Dialogues at One Inch above the Ground

Reclamations of Belief in an Interreligious Age

James W. Heisig

New York: Crossroad, 2003. vi+216 pages

In this collection of essays, all composed during the last decade of the twentieth century, James Heisig takes up different aspects of the dialogue with religions and with the “saeculum.”

At a time of the dislocation of belief, perhaps it is the will to disbelieve that is the greater virtue. Simple skepticism aimed at the doctrines and institutions that have failed to provide a ground for the faith and hope and love of the age, however reasonable or morally inspired, is not enough. Disbelief must be deepened and cultivated if it is ever to point the way to relocating faith in new doctrines and institutions. Like the angel caught in Jacob’s grip at Penuel, it must be wrestled with until it delivers a blessing we can pass on to those that follow us. This book is the record of my own attempts to dialogue with the kind of disbelief that I believe that faith at the end of the twentieth century obliges us to.

from the Introduction

This collection of nine articles by James Heisig addresses various aspects of our need to move into the future face forward—intentionally, skillfully, fully aware of the faith of our ancestors, while attuned to the strange and changing world that surrounds us. The only other option—the one frequently taken by fearful souls—is to back into the future, eyes fixed on the glories of one’s own prized religious past, an option that is neither skillful nor faith-aware…. Heisig writes with insight and depth, without soaring far in to the imagined skies of pretended concord and brotherhood and without cynically keeping his thought stuck in the mud. Rather, he, like his poet mentor Saigyō, moves just one small inch above our experienced lives—just enough to invite the reader to tread a little more lightly over this tattered earth.

Editions in Portuguese, Spanish, and Romanian