Tuesday, December 5, 2006


where can one stand in order to ask, in an assertion of one’s own freedom, will i or will i not believe in god, as if god could be freely chosen? there is no outside or beyond when it comes to god; no neutral or objective standpoint. one cannot choose god. instead one is chosen. this having-been-chosen is the truth which no one can escape; there is only the active affirmation or refusal of this call.


koonj said...

I was struck 15 years ago by how there was no objective standpoint for people like us on anything. It was a moment of terror.

Lawrence of Arabia said...

i agree. the recognition that one does not stand within oneself, that i am not self-sufficient, that even my freedom is not mine own is disquieting; that the whole of one's existence is received as a gift and therefore that self-assertion and "objectivity" are really nothing more than pride.

Baraka said...

the whole of one's existence is received as a gift

Yes. Beautifully said.

That moment of clarity is our choice - when we decide between "active affirmation or refusal of this call"

irving said...

One cannot refuse when God calls. Ask Jonah. It is living up to what we are called to do, or to give up, or to accept, that is the hard part. It takes some a lifetime.

Peace and Blessings!

Lawrence of Arabia said...

baraka: part of the problem of there being no "outside" or neutral ground is that there is nowhere for us to run. the "no" we may say is really a kind of living in denial. having-been-chosen is not something one gets to opt out of no matter how hard one tries. and sometimes we try pretty hard. irving mentions jonah; i think my favorite example is hazel motes in flannery o'connor's "wiseblood".

irving: i think part of why this is so terrifying is that having-been-chosen encompasses even more than our lives and deaths. we are called out of ourselves, into ecstasy (literally), and while we may be able to come to peace with the desire (over the course of a lifetime as you say), the ravages of this desire encompasses far more than our lives and deaths. we desire something we cannot even grasp, and so ecstasy is also a dark night of the (world historical) soul. nothing short of (if i may borrow a couple of arabic terms) al-Wahid, the ummah wahida, nothing short of the Whole can be Peace. but this is another way of saying the Whole is not-yet.

Baraka said...

Oh, I agree. I just think those moments are there to help make us more conscious of the call.

We're a contingent reality and to reject that is living in denial.

I hope we can rise to the occasion but Irving is right - sometimes embracing and embodying the call is incredibly difficult.