Saturday, 30 July 2011
"The Latin credo means literally "I give my heart." The word believe is a problematic one today, in part because it has gradually changed its meaning from being the language of certainty so deep that I could give my heart to it, to the language of uncertainty so shallow that only the "credulous" would rely on it. Faith...is not about propositions, but about commitment. It does not mean that I intellectually subscribe to the following list of statements, but that I give my heart to this reality. Believe, indeed, comes to usfrom the Old English belove, making clear that this too is meant to be heart language. To say, "I believe in Jesus Christ" is not to subscribe to an uncertain proposition. It is a confession of commitment, of love."
-- Diana Eck, Encountering God, quoted in another book I'm reading.
This seems at first a comforting sort of quote. I don't have to defend the cold hard historical facts, I don't have to say "This definitely happened." Belief is about love, about commitment, not about what can be proven to be objective reality.
But commitment is exactly what makes this sort of belief difficult. Commitment requires action. Every Sunday I go to church and I say the Nicene Creed along with the rest of the congregation, and I'm not so sure of the cold hard historical facts, honestly, but I say it because I have given my heart to this concept, to the concept of God-with-us, of God loving us more than any of us can ever imagine, of love triumphing even over death. And that's all well and good. Then at the end of the service the Reader says "Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord" -- with all that entails in terms of serving others, loving others, even when it is not easy -- and I know I will fail before I've even walked out the door of the building that houses one part of the community I now call home.
But I keep trying.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small,
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
--Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
How can I not keep trying?