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Tag: Quotes

Aelred Writes What He Can’t Read

Prologue

Some writers, past or present, have not found the subject matter they wanted to read and decided to write what they could not find. Aelred had read Cicero’s On Friendship, but could not find anything on Christian friendship. So he decided to write it himself.

The book is sectioned into three parts: Book One covers the theology of spiritual friendship, as discussed between Ivo and himself. He also lists two more worldly friendship types. Book Two and Book Three is another conversation between Aelred, Walter, and Gratian discussing practical points on forming and maintaining friendships.

Book One

Aelred doesn’t just jump into this theology, he sets the stage with how this conversation should be conducted between both parties.

He notices Ivo is silent in a group of talking monks and surmises that Ivo wants to talk privately. He tells Ivo he likes the fact that he is not an idle-talking monk, speaking only what is “useful and necessary.” For this reason, Aelred trusts Ivo to speak freely, knowing that time will not be wasted (on what I would call frou-frou). Aelred tells Ivo, he will be treated as an equal partner in the conversation.

Laying the foundation for their conversation, they agree to use Cicero’s definition of friendship as a starting point. “Friendship is mutual harmony in affairs human and divine coupled with benevolence and charity.” Ivo asks what the two terms mean and Aelred replies that benevolence means affection of the heart and charity means carrying out in deed. In other words, one is a feeling and the other is an action.

Ivo can’t see how true friendship can be lived with those who live without Christ. Aelred says though Cicero’s definition is imperfect for all types of friendships, you can get some idea of the nature of friendship.

He tells Ivo that he won’t teach what he doesn’t know. Aelred then proceeds to explain that a friend is a “guardian of our mutual love or the guardian of my spirit to preserve all its secrets in faithful silence, as far as he can, cure and endure such defects as he may observe.” In other words, protect your friend’s privacy, speak the truth in love when needed and wanted, and have patience.

Aelred does refer to spiritual friendship as being a “sweetness.” This counters Ivo’s argument of even trying if, as Cicero states, friendship is rare. And regardless of the outcome of any friendship, knowledge is gained.

He does define two other types of non-spiritual friendship. Both can turn into spiritual friendship.

  1. Worldly – useful for getting money.
  2. Carnal – useful for getting passionate desires met.

Aelred also references Adam and Eve in friendship. “How beautiful it is that the second human being was taken from the side of the first. So that nature might teach that human beings are equal…neither superior nor inferior, a characteristic of true friendship.” From beauty to ugliness, the fall of Adam and Eve corrupted charity and friendship. Once this happened, friendship remained among whom he refers to good, according to natural law.

For his final question, Ivo wants to know if wisdom can be abused through pleasing others through it, being prideful with it, or selling it. Aelred answers these are vices, so they are not an aspect of wisdom, so no.

Some Thoughts

  • True friendship is a trinity – Christ in the middle of two bound together for eternity.
  • When Aelred tells Ivo he can’t teach what he doesn’t know, he is showing humility and honesty towards Ivo. Servant leadership. I had a boss once who epitomized a true leader. One thing she hated was the small talk before business meetings. This is where I learned the term frou-frou. Seriously, though, agreeing on the terms of conversation dispels confusion later and keeps it steered in the right direction.
  • Aelred’s definition of friendship as each other’s guardians makes me think of the protection of each other and God’s protection of us in Psalms 91.
  • In the days ahead, as society is rebuilt with a godly foundation, true friends will be role models.
  • I looked up natural law. Divine timing – the next day after I wrote this, I heard a radio interview mention natural law and our Founding Fathers. Worth looking up.

At the end of Book One, Ivo doesn’t want to wait for another conversation, but he does this side of heaven. He dies before Book Two is written. We will have the practical aspects taught to us through Aelred’s conservation with Walter and Gratian.

Post 1 – Aelred Writes What He Can’t ReadPost 3 – Add Gratian’s and Walter’s Banter

FaithReadingWriting

Martin Lurther Or How to Treat Your Enemies

I listen to many radio sermons throughout the day and night, and it is not uncommon to hear a preacher state just how divided this nation is. Many offer biblical solutions. The ultimate biblical solution is to read and follow the four gospels of Jesus. Not only did He teach us how to treat our enemies through His example, but He was and is the standard.

Many know Martin Luther as the priest and scholar who nailed the 95 Theses on the Wittenberg Castle Church door in 1517. What is not as commonly known is a pastor who hounded him until the day Thomas Münzer was executed in 1525.

