Saturday, May 15, 2021

Poem a Day 15

The Stars are Consolations

The stars are consolations;
they drop a spirit-balm,
a dew of honeyed silver
that stills the storm to calm.

The stars sang in the morning;
God calls them all by name.
They sing the hymns of glory,
forever new and same.

My heart with stars rejoices;
they heal all doubt and pain.
When I am droughted country,
the starlight is my rain.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Dashed Off X

"printing is infinity" Mallarmé

Every nation is a union of a commercial network and a network of ties of honor.

Every novum needs a cause.

Elections cannot see people but only the legally constructed status 'eligible voters', which can can stand in for persons for some practical purposes but not for all.

three components of gloria: the love, the trust, the admiration of the many (Cicero)
-- love is won through benefaction, trust through honesty and justice, admiration through ability or goodness out of the ordinary

fruit of the poisonous tree in fraudulent scholarship

Teaching style is an interaction of teacher habits, student habits, content, and larger teaching context.

"I saw in Christ that the Father is." Julian of Norwich

Enlightened self-interest is only as good as the enlightening that goes into it.

"when a tyrant arises, the position of popular leader is the sole root from which he springs." Plato

Analytic philosophy is an aesthetic approach to argument. When analytic philosophers explain what they are doing, they virtually always use aesthetic concepts to do so.

"The sorrow of the natural life is essentially connected with the greatness of the character and destiny of man." Hegel

As paradisial in its roots, marriage looks forward to eucharist, which is heavenly in its culmination.

conscientious objection : conscience :: peaceable protest : public opinion

A professional ethics without regard for self-respect is not a *professional* ethics.

Part of professionalism is establishing standard patterns of interactions with other professionals.

Professions tend to develop conventional and 'holistic' approaches, although this usually just ends up being a difference of emphasis that occasionally manifests itself in minor spats and historically developed accoutrements. (A very obvious case, more obvious than usual, is the distinction between the mostly-but-not-quite equivalent MD and DO in the United States.)

Much of contemporary medical ethics errs by treating what should be a minimal emergency framework as normal ethical practice.

the Confucian shoots as ways reason expresses itself socially

the twofold Motherhood of Christ (Julian)
(1) in kind in our substantial making
(2) of mercy in taking our sensual nature

"As verily as God is our Father, as verily is God our Mother." Julian
"The mother's service is nearest, readiest, and surest. Nearest for it is most of kind, readiest for it is most of love, and securest for it is most of truth."
"To the property of motherhood belongs kind love, wisdom, and knowing: and it is God."

The ordinances of the Church exist to teach us to hate sin and seek repentance.

spiritual communion // baptism of desire

Inculturation is one of the Church's defenses against the spread of heresy, by letting different cultural versions provide checks on each other. It requires a mean between phyletism and anti-inculturation.

docetism of the text: treating the text as floating free of an interpretive context

beliefs as the meanings of our actions

We participate in our humanity biologically, psychologically, and sociologically.

"Remember that education is a difficult art and that God alone is its true master." John Bosco

Miming is an important part of language use.

the mirable vs the mirandum

Empiricism confuses the thing qua sensible with the sensible qua sensible.

Reason must be handed down by first tradition (human nature) and by second tradition (education).

Rational fiction is sometimes a stronger spearhead against lies than straight truth.

world, flesh, & devil as organizing the three kinds of heretical vector

tempting as a perversion of teaching

probability as proportionate weighting of O and I propositions
probability as proportionate weighting of Diamond and Diamond-Not propositions

modes of the dreadful: intrusive, liminal, ambiguous

five constant virtues as subjective parts of prudence?

The world bribes our consent, which is why it pushes to make everything about consent.

Nothing can be a potential person but an actual person. Obviously, something can be potentially a component for or contributor to a person, but a potential person is an actual person qua potential.

the surgent aspect of philosophy: inquiry, reaching out beyond what is known

It is difficult to avoid the impression that all of the different 'theories of the firm' are simply describing different kinds of firm.

observation learning → experiment-learning → counterfactual-learning

The modern nation-state has made perpetual semi-war easier.

sephiroth: the infinite in meaning articulates into revelatory language

The infused moral virtues are like flickerings that will be purified into ardent flame.

