Commentator David Brooks recently gave a speech to a gathering of Christian philanthropists. A significant portion of the thoughtful talk was about the longing of non-religious people for the transcendent, about Christian interaction with others in the Public Square, and how the attitudes and actions of Christians can help or hinder that quest for the transcendent.
My favorite passage:
Everyone’s on a walk to Chartres. On a walk toward something transcendent, even if they don’t know what it is. Are you building ramps on the way to Chartres or are you building walls?
It’s a wonderful speech. But if seemed to me, as I read it, that Brooks, like so many religious commentators, neglected one essential facet of the longing for the transcendent and the path to Chartres, though by the mere use of the metaphor he certainly hints at it: We also build walls rather than ramps when we neglect the beautiful, the mysterious, and even the magical in our religious communities—the very things that makes Chartres…Chartres.
But the present neglect of beauty, mystery, and magic in mainstream religious communities is a topic for another time, and will no doubt be a recurring them of this blog.
Read Brooks’ entire speech here.