Monday, July 28, 2008

From Huw
  • On the Jesus Prayer, which is a good thing of course but I’ve never been a dévotée: The prayer ends “have mercy on me”, an echo not only of the Bible but also the liturgy’s ελεησον ημας, “have mercy on us”. And that brings up the meaning of mercy. “Have mercy on me, a sinner” sounds like (in English) “don’t whip me too much, master, have mercy on me!” But the Greek word ελεησον is related to the word for olive oil, a substance which was used extensively as a soothing agent for bruises and minor wounds. When you read “I screwed up; don’t beat me” into the Jesus Prayer you’re missing the point.
  • On rejecting Catholicism out of ignorance of the Christian East. Huw’s a liberal Protestant himself but fair-minded: Liberal Protestantism, having rejected the erroneous enormities of Augustine’s heirs [Calvin], think they must depart fully from the tradition. In this mindset, there is only one “traditional” way of being Christian — which we reject. Accusing an überpious Roman or Orthodox of biblical literalism is rather like accusing the British of having a US-style Constitution. The long, hotchpotch, partly unwritten British constitution’s not a bad analogy for how tradition works.
  • Many have described the difference between those two Catholic churches rather like this: It is, as I’ve said elsewhere, rather like “reformatting your hard drive” from Windows to Mac: everything is the same, but everything is different.

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