Archive | July, 2010

Christ’s Sacrifice

29 Jul

Earlier in the week I promised to put down some thoughts concerning Christianity for a blogger by the name of Crystal.  Here it goes.

The question was, how does one experience God, or rather search for God.  My answer:  I experience God through the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.  Allow me to explain.

The sacrifice of Christ on the cross is the definitive moment in man’s history when God, through the person of Christ, poured out the Holy Spirit on man.  Prior to this event men usually lived in a state of constant supplication to a God that demanded to be pleased.  Such supplication usually took the form of the sacrifice of a human or animal.  We felt guilty, at least collectively, and demanded purification.

We men need these sacrifices made on our behalf.  We feel the need to be purified of past failures and the feeling of a new beginning.  Always, at the back of this, was the image of an angry god that the people must appease and ultimately please, through their actions and when those weren’t enough, through sacrifice.  (Modernity is freed from this cycle and abusive relationship because its cultural roots were nourished and informed by the Christian faith.  We can renounce this faith and walk on our own amidst the graveyard of gods long dead.  I would wager, that before long we would see old powers taking new forms and barbarism returning because men, in the name of civilization, cast off the root of civilization.)

Christ’s sacrifice freed us from this cycle and defined for men their true relation to the deity.  We were finally, and irrevocably, freed from living our lives in order to please the deity.  “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  God is pleased with us; it was we, all along, who weren’t pleased with our existence.  We hated misfortune and yearned for ease and thus felt it to be the wrath of God when bad things stormed the gates of our lives.  When struck with famine, we sacrificed.  When burdened with financial woes, we sacrificed.  When living in a state of foolishness, we sacrificed.  But the final sacrifice has been made; our misfortunes are our own.   With the death of Christ we were released of a burden, that is, we no longer need feel irrational guilt. “My burdens are light.”

Yet we have also taken on a new burden, that of our own existence.  God has given this burden to those who believe the gift of the spirit, or modern men who walk beneath it’s protective social norms.  The true Christian, like the Atheist, understands that his actions have consequences and it is not God that punishes him for sin but sin itself that punishes him.  Atheists, I think some at least, grasp this.  Christians diverge from this agreement because we have received the spirit, and are brought into the providence of God.  Having received salvation we also become instruments in the salvation of others.  (Salvation applies both to our political associations and that salvation hoped for after death.  Not being a theologian, I’m more interested in the political salvation of men, of which the OT clearly testifies that God is a God both of the political and the eternal.  Also, one should understand politics as the relation between men, the study of communities.)

God no longer irrationally punishes us for apparently harmless acts that he deems unfitting.  We are punished reasonably and only for actions that deserve punishment.  God has made what is and what is punishes actions that stray.  One may protest and say that any punishment from God is irrational, that he isn’t real or doesn’t concern himself with men.  What then?  Does nature not punish?  They have simply traded one rock for another to crash senselessly against.  Believer or not, existence does not change for you and its laws are irrevocable.

I experience God in facing this reality and laboring to conform to those laws of existence and I believe, through my faith in Christ, that the Holy Spirit steels my resolve and puts me to the labors necessary to flourish.  Have you ever read Tolstoy?  I assent to him in this: I often can only discern the work of providence after many years have come between the present me and the past me.  Looking back I can observe dispassionately why I acted or decided as I did.  It is only at such a distance that one can see with his reason.  In the present I can only experience the Holy Spirit as a vague will beside my own.  When one looks into himself he always finds an other, what most would call a conscience.  In the present this other presses itself on my will, sometimes urging it forward and sometimes restraining.

There are actions that help one to draw closer to God and increase the role of providence in one’s life.  Reading, conversation, prayer and singing hymns are the actions I find most effectual.  Each of these three acts work on my disposition in such a way I find life full.  And that’s what life is, utterly dense and very demanding.  So full that it horrifies people.  Yet, through those activities I encounter the Holy Spirit and am made capable.  Even more than capable, I enjoy the labor.  “We are more than conquerors.”

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After Victory

27 Jul

It was 1859 and after thirty years of parliamentary control the Whigs were overturned by the Conservatives thanks to the genius platform of the party lieutenant, Benjamin Disraeli.  The debate lasted well into the morning hours.  The biographer Maurois writes the following:

After the division, the Conservative cheers on Dizzy’s behalf were deafening and prolonged.  Every one wanted to shake him by the hand.  After leaving Westminster, many of them met at the Carlton and improvised a supper party.  Disraeli dropped in at the club for a moment on his way home, and was once more welcomed with endless cheers.  His friends beseeched him to sup with them, but he knew Mary Anne was awaiting him, that she had also prepared a supper, and he did not wish to disappoint her.  On the next day she proudly wrote to one of her friends, “Dizzy came straight home; I had got a pie ready and a bottle of champagne.  He ate half the pie and drank all of the champagne, and he said to me, ‘My dear, you are more of a mistress to me than a wife.’” She was then seventy-seven.

