GK Chesterton Saint Francis… in a word – brilliant!

November 7th, 2018
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Really, too many highlights to list – but I will put this post up with the pdf (it is in public domain).

…Rossetti makes the remark somewhere, bitterly but with great truth, that the worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank. The converse of this proposition is also true; and it is certain that this gratitude produced, in such men as we are here considering, the most purely joyful moments that have been known to man. The great painter boasted that he mixed all his colors with brains, and the great saint may be said to mix all his thoughts with thanks. All goods look better when they look like gifts. In this sense it is certain that the mystical method establishes a very healthy external relation to everything else. But it must always be remembered that everything else has for ever fallen into a second place, in comparison with this simple fact of dependence on the divine reality. In so far as ordinary social relations have in them something that seems solid and self-supporting, some sense of being at once buttressed and cushioned; in so far as they establish sanity in the sense of security and security in the sense of self-sufficiency, the man who has seen the world hanging on a hair does have some difficulty in taking them so seriously as that.

…There was nothing negative about it; it was not a regimen or a stoical simplicity of life. It was not self-denial merely in the sense of self-control. It was as positive as a passion; it had all the air of being as positive as a pleasure. He devoured fasting as a man devours food. He plunged after poverty as men have dug madly for gold. And it is precisely the positive and passionate quality of this part of his personality that is a challenge to the modern mind in the whole problem of the pursuit of pleasure. There undeniably is the historical fact; and there attached to it is another moral fact almost as undeniable. It is certain that he held on this heroic or unnatural course from the moment when he went forth in his hair-shirt into the winter woods to the moment when he desired even in his death agony to lie bare upon the bare ground, to prove that he had and that he was nothing. And we can say, with almost as deep a certainty, that the stars which passed above that gaunt and wasted corpse stark upon the rocky floor had for once, in all their shining cycles round the world of laboring humanity, looked down upon a happy man.

read it here:

G.K.Chesterton-Saint Francis

The Claim of War: Render unto Ceasar

September 6th, 2018
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The war will fail to absorb our whole attention because it is a finite object and, therefore, intrinsically unfitted to support the whole attention of human soul. In order to avoid misunderstanding I must here make a few distinctions. I believe our cause to be, as human causes go, very righteous, and I therefore believe it to be a duty to participate in this war. And every duty is a religious duty, and our obligation to perform every duty is therefore absolute. Thus we may have a duty to rescue a drowning man and, perhaps, if we live on a dangerous coast, to learn lifesaving so as to be ready for any drowning man when he turns up. It may be our duty to lose our own lives in saving him. But if anyone devoted himself to lifesaving in the sense of giving it his total attention – so that he thought and spoke of nothing else and demanded the cessation of all other human activities until everyone learned to swim – he would be a monomaniac. The rescue of drowning men is, then, a duty worth dying for, but not worth living for. It seems to me that all political duties (among which I include military duties) are of this kind. A man may have to die for our country, but no man must, in any exclusive sense, live for his country. He who surrenders himself without reservation to the temporal claims of a nation, or a party, or a class is rendering unto Ceasar that which, of all things, most emphatically belongs to God: himself

CS Lewis – from “Learning in War-Time” (The Weight of Glory)

Although this was written WRT WWll unpacking this in today’s heated and histrionic atmosphere is very applicable on many levels.

I clasp thy feet, O father of the living!

August 28th, 2018
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Thou wilt not let my fluttering hopes be more,

Or lovelier, or greater, than thy giving!

Surely thy ships will bring to my poor shore,

Of gold and peacocks such a shining store

As will laugh all the dreams to holy scorn,

Of love and sorrow that were ever born.

GM

FASTER!

July 22nd, 2018
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I was watching a drummer recently… he was really fast. No kidding,, he had speed and dexterity beyond the normal human comprehension of what is attainable. Really really fast. I saw it. Another drummer witnessed his skills and absolutely rejoiced in the “speed.” WOW – the people said LOOK! SUPER FAST!

I shrugged.

Honestly… from an emotive standpoint speed has an effect like an insect or a machine. Me..ok? That’s my vibe. Not a lot of depth. Why is doing something fast considered excellent? Is it Olympic? I dunno….

Even thou canst give me neither thought nor thing,

May 14th, 2018
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Were it the priceless pearl hid in the land,

Which if I fix thereon a greedy gaze,

Becomes not poisen that doth burn and cling;

Their own bad look my foolish eyes doth daze,

They see the gift, see not the giving hand—

From the living root the apple dead I wring.

