Friday, June 12, 2009

Pondering Hart

Now that Great Lent, Holy Week, and the Great Fifty Days have transpired and we're able to breathe a bit more easily and deeply in the afterglow of it all, I'm hoping to get around to some books I've allowed to gather dust on the shelf -- among them, David Bentley Hart's Atheist Delusions.

This passage from the introduction has certainly whetted my appetite:

I think one must grant, though, that to communicate a personal vision one must do more than prove or refute certain claims regarding facts; one must invite others to see what one sees, and must attempt to draw others into the world that vision descries. At a particular moment in history, I believe, something happened to Western humanity that changed it at the deepest levels of consciousness and at the highest levels of culture. It was something of such strange and radiant vastness that it is almost inexplicable that the memory of it should have so largely faded from our minds, to be reduced to a few old habits of thought and desire whose origins we no longer know, or to be displaced altogether by a few recent habits of thought and desire that render us oblivious to what we have forsaken. But perhaps the veil that time draws between us and the distant past in some sense protects us from the burden of too much memory. It often proves debilitating to dwell too entirely in the shadows of vanished epochs, and our capacity to forget is (as Friedrich Nietzsche noted) very much a part of our capacity to live in the present. That said, every natural strength can become also an innate weakness; to live entirely in the present, without any of the wisdom that a broad perspective upon the past provides, is to live a life of idiocy and vapid distraction and ingratitude. Over time, our capacity to forget can make everything seem unexceptional and predictable, even things that are quite remarkable and implausible. The most important function of historical reflection is to wake us from too complacent a forgetfulness and to recall us to a knowledge of things that should never be lost to memory. And the most important function of Christian history is to remind us not only of how we came to be modern men and women, or of how Western civilization was shaped, but also of something of incalculable wonder and inexpressible beauty, the knowledge of which can still haunt, delight, torment, and transfigure us. (xiv)

Sounds promising. May God grant us the grace to see truly the incalculable wonder and inexpressible beauty of the cosmos redeemed by Christ our God. And may we open our hearts to be haunted, delighted, tormented, and transfigured by the wondrous grace of Pentecost.

Christ is in our midst!