Listening … before God!!

Now forget this light talk about art. Alas, in regard to things spiritual, the foolishness of many is this, that they in the secular sense look upon the speaker as an actor, and the listeners as theatergoers who are to pass judgment upon the artist. But the speaker is not the actor — not in the remotest sense. No, the speaker is the prompter. There are no mere theatergoers present, for each listener will be looking into his own heart. The stage is eternity, and the listener, if he is the true listener (and if he is not, he is at fault) stands before God during the talk. The prompter whispers to the actor what he is to say, but the actor’s repetition of it is the main concern — is the solemn charm of the art. The speaker whispers the word to the listeners. But the main concern is earnestness: that the listeners by themselves, with themselves, and to themselves, in the silence before God, may speak with the help of this address.

The address is not given for the speaker’s sake, in order that men may praise or blame him. The listener’s repetition of it is what is aimed at. If the speaker has the responsibility for what he whispers, then the listener has an equally great responsibility not to fall short in his task. In the theater, the play is staged before an audience who are called theatergoers; but at the devotional address, God himself is present. In the most earnest sense, God is the critical theatergoer, who looks on to see how the lines are spoken and how they are listened to: hence here the customary audience is wanting. The speaker is then the prompter, and the listener stands openly before God. The listener, if I may say so, is the actor, who in all truth acts before God.

Chapter 12: What Then Must I Do? The Listener’s Role in a Devotional Address

Modernism in traditional form?

I found this blog post, The ironies of Catholic traditionalism, while searching for something completely different. And I was particularly struck by this paragraph:

There are many other ironies here, but the most striking – and, I suspect, the most consequential – is that the conservatives who attack Pope Francis in the name of tradition and magisterial authority have been pressed into holding a variation of the doctrine of private judgement. They no longer countenance any form of obsequium religiosum, religious assent or submission, to the ordinary teaching authority of the Pope. Rather, they advise that you withhold assent until you have established to your satisfaction that what he says is in accord with tradition.

Could anything like the modern traditionalist movements (in various Christian communities) ever have happened in the past? Or is the traditionalist movement a rebellion against itself?

4 November

I have been reading and thinking about SK’s (in)famous journal entry for 1 August 1835. Especially this image:

What use would it be if truth were to stand there before me, cold and naked, not caring whether I acknowledged it or not, inducing an anxious shiver rather than trusting devotion?

Journals 1835 (1:19)

Truth calls for personal involvement, not detached reflection. But …

The Truth is a trap: you cannot get hold of it without getting caught; you cannot get hold of the truth in such a way that you catch it, but only in such a way that it catches you.

Journals 1854 (10:17)

Truth calls for passivity in a world of activity. Truth confronts with possibility.

Truth/Jesus does not play our games. He is not limited by us or our thinking. And that is why God needed to become a person – Jesus is so much more than we can imagine, Jesus does not fit neatly into a box.

truth and love

15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.

Ephesians 4:15-16

Let knowledge be used as a kind of scaffolding to help build the edifice of love and understanding, which shall endure forever even after knowledge itself shall be destroyed. 

Augustine, Epist. 55,21.39

Nothing conquers except truth. The victory of truth is charity. 

Augustine, Serm. 358,1

Gen 32

22 The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. 24 And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Tell me, I pray, your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peni′el, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.”

Love actually

I find the whole “violence in the name of religion” thing rather strange. And, can I be honest, it makes me want to cry. But this I find especially hard to comprehend:

In the manifesto, “you actually hear a frighteningly clear articulation of Christian theology in certain sentences and paragraphs. He has, in some ways, been well taught in the church,” said the Rev. Duke Kwon, a Washington pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America, another evangelical denomination which shares many of its beliefs with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

The alleged synagogue shooter was a churchgoer who talked Christian theology, raising tough questions for evangelical pastors – The Washington Post

If he could “articulate” what he had been “taught” but could not put it into action (or maybe he did?!) he has not inwardly “understood” what it is to be a follower of Jesus. “My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.”

The real question is how people who are in all appearances “orthodox Christian” (by the standard of their particular denomination) can still act in ways that deny the very ideas they process. Or, to put it the other way, maybe your theology – the articulation of what you believe – is lacking when someone can draw this conclusion?! Maybe (just maybe!?) there is something fundamentally wrong with how people understand Jesus?!

Love is a choice that is actualised in compassion and empathy. Everyone (no matter what their choices!) is made in the image of God and is loved by God. That is the radical message of Jesus – “love even those whom you do not like because I love you”.

SK’s Tax Collector

I have been reading SK’s Communion Discourses (via Sylvia Walsh’s Discourses at the Communion on Fridays). I think SK’s reflection on Luke 18:13 (The Tax Collector) is filled with insights and depth. Here is a little quote:

“Thank God, I am not like …”. Contrast, distance, division. A very modern attitude.

The real issue is how I – I alone, just me without others – stand before God.

On another note, I would like to record another podcast. I am thinking of reading a little of the above discourse. I feel I have nothing to say at the moment, especially nothing as insightful as SK. So maybe?!

on being a pharisee

I follow Keith Giles on Twitter (btw: follow me!!) and he shared this article that he wrote: I Am A Self-Righteous Pharisee. I identify with so many elements of his initial story. I was called a pharisee along with a barrage of expletives.

The “logic” is simple enough:

  • you are a pharisee because you disagree with me or my agenda,
  • Jesus hates pharisees,
  • therefore I can hate you, or worse, “it is my religious duty to hate you”, and I can behave in an unChristian manner towards you.

I was struck by this paragraph that nicely summaries it:

Knowing the truth isn’t the same as doing it. Being a Christian isn’t only about what you believe, it’s actually more about what you do with the things you say you believe.

The followers of Jesus are called to love without holding back. This love is so radical that even enemies, those that hate us, are objects of love. Loving faith in Jesus is actualised in compassion and empathy. And, yes, I do that so poorly!!!!

I need to reflect more on it all.