Monday, January 19, 2009

where's the mystery?

Humans feel the need to have an explanation for everything. I understand that we have a natural curiosity about the world around us and it's exciting when we discover and explain phenomena in the natural world, but the incessant need to provide an answer for 'the big questions' has essentially eliminated mystery, wonder, and awe from our lives. It has become a stigma to say "I dont' know" or "it's inexplicable"--I would argue that there is a lack of mystery in our lives because we as people do not allow it. Mystery involves humankind demonstrating humility and, as we all know, a cursory glance at history illustrates that we do not 'do' humility particularly well as a race.

One of the biggest reasons I am still attracted to the Christian faith is the mystery of it; the Incarnation, the cross, redemption and reconciliation are all unfathomable, which is something I find incredibly captivating. For me, it is liberating to be able to say "I just don't know" when asked some all-encompassing existential question, the biggest reason being that Christians are (rightly) pegged as a bunch of know-it-alls. I don't know is becoming a more and more common answer out of my mouth, which is a good thing because I'd rather be truthful than fabricate an answer that makes me look both foolish and desperate to be convincing. As creatures I do not believe we are designed to know everything and I, personally, find that a real comfort. What I know already about life and the world is both terrible and beautiful enough without the added weight of knowledge is that is meant to be beyond my understanding. I think if we were meant to know all, more would have been revealed to us (simplistic, I realize, but I do not really know how to explain it any other way!).

I do not think that the Christian faith provides all answers to life's big questions, if anything, it spawns more questions. But for me, part of the romance is in the mystery...


Marcella said...

Neat post Matt. You have such a neat way of writing things out.
Thanks for this. :)

Dawn said...

Thanks for this, Matt. I like mystery too. As Daisaku Ikeda says, "there is nothing more mysterious than human life; nothing more respectful." My faith posits that the laws governing the universe are mystic, but that doesn't prevent ordinary people from understanding and accessing their power for the benefit of all.

13th century Japanese monk, Nicheren Daishonin, wrote: "Life at each moment ecompasses both body and spirit and both self and environment of all sentient beings in every condition of life as well as non-sentient beings--plants, sky, and earth, on down to the most minute particles of dust. Life at each moment permeates the universe and is revealed in all Phenomena".

To me, that is very exciting, and instead of eliminating the mystery, it only adds a greater sense of awe and appreciation to my life! It's true that many of the answers to the "big questions" that we've come up with have led to division and separatism among the human race. That doesn't seem to fit with the true nature of things. If we were act like we are all one and inseparable from each other and with all the universe, how wondrous would that be!?