beth_may tweeted an interesting thought earlier today:
Since I’ve been mostly offline for Lent (more by happenstance than as a discipline…) I actually haven’t been following the brackets very closely. But she’s certainly identified a trend…
What are your thoughts on this?
One of the things my work on HWHM has done for me is that it’s made me stop and think about what I look for in a saint. That is, I’ve been spending more time considering what is “saintly” and how the saints function in my faith. A big piece of it for me is that the saints are those people who lead me into the numinous presence of God. I have an Ottonian (following Rudolph Otto, not the Carolingian monarch) notion of holiness that has far less to do with ethics and far more with the in-breaking awesome presence of that which is fundamentally non-rational and non-material into our direct experience. I get that with folks like Benedict or Bride or Cuthbert. I don’t get that so much with Frances Perkins or Harriet Tubman.
I’m not saying that these people aren’t saints because they don’t engage my imagination the way I want them to—that’s not my point. What is the role of the mystical and mysterious in our current experience and appropriation of sanctity? Modern Anglican churches have never used miracles as a criterion for sanctity—and that’s probably not a bad thing—but what a reference to miracles does keep in the conversation is a sense of eschatological power. That those who are plugged deeply into the life of God express that power in their interactions almost as a by-product of who and what they are. Have we lost that section of the conversation in our criteria for sanctity?
Conversely, I wonder if my hesitation at so many of the modern candidates is at them or the ways that we choose to tell their stories. To what degree is that otherness, that holiness absent—or to what degree has it been edited out?