George MacDonald, “The Gifts of the Child Christ,” chapter 1
Interesting collection of metaphors.
Something I constantly notice is that unembarrassed joy has become rarer. Joy today is increasingly saddled with moral and ideological burdens, so to speak. When someone rejoices, he is afraid of offending against solidarity with the many people who suffer. I don’t have any right to rejoice, people think, in a world where there is so much misery, so much injustice.
I can understand that. There is a moral attitude at work here. But this attitude is nonetheless wrong. The loss of joy does not make the world better—and, conversely, refusing joy for the sake of suffering does not help those who suffer. The contrary is true. The world needs people who discover the good, who rejoice in it and thereby derive the impetus and courage to do good. Joy, then, does not break with solidarity. When it is the right kind of joy, when it is not egotistic, when it comes from the perception of the good, then it wants to communicate itself, and it gets passed on. In this connection, it always strikes me that in the poor neighborhoods of, say, South America, one sees many more laughing happy people than among us. Obviously, despite all their misery, they still have the perception of the good to which they cling and in which they can find encouragement and strength.
In this sense we have a new need for that primordial trust which ultimately only faith can give. That the world is basically good, that God is there and is good. That it is good to live and to be a human being. This results, then, in the courage to rejoice, which in turn becomes commitment to making sure that other people, too, can rejoice and receive good news.” —Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) in Salt of the Earth p. 36–37 (via settledthingsstrange)
If atoms in motion are responsible for inner city crime, then atoms in motion are also responsible for the conservatives in red state, fly-over country who object to it. Not only so, for this is a liberating game, atoms in motion are also responsible for Harris objecting to the conservatives objecting to the crime. This would be great fun, but Harris keeps forgetting to apply his dogmas to his dogmas.
One understands why he keeps forgetting to do this, of course. If he remembered, he would realize there is no such thing as remembering. He would realize that sawing off the branch you are sitting on is an activity with consequences, by which I mean consequences that might affect sales.” —Douglas Wilson, blogging through the latest Sam Harris book. (via sds)
Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes (Twitter)
Lots of wisdom packed in this. So often our “growth” artificially limits us, forcing us to discard good things we once knew. Reminded of it by watching the 5yo play with the toddler this AM.
Wherever you turn your eyes the world can shine like transfiguration. You don’t have to bring a thing to it except a little willingness to see. Only, who could have the courage to see it? …
Theologians talk about a prevenient grace that precedes grace itself and allows us to accept it. I think there must also be a prevenient courage that allows us to be brave—that is, to acknowledge that there is more beauty than our eyes can bear, that precious things have been put into our hands and to do nothing to honor them is to do great harm.”” —Marilynne Robinson, Gilead
In refusing the mimetic interpretation, in looking for the failure of Peter in purely individual causes, we attempt to demonstrate, unconsciously of course, that in Peter’s place we would have responded differently; we would not have denied Jesus. Jesus reproaches the Pharisees for an older version of the same ploy when he sees them build tombs for the prophets that their fathers killed. The spectacular demonstrations of piety toward the victims of our predecessors frequently conceal wish to justify ourselves at their expense: “If we had lived in the time of our fathers,” the Pharisees say, “we would not have joined them in spilling the blood of the prophets.”
The children repeat the crimes of their fathers precisely because they believe they are morally superior to them. This false difference is already the mimetic illusion of modern individualism, which represents the greatest resistance to the mimetic truth that is reenacted again and again in human relations. The paradox is that the resistance itself brings about the reenactment.” —Rene Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning (via hulga-joy)
Timeless is timeless. Now to justify getting one.
I’ve heard “all truth is God’s truth” for years now, but hadn’t tracked down the source until now. (h/t poeticfaith)
Christ has promised that we would have life “more abundant.” By this is not meant that we will be rich or have more material things (for these are not the true life). But the Kingdom is an endless abundance that enters our heart and world, shattering the narrowness of opaque minds and opening to us the fullness of life in Christ.
The Reality presented to us in the Cross (as with all things of God) is never comprehended in rational theory. It pushes us beyond the limits of our own poorly defined rationality and towards the greater rationality of the Truth of things. As noted by St. Gregory of Nyssa, “only wonder grasps anything.” To approach the Cross with wonder is to begin the journey that it makes possible. The life that we refer to as salvation belongs to this world of wonder—despite the banalities of much Christian conversation on the topic.
It is not surprising that silence is among the most important tools in our spiritual life. O, sweet wonder!” —Worship at His Footstool « Glory to God for All Things
At the beginning of a new notebook I copy a quote from Simone Weil, which captures me completely: “Don’t insist on understanding new things, but try with your whole self, with patience, effort and method, to comprehend obvious truths.”
This quote conducts a polemic with the ceaseless, barbaric pursuit of novelty and disdain for obvious, primary truths.
