Category: fire on the earth

breaking our hearts

“Beasts”, Wilbur:

Meantime, at high windows
Far from thicket and pad-fall, suitors of excellence
Sigh and turn from their work to construe again the painful
Beauty of heaven, the lucid moon
And the risen hunter,

          Making such dreams for men
As told will break their hearts as always, bringing
Monsters into the city, crows on the public statues.
Navies fed to the fish in the dark
Unbridled waters.

Where shall the crows perch now?

neither lives nor marriages undefiled

Wisdom 14:

For the worshipping of idols not to be named is the beginning, the cause, and the end, of all evil… For whilst they slew their children in sacrifices, or used secret ceremonies, or made revellings of strange rites.. they kept neither lives nor marriages any longer undefiled.

He who has ears, let him hear.

what matters

CSL:

It is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects—military, political, economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life.

A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden—that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time.

Salman Rushdie:

We must agree on what matters: kissing in public places, bacon sandwiches, disagreement, cutting-edge fashion, literature, generosity, water, a more equitable distribution of the world’s resources, movies, music, freedom of thought, beauty, love.

*update* [02/04/2022]

John Ruskin:

To watch the corn grow, and the blossoms set; to draw hard breath over ploughshare or spade; to read, to think, to love, to hope, to pray — these are the things that make men happy; they have always had the power of doing these, they never will have the power to do more. The world’s prosperity or adversity depends upon our knowing and teaching these few things: but upon iron, or glass, or electricity, or steam, in no wise.

all which occur here

Traherne on the opinions of philosophers concerning happiness:

..they were so blind in the knowledge of it, and so different in their apprehensions. All which opinions fall in here, as all rivers fall into the sea, and agree together. Some placed happiness in riches, and some in honour, some in pleasure, and some in the contempt of all riches, honor, and pleasure; some in wisdom and some in firm stability of mind, some in empire and some in, love. Some in bare and naked contentment, some in contemplation, and some in action; some in rest and some in sufferings, and some in victory and triumph.

All which occur here [in the Christian life], for here is victory and triumph over our lusts, that we might live the life of clear reason, in the fruition of all riches, honours, and pleasures, which are by wisdom to be seen, and by love to be enjoyed in the highest empire, with great contentation, in solitude alone, in communion with all, by action and contemplation, attaining it by sufferings, and resting in the possession, with perfect victory and triumph over the world and evil men, or sin, death and hell, maugre all the oppositions of men and devils.

Someone acknowledging the completely baffling question of what the disposition of the Christian is ultimately meant to be, and how the tradition overwhelms the initiate with seemingly exclusive answers and directives, insurmountable tensions and incompatibilities.

And not only acknowledge but offer an answer! Christianity has it ALL he reckons, the whole panoply.

But this forces the question of time and season and saintly-distinctness, because if its all on the table, how any given saint is being called to live to God at any given time becomes in some sense a completely opaque thing from the outside? A knight of faith dynamic.

And hence how one is called to obey Christ, to follow your own pilgrimage in any season or age, is a discerned, mysterious, and limitedly formulaic thing.

ten thousand things

John Ames (first page):

There are thousand thousand reasons to live this life, every one of them sufficient.

Eihei Dogen:

To study the Buddha’s way is to study the self,
to study the self is to forget the self.
To forget the self is to be awakened by ten thousand things.

Lao Tzu:

Tao gives life to the one
The one gives life to the two
The two give life to the three
The three give life to ten thousand things

Matt Redman:

For all Your goodness
will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons
For my heart to find

Rutherford:

I take His cross in my arms with joy; I bless it, I rejoice in it. Suffering for Christ is my garland. I would not exchange Christ for ten thousand worlds! nay, if the comparison could stand, I would not exchange Christ with heaven.

 

extremists

Wilbur in The Undead:

Secret, unfriendly, pale, possessed
Of the one wish, the thirst for mere survival,
They came, as all extremists do
In time, to a sort of grandeur

The critique of the likes of Kierkegaard and Weil and others like them.

