Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Of Gifts and Twaddle

Andrew Sullivan has seen Theo Hobson's mess (Cf.) and added these limpid insights:

I think the real question on, say, the resurrection is: what does it actually mean? The imperfect scriptural accounts are full of contradictions. Jesus is both clearly bodily resurrected when Thomas places his hand in his open wound. Yet on the road to Emmaeus, Jesus is somehow incarnated in a different body and the recognition comes only at the breaking of bread. Elsewhere, Jesus appears as some kind of ghost, at others like flesh and blood person. And what of the Transfiguration? Are these metaphorical stories? Are they literally true and yet contradictory?

What Pascal called the "usage et soumission de la raison" is the best approach. But, yes, in the end, faith is a spiritual gift, not a logical conclusion.
So, for any who doubt the clarity or power of all that, the Gospel's contradictions on what are purported to be its principle historical claims constitute "a spiritual gift."

Well, gifts were great when I was a kid, but age and experience have taught me two things about them. First, it really is the thought that counts -- its quality, its sense, its resonance, its connection to the human reality to which it aims to respond. I have also come to realize that if I want something, I should go out and get it myself, assuming it is within my means, rather than trying to gain it by dragging others into a tedious, manipulative hint-dropping melodrama.

On both counts, reasonable people will decline Sullivan's "spiritual gift."

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