Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone—we find it with another. We do not discover the secret of our lives merely by study and calculation in our own isolated meditations.
The meaning of our life is a secret that has to be revealed to us in love, by the one we love. And if this love is unreal, the secret will not be found, the meaning will never reveal itself, the message will never be decoded. At best, we will receive a scrambled and partial message, one that will deceive and confuse us. We will never be fully real until we let ourselves fall in love—either with another human person or with God.
~ Thomas Merton, Love and Living
The reality of the holy can only be grasped from the standpoint of the mystery. Then one sees that the holy is not a segregated, isolated sphere of Being, but signifies the realm open to all spheres, in which they can alone find fulfillment.
The face of the holy is not turned away from but towards the profane; it does not want to hover over the profane but to take it up into itself. "The mysteries always teach us to combine the holy with the profane." The strict division between them has its place not in the character and attitude of the holy but in those of the profane; it is the profane which makes a fundamental and insurmountable division between itself and the holy, and on the other side the inadequate "usual" holiness consists only in being separate from the profane, whereas the perfectly holy thinks and wills nothing but unity.
The contradictions between the spheres of the holy and the profane exist only in the subjectivity of man who has not yet attained to spiritual unity and is unable, with his limited powers of understanding, to mediate between the two. In reality the main purpose of life is to raise everything that is profane to the level of the holy.
~ Martin Buber, On Zion
Deterrence is a parent of paradox. Conflict theorists, notably Thomas Schelling, have pointed out several paradoxes of deterrence: that it may be to the advantage of someone who is trying to deter another to be irrational, to have fewer available options, or to lack relevant information.
Consider a typical situation involving deterrence. A potential wrongdoer is about to commit an offense that would unjustly harm someone. A defender intends, and threatens, to retaliate should the wrongdoer commit the offense. Carrying out retaliation, if the offense is committed, could well be morally wrong. (The wrongdoer could be insane, or the retaliation could be out of proportion with the offense, or could seriously harm others besides the wrongdoer.)
The moral paradoxes of deterrence arise out of the attempt to determine the moral status of the defender's intention to retaliate in such cases. If the defender knows retaliation to be wrong, it would appear that this intention is evil. Yet such "evil" intentions may pave the road to heaven, by preventing serious offenses and by doing so without actually harming anyone.
Scrutiny of such morally ambiguous retaliation intentions reveals paradoxes that call into question certain significant and widely accepted moral doctrines. These principles are what I call bridge principles. They attempt to link together the moral evaluation of actions and the moral evaluation of agents (and their states) in certain simple and apparently natural ways. The general acceptance, and intuitive appeal, of such principles, lends credibility to the project of constructing a consistent moral system that accurately reflects our firmest moral beliefs about both agents and actions.
For a system of morality to reflect our firmest and deepest convictions adequately, it must represent a middle ground between the extremes.
~ Gregory Kavka
Unity joined to infinity adds nothing to it, no more than one foot to an infinite measure. The finite is annihilated in the presence of the infinite, and becomes a pure thing. So our spirit before God, so our justice before divine justice. There is not so great a disproportion between our justice and that of God, as between unity and infinity.
The justice of God must be vast like His compassion. Now justice to the outcast is less vast, and ought less to offend our feelings than mercy towards the elect. We know that there is an infinite, and are ignorant of its nature. As we know it to be false that numbers are finite, it is therefore true that there is an infinity in number. But we do not know what it is. It is false that it is even, it is false that it is odd; for the addition of a unit can make no change in its nature. Yet it is a number, and every number is odd or even (this is certainly true of every finite number). So we may well know that there is a God without knowing what He is. Is there not one substantial truth, seeing there are so many things which are not the truth itself?
We know then the existence and nature of the finite, because we also are finite and have extension. We know the existence of the infinite, and are ignorant of its nature, because it has extension like us, but not limits like us. Be we know neither the existence nor the nature of God, because God has neither extension nor limits. But by faith we know His existence; in glory we shall know His nature. In other words, we may know the existence of a thing, without knowing its nature.
~ Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
Sir Robert Boyle, born in 1627, is known as one of the first investigators into the physics of the atmosphere and the nature of heat, but his chief mission was to teach, by his example, the value of experiment in research, where he kept the humility of the true scientist always before him.
