Christ, God and Man: makers of culture.

“We, today, have a language to celebrate waywardness, but we do not have a cultural language to bring people back home.” – Makoto Fujimura

four-holy-gospels_presentationFujimura

What Japanese- American artist Makoto Fujimura has done with his shared Four Gospels project is that he has made manifest the kind of beautiful, unnecessarily necessary culture play that the Christian Faith encourages. 1

Such creative witness immerses us more in time whilst also catching a sail on the wind of history.

At odds with the worship of faux- originality, this is not altogether new but manifests the Gospel in a particular manner for his time and place in a refreshingly new way. In doing so, he draws upon his various worthwhile identities and harmonises them to bear witness as only he can. Previously, in our ancient nation, known as Hibernia by the Romans, we created our own beautiful holy books. We are endowed with many wonderful Christian artefacts which rose up from similar deep soils of cultural memory and the flowering of Faith. 2 Love letters from man to God in response to His Word.2.5

This Christian cultivation of culture and what Makoto calls ‘culture care’ drinks at the life-giving spring of Revelation  and is vital in harnessing the power and grace of beauty to convert our hearts and minds. It also feeds the poor weary soul, as ”the poor need beauty as they need food”, in Bishop Barron’s phrase.

Moreover, great art made in light of communion might act as a bulwark against the shallowness of contemporary ideology, which invents it’s own categories antithetical to the aesthetically expansive, inclusive language and symbols of The Gospel. The Four Gospels buoys us up delectably.

This is important, as Fr James Schall suggests, “Why bring up any reconsideration of ideology? The world that most people now live in is an ideological world. It is a world whose limits and configuration are assembled from their desires of what they would like to be, not to *what* is.” 3

These limits and this configuration have a particularly malevolent geneology and character, which is contrary to The Kerygma. This has been charted by thinkers such as Christopher Lasch, Robert Nisbet, Paul Gottfried and Gerard Casey. 3.25

Throughout history, Christ and The Spirit have taken on many forms and continue to do so today. Not just since Jesus walked the earth but even before then, in the form of ‘proto-Gospels’ 3.5 3.75

One example of faithful tending to The Gospel is the rightly renowned and lavishly illustrated Book of Kells. ( Pictured below is the opening text in the Gospel of St John.)

To create beautiful works like this commands a healthy respect for deep roots, making the most of our own time and a vision, futurist and fufilled in Christ. 3.80  Certain scarcity and certain abundance combine in creative tension. The principle of scarcity has shown to be of central importance in governing human behaviour.* This concerns our very being as creatures, subject to death and decay. Christian psychologist has researched how our fear of death motivates us to act and considered common Eastern Orthodox approaches to this problem.3.82 His use of Orthodox Theology is good, as far as it goes but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Neither does Becker, whose thought he utilises. Becker considered our institutions and creations that survive our physical death in terms of them being a response to the fear that it induces. This half-truth, or less than half truth, misses out our nature as human beings, creatures meant for deification- not as individuals but as persons in communion reflective of the trinity itself. It is life, eternal life, that is even more significant and our creations are not all our own or motivated solely by the fear of death. The fear of the LORD is the begging of wisdom after all. By taking part in culture- making that transcends death, we are partaking in the Kingdom even here on earth. We are living a life now that will be even more full in the kingdom. By considering this, in a manner comparable to Chesterton’s democracy of the dead, we become more human and formed in Christ as his body.3.85  This is a ‘creative tension’ we see in various kinds of Mission. 3.90

This is both work and play, ‘useful’ but so much more than that. 3.95 If we persist in the shallow language and false consciousness that today’s ideologies induce in us then we will not be able to cultivate the Spirit for co-creations such as these. The ‘buffered self’ shuts us off from such transcendence. 3.99 Let us remember who we are. 6

The legendary lunatic farmer, Joel Salatin, recognises this in agricultural terms whereby by giving glory to creation, we give glory to God.6.5 In ‘The Marvellous Pigness of Pigs’ he points out examples from the scripture which refer to the glory of pigs, people and even places; all of which work towards the glory of God.6.75

Metropolitan Gregorios proclaimed in his recent time that the principle task of Theology was to discern a genuinely Christian Theology of Liberation. We can agree and this is especially pressing given the claims to freedom that ‘social justice warriors’ make when perverting the message of The Gospel. Co-creating with God and our neighbours in time and space frees us from the dullness wrought by sin and death and evident in these modern sophist philosophies. Ultimately, it has it’s role in our Theosis.7

