'Out of the cradle, endlessly rocking...'

Saturday, April 19, 2014

I believe that's Ἀληθῶς ανέστη...

     'The mystery of the incarnation of the Logos is the key to all the inner symbolism and typology in the Scriptures, and in addition gives us knowledge of created things, both visible and invisible. He who apprehends the mystery of the cross and the burial apprehends the inward essences of created things; while he who is initiated into the inexpressible power of the resurrection apprehends the purpose for which God first established everything,' St. Maximus the Confessor, Centuries on Theology and Economy, I.66.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Reading War and Peace into the small hours. I don't want Prince Andrei to die again.
     I have a great stand-up routine with Werner Herzog as a contractor, but for the life of me I can't figure out what audience would take to it. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

reading Kant for the hell of it...

     Kant's Critique of Pure Reason makes sense as a Kafkaesque self-portrait. As such it is at once hilarious and terrifying. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

reading reading reading...

     Something from Sarah Coakley: 'In much recent Western theology, and more especially in feminist philosophy and theology, an anti-hero stalks: the Enlightenment ‘Man of Reason’. Can we not all agree in despising him? This villain has a number of characteristics. Cogitating, lonely, individualist, despising the body, passions, women and indeed all sociality, he artificially abstracts from the very dependencies he takes for granted: the products of earth, the comforts of family and friends, and — not least — the miraculous appearance of regular meals….'
     I have met him. His initials are IK.

notes from a commonplace book...

     ‘Here it is perhaps also worth raising the issue of what might be taken to be the unduly negative, the unduly dry and dismal, take on the apophatic I have been presenting. Have I not, with my simple insistence on what cannot be understood, on lack of insight, on questions that cannot be answered, missed the point of true apophaticism? Is it not itself bound up with contemplation? Surely denial and negativity are never employed for their own sake, and it is not a matter of a sheer blank, of simply hitting a wall, in thought and speech about God. Surely something much richer is gestured towards in apophasis: it is a response to excess, to God’s superabundant richness. Where is this, one might ask, in the account I have been giving of an apophatic trinitarianism
     ‘Richness, excess, this overwhelming quality of what we cannot comprehend should, on the view I am developing, be located precisely at the level of our contemplation in the Trinity, rather than at the level of contemplation of the Trinity. It is enough to acknowledge infinite depths that exceed our grasp in the Father who is contemplated through the Son – we do not need to look for such infinite depths and dazzling darkness in the very notion of three-in-oneness or perichoresis. And it is precisely because of the sense of excess and transcendence associated with contemplation in the Trinity that there ought properly to be, on the view I am exploring, a resistance to, a fundamental reticence and reserve surrounding, speculation on the Trinity,’ Karen Kilby, ‘Is an Apophatic Trinitarianism Possible?’ International Journal of Systematic Theology 12, no. 1 (2010): 65–77.

Friday, March 14, 2014

heading for that Big Rock Candy Mountain...

     Checked my email just now. Seems I've an E-Deposit pending from Somewhere. All They need is my e-signature, along with a few pieces of personal information handled discretely and professionally, and I can collect this windfall.
     So, why am I working today?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

yeah, i'm all over the place this morning...

     Apparently there are those within what we call the financial sector who want to see a Democrat take the White House in 2016. That's the only reasonable conclusion we can draw. After all, if they wanted a Republican to win, they wouldn't be looking at people like Paul, Cruz, and Rubio. We need, after all, someone who can deal with the complex, delicate strategic challenges that define our time - Russia and Ukraine; uprisings in Thailand; a possible war between China and Japan; all of which tie up North Korea and Iran; changes throughout the Middle East as younger rulers take over; political and economic crises in Latin America. Need I continue the litany?
     Well, we can dare to dream. Maybe there's a culturally conservative, fiscally responsible, liberal-minded lover of chess out there in the Republican ranks who could be the guy. I doubt it. 

pop culture madness...

     See, this is what I'm talking about: I have never, ever seen an episode of The Bachelor. Yet, I can't read the news to see if anyone has found that missing 777 without learning about Juan Pablo. O, and that can't possibly be a real name, can it?

the Small Catechism is good for what ails you...

     Thanks to the efforts of my long-distance friend John Halton and his gang, you can now find Luther's Small Catechism online without fear of Concordia Publishing House and its army of legal minions. While roaming our strange ecclesial world, I've returned again and again to this deceptively simple work. Anyone can grasp the Catechism in its essentials, yet there are depths to it that become clear only after years of reflection. So yeah and amen, I'm happy to see this. (Because I can't help it, allow me to quibble a bit about the use of that there NIV - we here at ER do not endorse it, like it, buy it, or otherwise go near it.) By the by, if you're over that way in Engelonde, the parish of Christ Lutheran Church is apparently in a mysterious Brigadoon world somewhere between, lessee, Orpington and Petts Wood, names no doubt made up by C. S. Lewis. Anyway, visit their site, study that Small Catechism, and have a fine morning.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Saturday, March 8, 2014

     Just a reminder: Eo mens est imago Dei, quo capax Dei est et particeps esse potest. St. Augustine, De Trinitate XIV:11.
     It's important that we not forget that.

notes from a commonplace book...

