Monday, December 29, 2014

Excerpt from "The Consolation of Philosophy" by Boethius

From The Consolation of Philosophy by Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius (ca. 524AD)Book II

Lady Philosophy is explaining to the suffering, imprisoned Boethius the danger of the charms of Fortune and her deceitful gifts of riches.

“Come now, suppose that the gifts of fortune were not transient and purely temporary, is there any among them which could ever become truly yours or which on proper examination is not seen to be worthless? Are riches either really yours or precious by their own nature? If so, what part of them especially, the gold, or the piles of money? But riches are more splendid in the spending than in the getting, since avarice makes men hated, but liberality make them famous. Yet if that cannot remain with a man which passes to another, then money is precious just when it passes over to others, and in being liberally given ceases to be possessed. If all the money there is in the world were heaped together in one man’s possession, it would make all the rest of men live in lack of it. The voice wholly fills the ears of many hearers simultaneously, but your riches cannot pass to many unless they are split into small parts first. When that is done, those who part with money must necessarily become poorer. Well then, O riches, how poor and mean you are! You can neither be wholly possessed by many nor come to any man without impoverishing others!
Are your eyes attracted by glittering jewels? But even if their sparkling is in any way wonderful, the light is the gems’, not men’s, and I am amazed that men admire them so. What is there, lacking the structure and movement of the living spirit, which a living, rational being could rightly think beautiful? Although through the work of the Creator and because of their own peculiarities they have something of the lower kind of beauty, yet they are so far beneath your excellence as a man that they did not by any means deserved you admiration.
Does the beauty of the countryside delight you? As why should it not? It is a beautiful part of the whole creation, which is beautiful. So we sometimes take pleasure in the calm aspect of the sea, and so also we admire the sky with its stars and the moon and the sun. Does any of these things belong to you? Dare you boast of the splendor of any of them? Are you adorned with flowers in spring? Is it your plenteousness which grows big with summer fruits? Why are you captivated by empty pleasure, why embrace external goods as though they were your own?  Fortune will never make yours what nature has made otherwise. The fruits of the earth are surely intended for the sustenance of living things. But if you want to satisfy your needs, which is enough for nature, there is no need to ask fortune for abundance. For nature is content with few things and small: if you want to overlay that satisfaction with superfluity, then what you add will be either unpleasant or positively harmful.
Perhaps now you think it fine to be admired in a variety of clothes? If their appearance is pleasing to the eye, I admire either the material itself or the skill of the tailor. But perhaps a great household of servants makes you happy? If they are wicked in their ways, they are ruinous burden on the house and highly dangerous to the master himself; but if they are honest, how can the honesty of others be counted among your own possessions? So it is clearly shown by all this that, of what you count among your goods, none of it is a good of yours. And if they have no beauty in them which you should seek, why should you grieve when they are lost or rejoice when you hold on to them? If they are beautiful by their own nature, what has that to do with you? For they would have pleased of themselves quite separated from your possessions. It is not that they are precious because they form part of your riches, but you preferred to count them among your riches because you thought them precious.
But what do you so noisily demand of fortune? You want, I think to banish need with plenty. But yet you achieve exactly the opposite. For you need a good many aids to help you guard your many kinds of precious furniture! And it is true that they need very many things who have very great possessions, while they need least who measure their sufficiency by the requirement of nature, not by the excesses of ambitions vanity.  Have you no personal good of your own within yourself, that you seek your goods in other things, externally? Is the state of nature so upside-down that man, a living and rational—and therefore godlike—animal, can only appear splendid to himself by the possession of lifeless stuff? Other things are content with what is their own; but you men, like God in your minds, seek to bedeck your nature, excellent that it is, with lower things, and do not see how greatly you injure your maker. He wanted man to be above all earthly things; you men reduce your worth to less than that of the lowest. For if it is agreed that the good of anything is of higher worth than that whose good it is, then when you judge the lowest things to be your goods, you put yourselves in your own estimation lower than them—and entirely deservedly! For the nature of man is such that he is better than other things only when he know himself, and yet if he ceases to know himself he is made lower than the brutes. For it is natural for other animals not to have this self-knowledge; in man it is a fault. How far from your true state have you wandered when you think you can be at all improved by the addition of the beauties of other things! That cannot be; if something seems fine because of its wrappings, it is the wrappings that are praised, while what is covered and hidden by them persists no less foul and ugly underneath. Now I maintain that nothing is good which harms its possessor. Am I wrong? Of course not, you answer. Yet riches have often harmed their possessors, since every man of base character, and therefore the more greedy for others’ goods, thinks himself the only one really worthy to possess all the gold and jewels there are. So you who know anxiously fear to be attacked and murdered, had you entered on this life’s road an empty-handed traveler, would laugh at robbers. O marvelous blessedness of mortal riches! When you have gained that, you have lost your safety.” (pp 199-207)

