Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Reading List

Years ago I stepped into graduate school and stumbled into the library. Walking up and down the long aisles of books overwhelmed me. Sadly I realized that I would never have time to read all these books--at least on this earth. Unfortunately, then as now I enjoy ruminating far too much to rush through any book and would rather sip thoughts from one chapter over and over than finish reading the other chapters. Alas, I always feel behind in reading.

This week a few books have given me time to pause and reflect. Thomas Oden has provided some encouraging discussion in his book, The Rebirth of Orthodoxy. Even though I just mentioned ruminating over the text, this is really not that kind of book. But is does provide an interesting analysis of the resurgence of the Church Fathers and orthodox (little o) Christian teaching among Evangelicals, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and even mainline denominations.

When it comes to ruminating, one of my favorite writers is Hans Urs Von Balthasar. Combining profound theological insight with a gift for writing, he achieves the rare feat of beautiful theology. Von Balthasar's insights continaully challenge and inspire me to worship the Lord. The Grain of Wheat provides a glimpse into his amazing style through a series of aphorisms on various topics.

Here is a sampling:
"God wants for himself at the same time, everything and nothing. Everything, because he does not give his honor to anyone else; nothing, because he already has everything, and, lover that he is, he wants nothing for himself. This is why he demands that we seek him in all things and that nevertheless the whole tide of our thanksgiving to him be diverted through the world. Thus, the indissoluable unity of contemplation and action has its foundation in God himself."

Earlier in the summer, Aelred of Rivaulx confronted me with the nature of true Spiritual Friendship. This little treasure provided a wealth of ideas for our upcoming "Friendship Retreat "in October. Now I am readng The Mirror of Charity--a book which Aelred resisted writing but finally submitted to St. Bernard's command. One quote should capture the simple beauty of this classic: "What are you doing, O human soul, what are you doing? Why are you seized by so many? Whatever you seek in the many exists in the one."

That last quote is worth long ruminations: "Whatever you seek in the many exists in the one." There is a longing in the human soul that can only be satisfied by the endless life and love of God. On this earth, we will never find complete satisfaction because we are not in resting place of perfect love.

So we strive to find life in transient things that have no power to give life but can only point us to the Life. We expect friendships, lovers, jobs, accomplishments, nature and a host of other things to satisfy us. In the vast and wonderful world of particular things and particular people, we enjoy an endless variety of gifts from our Father in Heaven. But the many cannot provide what only emanates from the one. Life and life abundantly is found only in the love of God revealed by the Son through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Update: Read a Von Balthasar quote that fits perfect with the above thought: "God is so wide that, within his spaciousness, even the longing for unfulfillable longing can soar freely."

1 comment:

PaPa said...

Dude ---- the BLUE highlighted stuff is hard to read .... tim