Scotus's discussion of infused moral virtues is uncharacteristically muddled, treating infused moral virtues as if they would just be modified acquired virtues (and thus, assuming that, he is right that the theological virtues suffice for this). But this is because Scotus loses the society-relevant aspect of virtue, and therefore the distinction between virtue in natural human society and virtue in the Kingdom of God.

cliental privilege
(1) from regard to reputation
(2) from mutual faithfulness
(3) from reasonable promise, even if implicit
(4) from usefulness to society

Every kind of progress occurs within a tradition.

"The West is not simply a fixed stance of institutions and achievements that could be passed on unchanged. The West is an historical *design* which, under constantly changing conditions, has to be converted, ever anew, into an historical reality." Pieper

All ideas are whirlwinds.

No 'theory of atonement' is adequate unless it also accounts for the sacrifices of the old covenant.

Grafton's symbolic reading of the six days
"The Revelation of creation is a parable."
(1) Paradisiac day (light and darkness) humanity in innocence, knowledge of good and evil
(2) Antediluvian day / Natural day
(3) Patriarchal
(4) Mosaic Day (light organized into an institution)
(5) Christian Day (Incarnation, new Adam)
(6) Day of Paraclete
-- each day ends with crisis until the last.

Grafton takes Samson's strength, David's weapons against Goliath, and Elijah's Mantle as foreshadowings of Confirmation.

'Give us this day' -- Eucharist & Orders
'And forgive' -- Baptism & Absolution
'And lead us not' -- Confirmation & Matrimony
'Deliver us' -- Unction

Shenouda III, in his lectures on the Nature of Christ, treats 'one nature' as having the same function as the Chalcedonian 'one person', and his analogy for 'one will' is the unity of the wills of saints with the Will of God.

An adequate system of thought must work both abstractly and symbolically.

Property, as such, is a means. The mode of the means is determined by what is appropriate to the end, and the rights involved in property shift according to the ends constituting it as property.

body as inalienable property
body as the self property-making

'Right to exclude' is a byproduct of the purpose of consumption and assumes that the owner is not a ward.

A theory of property must (1) explain why property brings a responsibility-for and (2) account for property as a good.

Property is not primarily a right but a responsibility, the importance of which is the basis for rights.

velocity as an approximation to bilocation; acceleration as improvement of this approximation

Actual being (existence) is pure, present, and diffusive; thus light is an apt metaphor for it.

compassion as a metaphor for diffusiveness

'kami' should be seen as a functional term

NB that salt is associated with purification in Shinto

Christ as the torii of heaven

set theory as a general translation device rather than a mathematical foundations

"God has two ways in which he ordains the powers of the world -- direct and indirect; direct by revealed interposition, indirect by divine providence." Manning

Truthmaker principles, insofar as they are defensible, are explications of the truth that truth is an attribute of being.

manifestation : act :: intelligibility : potency

Human personality is an end in itself, and never *merely* a means, but it is also *always* a means to that which is both an end in itself and never to be used as a means at all.

Poem a Day 14


Upon her head
a lambskin hood sat,
black like deep night,
lined with ermine.
A strand of beads,
glassy and shining,
she wore at her neck,
like stars on thread.
Bound at her neck
she wore a blue cloak,
embroidered with gems
down to the hem.
Her hand carried
a capped brass distaff,
gems around the cap
glinted brightly.
The staff on cheek
overcomes the mind:
thrice left to forget,
right to recall.
A touchwood belt,
ready for tinder,
bore a leather purse
for lore-relics.
She wore shoes
of shaggy calfskin,
laced up with strong thongs
with latten bells.
White and furry
ermine gloves she wore.
The women chanted,
powers were moved,
sights were opened,
the unknown made known,
that seidh be done.
Caution, people!
Things must be done well.
Seidh is not simple,
spae is high work.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Three Arenas of Temptation

