Friday, December 31, 2021
Where and what is the image of God?
Thought for the year
Little children, let’s not love with words or speech but with action and truth. This is how we will know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts in God’s presence. 1 John 3:17–19 CEB
A good thought to start the year. Love isn't a feeling; it's a verb.
See you next year!
Thursday, December 30, 2021
The starting point matters
Wednesday, December 29, 2021
But which god?
Tuesday, December 28, 2021
Monday, December 27, 2021
Others may counter: The belief that man may have a share in eternal life is not only beyond proof; it is even presumptuous. Who could seriously maintain that members of the human species, a class of mammals, will attain eternity? What image of humanity is presupposed by the belief in immortality?
Indeed, man's hope for eternal life presupposes that there is something about man that is worthy of eternity, that has some affinity to what is divine, that is made in the likeness of the divine.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 367
Thursday, December 23, 2021
What is death?
Death is grim, harsh, cruel, a source of inﬁnite grief. Our ﬁrst reaction is consternation. We are stunned and distraught. Slowly, our sense of dismay is followed by a sense of mystery. Suddenly a whole life has veiled itself in secrecy. Our speech stops, our understanding fails. In the presence of death there is only silence, and a sense of awe.
Is death nothing but an obliteration, an absolute negation? The view of death is affected by our understanding of life. If life is sensed as a surprise, as a gift, defying explanation, then death ceases to be a radical, absolute negation of what life stands for. For both life and death are aspects of a greater mystery, the mystery of being, the mystery of creation. Over and above the preciousness of particular existence stands the marvel of its being related to the infinite mystery of being or creation.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 366
Wednesday, December 22, 2021
The wonder of it all!
Tuesday, December 21, 2021
Worthy of adoration? Hardly!
Beyond the mystery is God.
The biblical man sees nature not in isolation but in relation to God. “At the beginning God created heaven and earth.” These few words set forth the contingency and absolute dependence of all of reality. What, then, is reality? To the Western man, it is a thing in itself; to the biblical man, it is a thing through God. Looking at a thing his eyes see not so much form, color, force, and motion as an act of God. It is a way of seeing which has fortunately not vanished from the world.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 361–62 (emphasis original)
Monday, December 20, 2021
Here and now
Saturday, December 18, 2021
Why do you brag about evil?
God’s faithful love lasts all day long.
2 Your tongue devises destruction:
it’s like a sharpened razor, causing deception.
3 You love evil more than good;
you love lying more than speaking what is right. Selah
4 You love all destructive words;
you love the deceiving tongue.
5 But God will take you down permanently;
he will snatch you up,
tear you out of your tent,
and uproot you from the land of the living! Selah
6 The righteous will see and be in awe;
they will laugh at those people:
7 “Look at them! They didn’t make God their refuge.
Instead, they trusted in their own great wealth.
They sought refuge in it—to their own destruction!” Ps 52 (CEB)
Let the reader understand!
Friday, December 17, 2021
The world and what we see
Thursday, December 16, 2021
Power, Loveliness, or Grandeur. Which will it be?
Signiﬁcantly, the theme of biblical poetry is not the charm or beauty of nature; it is the sublime aspect of nature which is constantly referred to.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 355–56 (emphasis original)
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
Let's put first things first for a change
Thus the issue which must be discussed ﬁrst is not belief, ritual, or the religious experience but the source of these phenomena: the total situation of man; not what or how he experiences the supernatural, but why he experiences and accepts it. What necessitates religion in my life and yours.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 354
Tuesday, December 14, 2021
To dream in league with God
I've spent a good deal of time in this essay; I've probably posted two-thirds or more of it online. I hope it moved you as much as it has me. In my opinion, this essay shows Heschel at his best. He exemplifies the deep yearning of humanity for intimacy with God, yet he also reflects the hesitancy we feel to approach the throne of grace.