To echo the Malankara Metropolitan, we must meet these challenges by becoming more sensitive to ”the transcendental dimensions of both history and salvation.”8

”You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”8.25

For the Irish in particular, we need to bear witness as distinct Celtic Christians, taking ourselves out of the falseness of totalitarian identity politics, imported from French continental philosophy and the unholy fools of American universities. Resisting it’s flattening distortions of history, recognising the Pentecostal diversity of the world in Incarnate time and place. Not just individuals but cultures gratefully appropriating the gift of The Gospel to our own times and places. 8.5 8.75 Fr John O’Donohue has popularised a kind of Celtic Christian way of being and is a good guide to begin with.9

Book of Kells Gospel of John

1- https://artasillumination.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/makoto-fujimura-the-four-holy-gospels/

2- http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/bok/bok04.htm

2.5- https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+John+4%3A19&version=NIV

3- https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2018/06/19/on-ideology/

3.25- https://voegelinview.com/war-progress-sociology-age-ideology/

3.5- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yf0Z_9QLpc

3.75- https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/ijt/12-4_123.pdf

3.80- https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/18/need-roots-disconnection-past-community

3.82- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvokB849OAM&t=1863s

3.85- https://www.chesterton.org/democracy-of-the-dead/

3.90- http://www.scielo.org.za/pdf/mission/v44n2/06.pdf

3.95- http://qideas.org/articles/a-serious-theology-of-play/?_sm_au_=iVVQ8vkVqZFqSMnH

3.99- https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/reviews/a-portal-into-a-secular-age-or-why-the-star-wars-prequels-sucked/

4- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iLiKMUiyTI&t=219s

5- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6pbJTqv2hw

6- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6pbJTqv2hw

6.5- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLWHglwu9x4

6.75- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Marvelous-Pigness-Pigs-Respecting-Creation/dp/B01D3MDYVS

7- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr2avLzFSV4

8- http://paulosmargregorios.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/theology_today.pdf

8.25- https://biblehub.com/psalms/23-5.htm

8.5- http://www.oupcanada.com/catalog/9780199288762.html

8.75- http://themelios.thegospelcoalition.org/review/gratitude-an-intellectual-history

9- https://onbeing.org/programs/john-odonohue-the-inner-landscape-of-beauty/

 

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Christ and Nihilism

http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2014/08/writhings-nihilism.html

http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2018/06/friedrich-nietzsche-new-philosophy-gordon-arnold.html

http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2016/08/nihilism-american-style-george-stanciu.html

https://tif.ssrc.org/2010/03/17/orthodox-paradox-an-interview-with-john-milbank/

http://www.oodegr.com/english/filosofia/nihilism_root_modern_age.htm

Christ light

Ode, a poem by Joseph Addison.

”The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heav’ns, a shining frame,
Their great original proclaim:
Th’ unwearied Sun, from day to day,
Does his Creator’s power display,
And publishes to every land
The work of an Almighty Hand.

Soon as the evening shades prevail,
The Moon takes up the wondrous tale,
And nightly to the list’ning Earth
Repeats the story of her birth:
Whilst all the stars that round her burn,
And all the planets, in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.

What though, in solemn silence, all
Move round the dark terrestrial ball?
What though nor real voice nor sound
Amid their radiant orbs be found?
In Reason’s ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice,
For ever singing, as they shine,
‘The Hand that made us is Divine.”

 

jaxa-moon Japanese photos 2008

Truth is revealed and revealing.

http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2018/07/fact-or-opinion-curriculum-false-dichotomy-matthew-dantuono.html

This article links neatly to what Fr Schall is writing about in his piece on Ideology. If we accept the false dichotomy of fact-opinion and similar modern shibboleths then we put ourselves at danger of ideological entrapment.

https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2018/06/19/on-ideology/

“Why bring up any reconsideration of ideology? The world that most people now live in is an ideological world. It is a world whose limits and configuration are assembled from their desires of what they would like to be, not to *what* is.”

TruthShallMakeYouFree1

Saints and resisting the state

http://incommunion.org/2018/04/17/shimon-bar-sabbae-patron-saint-of-tax-resistance/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5HAUxxMsx4

Memory Eternal!