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Gen. 3:6 NIV)

 I've always found the reasons for Eve's tasting of the forbidden fruit interesting, since I think they cover the gamut very well. There are some things that tempt by immediate appearance, hence, pleasing to the eye. But most temptation is by signs, which are ultimately established either by its inferable causal associations (hence, good for food) or by what others tell us (hence, desirable for gaining wisdom). When Eve is tempted, she can see immediately that the fruit is pleasing to the eye, but she hasn't eaten of it yet, so she doesn't actually know that the fruit is good for food; all she has to go on is how the fruit looks, and on the basis of this she takes it to look like fruit that is good for food. And the only reason she thinks of the fruit as desirable for wisdom at all is because the serpent told her that it was.

This seems quite general. People are tempted because sin has an immediately pleasing appearance, or because they take sin to be useful for something, or because they have been taught by someone that it is really good.

These, then, are the three arenas in which temptation typically takes place:

(1) what is immediately desirable

(2) something's being a sign for something desirable

(3) signs that tell us that something is desirable

Since temptation is how one goes wrong, these are the areas of life in which prudence is especially necessary. Aristotle recognizes this for (1); one of his major pieces of practical advice is that we should be especially careful in all matters in which pleasure is intimately involved, because we are inclined to favor what pleases regardless of whether it is actually good. Plato certainly recognizes some of the issues with (2) or (3).

The first arena, that of the immediately pleasing, is, I think, a relatively small one. We are sometimes tempted by mere 'delight to the eye', but this is not common. We are far more tempted by what we take things to be signs of, and what signs (like the testimony of others) tell us. This of course is not surprising: temptation always involves treating good as bad or treating bad as good, so there generally has to be some sort of obfuscation going on to make things seem topsy-turvy enough to tempt us. And nothing has so much power to lead our minds astray like signs. Signs exert a causality on us, an external formal causality (the technical term is 'objective causality'); they present us with objects that specify how we think. So when our thinking goes wrong, distortion of signs or distortion by signs is often at the root.


 Today is the Feast of the Holy Ascension. Episozomene is an occasional Eastern epithet for the feast, and means the completion of salvation.  From the Maronite Book of Offering:

O Christ, by your ascension you ended your stay on earth, completed your plan of salvation and returned to the Father to prepare a place for us, so that we may be where you are. You taught us the way to the place where you were going and told us to follow you.

When Thomas asked you: "We do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" You answered: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

[Prayer of Forgiveness (Hoosoyo) for the The Ascension of Our Lord, The Book of Offering According to the Rite of the Antiochene Syriac Maronite Church, (2012) p. 399.]

The Ascension SAAM-1981.160.2 1

Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord

From everlasting Your throne endures;
Your name alone, O Lord, is exalted.
Your majesty is above the earth,
Your glory is high above the heavens,
and You have lifted up Your people.
May all who draw near You praise Your great name,
for You ascended to the heavens,
thus to send to us Your Holy Spirit,
the Spirit of Truth, the Life-giver.

From the Father You entered the world;
when You returned again to Your Father,
You brought all creation to His throne.
In You and through You we come to heaven;
You give us a place in Your kingdom.
As we travel, pilgrims in this strange land,
send us the Holy Spirit of truth,
send us the Spirit of consolation,
that we may ascend to God with You.

You ascended but did not leave us;
You are with us in the great sacraments,
remaining till the end of the age.
Grant that by faith we may know Your presence,
and see You face to face in heaven,
as You sit at the Father's right hand.
By faith, steady our feet on Your path.
By hope, give us victory in all things.
By love, bring us to glorious dawn.

Down to the depths and up to the heights,
O Lord, You compassed all of creation,
always perfect God and perfect man,
knowing all human humiliation,
exalted far beyond creation.
May we find true humility in You,
thus to be exalted to great height;
send the Holy Spirit to dwell in us,
to teach us the truth that leads to joy.

