Tuesday, June 27, 2017

"we have beheld his glory"

"Because the reality of the relation is only maintained on the created side, the Incarnation cannot be reduced to an episode in the longer (eternal) life of the Logos.  Rather, the episode of this life must express fully the whole immutable reality on which it depends:  the person of the eternal Son.  What the Logos thus receives ex Maria, he receives in a mode that, rather than changing him, recapitulates [(read as something like transfigures, divinizes)] the reality into which he is incarnated" (166), such that (to quote Gregory of Nyssa) "'the mortal [element] that came to be in the immortal became immortality, and the corruptible [was] likewise changed into incorruptibility, and all the other [properties] similarly were transformed into impassible and divine [properties]. . . .'"

     Aaron Riches on St. Thomas Aquinas on the Incarnation, quoting also Gregory of Nyssa, Ad Theophilum (GNO 3.1, pp. 124-125), as trans. Behr, in Ecce homo:  on the divine unity of Christ, Interventions (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2016), 166, 167, underscoring mine.
'the union of which we are speaking is not really in God, except only in our way of thinking; but in the human nature, which is a creature, it is really' [(165, quoting ST III.2.7)]. 
The relation between God and created being, the unity of this human nature with the Logos, allows God himself to be the foundation of reality on the creaturely side, while on the side of God—precisely because his is this foundation of reality—the relation cannot alter him in any way [(168)].


Monday, June 26, 2017

"Whenever the Church renounces . . . her native tongues"

"progressive Catholicism (a category that for [Del Noce] would include both the Catholic left and elements of the Catholic right) has aided and abetted the new totalitarianism and made its home comfortably within it. We see this whenever the Church renounces her own inherent 'Platonism' by speaking in the language of psychology, sociology, economics, and politics rather than in her native tongues of metaphysics and theology."

     Michael Hanby, "What Del Noce saw," First things no. 274 (June/July 2017):  51 (49-51).  The crisis we find ourselves in "will continue apace until we somehow rediscover an ethics distinct from politics, a truth distinct from function, an authority distinct from power."

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dennis Duncan in a wonderful article on "the weaponized index"

William King, Times literary supplement
"The fashion for satirical indexes had begun in 1698, when the poet and lawyer William King contributed a four-page table to the second edition of Charles Boyle's attack on the King's Librarian, Richard Bentley.  King's index, inserted at the back of the book, was entitled 'A Short Account of Dr. Bentley by Way of Index', and sure enough, each of the headwords relates to some aspect of Bentley's low character:  his 'egregious dullness, p. 74, 106, 119, 135, 136, 137, 241', for example, his 'familiar acquaintance with Books that he never saw, p. 76, 98, 115, 232', or his 'Pedantry, from p. 93 to 99, 144, 216'.
     "King's index is a rather wonderful twofold attack on Bentley—as Isaac Disraeli once put it, it is 'at once a satirical character of the great critic, and what it professes to be'.  Thus, part of the fun is that those page references are real ones. . . .  At the same time, the 'Short Account' is also a covert attack on Bentley for being an 'index-scholar', a pedant whose scholarship is based on 'alphabetical learning'—looking things up in tables—rather than a real affinity with the works of the ancients."

     Dennis Duncan, "Hoggs that Sh—te Soap, p. 66," Times literary supplement no. (January 15, 2016):  14 (14-15).  Duncan goes on to talk about indexes prepared for the books of the targets themselves, "a new method for satirically attacking the publications of one's political enemies", as, for example, in the case of this index, directed against a work of the young Addison:
Uncultivated Plants rise naturally about Cassis (Where do they not?), p. 1 
The Author has not yet seen any Gardens in Italy worth taking notice of.  No matter, p. 59
And, in the Preface to its second edition,
[This Table] is not indeed of the same bulk with some Dutch Lexicons and Glossaries, but I do not however despair of its finding a place, (as it is an Index) in the most Letter'd, Renowned and Humane Dr. Bentley's Library.
     Now, see, here I, too, a "reference librarian" and therefore an eminent practitioner of the shady art and superficial collecting practices of Dr. Bentley, have turned yet again to "'Common-placing and Indexing'" (15), in this case of an article on "Common-placing and Indexing" as a satirical practice directed against commonplacers, indexers, and all those who rely unduly on works of reference as a way of pretending to more learning than they actually have.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

"I have often been disgusted with myself when I came down from the pulpit."

"Ich habe mich offte selbst angespeiet, wan ich vom predigstuel komen bin."

I have often spit upon/despised myself when I have come from the pulpit:  Shame on you!  How did you preach?  You delivered that really well, stuck to no outline [(hast kein Concept gehalten; nullum servasti conceptum)] (as conceived of by you [(wie du es gefaßt hettest)])!  And [yet] the very same sermon have the people praised, [saying] that it has been a long time since I have delivered so fine [a] sermon.  When I have climbed down from the pulpit [(Wan ich hinunter vom predigstuel gestiegen bin)], then have I recalled and realized that I have preached nothing or very little of what, in my mind, I had intended to [(davon . . . das ich bey mir concipirt habe; cf. conceptum/Concept, above)].
In my case, too, it often happens that the delivery of [a] sermon of mine has filled me with shame [(me puduerit, PAi3S)] and perhaps [even] caused me to look upon myself [(putaverim me, PAS1S, I may have esteemed myself)] most coldly.  And [yet] afterwards, by contrast, I have heard the opinion of [my] auditors, who were commending it vehemently.
Thanks to my colleague Robert Smith for posing the question of authenticity and prompting this research.  Being no expert in early 16th-century German (or Latin, for that matter!), I would welcome any suggestions for improvement in these translations.

