Three Turns of Thought. Of Bitterness. Of Oppression and Confession.

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. Bitterness of soul arises in the absence of confession. The Father unwounded hears and in the wounding of his Son heals.

Paired Passages. Of Holding Things in Common.

Circa 350 B.C.:

In the deviant constitutions, in the same way that what is just is of small extent, so too is the friendship; and it is least in the worst, since in a tyranny there is little or no friendship. For in those situations in which there is nothing shared by the ruler and the ruled, there is no friendship, since there is no justice either, as in a craftsman in relation to a tool or in a soul in relation to a body or in a master in relation to a slave; while all these things are helped by those who use them, there is no friendship toward things without souls, nor anything just. And neither is there toward a horse or a cow, nor toward a slave as a slave. For there is nothing in common, since the slave is an ensouled tool, as a tool is a soulless slave. Insofar, then, as he is a slave, there is no friendship toward him, though there is insofar as he is a human being, for there seems to be something just for every human being toward all those who are capable of sharing in law and contractual agreement, and so there is friendship too, to the extent he is a human being. So friendships and justice are of small extent in tyrannies, but in democracies they are of greater extent, since many things are common to people who are equal.

—Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics Book VIII, Chapter 12/1161 a30-b10
(Translated by Joe Sachs)

Circa 1900 A.D.:

It is hardly necessary for me to add very much in regard to the social contact between the races. Nothing has come to replace that finer sympathy and love between some masters and house servants which the radical and more uncompromising drawing of the color- line in recent years has caused almost completely to disappear. In a world where it means so much to take a man by the hand and sit beside him, to look frankly into his eyes and feel his heart beating with red blood; in a world where a social cigar or a cup of tea together means more than legislative halls and magazine articles and speeches,—one can imagine the consequences of the almost utter absence of such social amenities between estranged races, whose separation extends even to parks and streetcars.

—W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, Chapter IX

Five Related Thoughts. Of Education.

  1. It is possible to educate someone poorly, even wrongly. Look twice whenever one is heard declaring that “education” is a solution to a problem. Somewhere along the way, a different education occasioned the problem.
  2. The point is that education is an empty term, a container that is too broad to be filled. One sucks too much air out of it before getting to the good stuff.
  3. Another point is that ignorance is not the great evil. Those who do not know label as ignorance what others do not know. Ignorance, here, does not cause the problem but merely, ignorantly, gives its own name to the problem.
  4. Will education free the soul? Not if that education shackles the soul with worry, or with despair, or with a hope of finding the ultimate good through the purchased secret knowledge of its whereabouts.
  5. Will education deliver a man from poverty? Not if that education values itself in a dollar amount or a guarantee of monetary return. Not if that education glorifies privilege and belittles all else. Not if a central tenet of that education is: “Covet thy neighbor’s house.”

A Hymn. A Profession. “What Wondrous Love Is This.”

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.

To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing.
To God and to the Lamb who is the great I Am;
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing;
While millions join the theme, I will sing.

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on.
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on.

—Stith Mead

Wonder at the work of Christ transforms the consciousness of sin into the consciousness of forgiveness. Once mediated by or repeated through this wonder, our regret becomes joy. Eternity sees that it was joy the whole while—a joy not fully recognized till the tears of mortality are wiped from our eyes, and never fully expressed even in song everlasting.

Two Reflections on the Repetition of a Word. Of the Gospel or Good News.

  1. A good word that I spoke has been repeated to me, and it seems as if I had never said it, as if I have heard it now newly, freshly. This upbuilding word is the message of Christ’s blood covering our sins. And I am built up today. How humbling, too, to be made aware that this good word, even when I spoke it years ago, was not of me but for me! – There nothing in my best words that is mine; there is nothing about which I can boast, except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  2. Good news that I spoke years ago has rebounded to me. But why am I amazed that this good news is still good and still new? My sluggish heart prays, “Dissipe le sommeil d’une âme languissante qui la conduit à l’oubli de tes lois!”

Lyrics. Of Hope/Despair.

There’s green light in my eyes 
And my lover on my mind 
And I sing from the piano 
Tear my yellow dress and 
Cry and cry and cry 
’Cause you’re a hard soul to save
With an ocean in the way 
But I’ll get around it
I’ll get around it

Florence + the Machine, “Over the Love”

(The music is opening a connection between Fitzgerald and Kierkegaard that I did not before see.)