Honest speculation: If it were a scientific and historical fact that, every couple hundred of years, a person is resurrected from the dead in the manner Christ was, would anyone at all doubt that Christ rose from the dead (given the historical record)?
I realize that, even if the answer is, “Of course not; everyone would believe he did” (which I believe is the answer), such an argument is hardly dispositive of the issue. For starters, if it were a known occurrence throughout history, the early apostles and Christians wouldn’t have been willing to die in defense of their assertion that it happened here . . . and no one would have been trying to kill them over it. But still, it’s interesting to consider it.
I came up with that argument, incidentally, on my own, but I gotta believe I internalized it from earlier readings. If anyone knows where I might have read it, please pass it along.
“When the disciples saw the risen Christ, they beheld “him as a reality in the world, though no longer of it, respecting the order of the world, but Lord of its laws. To behold such reality was different and more than to see a tree or watch a man step through a doorway. To behold the risen Christ was an experience that burst the bounds of the ordinary. This explains the extraordinary wording of the texts: the strangeness of Christ’s ‘appearing,’ ‘vanishing,’ suddenly standing in the middle of a room or at someone’s side. Hence the abruptness, fragmentariness, oscillation, contradictoriness of the writing–the only true form for content so dynamic that no existing form can contain it.”
By killing Jesus, Satan had swallowed God’s bait. He didn’t know he had swallowed the Godhead, thereby inviting Full Being into his fortress of nothingness and bringing about the ontological fall of his nothingness. In the words of St. Gregory of Nyssa: “The Godhead hid under the covering of our human nature so as to offer an easy bait to him who sought to exchange us for a more precious prize. And the aim was that just like a greedy fish he would swallow the hook of divinity together with the bait of the flesh. Thus life would come to dwell in death, light would appear in darkness, and thus light and life would achieve the destruction of all that stood against them.”
You can imagine Satan’s smile as Jesus was sucked into the abyss. After watching Jesus enter hell, Satan was probably about to turn his attention back toward earth. But according to an ancient homily from Holy Saturday, Jesus, upon entering hell, met Adam, took his hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper and rise from the dead, and Jesus will give you light. . . I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image.”
Thus the terror was reversed: The tormentor, Satan, became the tormented; the tormented, Jesus, became the tormentor; hate, the weapon of the first tormentor, was replaced with love, the weapon of the second tormentor.
It’s difficult to imagine the full terror that raced through Satan as he realized what was happening, but there’s an excellent literary analogy toward the end of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and the torment that befell Sauron, Tolkien’s literary parallel to Satan. The hobbit, Frodo, bearer of the Ring that was the source of Sauron’s power, had sneaked into the middle of Sauron’s kingdom, Mount Doom, and stood at the abyss of the Crack of Doom, home of the only fires fierce enough to destroy the Ring: “The Dark Lord was suddenly aware of him . . . and the magnitude of his own folly was revealed to him in a blinding flash . . . Then his wrath blazed in consuming flame, but his fear rose like a vast black smoke to choke him. For he knew his deadly peril and the thread upon which his doom now hung. From all his policies and webs of fear and treachery, from all his strategems and wars his mind shook free; and throughout his realm a tremor ran, his slaves quailed, and his armies halted, [Sauron’s] whole mind and purpose . . . was now bent with overwhelming force upon the Mountain. At his summons, wheeling with a rending cry, [Sauron’s highest servants, the Ringwraiths] hurtled southwards to Mount Doom.”
But they got there too late. The Ring had been destroyed, and with it Sauron’s power.
Like his literary personification Sauron, Satan must have streaked southwards—downwards—to hell, only to watch helplessly as his evil work was undone. Ontologically speaking, man’s path to being had been restored and the path to nothingness, though still open to those who choose it, had been redirected to the path of Heaven. The path to full existence was opened to any person willing to accept the redemption—the restoration of man’s being—effected by Jesus’ death and resurrection.
“The Son of God suffered unto the death, not that men might not suffer, but that their sufferings might be like His.” George MacDonald
“The cross cannot be defeated. . . For it is Defeat.” G.K. Chesterton
On those who hate Christianity: “They do not dislike the Cross because it is a dead symbol; but because it is a live symbol.” G.K. Chesterton
“[A]s long as sin remains on earth, still will the Cross remain.” Fulton Sheen
“God has given us our lives as wheat and grapes. It is our duty to consecrate them and bring them back to God as bread and wine–transubstaniated, divinized, and spiritualized. There must be harvest in our hands after the springtime of the earthly pilgrimage. That is why Calvary is erected in the midst of us, and we are on its sacred hill. We were not made to be mere on-lookers . . . but rather to be participants in the mystery of the Cross.” Fulton Sheen.
