The Theoblogian cometh – Without Wax

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
– Hebrews 10:22

I was puzzling in my puzzler this morning as we sat before the Communion table and began to reflect on some recents post on the blog. I have been troubled in some ways that the conversational nature that seemed to take off when TheologyKungFu.com hit cyberspace became more argumentative as opposed to collaborative in the comments section. Some of this has to do with the nature of the dojo itself – a place to ‘live and move and have our being’ where cyberpraxis (the virtual/dialogical extension of our ethical and religious agency – sensei jfk term) is given some sparing partners and coupled with encouragement and insight.

In my earlier posts arguing for the renewed need for a ‘credo’ – what we believe – coupled with the necessity of seeing truth as something that “travels most authentically across a narrow bridge called relationality”, I would like to offer an additional strand:

“The form that meaning and authenticity acquires its true height, breadth, and depth is sincerity of heart” – jfk

The notion of ‘sincerity’ as it is employed in the New Testament is referenced with artistic authenticity. Greek artists working in marble statuary would cover up mistakes by putting wax into the nicks and cracks of their work, then applying marble dust from the studio floor. The statue would look almost flawless to the untrained eye. Often, these statues would be in the area out of direct sunlight both to prevent potential buyers from seeing the flaws and to prevent the sun from melting the wax away. When the writer of Hebrews (as well as Ephesians 6:5 and Colossians 3:22) push us toward living with ‘sincere hearts’, we are challenged to live ‘without wax’.

I supposed this is what I was driving at in my earlier post regarding relationality but overlooked this important prior step. Our desire to be understood, to have authentic meetings of minds, to really feel like we have been heard and have a place and purpose in the world begins with sincerity. Some call this ‘integrity’ or ‘honesty’ and its full embodiment is what we call ‘humility’ – a return to our humanity in its fullness vis a vis ‘aletheia’.

Some of the posts (see comments on ‘head vs. heart’ posting) on the site have argued that both ‘theory’ on the hand… and ‘fides quaerens intellectum’ (‘faith seeking understanding’) on the other hand… can (and often does) lead us to an impasse. As someone who argues for a critical faith and a passionate/humble critique – I join many of you in seeing this as a false dichotomy and am trying to find that via media – middle way. So let me thread together the 3 points I am arguing for in our wrestling with questions of faith and action:

1. At some point we need to offer a ‘credo’ – a statement that charts both the confessional (the how, where, and who of one’s journey) and convictional (the ‘why’ of the pilgrim’s vocation – i.e. why I am doing a PhD in relation to the world’s deep hunger, why I am passionate about body modification in relation to my understanding of God, etc.)

2. Acknowledge that our credo is ultimately a mapping of our search for authentic truth and meaning and that what animates and enables the forward movement of our credo is relationships with others.

3. The form that meaning and authenticity acquires its true height, breadth, and depth is sincerity of heart – to live into our lives as pilgrims we offer ourselves to each other ‘without wax’.

What do you think? Is this too much to ask?

2 Comments

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  1. Re: At some point we need to offer a ‘credo’ – a statement that charts both the confessional (the how, where, and who of one’s journey) and convictional (the ‘why’ of the pilgrim’s vocation – i.e. why I am doing a PhD in relation to the world’s deep hunger, why I am passionate about body modification in relation to my understanding of God, etc.)

    Jeff … No doubt about it. This wouldn’t be a bad addition to the application process! I’m thinking beyond the halls of Divinity, too. We in the Arts & Humanities, esp. postgraduates, really need to start justifying the time and resources we expend on what we do. I’m not entirely sure how this justification can be adequately assessed … but, it is surely a project worth exploring.

    The Sciences aren’t let off the hook here — although the justification for their work is less a matter of how much time they’re wasting doing it, and more a matter that far too few don’t seem to give any thought to the (as you say, inter-relational) ethics of their research and innovations.

  2. I concur with Brad – and w/ Jeff’s original post. I think this is NOT too much to ask, and following our previous discussion of “credo” (in which I was called on the carpet for my apophatic out-copping), I have sense felt convicted (see what you’ve done, pastor sensei??! [or is it rev’d dr. sensei?]) about the need to do this…again, actually, as I was made to write a personal belief statement in some dumb college class, and I resented it then, and I’ll continue to resent it now! Don’t make me commit to something!!! That’s why I get tattoos, dammit!! So I don’t have to commit to creeds and beliefs, only ink!! (okay, totally kidding there.) Anyway, my radio silence here is because I’m still chewing on all this, not because I didn’t think it warranted a response, but actually because I think it warrants a care-full and thought-full response, which I am still working on. So, to be continued…

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