A Little Backstory

After the exasperation and intervention of Luther’s spiritual advisor, Johannes von Staupitz, Luther learned the hard way of legalism over grace – Luther would confess every single thought and action that he thought was a sin to Staupitz.

After he overcame this obstacle, Luther believed in sola scriptura, or the supremacy of the Bible over the Church. He was considered a mystic: he prized inward religious experience over ritual. However, over his life he did return to both church and scripture, drawing the ire of Münzer.

Back To The Present

Münzer read the 95 Theses and considered Luther as his spiritual mentor. Luther recommended him for a pastoral position at St. Mary’s at Zwickau, where he immediately and increasingly criticized the Franciscans until he was dismissed. He, along with two other men, shunned book learning and preached that God spoke to men directly. And most damning, they deemed themselves the only ones qualified to interpret the Bible.

After this, he bounced from church to church, stirring up the peasants – the miners, corn threshers, and farmers – saying they could teach better than Luther. He wanted the learned slaughtered, particularly pointing out Luther. His Utopian vision consisted of bringing a godly Kingdom type of equality to the earth.

In a letter written to his elector Frederick (nobles who ruled territories), he asked for toleration for Münzer and his other enemies. “Let us leave in His hands the combat and free encounter of minds.”

Thomas Münzer was tortured into a confession of his crimes, but still unrepentant towards his current congregation in a letter, not taking responsiblity. He was beheaded and impaled, rotting there as a warning to others.

Luther never advocated execution on his enemies, advocating for exile instead. Romans 12:19 states, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

Closing Thoughts

The Reformation was not what it could have been because of the constant hounding of others, not only Münzer’s enemies but the peasants he used to foment his ideals.

I more fear what is within me than what comes from without.

Martin Luther

Faith

What Is Grit?

Grit. Dictionary.com defines it as “firmness of character; indomitable spirit; pluck” along with “abrasive.”

Movies have been made about grit – I think of John Wayne and Kim Darby playing gritty characters in True Grit.1

Flannery O’Connor viewed sentimental Christian writing as “… a distortion that overemphasized innocence.”…“And innocence, when exaggerated in a fallen world, not only mocked the true state of man and society, but the price that was paid for their redemption.”2

In these examples, grit includes telling it like it is and still forging ahead.

The Bible says of suffering, “perseverance, character; and character, hope.”3


1https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065126/
2https://www1.cbn.com/biblestudy/the-calling-of-christian-writers
3Romans 5:4 NIV


Have a blessed weekend!

Faith

Orwell’s Writing Advice

References to 1984 abound on the Internet today, with political and cultural turmoil and our surveillance society. I admit I have not read it, but it is on my classical novels to be read bucket list.

Popular writing advice includes to write what you do not know. To just start writing and you will find how you believe or feel about a topic while you writing. That writing what you really believe can lead to propaganda or didactic writing. Sometimes this can be helpful or even desired.

However, this advice has always made me chafe. A pencil, pen, or keyboard in the hands of an experienced writer can write the novel or short story subtly, co-creating with the reader’s own thoughts. But the the bigger issue to me is if, as a writer, you have something to say from the beginning.

As a writer, you need a secure foundation from which to write.

When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.

George Orwell

I believe Mr. Orwell has succeeded.


Have a blessed weekend!

Writing

Modern Day Revolution

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” is the opening line of Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities. Setting the stage of the book is the French Revolution, both before and during, in Paris and London.

Roughly 230 years ago, a European country had a revolution.

Today another revolution is touching all areas on the globe, and with few exceptions, no one is exempt from the blazing news cycle of events.

On a personal scale, moving to Oregon taught me the true meaning of the A Tale of Two Cities quote. Clarity (and a bit of anger) replaced pain and confusion, with beauty driving the day to day wheels. I did not chose the consequences of moving here, but here I believe I was sent for such a time as this. How that plays out in the weeks ahead is my guess, but I know Who holds my future.

As Gandalf said in The Lord of the Rings, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

And as the Bible would say,On a good day, enjoy yourself; On a bad day, examine your conscience. God arranges for both kinds of days So that we won’t take anything for granted.

Faith

What Is A Poet?

While searching for a word meaning in Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, I came across the word poet. In the New Testament section, the word means “a maker,” and was later used as a “doer.” The classical Greeks used it to refer to any author, but especially to a “poet.”

