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COLIN GUNTON



Remembering and Forgetting

‘If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right arm forget her cunning.’ The psalmist was making a fairly extreme promise or request, for, disabling injury and great age apart, right hands do not forget their cunning. A musical skill once mastered is never forgotten, even though practice may be needed to restore it after periods of neglect. Something truly learned becomes part of us, and never, in one respect, forgotten. But it can be forgotten in other respects, in the sense that it can be crowded out of our conscious minds by other preoccupations and concerns. The title, The Forgotten Trinity, was chosen by the British Council of Churches’ Study Commission largely for reasons of what now, and probably then, would be called marketing: a way of attracting public attention so that the reports were read—or at least, bought.2 But, unlike many marketing ploys, it contained a good deal of truth. In what way?
My allusion to the impossibility of forgetting a skill was designed to make the point that there are different ways of forgetting. We may never forget the skill of choosing, writing and posting greeting cards, but may need to enter little Mary’s birthday on a calendar if we are to remember to employ that skill when it is needed. So it is that the Western Church has each year a Sunday devoted to the Trinity, lest we forget. The Eastern Orthodox Churches do not, because their worship and thought is so steeped in trinitarian categories that they do not need to be reminded. Have we in the West of Christendom effectively forgotten the Trinity, so that we need to be reminded? Or is the trinitarian teaching like a skill, which is there but needs to be revived from time to time? Or—worse—does the difference between East and West suggest that we never really acquired it, and put the thing on a calendar once a year to awaken otherwise forgetful preachers into the realization that on this one Sunday in the year at least they must try to make sense of a sleeping dog they would rather leave alone? For Eastern Orthodoxy, I think it is true to say that their trinitarian belief is like the skill of a musician. It so permeates their being that they worship and think trinitarianly without, so to speak, having to think about it—rather in the way that musicians don’t think about what their hands are doing; their skills are so written into their bodies that they need only concentrate on the music and what it means. The point underlying the illustration is this. Theological teaching is not an end in itself, but a means of ensuring that it is the real God we worship, the real God before whom we live. That is the point of the doctrine of the Trinity above all, as we shall see.
What of the West? Here the story becomes complicated. On the face of it, we once had the same way of living in the Trinity, but have lost it, through a number of influences. Our hymns and blessings are steeped in trinitarian imagery: ‘Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit …’—that ascription of glory to God wonderfully described by Nathaniel Micklem as the triumph song of the redeemed. Go to the National Gallery in London, or to places like Florence, and you will see that once upon a time we were a deeply trinitarian culture: a long tradition of representations of the triune God shows at least that. But partly as the result of rationalist criticism, that has come under attack. When the doctrines of the Church came under fire in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it was the Trinity that was most savagely attacked as the most absurd and pointless of the many apparently untenable beliefs of the Christian tradition. Reason, so it was claimed, taught that there was only one God; any elaboration on that was simply priestcraft and superstition. That is surely one reason why we have tended to forget, or have become rather embarrassed by the whole thing. Something of those attacks has entered the bloodstream of even the orthodox believer, so that we feel that there must be something in the critiques.
Yet there is a case to be made that things have never been as they ought, that the West never had its piety and worship deeply enough embedded in trinitarian categories. The Study Commission was often given reason to wonder whether, although trinitarian confession has always been a yardstick of authentic Christian belief, the Church had ever really attained the crucial grade 5 at which things are supposed to stick. A number of theologians have commented on various aspects of the problem. Karl Rahner asserted that in Roman Catholic manuals of dogmatics interest was effectively so concentrated on the one God that everything we need to know about God seems to have been decided before the reader comes to the Son and the Spirit. For practical piety, he said, the Trinity had become irrelevant. One test is this: Do you think that you know to all intents and purposes who and what kind of being God is, quite independently of what you learn in trinitarian teaching? In many cases, that seems to be the case, particularly in the deeply entrenched tendency to begin with philosophical definitions of God. The threeness seems somehow additional, merely a Christian addition to a generally accepted doctrine of God.3
But this is not simply a matter of theological teaching, important though that is. The worship of the Church is first of all praise of the God who has created and redeems us; but it is also the way we learn a kind of skill, the art of living. And the same question can be asked again. Is the worship of the Church truly informed by trinitarian categories? Do we think it matters? The Study Commission was taught some interesting truths here, particularly by the inestimable privilege of having some fine Eastern Orthodox theologians sharing in our thinking. They enabled us to notice that the Alternative Service Book rarely finds a place for the Holy Spirit in the wording of its prayers, while in the collects of its great predecessor, the Book of Common Prayer, that handbook of so much English piety, the Holy Spirit scarcely makes an appearance. Similarly, Western orders for the Lord’s Supper have usually omitted the epiclesis, the prayer to the Spirit asking him to bless the bread and wine and the people. If the Spirit is absent from the structuring of the worship, can a rite be truly trinitarian? Is the reason that the Trinity has been effectively forgotten that it has never really entered the bloodstream of the Church, so that there is too little to remember? And does this make a difference to that most important of all human skills, the art of living before God, with our neighbour and in the created world?
The suggestion behind all this is that a truly trinitarian framework for our worship and life has rarely been found in the life of the Western Christian Church; that we have forgotten because we never really remembered. The result is that on the face if it—and it is the suspicion of so many Christians, professional and lay alike—the doctrine of the Trinity is a piece of abstract theorizing, perhaps necessary as a test of Christian belief, but of little further interest. All that stuff about three in one and one in three tends to leave us cold. Does it not turn God into a mathematical conundrum? All those dreary attempts to show that three can really be one, all those unconvincing illustrations from the natural world or the workings of the mind: do they really contribute to the learning of that skill in living that is promised for those who follow the crucified Lord? Can we not get on quite adequately without this piece of theoretical baggage? That defines our problem: the relation between theology and life.

Posted in din ce mai citesc

IOAN DAMASCHINUL – TRADITIE SI ORIGINALITATE IN TEOLOGIA BIZANTINA


Azi mi-a sosit cartea de la Editura Deisis, despre Sf. Ioan Damaschinul. V-o recomand tuturor.

Sfantul Ioan Damaschinul († cca 750) este autorul unei complexe opere de sinteza, in acelasi timp dogmatica, omiletica si imnografica. Prin aceasta opera el a jucat un rol decisiv in fixarea traditiei ortodoxe a epocii patristice si in transmiterea ei lumii bizantine, dar si celei occidentale (prin traducerea faimoasei sale „Dogmatici”). Cu toate acestea, cunoasterea personalitatii si gandirii sale continua sa fie invers proportionala cu importanta rolului pe care l-au jucat.

Preot ortodox englez, reputatul profesor de istorie a Bisericii vechi de la Universitatea din Durham, pr. Andrew Louth — cunoscut deja publicului romanesc prin sintezele sale privitoare la „natura teologiei”, „originile traditiei mistice crestine” si la „Dionisie Areopagitul” publicate de Editura Deisis — ofera in volumul de fata prima monografie de anvergura, indelung asteptata, asupra vietii, operei si gandirii teologice a Sfantului Ioan Damaschinul.
O prima parte („Credinta si viata”) reconstituie parcursul biografic al inaltului functionar al califilor de la Damasc devenit monah palestinian teolog, predicator si imnograf. Celelalte doua parti ofera radiografii atente ale operelor sale: atat a celei filozofico-dogmatice („Credinta si logica”), cat si a celei omiletico-poetice („Credinta si icoane”). O sectiune suplimentara de texte restituie pentru prima data traducerea catorva scrieri necunoscute inca publicului romanesc.
Scrisa cu eleganta si rigoare, monografia pr. Andrew Louth este o cercetare unica, o contributie esentiala la cunoastere traditiei ortodoxe intr-o figura de sinteza si un reper indispensabil pentru toti iubitorii ei doritori sa o cunoasca si inteleaga cum se cuvine.

