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”

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”

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.”

free of the mechanical hypotaxis of the one and the boring boisterousness of the other

The circular, “synthetic;’ and pleromatic grandeur of the Hegelian infinite and the chaotic, univocal, and unharmonizable flux of the postmodern infinite are equally dreary; but the Christian infinite, free of the mechanical hypotaxis of the one and the boring boisterousness of the other, yields a profuse and irreducible parataxis, a boundless flood of beauties, beyondContinue reading “free of the mechanical hypotaxis of the one and the boring boisterousness of the other”

Giver of life

There’s a phrase in the Nicene–Constantinopolitan Creed identifying the Holy Spirit as the “Giver of life.” This phrase often gets unpacked in ancient hymns that expand on the Holy Spirit as the source of all the glorious life in the world around us. These examples below are not the most effusive, but I noticed themContinue reading “Giver of life”

on this day spring is fragrant

“On this day spring is fragrant; the new creation dances now.” O Thomas, thou hast searched out * My wounded limbs with thine own hand; * doubt not of Me Who was wounded * for thee, but have a single mind * with the disciples, and preach Me, * the Living God, to all mankind.Continue reading “on this day spring is fragrant”

Obtain the Lord as a friend

O Bridegroom, brilliant in Thy beauty above all mankind, Who didst call us to the spiritual banquet of Thy chamber, cast away from me the likeness of rags of iniquity by participation in Thy Passion, and adorn me with the robe of Thy beauty. Distinguish me as a brilliant guest in Thy kingdom; for ThouContinue reading “Obtain the Lord as a friend”

matter becomes again means of communion with and knowledge of God

On the other hand, the same act of blessing may mean the revelation of the true “nature” and “destiny” of water, and thus of the world—it may be the epiphany and the fulfillment of their “sacramentality.” By being restored through the blessing to its proper function, the “holy water” is revealed as the true, full,Continue reading “matter becomes again means of communion with and knowledge of God”

love has ever in view the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds

Nothing is inexorable but love. Love which will yield to prayer is imperfect and poor. Nor is it then the love that yields, but its alloy. …For love loves unto purity. Love has ever in view the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds. Where loveliness is incomplete, and love cannot love its fill ofContinue reading “love has ever in view the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds”