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21 March 2008
For God so
loved the world that he gave his only Son so that every one who believes in him
should not perish but have everlasting life. - - St. John 3:16
by Counterfeits : "True aristocracy, after true religion, is the greatest
blessing a nation can enjoy. Early nineteenth-century Britain possessed an unrivalled
capacity for aristocracy. Her troubles arose because she was ruled by a counterfeit
instead of the real aristocracy which her institutions had evolved with such profusion
In every walk of life she threw up men who attained to the highest levels of achievement
The Athanasian Creed, one of the foundation creeds of the Christian Faith says we are to "beleive rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ." If we are to "believe rightly the Incarnation", does this not mean that we should "make flesh", or make a reality of everything Jesus said and taught?
HISTORY IN ENGLISH WORDS
a philologist (a discipline barely 100 years old in 1953) his interest was in
plumbing the depths of "the inner, living history of man's soul" through
the study of language itself. It had come to be seen the "historical forms
and meanings of words" acted "as interpreters both of the past and of
the workings of men's minds."
So, as we move into the Christian Holy Week, it was thought appropriate to re-present Mr. Barfield's rather lengthy presentation in which he outlines his own experiences, as a philologist, in his conversion to the faith of Christ. The original was presented to an audience at Wheaton College Illinois in 1976.
PHILOLOGY AND THE INCARNATION
by Owen Barfield
It is impossible to give much attention to words and their meanings, and more especially the history of words and the history of the changes which those meanings have undergone, without making a number of interesting discoveries. Moreover, in my experience the discoveries one then makes are of a kind which it is impossible to make without being forced by them to reflect rather intensively on the whole nature of man and of the world in which he lives.
me give you a very simple example:
When we speak, for instance, of a child as charming, we do not mean that the child himself is actually doing something. On the contrary, as soon as we notice that anyone, a child or a woman, is "charming" us in the verbal sense [in which case we rarely use the simple verb by itself, but we find some other expression such as "putting on charm" or "exerting charm" so as to ring out the notion of a willed activity], when that happens, the charmer who is charming in the verbal sense generally ceases to be charming in the adjectival sense!
Well, you could say the same thing about the word enchanting. I mention these two words because they're good examples of a whole class, quite a noticeable group of words in our language which possess the same peculiarity. One has only to think of such words as depressing, interesting, amusing, entertaining, fascinating, and so on to realize that we tend to allude to qualitative manifestations in the world outside ourselves by describing the effect they have on us, rather than by attempting to denote the qualities themselves.
The next thing that you find about this little group of words, if you go into the matter historically, is that these words, when used with these meanings, are all comparatively recent arrivals. Most of them first came into use in the eighteenth century - none of them is earlier than the seventeenth, I think.
The kind of question one is led to ask is: is this just as accident, or has it any wider significance? That is just the kind of question which the philologist, the student of language in its historical aspect, is led on to ask himself. Is the appearance of these words at this comparatively late state just something that happened to happen, or is it a surface manifestation of deeper currents of some sort? So you have a linguistic habit, one must say, arising in the West in the course of the last few centuries, of describing or defining or denoting the outer world in terms, as it were, of the inner world of human feeling.
let us take a look at another group of words, a very much larger group this time,
indeed an almost unlimited one. I am referring to all those words which go to
make up what the nineteenth century utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham called
the "immaterial language." In other words, I mean all those innumerable words
in any modern language which do not refer to anything in the outside world at
all, but only to the inner world of human feeling, of human thought - only to
states of mind or mental events - hope, fear, enthusiasm, conscious, embarrass,
humility, ambition, concept - you can go on reeling them off, any number of
them, of course.
let me make this point - everyone is agreed, and I repeat, everyone, that
there was such a historical process. Now you may ask, how do I establish that
rather bold proposition? And the answer is: I establish it because I am in a position
to call two witnesses to it from the very opposite ends of the earth.
you find Jeremy Bentham, hard-headed positivist Jeremy Bentham, in an essay of
his also entitled "Language," [it comes in section four of the essay], writing
Words which refer to the inner world
time of the New Testament writing:
Now I want to suggest that
if we set side by side the two linguistic phenomena which we have been looking
at, we see on the one side the thing I spoke of first, the relatively recent tendency
to refer to the qualities in the outside world, [call it the world of nature,
if you like], in terms of their effect upon ourselves.
very important process:
But now, what do we imply when we say that something has been "discovered"? If it was discovered at a certain point or during a certain period of time, as it must have been, we imply that there was a previous period during which it was not yet discovered. But please note carefully that, although this must always be the case, it may have been the case for either of two reasons. The thing may have been undiscovered because, although it was already in existence, although it was always there, no one had so far happened to notice it. That's the one reason. Should I be in order, I wonder, here in placing the discovery of America as an example of that category? I don't know.