Because he wasn't a Christian, he didn't have the same assurances that Christians have, but I daresay he knew God better than most Christians do! We have the assurance that we can "boldly approach the throne of grace," as Hebrews puts it. Yet, we rarely do it. We're too enamored by the mere triffles of living in the twenty-first century post-modern, social media-saturated, materialistic (in the metaphysical as well as physical senses) world. We are practicing atheists.
May we repent and believe the good news of God's presence before it is too late!
Monday, December 13, 2021
What is prayer? (part 2)
Friday, December 10, 2021
What is prayer?
Thursday, December 09, 2021
The dignity of humanity
Wednesday, December 08, 2021
The folly of life
In keeping with yesterday's comment about why we don't pray, Heschel addresses it today. And truly, we have bartered our lives away for mere bobbles and trifles. Believing the lie that material wealth is a satisfactory substitute for spiritual wealth. Yet, God still calls us to participate in a life full of meaning when lived with him. Indeed, "Everyday things become sacred when prayed for to God."
Tuesday, December 07, 2021
Loneliness that leads to prayer
He sure pegged modern society, didn't he? We're surrounded by social media, yet we have a flood of loneliness and depression. But we won't turn to God in prayer. Why? Pride? Ignorance? Sense of unworthiness?
Yet, if we cast aside all those, we find that God welcomes us with open arms. That's Good News!
Monday, December 06, 2021
Saturday, December 04, 2021
Theologians in the modern period have fussed at length about the justification of their commitments. Hence, the long sections on divine revelation and authority of scripture that detain them at the beginning. As a result, God can become sidelined. We are so preoccupied with knowing how we know God that we cease to know God for ourselves.YMMV on the rest of the essay; it is interesting, but something I have to admit I'm not terribly interested in right now...
Friday, December 03, 2021
The form matters not
Thursday, December 02, 2021
In praise of liturgical prayers
Wednesday, December 01, 2021
Take the invitation
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
Strive for that one instant!
Friday, November 26, 2021
Thoughts on the "metaverse"
Here's a portion of the last couple of pages, which is loaded with good theology as a mother and son are faced with the collapse of everything they know:
They wept for humanity, those two, not for themselves. They could not bear that this should be the end. Ere silence was completed their hearts were opened, and they knew what had been important on the earth. Man, the flower of all flesh, the noblest of all creatures visible, man who had once made god in his image, and had mirrored his strength on the constellations, beautiful naked man was dying, strangled in the garments that he had woven. Century after century had he toiled, and here was his reward. Truly the garment had seemed heavenly at first, shot with colours of culture, sewn with the threads of self-denial. And heavenly it had been so long as it was a garment and no more, man could shed it at will and live by the essence that is his soul, and the essence, equally divine, that is his body. The sin against the body—it was for that they wept in chief; the centuries of wrong against the muscles and the nerves, and those five portals by which we can alone apprehend—glozing it over with talk of evolution, until the body was white pap, the home of ideas as colourless, last sloshy stirrings of a spirit that had grasped the stars.Dystopian? Yes, but with a nice snippet of hope in there, too. Read the whole thing to find the hope I'm talking about.
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
It might start there, but…
Monday, November 22, 2021
It's more than the will…
And that's why just saying "my thoughts and prayers are with you" falls short. That's the will to prayer, but not the actual substance. The actual substance is throwing the whole body, mind, and soul into it. And that can be hard at times. It's easier to go through the motions, but far less rewarding and satisfying, as tomorrow's excerpt will talk about.
Sunday, November 21, 2021
Persian Inscriptions: Abbreviations
Anyway, here's the basic rule: "The standard siglum for Old Persian royal inscriptions is by initial letter of the king’s name, letter for the location, and lowercase letter for the order of its discovery; thus, DNa stands for Darius (I), Naqš-ī Rustam, first inscription." (Political Memory in and after the Persian Empire, vii). While this is good information, is doesn't help much, does it?
But, Livius.org has a nice listing, which is the one I thought I had bookmarked.
Table of contents for copyediting stuff.
