Happy owl

Some images just hit the right spot. This cute owl in his best red coat is part of a decorated page in a Pontifical, a book that was read during a special Mass in the church, often by the bishop himself. Having ploughed through a full page of big chunky letters, he was treated to a change of pace: a bit of entertainment in the lower margin. Hidden inside the colourful display sits the owl, who is looking, puzzled, at a bell. While the significance of the scene is lost on me, it made my day. Having been locked out of my Tumblr account for three days (see my previous post), it is good to be able to show you entertaining medieval things like this again. Thank you Tumblr Support Team!

Pic: Aarau, Aargauer Kantonsbibliothek, MS MurF 3 (dated 1508). The full manuscript can be browsed here.





The Good Badlands by Guy Tal.

“These arid places of clay and shale are the backdrop to harsh, desolate, and infinitely beautiful places. Few hardy plants manage to eke a living here and trees only thrive along scant waterways cutting through the parched landscape. On rare years, wildflowers burst into stunning display of color, transforming the desert into a veritable garden for but few precious days. This area is also coveted for off-road motorized travel, in many places despite legal closures to protect the fragile ecosystem. This is a place where humans always struggled, yet always fought for.”

Reblog for that second photo, because dayum.

Faith as such cannot contribute anything to our justification: bringing nothing of our own to procure the grace of God. It is not a habitus. It is not a quality of grace which is infused into man. Faith does not justify by virtue of being a work which we do. If we believe, we come to God quite empty, not bringing to God any dignity or merit. God has to close his eyes to the feebleness of our faith, as indeed He does. He does not justify us on account of some excellence which it has in itself; only in virtue of what it lacks as a human work does He justify man. For that reason there is no point in inquiring as to the completeness of our faith. Exegetes who understand the reckoned of Gen 15.6 as follows: Abraham has been reckoned righteous, and that belief in God was a virtue which he possessed are condemned by Calvin quite freely and frankly: those dogs must be an absolute abomination to us, for these are the most enormous blasphemies which Satan could vomit forth. As if there were nothing worse than this confusion! And, indeed, according to the fresh Reformation understanding of the Pauline justification by faith there could not be anything worse than this confusion. It is clear that if faith was to be a virtue, a power and an achievement of man, and if as such it was to be called a way of salvation, then the way was opened up for the antinomian and libertarian misunderstanding, the belief that a dispensation from all other works was both permitted and commanded. And the objection of Roman critics was only too easy, that in the Reformation sola fide this one human virtue, power and achievement was wildly over-estimated at the expense of all others. Even at the present day there is still cause most definitely to repudiate this misinterpretation, for which the Pauline text is not in any sense responsible.
Barth, CD IV.1, 617