Here we have the Knight of Faith, from Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling:

Why, he looks like a tax-collector!" However, it is the man after all. I draw closer to him, watching his least movements to see whether there might not be visible a little heterogeneous fractional telegraphic message from the infinite, a glance, a look, a gesture, a note of sadness, a smile, which betrayed the infinite in its heterogeneity with the finite. No! I examine his figure from tip to toe to see if there might not be a cranny through which the infinite was peeping. No! He is solid through and through. His tread? It is vigorous, belonging entirely to finiteness; no smartly dressed townsman who walks out to Fresberg on a Sunday afternoon treads the ground more firmly, he belongs entirely to the world, no Philistine more so. One can discover nothing of that aloof and superior nature whereby one recognizes the knight of the infinite. He takes delight in everything, and whenever one sees him taking part in a particular pleasure, he does it with the persistence which is the mark of the earthly man whose soul is absorbed in such things. He tends to his work. So when one looks at him one might suppose that he was a clerk who had lost his soul in an intricate system of book-keeping, so precise is he.’

A shame Soren could never quite become such a gallant.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

notes from a commonplace book...

     'Most of Donne's Songs and Sonets are composed partly in pentameters and partly in shorter or longer lines. . . . In all of Shakespeare's songs, to go no further, there is not a single pentameter line. It looks as if poets realized instinctively what it has taken literary critics much longer to see, that pentameter is different from other line lengths and that whenever it dominates a stanza or a poem, its strength and heft make for a significantly different kind of verse from that which we find in lyrical forms written in other line-lengths. . . .

     'Donne used the stanza of mixed line-lengths to combine feelings of very different sorts into poems of remarkably complex, often mercurial, tone. These different feeling proceed from the lines' different structures and the different relations between phrase and phrase that those structures entail. Usually the line of two or three feet will consist of a single phrase; the tetrameter is variable, but if it contains two phrases, it will often divide int he middle. The pentameter must be made up of at least two phrases or its single phrase must be developed with greater complexity, and it offers room for the more subtle development of an idea or an image. The constant movement that we sense in most of Donne's lyrics proceeds not only from his lively syntax and vigorously prosecuted images, but from the mixture of lines that in their very lengths convey feelings, and even attitudes toward experience, of very different sorts. These feelings and attitudes are not easily characterized, but, in general, the shorter lines tend to emphasize the quick, light, fast-moving, and relatively uncomplicated, even comic, exploration of a subject; the long ones tend to deepen, intensify, and complicate it, to slow it down and make it more serious, more problematical. So brief a summary seems much too formulaic. Obviously, Donne's lyrics do not change their tone abruptly from line to line. Nevertheless, again and again they broach in short lines a subject that at first seems frivolous but is gradually given amplitude and gravity through a series of more expansive pentameter lines, which, as it were, raise the subject to a higher level of serious meditation. See, for example, "The Triple Foole," "The Sunne Rising," and "Loves Infinitenesse,"' George T. Wright, Shakespeare's Metrical Art, pg. 323, n. 6.

reading the news...

     On reflection, I wonder just what's wrong with Russia's military action to hold their Crimean port and the surrounding territory. Have they moved to invade greater Ukraine? This is quite different from their invasion of Georgia a while back, and I'm not sure we should care that much. China and Japan, North Korea, Venezuela, Syria and Turkey, all seem more important. Just a thought.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

notes from a commonplace book...

     Something from John Behr:

     'The affirmation, made by the Council of Nicaea and developed by Athanasius, that God is eternally the Father of his Son, means that in God there is a complete identity between nature and will; God does not first exist by himself, only subsequently to beget the Son. This identity of divine nature and activiety, and the claim that the Son is as fully divine as the Father, means, moreover, that the fivinity of God is fully revealed in Christ, so that "he who has seen me has seen the Father" (Jn. 14.9). That "in him the whole fullness of divinity dwells bodily"(Col. 2.9) means that there is no surplus of divinity beyond this revelation, awaiting discovery through other means. The divine nature is not a passive object for human thought attempting to comprehend what God "really is" in himself, for God has revealed himself as he is. This also has significant implications for understanding how theological language functions. Later in the fourth century, the Cappadocians, arguing against Eunomius, point out that God is not an object against which the adequacy of our words about him are somehow to be measured, bur rather that God is known in and through his revelation, which expresses what God indeed is, and within which alone it is possible to think and speak about God: "In thy light we see light" (Ps. 35.10 LXX),' The Nicene Faith, Part 1, pg. 17.

