"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

22 February 2009

More Neuhaus

Some quotations from Chapter 1 of Death on a Friday Afternoon, which will have to stand on their own. They are making me think, but not necessarily coherently enough to articulate anything worth adding to them.

On our tending to ignore Good Friday (and indeed all suffering) and "hurry on" to Easter (and any good news that sets aside pain): "But we will not know what to do with Easter's light if we shun the friendship of the darkness that is wisdom's way to light."

On our sin: "This is the awful truth: that we made necessary the baby crying in the cradle to become the derelict crying from the cross" (emphasis added).

On forgiveness: "Love does not say to the beloved that it [the beloved's sin] does not matter, for the beloved matters."

On sin and our identity: "Our lives are measured by who we are created and called to be, and the measuring is done by the One who creates and calls. [. . .] The judgment that matters is the judgment of God, who alone judges justly. In the cross we see the rendering of the verdict on the gravity of our sin. [. . .] None of our sins are small or of little account. To belittle our sins is to belittle ourselves, to belittle who it is that God creates and calls us to be." This called to mind Pauline in Descent into Hell: her terrible fear of her doppleganger, whom she believes to be some harbinger of evil, yet is in reality that astoundingly glorious being that God had intended her to be -- and only in learning to see and acknowledge her sins, and then to lean, to trust, and to sacrificially love others, is she at last able to see that glory and embrace it as her own created identity.

A bit further, Neuhaus writes of being our brother's keeper: "[W]e know we are [our brother's keeper]. We don't know what to do about it, but we know that if we lose our hold on that impossible truth, we have lost everything." As, indeed, Wentworth does in his demand to be enough in and for himself: to hell with the rest of the world, he says -- and yet he is the one descending into that terrible place of judgment.

And finally for today, on the cross: "The perfect self-surrender of the cross is, from eternity and to eternity, at the heart of what it means to say that God is love."
All praise to Him.

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