Friday, November 19, 2021
Prayer without works is…
Thursday, November 18, 2021
What's the purpose of prayer
Sorry for the hiatus; I'm a trifle busy right now and don't have a lot of time for leisurely reading. But, I decided to carve out a few minutes every day for Heschel.
While I might quibble with some of what he says here, I think that on the whole, he is correct. Prayer isn't about us! It's about God. I read somewhere the other day that Mother Theresa was once asked how she prayed. She replied, "I listen." The questioner then asked what God said. She replied, "He listens." After a pause, she continued, "And if you don't understand what that means, I can't explain it." Yep.
Thursday, November 11, 2021
The order of the elements in a bibliography
I asked a fellow copyeditor one time, and they replied that my question made their head swim! That was encouraging, because I thought I was alone in it.
In cases like that, I turn to the basics: CMS17 and SBLHS2. Being lazy, I perused all the examples—multiple times. I should have been rereading the text, because the answer was right in front of me, in SBLHS2 §6.1.1. Sequence of Information. Can't get much clearer than that, can it?
So, what is that sequence (remember, for bibliographies; footnotes play fast and loose with the page number location and only list all the authors/editors if they are 3 or fewer; otherwise, et al.)?
Author/Editor (last, first, Author2 [first last], Author3 [first last], etc.). "Title of article." Pages xx–xx in Title of book. Edited by Editor 1 (and Editor 2, etc.). Translated by Person. X ed. x vols. Series Name x/xx. City (State): Publisher, xxxx.If there is more than one publisher, then a semicolon separates them:
Fribourg; Presses Universitaires; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, xxxx.
Some are more complicated, but you get the idea. Perusing the examples with this as a foundation will hopefully keep you (and me) from getting too confused.
We're all libertarians now
Isn't it ironic that both left and right are claiming the same thing—but for different things?
The right claims "It's my body!" when they don't want to wear a mask or get a vaccine.
The left claims "It's my body!" when it comes to abortion rights.
But what if they are both wrong?
I know that's sounds like heresy in our culture, where individual rights are sacrosanct. But, think for a minute. What if the body politic has a say? What if we consider the common good for a minute?
When was the last time you heard someone talk about the common good?
Yep, we are all libertarians now...
Tuesday, November 09, 2021
Managing bibliographies, part 1
Bibliographies are the one area where the style guides diverge the most. For this post, I'm assuming SBLHS2, with the amendments from their blog as necessary.
For the example here, I am using a bibliography from a collection of essays, so the bibliography is only for one chapter. That both simplifies and complicates things, but the principles are the same.
I always start with the bibliography when I edit. It makes sense to get that checked and fixed first. Otherwise, if you edit the chapter first, any errors you find in the bibliography will need to be corrected on stuff you've already done. When you are paid by the page, which I usually am, that's costing you money—and causing more stress to hit the deadline.
Before I start, I create a separate file with the bibliography and name it Chapter# Working Bibliography, so in this example, the file is 20_Working_Bibliography.docx. For chapters below ten, I use a leading zero to keep them sorted properly, so 07_Working_Bibliography.docx, etc.
I check every bibliography entry for accuracy using WorldCat for books, and Google search for articles. When WorldCat results seem contradictory, I try to find the publisher's website. Whatever you do, don't rely on Amazon's listings; they are notoriously error-ridden, just ask any publisher!
For articles, a Google search will usually show you an academia.edu or some other web despository, which is really nice, because they usually have the original document. Barring that, another gold is a book reference. If the Google book reference disagrees with your entry, try a different book. In cases of disagreement, if I can't find the original, I go with the best two out of three or three out of four. If it is a mess everywhere, I put an author query on it for them to check.
The next problem is how to keep track of short forms and to prevent a full entry twice or only a short entry. And, most importantly, when an author has been referenced in the body text, so you don't use their first name twice. The following example is what works for me. Your mileage may vary! Note that for this bibliography, I had to create it from the footnotes, so their are no em-dashes for multiple entries of the same author. When I copy it into the chapter at the end, I fix that. But it is handy for creating a sorted combined bibliography (I'll talk about that in a future post—consistency in multiple author volumes is a big concern).