Friday, February 28, 2014

     How is it, that of a sudden Wordsworth doesn't bore me? I read the 1805 Prelude, and feel at home somehow. It makes no sense that I, as much an Urban Man as any you will meet, could once again as in my youth imagine happily being at liberty in what we call the country
     But of course it is the mind to which Wordsworth appeals, first, last, and always, the mind with its seemingly infinite capacity for perception and mastery. How much of this Kantian myth is the deliverance of study, and how much is just the inheritance of his age, remains unclear to me.
I am troubled by the thought that I have never been a Christian. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014


     The Greek genius - douse cheese in brandy and set it on fire. If you want to understand the Greek verb, or The Odyssey, or the peculiarities of Greek Orthodox life, reflect on the gratuitous, fleeting beauty of saganaki.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

it's good to be king...

     The winter around these parts remains pitilessly cold. With that in mind, give a listen to this, from King Lear. At the last, Lear begins to discern the truth of kingship:

Poor naked wretches, whereso'er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless night,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? O, I have ta'en
Too little care of this. Take physic, pomp,
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
That thou mayst shake the superflux to them
And show the heavens more just (III.4, Quarto).

Saturday, February 15, 2014

winter weather in winter...

     So they've named the latest storm 'Quintus.' I see. We need more than that to know what to expect from the storm. Is the full name Quintus Aemilius Lepidus? That's significant you know. 
     Of course, they could spare themselves a lot of heartache if they would just, you know, stop naming the damned storms. This is merely winter weather, with wave after wave of cold air moving down from Canada. We name hurricanes and typhoons because they are discrete storms. They have a definitive beginning, middle, and end; they can cause great suffering and damage, but for all that are relatively infrequent. These supposed 'winter storms,' on the other hand, are not at all discrete events, and to name them one after another serves only to create false drama for an already inane news cycle.
     It's still winter, the last time I looked, and we will as a result find ourselves subjected to winter weather. O, the horror.

a rant in two sentences...

     I'm rather tired of hearing about brain scans and their wonderful perspicuousness as windows on our true nature. 'Brain science' is phrenology with better pictures. 

a mystery...

     There is a bright yellow ball in the sky. It keeps disappearing behind the clouds as they move along, then it will suddenly reappear. I think someone somewhere keeps twiddling with a dimmer switch.

you know, there is such a thing as a stupid question...

     If you're a Christian of some sort, and you still feel the need to wax profound about the Trinity not being in the Bible, or some such nonsense, then there's the door. We'll validate your parking on your way out. I'm frankly sick of the arguments. I've heard 'em over and over again for twenty-five years or more, and they don't impress me. 
     Further, nobody asks 'Say, I don't see the Trinity in the Bible. How'd you come up with that?', with a desire to learn from those who know what they're talking about. O no no no, dear reader, you can be assured that question is meant to demonstrate how intelligent, and pure, your profound interlocutor really is. You may assert that the Scriptures are all important - and really, everyone does that, from your most fervent free-will Baptist to that elderly monk on Mt. Athos - but the guy wielding the question is having none of it. Like Milton of old, but without either the courage or the learning, he has seen through the schemes of the putatively orthodox. He won't be cudgeled by the illusions we cherish. He's read a few passages in the Bible, and dammit, his proof texts outweighs yours. So vanquished, you can slink off with him to the nearest Unitarian coven, or better yet, sleep in of a Sunday without remorse. 
     I refuse to argue with these people anymore. I don't care about their questions. There is, by the by, no proof text that will trump theirs - the whole scope of the Scriptures leads inevitably to the doctrines of the Trinity, and to the classical Christological confessions, but this or that text can always be distorted in one way or another. So, apart from teaching them how to read in the first place, I see no way to talk to anyone who, while claiming to be a Christian of some sort, defies reason and the confessional authority of Scripture. I just don't have the patience for it. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

novels novels everywhere, or so it seems...

     It's apparently time for novels. This happens to me. I won't read novels for a long time then, bam, I start reading nothing but novels. 
     Note that I didn't say 'fiction.' This is not a pedantic distinction. There is 'fiction,' which is overrated, and then there is The Novel, which is a mysterious form. It's lineage has many ramifying branches, and yet there are only a few truly great Novels. I'm looking for them.

take and read...

     You really should head over and read Gabriel Marcel's The Mystery of Being. Go. Now. Don't dawdle. 

not a movie review...

