Thursday, December 30, 2010

Seek, and you will find

"The Bible gives to every man and to every era such answers to their questions as they deserve.  We shall always find in it as much as we seek and no more:  high and divine content if it is high and divine content that we seek; transitory and 'historical' content, if it is transitory and 'historical' content that we seek--nothing whatever, if it is nothing whatever that we seek.  The hungry are satisfied by it, and to the satisfied it is surfeiting before they have opened it.  The question, What is within the Bible? has a mortifying way of converting itself into the opposing question, Well, what are you looking for, and who are you, pray, who make bold to look?"

Karl Barth, "The strange new world within the Bible," The Word of God and the word of man (Das Wort Gottes und die Theologie) II (trans. Douglas Horton, Great books of the Western world, 2nd ed. (Chicago, IL:  Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1990), 458).

David Martin on the necessity of judgment

"there is no escaping the social logic of authority.  Compassion has to include judgement and all the catch-phrases about 'non-judgemental compassion' are a sentimental gloss on the Gospels.  Vast harm is done by the refusal to exercise judgement, just because it makes you feel good."

David Martin as interviewed by Rupert Shortt in God's advocates:  Christian thinkers in conversation (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2005), 157.

Thesis, antithesis, synthesis?

"The crux is the necessity of authority, which is a 'functional prerequisite' of social organisation, let alone civility, and includes a settled claim to power and the legitimate use of violence.  Whatever the contemporary decline in deference and respect, and the proper fear of authoritarianism, authority is a key to everything worthwhile, indeed the key to any reform.  Just think of all the Christian experiments throughout history and it is clear that fraternity depends on discipline, on fathers-in-God as well as brothers, otherwise the wolf of chaos destroys the fold."

"My research on Pentecostalism reminded me of my grandfathers, who preferred standing up as 'speaking men' in the street or the chapel to taking a back seat while the military and the squirearchy read the lessons."

Pentecostalism is "a movement of Christian revival comparable to Islamic revival.  Yet when it comes to Pentecostalism, there isn't even a margin of violence.  One has to ask why people in Latin America, Africa and the Far East with much more to motivate hostility to 'the West' than the Middle East are so resolutely peaceful and anxious simply to work  hard to improve their own circumstances by the classic path of individual and group mobility.  Pentecostalism had an autobiographical resonance for me because I saw it as the kind of religious mobilisation of the poor seeking 'respectability'.  By that I mean the self-respect and the respect of others, through the respect shown them by the grace of God that had moved my own parents.  It is why I revived the theory of Halévy about Methodism and the entry of England into modernity. . . ."

David Martin as interviewed by Rupert Shortt in God's advocates:  Christian thinkers in conversation (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2005), 156, 170, 169.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

St. Bernard on the epiphany of the humanity

For from the moment the humanity of God becomes known, from that moment [his] beneficence cannot remain obscure.

Ubi enim Dei innotescit humanitas, jam benignitas latere non potest.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermon 1 on the Epiphany.  Latin from PL 183, col. 143A.  Office of readings for 29 December, Liturgy of the hours, vol. 1, p. 447:  "God's Son came in the flesh so that mortal men could see and recognize God's kindness.  When God reveals his humanity, his goodness cannot possibly remain hidden.  To show his kindness, what more could he do beyond taking my human form?"

Burrell on the inanity of process theology

"Sara Grant in her book Towards an alternative theology. . . . characterizes the unique bond between Creator and creation as a non-reciprocal relation of dependence.  All our relations of dependence are, of course, reciprocal.  It's illuminated in the Arab world, where people's names change when they become parents.  Let's say a couple have a child called Rasheed.  The father then becomes Abu Rasheed, and the mother's name becomes Um Rasheed.  So it reminds us that even though you might think the child depends solely on its parents, they, of course, experience a whole new identity through the birth of their child.  So every relationship between us in the world is a reciprocal one.  In Thomas' view, it's only creation which entails a non-reciprocal relation of dependence.  And, of course, some modern theologians took umbrage at this idea, and invented process theology, which pictures God as changing along with the universe.  We needn't discuss the inanity of that."

David Burrell as interviewed by Rupert Shortt in God's advocates:  Christian thinkers in conversation (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2005), 139.

Burrell on the distinction between philosophical theology and the philosophy of religion

". . . Thomas Aquinas offers us the stellar example of how someone, in trying to use philosophy to search for the truth of our faith, will have to transform ordinary philosophical categories.  And that transforming is to me the difference between the work I dophilosophical theologyand standard philosophy of religion.  Because the tendency of philosophers of religion is to think that their philosophical categories will work everywhere and there's no need to transform them to talk about God.  To my mind, the result of that is a procrustean picture of Godin effect an idol.  If you've got to fit God into your philosophical categories, then it's no longer God you're talking about.  And interestingly enough, something analogous can happen with ethical categories which have emerged in a climate without reference to a transcendent Creator. . . ."

David Burrell as interviewed by Rupert Shortt in God's advocates: Christian thinkers in conversation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005), 137.

