The countdown begins

_He who knows one knows none._As the countdown begins to the April 5th release of A None’s Story, I want to share some tidbits that inspired me along the way.

I ran across this quote on the first pages of an old academic book on Christianity I found in the college library. This was in the early days of my quest. I had no idea who the man who said it was, but the synchronicity of his words with my project made me do a double take. The sentiment (exploring religions) was similar to my intention, but it was his use of the words “one” and “none” in close proximity that made what I was doing feel like a reply to his long-ago statement–an echo a century in the making.

Intrigued, I found out more about him.

Max Müller (1823 – 1900) was a German-born scholar credited with popularizing the study of comparative religion in the West. A practicing Christian, he studied the ancient language of Sanskrit to read and translate ancient Vedic texts, which are believed to be the earliest known religious documents. His research led to explorations of Hinduism and other world religions past and present and eventually to an Oxford teaching post where he taught comparative “philology.”

His official resume is impressive, but what I have found most encouraging about Mr. Müller’s example is just a side note: he was thoroughly criticized for his efforts. Some called his unwillingness to disavow other belief systems besides Christianity anti-Christian; not only did he not disavow them, he went on teach their fundamentals to the best of his ability. Others hated him for the opposite reason: their faiths were being manhandled by this ham-fisted outsider.

It’s safe to say Müller regularly received a thorough pummeling from all sides. And it is this small detail, all these years later, in which I find the most comfort. Because I’m sure some of those lashings had to sting—I can only imagine he thought what he was doing was positive, that he believed his efforts might contribute to a greater understanding among people and it had to be painful to get a solid smack down at every turn. But he picked himself up and carried on. He stepped on toes and no doubt made a buffoon of himself from time to time, but the internal spark that drove him to do what he did, captured in that simple quote, spoke to me at the start of this project and speaks to me still.

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13 thoughts on “The countdown begins

  1. Thanks for sharing the quote and the source.

    Like learning new languages enriched my appreciation of the one I grew up speaking, learning about other faiths has helped me discern deeper meaning in my own.

    Looking forward to your book.

  2. It may seem strange to say but your words and Max’s reminded me of our current political upheaval as well. I don’t know who to credit it to but this old saying comes to mind, “My mind’s made up. Don’t confuse me with facts.” I think when one gets comfortable in what I call their stuckness on the unfolding path of life they have little or no interest in a broader world view whether it’s religious or political. I suppose they feel some safety within the boundaries they’ve drawn. For you and Max it takes courage to move beyond limits every day to view the revelation that awaits and to attempt to share that kind of walk with others. I attempt the same and find in doing so that it takes a willingness to let go of defenses so that rather than have to defend your walk you give everyone else the right to walk their own. Yes, like Max, you may get “pummeled” but I for one look forward to the book and have always appreciated your open minded approach.

  3. Although I’m firmly rooted in my Christian faith (no surprise there), the one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t box God in. If He truly is omniscient and omnipresent, than He will present Himself to each one of us is the way we can best understand Him. Corinna, maybe Muller’s “internal spark” was Him trying to tell us just that–forget the frame and pay attention to the picture!

  4. Good morning Corinna. Your quote was an interesting opening to my Sunday morning!

    I’ve been a student of comparative religions (and that includes practically every denomination within my own Christianity) for about 45 years now. It is a completely fascinating subject, and Muller’s quote is the truth. From a Christian perspective, 1) if you know nothing of any other faith’s, you have no real concept of the uniqueness of the Christ’s message and 2) you are hampered in ‘loving your neighbor as yourself.’

    I hope everything is going well in your countdown to publishing and that you are calm and ready for the ‘birth’. It will be a beautiful baby!

    Yours in Christ,
    Patti

    • Patti, I will remember what you said here. It reminds me so much of my own need to always truly listen to others without my prideful assurance that I have the answer so I don’t need really hear their heart. Part of what Corinna’s blog has taught me is that, however imperfectly, so much of what we say comes from a deep cry to fill that God-shaped void in the heart.

  5. It sounds to me by referring back to Max Muller you are preparing yourself for public reactions to your book. At times it may be hard, just as forcing yourself to go into places of worship was, knowing no one but entering with your open mind and heart and learning so much and taking us with you. This is a continuation of your journey and judging so far from other comments it is a wonderful journey that has put you in touch with others that support and explore with you. Congrats!!! Journey on.

      • Yeah, don’t worry about the pummeling; just do what you are called to do. Your open mind and heart, and your willingness to see the good in everyone/every faith teaches the lesson. Your approach drew all of us in for a reason. You go girl, with a smile on your face! I remember you in the silent line of Buddhists who were walking around outside, praying I think–you joining in their experience and looking out at others and smiling, wanting to comment but respecting the tradition of silence–I can still see it now.

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