It does annoy me, on occasion, before I catch myself and remember that the whole Christian project is a project of open futility–
About that: the Second Sunday of Easter is always Doubting Thomas Sunday, so doubt is much on my mind, being a fervent believer, liturgically speaking, meditating on the elements of my faith, which is something else, at my age, having lived through the emergence of a culture which was mostly Christian into one which is mostly not, especially up here in Western New York and the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario. Doubt, right? It’s essential to the Faith.
They were upstairs, behind locked doors, afraid, those Eleven who were with him from the very beginning, and they all saw him die. Thomas, called “The Twin,” puffs his chest out, saying, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
Well, Thomas, can’t you do that to a corpse?
I don’t understand the intellectual hostility to Christianity, especially when people I consider friends publicly wish there were fewer of me, less of my influence in life and culture. Why? Because there are bad Christians? And the half-baked dismissal of the fervent, you know, glib high school angry atheist stuff, always as an aside, never as a grown-up inquiry into this two thousand year old faith with a billion adherents, and growing (despite Europe and North America), which has roots in a strange Ancient Near Eastern blood cult another two thousand years hence.
The Christian project is a project of open futility, though, and I have to remind myself of that.
Nevertheless, I do take a little pleasure in some of the materialist investigations into the Faith, first transforming Christianity into a “religion,” which is a neat intellectual move, making the Faith, which dominates the life and culture of Western Civilization, indistinguishable from shamanistic druidic magicka, only distinguishing by time elapsed. When the materialists talk about ritual, ignoring my own call for distinctions within these hallowed halls—
Remember, the Christian Faith is in defiance of ritual and religion. When Christianity develops rituals, it’s always a threat to itself.
This behavior of the materialists, all of them together, namely, wishing there were fewer of me, reducing my beliefs into a primordial pool of beliefs, and talking about my rites and rituals without making proper distinctions, creates in me a sense that a kind of recursion is going on:
The materialist sees the Christian, and comments. The Christian sees the materialist commenting, and comments. The materialist sees the Christian commenting on the comment, and so forth. To me, it’s like one of those wonderfully absurd Monty Python sketches:
Scene: Lower middle-class apartment, evening, husband sitting in comfortable chair reading The Times, wife making efforts at wifely cleaning. Two men appear in the window, dressed in safari clothing, writing in notebooks.
Wife: Herman, they’re watching us again!
Herman: Who are, Margret?
Margret: The Materialists.
Herman: Oh, that’s all right, dear, they’re just researching.
Herman: That’s right, Margret; they’ve come from a long way away just to learn about our behavior in the wild instead of in captivity.
Margret: Well, I don’t like it, not one bit. (closes curtains. The materialist safari move to the other window)
Margret: They won’t go away, Herman!
Herman: Of course not, dear, they’re Materialists.
Herman: Ask them what they want, and maybe they’ll go away.
Margret: What do you want?
Materialists don’t answer. Whisper to each other, writing in notebooks.
Margret: They don’t think we can see them.
Herman: Do what?
Margret: They don’t think we can see them.
Herman: Well, what are they talking about?
Herman: Normativity? Did you hand them a copy of Proverbs?
Margret: I told you, they don’t think we can see them.
And so forth. The laugh track is to my advantage, but you, O Materialist, have the last laugh, the true laugh.
The whole project of the Christian Faith is a project of open futility, and it is actually encoded in the Faith. Saint Paul–excuse me–the Apostle Paul, after fifteen chapters on the wisdom of God putting to shame the wisdom of the world (that would be you materialists) finishes his exposition by saying in his first letter to the Corinthian Christians, “If there is no resurrection of the body, then we are to be pitied more than all men. Send money.”
So, since miracles = impossible (cf. G.E. Lessing), and since the resurrection of the body = a miracle, then, it follows, therefore there is no God.
The materialist has the advantage in an ever-improving society and ever-progressing technology as a result of Science, material proof. The only way for me to prove my faith is for me to become a corpse.
They called Thomas “The Twin” for a reason, you know.