Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Without ANY distinction?

"men have begun to collect many books and great libraries outside and alongside of the Holy Scriptures, and especially have begun to scramble together without any distinction, all sorts of 'fathers,' 'councils,' and doctors.'  Not only has good time been wasted and the study of the Scriptures neglected, but the pure understanding of God's Word is lost. . . ."

     Martin Luther, Preface in vol. 1 of the Wittenberg edition of his German works (1539), as reproduced in Philip Jacob Spener, Pia desideria (1675) III.1, trans. and ed. Theodore G. Tappert (Philadelphia:  Fortress Press, 1964), 91.  =WA 50, 657, ll. 5-10.  =Works 34, 283.

There are some diseases that we've never seen God heal

"As Emile Zola once noted:  The road to Lourdes is littered with crutches, but not one wooden leg."

     Mary Karr, Lit: a memoir (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2009), 255.  Shouldn't that be the road from Lourdes?  This reminds me of a comment I once read in Books and culture to the effect that there are some diseases that we have never seen God heal.
     I don't know about Zola, but here is Anatole France, in his essay on "Miracle" (The works of Anatole France in an English translation, ed. Frederic Chapman and J. Lewis May, vol. 12, 2nd ed. (London:  John Lane, The Bodley Head; New York:  John Lane Company, 1920), 176-177):
     Happening to be at Lourdes, in August, I paid a visit to the grotto where innumerable crutches were hung up in token of a cure.  My companion pointed to these trophies of the sick-room and hospital ward, and whispered in my ear:     ‘One wooden leg would be more to the point.’     It was the word of a man of sense; but speaking philosophically, the wooden leg would be no whit more convincing than a crutch.  If an observer of a genuinely scientific spirit were called upon to verify that a man’s leg, after amputation, had suddenly grown again as before, whether in a miraculous pool or anywhere else, he would not cry:  ‘Lo! a miracle.’  He would say this:  ‘An observation, so far unique, points us to a presumption that under conditions still undetermined, the tissues of a human leg have the property of reorganizing themselves like a crab’s or lobster’s claws and a lizard’s tail, but much more rapidly.  Here we have a fact of nature in apparent contradiction with several other facts of the like sort.  The contradiction arises from our ignorance, and clearly shows that the science of animal physiology must be reconstituted, or to speak more accurately, that it has never been properly constituted.’ . . . the man of science above surprise. . . . Such miraculous cures as the doctors have been able to verity to their satisfaction are all quite in accordance with physiology.

(That's actually quite consonant with a responsible Christian theology of both miracle and nature, by the way.) 

"Fulfill the contract you entered into at the box factory, amen."

     "In[to the car] climbs big-footed David [Foster Wallace], red bandana around his head, along with a[nother] guy from our [AA] group named Jack.
     "Jack of the red curly hair, skittery-eyed Jack, whoon being introduced to me firstexplained that he had a little touch of the schizophrenia, as he held his index finger one inch from thumb.  Mostly he stays medicated enough to hold down a job at the box factory.  But he once showed up to arrange chairs with a tinfoil over his head molded into a knight's helmet with a kind of swan shape on top, convinced that his girlfriend was beaming messages to him through the radio.  It's a tribute to the radical equality of the room that I never heard anybody ever challenge the reasoning. . . .
     "Riding back to Lexington in the backseat, I sit between passed-out, openmouthed Jameshis breath on the side window spreading and receding like a tideand curly-headed Jack.  I think with rue of Joan the Bone's injunction to ask the first person I saw about my marriage.  I'm still angling to prove what crazy bullshit her much vaunted surrender-to-the-group concept is.  Whatever Jack's brief spells of clarity, he rarely goes to a meeting without jabbering out something nutty.
     "So I start whispering my tale of marital woe to Jack, who sits in the hunched posture of somebody tensing against a blow.  Occasionally, he'll tug a red curl over the crease in his forehead.
     "Eventually, I wind down and ask, what should I do?  And I wait for the word salad of his scrambled cortex to spew forth.  Instead, his eyes meet mine evenly, and he saysas it seems everybody saysYou should pray about it.
     "But what if I don't believe in God?  It's like they've sat me in front of a mannequin and said, Fall in love with him.  You can't will feeling.
     "What Jack says issues from some still, true place that could not be extinguished by all the schizophrenia his genetic code could muster.  It sounds something like this:
     "Get on your knees and find some quiet place inside yourself, a little sunshine right about here.  Jack holds his hands in a ball shape about midchest, saying, Let go.  Surrender, Dorothy, the witch wrote in the sky.  Surrender, Mary.
     "I want to surrender but have no idea what that means.
     "He goes on with a level gaze and a steady tone:  Yield up what scares you.  Yield up what makes you want to scream and cry.  Enter into that quiet.  It's a cathedral.  It's an empty football stadium with all the lights on.  And pray to be an instrument of peace.  Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is conflict, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope . . .
     "What if I get no answer there?
     "If God hasn't spoken, do nothing.  Fulfill the contract you entered into at the box factory, amen.  Make the containers you promised to tape and staple.  Go quietly and shine.  Wait.  Those not impelled to act must remain in the cathedral.  Don't be lonely.  I get so lonely sometimes, I could put a box on my head and mail myself to a stranger.  But I have to go to a[n AA] meeting and make the chairs circle perfect.
     "He kisses his index finger and plants it in the middle of my forehead, and I swear it burns like it had eucalyptus on it.  Like a coal from the archangel onto the mouth of Moses."

     Mary Karr, Lit: a memoir (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2009), 230-231, 233-234.  (She means Isaiah, I think.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"What fun-house land have I crossed into, where the rich seek the counsel of the poor?"

     Mary Karr, Lit: a memoir (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2009), 191.

"We're asleep most of the time, I once heard the writer George Saunders say, but we can wake up."

     Mary Karr, Lit: a memoir (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2009), 190.

How can I keep from singing?

     "Every now and then we enter the presence of the numinous and deduce for an instant how we're formed, in what detail the force that infuses every petal might specifically run through us, wishing only to lure us into our full potential.  Usually, the closest we get is when we love, or when some beloved beams back, which can galvanize you like steel and make resilient what had heretofore only been soft flesh.  (Dev, you gave me that.)  It can start you singing as the lion pads over to you, its jaws hinging open, its hot breath on you.  Even unto death.

Mary Karr 2009 Pax Christi"

     Mary Karr, Lit:  a memoir (New York:  HarperCollins Publishers, 2009), 385-386.  The allusion is to p. 350:  "Early Christians, [Tobias Wolff] tells me, partly won converts by going to death singing.  I mean, a lion is eating your face and you're singing.  Or you're crucified upside down and you're singing.  It's undeniable that some experience changed them from the normal consciousness.  Maybe they were hypnotized, brainwashed.  Aren't suicide bombers gleeful?"