This is from chapter 20. The "20." at the beginning of an entry means it has been referenced once. The underlined portion means that it has been referenced by that short form later in the chapter. The asterisk means that they have been referenced by first name in the body text.
After editing the chapter, I always check to make sure everything in the bibliography has been referenced. Because there is the chapter number at the beginning of the entry, it is easy to scan down the page. I usually enter it as a search term to highlight it, making it easier to see.
If an entry doesn't have a number in front, I do a search on the chapter to confirm it is missing. If it is, I either mark it with a query, or if instructed by the publisher, delete it from the chapter bibliography. I always leave it in my working bibliography! Very few publishers allow uncited entries in the bibliography, but sometimes they will allow a "Related Works" or "Further Reading" section, which is why I keep the original intact. (It's also fun to see how much an author "pads" their bibliography—expecially if it is a revised dissertation. The highest percentage I've ever seen is 25 percent. Most come in around 2–3 percent.)
Here's the table of contents for all the copyediting stuff.
Tuesday, November 02, 2021
Musings on clicking through on a link
Anyway, that's not the point of this post; I might come back to that some other time. The point of this one is that the link didn't really say much of anything; it was more a glorified advertisement, with the whole thing building up to the products they were plugging at the end, and for which I'm sure they get a nice commission.
No surprises there; that's only too common these days. Gotta keep the lights (and servers) on somehow!
But how they did it was what I found interesting. First graphic: An older Asian couple sleeping in a bed. Second graphic: A thirty-something guy w/longish hair and the short, neatly trimmed beard that is stylish. Third graphic: A lesbian couple sleeping together. Fourth graphic: A thirty-something woman walking along a paved path with fall-colored leaves.
It was almost like they were keeping a checklist of things to cover. They know their main clientele will be somewhat "woke" middle-to-upper-middle class thirty-something, white people, so they want to cover the bases. I suspect the Asian couple was chosen instead of a POC couple to show they were against the anti-Asian attitudes that Covid caused to rise to the surface. The lesbian couple was to show that they are not homophobic. And we have to have the good-looking white guy and the woman walking outside to glue it together for their clientele.
Am I being overly cynical here? Maybe. But I doubt it. To paraphrase Jesus in John, "He didn't need anyone to tell him what goes on in a marketer's mind, for he knew." I've worked in marketing a long time. Rule one: Know your clientele. Rule two: Don't piss them off. Rule three: Show that you sympathize with their concerns (or at least pretend that you do!). Rule four: Get them to buy.
Sunday, October 31, 2021
Theology affects politics
“Rulers can be actively malevolent, but they can also simply be wrong. Our fallibility is part of our fallen nature.”No! No! No! A thousand times No! Fallibility is part of our createdness. We could be wrong without any fall (whatever that means). Being wrong simply means we aren’t omniscient! Now, add our sinful tendencies into that wrongness, and you have a problem. But, to assume that the wrongness in and of itself is sinful, well, that’s imputing to the other side guilt—and allowing you to feel you have the right to correct them mercilessly… Or at least that’s how I see it this Sunday morning.
Of course, I could be wrong, but if so, is that sinful? Or simply the result of being a created being? I say it is only sinful/fallen if I malevolently hang onto it in the face of evidence otherwise. Mark the word malevolently in bold in your mind.
Friday, October 29, 2021
Funny how that works, isn't it? We let go and cease striving, letting God do it and voila! It happens.
Scary and yet reassuring thought—at least to me. I like to have my ducks in a row, even though I know I can't get everything right. But when things go totally haywire, and in my despair cry out to God, suddenly things change. Maybe they don't get better the way I wanted them to be, but by crying out to God, I acknowledge my own limitedness and find release. I'm not God, and wasn't created to be God. I'm not supposed to bear all that strain. By acknowledging that, I release myself to him, and " pass over the gap with the lightness of a dream."
