|01-02-2011 - Traces, n. 2
THE FACTS ANSWER
HE GAVE US THE MAP TO FIND OUR TRUE "I" EVERY TIME WE FEEL LOST
THE CULTURE IN WHICH WE LIVE INSISTS THAT NOTHING
HAS VALUE. FOR THIS REASON, WE NEED TO BE CONSTANTLY REAWAKENED, AS FR. GIUSSANI WAS CAPABLE OF DOING…
BY JOHN WATERS
When my daughter was born, I began to speculate about the age my father was when I was born myself. (I knew he was approximately 50 when I was born.) That was how I discovered that I was conceived on my father's 50th birthday. I got "confirmation" on one of those "birth-date" cards that give details of events related to the day you were born, such as the number one record and so forth. It proposed that I was probably conceived on September 4, 1954–my father's 50th birthday.
Starting from this fact, and using an element of the method gifted to us by Fr. Giussani, I thought: what if I went back to September 3, 1954, and stood in that moment to test what is presented to me as "reason," what is presented to me as the empirical scientific reasoning of our civilization, as an explanation for everything, as an explanation for myself, which is that all is nothingness, abyss, vacuum... To ask myself, in that moment: What is possible? What can I see? What can I know? What can I imagine? What can I expect?
Whatever I might decide out of skepticism about all this would have been wrong, because we are all here. I am here. And yet this culture insists that at the end of everything, nothing is possible, nothing but a dark, long night.
From the beginning of The Religious Sense, Giussani takes us to the culture and shows us how this nightmare of unreason was created, how we are presented with an impression of ourselves and our reality and our future that is simply not reasonable. And he shows us how we have been conditioned to take this unreason for granted, to assume it to be obvious. Then he brings us with John and Andrew to meet Christ on the road. And he shows us that the only thing that this world has ever seen, dreamt of, or imagined as a correspondence for our infinite desire is at the heart of this story of the Birth, Death, and Resurrection of Christ. This is the only thing that answers our intuition, our longing, the certainty we had as children, as we lay there waiting, dependent, aware, more wise than we would ever be again, in our wonder and awe.
So, Giussani does more than re-present Christianity.
He changes nothing. He simply presents it again in a stripped-down form, but he also gives us the map of the culture in which we live, in which we are bombarded with this version of ourselves, which tells us that skepticism is a reasonable response, that despair is intelligent. Giussani shows us how to reawaken our reason, moment by moment. It isn't something that happens now, and stays with us forever. It happens every moment, and every moment it is threatened by the encroachment of culture, and every moment I must be awakened again: open my eyes, open my eyes.
Giussani has given us the tools to go back when we feel lost. He has given us the map to find ourselves, and to find ourselves again every time we lose ourselves. That's why I say The Religious Sense is the most radical book I have ever read.