Thursday, December 15, 2011

"only an editorial Casaubon would wish to pursue the matter further."

"There are three possible candidates William Lowth (1660-1732), Simon Lowth (1630-1720), and Robert Lowth (1710-87); all prolific writers on theological subjects.  The reader has a free choice; Professor Haight favours the first while I incline to the last, since he engaged in controversy with Bishop Warburton, mentioned elsewhere in connection with Casaubon.  But only an editorial Casaubon would wish to pursue the matter further."

     W. J. Harvey, on the Lowth alluded to in chap. 37 of Middlemarch, by George Eliot.  George Eliot, Middlemarch, ed. W. J. Harvey (Harmondsworth:  Penguin Books, 1965), 905 (chap. 37, note 4, from p. 409).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Famous last words

     "After Custer gave the battalion orders, Half Yellow Face spoke through Boyer.  'Do not divide your men,' he said.  'There are too many of the enemy for us, even if we stay together.  If you must fight, keep us all together.'
     "Custer was in no mood to hear dire predictions.  'You do the scouting, and I will attend to the fighting,' he said.
     "The Crow began to strip off his clothes and paint his face.  Custer asked what he was doing.
     "'Because you and I are going home today, and by a trail that is strange to us both,' said Half Yellow Face."

     James Donovan, A terrible glory: Custer and the Little Bighornthe last great battle of the American West (New York:  Little, Brown and Company, 2008), 212.  Half Yellow Face was among the very few who came to grips with the sheer size of the Indian encampment in time.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

"he had to wince under a promise of success given by that ignorant praise which misses every valid quality."

George Eliot, Middlemarch, book 5, chap. 45 (Penguin edition ed. W. J. Harvey (1965), p. 490).

"If any assert that he has now put off his holy flesh, and that his Godhead is stripped of the body, and deny that he is now with his body and will come again with it, let him not see the glory of his coming."

Εἴ τις ἀποτεθεῖσθαι νῦν τὴν ἁγίαν σάρκα λέγοι, καὶ γυμνὴν εἶναι τὴν θεότητα τοῦ σώματος, ἀλλὰ μὴ μετὰ τοῦ προσλήμματος καὶ εἶναι, καὶ ἥξειν, μὴ ἴδοι τὴν δόξαν τῆς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ.

     Gregory of Nazianzus, Ep. 101 to Celdonius against Apollinaris, trans. Charles Gordon Browne and James Edward Swallow (Christology of the later fathers, ed. Edward Rochie Hardy in collaboration with Cyril C. Richardson, Library of Christian classics 3 (Philadelphia:  The Westminster Press, 1954), 218 (215-224)).  Greek from PG 37, col. 181A (to be checked against SC 208).

"the more simple a thing, the more relations attend it"

"it is not against the notion of anything's simplicity that there be many relations between it and others; indeed the more simple a thing, the more relations attend it.  For the more simple a thing is the less limited is its power and thus its causality can extend to more.  That it why it is said in the Book of Causes that the more a power is unifed, the more infinite it is than any multiplied power. . . .
     "Therefore, it follows on the supreme simplicity of God that infinite relations exist between creatures and him, insofar as he produces creatures different from himself, but in some way like unto him."

     St. Thomas Aquinas, De potentia 7.8.Resp., trans. Ralph McInerny (Thomas Aquinas: selected writings, ed. & trans. Ralph McInerny (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1998), 328).

Monday, December 5, 2011

St. Spyridon (or Spiridon), the pagan philosopher, and the brick or tile or potsherd

     I am interested in tracking this to source.  Unfortunately, it remains very much a work in progress, a work I am likely to get to only in spurts, as time permits:

     In what follows, I reproduce Paul van den Ven, La légende de S. Spyridon, évêque de Trimithonte, Bibliothèque du Muséon 33 (Louvain:  Publications Universitaires and the Institut Orientaliste, 1953).  I have skimmed clear through the Greek of chap. 6 of the Life by Theodore twice, as reproduced on pp. 27-34 of the critical edition by Ven (above), looking for a reference to the use of the brick/tile/potsherd, but without any success so far (though my Greek is admittedly primitive).  Can someone help?  The first reference to Spyridon in chap. 6 occurs at p. 28 l. 15, though Spyridon does not begin addressing the philosopher until p. 30 l. 7.  The line, "In this wise became the philosopher a Christian and, having been overcome by the old man, rejoiced," occurs at p. 31 l. 16-p. 32 l. 2, after which point the scene seems to shift, sidelining (?) Spyridon until p. 34 l. 8., i.e. the penultimate sentence of the chapter.
  1. Life in iambic verse upon which Theodore of Paphos relied (Ven, Lives III-IV = Part III, pp. 115* ff.; Textes, pp. 129 ff.):  does not cover events at the Council of Nicaea.
  2. Hist. eccl. of Rufinus, as translated back into Greek by Gelasius of Cesarea (= Hist. eccl. X.3-5, as ed. Mommsen (pp. 961-965), but Glas, below, offers this as well):  conversion of the pagan philosopher effected by an unnamed rough and illiterate bishop-shepherd, not Spyridon (though Spyridon plays a role in this account of the Council of Nicaea).  [I've skimmed the Latin without seeing a reference to the brick/tile/potsherd.  But I could well have missed that.]
  3. Life of Theodore of Paphos (Ven, Life I = Part II, pp. 55* ff.; Textes, pp. 1 ff.):  attributes the conversion of the pagan philosopher to Spyridon.  Yet Theodore was so scrupulous with his sources, that this is probably a later interpolation (Ven, pp. 76*-78*).  (Earlier Ven had argued that it was the work of Theodore himself, free-wheeling a bit on the basis of Rufinus-Gelasius, but he came to think this highly unlikely (pp. 75-76*).)
  4. Chronicle of George the Monk (Chronique de Georges le Moine, ed. de Boor, p. 505, 17-508; and A. Glas, Die Kirchengeschichte des Gelasios von Kaisareia (1914), pp. 36-44):  "one of these passages contains precisely the piece about which we speak, translated from Rufinus in terms very similar to those of the work of Theodore, [but] with attribution to Spyridon of the conversion of the philosopher," so the question is whence this identification with Spyridon derives.  Heseler derives it from Theodore, but "It is easier to say this than to prove it" (indeed, "That George the Monk knew [that it was] Spyridon thanks to a source other than the work of Theodore is indubitable").  [So does the identification antedate Theodore?]  Does it derive somehow from Rufinus-Gelasius?  No, not from any reconstruction of the latter known to us.  Apprarently the Hist. eccl. by Theodore the Lector is one potential intermediary, but this whole section (Ven, pp. 79*-80*) ends unsatisfactorily.
Additional titles of some relevance:
  • Saint Spyridon of Tremithus:  Life; Miracles after his repose; Liturgical service and Akathist hymn in his honor.  Liberty, TN:  St. John of Kronstadt Press, 1997.  Life from pp. 330-350 of vol. 4 of [The lives of the saints in the Russian language, as set forth in the Menology of St. Dimitri of Rostov] (Moscow:  Synodal Press, 1903), by Isaac E. Lambertsen in 1981; Miracles from pp. 338-369 of vol. 12 and pp. 205-207 of vol. 8 of the 5th edition of [The great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church] (Athens:  Archimandrite Matthew Lagges, Pub., 1974), by Leonides J. Papadopoulos and Georgia Lizardos in 1984; Liturgical service by Isaac E. Lambertsen in 1983 "and subsequently incorporated into vol. 4 of The Menaion of the Orthodox Church (Liberty, TN:  St. John of Kronstadt Press, 1996); and Akathist hymn by Isaac E. Lambertsen in 1988.  For references to the brick/tile/potsherd (tile here), see pp. 34 (a note of some kind positioned not in the Life (!), but in the Miracles after his repose), 53 (Kontakion III of the Akathist hymn), 54 (Ikos III of the Akathist hymn), 62 (Prayer I to the Holy Hierarch Spyridon, Wonderworker of Tremithus, in the Akathist hymn), and maybe elsewhere (though I didn't see any elsewhere, just skimming).  Note though that this title refers to no sources behind the Russian Life (from the Menology of St. Dimitri of Rostov) and the (contemporary) liturgy.
  • Novum Auctarium Bibliothecae Hagiographicae Graecae.  Ed. François Halkin, S.J.  Subsidia Hagiographica 65.  Brussels, Société des Bollandistes, 1984.  See pp. 192 ff.
  • Bibliotheca hagiographica Graeca.  3rd ed.  Ed. François Halkin, S.J.  Subsidia hagiographica 8a.  3 vols.  Brussels:  Société des Bollandistes, 1957.  See nos. 1647 ff. (pp. 246 ff.).
  • Garitte, Gérard.  "L'édition des Vies de saint Spyridon par M. van den Ven."  Revue d'histoire écclesiastique 50 (1955):  125-140.
  • Bibliotheca hagiographica Graeca.  2nd ed.  2 vols.  Bruxelles:  Société des Bollandistes, 1909.  Additional titles in modern Greek listed here.
  • Usener, H.  "Beiträge zur Geschichte der Legendliteratur."  Jahrbücher für protestantische Theologie 13 (1887):  219-232 (219-259).