Boethuis The Consolation of Philosophy. Translated by H.F. Stewart, E.K. Rand and S. J. Tester (1973, Harvard, Loeb Classical Library)

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Christmas Meditation "What Child is this...?"

Sissel singing "What Child is This"

"He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom other hide their faces, he was despised and we held him of no account.
Surely he has born our infirmities and carried out diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that make us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. 
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:3-6

"'...for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel'...Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, 'This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thought of many will be revealed--and a sword will pierce your own soul too.'" 
Luke 2: 30-32, 34-35

The only thing that makes any sense of the evil and darkness in life, is that God sent his Son into this world to live and die as one of us, to be the bridge from God to a broken humanity. Only that singular sacrifice can take the shattered pieces of our broken lives and create something new and beautiful. And one day the scars, wounds and pain will be redeemed and "...we will be like him, for we will see him as he is."  1 John 3:2

And that is why we celebrate Christmas.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

"On Biblical Aesthetics" by Hans Urs von Balthasar

This quote is from Hans Urs von Balthasar's book The Glory of the Lord, Vol. I: Seeing the Form (2009, San Francisco, Ignatius Press)

Excerpt from section B. The Experience of Faith, from pages 312-313

This…characteristic of archetypal Biblical aesthetics may, in this respect, also be compared with the perception of what is beautiful in the world. We cannot say that the difference between them lies in the fact that worldly beauty bestows a fullness that quenches the heart of the beholder and makes him repose in his vision, while the beauty of divine revelation causes a holy unrest in the person contemplating it which points beyond itself to something else, for instance, to the practical aspects of the Church’s life or to the Christian mission to one’s neighbor. Rather, a merely self-gratifying absorption of the beholder in what he beholds falls, even at the worldly level, below the threshold of true beauty. The experience of sublime beauty is overwhelming and can be enrapturing and crushing. The poverty and uncomeliness of eros were known to Plato. The true admirer of sublime feminine beauty willingly goes into banishment in the service of courtly love, in order to become worthier of the grace of restful possession. In all mythical beauty there is a moment of fear; in every act of grasping a sublime work of art there is experienced an unattainable majesty, and this experience is a part of aesthetic enjoyment and the dangerous locus where the magnificence of the beautiful demands for itself something like adoration. The author of the Book of Wisdom shows gentle forbearance for those who are overpowered by the word’s most sublime beauty (Wis. 13.6f.). Eros contains a promise…which is always pointing beyond the sentiments that sighs ‘Abide a while, thou art so beautiful!’ and which, therefore, if it is not transposed onto the Christian level, must condemn itself to eternal melancholy and self-consumption. This total structure of beauty can be redeemed only if the risen Lover is again met at the other side of death (and beyond all melancholy yearning for the Kingdom of Death, as portrayed by the Greek myths, but also by Mary Magdalen, Jn. 20.11) –the risen Lover who does not disappoint with his blessed Noli me tangere and with his withdrawal at the Ascension, the Lover who leaves no shadow of sorrow behind him, but who snatches up the loving and adoring heart and caries it away with him: where you treasure, where your darling is, there also is your heart. Not a single shadow of melancholy darkens Christ’s Ascension, and the visionlessness of the intervening period has something about it of the blissful transport of a lover for her beloved, something of the gladsome ecstasy of those who ‘live no longer for themselves but for him who dies and rose for their sake’ (2 Cor. 5.15).

Thursday, November 27, 2014

What I am Thankful For?

I am thankful for God’s grace.
I am thankful that my prayers were, are, and shall be answered.
I am thankful that I have friends who love me and check on me.

That God has never forsaken me, has delivered me from hell on earth, and is slowly and carefully healing me.

That I am studying philosophy at the University of Colorado Boulder!

That I have a warm home, plenty of food, nice clothes, a bed, and BOOKS!

That I have internet friends who sometimes read my rants; some they understand, some they don’t. 

