Daily Archives: June 3, 2021

Thursday Food for Thought from T H White

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then—to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn….”

–T.H. White, The Once and Future King

Posted in Books, History, Poetry & Literature, Psychology

(WSJ) The Economic Recovery Is Here. It’s Unlike Anything You’ve Seen.

The U.S. economic recovery is unlike any in recent history, powered by consumers with trillions in extra savings, businesses eager to hire and enormous policy support. Businesses and workers are poised to emerge from the downturn with far less permanent damage than occurred after recent recessions, particularly the 2007-09 downturn.

New businesses are popping up at the fastest pace on record. The rate at which workers quit their jobs—a proxy for confidence in the labor market—matches the highest going back at least to 2000. American household debt-service burdens, as a share of after-tax income, are near their lowest levels since 1980, when records began. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up nearly 18% from its pre-pandemic peak in February 2020. Home prices nationwide are nearly 14% higher since that time.

The speed of the rebound is also triggering turmoil. The shortages of goods, raw materials and labor that typically emerge toward the end of an expansion are cropping up much sooner. Many economists, along with the Federal Reserve, expect the jump in inflation to be temporary, but others worry it could persist even once reopening is complete.

“We’ve never had anything like it—a collapse and then a boom-like pickup,” said Allen Sinai, chief global economist and strategist at Decision Economics, Inc. “It is without historical parallel.”

Read it all.

Posted in Economy

(TLS) Marjorie Perloff reviews Louis Menand’s encyclopedic study of Cold War culture, from Pollock to Presley

Louis Menand’s panoramic portrait of the Cold War years begins with a succinct overview:

This book is about a time when the United States was actively engaged with the rest of the world. In the twenty years after the end of the Second World War, the United States invested in the economy of Japan and Western Europe and extended loans to other countries around the world. With the United Kingdom, it created the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to support global political stability and international trade. It hosted the new United Nations. Through its government, its philanthropic foundations, its universities, and its cultural institutions, it established exchange programs for writers and scholars, distributed literature around the globe, and sent art from American collections and music by American composers and performers abroad. … Works of literature and philosophy from all over the world were published in affordable translations. Foreign movies were imported and distributed across the country.

The preface continues with this reminder of the Utopian efforts of the immediate postwar era, remarking on the exponential rise in college attendance, the closing of the income gap, the absence of substantive difference between the two major political parties, and the collapse of colonial empires around the world. “Most striking was the nature of the audience: people cared. Ideas mattered. Painting mattered. Movies mattered. Poetry mattered. The way people judged and interpreted paintings, movies, and poems mattered. People believed in liberty, and thought it really meant something.”

I read these words with a shock of recognition because the years in question marked my own coming of age: I graduated from high school in 1949, college in 1953, and received my PhD in 1965. I recall only too well those days when studying literature was considered an important and valuable pursuit, when – yes – ideas mattered, poetry mattered. But I also remember the downside to which Menand turns next. Soon, he suggests, the beautiful cultural dream was fading, what with McCarthyism at home and military interference abroad, the continuing dominance of white men in all spheres of life, the widening of the income gap, the commodification of culture – and a “foreign war of national independence from which [the United States] could not extricate itself for eight years”. After the sorry tale of Vietnam, large-scale disillusionment about the character and role of the US set in, both at home and abroad, even as its assured military position and dominance of the global art world remained secure.

How and why did so momentous a change occur in so short a period? The Free World does not attempt to formulate answers to this difficult question: Menand’s narrative is more descriptive than analytic.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, History