And so all my notes, all these snail’s traces, are the realization of Simone’s one thought. I won’t and can’t discover anything, I want only with my whole self to reach the heart of obvious truths.” —
Anna Kamienska, from her Notebooks (via settledthingsstrange)
Interesting. Not sure I fully agree, but strikes me as healthier than many approaches.
For Girard, Nietzsche is very important as a great philosopher who saw quite clearly the new absolute value that Christianity had injected into Western culture. He acutely perceived that it was associated with democracy, a political form he held in contempt. This absolute value—concern for the victim—was already becoming secularized, torn from its religious and theological moorings, in Nietzsche’s time. But an absolute value is not proven by logic or metaphysical arguments; it is accepted, believed (even when not discussed), and hedged about with taboos to protect it.
One of the proofs that the concern for victims is the absolute value of the modern Western world, and the absolute value wherever Western influence has had a deep impact, is a negative one: Nietzsche’s interpreters avoid the subject. They circumvent Nietzsche’s actual position on this subject. They revere Nietzsche; they look to him as the source of wisdom and his writings as a kind of holy scripture. However, it is extremely rare to find a “postmodern” follower of Nietzsche who raises a question about the very thing that Nietzsche railed against: the concern for victims that stems from Judaism and Christianity.
The concern for victims has become such an absolute value that not only do those Nietzsche influenced not attack it, but it has become the unspoken dogma of “political correctness” and “victimism.” Political correctness surrounds most of our public institutions, including above all colleges and universities, with an aura that prohibits using any word or allowing any discussion that might offend some minority group or victim or potential victim. It tends to stifle public discussion and debate of ideas and issues. Victimism uses the ideology of concern for victims to gain political or economic or spiritual power. One claims victim status as a way of gaining an advantage or justifying one’s behavior.
Both political correctness and victimism stem from an authentic reality from the standpoint of the Christian faith. That reality is God’s revelation through Jesus Christ of the victim mechanism and the way into God’s new community of love and nonviolence. But Satan has a tremendous ability to adapt to what God does and to imitate God, and so Satan—the ancient and tremendous power of the victim mechanism that expels violence through violence—is able to disguise himself and pose even as concern for victims.” —from James G. Williams’ foreword to Rene Girard’s I See Satan Fall Like Lightning (via hulga-joy)
As ‘After-birth Abortion’ spread around the world and gained wide publicity — that damned Internet — non-ethicists greeted it with derision or shock or worse. The authors and the editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics were themselves shocked at the response. As their inboxes flooded with hate mail, the authors composed an apology of sorts that non-ethicists will find more revealing even than the original paper.
‘We are really sorry that many people, who do not share the background of the intended audience for this article, felt offended, outraged, or even threatened,’ they wrote. ‘The article was supposed to be read by other fellow bioethicists who were already familiar with this topic and our arguments.’ It was a thought experiment. After all, among medical ethicists ‘this debate’ — about when it’s proper to kill babies — ‘has been going on for 40 years.’” —Andrew Ferguson. I think Ferguson might make even more of this than he does. The editors are saying, quite straightforwardly, We do not expect or want the people who could be affected by our recommendations to see those recommendations, or how we arrive at them. This is the classic behavior of what Coleridge called the “clerisy,” the self-appointed intellectual custodians of society: Run along, now, little ones, while your betters make decisions on your behalf. To call this attitude “contemptible” would be too kind by half. (via ayjay)
• More action, more details, less rumination. Don’t be afraid of implicitness. And the old Thom Yorke line: “Don’t get sentimental. It always ends up drivel.”
• If it reads like it would make for a Hallmark TV episode, don’t submit it.
• Meaning (or humor, or interestingness) is in specific details, not in broad statements.
• Write a piece in which something actually happens, even if it’s something small.
• Embrace your own strangeness.
More at How to Write a ‘Lives’ Essay
Interesting when paired with the writing advice from Annie Dillard that’s going around.
Remember, O my soul,
It is thy duty and privilege to rejoice in God:
He requires it of thee for all His favours of grace.
Rejoice then in the Giver and His goodness,
Be happy in Him, O my heart, and in nothing
for whatever a man trusts in,
from that He expects happiness.
He who is the ground of thy faith
should be the substance of thy joy.
Whence then comes heaviness and dejection,
when joy is sown in thee,
promised by the Father,
bestowed by the Son,
inwrought by the Holy Spirit,
thine by grace,
thy birthright in believing?
Art thou seeking to rejoice in thyself
from an evil motive of pride and self-reputation?
Thou hast nothing of thine own but sin,
nothing to move God to be gracious
or to continue His grace towards thee.
If thou forget this thou wilt lose thy joy.
Art thou grieving under a sense of indwelling sin?
Let godly sorrow work repentance,
as the true spirit which the Lord blesses,
and which creates fullest joy;
Sorrow for self opens rejoicing in God,
Self-loathing draws down divine delights.
Hast thou sought joys in some creature comfort?
Look not below God for happiness;
fall not asleep in Delilah’s lap.
Let God be all in all to thee,
and joy in the fountain that is always full.