"Leading or following, the human being who loves" is participating in an archetypical Trinitarian Life

"The redemptive work of God in the world is the common fruit of the Father's power and the Son's pure gift of self ([the] impotence of the cross), while [(et)] the indissociable unity of the [opposing] characteristics [(traits)] of the two is secured [(posée)] here by the Holy Spirit.  An [(L')] effective unity becomes for this reason directly possible:  because the two participants (Father and Son, man and woman) act in love in the most polarized [(polaire)] fashion possible, not in the most assimilated [(semblable)].  It is in the polarity that the equivalence of love (in God an [(l') equivalence] of essence) is guaranteed."

     Adrienne von Speyer, Theologie der Geschlechter, NB 12 (Einsiedeln:  Johannes Verlag, 1969), 23, as quoted in French by Antoine Birot, "Le fondement christologique et de la différence sexuelle selon «Théologie des sexes» (NB XII) de Adrienne von Speyr," Revue catholique internationale Communio 31, nos. 5-6 (septembre décembre 2006):  128 (123-134).  The headine is from p. 36 (the last paragraph in the article).

Sensus plenior, sensus CONSTITUTIVUS

Wycliffe College
"Radner's burden is to show that, far from being a practice limited to the likes of Origen, Augustine, and Wycliffe, figural reading endured as an essential feature of Christian thought among early modern interpreters (Puritans) and flourishes in contemporary churches as well (Pentecostals).
     "One of Radner's central arguments, then, is that figural reading is very much a universal practice identifiable with the Christian Church whenever and wherever it has existed. . . . That figural reading has atrophied in the last two hundred years is not to be explained by its actual deficiencies but rather by Christians' failure to understand what figural reading truly involves."


     Michael C. Legaspi, "Figure it in," a review of Time and the word:  figural reading of the Christian scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016), by Ephraim Radner, First things no. 274 (June/July 2017):  55 (55-56).

The objectivity of the subjective

Wikimedia Commons
"the so-called subjective, or inner, view of things is no less objective than the objective or mechanical view of things.  When questions about the subjective are asked carefully, and in the right way, they are as reliable as the experiments of physics."

     Christopher Alexander, "Making the garden," First things no. 260 (February 2016):  27 (23-28).

"the courage to treat falsehoods with the contempt they deserve"

Wikimedia Commons
"idiots utter idiocies just as plum trees produce plums. . . . The problem is that some readers take them seriously."

     Simon Leys, of the Maoist Maria-Antonietta Macciocchi's On China, as quoted by Henri Astier, "In the age of sham and amnesia," Times literary supplement no. 5885 (January 15, 2016):  5 (5, 7).  The clause in the headline is Astier's.

Monday, June 19, 2017

"before the brightness of whose presence the angels veil their faces"

"Almighty God, most blessed and most holy, before the brightness of whose presence the angels veil their faces; with lowly reverence and adoring love we acknowledge Thine infinite glory, and worship Thee, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, eternal Trinity. Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be unto our God, for ever and ever.  Amen."

     Adoration, Second order, Morning Service, Book of common order of the Church of Scotland, by authority of the General Assembly, New impression with new lectionary (London:  Oxford University Press, 1962 [1940]), 18.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Because we can?

"The de-extinction of a Neanderthal looks to be, from a technical point of view, relatively easy compared with the de-extinction of the passenger pigeon.  Yet the very prospect of such an attempt brings into sharp focus all the moral, ethical, social, and environmental dilemmas inherent in the new technology—and indeed in de-extinction science itself."

     Tim Flannery, "Can we bring back the passenger pigeon?," The New York Review of books 64, no. 7 (April 20, 2017):  59 (58-59).

Cause us, we pray, O Lord, to be satisfied by that eternal enjoyment of your divinity prefigured by the temporal reception of your precious Body and Blood.

Wikimedia Commons
"Grant, O Lord, we pray, that we may delight for all eternity in that share in your divine life, which is foreshadowed in the present age by our reception of your precious Body and Blood."

"Fac nos, quaesumus, domine, divinitatis tuae sempiterna fruitione repleri, quam pretiosi corporis et sanguinis tui temporalis perceptio praefigurat.  Qui vivis et regnas in saecula saecularoum."

Cause us, we pray, O Lord, to be satiated by the eternal enjoyment of your divinity that the temporal reception of your precious Body and Blood prefigures.

     Post communion, Corpus Christi, Roman Missal.  Bruylants (no. 552) dates this to 1474, but Corpus orationum (no. 2597), to the 12th century.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Without separation, without division

"if God is pure spirit, it is not more like God to walk on water, have his face transfigured, or perform a miracle with the touch of his hand, than it is for him to be crucified.  All these acts (whatever the transcendent power they unleash, and certainly the Cross unleashes the greatest transcendent power in the form of salvation) are acts of a finite body performing in time and space."

