In his Epistle to the Romans, the apostle Paul writes, “And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”
For the Christian, rousing oneself into a diligent embrace of the faith is critical to realizing the incomparable richness and promise it holds. And given the finite character of our temporal existence, a sense of urgency is imperative.
Of course, this sense of urgency pertains to all human endeavors. There is limited time for whatever we wish to accomplish. Apathy is a serious impediment while passion is a great asset.
My passion is to understand why things are so. I recognize that tackling questions that have confounded peoples over the centuries requires a certain conceit. But like Pascal, I believe willfully ignoring them is far worse, it is a form of insanity. Whether a theologian, philosopher, scientist, or laymen; man has a vested interest in who he is, why he is here, and what lies beyond. The trappings of modernity can provide satisfying, at times intoxicating, diversions from these questions but such diversions are illusive and temporary.
On such issues there seems increasing segregation into two camps: esoteric academics and disinterested bystanders. Ironically, many people are less interested in discovering truth in the current information age while academics have cornered themselves in highly-specialized circles where conventions predominate. Patterns of thought have become increasingly myopic and those with diverging points of view are often ignored.
This phenomenon, which is indelible to human nature, is not limited to the most important questions. Pick a discipline and you will find an established view that most people are reluctant to challenge. But as C.S. Lewis and many others have noted, practically all advances in history were made by those who defied conventions.
The prevailing view, therefore, can be a slumber of sorts. Awaking from this slumber can be uncomfortable but it is ultimately liberating. Our ability to learn and to reason, as limited as it is, gives us an ability to discern truth. The alternative is reversion. Cicero wrote, “Not to know what happened before you were born is to remain forever a child.” And it was George Herbert, the Welsh poet and Anglican priest, who explained, “He who knows nothing, doubts nothing.”
I wish to know. So when I have stumbled upon an insight and time permits, I will write it down. My posts will be sporadic and largely if not entirely unoriginal, relaying tiny kernels of wisdom discovered by those who saw beyond their age. Many will be necessarily provocative and may cover an array of issues. But hopefully they will coalesce around enduring themes that, regardless of convention, are intrinsic to our human condition. The faintest notion of these themes can begin to rouse the heaviest sleeper into unimaginable joy.