Friday, July 11, 2008

Losing my religion?

I was going to dedicate today's post entirely to St. John of the Cross' 'Dark Night of the Soul' but I came across a book that needed discussing. This is going to be a 'good news, bad news' sort of entry, I think. Let me start with the good news, which is that I read 'Dark Night of the Soul'. I read it last year and decided that I wanted to re-read it. St. John of the Cross, a legendary Christian mystic, suggests that we all go through our own 'dark night' or crisis of faith at least once in a lifetime, and he details this transformation of the soul in this wonderful book he wrote. The soul, or the anima, is female in his account, and she goes through several tests of faith where she has to abandon material concerns and fully become one with God.
The concept of 'lover and the beloved becoming one' is one that mystics of all religions return to again and again. I have seen this concept in the works of Rumi as well, and he constantly returns to the union of lover and the beloved. The soul becoming one with God and losing itself to God. It sounds rather Buddhist as well. The soul becoming one with Nirvana and losing its own identity. It is this incredible and oft-discussed concept that really impresses me. Before the soul can become one with God, however, it must go through doubts and agonies to free itself of all the sins and other impurities that keep it separate. St. John of the Cross details the soul's struggles very well. We have all struggled with the Seven Deadly Sins and countless doubts about our own sense of faith and piety. Without a doubt, I will be reading this book again before long. It serves as a good yardstick to determine where I am in my own spiritual journey.
From good news to not-so-good now. I finished reading a book called 'God: the Evidence' by Patrick Glynn, and I was a little disappointed by it. This professor Glynn started out in his adult life by turning atheist and skeptic. He accepted that God was dead and that Reason, not Faith, would always win out. When he made his choice, Science was there to back him up. Science and Spirituality have been interesting neighbours for hundreds of years, with Science burning brighter for a while in the 20th century. However, Science's most recent discoveries (Quantum physics) are starting to come up with things Faith knew hundreds of years ago.
Glynn, starting to realize this for himself, did a 180 and embraced Faith fervently, revising his opinion on Reason.
His book struck me as a little one-sided; championing Faith and snubbing his nose at Reason. I would accept some of his results from 'scientific' studies if the results weren't from 30+ year old tests. The book I read was done in the late 1990's, but that's no excuse to use tests and material from the 1970's. If a man is going to try and reconcile the two sides, be as recent as possible, okay? My apologies if I have come across a little harsh, but Glynn messed this attempt up. To top it all off, the book was too short as well. Have a little respect for both neighbours, sir! People will be arguing about Reason and Faith for centuries to come, I expect, so one day, there will be a book out there that will do the two sides more justice. I have a reasonable amount of faith that this will happen.

No comments: