Sunday 17 March 2013

The very stones will cry out...


Another of my favourite stories, this is from Dorothy Sayers’s The Just Vengeance. An airman dies and returns to his city. The ‘Recorder’ asks him to recite his creed. Here is how it goes:

RECORDER

What matters here is not so much what you did
As why you did it: the choice behind the action;
The deed is the letter; what you believe is the spirit.
Except a man believe rightly he cannot be saved.
Not even by suffering. Can you recite your creed?

AIRMAN (mechanically)
I believe in God . . .

CHORUS (picking him up and carrying him along with it)
. . . the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and earth; and
in Jesus Christ . . ,

AIRMAN

No! no! no! What made me start off like that?
I reacted automatically to the word 'creed’
My personal creed is something totally different.

RECORDER

What is speaking in you is the voice of the city.
The Church and household of Christ, your people and country
From which you derive. Did you think you were unbegotten?
Unfranchised? With no community and no past?
Out of the darkness of your unconscious memory
The stones of the city are crying out. Go on.[1]

What is speaking in you is the voice of the city. The very stones cry out. Faith is not something solitary. It is not something so totally personal that it has nothing to do with anyone else. Heidegger and Gadamer have taught us at the very least the inevitable and unerasable historicity of the human being. Gadamer’s dramatic way of putting it is wonderful: our prejudices or pre-judgments, far more than our personal judgments, are the very stuff of our being: "wirkungsgeschichtliches Bewußtsein ist mehr Sein als Bewußtsein."

So faith is a gift, not something of my own making. And I must not assume that faith is a solitary gift, something that is somehow given to me alone: it is a gift that passes through a community.



[1] Dorothy Sayers, The Just Vengeance, see http://www.archive.org/stream/foursacredplays012302mbp/foursacredplays012302mbp_djvu.txt, as of 15 March 2013.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Featured post

Rupnik, “E se l’evangelizzazione chiedesse una novità nella vita consacrata?” English summary

“EVANGELIZATION – DOES IT CALL FOR SOMETHING NEW FROM CONSECRATED LIFE?” MARKO RUPNIK, SJ “E se l’evangelizzazione chiedesse una novit...