 

http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2017/10/conservatism-seek-destroy-state-alexander-salter.html

”…We must also, however, consider the poverty that relates to power and means; I shall speak of this as political poverty. I am referring to those who lack the means of intervening with the authorities, those who lack influence, those whom the administration thinks of as the “vulgar herd,” the people who do not share in any decision-making and on whom the laws are simply imposed. I am referring to those whose only weapon is that laughable one of the ballot they cast from time to time, and who are deprived even of this since they must follow a political party if they want their “voice” to count; if they do not line up with a party, their “voice” is useless, lost, the more so as they express a more reflective and noteworthy view of their own. The man who is politically poor has no choice but to lose himself completely in the anonymity of the crowd if he wants his vote to have any chance of changing anything. Only two courses are open to him. His voice can remain his own, expressing his real sufferings, his own experience, his personal passion, but then it will not be heard; it will be useless, lost. Or he may lend his voice to a mass organization that is made up precisely of many abandoned voices; then a change can be effected but the voice of the person who contributed to form the crowd is lost (as an individual reality) just as much as before”.

–Jacques Ellul, The Betrayal of The West, page 91

 

http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2014/03/libertarians-and-religion.html

YHWH and techne

https://youtu.be/aRf4267mnGk

And not a very good one!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeEWPbTad_Q

Bleak and not entirely wrong. I just don’t think it’s as intentional today. The most dangerous people are the true believers in the cause because the cause is malevolently wrong.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGkymdspups

”One and God make a majority.” -Frederick Douglass

 

Time is such a mystery. http://churchlife.nd.edu/…/07/04/the-sacramentality-of-time/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVtZox4LBOI&t=11s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DNNHO6U40M

Dr Evgeny Lampert and Fr Schmemann are must-reads on this.

 

http://churchlife.nd.edu/2018/04/10/the-liturgical-critique-of-technological-culture/

http://churchlife.nd.edu/…/byung-chul-han-and-the-subversi…/

This is a fine article by Wyllie. Han’s terms, such as ‘neoliberal’ and ‘violence’ only confuse matters and are best substituted for Biblical categories. Kierkegaard provides voluminous depth and can help us get back on track. Fr Alexander Men is a similarly gifted guide along the Christian way.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/…/the-prophetic-hou…/

”…from Louis Betty’s terrific study of Houellebecq as diagnostician of the maladies of the post-Christian, post-religious West. Here is Prof. Betty:

”However, the causality I propose, which does justice to the totality of the Houllebecquian worldview, is one in which materialism – conceived of as a generalized belief in matter, which in its political manifestations contributes to the rise of ideologies as diverse as communism, fascism, and liberalism – represents the true menace to human relationships and sexuality in Houellebecq’s novels. From this point of view, the gradual erosion of the theological conception of the human being, which began with the scientific revolution and reached its apex in the twentieth century, has given rise to a social order in which the value of human life is restricted to the parameters of economic exchange – that is, the human being is understood in essentially economic terms. One’s attractiveness and even lovability are determined by indisputable criteria of market value, as if the human being were no different, in principle, from any other consumer product. The economic reduction of human value is fed by the materialism of modern science, which dismisses the possibility of free will and reduces the human being to a haphazard, fleeting collection of elementary particles. Humanism, which attempts to assign people rights in the absence of a deity capable of legitimating the moral order, does not stand a chance in these conditions.”

”The reason why it is not only permissible but advisable for us to ask God for 3-5 new families at both churches, a vocation to the diaconate, the game plan to meet the lonely, and the rest of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit is also captured by our Collect. For he who hears our prayers and knows the secrets of our heart set in order all things both in heaven and earth by his never-failing Providence. Our lives are always in his loving hands. Just as God has designed the laws of music so that beautiful and infinite harmonic combinations are possible, God has set the laws of creation so that the things of creation—“creatures” whether animate or inanimate—can participate in the activity of God (and this is really what the Ten Commandments are: laws of creation, laws of of creation in relationship with itself and with God) but even more so, be the means by which God’s will is known. God makes himself known through creatures.