Wednesday, October 27, 2021
A shadow of a person
He missed a line: "And he blames God for it." Other than that, right on the money.
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
A career worth having!
Monday, October 25, 2021
Affliction and prayer
To a farmer about to prepare a seedbed, the prerequisite for his undertaking is not the accidental need of a crop. His need of food does not endow him with skill in cultivating the earth; it merely affords the stimulus and purpose for his undertaking. It is his knowledge, his possession of the idea of tillage, which enables him to raise crops. The same principle applies to prayer. The natural loyalty of living, fertilized by faith saved through a lifetime, is the soil on which prayer can grow. Laden with secret fertility, and patient discreetness concerning things to be and things forever unknown, the soil of the soul nourishes and holds the roots of prayer. But the soil by itself does not produce crops. There must also be the idea of prayer to make the soul yield its amazing fruit.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 344
Friday, October 22, 2021
It was a good, if dry, summer for gardens. The strawberries were small and few because of the heat and dryness, even though I watered them. But other than that, the rest of the garden has done well. I have three 50-gallon rain barrels, and I emptied them twice because of the drought. I even had to augment that with city water by filling one of the barrels twice. And when it did rain, it was sometimes too much—one week we received seven inches of rain in five days! Because I have raised beds, they were able to absorb it, but it sure made a mess elsewhere.
I haven't posted much on activities this summer, either because of laziness or being too busy doing other things. The truth is, blogging isn't the attraction to me it once was. Part of that is the community that blogging used to represent has moved to social media. That happened about eight to ten years ago, but I resisted. And part of it is that other things take up the time that I used to spend blogging.
Being a contract employee has its benefits, such as flexible hours. But it also has the downside of seeing too much of life as billable hours. Work tends to creep into every corner. After almost ten years of doing this, I'm still learning (or maybe not learning) to balance that. And the amount of time I don't spend reading nonbillable stuff or blogging is a direct reflection of that.
That being said, this summer did contain a couple of trips to see my parents. The first trip, Ryan (our son) and I intended to take my 89-year-old dad on a canoe ride down the Red Cedar River. I had called the outfitter a couple of weeks before, but the water was too low, but it had rained that week and the water level looked good. But once we got there, they had closed because the water was too high! So, instead, we talked and visited—and rescheduled.
The second trip, we managed to get the canoe ride in, going from Riverside Park in Menomonie to Downsville, but the water was definitely low. I had to get out a few times for a push-over, and Ryan had to get out once, but dad was able to stay in the whole time. And because the water was so low, we scraped more times than I would like to admit as an experienced canoeist. When we got to the end, the outfitter said that the water had dropped six inches since we had put in two and a half hours earlier. We wouldn't have been able to do it if we had delayed a day. But we had a grand time. The weather was beautiful and dad enjoyed it, as did Ryan and I!
Ryan and I had decided to turn the rest of the weekend into a bike trip, so from there we headed over to Eau Claire to ride the Chippewa Valley Trail down to Durand, stay the night, and then ride back up the Red Cedar Trail to Menomonie on Sunday. My parents would then shuttle us to where we left our cars (neither of us have a bike rack, or a car big enough for two bikes, a bike trailer, and gear).
That worked like a charm. The campground in Durand is very nice—and cheap! Only $5.00/night for a tent with no electrical hookup. It's right on the Chippewa Valley Trail. We had an issue with our gas stoves, but they worked enough to make supper. The next day, a surprise was to find that some friends of Ryan's were staying there, too, attending a wedding. They generously cooked our oatmeal for us. We had a good visit with them and then rode back to Menomonie and then home again.
Below are a few pictures.
