For a long while now, I’ve done most of my linking on Twitter rather than here, but relatively few people actually click through on Twitter links (not too surprising given how fast most people’s feeds scroll through with new tweets), and it has left the blog rather neglected of late. The following is worth a fuller quotation than Twitter allows, so I’m posting it here, and will try to do more of this in the future.
In an excellent op-ed responding to the Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon,” David Brooks makes the following observations, echoing Dorothy Sayer’s classic book Creed or Chaos? (HT: a comment at ThinkChristian):
Vague, uplifting, nondoctrinal religiosity doesn’t actually last. The religions that grow, succor and motivate people to perform heroic acts of service are usually theologically rigorous, arduous in practice and definite in their convictions about what is True and False.
That’s because people are not gods. No matter how special some individuals may think they are, they don’t have the ability to understand the world on their own, establish rules of good conduct on their own, impose the highest standards of conduct on their own, or avoid the temptations of laziness on their own….
Rigorous theology provides believers with a map of reality. These maps may seem dry and schematic — most maps do compared with reality — but they contain the accumulated wisdom of thousands of co-believers who through the centuries have faced similar journeys and trials.
Read the whole thing here. One might also note Christopher Lane’s response, which does rightly emphasize the opposite danger of vying creeds themselves leading to chaos, but rather badly overreaches (in my opinion). As usual, wisdom lies somewhere in the balance.