Scribbles, &c.


Nearly done with the Hannah Arendt anthology and I’ve liked it enough to maybe go back and read a couple of her books in full, probably The Origins of Totalitarianism and Eichmann in Jerusalem.

I’m well under way in Newman’s essay on the development of Christian doctrine. I’m finding this an easier read than A Grammar of Assent. I’d probably recommend this along with his Apologia to anyone who wanted to get acquainted with him. A little background reading which situates him properly would also have been useful to me, but I followed my usual path of taking side-trips into Wikipedia along the way instead.

I had to do a bit of business traveling recently and took along Esther de Waal’s Seeking God, which is a wonderful little book on Benedictine spirituality and especially how it can apply to those of us firmly outside the monastery or convent. I leaned on it heavily during my travels, especially the bits on stability. The idea of stability might seem at odds with travel, but no:

For stability says there must be no evasion; instead attend to the real, to the real necessity however uncomfortable that might be. Stability brings us from a feeling of alienation, perhaps from the escape into fantasy and daydreaming, into the state of reality. It will not allow us to evade the inner truth of whatever it is we have to do, however dreary and boring and apparently unfruitful that may seem. It involves listening (something which the vow of obedience has illuminated) to the particular demands of whatever this task and this moment in time is asking; no more and no less.


What is it then to be stable? It seems to me that it may be described in the following terms: You will find stability at the moment when you discover God is everywhere, that you do not need to seek Him elsewhere, that He is here, and if you do not find Him here it is useless to go and search for Him elsewhere because it is not Him who is absent from us, it is we who are absent from Him…It is important to recognize that is is useless to see God somewhere else. If you cannot find Him here you will not find Him anywhere else. If you recognize this that you can truly find the fullness of the Kingdom of God in all is richness within you; that God is present in every situation and every place, that you will be able to say “So then I shall stay where I am”
— Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

So: Aquinas for making sense of the world and Benedict for living in it, with others, wherever we happen to be.