Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Without separation, without division

"if God is pure spirit, it is not more like God to walk on water, have his face transfigured, or perform a miracle with the touch of his hand, than it is for him to be crucified.  All these acts (whatever the transcendent power they unleash, and certainly the Cross unleashes the greatest transcendent power in the form of salvation) are acts of a finite body performing in time and space."

     Aaron Riches, Ecco homo:  on the divine unity of Christ, Interventions (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2016), 82n89, on the "Nestorianism" of all insufficiently "Cyrillian" attempts to "parse what is proper to the Word from what is proper to the human nature" (81).  "To the Council Fathers, Cyril did not represent one Christological 'option,' much less a Christology bound to the style of a particular region [(the Christology of the so-called 'Alexandrian school')]; he was for them the representative of Catholic truth, of the Nicene orthodoxy defended by Athanasius, which they understood as the faith handed down from the apostles themselves.  The textual evidence of the Acta of Chalcedon is overwhelming:  the Council Fathers did not see themselves as 'Theodorian' in any way, [as balancing (or working out a compromise between) an Alexandrian and an Antiochian school,] but rather as confirming the doctrine held by 'blessed Cyril'" (78-79).

"'When this snow melts, there will be lots of mud.'"

     "In the fourth century, the bishop of Antioch, Leontius, is said to have 'stroked his white hairs and remarked, "When this snow melts, there will be lots of mud."'"

     Aaron Riches, Ecce homo:  on the divine unity of Christ, Interventions (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2016), 76, citing Andrew Louth, "Why did the Syrians reject the Council of Chalcedon?," in Chalcedon in context: church councils 400-700 (Liverpool:  Liverpool University Press, 2009), 109 (107-116).

"'and now never to be clean God again.'"

      Malle and Wat were burning garden rubbish; the heap was crackling merrily; below the busy flames were sliding their quick fingers about the dry wizened stalks, feeling along, licking up; above, smoke, reeking of rottenness, poured out, leaned sideways, swirled wide and swept over half the garden.  Malle and Wat, casting down fork and rake, fled out of it to the clear air to breathe, and leaned together upon the wall.
      ‘Wat,’ said Malle, ‘have you thought that He has stained Himself, soiled Himself, being not only with men, but Himself a man.  What’s that, to be man?  Look at me.  Look at you.’
      They looked at each other, and one saw a dusty wretched dumb lad, and the other saw a heavy slatternly woman.
      Malle said:  ‘It’s to be that which shoots down the birds out of the free air, and slaughters dumb beasts, and kills his own kind in wars.’
      She looked away up the Dale towards Calva, rust-red with dead bracken, smouldering under the cold sky.
      ‘And it wasn’t that He put on man like a jacket to take off at night, or to bathe or to play.  But man He was, as man is man, the maker made Himself the made; God was un-Godded by His own hand.’
      She put her hands to her face, and was silent, till Wat pulled them away.
      ‘He was God,’ she said, ‘from before the beginning, and now never to be clean God again.  Never again.  Alas!’ she said, and then, ‘Osanna!’

      Malle, the Serving Woman, in H. F. M. Prescott, The man on a donkey (New York:  Macmillan, 1961), 455-456 (26 October 1536), “by widespread assent one of the finest historical novels ever written” (Robert Irwin, "Poetry of history," Times literary supplement no. 5954 (May 12 2017):  10).
     But of course he did not un-God himself (extra Calvinisticum, extra Patristicum).  And "'clean God'"?  Would a "'clean God'" be the Triune God of Christian confession?
     Still, the moving imagined reflections of a sixteenth-century serving woman.

Did contemporary "American capitalism originat[e] in racial slavery"?

     "One of the really striking things about the school of slavery's capitalism is how little politics there is in its approach to political economy.  This is perhaps not surprising given the hopelessness so many felt in the post-2008 moment.  If capitalism is all powerful, then political resistance is meaningless.  But the American Civil War presents a sharp reminder of the unpredictability of history.  Contrary to Slavery's Capitalism, the critical issue in 1860 was not that Republicans saw slavery as a problem, but that slaveholding Southerners saw free labour and industrial capitalism as an existential threat.  The slaveholders had once called the shots in US politics.  But by 1860 the slave South was not the leading edge of anything except pro-slavery nationalism.  It seceded and provoked a civil war over the future of the nation and of slavery in it.  No one in 1860 could have imagined what was about to happen.  It was slaveholding Southerners' misguided bet that opened the possibility of a new chapter in American and African American history.
     "When the smoke had cleared slavery had been destroyed.  Enslaved African Americans had thought that outcome worth fighting and dying for.  They fought just as hard to define the terms of the post-war order, when slavery's capitalism was dead and gone.  The kind of unfettered corporate capitalism that came after the Civil War certainly merits the critical assessment of historians.  But the destruction of slavery was a crucial event in the history of American capitalism, one hardly underestimated by those who lived through it.  It was, at the very least, a moment of radical disjuncture between two systems of exploitation."

     Stephanie McCurry, "Plunder of black life:  the problem of connecting the history of slavery to the economics of the present," a review of Slavery's capitalism:  a new history of American economic development (Philadelphia:  University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), and, by implication, the entire "school of slavery's capitalism", Times literary supplement no. 5955 (May 19 2017):  26 (23-24, 26), italics mine.