    Seripando on the theory of the duplex iustitia

    "'Has the justified, who has performed good works in a state of grace and with the help of actual graceboth of which stem from the merits of Christand who has thus preserved both inherent justice, so completely met the claims of divine justice that when he appears before the judgment-seat of Christ he obtains eternal life on account of his own merits?  Or is he in need, in addition to his own inherent justice, of the mercy and justice of Christ, that is, of the merits of His Passion, in order to supplement what is wanting to his own personal justice?  and this in such wise that this justice is imparted to him in the measure of his faith and charity?'"

         One of the two questions submitted to the theologians by the Council of Trent on 15 October 1546 in response to the "vote" cast by the Augustinian Girolomo Seripando on 8 October (Hubert Jedin, A history of the Council of Trent, trans. Dom Ernest Graf, O.S.B. (London:  Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd, 1961), vol. 2 (The first sessions at Trent, 1545-47), p. 249).  This vote "raised a problem the discussion of which was destined to delay the conclusion of the debate for many weeks" (247):  "a question had cropped up which would have to be thoroughly examined once more.  It was not the case that any serious doubts about the fundamental principles of the Catholic doctrine of justification had arisen in the minds of its members.  They all conceived it as an entitative, supernatural elevation, through sanctifying grace and the meritoriousness of good works performed in a state of grace.  Ultimately the only question was the formulation of an acknowledged element of Christian piety, namely the relation of the justified to Jesus Christ, his Saviour" (248-249; cf. Seripando's stress on the significance of union with Christ on 26-27 November (286-287)).  This distinction between "the fundamental principles of . . . doctrine" and "an acknowledged element of Christian piety" was an important one to some:  "For Stephen [of Sestino] this imputation [of 'the perfect justice of Christ'] is a postulate of practical piety:  'Do not let us talk of transcendental matters, let us not attempt to square the circle, but let us speak in the light of our own experience.'  Personal experience and the experience of the Saints . . . teach us that when the Christian reflects on the dreadful judgment to come, he has recourse to God's mercy and the merits of Jesus Christ.  Another Augustinian Hermit, Gregory of Padua, similarly appealed to the personal experience of Christians.  In theory he rejected the doctrine of the insufficiency of inherent justice but in practice he advocated the imputation of the justice of Christ for, he asks, which of us, when he considers his own life, will presume to assert that he has adequately satisfied every one of God's demands?" (254-255, emphasis mine)  The Servite Mazochi, for his part, distinguished between speaking "'to scholastics as a scholastic'" and speaking as an "ordinary Christian" (255).  Etc.
         Ultimately, though, Seripando's "question of a twofold justice" (248), though never formally condemned (Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, vol. 14, col. 1934), was answered by the Council in the negative.
         Thus, I have yet to put my finger on anything like the "Silentio" I remember David Willis once speaking of.  According to Willis if memory serves, Seripando posed a question similar to the one posed by Gregory of Padua above ("Which of us, when he appears before the judgment-seat of Christ, will presume, etc."), and got from the Council Fathers only a stunned (because dumbfounded) "Silentio" in reply.  Rather, opposition to "la théorie de la double justice" (Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, vol. 14, col. 1933-1934; cf. vol. 8, cols. 2182-2185) seems to have been pretty vigorous from the moment Seripando invoked it.  Indeed, at least three of the Fathers "expressed a willingness o be judged on the basis of their works" (McCue, 52-53).
         But:  I have read only very superficially in this area, and would be more than happy to stand corrected.  (I am particularly interested in confirmation of the tale as I remember Dr. Willis telling it.)

    Further scholarship that I should probably examine (in progress):

    Sunday, December 4, 2011

    "intellectual historians must use [period] dictionaries"

    "After praising Skinner, I must confess here my own early naïvetéit took me a good decade to recognize that, in my own field, many practitioners of intellectual history are just dogmaticians in disguise; perhaps half a decade more to realize that the phrase 'Barthian historiography' is an oxymoron; and several more years beyond that to come to grips with the datum that systematic theologians, taken as a group, do not read historical documents and, when they go so far as to cite historical documents, often evidence a deep aversion to the meaning intended by the original authors."