This is the principle of “mediation,” that creatures mediate, or are a medium for, God’s salvific grace. We do not worship creatures, of course—we only worship God, and we shall have no other gods before him. But we do, and we should, not worship creatures, but venerate creatures. To venerate is to recognize the holiness of God’s presence in things. We do not worship Mary and the Saints, we venerate them because God is present in them in remarkable and even outrageous ways. In venerating Mary and the Saints, we worship God who was present in their lives, their words and deeds, and present in their sorrows and challenges.”

http://churchlife.nd.edu/2018/07/14/remembering-creation-through-the-saturday-sabbath/

http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/…/death-god-new-s…

This guy is a fine writer who excels in a number of areas, especially his main scientific realm. However, his views of Agape, Eros, etc are shallow and reflect the mistakes made by Lewis and Nygren.

http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/…/prisoners-scree…

…Imprisoned.

http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2018/07/right-idea-west-east-true-good-beautiful-george-stanciu.html

 

True Lew! Love your neighbour, clean your room… clean your house, tend your garden.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRiXwNHoFGM

Yes, Lew. Well said! ”Love your neighbour” presupposes having your own home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://tomwoods.com/ep-1158-women-vs-feminism-why-we-all-need-liberating-from-the-gender-wars/

https://tomwoods.com/ep-1164-cultural-marxism-and-the-frankfurt-school/

Woods you believe it!? Tom just keeps giving! This all helps add to my previous post on cultural marxism and add nuance.

Against Christianity and the disincarnate.

againstchristianity

Leithart’s always worthwhile. Even though this wasn’t his best work and it’s not up to the standard of a book like For The Life of The World (how many works are?) it can teach us some important points. Peter’s typological understanding of scripture and symbolism is brilliant and poses really interesting questions around sacraments. Baptism is one he looks at in the book
This is no ‘mere ritual’ cut off from it’s end but a partaking in the the thing symbolised. No less than true life!

Leithart’s insights here, like Schmemann’s, need to be heeded and improved upon if we are to make holy the life of this world.

The last chapter’s argument that ‘pacifist’ Christians such as Yoder are basically a mirror image of one-dimensional ‘Constantinians’, with a bit more nuance, could go a long way.

A similar argument to this and Fr Schmemann’s description of Byzantium in Orthodoxy and The West could rightfully undermine the squishy pacifism which is fashionable amongst many Christian Theologians today. This ideology is, I suspect, more an idealistic idea drawn from ‘Christianity’ and political liberalism than genuine Christian faith.

It seems to require a shady re-reading of the Old Testament and skewering of The New Testament to create a hippy-dippy Jesus and non-judgemental Father. See Greg Boyd for a clear example of this at work.

Regrettably, many Eastern Christians today also try to root this in the early Church but this is often noticeably anachronistic and commonly no more than confirmation bias, based on the wrong biases of course… A kind of reading into ‘the fathers’ what we want; likewise in the form of eisegesis when we’re referring to scripture. There are many sensible Orthodox Christians on the more traditional side however.

Even if the early fathers, in some combination, were like Hauerwas then they need to be corrected. By Scripture and the growing body of Christ. The lack of skin in the game and disincarnate nature of their speculations, influenced by Plotinus, Aristotle, etc malevolently took them away from the Biblical view. The reaction to the strict Greek-Biblical distinction of smoe Theologians doesn’t mean that they weren’t at least partially corrected. This is a problem for Eastern Christians today who feel the need to sacralise ‘The Fathers’ in idolising fashion. The sacralising of time and space- the ‘east’ and ‘ancient church’. This is not Orthodoxy or the fullness of The Catholic Faith, which is a growing body.

In the west, the Just War tradition developed through a real world application of The Gospel. Incarnate and non-idealist, in the sense that Fr McGuckin, DB Hart and co miss when they speak of ‘intrinsic evil’ in relation to violence. The failure to appreciate any redemptive ‘violence’ or self defense could lead us into a time of disaster and attempts to place an area of the world beyond God’s redemptive power. Does this have no redemptive end in God? The God who killed first borns of the Egyptians, etc in the Old Testament. (Although, the differences between the Perfect God and His actions, and ours should be obvious. Yet might not the Church reflect a Holy ‘violence’ like this?)

Daniel M Bell Jr and Tremper Longman are two worthwhile authors on this, following on from Aquinas, C.S Lewis and co. Their work is at least worth considering!

Taleb, the treasure. Skin in the game.

Nassim is a man of many worthwhile talents and offers a refreshing way of looking at the world. His respect for skin in the game, more, soul in the game is appropriately Incarnational and depressingly rare, even amongst Christian Theologians who write for their own clique as much as other members of the intelligentsia. Vis a vis Nassim, it is no surprise given his vibrant Orthodox Faith and respect for living, breathing men and women, their interactions and history. One of his favourite books is Dr Norman Russell’s work on Deification and he heartily recommends it. I recommend similarly Taleb’s work- particularly The Incerto.

Taleb_mug

http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/

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