Heaven and earth unbreakable bonds
now share through Your headship and mystery.
Lord, You are the Way, the Truth, the Life;
no one reaches the Father save through You.
You ascended to His right hand,
and Your ascent is the path of ascent.
Only Your body can take that path,
but we are Your body through sacrament.
Through You and with You we come to Him.

From age to age Your great throne stands firm;
Your name alone is exalted on high.
Your kingship is great above all things,
and You have lifted us up to heaven.
Greatly all people praise Your glory,
for You ascended to the heavens
and thence You send us the Holy Spirit,
the great Spirit of consolation,
and distributer of truth and light.

Poem a Day 13

Death's Little Brother

Death's little brother, Boredom,
carries no scythe or gown
but a pillow with which to smother
and a cup with which to drown.

As a man may choke on droplets,
so the mind may drown in time:
a minute leaves it gasping
from lack of the sublime.

And who will be our Sisyphus?
And who undoes the tomb
into which Death's young brother
can turn a quiet room?

And who will be our Sisyphus?
In miniature we die
from sip of grave and devil-hell,
slack jaw and glazing eye.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

We Show but What One Happy Moment Saith

The Power of Art
by George Santayana

Not human art, but living gods alone
Can fashion beauties that by changing live,--
Her buds to spring, his fruits to autumn give,
To earth her fountains in her heart of stone;
But these in their begetting are o'erthrown,
Nor may the sentenced minutes find reprieve;
And summer in the blush of joy must grieve
To shed his flaunting crown of petals blown.
We to our works may not impart our breath,
Nor them with shifting light of life array;
We show but what one happy moment saith;
Yet may our hands immortalize the day
When life was sweet, and save from utter death
The sacred past that should not pass away.

Poem a Day 12

The Shieldings

On earth for long aeons
neither king nor wise counsel ruled,
no song or psalm broke cold darkness.
Shadows haunted mount and moor
with death and dread of night.
Then a ship came sailing, sea-shine bright,
unmasted, unoared, majestic on wave.

On the island of Skani, men gathered, crowds grew;
they looked within the wave-rider.
In the boat was a boy, asleep;
fair-faced and golden-haired he slept.
Weapons of war were arranged around him.
The wood about him was worked with gold
and his hand was on a cunning harp.
His head was resting on a wheaten sheaf
and Sheaf they named him.
Charmed he was beyond all other children;
he was crowned by ancient rite as king
and his followers called him the Fruitful Lord.
Laws forgotten he restored to life;
the hurts of the people he healed.
On need he had pity, but wrongs he punished.
A man might lose a ring on the road
and receive it again when returning that way.
Prosperity's gates he opened to the people;
great were the gifts he gave with his hands.

A son Sheaf begat, whose name was Shield,
who grew strong. And when the son was of age,
Sheaf took the sea; his ship did not return,
and Shield Sheafing was crowned king.
He fought for the people; enemies feared him;
he raised a great hall where heroes drank mead.
He ruled the people wisely with his words.
King Shield a son begat, whose name was Barley;
great grew his glory, even when young.
But Shield bowed beneath his burden
and nobly died, having done splendid deeds.
They bore him down to a boat,
placed their lord Shield on a ship,
laid him to rest with rings and riches.
Weapons of war they laid around him
and, sighing, sent him away on the sea.

Then Barley Shielding, beloved of men, ruledd,
and form that lord the Lombards came.
he was father to Clever, and when he died,
the people laid him on a mighty pyre
hung with shield and helm.
The fire blazed, the flame burned his body
as maidens sang songs of his deeds;
then they made a great mound
over the fire's remains for his long rest,
piling the tomb with treasures bright,
returning fair gold to the ground
as a dirge  was raised for the death of their lord.