Posted in teologi moderni

The Word, Karl Barth


We will undertake to determine the special place of that theology, which, according to our previous explanation, desires to be evangelical theology. What concerns us is not the place, right, and possibility of theology within the domain and limits of general culture; especially not within the boundaries of the universitas litterarum, or what is otherwise known as general humanistic studies! Ever since the fading of its illusory splendor as a leading academic power during the Middle Ages, theology has taken too many pains to justify its own existence. It has tried too hard, especially in the nineteenth century, to secure for itself at least a small but honorable place in the throne room of general science. This attempt at self-justification has been no help to its own work. The fact is that it has made theology, to a great extent, hesitant and halfhearted; moreover, this uncertainty has earned theology no more respect for its achievements than a very modest tip of the hat. Strange to say, the surrounding world only recommenced to take notice of theology in earnest (though rather morosely) when it again undertook to consider and concentrate more strongly upon its own affairs. Theology had first to renounce all apologetics or external guarantees of its position within the environment of other sciences, for it will always stand on the firmest ground when it simply acts according to the law of its own being. It will follow this law without lengthy explanations and excuses. Even today, theology has by no means done this vigorously and untiringly enough. On the other hand, what are “culture” and “general science,” after all? Have these concepts not become strangely unstable within the last fifty years? At any rate, are they not too beset by problems for us at present to be guided by them? All the same, we should certainly not disdain reflecting on what the rest of the academic world actually must think of theology. It is worth considering the place of theology within the university; discussion may be held about the reason and justification for locating this modest, free, critical, and happy science sui generis in such an environment. But for the present moment, this question may be considered secondary. Compared to it, other questions are much more pressing. Who knows whether the answer to such secondary questions might not be reserved for the third millennium, when a new light may perhaps be cast on theology and its academic ambiance?
The “place” of theology, as understood here, will be determined by the impetus which it receives from within its own domain and from its own object. Its object—the philanthropic God Himself—is the law which must be the continual starting point of theology. It is, as the military might say, the post that the theologian must take and keep, whether or not it suits him or any of his fellow creatures. The theologian has to hold this post at all costs, whether at the university or in the catacombs, if he does not wish to be imprisoned for dereliction of duty.
The word “theology” includes the concept of the Logos. Theology is a logia, logic, or language bound to the theos, which both makes it possible and also determines it. The inescapable meaning of logos is “word,” however much Goethe’s Faust felt that he could not possibly rate “the word” so highly. The Word is not the only necessary determination of the place of theology, but it is undoubtedly the first. Theology itself is a word, a human response; yet what makes it theology is not its own word or response but the Word which it hears and to which it responds. Theology stands and falls with the Word of God, for the Word of God precedes all theological words by creating, arousing, and challenging them. Should theology wish to be more or less or anything other than action in response to that Word, its thinking and speaking would be empty, meaningless, and futile. Because the Word of God is heard and answered by theology, it is a modest and, at the same time, a free science. editorial Theology is modest because its entire logic can only be a human ana-logy to that Word; analogical thought and speech do not claim to be, to say, to contain, or to control the original word. But it gives a reply to it by its attempt to co-respond with it; it seeks expressions that resemble the ratio and relations of the Word of God in a proportionate and, as far as feasible, approximate and appropriate way. Theology’s whole illumination can be only its human reflection, or mirroring (in the precise sense of “speculation”!); and its whole production can be only a human reproduction. In short, theology is not a creative act but only a praise of the Creator and of his act of creation —praise that to the greatest possible extent truly responds to the creative act of God. Likewise, theology is free because it is not only summoned but also liberated for such analogy, reflection, and reproduction. It is authorized, empowered, and impelled to such praise of its creator.
What is required of theological thought and speech, therefore, is more than that they should simply conduct, direct, and measure themselves by that Word. It goes without saying that they must do that; and it is equally true that such concepts are relevant to the relationship of theology to the witnesses of the Word, of whom we will speak next. editorial But for the relationship of theology to the Word itself, such concepts are too weak. The idea that autonomous man should be concerned with the response to the Word and its appropriate interpretation must be completely avoided. It cannot be simply supposed that man naturally stands in need of, and is subject to, the authority that encounters him in the Word. Before human thought and speech can respond to God’s word, they have to be summoned into existence and given reality by the creative act of God’s word. Without theprecedence of the creative Word, there can be not only no proper theology but, in fact, no evangelical theology at all! Theology is not called in any way to interpret, explain, and elucidate God and his Word. Of course, where its relationship to the witnesses of the Word is concerned, it must be an interpreter. But in relation to God’s Word itself, theology has nothing to interpret. At this point the theological response can only consist in confirming and announcing the Word as something spoken and heard prior to all interpretation. What is at stake is the fundamental theological act that contains and determines everything else. “Omnis recta cognitio Dei ab oboedientia nascitur” (Calvin). editorial Not only does this Word regulate theology and precede all theological interpretation; it also and above all constitutes and calls theology forth out of nothingness into being, out of death into life. This Word is the Word of God. The place of theology is direct confrontation with this Word, a situation in which theology finds itself placed, and must again and again place itself.
The Word of God is the Word that God spoke, speaks, and will speak in the midst of all men. Regardless of whether it is heard or not, it is, in itself, directed to all men. It is the Word of God’swork upon men, for men, and with men. His work is not mute; rather, it speaks with a loud voice. Since only God can do what he does, only he can say in his work what he says. And since his work is not divided but single (for all the manifold forms which it assumes along the way from its origin to its goal), his Word is also (for all its exciting richness) simple and single. It is not ambiguous but unambiguous, not obscure but clear. In itself, therefore, it is quite easily understandable to both the most wise and the most foolish. God works, and since he works, he also speaks. His Word goes forth. And if it be widely ignored de facto, it can never and in no place be ignored de jure. That man who refuses to listen and to obey the Word acts not as a free man but as a slave, for there is no freedom except through God’s Word. We are speaking of the God of the Gospel, his work and action, and of the Gospel in which his work and action are at the same time his speech. This is his Word, the Logos in which the theological logia, logic, and language have their creative basis and life.
The Word of God is Gospel, that is, the good word, because it declares God’s good work. In this Word, God’s work itself becomes speech. editorial Through his Word, God discloses his work in his covenant with man, in the history of its establishment, maintenance, accomplishment, and fulfillment. In this very way he discloses himself (both his holiness and his mercy) as man’s father, brother, and friend. At the same time, however, he discloses his power and his eminence as the possessor, Lord, and judge of man. He discloses himself as the primary partner of the covenant—himself as man’s God. But he also discloses man to be his creature, the debtor who, confronting him, is unable to pay. Man is lost in his judgment, yet also upheld and saved by his grace, freed for him and called by him to service and duty. He discloses man as God’s man, as God’s son and servant who is loved by him. Man is thus the other, the secondary, partner of the covenant. The revelation of the primacy of God and the station of man in the covenant is the work of God’s word. This covenant (in which God is man’s God and man is God’s man) is the content of the Word of God; and God’s covenant, history, and work with man are the contents of his Word which distinguish it from all other words. This Logos is the creator of theology. By it, theology is shown its place and assigned its task. Evangelical theology exists in the service of the Word of God’s covenant of grace and peace.
What follows now is in no wise different from what has been said already, but it now says the same thing concretely. Theology responds to the Word which God has spoken, still speaks, andwill speak again in the history of Jesus Christ which fulfills the history of Israel. To reverse the statement, theology responds to that Word spoken in the history of Israel which reaches its culmination in the history of Jesus Christ. As Israel proceeds toward Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ proceeds out of Israel, so the Gospel of God goes forth. It is precisely the particularity of the Gospel which is its universality. This is the good Word of the covenant of grace and peace established, upheld, accomplished, and fulfilled by God. It is his Word of the friendly communion between himself and man. The Word of God, therefore, is not the appearance of an idea of such a covenant and communion. It is the Logos of this history, the Logos, or Word, of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who, as such, is the Father of Jesus Christ. This Word, the Word of this history, is what evangelical theology must always hear, understand, and speak of anew. We shall now try to delineate what this history declares.
First of all, this history speaks of a God who calls his own people to himself. Out of a tribal community which exemplifies all mankind, he calls his own people by acting upon it and speaking to it as its God and treating and addressing it as his people. The name of this God is Yahweh: “I am who I will be” or “I will be who I am” or “I will be who I will be.” And the name of this people is Israel, which means—not a contender for God, but—“contender against God.” The covenant is the encounter of this God with this people in their common history. The report of this history, although strangely contradictory, is not ambiguous. This history speaks of the unbroken encounter, conversation, and resultant communion between a holy and faithful God with an unholy and unfaithful people. It speaks of both the unfailing presence of the divine partner and the failure of the human partner that should be holy as he is holy, answering his faithfulness with faithfulness. While this history definitely speaks of the divine perfection of the covenant, it does not speak of its human perfection. The covenant has not yet been perfected. Israel’s history, therefore, points beyond itself; it points to a fulfillment which, although pressing forward to become reality, has not yet become real.
At this point, the history of Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, commences. In it the activity and speech of the God of Israel toward his people, rather than ceasing, attain their consummation. The ancient covenant, established with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, proclaimed by Moses, and confirmed to David, becomes in Jesus Christ a new covenant. The holy and faithful God of Israel himself now calls into existence and action his holy and faithful human partner. In the midst of his people he lets one become man and espouses the cause of this man totally. With him he expresses the same solidarity that a father has with his son; he affirms that he, God, is identical with this man. Certainly, what is fulfilled in the existence and appearance, in the work and word of Jesus of Nazareth, is the history of God and his Israel, of Israel and its God. But the fulfillment of Israel’s history is not its own continuation, as though God should raise up and call a new Moses, a further prophet, or a hero. Its fulfillment, instead, is the indwelling of God in this man, working and speaking through him. Anything less than this, obviously would be too little to fill up that vacuum. What the history of Jesus Christ confirms in the consummation of the history of Israel is this event in which the God of Israel consummates the covenant established with his people. The history of Jesus Christ is rooted deeply in the history of Israel, yet it soars high above Israel’s history. It speaks of the realized unity of true God and true man, of the God who descends to community with man, gracious in his freedom, and of man who is exalted to community with him, thankful in his freedom. In this way “God was in Christ.” In this way this one was and is the one who, although expected and promised, had not yet come forward in God’s covenant with Israel. And in this way the Word of God was and is the consummation of what was only heralded in the history of Israel: the Word become flesh.
The history of Jesus Christ took place first and foremost for the benefit of Israel. It was the history of the covenant of God with Israel which attained its consummation in that subsequent history. And so God’s Word, which was fully spoken in the history of Jesus Christ when it became flesh in him, remains first and foremost his concluding word to Israel. This ought never to be forgotten! Nevertheless, Israel was sent precisely as God’s mediator to the nations; and this remains the meaning of the covenant made with it. The presence of God in Christ was the reconciliation of the world with himself in this Christ of Israel. In this consummating history, God’s Word was now spoken in and with this, his work, which was done in and upon Israel. His Word remains a comforting announcement to all fellow men of the one Son of God, an announcement calling for repentance and faith. It is God’s good Word about his good work in the midst, and for the good, of all creation. It is a Word directed to all peoples and nations of all times and places. The task of evangelical theology, therefore, is to hear, understand, and speak of the consummation of God’s Word, both its intensive and its extensive perfection as the Word of the covenant of grace and peace. In the Christ of Israel this Word has become particular, that is, Jewish flesh. It is in the particularity of the flesh that it applies universally to all men. The Christ of Israel is the Saviour of the world.
This whole Word of God in Christ is the word to which theology must listen and reply. It is God’s Word spoken both in the relation of the history of Israel to the history of Jesus Christ and in the relation of the history of Jesus Christ to the history of Israel. It is the Word of God’s covenant with man—man who is alienated from God but who nevertheless is devoted to him, because God himself has interceded for man.
If theology wanted to do no more than hear and relate this Word as it appears in the conflict between God’s faithfulness and man’s unfaithfulness, theology would not respond to the whole Word of God. Should it limit itself to the conflict which would be characteristic for the history of Israel as such, theology would completely miss the central truth of this Word. The fact is, there is no history of Israel in itself and for its own sake. There is only the single history which, though it has its source in God’s good will in overcoming Israel —the “contender with God”—nevertheless hastens toward a goal. It hastens toward the history of Jesus Christ, the establishment of the human partner who, for his part, is faithful to the divine partner. In Israel’s history there is no message that does not point beyond itself, that does not express its character as the Word of the divine partner at work in it. Every such message strives toward its consummation in the message of the history of Jesus Christ. Already containing this message within itself, Israel’s history is to this extent already Gospel.
Theology would not respond to the whole Word of God if it wished only to hear and to speak of the Word become flesh. It would totally miss the truth of this Word if it proclaimed simply and solely the history of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. As if the reconciliation of the world with God were made at the expense of, or in abstraction from, the promises given to Israel! If theology wishes to hear and repeat what God has said, it must remain attentive to what happened in Israel’s history. What happened was the fulfillment and accomplishment of thereconciliation of Israel. The old, untiring, but now weary contender with God was reconciled by the will of the one true God. All the same, it was in this Jewish flesh that the Word of God now went forth into the whole world. “Salvation is from the Jews” ( John 4:22). The covenant of God with man consists neither simply in the one nor simply in the other, but rather in the succession and unity of both forms of the history of the work of God. Similarly, the Word about this covenant goes forth in the same unity, since it is the Word of the selfsame God spoken both in the history of Israel and in the history of Jesus Christ. Their succession and unity form the whole Logos, and it is this unity of which evangelical theology must hear and speak. When theology fulfills this command, it takes
and holds its post. To use a remarkable expression of Paul’s, theology is then logike latreia. Not theology only, but among other services rendered in the church, theology specifically is committed to offer “reasonable service” to God.

Posted in teologi moderni

John Behr


Dumnezeul dezvăluit prin Cruce

Reflecţia biblică asupra Patimilor lui Hristos începută de apostoli şi evanghelişti a fost continuată, extinsă şi adâncită în opera teologilor ulteriori, formând şi informând fiecare aspect al viziunii lor teologice. Centralitatea Patimilor lui Hristos ca loc al revelării puterii transformatoare a lui Dumnezeu a reprezentat o problemă specială în disputele cu Eumonius din a doua jumătate a secolului al IV- lea. Eunomius îl acuzase pe Sf.Vasile cel Mare de faptul că s-ar ruşina de Cruce, întrucât acesta ar fi spus, sau cel puţin aşa înţelesese Eumonius, că nu a fost răstignit decât un simplu om, şi nu un zeu. După moartea Sf.Vasile, fratele lui, Sf.Grigorie de Nyssa, i-a răspuns pe larg lui Eumonius, susţinând că, în realitate, Eumonius era cel care se ruşina de Cruce. Sf. Grigorie a demonstrat că Patimile nu „arată slăbiciunea lui Hristos”, aşa cum credea Eumonius, ci sublinează „puterea nemăsurată prin care acceptarea jertfei a fost cu putinţă”, astfel încât „este de trebuinţă să-I aducem aceeaşi cinste Dumnezeului arătat prin Cruce precum Îi aducem Tatălui”.
Într-atât de străine sunt Patimile de orice semn de slăbiciune, încât „Dumnezeu arătat prin Cruce” este nu doar slăvit, ci slăvit deopotrivă cu Tatăl.
Potrivit Sfântului Grigorie, această manifestare a puterii divine a „Dumnezeului arătat prin Cruce” este taina centrală a vestirii apostolice:
Toţi aceia care vestesc Cuvântul dovedesc şi minunea tainei atunci când amintesc că „Dumnezeu S-a arătat în trup” (Ioan 1, 14), că „Lumina luminează în întuneric” (Ioan 1, 5) sau că „Viaţa a gustat moartea” (Evrei 2, 9). Prin toate aceste afirmaţii făcute de vestitorii credinţei este sporită minunea Celui care Şi-a arătat plinătatea puterii prin mijloace exterioare firii Lui.
Scriptura este explicită în privinţa faptului că Dumnezeu nu poate fi văzut de către oameni de vreme ce dumnezeirea nu este supusă percepţiei omeneşti. În cazul revelării lui Dumnezeu prin Iisus Hristos, ceea ce se vede este puterea transcendentă a divinităţii manifestată anume prin intermediul lucrurilor exterioare firii divine – în trup, în întuneric şi în moarte -, căci prin acestea contemplăm puterea transcendentă şi transformatoare a lui Dumnezeu.
Potrivit Sfântului Grigorie, toate aceste lucruri vestite de slujitorii Cuvântului nu doar că ne fac să credem în dumnzeirea Celui răstignit, ci formează totodată conţinutul credinţei noastre în dumnezeirea Sa: ele sunt tocmai expresia adevăratei dumnezeiri şi egalităţi a Fiului în cinste şi slavă cu Tatăl. După cum o spusese Origen cu un secol mai devreme, răsturnând înţelegerea noastră obişnuită a imnului kenotic de la Filipeni 2:
Sine, ascultător făcându-Se până la moarte, şi încă moarte pe cruce” decât dacă ar fi „socotit o ştirbire că, fiind El întocmai cu Dumnezeu”, trebuia să devină rob pentru a mântui lumea.
Faptul că Hristos Şi-a luat „chip de rob” (Filipeni 2, 7) şi a păşit în mod voit către Patimi nu contrazice ceea ce, în absenţa acestor gesturi, am fi putut crede că este dumnezeirea Lui, ci, în realitate, tocmai aceste gesturi Îi relevă adevărata Sa dumnezeire. Puterea transcendentă a lui Dumnezeu este evidentă în această lume în trup, în întuneric şi în moarte, în chipul robului. Dar această manifestare a puterii divine prin slăbiciune este în mod simultan o transformare: Hristos, în chipul robului, ne arată chipul lui Dumnezeu. Întunericul şi moartea devin lumină şi viaţă. Iar trupul luat de Cuvântul devine trup al Cuvântului – devine Cuvânt. Sau, aşa cum a spus-o Sf. Grigorie, „până şi trupul în care a îndurat Patimile a fost prefăcut prin acea întrepătrundere, încât a devenit ceea ce este firea care l-a asumat.” Prin Patimi, trupul în care a pătimit Fiul ajunge să se împărtăşească de însăşi dumnezeirea lui Dumnezeu. Ceea ce nu înseamnă că a încetat să mai fie un trup omenesc, ci că nu mai este supus densităţii, opacităţii şi greutăţii, în afară de limitările temporale şi spaţiale ce caracterizează experienţa noastră în trup: chiar dacă Hristos a fost cândva cunoscut prin trup, El nu mai poate fi cunoscut astfel de-acum înainte (cf. II Corinteni 5,16). Patimile rămân locul teologic unde contemplăm puterea transformatoare a lui Dumnezeu, a „Dumnezeului arătat prin Cruce”.

