Why Mystery is not “Mysterious”-Part 2 of 2

In part 1 of 2 on the concept of why mystery is not “mysterious”, I tried to give some historical background on why it is that mystery is not “mysterious”, in terms of what we normally think of when we think of mystery.

In this companion post, I wanted to consider a mystery novel. The two sleuths above aptly depict what it is that I think makes most criticisms of religion and mystery vanish away.

We grasp intuitively that mysteries are not de facto unsolved or unclear, when we think of a mystery novel. In a mystery novel, detectives are integral. Imagine a mystery novel that opened with a crime scene. Bodies strewn about, clues with broken windows, things knocked over. Vague eyewitness accounts of the criminals fleeing from the scene, and yes, the detectives putting things together.

Imagine that the novel continued to add to the mystery by finding more improbable facts that string the story together, all without shedding light on the culprits and their motives.

This novel would grip one’s imagination in terms of all of the things that had happened prior to the murder of the mystery, but at the end of the day, the reasons and the robbers would remain unknown.

Would this truly count as a mystery novel?
If there was no “light at the end of the tunnel”, would there be a story?


We grasp that mystery novels are based on a shrouded and mysterious beginning that we hope to see a resolution. A movie depiction of this, which isn’t for kids to watch, is The Usual Suspects.

I remember the first time that I watched this movie. I was so overwhelmed at the end, as the identity of Kaiser Soze came to light. That made the mystery what it was—how one unusual suspect was truly a usual suspect. The unsuspecting sleuths had missed a key suspect.

Similarly, with the concept of mystery, there is so much that is pointing to Christ, in our prayers, in the liturgy, in the year, in the structure of all of reality. But if we are not attuned, the clues will fly right past us as they did for those who were interviewing “Verbal” Kint.

And so, outsiders hear of the mystery of Christian Tradition, it makes perfect sense why the mystery is not revelatory. They do not have the context to “connect the dots”. But to those who are in the know, there is so much behind this that is revelatory indeed. As a side note, this speaks to the importance of the disciplina arcana, but I will leave that for more discussion later, as it may minimize the mystery of that too.

I thank God for the mysteries that He gives to us, and see more and more that His greatness comes through the hidden and unsuspecting parts of this mysterious life.

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