A man came up to Jesus, knelt before him, and said, ‘Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.’ Jesus answered, ‘You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.’ And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly.
The Queen in Alice in Wonderland used to believe, she said, six impossible things before breakfast. With Lewis Carroll you expect sense behind the nonsense. What is impossible? And who says so? No boundaries of any kind are pushed out by people who are always declaring things impossible. Sir Thomas Brown, the 19th-century Manx poet and scholar, said, “I think there are not impossibilities enough in religion for an active faith.” It was a fair comment on the pale rationalism of 19th-century theology.
Rationalism is no friend of faith; it is one of its biggest enemies because it looks so…rational. If you meet a religious rationalist you see that everything is on narrowly limited terms, everything is clear, everything is man-made; there is no grace, no depth, no paradox, no sense of wonder, and no humour. For all its apparent rationality it is a kind of blind faith in a status quo.
But when you meet a genuinely religious person there is always a sense of grace or effortlessness, and sense of largeness and freedom. Such a person is able to take life as it comes from the hand of God at each moment, without being consumed by suspicion or the will to control. “Take everything evenly from the hand of God,” said Meister Eckhart. Let God be the judge of what is possible and what is impossible. You will never know what is possible while you sit there doing nothing but declaring impossible everything you haven’t seen before.
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