For those of us on the “Western” calendar, the Lenten season has passed. We are now in the joyful throes of Easter, to be followed shortly by our Orthodox friends.
Recently, in the children’s catechism class at church, we reviewed the story of the Flood, Noah, and the ark. And, in the course of reviewing that story with them, I reread Genesis 6-9 and, in doing so, noticed something that should have been clear before. Hear Genesis 9:12-16:
Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Or, is there an objective nature to beauty that transcends the opinions, tastes, and preferences of the individual?
In The Supper of the Lamb, Robert Farrar Capon splits the difference between subjectivism and strict objectivism, made possible by the amateur, the lover. The amateur "thinks heedlessness a sin and boredom a heresy." It is the amateur who looks upon the things at hand so lovingly that he finds beauty, sometimes breathtaking beauty, in them.
Robert Farrar Capon's "cookbook" The Supper of the Lamb rested on my "to read" list for an embarrassingly long time. Embarrassing because, now that I have begun reading it, I feel foolish for having not begun it years ago.
The Episcopalian priest/chef combines recipes, cooking insights, and beautiful pastoral wisdom into one work that defies big box bookstore categories (the very mention of which dates me, I know).
As I read through, I will pass along thoughts and passages that refuse to leave me in peace. Here's one from the opening pages:
Thanksgiving Day joins together friends and family to feast, laugh, and reflect upon the innumerable blessings God has granted each of us (including the ones gathered around the table). And, while Thanksgiving has sadly morphed into “Turkey Day” for many – a day to eat too much, watch football games they don’t care much about, and plan Black Friday shopping – the act of giving thanks is important.
My family and I just enjoyed a week on Cherry Grove beach in South Carolina. A November beach trip means deserted beaches and a far more relaxed tone to an otherwise hectic touristy area. We took a riverboat ride down the Intercoastal Waterway, learning about erosion between cheesy live renditions of Jimmy Buffett songs (which should never be played in sub-70 degree weather).
In Poetic Diction, Owen Barfield wrote, “If we trace the meanings of a great many words – or those of the elements of which they are composed – about as far back as etymology can take us, we are at once made to realize that an overwhelming proportion, if not all, of them referred in earlier days to one of these two things – a solid, sensible object, or some animal (probably human) activity. Examples abound on every page of the dictionary.”
My family and I recently moved from a suburban neighborhood, near every convenience, to a small, out-of-the-way town. Our friends and family were encouraging, but we got more than a few “you're moving where?” reactions. We are not in the middle of nowhere, but it feels like it - a feeling intensified by the numerous cotton fields, tractors used as transportation, shotguns sold at yard sales, signs advertising deer corn for sale, and slow drivers (even the ones not driving tractors).
Only the Gospel of John records Jesus’ meeting with the woman at the well. Only John records Jesus’ declaration of Himself as “the living water.” Only John tells of the miracle at Cana – the turning of water into wine, an echo of baptism and the communion feast. Only John mentions Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, in which He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” And John’s is the only Gospel to record this detail of Christ’s crucifixion.
In Matthew 5:6, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” In the previous Beatitudes, Jesus spoke of those who are “poor in spirit” (verse 3), those who “mourn” (verse 4), and those who are “meek” (verse 5), those who are "hungry and thirsty" (verse 6); none of which carry the appearance of righteousness or strength. Those who are blessed by God are those who are needy and know it.