Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Study in Acute Impracticality

So my Mom and I have this argument. She says all these books are making me impractical. I didn't agree until this happened:

Me: Hi mom!
Mom: Hi son!
Me: I need to mail a letter. Where does the stamp go?
Mom: Gives me the you-had-better-hope-that-you-didn't-just-say-what
-say-then-you'll-be-sorry-you-ever-said-it look.
Me: Uh....does it go here? *sheepish/sheepish/sheepish* *finger hovers over the left side of letter*
Mom: *Flames shooting out of her eyes and steam coming out of nostrils* [in a very elegant sort of way, of course]
Me: Here!....No, Here.....wait, wait, wait Here! AhhhhhHhhh!! *Runs away*

A bit dramatized but it's official. I am an impractical little boy. =P

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Stupid, stupid, stupid...ARRGGGG!!! (me)

Today I had the privilege of spending a couple hours with a few of my friends.....

And I think I blew it.

Don't get me wrong! My friends are some of the most excellent and beautiful people I know and the afternoon was wonderfully sweet but my realization is this: a diet of Oreos is going to make a person sick.

It's because they are so excellent and beautiful that I feel so terrible at having let such an opportunity go to naught.

If you're confused, that's okay, I was too. As I was leaving my friends this afternoon, I experienced a sinking/guilty feeling like I had just forgotten something, and I had. I had forgotten that Torrey and Wheastone aren't any good if they are not lived. I had the privilege of spending an afternoon with four Christian friends who cared about the pursuit of Goodness, Truth, and Beauty and all I could do was say the equivalent of, "I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me,". I had a great time, but think of all the joy that I missed by not engaging in the dialectic.

Now the last thing I want to do is to offend anyone. I'm not saying that conversational dessert has no place in our lives. I am saying that dessert is just that. Dessert. One cannot be healthy on chocolate cake. Each thing must have its rightful place.

Perhaps this is what it means to feel, "the weight of glory". This sense of urgency, "The West is falling!". And Eliot's, "Ridiculous the waste sad time Stretching before and after." There is such a thing as a sin of omission.

But I don't despair. =] My friends and (more importantly) my God blaze with such glory that to miss seeing God's face would truly take willful rejection. However, I have learned a little of what it means to "apply what I've learned" so to speak.

"The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour's glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you say it now, you would be stronly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously - no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner - no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat - the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden."
-C.S. Lewis "The Weight of Glory"

Forgive me dear friends.

Lord have mercy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Steinways, Steiner, Esolen, Plato, Dante, and Phillipians

How are they all connected? Well they've all been in my day today!

Annabelle is getting a lovely tune up. =] Is exceptionally beautiful. And there was nothing wrong with the action, it was just that my bench was not at the right height and distance and I was killing my wrist trying to play with bad posture. James is getting tuned too. =]

It's funny how things connect because I'm going for my second time through Divine Commedy, this time with Esolen as my guide and translator. And his introduction starts right off with the Phaedrus!!! I was pretty much ecstatic for an hour before I could calm down enough to read on! =] What are the chances that Phaedrus was the Wheatstone text and that Esolen had it in mind when he wrote his intro back in 2001? God is good is he not? And the thing is that Esolen thinks Dante totally agrees with Plato's view of the goal of human life. You shall have to read the intro to Inferno or ask me about it in person, its too amazing for a post!!!

Okay and George Steiner who was this amazingly smart person. And I'm reading through his book Errata and I came across this amazing passage:

"I define a 'classic,' in literature, in music, in the arts, in philosophic argument, as a signifying form which 'reads' us. It reads us more than we read (listen to, perceive) it. There is nothing paradoxical, let alone mystical, in this definition. Each time we engage with it, the classic will question us. It will challenge our resources of consciousness and intellet, of mind and body (so much of primary aesthetic and even intellectual response is bodily). The classic will ask of us: 'have you understood?'; 'have you re-imagined responsibly?'; 'are you prepared to act upon the questions, upon the potentialities of transformed, enriched being which I have posed?'"

