Peace, one and all…
Of late, I have been reading as voraciously as I can around the broad topic of spirituality – specifically, what it is, what it is not and what it means in our complex 21st century world. I have also had the opportunity to discuss some of these issues with others, both online and in the real world. I value such conversations deeply, as I am convinced that, in many important respects, meanings are formed through discussion. That is, our initial, provisional meanings are fleshed out in respectful conversations with others.
This is why I have been particularly enjoying David Ford’s excellent book on Christian theology: Self and Salvation: Being Transformed. Although, as yet, I have only had the chance to read the first couple of chapters, it sets out a lively and interesting framework for exploration. As such, I wanted to share a couple of paragraphs from this work. I found them profound, as well as beautiful. Enjoy…
‘We live before the faces of others. Some are there physically, others in memory or anticipation. We have been formed face to face from our earliest days, deeper than conscious memory. A baby is welcomed – amazed gratitude, hugs and kisses, feeding, anxious oversight, eyes meeting, the first smile, accompanying singing and speaking, friends and relatives come to see. It is a face exactly like no other, mark of individuality and uniqueness, constantly moving and changing. But who is it like? It is part of genetic history, features formed by race and family, a one-off that constantly displays its origins, the type of continuity with novelty.
Already too it is part of cultural history, has been involuntarily taken into a particular family, society and period. What meanings are already played out in these first encounters? How is this particular baby received and understood? What are the habits and customs, the codes and influences, which are distilled into communication with this new person? What does it mean to be firstborn? Or female?’ (p. 17)
‘How are you related to your face? Why does that sound a rather odd question? Partly because it does not ring true in separating face and self. Yet it would also seem odd to identify face and self. Obviously, you are more than the outside of part of your head. Yet that last phrase is clearly inadequate as a description of the face. To meditate on the face is to find an approach to a range of key questions about the self. The face often seems to be a pivotal ‘interface’ between two aspects of the self’ (p.19)
Links to previous posts:
- Talking Past Each Other?
- Spirituality in Higher Education
- What is Spirituality? A Few Random Thoughts
- What is Spirituality? Some Interesting Quotes
- What is Spirituality? Some Recent Thoughts