On the Oneness of Truth

15 05 2008

But this single truth, embodied in many different virtues, cannot be the first truth of all, since it is distributed among many virtues, it is in something else. And whatever lies in another certainly derives from another. However, a single truth is not derived from a multitude of concepts. For what is one must derive from one. Therefore, above the soul of man there must be a single wisdom which is not divided among various concepts, but is a single wisdom, from whose single truth the manifold truth of men derives.

-Marsilio Ficino, Commentary on Plato’s Symposium on Love

El Mal de Ojo

14 05 2008

Useful tips on how to spot and get rid of the “Evil Eye”

(Okay, so you guys are going to think I’ve gone off the deep end on this one, but oh well, that’s what this page is for…)
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On Inspiration

13 05 2008

Woman is the goddess. the poetess, the muse. That is why I have a company of beautiful girl dancers. I believe that the same is true of life, that everything a man does he does for his ideal woman. You live only one life and you believe in something and I believe in a little thing like that.

-George Balanchine

(Pictured above is Balanchine dancing the role of Don Quixote in his ballet of the same name, with his own “elusive muse”, Suzanne Farrell.)

Scripture as Incantation

12 05 2008

…and other aspects of Cardinal De Lubac’s Reading of Origen

Henri Cardinal De Lubac’s book, History and Spirit: The Understanding of Scripture According to Origen, was one of the many works of the Patristic resourcement of last century that sought to rescue the ill-fated early Christian theologian from the scholarly dismissal of history. Though this lack of respect for this towering intellect of early Christendom is waning on many levels, there is still some residual distrust of Origen’s theology.  De Lubac seeks to address only one aspect of the Origenist corpus: exegesis and the allegorical approach to the interpretation of Scripture.  He seeks to prove that Origen’s idea of allegory stems not primarily from the Hellenic ethos but from the letter of Scripture taken in and of itself. De Lubac’s main thesis is that Origen was not overly obsessed with Greek thought forms but took the Word of God alone as the highest criterion for truth. In all things, De Lubac argues, Origen was a vir ecclesiasticus, a man of the Church, whose main inspiration was always the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
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11 05 2008

Leah wrote:

The problem is that most people, even cradle Catholics, are not going to have the kind of Catholic childhood that you’re describing. What then? We can’t just collapse Catholicism into an ethnicity that you have to be born into. Otherwise, there’s no need to engage in missionary work.

I think the main problem is not one of upbringing, but rather of attitude. I think when most modern religious people think of God and holiness, they either conceive these things as some force akin to gravity that is necessary for good moral and epistemological order, or that these things offer us a “personal relationship” that makes us feel good (as in being “spiritual people” in the postmodern sense). I think that these attitudes are not just naive, but outright dangerous to religion in general.

In the the Book of Isaiah, God is called thrice-holy, and the Seraphim have to cover their face in order not to behold Him. The original sense of the word “kadosh” is not a moralistic or ethical description; it doesn’t mean that God “behaves” Himself or conforms to our conventions of “niceness”. “Kadosh” means that God is radically other, that He is beyond anything that we can conceive, and in the end, He is awe-inspiring and frightening. Indeed, even if the idols of the pagans are terrible to look at, the God of the Old Testament can’t even be looked in the face. You will die if you do look at Him, full-stop.

And lest we think that this was one of the things that Jesus came to eliminate, let us remind ourselves of how Jesus in portrayed in the Book of the Apocalypse. When was the last time you saw a seven-horned, seven-eyed lamb walking around?:

My point is that even if God is in our discourse as Americans, He doesn’t really haunt our existence. We keep Him at bay, in my opinion. with our sterilized forms of religious discourse. He is quite tame and unintrusive.  If the traditional cultures that I cite have anything that others should learn from, it is that the supernatural does indeed haunt them. I don’t think this “haunting” is optional or specific to them; it is all-too-necessary. How we recover this sense is the task at hand.

