Follow by Email

Friday, February 17, 2012

Am I a Conscious Woman?

Strangely enough, the first chapter of the next book we are going to read at School of Community is closely related to my last posts. I didn't know that when I wrote them, in fact, looking at its title (At the Origin of the Christian Claim), I thought it was all about Jesus.
Instead, the book begins with an examination of the religious experience in general and of its dizzying inherent quality. Giussani writes:
"I, a human being, am forced to live out all of the steps of my existence imprisoned within a horizon upon which a great inaccessible Unknown looms".
In the Old Testament God says:
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not my ways".
Throughout history and all over the world, man has felt the urge to figure out God's ways.

The first chapter of The Origins of the Christian Claim is appropriately titled Religious Creativity of Man. Here is a quote:
"When faced with the mystery he perceives as the determining factor of his life, man recognizes his power, and since he cannot bear to entrust himself "sine glossa" to an Unknown, he tries to imagine It in relation to himself, according to his own terms".
Giussani appreciates this effort, which dignifies religious imagination.
Well, in my post titled The Human need to Penetrate the Unknown I wrote precisely these words: 'Let's use our imagination.
He continues:
"When he becomes aware of the existence of many religions, the conscious man feels that, in order to be sure of the truth of the one he has chosen, he has to study and compare all of them and then decide".
Isn't this precisely what I've described in my previous post? Am I, then, a conscious woman? Not so fast.
Giussani quotes a famous historian of religions who states that this is an impossible task:
"Most of us (historians) are really familiar with only one poor little sector of the immense domain of religious history".
And so Giussani concludes that "hoping to know all religions in order to choose the best is utopian, and whatever is utopian is a false ideal".
He argues against the idea of creating a universal religion which takes the best from them all, an idea born with the Enlightenment and which, as I mentioned, is called "religious cafeteria" by its critics.
Giussani writes:
"This (idea) does not consider that what might be the best for one man might not be the best for others".
Let me elaborate on that. In my experience, those who make up their own religion end up with an overly inflated ego.
So, what is our best option according with Giussani?
"Man is born into a certain environment, at a particular moment in history, and it is highly probable that the religion his surroundings profess will be the expression best suited to his temperament."
Didn't I write that one of the reasons I chose Catholicism is that, after all, I'm Italian?
He continues:
"Perhaps an encounter in life will draw attention to a doctrine, a morality, an emotion more suited to our reason matured over time or to our heart with its particular history. In that case, we could well change, convert. But the suggestion that we follow the religion of our own tradition remains a basic unpretentious directive. In this sense, all religions are 'true'. "
Apparently, my thoughts are the same thoughts of many people of faith, and Monsignor Giussani would have approved of them. But for us Christians, the issue is not to attempt to imagine God, but rather to recognize Him in Jesus Christ.

No comments: