“It is my belief that the understanding of the history and theology of Christianity cannot properly be separated from the study of Christian spirituality. What is the character of the Christian life? What is the nature of Christian saintliness? How far is it linked with a response to the historical givenness of the gospel, and to the divine self-giving in history? These are questions of supreme significance, and a good deal of the contemporary discussion ignores them” – Michael Ramsey, Glory Descending: Michael Ramsey and His writings, p. 5
I’ve grown to love the study of history and theology. Both go very much hand in hand to give me perspective, to stretch me and to challenge me. And yet, what captures my being is very often the study of spirituality … in my case Christian spirituality … and perhaps it’s more than the study part – it’s the practice of it which makes a difference.
Because after swimming in history and theology detached from an authentic growing spirituality … becomes cold, and dry … and sometimes very tempting to become toxic with the self-congratulation of how much I know or think I know. Or it might become toxic when with the new found frameworks or perspectives to see the world, one is tempted to fall into despair with the mess we are in. What is it that keeps me from plunging into an abyss of cynicism which may have started with a genuine development of critical abilities?
I came home with sadness yesterday when one of my friends effort in helping others grow in their understanding of worship by teaching the distinctives from another Christian tradition was called “rubbish”. I felt disappointed because it’s precisely because of our “narrow” way of thinking which impoverishes us from the best that others have to offer. I don’t see myself returning back to Rome, but that’s quite different from throwing their insights to the bin.
This morning, I needed my time to sit down and journal … I needed the time to pray .. I needed to shout my frustrations before God … I needed Jesus to clear my heart from the toxics I often come home with from incidents like the one above.
Reading the papers today reminds me of elected representatives into parliment which makes me “vomit blood.” I support those who are calling for disciplinary action on the MPs who’s now famous for the “Bocor” incident.
It’s even more frustrating when the toxic seems to be everywhere … outside in the world and inside in our world .. there’s no escaping of it.
My time with my pen and a blank page scribbling my prayer, feelings and reflection could be called “escapism” (who knows). For me it’s keeping some sanity … it’s my way of keeping my being from being poisoned so I can have a clearer head and heart to make wise choices. When I’m confronted with the mysterious other who is made known to me through Jesus Christ, when I once again allow the Spirit of life to breath into my dry bones … then I can arise with new vigor and new possibilites …
Getting stuck in a rut can be tiring and draining. Who wants to spin round and round in the same “dung” (skybalon) all the time? I can’t help but react to my surroundings … that’s life. But, deep down I desire and I’ve decided to move beyond that to “respond to the historical givenness of the gospel, and to the divine self-giving in history”. That’s a script I feel more worth my energy … some detox still needed … but after that, I need a re-fill of a decent dose of history, theology and blessings which come from growing in my humanity (nourished by a spirituality which is life giving!)