Different religion, same contrast between the world of "objective" scholarly study and passionate belief.
How many there are in the same situation! They stand in the stacks of libraries and turn over the pages of St. Thomas's Summa with a kind of curious reverence. They talk in their seminars about "Thomas" and "Scotus" and "Augustine" and "Bonaventure" and they are familiar with Maritain and Gibson, and they have read all the poems of Hopkins -- and indeed they know more about what is best in the Catholic literary and philosophical tradition than most Catholics ever do on this earth. They sometimes go to Mass, and wonder at the dignity and restraint of the old liturgy. They are impressed by the organization of a Church in which everywhere the priests, even the most un-gifted, are able to preach at least something of a tremendous, profound, unified doctrine, and to dispense mysteriously efficacious help to all those who come to them with troubles and needs.
In a certain sense, these people have a better appreciation of the Church and of Catholicism than many Catholics have: an appreciation which is detached and intellectual and objective. But they never come into the Church. They stand and starve in the doors of the banquet -- the banquet to which they surely realize that they are invited -- while those more poor, more stupid, less gifted, less educated, sometimes even less virtuous than they, enter in and are filled at those tremendous tables.
And here the academic will undoubtedly object and say it is not the displacement of the passion and love of religion which is his aim, but rather his goal is simply for a different kind of passion, one that comes from understanding based on fact and reason rather than myth and folklore. Objection noted, but I don't find it to be a credible argument. In my limited experience I have not found learning or avodah outside the walls of the traditional yeshiva, where the assumptions of that world are questioned or rejected, on par with the learning and avodah within those walls -- you can be your own judge. Yes, there are interesting questions the scholar asks, articles and books that we can gain from, just like there is something to be gained by reading about the religious conversion of Merton. But I would rather stay at my own "tisch" and grab a fruit off the other table than sit at the table of the academics and sacrifice the banquet of passion and commitment on my own.