Epistemologically, Micah breaks from the fixed world of tightly controlled memos. In their place he offers poetry. For those who live best in a world of memos which control, poetry does not seem very efficient. But that, of course, is the point. Justice will not come in a society that is excessively efficient, so that even the mode of knowing offers a challenge.
The Lord’s Prayer (standardised West Saxon literary dialect)
Fæder ūre þū þe eart on heofonum,
Sī þīn nama ġehālgod.
Tōbecume þīn rīċe,
ġewurþe þīn willa, on eorðan swā swā on heofonum.
Ūre ġedæġhwāmlīcan hlāf syle ūs tō dæġ,
and forġyf ūs ūre gyltas, swā swā wē forġyfað ūrum gyltendum.
And ne ġelǣd þū ūs on costnunge, ac ālȳs ūs of yfele.
When handwriting matters
I attended a lecture by Ewan Clayton last week. A calligrapher who’s been on a fascinating journey; growing-up in a community of craftspeople originally founded by Eric Gill, studying calligraphy then living as a Benedictine monk for a number of years. After leaving the Monastery he began long term consultancy relationship with Xerox, (having never operated a computer before) to help them navigate their new strategic direction as a “document company” in Palo Alto. He was recently awarded an MBE.
Ewan argued that writing will always have key role in communicating and notemaking. At a time when some schools have stopped teaching joined-up or cursive writing, in favour of typing skills, the point was made that regardless of evolving tools and technology, be it moveable type in the 16th Century or iPad keyboards today, handwriting will always remain as an instant medium to compose our thoughts and to augment other forms of mark making communication. There is no choice to be made between these mediums: we can have it all.
Above is a selection of Ewan’s outstanding calligraphy work from A Book of Hours for the Vernal Equinox, the Crafts Study Centre and Practising Contentment exhibition.
Erik Nitsche, design for book binding of the series New illustrated library of science and invention, 1963. Source
Source: Flickr / nevolution
Man Is What He Eats
“Suppose we have reached at least one of these practical goals, have ‘won’—then what? The question may seem a naive one, but one cannot really act without knowing the meaning not only of action, but of the life itself in the name of which one acts. One eats and drinks, one fights for freedom and justice in order to be alive, to have the fullness of life. But what is it? What is the life of life itself? Wht is the content of life eternal? At some ultimate point, within some ultimate analysis, we inescapably discover that in and by itself action has no meaning. When all committees have fulfilled their task, all papers have been distributed and all practical goals achieved, there must come a perfect joy. About what? Unless we know, the same dichotomy between religion and life, which we have observed in the spiritual solution, remains. Whether we ‘spiritualize’ our life or ‘secularize’ our religion, whether we invite men to a spiritual banquet or simply join them at the secular one, the real life of the world, for which we are told God gave his only-begotten Son, remains hopelessly beyond our religious grasp. …
‘Man is what he eats.’ But what does he eat and why? These questions seem naive and irrelevant not only to Feuerbach. They seemed even more irrelevant to his religious opponents. To them, as to him, eating was a material function, and the only important question was whether in addition to it man possessed a spiritual ‘superstructure.’ Religion said yes. Feuerbach said no. But both answers were given within the same fundamental opposition of the spiritual to the material. …
But the Bible, we have seen, also begins with man as a hungry being, with the man who is that which he eats. The perspective, however, is wholly different, for nowhere in the Bible do we find the dichotomies which for us are the self-evident framework of all approaches to religion. In the Bible the food that man eats, the world of which he must partake in order to life, is given to him by God, and it is given as communion with God. The world as man’s food is not something ‘material’ and limited to material functions, thus different from, and opposed to, the specifically ‘spiritual’ functions by which man is related to God. All that exists is God’s gift to man, and it all exists to make God known to man, to make man’s life communion with God. It is divine love made food, made life for man. God blesses everything He creates, and, in biblical language, this means that He makes all creation the sign and means of his presence and wisdom, love and revelation: ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good.’’
[Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World, 13–14]
A homily delivered at the National Shrine for the 41st March for Life
People sometimes ask me if we can be optimistic, as believers, about the future of our country. My answer is always the same. Optimism and pessimism are equally dangerous for Christians because both God and the devil are full of surprises. But the virtue of hope is another matter. The Church tells us we must live in hope, and hope is a very different creature from optimism. The great French Catholic writer Georges Bernanos defined hope as “despair overcome.” Hope is the conviction that the sovereignty, the beauty, and the glory of God remain despite all of our weaknesses and all of our failures. Hope is the grace to trust that God is who he claims to be, and that in serving him, we do something fertile and precious for the renewal of the world.
