I’m a passionate guy.
I don’t mean so much in the common “romantic” use of that term – “romantic passion”. I mean passionate in the sense of caring deeply – usually too deeply – about people and things (and, I’m sorry to say, sometimes about myself).
So I know of what I speak.
And I think one of the great errors of argumentation is our tendency to be smug about other people’s passions.
… so says La Rouchefoucauld, and that little witty observation can be extended to this …
All of us can be sufficiently objective about a subject so as to think either charming, cute or ridiculous the passions of another who cares deeply about that same subject.
“Oh, your mother was killed in a horrible accident when a safe fell on her head from a 20-story window? And so you don’t like it that I argue for higher buildings? That’s so sweet and rather quaint, but you’re an idiot.”
The fact is that there is an awful light that is thrown by any fire, even a fire in the breast. The truth that is revealed – even if a partial truth – by the flames of suffering or love or any kind of dearly held conviction is one that the passionate sees with a glaring and unforgettable awareness.
This is why com-passion is called com-passion – a word that literally means suffering with, empathy for the explosive and dreadful feelings of another, even if those feelings can cloud a more rational and comprehensive view of the subject at hand.
And perhaps the greatest challenge for Passionate Christians, in other words for those of us who care deeply about Jesus Christ and our Faith, is how to channel that passion, how to make sure we are true to our love and Our Lord even in the face of contempt, ridicule, and even in the face of the much more common tactic of our opponents when they smile smugly and sigh at our medieval beliefs, mocking our conviction, as they cooly and calmly butcher their babies and bugger their boyfriends.
To care about anything can drive a man mad. But we don’t care about just anything. We care about something.
We care about some One.