Friday, March 02, 2007

The fountain-head

On the way home from work (We did a store about 2 1/2 hours away, up in Idaho, and we carpooled up there) I was reading Civil Disobedience. It's a small enough book that it fits in my jacket pocket. I was struck by something Thoreau said about truth.

"They who know of no purer sources of truth, who have traced up its stream no higher, stand, and wisely stand, by the Bible and the Constitution, and drink at it there with reverence and humility; but they who behold where it comes trickling into this lake or that pool, gird up their loins once more,and continue their pilgrimage toward its fountain-head."

At first reading, this statement merely strikes me as some pluralistic admonition against bigotry. But I had to reread it a couple of times, and when I did, I did not feel any righteous indignation at people who cannot reach further than the standards and strictures that they know. But I experience conviction for myself. God forgive us for the times that we have replaced him with ideas and creeds, when we have bypassed his presence in favor of definitions and strategies. It is so easy to get into the rut of trying to "figure out" this life, that I often get caught up in the how and the what. After finally coming to understand that this life holds no strict formula, no step by step instructions or three point lecture answers, I yet find myself able to slip into the same old mentality. I somehow convince myself that the "answer" is out there, as if there is some unrevealed "Bible" that we just haven't found. But there isn't. There is only this lake or that pool, and they all come from the ultimate source. You can name any number of great pools of wisdom and spiritual riches, be it the Bible or others, and they are all good places to drink. But they are not the source. I know it is all analogous, all figurative, making it difficult to appropriate. But how else can one come to know the mysterious, the otherworldly, the spiritual, if not by analogy, poetry and song.

Anyway, this is all just to say that I wish to set aside my obsession with figuring it out, and I want to "gird up the loins" and strike out to seek the source of those pools I've been gazing into. I hope that makes sense. But I wish for my faith to rest on the power of God himself and not on human arguments.

Another Civil Disobedience qoute I found quite profound/unsettling:

"We love eloquence for its own sake, and not for any truth which it may utter, or any heroism it may inspire."

How true is that of our society today? How true is that of me?

No comments: