January 28, 2009

Define "Spirit"?

There's an odd conversation going in the Biblical Studies Discussion Group this week, sparked by an article that took a faith-based look at the Gospel of Mark. Overall, I liked the article. As far as the discussion goes, I'm just reading along (as usual) and this time (as often) I wouldn't know how to respond if I wanted to!

What seemed to be an honest question about the article, "Can anyone tell me what being "spiritually ready" means?" got a mixture of responses, including some ridicule. To be fair, it's a tough question. (Even if I'm accurate in surmising the author's intended meaning, how do I explain what he meant?) Anne Sullivan was able to teach Hellen Keller how to say "water", but you can't teach a person born blind what to think about the word "blue". Can you? (There are shades of blue, too.)

If "the spirit" is just a lot of talk, then the phrase is meaningless. But if "the spirit" is actual mystical encounter with God Himself, then it's real and it matters. In the second case, scholarship without spirituality is fine, but ultimately under-potent. Anyway, the whole thing reminds me of this Scott McCloud piece (book excerpt) which I'm re-posting, just because I like it a lot.

In order to truly understand most things in life, words alone will never be enough. They never have been.

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