There’s a phenomenon with carving which is probably true of other things as well, you can achieve 90 percent of the effect with 50 percent of the effort. But the truth is, unless you do the final 10 percent, which takes another 50 percent of effort, you’ll never achieve that fineness which is necessary if it’s going to raise the hairs on your neck. So it’s a killingly time-consuming occupation. - David Esterly
—from NPR via @ayjay
“All this comes,” Tolstoy says, “from the fact that all these people — governors, inspectors, police officers, and policemen — consider that there are circumstances when human relations are not necessary between human beings. … If once we admit — be it only for an hour or in some exceptional case — that anything can be more important than a feeling of love for our fellows, then there is no crime which we may not commit with easy minds. … Men think there are circumstances when one may deal with human beings without love. But there are no such circumstances.”
Is there a solution?
There is, but it’s hard.
“If you feel no love,” Tolstoy writes, “sit still. Occupy yourself with things, with yourself, with anything you like, only not with men. … Only let yourself deal with a man without love … and there are no limits to the suffering you will bring on yourself.”
—George Saunders in NPR’s “You Must Read This” review of Tolstoy’ “Resurrection”
What if education was primarily concerned with shaping our hopes and passions - our visions of “the good life” and not merely about the dissemination of data and information as inputs of our thinking? … What if education wasn’t first and foremost about what we know but about what we love?
My gift for the child:
No wife, kids, home;
No money sense. Unemployable.
Friends, yes. But the wrong sort –
The workshy, women, wogs,
Petty infringers of the law, persons
With notifiable diseases,
Poll tax collectors, tarts;
The bottom rung.
I think we’ll make it
Public, prolonged, painful.
Right, said the baby. That was roughly
What we had in mind.
There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical … The other is an outpouring of everything good in you … The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.
The tears… streamed down, and I let them flow as freely as they would, making of them a pillow for my heart. On them it rested ” - Augustine, Confessions IX, 12
—From “Lament for a Son” by Nicholas Wolterstorff
In 1908, while traveling in the northern Caucasus, Leo Tolstoy regaled a local tribe with tales of the greatest warriors and statesmen in history. When he had finished, the chief said, “But you have not told us a syllable about the greatest general and greatest ruler of the world. We want to know something about him. He was a hero. He spoke with a voice of thunder; he laughed like the sunrise, and his deeds were strong as the rock and as sweet as the fragrance of roses. The angels appeared to his mother and predicted that the son whom she would conceive would become the greatest the stars had ever seen. He was so great that he even forgave the crimes of his greatest enemies and shook brotherly hands with those who had plotted against his life. His name was Lincoln and the country in which he lived is called America, which is so far away that if a youth should journey to reach it he would be an old man when he arrived. Tell us of that man.
“He was baptized as a human, but he remitted sins as God; he did not require purifications himself but that he might sanctify the waters. He was tempted as a human being, but he conquered as God; he exhorts us to be of good cheer, because he has conquered the world. He hungered, but he nourished thousands; he is heaven’s bread of life. He thirsted, but he shouted, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and let him drink.’ He also offered springs of water to believers. He was tired, but he is a rest for the weary and heavy-laden. He was overcome with sleep, but he was lifted on the sea; he rebuked the winds, and he lifted up Peter who was being submerged. He pays taxes, but from a fish; he is king of those who demand them. As a Samaritan and a demoniac, he listens, but he saves the one who came down from Jerusalem and fell among thieves; he is recognized by demons and drives them away; he immerses a legion of spirits and sees the prince of demons falling as lightning. He is stoned, but he is not conquered. He prays, but he listens. He weeps, but he stops tears. He asks where Lazarus is for he was a human being; but he raises Lazarus, for he was God. He is sold, as a very low price—thirty pieces of silver—but he redeems the world, and at a great cost: his own blood. As a sheep he is led to the slaughter, but he is shepherd of Israel and now the entire world. As a lamb, he is speechless, but he is the Word, announced by the voice of him who cries in the wilderness. He bears infirmity and is wounded, but he heals every disease and every weakness. He is lifted up to the tree, he is affixed to the cross, but he will restore us by the tree of life. He saves even the robber being crucified; he made dark every visible thing. He is given sour wine to drink; he is fed gall. Who is this? He who has turned water into wine, the destroyer of bitter taste, sweetness and every desire. He hands over his soul, but he has the power to receive it again; the veil is torn, for the heavenly things are exhibited; the rocks are split; the dead rise. He dies, but he makes alive, and by his death he destroys death. He is buried, but he arises. He goes down into hell, but he leads up the souls. He goes up into heaven, and he will come to judge the living and dead, to test such words as yours. But these things create for you the pretext of error; those things demolish your error.” -Gregory of Nazianzus
The most well formulated theological articulation of Jesus’ humanity and his divinity just doesn’t do the trick in the same way that telling the story does. Propositional formulations have trouble getting to the truth that transcends language in the same way that a song, a story, or a poem can. And there’s something poetic here, about the way in which Gregory of Nazianzus tells it. “He dies, but he makes alive, and by his death he destroys death.” The truth is the paradox—once rationalized, it ceases to be truth.
from Wesley Ellis