2 Thoughts: Texts as Spring-boards and Belief Vacillaiton as the interplay between ready-to-hand and present-to-hand

I’ve had a couple of interesting thoughts today. The first of them is basically an introspective thought. I’ve been reluctant to read the bible lately because I feel like I lack the interpretive tools to come out with a proper exegesis of the text. This reluctance, however, is not (entirely) justified.

Exegesis is important, but its not the only point of reading a biblical text. Biblical texts are still useful as spring-boards to other relevant or challenging thoughts. You’d think I remember that since this entire blog is related to a thought that partially sprung from thinking about Zeteo as it appears in Matthew in a not-so-intentionally-exegetical way.

Moreover, exegesis by itself is not always enough to get juicy stuff from the text. Really, exegesis is only important insofar as a) we’re just interested in the text for the text’s sake or b) it allows us to come away from the text with something true. So, I should quit being reluctant to read biblical texts and I shouldn’t be so frustrated with my lack of understanding certain parts of the text. Instead, I should focus on what the Divine would have me see and learn. That’s thought numero uno.

Numero dos: A couple of days ago I started worrying about why I only do philosophy of religion on Thursdays. Well, more specifically I worried about whether the extreme epistemic vacillations might be causing some extreme ethical ones. I worried that maybe those times during which I’ve been sucking at following the Divine could be related, in part or in full, to vacillations in belief. Of course, at first glance, I don’t suspect that this is actually what is going on. I have never said to myself, “I’m having a Tillich kind of day today, so I’m just going to lollygag and not work for the kingdom.”

But I worried that maybe something subconscious was going on that I wasn’t aware of. I noticed, however, two times today during my conversations with the Divine in which I didn’t even consider “who” I was talking to. This, for me, counts as a point in favor of the its-not-making-that-much-of-a-difference thesis. (But the tally, at this point, is far from conclusive.) Setting that aside for a moment, when I prayed without considering the details of the “who,” I was reminded of Heidegger.

Heidegger‘s got this set of concepts, ready-to-hand and present-to-hand. I think that prayer is often something that I engage in in a ready-to-hand kind of way. That is, my prayer is often times pre-theoretical. It is a practice about which I am not often thinking about. I often do not think about prayer. Instead, I think with prayer. And the only time I think about prayer is when I enter a present-to-hand mode of thinking. Its only when I’m philosophizing, in other words, that the details of the “who” with whom I am speaking a) become visible and b) become quasi-relevant.

This way of thinking about the effects of belief vacillation might be useful: to consider the interplay between ready-to-hand and present-to-hand as it relates to my in-order-to. I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but maybe I should read some more Heidegger.

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