The Christian act of faith intrinsically includes the conviction that the meaningful ground, the logos, on which we take our stand, precisely because it is meaning, is also truth. Meaning or sense that was not truth would be non-sense… the indivisibility of meaning, ground and truth throws into relief the whole network of co-ordinates by which Christian faith surveys the world and takes up its position in relation to it.
Reflection – The other day I was talking to someone, happened to use the word ‘truth’ in relation to a certain situation, and was quite surprised at the negative reaction I got. There is something about the word ‘truth’ that is hard for people today, I guess.
It seems that people are OK with the word ‘meaning’ – one can find meaning in any kind of subjective way; a poem, a picture, a song, a sunset can be ‘meaningful’ to you, and it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t have a meaning for others.
But truth seems to draw us into a world where there are objective norms, objective realities, objective facts that apply to everyone regardless of how we feel about it or whether those facts are ‘meaningful’ to us.
This seems coercive or burdensome to many, I guess. I have to say ‘I guess’ because I don’t have that particular modern struggle. I have been fatally infected by Dominicans who taught me the Meanings of Words, so that I know that truth is simply our mind conforming (or, in technical language, adequating) itself to whatever object it is in the act of knowing. To speak of truth means that our minds are able to actually know what things are, and what they are not, that the universe and everything in it is intelligible – in other words, is telling us the truth about itself.
Far from being coercive, ‘truth’ invites us into an authentic relationship with being, in which we really take in what this or that thing is, really know it.As in small things, so in big things. Truth in general refers to the intelligibility of this or that being; truth in its absolute is the Truth of Being Itself, that which undergirds and grounds and embraces all that is. Our meaning is true; far from being ‘what I feel’ life is about, Christian meaning is True meaning. Not a subjective impression, we believe that in grounding our truth in Christ, we are grounding ourselves in the Truth behind the Cosmos. That basing our life on the Gospel, on the person of Jesus, on his saving work, means basing our life on the love, the energy, the will that sets the stars in motion and knows the number of cells in our body and fills the world with its presence. This God has come down to us, and by giving us the way of Christ has made it possible for us to found our personal lives on the very life of the Trinity, of God, the life that binds the whole cosmos together. This is how, as Ratzinger writes, we are able in our faith to survey the whole world and take up our position within it with confidence and peace.