- Wearing a wedding dress to a battlefield—the summary of American Christendom.
- A new world with the same sins following.
- “New soil! Any need of that old Vine?”
- Christendom: trying new hats, headless. The Church: never apart from Christ, not for a moment.
- Being penetrated versus comprehending. Truth versus the lie. Revelation versus Gnosticism. Humility versus hubris. Victory versus vanity. Rest versus “rage, rage.”
- All things for Christ or some things for Christendom. Absolute conflict.
- Bitterness of soul arises from words, seeming too sharp for speech, that ferment in the mute dark. Would speech be the uncorking that releases thoughts to the open air and sweetens their effect? What if they are indeed poison—a cure for the speaker to pour yet new bitterness for the hearer to drink? Is there no one who can drink this cup to the dregs and still live?
- In “getting things off the chest,” one lays burdens on others. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ teaches that one must not seek healing at the expense of another, for one already has healing at the expense of this man who endured all burdens beyond death. Has he been crucified in vain? Has he overcome death without effect? One must confess without oppressing—that is, confess to this Wonderful Counselor who can bear and has already borne all burdens.
- Bitterness of soul arises in the absence of confession. The Father unwounded hears and in the wounding of his Son heals.
As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
—Jesus, Matthew 13.22 (English Standard Version)
Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
—James 2.6-7 (ESV)
But the rich man—not to make any invidious comparison—is always sold to the institution which makes him rich.
—Henry David Thoreau, “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience”
- A μαθητής is a learner. The fanciness of the word disciple, the favored translation, obscures the simplicity of μαθητής, makes a humble way of life into an elite title. But splitting hairs over words—learner versus disciple—is not upbuilding in this case. Of importance, rather, is calling attention to the concept’s progressiveness: Christ sent out the Eleven to make his people into learners, who are continually and progressively learning through his word, but not to make them into the learned, who have comprehended the great mysteries and forgotten why they first endeavored. Christ’s learner is not someone accomplished; his only accomplishment is his beginning, and even that was done by the Teacher’s power.
- If you choose to call yourself a “disciple of Christ,” be aware that you are currently and actively under discipline, being disciplined. Not a champion, you have the humble position of an athlete-in-training. Not an expert, you have the humble position of sitting at the feet of wisdom. Not a master of the house, you have the humble position of a sojourner on the way to a home in the great palace of the King.
unus ille in mortuis liber, potestatem habens ponendi animam suam et potestatem habens iterum sumendi eam, pro nobis tibi victor et victima, et ideo victor, quia victima, pro nobis tibi sacerdos et sacrificium, et ideo sacerdos, quia sacrificium, faciens tibi nos de servis filios de te nascendo, tibi serviendo.
Among the dead he [Jesus] alone is free, having the power of laying down his life and having the power of taking it up again. For you [God], on our behalf, he is victor and victim, and therefore the victor because the victim; for you, on our behalf, he is priest and sacrifice, and therefore the priest because the sacrifice; for you, he makes us from slaves into children by being begotten of you yet becoming your slave.
—Augustine, Confessions X.XLIII
I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day.
What hours, O what black hours we have spent
This night! what sights you, heart, saw; ways you went!
And more must, in yet longer light’s delay.
With witness I speak this. But where I say
Hours I mean years, mean life. And my lament
Is cries countless, cries like dead letters sent
To dearest him that lives alas! away.
I am gall, I am heartburn. God’s most deep decree
Bitter would have me taste: my taste was me;
Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse.
Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see
The lost are like this, and their scourge to be
As I am mine, their sweating selves; but worse.
—Gerard Manley Hopkins
The uses of first-personal discourse are many and powerful. But the intentional abstention from it has a remarkable effect. A speaker may choose to become less a person and more a relation between the content and the audience. The audience can be weaned from the distraction of the speaker’s charm, his existence, in order to look more single-mindedly at the content. Now, the audience will often be tempted to ask for credentials and to infer the speaker’s biographical details, but along with the speaker’s consistent refusal to involve himself will come the audience’s fuller understanding of the content and its worth.
Such a speaker who disappears, who ceases to exist as a person and thereby prevents a cult of personality, who becomes a relation between worthy content and the audience—is he not the greatest of human teachers? This teacher says, in his final iteration of the first-person, “I must decrease, so that this worthy content may increase.”
Yet if the speaker himself were the content—worthy content—and if the speaker should still avoid first-personal discourse to become a relation between this self-content and the audience, then this speaker would be more than a teacher. He being full would empty himself, would pour himself out to the audience, as if to offer his own flesh for food and blood for drink. And if he should afterwards choose to use the first-person, it would have a genuine authority. The audience, maybe now more properly called “disciples,” would then have an opportunity to apprehend the content, the speaker, in a direct and absolute relation that goes far beyond merely reporting what one has seen and what one has heard.