Saturday, February 28, 2009

Jesus as Deliverer

Understood properly, the Christian doctrine of sin is a vision of wholeness, and Dante represents this tradition at its best. He does not label people as evil because they've fallen short of some ill-conceived, perfectionist goal. Dante's understanding of sin is far more subtle than that, and more humane. These days, we are likely to say to people struggling with addiction or mental illness that their hope lies in a perpetual state of recovery. Imagine for a moment that this is much more severe than anything Dante, or the desert monks, for that matter, had in mind. Their ultimate concern was how, as we deepen our relationship with God, we become more free to love, and more free to choose the good. The idea that one would be defined forever by one's sin or sickness would have seemed to them excessively cruel, more likely to engender hopelessness than hope.

Kathleen Norris, "Acedia & Me", pg 204-205

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