Tuesday, August 23, 2016

"you will find much more labouring amongst the woods than you ever will amongst books."

"aliquid amplius invenies in silvis quam in libris."
     St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Epistola 106 ad Magistrum Henricum Murdac,  Sämtliche Werke lateinisch/deutsch 2, ed. Gerhard B. Winkler (Innsbruck:  Tyrolia-Verlag, 1992), 772 (770-774 even).  =Sancti Bernardi opera 3 (1963) or 7 (1974).  English from The letters of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, trans. Bruno Scott James (Cistercian Publications, 1998 [1953]), 156 (155-156), in which this appears as Letter 107.
     Thanks to Lugene Schemper for introducing me to this one.

Monday, August 22, 2016

"Brothers, be on your guard: the Devil is very crafty, but Christ is the wisdom of God."

"frater, cauti estote; multum astutus est diabolus; sed Christus dei sapientia est."

     Augustine, Letter 64 to Quintianus, FC 12 (1951), trans. Sister Wilfrid Parsons, 312, slightly modified =CSEL 34.1 (1895), ed. Al. Goldbacher, 232.  Why "frater" is in the singular, but "cauti" and "estote" are in the plural, I do not know.

Sunday, August 21, 2016


     "About that time he [(Cyprian)] wrote a letter to his friend Donatus.  'Donatus,'—he said, in effect—,'this is a cheerful world indeed as I see it from my fair garden, under the shadow of my vines.  But if I could ascend some high mountain, and look out over the wide lands, you know very well what I should see:  brigands on the highways, pirates on the seas, armies fighting, cities burning, in the amphitheaters men murdered to please applauding crowds, selfishness and cruelty and misery and despair under all roofs.  It is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world.  But I have discovered in the midst of it a company of quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret.  They have found a joy which is a thousand times better than any of the pleasures of our sinful life.  They are despised and persecuted, but they care not:  they are masters of their souls.  They have overcome the world.  These people, Donatus, are the Christians,—and I am one of them.'"

     George Hodges, Saints and heroes to the end of the Middle Ages (New York:  H. Holt and company, 1911), 6-7.
     Cyprian does speak of the beauties of his garden and the manifold evils of the world.  But as "he said, in effect" indicates, Hodges was here at best paraphrasing, but more precisely only drastically condensing Cyprian's Ad Donatum (c. 246) in his own words.  What is more, Hodges seems to have made up the last five sentences, as it would be difficult to find anything quite like them in the original.  More to the point, I have yet to turn up a form of the word "Christianus" in pp. 3-16 of CSEL 3.1 (1868), though the word occurs in each of its forms, both singular and plural, elsewhere in that same volume.  Nor, it seems (though I have not searched the Library of Latin Texts), does "sum" appear.  Clearly this should be attributed to Hodges.
     Some drop the definite article:  "These people, Donatus, are Christians".

Milbank on "Christianity and coercion"

     "The only finally tolerable, and non-sinful punishment, for Christians, must be the self-punishment inherent in sin.  When a person commits an evil act, he cuts himself off from social peace, and this nearly always means that he is visited with social anger.  But the aim should be to reduce this anger to a calm fury against the sin, and to offer the sinner nothing but good will, so bringing him to the point of realizing that his isolation is self-imposed.  This instance of real punishment is also the instance of its immediate cancellation.  However, in a line of symbolic economy quite different to that of Moberly [(cf. p. 427.3)], the practice of forgiveness involves also a practice of restitution and of 'compensatory offering'.  Wrongs must be put right, either by rectification and restoration, or, where this is not possible, by other acts and signs which sufficiently show that we now will again a harmony with our fellow human beings.
     "The Church, while recognizing the tragic necessity of 'alien', external punishment, should also seek to be an asylum, a house of refuge from its operations, a social space where a different, forgiving and restitutionary practice is pursued.  This practice should be 'atoning', in that we acknowledge that an individual's sin is never his alone, that its endurance harms us all, and therefore its cancellation is also the responsibility of all.  Here we do echo God [(cf. p. 427.3)], not in punishing, but in suffering, for the duration of the saeculum, the consequences of sin, beyond [penultimately legitimate] considerations of desert and non-desert. . . .
     "The Church, in order to be the Church, must seek to extend the sphere of social aesthetic harmony — 'within' the State where this is possible, but of a state committed by its very nature only to the formal goals of dominium, little is to be hoped.  A measure of resignation to the necessity of this dominium can also not be avoided.  But with, and beyond Augustine, we should recognize the tragic character of this resignation:  violence as such delivers no dialectical benefits, of itself encourages only further violence, and . . . can only be 'beneficial' when the good motives of those resorting to it are recognized and recuperated by a defaulter coming to his senses.  The positive content of benefit flows only in the quite different series of purely positive acts, including, decisively for us, the active enduring of unmerited suffering — a series that knows of its own impulses only conviviality, and seeks to escape, forever, the mesmerizing lures of tragic aporia."

