Archives For September 2015

Prayer Graffiti

September 30, 2015 — 3 Comments

IMG_4709After ruling out a couple of Renaissance teens tagging the pews, pause and consider the depth of meaning behind the act of engraving an empassioned prayer, possibly by someone who was illiterate, on the walls of what would have been considered to be God’s-own “house.”

It’s not unlike those who bravely crawled, touched and called out to Jesus. Who upon seeing and hearing this turned, smiled and said to them, “be healed, no greater faith have I seen in all of Israel.” (Matt.8:10/Luke 7:9)

Prayer is apart of change. It’s in the free act of prayer, grounded in the free and loving act of why and how God, in Christ,  addresses us – in Gospel and law – that our time and space, is repurposed and redefined.

When life sends you a storm, draw God a strong boat.

‘God is not deaf, but listens; more than that, he acts. God does not act in the same way whether we pray or not. Prayer exerts an influence upon God’s action, even upon his existence. This is what the word “answer” means.’
…………………………………………………– Karl Barth, Prayer 1952:13
‘For we know that our defence lies in prayer alone’
………………………………………….– Martin Luther, Large Catechism.

Phil Keaggy LIVE event

In order to find suitable songs to kick-start our study through Revelation, I went scrolling around YouTube.

The goal was to mark the end of our successful journey through Luke and Acts; to find something that would also mark the start of a new quest that will take us through the Book of Revelation.

What I found was this performance of ‘John the Revelator’, by Blues Counsel and Phil Keaggy, dated October 2014.The song has been around since at least the time of Blind Willie Johnson (1897-1945) and since then it’s been covered by more than one performer.

I’ve long been partial to the Keaggy version, which appeared on his ’93 album, ‘Crimson and Blue.’ So, I figured what better song is there to get the ball rolling than one which features a bunch of guitarists.

One other stand out that I’m fond of and plan to use in my approach to teaching from John’s letter, prophecy and recount, is Michael Card’s ‘Unveiled Hope.’ Card’s entire album is written and performed with a contemplative closeness to the content of John’s book.

Some songs fall flat, such as Holy, Holy, Holy. Others, however, punch out a sound that reflects the present and future, hope and victory in Jesus Christ. Themes that contribute to the major points of the text.

As I did with Luke and Acts, for my ongoing prep for each session I’m resting a great deal on the Holy Spirit’s direction. Working hand-in-hand with Greg Clarke and John Dickson’s ‘666 And All That, 2007‘ and, Achtemeier, Green and Thompson’s, ‘Introducing the New Testament, Its Literature and Theology, 2001.’

‘While Revelation is a book that discloses and prophesies, it is above all a book that, like the writings and words of all the biblical prophets, intends to admonish, correct, and encourage its readers. John calls for repentance, obedience, faithfulness, and perseverance. This is not a code needing to be cracked; it is a proclamation that needs to be heard and obeyed’
         – (Achtemeier, Green and Thompson, p.558)

 

Having covered haiku for the first part of this homeschool year, we’re now moving on to another form of Japanese poetry called tanka.

Tanka is close to haiku. The differences are an increased length and a longer syllable limit of 5:7:5:7:7. Unlike haiku, the final two lines can rhyme.

Here is my first rough attempt.

Stepping Stones RL2015

…..
…..
…..Flowering paths
…..This flowing river lifts boulders
…..The Way is taught.
…..Where memories forge with excited whispers
…..Rocks are built upon.
…..

I’ve just started reading Peter Harrison’s new book, ‘The Territories of Science and Religion.‘ So far it’s been worth the effort.

Harrison is the director of Queensland University’s, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities. Formerly, The Centre For The History of European Discourses. His career also includes being the Idreos Professor of Science and Religion and Director at the University of Oxford. (source)

Harrison has a clear understanding of the history of Religion and Science. Showing how that history is blurred by the modern issues surrounding the hostility played up between them. One of the chief aims of his new book is to help along a better understanding of the differences between modern and classical definitions of the two. E.g.: the classical-medieval understanding of ‘religio’ and ‘scientia’ is not the same as the 17th Century division of religion and science into two opposing spheres of influence.

Insecurity complicates things. It’s issued out from both sides of these relatively new spheres. This insecurity is Harrison’s target as he presents an informed corrective addressing the predominant assumptions about the origins of each. By doing so Harrison counters a false dichotomy between Christianity and science, challenging assumptions and half-truths that fuel misconceptions, and which are all conveniently left in place in order to stoke antichristian, anticlerical sentiment.