How beautiful.

Grocery Shopping

26 Jul

I confess; I enjoy grocery shopping.  Picking out food from amongst the immense number of possible choices is sort of a game.  You have to get something delicious to eat and spend as little as humanly possible.  Back at the house, putting all the food away makes my feel excited for all the dinners I get to make and there is a general feeling of living intelligently.  I know I’m saving money and avoiding the unhealthy eat-out option.  And because I’ve created an awesome routine I really enjoy dinner time.  I get to relax, make something yummy and listen to someone talk about something I think is interesting.  I use dinner time as a sort of break from working on Greek.  Speaking of which, I have a quiz tomorrow and loads of homework to do tonight.  So I’m going to go get started.

Avett Brothers’ New Video

22 Jul

How Exciting

21 Jul

The class list is out for the fall and it made me so happy to be back in school.  I think I read over it three times and even made myself an imaginary schedule with non-conflicting times and days.  I’m hoping, praying, that the classes are available.  Not excited yet?  Let me give you the rundown:

Plato’s Republic – Jonathan Culp (St. John’s College Alumnus)

Aristotle’s Politics – Leo Paul De Alvarez (Listed Expertise: Thucydides, Politics and The Bible*, Shakespeare, Aristotle & Plato, Machiavelli) *bold lettering mine.

The American Founding – Thomas West (Recent courses taught: The Political Philosophy of Locke, Leo Strauss’ Political Philosophy, The Enlightenment and Liberal Democracy)

Intermediate Greek – Karl Maurer

None of that sounds boring and I’m overwhelmingly confident that I can handle any material on these subjects they can throw in front of me.  Intermediate Greek will be the toughest and inevitably will cause the most tears.

Class Discussion? Don’t Be Silly.

18 Jul

So this was a fun week for class, and I’m sorry I haven’t sat down and written it all up.  We got the Test back Wednesday and it appears that I received an A, but it’s really unclear how he grades or the total value of the tests.  He said that anything below a -20 was an A and I got -18.  Not a number I’m proud of but apparently was quite good.  So, I really don’t know what to think and to be honest have little to no idea what my final grade was for that class.

This past week I also injected some conversation into the class.  Dr. Sweet had begun talking about intuition as a way of knowing.  I was naturally excited by this topic and interjected a thought and we proceeded to talk about intuition for a bit.  I was really hoping someone else would join us.  The Johnnie alumni did move to the edge of his seat and you could tell he knew what was going on but didn’t get the chance, I guess, to speak.  In fact, nobody spoke but Dr. Sweet and I.  The other students seem to treat my interjection as a question that Dr. Sweet would answer.  Nobody took it for a thought to which they could contribute.

As far as Greek itself goes, we began participles this week. (and I aced that quiz!)  The Greek participle has far more uses than the English participle, which makes translating it difficult.  We only spent three days on it and I know that I have a great deal more to learn before I’m really comfortable with it.  Tomorrow we begin the Optative.  I remember it as a sort of future mood but that’s about it.

I hope your Sunday is relaxing and that you begin your week on a good note.

The Constant Man

17 Jul

I had some friends over tonight to hang out, drink some beer, and have some conversation.  We ended the night by watching Tombstone because they had not seen it before.  I have that curious desire to show people what I find attractive.  A couple of days ago I watched that movie for the first time in years and immediately fell back in love with it.  So naturally, I wanted other people to love it as well.

I should warn you, I am quite inebriated.  But since my guests have left I have had time to reflect upon why Doc Holliday is so damn attractive of a personality.  I decided it’s because he is both unchanging and not what one would call normal.  One of his final lines of the movie runs, “There is no normal life Wyatt, just life.”  This sentiment, coupled that constancy of spirit which causes Holliday to proclaim near the end, “My hypocrisy only goes so far” truly makes him an ideal.

I, unfortunately, do not possess that powerful conviction which only allows me to be one person.  Sometimes I feel as if I’m playing too many roles and truly possess no particular me.  I wonder if this isn’t the condition of modern men in general or if I am only an unfortunate specimen.  The general lack of conviction I notice in most people leads me to hope that I am not alone, but one cannot truly peer inside the soul of another and see the conflict that rages on unnoticed by the outside observer.

In any event, I can find solace in the knowledge that I know that the Doc Holliday I watched and felt so enamored by was played by a man who not only lacks that constancy of spirit he so artfully portrayed but is an actor by profession and makes a living out of putting on a character that has little to do with his internal soul.  Yet, this is no solace!  What if there are no complete and therefore constant men?  How detestable if we were all actors?  No, I’d rather be one inconstant individual in bad company than have no possibility of a Doc Holliday.