Pascal's Pensées: Week 9, Madness and Sanity


Humanity is so inevitably mad that not to be mad would be to give a mad twist to madness.


I take Pascal's point here to be that sanity in an insane would would appear to be insane. 

Recently, I read Frank Sheed's book Theology and Sanity. It was the title that got me. For the most part, Christians tend to view the world in moralistic terms, the good and the bad, the saved and the lost. But what if the main division in life was sanity versus madness?

Here's Sheed, from early in his book, wanting to talk less about sanctity than about sanity:

[I]f we see things in existence and do not in the same act see that they are held in existence by God, then equally we are living in a fantastic world, not the real world. Seeing God everywhere and all things upheld by Him is not a matter of sanctity, but of plain sanity, because God is everywhere and all things are upheld by Him. What we do about it may be sanctity; but merely seeing it is sanity. To overlook God's presence is not simply to be irreligious; it is a kind of insanity, like overlooking anything else that is actually there...

God is not only a fact of religion: He is a fact. Not to see Him is to be wrong about everything, which includes being wrong about one's self...

...We live, indeed, in a vast context of things that are, events that have happened, a goal to which all is moving. That we should mentally see this context is a part of mental health. Just knowing that all things are upheld by God is a first step in knowing what we are, so a clear view of the shape of reality is a first step toward knowing where we are. To know where we are and what we are--that would seem to be the very minimum required by our dignity as human beings.

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