Preluat din John Behr Taina lui Hristos: viaţa în moarte, Editura Sofia, Bucureşti 2008

Posted in Poezie

Tudor Arghezi



Denie

Seara stau cu Dumnezeu
De vorbă-n pridvorul meu,
El e colea, peste drum,
În altarul Lui de fum,
Aprinzând peste hotare
Mucuri mici de lumânare.
Din cerdacul meu la El
E un zbor de porumbiel.
Îţi trimite danie
Câte o gânganie,
Painjini pe sanie
Sau pe o metanie,
Atârnaţti de-o sfoară, groasă
Cât o umbră de mătasă.
Şi se leagă de pridvoare
Mirodenii dulci de floare,
Ca o punte de poteci
Pentru fluturii-n scurteici.

Pe drumul de El ales
Graiul n-are înţeles.
Mai mult spune cucuruzul
Decât gura şi auzul.
Domnul tace.
Glasul nu-şi trimite-ncoace.
Domnul face.

Posted in teologi moderni

John R.W.Stott


The Message of the Sermon on the Mount

Everybody who has ever heard of Jesus of Nazareth, and knows anything at all of his teaching, must surely be familiar with the beatitudes with which the Sermon on the Mount begins. Their simplicity of word and profundity of thought have attracted each fresh generation of Christians, and many others besides. The more we explore their implications, the more seems to remain unexplored. Their wealth is inexhaustible. We cannot plumb their depths. Truly, ‘We are near heaven here.’
The beatitudes set forth the balanced and variegated character of Christian people. These are not eight separate and distinct groups of disciples, some of whom are meek, while others are merciful and yet others are called upon to endure persecution. They are rather eight qualities of the same group who at one and the same time are meek and merciful, poor in spirit and pure in heart, mourning and hungry, peacemakers and persecuted.
Further, the group exhibiting these marks is not an élitist set, a small spiritual aristocracy remote from the common run of Christians. On the contrary, the beatitudes are Christ’s own specification of what every Christian ought to be. All these qualities are to characterize all his followers. Just as the ninefold fruit of the Spirit which Paul lists is to ripen in every Christian character, so the eight beatitudes which Christ speaks describe his ideal for every citizen of God’s kingdom. Unlike the gifts of the Spirit which he distributes to different members of Christ’s body in order to equip them for different kinds of service, the same Spirit is concerned to work all these Christian graces in us all. There is no escape from our responsibility to covet them all.

Posted in Poezie

Vasile Voiculescu



Doamne
În vârful copacului Tău sunt o floare…
Pe cea mai înaltă ramură a lumii
Mă leagăn în talazul de azur şi soare.
Slavă Ţie că n-am rămas în temniţa humii,
Ci slobodă, spre cer, înfloritoare
Inima mea nu mai întârzîie:
Zbucneşte afară în limpezi petale
Să lege rod tainic, bob de poezie
Hrana zburătoarelor împărăţiei Tale.
Petala mi-e cu aripa rudă,
Miresme, cântec gata să s-audă.
Zâmbesc sub luceafar visarile-mi grele,
Beau apele lunii, se umflă în ele
Păunii nopţii cu cozile-n stele.
…Scuturaţi-mă vânturi mladii ori haine,
Singură moartea e o dincolo de fire
Prăpastie cu adânc de fericire.
Furtuna extazului mă va urca, poate,
Peste vamile şi stavilele toate,
Într-o pală de parfum, Doamne, pâna la Tine,
Cerul arunce-mi înapoi jos ruina.
Floarea căzută din împărăţie
A vazut Cerul şi a sărutat Lumina.

Posted in din ce mai citesc

Mircea Eliade



Manifestarea sacrului

Omul îşi dă seama de existenţa sacrului pentru că acesta se manifestă, se înfăţişează ca un lucru cu totul diferit de profan. Pentru a reda actul acestei manifestări a sacrului, am propus termenul de hierofanie, care ne este la îndemână, cu atât mai mult cu cât nu are nevoie de lămuriri suplimentare: el nu exprimă decât ceea ce este cuprins în conţinutul etimologic, adică ni se arată ceva sacru. S ar putea spune că istoria religiilor, de la cele mai primitive până la cele mai elaborate, este alcătuită dintr o acumulare de hierofanii, din manifestările realităţilor sacre. De la hierofania cea mai elementară, ca de pildă, manifestarea sacrului într un lucru oarecare, o piatră ori un copac, până la hierofania supremă care este, pentru un creştin, întruparea lui Dumnezeu în Isus Cristos, nu există ruptură. Este mereu aceeaşi taină: manifestarea a ceva care este „altfel”, a unei realităţi care nu aparţine lumii noastre, în lucruri care fac parte integrantă din lumea noastră „naturală”, „profană”.
Occidentalul modern se simte oarecum stânjenit în faţa anumitor forme de manifestare a sacrului, neputând crede că acesta s ar putea manifesta, pentru unele fiinţe omeneşti, în pietre ori în arbori. Or, aşa cum vom vedea în cele ce urmează, nu este nicidecum vorba de o venerare a pietrei sau a copacului în ele însele. Piatra sacră, arborele sacru nu sunt adorate ca atare, ci pentru că sunt nişte hierofanii, pentru că „arată” ceva care nu mai este piatră şi nici arbore, ci sacru, ganz andere.
S a arătat în numeroase rânduri şi se cuvine subliniat din nou faptul că orice hierofanie, chiar şi cea mai elementară, reprezintă un paradox. Manifestând sacrul, un obiect oarecare devine altceva, fără a înceta însă să fie el însuşi, deoarece continuă să facă parte din mediul său cosmic. O piatră sacră este tot o piatră; în aparenţă (sau mai bine zis din punct de vedere profan), nimic nu o deosebeşte de celelalte pietre. Pentru cei cărora o piatră li s a arătat sacră, realitatea sa imediată se preschimbă însă în realitate supranaturală. Cu alte cuvinte, pentru cei care au o experienţă religioasă, întreaga Natură se poate înfăţişa ca sacralitate cosmică. Cosmosul, în totalitatea sa, poate deveni o hierofanie.
Omul societăţilor arhaice tinde să trăiască în sacru sau în preajma obiectelor consacrate cât mai mult timp. Tendinţa este lesne de înţeles: pentru „primitivi”, ca şi pentru omul tuturor societăţilor premoderne, sacrul înseamnă putere şi, în cele din urmă, realitate. Sacrul este saturat de fiinţă. Puterea sacră înseamnă deopotrivă realitate, perenitate şi eficienţă. Opoziţia sacru profan este adesea înţeleasă ca opoziţie între real şi ireal sau pseudoreal. Să nu ne aşteptăm să găsim în limbile arhaice terminologia proprie filozofilor, adică real ireal şi aşa mai departe; dar ideea există. Dorinţa omului religios de a fi, de a face parte din realitate, de a se simţi saturat de putere este, prin urmare, cât se poate de firească.
Cum încearcă omul religios să rămână cât mai mult într un univers sacru; cum se înfăţişează experienţa sa totală de viaţă în raport cu experienţa omului lipsit de sentiment religios, a omului care trăieşte sau care doreşte să trăiască într o lume desacralizată: iată principala temă abordată în paginile care urmează. Trebuie să arătăm încă de la început că lumea profană în totalitate, Cosmosul total desacralizat este o descoperire recentă a minţii omeneşti. Nu ne propunem să arătăm prin ce procese istorice şi în urma căror schimbări ale comportamentului spiritual omul modern şi a desacralizat lumea şi şi a asumat o existenţă profană. Ajunge să constatăm că desacralizarea este proprie experienţei totale a omului nereligios al societăţilor moderne, căruia îi este prin urmare din ce în ce mai greu să regăsească dimensiunile existenţiale ale omului religios al societăţilor arhaice.

Posted in Sfintii Parinti

Sfântul Ioan Damaschin


Cuvânt la Buna-Vestire a preasfintei Stăpânei noastre de Dumnezeu Născătoare Maria