     Aaron Riches, Ecco homo:  on the divine unity of Christ, Interventions (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2016), 82n89, on the "Nestorianism" of all insufficiently "Cyrillian" attempts to "parse what is proper to the Word from what is proper to the human nature" (81).  "To the Council Fathers, Cyril did not represent one Christological 'option,' much less a Christology bound to the style of a particular region [(the Christology of the so-called 'Alexandrian school')]; he was for them the representative of Catholic truth, of the Nicene orthodoxy defended by Athanasius, which they understood as the faith handed down from the apostles themselves.  The textual evidence of the Acta of Chalcedon is overwhelming:  the Council Fathers did not see themselves as 'Theodorian' in any way, [as balancing (or working out a compromise between) an Alexandrian and an Antiochian school,] but rather as confirming the doctrine held by 'blessed Cyril'" (78-79).

"'When this snow melts, there will be lots of mud.'"

     "In the fourth century, the bishop of Antioch, Leontius, is said to have 'stroked his white hairs and remarked, "When this snow melts, there will be lots of mud."'"

     Aaron Riches, Ecce homo:  on the divine unity of Christ, Interventions (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2016), 76, citing Andrew Louth, "Why did the Syrians reject the Council of Chalcedon?," in Chalcedon in context: church councils 400-700 (Liverpool:  Liverpool University Press, 2009), 109 (107-116).

"'and now never to be clean God again.'"

      Malle and Wat were burning garden rubbish; the heap was crackling merrily; below the busy flames were sliding their quick fingers about the dry wizened stalks, feeling along, licking up; above, smoke, reeking of rottenness, poured out, leaned sideways, swirled wide and swept over half the garden.  Malle and Wat, casting down fork and rake, fled out of it to the clear air to breathe, and leaned together upon the wall.
      ‘Wat,’ said Malle, ‘have you thought that He has stained Himself, soiled Himself, being not only with men, but Himself a man.  What’s that, to be man?  Look at me.  Look at you.’
      They looked at each other, and one saw a dusty wretched dumb lad, and the other saw a heavy slatternly woman.
      Malle said:  ‘It’s to be that which shoots down the birds out of the free air, and slaughters dumb beasts, and kills his own kind in wars.’
      She looked away up the Dale towards Calva, rust-red with dead bracken, smouldering under the cold sky.
      ‘And it wasn’t that He put on man like a jacket to take off at night, or to bathe or to play.  But man He was, as man is man, the maker made Himself the made; God was un-Godded by His own hand.’
      She put her hands to her face, and was silent, till Wat pulled them away.
      ‘He was God,’ she said, ‘from before the beginning, and now never to be clean God again.  Never again.  Alas!’ she said, and then, ‘Osanna!’


      Malle, the Serving Woman, in H. F. M. Prescott, The man on a donkey (New York:  Macmillan, 1961), 455-456 (26 October 1536), “by widespread assent one of the finest historical novels ever written” (Robert Irwin, "Poetry of history," Times literary supplement no. 5954 (May 12 2017):  10).
     But of course he did not un-God himself (extra Calvinisticum, extra Patristicum).  And "'clean God'"?  Would a "'clean God'" be the Triune God of Christian confession?
     Still, the moving imagined reflections of a sixteenth-century serving woman.

Did contemporary "American capitalism originat[e] in racial slavery"?

     "One of the really striking things about the school of slavery's capitalism is how little politics there is in its approach to political economy.  This is perhaps not surprising given the hopelessness so many felt in the post-2008 moment.  If capitalism is all powerful, then political resistance is meaningless.  But the American Civil War presents a sharp reminder of the unpredictability of history.  Contrary to Slavery's Capitalism, the critical issue in 1860 was not that Republicans saw slavery as a problem, but that slaveholding Southerners saw free labour and industrial capitalism as an existential threat.  The slaveholders had once called the shots in US politics.  But by 1860 the slave South was not the leading edge of anything except pro-slavery nationalism.  It seceded and provoked a civil war over the future of the nation and of slavery in it.  No one in 1860 could have imagined what was about to happen.  It was slaveholding Southerners' misguided bet that opened the possibility of a new chapter in American and African American history.
     "When the smoke had cleared slavery had been destroyed.  Enslaved African Americans had thought that outcome worth fighting and dying for.  They fought just as hard to define the terms of the post-war order, when slavery's capitalism was dead and gone.  The kind of unfettered corporate capitalism that came after the Civil War certainly merits the critical assessment of historians.  But the destruction of slavery was a crucial event in the history of American capitalism, one hardly underestimated by those who lived through it.  It was, at the very least, a moment of radical disjuncture between two systems of exploitation."

     Stephanie McCurry, "Plunder of black life:  the problem of connecting the history of slavery to the economics of the present," a review of Slavery's capitalism:  a new history of American economic development (Philadelphia:  University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), and, by implication, the entire "school of slavery's capitalism", Times literary supplement no. 5955 (May 19 2017):  26 (23-24, 26), italics mine.