GM

Screwtape explains the law of undulation:

May 1st, 2018
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My dear Wormwood,

So you ‘have great hopes that the patient’s religious phase is dying away’, have you? I always thought the Training College had gone to pieces since they put old Subgob at the head of it, and now I am sure. Has no one every told you about the law of Undulation?
Humans are amphibians– half spirit and half animal. (The Enemy’s determination to produce such a revolting hybrid was one of the things that determined Our Father to withdraw his support from Him.) As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for as to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation– the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks. If you had watched your patient carefully you would have seen this undulation in every department of his life– his interest in his work, his affection for his friends, his physical appetites, all go up and down. As long as he lives on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty. The dryness and dullness through which your patient is now going are not, as you fondly suppose, your workmanship; they are merely a natural phenomenon which will do us no good unless you make a good use of it.
To decide what the best use of it is, you must ask what use the Enemy wants to make of it, and then do the opposite. Now it may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else. The reason is this. To us a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense. But the obedience which the Enemy demands of men is quite a different thing. One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself– creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because he has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in,, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct.
And that is where the troughs come in. You must have often wondered why the Enemy does not make more use of His power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree He chooses and at any moment. But you now see that the Irresistible and the Indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of His scheme forbids Him to use. Merely to override a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For His ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatures are to be one with Him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimilate them, will not serve. He is prepared to do a little overriding at the beginning. He will set them off with communications of His presence which, though faint, seem great to them, with emotional sweetness, and easy conquest over temptation. Sooner or later He withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs– to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best. We can drag our patients along by continual tempting, because we design them only for the table, and the more their will is interfered with the better. He cannot ‘tempt’ to virtual as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.
But of course the troughs afford opportunities to our side also. Next week I will give you some hints on how to exploit them,

You affectionate uncle
Screwtape

In everything on this earth that is worth doing, there is a stage when no one would do it,

April 20th, 2018
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except for necessity or honor. It is then that the Institution upholds a man and helps him on to the firmer ground ahead. Whether this solid fact of human nature is sufficient to justify the sublime dedication of Christian marriage is quite an other matter, it is amply sufficient to justify the general human feeling of marriage as a fixed thing, dissolution of which is a fault or, at least, an ignominy. The essential element is not so much duration as security. Two people must be tied together in order to do themselves justice; for twenty minutes at a dance, or for twenty years in a marriage In both cases the point is, that if a man is bored in the first five minutes he must go on and force himself to be happy. Coercion is a kind of encouragement; and anarchy (or what some call liberty) is essentially oppressive, because it is essentially discouraging. If we all floated in the air like bubbles, free to drift anywhere at any instant, the practical result would be that no one would have the courage to begin a conversation. It would be so embarrassing to start a sentence in a friendly whisper, and then have to shout the last half of it because the other party was floating away into the free and formless ether. The two must hold each other to do justice to each other. If Americans can be divorced for “incompatibility of temper” I cannot conceive why they are not all divorced. I have known many happy marriages, but never a compatible one. The whole aim of marriage is to fight through and survive the instant when incompatibility becomes unquestionable. For a man and a woman, as such, are incompatible.

 

GKC

 I am quite ready to respect another man’s faith;

April 12th, 2018
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but it is too much to ask that I should respect his doubt, his worldly hesitations and fictions, his political bargain and make-believe.

The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.

GKC

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What Is Wrong With The World

Gloriously wasteful, O my Lord, art thou!

March 2nd, 2018
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Sunset faints after sunset into the night,
Splendorously dying from thy window-sill–
For ever. Sad our poverty doth bow
Before the riches of thy making might:
Sweep from thy space thy systems at thy will–
In thee the sun sets every sunset still.

GM

various and sundry

February 15th, 2018
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It is a crazy world we live in isn’t it? From where I look out I see an unusual amount of pure and unabated apoplexy. Our society appears to be in trouble. Personally I do my best to not let the general hysteria of the neurotic media influence my day to day too much… but the screams are getting hard to ignore. Friends, colleagues, neighbors all suffer from the din. GK Chesterton once said something to the effect of : we are only influenced by the apparatus we allow to influence us… meaning we can’t hear the insanity if we don’t listen. I agree. CS Lewis gave up newspapers entirely during WW2, primarily because he found them to be so consistently inaccurate. He said that though he was very interested in the “news” of hostile maneuvers and attacks – by the time it was reported and printed it was either hopelessly flawed or largely irrelevant. Regarding wars – I believe we are experiencing not only seismic shifts and increased violence in the Middle East, with great power and hate aimed at Israel, our own USA has devolved into what appears to be some kind of coup authored by Hillary Clinton and the FBI, and the stench appears to be all over the Obama DOJ and Democratic Party as well. Bizarre and epic all at once. From my own view it is hard to know who – if anyone, is really being honest. if things really are as criminal as the accusers say people will go to jail. Also in the news every day about 115 people die from opiates, prescription pain relievers, heroin and fentanyl. Fentanyl killed both Prince and Tom Petty. Its heartbreaking so many people are trying to numb themselves from feeling their pain, to the point of death. BTW I think many of these people suffer from physical, spiritual, emotional and psychological pain as well. I will write later about projects I am doing… in the meantime :

Man finds it hard to get what he wants, because he does not want the best; God finds it hard to give, because He would give the best, and man will not take it. George MacDonald