Is Faith Obsolete by Robert M. Brown

By Robert M. Brown

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Of making a commitment, most clearly spelled out by comparing the nature of the promise to the act of becoming engaged to be married. " The latter meaning (as he comments) illustrates as beautifully as could be done the faith which in its most basic sense implies both "benevolent care" on the part of the supporter, and "confident dependence" on the part of the one supported. Thus is the circle closed between Dominican and Calvinist, for we remember that the content of Calvin's definition of faith was "the divine benevolence toward us," a counterpart to Rabut's "benevolent care," while the response Calvin wanted us to make to that benevolence was one of both "mind and heart," which is close to the "confident dependence" of which Rabut speaks.

However, to assert that Wiesel is no longer directly telling his own twentieth-century story is not quite accurate. He is, at least indirectly, telling it once again in a new form. For the old Hasidie stories are not just "old Hasidic stories," they are now Elie Wiesel's own story. They -55are his way of telling his story to the rest of us in such a way that they can become our story as well. What at one time seemed an irredeemably destroyed past, a faith that had been consumed once and forever, now appears, a quarter of a century later, to be speaking with new power.

The most they can do, once they are aware of their predicament, is acknowledge it. "Eh bien, continuons" ("Very well, let's get on with it") is the best they can manage. But since there is no future, no possibility of change, there is clearly no meaning to what is happening in the present and their pasts remain unredeemed as well, frantically appealed to, but powerless to deliver. The lack of a definable future is not only a dramatic device. Simone de Beauvoir, who shared Sartre's life with him, confronts the approach of death and likewise realizes that in the ultimate sense she does not have a future either.

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