     Last night I watched The Fountain, directed by one Darren Aronofsky. So, like, what the hell?
     Seems we should make peace with death the way the Mayans and Taoists and Buddhists and Old Timey Roman Catholics did...or didn't...or something.
     What the hell?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

of asteroids and existentialism...

     Well I'll be - dear reader, I've discovered that here you can play a fairly authentic version of the classic arcade game Asteroids. Now, when I was a young man, say around 12 or so, I loved Asteroids. I even gave it a heroic backstory or three. Some days the brave pilots (you always lost some don't you know) were fighting to save the Earth from the ravages of a great storm of asteroids that would otherwise destroy the planet. Other days, my fleet of fighters found themselves having to blast their way through an asteroid field to get to their latest Daring Mission.
     Yes, I had an active imagination.
     Having just spent a few minutes playing the game, I realize the cold truth of it all. The square within which the triangular ship finds itself is in fact a prison, and the hapless pilots must forever fend off ever greater numbers of rocks in order to survive another few minutes. When one ship is destroyed, another prisoner immediately takes their place, until that group of inmates is eliminated. Then, the game resets, and others are sent to their violent doom.
     Thus, you see that when a pilot plays especially well, they are merely extending the meaningless loop of their Sisyphean imprisonment. Surely some of them realize the absurdity of it all, and turn the game into a suicide run. Others, seeking to make their own meaning from this mashup, will fight to the end for reasons all their own, wracking up more and more points, for the amusement of the doubtless millions who watch this for entertainment like the gladiatorial combats of old.

     So, the next time you decide, for the sake of nostalgia, to start this deadly game, remember that you will shortly be required to define life's very meaning, or lack thereof, by how you play and when you reach the game's end. Asteroids, indeed, is the ultimate existentialist entertainment.
Yes, every now and then I must remind myself that I'm a poet. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

something good in a bad law...

     Here is something to think about. I for one find the emphasis on jahbs in the whole pseudo-debate about the ACA to be depressing and beside the point. 

Pro: 'Just as I don't want men and women to be servants of the state, putting them in thrall to their employer for the sake of health insurance isn't my idea of a good society idea, either. Ideally, we would have a free-agent nation where more Americans are afforded the opportunity to pursue their dreams and exploit their God-given talents.'

Con: '"The real problem is not people who are working only for health insurance no longer have to work because now they have health insurance. The problem is that as the subsidies for ObamaCare phase out, you're imposing implicit marginal tax rates that are very high. So if you make an extra $1,000 — and you lose your subsidy — that's a big cost. And that's a big disincentive not to make that extra $1,000. And what that's going to do is to put extra pressure on people not to advance in their careers, not to work full time, and to kind of stay where they are. And that, I think, is a very serious flaw in ObamaCare."'

a reminder...

     You know being passionate isn't a good thing, right? (Hint: passions are not feelings, though they can stir up some feelings.)
     And...cue the silence.

Monday, February 10, 2014

it's working!

     In the last couple of minutes, we've gone from one hit on the day to six. That's viral marketing my friends. Welcome to the future!

a gratuitous post to drive traffic...

     As you may or may not remember, I obsess over the stats for this little blog. I seek to drive ever more traffic my way for the sole purpose of providing an inconsequential frisson whenever I see the hit counter in virtual motion. So, in an attempt to lure people to ER under false pretenses, I will now pad this post with anything I can think of that's trending at the moment.
     No, Samuel L. Jackson is not Lawrence Fishburne. I thought we settled that a long time ago. 
     I don't care what Richard Petty says. The Sochi Olympics are not a total embarrassment for Danica Patrick. She could so win the luge if even half the field showed up for the race. 
     Speaking of the Winter Olympics, Russia's fake Potemkin Village has drawn the posthumous ire of Catherine the Great. She's going to have Putin's head just knicked right off. She's also pretty pissed about the lurid coverage of Philip Seymour Hoffman's death. 
     As always, it's a poser - how did Homer write the Iliad and the Odyssey while eating all those donuts? The Odyssey is so obviously the work of an older man, and yet you'd think the donuts, not to mention the daily diet of whole pigs and beer, would have killed Homer in his thirties at the latest.
     Like I said, it's a poser.
     And what's with Robert de Niro? That's all I'll say about the once great actor.

     Moving on to more important matters, do you really think Katy Perry is a witch? a worshipper of Satan himself? Is it not more likely that she is just a nitwit? Go for the simplest solution if you can, dear reader. Wield that razor at all times.
     Well, I think that'll about do it for now. I look forward to the quintupling of my traffic within the next half-hour. That would mean at least twenty-five more hits. 
     Success is a giddy thing, o yes it is.