I was reading an article tonight by N.T. Wright, on "How Can the Bible Be Authoritative?" It was originally given as a lecture, and it's really worth reading, mainly for what I believe to be very worthwhile thinking about the questions involved. I also have to give credit to anyone who can write about the Bible and questions of authority--and work Shakespeare, the piano, and G.M. Hopkins into the mix! An author after my own heart!
Because of the Hopkins connection, I want to share this on my Hopkins-inspired blog:
In a paragraph on how "the church is always in danger of getting too like the world," Wright writes,
We then have to allow the story to challenge our traditions, not to get rid of traditions but in order to see where we've come from, and who we are as the people of God in the 20th century, and to reshape our traditions honestly and properly. But, also, we must allow scripture to stretch our reason back into shape. We must allow scripture to teach us how to think straight, because by ourselves we don't; we think bent, we think crooked. Gerard Manley Hopkins said, "The Holy Spirit over the bent world broods with warm breast and with Ah! bright wings." And the Spirit broods over us as we read this book, to straighten out our bent thinking; the world-views that have got twisted so that they are like the world's world-views. God wants us to be people, not puppets; to love him with our mind as well as our soul and our strength.
From what I know of Hopkins and Wright, I kind of think they would probably get along well with each other. I know I'm thankful to both of them for their relentless search for truth, their fresh ways of seeing and writing about it, and their willingness to share what they write (even if Hopkins made us wait a while before reading his.)
From what I know of myself, I do need scripture to teach me how to think straight, because by myself I don't. Sometimes I try to imagine what I would be like without the influence of the Bible in my life. Of course it's impossible to know and practically impossible to imagine. But when I try, the result is not very pretty!
And trying to imagine western civilization without the influence of the Judeo-Christian scripture is just as impossible a task. As bent and crooked as the world is now, how much more so would it be without "Love thy neighbor as thyself," without "God is love," without the story of the "good Samaritan," or without the belief in a God who forgives and teaches us to forgive?
Tonight I'm thankful for Hopkins, thankful for N.T. Wright, and thankful for the Spirit that broods. And thankful to be a little bent part of this bent, crooked world.