Miscellany 7/25/17

  1. Put God in your debt
  2. Ritual makes us humane
  3. But at least we have those screens of various sizes
  4. Old books

1

He who has pity on the poor makes a debtor of God. (Prov. 19:17) 

My experience in life is that no one has the power to pay the emotional/spiritual debt owed to others. Nothing erases a memory or removes the injury itself. People fantasize that an apology would suffice. It doesn’t. It may restore some small measure of self-esteem, but the injury remains. I have listened to people who have returned to an injury year after year and marvel at their inability to forgive.

My experience has also shown me something else. There are those in my life whose “stock” is large. My love and communion with them are such that I easily overlook their sins against me. I find it easy to explain away their actions and make excuses for them. These are what constitute our “friends.” As St. Paul notes, “Love covers a multitude of sins.”

Essentially, the difference between our enemies and our friends are the allowances we are willing to make for them …

I have long placed this thought in a prayer: “O Lord, you know what my enemies have done to me. On the day of judgment, do not hold it against them on my account.”

Set them free. Get serious about laying up treasure in heaven. Make a debtor of God.

(Fr. Stephen Freeman)

2

Xunzi was a self proclaimed Confucian who lived a few centuries before Christ … Xunzi lived at the tale end of a terrible, vicious age, where China was divided between dueling leviathans engaged in constant, devastating war. These wars sucked up villages, towns, and peoples, with a bureaucratic efficiency the West wouldn’t see until the 1700’s. It was a terrifying, dispiriting time to be alive. My guess is that few of his contemporaries would have thought twice about one of Xunzi’s most famous pronouncements: “Human nature is evil.”

That is where Xunzi starts. Thankfully it isn’t where he ends—he sets himself the task of figuring out how humanity can pull itself out of the mess he sees all around him. The answer he comes up with is extraordinary: ritual. Personal and communal rituals are what, he claims, make us more humane. Ritual is the path away from blindly following our animal instinct; ritual is what raises humans above the beasts.  Within a few essays he develops an entire theory or ritual and its relationship to character building, slowly crafting the case that ritual is the training ground of righteousness and joy.

Xunzi had never heard of a Christian liturgy, of course, but each time I read his work I come away with the conviction that Xunzi explains its purpose better than most Christians ever do ….

(Tanner Greer via Rod Dreher)

This is the same scholar who I commented on a few days ago, though I didn’t then know his name. The internet being the odd place it is, that post got me an unexpected new follower!

3

Just about everything meaningful has been taken away from them, even though many of the material trappings of existence remain: a roof, stuff that resembles food, cars, and screens of various sizes.

But the places they are supposed to call home are either wrecked — the original small towns and cities of America — or replaced by new “developments” so devoid of artistry, history, thought, care, and charm that they don’t add up to communities, and are so obviously unworthy of affection, that the very idea of “home” becomes a cruel joke.

These places were bad enough in the 1960s and 70s, when the people who lived in them at least were able to report to paying jobs assembling products and managing their distribution. Now those people don’t have that to give a little meaning to their existence, or cover the costs of it. Public space was never designed into the automobile suburbs, and the sad remnants of it were replaced by ersatz substitutes, like the now-dying malls. Everything else of a public and human associational nature has been shoved into some kind of computerized box with a screen on it.

(James Howard Kunstler, describing the “moiling masses” beneath “America’s entitle power elite)

4

* * * * *

We’re all time-travelers, but we’re traveling in the same direction at the same pace.

There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.