John Drury, author of the po·e·try dic·tion·ar·y, defines it as “One who creates poems, or one who has created them, or one who thinks or feels like a poet … or one who prepares to write poems or attempts writing them or otherwise stays alert for words, images, and experiences that might coalesce into the nucleus of a poem.” Other nationalities have different words for poet. And not everyone thinks highly of poets; e.g., poetaster is a term of ridicule.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition, defines (I will use the second definition as the first is obvious and not as poetic) poet as “one (as a creative artist) of great imaginative and expressive capabilities and special sensitivity to the medium.”

My personal definition of poet is a state of mind, connecting and associating things in metaphorical language to convey an idea, feeling, or image. It is the soul part of my personality, wanting to break free from my state of silence. It is my beautiful Oregon geography which supplies me with multiple ideas. It is communication with the Holy Spirit, who creates dreams and visions for me to scan for meaning and wisdom.

Who is the Master Poet? God, who used His imagination to create the heavens and the earth. Then created man in His likeness to co-create with Him.

FaithPoetryWriting

Dark Night

Prayer is not a ladder we build to the heavens; rather, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it, prayer is God’s work in us. When we do not turn away from God in times of distress or confusion, I believe it is also an indication that God has not turned away from us. When a person prays or just looks longingly in a heavenward direction, even though she may feel abandoned, her prayer is an indication of God’s ongoing presence.

The Listening Life by Adam S. McHugh

Faith

Once Upon A Time It Was Now Review

Once Upon A Time It Was Now, 2nd edition, written by James Alexander Thom, is a wonderful book on the art of writing historical fiction. His ultimate goal is to write books that inspire others, regardless of whether the endings are happy or sad.

He does not dwell much on the craft of writing itself, but his focus is how to write historically. In this regard he does bring up life experiences that need to be considered that most would not think of, especially since in the past they thought and did differently than we do today. No glossing over either, he brings up the grittiness of life that most of us would prefer not to think about.

A chapter on technology discusses the use of paper vs. computers from a few of his fellow historians and historical writers. And a few ideas for research organization, which if done right will produce reams.

His book was written in response to Stephen Ambrose’s quip, “A novelist doesn’t have to have facts.” Most of this book goes into detail on how and why historical novels should be as factually accurate as possible. One of the best reasons I read was that they are read when history books would not be. I count myself one of these people, loving to read novels about historical figures.

His wife, Dark Rain, wrote most of the chapter on genealogy, and if you are writing a book dealing with Indian history, she has some very valuable tips.

My favorite quote: “The climax of a novel often is a moment that seems impossible to endure. If you can force yourself to exhume and record some personal horror you wanted to leave buried, then you will have trained yourself to write powerfully about anything the protagonist of your novel has to do.”

I will probably never write a historical novel, but I learned much from his book. His advice can be used for other genres as well. The humor had me laughing quite a bit. And he was in the USMC, another thumbs up from me. A hearty recommended read.

Writing

The 4th Amendment

With today’s technology, I have been wondering where our privacy rights stand within our own homes. From my research, the lack of privacy is profound and would shock many. Privacy, to say the least, is dead.

The Fourth Amendment as follows: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Justice Harlan in Katz v. United States (1967) explained: Thus, a man’s home is, for most purposes, a place where he expects privacy , but objects, activities, or statements that he exposes in the “plain view” of outsiders are not “protected,” because no intention to keep them to himself has been exhibited. On the other hand, conversations in the open would not be protected against being overheard, for the expectation of privacy under circumstances would be unreasonable.1


1U.S. Constitution for Dummies by Dr. Michael Arnheim

Faith

Ministers and Tyrants

“In America, as we have indicated, resistance to oppression had been a favorite topic in Yankee pulpits for more than a century. Indeed a quarter of a century before Paul Revere’s ride, one of its most articulate (albeit increasingly liberal) proponents, Jonathan Mayhew of Boston, preached:

It is blasphemy to call tyrants and oppressors God’s ministers…When [magistrates] rob and ruin the public, instead of being guardians of its peace and welfare, they immediately cease to be the ordinance and ministers of God, and no more deserve that glorious character than common pirates and highwaymen.”

The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel

I had the fortune to meet Peter Marshall at a book signing. He is the son of Catherine Marshall, who wrote some of the best books on Christianity that I have ever read. His father was chaplain of the Senate in 1946.

Faith

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