Absence and Presence

…of Mystery, that is.

Not precisely a mid-life crisis, but perhaps a crisis of blog direction. The academic is more and more unsatisfying, while the faithful is increasingly more satisfying. This is due to simple quality, and an avoidance of stodgy, fusty studiousness, the academic failure of conscience represented in its obsessive qualification of every point, and just the disgust at the direction academic Biblical studies have gone/arrived at.

Part of the problem with the “scientific” approach to Life, the Bible, and everything is that it leaves no room for Mystery. Now I don’t mean “mystery” in the Agatha Christie sense, or even in the Godforsaken “Da Vinci Code” sense, as in a whodunnit. That’s quite obvious. Nor is it a reference to any general mystery, as in a tough problem that needs solving though this is closer. “Mystery” in the Christian sense are those items of our Faith which have been revealed to us, without explanation, as either beliefs to hold or practices to do. We do not, in this life, receive the answer. Indeed, maybe the answer is simply, “Because that’s the way it is.” Certainly, though, because this is the Way.

Avoiding the mysteries, or seeking to explain them, both of these approaches have dire consequences. We have the mystery of Man and Woman as Humanity, and Marriage as the only proper environment for their joining in sex and the production of children. Those nations which have altered this institution are, frankly, failing. Their populations are now in serious decline. Those nations which still hold to a strongly traditional approach to Marriage, even if they are not Christian, have population growth. Seeking to explain why this is so runs into so many walls that we’d rather avoid, walls which call into question everything dear to our modern, civilized selves, walls of privacy, freedom, intervention, trust, love, sex, life, death, and many others. Mystery stands against them all, a vast, unshakable reality, saying, “This is real, and works. That is not real, and doesn’t work.”

In Biblical Studies, it’s atrocious what’s happened. All Mystery, even mystery as in oddities requiring explanation, have been removed. Oddities are given an unlikely explanation which is accepted because scholars find it impossible to admit ignorance. After all, are we not all led to believe that they are most prized for its opposite? But stripping Mystery from the foundational text of our cultures is wrong, as well. There’s something unusual in that Book of Books, something far more compelling than just a classic of literature. There’s Mystery. Avoiding mention of that 800 pound gorilla is a scholarly art form. And despicable.

[From my scribere jottings, as is, which particular one I liked, so here you go! It dates from mid-May, which accounts for the mention of the entirely passé mention of yon Da Bacle.]