         Richard A. Muller, "Reflections on persistent Whiggism and its antidotes in the study of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century intellectual history," in Seeing things their way:  intellectual history and the return of religion, ed. Alister Chapman, John Coffey, and Brad S. Gregory (Notre Dame, IN:  University of Notre Dame Press, 2009), 137 (134-153).  "the writings of a Luther, Calvin, Montaigne, or Descartes do not provide the context for the interpretation of the writings of Luther, Calvin, Montaigne, or Descartes" (140).  "intellectual historians must use sixteenth- and seventeenth-century dictionaries" (138).  One of the things Whiggism does is ignore "the 'minor' or 'lesser' thinkers of an era" and examine "only the thought of a major writer to the exclusion of the persons and events that surrounded him" (140).  To stop doing this would be to come to grips with "the lack of originality of sixteenth-century writers [on grace] like Calvin" (142-143).  This Muller calls "the 'great thinker' problem" (139).

    Doctrinal fidelity with development: just possible

    "Doctrinal fidelity in the [Zoroastrian] cult of Mithra can thus be demonstrated over a period of at least 2,500 years.
         "Close doctrinal fidelity by the Zoroastrian church can be established in other respects also; and the veneration in which it holds its prophet is shown in many ways.  Yet by the syncretic theory one is asked to believe that profound respect for Zoroaster, and a proven tradition of immense conservatism and loyalty, can both be reconciled with an early, radical betrayal of Zoroaster's own teachings; and that in the case of Mithra, the prophet's disciples, although scrupulously preserving his own words and his moral teachings, so far rejected his doctrines that they put their worship of the god whom he preached, Ahura Mazda, under the protection of a god whom he denied, or even abhorred[, namely, Mithra].  To establish the syncretic theory against such opposing considerations would require very strong evidence indeed; and in fact, as we have seen, there is no real evidence for it at all.  It is reasonable, therefore, to reject it, and to accept instead the testimony of the Zoroastrian church, unchanged and harmonious at all known periods of its history.  From it one can deduce that Zoroaster held to the basic theology of the old Iranian religion, with all its yazatas[, including Mithra], and that his reform consisted largely in reinterpreting its beliefs at a nobler and subtler spiritual level, in the light of an intensely personal apprehension of the supreme God, and of the struggle to be waged between good and evil.
         "The immense help given over the last century and more by comparative philology for the better understanding of the Avesta, and the great advances made, have led perhaps to a touch of hubris in the West, to an assumption that on all points juddīns can interpret the Good Religion better than its own adherents; but this is a sweeping assumption, and the study of other religions suggests that it is unlikely to be true.  Plainly there have been considerable theological developments in the course of the long history of Zoroastrianism; but there is little sign of those radical breaks and changes in doctrine which have been so widely postulated by Western scholars."

         Mary Boyce, "On Mithra's part in Zoroastrianism," Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 32, no. 1 (1969):  34 (10-34).  Background:  The "particular Iranian doctrine which is generally held in the West to have been rejected by Zoroaster" is "the doctrine that Mithra existed, that he was a great and good god, and that he was to be worshipped.  Most Western scholars have held that Zoroaster denied the existence of Mithra, or was vehemently opposed to his cult, or tacitly ignored it" (14).  But this was due to the above-mentioned "touch of [Western] hubris".  Moreover, "the present Zoroastrian veneration of Mihr, as protector under the Creator Ōhrmazd, is wholly consonant with what is regarded as the oldest allusion to Mithra in the Avesta" (33).
         If Boyce is right, and Zoroaster did not break with "the old Iranian religion" over Mithra (nor has Zoroastrianism ever done), that is nevertheless not the same thing as (for example) the apparently highly dubious claim that the Mithraism of the 1st through 4th/5th-century Greco-Roman West was a form of Zoroastrianism plain and simple!

         Something else worth excerpting: "The Zoroastrian tradition is firm that the Zoroastrian church is one, and that it was founded by Zoroaster, who was a great prophet but a mortal man, living at a particular time in history. All the marvellous legends of his birth and life have not obscured this basic tenet. The day of Zoroaster's death is remembered each year in Iran and India, on Rūz Khoršēd, Māh Dai, and a bāj (i.e. the drōn ceremony) is then solemnized in his honour. This service is celebrated for him as for a righteous man who has died, an ašo ravān; and since no Zoroastrian act of worship may be offered to a human being, however holy, the service is celebrated with the xšnūman of Ardā Fravaš, but with a special intention (nāmčišti) for the soul of Zoroaster. . . . This liturgical fact is of primary importance as evidence for Zoroaster’s human existence. If his own followers have resisted the pious temptation to make their prophet divine, there seems little justification for juddīns to do so” (12).
        

    Saturday, November 26, 2011

    Doctor Subtilis

    "It was all very well to look pale, sitting for the portrait of Aquinas, you know. . . . But Aquinas, now - he was a little too subtle, wasn't he?  Does anybody read Aquinas?"

         Mr. Brooke of Edward Casaubon, in George Eliot's Middlemarch, chap. 28.  The "subtle doctor" was, of course, Duns Scotus.

    "Young Mr Ladislaw was not at all deep himself in German writers; but very little achievement is required in order to pity another man's shortcomings."

    George Eliot, Middlemarch, chap. 21.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    "the 'no God's land' of a human liberty improperly raised to the rank of a secondary divinity"

    "The human being and God are not in competition, simply because the first and the second cause are not on the same plane.  Furthermore, it is God himself who gives the free choice of the creature all of its (determined) reality.  Confronted with the immense mystery of predestination and the unequal distribution of grace, one ought not to propose a 'solution,' but to situate the mystery in its proper place:  in the fathomless liberty, goodness, and wisdom of God, and not in the 'no God's land' of a human liberty improperly raised to the rank of a secondary divinity.  Henceforth, Bañezianismand the thesis of physical premotionbecame the official doctrine of the Dominican Order."

    Serge-Thomas Bonino, O.P., "The Thomist tradition" (2003), trans. Bernhard Blankenhorn, O.P., Nova et vetera:  the English edition of the international theological journal 8, no. 4 (Fall 2010):  881 (869-881).

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Kennan on the importance of "a resolute and courageous liquidation of unsound positions"

    "There is more resepect to be won . . . by a resolute and courageous liquidation of unsound positions than by the most stubborn pursuit of extravagant or unpromising objectives."

