Saturday, March 12, 2016

"Ever since I've practiced not seeing, I've seen many wonderful things. . . . How much have you been seeing? Are your eyes satisfied?"

     "If a director is to restrain himself on film, though, he must restrain himself in life—that is, he must 'practice' restraint. He must fast. A man who refuses meat on Friday (and a man who refuses his smartphone on Sunday) is better suited to be a director (all things being equal) than a man who doesn't. Because the man who fasts is the man who can best grasp the measure of a thing, because he recognizes its power over him and knows its limitation in bringing him happiness. From that vantage point, he can see; thus, he knows what kind of a shot a thing deserves, if any at all. Such a man is free to look long, and he is free to look away, because such a man is free."

     Michael Toscano, "The call of the nightingale," Books and culture 22, no. 2 (March/April 2016):  17 (15-17).  The entire essay (which is devoted to the films of Majid Majidi) is simply transcendent.
     According to Toscano, the words at the top are those of Morteza, a character in The willow tree who went blind late in life, to Yousef, the blind man who, having regained his sight, "is undone by the lust of the eyes" (16).
     In The color of paradise (according to Toscano, Rang-e Khoda, The color of God), the blind boy Mohammed says this:
Our teacher says that God loves the blind more because they can't see, but I told him if it was so, He would not make us blind, so that we can't see Him.  He answered, 'God is not visible.  He is everywhere.  You can feel Him.  You see Him through your fingertips.'  Now I reach out everywhere for God till the day my hands touch Him, and tell Him everything, even all the secrets in my heart.
     Later, after quoting Confessions X.vi(.9), Toscano continues,
I can think of no passage that better encapsulates the incredible power of the virtuous eye, which can perceive the beauty of the created world and therein—in the textured braille of nature—the writing of God's hand and nature's joyful reply. This is the dignity of the eye (when rightly ordered), the dignity of the camera (when used to see in love), and the dignity of Mohammad, searching the fibers and composition of sound and touch for the One who composed them. You are both seen and unseen; only thee I want; only thy name I call. 'Now I reach everywhere for God till the day my hands touch him' [(17, underscoring mine)].

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

"as you know our weakness, so we may know your power to save"

"For the Tempted", William Bright, Ancient collects and other prayers: selected for devotional use from various rituals, with an appendix, on the collects in the prayer-book (1862 [1857]), 237-238 (i.e. among the "few Collects constructed in imitation of the ancient model" (233)):
Merciful and faithful High Priest, Who didst deign for us to be tempted of Satan; make speed to aid Thy servants who are assaulted by manifold temptations; and as Thou knowest their several infirmities, let each one find Thee mighty to save, Who livest, &c.

First Sunday in Lent, Book of common prayer (1979), Traditional:
Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted of Satan:  Make speed to help thy servants who are assaulted by manifold temptations; and, as thou knowest their several infirmities, let each one find thee mighty to save; through. . . .

First Sunday in Lent, Book of common prayer (1979), Contemporary:
Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan:  Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the  weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through. . . .

Prayers and Collects for Lent and Holy Week, United Methodist book of worship (1992):
Almighty God, your blessed Son was led by the Spirit
      to be tempted by Satan.
Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations.
And, as you know the weaknesses of each of us,
      let each one find you mighty to save;
through. . . .

First Sunday in Lent, Book of common worship (1993), PCUSA:
Almighty God,
your Son fasted forty days in the wilderness,
and was tempted as we are but did not sin.
Give us grace to direct our lives
in obedience to your Spirit,
that as you know our weakness,
so we may know your power to save;
through. . . .

First Sunday of Lent, Common worship: services and prayers for the Church of England (2000):
Almighty God,
whose Son Jesus Christ fasted forty days in the wilderness,
and was tempted as we are, yet without sin:
give us grace to discipline ourselves in obedience to your Spirit;
and, as you know our weakness,
so may we know your power to save;
through. . . .

Sunday, March 6, 2016

"'These are your gods, O Israel!'"

E. Béricourt, "[Procession de la déesse Raison]" (1793).
Bibliothèque nationale de France.
"the proof that the unbelievers have neither gods nor [any] access to divinity consists in this pretention precisely, repeated incessantly as a great privilege, a great right—that of deciding [for] themselves who is god [(decider eux-mêmes de qui est dieu)]:  the Senate (or National Assembly, or Congress) votes on the divinity of each idol:  '. . . among you, divinity is weighed in the judgment of men.  There is no god except the one you will have decided upon; from now on the man will have to bestow his favor on the god' (Tertullian, Apologeticum 5.1; cf. 13.3).  But by definition ‘There is no one to make gods, Nemo est qui deos faceret (11.3)."

     Jean-Luc Marion on the second-century apologists (who would have had little or nothing to do with modern "apologetics"), "Apologétique et apologie," Communio:  revue catholique internationale 39, no. 1-2 (janvier-avril 2014):  15 (9-17).
     The "accusation [of atheism] remains . . . perfectly current:  not only because Christians find themselves persecuted by other religions and marginalized by widespread unbelief, but because they contest the quasi gods of contemporaneity ('values', 'pluralism', 'tolerance', the 'mastery of the end of life', the 'freedom of choice', [economic] 'growth', the 'market, etc.)" (14).
     "God, the true [God], is not nominated, but only de-nominated [(Dieu, le vrai, ne se nomme pas, au mieux il se dé-nomme)]" (16).
     On the other hand, surely this was an urban legend:  "Tiberius accordingly, in whose days the Christian name made its entry into the world, having himself received intelligence from Palestine of events which had clearly shown the truth of Christ’s divinity, brought the matter before the senate, with his own decision in favour of Christ.  The senate, because it had not given the approval itself, rejected his proposal. Cæsar held to his opinion, threatening wrath against all accusers of the Christians" (Tertullian, Apologeticum 5.1).