But anyhow, there are plenty of other examples. Take the planet Neptune, for example. That's the first kind of discovery: not discovered because it didn't happen to be noticed although it was already there. But the thing might also have been undiscovered, for a different reason. The reason might be simply that it wasn't yet there. If you discover a new, wild flower in your garden, next spring, let's say it's an annual, the reason you didn't discover it last spring may be that the bird or the wind which carries the seed didn't happen to have passed that way, whereas this year it did. That is the second kind of discovery. We cannot always be certain which of the two causes any particular discovery belongs to. It is conceivable, for instance, that even the planet Neptune might not have been in existence until about the time it was discovered, though I expect we are right in classifying that as a discovery of the first kind.
But there is one case where we can be absolutely certain that the discovery was not of the first kind, and therefore was of the second kind [the discovery of something which did not exist until it was discovered]; and that is the discovery by man of his own existence as a self-conscious being. The reason is plain enough. It simply does not make sense to say that at one time self-consciousness was an existing fact which had not yet been discovered. You can be unaware of many things, but you cannot be unaware of being aware. In this case, therefore, the discovery and the birth of the thing discovered are one and the same event.
rich treasury of words:
The tables have been turned in the linguistic relation between man and nature, or between the individual self and its environment. Because, as I pointed out at the beginning, if a man now wants to say anything about his natural environment, anything rich or qualitative, as distinct from the purely quantitative measurements of natural science, he has to do it by employing a language whose literal reference is to something that is going on within himself, but employing it in such a way that he somehow suggests that those qualities exist not in himself, but in the world outside himself. I have, it is true, given only a single indication of this last, namely, a particular small group of words. There are, in fact, plenty of other indications of what I am saying, but it would take too long to go into them. I'm not, and I should like to make this very clear, attempting to argue a case. I can go no farther than stating it.
of human consciousness:
great change took place:
Gospels and St. Paul:
Man was born who claimed to be
let me further suppose that, excited by what he had just heard, our student made
further inquiries and learned that this man, so far from being a charlatan or
lunatic, had long been acknowledged, even by those who regarded his claim to have
come down from heaven as a delusion, as the nearest anyone had ever come to being
a perfect man. What conclusion do you think our student would be likely to draw?
reading: Books available from all Heritage
Book Services and Veritas Publishing Company.
THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY
by James Reed
Go into any bookshop and you will find whole sections of books on 'self development' and 'happiness'. Find out from the latest guru the secrets of success, wealth and enjoyment. The Viking worldview turned all that on its head, with its idea of the nobility of dying in battle.
The genuine Christian worldview is not much different: the battle is against Satanic evil, often within oneself. One strives for the good and finding Christ, not for any buzz of 'happiness' but rather for the 'peace that passes all understanding.' This spiritual joy is far beyond the crude concept of 'happiness' which so dominates our age.
Eric Wilson's book, "Against Happiness:
In Praise of Melancholy," will be released soon. I have read an extract (The
Australian 27/2/08 p.40) where Eric attacks the cult of happiness, but, not
from a Christina perspective.
CHRISTIANITY, JEWS AND THE ENVIRONMENT
by Charles Knight
It was an incredible argument with a clear logical jump from "X gave rise to Y" and "Y caused a bad thing" so "X caused the bad thing." Talk about blaming the sins of the sons on the fathers! However, White did not think it through. If Christianity is at fault (which of course I contest: surely mechanistic science and capitalistic/communistic technology must bear the lion's share of blame, if blame we must) then so is Judaism.
In fact Steven S. Schwarzschild in his paper "The Unnatural Jew" (Environmental
Ethics, vol.6 1984, pp.347-362) argues contrary to White that Christianity
synthesised Biblical transcendentalism and Greek thought and saw humans as part
of nature, subject to natural forces, under of course, the divine plan of God.
But Judaism operated with a fundamental distinction
between nature and man such that nature was to be the subject of human ends. Schwarzschild
traces this thesis through Biblical, Talmudic, medieval philosophic and modern
Jewish religious and Zionist literature. He concludes that Jews are "unnatural
persons" (p. 347) Jewishness in literature has been defined as "alienation from
and confrontation with nature." (p.349)
The Ehrenfeld's may well be right on this and Schwarzschild wrong. But Christianity cannot be taken as the whipping boy of the environmentalists. If Christianity is at fault, then so is Judaism. But that of course is anti-Semitic, for it is an iron law of nature that any criticism of Judaism is anti-Semitic in today's culture. So, Judaism can't be at fault and neither can Christianity! Take that, environmentalists !
reading on League website:
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