I am thankful for all those who pray for me; whether they agree with me or not.

I am thankful that I can express myself in print, photography and painting.

That I have a nice garden, great neighbors, and amazing classmates.
And for BOOKS!

That I live next to the mountains,
and that I have professors who want to teach me!

I am thankful for getting a scholarship this year.
I am thankful that I can attend church with people who love learning, and can’t imagine inequality in church leadership.

I am thankful for friends who just show-up to take me out to eat.

I am thankful for college, learning, and for intellectually and spiritually growing.

I am thankful for the good food that God provides and the talent he give me to cook.

Oh and for God supplying my needs, including BOOKS!

Praise God from whom all blessing flow,
Praise him all creature here below,
Praise him above ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

"The Woodcarver" a poem by Chuang Tzu

The Woodcarver, by Chuang Tzu

Khing, the master carver, made a bell stand.
Of precious wood. When it was finished,
All who saw it were astounded. They
Said it must be
The work of spirits.
The prince of Lu said to the master carver:
“What is your secret?”

Khing replied: “I am only a workman: I have no secret. There is only this:
When I began to think about the work
You commanded
I guarded my spirit, did not expend it
On trifles, that were not to the point.
I fasted in order to set
My heart at rest.
After three days fasting,
I had forgotten gain and success.
After five days
I had forgotten praise or criticism.
After seven days
I had forgotten my body
With all its limbs.
By this time all thought of your
And the courts had faded away.
All that might distract me from the work
Had vanished.
I was collected in the single thought
Of the bell stand.

“Then I went to the forest
To see the trees in their own natural state.
When It  right tree appeared before
My eyes,
The bell stand also appeared in it,
Clearly, beyond doubt.
All I had to do was to put forth my
And begin.

“If I had not met this particular tree
There would have been
No bell stand at all.

“What happened?
My own collected thought
Encountered the hidden potential in
The wood;
From this live encounter cam the

Which you ascribe to the spirits.”

Friday, October 31, 2014

Quote from H.R. Mackintosh "The Christian Experience of Forgiveness"

"It is no matter for surprise that at the cross supremely we should become aware of elements in Christianity which pass the limits of human speech and thought. All true religion enfolds that which is unfathomable, and the cross with the saving experiences it engenders is the focus of Christian religion. If we have stood beneath its shadow, if its aspect has touched and changed us, we too can bear witness to its ineffable significance; we now know that the mystery of goodness is greater by far than the mystery of evil. That the abyss between the Holy Father and us the sinful should have been crossed, from the father side; that in Jesus the guiltless suffering of the righteousness, and for us, should have put on its absolute and final form, leaving nothing undone by God that might be done, nothing unendured that might be born—this is nothing of course, but a strange and unimaginable miracle, we cannot measure it; and its wonder, which no mind can compass or define, we can sing.
True, it cannot be assumed that the significance of the cross will be equally manifest, or indeed equally welcome, to all men or even all Christians. There are distinguishable stages in the appreciation of Christ and His achievement. A man may embark on the Christian life by taking Jesus as his example, and may derive from Him in that character an imparted faith and power which in a most real degree give victory over temptation. Christ thus far is in large measure only a new and homogeneous factor in his moral development, bringing his own higher impulses to fruition. But a deeper necessity may emerge. He may well be obliged to face the shattering discovery that all his moral efforts are vain and that, in the light cast by God, he now appears even to himself as one who, guiltily and unconditionally, has failed. In Christ’s presence he learns, gradually or suddenly, the final truth about himself; and the revelation breaks him. It is in such hours of inexorable conscience, when in his solely responsibility and acknowledged impotence a man has bowed his head and fallen on his knees, that “the word of the cross” can find its most effectual entrance. Nor will any message of reconciliation suffice which does not contain a worthy relief for this, or profoundest and sorest need." (pp. 196-197)

From The Christian Experience of Forgiveness By H.R. Mackintosh (1961, London, Fontana Books)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Do you know the Bible Story of Joseph?

"Joseph Lowered into the well by his brothers"
By Peeter Sion

You can find this story in Genesis chapters 37, 39 through to the end of Genesis; this is one of the great narratives of the Bible.