These are from the garden
Thursday, October 21, 2021
Prayer, the essence of spiritual living
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Looking beyond the self
Prayer teaches us what to aspire for. So often we do not know what to cling to. Prayer implants in us the ideals we ought to cherish. Salvation, purity of mind and tongue, or willingness to help may hover as ideas before our mind, but the idea becomes a concern, something to long for, a goal to be reached, when we pray: “Guard my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking guile; and in the face of those who curse me, let my soul be silent.”—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 343
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
We need this ladder!
Monday, October 18, 2021
Nope, not even a guru or saint will do
Monday, October 11, 2021
Thoughts triggered by a review essay
I’m an idealist, somewhat tempered with age, but I suspect that with our society’s fixation on dollar-value, we will never, ever value knowledge at its true worth simply because we can’t monetize it.
We have billions, nay trillions of dollars to blow up the world, but we can’t spare a few million for education. We have endowments in the billions at universities, but university presses go hungry for funding and fold. Granted, not everything published is worth the paper it is printed on, but that is partially the result of the rewards system: publish or perish, which results in what they call baloney slicing the results: get as many articles out of an research project as you can. That, in turn, discourages synthesis, which we desperately need.
Eli Goldratt, back in 1990, published a book entitled The Haystack Syndrome, which argued we are drowning in data, but seriously short of knowledge. He offered some tools—very useful ones (systemically oriented) in a business setting—for extracting knowledge. The situation has only gotten worse. And very few people are fighting for a systemic look at things; that seems to be a business fad that died back in the early 2000s, sadly. Deming, with Total Quality Management, the Toyota Production System, Constraints Management (Goldratt), all fell before the push for the almighty penny of profit. Toyota pivoted from wanting to be the best car manufacturer to being the biggest; quality fell, but they are the biggest. Granted, their cars are still better than most, but that is probably just residual and the quality will continue to fall—tell me how you will reward me, and I’ll show you how I will perform. Reward profit, everything becomes subservient to it.
Friday, October 08, 2021
The way of escape
Trembling in the realization that we are a blend of modesty and insolence, of self-denial and bias, we beseech God for rescue, for help in the control of our thoughts, words, and deeds. We lay all our forces before Him. Prayer is arrival at the border. “The dominion is Thine. Take away from me all that may not enter Thy realm.”—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 342
Thursday, October 07, 2021
Gratefulness and the soul
Wednesday, October 06, 2021
Wasting our souls
Tuesday, October 05, 2021
Weighing friendship—and faith
Faith does not spring out of nothing. It comes with the discovery of the holy dimension of our existence. Suddenly we become aware that our lips touch the veil that hangs before the Holy of Holies. Our face is lit up for a time with the light from behind the Veil. Faith opens our hearts for the entrance of the holy. It is almost as though God were thinking for us.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 339
Monday, October 04, 2021
The perceivable and temporal we grasp with our reason, the sacred and everlasting we approach through faith. It belongs to the genius of man to believe, to look up to what transcends his faculty to know, to perceive the things in their relation to the ultimate, to the eternally valid. However, since there is no borderline that keeps apart the temporal from the everlasting, the scope of faith can hardly be circumscribed. 337
Friday, October 01, 2021
More than logic
We rarely manage to cross the gulf between heart’s believing and minds plain knowing. There is no common basis for comparing religion and science. It is impossible to render the visions of faith in terms of speculation, and its truth cannot be proved by logical arguments. Its certainty is intuitive, not speculative. Its apparent demonstration has often resulted in its frustration. Unlike knowledge, which is a quiet possession of the intellect, faith is an overwhelming force that enables man to perceive the reality of the transcendent. It is not only the assent to a proposition but the staking of the whole life on the truth of an invisible reality.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 336
Thursday, September 30, 2021
Thought for today
9 The Lord of heavenly forces proclaims:
Make just and faithful decisions; show kindness and compassion to each other! 10 Don’t oppress the widow, the orphan, the stranger, and the poor; don’t plan evil against each other! 11 But they refused to pay attention. They turned a cold shoulder and stopped listening.
