On Certainty

20 11 2008


As for me, my gaze will always end up fixed on the history of human thinking itself, and even more on that of Christian theology. I will always find peace and joy in contemplating them. Amid so many riches that claim my attention, I will always act like a child of Plato, that is to say, every time that there is at least the possibility of so acting, I will not make a choice. A unity that is too quickly affirmed has no power to inspire, while eclecticism has no impact. But the methodical welcoming of contrasts, once understood, can be fruitful: not only does it guard against over-eager partiality; not only does it open up to our understanding a deep underlying unity; it is also the precondition that prepares us for new departures.

-Henri Cardinal de Lubac, Corpus Mysticum: The Eucharist and the Church in the Middle Ages pg.xxv

Life is not about creating certainties where there are none, but rather about clinging with all of our strength to the things we are certain about. For me, this does not establish a system, a list of doctrines that build on each other in an immaculate chain of syllogisms and ideas. It is rather a few rules of thumb that we follow when weaving our way through the elaborate cosmos that has been put in front of us: beautiful, broken, sinful, and redeemed. That is why I tend to be slow to argue with someone when it comes to what he really believes, even if that person is a worshipper of demons. There are indeed beacons of light in the night of human mortality, but even they do not make the light of day. For that, we must shed this body of death and be embraced by the immortal fire of divinity. We are so far away from that now.