    George Kennan, as quoted by Frank Costigliola, in his "Is this George Kennan?," The New York review of books 58, no. 19 (December 8, 2011), 6 (4-8).

    The happiness of me

    "at the age of twenty, [Mill] suffered one of the most famous nervous breakdowns in history; having embraced utilitarianism with a religious passion, he asked himself a fatal question:  If all his plans for the happiness of others were realized, would he himself be happy?  'An irrepressible self-consciousness distinctly answered, "No!"'  Only after eighteen months of depression did he regain his poise."

         Alan Ryan on John Stuart Mill, in "The passionate hero, then and now," The New York review of books 58, no. 19 (December 8, 2011), 60 (59-63).  The quotation is from chap. 5 of the Autobiography.

    "in the thick of foes"

         "It is not simply to be taken for granted that the Christian has the privilege of living among other Christians.  Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies.  At the end all his disciples deserted him.  On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers.  For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God.  So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes [(mitten under die Feinde)].  There is his commission, his work.  'The Kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies.  And he also who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people.  O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ!  If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared?' (Luther).
         "'I will sow them among the people:  and they shall remember me in far countries' (Zech. 10:9).  According to God's will Christendom [(Christenheit)] is a scattered people, scattered like seed 'into all the kingdoms of the earth' (Deut. 28:25).  That is its curse and its promise.  God's people must dwell in far countries among the unbelievers, but it will be the seed of the Kingdom of God in all the world.'"

         Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life together, trans. John W. Doberstein (New York:  Harper One, HarperCollins Publishers, [1954]), 17-18.

    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    Bonhoeffer on the unavoidability of reproof

         "Reproof is unavoidable.  God's Word demands it when a brother falls into open sin.  The practice of discipline in the congregation begins in the smallest circles.  Where defection from God's Word in doctrine or life imperils the family fellowship and with it the whole congregation, the word of admonition and rebuke must be ventured.  Nothing can be more cruel than the tenderness that consigns another to his sin.  Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe rebuke that calls a brother back from the path of sin.  It is a ministry of mercy, an ultimate offer of genuine fellowship, when we allow nothing but God's Word to stand between us, judging and succoring.  Then it is not we who are judging; God alone judges, and God's judgment is helpful and healing.  Ultimately, we have no charge but to serve our brother, never to set ourselves above him, and we serve him even when we must speak the judging and dividing Word of God to him, even when, in obedience to God, we must break off fellowship with him."

         Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life together, trans. John W. Doberstein (New York:  HarperOne, HarperCollins Publishers, [1954]), 107, a passage that should be read within the whole of chap. 4 (on Ministry), but goes nonetheless firmly against the present grain.  From pp. 105-106:

    "And yet this correct judgment lies perilously near to the deadly dictum of Cain:  'Am I my brother's keeper?'  A seemingly sacred respect for another's freedom can be subject to the curse of God:  'His blood will I require at thine hand' (Ezek. 3:18).
         "Where Christian live together the time must inevitably come when in some crisis one person will have to declare God's Word and will to another.  It is inconceivable that the things that are of utmost importance to each individual should not be spoken by one to another.  It is unchristian consciously to deprive another of the one decisive service we can render to him. . . ."
         "The basis on which Christians can speak to one another is that each knows the other as a sinner, who, with all his human dignity, is lonely and lost if he is not given help.  This is not to make him contemptible nor to disparage him in any way.  On the contrary, it is to accord him the one real dignity that man has, namely, that, though he is a sinner, he can share in God's grace and glory and be God's child.  This recognition gives to our brotherly speech the freedom and candor that it needs.  We speak to one another on the basis of the help with both need.  We admonish one another to go the way that Christ bids us to go.  We warn one another against the disobedience that is our common destruction.  We are gentle and we are severe with one another, for we know both God's kindness and God's severity."

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    "a certain beatitude of our body"

         "Thus, although sensible perception, apparently disparaged at the beginning [of the 'Adore te deuote'] (v. 5), is revealed [to be] necessary in order to understand the message and to contemplate the sacramental Christ, one notes that it persists even once glorified.  In eternity, the humanity of Christ will be also the object of our contemplation:  'There will be a certain beatitude of our body, in that it will [continue to] see God in sensible creatures, and in the body of Christ above all' (Sentences IV, d.49 q.2 a.2 [ad 6]), and Thomas specifies elsewhere:  'The blessed contemplate in the first place [(prioritairement)] the divinity of Christ and not his humanity.  But they find their joy in the contemplation of the one and of the other' (Quodlibet VIII, q. 9 a.2 [Resp.]).  This will be an integral and inalienable component of their beatitude.  Thomas, 'in his entirety' glorified, will contemplate [the] glorified Jesus 'in his entirety' [(Thomas, «tout entier» glorifié, contemplera Jésus glorifié «tout entier»)]."

         Jean-Pierre Torrell, O.P., "«Adore Te»:  La plus belle prière de saint Thomas," La vie spirituelle no. 726 (mars 1998):  35 (28-36).  The Sed contra of Quodlibet VIII q. 9 a.2 is more explicit than the Respondeo"On the contrary, one does not attain to the end [(extremum)] except through the middle [(medium)]; but the middle between God and men is the humanity of Christ:  1 Tim. 2:5:  ‘the mediator [between] God and men is the man Christ Jesus.’  Therefore the blessed do not attain to the contemplation of the divinity of Christ except by first contemplating his humanity [(Ergo sancti non perveniunt ad contemplationem divinitatis Christi, nisi prius contemplando eius humanitatem)]."  But there is also an "ad Sed contra," something I have yet to see in the Summa.  And it is from this that  Torrell gets his "Thomas specifies elsewhere":  "To that which [the Sed] contra throws up as an obstacle, [it is] to be said that this argument procedes with respect to the state of [life on] the way, in which, since [(sed (but), next clause)] we are not yet perfectly conjoined with God, . . . [(sed)] it behooves us to accede to God through Christ; but since in beatitude we will already be conjoined with God, we [will] intend the divinity of Christ before [(per prius . . . quam)] his humanity."

    Sunday, November 6, 2011

    "although we can in a way understand God without understanding his goodness, we cannot understand God by understanding that he is not good".

    "licet nos intelligamus aliqualiter Deum, non intelligendo eius bonitatem, non tamen possumus intelligere Deum intelligendo eum non esse bonum".

    St. Thomas Aquinas, De potentia 7.4.ad 8, trans. Ralph McInerny (Thomas Aquinas: selected writings, ed. & trans. Ralph McInerny (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1998), 309).