Acum praznicul şi sărbătoarea preaslăvită şi împărăteasă a Împărătesei a strălucit mai mult decât razele soarelui cele strălucitoare ca aurul. Acum Biserica cea sobornicească şi apostolică se înfrumuseţează în chip minunat bucurându-se.
Acum se adună cu tot poporul să sărbătorească cei iubitori de praznice şi vederi[duhovniceşti]. Acum să se veselească cele cereşti, cele pământeşti şi cele dedesupt şi toate făpturile din ele.
Acum să fie lăudată cea cu totul lăudată ca o preaslăvită cu laute atotslăvite. Acum să fie mărită Fecioara cea de Dumnezeu mărită şi aleasă şi care a fost făcută organ a lui Dumnezeu. Acum să fie slăvită cea cu adevărat cu multe nume şi cu mulţi ochi şi mai înaltă decât toată zidirea împreună. Acum să fie fericită chivotul lui Dumnezeu care a cuvântat cu Dumnezeu, care L-a încăput pe Dumnezeu, cea mai proslăvită decât toată lumea. Pentru că într-adevăr bucuria şi veselia se răspândesc peste toată lumea. Să-şi ridice glasul toate adunările[de credincioşi]. Astăzi toate popoarele să strige Împărătesei care s-a născut din David, zicând dimpreună cu David: „Lucruri mărite s-au grpit despre tine, cetate a lui Dumnezeu, a Marelui Împărat.” Să se deschidă astăzi cartea profeţilor cea scrisă de către Dumnezeu şi să vorbească despre pururea copilă şi Fecioara Maria. Astăzi să se bucure prin mijlocirea cetăţii celei însufleţite toate cetăţiile Iudeii. Astăzi Gavril, coriferul acestui praznic peste toate sărbătorile, să se strige şi să zică dintru înălţime: „Bucură-te, ceea ce eşti plină de har, Domnul este cu tine”. Să strigăm astăzi şi noi, cei ce avem limbile de tărână, şi să-i spunem mult-preaslăvitei şi purtătoarei de Lumină Maicii Domnului şi Mântuitorului nostru Iisus Hristos câteva rostiri înveselitoare şi să o lăudăm armonios zicând :
„ Bucură-te, ceea ce eşti plină de har, Domnul este cu tine. Binecuvântată eşti tu între femei şi binecuvântat este rodul pântecelui tău!”.
Bucură-te, cea plină de har, care ai fost aleasă dintre toate rudeniile,şi seminţiile,şi limbile,şi neamurile ,şi popoarele.
Bucură-te, cea plină de har, cea mai dinainte de veci hărăzită Făcătorului şi Împăratului veacurilor.
Bucură-te, împlinirea Vechiului şi Noului Testament.
Bucură-te, floarea cea bogat înflorită a purtătorilor de Dumnezeu Părinţi şi Patriarhi.
Bucură-te, numele cel din veac proorocit de către profeţi.
Bucură-te, urmaşa părintelui întregii lumi[Adam], care a fost plăsmuit de Dumnezeu Însuşi.
Bucură-te, fiică a Evei, maica întregii lumi şi prima între femei.
Bucură-te, antitipul vasului însufleţit al lui Noe.
Bucură-te, ceea ce ai ieşit nemincinos în urma făgăduinţei lui Dumnezeu din coapsa lui Avraam, părintele neamului (lui Israel).
Bucură-te, scară ce ai atins cerul, pe care demult a văzut-o Iacov, cel mare între patriarhi.
Bucură-te, rugul cel cuprins de flăcări, pe care l-a văzut demult în muntele Sinai Moise, cel atotvestit.
Bucură-te, toiagul ce a înmugurit dumnezeieşte, al lui Aaron, al celui cu adevărat renumit între preoţi.
Bucură-te, cortul cel nou de porfiră de multe feluri, pe care l-a făurit Beţaleel cel iscusit.
Bucură-te, oracol de aur şi pietre nestemate, ţesut cu fir de aur.
Bucură-te, altar de jertfă adumbrit de către cei doi Serafimi. Bucură-te, sfinţenia veşmântului arhieresc efod.
Bucură-te, (altar de) tămâiere din aur… au slăvit cu glas mare toţi îngerii Mei.
Bucură-te, cea în care sălăşluindu-Se cu Trupul a locuit pentru noi Cel ce zice în (cartea lui) Isaia: „Eu sunt Cel-Dintâi şi Eu sunt de azi înainte”.
Bucură-te, odor de Dumnezeu purtător, care ai încăput cu trupul pe Cel pe Care nu-L poate încăpea nimic.
Bucură-te, vas de Dumnezeu purtător, auz mai presus de toată auzirea.
Pentru aceasta bucură-te: pentru că ai născut Pruncul despre Care prefeţeşte Iuda zicând: „Iuda-mi este pui de leu: de pradă, fiul meu, te-ai ridicat”.
Bucură-te, că ai născut Pruncul despre Care dumnezeiescul părinte David zice că „I se va da Lui din aurul Arabiei”.
Bucură-te, că ai născut Pruncul Căruia-I slujesc, după cum spune Daniel (proorocul), mii şi miriade de îngeri.
Bucură-te, că ai născut Pruncul pe Care-L cântă şi slăvesc şi binecuvântează toată zidirea celor cereşti şi a celor pământeşti.
Bucură-te, că ai născut Pruncul despre Care teologhisesc Heruvimii cei cu mulţi ochi şi-L numesc Domn Serafimii cei cu câte şase aripi.
Bucură-te, că ai născut Prunc în cetatea cea vestită a lui David.
Bucură-te, că ai născut pe Pruncul cel mai înainte de veci, dar şi nou-născut, Care vine de la izvoarele lui Israel.

Posted in teologi moderni

Evanghelia şi Euharistia


Când Euharistia este detaşată artificial de Evanghelie, celebrarea liturgică încetează a mai fi un eveniment sacramental şi o experienţă plenară a comuniunii tuturor în Hristos, riscând să devină un act formal, ce poate fi justificat ţi interpretat doar dintr-o perspectivă sociologică.
Tot aşa , când Evanghelia este înstrăinată de Euharistie, Cuvântul viu a lui Hristos este ameninţat a fi redus la nivelul unei învăţături omeneşti oarecare.
Numai în unitatea deplină dintre Evanghelie şi Euharistie, unitate realizată în mediul sacramental pe care îl instituie şi îl întreţine dumnezeiescul Altar, putem înţelege sensul afirmaţiei că doar Biserica are capacitatea de a cunoaşte şi a păstra înţelesul autentic al Sfintei Scripturi. Altfel spus, numai credinţa şi experienţa harismatică a Bisericii descoperă, dincolo de sensurile comune ale cuvintelor, certitudinea adevărurilor veşnice, fapt pentru care, orice lectură autentică a Sfintei Scripturi se dovedeşte a fi de natură liturgică şi sacramentală, adică în Biserică şi în raport cu taina Altarului euharistic.

Preluat din Pr. Ioan Bizău Liturghie şi Teologie, Editura Patmos, Cluj 2009

Posted in teologi moderni

Georgios Mantzaridis, Prezenţa Binelui


Dorirea binelui este înnăscută omului. Aceasta o dovedeşte şi dezgustul pe care îl simte faţă de rău. De altfel, binele este totdeauna frumos, pe când răul urât. Dar unde se află binele, cum îl descoperă omul şi cum se face părtaş de el?
Înainte de-a trece la căutarea binelui, este necesar să notăm câteva consideraţii generale asupra lui. Binele nu trebuie căutat ca idee, pentru că nu poate fi idee; trebuie căutat ca realitate, căci doar ca realitate poate intra în legătură cu omul şi cu viaţa lui. Mai mult, binele nu trebuie căutat în afara – sau, cel puţin, doar în afara – lumii. Pentru că de s-ar afla doar în afara lumii, i-ar fi inaccesibil şi nefolositor. În cazul acesta lumea nu l-ar putea simţi şi trăi. Prin urmare, binele trebuie să se afle înlăuntrul lumii, dar şi înlăuntrul omului. Fiindcă, de s-ar afla doar înlăuntrul lumii – nu şi înlăuntrul omului – nu ar putea fi cu adevărat bine. În acest caz i-ar duce pe oameni la căutări egoiste, individuale, provocând conflicte şi antagonisme între aceştia. Astfel că binele însuşi ar deveni cauza propriei lui contestări. Deci, pentru a fi bine, trebuie să fie accesibil omului. În sfârşit, trebuie să fie deopotrivă accesibil tuturor oamenilor, şi aceasta astfel încât părtăşia lor de el să nu creeze probleme relaţiilor dintre ei, ci să devină izvor al legăturii lor întreolaltă şi al înlăturării cauzelor ce îi separă.
În învăţătura creştină binele nu este idee, ci persoană. Dumnezeu este binele. Dumnezeu, Cel ce singur este bun, Cel ce are ca fiinţă bunătatea, nu Se afă doar în afara lumii, ci şi înlăuntrul ei. Mai mult, nu Se află doar înlăuntrul lumii, dar şi înlăuntrul fiecărui om. În sfârşit, Se oferă tuturor oamenilor, căci toţi sunt făpturi „după chipul şi după asemănarea” lui Dumnezeu, iar faptul de a şi-L însuşi devine pricina împlinirii lor şi, de asemenea, a legăturii dintre ei.

Preluat din Georgios Mantzaridis Morala Creştină, Editura Bizantină,2004.

Posted in teologi moderni

Georges Florovsky, Eusebius of Caesarea


Against this background the theology of Eusebius of Caesarea becomes clearer. Eusebius is far from agreeing with Arius on everything and he flatly rejects Arius’ basic idea about the “generation” of the Son from “things that do not exist.” At the same time, however, he denies that the Son is “coeternal” with the Father. As the cause or source of origin of the Son, the Father precedes Him, although not in time. Even before His actual generation the Son exists “in the Father,” but “in potential” alone. Only later is He generated by and from the will of the Father as a real and independent hypostasis, and even as a “second essence” [“vtoraia sushchnost’” (or “second being” [“vtoroe suschestvo”]) with the Father.
In the doctrine of Eusebius the Son in His objective reality is turned toward the world, and in this sense He is the “first-born of all creation.” He is the demiurge and the creator of all visible and invisible beings, the first among which is the Spirit of the Comforter. Since He is a direct creation of the Father, the Son is inherent in Him but since He is generated from the Father, He is less than the Father and is an “intermediate” force between the Father and the world. He is the “second God” but not the first, in spite of all His honor from the Divinity. Although He is “not like other creatures,” He is still a creature.
Like Arius, Eusebius is essentially dealing with a problem of cosmology, not theology. He continually refers to “generation,” and he almost identifies the existence of the Son “in His own hypostasis” with the existence of the world. In order not to efface the boundary between God and the world, he maintains a sharp separation between the Son and the Father: “the existence of the Son is not necessary for the completeness of the being and the divinity of the Father.” For Eusebius the existence of the Son is connected with time because the existence of the world is also temporal. He does make a distinction between the generation of the Son and the creation of the world, γενεσις and δημουργια. but even this does not completely resolve the problem.
The Divine “generation” and its relation to time were the main subjects of debate in the Arian controversies. In a certain sense both Arianism and Origenism can be called heresies about time because this was the basic doctrine on which both systems were built.

Posted in Sfintii Parinti

Sfântul Vasile cel Mare, despre post


N-am postit, şi am fost alungaţi din rai! Să postim dar, ca să ne întoarcem în rai! Nu vezi că Lazăr a intrat prin post în rai? Nu imita neascultarea Evei! Nu lua din nou sfătuitor pe şarpe, care ne sfătuieşte să mâncăm, ca să ne cruţăm trupul! Nu-ţi găsi scuza în boala trupului sau în slăbiciune! Nu-mi spune mie scuzele! Spune-le lui Dumnezeu, Care ştie totul! Îmi spui că nu poţi să posteşti! Dar să te ghiftuieşti în toate zilele vieţii tale şi să-ţi striveşti trupul sub greutatea mâncărurilor, poţi? Ştiu că doctorii prescriu bolnavilor nu mâncăruri felurite, ci post şi înfrânare. Cum dar? Dacă poţi să posteşti şi să te înfrânezi când eşti bolnav, pentru ce spui că nu poţi s-o faci când eşti sănătos? Ce este mai uşor pentru stomac: să petreacă noaptea cu o mâncare uşoară sau să stea împovărat de mulţimea mâncărurilor? Dar, mai bine spus, să nu stea, ci să se întoarcă necontenit şi pe o parte şi pe alta, rupându-se şi strâmtorându-se; afară numai dacă vei spune că şi corăbierii salvează mai uşor de la înec o corabie încărcată cu poveri decât una mai sprintenă şi mai uşoară. Lucrurile, însă, se petrec cu totul dimpotrivă: o mică înălţare a valurilor dă la fund o corabie încărcată cu multe poveri, pe când o corabie cu o încărcătură potrivită trece uşor prin furtună, că n-o împiedică nimic să plutească pe deasupra valurilor. Tot aşa se întâmplă şi cu trupurile oamenilor. Împovărate necontenit cu prea multă mâncare, trupurile se scufundă cu uşurinţă în boală; dar dacă folosesc mâncare puţină şi uşoară, scapă şi de suferinţa pe care o aşteaptă de pe urma bolii, ca de o furtună ce se porneşte împotriva lor, dar se depărtează şi de suferinţa care începe a se ivi, ca de o ciocnire cu o stâncă bătută de valuri. Iar dacă tu spui că pentru cei suferinzi mai nimerit este să se îndoape decât să ţină regim, de bună seamă vei susţine că e mai greu să stai pe loc decât să alergi şi să te odihneşti decât să lupţi. Căci stomacul, care are menirea să întreţină trupul, mistuie şi asimilează cu uşurinţă mâncărurile simple şi uşoare; dar dacă i se dau mâncăruri costisitoare şi felurite, nu poate să le mistuie şi dă naştere la fel de fel de boli.