Tom Wright–The Prayer of the Trinity

A different tradition is that of the Eastern Orthodox church, which I mentioned in chapter 12. There the “Jesus prayer” has been rightly popular: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” (There are variations, but this is perhaps the best known.) This, like the Jewish Shema, is designed to be said over and over again, until it becomes part of the act of breathing, embedding a sense of the love of Jesus deep within the personality. This prayer, again like the Shema, begins with a confession of faith, but here it is a form of address. And instead of commandments to keep, it focuses on the mercy that the living God extends through his Son to all who will seek it. This prayer has been much beloved by many in the Orthodox and other traditions, who have found that when they did not know what else to pray, this prayer would rise, by habit, to their mind and heart, providing a vehicle and focus for whatever concern they wished to bring into the Father’s presence.
I have a great admiration for this tradition, but I have always felt a certain uneasiness about it. For a start, it seems to me inadequate to address Jesus only. The Orthodox, of course, have cherished the trinitarian faith, and it has stood them in good stead over the course of many difficult years. It is true that the prayer contains an implicit doctrine of the Trinity: Jesus is invoked as the Son of the living God, and Christians believe that prayer addressed to this God is itself called forth by the Spirit. But the prayer does not seem to me to embody a fully trinitarian theology as clearly as it might. In addition, although people more familiar than I with the use of this prayer have spoken of its unfolding to embrace the whole world, in its actual words it is focused very clearly on the person praying, as an individual. Vital though that is, as the private core of the Christian faith without which all else is more or less worthless, it seems to me urgent that our praying should also reflect, more explicitly, the wider concerns with which we have been dealing.

I therefore suggest that we might use a prayer that, though keeping a similar form to that of the Orthodox Jesus Prayer, expands it into a trinitarian mode:

Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth:

Set up your kingdom in our midst.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God:

Have mercy on me, a sinner.

Holy Spirit, breath of the living God:

Renew me and all the world.

Read it all.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

Gregory of Nyssa–On the Holy Trinity

But our argument in reply to this is ready and clear. For any one who condemns those who say that the Godhead is one, must necessarily support either those who say that there are more than one, or those who say that there is none. But the inspired teaching does not allow us to say that there are more than one, since, whenever it uses the term, it makes mention of the Godhead in the singular; as ‘In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead’ Colossians 2:9 “; and, elsewhere ‘The invisible things of Him from the foundation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead Romans 1:20.’ If, then, to extend the number of the Godhead to a multitude belongs to those only who suffer from the plague of polytheistic error, and on the other hand utterly to deny the Godhead would be the doctrine of atheists, what doctrine is that which accuses us for saying that the Godhead is one? But they reveal more clearly the aim of their argument. As regards the Father, they admit the fact that He is God , and that the Son likewise is honoured with the attribute of Godhead; but the Spirit, Who is reckoned with the Father and the Son, they cannot include in their conception of Godhead, but hold that the power of the Godhead, issuing from the Father to the Son, and there halting, separates the nature of the Spirit from the Divine glory. And so, as far as we may in a short space, we have to answer this opinion also.

What, then, is our doctrine? The Lord, in delivering the saving Faith to those who become disciples of the word, joins with the Father and the Son the Holy Spirit also; and we affirm that the union of that which has once been joined is continual; for it is not joined in one thing, and separated in others. But the power of the Spirit, being included with the Father and the Son in the life-giving power, by which our nature is transferred from the corruptible life to immortality, and in many other cases also, as in the conception of “Good,” and “Holy,” and “Eternal,” “Wise,” “Righteous,” “Chief,” “Mighty,” and in fact everywhere, has an inseparable association with them in all the attributes ascribed in a sense of special excellence. And so we consider that it is right to think that that which is joined to the Father and the Son in such sublime and exalted conceptions is not separated from them in any.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in Church History, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

A Prayer for the Feast Day of James Hannington and the Martyrs of Uganda

Precious in thy sight, O Lord, is the death of thy saints, whose faithful witness, by thy providence, hath its great reward: We give thee thanks for thy martyrs James Hannington and his companions, who purchased with their blood a road unto Uganda for the proclamation of the Gospel; and we pray that with them we also may obtain the crown of righteousness which is laid up for all who love the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Church of Uganda, Death / Burial / Funerals, Spirituality/Prayer

A Doxology from Thomas Ken to begin the Day

To God the Father, who first loved us, and made us accepted in the Beloved; to God the Son, who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood; to God the Holy Ghost, who sheddeth the love of God abroad in our hearts: to the one true God be all love and all glory for time and for eternity.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Vindicate me against my adversary.’ For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

–Luke 18:1-8

Posted in Theology: Scripture