With a term break fast approaching, I’ll aim to do a more complete review. In the meantime, here are two of twelve brief, but outstanding, Q & A sessions he recently did with Australia’s John Dickson, from the Centre for Public Christianity.

Case Study One:

 

Case Study Two:


 

Source:

CPX: The Centre For Public Christianity

Chesterton110 years since it was published, Heretics hasn’t lost a great deal of its significance.

In-situ, Heretics is a sum of careful considerations rendered at a time of significant change. Although his one hundred year old addresses easily convey to a modern reader, a sense of prophetic poignancy, Chesterton’s insights aren’t compromised by it. He is still a man writing for his own times. A simple example of this is that Chesterton is as critical of progressives as he is of aristocracy, and yet he is neither against progress nor entirely against the existence of an aristocrat. His concern is with the true and false definitions.

This is perhaps more clearer in the final chapter of Heretics than anywhere else:

‘The great march of mental destruction will go on. Everything will be denied. Everything will become a creed […] Fires will be kindled to testify that two and two make four. Swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer. We shall be left defending, not only the incredible virtues and sanities of human life, but something more incredible still, this huge impossible universe which stares us in the face. We shall fight for visible prodigies as if they were invisible. (p.163)

Chesterton’s conclusions seek to follow some of the logic of his day to their eventual ends. Mocking selectively, he unapologetically points out their inadequacies, lamenting that a time may come when the consequential absurdity that follows them might actually be given free reign. In fact, judging by the overall tone of Heretics it’s something Chesterton sees as already starting to happen.

On Bigotry:

‘Bigotry may be roughly defined as the anger of men who have no opinions. It is the resistance offered to definite ideas by that vague bulk of people whose ideas are indefinite to excess. Bigotry may be called the appalling frenzy of the indifferent. This frenzy of the indifferent is in truth a terrible thing; it has made all monstrous and widely pervading persecutions.’ (pp. 158-159)
‘Bigotry in the main has always been the pervading omnipotence of those who do not care, crushing out those who care, in darkness and blood…Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are least dangerous is the man of ideas. He is acquainted with ideas, and moves among them like a lion-tamer. Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are most dangerous is the man of no ideas.’(p.159)

On Art:

‘It is healthful to every sane man to utter the art within him; it is essential to every sane man to get rid of the art within him at all costs’ (p.129)
‘All the art of all the artists looked tiny and tedious beside the art which was a by-product of propaganda […] Originality is disagreement with others’ (p.155)
‘A small artist is content with art; a great artist is content with nothing except everything.’ (p.155)
‘The men and women who have really been the bold artists, the realistic artists, the uncompromising artists, are the men who have turned out, after all, to be writing “with a purpose.” (p.155)
‘When we want any art tolerably brisk and bold we have to go to the doctrinaires.’ (p.156)

On Literary Criticism:

‘It need hardly be said that this is the real explanation of the thing which has puzzled so many dilettante critics, the problem of the extreme ordinariness of the behaviour of so many great geniuses in history. Their behaviour was so ordinary that it was not recorded; hence it was so ordinary that it seemed mysterious. Hence people say that Sir Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare…The explanation is simple enough; it is that Shakespeare had a real lyrical impulse, wrote a real lyric, and so got rid of the impulse and went about his business. Being an artist did not prevent him from being an ordinary man.’ (p.130)

On Democracy:

‘Democracy is not philanthropy; it is not even altruism or social reform. Democracy is not founded on pity for the common man; democracy is founded on reverence for the common man, or, if you will, even on fear of him.’ (p.143)
‘Nothing can be more dangerous than to found a social philosophy on any theory which is debatable but has not been debated.’ (p.153)
‘If a man or woman convinces us at all, it should be by his or her convictions.’ (p.156)

On Dogmatics:

