Sunday, September 19, 2010

Questions and Answers from St. Augustine and Father Meredith

I have never yet joined a book club, as I have many books on my booklist that no one else wants to read.

But one book club here in Mayfair may be an exception that proves the rule, as they have listed two books which I have wanted to read for a long time: St. Augustine's Confessions for September and the Imitations of Christ for October.

The club will meet weekly at a local Jesuit center on Mount street.  This last week's introduction was lead by a Father Meredith I believe.  The questions raised by Augustine, about a perfect God creating an imperfect world, "original sin" or the tendency for man to behave badly, and a pre-existence of the soul were all raised anew by this mature scholar-preacher.

I found the questions fascinating, but the answers somewhat down-ward focused.  In my faith, I am used to such questions being raised prolifically in my own mind and those of my husband and close friends.  They are raised and studied, often through study of the scriptures and fervent prayer.  Answers are found by revelation and inspiration.  It is a pattern established by Joseph Smith - getting God to unfold His mysteries to one is a process of meditation and much fervent, faithful, and patient prayer.

But the process shared of getting answers lacked this appeal to heaven, as if perhaps heaven would not reveal its secrets.  Instead, the philosophies of man were referenced, including those of the ancient Greeks, those who held no faith in one God.  Not that I disdain Greek philosophy - on the contrary, I study it, but I don't see it as a font of answers for religious questions.  The things of God are impossible to understand through rationalization and reasoning - without faith, these things are not rational nor reasonable (once we have faith, I do believe they are ultimately rational and reasonable).  Thus the answers derived by this logical process were ill-fitted and almost seemed to be groveling in finely-manured and well-cultivated land, still little elevated from its muddy beginnings.

It left me wondering - why not just ask God about Himself?  Isn't He merciful enough to provide an answer?  I believe, nay, know that He does.  The answers to such doctrinal and heady questions don't come from looking down, but up.

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