“The takeaway message is this: no one needs churches to be nice or tasteful. If churches have a future, it’s in addressing our existential darkness: sin and death. Progressive politics is important, but it doesn’t do any deep religious work. And liberals in the church will have to rediscover this after we have won our culture wars. What other religion has such a dark image at its centre? And yet my own brand of liberal Christianity too often seeks salvation through a few gentle verses of All Things Bright and Beautiful or lots of self-important dressing up and wandering around in fancy churches. Devoted atheists are never going to be persuaded by a theology of the cross. But no one whatsoever is going to be persuaded by a theology of nice.”—Giles Fraser, “In Sweden, human darkness is confronted by the arts not the church” (via Eve Tushnet)
“In a slapdash reply to an article I published at Slate, the evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne provides just such a response. First, he pretends that the question “Why is there something rather than nothing?” means “How did the universe come about?” And so he has an answer: the Big Bang. I confess I find this somewhat cute, as if I had asked a child why there is money and he had answered, “Because there are ATMs.””—Michael Robbins (paywalled, I think). (via ayjay)
“2241 The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.”—The Catechism of the Catholic Church (via alwaysabeautifullife)
“Just as the sun is not defiled by the contact of its rays with earthly objects, but rather enlightens and purifies them, so He Who made the sun is not defiled by being made known in a body, but rather the body is cleansed and quickened by His indwelling, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.””—Athanasius, On the Incarnation
“You know how it is when some great king enters a large city and dwells in one of its houses; because of his dwelling in that single house, the whole city is honored, and enemies and robbers cease to molest it. Even so is it with the King of all; He has come into our country and dwelt in one body amidst the many, and in consequence the designs of the enemy against mankind have been foiled and the corruption of death, which formerly held them in its power, has simply ceased to be.”—On the Incarnation
“There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books. Thus I have found as a tutor in English Literature that if the average student wants to find out something about Platonism, the very last thing he thinks of doing is to take a translation of Plato off the library shelf and read the Symposium. He would rather read some dreary modern book ten times as long, all about; and influences and only once in twelve pages telling him what Plato actually said. The error is rather an amiable one, for it springs from humility. The student is half afraid to meet one of the great philosophers face to face. He feels himself inadequate and thinks he will not understand him. But if he only knew, the great man, just because of his greatness, is much more intelligible than his modern commentator. The simplest student will be able to understand, if not all, yet a very great deal of what Plato said; but hardly anyone can understand some modern books on Platonism. It has always therefore been one of my main endeavours as a teacher to persuade the young that firsthand knowledge is not only more worth acquiring than secondhand knowledge, but is usually much easier and more delightful to acquire.”—C. S. Lewis, Introduction to On the Incarnation
“It is not particularly original to observe that, in the dissolution of Christendom, Europe retained the body while America inherited the spirit; but one sometimes wonders whether for “spirit” it would not be better to say “poltergeist.””—David Bentley Hart
Send us your spirit, Lord, with the gifts of humility and understanding. Teach us that your Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, but even beyond our vision. Give us the comfort of knowing that nothing we can do will be complete, no statement of ours will say all that can be said, no prayer…
“How senseless is everything that can be written, done, or thought, when such things are possible. It must be all lies and of no account when the culture of a thousand years could not prevent this stream of blood being poured out.”—Remarque on WWI
“Either, insanely, we grant the State a complete carte blanche to force us to learn whatever it wants us to learn, or, with equal lunacy, we imagine that there is some kind of innocent pre-cultural knowledge which we should permit spontaneously to emerge. By an ironic twist, the latter can also become what the State enforces. Of course, what in reality occurs is an incoherent mix of the two: a utilitarian approach to what is deemed economically useful and a romantically amoral and narcissistic approach to the arts and humanities.”—John Milbank on schooling
“We are not living in an age in which religious adherence has simply withered away before the parching wind of Enlightenment reason, but in one in which a new evangel has - over the course of a few centuries - displaced the old, and with it the cultural energy and rationale of Christian Europe: a new religion, whose most devout believers are as zealous, intolerant, and absolutist as any faith has ever produced, and whose vast silent constituency is as unreflective, passive, and pliant as any enfranchised clerisy could desire. It is probably good for Christians to grasp that, even in this hour, they struggle not with disillusion and demystification, but with strange gods.”—David Bentley Hart
“He who did not know death descended into death so that we too might rise up with him to life. Our nature is enriched with incorruptibility in him, and death has been crushed since it launched a hostile attack against the body of Life itself. Just as death conquered in Adam, so was it ruined in Christ.”—St Cyril of Alexandria
“When Jesus expels demons and heals the sick, he is driving out of creation the powers of destruction, and is healing and restoring created beings who are hurt and sick. The lordship of God, to which the healings witness, restores creation to health. Jesus’ healings are not supernatural miracles in a natural world. They are the only truly ‘natural’ thing in a world that is unnatural, demonized and wounded… . Finally, with the resurrection of Christ, the new creation begins, pars pro toto, with the crucified one.”—
There is dumb dumb and there is smart dumb. There is also smart smart. Dumb dumb is plain dumb and smart smart is plain smart. Smart dumb rejects both smart smart and dumb dumb, choosing instead to walk a tightrope between the two. Smart dumb is incisive and precise. In order to be smart dumb, you have to be really smart, but not in the smart smart way.
