Thursday, May 21, 2015

"let the reader understand"

"'Whoso readeth, let him understand.'"

"You are not reading the word of a human being but the Word of God, the Most High.  He desires pupils who diligently note and observe what He says.  Moreover, if it is well said that the letters of princes should be read three times because they must speak with deliberation in order not to be considered fools, how much more necessary it is for one to read the letters of God, that is, the Holy Scriptures, three, four, ten, a hundred, a thousand, and many thousand times.  For God speaks with deliberation and weight, nay, He is the eternal Wisdom itself.  Whoever does this becomes better and more learned from Scripture.  Whoever does not do so learns nothing, nay, becomes the worse for it."

     Martin Luther, inscribing and then commenting on Mt 24:15 ("let the reader understand") "in someone's Bible", as trans. Ewald M. Plass on pp. 79-80 of vol. 1 of What Luther says:  an anthology (St. Louis, MO:   Concordia Publishing House, 1959).  = WA 48, 119, where there are the usual variants (since, presumably, Luther inscribed this in more than one?).  Cf. Aland, Hilfsbuch, no. 695, on p. 163.  The year given at WA 48, 119 is 1541.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The "narrow line between asking not to be treated with contempt and asking to be positively valued."

"The demand for recognition almost always arises when an ethnic, linguistic, or religious minority feels that it is being treated with contempt.  It is the demand for respect.  But there is a narrow line between asking not to be treated with contempt and asking to be positively valued. . . . Since toleration is one thing and respect another, the demand for recognition asks for more than toleration; it asks for approval, perhaps even for assistance in keeping such subcultures alive.  But why would a liberal state do that?  Toleration is quite enough. . . ."
". . . as he did in the Dred Scott case, Lincoln drew the line at any suggestion that free Americans should acknowledge the legitimacy of slavery.
     "Here is where Bromwich's opposition to the 'politics of recognition' finds its historical roots; it might be necessary to tolerate slavery, but it was impossible to accord it moral recognition."

     Alan Ryan, "The good patriots," a review of Moral imagination, by David Bromwich (Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 2014), The New York review of books 62, no. 5 (March 19, 2015):  38, 40 (37-40).
     Couple that with the comment "Liberal societies are better than totalitarian societies, but liberals are no less afflicted with the taint of Original Sin than the rest of humanity" (40), as well as the equal opportunity flogging that Obama gets, and one begins to hope that Ryan and Bromwich might actually possess the "moral imagination" to at least tolerate the insertion of "sexual" after "religious" in that first paragraph.

"nothing is firmly established in practical reason save through ordering to the ultimate end, which is the common good."

"just as nothing is firmly established in speculative reason save by resolution to first indemonstrable principles, so nothing is firmly established in practical reason save through ordering to the ultimate end, which is the common good.  What relates to [practical] reason in this way has the character of law."

"sicut nihil constat firmiter secundum rationem speculativam nisi per resolutionem ad prima principia indemonstrabilia, ita firmiter nihil constat per rationem practicam nisi per ordinationem ad ultimum finem, qui est bonum commune. Quod autem hoc modo ratione constat, legis rationem habet."

     Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae 3, trans. McInerny.  Latin from Corpus Thomisticum.

Monday, May 18, 2015

"the feeble and dissolute Valentinian . . . had reached his thirty-fifth year without attaining the age of reason or courage. . . ."

     Edward Gibbon on Valentinian III, The history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, chap. 35 (ed. J. B. Bury, new edition, vol. 3 (London:  Methuen & Co., 1906 [1897]), p. 476).  Cf. "The deepest wounds were inflicted on the empire during the minorities of the sons and grandsons of Theodosius; and, after those incapable princes seemed to attain the age of manhood, they abandoned the church to the bishops, the state to the eunuchs, and the provinces to the Barbarians" (chap. 38, "General observations on the fall of the Roman Empire in the West" (ed. Bury, 3rd edition, vol. 4 (London:  Methuen & Co., 1908 [1897]), p. 165).