-George Steiner, Errata

And Phillipians is quickly becoming a favorite of mine because its just so Jolly. In fact, I was just telling a friend how it may be one of the most Jolly books, if not the Jolliest in the Bible. =]

Okay, stop reading bad grammarful ramble and go read something great!

Happy Summering!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Week in Pictures Part 1

Flickr is an exceedingly wonderful tool. But it doesn't let you upload more than 100mb a month. So this is all I was able to get on before I got cut off. =[


Check back at the end of the month for the rest of them. =]

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Wheatstone 2008

Okay, so, best place I know of to find a well written post on what Wheatstone is, right here:

Is checkity. =]

As for personal reflections:

My mentor for this week brought up a relevant and scary point. Being a "wheatstone" type person or even a "torrey" ish (meaning lover of books and ideas and great music and great art, etc.) is still not enough. There is even perhaps a greater danger to this. The fact is that Gammaliel (Paul's teacher) was among the best of the best and yet he still missed Jesus when He came. The officers of the Nazi Party listened to Schubert! Christ could be right in front of me and I could very easily miss Him! Western Civilization is on a knife's edge and Western Culture is dying. Lord have mercy.

On the bright side though, there is the example of Paul and Nicodemus, of the woman who washed Jesus' feet with priceless perfume and, ultimately, Christ Himself who promised us all things if we would abide in Him.

Now I'm beginning to see just how blind I am! Expanding our capacity for Happiness in Heaven through art and literature and ideas are all necessary, but they are worthless if one does not live a life worthy of them. They are useless if I find Dante yet miss Christ.

Two things to do to remedy:
1) Deepen Devotions. Start reading through Bible intensively with good commentaries (Calvin's commentary on Romans). And extend devotions to at least an hour a day.

2) Community, community, community. Torrey seems like a good example. Generally speaking, find Christians who are serious (and therefore most happy) about their faith and who love the God and strive to integrate the life of the mind, the sentiments and the acts of apostleship. (Head, heart, hand).

Of course we can never plan our way out of this. But Christ in us, the hope of Glory.

I can't really describe an experience like Wheatstone (because there's just so much it is impossible to distill it except to go there!), but I can say that it changes lives. It changed mine. Lord, I can't do it, but if You live in me, all things are truly possible.

Another life changing thought:

Each and every person is made in the image of God. In Plato's Phaedrus (our text for the week) there is this one part where Socrates becomes ecstatic after hearing Phaedrus read Lysias' speech (don't worry too much if it's not too clear what I just wrote) basically, it isn't the speech that propels him into such rapture, but the vision of the Beautiful which Socrates is able to see in Phaedrus. By not assigning Phaedrus' intrinsic worth to what he says (which is proven to be stupid shortly afterward) and seeing in Phaedrus' soul a vision and reminder of True Beauty, Socrates is reminded of (in the Christian sense) the Face of God. We too must do this. This is the secret to Loving one another. Even in the worst of sinners there is such Beauty and Goodness and Truth that if we could but see we would be tempted to worship. Lord, strengthen my vision that I might see Your face.

And I end this jumbled and confusing post with two refreshingly clear and lucid quote:

" abide in Christ is to renounce any independent life or our own, to give up trying to think our thoughts, or form our resolutions, or cultivate our feelings, and simply and contantly look to Christ to think His thoughts in us, to form His purposes in us, to feel His emotions and affections in us. It is to renounce all life independent of Christ and constantly to look to Him for the inflow of His life into us, and the outworking of His life through us. When we do this, and insofar as we do this, our prayers will obtain that which we seek from God."

-Ruben Archer Torrey, 'How to Pray'

"O dear [Heavenly Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] and all the other gods of this place, grant that I may be beautiful inside. Let all my external possessions be in friendly harmony with what is within. May I consider the wise man rich. As for gold, let me have as much as a moderate man could bear and carry with him."

-Socrates' prayer, 'Phaedrus' (Bracket's mine)

Further up and further in!