Friday, June 9, 2017

They're necessary, so use words

The power of his words,
and the witness given to this by a physician

107Although the evangelist Francis
preached to the simple,
in simple, concrete terms,
since he knew that virtue
is more necessary than words,
still, when he was among spiritual people
with greater abilities
he gave birth to life-giving and profound words.
With very few words he would suggest
what was inexpressible,
and, weaving movement with fiery gestures,
he carried away all his hearers toward the things of heaven.
He did not use the keys of distinctions,
For he did not preach about things he had not himself discovered.
Christ, true Power and Wisdom [(1 Cor 2:1-2, 4-5)],
made his voice a voice of power [(Ps 68:34)].

     A physician, a learned and eloquent man, once said:  'I remember the sermons of other preachers word for word, only what the saint, Francis, says eludes me.  Even if I memorize some of his words, they don’t seem to me like those that originally poured from his lips [(Wis 4:11)].'

     Thomas of Celano, The remembrance of the desire of a soul (The second life of Saint Francis) (1247) I.73.  Francis of Assisi:  early documents, vol. 2, The founder, ed. Armstrong, Hellmann, & Short (New York:  New City Press, 2000), 318.



36Francis, Christ’s bravest soldier,
went around the cities and villages [(Mt 9:35)],
proclaiming the kingdom of God
and preaching peace [(Mt 9:35; Acts 10:36)]
and penance for the remission of sins [(Mk 1:4)],
not in the persuasive words of human wisdom
but in the learning and power of the Spirit [(1 Cor 2:4)].

     He acted confidently [(Acts 9:28)] in all matters because of the apostolic authority granted him.  He did not use fawning or seductive flattery.  He did not smooth over but cut out the faults of others.  He did not encourage but struck at the life of sin with a sharp blow, because he first convinced himself by action, and then convinced others by words.  Not fearing anyone’s rebuke, he spoke the truth boldly, so that even well-educated men, distinguished by fame and dignity, were amazed at his words and were shaken by a healthy fear in his presence.

     Thomas of Celano, Life of Saint Francis (1229) I.15.  Francis of Assisi:  early documents, vol. 1, The saint, ed. Armstrong, Hellmann, & Short (New York:  New City Press, 1999), 214-215.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Disobedience and the trombone

     "A child who obediently follows the father’s will, which is directly opposite to the child’s wish; yes, the child is far from doubting his father’s love, but there is not much trumpet blowing and ingratiation about how affectionate the father is.—And, on the other hand, the child who knows full well that in reality he is the one who gets his way and that the father’s will is not effected, yes, then there is trumpet blowing and trombones and shouting and ingratiating talk about how affectionate a father he has."
     "So, too, with us hum. beings in relation to God."

     Søren Kierkegaard, Kierkegaard's journals and notebooks 9 (Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 2017), 97 (96-97, 101).  "In his journals (1849), Kierkegaard is scathing about organ music in church accompanied by trombones (Basuner).  Here, he is clearly referring to negatively to the practice of having hymns at the major festivals accompanied by a trombone or trumpet in the gallery as well as by an organ" (Julia Watkin, Historical dictionary of Kierkegaard's philosophy, Historical dictionaries of religions, philosophies, and movements 33 (Lanham, MD:  Scarecrow, 2001), sv Art, p. 17).  Søren Kierkegaards Skrifter returns 60 hits on Basun*, so this would be far from the only passage of interest.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

"the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world"

"The older Karl Barth used to say that 'to clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world'."

     Jan Milič Lochman, "Towards an ecumenical account of hope," The ecumenical review 31, no. 1 (January 1979): 18 (13-30) = Mid-stream 18, no. 1 (January 1979): 30 (24-34).  Cf. Jan Milič Lochman, "The Lord's Prayer in our time: praying and drumming," The Princeton Seminary bulletin n.s. 13 (1992) Suppl.: 18-19 (5-19), and in The Lord's Prayer: perspectives for reclaiming Christian prayer, ed. Daniel L. Migliore (Eerdmans, 1993), 18-19 ():
"There is another saying of Karl Barth in my grateful memory.  In his later years we heard from him again and again:  'To fold one’s hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.'"
And then again in 2002, Jan Milič Lochman, "Theology and cultural contexts," in Theology between east and west:  a radical heritage:  essays in honor of Jan Milič Lochman (Eugene, OR:  Cascade Books, 2002), 15 (5-20):
"I often recall words I heard Karl Barth speak when I was his student:  'Hands folded in prayer are the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.''"
Lochman, who appears to be the primary source of this, began teaching in Basel the year Barth died, and undoubtedly knew and interacted with him before that, as the reference to his having been a student makes clear.  Still, I would feel better could this be found in Barth himself.  Ashley Cocksworth quotes this at the top of p. 114 of her book Karl Barth on prayer, T&T Clark studies in systematic theology 26 (Bloomsbury, 2015), but then says in footnote 144, "Regrettably, I have yet to find the source of this oft-cited remark."  To me it would be odd if Lochman and other students of Barth "heard [(did any other late students of Barth hear?) this] from him again and again", and yet it never made it into any of Barth's published work.  And so far I have searched the DKBL in vain, in both English and German.  German versions of this vary, by the way:

"Hände falten im Gebet ist der Anfang des Aufstandes gegen die Unordnung der Welt!"

"Barth erklärt dies so:  'Mit dem Falten unserer Hände zum Gebet beginnt unser Aufstand gegen das Unrecht in dieser Welt.'"

Etc.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

"he wears our nature, refashioning it to his own life."

