Sunday, November 17, 2019

"and some of you they will put to death; . . . But not a hair of your head will perish."

Adam Elsheimer,
The Stoning of Saint Stephen (1603/1604),
Scottish National Gallery
"and some of you they will put to death [(θανατώσουσιν)];… But not a hair of your head will perish [(ἀπόληται)]."

Lk 21:16, 19 RSV. "By your endurance [unto death] you will gain [(κτήσασθε)] your lives [(ψυχὰς)]" (v. 18); "whoever loses [(ἀπολέσῃ)] his life [(ψυχὴν)] for my sake will find it" (Mt 16:25); etc.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Attentive stability

"if one's sight is clear and if one stays on and works well, one's love gradually responds to the place as it really is, and one's visions gradually image possibilities that are really in it."

     Wendell Berry, "People, land, and community," In The art of the commonplace:  the agrarian essays of Wendell Berry (Washington, DC:  Counterpoint, 2002), 187, as quoted in Norman Wirzba, "Attention and responsibility:  the work of prayer," in The phenomenology of prayer, ed. Bruce Ellis Benson and Norman Wirzba (New York:  Fordham University Press, 2005), 98 (88-100).

Redeeming the time

"The future of prediction, dreary with anxiety or buoyant with hope, has to be held at bay, so that we may use this moment of time to do something, however modest, that is worthwhile and responsible, something to endure before the throne of judgment."

     Oliver O’Donovan, Self, world, and time (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2013), 17, as quoted in Andrew Errington, "Wakeful communities and digital sociality:  social media and the life of Christian communities," St. Mark’s review no. 233 (October 2015):  43 (42-59).

Saturday, November 9, 2019

True indifference

     "False indifference is the scourge of a domesticated Christianity, tired and worn-out, readily accommodating itself to its culture, bowing to the social pressures of the status quo.  It remains so tame as to fear nothing so much as the disdain of sophisticated unbelief."

     Belden C. Lane, "Desert attentiveness, desert indifference:  countercultural spirituality in the desert fathers and mothers," Cross currents 44, no. 2 (Summer 1995):  201 (193-206).  Lane might take this in one direction, but I would add another.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

"the Father, the Father's Name, and the Father's Kingdom"

"the words of the [Lord’s] prayer point out the Father, the Father’s name, and the Father’s kingdom to help us learn from the source himself to honor, to invoke, and to adore the one Trinity.  For the name of God the Father who subsists essentially is the only-begotten Son, and the kingdom of God the Father who subsists essentially is the Holy Spirit.  Indeed, what Matthew here calls the kingdom another evangelist elsewhere calls Holy Spirit:  'May your Holy Spirit come and purify us.'"

     Maximus the Confessor, Commentary on the Our Father, First Petition.  Maximus Confessor:  selected writings, trans. George C. Berthold, Classics of Western spirituality (New York:  Paulist Press, 1985), 106.  The quotation is from the famous variant on the Lord’s Prayer in Luke, ἐλθέτω τὸ πνεῦμά σου τὸ ἅγιον (ἐφ' ἡμᾶς) καὶ καθαρισάτω ἡμας.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

"We who are as good as you swear to you who are no better than us, to accept you as our king and sovereign lord, provided you observe all our laws and liberties; but if not, not."

Antonio Pérez, 1534-1611
"Nos, que valemos tanto como vos os hazemos nuestro Rey, y Señor, con tal que nos guardeys nuestros fueros, y libertades, y syno, No."

     The oath of the Aragonese in the famous (Antonio Pérez-ian) version of 1593, as reproduced on p. 25 of Ralph E. Giesey, If not, not:  the Oathe of the Aragonese and the legendary laws of Sobrarbe (Princeton, NJ:  Princeton University Press, 1968).  "For the Aragonese, says Pérez [in 1593], this was 'the ancient manner of swearing to their King.'"  Translation from Neal Ascherson, "The value of independence," The New York review of books 66, no. 7 (April 18, 2019:  34 (33-36).  For alternative versions of the oath printed in some cases earlier, see Giesey, pp. 18 ff.  From leaf (?) 92 of the 1596 printing of the Relaciones by Pérez:

Friday, October 25, 2019

"why we have no trouble in being kind to heretics, and no repugnance in rubbing shoulders with them"

     "If heretics no longer horrify us today, as they once did our forefathers, is it certain that it is because there is more charity in our hearts?  Or would it not too often be, perhaps, without our daring to say so, because the bone of contention, that is to say, the very substance of our faith, no longer interests us?  Men of too familiar and too passive a faith, perhaps for us dogmas are no longer the Mystery on which we live, the Mystery which is to be accomplished in us.  Consequently, then, heresy no longer shocks us; at least, it no longer convulses us like something trying to tear the soul of our souls away from us. . . . And that is why we have no trouble in being kind to heretics, and no repugnance in rubbing shoulders with them.
     "In reality, bias against 'heretics' is felt today just as it used to be.  Many give way to it as much as their forefathers used to do.  Only, they have turned it against political adversaries.  Those are the only ones that horrify them.  Those are the only ones with whom they refuse to mix.  Sectarianism has only changed its object and taken other forms, because the vital interest has shifted.  Should we dare to say that this shifting is progress?
     "It is not always charity, alas, which has grown greater, or which has become more enlightened:  it is often faith, the taste for the things of eternity, which has grown less."

     Henri de Lubac, S.J., Further paradoxes, trans. from Nouveaux paradoxes (1955) by Ernest Beaumont (London:  Longmans, Green; Westminster, MD:  The Newman Press, 1958), 118-119.
     That last paragraph continues and concludes with the words:  "Injustice and violence are still reigning; but they are now in the service of degraded passions."  So were our "forefathers" who "refuse[d] to mix" with heretics, then, guilty of "bias", "Injustice and violence"?  Is that how, contra some, this passage should really be read?  Or is the conservative reading correct after all, since the "passions" of our "forefathers" were apparently not then "degraded"?  I have made no attempt to read around this in context, and am no expert on de Lubac, who, I believe, suffered himself from some censure, and could therefore be saying something somewhat more nuanced here.