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Sunday, August 21, 2005


Eternity is in love with the creations of time.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Reading a profoundly good book recommended by a friend (thanks Matthew!), Peter Leithart's "Against Christianity". (It is a collection of essays: Against Christianity, Against Theology, Against Sacraments, Against Ethics, and For Constantine) If you are intrigued by the title, get it and read it. If you are intimidated by the title, or slightly unsettled, get it and read it. Etc. You get the idea. Here are a couple of excerpts:

Ritual is simultaneously conservative and revolutionary in the way carpentry is. Once you have mastered the technique of driving a nail, there is no reason to experiment with new ways of doing it; but you learn to drive nails because you want to build /new/ things. Far from yearning for a golden, changeless past "ritualists" are the most progressive of men, fearlessly facing the unknown future so long as they can take along their prayer books and water, their wafers and their wine.
(from Against Sacraments)

The psalms are also a textbook of prayer, frequently employing language that is unnerving in its vehemence. Psalms indicate that an overwhelming desire for justice should animate our prayers, that we should express our disappointment with honesty, that prayer is not "quiet time" but a time of wrestling and passion. Contemporary hymnology, by contrast, gives words for a small segment of our experience, the happy, fluffy, light experiences of life. If we are trained in prayer by contemporary praise choruses, when we face the pains and tests of life we will lack the vocabulary to name them.
(from Against Theology -- I think)

Jesus ate with the wrong /people/, thus establishing the theology of baptism.
Jesus /ate/with the wrong people, thus establishing the theology of the supper.
(Against Sacraments)

and finally for tonight:

Romans normally excluded children from the dinner table until the age of fifteen or sixteen, at which age boys received the /toga virilis/ that marked their entrance to manhood. Family dinner as we know it was a Christian invention, not some "natural" form of family life. The family dinner is a reflection of the eucharistic meal, the meal that welcomed all members of Christ to the table.
Opposition to communion of children is pagan and seeks to reverse th revolutionary table fellowship established by the Church. It is an attempt to return to Egypt.
(Against Sacraments)

Leithart's writing is so spare and muscular you could pull out just about any paragraph at ranndom and stand it up on its own, as I have done with a few above. Best of all: he only uses commas when /absolutely/ necessary; a practice I highly approve of. (As you can see I don't give a fig about the 'don't end a sentence with a preposition' thing. If you gotta, you gotta. As someone whose name escapes me now said, "Everyone regards everyone else's usage as pedantic or philistine except his own" -- it went something like that.)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

oh dear

Two things went wrong with some nice folks who knocked on the door tonight. They were canvassing for the SPCA -- a worthy cause to be sure. Well, the young man rather /pounded/ on the door -- it was so loud it made me jump. I had been peacefully slicing peaches for a pie* and spacing out to Hildegard of Bingen. I swung the door open, feeling quite wrathful (we had /just/ put Heulwen down to sleep a couple of minutes earlier and I wasn't sure it had 'taken' yet) and unfortunately gave him a bit of an earful, about how he knocked too hard, how they should be more aware of things like kids going to bed at that time of the evening, etc etc. Well, they apologised sheepishly and tried to go ahead with their speech; I politely cut them off and explained that while I appreciated what they were doing we had our set charities that we give to, etc etc.

So the two things that went wrong: one, I was kinda mean (at first) and remembered afterward that we have ample evidence out front that we are Christians, including a fish on the van and a cross /on the front door/. And I didn't exactly embody the soul of compassion toward those poor innocent door-pounding animal lovers.

The second thing? After I got inside I realized I was wearing my old 'Rattlesnake Roundup at Wigham, Georgia' t-shirt, which commemorates an annual event where a bunch of -- rednecks, presumably -- chase all the snakes in the area into a big pit and then have their evil way with them. I believe barbequing is involved.

What can I say? It was one of the first things my husband ever gave me, sentimental fool.

*I love pie

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

is happening soon!

St John of Damascus on icons

. . . images are books for the illiterate and silent heralds of the honour of the saints, teaching those who see with a soundless voice and sanctifying the sight. . . I may not have many books, nor much time to read, but strangled with thoughts, as if with thorns, I come into the common surgery of the soul, the church; the luster of the painting draws me to vision and delights my sight like a meadow and imperceptibly introduces my soul of the glory of God. . .

Shall I not paint in words and in colours the martyrdom of the martyrs and embrace with eyes and lips "what is wonderful to angels and the whole creation, painful to the devil and fearful to demons", as the same beacon of the Church [St John Chrysostom] said? Or his words at the end of the homily in which he praises the Forty Martyrs:

O holy chorus, O sacred condition, O unbroken phalanx. . .most powerful ambassadors, stars of the inhabited world, flowers of the Church. . .the earth did not hide you, but heaven received you. The gates of paradise were opened to you, a sight worthy of the army of the angels, worthy of patriarchs, of prophets, of the just.

-- Treatise 1, On the Divine Images
trans. Andrew Louth