"He bore our nature and thus fashioned it in conformity with his life."

πεφόρηκε δὲ τὴν ἡμετέραν φύσιν, πρὸς τὴν ἰδίαν αὐτὴν ἀναπλάττων ζωήν.

And he wears our nature [(having put it on)], remolding it to his own life.

     Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John, bk. 10 at Jn 14:20, trans. Maxwell & Elowsky, ACT (Intervarsity Press, 2015), 188.  The translation in the header comes from Keating via Aaron Riches (Ecce homo:  on the divine unity of Christ (Eerdmans, 2016), 50).  Greek from the three-volume Pusey edition of 1872, p. 486.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

"the deceitful dream of a golden age"

"Have we not already seen enough of the fallacy and extravagance of those idle theories which have amused us with promises of an exemption from the imperfections, weaknesses and evils incident to society in every shape? Is it not time to awake from the deceitful dream of a golden age, and to adopt as a practical maxim for the direction of our political conduct, that we, as well as the other inhabitants of the globe, are yet remote from the happy empire of perfect wisdom and perfect virtue?"

     Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist no. 6, The [New York] independent journal; or, the General advertiser, 14 November 1787.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"a Christology without a full Marian account fails to be incarnational in any meaningful way"

"the Jesus-Mary relation is so integral to the incarnational fact, and therefore to a coherent Christocentrism, that a Christology without a full Marian account fails to be incarnational in any meaningful way and is reduced to mere abstraction."

     Aaron Riches, Ecce homo:  on the divine unity of Christ (Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans, 2016), 17.  This "full Marian account" would have to begin with the claim that she is Theotokos and presumably extend (though I haven't yet got that far) to an orthodox form of the doctrine of "co-redemption" (the "Coda" on Chardon (17)).

The more of God, the more of me

"if Jesus is the true human, the irreducible difference of the human being in relation to God is perfected in direct (as opposed to inverse) relation to the perfection of the unio of his humanity with the divine Logos.  In Christ, the relation of divinity and humanity must be, in the first place, and basically, non-contrastive and non-competitive. . . .
". . . only the confession of the 'one Lord Jesus Christ' maximally preserves the integrity and difference of verus homo before verus Deus. . . . [B]eginning from an abstract idea of what his humanity might be apart from that unio, Christian theology fails before it even begins."

     Aaron Riches, Ecce homo:  on the divine unity of Christ (Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans, 2016), 7-8.  7n12:  "the deeper and more perfect the union, the more each is realized in its distinct integrity.  Union [with true God!] differentiates."

Saturday, May 20, 2017

"the body of him who is the heavenly bread, and the blood of him who is the sacred vine"

"What you receive is the body of him who is the heavenly bread, and the blood of him who is the sacred vine; for when he offered his disciples the consecrated bread and wine, he said: This is my body, this is my blood. We have put our trust in him. I urge you to have faith in him; truth can never deceive."

"quod accipis, corpus est illius panis coelestis, et sanguis est illius sacrae vitis.  Nam cum panem consecratum et vinum discipulis suis porrigeret, sic ait:  Hoc est corpus meum:  hic est sanguis meus.  Credamus, quaeso, cui credidimus.  Nescit mendacium veritas."

     St. Gaudentius, Bishop of Bresica, Sermo 2 De Exodi lectione secundus, as trans. in the Liturgy of the hours.  CSEL 60; PL 20, col. 859A.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Why are racist 'mere words' deeds, but the anti-racist 'mere words' of a university just lip service?

     "Note, too, that the expressivist position suffers from an uncomfortable contradiction.  A university administration that merely condemns hate speech, without mobilizing punitive sanctions, is held to have done little, to have offered 'mere words.'  And yet this skepticism about the power of 'mere words' comports oddly with the attempt to regulate 'mere words' that, since they are spoken by those not in a position of authority, would seem to have even less symbolic force.  Why is it 'mere words' when a university only condemns racist speech, but not 'mere words' that the student utters in the first place?  Whose words are 'only words'?  Why are racist words deeds, but anti-racist words just lip service?"

     Henry Louis Gates, Jr., "Let them talk:  Why civil liberties pose no threat to civil rights," The New Republic 209, no. 12/13 (September 20/27, 1993):  43 (37-49).
     Note, by the way, that, at Middlebury and elsewhere of late, the students (and/or those posing as such), now taking the opposite side, haven't just been uttering "'mere words'"; they have been engaging in forms of low-grade assault.  It is, I suspect, in part for this reason that some have been calling for the application of "punitive sanctions" on the part of college and university administrations.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Those "thick" conservatives

     "Moral foundation theory is one of the more recent and productive models within moral psychology developed by Jonathan Haidt and many colleagues.  Among other things, Haidt has argued that people (across time and culture) have characteristically decided if something is right or wrong using up to six moral dimensions:  care vs. harm, fairness vs. cheating, loyalty vs. betrayal, authority vs. disrespect, purity vs. degradation, and liberty vs. oppression.  One of the intriguing conclusions coming out of this work is the notion that progressives based moral decisions on a subset of these dimensions (largely care and fairness) while conservatives tend to invoke all six dimensions when making moral decisions."

