Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas for John Harris

. . . for me, the day commemorates my awareness as a believer that God is indeed not an inscrutable, irresistible will whose rude decrees must be accepted arbitrarily as good, but is instead a vibrant goodness active in and through the hearts of His creatures. If He is less than baffling in His majesty, it is because His will is revealed to us partially through universal reason and inner inspiration — through a complex kind of intimate magnetism, that is, usually designated by the word “conscience”. The Holy Spirit also conveys (in less modern parlance — for “conscience” is a fairly recent word) this infusion of moral duty’s urgent messages through the individual soul, such that an ancient soldier might know the wrongness of slaying an enemy’s child even though the rules of war permit it, or know the rightness of holding a dying comrade even though the delay may cost him his own life. Every denomination today, I realize, seems fond of explaining the Holy Spirit in charismatic terms suggestive of some ecstatic experience wholly unrelated to action. This is a large part of why I have little to do with any given denomination. The behavior appropriate to followers of Dionysus is anathema to the God of my faith. People in a frenzy are incapable of any moral conduct, good or bad: they have temporarily (so one hopes) subsided into a state beneath that for which they were created. The Spirit’s touch is awakening and enlightening, not intoxicating and benighting.
— John Harris, Have a Christmas



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