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.”