     Rod Bassett, reviewing A house divided:  sexuality, morality, and Christian cultures (Wipf and Stock, 2016), by Geoffrey W. Sutton, Journal of psychology and Christianity 36, no. 1 (Spring 2017):  83 (83-84).

Saturday, April 29, 2017

"freed from the hypocrisies of the family and the school"

     "A plague upon (all) of the (verbal) decencies of an emasculated time [in] which, under their hypocritical mantle, there blossomed too often only neurosis and poison!  And a plague also upon the chaste Latins:  I am a Celt."

     "Foin des pudeurs (toutes verbales) d’un temps châtré qui, sous leur hypocrite manteaux, ne fleurent trop souvent que la névrose et le poison!  Et foin aussi des purs latins:  je suis un Celte."

     Louis Pergaud, Préface to La guerre des boutons (1912), my translation.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A fearful unicity

     "'What would happen if we took everything that exists in the universe, and divided it by one?  I'll tell you.  It would remain the same.  So, therefore, how do we know that someone isn't doing that right now, at this very instant?  It makes me shudder to think of it.  We might be constantly divided by one, or multiplied by one for that matter, and we wouldn't even know it!'"

     Craig Binkey, in Mark Helprin, Winter's tale (San Diego:  Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1983), 396.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Book of Common Prayer: "a means to worship A creator"

     Dust jacket, The Book of common prayer:  the texts of 1549, 1559, and 1662, ed. Brian Cummings (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2011):


All of the prayers in the 1662 BCP invoking "a creator" are at the very least binitarian.  And the Thirty-Nine Articles as published in that same edition are pretty specific.  Take just Article 1, for example:
There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things both visible and invisible.  And in unity of this Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

"do not receive him into the house or give him any greeting"

"No, is the correct and orthodox answer of the one addressed [by the serpent].  God has not said that. . . . [But] It would have been better not to give the serpent an orthodox answer.  For in conversation with the serpent no orthodox answer is so sure that it cannot be demolished by the serpent.  Was not this beast of chaos not only more subtle than any beast of the field that the Lord God had made (v. 1), but far cleverer than the man created by God—dangerously so from the moment that man allowed himself to converse with and answer it?  There are some men that we ought not even to greet (2 Jn 10 f.), for 'he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.'  The serpent in paradise is the essence of all those that we ought not to greet.  But the greeting took place, and it was followed at once by the demolition of man's orthodox answer."

"Nein, antwortet die so Angeredete ganz korrekt, ganz orthodox: Das hat Gott nicht gesagt. . . .  Der Schlange wäre sicher besser auch keine orthodoxe Antwort gegeben worden! Denn so sicher konnte diese Antwort, im Gespräch mit der Schlange gegeben, nicht sein, daß sie nicht eben von der Schlange auch destruiert werden konnte. War diese doch – sie das Chaostier! – nicht nur nach v 1 listiger als alle von Gott dem Herrn geschaffenen Tiere des Feldes, sondern auch klüger als der von Gott geschaffene Mensch: von dem Augenblick an gefährlich klüger, da dieser sich überhaupt darauf einließ, ihr Rede und Antwort zu stehen. Es gibt Partner, die man nach 2. Joh. 10 f. nicht einmal begrüßen soll: «Denn wer ihn begrüßt, nimmt teil an seinen bösen Werken.» Die Schlange im Paradies ist der Inbegriff aller solcher schon gar nicht erst zu begrüßenden Partner! Aber das Begrüßen war nun schon geschehen und die Destruktion der orthodoxen Antwort des Menschen mußte ihr auf dem Fuße folgen."

     Karl Barth, CD IV/1, 434-435, underscoring mine =KD IV/1, 481-482.

"I fell in love just once, and then it had to be with you."

     Tom Adair, "Everything happens to me" (1940).

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Reno on the prospects for the university as we've known it

"the vanguard institution of this new therapeutic culture [of self-realization]—the university—is in crisis, not churches and synagogues.  I have confidence that religious institutions, however constrained or impaired in the future, will be living, vital institutions for my grandchildren.  I don't believe the university will survive."

     R. R. Reno, "Benedict option," First things no. 273 (May 2017):  64 (63-65).  On. p. 67, under "The lordless powers" (66-67):  "Were someone innocent of political correctness to witness the desperate machinations of university administrators as they try to respond to the proliferating and often invisible 'identities' that demand accommodation, he might well conclude that our society is possessed by demons, and not unreasonably so."

Friday, April 21, 2017

Proletarier aller Lander vereinigt Euch!

"Charles Marx, Squire of London"

     The words with which Karl Marx "checked in" whenever he "took the cure at Carlsbad".  R. J. W. Evans, quoting David Clay Lodge, The grand spas of Central Europe:  a history of intrigue, politics, art, and healing (Lanham, MD:  Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), in "A liberal empire?  Ruled from the spas?," The New York review of books 64, no. 5 (March 23, 2017):  36 (36-38).  In the header are, of course, the closing words of the Manifesto of the Communist Party of 1848.  My assumption is that a "Squire" (whatever the original; perhaps Landjunker?) would not have been considered a member of the proletariat, but then surely Marx never considered himself a member of the proletariat anyway.  Lodge says only "checked in quaintly as", so perhaps the incongruity was relative to Marx's financial circumstances (or landlessness) alone?  The whole comment may be of some relevance:  "The first of these [rivals of liberal imperialism] was socialism.  Yet socialism, on this reading, did not seriously jeopardize the imperial enterprise in Hapsburg Central Europe.  Karl Marx, after all, repeatedly took the cure at Carlsbad (were--Large tells us--he checked in quaintly as 'Charles Marx, Squire of London')."