    Lieux d'oubli

         "What is new, at least in the modern era, is the neglect of history. Every memorial, every museum, every shorthand commemorative allusion to something from the past that should arouse in us the appropriate sentiments of respect, or regret, or sadness, or pride, is parasitic upon the presumption of historical knowledge:  not shared memory, but a shared memory of history as we learned it.  France, like other modern nations, is living off the pedagogical capital invested in its citizens in earlier decades. As Jacques and Mona Ozouf gloomily conclude in their essay on Augustine Fouillé's educational classic Le Tour de la France par deux enfants [(1877)]: 'Le Tour de la France stands as witness to that moment in French history when everything was invested in the schools....
    "...to judge from the virtual disappearance of narrative history from the curriculum in school systems, including the American, the time may soon come when, for many citizens, large parts of their common past will constitute something more akin to lieux d'oubli, realms of forgettingor, rather, realms of ignorance, since there will have been little to forget. Teaching children, as we now do, to be critical of received versions of the past serves little purpose once there no longer is a received version."

         Tony Judt, "À la recherche du temps perdu: France and its pasts" (1998), in Reappraisals: reflections on the forgotten twentieth century (New York: The Penguin Press, 2008), 215-216 (196-218).

    Saturday, November 5, 2011

    "no myths, no glory, no peasants", or "'Will French cuisine be all that remains when everything else is forgotten?'"

    "Lieux de mémoire, as Nora puts it in his introductory essay, 'exist because there are no longer any milieux de mémoire, settings in which memory is a real part of everyday experience.'  And what are lieux de mémoire?  '[They] are fundamentally vestiges . . . the rituals of a ritual-less society; fleeting incursions of the sacred into a disenchanted world:  vestiges of parochial loyalties in a society that is busily effacing all parochialisms.'"

         Tony Judt, quoting Pierre Nora's "Between memory and history," Realms of memory:  rethinking the French past 3 (Symbols), ed. Lawrence D.Kritzman, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (New York:  Columbia University Press, 1998 (1996-1998)), pp. 6-7, in his (i.e. Judt's) "À la recherche du temps perdu:  France and its pasts" (1998), Reappraisals:  reflections on the forgotten twentieth century (New York:  The Penguin Press, 2008), 204 (196-218).  Cf. Judt himself:  "In erecting formal reminders or replicas of something we ought to remember, we risk further forgetfulness:  By making symbols or remnants stand for the whole, we ease ourselves into an illusion" (197-198).  I would supplement that last sentence as follows:  "By making symbols or remnants stand for the whole" we have ourselves abandoned or been passively complicit in the demolition of (à la Wendell Berry?), whether that be the reality itself or at least the full-orbed history of it,...

         "Moreover, these ['information'] panels ['set off to the right at frequent intervals' along 'the magnificently engineered, impeccably landscaped autoroutes of France'] are intentionally and unapologetically didactic:  They tell you about the French pastor about present-day activities (wine-making, for example) that provide continuity with the pastin ways that reinforce a certain understanding of the country.  Ah, we say, yes:  The battlefield of Verdun; the amphitheater at Nîmes; the cornfields of the Beauce.  And as we reflect upon the variety and the wealth of the country, the ancient roots and modern traumas of the nation, we share with others a certain memory of France.  We are being led at seventy miles an hour through the Museum of France that is France itself" (197).

    Saturday, October 29, 2011

    "the LORD is God; there is no other".

    “The Christian-Jewish God is the incomparable Wholly Other and One [(der unvergleichbare völlig Andere und Eine)]; but a god in Greco-Roman antiquity is only one among innumerable others, the number of which is constantly on the make [(sich ständig vermehrt)].  The men of Greco-Roman antiquity for whom Josephus writes see themselves at one end of a continuum at the other end of which are to be found the gods.  The way from one end to the other is [both] traversable and [in fact] traversed.  Differences between [the] gods and men are sometimes so slight that one does not in a [given] encounter know whether it is with a god or a man that one has to do.”

    Ulrich Victor, "Das Testimonium Flavianum:  ein authentischer Text des Josephus," Novum testamentum 52 (2010):  73 (72-82).

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    "Very ignorant, very innocent and very civilized."

    Primo Levi, "Of 'Cesare' (Lello Perugia, his Italian companion on the journey home [from Auschwitz])," as quoted by Tony Judt, in his "The elementary truths of Primo Levi," Reappraisals: reflections on the forgotten twentieth century (New York:  The Penguin Press, 2008), 51 (citing The reawakening, p. 204) (44-62).

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    "The burning bush is the Cross. The highest claim of revelation, the 'I am he,' and the Cross of Jesus are inseparably one."

    "'When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am [(τότε γνώσεσθε ὅτι ἐγω εἰμι)]. . . .'"

    Jn 8:28, RSV, but with the concluding pronoun, i.e. "he" ("then you will know that I am he"), removed.  Cf. the LXX of Is 43:10:  "I too am a witness, says the Lord God, and the servant whom I have chosen so that you may know and believe and understand that I am [(ἵνα γνῶτε...ὅτι ἐγώ εἱμι)]" (NETS).  The pronoun is there in the Hebrew of v. 10 ("that I [am] He [(כִּֽי־אֲנִי הוּא)]"), but that is followed by v. 11:  "I, I am the Lord [(אָנֹכִי אָנֹכִי יְהוָה, ἐγὼ ὁ Θεός)]".  All of this is brought out on pp. 347-349 (pp. 345 ff.) of Joseph Ratzinger's Jesus of Nazareth: from the baptism in the Jordan to the transfiguration, trans. Adrian J. Walker (New York, NY:  Doubleday, 2007), whence the heading, which occurs on p. 349.

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    David Lyle Jeffrey on the superiority of Christian formation in China

    "what many foreign visitors have observed, namely that the quality of biblical preaching and teaching in the patriotic (registered) churches and in the study groups and house churches typically seems much higher than in evangelical churches here in America, is confirmable by anyone from the West who spends time with Chinese students and younger faculty converts; one may expect to find much higher levels of biblical literacy and theological clarity by three to five years post-conversion than amongst American counterparts after two or three decades in the church.  In urban house churches, the teaching is often led by young women, professional university teachers (laoshe) with doctoral degrees in literature and philosophy.  This teaching is learned, yet marked by an evangelical urgency and commitment to obedient practice rather than simply intellectual assent."

    David Lyle Jeffrey, "A critique of all religions:  Chinese intellectuals and the church," Books and culture 17, no. 4 (July/August 2011):  19 (18-21).

    Saturday, October 22, 2011

    Tabaraud on "the reunion that we must desire"

    "'the reunion that we must desire is not at all that of a general indifference, but precisely that which is founded on the unity of belief [(croyance)].  Politics can be satisfied when it has succeeded in facilitating the adoption of the same words; but religion requires that all those who employ them give them the same sense, without which those [supposedly] agreeing [manage only] to collude in deceiving one another by an hypocritical language destined to betray the thought of each.'"

