Friday, June 9, 2017

They're necessary, so use words

The power of his words,
and the witness given to this by a physician

107Although the evangelist Francis
preached to the simple,
in simple, concrete terms,
since he knew that virtue
is more necessary than words,
still, when he was among spiritual people
with greater abilities
he gave birth to life-giving and profound words.
With very few words he would suggest
what was inexpressible,
and, weaving movement with fiery gestures,
he carried away all his hearers toward the things of heaven.
He did not use the keys of distinctions,
For he did not preach about things he had not himself discovered.
Christ, true Power and Wisdom [(1 Cor 2:1-2, 4-5)],
made his voice a voice of power [(Ps 68:34)].

     A physician, a learned and eloquent man, once said:  'I remember the sermons of other preachers word for word, only what the saint, Francis, says eludes me.  Even if I memorize some of his words, they don’t seem to me like those that originally poured from his lips [(Wis 4:11)].'

     Thomas of Celano, The remembrance of the desire of a soul (The second life of Saint Francis) (1247) I.73.  Francis of Assisi:  early documents, vol. 2, The founder, ed. Armstrong, Hellmann, & Short (New York:  New City Press, 2000), 318.

36Francis, Christ’s bravest soldier,
went around the cities and villages [(Mt 9:35)],
proclaiming the kingdom of God
and preaching peace [(Mt 9:35; Acts 10:36)]
and penance for the remission of sins [(Mk 1:4)],
not in the persuasive words of human wisdom
but in the learning and power of the Spirit [(1 Cor 2:4)].

     He acted confidently [(Acts 9:28)] in all matters because of the apostolic authority granted him.  He did not use fawning or seductive flattery.  He did not smooth over but cut out the faults of others.  He did not encourage but struck at the life of sin with a sharp blow, because he first convinced himself by action, and then convinced others by words.  Not fearing anyone’s rebuke, he spoke the truth boldly, so that even well-educated men, distinguished by fame and dignity, were amazed at his words and were shaken by a healthy fear in his presence.

     Thomas of Celano, Life of Saint Francis (1229) I.15.  Francis of Assisi:  early documents, vol. 1, The saint, ed. Armstrong, Hellmann, & Short (New York:  New City Press, 1999), 214-215.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Disobedience and the trombone

     "A child who obediently follows the father’s will, which is directly opposite to the child’s wish; yes, the child is far from doubting his father’s love, but there is not much trumpet blowing and ingratiation about how affectionate the father is.—And, on the other hand, the child who knows full well that in reality he is the one who gets his way and that the father’s will is not effected, yes, then there is trumpet blowing and trombones and shouting and ingratiating talk about how affectionate a father he has."
     "So, too, with us hum. beings in relation to God."

     Søren Kierkegaard, Kierkegaard's journals and notebooks 9 (Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 2017), 97 (96-97, 101).  "In his journals (1849), Kierkegaard is scathing about organ music in church accompanied by trombones (Basuner).  Here, he is clearly referring to negatively to the practice of having hymns at the major festivals accompanied by a trombone or trumpet in the gallery as well as by an organ" (Julia Watkin, Historical dictionary of Kierkegaard's philosophy, Historical dictionaries of religions, philosophies, and movements 33 (Lanham, MD:  Scarecrow, 2001), sv Art, p. 17).  Søren Kierkegaards Skrifter returns 60 hits on Basun*, so this would be far from the only passage of interest.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

"the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world"

"The older Karl Barth used to say that 'to clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world'."

     Jan Milič Lochman, "Towards an ecumenical account of hope," The ecumenical review 31, no. 1 (January 1979): 18 (13-30) = Mid-stream 18, no. 1 (January 1979): 30 (24-34).  Cf. Jan Milič Lochman, "The Lord's Prayer in our time: praying and drumming," The Princeton Seminary bulletin n.s. 13 (1992) Suppl.: 18-19 (5-19), and in The Lord's Prayer: perspectives for reclaiming Christian prayer, ed. Daniel L. Migliore (Eerdmans, 1993), 18-19 ():
"There is another saying of Karl Barth in my grateful memory.  In his later years we heard from him again and again:  'To fold one’s hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.'"
And then again in 2002, Jan Milič Lochman, "Theology and cultural contexts," in Theology between east and west:  a radical heritage:  essays in honor of Jan Milič Lochman (Eugene, OR:  Cascade Books, 2002), 15 (5-20):
"I often recall words I heard Karl Barth speak when I was his student:  'Hands folded in prayer are the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.''"
Lochman, who appears to be the primary source of this, began teaching in Basel the year Barth died, and undoubtedly knew and interacted with him before that, as the reference to his having been a student makes clear.  Still, I would feel better could this be found in Barth himself.  Ashley Cocksworth quotes this at the top of p. 114 of her book Karl Barth on prayer, T&T Clark studies in systematic theology 26 (Bloomsbury, 2015), but then says in footnote 144, "Regrettably, I have yet to find the source of this oft-cited remark."  To me it would be odd if Lochman and other students of Barth "heard [(did any other late students of Barth hear?) this] from him again and again", and yet it never made it into any of Barth's published work.  And so far I have searched the Digital Karl Barth Library in vain, in both English and German.  German versions of this vary, by the way, a possible indication of back-translation from Lochman's English:

"Hände falten im Gebet ist der Anfang des Aufstandes gegen die Unordnung der Welt!"

"Barth erklärt dies so:  'Mit dem Falten unserer Hände zum Gebet beginnt unser Aufstand gegen das Unrecht in dieser Welt.'"