12 They steeled their hearts against hearing the Instruction and the words that the Lord of heavenly forces sent by his spirit through the earlier prophets. As a result, the Lord of heavenly forces became enraged.
13 So just as he called and they didn’t listen, when they called, I didn’t listen, says the Lord of heavenly forces. 14 I scattered them throughout the nations whom they didn’t know. The land was devastated behind them, with no one leaving or returning. They turned a delightful land into a wasteland. Zech 7:8–14 (CEB)
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
A different fast
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Faith as humility
Monday, September 27, 2021
More than meets the brain!
Sunday, September 26, 2021
Thought for the day
Friday, September 24, 2021
That experience survives as a recollection of how we have once been blessed by the manifestation of divine presence in our life. The remembrance of that experience and the loyalty to the pledge given at that moment are the forces that sustain us in our faith. For the riches of a soul are stored up in its memory. This is the test of character, not whether a man follows the daily fashion, but whether the past is alive in his present. If we want to understand ourselves, to find out what is most precious in our lives, we should search into our memory.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 333
Thursday, September 23, 2021
Faith? Yes, but
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
But it requires vigilance…
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
The nature of faith
Friday, September 17, 2021
You can't miss it … if you are looking for it, that is
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Open yours eyes that you might see!
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
The course in which human life moves is, like the orbit of heavenly bodies, an ellipse, not a circle. We are attached to two centers: to the focus of our self and to the focus of what is beyond our self. Even the intelligence is driven by two forces—by a force that comes as an instinct from within and by a force that comes with ideals from without. The inner force generates the impulse to acquire, to enjoy, to possess; the outer force arouses an urge to respond, to yield, to give.
It seems as though we have arrived at a point in history, closest to instincts and remotest from ideals, where the self stands like a wall between God and man. It is the period of a divine eclipse. We sail the seas, we count the stars, we split the atom, but never ask: Is there nothing but a dead universe and our reckless curiosity?
Primitive man's humble ear was alert to the inwardness of the world, while the modern man is presumptuous enough to claim that he has the sole monopoly over soul and spirit, that he is the only thing alive in the universe. A little crust of bread holds so much of goodness, of secret harmony, of tacit submission to purpose. Why should our minds be crowded by so much deceit, folly, and supercilious vanity?—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 328–29
Monday, September 13, 2021
But do we learn?
The world that we have long considered to be ours has exploded in our hands, and a stream of guilt and misery has been unloosed, which leaves no conscience unblemished. Will this flood of wretchedness sweep away our monstrous conceit? Will we comprehend that the sense for the sacred is as vital to us as the light of the sun? The enjoyment of beauty, possession, and safety in civilized society depends on man's sense for the sacredness of life, on his reverence for this spark of light in the darkness of selﬁshness. Permit this spark to be quenched and the darkness falls upon us like thunder.
This was written in 1944. How much greater is its relevance now, with the world either burning in drought or drowning in hurricanes and floods—all because of the arrogance of humanity&or perhaps it would be better to say the arrogance of man, because in this case it usually is men. But be that as it may, we are most decidedly not the masters of our destiny. We play at being gods, but the wind that we have sown becomes a whirlwind that we are reaping now.
And it's not just in climate, either. We are reaping the whirlwind of the wind that we have sown in the political realm, in the social realm, and in the medical realm. All our utopias have been shown to be dystopias. And yet we resist turning to the source of life—God.
After all, acknowledging God might mean that we aren't gods and we aren't masters of our destiny. And he might require us to do something we don't want to do! As if we've done such a good job of things on our own!
But what if God isn't the ogre that you think he is? What if he is a forgiving parent? What if, instead of a rod, he has a banquet? What if...
