Saturday, May 31, 2008
An AP report from today’s paper noted that 111 nations formally adopted a treaty that “would outlaw all current designs of cluster munitions and require destruction of stockpiles within eight years.” We all know what cluster bombs are: big bombs containing a number of smaller bombs, which greatly enhances the effectiveness of the intended result. Of course, they also greatly increase the chances that an undetonated bomb will remain long after the cluster was deployed and blow up civilians—farmers, children, innocents of every kind—and who would want that, right?
The story goes on to remark on the leading opponents of the treaty, which include Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan. Oh, and our own United States of America. “All defended the overriding military value of cluster bombs, which carpet a battlefield with dozens to hundreds of explosives.” U.S. spokesperson Tom Casey said that “the treaty would not change U.S. policy and that cluster bombs remain ‘absolutely critical and essential’ to U. S. military operations.”
I know, it may seem that the maiming and blowing apart of human beings is unspeakably horrible, but thank God we can be reassured of the “overriding military value.” What are the 111 nations complaining about?
Friday, May 30, 2008
Peaceableness toward enemies is an idea that will, of course, continue to be denounced as impractical. It has been too little tried by individuals, much less by nations. It will not readily or easily serve those who are greedy for power. It cannot be effectively used for bad ends. It could not be used as the basis of an empire. It does not afford opportunities for profit. It involves danger to practitioners. It requires sacrifice. And yet it seems to me that it is practical, for it offers the only escape from the logic of retribution. It is the only way by which we can cease to look to war for peace.
- Wendell Berry
Thursday, May 29, 2008
The passionate state, or enslavement to the passions attracts all of our psychic powers toward the exterior. It is the adhesive which glues us to the surface of the exterior world. The problem of asceticism is how can this enslavement to the passions (prospatheia), the substance of the passions, be slain, not how to slay our authentic nature and the world we live in. The challenge is, how can we live in this world as free beings, admiring it and understanding it as a transparent creation of God, without this admiration enslaving us to its purely perceptible and opaque surface, and thus hinder our development as beings oriented toward the infinite spiritual order. How can we use the world, the road toward our goal, without falling and succumbing on it?
- Fr. Dumitru Staniloae
Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Our perfection, or our union with God, is . . . not only a goal, but also an unending process. On this road two great steps can be distinguished: first, the moving ahead toward perfection through purification from the passions and the acquiring of the virtues and secondly a life progressively moving ahead in the union with God. At this point, man's work is replaced by God's. Man contributes by opening himself up receptively to an ever-greater filling with the life of God.
-Fr. Dumitru Staniloae, Orthodox Spirituality
Sunday, May 18, 2008
-The priest's "silent" prayer before the Trisagion hymn,
Orthodox Divine Liturgy
Thursday, May 15, 2008
If the love commanded of us in the Gospel were natural to us in our fallen state, it would have been unnecessary to bid us 'Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind . . . Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself' [Matt. 22:37-39]. When that love touches the heart, our spirit in Light beholds God, and lives by Him and in Him. He surpasses all human thought. Not a single one of our abstract conceptions is applicable to Him. He - lives. His might is incalculable, His love inscrutable. To dwell with Him is ineffable riches. When I was a painter I never achieved satisfaction because the means at my disposal were impotent to portray the beauty of creation. And now all the words that I can find to express my wonder before God are quite futile.
To be blind is a great deprivation. But there is no greater affliction, no more bitter pain, than not to know God.
- Elder Sophrony, We Shall See Him as He Is
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Question: Why is hope so sweet, her discipline and her labors so light, and her works so easy for the soul?
Answer: Because hope awakens a natural longing in the soul and gives men this cup to drink, straightway making them drunk. Thenceforth they no longer feel the wearisome toil, but become insensitive to afflictions, and throughout the whole course of their journey they think that they are walking on air, and not treading the path with human footsteps. . . . For this hope so inflames them, as with fire, that on account of their joy they cannot rest from their incessant and headlong course. There comes to pass in them what was spoken by the blessed Jeremiah, "I said, I shall not remember Him nor speak His name. And there was in my heart as it were a flaming fire and it entered into my bones". Such is the recollection of God in the hearts of men who are drunk with hope on his promises.
-St. Isaac the Syrian, quoted in Bishop Hilarion
The Spiritual World of Isaac the Syrian
Sunday, May 4, 2008
I was delighted to read this poem by Jane Hirshfield (her poetry moves me, and this one is exceptionally good)--
There is a moment before a shape
hardens, a color sets.
Before the fixative or heat of kiln.
The letter might still be taken
from the mailbox.
The hand held back by the elbow,
the word kept between the larynx pulse
and the amplifying drum-skin of the room’s air.
The thorax of an ant is not as narrow.
The green coat on old copper weighs more.
Yet something slips through it —
sets out in the new direction, for other lands.
Not into exile, not into hope. Simply changed.
As a sandy track-rut changes when called a Silk Road:
it cannot be after turned back from.