the colors and the sheen that call to mind the past that made them

Some passages from In Praise of Shadows by Japanese novelist Junichiro Tanizaki (1886-1965). This is from he translation by Thomas Harper and Edward Seidensticker. As a general matter we find it hard to be really at home with things that shine and glitter. The Westerner uses silver and steel and nickel tableware, and polishes itContinue reading “the colors and the sheen that call to mind the past that made them”

a non-existent country, with laws alien to earth and man

The Return of the Exile George Seferis (translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard) ‘My old friend, what are you looking for?After years abroad you’ve come backwith images you’ve nourishedunder foreign skiesfar from you own country.’ ‘I’m looking for my old garden;the trees come to my waistand the hills resemble terracesyet as a childI usedContinue reading “a non-existent country, with laws alien to earth and man”

those who know how to conquer invisibly

S.O.S. 1995 Leonard Cohen Take a long time with your anger,sleepy head.Don’t waste it in riots.Don’t tangle it with ideas.The Devil won’t let me speak,will only let me hintthat you are a slave,your misery a deliberate policyof those in whose thrall you suffer,and who are sustainedby your misfortune.The atrocities over there,the interior paralysis over here—PleasedContinue reading “those who know how to conquer invisibly”

perceiving and embracing our finitude

Loving God means standing naked in the truth of what we are, and that means perceiving and embracing our finitude, our contingency, and our absolute dependency upon God who calls us into being ‘ex nihilo’. That truth of that ‘nothingness’ (the Void) has to be acknowledged before God. It’s an essential aspect of who andContinue reading “perceiving and embracing our finitude”

an abstraction does not need a Mother

In her very person as a Jewish girl become the mother of the Messiah, Mary binds together, in a living and indissoluble way, the old and the new People of God, Israel and Christianity, synagogue and church. She is, as it were, the connecting link without which the Faith (as is happening today) runs theContinue reading “an abstraction does not need a Mother”

when the whole fullness of our nature has been perfected

God has one goal: when the whole fullness of our nature has been perfected in each man, some straightway even in this life purified from evil, others healed hereafter through fire for the appropriate length of time, and others ignorant of the experience equally of good and of evil in the life here, God intendsContinue reading “when the whole fullness of our nature has been perfected”

the fall of rational creation and the conquest of the cosmos by death is something that appears to us nowhere within the course of nature or history

The moral apostasy of rational beings from the proper love of God is somehow the reason for the reign of death and suffering in the cosmos, that human beings—constituting what Maximus the Confessor called the priestly “methorios” (the boundary or frontier) between the physical and the spiritual realms—severed the bond between God’s eternity and cosmicContinue reading “the fall of rational creation and the conquest of the cosmos by death is something that appears to us nowhere within the course of nature or history”

a regal, relentless and miraculous enmity

We are to be guided by the full character of what is revealed of God in Christ. For after all, if it is from Christ that we to learn how God relates himself to sin, suffering, evil and death, it would seem that he provides us little evidence of anything other than a regal, relentlessContinue reading “a regal, relentless and miraculous enmity”

The stars, inasmuch as they are visible, do not embody exact knowledge, which can only be grasped by the mind and thought.

Summary of Plato’s understanding of the stars from Origen and the Life of the Stars: A History of an Idea by Alan Scott (Oxford Early Christian Studies, Clarendon Press, 1994): Plato is less concerned with how things happen than with why they happen, and for this reason he regards astronomy as only of secondary importance.Continue reading “The stars, inasmuch as they are visible, do not embody exact knowledge, which can only be grasped by the mind and thought.”