Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Reminder I Need, Constantly

Barbara E. Bowe, who teaches at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, wrote of an encounter with a Zen monk in Korea. She asked him how sacred texts helped him in his search for God. He said, "A sacred text is like the flame of a candle.... It is not until you have touched your finger to the flame that you can know the real meaning of the candle. That is how it is with sacred texts."

After recounting that conversation, Bowe said,

My conviction...is the belief that Christians...have little idea of the profound spiritual resources for their lives and ministry waiting to be discovered in the Bible. Even if they have immersed themselves in a rigorous historical, critical investigation of the biblical texts and have mastered all the contemporary interpretive methods of Bible study, skills that are absolutely essential components of their training for ministry, I believe they rarely have, in the words of the Zen monk, touched their fingers to the flame. And so, for them and for anyone who takes this text in hand, there is a marvelous journey ahead where the deep questions of life, and death, and love, and ultimate meaning will be addressed. [Barbara E. Bowe, Biblical Foundations of Spirituality (Lanham: Sheed & Ward, 2003), p. 2]

Here is the reminder that I need, constantly: the Bible is finally not about information, it is about formation.

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