Truth, Christmas, and the Eucharist

Why I didn't like the hymns and praise songs we were singing—and why I was missing the point.

I had just finished my third semester as a philosophy professor at a Christian university. One of the things I tried to do that semester was to meet my new colleagues from other departments. One particular such meeting near the beginning of the semester sticks out in my mind. I was having coffee with a professor from the English department whose work in Milton has some connections to my own research in the philosophy of religion. Partway into our conversation, my colleague made the following perplexing remark:  "What I don't understand about you philosophers is that you only care about the truth."  I got the feeling, from the tone of his voice, that he intended this statement in a pejorative way, though for the life of me I couldn't figure out how this was supposed to be an insult. I must admit that I would be happy knowing all and only the truth. (Actually, since it is impossible to know a falsehood, the "and only" clause is redundant, but I'm trying to talk less like a philosopher in an effort not to alienate all my colleagues too quickly!)  Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to ask him what he meant by this comment, as another colleague came over and the topic of conversation changed.

Fast-forward several months to the second Sunday of Christmas. I'm sitting in church thinking how much I don't like many of the songs that we sing. It seems like my philosophically skewed mind cares too much about the truth-value of the various propositions that I'm asked to articulate in song. For example, a recent chorus included the following refrain:  "Brokenness is what God wants from me."  Really?  I thought God wanted to restore me to wholeness!  Or take another recent example. Am I really expected to sing that God is "in light inaccessible, ...

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