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Faith cannot make Santa real - R.H. Joseph

Poor C.S. Lewis! The deceased author of "The Chronicles of Narnia" and "The Screwtape Letters" never had the advantage of reading the newspaper you now so casually peruse.

Had he but examined our reviews of the "Matrix" films much that concerned him, issues of significant historical import, would have been resolved.

I mention this because Lewis has recently returned to the limelight by virtue of a book written by associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard, Dr. Armand M. Nicholi Jr. Discussing his book, "The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life" on the Charlie Rose show on PBS some months ago, Nicholi's recapitulation of the discourse between these two world famous personages seemed akin to arguments about the number of horns on a unicorn.

If you've never watched "Charlie Rose," make an effort. He's irritating, he has a tendency to ask questions and never let his interviewee answer – I'm always shouting "Shut up! Charlie" at the television – but if it's an insight into the movers and shakers you desire, check it out.

Then, this past weekend, I read the following quote by Lewis: "Here is a door behind which, according to some people, the secret of the universe is waiting for you. Either that's true or it isn't. If it isn't, then what the door really conceals is simply the greatest fraud on record."

As last week's column serendipitously addressed this issue it seems logical to revisit the theme.

Think of Lewis's door as a unicorn. A man of faith, Lewis takes the existence of the door for granted; his only concern, what does or does not exist on the other side.

Matrix II or III (I can't recall which and will not sit through them again) recapitulated this imagery and as I pointed out in a review, in so doing the Wachowski Brothers substituted an act of faith for the immersion in wonder provided by their provocative first Matrix film. They substituted the presumption of something hidden or secret for the innate human awareness and appreciation of the ineffable.

Ineffable, by the way, means something which cannot be defined or expressed. It is transcendent, devoid of structure, identity.

The opposite of the ineffable, the object of faith, is presumed to evince structure and identity if only one could see beyond the infamous door.

There is a wonderful, unspoken irony here. The faithful insist the object of their faith is both omnipresent and inaccessible.

Why can't they know truth? Their senses get in the way, they say. So they abjure their senses; they give up pleasure in order to be nearer to truth, nearer to the omnipresent.

What C.S. Lewis and the rest of the faithful never realize is that the imagined door separating them from truth is the direct result of the commitment of faith; its existence, faith-dependent.

The act of faith is a self-indulgent act and the price paid for this act is the dearest of all: the door.

As Lewis acknowledged, all are aware of the absolute, hence the concept of omnipresence. Unfortunately, the faithful are forever conflicted, burdened with the immediate awareness of one truth and the commitment of faith in a second: their own perceptions.

Abandon faith and the door disappears. Ah, but what a price to pay!

The entire world view of the faithful is founded upon their personal significance and their unique ability to articulate the alleged characteristics of that which lies beyond the door.

The ineffable cannot be articulated.

This is why arguments about whether or not God exists are meaningless. The notion of God, a conscious metaphysical agent, is the name given to the presumed entity from which the faithful are separated.

Only the faithful suffer the distressing dichotomy of two truths, however.

Without a commitment of faith the omnipresent is self-defining. Those informed by spontaneous spirituality do not suffer a door, are not separated from the absolute.

We appreciate transcendence for we are transcendent beings. Only the faithful, those committed to the truth of their perceptions, must endure the uncertainty concomitant with such a commitment.

The absolute denies the invariance of the relative. No degree of faith can ever render a paradigmatic truth anything other than artificial, a human construct incapable of maintaining the illusion of immutability independent of the passionate commitment of faith.

R.H. Joseph is a longtime employee of the News Daily. His column appears on Wednesdays. He may be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 252, or by e-mail at rjoseph@news-daily.com.