I gotta have my orange juice.

Jesu, Juva

Real Presence

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[At dinner] the novelist Mary McCarthy, who would later proclaim her emancipation from the church in Memories of a Catholic Girlhood, opined that she still found the symbolism of the Eucharist to be useful for her fiction, though of course she didn’t believe a word of its hocus–pocus. The ordinarily quiet and unassertive [Flannery] O’Connor—who rarely spoke to strangers unless first addressed, and then only with a shy hesitance—made a notoriously acid reply: “Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.” (Flannery O’Connor: Collected Works, 977, quoted in Flannery O’Connor and the Christ–Haunted South, 23)

Written by Scott Moonen

August 16, 2018 at 6:37 pm

Posted in Quotations, Worship

Memorialize

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We are to remember, rather, to memorialize to and before God, the Sabbath day (Exodus 20:8ff).

We are to remember, rather, to memorialize to and before God, the body and blood of Jesus in the bread and wine of the Lord’s supper (1 Corinthians 11:23ff).

Thus, weekly communion: always on the Lord’s day we cease from labor and the gathering of bread, enjoying instead the bread God provides, as a comprehensive memorial to him of Jesus’s work and rest, his provision and enthronement.

HT: Peter Leithart

Written by Scott Moonen

August 12, 2018 at 8:40 am

Difficulty

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Mark Horne writes of strength training:

The rule seems to be that your body adapts so that the most difficult thing you do eventually feels hard to do. As you age this process accelerates. When you give up an activity because it feels hard another one starts to feel hard to do. As your body loses strength you start to avoid tasks and chores that were once easier. You accumulate weakness. In the words of Seneca, “Soft living imposes on us the penalty of debility; we cease to be able to do the things we have long been grudging about doing.”

But this is true not only of your body but also your mind and will and spirit: the hardest thing you do feels hard. This leads us to several helpful insights:

First, it helps us sympathize with others who are experiencing difficulty. It is tempting to despise others who have greater difficulty with smaller challenges compared to yourself. However, this principle allows you to sympathize, since you know that difficulty is relative rather than absolute.

Second, this teaches us that contentment, peace, and joy are not primarily related to our circumstances but to our philosophy and outlook on life. Excluding obvious exceptions such as injustice and extreme hardship, this principle reveals that if you are complaining or anxious in one difficulty, you will still be complaining or anxious in other and even lighter difficulties. Therefore, your work to cultivate contentment, peace, and joy cannot wait; you must find deep roots unrelated to your circumstances. And even in cases of injustice and extreme hardship, this reveals that there is a possible path to contentment, peace, and joy even while you wait on, plead for, and pray for relief.

Third, this also indicates a way to grow in our capacity for work and difficulty. It is helpful simply to recognize that difficulty is relative, since you can cultivate gratitude that you are not experiencing greater difficulty. But this also gives you a tool to expand your capacity: you can periodically subject yourself to greater or artificial difficulty, combined with periods of rest and recovery, in order for your current difficulties to become lighter. In the physical sphere, you increase your capacity with sprint exercises, intervals, and progressive loading. Furthermore, growth in self-discipline and capacity in one sphere of life tends to have a side effect benefit across all of life. It is strangely easier to wake up early and to eat well if you are working hard at strength training; there is a kind of snowball effect to growing in health and strength and capacity.

Finally, all this applies not only to yourself but also to how you can lead others to grow in joy and capacity. As Edwin Friedman writes, “increasing one’s pain threshold for others helps them mature.”

Crossposted to full◦valence.

Written by Scott Moonen

July 20, 2018 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Miscellany, Suffering

Affliction

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Wherefore, though good and bad men suffer alike, we must not suppose that there is no difference between the men themselves, because there is no difference in what they both suffer. For even in the likeness of the sufferings, there remains an unlikeness in the sufferers; and though exposed to the same anguish, virtue and vice are not the same thing. For as the same fire causes gold to glow brightly, and chaff to smoke; and under the same flail the straw is beaten small, while the grain is cleansed; and as the lees are not mixed with the oil, though squeezed out of the vat by the same pressure, so the same violence of affliction proves, purges, clarifies the good, but damns, ruins, exterminates the wicked. And thus it is that in the same affliction the wicked detest God and blaspheme, while the good pray and praise. So material a difference does it make, not what ills are suffered, but what kind of man suffers them. For, stirred up with the same movement, mud exhales a horrible stench, and ointment emits a fragrant odor. (Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, City of God)

HT: Mark Horne

Written by Scott Moonen

July 16, 2018 at 9:40 am

Posted in Suffering

Worship is warfare (2)

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Philip Sasser on worship:

In worship, we are playing with live ammunition.

Indeed:

Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger. (Psalm 8:2)

and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” (Matthew 21:16)

See also: Worship is warfare

Written by Scott Moonen

July 15, 2018 at 3:46 pm

Posted in Worship

Leadership and maturation

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Peter Leithart shares some wisdom from Jordan Peterson:

I have learned not to steal my clients’ problems from them. I don’t want to be the redeeming hero or the deus ex machina—not in someone else’s story.

This reminds me of Edwin Friedman:

Increasing one’s pain threshold for others helps them mature. . . .

In any partnership, the more anxious you are to see that something is done, the less motivated your partner will be to take the lead. . . .

The children who work through the natural difficulties of growing up with the least amount of difficulty are those whose parents made them least important to their own salvation.

Written by Scott Moonen

July 13, 2018 at 10:06 am

Posted in Parenting, Quotations

Risk

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Douglas Wilson summarizing Nassim Taleb’s Skin in the Game:

Taleb is arguing that risk is not only a good thing, it is a necessary good thing. It is really a good thing; and we should covet it; we should pursue it; we should embrace it; we should not resent it; we should not try to structure our lives in such a way that we are buffered from the consequences of our choices.

You want to live in such a way that when you make a wise choice, you reap the benefit; when you make a foolish choice, you want the consequences to rain down upon your head.

That is the way of wisdom.

See also: Irrevocable.

Written by Scott Moonen

July 13, 2018 at 8:47 am

Posted in Books, Quotations