Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Archbishop Rowan Williams on The Holy Child

"If God is with us as a child—a real child—he is not after all so tidily gift-wrapped, so functional. If God is with us as a child, he is certainly with us as one who calls out our tenderness and compassion, but he does so by an insistent presence without shame or restraint, crying and clutching. So, far from the divine child being a cipher, the tool of our schemes and systems, he confronts us with the alarming, mysterious, shattering strangeness of God. Ask a baby about the ordination of women, about divorce legislation, violence on television, who will win the election: it is not a fruitful experience. We face something that is disconcertingly like the master's answer in the Zen Buddhist tradition: when the disciple raises a speculative question—a question not connected with enlightenment, not coming from the person's heart and guts—the master simply replies 'Mu!', 'No.' And so with us, if we bring to the divine child our questions of theory and policy, we have the same answer—'Mu!'—in the baby's crying and the equally incomprehensible laughter and the silent clutching of a finger or sucking a breast. Our questions and, with them, our desperate and fearful need to be right, are relativized. They are not foolish questions, but before we ask in our eagerness to get it tidily wrapped up, our longing to have God's endorsement, we need to put aside the whole world of our perceptions and our transactions, recognizing in silent attention the God who will not let himself be captured and turned into a staring wax doll, a totem for our ritual passions." (Rowan Williams, Ray of Darkness)

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