Saturday, January 11, 2014

“‘a solid chunk of wood . . . to have their silly heads knocked against.’”

     “‘And some of them don’t seem to believe anything at all,’ said Helena.  ‘It’s all a game of words.’
     “‘I know,’ said [Pope] Sylvester, ‘I know.’
     “And then Helena said something which seemed to have no relevance.  ‘Where is the cross, anyway?’ she asked.
     “‘What cross, my dear?’
     “‘The only one.  The real one.’
     “‘I don’t know.  I don’t think anyone knows.  I don’t think anyone has ever asked before.’
     “‘It must be somewhere.  Wood doesn’t just melt like snow.  It’s not three hundred years old.  The temples here are full of beams and paneling twice that age.  It stands to reason God would take more care of the cross than of them.’
     “‘Nothing “stands to reason” with God.  If He had wanted us to have it, no doubt He would have given it to us.  But He hasn’t chosen to.  He gives us enough.’
     “‘But how do you know He doesn’t want us to have itthe cross, I mean?  I bet He’s just waiting for one of us to go and find itjust at this moment when it’s most needed.  Just at this moment when everyone is forgetting it and chattering about the hypostatic union, there’s a solid chunk of wood waiting for them to have their silly heads knocked against.  I’m going off to find it,’ said Helena.”

     Evelyn Waugh, Helena:  a novel, chap. 9, Recessional ((London:  Chapman & Hall, 1950), pp. 208-209).  "'It's not three hundred years old'":

"'Tell me, Lactantius, this god of yours.  If I asked you when and where he could be seen, what would you say?'
     "'I should say that as a man he died two hundred and seventy-eight years ago in the town now called Aelia Capitolina in Palestine.'
     "'Well, that's a straight answer anyway.  How do you know?'
     "'We have the accounts written by witnesses.  Besides that there is the living memory of the Church'" (chap. 6, pp. 130-131, in response to the answers "'beyond time and space'" given to the "'child's question'" ("'When and where did all this happen?  And how do you know?'") by her former tutor, the Gnostic Marcias (pp. 128-130)).

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