So, What Did You Learn From All that Education? O, Nothing
Continuing with Prayer, Balthasar makes an exceedingly important point about faith, which is not analogous to credulousness or precritical thinking, but rather, "the ability to go beyond our own human intramundane and personal 'truth'...." It posits that 1) truth exists, and 2) that it is beyond us. That being the case, how else but in the reaching-beyond of faith can we contact it? Faith is the vertical bridge between finite and infinite.
Truly truly, it is a bridge to Owhere.
It's really not fundamentally different than, say, scientific faith. We've discussed this in the past, but scientific discoveries are not made through mere logic, otherwise reality would simply be an iteration of what we already know. Note too that the tiniest error at the beginning will be magnified exponentially the further you try to take it.
For example, Newtonian physics is quite accurate, accurate enough to get you through life. But if you try to use it to describe the entire cosmos, it's all wrong. At a certain point the anomalies become too obvious. Which is where Einstein stepped in in 1905. But even then, no matter how accurate quantum and relativity theories are, they cannot literally map reality without reminder. A model is not the thing itself. Except in climate science.
In any event, my point is that the scientist can't just extend an existing theory, but rather, has to wait in faith for reality to "speak" to him.
I might add that this is especially true of persons (and it turns out that reality is personal, as we'll get to later). There is no shortage of psychological theories, but not one of them actually describes, or can possibly describe, a real flesh and blood individual. In fact, by definition there can be no general theory of the individual, right?
This takes me way back to graduate school, and my discovery of the obscure psychoanalytic theorist W.R. Bion. He wrote of how, in the presence of a patient, the therapist must suspend memory, desire, and understanding, and enter a state of mind he called.... faith!
This attitude is so far from a medical model of the mind, that I immediately thought to myself, "how can you charge good money for systematically knowing nothing?" Frankly, I've never gotten past that question (imagine explaining it to an insurance adjuster). It's just a contingency of history that psychotherapy became medicalized -- for which reason it will always be full of pseudo-scientific quackery. Might as well try to medicalize religion (which is what Scientology effectively does).
For Bion, therapy "is a dynamic and lively interchange between two people who listen and talk to each other in a particular way, and not merely an intellectual and sophisticated adaptation between a 'psychoanalyst' and a 'patient'..." Therefore, "the therapist's fantasies of omnipotence, and this tendency to cling to theoretical a priori knowledge are the analyst's chief reactions in the face of something new and unknown that appears in every analytic session."
Think about that one: your job is to forget everything you think you learned in graduate school, and instead, simply be with this stranger, in the faith that Truth will eventually emerge in the space between you. The state of "not knowing" is not the same as mere ignorance; it is a state of active-passivity, or perhaps giving-receptiveness. It obviously combines male and female. It is allowing the space to become pregnant with truth, and eventually give birth to it. Let your will be done!
One reason you do this -- that is, "turn off" primary modes of knowing, is to "turn on" the more implicit ones. You might say that you have to disable the left brain in order to activate the right. Think of how one detects, say, anxiety.
Anxiety cannot be touched, or seen, or heard, or smelled. Or, let's just say "pain." How does one detect areas of psychic pain in an individual, especially when the individual is in denial about them? Often times the pain is "dispersed" in such a way that the therapist must be able to detect some small fragment of it and trace it back to a more primordial experience. Furthermore, the pain is dispersed in both space and time -- within the personality, and along the personal-historical timeline.
This is how I came up with the idea of O applied to God: I didn't just borrow it from Bion, rather, I stole it outright. For him, O is the unKnown reality between two persons in the analytic situation. I simply transposed it to the unKnown reality between two persons in the religious situation.
Faith is two things at once: an act and its object.... In more concrete terms, it is the grace which comes to us in God's self-giving and enables us to give ourselves to him in return. --HvB