Language

A reader writes:

I am responding to your post on the need for a renewal of religious language to capture religious experience. This was the precise problem I was engaged in trying to resolve before I lost my faith entirely and went to law school. Very early on it struck me that the crisis of faith in my own experience was a crisis of language that obfuscated spiritual reality. It seemed that the mystical traditions of both Catholicism, certain forms of Buddhism and Islam had struggled mightily to push the limits of what we could speak of in terms of God and our experience of God. I think the post-modern hermeneutical tradition had much to say on this with respect to language in general.

I always began with St. Paul’s admonition about seeing through a glass darkly as roughly defining the limiting effects of human language and experience. While a worthwhile struggle and one that is necessary to faith, to engage in the struggle to reinvent, update, and put into words the experiential properties of what we refer to as “grace” “salvation” “incarnation” “trinity” “faith” hope” “love” “god” etc, requires itself a living a vibrant faith, one capable of surviving despair and hopelessness.

Sadly, on a personal note, the struggle left me personally and spiritually bankrupt. Far from finding anything at the end of language, I simply found profound silence. Endo’s book “Silence” to this day rings the most true. My loss of faith, or a sustainable religious paradigm that could meaningfully explain my experience, is one of the most difficult losses I have had to experience to date. I pray that it is not lost forever and your posts continue to push and prod in that direction, with a nod to recent posts re Marilyn Robinson.

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