Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when He called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot escape from yourself; for God has singled you out. If you refuse to be alone, you are rejecting Christ’s call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called…
Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. Into the community you were called—the call was not meant for you alone; in the community of the called you bear your cross, you struggle, you pray. You are not alone even in death, and on the Last Day you will be only one member of the great congregation of Jesus Christ. If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ.
Every poet, consciously or unconsciously, holds the following absolute presuppositions, as the dogmas of his art:
(1) A historical world exists, a world of unique events and unique persons, related by analogy, not identity. The number of events and analogical relations is potentially infinite. The existence of such a world is a good, and every addition to the number of events, persons and relations is an additional good.
(2) The historical world is a fallen world, i.e. though it is good that it exists, the way in which it exists is evil, being full of unfreedom and disorder.
(3) The historical world is a redeemable world. The unfreedom and disorder of the past can be reconciled in the future.
It follows from the first presupposition that the poet’s activity in creating a poem is analogous to God’s activity in creating man after his own image. It is not an imitation, for were it so, the poet would be able to create like God ex nihilo; instead, he requires pre-existing occasions of feeling and a pre-existing language out of which to create. It is analogous in that the poet creates ￼not necessarily according to a law of nature but voluntarily according to provocation.
The tragedy of the Reformation consists in the loss by both sides of the some of the very things each claimed to be defending against the other; its final outcome was not what Rome or the reformers had wanted. Yet the necessity of the Reformation consists in the loyalty of the reformers to the best and highest in Roman Catholic Christianity and their obligation to summon Rome back to it. Partisans on both sides have difficulty acknowledging the Reformation was indeed a tragic necessity. Roman Catholics agree that it was tragic, because it separated many millions from the true church; but they cannot see that it was really necessary. Protestants agree that it was necessary, because the Roman church was so corrupt; but they cannot see that it was such a tragedy after all.
In conclusion, I want to focus not on fury but on the remarkable capacity for communities of faith to endure. My wife’s ancestors lived for generations in the contested borderlands of Poland and Russia. As Jews they were tremendously vulnerable, and yet through their children and their children’s children they endured in spite of discrimination, violence, and attempted genocide. Where now, I ask, are the Russian and Polish aristocrats who dominated them for centuries? Where now is the Thousand Year Reich? Where now is the Soviet worker’s paradise? They have gone to dust. The Torah is still read in the synagogue. The same holds for Christianity. The Church did not need constitutional protections in order to take root in a hostile pagan culture two thousand years ago. Right now the Nones seem to have the upper hand in America. But what seems powerful is not always so. If I had to bet on Harvard or the Catholic Church, Yale or the Mennonites in Goshen, Indiana, the New York Times or yeshivas in Brooklyn, I wouldn’t hesitate. Over the long haul, religious faith has proven itself the most powerful and enduring force in human history.
(ht Mike Bird)
C. S. Lewis lecture on Radio National
It will be also available for download from the Big Ideas page soon after.
This has become an Arvo Part weekend.
“I am the true vine, and my father is the husbandman…” (John 15)
The gospel spirit is a catholic spirit, a noble and unconfined benevolence, like unto that of our Creator, not confined to any particular part of mankind exclusive of others… To make the wickedness of men the cause of contention and strife in us is to make one sin the cause of another. We cannot please the devil better than by hating men’s persons under pretense of duty.
(ht Ray Ortland)
- Billy: In my youth, I was much like you. Motivated. Headstrong. Wore silly little outfit. Even had a magic dog... All my life, I've beaten on evil creatures. But new evil keeps popping up. Kicking their butts was a hopeless effort!
- Jake: What other way is there?
- Billy: Nonviolently. Help people by being active in your community.
The Chained Library of Zutphen
I took these pictures during a visit to the 16th-century chained library of Zutphen, in the east of the Netherlands. It is one of three such libraries still in existence in Europe. Nothing much has changed here for 550 years.
Not sure if I love this because libraries or because Terry Pratchett. Also, dog footprints in the last photo.