complete life—it is its own kind of peculiar gift. Richard Wilbur captures this Chestertonian affirmation amid error in his little poem, “On Having Mis-identified a Wild Flower”:
” —James Matthew Wilson, An Homage to Chesterton (via michaelfunderburk)
A thrush, because I’d been wrong,
Burst rightly into song
In a world not vague, not lonely,
Not governed by me only.
at the Claremont institute, via @ayjay
Since we’re on a drinking theme.
Stephen Mansfield, The Search for God and Guinness, xxv, via Adiaphora: His Delight to Conceal
I don’t know that I agree with all of this, but it captures something of literature and perhaps scripture too
Dorothy L. Sayers
Letter to the bishop of Coventry, June 26, 1944, Letters vol 3, p 26
Wife is reading this again. It may be impossible to read this line out loud with a straight face.
My grandfather looked at me, and after a bit of silence, he gently and calmly said, “Jeff, one day you’ll understand that it’s harder to be kind than clever.”
What I want to talk to you about today is the difference between gifts and choices. Cleverness is a gift, kindness is a choice. Gifts are easy—they’re given, after all. Choices can be hard. You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you’re not careful, and if you do, it’ll probably be to the detriment of your choices.” —
There’s a great line in Harvey to this effect as well.
This strikes me as an inherent problem in many contemporary scientific approaches. Steve Talbott talks about this in terms of biologists focusing on mechanisms rather than the organism that is doing the living.