Suddenly he felt the old, familiar, dull, gnawing pain—quiet, serious, insistent. The same familiar bad taste in his mouth. His heart sank, he felt dazed. “My God, my God!” he muttered. “Again and again, and it will never end.” And suddenly he saw things in an entirely different light. “A caecum! A kidney!” he exclaimed inwardly. “It’s not a question of a caecum or a kidney, but of life and…death. Yes, life was there and now it’s going, going, and I can’t hold on to it. Yes. Why deceive myself? Isn’t it clear to everyone but me that I’m dying, that it’s only a question of weeks, days-perhaps minutes? Before there was light, now there is darkness. Before I was here, now I am going there. Where?” He broke out in a cold sweat, his breathing died down. All he could hear was the beating of his heart. — Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, page 88.
And if you expand upon the parable [of the Two Sons from Matthew 21:28-32], you get an instant application of it to the life of the church in all ages. For no matter how much we give lip service to the notion of free grace and dying love, we do not like it. It is just too…indiscriminate. It lets rotten sons and crooked tax farmers and common tarts into the kingdom, and it thumbs its nose at really good people. And it does that, gallingly, for no more reason than the Gospel’s shabby exaltation of dumb trust over worthy works. Such nonsense, we mutter in our hearts; such heartless, immoral folly. We’ll teach God, we say. We will continue to sing “Amazing Grace” in church; but we will jolly well be judicious when it comes to explaining to the riffraff what it actually means. We will assure them, of course, that God loves them and forgives them, but we will make it clear that we expect them to clean up their act before we clasp them seriously to our bosom. We do not want whores and chiselers and practicing gays (even if they are suffering with AIDS) thinking they can just barge in here and fraternize. Above all, we do not want drunk priests, or ministers who cheat on their wives with church organists, standing up there in the pulpit telling us that God forgives such effrontery. We never did such things. — Robert Farrar Capon, The Parables of Judgment, page 109.
Evening Prayer: Holy Saturday ~ from A New Zealand Prayer Book
St. Paul’s Hill library named ‘greatest historical treasure’ -
As gorgeous a setting as the James J. Hill Center is, it’s a wonder any work gets done.
75 years ago today, The Grapes of Wrath was published. Celebrate Steinbeck with these beautiful new editions http://bit.ly/1eQ4qSk
Evangelicals and Catholics Apart -
Today I finished reading Jody Bottum’s An Anxious Age, and it’s a lovely book: smart and beautifully written. But it describes an America that I’m not especially familiar with: an America divided between a theologically-renewed JPII-style Catholicism and a “post-Protestantism” (Jody’s phrase)…