And all these are the customs the kings have kept.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Praiser of Generous Thought and Noble Deed

Charles Dickens
by Harriett Stockall

He lived among us, holding in his hand
The heart of England like an instrument,
From whose great strings his absolute command
Drew mingled sound of sobs and laughter blent.
He lived among us, weaving subtler spells
Than grey magician of the bygone days;
Wearing by turns the jester's cap and bells,
The mourner's cypress wreath, the scholar's bays.
But evermore, in every changing mood,
We found him faithful to a lofty creed,
Prophet and preacher of the power of Good,
Praiser of generous thought and noble deed,
Lover of Nature, beautiful and free,
Priest of the sacrament of Charity!

He died among us -- straightway through the land
Swept moan instead of music all that day,
Because from England's great enchanter's hand
The pen -- his magic rod -- had dropped away;
Because that busy life's rich, golden prime,
In the mid-strife of battle had gone down;
Because from throbbing brows before the time
Were reft the laurels of an earthly crown.
We wept for him as we but weep for those
Who dearest, nearest to our hearts have lain;
He seemed of kin to us, by sweet and close
And holy ties of human heart and brain.
A friend, a brother, well-beloved alway,
Lay dead among the Kentish bills that day.

He sleeps among us -- England opened wide
Her grandest sepulchre to give him room,
So with the great and holy ones who died
For England's glory, he has found a tomb.
But in our grateful hearts for evermore
Must live the best memorial of his worth,
Those hearts that bless him for the goodly store
He gave to us of beauty and of mirth.
Sweet as the music of our island birds
His stories are, and deathless is their fame,
'Familiar in our mouths as household words,'
While England owns a language and a name;
Dearer and sweeter as the years go by,
Till human lips no longer smile or sigh!

"Familiar in our mouths as household words", from Shakespeare's Henry V, was the motto for Dickens's magazine, Household Words, in which Hard Times was serialized.

Poem a Day 11


The birds are flying along the Milky Way,
the bird-path leading to the lands of day,
the warm lands of summer and light
at the edge of the world, far from cold night.
The birds bring the soul as it draws its first breath;
the birds take the soul as it stumbles on death;
the birds guide the soul through the labyrinth of dream,
the fields of illusion where the will o' wisps gleam;
and they come in the winter to the edge of all lands
to chatter and play on the summer-warm sands.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Evening Note for Monday, May 10

Thought for the Evening: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

The phrase "liberty, equality, fraternity" has had a rocky history. It is usually associated with the French Revolution, in part because Robespierre used it, but it was simply one of many slogans and mottos in that slogan-obsessed period. It became more closely associated with the Revolution after the Revolution than during. Nonetheless, it has had an enduring appeal that many of the other slogans and mottoes of the day failed to have.

Chesterton in discussing Dickens's Hard Times has an interesting passage making use of the phrase:

The English people as a body went blind, as the saying is, for interpreting democracy entirely in terms of liberty. They said in substance that if they had more and more liberty it did not matter whether they had any equality or any fraternity. But this was violating the sacred trinity of true politics; they confounded the persons and they divided the substance.

What I'd like to do is to focus on and press this idea, merely thrown out here, a little more. Let's suppose, as a hypothesis, that the formula captures at least something about "true politics", and, what is more, that it is a trinitarian triad.

Sense can be made of this. One triad often considered in trinitarian terms is 'power, wisdom, goodness'. It's a triad that is also associated historically with authority. And it's not difficult at all to think of 'liberty, equality, fraternity' as associated with it, particularly if you think of the latter triad as summing up the political authority of a citizenry. Then the liberty of a citizenry can be regarded as the power of the citizenry as such; equality qua citizens can be seen as a standard of action, and thus associated with wisdom; and fraternity can be seen as the goodness inherent in a citizenry qua citizenry.

If we take it as trinitarian then we get a standard against which various political 'heresies' can be identified, in which the politics of the citizenry go wrong. Three are particularly notable (although they can overlap).

(1) Approaches to politics that confound the members.

(2) Approaches to politics that divided the unity of the members.

(3) Approaches to politics that err as to the ordering of the members.