Joseph, at seventeen, was working as a helper to two of his father’s wives. According to the story, his brothers must have done something wrong while shepherding their father’s flocks, so Joseph brought a bad report to the patriarch of the family. Joseph’s brothers were older than him with families of their own. This was a large extended family “clan.” We can only try to imagine the complicated family dynamic that may have made the older brothers worried for their inheritance because of the favor shown to Joseph. This story focuses on the hatred of the brothers for Joseph. But if you try and imagine power struggles within a family business, you may begin to get the idea that what we are reading is a very abbreviated version of a much more complicated story.

Joseph seemed to have gained favor with his father, so he was given some sort of robe made by Jacob (or commissioned to be made by him) which somehow identified with that regions royalty; some Bible transliterations use the terms “many colored,” “a long robe with sleeves,” or “ornate” but this robe seems to be something that may have been fancy and set Joseph apart, perhaps being given special authority by his father. It is very possible that Joseph was given some leadership over this shepherding business that put him above his older brothers.

When Jacob sends Joseph to check up on his brothers in the wilderness, this gives the angry brothers opportunity to get rid of him.  Rather than kill him outright, his brothers end up selling him into slavery; which was in some cases, a death sentence anyway.

But Joseph ended up with Potiphar as an owner, and then later (when running afoul of Potiphar’s wife) owned by the jailer. In all this, Joseph showed integrity, management skills and honesty; that to any that were his master, he was faithful in his duties. Neither Potiphar nor the keeper of the jail had any worry about their own things.  Genesis 39:6 and 39:23 record that neither owner had any care for their own property; that God blessed Joseph’s work.

Then when the Cupbearer and the Baker both were thrown in jail with Joseph, Joseph interprets their dreams; the Cupbearer gets his job back and the Baker is killed.

Joseph asked the Cupbearer to remember him to Pharaoh and asked him to “…please do me the kindness to make mention of me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this place.” (Gen. 40:14)
And the Cupbearer forgets Joseph…for two more years.

But then Pharaoh has his fateful dream that only Joseph can interpret. 
Look again at verses 41:33-36 where Joseph says to Pharaoh:

“Now therefore let Pharaoh select a man who is discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land, and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plenteous years. Let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and lay up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to befall the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.”

So as it is written, Pharaoh made Joseph overseer of all Egypt.Where am I going with this?When Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream, he did not start by saying “OK Pharaoh, I will interpret your dream if you set me free.”And he also didn’t say, after advising Pharaoh,  “So since I interpreted your dream, make me the chief financial manager in charge of grain collection.”

Joseph gave Pharaoh a business plan for free. He allowed himself to be used by God to help an entire nation make it through an extreme famine.Joseph had his chance to ask for freedom.He had a chance to ask for justice.

But he didn’t.

Yet, it was given to him. Freedom and power were given to him.Think about this for a minute; that Joseph, after seven years of collecting grain, probably had a power base equal to Pharaoh in Egypt. And once he was managing the sales of grain during the years of the famine, he could have overthrown Pharaoh.

But he didn’t.

When he had his brothers in his power, he could have had revenge; he could have killed the brothers who wanted him dead, and gained the inheritance. It would have been him and his younger brother Benjamin as heads of this family clan.

But he didn’t.

We often have heard light and cute sermons over Joseph ratting out his brothers, and how Joseph was so righteous to not sleep with his master’s wife, or some sort of marvelous blind faithful trust of God that somehow God magically blessed Joseph because his brothers were mean to him. That in the end, God just blessed silly, stupid, Joseph for his blind faith; and made him the second in command of all Egypt.

But I see something more: I see a youth with great leadership gifts; wanting to help his father’s business run better and honestly; but it was a threat to the status quo.

I see a man of integrity who wanted his “boss” (owner’s) company to do well and did not want to over-throw his owner by taking the wife and killing the “boss.”[1]

I see someone who even while in a tenuous life situation still used the gifts of management and leadership to run the jail efficiently, with no promise of life for tomorrow.

I see a person, using these life-lessons-learned to take a vision given by God to save an entire nation from being de-populated by famine; and with that, the additional risk of being overthrown by another invading nation.

And finally, I see a human being given so much power with so much trust from the god-King of Egypt, it never occurred to him to become the ultimate ruler with unlimited power.In the end, with his brothers in his power, he showed mercy.That is the reason God could use Joseph.

Joseph saved a kingdom and a people: with integrity and mercy.

But Joseph could not see any of this while he was in the pit waiting to see what his brothers would do to him.

And he couldn’t see a future while working for the jailer.

