The Peril of “Disembodied” Faith

True godliness don’t turn men out of the world but enables them to live better in it and excites their endeavours to mend it… Christians should keep the helm and guide the vessel to its port; not meanly steal out at the stern of the world and leave those that are in it without a pilot to be driven by the fury of evil times upon the rock or sand of ruin.

I just read this on FB and was stunned to see that its author was William Penn. But then, why was I stunned? The Quakers with their “Silence” really had, and have today, a valuable perspective on faith in general and specifically the Christian faith. The version of faith I imbibed as a child was that Christians were “separate” from the world and in fact were commanded to “Come out from among them and be ye separate” and to become a “peculiar people.” Now, I might add that on that latter note, my little sectarian faith succeeded far more than they intended on becoming “peculiar” and, even more so, I carried that matter even further!

I was presented with a “dis-embodied Word”, one in which transcendence was emphasized to the exclusion of immanence. And those who worship a “disembodied” word are always scary and potentially dangerous, i.e. the Taliban. They are ideologues, worshipping the idea instead of “that” to which the idea has reference to. (I place that in quotes because the Ineffable is not a “that”, it is a “No-Thing.” it is a Presence.) And never waste your time with a die-hard ideologue. Their mind is made up. As Emily Dickinson noted, their “mind is too near itself to see itself distinctly” and thus there is no room for meta-cognition.

And on this vein of thought I always recall the insight of William Butler Yeats, “Oh God, guard me from those thoughts men think in the mind alone. They who sing a lasting song must think in the marrow bone.”


2 thoughts on “The Peril of “Disembodied” Faith

  1. Anne-Marie

    I appreciate this because I lead two meditation groups, based on the writings of the Benedictine monk John Main and now Laurence Freeman. We practise silence and what I love about these groups is that I never know who is going to turn up…It can be the person who I hadn’t thought was interested. Anyway, sometimes I just want something that is not overly Biblical at times to inspire so quotes from poets and novelists are great. A-M



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