Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mooney on "Paradox and the Suspension of Meaning"

"How can wisdom be folly, strength be powerlessness, hope be insanity? These clashing juxtapositions alert us to the possibility that wisdom, strength, hope and love acquire a new level of meaning when used in the elaboration of faith. But what new meaning? And why delivered as paradox?

One possibility is that faithful love and strength meet a higher standard than worldly love and strength -- the love being so unlike worldly self-love that it appears to the uninitiated as neglect or hatred of self; the strength being so unlike worldly self-aggrandizement that it appears to the uninitiated as powerlessness; the hope, so extravagant, that it appears insane.

Put another way, the concepts of faith apply to a dimension of thought and experience other than, or perhaps richer than, the strictly conventional, worldly, or ordinary. It follows that expanding the meaning of a concept like love from a familiar to a not-just-worldly context will be achieved only at the price of some apparent distortion.

Paradox expands the conceptual and moral space we ordinarily reserve for a term, say love, by stretching that space to include what seems to be its opposite..."

(from Edward Mooney's "Knights of Faith and Resignation")

1 comment:

SuJ'n said...

Brilliant - I'm sharing this quote on my blog.