Burrell on the natural law

"In referring to natural law, Thomas was talking about the fact that we cannot simply decide the rightness or wrongness of certain actions.  Take abortion.  You can argue as an ethicist as to whether abortion can be permitted, but you cannot say that abortion is simply a matter of choice, for the simple reason that certain ethical notions are built into the very grammar of our discourse.  It's not for us to overthrow themeven though in practice, of course, we tend to blur the categories when it suits us."

     David Burrell as interviewed by Rupert Shortt in God's advocates:  Christian thinkers in conversation (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2005), 137.

"how philosophers demonstrate their respect for one another"

"but that's how philosophers demonstrate their respect for one another. . . ."

"[Thomas] read [the Guide for the perplexed] and respondedtaking issue with Maimonides at several points. . . ."  David Burrell as interviewed by Rupert Shortt in God's advocates:  Christian thinkers in conversation (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2005), 129.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Notes on the inversion of stanza 5 of Charles Wesley's 1739 "Hymn for Christmas Day" ("Hark how all the welkin rings," changed by George Whitefield to "Hark! the herald angels sing" in 1753), IN PROGRESS

Hat tip:  Dr. Jennifer Woodruff Tait, who first alerted me to this via a post on Facebook dated 26 December 2010.  In all of the 25-or-so years I spent in Episcopal churches, I never noticed the inversion.

1739, Hymns and sacred poems, p. 207, according to the critical edition ed. Maddox and Maddox:

Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,

Ris’n with healing in his wings.

Mild he lays his glory by. . . .

1823, Church poetry:  being portions of the Psalms in verse, and hymns suited to the festivals and fasts, and various occasions of the church.  Selected and altered from various authors, by Wm. Augustus Muhlenberg, Associate Rector of St. James's Church, Lancaster (Philadelphia:  S. Potter & Co., J. Maxwell, Printer, 1823), 117 (where there are other significant modifications):

Hail, the heav’n born prince of peace!
Hail, the sun of righteousness!
Ris’n with healing in his wings.
Light and life to all he brings.


1824 October 

1827Hymns of the Protestant Episcopal Church, in the United States of America.  Set forth in General Conventions of said Church, in the years of our Lord, 1789, 1808, and 1826, #45, p. 30 (followed by no stanza 6).  This is probably the 1826 hymnal referenced on p. 87 of vol. 3A of The hymnal 1982 companion of 1990:

Ris'n with healing in his wings,
Light and life to all he brings;
Hail the Sun of righteousness,
Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!

1844 April (1843 December):  "In the collection of our Protestant Episcopal brethren, (certified by B. T. Onderdonk, 1832,) our four hundred and ninetieth is very ingeniously altered, and as it is one of the few alterations that can honestly be deemed improvements, we would accept it" (F., in the Methodist quarterly review 26 (3rd ser. 4), no. 2 (April 1844):  197, reviewing an edition of A collection of hymns for the use of the Methodist Episcopal Church . . .).

1892 (©1889), according to The hymnal 1982 companion, the first year stanza 6 appears, but now before stanza 5:

Mild He lays His glory by, . . .

Ris'n with healing in His wings,
Light and life to all He brings,

Hail, the Sun of righteousness!
Hail, the heaven-born Prince of Peace!

1982 (©1985), The hymnal 1982:

Mild he lays his glory by, . . .

Risen with healing in his wings,
light and life to all he brings,
hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
hail, the heaven-born Prince of Peace!

Note:  Over time I hope to check the pre-1827 hymnals of all denominations as listed under this hymn in resources like The Hymn Tune Index, and would appreciate hearing from any who have already done some of this (or other related) work.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

God forbid!

"A young lady of some birth and fortune, who knelt suddenly down on a brick floor by the side of a sick labourer and prayed fervidly as if she thought herself living in the time of the Apostleswho had strange whims of fasting like a Papist, and of sitting up at night to read old theological books!  Such a wife might awaken you some fine morning with a new scheme for the application of her income which would interfere with political economy and the keeping of saddle-horses. . . ."

George Eliot, Middlemarch I.i (Great books of the Western world, 2nd ed. (Chicago, IL:  Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1990), vol. 46, p. 206), of Dorothea.

"after all in a quarter where she had not sought it"

"she was enamoured of intensity and greatness, and rash in embracing whatever seemed to her to have these aspects; likely to seek martyrdom, to make retractions, and then to incur martyrdom after all in a quarter where she had not sought it."

George Eliot, Middlemarch I.i (Great books of the Western world, 2nd ed. (Chicago, IL:  Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1990), vol. 46, p. 205), of Dorothea.

Eliot on "these later-born Theresas"

"That Spanish woman who lived three hundred years ago was certainly not the last of her kind.  Many Theresas have been born who found for themselves no epic life wherein there was a constant unfolding of far-resonant action; perhaps only a life of mistakes, the offspring of a certain spiritual grandeur illmatched with the meanness of opportunity; perhaps a tragic failure which found no sacred poet and sank unwept into oblivion.  With dim lights and tangled circumstance they tried to shape their thought and deed in noble agreement; but after all, to common eyes their struggles seemed mere inconsistency and formlessness; for these later-born Theresas were helped by no coherent social faith and order which could perform the function of knowledge for the willing soul. . . ."

George Eliot, Middlemarch, Prelude (Great books of the Western world, 2nd ed. (Chicago, IL:  Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1990), vol. 46, p. 204), italics mine.