And I sure that he had no idea what the future held for him when he dreamed his dream of his father and brothers bowing down to him.But look how it all turned out.

Dear Lord, help me to trust you like Joseph did—to not allow bitterness to grow in my spirit that will interfere with my walk with you. I know that I cannot see the future anymore than Joseph could while serving the jailer. Help me to keep on going with integrity, honesty and faith; no matter where my story may take me.

[1] I see that offer to Joseph as more than a roll-in-the-hay with the boss’s wife…but I could be wrong.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Excerpt from "A Diary of Readings" by John Baillie

Here is an excerpt from A Diary of Readings by John Baillie

Day 260: “The Security We Desire”

     “We want an assurance that the soul in reaching out to the unseen world is not following an illusion. We want security that faith and worship, and above all love, directed towards the environment of the spirit are not spent in vain. It is not sufficient to be told that it is good for us to believe this, that it will make better men and women of us. We do not want a religion that deceives us for our own good. There is a crucial question here; but before we can answer it, we must frame it.
      The heart of the question is commonly put in the form, ‘Does God really exist?’ It is difficult to set aside this question without being suspected of quibbling. But I venture to put it aside because it raises so many unprofitable side issues, and at the end it scarcely reaches deep enough into religious experience…Theological or anti-theological argument to prove or disprove the existence of a deity seems to me to occupy itself largely with skating among the difficulties caused by our making a fetish of this word. It is all so irrelevant to the assurance for which we hunger. In the case of our human friends we take their existence for granted, not caring whether it is proven or not. Our relationship is such that we could read philosophical arguments designed to prove the non-existence of each other, and perhaps even be convinced by them—and then laugh together over so odd a conclusion. I think that it is something of the same sort of security we should seek in our relationship with God. The most flawless proof of the existence of God is no substitute for it; and if we have that relationship, the most convincing disproof is turned harmlessly aside. If I may say it with reverence, the soul and God laugh together over so odd a conclusion."

 This is a quote from Sir Arthur Eddington’s book  Science and the Unseen World (1929) pp 42 f.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Insights at the Start of a New Semester.

I have been journaling for years, and now and then I look back on words that I have written. This is an impression of some of my writings of the last 6 months.

I have had beautiful moments of sublime peace, sitting under a shade tree gazing at a lovely garden where I felt your presence Lord.

I have had moments of horrible pain brought on by misplaced trust. I knew you were with me Lord, and you helped me to forgive.

I had a friend care enough about me to spend her hard earned money to come and visit me; and we prayed together and you were there with us Lord.

I watched some of my friends graduate from college and celebrated with them, then joined those same friends to mourn the death of one of those graduates. You were there Lord.

I have had the chance to meet with another “big brother” that you have brought into my life. Lord the “family” you surround me with is wonderful.

I preached twice and felt you used that word, even when old friends wouldn’t listen, perhaps because of my gender; but you blessed the word you gave me Lord.

I have written in my journal over and over again “Lord, help me to forgive”, and you did, and I did.

I thought I gave up singing, and now I am singing again. And Lord you are in that as well.

I have written prayers that you have answered again and again Lord; and for that I am truly grateful and blessed.

Lord, you have walked with me through so many years of my suffering, and now you are opening new and wonderful doors of opportunity for me, and I am so grateful.

You have given me some special new friends, a new study partner, and new goals for philosophy; and I know Lord you will help me reach these goals.

I can see by my journal entries that my life is blessed, painful, hard, stressful, joy-and-praise-filled. My life is filled with people who care for me, hurt me, love me, and frustrate me, help me, lie to me, pray for me, challenge me, and teach me.

Lord, this looks like a pretty amazing life.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Parker Cole Show, Saturday August 2, 12 noon MT

I'll be on the radio Saturday, August 2, at 12:00 noon (MT) with Parker Cole.