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

"every time that I think of the crucifixion of Christ, I commit the sin of envy."

"One cannot fail more seriously in the second of the two essential commandments.  And as to the first, I fail to observe that in a still more horrible manner, for every time that I think of the crucifixion of Christ, I commit the sin of envy."

     Simone Weil, Letter IV to Fr. Perrin (Spiritual autobiography), Marseilles, c. 15 May 1942.  Waiting on God (London:  Routledge and Kegan Paul, Ltd, 1951), 33.  French:
On ne peut manquer plus gravement au second des deux commandements essentiels.  Et quant au premier, j’y manqué d’une manière encore bien plus horrible, car toutes les fois que je pense à le crucifixion du Christ, je commets le péché d’envie.

     Georges Charot, "Simone Weil:  la croix et le péché d'envie," Cahiers Simone Weil 14, no. 2 (1991):  97-106, beginning with Weil's own words:
     'It is necessary [for] a just man to engage in imitation in order that the imitation of God be not a simple word, but it is necessary, in order that we be borne beyond the will, that we be not able to will to imitate him.  One cannot will [for oneself] the Cross.
     'One could will it matters not what degree of asceticism or heroism, but not the Cross, which is penal suffering.
     'The mystery of the Cross of Christ resides in a contradiction, for it is at once an offering consented to and a chastisement that he suffered quite in spite of himself.  If one saw in it only the offering, one could will it all the more for oneself.  But one cannot will a chastisement suffered in spite of oneself.
     'Those who conceive of the crucifixion only under the aspect of the offering obscure its saving mystery and saving bitterness.  To desire martyrdom is to desire far too little.  The Cross is infinitely more than martyrdom' [(Cahiers, nouvelle ed., III, 28-29, only partially quoted at Charot, 106)].
     Do you not think that this is the response [to the question, Why would it be a sin against the First [Great] Commandment for her to prefer her vocation to that of most others (102; not to mention the sin against the Second, which would consist in her denying a similar vocation to qualified others)]?  And it is she who gives it [(this response)] to us.
     If the mystery of the Cross resides in a contradiction, the person who lives it, as Simone Weil did, can only be torn asunder, [1] knowing that it is forbidden to will the Cross and [yet] [2] finding that she cannot keep herself from desiring it for herself[, considered as an intensely particular vocation authenticated solely by the fact that it proceeds from neither feeling [(sensibilité)] nor reason].  Would not the tearing asunder of Simone Weil reside in the fact that she could not live [out] her desire except as a sin of envy?
     This is the explanation that I propose.  [I'll leave it] to you to find another if you can. 
     That said, it would be a grave misunderstanding to believe that, to have uttered this sentence, Simone Weil must have been guilty of [(est suspecte de)] masochism, and that she must have been struck by [(était atteinte d')] a neurotic psychosis.  The Cross [was] not, for her, a good in itself.  It [was] only the privileged way that seems to [have] be[en] reserved for her [(qui semble lui être réservé)] to enter into the kingdom of the Truth.
     Her desire can be only a mystical desire and in one sense a folly, a folly of love, but [a folly] that certainly did not betray a perverse taste for suffering and unhappiness.  Her life (as if this [really] needed to be said) ought to remove all ambiguity on this subject.  Simone Weil loved to live in joy (106).
More from Charot on the larger context:
  • We should keep in mind (and respect the fact) that this was originally an intensely private confession to a trusted confessor, made on what Weil saw as the eve of her imminent death in the service of the Free French (who, as it turned out, were to reject her offers), and that there was also much wry humor in it (99), a kind of "malice" directed at herself, knowing, as she did, that Fr. Perrin would recognize in it "something like an aptitude for laughing at herself and at her extravagant need to engage in impossible combats" (105).
  • That said, it is "in any case impossible not to take seriously this declaration that the cross is a good that one ought to be capable of wishing on one's neighbor and even one's friends, and that to reserve to oneself the privilege of [suffering] it constitutes a breach of the Second [Great] Commandment" (99).
  • For Weil, the Cross involved the Son of God in complete and utter abandonment by both man and his Father.  "For there was, at that instant, an infinite distance between God and God."  With this no martyrdom for the sake of Christ can even hope to compare (99-100).
  • The cross would appear to be, as we've already said, "a good" of which a few (i.e. not Weil alone) are indeed capable (whereas for the rest there is the way of "uninterrupted joy, purity and sweetness" (Letter IV to Fr. Perrin, Waiting on God, 33)).  And this is why Weil's refusal to wish it on anyone else is a sin against the Second [Great] Commandment (100-101).  Her failure with respect to the Second [Great] Commandment was "to believe herself alone capable of being called ([i.e. having a] vocation) to suffer the Cross of Christ."  "To judge one's neighbor too mediocre or too precious to merit [this] misery [(malheur, misfortune)], and to judge oneself alone capable of receiving the supreme good [of crucifixion], is this not to sin through pride, is it not to love oneself more than one's neighbor in every case?" (101).
  • The supreme good of the way of crucifixion (i.e. that complete and utter abandonment to the silence of not just man but God himself available to the religious genius) is "th[at] instant when, for an infinitesimal fraction of time, pure truth, naked, certain and eternal enters the soul", and by comparison with which the eternal happiness of the beatific vision (the "future state" of the Christian tradition) would seem to be as nothing (Letter IV to Fr. Perrin, Waiting on God, 16).  This vision of "pure truth" would facilitate a "'thinking together in the truth [of] the misery [(malheur, misfortune)] of men, the perfection of God and the bond between the two'" (103, citing a letter to M. Schumann).
  • As for the sin against the First [Great] Commandment, "To wish to take her desires for crucifixion [(même crucifiants)] for a [personal] vocation and to risk thus disobeying God in order to obey an impulsion, for the sole reason that it [(the said impulsion)] procedes from neither feeling [(sensibilité)] nor reason, would this not be to wish to be God?  Would it not be, in any case, to wish to enter by force into the forbidden mystery of the perfection of God, the sin par excellence in her eyes?  For it is God who seeks us and not the reverse.  If such was the case, her legitimate desire [(envie)] to follow Christ to the Cross would betray in the end only a sin of envy [(envie)].  Humility and her commitment to the truth, would they not have obliged her to confess this with a [wry] smile?  It can be only a sin to desire what must not be desired" (105).

