Socrates and Jesus had a few things in common. For instance, they were both storytellers. Let us listen in on this tale that Socrates tells in his dialogue with the youth Phaedrus:
"It is easier to be enthusiastic about Humanity with a capital 'H' than it is to love individual men and women especially those who uninteresting, exasperating, depraved, or otherwise unattractive. Loving everybody in general may be an excuse loving no one in particular." – John Stott, commenting on 1st John 3:17
At the mall, you pass the window display of the Gap and see they have “classic khakis” on display. The model wearing the classic khakis has a classic look, as well— a young Steinbeck mustache, shock of curly hair towards his forehead, pomade. The last pair of pants you’ll ever need. This is written in the window display. What if this is true? you wonder. You have always reckoned yourself a classic person, though you give yourself a once over and you don’t look particularly classic today. Busted running shoes. Cargo shorts. You look like an idiot, actually.
Journalist: “What are your thoughts on Hell?”
G.K. Chesterton: “I regard it as a thing to be avoided.”
One of the most obvious benefits of reading Dante’s Inferno is that it provides a vivid reminder that sin destroys and heaps horrific consequences upon the sinner. Temptation, by definition, entices one because of the apparent pleasure that the sinful act will bring, but Dante cuts through such transitory appearances, directing us to the frightening aftermath.
Paolo & Francesca
During the night I tweaked my back a little, so when I woke up this morning I was particularly stiff and out of line. To loosen it a little, I went out for a short walk.
The high will be 63, so the air carried that early morning anticipation that fills a spring dawn. Carolina blue was developed for today. March birds were tweeting each other and squirrels were laughing at each other.
The Meno by Plato begins with the direct and forthright question, "Can virtue be taught?"
It ends with the conclusion, stated by Socrates, that it is a gift from the gods. Which, if he is right, is a wise thing to say. And if he just spent a whole dialogue guiding Meno to that conclusion, then he has just led him along the path to wisdom.
Not that Meno has arrived (or that Socrates thought he had), but that he has progressed. He has, if he has a willing soul, moved in the direction of becoming wiser.
When Dietrich Bonheoffer spoke at the 1934 ecumenical conference in Fano, Denmark he sent many of the delegates reeling. The Nazis had only been in control for one year, but Bonhoeffer was absolutely prescient in his understanding of what would come to pass in the near future if Christians did not take a stand against the National Socialist Church in Germany. He exhorted the Christians present at the conference: “It must be made quite clear—terrifying though it is—that we are immediately faced with the decision: National Socialist or Christian” (Metaxas, 234).
The Necessity for Irony
by Eavan Boland
when the rain held off,
after lunch or later,
I would go with my twelve year old
daughter into town,
and put down the time
at junk sales, antique fairs.
It is unfortunate, but when people wish to have a picnic today, they seldom choose a cemetery. Assuming there are still some who believe in the salutary nature of picnics anymore, most people have in mind different settings than a sepulcher. Instead, most of us imagine eating camembert and drinking tannic red wine in some pastoral scene from a Dutch master, a verdant hillock descending to a field where peasants are mowing barley in the foreground, children with paper boats navigating the shoals of mild rivulets nearby.
Auden's Prospero speaks of Long Ago
when he prepares to leave Ariel,
But it turns out he can't mean more than twelve years ago.
That's not long ago.
Once upon a time we were born
But that was yesterday, not long ago.
The Great War in France seems like long ago
but only briefly.
Then you realize we fought there -
On the Marne, wasn't it?
Thomas Aquinas and Dante - that was pretty long ago
But not long ago.
We had some good arguments there too.