     John Milbank, Theology and social theory:  beyond secular reason, 2nd ed. (Malden, MA:  Blackwell Publishing, 2006), 428-429 ("Christianity and coercion"), underscoring and insertions mine.  The importance of this for me is that, given the overarching thesis of Theology and social theory, I didn't expect anything like it.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The modern political liberalism of late antique Rome

"'The laws should punish offences against another's property, not offences against a man's own personal character.  No one should be brought to trial except for an offence, or threat of offence, against another's property, house, or person; but anyone should be free to do as he likes about his own, or with his own, or with others, if they consent.'"

"Quid alienae uineae potius quam quid suae uitae quisque noceat, legibus aduertatur.  Nullus ducatur ad iudicem, nisi qui alienae rei domui saluti uel cuiquam inuito fuerit inportunus aut noxius; ceterum de suis uel cum suis uel cum quibusque uolentibus faciat quisque quod libet."

     Augustine, De civitate Dei ii.20, as trans. Henry Bettenson.  Augustine is channeling Roman pagans "unconcerned about the utter corruption of their country".  I was put onto this by John Milbank, Theology and social theory:  beyond secular reason, 2nd ed. (Malden, MA:  Blackwell Publishing, 2006), 405:  "It is clear, then, that Augustine does not endorse, indeed utterly condemns, every tendency towards a view of personhood as 'self-ownership', and of ownership itself as unrestricted freedom within one's own domain."  Latin from CSEL 40.1, ed. Dombart & Kalb (1899), p. 87 l. 24-p. 88 l. 2.
     And yet, as De civitate Dei ii.20 intimates, this concern for the property, houses, and persons of others was extended only to the superior (and respectably licentious) rich, not prostitutes, their inferiors, or any concerned for and/or expressive on the subject of the true spiritual good of the former.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Wesley and Asbury

Wesley "had great sympathy and even admiration for the working people of England, but it was the sympathy of an outsider.  When he traveled, Wesley routinely lodged with wealthy supporters, who were nevertheless not Methodists, rather than stay in the homes of more humble members.  Asbury never adopted a similar practice.  His early life was more commonplace than Wesley's and he never expected to be treated like a gentleman."

     John Wigger, "John Wesley and Francis Asbury," Methodist history 54, no. 4 (July 2016):  274 (271-284).  On p. 277 is a beautiful paragraph on Asbury as a houseguest and how that "'exposed him, continually, to public and private observation and inspection'" (Ezekiel Cooper) and endeared him to his people.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

"How foolish, a Burgundian knight exclaimed bitterly, were all those lesser men who had risked death to fight a war so easily forgotten by the great."

     "In January 1435, all wrapped in furs against the perishing cold, an illustrious gathering assembled two hundred miles south of Arras at Nevers, between Armagnac Bourges and Burgundian Dijon. The duke of Burgundy had come to meet the Armagnac count of Clermont – newly elevated to the dukedom of Bourbon after the death of his father, who had never regained his freedom after Agincourt. The two men had spent much of 1434 in a battle for control of the border lands between their territories in eastern France; now, however, they had agreed a truce. The fact that the new duke of Bourbon was Burgundy’s brother-in-law, thanks to his marriage years earlier to the duke’s sister Agnes, had done nothing to stop the fighting, but now that diplomatic relations had been restored, Bourbon brought with him to the conference at Nevers another brother-in-law, Constable Richemont, the husband of Burgundy’s sister Margaret. Along with these two Armagnac princes of the blood, King Charles had sent his chancellor, the subtle and experienced archbishop of Reims. It was a happy reunion: so joyous, one chronicler said, that it appeared as though these lords had always been at peace. (How foolish, a Burgundian knight exclaimed bitterly, were all those lesser men who had risked death to fight a war so easily forgotten by the great.)"

     Helen Castor, Joan of Arc:  a history (New York:  Harper, 2015 [2014]), chap. 11 ("Those who called themselves Frenchmen").  Castor's source would appear to be 
Enguerrand de Monstrelet (d. 1453), La Chronique d’Enguerran de Monstrelet, ed. L. Douët-d’Arcq, 6 vols (Paris, 1857–62), vol. 5, p. 108 (or 1434 overall):
Et lors, ung chevalier de Bourgongne, là estant, dist hault et cler:  ‘Entre nous aultres, sommes bien mal conseillés de nous adventurer et mettre en péril de corps et de ame pour les singulières voulentés des princes et grans seigneurs, lesquelz, quand il leur plaist, se réconcilient l’un avec l’autre, et souvent en advient que nous en demourons povres et détruis.’  Si fut ceste parole bien notée et entendue des pluiseurs, là estans, de toutes les deux parties.  Et bien y avoit raison.  Car très souvent en advient ainsy. 
And then a knight of Burgundy, standing there, said loud and clear:  'Among us all [(aultres, others)] are many [who were] badly counseled to hazard and place ourselves in bodily and spiritual peril for the self-interested [(singulières, personal)] desires [(voulentés)] of princes and great lords, who, when[ever] it serves their purposes [(leur plaist, pleases them)], are [this easily] reconciled the one with the other, though [(et)] it often happens, as a consequence [(en)], that we by them [(en)] are left impoverished and in ruins.'  So this comment was well noted and heard by many standing about, of both parties.  And with good reason.  For it happens thus all too often.