Thursday 8 April 2010

The God of freedom will never allow you the comforts of religion - Herbert McCabe OP

Herbert McCabe OP sees things how they really are. Anyone who thinks of religion or faith as some sort of comfort blanket is relying on something they have never really thought about properly.

There is very little comfort in religion really. Not even the comfort that 'it will all be alright in the end'. To have faith is to begin a gamble between life and death. If you do not believe you are not going to think that there is anything to lose. Faith means believing that your life lived here has an eternal significance. You can't mess with that.

CS Lewis, writing in the second book of his lesser read science fiction trilogy, Perelandra, about the fears of approaching the unknown, has conquered fear about evil, and now considers his thoughts upon goodness, he says:

My fear was now of another kind. I felt sure that the creature was what we call 'good', but I wasn't sure whether I liked 'goodness' so much as I supposed. This is a very terrible experience. As long as what you are afraid of is something evil, you may still hope that good will come to your rescue. But suppose you struggle through to the good and find that is also dreadful? What if food itself turns out to be the very thing you can't eat, and home the very place you can't live, and your very comforter the person who makes you uncomfortable? Then, indeed, there is no rescue possible: the last card has been played. For a second or two I was nearly in that condition. Here at last was a bit of that world from beyond the world, which I had always supposed that I loved and desired, breaking through and appearing to my senses: and I didn't like it, i wanted it to go away. I wanted every possible distance, gulf, curtain, blanket and barrier to be placed between it and me. But I did not quite fall into the gulf. Oddly enough my very sense of helplessness saved me and steadied me........
It is a thought that oddly strikes me a times. Suppose 'goodness' is all a little bit awesome? A bit much? Suppose, as I so often do when it comes to bars, bookshops and familiar libraries, I prefer a little grime? I certainly prefer people who have come to life through less than pristine conditions, it has shaped them somehow. God seems all a little bit 'clean'; and 'religion' too often pretends to be so.