         Mathieu Tabaraud, Histoire critique des projets formés depuis trois cents ans pour la réunion des communions chrétiennes (Paris:  1824), 412-413, as quoted in Bernard Plongeron, "Les projets de réunion des communions chrétiennes du Directoire à l'Empire," Revue d'histoire de l'Église de France 66, no. 176 (1980), 28-29 (17-49).

    Tabaraud, though, remains unsatisfied with this (ultimately Louis de Bonald's) distinction between the the politics of indifférence and the unity of croyance, and goes on to distinguish the latter from the even more crucial unity of foi:

         "If all of the attempts . . . to reunite the Christian communions have failed, this is because they have all been inhabited by the same confusion:  all take for basic the unity of belief [(croyance)], whereas all sincere, honest, and abiding reunion necessitates the unity of faith [(foi)].  The difference is not slight.  [Argument over t]he unity of confession is a political argument that brings only the cult into play [(n'est qu'un argument politique qui met en œuvre le culte)].  The uniformity of worship or the celebration of the cult-in-common requires only exterior practices and pretends to ignore the interior dispositions of the believer.  Now, only the interior dispositions, into which it would not be fitting 'to initiate a dangerous inquisition', guarantee religion, that is to say unity of faith, and faith is a gift of God.  But too often the attempts at reunion have been only human enterprises. . . .
         "It is necessary to insist on this radical distinction that Tabaraud makes between cult and religion because it is sometimes thought that it is an invention of the theologians of the twentieth century.... Tabaraud takes finds fault with
    'that predilection, become so common, for substituting for the word religion, which supposes the interior belief of dogmas divine and invariable, that of cult, which expresses only the material and exterior part of [religion] subject to so many variations all dependent on contingent circumstances'.
         "It could well be that, at the [very] moment that the concordatory system founded on the cultic [(le cultuel)] is put in place, these authors, more numerous than one might think, by drawing attention to this reductive confusion, put a finger on an essential aspect of the anticlericalism of the nineteenth century, what contemporary historians have called the 'roots of unbelief'.
         "For the expert on the free thought of the eighteenth century, it is already a conviction:  not only does this obsession with the cult-in-common distort [(dénature)] the true reunion of Christians; it promotes 'indifference to all beliefs, [an indifference] that supposes that everything is arbitrary in religion, everything perfectly equal in the eyes of God [(la Divinité)], no matter what idea one forms of his attributes.  This system, the worst of all, which has passed from religion into morals [(les mœurs)], Bacon regarded as one of the doorways to atheism'. . . . Hence the alternative that dominates the work of Tabaraud.
         "Either one remains lucid on the distinction between cult and religion and the narrow but firm way of the conditions of a reunion thus emerges:
    'The reunion of the Christian communions, the object of so many desires, must therefore be founded on that tolerance so dear to gentle and upright souls, [that tolerance] committed to [(qui présente des idées d')] indulgence for the erring while simultaneously proscribing rigorously all errors; [an] evangelical virtue that establishes the progress of truth on the means of persuasion while eschewing every way of constraint, above all when it is a question of reclaiming brethren who, although separated from us by their particular belief, are not less our brothren...' (p. 6).
         "Or one persists in reducing religion to the cult and falls [(c'est tomber)] into the trap of political religion.  It is here that Tabaraud accuse the Protestants of understanding 'religion' as the interaction of the temporal power and the spiritual power, the external tribunal and the interior tribunal.  In the 16th century, the Reform owed its success to the influence of the temporal power.  [And] it is from it that even today the Protestants expect it to realize the reunion. . . .
         ". . . In distinction from the Protestants [by contrast], the Catholics reunit the two powers without confounding them" (30-32).

         That last judgment strikes me as counterintuitive.

    Saturday, October 15, 2011

    The missing link

    "Although they used the term in early writings, ID proponents today regularly deny that they are creationists. . . .
    "[Yet] Among the revelations of the Kitzmiller trial were details of the [calculated] switch from the language of creation science to that of ID. . . .
    "What happened in 1987 that occasioned this linguistic fig leaf?  That is when the Edwards case was decided, finding it unconstitutional to teach creation science in the public schools.  In subsequent drafts leading up to the published text, 'creation science' became 'design theory', and 'creationists' became 'design proponents'.  The new terms were substituted in an almost search-and-replace manner.
    "Barbara Forrest, an expert witness for the plaintiffs who examined the manuscripts, even turned up what is now humorously referred to as the 'Missing Link' between creationism and intelligent designa sentence in the second 1987 draft [of Of pandas and people] that includes an accidental transitional form 'cdesign proponentsists'".

    Robert T. Pennock, "The pre-modern sins of intelligent design," The Oxford handbook of religion and science, ed. Philip Clayton (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2009), 734-735 (732-748).  William A. Dembski in this same Companion:  "Despite its constant repetition, the charge that intelligent design is a form of creationism is false" ("In defense of intelligent design," 719).  For Demski here, what this means is only that it doesn't necessarily entail creationism.  What he does not address is the historical question of provenance.  I find the article by Pennock damning.

    And speech about God above all

    The "early guesswork [of the child learning to speak] may appear floundering and foolish to adults, but the conjectural character of linguistic usage which it reveals is necessarily inherent in all speech and remains inherent in ours to the end."

    Michael Polanyi, Personal knowledge: towards a post-critical philosophy (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1973 (1962, 1958)), 106.  Yet just as what the child gropes towards is a mastery of the rules of adult discourse (rules developed in personal contact with reality), so what the Christian gropes towards is something objective:  an ability to speak with facility the language of God and the saints.  That Polanyi is a realist is made abundantly clear from p. 110 ("If we can say of an unprecedented owl, belonging perhaps to a new species:  'This is an owl', using this designation in an appropriately modified sense, why should we not equally well say of an owl:  'This is a sparrow', meaning a new kind of sparrow, not known so far by that name?  Indeed, why should we ever say one thing rather than another, and not pick our descriptive terms at random?").

    We say more than we can know, whether for good or for ill

    "just as, owing to the ultimately tacit character of all our knowledge, we remain ever unable to say all that we know, so also, in view of the tacit character of meaning, we can never quite know what is implied in what we say."

    Michael Polanyi, Personal knowledge: towards a post-critical philosophy (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1973 (1962, 1958)), 95.

    "Alexander’s winged boots are harder to believe when recounted in Xenophontian prose."

