The beautiful is that which is pleasing when apprehended… – Thomas Aquinas In 1970, looking out over the world, still picking up the carnage of its two world wars, and looking back over his own life, ravaged by the brutality of the USSR, Alexander Solzhenitsyn mused upon the ‘enigmatic remark’ of Dostoevsky’s idiot: “beauty will save the world.” “What sort of a statement is that?” Solzhenitsyn asks, “when in bloodthirsty history did beauty ever save
I have often said that the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room. —Blaise Pascal Quietude. Calm. Collected. Consistency. These are not the buzzwords of our culture of revolution. If they make it on to the radar, it is as unwanted intruders. To use one’s voice is a virtue; to remain silent, a vice. To be calm is thought to be apathetic at best,
John Muir’s A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf chronicles his journey, oftentimes on foot, from Indiana to Florida and finally to Cuba. His adventure begins on September 1, 1867 when he departs Indianapolis by train for Jeffersonville, Indiana on the banks of the Ohio River. The next day he crosses the Ohio River and begins walking south from Louisville with minimal provisions and an interest in collecting local plants. In his journal, Muir says, “I
We have a secret A secret that energizes us A secret that enables us A secret that brings us joy That secret is: God is A community of divine Persons One in love One in purpose Drawing all to Beauty All is chaos outside this Order All is in fluctuation outside this Stability All is changing outside this Being We have a secret It connects us It creates a
In the first part of this two part series on Psalm 46, I suggested that there are three strata of imagery in the psalm. The ‘city of God’ is a lush garden, providing for those inside her walls sustenance and shelter, calm and quiet, against all the wilds of life outside her walls. The city of God is, furthermore, protected against the judgement of God. The purging of evil involves God’s de-creative acts; yet for
Electronic dance music (EDM) certainly isn’t to everyone’s taste. All too often, producers of contemporary pop submerge artists’ raw talent in a sea of synthesized bleeps and burbles. The subculture is eccentric, to say the least. And there’s something painfully banal about the fact that pressing the “play” key on a MacBook constitutes an EDM “performance.” But though I never would’ve believed it a few years ago, there’s a profound beauty and complexity underpinning the
In “Floating in the Forth”, Scott Hutchison of the Scottish indie rock band Frightened Rabbit, sings, Fully clothed, I’ll float away Down the Forth, into the sea I think I’ll save suicide for another day We hoped this “day” that Hutchison sang of would be indefinitely deferred. We wished that Hutchison’s life, which was accompanied by depression, would not have such a tragic end. But on May 11th, we learned that this day had come.
In a sermon preached the same year that Augustine began to write his City of God, he told his congregation: “Brethren, when I speak of that City, and especially when scandals grow great here, I just cannot bring myself to stop…” (Enarr. In Ps. 84.10). As in Augustine’s time, so in ours as well scandals increase. Whether they do so more in our own time, I am not one to judge (though I rather doubt
I want to hold my worth in my hands; to trace my accomplishments in gilded letters on spine and cover; to smell them in ink and paper. But my desire is a dream awakened, and all I can trace are tears of shame, that I have nothing to hold out in offering but empty hands. Empty hands—not clenched fists, angry, or grasping at given gifts; Empty hands, ready to hold another’s, to serve,
For my father’s birthday, I made him a set of bookends that featured the silhouette of a lion. I chose to design the bookends in this fashion because a lion seemed to fit with how I view my father. This reasoning may appear natural to some, and odd to others. Those who deem it odd are probably the more observant. Why should a silhouette of a lion have any connection with my completely human father?
The world is charged with the grandeur of God I have always loved the morning. There is something especially moving in the cool fresh air, untainted by the day’s hustle and bustle; there is something so provocative in the dawning of light; there is something reassuring in human quietude and nature’s songs to its Creator. Surely when the psalmists wrote things like: “Oh LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”;
They are like trees along a riverbank bearing luscious fruit each season without fail. Their leaves shall never wither, and all they do shall prosper. —Psalm 1:3, The Living Bible What if the season is barren rather than bearing? How if the leaves have curled and the river has curved away—away from from this tree, empty? “Empty? Why art thou empty?” Asks the Spirit-wind, rustling through parchèd leaves. “Have you ceased to delight
“…as long as we have a body and our soul is fused with such an evil we shall never adequately attain what we desire.” – Plato (Phaedo, 66b) I often wonder what it means that God gave us bodies made of bones, flesh, and water— with fingers, for example, to pop open sodas for sipping on some hot summer day—or with eyes to wander into the gaze of others—strangers, enemies, lovers—
Here at Conciliar Post, many of us are avid readers. These are a few of the things we’ve been reading lately. Jarrett Dickey, House Church The Man in the High Castle (Philip K. Dick) Philip K. Dick’s novel imagines a world where the Axis powers won World War II. In this alternate reality, the United States is divided into three districts. The Nazis control the eastern seaboard while the Japanese administrate the Pacific States. In the
To immanence, to the heart, Christ is redundant and all things are one. To eminence, to the mind, Christ touches only the top, skims off only the top, as it were, the souls of men. -Annie Dillard, Holy The Firm, (Harper & Row: New York, 1977), 80. Is it possible to live in this tension? Can humans achieve the “peace that passes understanding” (John 14:27, Phil 4:6-7) in a world that appears increasingly chaotic and
Kindness flowing out in wine and chocolate chip cookies, in smiles and eyes, in words and hidden acts Grace flowing down in water and wine and blood over dark soul nights, to unworthy us Love flowing over from hearts and hands, eyes and lips in forgiveness again, and again—every time Gifts ever flowing that we cannot earn, cannot repay, we humbly receive with open, empty hands Full over flowing hands and
From director Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club), HBO’s Big Little Lies is a slow burn drama that rewards careful viewing. Set in idyllic Monterey, California, the story centers on the world of wealthy wives and their children. Yet unlike many star-studded portrayals of Hollywood glamour, the opulence of Big Little Lies unveils, rather than obscures, the common humanity of its protagonists. [Spoilers Ahead] Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley) is an outsider to the Monterey community. The
Advent Heavy lay the snow the last warm breath just lingering inside our gloves next to fatigue it slowed and chilled me and my brothers toying with a seam at winter’s hem until the cold was far too much we stumbled home and stood like living clouds of steam our thrown scarves garlands for the railing and the chairs Mother I even began to feel afraid when the last light topped its arc those slender
What if prayer is a furnace? When we confess, every sin and every evil thing is burnt away into ashes. But every prayer in line with Life and Love —stemming from God’s Spirit— is refined like gold and silver. What if that?
All the Secrets You don’t believe me, look there, part the grass, he’s walking through the kitchen in his shirt you laugh he’ll hear you and come looking. He keeps (I saw it from a faded picture snagged at midnight on a full-waned moon a solitary awning’s bulb the best light going) a frog that talks, oh yes I mean it don’t you say I lied, I’ve heard it croak a choked horn’s wheeze that