Posted in teologi moderni

Dumitru Stăniloae , Gândul de la Cel rău


„În toate scrierile duhovniceşti ortodoxe se repetă, ca mod al stârnirii patimilor în orice împrejurare, schema următoare: Satana aruncă în mintea noastră un gând de păcat, aşa-zisul atac (prosbole), pe care credem că putem să-l traducem şi prin momeală. El este prima răsărire a gândului simplu că am putea săvârşi cutare faptă păcătoasă, înfăţisându-se în faţa minţii ca o simplă posibilitate. El încă nu e un păcat ,pentru cî noi nu am luat faţă de el nici o atitudine. E parcă în afară de noi, nu l-am produs noi şi nu are încă decât un caracter teoretic, de eventualitate neserioasă, care parcă nici nu ne priveşte serios pe noi, care suntem preocupaţi cu toată fiinţa de altceva. Nu ştim cum a apărut, parcă cineva s-a jucat aruncându-ne pe marginea drumului,pe care se desfăşoară preocuparea cugetului nostru, această floare fără nici un interes, ca să o privim o clipă şi să trecem mai departe. Are prin urmare toate caracteristicile unui gând aruncat de altcineva, şi de aceea Sfinţii Părinţi îl atribuie Satanei. El e gândul simplu al unei eventuale fapte păcătoase, nezugrăvindu-ne încă nici o imagine concretă a acelei fapte şi împrejurărilor în care s-ar putea săvârşi.”

din Dumitru Stăniloae, Ascetica şi Mistica Bisericii Ortodoxe, Editura IBMBOR,2002.

Posted in Apologeţi

C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed


No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing. At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me. There are moments, most unexpectedly, when something inside me tries to assure me that I don’t really mind so much, not so very much, after all. Love is not the whole of a man’s life. I was happy before I ever met H. I’ve plenty of what are called ‘resources.’ People get over these things. Come, I shan’t do so badly. One is ashamed to listen to this voice but it seems for a little to be making out a good case. Then comes a sudden jab of red-hot memory and all this ‘commonsense’ vanishes like an ant in the mouth of a furnace. On the rebound one passes into tears and pathos. Maudlin tears. I almost prefer the moments of agony. These are at least clean and honest. But the bath of self-pity, the wallow, the loathsome sticky-sweet pleasure of indulging it—that disgusts me. And even while I’m doing it I know it leads me to misrepresent H. herself. Give that mood its head and in a few minutes I shall have substituted for the real woman a mere doll to be blubbered over. Thank God the memory of her is still too strong (will it always be too strong?) to let me get away with it. For H. wasn’t like that at all. Her mind was lithe and quick and muscular as a leopard. Passion, tenderness, and pain were all equally unable to disarm it. It scented the first whiff of cant or slush; then sprang, and knocked you over before you knew what was happening. How many bubbles of mine she pricked! I soon learned not to talk rot to her unless I did it for the sheer pleasure—and there’s another red-hot jab—of being exposed and laughed at. I was never less silly than as H.’s lover. And no one ever told me about the laziness of grief. Except at my job—where the machine seems to run on much as usual—I loathe the slightest effort. Not only writing but even reading a letter is too much. Even shaving. What does it matter now whether my cheek is rough or smooth? They say an unhappy man wants distractions—something to take him out of himself. Only as a dog-tired man wants an extra blanket on a cold night; he’d rather lie there shivering than get up and find one. It’s easy to see why the lonely become untidy, finally, dirty and disgusting. Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be—or so it feels—welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble? I tried to put some of these thoughts to C. this afternoon. He reminded me that the same thing seems to have happened to Christ: ‘Why hast thou forsaken me?’ I know. Does that make it easier to understand? Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’ Our elders submitted and said, ‘Thy will be done.’ How often had bitter resentment been stifled through sheer terror and an act of love—yes, in every sense, an act—put on to hide the operation? Of course it’s easy enough to say that God seems absent at our greatest need because He is absent—non-existent. But then why does He seem so present when, to put it quite frankly, we don’t ask for Him? One thing, however, marriage has done for me. I can never again believe that religion is manufactured out of our unconscious, starved desires and is a substitute for sex. For those few years H. and I feasted on love, every mode of it—solemn and merry, romantic and realistic, sometimes as dramatic as a thunderstorm, sometimes as comfortable and unemphatic as putting on your soft slippers. No cranny of heart or body remained unsatisfied. If God were a substitute for love we ought to have lost all interest in Him. Who’d bother about substitutes when he has the thing itself? But that isn’t what happens. We both knew we wanted something besides one another—quite a different kind of something, a quite different kind of want. You might as well say that when lovers have one another they will never want to read, or eat—or breathe. After the death of a friend, years ago, I had for some time a most vivid feeling of certainty about his continued life; even his enhanced life. I have begged to be given even one hundredth part of the same assurance about H. There is no answer. Only the locked door, the iron curtain, the vacuum, absolute zero. ‘Them as asks don’t get.’ I was a fool to ask. For now, even if that assurance came I should distrust it. I should think it a self-hypnosis induced by my own prayers. At any rate I must keep clear of the spiritualists. I promised H. I would. She knew something of those circles. Keeping promises to the dead, or to anyone else, is very well. But I begin to see that ‘respect for the wishes of the dead’ is a trap. Yesterday I stopped myself only in time from saying about some trifle ‘H. wouldn’t have liked that.’ This is unfair to the others. I should soon be using ‘what H. would have liked’ as an instrument of domestic tyranny, with her supposed likings becoming a thinner and thinner disguise for my own. I cannot talk to the children about her. The moment I try, there appears on their faces neither grief, nor love, nor fear, nor pity, but the most fatal of all non-conductors, embarrassment. They look as if I were committing an indecency. They are longing for me to stop. I felt just the same after my own mother’s death when my father mentioned her. I can’t blame them. It’s the way boys are. I sometimes think that shame, mere awkward, senseless shame, does as much towards preventing good acts and straightforward happiness as any of our vices can do. And not only in boyhood. Or are the boys right? What would H. herself think of this terrible little notebook to which I come back and back? Are these jottings morbid? I once read the sentence ‘I lay awake all night with toothache, thinking about toothache and about lying awake.’ That’s true to life. Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or reflection: the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief. Do these notes merely aggravate that side of it? Merely confirm the monotonous, tread-mill march of the mind round one subject? But what am I to do? I must have some drug, and reading isn’t a strong enough drug now. By writing it all down (all?—no: one thought in a hundred) I believe I get a little outside it. That’s how I’d defend it to H. But ten to one she’d see a hole in the defence. It isn’t only the boys either. An odd byproduct of my loss is that I’m aware of being an embarrassment to everyone I meet. At work, at the club, in the street, I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they’ll ‘say something about it’ or not. I hate it if they do, and if they don’t. Some funk it altogether. R. has been avoiding me for a week. I like best the well brought-up young men, almost boys, who walk up to me as if I were a dentist, turn very red, get it over, and then edge away to the bar as quickly as they decently can. Perhaps the bereaved ought to be isolated in special settlements like lepers. To some I’m worse than an embarrassment. I am a death’s head. Whenever I meet a happily married pair I can feel them both thinking, ‘One or other of us must some day be as he is now.’ At first I was very afraid of going to places where H. and I had been happy—our favourite pub, our favourite wood. But I decided to do it at once—like sending a pilot up again as soon as possible after he’s had a crash. Unexpectedly, it makes no difference. Her absence is no more emphatic in those places than anywhere else. It’s not local at all. I suppose that if one were forbidden all salt one wouldn’t notice it much more in any one food than in another. Eating in general would be different, every day, at every meal. It is like that. The act of living is different all through. Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything. But no, that is not quite accurate. There is one place where her absence comes locally home to me, and it is a place I can’t avoid. I mean my own body. It had such a different importance while it was the body of H.’s lover. Now it’s like an empty house. But don’t let me deceive myself. This body would become important to me again, and pretty quickly, if I thought there was anything wrong with it. Cancer, and cancer, and cancer. My mother, my father, my wife. I wonder who is next in the queue. Yet H. herself, dying of it, and well knowing the fact, said that she had lost a great deal of her old horror at it. When the reality came, the name and the idea were in some degree disarmed. And up to a point I very nearly understood. This is important. One never meets just Cancer, or War, or Unhappiness (or Happiness). One only meets each hour or moment that comes. All manner of ups and downs. Many bad spots in our best times, many good ones in our worst. One never gets the total impact of what we call ‘the thing itself.’ But we call it wrongly. The thing itself is simply all these ups and downs: the rest is a name or an idea. It is incredible how much happiness, even how much gaiety, we sometimes had together after all hope was gone. How long, how tranquilly, how nourishingly, we talked together that last night! And yet, not quite together. There’s a limit to the ‘one flesh.’ You can’t really share someone else’s weakness, or fear or pain. What you feel may be bad. It might conceivably be as bad as what the other felt, though I should distrust anyone who claimed that it was. But it would still be quite different. When I speak of fear, I mean the merely animal fear, the recoil of the organism from its destruction; the smothery feeling; the sense of being a rat in a trap. It can’t be transferred. The mind can sympathize; the body, less. In one way the bodies of lovers can do it least. All their love passages have trained them to have, not identical, but complementary, correlative, even opposite, feelings about one another. We both knew this. I had my miseries, not hers; she had hers, not mine. The end of hers would be the coming-of-age of mine. We were setting out on different roads. This cold truth, this terrible traffic-regulation (‘You, Madam, to the right—you, Sir, to the left’) is just the beginning of the separation which is death itself. And this separation, I suppose, waits for all. I have been thinking of H. and myself as peculiarly unfortunate in being torn apart. But presumably all lovers are. She once said to me, ‘Even if we both died at exactly the same moment, as we lie here side by side, it would be just as much a separation as the one you’re so afraid of.’ Of course she didn’t know, any more than I do. But she was near death; near enough to make a good shot. She used to quote ‘Alone into the Alone.’ She said it felt like that. And how immensely improbable that it should be otherwise! Time and space and body were the very things that brought us together; the telephone wires by which we communicated. Cut one off, or cut both off simultaneously. Either way, mustn’t the conversation stop? Unless you assume that some other means of communication—utterly different, yet doing the same work—would be immediately substituted. But then, what conceivable point could there be in severing the old ones? Is God a clown who whips away your bowl of soup one moment in order, next moment, to replace it with another bowl of the same soup? Even nature isn’t such a clown as that. She never plays exactly the same tune twice. It is hard to have patience with people who say, ‘There is no death’ or ‘Death doesn’t matter.’ There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say that birth doesn’t matter. I look up at the night sky. Is anything more certain than that in all those vast times and spaces, if I were allowed to search them, I should nowhere find her face, her voice, her touch? She died. She is dead. Is the word so difficult to learn? I have no photograph of her that’s any good. I cannot even see her face distinctly in my imagination. Yet the odd face of some stranger seen in a crowd this morning may come before me in vivid perfection the moment I close my eyes tonight. No doubt, the explanation is simple enough. We have seen the faces of those we know best so variously, from so many angles, in so many lights, with so many expressions—waking, sleeping, laughing, crying, eating, talking, thinking—that all the impressions crowd into our memory together and cancel out into a mere blur. But her voice is still vivid. The remembered voice—that can turn me at any moment to a whimpering child.