Our lives matter to the degree that we give them away to serve God and to help other people. Our lives matter not because of who we are. They matter because of who God is. His mercy, his justice, his love—these are the things that move the galaxies and reach into the womb to touch the unborn child with the grandeur of being human. And we become more human ourselves by seeing the humanity in the poor, the weak, and the unborn child and then fighting for it.
“What anthropology, neurobiology, and common sense teach us is that it’s difficult to penetrate to the sense of things without taking them in hand. …It is not through representations of things but by manipulating them that we know the world. To say it another way, what is at the heart of human experience is our individual agency: our capacity to act on the world and to judge the effects of our action….But the organization of work and our consumerist culture increasingly deprive us of this experience. American schools, beginning in the 1990s, dismantled shop classes–which for me had been the most intellectually stimulating classes—in favor of introductory computer classes, thus fostering the idea that the world had become a kind of scrim of information over which it was sufficient to glide. But in fact dealing with the world this way makes it opaque and mysterious, because the surface experience doesn’t require our intervention but instead cultivates our passivity and dependence. That has political consequences. If you don’t feel you can have a real effect on the world, then you don’t believe you have any real responsibility for it. I believe that the depoliticization we are witnessing in the modern world comes from this sense of a lack of agency. The financial crisis is another alarming symptom of the problem: A trader makes a choice that will have an effect in three years and thousands of miles away. The consequences of his action are a matter of indifference to him. By contrast, repairing a motorcycle doesn’t allow you to have that kind of detachment. If it doesn’t start, your failure jumps out at you and you know who is responsible. In teaching you that it is not easy to ignore consequences, manual work provides a kind of moral education which also benefits intellectual activity.”
Eila Hiltunen | Sibelius Monument - Detail, 1961 - 67 Helsinki.
Emil Kukkonen assistant-metalworker.
Material - Welding stainless steel. Weighs - 30 tons.
Structure - 10.5 (length) by 6.5 (depth) by 8.5 (height) metres.
The Foolishness of the Frailest
The last time I visited my grandmother in northeast Oklahoma, she did not know me. She did not recognize her great-grandsons, nor even her own son, my father. In her senility, she repeated herself many times, using the same handful of phrases and sentences throughout our 45 minutes together. We asked about her diet, about her foot, about her sleep. She looked out at us from her kind and sunken eyes, one lid drooping a bit just as my dad’s and my brother’s do.
We all giggled at the thing she said most, to me about my three young boys: “Those’re yer three million dollers.… These guys’re yer three million dollers.”
The last time my brother visited our Nanaw, the script was nearly identical. This time, she focus on him: “My oh my, you are such a handsome young man.… Such a handsome young man.”
And he is. And they are.
How silly we thought it all at the time, how “cute.” I am ashamed to admit that one of my first gut reactions was sadness. Sadness at how far she had fallen, sadness at how weak and fragile her mind was.
Thankfully, by God’s mercy, I hear those words differently now. They are the proclamation of God our loving Father in heaven, His smile upon us coming through the foolishness of the weakest, frailest, most “not” of the things that are not of my world. These were one more wonderful gift from our grandmother to us.
In Nanaw’s filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions, as one who is also despised and rejected by men with all her dependence and incapacity and shaking hands and incontinence, God graciously used words to say again what He’s been saying for so long: “I have made all of you Good; though it’s marred I can still see it—because the Suffering One has made it all new again.”
Who Jesus Indissolubly Is
“…the retention of conceptual language in giving an account of Jesus Christ is a conditio sine qua non for the rejection of subjectivism in Christology. Ontological concepts, above all, the concept of ‘substance,’ resist the debasement of Christology to spirituality and so function as an essential element of theological realism. Christology which does not spell out the ontological dimensions of the person of Jesus Christ in relation to God finds it very difficult to resist the pull of subjectivism and moralism, and quickly turns Jesus into a mythological condensation of the religious and ethical commitments of the believing self. The use of ontology is thus a way of ensuring that the identity of Jesus is not subject to the vagaries of religious use, and that what faith confesses is who Jesus indissolubly is.”
[John Webster, “Incarnation,” in Word and Church, 122–3]
Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes—
Some have got broken—and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
William Morris could do a book, y’all.
By request from our follower @cosmictypewriter! William Morris.
The tale of King Florus and the Fair Jehane / [Translated by William Morris from the French of the 13th century.] Hammersmith : Kelmscott Press, 1893.
Green morocco binding with ten gold filigree medallions with jewel centers of small amethysts and sapphires, gold filigree clasps with moonstones.