"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

18 April 2009

Love Makes Us Wise

Tony Esolen has another excellent post up at Mere Comments today, "I Want to be on that Man's Team." It's about baseball player Albert Pujols, who is apparently a truly great player (about which Inscapes readers will know that I can attest nothing): "I only want to be remembered as a man who loved the Lord," Pujols told a Sports Illustrated reporter.
We should all desire to be remembered this way, because, as Tony writes, "the love of Christ -- Christ's love for us, and our love for Him -- is the most remarkable thing in the history of the world."

The gospel is not first of all or mainly for the philosophers and theologians, Tony asserts, though of course we need doctrine, "if only to keep certain riffraff off the streets." The gospel is too complex for even such a brilliant intellect as a Thomas Aquinas and yet at the same time simple enough for any little child to understand. And it is love, he says, that makes us truly wise:

"And all these simple people who love Christ, who may not be able to persuade a single skeptic that God even exists, know what they know by their love, and are far the wiser for it. They are my brothers and sisters, my teammates, in the oldest and most glorious communion the world has seen; a communion that has brought the world the odd idea that only in love is there freedom; because Truth has said so."

I was reminded by this post of a constant tension I find in my own thinking -- the mysteries and intellectual complexities of Scripture and tradition make my mind reel at times and I feel almost despair: how can I ever know what is true amid all the confusion of these varying interpretations and depths and layers of meaning . . . and then I am brought up short by some simple thing -- a song, or a hug from a friend, or a moonrise -- and I think, it's all so very, very simple: "Jesus loves me, this I know / for the Bible tells me so."

I tend to think of myself as an intellectual, if a rather minor one, and it is good to be reminded that my intellectual grasp of anything is beside the point. Not unimportant or worthless, but merely beside the point. For without love, all my knowledge is at best a clanging cymbal.

Tony says it much better; read his whole post .

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