We are not always bound to reject everything as false, that we know not how to reconcile with something that is true. I have sometimes thought God and men enjoy truth as differently as they do time. For we men enjoy time but by parcels and always leave far the greatest part of it unreached by us; so we know but some particular truths, and are ignorant of far more than we attain to.
Whereas God, as His eternity reaches to all the portions of time, so His omniscience gives Him at one view a prospect of the whole extent of truth; upon which account He sees all particular truths, not only distinct, but in their system and sees a connection between those, that to us seemed the most distant ones.
We ought not always to condemn the opinion which is liable to ill consequences, and encumbered with great inconveniences. We must not expect to be able to resolve all difficulties, and answer all objections, since we can never directly answer those, which we require for their solution a perfect comprehension of what is infinite.
~ Sir Robert Boyle (1627-1691)
The source of humility is the habit of realizing the presence of God. Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself one way or the other at all.
Humility means that you feel yourself, as a distinct person, out of count, and give your whole mind and thought to the object towards which they are directed, to God Himself in worship and to the fulfillment of His will in Christian love; and humility, in that sense, is quite plainly a source of effectiveness. The humility which consists in being a great deal occupied about yourself, and saying you are of little worth, is not Christian humility. It is one form of self-occupation and a very poor and futile one at that; but real humility makes for effectiveness because it delivers a man from anxiety, and we all know that in all undertakings, from the smallest to the greatest, the chief source of feebleness is anxiety.
There is nothing big enough to hold a man's soul in detachment from the center of himself through all the occupations of life except the majesty of God and His love; and it is in worship, worship given to God because He is God, that man will most learn the secret of real humility.
~ William Temple, Christ in His Church
God made man in His own image. Whatever that means, it means that man is important to God and is responsible to God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God came to earth in the person of a humble carpenter, and thereby sanctified the individual. This means that what the individual believes, is, and does, counts...
We cannot foresee the results of our actions. It is our responsibility, not our helplessness, which appalls me... As each... goes out to industry...or university or family life, (his) influence, for good or bad, will radiate across the centuries. An act of kindness may help to mold a Gandhi, our failures may be creating a new Hitler.
The progress of mankind has always depended upon those who, seemingly isolated and powerless in their own day, have seen their vision and remained true to it. In the darkening corridors of time they preserved integral their vision of the daylight at the end. This is a matter not of calculation but of faith. Our work may be small and its results invisible to us. But we may rest assured it will come to fruition in God's good time.
~ John Ferguson, The Enthronement of Love
For the sake of general coherence, I think that we do have to make the assumption that whatever we know or think about is part of a more fundamental and broader actual reality that is not generated by thought.
We have been saying that thought does not cover everything; it is limited. Therefore we know of the world, there is always more. We find things that we did not know about, and we find things that contradict what we already know. This is a sign of reality that is beyond our knowledge, our will, our intention, and our desire, as well as being beyond what we have created.
The feeling that has arisen from the consideration of all this is that we exist in a vast, illimitable reality out of which we emerged, probably, as suggested by scientific evidence, through a process of evolution. But, of course, religious people say it came from God. Whichever assumption we make, we are here in this reality; we are participating in it.
~ David Bohm and Mark Edwards, Changing Consciousness
There is a general agreement, East and West, that life in a body provides uniquely good opportunities for achieving salvation or deliverance. Catholic and Mahayana Buddhist doctrine is alike in insisting that the soul in its disembodied state after death cannot acquire merit, but merely suffers in purgatory the consequences of its past acts.
But whereas Catholic orthodoxy declares that there is no possibility of progress in the next world, and that the degree of the soul's beatitude is determined solely by what it has done and thought in its earthly life, the eschatologists of the Orient affirm that there are certain posthumous conditions in which meritorious souls are capable of advancing from a heaven of happy personal survival to genuine immortality in union with the timeless, eternal Godhead.
And, of course, there is also the possibility (indeed, for most individuals, the necessity) of returning to some form of embodied life, in which the advance towards complete beatification, or deliverance through enlightenment, can be continued. Meanwhile, the fact that one has been born in a human body is one of the things for which, says Shankara, one should daily give thanks to God.
~ Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy
Jason E. Royle
Welcome to my blog. I'm an open-minded theologian committed to Christ-like compassion & understanding.
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