Well, I guess this is kinda cool…

9 05 2008

I said in this post that Mexican music wasn’t cool. Well, I think Maná is kinda cool.

I think the song here is a little botched, but still worth a listen nonetheless.

The Power of the Cross

8 05 2008

The cross, therefore, said the ancients, is a figure which is made by the strength of the stars and serves as a receptacle of their strength; it therefore possesses the greatest power among images and receives the forces and spirits of the planets.

This opinion was either introduced or principally confirmed by the Egyptians, among whose characters a prominent one was the cross, which signified in their usage the future life; and they would engrave this figure on the breast of Serapis.  But I think as follows: the cross was not so much a testimony of the gifts of the stars as a prophecy of the power that it was going to receive from Christ.  Astrologers who came right after Christ, seeing that wonderful things were done by Christians through the cross, but not knowing or not wanting to ascribe such great things to Jesus, ascribed them to the heavens; though they ought to have considered that through the cross itself without the name of Jesus no miracles at all were performed.  That a cruciform figure is appropriate to images because it resembles the strength of the planets and all stars, is perhaps probable; but this is not a sufficient reason for it to have such tremendous power.  But in concert with the other things which are necessary it is perhaps able to do something towards bodily health. 

-Marsilio Ficino, De Vita Coelitus Comparanda

La Muerte

7 05 2008


—Soy la Muerte— me dijo. No sabía
que tan estrechamente me cercara,
al punto de volcarme por la cara
su turbadora vaharada fría.

Ya no intento eludir su compañía:
mis pasos sigue, transparente y clara
y desde entonces no me desampara
ni me deja de noche ni de día.

—¡Y pensar —confesé—, que de mil modos
quise disimularte con apodos,
entre miedos y errores confundida!

«Más tienes de caricia que de pena».
Eras alivio y te llamé cadena.
Eras la muerte y te llamé la vida.

Alfonso Reyes


“I am death,” she said. I did not behold

How closely she crept towards my guarded gate,

At the point of carrying to me my fate

With her breath so harsh and terribly cold.


I no longer labor to leave her side.

My steps she follows, transparent and clear,

And from then on I was without sorrow or fear;

She leaves me not by day nor at eventide.


“And to think,” I confessed, “that in a thousand ways,

I with false names tried to keep you at bay,

Confounded between fear and useless strife.”


“You have more of caress than you do of pain,

You were freedom and I called you ‘chain’,

You were death, and I called you life.”

-translated by Arturo Vasquez

The Closed Door

6 05 2008

There is a certain unique Door, which is also closed like the Book, the Door through which “no one passes”. There are in fact certain things unknown to any creature, known by One alone. For the Son has not revealed to the world everything that he knows. The creature does not understand what God understands; and, considering even the least things, all do not have the same knowledge of them. Paul has more than Timothy… And Timothy, in turn, understood more things than I can understand. And there is perhaps someone who understands even less than I. There are, finally, things that Christ alone understands: and that is why the Door of the Temple of God is closed.

-Origen, from the Homilies on Ezekiel


In Search of a Strange Orthodoxy

4 05 2008

A Personal Testament and an Invitation

I know that the few people who read this blog may be shocked and a bit disturbed by some of the things I post. If you have been a long-time reader, you have also probably read some of the more edifying things that I have written which were often very personal and devout. I have to say, however, that I don’t think that I will be writing a whole lot of that type of stuff any time soon for a couple of reasons. The first is because I think the medium of the Internet is your least likely source of spiritual nourishment. For that, you would be much better off turning off all your electrical appliances, locking yourself in a room, and praying. Or you can take a walk with your rosary in the early morning, or a hike in the wilderness by yourself or with a few intimate friends. Reading this blog will NOT bring you closer to God, though I would hope that a thing or two that you read here might help you along the way. And the Lord knows that I have my own problems, but I’m not going to share them with you.
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