I just read a blog post at Domine, da mihi hanc aquam! titled, "Without philosophy all we have is story..." This post and one of the comments made in response help me see the connection between faith and reason.
Here is the complete text:
Let's say you are having marital problems. Being a good Catholic, you go to your pastor for some advice on how to improve communication. You patiently tell Fr. Bob what you see as the problem. Fr. Bob nods and reaches for his bible. He flips it open to John 2.1-11 and reads to you the story of Jesus' first miracle at the wedding in Cana.
When he finishes the story, he snaps the book closed and looks at you as if all your problems have been solved. It takes you a moment to realize that Fr. Bob believes that he has addressed your problems. You have a few questions about how the story applies to your situation. When you are done asking your questions, Fr. Bob gives a slightly annoyed look, opens his bible, and re-reads John 2.1-11.
OK, at this point you are starting to feel as though Fr. Bob is trying to teach you some sort of Kung-fu-Zen-Master-Grassho
pper-Wax-on-Wax-off-lesson about listening or sitting quietly or something like this. . .who knows?! Anyway, try one more time.
You reel off several very reasonable questions about applying the Wedding at Cana story to your particular situation. There's a pleading tone in your voice and you throw in a dash of desperation to help convince Fr. Bob to help. And to your horror, all he does is re-read the Wedding at Cana story to you!
Assuming that violence is not an option, what should you do at this point? Why is Fr. Bob behaving this way? What are you expecting from Father that he is apparently unwilling or incapable of giving?
The title of this post gives a hint at the direction of my thinking here. . .
If this were me, I'd probably bid Fr. Bob farewell and move on. I'd look for someone more helpful and more capable of addressing my situation. But the author of the post uses this example to get us thinking.
One person who commented had a great response, which I will include here:
Amen, to those remarks!
Anthony Kennedy said...
Let me try a stab at this...
Fr. Bob's approach to the story assumes that the Bible is a self-interpreting form of literature. There is no need for interpretation, no need for textual or contextual critical exegesis, in short, he assumes that the meaning itself is bound in the very text--that the text IS the meaning. Since, however, a word (with a little "w") can only point to meaning and as such cannot embody meaning, there need be some rational, intelligible means discerning that meaning and applying that meaning to a concrete situation.
The written Word of God, thus, must be interpreted through a rational and intelligible means. The meaning of Scripture is not bound in the text, it is bound in the Word (capital "W") who is the one true key to interpreting the text. And since this Word is Himself the author and source of reason and intelligibility, the narrative account of God's revelation--Scripture--can
only be understood by use of solid philosophical principles and methods.
Thus the question, "What does the Wedding at Cana have to do with my marital problems?" must be answered by 1) understanding the Scriptural context of the passage in light of the entirety of Scripture (how the Gospel of John unfolds in a manner similar to the creation narrative, and how the Wedding Feast of Cana is situated in this context), 2) what the Wedding Feast of Cana says in terms of the nature of marriage, and most importantly 3) how Christ, in this episode, relates to the Scriptural context (Water becomes wine as husband and wife become a "New Creation" effected and presided over by Christ Himself).
I know there are some gaps, but I think that's the gist of it. Without a solid philosophical interpretive key, the stories of Scripture would remain, well, just that.