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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Rilke On Life

I find myself at a weary place today and nothing really to say. I read these profound words by Rilke this week, so I'll put them up for you. They make me feel better and maybe they'll move you too. --

"You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."
Rainer Marie Rilke from "Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties"


Blogger JohnLDrury said...

good words on the priority of questions themselves. funny enough, my bro just wrote this week on questions and his annoyance with christian publishers ads regarding 'easy answers' check it out -

1:35 PM  
Anonymous christin said...

Thanks John. That was a good read. Your brother wrote, "It reeks of a major problem in the Evangelical Church today: Smugness. Doesn’t this philosophy encourage laziness?"
And this got me thinking. Perhaps it encourages laziness, but I think ultimately this idea that finding answers is as easy as turning a page, will lead to frustration!
Rilke's quote made me relax. I could beat myself into the ground, I could go desparate looking for answers, but isn't there a part of the human spirit that's built for the long, steady tension of questions?
Wasn't it Picasso who said, "Computers are worthless. They can only give you answers"?
And as far as our spirituality goes, I think anyone who's looking for an authentic relationship with God will get frustrated by this misdirection, "Just turn the page and find the answer."

3:36 PM  
Blogger ThoughtsfromJoseph said...

What is up Mr. D Taylor! I read your post on AJ's site and decided to check out your blog. Looks like there is much wisdom to be gained here. Have fun out west and I will be sure to drop by often! Brandon Melanson

9:33 AM  
Anonymous heidii said...

Good quote...i'm going to keep thinking about it!
Regarding the "easy answers" - the fallacy of easy answers can be even more serious than just frustrating- a friend of mine shared last week that the "easy answers" she and her husband had been receiving from christian friends regarding their infertility has been devastating - her non-christian friends have responded with more grace and compassion - and this is not an isolated problem!
How often does the church maim those who come to us for help and healing just because we ourselves can not live with questions?
Do we really want to offer a christianity that can be contained in a q&a manual? (i'm getting fired up!) :-)
thanks for the site Tin! your site is my favorite way to procrastinate! :-) back to work...

12:15 PM  
Blogger Christin said...

Heidi, this is just the sort of frustration I was talking about. Thanks for your added insight.
I see my students floundering everyday because we can't handle the hard questions they're going through.
For example, we tell them "Don't have sex before your married," and they're having sex in the church's preschool playground, right under our noses.
They are lost, confused, and so broken. It doesn't help them to make things easy. They need us to look them in the eye and acknowledge what they're doing. Then acknowledge that they're making these devastating decisions for a reason.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Terry said...

Christin, I normally just read your blog and enjoy learning about your daily adventures, knowing better your thoughts, and watching you continue to grow into a mature, intelligent woman. Your post and the related posts about Rilke have pulled me over the line and into your blog
I find it interesting that you are referencing Rilke to better contrast the evangelical movement in Christianity. I am no expert on Rilke, but understand that he was a European poet of some renown who started writing toward the end of the nineteenth century. He was born in Prague and given the birth name of René Karl Wilhelm Johann Joseph Maria Rilke. Despite so many names from which to choose, his mother referred to him as Sophia and dressed him in girl’s clothes until he was five years of age to compensate for the death of a baby daughter. His father, on the other hand, stressed a traditional rugged male lifestyle for him. His parents separated when he was only nine years of age and the following year he went to a military school. His early years by his own admission were dark.
As a young poet in 1899, he went to Russia where he met among others Leo Tolstoy. During his time in Russia, Rilke became fascinated with mysticism. In most religions, mysticism is at its core a means by which a person becomes one with God through reflection and self discovery. In this vein, it is not surprising that Rilke would write, “nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself."
Perhaps his early childhood caused him to seek answers and led him to an appreciation of mysticism. Evangelicals on the other hand accept the “answers” as given in the Bible. As a movement, they accept the Bible as accurate, divinely inspired truth by which to live. The “answers” to life are within the pages. The great evangelical speaker of the twentieth century, Billy Graham made a career of preaching a simple yet practical message of man’s separation from God. The “answer” was simple repentance and reconciliation. In addition, the evangelical church wholly rejects the idea that there is only one way to reconcile with God and that is to go into yourself. In fact, evangelicals teach that only through the initiation of God, the death of Jesus Christ, and wooing of the Holy Spirit can one be saved from eternal damnation. One accepts what is freely given – grace.
In David Drury’s blog regarding easy answers, Finding the Answers, he writes “I believe this is a problem statement. It reeks of a major problem in the Evangelical Church today: Smugness. Doesn’t this philosophy encourage laziness? Do you really “only have to turn a page” to find answers in life? Is it that easy?”
I personally would suggest that the evangelical movement has taught that it is that easy. There is neither condition nor price that one has to pay to receive the “answers” God has offered. What is offered has been paid by the blood of Jesus Christ. Perhaps this does make evangelicals lazy, but this is also the beauty of Christianity. Anyone, regardless of background, education, or preparation, can find and accept the “answers” to life through Christ. It is easy – repentance and acceptance.
At the same time, the Christian life, as defined by the Bible, is not easy. Christ teaches an experience in which a person is to take up a cross and follow him. One is to die to one’s self. In fact, the experiences of the early church leaders are a series of suffering and death. Yes, the church is sometimes smug and doesn’t reach out to others as they should. To be sure, one of the greatest critics of the organized church was Christ. In truth, those within the church retaliated by planning His crucifixion. So yes Heidi, I agree that the people within the church often fall short of expressing Christ’s love. It is most unfortunate, but that doesn’t mean that I want Christianity to be complicated or hard to understand.
In regard to the idea initially raised by the opening post, I agree there is an aspect of life that requires maturing and growth. One doesn’t understand everything with the turn of a page. Saint Paul taught that followers should not remain babies in their Christian life. However, one does not have to go to a monastery for intensive reflection to successfully enjoy a relationship with God. It’s not that hard!
Christin, as to the children that you describe as “lost, confused, and so broken,” it should be easy for them to find the "answers." In fact, I suspect that you have already shared the simple plan of God’s love and reconciliation with them. They now have to make their own decision as to how they will act on that information. Unfortunately, that decision may be to continue having sex in the playground. And yes, there are difficult circumstances regarding their lives and choices, but I believe it helps to make things easy. Confront the problems, but make the solution easy. To me, that is the evangelical approach and the attraction of evangelicalism.
Thanks Christin for providing a place where I can share my thoughts. Regarding your efforts – keep thinking – keep writing. I am proud of you. You made me think and write.

10:06 PM  
Blogger Christin said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Christin said...

Terry thanks so much for your insights. As I was reading your post I was reminded that it is always easier to be critical than to be balanced. Thanks for challenging me on my words and pushing me to think more clearly about this!
These students do come from difficult circumstances and I think for them, the call to "take up their cross and follow Jesus" is very real. They have to face hard temptations and overcome alot of odds. But, you're right, that doesn't change the profound truth of the gospel.
"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Spoken by Jesus in John 16:33
By the way -- not so shabby on the Rilke research!;-)

11:45 PM  

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