My point is not about how well Susan Boyle sang. The point is about our contempt and cynicism. It is not about the “inner beauty” that is hidden within the "unsightly sack of spuds" called Susan Boyle. The point is our sight is impaired because we cannot see, feel or appreciate the Sacred anymore. It explains why one is often sceptical when people speak about their spiritual experience, that is, their experience of the paranormal. When you tell a priest of your experience of such a “spiritual” reality, they would try to find better explanations for your experience. Or in most cases, they would simply dismiss you off as crazy or delusional.
It is true that one should not immediately attribute such experiences as originating from the spiritual realm. But, the consequence of this is that the sacred world becomes smaller, and so, more and more, those who may be in touch with the sacred will come across to those who are seemingly rational as cuckoos and loonies. A parish priest once told me that his parish is filled with these mad people. [If you want to, you can actually interpret that his parish may be filled with people who have had spiritual experiences].
Accordingly, all our experiences must be subject to the canon of reason and reason in most cases is basically scientific reason whose foundation for knowledge is based on observable data . That is why Thomas can say, “I cannot believe if I cannot see or touch or feel or observe”. When reason is restricted positivistically, then everything else becomes a matter of personal judgement or opinion .
But, reason is not just restricted by the criteria of science . Faith and reason are not alien to each other. Faith is a form of reasoning too. It takes its assumption from the experience that the other can be trusted. You ask a child to jump off a ledge and the child will hesitate but once the child knows that you can be trusted, he will jump without thinking, without “reasoning” because he knows that the one who asks for it can be trusted. In fact, in many cases when you play with a trusting child, he will jump even when you are not ready to catch him. This shows that belief or faith is a form of reasoning but it’s a reasoning which cannot always be explained scientifically.
We have established that science is not the sole measure of our experience. In fact, reason needs the sacred. If not, how can we explain why the “rational” world that we live in is so fascinated with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and even Twilight”? The increasing interest in the occult is telling us that our world is more than just scientific measurement. Thus, if you like, reason is at home with the sacred.
Today, Thomas leads us in a reflexion about faith and what it means to have faith. He is doubtful but doubt is not necessarily bad for faith. We think of doubt as if it were the antithesis of believing; that doubt is the opposite of faith; that when one doubts one does not believe. But, the contrary is true that we doubt because of faith. Doubt can lead to faith because serious doubt is our reason searching for belief. Doubt or uncertainty does not prevent us from approaching the Sacred.
But, what happens is not that we doubt but rather, we are cynical or even contemptuous. Like the case of the audience looking at Susan Boyle walking up to sing. It was not doubt that showed on their faces. It was cynical contempt.
Thomas can lead us out of the prison of cynicism into freedom of faith. Like him, we move from “seeing is believing” to “believing enables us to see better”. Faith makes us go further because faith sees what the eyes cannot perceive.
However, our challenge is that we “reason” too much but we believe too little. I am not against the use of reason because we organise the world through practical reason. Technology is practical reason at work. But, sometimes our reason is at best cynical and at worst paranoid. Do we all not reason in the most paranoid manner? We tell ourselves that it is better to be safe than to be sorry. Let me give another example from cyberspace. How many of you have received this warning of the presence of a species of spider that hides underneath the toilet seats in a restaurant somewhere in the city? Actually the warning has mutated over the years. The email goes like this: 3 women who fell sick from an unknown illness were found to be connected to one another through the use of the toilet in a particular restaurant. Upon investigation, they found underneath the toilet seat a particular species of spider named Arachnius Gluteus. Never mind that the name translates literally to “Backside Spider”, ladies are advised to check the seats when they use the loo and paranoid that we are, we immediately forward the same email to everyone in our address book. Better be safe than be sorry, we tell ourselves. And with paranoia we grow in cynicism.
But, our reason needs to believe in order for it to be healthy. Doubt is part of the process of coming to belief. If you have doubt never take doubt to be the lack of belief. It is because you want to believe that you search for the appropriate reason to give your heart to the one to be believed. But, if you are cynical, then it is a bit more difficult. Cynicism does not look for belief. Instead it is contend to assume that nothing can really be believed . It is not doubt that prevents us from belief. It is not doubt that blocks us from entering the Sacred. It is cynicism that says that nothing can ever be believed.
But, as Van Gogh says, “It is necessary sometimes to believe in something a little in order to see it”. Today, we ask for the kind of doubt that will only strengthen our belief and the kind of faith that will overcome cynicism and contempt.
 We have a positivistic understanding of reason which defines knowledge as limited by what can be positively seen, measured and physically tested through hypothesis, experiment and observation.
 You can see how suffocating this “personal judgement and opinion” is. We have entered the era of 4th generation communication devices. It is just a sad degree of sophistication with no correspondence to the deepening of relationships. In fact, why are we lonelier even though we are so connected via SMS, Facebook etc? This so-called prison of personal judgement or opinion has a bearing on our process of socialisation which can only be described as retarded. One of the processes of socialisation is individuation. This process of becoming an individual is always in relation to the whole, to consensus, to society. Unfortunately, our process of individuation is markedly selfish and incapable of self-transcendence. In fact, the process is instead marred by the struggle over and against the “whole, the community”. One is one (individual) simply because he stands up and to society. Observe how a young person struggles to be an individual... it often ends up with funny hairstyle or clothing to mark the individual. The exercise of freedom which is part of this process of becoming an individual is understood as freedom from constraints imposed by society. But, it is not always the mark of freedom to go against “society”. In fact, it takes a lot more gumption for the individual to be part of society; to accept consensus as part of the process of being an individual. Jesus our model was an “individual” not because He stood “against” society but because He could stand with society as an when it was necessary. The mark of a healthy individual is a dialectic with community and not always against the community. Personal judgement or opinion may mark a person as an individual but it cannot sustain the cohesion of a society which is needed for the very exercise of freedom of the individual. Does this not explain the morass we are in? Our sense of the individual is trapped by this so-called “personal judgement or opinion” and so, we are condemned to wander the desert of loneliness in search of meaning. That is why beauty is not as “subjective” as we think it to be. It drives us out of ourselves and that drive allows us to breach the walls of loneliness so that we can search for what we are made for: TRUTH. Loneliness ends not when we have found meaning but when we are enveloped by the truth. The truth shall set you free.
 In fact, science tells us what can be done. Technology is science applied. But science cannot tell us if something should be done. Science is not competent to enter the realm of morality.
 An ever greater threat to belief is smugness. I don’t need anything more...