It is possible that the contemplation of cruelty will not make us humane but cruel; that the reiteration of the badness of our spiritual condition will make us consent to it.
Let’s apply Trilling’s observation to ourselves as Christians, on a personal level, or as a family, a congregation, or even on a national level. We thought we knew where we were going, but we find ourselves in a cul-de-sac. We’re not sure how we got here, and we have no map in our head to show us the way out. Many possible solutions come to our minds, we tried some of them, but they got us nowhere.
So here we sit and wring our hands. We have memories of once being on a road with a clear idea of where we were going. Or are they just dreams?
Saul of Tarsus found himself in just such a situation, but he didn’t stay there long. He asked “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” And the Lord answered, one step at a time.
He will do the same for us if we ask the same question and are willing to follow, one step at a time.