Luminouré – Part Three: ‘Un-Knowing’

Emerging during the season of life I would describe as that of “un-knowing” all that I had previously held to be true, my Christian faith has languored under the persistence in this sort of state. In the process of change, it is sometimes essential to take apart what has been wrongly constructed, but the purpose of this deconstruction is so that something better might be put in place. That which cannot be easily deconstructed and rebuilt is more closely reminiscent of reality than its alternative, whose support is likely to collapse under the least amount of pressure.

It took at least a year for my previous belief system to complete this process of collapse (Read about it here). Beginning in Ireland with a question of why my persuasion as to the nature of life on this earth had not yet proved itself in any respect beyond a rationalistic argument, the collapse is largely due to the error it contained of overlooking the nature of humanity to which it was supposed to apply. The same error is repeated on a daily basis in the educational curriculums that forget they are teaching children and not robots, who are shaping lives and not libraries, whose outcome must be applied with the infinite variations of individuality rather than the predictability of an industrialised production process. To this last process, I owe the formation of my earlier beliefs that shattered under the pressure of examination within a global context outside of the one in which they were manufactured.

The failure of this first system of belief to maintain its credibility did not necessarily imply that no system of belief could ever explain the nature of reality (It is, after all, a ridiculous argument-and impossible to uphold-that nothing can be known about the nature of reality. The very need for such a claim denies its validity). My open mind toward knowledge and experience outside the bounds of childish constraints did not prove that I could know nothing, but rather that I knew nothing. I had been, in some way, deceived.

Unfortunately, I had no context in which to understand the decisions I would have to make in constructing a new system and I distrusted those who claimed to have answers because they were the people I had listened to before. The outcome of following their advice had proved to be disastrous to my soul – if beneficial to my career trajectory because of some moral influence.

It would take six years of infancy before I would have the courage to reach out once again to lay hold of knowledge. This time, though, instead of being the ‘something good’ that I pursued, it would simply be a support to the ‘something good’ of faith and the virtue I had long struggled to cultivate without it.

Once, I looked at a map without caring for the direction of my feet. Now having learned the struggle of navigation by watching only my feet and the surrounding terrain, I have begun to eagerly embrace the idea that a map is not such a bad invention after all. If those who produced the map are also those who have walked the path before me, then what they have written is worth considering as it adds a depth of clarity to the experience and makes a more effective and confident traveller. If I am assured of the destination and the route, I can more eagerly press forward than if I must simply wander around in hopes of accidentally finding my destination or developing an alternative system of navigation.

The map is always right, but it will not make any sense if I am holding it wrong. Perhaps the problem in the beginning was not the map at all, but the deceptive things I had been taught concerning its use.

  • “Perhaps the problem in the beginning was not the map at all, but the deceptive things I had been taught concerning its use.”

    This…this!

    It isn’t so much holding the map incorrectly as it is knowing it’s use and our position relative to the map. Holding a map of Indiana whilst standing in the mountains of Colorado will do you no good, for instance. It sounds like your “un-knowing” gave you the chance to roam wherever your feet took you, and now you are learning how to use the map as you go. If you have a map (and know how to use it), it can take you to beautiful, good, true places that you might never have stumbled upon; and without its guidance, you surely would not have even known existed in order to look for them.

    Have you read Lewis’s “Pilgrim’s Regress”? I think you would appreciate it very much.

    • I have read it a few years ago, but may have to pick it up again soon. Good recommendation! I think there is something valuable to understanding the Christian life as a journey that is captured in books like that or the Pilgrim’s Progress.