Posted in Sfintii Parinti

Teodor al Mopsuestiei


Însă învăţătura despre Tatăl şi despre Fiul a fost rezervată Domnului nostru Hristos, Care a învăţat El Însuşi pe ucenicii Săi ceea ce era necunoscut altădată şi nu fusese descoperit înţelegerii oamenilor, şi le-a poruncit ca ei să înveţe aceasta pe alţii, spunând limpede: „Drept aceea, mergeţi şi învăţaţi toate neamurile, botezându-le în numele Tatălui şi al Fiului şi al Sfântului Duh” (Mt 28,19). Într-adevăr aşa cum fericitul Moise, începând învăţătura sa, zice: „Domnul, Dumnezeul nostru, este singurul Domn” (Dt 6, 4) – şi ca urmare toţi profeţii au învăţat la fel-, tot aşa Domnul nostru Hristos a predicat învăţătura Sa în numele Tatălui şi al Fiului şi al Sfântului Duh, fără a mai spune ce trebuia înţeles şi învăţat pe alţii despre Domnul Dumnezeu, întrucât acest lucru fusese limpede predicat de către profeţi. Iar ceea ce lipsea pentru desăvârşirea învăţăturii profeţilor, El a poruncit Apostolilor Săi să înveţe toate neamurile, zicând: „mergeţi şi învăţaţi toate neamurile, botezându-le în numele Tatălui şi al Fiului şi al Sfântului Duh”. Iar acest lucru l-a făcut nu pentru ca noi să gândim că vreunul dintre Aceştia nu este Dumnezeu, nici că în afară de Aceştia există un Dumnezeu, ci pentru ca noi să credem că numai Aceştia sunt firea dumnezeiască, despre care altădată profeţii ne-au învăţat că este unică.
Împotriva învăţăturii politeiste a păgânilor despre dumnezei numeroşi şi diferiţi după tinereţe şi bătrâneţe, după slăbiciune şi tărie, dintre care unii aveau o anumită putere iar alţii altă putere, Hristos a poruncit ucenicilor să înveţe toate neamurile să se întoarcă de la orice eroare păgână şi să creadă că una este firea dumnezeiască – după învăţătura ce fusese transmisă altădată oamenilor şi prin care ei primiseră cunoştinţa religioasă -, şi ca neamurile să ştie că Cel care există din toată veşnicia şi este cauza tuturor lucrurilor este singura fire dumnezeiască, cunoscută în trei Ipostasuri: al Tatălui şi al Fiului şi al Sfântului Duh.

preluat din Teodor al Mopsuestiei Omilii Catehetice, Editura Renasterea,2008.

Posted in Apologeţi

Norman Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie



God in Primitive Religions

Since Darwin, it has been fashionable to understand primitive religious concepts in an evolutionary sense: humanity has moved from an initial polytheism toward monotheism. This theory, however, has encountered difficulties. For many primitive peoples believe in a “high god” in addition to a number of lesser gods. “Such a high god appears early in the creation myths of such people as the Australian aborigines and primitive Indians.” We find creation accounts contained in religious ideas coming from Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Samaria. These myths have parallels in early Hellenistic cultures. So this once popular, nineteenth-century evolutionary view has given way to recent critiques. Further, this evolutionary view of the development of the concept of God is contrary to Scripture (cf. Rom. 1:18–23). Also, it overlooks the early monotheistic views of God in other cultures. The Ebla Archives which contain hundreds of tablets to patriarchal times (no. 239), for example, tell of a monotheistic God who created the world from nothing: “Lord of heaven and earth: the earth was not, you created it, the light of day was not, you created it, the morning light you had not [yet] made exist.”
According to Catholic scholars, Greek philosophers introduced a higher concept of God. In Plato, the role of the “supreme being” became more prominent. “Certainly the overall impression given by Plato’s writings is an atmosphere of great reverence for the divine, an exalted notion of it, and a strong desire for assimilation to it in some intimate personal relationship. To be more precise than this would be to state explicitly what Plato merely hints at implicitly.” To be sure, Plato’s Demiurgos (God) falls short of Judeo-Christian monotheism, since for him God is limited and is subject to the Good which is beyond him. Nonetheless, Plato transcended traditional polytheisms.
Aristotle developed arguments for the existence of God from motion or change in the world. The move from potentiality to actuality can only be under the influence of an actualizer (cause). Hence, there must have been a First Cause. So for Aristotle, God is the “Uncaused Cause.” Later Augustine, using Platonic terms,and Aquinas, using Aristotelian concepts, would develop arguments for the existence of one supreme God. Of course, whatever the philosophical language used to express their convictions, Catholic theologians believe that their concept of God is based on His self-revelation in Scripture. Two tasks faced the church concerning the concept of God: “First among these is the right conception of God as compared to the distorted ideas found in the world surrounding the Christian fold.” The second problem adheres to the concept of the Holy Trinity: “The Christian concept of God unfolds itself in the mission and revelation of the Son and the Spirit. . . . Together with the Father they are truly divine. . . . This mystery became from the beginning the object of theological reflection.” God, through his mercy, “willed both to reveal himself to man and give him the grace of being able to welcome this revelation in faith.” Now we turn to “salvation history” as expressed in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures—the Old and New Testaments.

Geisler N. L. & MacKenzie, R. E. (1995). Roman Catholics and Evangelicals : Agreements and differences , Grand Rapids: Baker Books.

Posted in din ce mai citesc

John S. Feinberg & Paul D. Feinberg, Abortion


One of the most pressing moral problems of our day is abortion. It is the second most common surgical procedure in the U.S., circumcision being the first. Since the historic Roe v. Wade decision on January 22, 1973, in the United States abortions have risen from about 775,000 in 1973 to about 1.6 million annually. Statistics in the U.S. from 1983 through 1988 suggest that about 30 percent of the pregnancies of married women were unintended. Of those that were unintended, about 30 percent were unwanted, while the other 70 percent were mistimed (i.e., they were wanted, but wanted at another time). U.S. figures that include both married and unmarried women suggest that one of every two pregnancies is unintended. Of those that are unintended, one out of every two is aborted. This means that in the U.S. approximately one in every four pregnancies ends in an abortion.
Who is having these abortions? Statistics here are also interesting. In 1987, for example, it was estimated that the largest group of women having abortions were in the twenty- to twenty-four-year-old group (33.1 percent of U.S. abortions), while the second largest group ranged from twenty-five to twenty-nine years of age (22.3 percent of U.S. abortions). Moreover, the largest portion of abortions (63.3 percent) were among those never married, while only 18.5 percent of abortions involved married women. Twice as many white women were responsible for abortions (67 percent of all abortions) as nonwhites (33 percent of all abortions). Income seemed not to be a major factor, as 33 percent of abortions were obtained by women whose family income was less than $11,000, 34 percent by those in the $11,000 to $24,999 range, and 33 percent in the group making $25,000 or over.
Worldwide abortion is rather prevalent and is quite frequently seen as an appropriate method of birth control. In Red China—approximately one out of every four persons in the world today lives in China—the government felt that population control was a necessity. As a result, in 1979 it introduced a policy that no family is allowed to have more than one child. This policy has led to infanticide (usually of female babies) and massive numbers of abortions. Abortions can range as high as 800,000 a year in a single province of China. Those who refuse face significant pressures to comply one way or another, as the government can impose severe financial penalties for failure to comply. In other parts of the world, especially developing countries, women are having a significant number of abortions as well. It is estimated that about thirty million to forty-five million women in those countries have abortions annually, and about 125,000 to 250,000 of them die from botched procedures.
Though many countries in the world seem relatively comfortable with the numbers of abortions that occur, the abortion debate in the U.S. is one of the most divisive issues confronting the country. Hence, we believe that before turning to the argumentation surrounding this issue, it would be helpful to sketch major developments in the U.S. with respect to abortion.
Prior to 1973, there were abortions in the U.S., but the Roe decision in essence legalized abortion on demand. That decision struck down existing laws against abortion, but did agree that the government still has a legitimate interest in protecting fetal life. Still, the way the decision was written and interpreted essentially abrogated any governmental ability to stop abortion.
The Justices divided pregnancy into three trimesters (a trimester is approximately thirteen weeks). They ruled that within the first trimester, abortion was a decision between the woman and her doctor alone. The state cannot intervene. During the second and third trimesters, the Court said abortion could be reasonably regulated by the states and even prohibited once the child reached viability (the ability to exist outside the mother’s womb). However, the right to prohibit abortion could be overturned in order to save the woman’s life or simply to protect her health. Moreover, Doe v. Bolton defined the health of the mother in the broadest terms to include psychological, emotional, and familial factors. In essence, so long as a doctor certifies that an abortion is necessary to protect the mother’s “health,” abortion is thoroughly legal well into the ninth month of pregnancy. Still, it is estimated that 90 percent of abortions in the U.S. are performed much earlier than the twentieth week, and only about 2 percent after the fetus is viable.
In the years after the Roe decision, anti-abortion groups have organized and mobilized in an attempt somehow to overturn or at least restrict Roe. At one point there was talk of a right-to-life amendment to the Constitution, but that seemed like an unlikely avenue for success since such an amendment would have to pass both houses of Congress and be ratified by the states. A better hope seemed to rest in the judiciary. Various members of the Supreme Court were coming to retirement, and with the election of Ronald Reagan there was hope that the texture of the Court could be changed so as ultimately to overturn Roe. Reagan, and Bush after him, have used appointments to the Supreme Court to change the direction of that Court. So far, however, gains for the pro-life side have been somewhat slim.
What pro-life forces hoped would be a major breakthrough came on July 3, 1989 with the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Webster v. Reproductive Health Services case. This case, which involved Missouri’s abortion laws, did not overturn Roe, but it gave states more leverage to rewrite their statutes so as to restrict abortions. The ruling upheld three basic points of Missouri law. It agreed that Missouri’s public hospitals and public employees could not perform abortions except in a case where it was necessary to save a mother’s life. In addition, the ruling refused public funds for abortion counseling and made it illegal for public officials to encourage a woman to have an abortion unnecessary to save her life. Finally, and most significant, in cases where women have been pregnant for twenty weeks or more, it is now mandatory that doctors perform tests to determine if the fetus can exist outside the womb. If the fetus can survive, the doctor cannot carry out the abortion.
While the decision in Webster restricted abortion rights in Missouri, it also sent the message that individual states could go back and rewrite their laws concerning the handling of abortion. At the time of the Webster decision, there were some 140 anti-abortion bills before state legislatures nationwide.Previously, states might pass anti-abortion legislation and the governor sign it, but there was little concern about negative political fallout from pro-choice groups, because it was assumed the law would be appealed to the Supreme Court and struck down. Now the political implications of voting for these bills has changed, because an anti-abortion law passed in a given state might not only be upheld by the Supreme Court; it might serve as the occasion for the Court to overturn Roe altogether.
After the Webster decision, pro-life forces were very optimistic about the prospects of restricting abortion rights. Unfortunately, that optimism has not been matched with much change. One of the few victories came on May 23, 1991 when the Supreme Court upheld federal rules that prohibit family planning centers which receive government funds from counseling women about abortion or telling them where they can get one. The controversy surrounds Title X of the Public Health Services Act of 1970. That act provides $140 million annually to family planning clinics. The law bars federal funding of abortions as a method of family planning, but until the Reagan Administration in 1988 drafted more restrictions, such clinics could inform women about abortion and refer them to clinics that performed abortions. The restrictions, known as the “gag rule,” were challenged as a breach of the First Amendment, but the Court ruled to uphold the restrictions. Since this decision, Congress has passed legislation to overturn the gag rule, but President Bush vetoed the bill, and Congress was unable to muster enough votes to override the veto. Restrictions eased slightly, allowing doctors but no one else at these clinics to discuss abortion with patients. Many clinics responded to the gag rule by simply refusing federal funds in order to continue counseling women about abortion. Of course, now the issue seems to be dead, since President Clinton threw out the “gag rule.”
These events are discouraging, especially in light of the number of lives of unborn babies who are at stake. Pro-choice advocates have found renewed hope of keeping abortion rights intact with the election of a pro-choice U. S. President. Pro-life forces are reorganizing, but are less hopeful than before that the demise of Roe will come soon.

