Wednesday, March 09, 2011

the gift of vision

This is a quote from quite an old article (2006) but it is saying things few people dare to say:
For the beginning of culture is cult. Apart from the worship of God, human beings cannot in practice (whatever may be said in theory) transcend themselves--not, at least, in the large numbers needed to sustain a civilization. Unless human beings have a vision of something larger than their own natures, and beyond the bounds of their own natures, they cannot be pulled out of themselves; they cannot be inspired; and they will not aspire, in the way that Gothic steeples aspire. To be sure, there are secular ways to interpret the word "transcendence": as some potential already within human beings to break their own records, to go beyond what has already been achieved in order to achieve new marks, and the like. But that is not the sort of transcendence on which civilizations are built. Real transcendence is from outside, a new form of life, a new human nature, an uplifting into participation in the divine. This transcendence is known to all religions, and is sensed by many artists. It is a new dimension of the human spirit, which does not spring from human potential, but is given from outside. It is experienced as an uplifting, a newness, a vision and a vitality not within one's own powers to achieve or to deserve. It comes as a gift.

from Michael Novak: Troubled Continent: A Crisis of Demography--and of the Spirit



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