[lit-ideas] Belief according to Robertson Davies

  • From: "John McCreery" <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 26 Nov 2006 05:11:07 +0900

Looking for something to read while house and Great Dane sitting for
my daughter, I found a copy of The Cunning Man by the Canadian
novelist Robertson Davies. On page 78, I found a bit of dialogue that
speaks wisdom to me.

"Belief without proof can lead you up some pretty dark alleys."

"Belief where there is unquestionable proof would be possible only to
someone who had final knowledge of all things. Someone with God's view
of history. We have to put up with the knowledge that's open to us
during our lifetimes. We can't have knowledge of future things; we
have only a scrappy knowledge of past things. You know what the sailor
said when he was told that King Solomon was the wisest man the world
had ever known, or would ever know?"

"Can't say I do."

"The sailor said, 'If I had Solomon aboard my ship he wouldn't know a
jib-boom from a poop lantern."

I remember my Dad, master machinist and fantatical horticulturist, who
grew up during the Great Depression, fenced, played football, and
served in the Navy in WWII. I think of all the things he knew that his
son, B.A. philosophy, Ph.D. anthropology, career in advertising in
Japan, composing this Gmail message on a Mac will never know.

John McCreery
The Word Works, Ltd., Yokohama, JAPAN
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