‘When he drops one doctrine after another in a refined scepticism, when he declines to tie himself to a system, when he says that he has outgrown definitions, when he says that he disbelieves in finality, when, in his own imagination, he sits as God, holding no form of creed but contemplating all, then he is by that very process sinking slowly backwards into the vagueness of the vagrant animals and the unconsciousness of the grass. Trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded.’ (p.153).
‘No man ought to write at all, or even to speak at all, unless he thinks he is in truth and the other man in error.’ (p.154)
‘Dogmatism is the founding of a system.’ (p.154)
‘Heresy is the intellectual poisoning of a whole people, in which only a prosperous and prominent man would be likely to be successful. The evil of aristocracy is not that it necessarily leads to the infliction of bad things or the suffering of sad ones; the evil of aristocracy is that it places everything in the hands of a class of people who can always inflict what they can never suffer.’ (p.147)
‘The modern world is filled with men who hold dogmas so strongly that they do not even know that they are dogmas. It may be thought “dogmatic,” for instance, in some circles accounted progressive, to assume the perfection or improvement of man in another world. But it is not thought “dogmatic” to assume the perfection or improvement of man in this world; though that idea of progress is quite as unproved as the idea of immortality, and from a rationalistic point of view quite as improbable. [For example] we see the full frenzy of those who killed themselves to find the sepulchre of Christ. But being in a civilization which does believe in this dogma of fact for facts’ sake, we do not see the full frenzy of those who kill themselves to find the North Pole.’ (p.162)
[Memorable quote:] ‘Some hold the undemonstrable dogma of the existence of God; some the equally undemonstrable dogma of the existence of the man next door.’ (p.163)

On Poverty:

most of our realists and sociologists talk about a poor man as if he were an octopus or an alligator.’ (p.147)
‘The missionary comes to tell the poor man that he is in the same condition with all men. The journalist comes to tell other people how different the poor man is from everybody else.’ (p.148)

On Philosophy:

‘If we talk of a certain thing being an aspect of truth, it is evident that we claim to know what is truth; just as, if we talk of the hind leg of a dog, we claim to know what is a dog. Unfortunately, the philosopher who talks about aspects of truth generally also asks, ‘What is truth?” Frequently even he denies the existence of truth, or says it is inconceivable by the human intelligence.’ (p.157)
‘It is ludicrous to suppose that the more sceptical we are the more we see good in everything. It is clear that the more we are certain what good is, the more we shall see good in everything.’ (p.157)

Chesterton walks along the edge of poignancy. His wit and quips land closer to sharp and reasoned criticism than they do to a flippant, mournful, petulant rejection of his subject matter. Chesterton has widely read and thought about the material he is addressing.

G.K. Chesterton’s voice, although slightly worn and visibly dated in some aspects, still remains as confronting as it did when he first put pen to paper.

That parallels can be proven to exist between the then and the now shows the longevity of Chesterton’s broad intellect, the broad impact of his ability to laugh and courage to speak out.

‘Eternity is the eve of something…Our existence is still a story. In the fiery alphabet of every sunset is written, “to be continued…” (pp.125 & 102)

Source:

Chesterton, G.K. 1905 Heretics, Catholic Way Publishing

Related posts:

The Most Agreeable Elements Of Chesterton’s HeReTiCs: Numero Uno

The Most Agreeable Elements Of Chesterton’s HeReTiCs: Numero Dos

Gilbert_with_Wife_FrancesHere is the final sum of highlights mined from Heretics.

This is by no means definitive. What it does, though, is outline the tone, momentum and edge. From which Chesterton engraved an unmistakable mark into the hard surface of arrogance and happy ignorance.

What is presented here are, in my opinion, some of the most pointed aspects of Heretics.

These points, more than any others, is why I’m  growing to be as much a fan of Heretics as I am of Orthodoxy. Heretics may not introduce Chesterton’s theology as brilliantly as Orthodoxy does, in the end though it doesn’t matter. The essence is there. It is in the poetic phrases and witty criticisms

Chesterton’s thoughts on humility, nations, family, pathos, science and faith, all signify the value of this work to a contemporary audience.

On Humility:

‘The whole secret of the practical success of Christendom lies in the Christian humility, however imperfectly fulfilled. For with the removal of all question of merit or payment, the soul is suddenly released for incredible voyages.’ (p.34)
‘Humility is not merely too good for this world; it is too practical for this world; I had almost said it is too worldly for this world.’ (p.35)
‘It is the humble man who does the big things. It is the humble man who does the bold things.’ (p.36)
‘The worship of [human] success ends in mere mediocrity; its followers are foredoomed to become slaves and cowards.’ (p.61)
‘To the humble person, and to that humble person alone, the sun is really a sun; the sea is really a sea.’ (p.87)
‘The ultimate psychological truth, the foundation of Christianity, is that no man or woman is a hero to himself. Oliver Cromwell, according to Carlyle, was a strong man. According to Cromwell, he was a weak one.’ (p.87)

On Nations and The Family:

