an image diary

"And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you'd be? ... You'd be nowhere. Why, you're only a sort of thing in his dream! If that there King was to wake you'd go out -- bang! -- just like a candle!"

"Hush! You'll be waking him, I'm afraid, if you make so much noise."

"Well it's no use your talking about waking him when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real."

Monday, August 4, 2008

summer: week nine


I've met a few people now, all former Protestants, who mentioned that when they converted to Catholicism it happened first aesthetically, then intellectually, then spiritually. I have not yet met another atheist. The sticking point, of course, is the Eucharist. There is a vast body of work you can read by the Doctors of the Church and Popes, Bishops, and saints, on the mass and on devotion to sainthood and to Mary as Mother of God, and much of it is beautifully written, literary, and brilliant. Compellingly so. The same is true for the Eucharist. But the Eucharist is something you can teach a six year-old, and do. It is the one literal requirement in Catholic faith. All figures, icons, liturgy, and parables pivot on it. If you don't believe God is in the wafer, you may as well question the rest. The Eucharist is not a symbol. It is the one bit of tangible evidence you get.


Yesterday Trystan's parents disillusioned him for certain of St. Nicholas. I said, "he's having trouble believing in God but he still believes in Santa Claus?" Trystan is nine. "Well, not entirely," they said. "He wasn't sure, is all. He wanted to know who ate the cookies and received the letters." He is nine and looking for evidence. "Well, does he still believe in the tooth fairy?" "Oh. Yeah. We forgot about that one."


Who ate the cookies and received the letters?

"If a human being did not have an eternal consciousness, if underlying everything there were only a wild, fermenting power that writhing in dark passions produced everything, be it significant or insignificant, if a vast, never appeased emptiness hid beneath everything, what would life be then but despair?" [italics mine] --Kierkegaard, "Eulogy on Abraham," Fear and Trembling

If you ask people who have faith for evidence, they cite the indefatigable search for meaning. I don't mean the people who expect you and me to be chumps or the ones who live in a fiery mill of fear and guilt. I mean the ones who have thought deeply and serenely about wonder, awe, beauty, suffering, and about how weird those things are, and about how weird significance is. "The thumb print of God is that you don't explain yourself," NC once said. He didn't mean that you can't explain yourself--I'm sure you can, and endlessly--but that there is a need in you and me for explanations in the first place. Oh sure I can subvert paradigms till the cows, etc., but can I subvert the need for meaning? For desire itself?


"and what is the use of a book...without pictures or conversations?"

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