Wednesday, 12/17/14

  1. The gray town’s outing
  2. Ballast. Yup. That’s me.
  3. Right in her glorious lefiness
  4. Moralistic Therapeutic Theism
  5. The Eye of the Soul

1

C.S. Lewis portrays a fanciful story of a bus ride from hell to heaven. Those in hell (“the gray town”) are invited to remain in the bright, solid reality of heaven. The conversations that take place in that delightful work (my favorite Lewis) are very telling. They are the confrontation between morality and reality, between the forensic model and the ontological. Heaven is so real that its solid objects hurt the feet of the hellish ghosts. Their moralities appear silly in the face of plain, solid being. The ghost of a wayward bishop protests that he cannot stay in this new place, since he has a prior engagement in a theological discussion group, where he is to read a paper – swallowed by hell and his life is unchanged.

(Fr. Stephen Freeman) The Great Divorce is my favorite Lewis, too, and the only one that consciously came into play as I embraced Orthodox Christianity. It hit me that, all my Christian professions aside, there was a corner of my life (if not more than a corner) where I was cultivating the equivalent of tender soles of my feet, where I was more interested in theological discussion than in loving God.

I posed myself this question: “What are you doing to become the kind of person who would find eternity in God’s presence a delight rather than a torment?” And rightly or wrongly, I sensed that Calvinism had no answers to that kind of question while Orthodoxy had them in abundance.

2

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds ….” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

I’ve changed my mind about some important things in my life, and some of those changes have been discussed here more than once. If you catch me claiming I’ve always believed the same, you’ll have caught me in a lie (or a thoughtless bit of bravado, which strikes me as a distinction without a difference).

But I’ve also changed emphasis in a way that might make it appear that I’ve changed my mind when I really haven’t.

If someone were to ask me my social role in life, I’d be tempted sometimes to say “ballast.” I’m the weight in the keel that helps keep the boat upright (but slows it down, too). But more often I’ve thought of myself as they hefty guy on the skiff who throws his weight to the port if there any listing to starboard – and vice-versa – all the while guided by a consistent vision of what constitutes “upright.”

I’m not sure any specific illustrations can improve the metaphor. It has felt like a pretty wild ride over the decades.

Am I the only one who feels this way?

3

Mr. President, Democrats don’t like Wall Street bailouts. Republicans don’t like Wall Street bailouts. The American people are disgusted by Wall Street bailouts. And yet here we are — five years after Dodd-Frank – with Congress on the verge of ramming through a provision that would do nothing for middle class, do nothing for community banks – do nothing but raise the risk that taxpayers will have to bail out the biggest banks once again.
There’s a lot of talk lately about how the Dodd-Frank Act isn’t perfect. There’s a lot of talk coming from Citigroup about how the Dodd-Frank Act isn’t perfect.

So let me say this to anyone who is listening at Citi: I agree with you. Dodd-Frank isn’t perfect.

It should have broken you into pieces.

Elizabeth Warren makes the Wall Street Journal crazy, but that’s okay. She’s right, in all her glorious leftiness.

4

When they’re right, they’re right. Some deists reportedly have objected that Moralistic Therapeutic Deism isn’t deist, but theist.

The god of the deists doesn’t rush to put a band-aid on our emotional boo-boos. The god of MTD does. Point taken.

5

The nous in Orthodox Christian theology is the eye (mind) of the heart or soul. Since the human intellect is not capable of knowing God, He implanted the nous that we might commune with Him. The intellect alone can not know God, for human reasoning is limited to the things that are of a material nature. God is unknowable without His divine revelation, and only the nous can perceive this knowledge. God’s essence remains inaccessible without noetic knowledge. Science has it’s place, but only the heart can know God.

(Abbot Tryphon)

* * * * *

“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.