Saturday, March 05, 2005

Street Wise: The Other Hand of God

Street Wise is a semiregular posting, featuring a selection of significant quotes and excerpts from something I've been reading.

From The Other Hand of God: The Holy Spirit as Universal Touch and Goal by Kilian McDonnell (Collegeville, MN: Michael Glazier. 2003.)

"[It] is not science which stimulates me to this audacious task [of writing on the Trinity]. I am rather impelled by a fire which burns in my soul. And if I am not successful in coming to my goal? And if I fail in my task? Then what? I will have had the joy of seeking the face of the Lord, of having employed all of my strength, without truce, to run the course, to vex myself, to exhaust myself... I have done what is possible, I have not found [the mystery of the triune God], but I have searched. I have called and he is the one who has not answered." (quoting Richard of St. Victor, p. 27.)

I love the passion in that quotation, and that Richard's theologizing flows out of that, rather than a dull, dry impulse to nail down God and gain exhaustive knowledge of God. I also love the wonderfully provocative statement "I have called and he is the one who has not answered."

"Richard [of St. Victor] is important also because he looks upon the Trinity as the supreme object of contemplation. Nonetheless, he grants that before contemplation comes philosophical speculation. Contemplation coming out of adoration does not dispense one from intellectual rigor. In order to prepare for contemplation, one needs a deep and progressive understanding of the world, the soul, and God. In this he followed his master Hugh of St. Victor, who wrote in a manual for students on the study of the artes and the scriptures: "Learn everything: you will see afterwards that nothing is superfluous and that there is no joy in a knowledge that is cramped and narrow." (p. 27,28)

Heads up, my future students: you will all hear this quotation from Hugh of St. Victor on the first day of class, and quite likely more frequently than that.

"The Trinity is about the personal force of God's love expressing itself in a reaching out beyond the divine Self to touch and transform humanity and creation and lead them back to their place of origin, the Father, in praise and wonder." (p. 115)

(Quoting Gabriel Marcel) "A problem is something which I meet, which I find complete before me, but which I can therefore lay siege to and reduce. But a mystery is something in which I myself am involved, and it can therefore only be thought of as a 'sphere where the distinction between what is in me and what is before me loses its meaning and its initial validity.' A genuine problem is subject to an appropriate technique by the exercise of which it is defined; whereas a mystery, by definition, transcends every conceivable technique." (p.213)

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Blogger Gerald said...


Thanks for the sympathy - Maybe I should try out that two week degree. If you give it a shot, let me know. I mean, that's got to be legit, right?

Anyway, really like the quote by Richard of St. Victor. The language and passion of theological articulation is something I've been thinking about myself, particularly after completing my MA Thesis. Looking back on it, I sometimes feel like I wrote it with about as much passion as a car manual. Like I was disecting a frog. Too late to do much about it now, but I really would love to incorporate a bit more passion, authentic self, and pursuit of God into a future PhD dissertation. Not sure how this will sit with my readers...

Saturday, March 05, 2005 9:30:00 PM  

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