Do “people in general” actually exist? In Book XIV, chapter 2 of the City of God, Augustine discusses “the carnal life” and mentions, on one extreme end, the Epicureans, who believes man’s chief good is found in his body, and, on the other extreme end, the Stoics, who place man’s chief good in the spirit. However, between these two extremes, Augustine mentions, “people in general, who are not attached to any philosophical doctrine, who hold no sort of theory, but, [have] a natural propensity toward sensuality...”
Like Matthew, John begins his gospel at the beginning. Matthew’s gospel opens with the genealogy or the “genesis” of Jesus Christ and John opens with an even more direct reference to Genesis – “In the beginning…” John then adds that the Word was the Creator. The Word “was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (1:1-5).
Christ is the New Creation, the One in whom all things are made new. Verse 4 echoes this – “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
If the wages of sin is death, why do forgiven people still die? Augustine does not say, “Because even forgiven people are still guilty.” Rather, Augustine suggests death looms for the forgiven man so that he may gain in righteousness.
In my previous post, I discussed the Great Dance as a concept and as a repeated literary element. This cosmic choreography is at the heart of the order in creation and begins to convey the beautiful complexity of number in relationship moving in space and time (the totality of the Quadrivium). Before we tackle some of the applications of the Dance, we need to first consider what is means for us to be a part of the Dance—in humility and submission.
When Darcy appears, girls swoon; and when Jane Austen speaks, they listen. Countless TV adaptations and spin-offs have helped establish her as an authority on all things love and romance, even (or especially) amongst teenage females—an astonishing feat for an eighteenth-century spinster in the age of Gilmore Girls.
But, while many count Austen an authority on relationships, few view her as an apologist for classical education. Yet this she indeed is—albeit with her quintessential subtlety and wit.
“Good Christians disagree about this issue” is a diplomatic claim frequently on the lips of those involved in ecumenical projects. Good Christians disagree about the Eucharist. Good Christians disagree about icons. Good Christians disagree about the Bible, about faith, about good works.
In 1939, Marjorie Rawlings helped a whole nation of readers imagine that they were young country boys just coming of age. Her Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Yearling told the story of Jody Baxter, whose family ekes out a living in the central Florida scrubland of the late 19th century. Jody’s loss of innocence and search for friendship gave America a glimpse of its own struggle to survive the Great Depression and find fellowship in the midst of suffering. It resonates today with the same power, regardless of our country’s changing circumstances.
Among the tales of The Silmarillion, The Children of Húrin is one of a few that feature mankind as the central characters. Like the epics of old, it begins with a great battle, one full of both hope and despair. The sons of men and kingdoms of elves suffer great loss of life and land as the battle slowly works against them. Before Húrin is captured by Morgoth, the fallen Valar or Tolkien’s Satan, Húrin’s faith is ever strong:
In John 20, Mary Magdalene goes to Jesus’ tomb twice. The first time, she goes to anoint the body of Jesus (Mark 16:1), only to find the stone rolled back. Assuming that the enemies of Jesus had moved the body as one last insult, Mary ran to find the disciples, bringing Peter and John back with her.
“Easter lasts for fifty days?”
“Yes. We fast for forty days and feast for fifty.”
“That means we can have soda and pop music for fifty days, right?”
“Um, no. Not at all.”
“It’s not much of a feast if everything just goes back to normal.”