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Robert Lewis Dabney: “This is a party which never conserves anything”

12 December 2017

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“It may be inferred again that the present movement for women’s rights will certainly prevail from the history of its only opponent: Northern conservatism. This is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. . . . Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth, and has no idea of being guilty of the folly of martyrdom. It always when about to enter a protest very blandly informs the wild beast whose path it essays to stop, that its “bark is worse than its bite,” and that it only means to save its manners by enacting its decent role of resistance: The only practical purpose which it now serves in American politics is to give enough exercise to Radicalism to keep it “in wind,” and to prevent its becoming pursy and lazy, from having nothing to whip. No doubt, after a few years, when women’s suffrage shall have become an accomplished fact, conservatism will tacitly admit it into its creed, and thenceforward plume itself upon its wise firmness in opposing with similar weapons the extreme of baby suffrage; and when that too shall have been won, it will be heard declaring that the integrity of the American Constitution requires at least the refusal of suffrage to asses. There it will assume, with great dignity, its final position.”

Robert Lewis Dabney, 1897

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Isaac of Syria: “In love did He bring the world into existence”

11 December 2017

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“In love did He bring the world into existence; in love does He guide it during this its temporal existence; in love is He going to bring it to that wondrous transformed state, and in love will the world be swallowed up in the great mystery of Him who has performed all these things; in love will the whole course of the governance of creation be finally comprised. And since in the New World the Creator’s love rules over all rational nature, the wonder at His mysteries that will be revealed then will captivate to itself the intellect of all rational beings whom He has created so that they might have delight in Him, whether they be evil or whether they be just.”

St. Isaac of Syria

We are made for much better, called to be something very much better.

10 December 2017

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Popular entertainment has a way of both reflecting and reinforcing a society’s values, as the public, quite literally, buy it because they value it. By looking at popular entertainment one can see how American society has changed dramatically with respect to manners and social discourse in a short period of time. The polite society reflected in television shows of the 1950s and early 1960s, think of “Leave it to Beaver,” is gone. Those old sitcoms have been replaced today by gaudy reality programs that showcase domestic and social interactions driven by narcissism, factionalism, and selfishness.

One program reflective of the whole ugly reality show genre was the show “The Weakest Link.” For a short time more than a decade ago it was very popular. The presumption that we’d all enjoy watching the host be so mean to the contestants was troubling. The first host, Anne Robinson, it seems, was made for the job. She got to say what the producers apparently thought all of us would like to say if we were not so inhibited by good manners and common decency. For Anne Robinson, and others, pointing out that someone else is the weakest link, and why they are the weakest link, is telling the truth the way we’d all like to tell it.

I wonder if that’s true. I suppose there is a part of all of us that does somehow feel superior, if we can point out the inferiority of others. Yet, for as much as that might be something of a natural inclination in me, or in you, I think that we are made for much better, called to be something very much better.

The practice of mercy, as well as charity and justice, is a sign of a true follower of Christ. Simply reciting the creeds is not enough to make one truly a Christian. What you believe to be true is important, but not singular. Being a faithful member of Christ’s church also involves some action. Action with motives aimed at obedience to God, and at treating our neighbors with the wondrous respect due their creation in the very image of Almighty God.

The church father, Justin, in his First Apology said this, “When we are together we remind one another of these things, and help all who suffer want as best we can, and keep together in harmony.”

In a world where road rage, and air rage, and all kinds of other rage, have become common place. Where bad manners and “in your face” have become the attitudes of the “successful” people, Christians are meant to hold to a different standard. We are citizens of heaven, and members of the household of God. We remember and celebrate the fact that you are to be not the weakest link, but in fact a link to all that is good, and righteous, and holy.

We do not need more spoiled children in the world, demanding their own way, and disrespecting one another. We need more women and men who look and act like they are adopted children of God. If you continue to listen to the voice of the Lord, you will have the strength to live as you ought, to live out your call to be a light in this world, to be goodness and love in the flesh, to be holy and godlike, the strong link to God that we all need.

Justin Martyr: “do not imagine that they are Christians”

9 December 2017

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“For I choose to follow not men or men’s doctrines, but God and the doctrines [delivered] by Him. For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians”

Justin Martyr

Isaac the Syrian: “If you cannot be merciful …”

9 December 2017

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“If you cannot be merciful, at least speak as though you are a sinner. If you are not a peacemaker, at least do not be a troublemaker. If you cannot be assiduous, at least in your thought be like a sluggard. If you are not victorious, do not exalt yourself over the vanquished. If you cannot close the mouth of a man who disparages his companion, at least refrain from joining him in this.”

St. Isaac the Syrian

Gregory of Nyssa: “our goal transcends all knowledge”

8 December 2017

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“The soul leaves all surface appearances, not only those that can be grasped by the senses but also those which the mind itself seems to see, and it keeps going deeper until by the operation of the spirit it penetrates the invisible and incomprehensible, and it is there that it sees God. The true vision and the true knowledge of what we seek consists precisely in not seeing, in an awareness that our goal transcends all knowledge.”

St. Gregory of Nyssa

Alexander Schmemann: “We live in the era of ideologies”

7 December 2017

Alexander Schmemann

 

“The Fifth Beatitude that was spoken in the Sermon on the Mount is, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy (Matt. 5:7). It is possible that no other commandment of Christ is needed more in our epoch than this commandment of mercy, of charity.
We live in the era of ideologies which in their attempt to be all-encompassing exist in continuous strife, and this strife fills the world with fear and hatred. We live in a world where mercy and charity are exiled, and that that is perhaps the most frightening thing about it, the sign of its dehumanization.

How often it is told about Christ in the Gospels that He had compassion on them, that He was merciful to them!”

Fr. Alexander Schmemann