Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Amy Welborn has an interesting post about Andrew Sullivan up at her place. I didn't post a comment, because by the time I saw her thing, there were already 88 comments. So my thoughts are here. (Go read her thing first, if you haven't already.)

As someone who continues to struggle with some (different) Church teachings, I have only one piece of advice to offer Sullivan (as if he cared) and others who struggle with the conflicting conclusion Amy writes about. (She wrote, "To even contemplate the opposite - that these desires and this self-identity are not, as we're living them out, consistent with God's greater plan for creation...we are left very possibly, with two quick conclusions: that either God cannot possibly love us, because if he did, why would he permit these desires to even be planted within us, or that there is no God at all.")

My advice is, in essence, not to draw any firm, final conclusions at all. Isn't that strange? After all, the whole point is a struggle for truth, right? But to draw a firm conclusion with the issue still in doubt is harmful. Instead, I try to formulate and reformulate the conflict in a way that, each time, reduces the causes of doubt/difficulty/conflict. Two apparently contradictory things are often both true, if only a person can look at it from the right perspective (as anyone who has ever solved a quadratic equation can attest: in that case, two perfectly opposite conclusions are true). That's not to say I live, or recommend living, with cognitive dissonance. It's to say that the reformulations often illuminate some aspect either of the difficult teaching, or of my difficulty with it, that previous formulations had not. That illumination often helps remove a piece--sometimes a mere pebble--of the conflict. This is, in fact, how I came not only to accept the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but to embrace it.

It may be well and good for the black-and-white-seers of the world to say, "Rome has spoken, the matter is settled," but for those of us with more muddied worldviews, we win our salvation as an army wins a desperate battle, one hill, one yard at a time. No doubt someone will contradict me, but I have always found that a willingness to keep struggling, to seek a way to accept that which one wants desparately not to accept, to be the only way to allow "primacy of conscience" to have any real value, when one's conscience tells one that received Tradition is mistaken. Some may positively sprint towards the truth. I have often found it necessary to crawl. Determining with certainty any solution in the midst of that crawl invariably leads to a halt, and it seems to me that the halt is really the fatal thing.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home