‘Nationality exists, and has nothing in the world to do with race.’ (p.95)
‘A big society is a society for the promotion of narrowness. It is a machinery for the for the purpose of guarding the solitary and sensitive individual from all experience of the bitter and bracing human compromises. It is, in the most literal sense of the words, a society for the prevention of Christian knowledge. We can see this change, for instance, in the modern transformation of the thing called a club.’ (p.95)
‘The man or woman who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world. In a large community we can choose our companions. In a small community our companions are chosen for us […] It is a good thing for man or woman to live in a family in the same sense that it is a beautiful and delightful thing for a man or woman to be snowed up in a street. They are forced to realise that life is not a thing from outside, but a thing from inside.’ (p.99)

On Pathos:

‘The one genuinely dangerous and immoral way of drinking wine is to drink it as medicine…Drink because you are happy, never because you are miserable.’ (p.53)
‘Human emotions are never hard and never gem-like; they are always dangerous, like flames, to touch or even examine.’ (p.56)
‘For a hearty laugh it is necessary to have touched the heart. I do not know why touching the heart should always be connected with the idea of touching it to compassion or a sense of distress. The heart can be touched to joy and triumph and the heart can be touched to amusement.’ (p.110)
‘Were even the Puritans Stoics? The English Puritans repressed a good deal, but even they were too English to repress their feelings.’ (p.112)

On Science:

‘Take away the supernatural, and what remains is the unnatural.’ (p.50)
‘Science can analyse a pork-chop, and say how much of it is phosphorus and how much is protein; but science cannot analyse any man’s wish for a pork-chop, and say how much of it is hunger, how much custom, how much nervous fancy, how much a haunting love of the beautiful. The man’s desire for the pork-chop remains literally as mystical and ethereal as his desire for heaven.’ (p.76)
’Science in the modern world has many uses; its chief use, however, is to provide long words to cover the errors of the rich. The word “kleptomania” is a vulgar example of what I mean.’ (p.91)
‘Science is always by its nurture more solemn and austere than religion.’ (p.115)
‘To use a thing in vain means to use it without use.’ (p.117)
‘In the modern world solemnity [by way of grave and verbose writers (p.118)] is the direct enemy of sincerity.’ (p.119)
‘Science means specialism, and specialism means oligarchy […] the expert is more aristocratic than the aristocrat [and] if we look at the progress of our scientific civilization we see a gradual increase everywhere of the specialist.’ (p.121)

On Faith:

‘A man or woman who has faith must be prepared not to be a martyr, but to be a fool.’ (p.49)
‘Whatever may be the meaning of faith; it must always mean a certainty about something we cannot prove. Thus, for instance, we believe by faith in the existence of other people.’ (p.85)
‘Faith is unfashionable, and it is customary on every side to cast against it the fact that it is a paradox (p.83). [But] Paradoxes are true(p.120) […] a paradox is not a frivolous thing, but a very serious thing; it simply means a certain defiant joy which belongs to belief. I should regard any civilization which was without a universal habit of uproarious dancing as being, from the full human point of view, a defective civilization. And I should regard any mind which had not got the habit in one form or another of uproarious thinking as being, from the full human point of view, a defective mind.’ (p.123)

Some of his criticisms aren’t as cutting to a modern reader. Such as his rebuttal to H.G Wells, F. Nietzsche, or Rudyard Kipling and the Ex-Catholic Priest, Joseph McCabe. All seem overly wordy and lack absolute clarification about the context of Chesterton’s criticisms.The modern reader is then left a little shell-shocked, having to piece together fragments of Chesterton’s commentary in order to completely understand the significance of certain criticisms. In some respects it’s like wading through a fog with only Chesterton’s humour laced voice to guide the way – step here, tread there, no wait, go back, this way, not that.

It’s this trail, however, that makes Heretics what it is: a tour of an era, high on the belle époque of pre-WW1 humanism. Chesterton isn’t out to impress anyone. This is the one endearing tone of Heretics that rises higher than the rest. Honest, sometimes humorous and broad thought encapsulates its real value. In spite of the limitations Chesterton looks towards the precipice ahead. Pointing, with pipe and pint in hand, he then resoundingly argues that the trajectory of human pride ends, not in victory, but in a tragic free-fall from a fast approaching ledge.


Source:

Chesterton, G.K. 1905 Heretics, Catholic Way Publishing

Related posts:

The Most Agreeable Elements Of Chesterton’s HeReTiCs: Numero Uno

G.K. Chesterton’s War & Parker J. Palmer’s Objection To Objectivity

You Don’t Have To Be A Progressive, To Be For Progress

G.K Chesterton’s Resolve (Or, Early Gastronomic Activism)

Image: Gilbert and Frances Chesterton Creative Commons