Examples of (1) would be cases where, in the civic life of a society, one of the members absorbs at least one other -- for instance, in a society in which liberty is treated as valuable, but equality or fraternity only to the limited extent that they can be seen purely as expressions of liberty. Chesterton in the above quotation accuses the English prior to Dickens of this. The Jacobins, and many leftists since, have often been accused of trying to absorb everything into equality. I don't know if anyone has been accused of trying to make all of politics a modality of fraternity, but no doubt they exist and as history goes on we will discover them.

Examples of (2) are cases in which at least one of the members is treated as if it could be understood wholly independently of the other two. Thus any approach to civic politics in which any of the three are understood as conflicting would be an example of this.

(3) are in some ways the most interesting, and probably the most controversial. Trinitarian triads have an ordering; although all members are equal in some way, there is an order of first, second, third in terms of the relations between them. Thus we would expect, in the true politics (on the hypothesis that the formula describes it), that liberty is the source of equality which in a way is the image and expression of it (equality as a sort of reciprocal liberty), and that fraternity arises from liberty through equality, binding them together. It's a little difficult to know how far to take this -- trinitarian triads that are not The Trinity are always limited in some way, so there can be principled ways in which the ordering can somehow fail for these lesser trinities. But you could argue that equality-first and fraternity-first approaches to civic life at least tend toward perversions: equality-first approaches are sometimes criticized for obliterating liberty, for instance, by making it depend on an insatiable standard of equality. Liberty, equality, fraternity is clearly what I have previously called a 'TRS triad', i.e., a triad in which each member builds on the previous ones and each member as it were prepares for the next; disrupt that (logical, not axiological) order, you throw each into confusion.

Human beings being imperfect in the ways they are, we would expect even the best societies to be imperfect in their expression of liberty, equality, fraternity -- to have, to borrow Dorothy Sayers's phrase from The Mind of the Maker, scalene trinities, not deliberate confusion, division, or disordering, but simply imperfection. Such is life in a fallen world.

In any case, if we think of 'liberty, equality, fraternity' in this way, we could perhaps say with Chateaubriand toward the end of his Memoirs from Beyond the Grave:

Christianity is the most philosophical and rational appreciation of God and the creation; it encapsulates the three great universal laws, the divine law, the moral law, the political law: the divine law, God united in three persons; the moral law, charity; the political law, that is to say liberty, equality and fraternity. 

 The first two principles have been discussed; the third, political law has not been furthered, because it cannot flower while intelligent belief in infinite being and universal morality are not solidly established. Now, Christianity has first to clear away the absurdities and abominations with which idolatry and slavery have encumbered the human race.


François de Chateaubriand, Mémoires d'Outre Tombe, A. S. Kline, tr., 2005.


Related Evening Notes
TRS Triads
A Jacob's Ladder of Triads

Various Links of Interest

* Christa Lundberg on Early Modern Philosophical Letters

* Brian Treanor, Gabriel Marcel, at the SEP

* Jake Neu, Trademarks and Free Speech

* Why Community Is Dangerous, a very good interview with Stanley Hauerwas

* Daniel A. Kaufman, Twenty-Five Things Everyone Used to Understand

* MrsDarwin discusses John Paul II's approach to theater in Pope St. John Paul II, Modernist (theatrically speaking)

* Sascha Settegast, Good Reasons and Natural Ends: Rosalind Hursthouse's Hermeneutical Naturalism (PDF)

* Ryan Miller, Perennial Symmetry Arguments: Aristotle's Heavenly Cosmology and Noether's Theorem (PDF), looks at the role of symmetry-based arguments in very different physical theories

* Ross Inman, Retrieving Divine Immensity and Omnipresence (PDF)

* James Chastek, On Great Books curricula

* Karen Swallow Prior, The Emergence of Remix Culture

* George Orwell, Politics and the English Language

* Julian Baggini, The Paradox of Hume. While an interesting argument, this is oddly framed. For one thing, there's no paradox about brilliant people having stupid or atrocious ideas; most of the stupid and atrocious ideas you come across are from intelligent, brilliant, or creative people, because these are the kinds of people who get carried away by ideas. And, as I've always said, being intelligent doesn't mean that you don't have stupid ideas; it means you're clever enough to come up with arguments and implementations of them. In addition, it's odd to frame this in terms of 'being conservative', because the term is being equivocated on throughout -- many of things attributed to Hume qua conservative would not have been considered particularly conservative in Hume's day, and, in any case, political conservativism, ethical conservativism, and intellectual conservativism are all 'conservative' in very different senses.

