November 9, 2007

Flesh and Spirit

Today the liturgy celebrates the dedication of the Lateran basilica, the proper cathedral of Rome. I've visited twice, and both times I was struck by the statues of the apostles that line the main nave.

These apostles are huge, strong, burly men. Their hands look like they would crush the skull of anyone they tried to ordain to follow them in the apostolic ministry. But for people who were less hampered by our modern denial of the spiritual, I suppose it was less dissonant to express the spiritual strength of the apostles by showing them as physically strong.

The more I think about it, I believe that the problem isn't that people don't believe in God. The problem is that the notion of God they think they are supposed to assent to is unbelievable. And when you tell them that if they have some experience of love or truth, then they have a glimpse of what is meant by the utterance, "God."

But those are "just ideas," they protest, by which they mean that they aren't real. Nevertheless, people routinely make life decisions based on their experience of love or truth, and that seems pretty real to me. This is what I mean by our hampering of our spiritual imagination.

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