Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dalrymple on "Coptic influence on the Celtic Church" and Islam

"The proudest boast of Celtic monasticism was that, in the words of the Antiphonary of Bangor:

This house full of delight
Is built on the rock
And indeed the true vine
Transplanted out of Egypt."

William Dalrymple, "The Egyptian connection," New York review of books 55, no. 16 (October 23, 2008): 79, online at Pp. 79-80 especially are a popular summary of "Coptic influence on the Celtic Church" on the one hand, and emergent Islam on the other, such that "both the art and sacred calligraphy of Anglo-Saxon England and that of early Ummayad Islam grew at the same time out of the same East Mediterranean culture compost and common Coptic models": "if a monk from seventh-century Lindisfarne or Egypt were to come back today it is probable that he would find much more that was familiar in the practices and beliefs of a modern Muslim Sufi than he would with, say, a contemporary American evangelical. Yet this simple truth has been lost by our tendency to think of Christianity as a Western religion, rather than the thoroughly Oriental faith it actually is." Practices, yes. But core beliefs? I don't know Sufism well enough to judge. Two further tidbits: "The Irish wheel cross, the symbol of Celtic Christianity, has recently been shown to have been a Coptic invention, depicted on a Coptic burial pall of the fifth century, three centuries before the design first appears in Scotland and Ireland" (here Dalrymple cites Walter Horn, "On the origins of the Celtic cross," in The forgotten hermitage of Skellig Michael (University of California Press, 1990)); and "The theology of the Desert Fathers was deeply austere, with much concentration on judgment and damnation, a concern that they passed on to the Irish monks."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

James on Bruckner on emancipation

"while the whole world, including the West, dealt in slaves, only the West came up with the idea of setting them free."

The "central message" of Pascal Bruckner's La tyrannie de la pénitence, according to Clive James. "Books of the year," Times literary supplement no. 5513 (November 28, 2008): 8.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I'm going to have to find a way to quote here the trombone solo in the first movement of Mahler's Third Symphony

This is too much Edwards for one sitting, but he's just so darn quotable!

"there is a great difference between these two things, viz., lively imaginations arising from strong affections, and strong affections arising from lively imaginations."

Jonathan Edwards, The religious affections, pt. 3, sec. 4 ((Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1986 [1961]), 217). By "strong affections" the first time he uses it here, Edwards means, of course, "strong [true] affections," affections that arise "from the information of the understanding," just for example, i.e. affections characterized by all twelve of the truly "distinguishing signs".

Edwards on the indispensability of the in-formation of the MIND

"Holy affections are not heat without light; but evermore arise from the information of the understanding, some spiritual instruction that the mind receives, some light or actual knowledge. The child of God is graciously affected because he sees and understands something more of divine things than he did before. . . ."

Jonathan Edwards, The religious affections, pt. 3, sec. 4 ((Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1986 [1961]), 192).

Edwards on assurance

"It is not God's design that men should obtain assurance in any other way than by mortifying corruption, and increasing in grace, and obtaining the lively exercises of it. . . . Assurance is not to be obtained so much by self-examination as by action."

Jonathan Edwards, The religious affections, pt. 3, sec. 1 ((Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1986 [1961]), 123). More to the point, "It is not God's design that men should obtain assurance in any other way than by mortif[ication]".