“Since the symbols of baptism and the eucharist flowed from his side, it was from his side that Christ fashioned the Church, as he had fashioned Eve from the side of Adam.” St. John Chrysostom
“His Cross has put its due value upon every thing which we see, upon all fortunes, all advantages, all ranks, all dignities, all pleasures; upon the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. It has set a price upon the excitements, the rivalries, the hopes, the fears, the desires, the efforts, the triumphs of mortal man. It has given a meaning to the various, shifting course, the trials, the temptations, the sufferings of his earthly state. It has brought together and made consistent all that seemed discordant and aimless. It has taught us how to live, how to use this world, what to expect, what to desire, what to hope. It is the tone into which all the strains of the world’s music are ultimately to be resolved.” Cardinal Newman
“No one ever experienced the plunge down the vacuum of evil as did God’s Son–even to the excruciating agony behind the words: ‘My God, my god, why hast thou forsaken me?’ Jesus was really destroyed. Cut off in the flower of his age; his work stifled just when it should have taken root; his friends scattered, his honor broken. He no longer had anything, was anything: ‘a worm and not a man.'” Romano Guardini
“Only Christ’s love is certain. We cannot even say God’s love; for that God loves us we also know, ultimately, only through Christ.” Romano Guardini
“Communion with Jesus means becoming like him. With him we are nailed on the cross, with him we are laid in the tomb, with him we are raised up to accompany lost travelers in their journey.” Henri Nouwen
“You are saddened because of the unjust treatment shown your Lord, but yours is still greater sadness because you feel yourself incapable of bearing even small injuries for the honor of Christ.” Thomas A’Kempis
For 3:00: “For all that ever was wrong, is wrong, and will be wrong, the price has been paid.” Richard John Neuhaus
“[I]n the agony of Gethsemane the ultimate consequences of our sin had their hour. . . . God permitted his Son to taste the human agony of rejection and plunge towards the abyss. . . Gethsemane was the hour in which Jesus’ human heart and mind experienced the ultimate odium of the sin he was to bear as his own . . .”. Romano Guardini, The Lord.
I know it’s not politically acceptable to reference Vox Day, but last weekend I listened to a podcast with him on the Tom Woods Show. I found him engaging, and I especially liked his description of Social Justice Warriors. He said that the best way to understand the SJW ideology is to compare SJWs to a school of fish: if the school turns left, everyone turns left; if the school turns right, everyone turns right. He pointed out that the greatest fear of the SWJ is to turn right when the SJW school of fish turns left. The SJW doesn’t think for himself and he has no set of beliefs that reflect reality (as things really are), so the narrative has to change constantly, and the SJW has to make sure he changes with it: that he swims with the school. Vox is dead on.
I’m very disappointed, to the say the least. It didn’t take Trump even four months to cave into the Establishment and fire up the war machine. I thought maybe a strong man like Trump could do it. I was apparently wrong. I don’t consider myself a pacifist, but I loathe war. I don’t trust war. Like Sherman, I think war is hell and should only be fought in self-defense.
Related to yesterday’s post: How the opioid epidemic became America’s worst drug crisis ever, in 15 maps and charts. If you click over, pay attention to this section: “By and large, the drug overdose epidemic has hit white Americans the hardest.” The article attributes it to prescription abuse by doctors, but that doesn’t rule out the despair component . . . and I never trust any politically-correct explanation (the article says racist doctors are more leery of prescribing painkillers to blacks).
Welcome to Holy Week. Or “The Great Week,” as the eastern branches of the Church sometimes call it. In this regard, I recommend the 4/6/2017 podcast from “Light of the East” about the upcoming liturgies. It offers a different angle on these next few days.
Of course, the left just says “good riddance” to the “rednecks.” And, to be honest, when I see them walking around my town in their pajamas and Monster energy drinks (trying to, you know, get through another arduous round of video gaming before they start drinking beer at 2:00 on a Tuesday), I have a hard time not saying the same thing. But it’s wrong. And something is wrong. The first step to fix it is to recognize it, which we apparently have.
And in case you’re wondering, I know the culprit: the federal government. Through its social safety net, it has wrecked lower-class whites as readily as it wrecked urban blacks with the Great Society. Yeah, I know, there’s more to it, but that’s definitely a major contributor. By assuring them of a floor standard of living, the government has assured them they don’t need anyone else, thereby killing the need for a social network (like a family). It’s well-established that a lack of connectedness with others leads to a wretched life (see e.g.).
The family starts to return today: Marie and the two little kids late this afternoon, Meg tonight, Michael Saturday night, and even the eldest daughter, nurse Abbie, on Sunday. On top of that, I kept my shoulder to the stone all week, just so I could have a relaxing weekend with them. The occasion, obviously, calls for a few drinks. But just a few, I fear. We are, after all, on the eve of Holy Week. Moderation should always be the hallmark of drinking, but at this juncture, extra caution is warranted.
I’ll probably drink a few Kinky Pinks, if for no other reason than to show Marie my newest concoction.
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