Monday, January 12, 2009

Faith's daring

"Only a Christian who does not allow himself to be infected by modern humanity's neurotic anxiety [...] has any hope of exercising a Christian influence on this age. He will not haughtily turn away from the anxiety of his fellow men and fellow Christians but will show them how to extricate themselves from their fruitless withdrawal into themselves and will point out the paths by which they can step out into the open, into faith's daring."

- Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Christian and Anxiety (trans. Dennis D. Martin and Michael J. Miller; San Francisco: Igatius Press, 2000), 88.

What are these paths? How can a Christian discover and share these paths from fearful fruitlessness to faithful daring today?

8 comments:

gbroughto said...

good question... I suspect if I could ever get around to finishing Kirkegaard' 'Fear and Trembling' I'd be more aware of which well worn paths not to take...

But I do remember these couple of remarkable sentences:

'Love, after all, has its priests in the poets, and occasionally one hears a voice that knows how to keep it in shape; but about faith one hears not a word, who speaks in this passions praises? Philosophy goes further. Theology sits all painted at the window, courting philosophy's favour, offering philosophy its delights.'

Andrew Prior said...

Part of the way, of course, is to face our own anxiety. If we deny it, we cannot be extricated ourselves! We will not be blind beggars showing other beggars where to find bread (DT Niles?) but merely the blind leading the blind. We have to "prove" our extrication by facing our own infection. Andrew Prior http://churchrewired.org

Annette said...

would love a summary of von B's argument in this book if u get a chance. I bought it a while back when working on related stuff but never got to it. Can u write a 300 word review ;) ...it'd be good practice ;) (why are u reading this book anyway - thesis or pleasure? recommended? or just to read more von B? or perhaps an early measure against the thesis-angst sure to come?? ;)

byron smith said...

Annette - I wish I could. I actually stole this quote from a citation in another book (Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear by Bader-Saye). I think I might chase up the von B book, not just for pleasure/personal development, but also for thesis. I've started thinking about fear.

Andrew - good point! Though perhaps part of how we discover this path is with others. Courage is something that is often formed and strengthened in community.

Geoff - When you do, can you give us all a summary? :-)

Annette said...

i'd lend you my copy if you lived a tad closer by ;)

meredith said...

Hi Byron. Just wondering - is there much of a vibe about Obama's inauguration over in Scotland?

byron smith said...

A little, though not nearly as much as there was for the election. I think the fact that in the UK (as in Oz), the election result is almost immediate means that people forget he isn't president already. I mean, he's been in the news more than Bush for the last few months anyway, so what's going to change?

Donna said...

Great quote, Byron.

Seems to be that a way we can "step into faith's daring" is to not make decisions solely based on how we feel about things. Being someone who has struggled with anxiety, I know that, at those times, when I make decisions based solely on how I feel about things, I'm not really making decisions at all, I'm just choosing the easiest option.

Stepping out from anxiety (i.e. not making my feelings a factor in decisions) means that I am free to choose the path that God wants me to take. Then I'm more free to be shaped into his image.

That's my take on it :-)