Monday, May 5, 2014

Sustained by dull habit

D.G. Myers explains why "dull habit" is a better basis for a firm foundation in faith than relying on emotional experience. An example from prisoners in the Nazi death camps:
.... Prisoners who were committed to a reality beyond the camp—“militant Marxists, sectarian Jehovah’s Witnesses, practicing Catholics,” and of course Orthodox Jews—were more likely to survive or at least “died with more dignity than their irreligious and unpolitical intellectual comrades, who often were infinitely better educated and more practiced in exact thinking.” Believing in another reality (God’s love, the brit olam with the Jewish people, the final victory of Communism) they were able to detach themselves from conditions in Auschwitz that defy the imagination. “The grip of the horror reality,” Améry concludes, “was weaker where from the start reality had been placed in the framework of an unalterable idea.”

The function of transcendence in the religious life is to lay the foundation of an unalterable idea. The framework, though—the daily commitment to the idea—becomes what Lightman calls the “most persuasive evidence of God.” Transcendence is a glimpse of the reality created and sustained by dull habit. .... [more]