"Letting Go," by Marilynne BullOn The Empty Path | On Quaker Universalist Fellowship | On Bad Quaker Bible Blog

The posts listed here are not notes for a “systematic theology.” They are merely essays to put into words what is beyond words.

The following excerpt from my post “Weeds (Part II): Religion or Belief” speaks to a core principle: that our experience of the Real transcends any of our efforts to describe the Real in the language of belief.

In The Religious Case Against Belief (2008), James Carse analyses the error he sees in most of our arguments over religion….

Belief systems are “comprehensive networks of tenets that reach into every area of thought and action” (32). They claim to define all that needs to be known, they mark the boundary beyond which orthodox thinking must not go, and they name anything and anyone beyond that boundary as enemy.

Religions may produce belief systems, yet “they are not at their core intelligible, and they are saturated with paradox” (36). Unlike the Roman civitas, a society ruled by law and structured by clear lines of authority, a religion is a communitas stretching across time and space, a “spontaneous gathering of persons who identify themselves and one another as members of a unified body.” Unified, Carse writes, by “the desire…to get to the bottom of the very mystery that brings them together” (84).

While belief systems want only unambiguous answers, the very essence of religions is the continued expansion of the “discursive context,” that process by which communitas perpetually revisits its deepest questions and reinterprets its irresolvable mysteries. What is more, being “able to interpret [religions] ‘properly’ does not require us to get at the very essence of each but to succeed in taking our place in the discursive contexts surrounding them” (100-01).

And so it is.

Blessèd be,
Michael



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