Friday, August 26, 2005

"Love is clutched at in preference to the laborious process of changing from within."
Karen Horney.

I think this may be one of the most common faults of youth. We fail in relationships, sometimes over and over again, but instead of looking within and confronting our faults, we "fall in love" again, caught up in the universal acceptance that comes with a romantic flurry.
"We learn our virtues from the friends who love us, our faults from the enemy who hates us.
We can not easily discover our real character from a friend, He is a mirror, on which the warmth of our breath impedes the clearness of the reflection." Jean Paul Richter
"The greatest object in the universe, says a certain philosopher, is a good man struggling with adversity"; yet there is still a greater,
which is the good man that comes to relieve it. Oliver Goldsmith

I think the best word picture I ever saw of this is in the movie "Bear" where the huge male grizzly comes to the rescue of the cub assaulted by a cougar.

Drunk with Fancy and mad with opinion

Every man who, by his opinion, is engaged against authority, should do well to study his doubtful opinion less, and humility and obedience more. But you say, that this concerns not me; for my disagreeing is not in a doubtful matter, but I am sure I am in the right; there are no ifs and ands in my case. Well, it may be so; but were it not better that you did doubt? “ A wise man feareth,” saith Solomon,
“ And departeth from evil; but a fool rageth and is confident:” and the difference between a learned man and a novice is this, that the young fellow crieth out,
“I am sure it is so;” the better learned answers “Possibly it may, and peradventure it is so, but I pray inquire:” “He is the best judge that conjectures the best,” not he that is most confident; for as Xenophanes said wisely, “ Man does but conjecture, but God only knows.” It is no disparagement to a wise man to learn, and, by suspecting the fallibility of things, and his own aptness to mistake,-- to walk prudently and safely, with an eye to God, and an ear open to his superior. Some men are drunk with fancy, and mad with opinion. Who believes more strongly than boys? Who are so hard to be persuaded as fools? And who so readily suspect their teachers as they who are governed by chance, and know not the intrinsic measures of good and evil. “It is a little learning and not enough, that makes men conclude hastily.” And clap fast hold on the conclusion, before they have well weighed the premises; but experience and humility would teach us modesty and fear.” Jeremy Taylor

I like this piece because I see so much of myself in it, especially when I was young. Not that I don't fall prey to "drunken fancy and mad opinions" still. But with age and being the fool one to many times, I have learned to slow it down a bit and listen more.

Illiterate Phantasms

"There is in every righteous person, a new vital principle; the Spirit of grace is the Spirit of wisdom, and teaches us by secret inspirations, by proper arguments, by actual persuasions, by personal applications, by effects and energies; and as the soul of a man is the cause of all his vital operations, so is the Spirit of God the life of that life, and the cause of all actions and productions spiritual: and the consequences of this is what St. John tells us of, “Ye have received the unction from above, and that anointing teacheth you all things:” All things of some one kind; that is, certainly—all things that pertain to life and godliness; all that by which a man is wise and happy…..
Without this principle, divers fanatics, some among us, misunderstanding, look for new revelations, and expect to be conducted by ecstasy, and will not pray but in a transfiguration, and live upon raptures and extravagant expectations, and separate themselves, from the conversations of men, by affections, by new measures and singularities, and destroy order, and despise government, and live upon illiterate phantasms and ignorant discourses." Jeremy Taylor

I like this piece because of the balance I get from it. The first part speaks to the moving of the Holy Spirit by His "secret inspirations, proper arguments, (He deals with the issues of highest priority and speaks clearly) actual persuasions, and personal application", and wraps it up in highly motivating "energies". But when I was a young Christian I was easily misled sometimes by "new revelations"wraped in clouds and high level spirituality by those that presented themselves as dining on raptures and ecstasy. Now those that know me know I am open to and greedy for, the wonders of God and His mystical ways. That being said, had it not been for bread and butter teachings I should have long since been lost in a sea of confusion.
"If sin hath gotten the power of any one of us, consider in what degree the sin hath prevailed;
if but a little, the battle will be more easy, and the victory more certain; but then be sure to do it thoroughly, because there is not much to be done; but if sin hath prevailed greatly, then indeed you have very much to do; therefore begin betimes, and defer not this work, till old age shall make it extremely difficult, or death shall make it impossible."
Jeremy Taylor

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Charity, admits no excess but error.

We are all familiar with the passage where Jesus tells the disciples to sell all that they have and give to the poor. I like the following interpretation by Bacon....
"Sell all that thou hast, and give it to the poor, and follow me"--- that is, sell not all thou hast, except thou come and follow me-- that is, except thou have a vocation wherein thou mayest do as much good with little means as with great-- for otherwise, in feeding the streams, thou driest the fountains.

Comments on " charity, admits no excess but error" by Whately.

Bacon is speaking here of what is now called benevolence and his remark is very just, that it admits of no excess in quantity, though it may be misdirected and erroneous. For if your liberality be such as to reduce your family to poverty, or-- like the killing of the hen that laid golden eggs-- such as to put it out of your power hereafter to be liberal at all; or if it be bestowed on the undeserving; this is rather to be accounted an unwise and misdirected benevolence than an excess of it in quantity.....
For there can be no doubt that careless, indiscriminate alms-giving does far more harm than good; since it encourages idleness and improvidence, and also imposture. If you give freely to ragged and filthy street beggars, you are in fact hiring people to dress themselves in filthy rags, and go about begging with fictitious tales of distress. If, on the contrary, you carefully inquire for, and relieve, honest and industrious persons who have fallen into distress through unavoidable misfortune, you are not only doing good to those objects, but also holding out an encouragement generally to honest industry.
You may, however, meet with persons who say, "as long as it is my intention to relieve real distress, my charity is equally virtuous, though the tale told me may be a false one. The imposter alone is to be blamed who told it to me; I acted on what he said; and if that is untrue, the fault is his and not mine."
Now, this is a fair plea, if any one is deceived after making a careful inquiry; but if he has not taken the trouble to do this, regarding it as no concern of his, you might ask him how he would act and judge in a case where he is thoroughly in earnest , that is, where his own interest is concerned. Suppose he employed a steward or other agent to buy for him a house, or a horse, or any other article, and this agent paid an exorbitant price for what was really worth little or nothing, giving just the same kind of excuse for allowing his employer to be thus cheated; saying,
'I made no careful inquiries, but took the seller's word; and his being a liar and a cheat, is his fault, and not mine;' the employer would doubtless reply, 'the seller indeed is to be condemned for cheating; but so are you, for your carelessness of my interests. His being greatly in fault does not clear you; and your merely intending to do what was right, is no excuse for your not taking pains to gain right information.'

I like and agree with what is being said here, but there are times when careful inquiry is impossible and in those circumstances I react on emotion, a tugging, a judgment or some other difficult to describe feeling.

Atheists, ever handling holy things, but without feelings....