Saturday, March 29, 2014

"Like precious oil running down on Aaron's beard, down on the collar of his robes"


Russian priests are the ones that seem closest in appearance to the patriarchs who served the temple altar of ancient Israel.

In the fullness of time, the modern world will witness the churchmen of the East -- acquiescing to the commands of the Holy Spirit -- accept the proffered hand of their Western counterparts. And the latter will acquire a depth and a seriousness of manly purpose that they lacked.


By becoming the actors of history that the King of Eternal Glory intended, the sons of Adam will truly show (in the words of Saint Peter) that they are "partakers of divine nature."


Sacred Scripture "cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet"

In Miss Stowe's 1852 classic, Tom is being driven in a wagon to be re-sold at auction. The slave trader is congratulating himself on his merciful nature in limiting the fetters to Tom's feet.

"As to Tom, he was thinking over some words of an unfashionable old book, which kept running through his head, again and again, as follows: 'We have here no continuing city, but we seek one to come; wherefore God himself is not ashamed to be called our God; for he hath prepared for us a city.'  These words of an ancient volume, got up principally by 'ignorant and unlearned men,' have, through all time, kept up, somehow, a strange sort of power over the minds of poor, simple fellows like Tom. They stir up the soul from its depths, and rouse, as with trumpet call, courage, energy, and enthusiasm, where before was only the blackness of despair."

UPDATE:  Corrie ten Boom was a survivor of Ravensbruck -- a German concentration camp north of Berlin. Her sister, Betsie, died there in 1944. (Another woman who lived to tell of her experience at Ravensbruck was Fiorello LaGuardia's sister Gemma).

Corrie ten Boom writes:
"As for us, from morning until lights-out, whenever we were not in ranks for roll call, our Bible was the center of an ever-widening circle of help and hope. Like waifs clustered around a blazing fire, we gathered about it, holding out our hearts to its warmth and light. The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the word of God... 'Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.'
"... It was not a wish. It was a fact. We knew it, we experienced it minute by minute -- poor, hated, hungry... Not 'we shall be.' We are! Life in Ravensbruck took place on two separate levels, mutually impossible. One, the observable, external life, grew every day more horrible. The other, the life we lived with God, grew daily better, truth upon truth, glory upon glory.
"Sometimes I would slip the Bible from its little sack with hands that shook, so mysterious had it become to me. It was new; it had just been written. I marveled sometimes that the ink was dry."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

RUSSIA, CRIMEA, AND THE U.S. -- Dithering à la Hamlet while declaiming like Lear

With this map from the 'Washington Post' anchoring us, it's time to decide which experts have best cut to the quick regarding how Americans should view the developments in Ukraine.

Dmitri Simes provides a good perspective on the U.S. government's response to the crisis: speaking loudly and carrying a small stick.

The best five-minute explanation of the ramifications is given here by Professor Stephen Cohen.

Check out these maps at CNN.

And David Brooks, pulled by a troika of Russian philosophers from a century ago, sets forth some of the ideas now animating the new Russia.

"The world is even smaller today, though… across the gulfs and barriers that now divide us, we must remember that there are no permanent enemies. Hostility today is a fact, but it is not a ruling law. The supreme reality of our time is our indivisibility as children of God..."
  (President Kennedy during his visit to Ireland)