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The Love of Learning
The photograph on the left of the Divinity Faculty and Library and of the University Library in Cambridge on the right symbolise the desire of countless generations of young women and men to search for the truth about our universe and of the meaning of life. Yet, of course, for many, the search for knowledge has almost always been linked with the need to qualify for a 'job' in life that would enable them to play a positive role in society and within their own sphere of family. This has not always been a 'love of learning'! Great effort, and sweat and toil is required of most of us if we are to achieve our goal. But this is also true of the people whom we dub as geniuses - 99% sweat and 1% inspiriation, it has sometimes been described.
But however we come to the work of life, through education or the lack of it, the puzzle of life faces us and most of us seek to come to terms with this challenge in the ordinary ways of living and relationships. We grow in understanding and are capable of an intuitive sense, from time to time, of the meaning of things.
This is to be seen in the ways people of very varied interests find to enlarge their knowledge. It is a sort of love, a dedication to learning. Christians today are not exempt from the challenge to find out for themselves the reality of their own calling. There has been, in the past, a readiness to hear sermons and go on special courses for this and that aspect of the Christian faith, but nothing can take the place of the dedicated personal search for the truth as it effects my life and within my capacity to understand. Only so shall we be able to give a reason for the faith that is in us in relation to the demands of modern life in the world today.
Indeed one can venture the view that it is precisely this application of the individual Christian to be responsible today for their own growth in understanding, rather than to rely on the weekly sermon or the occasional corporate 'push' in the parish where one lives and worships. Then the hard questions of modern scholarship of Christian origins will not be 'ducked' as they have been for so many in the Church in the past hundred years. All this is part of the challenge of contemporary agnosticism which looks for answers from us that Christian discipleship is relevant, and is indeed the clue to life, in the real world of our time.
© Aelred Arnesen
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