Sunday, April 9, 2017

"When one believes something to be true [simply] because God is Truth itself[,] . . . one begins to know in a way similar to the way God knows."

"When one believes something to be true because God is Truth itself, one begins to know all the rest in virtue of one’s knowing God.  Thereby one begins to know in a way similar to the way God knows.  For God characteristically knows all that is true by knowing—or rather by being—his own Truth.  His knowing of all truth is not, and cannot be, a second act of knowledge resulting from the act by which he knows himself.  It is rather because the act by which he knows himself is immediately his knowing of all that is, and of all that can be, that God’s knowledge is Life itself.  When it is unrestricted, Life itself is indeed sovereign being, whose nature is intellection and is not determinable by anything else.
     "There is a second, significant aspect to this fourth and last reference to divine faith, which, according to its place in the order of the poem, lies just beyond the threshold that separates bare Truth from Truth that is Life.  As stated, something in divine faith is already eternal life in us.  Faith, however is only its beginning, not its perfection.  God’s eternal life becomes definitively and integrally ours only when vision replaces faith, and only when the resurrection allows us to share corporally in blessedness.  Only then do we re-join Christ, who, as the incarnate and sacramental God, first joined with us, especially by means of the fullness of sacramental grace that is the Eucharist."

     Robert Wielockx, "Poetry and theology in the Adore te deuote: Thomas Aquinas on the Eucharist and Christ's uniqueness," in Christ among the medieval Dominicans: representations of Christ in the texts and images of the Order of Preachers, Notre Dame conferences in medieval studies 7, ed. Kent Emery, Jr. and Joseph Wawrykow (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1998), 166-167 (157-174), underscoring mine.

"we do not merit it by our own works"

"Through the Passion of your Only Begotten Son, O Lord, may our reconciliation with you be near at hand, so that, though we do not merit it by our own deeds, yet by this sacrifice made once for all, we may feel already the effects of your mercy.  Through Christ our Lord."

"Per Unigeniti tui passionem placatio tua nobis, Domine, sit propinqua, quam, etsi nostris operibus non meremur, interveniente sacrificio singulari, tua percipiamus miseratione praeventi.  Per Christum Dominum nostrum."

     Prayer over the Offerings, Palm Sunday, Roman missal.  All except for the incipit "Per Unigeniti tui passionem" comes word for word from the 7th-century Leonine (i.e. Veronese) sacramentary (no. 628 in the critical edition of 1956 ed. Mohlberg), which drew upon 5th and 6th century Roman material.

Creation straining


"the reality infinitely outstrips the figure:  the lengthy germination of wheat and vine [(including, I would add, the fermentation and 'work of human hands' so indispensable to the transformation of grape and kernel into wine and (at least leavened) bread)] comes, through transubstantiation, to a head 'in the mystery of all this bread and all this wine that, across the immensity of space and time, comes to subsist only [(ne subsistent plus qu')] in the existence of the holy humanity of Jesus' (H.-M. Feret, "La messe rassembleent de la communauté," in La messe et sa catéchese, p. 275)....
     "The bread and the wine, utilized as figures of the Christian economy, signify the integration of the [whole] cosmos into the work of restoration.  The universe, solidary with [(solidaire de)] man, had lost its quality of sign; the sin of man had rendered it opaque, caught up as it was in the Fall.  The consecration of the bread and wine signifies the consecration of all things [in and] through the humanity of Christ; this consecration [(elle)] extends to the [entire] universe and founds the sacramental economy:  the progressive integration of all things into the unity of Christ....
"The death of Christ is a victory that catches up not only humanity, but the universal resurrection.  The dogma of the resurrection of the body gives expression to this integral recapture of matter and the universe up into a glorious life".

     Dictionnaire de spiritualité, sv "Eucharistie. I. Mystère eucharistique" (1961), cols. 1579-1581 (1553-1586), by Adalbert Hamman, italics mine.