Saturday 3 December 2011

Doodlings piled higher and deeper

by Kim Fabricius

We pray so that we may learn how it feels and what it entails to be loved by God. All “problems” with prayer are, ultimately, problems with love.

I don’t pray the Lord’s Prayer because I believe in God, I believe in God because I pray the Lord’s Prayer.

A life without prayer is an empty house.

I hear Quentin Tarantino is making a director’s cut of the Nativity. It’s called The Massacre of the Innocents.

The only substantive criticism to be made of Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life is that this inexhaustibly rich, mysterious, and tender film ends. The scene with the wounded (female? pregnant?) plesiosaur and the predatory velociraptor that doesn’t predate (WHY? – we are teased to project) haunts me.

I reckon that adults should be admitted to the Bible only if they are accompanied by children.

Here is an example of a Christian who doesn’t “get it”: he infers from Jesus’ saying about the hairs on our head being numbered by the Father (Matthew 10:30) that God actually has a calculable figure in mind, because God knows everything, right?

In a theological critique of the Occupy Movement, an otherwise fine Christian blogger recently opined that “there is, in principle, no gradation of right and wrong before a Holy God. There is either right, or there is wrong; there is no political or social theory that is more or less proximate to God’s ways in Christ.” This is a view that Bonhoeffer would label a Christian “radicalism” that despises the “penultimate”. Bonhoeffer urged, in contrast, a faith that discerns in the world practices of decency that Christians should affirm, and practices of corruption that Christians should oppose. He also advocated supporting and working with the good guys. Indeed. We may live in an age of darkness, but not all the cows out there are black.

Believing that non-Christians who, manifestly, are good are not really is like believing that fossils that, manifestly, are antediluvian are not really. Virtutes gentium splendida vitia? Rather, if it looks, walks, and quacks like an anas, it’s probably an anas, not an anus.

Why are the US and Europe so bollixed? Because the leaders of the West who came of age in the sixties no doubt remember them.

Is it morally permissible to torture another human being? Even to raise the question is to be lost.

Is God more powerful than Satan? No.

The geometry of the kingdom is non-Euclidian: the shortest distance between here and there is not a straight line, it’s a detour of indeterminate length.

Advent prayer: Hound of heaven, make us your prey, we pray.

Is time-travel possible? Of course. As suggested by the initial results of the Opera collaboration on the acceleration of muon neutrinos, faster than the speed of light? No, as realized in that experiment with a Maranatha we call Advent: Christ comes to meet us from the Future.

Do not be deceived: famines, earthquakes, wars, even portentous astronomical phenomena – none of these things are signs that the parousia is imminent. On the other hand, if the Cubs are leading the league come mid-September …

Nature abhors a vacuum, grace loves one. That’s why God made hell.

The fundamental difference between traditional Methodists and hyper-Calvinists is that traditional Methodists never gamble, while for hyper-Calvinists it’s always double or nothing.

“Awesome”. “Amazing”. “Incredible”. New Christians talking about Jesus? Yes, and the judges on The X Factor talking about their acts. Remove these three words from their vocabulary and they would sit there like Trappist monks.

It may be easier to negotiate with a terrorist than with a church organist, but it is easier to negotiate with a church organist than with a cat.

I don’t have a PhD (for me the suggestion to do one was a temptation, not an opportunity), but tell me if I’m wrong in saying that unless it bears fruit in the virtues of gratitude, humility, and friendship, it does indeed amount to poo “piled higher and deeper”.

Jesus said that “you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). He had obviously never met anyone with Alzheimer’s.

I expect to live to 100. Only the good die young. And blues singers. And maybe doctors. Have you ever met an old doctor? It makes you wonder.

Ignatius called the eucharist is the “medicine of immortality”. You could also call it the gingko biloba of the church.

Prayer for a funeral: Veni, Cremator Spiritus!

Ben has just returned from the AAR Meeting in the City by the Bay. Damn, he forgot to pack his copy of The Beauty of the Infinite, which he’d been rereading for the Eastern Orthodox Study Group. That is, he left his Hart in San Francisco. [I know – that was AWful! I’m outta here…]


Mike A Robinson said...

You noted: "Jesus said that 'you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free' (John 8:32). He had obviously never met anyone with Alzheimer’s."
Actually, as God, he did and does. beyond that Ginkgo has had mixed results in possibly preventing Alzheimer's.

Ryan said...

I'm curious as to your comment, "Is God more powerful than Satan? No." I recently wrote a paper on Satan so this one caught my eye, just wondering if you could expand on that.

kim fabricius said...

Ryan, the devil's power is a creaturely power, a completely different kind of power than God's. Any comparison is a comparison of incommensurables: there can be no "more" or "less", no sliding scale. Any comparison is, literally, senseless.

Ryan said...

That's an interesting insight. I think many people would benefit from a proper understanding of Satan's place as creature. Thanks!

Highanddry said...

Mirthful and irreverent as always. I particularly liked, "I reckon that adults should be admitted to the Bible only if they are accompanied by children." Doodle on brother!

Nathan said...

"Is it morally permissible to torture another human being? Even to raise the question is to be lost."

Yes, but for the sake of symmetry, might we not add: "Is it morally permissible to end the life of an unborn child? Even to raise the question is to be lost."

Geoffrey said...

Actually, to raise the question is to exemplify intellectual dishonesty. An "unborn child" is a not-yet thing, much the same way an unfertilized egg is an "unborn child", or the sperm released during nocturnal emissions are "unborn children". While I realize you are speaking in re abortion, the way you frame it, at the very least, offers opportunities for others to make this point.

Nathan said...

Perhaps you are right that my terminology might have been more precise, but it was hardly so ambiguous as you suppose.Your choice of the term 'dishonest' seems rather uncharitable.
I wrote of the "life" of an unborn child. This, of course, indicates the process of natural development which will, barring the intrusion of some outside force, produce a being whose value, as the original doodle assumes, preludes even the possibility of morally appropriate torture. It is hard to see how the "life" of a sperm or ovum may be spoken of in the same way. Indeed, it is only insofar as the sperm or egg is acted upon by an outside force that its course of natural development is altered so as to produce anything valuable at all. Such "lives" would not lead to the same infinitely valuable result as a fertilized embryo; thus, they are clearly precluded as alternative interpretations of "unborn child" in my statement. Unless, however, I am being stingy with the term 'life'. Maybe I should begin conducting a short memorial service for the innumerable "unborn children" who whose "lives" are cut short every time I make love to my wife.

I am, however, most curious about this category of "not-yet" thing. Not yet what? Not yet thinking? Not yet developing? Not yet physically self-supporting? Not yet self-determined? What must one do to become a "now" thing, or whatever a newborn child is once it is no longer a "not yet" thing? Do "now" things have more value than not-yet things? Who gets to decide which beings count as which? Why should we trust "now" things, who clearly are in the position of power, with determining who gets to be part of their club? Forgive me, but this sounds very much like the type of dehumanizing grammar which is characteristic of the very mentality condemned in the original doodle. We always have to invent object-terms for humans when we want to treat them as objects.

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