Currently Reading

Charles Dickens, Hard Times
J. R. R. Tolkien, Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary
Richard Courant & Herbert Robbins, What is Mathematics?
Owen Barfield, Worlds Apart

Apostle of Andalusia

Today is the feast of St. Juan de Ávila, Doctor of the Church. From one of his letters:

The first thing by which to attain great sanctity, is to consider that you are wicked and that God is infinitely good, and that it is only by His graces that sinners are made good Christians, and that good Christians become better still.

You must be most loyal to our Lord Jesus Christ by giving Him the glory for any virtues you possess. This is the matter, above all others, on which He is susceptible to injustice, and He leaves those who defraud Him of these His claims without honour or graces. You must also love Him fervently, if you would be perfect, for holiness comes from love, and the greater the love, the greater the saint. The best proof we can give of our love for Christ is to obey His commands and bear the cross for Him; the greater the mortifications and hardships this entails, the more does it bear witness to the genuineness of our love.

Contempt for self and abnegation of our will are also signs of this love, for our Lord says: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself.” (St. Matth. XVI. 24.) A truly devout soul is at enmity with its own judgment and self-will, and is grateful when it receives insults or annoyances, as they give it the opportunity of conquering these vices. Until a man has obtained from God this self-hatred, so that he takes vengeance on himself by penance as far as possible, and is glad that other men should avenge Christ's cause on him, he has not travelled far on the way of that perfect love of our Lord which causes the soul to have a holy hatred towards self, so that it may have a true love of God and of itself.

Another outcome of deep love of our Lord is a perfect charity towards our neighbour, which grows as our love for God increases, making its possessor as much at one with his brethren, as if they were members of the same body; it moves him to pray fervently for others, and do penance for their welfare when it is possible. May your heart for ever be wholly given to Christ.

Poem a Day 10

 The Six Realms of Metaphysics

A change
is made,
by mind.

To be
is found
in gift
and ground.

The world
can last;
what holds
it fast?

The less
and more
the pure.

Not chance
but law
is formed
for all.

The mind
is vast;
no end
its cast.

Sunday, May 09, 2021

Fortnightly Book, May 9

The next fortnightly book will be Hard Times for These Times, or Hard Times, as it is most commonly known, by Charles Dickens. It is Dickens's shortest novel, and unlike other Dickens novels takes place almost entirely in a fictional city, Coketown, rather than in London. Dickens at the time was putting out a magazine, Household Words, which was struggling a bit, so he wrote Hard Times to help drum up sales. When it was serialized in the magazine from April to August 1854, it succeeded reasonably well. (Enough that he followed it up by serializing another novelist's work, Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South, from September to January; it did not succeed so well at increasing sales.)

Chesterton's comments on it are interesting. He suggests that in some ways it is the harshest of Dickens's novels -- i.e., the least moderated by sentimentalism -- and that it is very focused on equality. We shall see; I've read parts of it, and know of course a bit about Gradgrind and Bounderby, but I've never actually read the story all the way through.

I'll be reading in a Heritage Press edition, published 1966. It has the same Joseph Blumenthal design as most Dickens HP editions, with gray, red, and gold linen binding. Unlike most editions of Hard Times, it is illustrated, with fifteen wash drawings and a number of line drawings by Charles Raymond. The type is eleven-point Baskerville. You can actually see pictures of a version of the edition I am using at "The George Macy Imagery". (I agree with the author's comment that Raymond's work here seems a little lifeless.)

Poem a Day 9

(This is a sort of precis and adaptation of a truly beautiful fourteenth-century poem of the same name, probably written to commemorate a re-building of St. Paul's Cathedral in London.)

