Saturday, January 26, 2008

A New Thought on Forgiveness

New to me, anyway. Last night I was pondering that old question: Are Christians obligated to forgive people who have wronged them but are unrepentant and have not sought forgiveness?

You probably know some of the arguments on both sides. On the one hand, Jesus asked the Father to forgive his murderers when they were unrepentant. Therefore, we have to follow Jesus' example and do so as well. On the other hand, we ask God to forgive us as we forgive our debtors, but God does not forgive us unless we do repent. Jesus' murderers were not cleansed of their sin unless they repented of it and sought forgiveness.

But here's a pretty simple argument on the "yes" side: Suppose that I wrong somebody, but I can't see that I have wronged him. Suppose that I listen to the complaint but just can't agree that I did wrong. But suppose I'm evaluating wrongly, and I did do wrong. Do I want the other fellow to forgive me even though I don't ask for it? You bet. Of course I do. So the Golden Rule says that I have to do the same for others.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The novels of Elizabeth Goudge

I have a post on her books over on What's Wrong With the World. I wouldn't dream of trying to recreate all the quotations and stuff here, but just in case anyone reads this blog who doesn't read that one, unlikely as that sounds, please do go and read it. I recommend her highly as a very enjoyable novelist who will surprise you from time to time, just when you thought you were merely reading a pleasant and mildly flowery story, with her hard-as-nails Christianity and her rather uncomfortable insight into human nature.

I forgot to mention there that Goudge is steeped in the liturgy of the Anglican Church and brings it up constantly. She is much attracted to Catholicism but was Anglican herself. Her father was Regius Professor of Theology at Oxford. She lived in several of the cities she writes about--Ely, Oxford, and Wells.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Never try to buffalo Buffalo buffalo

And now, for something completely different: Courtesy of the Lighten Up Brigade (aka my friend Eric V.), I give you the following grammatically correct English sentence:

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.
This is properly paraphrased as

Bison from the city of Buffalo who are bullied by other bison from the city of Buffalo in turn bully yet other bison from the city of Buffalo.
Mentally supplying the word 'whom' or 'that' between the second and third occurrences of 'buffalo' helps a lot. Yet the sentence is correct without that word, as when the word 'that' is left out of the phrase "games people play."

Now, didn't you always want to know that?

Crossposted at What's Wrong with the World

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Epiphany--The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles

The collect for the Feast of the Epiphany:

O God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only-begotten Son to the Gentiles; Mercifully grant that we, who know thee now by faith, may after this life have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead: through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
An interesting note on this collect concerns the Latin version from which it was translated. In the 1500’s,Thomas Cranmer translated most of the collect into English almost word for word as it appeared in Latin in the Roman Catholic liturgy. However, he altered the ending. Instead of referring to “the fruition of thy glorious Godhead,” the Latin collect asks “that we who know thee now by faith may be led to contemplate the sight of thy glorious Majesty.” This is less obscurely theological than Cranmer’s modification, it connects us directly with the Wise Men, and it contains the familiar and biblical (e.g., I Corinthians 13) contrast between faith and sight.

The similarities between the Latin collect and the Epiphany hymn “As With Gladness” are fairly noticeable, especially for the first verse and the final two verses:

As with gladness men of old
did the guiding star behold;
as with joy they hailed in light,
leading onward, beaming bright;
so, most gracious Lord, may we
evermore be led to thee.
Holy Jesus! every day
keep us in the narrow way;
and, when earthly things are past,
bring our ransomed souls at last
where they need no star to guide,
where no clouds thy glory hide.

In the heavenly country bright,
need they no created light;
thou its light, its joy, its crown,
thou its sun which goes not down;
there for ever may we sing
alleluias to our King.
This may of course be as much of a coincidence as something of the sort can be. The contrast between faith and sight is an ancient Christian theme, and the story of the Wise Men might naturally suggest it to different people’s minds—they followed a sign, but in heaven we will need no signs, as we will enjoy the beatific vision directly. But it is also an interesting possibility that William Chatterton Dix (author of the words to the hymn) may have been familiar with the Latin version of the collect.