I read the old fairy stories, and in them I find a world that stirs my heart. As I turn the pages of that book, a longing buried deep within my chest rushes to the forefront of my consciousness. My intellect, my will, my affections, they are all overcome by a conviction that *that* world, the one of the fairy stories, is the *real* one. The air in that land carries the scent of reality. The bells have the ring of truth. The waters pulse with life. I feel I know that realm better than my own, even though many places there are shrouded by dark clouds or illuminated by unapproachable light. I expect mystery there. One time, I turned down a path and discovered some well of blessed water. That was truly a delight. Often I’ve entered the hall of the King and eaten at his table while his bards tell stories of ancient and mighty deeds. Faery is a perilous place to sojourn: one goes there and comes back changed. Wounded, more often than not. I went, only to have an intoxicating desire aroused, and then I had to close the book. Now, I sit here in my room, returned from a land of light and enchantment, back in a world that, I am told, lacks the wonders of Faery.
And yet, what if there really are holy waters and enchanted bread and elixirs of life? What if ordinary things can be caught up in Mystery and used for purposes beyond what we’ve imagined? What if the things of Faery were actually the echoes, the shadows, hints of our reality?
I think they are.
The links below are from a series that appeared on Front Porch Republic recently. Susannah Black contributes to the argument for an older understanding of politics, the common good, and order. (Plus, there are references to Althusius, so it has to be good.)
This is a conversation I just had with a waitress at a fast-food joint:
Me: … and a small Coke, please.
Fast-food waitress: We only have medium and large.
Me: Y’all must’ve sold a lot of smalls today.
FFW: No, we don’t sell a small size.
Me: <smiling> Then you can’t have a “medium” if you don’t sell a small.
FFW: <weird stare>
Me: “Medium” derives from the Latin word “medius,” which means “middle.” In order to have a “medium,” you have to have something both larger and smaller.
FFW: <weird stare continues>
FFW: <weird stare continues>
FFW: <weird stare continues>
FFW: So, you want a medium?
Me: <sigh> Yeah, I’ll take a medium.
As best as I can figure, this is about the sixth time I’ve participated in some version of this back and forth. Not once has my interlocutor understood what I was saying.
English and basic reasoning have been losing for so long. Sad!
“Now, as it is certain and beyond all doubt, that, that Jesus Christ has not enjoined to us the use of his sacraments in vain, so he works in us all that he represents to us by these holy signs, though the manner surpasses our understanding, and cannot be comprehended by us, as the operations of the Holy Ghost are hidden and incomprehensible. In the meantime we err not, when we say, that what is eaten and drunk by us is the proper and natural body, and the proper blood of Christ.”
From whence in Christendom do you think the above comes? From Rome, maybe? Or Constantinople?
How surprised would you be to hear that it comes out of Geneva?
It’s the Reformed doctrine of the Lord’s Supper as summarized in chapter 35 of the Belgic Confession. Now, you should read the entire section on the Holy Supper to get the full picture of the teaching, but I’ve drawn out the above quote to highlight the fact that the Reformers didn’t jettison the doctrine of the Real Presence. They certainly corrected the error of transubstantiation taught by the papacy, but they didn’t swing into the opposite error of memorialism. I’ve included a video below of Dr. Michael Horton commenting on this:
It’s also worth checking out what the Westminster Confession and Heidelberg Catechism have to say about the Eucharist. In the Westminster Larger Catechism, the questions from about 150 to around 180 are pertinent.
UPDATE 10/29/16 10:45 PM
The catechism written by Calvin for the church in Geneva offers a nice summary, as well. (I love the title, which includes the phrase “being a form of instruction for children.” If only we taught our children as well as they!)
Reformation Day is upon us. In that spirit, remember the words of this hymn from the pen of Martin Luther. (Here’s an English version being sung.) Pray for reformation in the Church, that the Word would call us back to true worship, that we would remember our spiritual fathers and mothers and the battles they fought for true doctrine. Be willing to work for a modern reformation.
Above all, remember that our God is a mighty fortress, and His Word abides above all earthly powers. He will win the battle.
My coursework is taking up a lot of time, so there will be no Friday Five posts for a little while. In lieu of the Friday Five, enjoy this hymn, “Let all mortal flesh keep silence.” It’s a wonderful one to sing during the Lord’s Supper. It also strikes me as being a manly hymn.
We Abandon Social Conservatism at Our Own Peril
By Carlos Flores at Public Discourse. Fiscal conservatives, don’t be too quick to move on from social issues; they have fiscal impacts.
Our State Religion
By “Johnny” at Granola Shotgun. This one is not actually about religion, but what is the state’s “religion?” Read to see.
Pronouns, Ordinary People, and the War over Reality
By Anthony Esolen, also at Public Discourse. (The Witherspoon Institute provides quality content, I must say.) This piece brings to mind Solzhenitsyn’s admonishment to “live not by lies.”
I’m An English Major Who Just Got Fired As A Barista. Here’s Where I Went Wrong
By David Breitenbeck at The Federalist. He cautions against going to college without a clear understanding of why you’re going. As someone who is currently enrolled at Georgia Tech, I concur with his assessment.
The Sentimentality Trap
This is an excellent essay on poetry and the temptation towards sentimality by Benjamin Myers via First Things. A though-provoking line:
“Sentimentality is really a form of that deadly heresy of Gnosticism, which prefers airy spiritualization to God’s actual creation.”