Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Introducing an introduction

I just posted the intro ("By Way of Introduction") from Is It Possible to Live This Way? Volume 2 Hope, by Father Giussani, because it seems really useful and worth a most attentive read. Here are the questions I tease from it, based on my own needs:

1) Why would something more in the form of a "novel" need to be read in a different way? What way would that be? If it is a document that testifies to a lived experience, how can we compare our own experience to it? Would this be different from your standard comparing one's own life and experience to a doctrinal point?

2) How can the "passionate dynamic of questions and answers" provide a key for how to read/live the contents of this book? In other words, we are proposing to one another that we enter into the life that is documented in this book (Gee, I wish I had this perspective in mind when I began Is It Possible to Live This Way? Volume 1: Faith!)?

3) The introduction maintains that the book documents also "mature conviction" and also "affection." As we begin this book, we will want to invite "mature conviction" and "affection" into our reflection on the text as well (that is, not just our intelligence and understanding, but also these other aspects of our humanity, taking nothing for granted).

4) "Test" and "witness" are interesting words -- most of the people in CL where I live wouldn't quibble with the assertion that Christianity is "something interesting" and a "destiny for life." But how often do we allow ourselves simply to be fascinated by Christ and what he does in our lives? How often do we really consciously consider, in our daily lives, how everything is tied to our "destiny for life"? So the adventure we are embarking on will involve allowing this book to test our lives, allowing it to witness to us and inviting this test and witness to change us.

5) The final paragraph seems not to apply to faithful, church-going Catholics. We don't seem to censure or disdain Christianity! And yet, disdain and censure are not completely removed from our lives. We sometimes think that what we censure or disdain is whatever falls outside Christianity. Part of the radicalness of Fr. Giussani's proposal is that NOTHING falls outside Christianity. So, what do we censure and disdain? Where won't we allow Christ to enter? Let's pray a Memorare that we may learn to allow Christ to fill everything, especially what we feel tempted to censure or disdain.

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Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."