Friday, September 10, 2021
We are prone to be impressed by the ostentatious, the obvious. The strident caterwaul of the animal ﬁlls the air, while the still, small voice of the spirit is heard only in the rare hours of prayer and devotion. From the streetcar window we may see the hunt for wealth and pleasure, the onslaught upon the weak, faces expressing suspicion or contempt. On the other hand, the holy lives only in the depths. What is noble retires from sight when exposed to light, humility is extinguished in the awareness of it, and the willingness for martyrdom rests in the secrecy of the things to be. Walking upon clay, we live in nature, surrendering to impulse and passion, to vanity and arrogance, while our eyes reach out to the lasting light of truth. We are subject to terrestrial gravitation, yet we are faced by God.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 323
Thursday, September 09, 2021
The very being of humanity
Man can know God only because God knows him. Our love of God is a scant reflection of God’s love for us. For every soul is a wave in the endless stream that flows out of the heart of God.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 322 (emphasis original)
Wednesday, September 08, 2021
I have news for you: It's not about you!
Religion in itself, the state which exists between God and man, is neither produced by man nor dependent upon his belief; it is neither a display of human spirit nor the outgrowth of his conscience. Religion exists even if it is in this moment not realized, perceived, or acknowledged by anybody, and those who reject or betray it do not diminish its validity. Religion is more than a creed or a doctrine, more than faith or piety; it is an everlasting fact in the universe, something that exists outside knowledge and experience, an order of being, the holy dimension of existence. It does not emanate from the affections and moods, aspirations and visions of the soul. It is not a divine force in us, a mere possibility, left to the initiative of man, something that may or may not take place, but an actuality, the inner constitution of the universe, the system of divine values involved in every being and exposed to the activity of man, the ultimate in our reality. As an absolute implication of being, as an ontological entity, not as an adorning veneer for a psychical wish or for a material want, religion cannot be totally described in psychological or sociological terms.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 322 (emphasis original)
Tuesday, September 07, 2021
It's all around you!
Monday, September 06, 2021
Hold it lightly
Friday, September 03, 2021
A sense of wonder
I just read the end of Job this morning. Heschel could be channeling God's speech from it here. I'm also reminded of Psalm 8:4:
what are human beingsor Psalm 19:
that you think about them;
what are human beings that you pay attention to them? (CEB)
Heaven is declaring God’s glory;Or. . . you get the idea. YHWH is truly marvelous and his ways beyond understanding. When we think of that, we can't help but stand—or kneel—in awe!
the sky is proclaiming his handiwork.
2 One day gushes the news to the next,
and one night informs another
what needs to be known.
3 Of course, there’s no speech, no words—
their voices can’t be heard—
4 but their soundk extends
throughout the world;
their words reach the ends
of the earth. (CEB)
Thursday, September 02, 2021
An amazing indictment of humanity, all the moreso because it was written in 1942! Long before any environmental movement, long before plastic became the ubiquitous problem it is today. Even back then he perceived the dangers inherent in the ruthless exploitation of the earth. Truly an amazing thinker!
Wednesday, September 01, 2021
Gratitude or glumness?
Tuesday, August 31, 2021
A different set of lenses
Monday, August 30, 2021
As in a mirror…
Friday, August 27, 2021
Don't do this! (editing)
The Latin abbreviation e.g. means "for example," after which two or more examples occur. Do not, I repeat, do not then end that listing with "etc." Etc. means "and the others," which is an example from the department of redundancy department. You already said you were listing a few/couple of examples!
End of screed. You may now return to your regularly scheduled writing...
For a complete list of editing posts, see here.
The presence of God, part 2
Thursday, August 26, 2021
The presence of God
Doesn't that thought thrill you? Even take your breath away? Have you ever experienced that kind of closeness to God? Don't you want to?
I have, and I do want it more. I want that to be my daily experience. To walk with God as Enoch did, as others throughout history have. That's why I'm drawn to the mystics; they experienced God and wrote about how it felt, how they obtained that closeness. Practice the Presence of God is one of my favorites, written by a friend of his because he was an illiterate dishwasher in a monastery. Overlooked by the powers of the day, the world has forgotten all of them, but the work of this lowly dishwasher continues to stir people 400 or so years later.