Monday 4/7/14

    1. Speaking the ineffable
    2. Major themes of this blog


We use words to speak about what is ineffable. When we speak best about such things we speak in contradictions and oxymorons – in riddles, enigmas, mysteries and paradox. For the truth of these things is not in the words but in the space between the words, the silence brought about by the contradiction.

(Fr. Stephen Freeman, The Language of Silence)

If you don’t at all understand that, read it again. Read Fr. Stephen’s whole blog on the topic.

Webber (and Orthodox Tradition) notes that the mind, the place of discursive reasoning, emotion and the like, plays an important role in human existence, but should never have had an independent and governing role. Anyone who has ever noticed how completely undisciplined the mind is will understand what he means. The mind endlessly produces noise about almost anything, generating a stream of images and feelings that are more worse than useless. The noise of the mind, for some, can be a deeply distressing state of being.

(Emendation added)

At the point which we have reached, we can no longer oppose Scripture and Tradition, nor juxtapose them as two distinct realities. We must, however, distinguish them, the better to seize their indivisible unity, which lends to the Revelation given to the Church its character of fullness. If the Scriptures and all that the Church can produce in words written or pronounced, in images or in symbols liturgical or otherwise, represent the differing modes of expression of the Truth, Tradition is the unique mode of receiving it.

(Fr. Stephen quoting Vladimir Lossky) Hmm. If silence is part of the fullness, then words – even fully inspired words, printed on parchment in a leather-bound codex – fall short of fullness.

To some readers, this may sound mooshy-gooshy and new-agey, as it probably would have sounded to me 20 years ago. I’m sorry. You’re welcome to come and see.


If there are overriding to this blog, they would include these:

  • Things are not as represented. The civic and religious pieties are rarely true and the truth isn’t pious.
  • That I can recognize a lie, unfortunately doesn’t mean I can, let alone that I have, comprehended the truth. I have barely apprehended it, or so it generally seems.
  • I believe I know where the truth lies, at least the truth that matters, but my inner control freak wishes it were neatly tied up in a bow (or comprehensively found within leather covers I could possess). It’s not.

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.