Topic: A Woman's Place (part 2)

Here is the link to the  Parker Cole Show

Monday, July 28, 2014

Excerpt from "The Problem of Pain" C.S. Lewis

An Excerpt from C.S Lewis’ The Problem of Pain

 From the chapter “Divine Goodness”

        By the goodness of God we mean nowadays almost exclusively His lovingness; and in this we may be right. And by Love, in this context, most of us mean kindness—the desire to see other than the self happy; not happy in this way or in that, but just happy. What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, ‘What does it matter so long as they are contented?’ We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven—a senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘liked to see young people enjoying themselves’, and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, ‘a good time was had by all’. Not many people, I admit, would formulate a theology in precisely those terms; but a conception not very different lurks at the back of many minds. I do not claim to be an exception: I should very much like to live in a universe which was covered on such lines. But since I have reason to believe, nevertheless, that God is Love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction.
          I might, indeed, have learned, even from the poets, that Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness: that even the love between the sexes is, as in Dante, ‘a lord of terrible aspect’. There is kindness in Love: but Love and kindness are not coterminous, and when kindness (in the sense given above) is separated from the other elements of Love, it involves a certain fundamental indifference to its object, and even something like contempt of it. Kindness consents very readily to the removal of its object—we have all met people whose kindness to animals is constantly leading them to kill animals lest they should suffer. Kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering. As Scripture points out, it is bastards who are spoiled: the legitimate sons, who are to carry on the family tradition, are punished.[1] It is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms: with our friends, our lovers, our children, we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes. If God is Love, He is, by definition, something more than mere kindness. And it appears, from all the records, that though He has often rebuked us and condemned us, He has never regarded us with contempt. He has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense. (p 385)

From: The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classic (2002, San Francisco, HarperCollins)
The Problem of Pain © 1940 C.S. Lewis

[1] Hebrews 12.8

Sunday, July 20, 2014


The bitter draught,
a cup of suffering.
The un-loved past, and

That hand of hope,
was freely given;
mending the breaks,
and marks.

A Light in darkness,
and the swirling noise
of accusing voices;

My cup filled with
the distillation of a bitter past;
Now makes every living moment
taste sweet.

©Lisa Guinther 2014

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Quote from Hans Urs von Balthasar's Glory of the Lord: Seeing the Form

On the gift of the Holy Spirit and inspiration:

“The inspiration, therefore, descends upon believing man from the heights of the absolute as the absolute genius which is essentially superior to man in every respect. And yet, at the same time, the inspiration rises from man’s own most intimate depths: it is the person himself who loves and tastes God, and not an alien principle that does this through the person. As Paul says, such a person is one ‘impelled by the Spirit’ (Rom 8.4, Gal 5.18) and, as such, is not ‘under the law’; but this is so because the Spirit, which cannot be captured by any law and which ‘blows where it wills’ (Jn. 3.8), is a ‘Spirit of sonship’ which makes us ‘children of God’ and thus incorporates us into the divine law of the Son of God (Rom 8.14 f.). The Son, in turn, into whom we are incorporated and with whom we become co-heirs of the Father, is the incarnate Son who suffers, rises up and lives on in the church, and we receive his Spirit only if we enter into the form of his revelation. Once again, all aspirations of a natural aesthetics are here fulfilled and more than fulfilled: this is the inviolate circle of the beautiful that arises between the inspiration from above (and from within) and the attachment to the form from which the light of inspiration must come forth if we are to recognize as beautiful what we have beheld. Already in a natural aesthetics the process of artistic creativity (and in some sense also its ‘repetition’ in the enjoyment of art) is founded upon a mysterious obedience: in the last analysis, the inspired artist does not follow his own idea, but rather allows something ungraspable to cast its rays upon him. To art belongs not only the master’s skill—the ability to translate a vision into sensual form—but also the ability not to obstruct either the illumining action of the idea or, so to speak, the idea’s generation’ and ‘incarnation’ in the mind of the artist. Eternally the artist may choose to appear haughty, but interiorly he must be a humbly receptive womb for the ‘conception’. Only if he knows how to be quite will the anima sing in him.  (p 243-244)

 From The Glory of the Lord by Hans Urs von Balthasar (1982, San Francisco, Ignatius)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Some thoughts on my "road less traveled"

Earlier this year, I wrote an essay to explain why I am in college, pursuing my dream of a degree in philosophy. The essay I wrote explained a lot about my personal philosophy of a life redeemed.

This is how I see my "road less traveled."

Not many of us get second chances; I am one who has been gifted with a second chance at reaching for dreams I did not know I even had.

This is a tiny bit of "me" that I am sharing below; an edited version of my scholarship essay.

     In 2007 I was working a second-shift job on an assembly line.  I had the chance to try finishing my college education through tuition reimbursements. I found that I could take classes on-line. Once I started taking classes again, I began having successes. I found that I really was smart; this is what slowly unraveled the entrapping web of lies that had been told to me all my life.