Secret, unfriendly, pale, possessed of one wish. Not of course, “mere survival”, but one wish nonetheless. There is no denying their grandeur, nor (I think) their extremism. The similarity to vampires is.. provocative.

But monsters speak their own language, and have.. good pedigree.

Auden:

Like all heretics, conscious or unconscious, he [Kierkegaard] is a monodist, who can hear with particular acuteness one theme in the New Testament—in his case, the theme of suffering and self-sacrifice—but is deaf to its rich polyphony.. The Passion of Christ was to Kierkegaard’s taste, the Nativity and Epiphany were not.

 

silence is a privilege

Arthur Versluis:

Meaning comes out of a context, and part of our contextualization, as human beings, requires silence. And it requires nature, the natural world, untamed mountains, valleys, the ocean.

I have been thinking recently about how silence is now a privilege and wondering when that became the case. I suppose the majority of the population becoming urban would be a good approximation (1850 for Britain, 2007 for the planet—that difference shows my question is more contemporary than I initially assumed).

When did the majority of the race wake up and listen for a moment or step outside their back door in the morning to be greeted by human made noise—of which traffic is by far the biggest offender.1. What kind of effect does that have on the brain chemistry and the subconscious faculties of a species?

Ivan Illich:

Silence, according to western and eastern tradition alike, is necessary for the emergence of persons.

We managed to make fire “a symbol of Heaven into a symbol of Hell“, the waters are gone, and now we’ve managed to fill the air too, displacing ourselves from our rightful context in all season and all weathers and at all times.

Is it overweening privileged to demand silence?
How much money will it cost? For how long will there be available sanctuaries?

Kierkegaard:

If I were a doctor and were asked for my advice, I would reply: Create silence! The Word of God cannot be heard in the noisy world of today. And even if it were blazoned forth with all the panoply of noise so that it could be heard in the midst of all the other noise, then it would no longer be the Word of God. Therefore create Silence.

 

the biological knights of faith

After reading The Body Keeps the Score, and with I guess a latent framework given by Lewis’ Transposition essay, it now seems very solid ground to say all higher processes (be they physiological, spiritual, astral, whatever) have a physical, chemical, biological effect. Which is to simply restate the title of the first book.

No matter what it is higher up, it will be transposed into the system lower down. Sexually abused women with altered t-cells counts or contemplative monks with ego-dissolving communion.

Are the sacraments biological quantifiable? Does baptism cause a physically manifest alternation in the body? By the logic above it would have to, no? And the same with the eucharist, or prayer, or bible reading.

And if they *don’t* what does that even mean? Are christians then some kind of biological knights of faith? Zoe, the new life, chemically indiscernable even as it is metaphysically unfolding. Surely, that would be the higher miracle? A grand gnostic cover-up in the New Kingdom community?

What am I missing?

Where are the double-blind baptism studies?

suffering

Freddie deBoer:

When one group of people in society feels unheard for so long, in time they form a crusade, and the object of that crusade is the most human of all demands: feel our pain. It is natural to want the world to understand our suffering as something different, something deeper, something special. The cacophony of our political lives stems in no small part from the ceaselessly multiplying number of groups that ask that their suffering be seen as something transcendent and unique. The trouble, of course, is that we’re all suffering, and in fact to suffer is the least special, most ordinary thing any person can do.

The late Ram Dass once wrote to grieving parents, “something in you dies when you bear the unbearable, and it is only in that dark night of the soul that you are prepared to see as God sees, and to love as God loves.” I do not know what it’s like to love as God loves. But I do know what it’s like to suffer, and then to suffer more, and at last to feel something die inside me. The note of uplift at the end of The Deep Places, uncertain but real, is a record of Douthat’s willingness to let that something die inside of him too, in order to move on. That’s a thing of beauty.