In raising up this particular form [of Christ crucified], this particular presence, God judges the visible orders of the world, subjects them to a new and intense radiance that pierces all the trappings and beguilements of power; a murdered slave is the eternal Word of the Father, whom the Father vindicates and makes victorious, and is the supreme rhetoric that unveils the squalor and deceits of the rhetoric of violence. The scale of the reversal cannot be exaggerated: when Jesus stands before Pilate for the last time, beaten, derided, robed in purple and crowned with thorns, he must seem, from the vantage of all the noble wisdom of the empire and the age (which wisdom Nietzsche sought to resuscitate), merely absurd, a ridiculous figure prating incomprehensibly of an otherworldly kingdom and some undefined truth, obviously mad, oblivious of the lowliness of his state and of the magnitude of the powers into whose hands he has been delivered. But in the light of the resurrection, from the perspective of Christianity’s inverted order of vision, the mockery now redounds upon all kings and emperors, whose finery and symbols of status are revealed to be nothing more than rags and brambles beside the majesty of God’s Son, beside this servile shape in which God displays his infinite power to be where he will be; all the rulers of the earth cannot begin to surpass in grandeur this beauty of the God who ventures forth to make even the dust his glory. There is a special Christian humor here, a special kind of Christian irreverence: in Rome the emperor is now as nothing, a garment draped over the shoulders of a slave and then cast aside. Christianity is indeed a creed for slaves, but in neither the subtle Hegelian nor the crude Nietzschean sense: in contrast to Hegel and Nietzsche - to dialectic and diatribe alike - Christian faith speaks of the slave as God’s glory, the one who lies farthest out in the far country, to whom tidings of joy are sent from before the foundation of the world, and from whom the free and infinite God cannot be separated by any distance, certainly not that between the high and low, because he is the distance of all things. Indeed, the beauty of God reveals itself with its most incandescent intensity among those who suffer, who are as children, who are powerless, because - for all they lack - the ultimate privation of violence often has not entered into them, for the simple reason that they do not occupy the position of coercive force. Not that the weak are not sinners, or that spite and cruelty cannot make even of weakness a weapon, but nevertheless, the weakness of sinners is the strength of God, and when he dwells among the suffering, God is most truly known as the God he is.
David Bentley Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite


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.