     As Robert Frost wrote, I have decided to take this “path less traveled” and I have found that it is making “all the difference.”  I have reexamined what my definition is of success, and I am striving after something different. I am after a type of success that involves the satisfaction of developing my intellect and to concisely share my ideas; this is my new life’s adventure!

     I have discovered that so much of what people value are mere “things,” useless toys which rust and break; but developing real wisdom and creativity are things that can never be taken from you; things which I believe stay with you forever.

     I have lost much in this life, but the treasure of learning tempers the losses with a deep and abiding joy. I have friends who give me support, and I have the pleasure in learning and growing.  To be on this road “less traveled by” is making all the difference.

     This difference is with me every morning. No longer do I struggle to find reasons to get up, and out of bed; instead… 

  • I get up in the morning to the bright colors of the sunrise; knowing there are new academic challenges awaiting me.

  • I get up in the morning because of the adventure of a new day.

  • I get up in the morning because the air is fresh, and the mountains are waiting!

  • I get up in the morning because I live a beautiful and fulfilling life.

     I get up in the morning because I am finally free: free to make my own decisions, free to wear what I like, free to listen to the music that makes my spirit soar, free to color outside the lines; but most of all, I’m finally free to pursue the education possibilities I never had before.

     I have decided to explore this road less traveled, a life of fulfillment and yes, insecurity; but one that brings me great joy. I feel fully alive, living boldly the dream that I can achieve anything I put my mind to. Sometimes we need to leave behind the stories we were told by family, culture, and conditioning, and break down the mold of what it means to be a woman. Am I any less feminine because of my pursuit  advanced education? No, my gender is irrelevant to my goals, and my age is irrelevant as well; at least I think it should be.

     I feel that I have something valuable to contribute in this life. I believe that philosophy needs more women’s voices.  I believe that the great ancient philosophers have words that can still teach us today. That we can learn the value of virtue, to recall what Eudemonia means, and what human flourishing is all about.

     If we decide that there really is some magic limit to learning, that there is a time for us to stop trying, that one should just keep your head down and grind at the mill, and let go of your dreams: this is how we lose our humanity. There is something vital and strong about striving, about pushing your old limits, about not quitting, and stepping out fearlessly. You can dig deep within yourself to find those hidden resources of courage, bravery and the strength to grab that next handhold in this climb out of the valley of despair. 

Remember…The air is fresh and the mountains are waiting!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

From "The Christian Experience of Forgiveness" by H.R. Mackintosh

A quote from the chapter, “The Divine Reaction Against Sin” in The Christian Experience of Forgiveness

“…[S]hould we dream of describing as good or loving one whom we believe to be incapable of anger at wrong-doing? Just here is found one of the difficulties of which earnest but not very clear headed people are conscious when they are being urged to forgive an injury. They hesitate, because to pardon looks like confessing that their anger was reprehensible; whereas they know, without reasoning, that in the circumstances anger was not only permissible but obligatory. Lack of indignation at wickedness is a sign, not of a poor nature only, but of positive unlikeness to Jesus Christ…Unless we sophisticate ourselves, we all feel this. Intentional discourtesy, the calculated ruin of purity, an act of savagery to a child—he is not to be envied who can look on calmly when such things are done. For beings like us, doubtless, it is hard to be angry and not sin, but we must not turn this frailty into a proof that wrath is inconsistent with Holy Love.
     Occasionally the flank of our difficulty seems to be turned by the phrase that God is angry not with sinners but with their sin. And it would be pedantry to cavil at such an expression when used colloquially or in poetry:

           Thou judgest us: thy purity
           Doth all our lust condemn;
           The love that draws us nearer Thee
           Is hot with wrath to them.

     None the less, the phase when insisted on is a misleading catchword. There is no such thing as sin apart from a sinner, any more than pleasure could be real, in pure abstraction, irrespectively of a pleased consciousness. The one fact in the case is the sinful life to which God’s attitude invariably is personal. To be angry with a thing—and sin abstracted from sinner is no more –ranks as a moral absurdity. The man who spitefully kicks the stool over which he has tripped in the dark has for the moment become irrational. Anger, the anger of moral love, can only be directed upon moral beings. If therefore it is permissible to speak of God’s wrath, it is with sinners—with ourselves when we defy love—that His wrath has to do. (p 144-145)

The Christian Experience of Forgiveness. H.R. Mackintosh (1961, Glasgow, Fontana Books)