Faith in the Wake of Tragedy

Excursus: The senseless slaying of innocent children and faculty at a Connecticut elementary school challenges our faith in a god who cares for us. Over the course of my conversations with Schleiermacher, Kierkegaard and Tillich, our working definition of faith has shifted away from nouns and deeper into verbs. Faith is something much more fundamentalContinue reading “Faith in the Wake of Tragedy”

The Birth of God

Schleiermacher: “Suppose there is someone who rejects the idea of a personal God. This rejection of the idea of a personal Deity does not decide against the presence of the Deity in his [or her] feeling.” Because personality is the filter through which we humans experience reality, our long-standing assumption has been that it representsContinue reading “The Birth of God”

Faith and Existence

Tillich: “If doubt appears, it should not be considered as the negation of faith, but as an element which was always and will always be present in the act of faith. Existential doubt and faith are poles of the same reality, the state of ultimate concern.” In our head-heavy, wordy and overly rationalistic traditions ofContinue reading “Faith and Existence”

The Trance

Kierkegaard: “There is an ignorance about one’s own life that is equally tragic for the learned and for the simple, for both are bound by the same responsibility. This ignorance is called self-deceit.” Each of us, regardless of our ethnicity, class, sex or education level, is living a lie. Well, maybe not an intentional lie,Continue reading “The Trance”

Faith and Being

Schleiermacher: “The contemplation of the pious is the immediate consciousness of the universal existence of all finite things, in and through the Infinite, and of all temporal things in and through the Eternal. Religion is to seek this and find it in all that lives and moves, in all growth and change, in all doingContinue reading “Faith and Being”

Ultimate Concern

Tillich: “Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned. The content matters infinitely for the life of the believer, but it does not matter for the formal definition of faith. And this is the first step we have to make in order to understand the dynamics of faith.” If Paul Tillich has recognition in popularContinue reading “Ultimate Concern”

The Narrow Gate

Kierkegaard: “Only the Eternal is … always present, is always true. Only the Eternal applies to each human being, whatever his [or her] age may be. […] If there is, then, something eternal in [an individual], it must be able to exist and to be grasped within every change.” One of the critical mistranslations fromContinue reading “The Narrow Gate”

The Focus of Faith

Schleiermacher: “We should have fewer complaints of the increase of the sectarian spirit and of factious religious associations, if so many of the clergy were not without understanding of religious wants and emotions. Their stand-point generally is too low.” A bit earlier Schleiermacher makes the point that one would not go to an art enthusiastContinue reading “The Focus of Faith”

Exploring Faith

Creative change necessarily includes a phase of disorientation, when the certainties of a worm’s world are strangely no longer relevant and the new horizons of the butterfly’s world are still unclear. On the near side of this threshold of transformation committees of worms meet in earnest to decide how the old verities can be preservedContinue reading “Exploring Faith”

In a Nutshell

I conclude my conversations with Nietzsche, Watts and Heschel by summing up what I’ve learned. All of them were lights in their time, and each one spoke out of – and to – his particular cultural context. My re-reading of these authors has opened up a new insight, however, with regard to their respective placesContinue reading “In a Nutshell”