Splashing around in theology.

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Location: Ottawa, Canada

I read lots. I have a cat. I drink coffee. Therefore, I am.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

On Certainty

“Of coffee I am certain. Of tea? Not so.”
-- Cipriano

Been thinking about certainty, as of late. The reasons are many, but they would include a “certain” confluence of ideas being bandied about by fellow bloggers, along with the haunting relevance of a statement made in the first chapter of the book I am currently reading.
The book is John Shelby Spong’s (1996), Liberating The Gospels: Reading The Bible With Jewish Eyes.
In setting out his objectives for the book, Spong states, on page 20-21, “…I offer you something that I have come to believe is better than the religious security system of the past. I offer the exhilarating insecurity of a journey without boundaries or goals. I offer the radical nature of honesty and the intense humanity that is found in seeking truth freely apart from the authoritative pronouncements of yesterday.”
When I read that, I was reminded of why I like his books and his ideas.
“The exhilarating insecurity of a journey without boundaries or goals.”
That is exactly the kind of journey I want to be on [and believe that I am on] in my process of never-ending idea displacement.
By “idea displacement” I mean that [in the formation of one’s spiritual map or ideological structure] one never arrives at a place where the journey is over. One never closes up shop and believes that they are “done lookin’!”
Along with this, [and it is evident in what Spong is suggesting, above] one does not attach oneself to a limiting ideology [“religious security system”] that will restrict the reception and/or rejection of ideas that are either surfacing or becoming obsolete. And in all of this, it must be emphasized that we are, at all times, talking about the individual. True spiritual enlightenment has nothing to do with groupspeak. Neither has it anything to do with the maintenance of harmony within the phalanx. Idea displacement [and subsequent spiritual enlightenment] only occurs in the individual.
Whether we are aware of it or not, idea displacement is the most individual act any of us perform, or should.
Simply put, it is an attitude of willingness, whereby less tenable ideas are exchanged for better ones.

Anything less, is certainty.

And what is certainty?
Well, I like the way Ambrose Bierce defines it, way back in the 1800’s, in The Devil’s Dictionary. → “Mistaken at the top of one’s voice.”
And who can deny the truth contained in this following statement, spoken by Bertrand Russell: “Most of the greatest evils that man has inflicted upon man have come through people feeling quite certain about something which, in fact, was false.”
Now I turn to my fellow bloggers, who are acknowledging similar things, to prove that it is not only geniuses like the above-mentioned notables, but also just everyday absolute yahoos like myself and these other guys here, that are catching a whiff of the stench of certainty, and choosing to turn toward the fresher air of knowing that there is some junk we just can’t know.
Like the following statement, found on the most recent [excellent] blog from a place called Prospecting God. The “prospector” said:
“One of the things that is clearer to me today than ever before is that too much certainty can be misleading.”
And I love the way he said the following:
“I like the analogy of masks – God can be seen through different masks, one of which is Jesus. For Christians, the decisive mask for us is Jesus. He is our decisive revelation of God. And note that this does not require affirming that Jesus is the only adequate revelation of God. But Jesus shows us, as Christians, what a life full of God is like, and is our ultimate sacrament of God. Through Jesus, we see the heart of God.”
A reader may disagree with the personal conclusion of the author, but it is virtually impossible to criticize the WAY IN WHICH IT IS SAID!
This is the author’s [the individual’s] current journey.
And because he is not shoving his opinions down the throat of anyone else, nor claiming that anyone else need to accept them, it would be the critic that errs on the side of certainty, if he/she dismissed this author’s opinion as being invalid!

Here is something from The Age of Reason Café:
“I was thinking more about certainty over the past 24 hrs. One point I would like to make is that I believe that certainty goes hand-in-hand with credibility. Those who say they are certain about their religion or belief system have no credibility when you think about it.”
Yes….. “when you think about it.”
That is the problem though. So many people are simply not “thinking about it.”
So I am encouraged by my fellow bloggers.
They are doing it.
Thinking about it.


Blogger Cold Molasses said...

Wow Cip...that prospector guy sounds brilliant!!! Now if only I could come up with cool phrases like "idea displacement"!

10/06/2006 7:08 PM  

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