    "The [450 aa (after the death of Alexander)] source who provides modern historians with most of their facts, therefore, was himself dependent on one [contemporary] source which ancient writers thought Alexander would have thrown away in disgust [(Aristobulus)] and on another which is attached to an official programme of exaltation [(Ptolemy I)]. It’s not simply that modern historians have been taken in by Arrian’s plain-talking rhetorical strategy. . . . Nor is it simply a question of prejudice about the greater reliability of histories written by manly men-of-action. More than any other ancient author Arrian seems to approach his subject in a modern way. He says what texts he is using, why he chose them and how they will be used. Every now and again he compares them with each other and with what he has found elsewhere.
    "This modernity is an illusion. It is not hard to see that Arrian’s unusual carefulness derives from unusual anxiety about the charge of extreme bias which might be laid against his chosen authorities. His methodological transparency is the mark of a partisan defensive about the charge of partisanship, not a precocious scientific historian, working with meticulous care. Arrian’s high reputation was earned by omitting the most egregious examples of fawning he found in his sources, supplementing from other sources their most egregious omissions, and being noisily defensive about the charge of bias. For students of Quellenforschung, who learned their trade trying to see behind the more opaque texts of Homer and the Bible, he was a gift from heaven. He seemed to have done all the work for them and even at times to have indulged in a little Quellenkritik. It seems inevitable in retrospect that this most nervous of historians would find highest honour in the age of source analysis.
    "Unfortunately, it is an age which hasn’t yet passed. Alexander scholarship still consists, for the most part, in arguments over which bit of which surviving text derives from which earlier lost source, whether it is a solid piece of information and how, in that case, it can be squared with something someone else says elsewhere. . . .
    "To be sure, since knowledge of Alexander is derived overwhelmingly from derivative texts, we need to know everything we can about them and their sources. Moreover, there is an old-fashioned charm to this kind of fact-oriented text-combing: phenomenal erudition, lack of circumspection, proper engagement with the work of older scholars, clarity of exposition, and a satisfying bluntness in critical asides. . .  And one wouldn’t wish on any subject the type of Lacanian analysis, rhetorics of gender and queer theory, which afflict other areas of ancient history. But there are surely more useful things to do with Alexander in the 21st century than Quellenforschung.
    "Most of the secure facts about which author used what when were pinned down years ago, and although possible new connections have proliferated, cogency is rare – everything anyone needs to know can be found conveniently in P.A. Brunt’s notes and appendices to the Loeb edition of Arrian. Moreover, for most of the derivative authors, the whole idea of neat genealogies is more convenient than plausible. No historian of Alexander came to the subject a virgin. Not only was he the most important figure from the Greek past but it is unlikely that any writer of the Roman period managed to get through his education without a knowledge of some of the more notorious passages of Hegesias, Callisthenes and Clitarchus; as prime examples of how not to write history, or simply how not to write, they were too useful to be ignored. There must have been promiscuous cross-fertilisation of sources over a long period, making a Gordian knot of the lines of transmission. . . .
    "The one author who does show his methods, on the other hand, Arrian, seems deliberately to have selected the most hagiographical version and then disguised its excesses. But Arrian’s bad choices cannot now be corrected. No amount of source criticism can make him more objective. . . .
    ". . .  when the Metz Epitome, a late, partially preserved manuscript in the novelistic tradition, written c.1300 years aa, is hailed as ‘perhaps the single most important contribution to the source criticism of Alexander’s reign’ and Polybius is enthusiastically elevated into the canon of derivative authors on whom source criticism can be performed (‘amazingly for the first time’), one cannot help seeing signs of desperation. The texts are finally running out and Alexander historians are finally running out of excuses for not doing something more interesting with their subject."

    James Davidson, "Bonkers about boys," London review of books 23, no. 21 (1 November 2001), (7-10).

    "if they did not come we should have to look for them".

    "How happy we are . . . that the poor should thus come to us; if they did not come we should have to look for them; and for that there is not always time."

    St. John Vianney, the Curé d'Ars, as quoted by Abbé Francis Trochu (quoting Catherine Lassagne from the Procès de l'Ordinaire, p. 495) in his The Curé d'Ars: St Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianney (1786-1859) according to the Acts of the process of canonization and numerous hitherto unpublished documents, trans. Dom Ernest Graf, O.S.B. (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1951 [1927]), 462.

    "riveted to that rude seat, a prisoner of sinners."

    "the confessional was the instrument of his crucifixion.  He was 'a martyr of the confessional,' says the Abbé Monnin.  He might have fled from sinners and have hidden himself in a cloister or in a desert; the love of souls made him stay at Ars.  He who had spent his youth in the fields, in the pure atmosphere of his native hills, remained, on days when a serene sky calls men into the open country, riveted to that rude seat, a prisoner of sinners.  His was a refined and sensitive heart, and he loved the beauty of Nature.  Once upon a time he, too, walked in the smiling vale of the Fontblin where the aspens rustle; even now he was only divided from it by a few houses and the walls of his church.  However, of his own will, he deprived himself, for a space of thirty years, of the pleasure of tasting its charm, its pastures, its restful shade!"

    Abbé Francis Trochu, The Curé d'Ars: St Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianney (1786-1859) according to the Acts of the process of canonization and numerous hitherto unpublished documents, trans. Dom Ernest Graf, O.S.B. (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1951 [1927]), 475.

    Thursday, October 6, 2011

    St. Athanasius on the redirection of the senses

    "men's mind having finally fallen to things of sense, the Word disguised himself by appearing in a body, that he might, as man, transfer men to himself, and center their senses on himself [(ἵνα . . . τὰς αἰσθήσεις αὐτῶν εἰς ἑαυτὸν ἀποκλὶνῃ)]. . . ."

         St. Athanasius, De incarnatione 16 (PG 25, col. 124), trans. Archibald Robertson; Christology of the later Fathers, ed. Edward Rochie Hardy and Cyril C. Richardson, Library of Christian classics 3 (Philadelphia, PA:  The Westminster Press, 1954), 70.

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    Salva nos Domine vigilantes

    Salva nos Domine vigilantes: custodi nos dormientes: ut vigilemus cum Christo et requiescamus in pace.

    Common prayer (2000): Save us, O Lord, while waking, and guard us while sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep may rest in peace.

    Book of common worship (PCUSA and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1993):  Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep rest in his peace.

    United Methodist book of worship (1992):  Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.

    Book of common prayer (1979):  Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.

    Liturgy of the hours (1975):  Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace.

    Great Sarum Breviary of 1531 (Breviarium ad usum insignis ecclesiae Sarum (1879-1886), fasc. 2, col. 228).

    12th-century manuscripts listed by CANTUS.

    Absent from the earliest antiphonaries (Antiphonale missarum sextuplex of 1935).