Dumb dumb is rednecks and racists, football hooligans, gum-snapping marketing girls, and thick-necked office boys. Dumb dumb is Microsoft, Disney, and Spielberg. Smart smart is TED talks, think tanks, NPR news, Ivy League universities, The New Yorker, and expensive five-star restaurants. By trying so hard, smart smart really misses the point. Smart dumb is The Fugs, punk rock, art schools, Gertrude Stein, Vito Acconci, Marcel Duchamp, Samuel Beckett, Seth Price, Tao Lin, Martin Margiela, Mike Kelley, and Sofia Coppola. Smart dumb plays at being dumb dumb but knows better.
Variants of smart dumb also miss the point but in a different way. Twee (McSweeney’s, Miranda July, Ira Glass, David Byrne) feigns dumb but won’t allow itself to be dumb, for fear that someone might actually think it’s dumb, god forbid. Hipster appropriates chunks of dumb (trucker hats, facial hair, tattoos) but as a fashion trend, refuses to theorize its dumbness, thereby falling squarely into dumb dumb. Smart dumb refuses to commit to either one state or the other. Smart dumb, for instance, incorporates elements of camp but refuses to be camp enough to actually be camp. Dumb vs. smart is not a rehash of hip vs. square. Dumb is both hip and square. Smart dumb has its theorists - de Certeau, Goffman, Debord - those who articulate the mysteries of the mundane and the extraordinariness of the everyday.
“The key to the obedience of God’s people is not their effectiveness but their patience. The triumph of the right is assured not by the might that comes to the aid of the right, which is of course the justification of the use of violence and the other kinds of power in every human conflict; the triumph of the right, although it is assured, is sure because of the power of the resurrection and not because of any calculation of causes and effects, nor because of the inherently greater strength of the good guys. The relationship between the obedience of God’s people and the triumph of God’s cause is not a relationship of cause and effect but one of cross and resurrection.”—John Howard Yoder
A: Yes. It will triumph not only over psychoanalysis but over lots of other things too. We can’t even begin to imagine how powerful religion is.
I spoke a moment ago about the real. If science works at it, the real will expand and religion will thereby have still more reasons to soothe people’s hearts. Science is new and it will introduce all kinds of distressing things into each person’s life. Religion, above all the true religion [Christianity], is resourceful in ways we cannot even begin to suspect. One need but see for the time being how the place is crawling with it. It’s absolutely fabulous.
It took some time, but they [Christians] suddenly realized the windfall science was bringing them. Somebody is going to have to give meaning to all the distressing things science is going to introduce. And they know quite a bit about meaning. They can give meaning to absolutely anything whatsoever. A meaning to human life, for example. They are trained to do that. Since the beginning, religion has been all about giving meaning to things that previously were natural. It is not because things are going to become less natural, thanks to the real, that people will stop secreting meaning for all that. Religion is going to give meaning to the oddest experiments, the very ones that scientists themselves are just beginning to become anxious about. Religion will find colorful meaning for those. We need but look at how it is working now, how they are becoming abreast of things.
Q: Will psychoanalysis become a religion?
A: Psychoanalysis? No. At least I hope not.
”—Jacques Lacan, Bruce Fink translator, The Triumph of Religion (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013), 64-65. Original interview form a press conference held in Rome on October 29, 1974 at the French Cultural Center. (via millinerd)
“That everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else. That this isn’t necessarily perverse. That there might not be angels, but there are people who might as well be angels. That God - unless you’re Charlton Heston, or unhinged, or both - speaks and acts entirely through the vehicle of human beings, if there is a God. That God might regard the issue of whether you believe there’s a God or not as fairly low on his/her/its list of things s/he/it’s interested in re you.”—Things you may learn in a substance-recovery halfway facility, from David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. (via unapologetic-book)