Life is a journey of the heart that requires the mind—not the other way around. The church sometimes gets this backward and makes knowing the right things the center of life. It’s not; the heart is the center of life. Desire is always where the action is. However, staying alive to our desire is not enough; we know that only too well. We must bring the truth into our hearts to guard and to guide our desire; this is the other half of our mission. With a recovery of heart and soul taking place in many quarters, my fear now is that we will abandon the pursuit of truth and try to base our journey on our feelings and intuition. “Follow your heart” is becoming a popular message in our culture. Or as Sting sings, “Trust your soul.” It will not work. Our spiritual fathers and mothers knew this only too well. In The Imitation of Christ, Thomas à Kempis warned, “Our own opinion and our own sense do often deceive us, and they discern but little.” We must cling to the truth for dear life. And so our spiritual forebears urged us to bring both heart and mind together.
Now, not all truths help us descend with the mind into the heart. There is a way of talking about the truth that can actually deaden our hearts. Most of us were raised in the modern era, the age of reason and science. We came to believe that truth is best discovered in the scientific method.
What is the truth of a kiss? Technically, in a modernistic sense, it is two sets of mandibles pressing together for a certain duration of time. Those of you who have experienced the wonders of a kiss will know that while true, this description is so untrue. It takes away everything beautiful and mysterious and passionate and intimate and leaves you with an icy cold fact. Those who know kissing feel robbed; those who don’t are apt to say, “If that’s what kissing is all about, I think I’d rather not.”
We’ve done the same thing to theology.