St. Erkenwald

Erkenwald was bishop, under Augustine, of London;
a holy man, he taught Christ's path and the truths of New Law.
The Christians in his day tore down a temple of old ways
that they might build a church in which Christ's Temple might worship.
The rough and merry masons sang hymns as they hewed the stones.
The pick-men in plenty bent their backs without stopping,
and, as they mined, a murmur went up at a great marvel:
their picks found an ancient tomb and a coffin of marble,
like that of a king, lettered around with strange script in gold.
Astonished, a crowd soon gathered and grew to catch a glimpse,
laborers, lads, maidens, the mayor and the sacristan,
all amazed at this ancestral splendor brought to their sight.
Curious but cautious, they carefully lifted the lid,
eager to see what splendor might under that cover lay.
All the sides were gold, but at the bottom was a body,
a man in suit of pearl and gold with a bright golden belt,
a miniver mantle, and on his head a crafted crown.
He held a scepter, and the cloths were of brightest colors.
But the greatest wonder was that his flesh was clear and fresh,
ruddy with life as if he had just lain down or fallen.
The people said, "A king he must be, but what is his tale?
We have not heard it told; it is not in our traditions."
Then Erkenwald, hearing the story, came down to that place;
beside the body, all night, the primate knelt in prayer.
The next morning the holy man prepared to sing the Mass,
then after the liturgy processed with the town's mayor
and a great mass of people to the great ancestral tomb.
"By ourselves we surely cannot know the truth of this tale,"
the bishop said; "we must to God, whose wisdom knows no bounds."
Then he spoke to the corpse; that it would give answer he bade.
Then the body stirred and spoke with a reply deep and sad:
"Bishop, you adjured me by Christ; His command I will serve.
I was but a lawyer who spoke the law; I was made judge,
and then master of judges. I sought to render justice
according to the pagan laws of my pagan people,
even though a great war arose then between the princes.
I kept the forms and held the rites; I sought to teach virtue.
Many great harms I endured when the people turned vicious.
My conscience I would never turn aside for any man,
but tried for rich and poor to judge each case on its merit.
At my death, the people of New Troy with bitter tears wept,
and they clothed my corpse like a relic to honor my ways:
gold cloth for honesty, crown for eminence, and for right
they set in my hand a scepter like that of one who rules."
"This is not the whole tale," said the bishop; "the cloth remains,
pure and untattered, and your skin is glowing and ruddy,
and the colors in your coffin are like none we have seen."
"You know, O bishop, that this is God's work," the body said,
"for God loves a just man greatly, and thus has let me last."
"This is not the whole tale," said the bishop; "what of your soul?
The just and incorrupt rise to God, says the Psalmist,
and surely to the just he will give some measure of grace,
so tell us what was given to your pagan soul by God."
Then the man moaned, and said, "O God, great is your high mercy!
A heathen in a heathen age, I did not know your might.
The Lamb's blood did not redeem me; I did not have Christ's help,
but could only hold to the right with a strength merely human.
When Christ harrowed hell, I was left to wander in limbo,
rewarded but damned, and pining in never-ending dark,
unilluminated by baptism in life and in death."
The people wept, and, unspeaking, sobbing, the bishop wept.
Then after prayer, he said, "I will bring holy water
and baptize you with proper rite and form and holy words;
perhaps God has kept you that you might now enter his way,
and if not, there is no harm; at least you have our prayers."
Sprinkling the corpse with water and word, the holy primate
continued to weep; his tears also baptized the body.
Then the corpse said, "O holy Erkenwald, may you be blessed!
By word and water and tears a sacrament was given,
and from the first drop I received the endless grace of God."
With that, he spoke no more, and he crumbled to dust.
The people all marveled that God had granted them this deed;
they lifted praise and sweet worship to God with hands held high
and, weeping but merry, they returned to their own houses.
In honor of the new stone in Christ's Temple they rejoiced
and in thanks the bells of the city were loud and ringing.