A child’s insistent question

If you come to an idea of faith as “first of all an intellectual assent” (Thomas Merton); or if you think of it not as a state of mind at all but as “being seized by Being itself” (Paul Tillich); or if you think of faith as primarily “faithfulness to an event” (Abraham Joshua Heschel) in the past in which you or even all of humanity were, in effect, seized by Being; or if you construct some sort of “inductive faith” (Peter Berger) out of the moments of transcendence in your ordinary life; or if you feel that faith is wholly a matter of grace and thus outside of man’s control altogether (Karl Barth); or if you feel, as I do, that every one of these definitions has some truth in it — then you are still left with this question: Why? Why should existence be arranged so that our alienation from God is a given and we must forever fight our way not simply toward what he is but toward the whole notion that he is? If you let go of the literal creation story as it comes down to us through Genesis, if you let go of the Garden of Eden, the intellectual apple, the whole history of man’s separation from God tied to the tongue of a talking snake; if you let go of these things — and who but a child could hold on to them — then you are left, paradoxically, with a child’s insistent question: Why?

— Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss

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