A Definition of Abortion

While most know the term “abortion,” few realize the variety of uses it has. Abortions can be divided into those that are spontaneous and those that are induced. Spontaneous abortions are not usually thought of as abortions. What characterizes this class of abortions is that there is no outside or external intervention. There are two basic kinds of spontaneous abortions. On the one hand, there are a surprisingly high number of cases where an egg is fertilized by sperm, but never implants in the woman’s womb. Instead, it simply passes out of her body in her monthly period. J. N. D. Anderson in Issues of Life and Death says it is estimated that 30 percent, and perhaps as many as 50 percent, of the eggs fertilized are lost before they implant in the mother’s womb. Second, there are miscarriages. In this case a developing fetus is expelled from the mother’s body before the baby is able to live outside the womb. Anderson thinks that as high as 30 percent of the fertilized and implanted eggs may miscarry.
Induced abortions are commonly what we think of when we hear people talk about abortions. This class of abortions is characterized by outside or external intervention into the reproductive process with a view to terminating pregnancy. There are several kinds of induced abortions. Therapeutic abortions are performed to save the mother’s life. Because of the present state of medicine, such abortions are rare. Ectopic or tubal pregnancies are examples. In this kind of pregnancy the fertilized egg does not implant in the uterus but in the fallopian tube. Only two options are open to the doctor. Either he intervenes to take the baby’s life in order to save the mother’s life, or both baby and mother die. Another potential cause of therapeutic abortion is maternal heart disease. At one time women with heart disease were at risk in full-term pregnancies. However, that is almost never the case today. The most common candidates for therapeutic abortions are pregnant women with cancer (especially uterine cancer). If treatment of the cancer requires either radiation or chemotherapy, that will likely kill the baby. Hence, it must be decided whether to delay treatment until the birth of the baby, or begin it immediately and risk losing the child.
Eugenic abortions are a second category of induced abortions. They are performed to abort a fetus that has or is at risk for some physical and/or mental handicap such as Down’s syndrome. The most typical method of determining such problems is a procedure called amniocentesis.Amniocentesis cannot be performed until around the fourth month of pregnancy, since it requires the development of the placental sac and its fluid. A needle is inserted into the sac, and fluid is removed and examined to determine any abnormalities. Amniocentesis is very good at determining problems such as Down’s, but it has two limitations. There is a very small group of diseases that it can detect, and it cannot be performed until relatively late in the pregnancy. However, as other techniques for detecting problems are developed for the first trimester, eugenic abortions will probably increase, particularly since some doctors pressure parents to abort a child where there is the slightest risk of any handicap. For instance, some diseases are gender specific. Sickle-cell anemia is a disease only males get. So, if a family is at risk and the baby is a male, there will be great pressure to abort this child on eugenic grounds.
Finally, elective abortions complete the category of induced abortions. Here the mother’s life is not threatened, and there is no known risk of physical and/or mental handicap for the child. The reason for abortion is simply the convenience of the parents (e.g., control of family size, physical and/or mental strain on the parents, or financial hardship on the family). Moreover, as it becomes easier to choose the sex of a child, families can choose a gender specific child and abort those of the “wrong” sex.

Techniques of Abortion

Several different methods are used in performing abortions. One is dilation and curettage (D & C). This is one of the two preferred methods for aborting a fetus during the first trimester of pregnancy. The mother’s cervix is dilated, and the surgeon inserts an instrument to scrape the wall of the uterus, cutting the baby’s body to pieces and removing the placenta from its place in the uterine wall.
Suction21 is the other preferred method of abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy. According to some estimates, it is used in 80 percent of these abortions. It is often used in conjunction with D & C. The cervix is dilated, and a suction tube is inserted into the womb. The suction tears both the baby and his or her placenta from the uterus, sucking them into a jar. The force of the suction is twenty-eight times stronger than a normal vacuum cleaner. With both methods mentioned so far, it is possible to identify human arms, hands and legs.
Saline injection is the most commonly practiced method of abortion during the second trimester. Neither D & C nor suction can be practiced during the second trimester because of the danger of hemorrhaging. By the fourth month of pregnancy the water bag or placenta has developed. A long needle is inserted through the mother’s abdomen into this sac surrounding the baby, and some of the fluid is removed and replaced with a solution of concentrated salt. The baby breathes in and swallows the salt, and is poisoned by it. Often the outer layer of skin is burned off. With saline injection there are osmotic pressure changes in the fetus, causing brain hemorrhages. It takes about an hour for the solution to slowly kill the baby. About a day later the mother goes into labor and delivers a dead, shriveled baby.
Hysterotomy is the technique that must be practiced in the final trimester of pregnancy, because the baby is simply too large to use the other methods. In light of the Roe decision, it is legal in the U.S. to have an abortion into the ninth month of pregnancy. Hysterotomy is typically the technique used, and medically it is exactly the same procedure as a cesarean section. However, a C-section is done to save the life of the child; a hysterotomy is done to take it. Though the aborted fetus is alive, he or she is allowed to die of neglect or through some deliberate action. In a case where the latter was done, a Boston jury found the doctor guilty of manslaughter. However, with the Supreme Court decision Planned Parenthood v. Danforth, July 1, 1976, physicians have been given the right to do whatever they want with the fetus!
A final method of abortion is prostaglandin. It may be used at any stage of pregnancy. The drug prostaglandin is taken in some form, and it induces labor. The result may be the delivery of a live infant who is allowed to die, or prostaglandin may be used in conjunction with a saline solution to assure the birth of a dead fetus.
Not infrequently we hear that abortion is a simple, painless medical procedure. But painless for whom? The mother? Not necessarily. Abortion is not always as safe and painless as we are led to believe, even when the abortion is legally performed by a doctor. One must be careful in using maternal complications statistics, since medical techniques have improved dramatically in all health care. Furthermore, it is difficult to get exact figures because even these will be influenced by one’s point of view on abortion. Also, medical complications vary widely based on age, social class and the number of previous pregnancies.
Despite these notes of caution, we can offer specifics. For example, there are cases of maternal deaths from legal abortions ranging from 1.2 to 75 per 100,000 abortions. There are, however, much more common complications. The most immediate problems are infection and bleeding. Bleeding is related to the difficulty in getting the cervix to dilate in the first pregnancies of young girls. Thus, in the very cases where abortion may appear to have the strongest argument, likelihood of injury is greatest. The long term complications are equally as problematic. If an infection is severe enough, it may result in infertility. Even a legal abortion may hinder a woman’s ability to carry a child in future pregnancies. The most difficult damage to assess is the psychological damage to the mother and the father. Both parents of an aborted fetus often experience severe depression over what has been done.
What about the baby? Does the fetus feel pain? The best way to answer is to set forth the particulars of the physiology of a developing baby and then compare those data with what has been said about the different abortion techniques and the stages of pregnancy when they are used. This is a matter of no small import, since some claim that abortion is not cruel to the baby since it feels no pain.

Feinberg & Huxley, A. Ethics for a Brave new world , Wheaton,: Crossway Books.

Posted in din ce mai citesc

Am găsit o carte nostimă şi interesantă totodată


As I write this, I have a beard that makes me resemble Moses. Or Abe Lincoln. Or Ted Kaczynski. I’ve been called all three. It’s not a well-manicured, socially acceptable beard. It’s an untamed mass that creeps up toward my eyeballs and drapes below my neckline. I’ve never allowed my facial hair to grow before, and it’s been an odd and enlightening experience. I’ve been inducted into a secret fraternity of bearded guys–we nod at each other as we pass on the street, giving a knowing quarter smile. Strangers have come up to me and petted my beard, like it’s a Labrador retriever puppy or a pregnant woman’s stomach. I’ve suffered for my beard. It’s been caught in jacket zippers and been tugged on by my surprisingly strong two-year-old son. I’ve spent a lot of time answering questions at airport security. I’ve been asked if I’m named Smith and sell cough drops with my brother. ZZ Top is mentioned at least three times a week. Passersby have shouted “Yo, Gandalf!” Someone called me Steven Seagal, which I found curious, since he doesn’t have a beard. I’ve battled itch and heat. I’ve spent a week’s salary on balms, powders, ointments, and conditioners. My beard has been a temporary home to cappuccino foam and lentil soup. And it’s upset people. Thus far, two little girls have burst into tears, and one boy has hidden behind his mother. But I mean no harm. The facial hair is simply the most noticeable physical manifestation of a spiritual journey I began a year ago. My quest has been this: to live the ultimate biblical life. Or more precisely, to follow the Bible as literally as possible. To obey the Ten Commandments. To be fruitful and multiply. To love my neighbor. To tithe my income. But also to abide by the oft-neglected rules: to avoid wearing clothes made of mixed fibers. To stone adulterers. And, naturally, to leave the edges of my beard unshaven (Leviticus 19:27). I am trying to obey the entire Bible, without picking and choosing. To back up: I grew up in an extremely secular home in New York City. I am officially Jewish, but I’m Jewish in the same way the Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant. Which is to say: not very. I attended no Hebrew school, ate no matzoh. The closest my family came to observing Judaism was that paradoxical classic of assimilation: a Star of David on top of our Christmas tree. It’s not that my parents badmouthed religion. It’s just that religion wasn’t for us. We lived in the twentieth century, for crying out loud. In our house, spirituality was almost a taboo subject, much like my father’s salary or my sister’s clove-cigarette habit. My only brushes with the Bible were brief and superficial. We had a next-door neighbor, Reverend Schulze, a kindly Lutheran minister who looked remarkably like Thomas Jefferson. (By the way, Reverend Schulze’s son became an actor and, oddly enough, went on to play the part of the creepy priest on The Sopranos.) Reverend Schulze told great stories about college sit-ins during the sixties, but whenever he started talking about God, it just sounded like a foreign language to me. I attended a handful of bar mitzvahs where I zoned out during services and spent the time trying to guess who had bald spots under their yarmulkes. I went to my paternal grandfather’s funeral, which was, to my surprise, presided over by a rabbi. How could the rabbi eulogize a man he’d never met? It was disconcerting. And as far as childhood religion, that was about it. I was agnostic before I even knew what the word meant. Partly, it was the problem of the existence of evil. If there is a God, why would He allow war, disease, and my fourth-grade teacher Ms. Barker, who forced us to have a sugar-free bake sale? But mostly, the idea of God seemed superfluous. Why do we need an invisible, inaudible deity? Maybe He exists, but we’ll never know in this life. College didn’t help my spiritual development. I went to a secular university where you were more likely to study the semiotics of Wicca rituals than the Judeo-Christian tradition. And when we did read the Bible, it was as literature, as a fusty, ancient book with the same truth quotient as The Faerie Queene. We did, of course, study the history of religion. How the Bible has been the force behind many of humankind’s greatest achievements: the civil rights movement, charitable giving, the abolition of slavery. And how, of course, it’s been used to justify our worst: war, genocide, and the subjugation of others. For a long time, I thought that religion, for all the good it does, seemed too risky for our modern world. The potential for abuse too high. I figured it would slowly fade away like other archaic things. Science was on the march. Someday soon we’d all be living in a neo-Enlightenment paradise where every decision was made with steely Spock-like logic. As you might have noticed, I was spectacularly mistaken. The influence of the Bible–and religion as a whole–remains a mighty force, perhaps even stronger than it was when I was a kid. So in the last few years, religion has become my fixation. Is half of the world suffering from a massive delusion? Or is my blindness to spirituality a huge defect in my personality? What if I’m missing out on part of being human, like a guy who goes through life without ever hearing Beethoven or falling in love? And most important, I now have a young son–if my lack of religion is a flaw, I don’t want to pass it on to him. So I knew I wanted to explore religion. I just needed to figure out how. The germ of the idea came from my own family: my uncle Gil. Or ex-uncle, to be exact. Gil married my aunt and divorced her a few years later, but he remains the most controversial member of our family. If the rest of my relatives are ultrasecular, Gil makes up for it by being, quite possibly, the most religious man in the world. He’s a spiritual omnivore. He started his life as a Jew, became a Hindu, appointed himself a guru, sat for eight months on a Manhattan park bench without speaking, founded a hippie cult in upstate New York, turned into a born-again Christian, and, in his latest incarnation, is an ultra-Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem. I may have missed a phase–I think he was into Shinto for a bit. But you get the idea. At some point along his spiritual path, Gil decided to take the Bible literally. Completely literally. The Bible says to bind money to your hand (Deuteronomy 14:25), so Gil withdrew three hundred dollars from the bank and tied the bills to his palm with a thread. The Bible says to wear fringes on the corners of your garment (Numbers 15:38), so Gil bought yarn from a knitting shop, made a bunch of tassels, and attached them to his shirt collar and the ends of his sleeves. The Bible says to give money to widows and orphans, so he walked the streets asking people if they were widows or orphans so he could hand them cash. About a year and a half ago, I was telling my friend Paul about Gil’s bizarre life over lunch at a sandwich shop, and I had my epiphany. That’s it. I needed to follow the Bible literally myself. I needed to do it for several reasons. First, since the Bible requires me to tell the truth (Proverbs 26:28), I must confess that part of the reason is to write this book. A couple of years ago, I came out with a book about reading the Encyclopaedia Britannica, all of it, from A to Z–or more specifical, from a-ak (East Asian music) to UZywiec (a town in southern Poland known for its beer). What could I do next? The only intellectual adventure that seemed a worthy follow-up was to explore the most influential book in the world, the alltime best seller, the Bible. Second, this project would be my visa to a spiritual world. I wouldn’t just be studying religion. I’d be living it. If I had what they call a Godshaped hole in my heart, this quest would allow me to fill it. …..

