philosophers and the church

From Henri de Lubac in his Méditaiton sur L’Église:

On raconte qu’un malheureux prêtre, au soir de son apostasie, dit à un visiteur qui s’apprêtait à le féliciter: “Désormais je ne suis plus qu’un philosophe, c’est-à-dire un homme seul”.

(The story is told of a poor priest who, on the night of his apostasy, said to a visitor who was about to congratulate him: “From now on i am only but a philosopher, that is, a lonely man”.)

If Christianity has anything that philosophers, atheists and humanists can and perhaps should envy, it is the institution of the church. A christian can go anywhere in the world, even in the darkest reaches of lands entirely foreign to him or her and nevertheless find fellow christians who will immediately accept them as a brother or sister in christ. That is something the non-religious simply do not have. And it is, i think, a sad, melancholy thought.

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3 Comments to “philosophers and the church”

  1. You wrote:
    “A christian can go anywhere in the world, even in the darkest reaches of lands entirely foreign to him or her and nevertheless find fellow christians who will immediately accept them as a brother or sister in christ. That is something the non-religious simply do not have. And it is, i think, a sad, melancholy thought.”

    To me it would seem more important to be able to go anywhere in the world, even in the darkest reaches of lands entirely foreign, and recognize all people as our brothers and sisters, no matter what their religion or lack thereof. And that is a joyous thought.

  2. hokku – what i meant was that there is an institution (bricks and mortar and people) to which you can go (the church as “Mother”) and to which you _belong_. You certainly can have kind _feelings_ towards all religious people everywhere, but that doesn’t mean you will be accepted as “one of them” when you arrive in their land. The non-religious person does not have this sense and reality of belonging; he or she can think of others as siblings, but they are not de facto related. The institution of the church creates this very real relationship between people who have never before met. Of course, this presupposes an “us vs. them” attitude that is not necessarily desirable, though it seem very human to desire such a sense of community.

  3. Eenauk wrote:
    what i meant was that there is an institution (bricks and mortar and people) to which you can go (the church as “Mother”) and to which you _belong_.

    As George Fox said, a building of bricks and mortar is not the church. I think your viewpoint separates people rather than unites them, and I don’t think it is a good way to approach strangers, no matter where in the world they are.

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