I'm obsessed - in my own illogical & unsystematic way - with a particular subject : the way(s) in which a person moves from scepticism or agnosticism to belief. This has been one of those fixed points or idees fixes around which my ruminations have oscillated, since the time of this adventure (& before).

A person moving from doubt to belief is like someone moving from thought to action - because a whole way of interpreting reality, along with a potential avalanche of active commitments, stem from that initial step. How this comes about - in what circumstances - can entail, obviously, some very dramatic (life-affirming, or life-threatening) consequences.

The language of belief, without that primary opening or accession, leaves the listener unmoved, untouched, unconvinced (or oppressed by a confidence he or she doesn't share).

I'm interested in the ruminations of Coleridge & Stevens (or Nicolaus Cusanus) on the impact of imaginative (theological) concepts. In their sense of a relation between vision, on the one hand, and human freedom & dignity (autonomy), on the other.

The imagination can become an end in itself; but that's not the same thing as faith. The ruminations about the mystery of belief are only a subset of the ruminations on the mystery of God per se.

"God" is a concept which tends to bring the mind up short - blocked, confused, stymied, befuddled. At least this has been my experience. One has to live with it for a few decades to become slightly more confident in some slight measure of understanding (or the illusion of same).

I've found the notion of analogy or proportion to be very helpful in this pursuit of the illusion of knowledge (cf. Cusanus, On Learned Ignorance). I mean the golden proportion, or "dynamic symmetry" (the fibonacci sequence being one example). To wit: in a shape divided into two parts, the relation of the smaller to the larger part is the same as the relation of the larger part to the whole shape. (As a result, we have a spiral of infinite (proportionate) expansion, or contraction.)

What does this have to do with God? It's connected with the ancient notion of humankind as Imago Dei. The figure that humanity makes on earth - self-conscious, creative, constructive, hopefully merciful & wise - this "abstract image" of Man in general - is "analogous" to the figure of God. As Man is in relation to time and the earth, so God is in relation to eternity and the cosmos.

(The analogical image - going back to the Greeks, the Hebrews, & Byzantium all together - underlies much of the musing of Stevens, Coleridge... Mandelstam too. Cusanus played it brilliantly from at least 2 directions - ie. "Between the finite & the infinite there is no proportion..." etc.)

This basic architectonic of theism might possibly open the door to more profound mysteries ("salvation history"). & yet it takes more than a beautiful mathematical proportion to convince a sceptic to believe in the existence of a benevolent Creator. & this question - this uncertainty - this riddle - is precisely where the path of the individual seeker, ruminator, cogitator, meditator, reasoner, intuitor, experiencer - the selva oscura of each personal mind & heart - sets out.

Mandelstam, from his first book (Kamen = "Stone" - trans. by Merwin/Brown):

Let the names of imperial cities
caress the ears with brief meaning.
It's not Rome the city that lives on,
it's man's place in the universe.

Emperors try to rule that,
priests find excuses for wars,
but the day that place falls empty
houses and altars are trash.

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