Posted in Apologeţi

C.S.Lewis, Legea Naturii Umane


Oricine a auzit oameni certându-se. Uneori cearta lor pare nostimă, iar alteori pare de-a dreptul neplăcută; dar oricum ar părea, eu cred că putem învăţa un lucru foarte important dacă ascultăm la lucrurile pe care le spun ei. Ei spun ceva de genul: „Cum ţi-ar place dacă ţi-ar face ţie cineva lucrul acesta?” – „E locul meu; eu am fost primul aici” – „Dă-i pace; nu-ţi face nici un rău” – „De ce să începi tocmai tu?” – „Dă-mi o felie din portocala ta. Eu ţi-am dat dintr-a mea” – „Haide, doar mi-ai promis”. Oamenii spun lucruri de felul acesta în fiecare zi, oameni învăţaţi sau neînvăţaţi, copii sau oameni mari. Ceea ce mă interesează pe mine în toate aceste remarci este că omul care le face nu spune doar că întâmplător purtarea celeilalte persoane nu-i este pe plac. El face apel la un standard de conduită care se aşteaptă să fie cunoscut de cealaltă persoană. Foarte rareori se întâmplă ca persoana cealaltă să răspundă: „Ia mai lasă-mă-n pace cu standardul tău!” Aproape întotdeauna ea încearcă să arate că ceea ce a făcut nu încalcă de fapt standardul sau că, dacă o face, există o scuză specială. Ea pretinde că în cazul acesta aparte există un motiv special pentru care persoana care a ocupat cea dintâi locul ar trebui să-l cedeze, sau că lucrurile au fost diferite atunci când a primit o felie de portocală, sau că s-a întâmplat ceva care o împiedică să-şi respecte promisiunea. S-ar părea, de fapt, că amândouă părţile au avut în gând o Lege sau o Regulă oarecare cu privire la corectitudine, la conduita decentă, la moralitate sau la orice altceva ai vrea să spui, o Lege cu privire la care ei sunt de acord. Şi într-adevăr, ei sunt de acord cu privire la ea. Dacă nu ar fi aşa, ar putea, desigur, să se lupte ca animalele, dar nu s-ar putea certa, în sensul uman al cuvântului. Cearta este o încercare de a arăta că persoana cealaltă greşeşte. Nu ar avea nici un sens să încerci să faci acest lucru, dacă cele două părţi nu ar avea o oarecare înţelegere cu privire la ce este Binele şi Răul; tot aşa, nu ar avea sens să spui că un jucător de fotbal a comis fault, dacă nu ar exista o înţelegere oarecare cu privire la regulile jocului de fotbal. Această Lege sau Regulă despre Bine şi Rău a fost numită mai demult Legea Naturii. În zilele noastre, când vorbim despre „legile naturii”, ne referim de obicei la legi cum sunt gravitaţia, ereditatea sau legile chimiei. Dar când gânditorii din vechime au numit Legea Binelui şi Răului „Legea Naturii”, ei au înţeles prin aceasta „Legea Naturii Umane”. Ideea era că, după cum toate corpurile sunt guvernate de legea gravitaţiei şi după cum toate organismele sunt guvernate de legi biologice, tot aşa creatura numită om îşi are legea ei – cu deosebirea că un corp [fizic] nu poate alege dacă să asculte sau nu de legea gravitaţiei, în timp ce omul poate alege dacă să asculte sau nu de Legea Naturii Umane. Putem formula ideea aceasta într-un alt mod. Orice om este supus în orice clipă la acţiunea câtorva seturi de legi, dar există numai o singură lege pe care are libertatea să nu o respecte. Ca şi corp [fizic], el este supus gravitaţiei şi nu o poate încălca; dacă îi dai drumul în aer, fără să-l susţii într-un fel oarecare, el nu are mai multă libertate decât o piatră în ceea ce priveşte căderea. Ca organism, el este supus diferitelor legi biologice pe care nu le poate încălca, întocmai cum nici animalele nu le pot încălca. Cu alte cuvinte, el nu poate încălca acele legi care îi sunt comune lui şi altor lucruri; dar legea care este specifică naturii sale umane, legea pe care nu o are în comun cu animalele, cu plantele sau cu lucrurile neînsufleţite, este cea pe care o poate încălca dacă alege să o facă. Legea aceasta a fost numită Legea Naturii, deoarece oamenii au crezut că fiecare o cunoaşte prin însăşi natura sa şi că nu are nevoie să fie învăţat. Desigur, ei nu au vrut să spună prin aceasta că nu s-ar putea să găseşti ici şi colo câte un individ bizar care să nu o cunoască, la fel cum găseşti câţiva oameni care nu pot distinge culorile sau care nu au ureche muzicală. Dar luând rasa umană în întregime, ei credeau că ideea umană de comportare decentă era de la sine înţeleasă de oricine. Şi eu cred că ei aveau dreptate. Dacă nu ar fi avut dreptate, atunci toate lucrurile pe care le-am spus noi despre război ar fi absurde. Ce sens ar fi avut să spunem că duşmanul greşeşte, dacă Binele nu este un lucru real pe care, în adâncul fiinţei lor, naziştii îl cunoşteau la fel de bine ca şi noi şi ar fi trebuit să-l pună în aplicare? Dacă ei nu ar fi avut idee despre ce înţelegem noi prin bine, atunci, puteam să ne luptăm, dar nu puteam să-i învinovăţim pentru aceasta, la fel cum nu-i puteam învinovăţi pentru culoarea părului lor. Cunosc câţiva oameni care susţin că ideea Legii Naturii sau a comportării decente, cunoscută de toţi oamenii, este nefondată, deoarece diferite civilizaţii şi diferite epoci au avut principii morale diferite. Dar afirmaţia aceasta nu este adevărată. Au existat diferenţe între principiile lor morale, dar acestea nu au fost niciodată diferenţe totale. Dacă cineva va face efortul să compare învăţăturile morale ale, să zicem, egiptenilor, babilonienilor, hinduşilor, chinezilor, grecilor şi romanilor din antichitate, ceea ce-l va izbi va fi asemănarea dintre ele şi asemănarea tuturor cu învăţătura noastră morală. Câteva dovezi în sensul acesta le-am adunat întro anexă la o altă carte intitulată The Abolition of Man (Abolirea omului); dar pentru scopul nostru prezent este suficient să-l întreb pe cititor ce crede el că înseamnă o moralitate totalmente diferită. Imaginaţi-vă o ţară în care oamenii ar fi admiraţi pentru că fug de pe câmpul de luptă, sau în care cineva s-ar simţi mândru dacă i-ar înşela pe toţi oamenii care au fost buni cu el. Aţi putea la fel de uşor să vă imaginaţi o ţară în care doi şi cu doi fac cinci. Oamenii s-au deosebit întotdeauna în concepţia lor cu privire la persoanele faţă de care trebuie să fii altruist – dacă numai faţă de familia ta, sau faţă de compatrioţii tăi, sau faţă de toţi oamenii. Dar oamenii au fost întotdeauna de acord că omul nu trebuie să fie egoist. Egoismul nu a fost admirat niciodată. Oamenii au avut păreri diferite cu privire la numărul de neveste pe care trebuie să le aibă, dacă să fie una sau patru. Dar ei au fost de acord întotdeauna că nu trebuie să fie permis ca să iei pur şi simplu pe orice femeie care îţi place. Dar lucrul cel mai remarcabil este următorul. Ori de câte ori vei găsi un om care spune că el nu crede într-un Bine şi Rău real, vei descoperi că-şi va retrage afirmaţia o clipă mai târziu. El poate să-şi încalce promisiunea pe care ţi-a făcut-o, dar dacă tu încerci să încalci o promisiune pe care i-ai făcut-o, înainte ca să poţi spune tu un cuvânt, el va protesta: „Nu e bine ce faci”. O naţiune poate spune că tratatele sunt lipsite de valoare; dar apoi, în clipa următoare, îşi va dezminţi afirmaţia spunând că un anumit tratat pe care a vrut să-l încalce a fost nedrept. Dacă tratatele nu au nici o valoare şi dacă nu există Bine şi Rău – cu alte cuvinte, dacă nu există o Lege a Naturii – care este diferenţa între un tratat drept şi un tratat nedrept? Oare nu s-au dat ei singuri de gol şi nu au arătat că, orice ar spune, ei au cunoştinţă de Legea Naturii, la fel ca toţi ceilalţi oameni? S-ar părea deci că suntem obligaţi să credem într-un Bine şi un Rău real. Oamenii pot greşi uneori cu privire la Bine şi Rău, la fel cum uneori îşi greşesc socotelile; dar Binele şi Răul nu sunt o chestiune de gust sau de opinie mai mult decât este tabla înmulţirii. Dacă suntem cu toţii de acord în privinţa aceasta, voi trece la punctul următor, care este acesta: Nici unul dintre noi nu respectă în totul Legea Naturii. Dacă sunt excepţii printre cititori, îmi cer scuze. În cazul acesta, ar face mai bine să citească altceva, deoarece pe ei nu-i priveşte nimic din ceea ce voi spune. Şi acum, revenind la fiinţele umane de rând care au rămas: Sper că nu veţi înţelege greşit ceea ce urmează să spun. Eu nu predic, şi Dumnezeu ştie că eu nu pretind că sunt mai bun decât alţii. Eu încerc doar să atrag atenţia asupra unui fapt; faptul că în anul acesta sau în luna aceasta sau, mai probabil, chiar în ziua aceasta, noi înşine nu am pus în practică felul de comportare pe care îl aşteptăm de la alţii. Se poate să găsim tot felul de scuze. Împrejurarea aceea în care ai fost foarte nedrept cu copiii a fost când erai foarte obosit. Afacerea aceea bănească puţin dubioasă – cea pe care aproape ai uitat-o – a venit atunci când erai la strâmtoare. Şi ce ai promis că vei face pentru X.Y. şi nu ai făcut – ei bine, nici măcar nu ai fi promis dacă ai fi ştiut cât de îngrozitor de ocupat aveai să fii. În ceea ce priveşte purtarea ta faţă de soţia ta (sau soţul tău) sau sora ta (sau fratele tău), dacă aş şti cât de enervanţi pot fi, nu m-aş mira – şi, în fond, cine sunt eu? Şi eu sunt la fel. Cu alte cuvinte, eu nu reuşesc să respect în totul Legea Naturii, şi în momentul când cineva îmi spune că nu o respect, începe să se nască în mintea mea un şirag de scuze mai lung decât mâna ta. Problema care se pune în momentul acela nu este dacă acelea sunt nişte scuze bune. Adevărul este că ele nu sunt decât o dovadă în plus cât de profund credem noi în Legea Naturii, fie că ne place, fie că nu ne place. Dacă noi nu credem în comportarea decentă, de ce suntem atât de nerăbdători să ne scuzăm când nu ne-am comportat decent? Adevărul este că noi credem în decenţă atât de mult – avem sentimentul că Stăpânirea Legii ne apasă – încât nu putem suporta faptul că o încălcăm şi, în consecinţă, încercăm să dăm vina pe altceva. Observaţi că numai pentru purtările noastre rele găsim toate aceste explicaţii. Numai stările de nervozitate le punem pe seama oboselii, a îngrijorării sau a foamei; pentru stările pozitive ne asumăm noi înşine meritul. Acestea deci sunt cele două lucruri pe care am vrut să le spun. Mai întâi, că fiinţele umane, de pretutindeni de pe pământ, au această idee ciudată că trebuie să se comporte într-un anumit fel şi nu se pot debarasa de ea. În al doilea rând, ei nu se comportă aşa cum ar trebui. Ei cunosc Legea Naturii, dar o încalcă. Aceste două fapte sunt de importanţă fundamentală pentru orice sistem de gândire clar cu privire la noi înşine şi la universul în care trăim.

preluat din C. S. Lewis, Creştinismul redus la esenţe, SMR.