The leadership that was offered the dark people [the Russian people] at this moment came for the most part from a group of men and women who had long been isolated from practical life--they had spent there days in remote Siberian villages or, in the words of Pyotr Ryss, in attics on the side streets of Paris, New York, Brussels, or Geneva. For years they had been occupied with thought, with theory, with plans and fantasies dominated by Russian maximilism, denying a life based on moral principle. They were, Ryss believed, cold and endlessly logical in their own terms. They hated the Government of Russia. They hated the alien cities and villages in which they had been compelled to live. They were accustomed to living within themselves, without discipline, seeing life in the narrow terms of their own reading. The theories which they conceived were new to them but often old, already tried in the outer world. And each of these individuals had his own theory, his own secret for saving humanity. Only give him the opportunity and he would save the world and make people happy.Oh, and I had to listen to Shostakovich's 11th while I was writing this.
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Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Oh, How I Love Cheeses
My titular inspiration is Joel Garver's recent blog post. I couldn't stop laughing. Then I began to think of all the great cheese-lover hymns that are waiting to be written. "I need thee, precious cheeses" or "Cheeses, thou joy of hungry hearts" or "Cheeses, wherever thy people eat" or after reading Joel's comments: "More about cheeses would I know."
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N. T. Wright on the Heart
How many times have I heard N.T. Wright criticized for not being concerned about individual salvation? More than I can remember. Because he normally comes at the question of the individual's proper relationship with God from the perspective of the individual's place within a community, he has been accused of only being interested in the social dimensions of the Gospel. I've never discerned this problem in my reading of Wright. But he himself I suppose has heard it enough that he needed to respond to it in a recent convocation address at Gordon College. The entire address deserves your attention, but this paragraph in particular is worth quoting:
The second thing I want to say about the heart is to reject and refute the suggestion that is made from time to time that those of us who try to tease out the meaning of the gospel, not least Paul's gospel, for the church and society have left behind, or are regarding as irrelevant, the call to every individual man, woman and child to respond to the grace of God in the depths of their hearts. There are, of course, some who have tried to do that: some who have used, for instance, the New Perspective on Paul as a way of saying that Paul was `really' interested in the coming together of Jews and Greeks rather than the healing of the human heart, and some who have used the Fresh Perspective on Paul as a way of saying that Paul was really a politician and therefore not a theologian or pastor. That has never been my view, and I have tried to learn from both the New and the Fresh perspectives without following them into the sterile Enlightenment either/or that both still embody. In the same way, there are some who, following the low-church appropriation of romanticism, have imagined that all outward actions, for instance in liturgy, must of necessity be irrelevant or even dangerous to the true spirituality. That springs from and sustains an already disintegrated worldview, and to point this out, though no doubt unpopular, is in no way to downgrade the place of the heart, but rather to insist that healthy human hearts belong within active human bodies. The heart, and its redemption and renewal, remains central to a genuine biblical soteriology and spirituality. Loving God with the heart is the true response to the unmerited and boundless love of God, of God's own heart; this response is itself, as Paul insists, the result of the Spirit pouring it out into our heart. When we understand this more fully we will see the way to a true integration.