Thursday, December 07, 2017

Kenosis and Trinity

Before a few notes on kenosis and Trinity, a word about the publication date of Silence: A User's Guide, vol. 2, which is, in the USA, March 9, 2018. Available from Wipf and Stock. The UK publication date (DLT) is not yet available.

Matt has written to ask about the relationship between kenotic theology and Trinitarian theology. The link is self-emptying. Each Person of the Trinity is self-outpouring. In patristic theology this is called circumincession. This is not something each Person 'does' but is rather who each Person is. Of course everything we say about the Trinity is inadequate; but we can talk about the self-outpouring of the Trinity because of the self-emptying of Christ.

In a purely speculative mode, we might think of the Trinity as kenosis-glory-wisdom; a Buddhist trinity might be emptiness-compassion-wisdom. It's interesting that wisdom and emptiness occur in both. Of course we could also say that the second Person of the Christian Trinity is also compassion; these are just analogies and hints. But recently I have been interested in glory as the other side of kenosis (see vol 2 above); kenosis does not lead to glory, it is glory. We cannot see the glory because we would be overcome, as Isaac of Nineveh says; but faith is in part the confidence (parrhesia) that this unity of kenosis and glory is so. This is one notion that ties together the epistles and the Gospel of John. This subject is all quite mind-blowing and unfolds slowly. More later, perhaps.

Happy Advent, everyone.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Happy Late Summer

Happy late summer to all. I hope your harvest has been as fruitful as mine—in more than one area.

I have finished volume 2 of Silence: A User's Guide and it is at the publishers. It will be available sometime towards the end of the year or early in 2018. The publishers are the same as for volume 1: Wipf and Stock in the USA and the rest of the world except for DLT in the UK and Europe.

Now to find a new topic: the well on this one is absolutely dry, or, perhaps more positively, I have written myself into silence about silence.

However, now that the book is finished, perhaps I can start paying more attention to this blog. Thanks for waiting.

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From the sublime to the ridiculous: did you know that garden snails have a sense of direction? An experiment showed that snails remembered the part of the garden from which they were collected. There was a control group of snails from Cornwall. All the snails headed for the quarter from which they were taken; the Cornwall snails headed due west.  It was not reported whether they were taken home! I hope so.

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My prayers are especially with those of you living in Trumpestan. Take heart: surely he can't last much longer before being removed or resigning. The UK isn't much better at this point, Brexit being increasingly seen as utterly destructive to life in the UK. We can only hope the government will realise it is impossible at every level.

Prayers too for all of you living in Texas. Please, if you are in the line of fire from the hurricane, evacuate!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Blessed Holy Week to All

In this time of uncertainty and fear, let us take refuge in openness to God, who is beyond what we can conceive of or imagine, which faith is recapitulated this week. May you all have a blessed Holy Week and Triduum, and a very Happy Easter.

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Someone just sent me the following: I can't resist posting it.

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Articles of Faith

This mounted event for rider and ass is held weekly and should be attended by all who wish to be included among the Chosen. Any rider who fails to turn up will be disqualified. The course for examining the Articles of Faith is modelled on that of the showjumping arena.

The first obstacle is a fence commonly referred to as Original Sin. Built as it is of natural materials, it is perhaps surprising that all competitors save one female have fallen at it. This is usually blamed on asses shying when they catch sight of the snake woven into the wattle hurdle. N.B. Riders by the name of Balaam are given a bye here..

Original Sin is followed by the water jump, which poses no real difficulties as a wetting is obligatory: extra points are given for total immersion.

Atonement, a triple jump, is typical of the course in presenting three problems in one. Some commentators with a C. of E. background like to call it At-one-ment, to the confusion of French and German competitors, not to mention visiting Poles. The parts, in ascending height and difficulty, are Moral Example, Substitution and Ransom. Betting on the last two elements is widespread and indeed encouraged.

The Wall, also known as the Creed, is solidly built to prevent dislodgment of individual bricks, allowed at other venues with less stringent rules. A big jump, it must be cleared the first time.

If these obstacles are successfully negociated the competitor will probably get round the rest of the course, though should he or she lose points, in grave cases risking elimination, there is a tricky in-and-out known as Confession, where faults incurred earlier can be wiped out by a course inspector, on condition of proceeding on one’s knees, leading Br. Ass by the bridle.

This event should be engaged in and ideally completed weekly to ensure that riders retain their place among the Chosen. The water jump is missed out after the first round.

Those temperamentally unsuited to the event sometimes stumble onto a narrow out-of-the-way track, where other dimensions are in play, the linear being revealed as redundant. Here time is no more. Birth, death, and the four seasons are co-existent. Logical process is by-passed. All is perceived in the round. The only narrative is that of faith, which, lit by glory, is rendered indefinable, past comprehending, true, and thus adorable.


Anyone who claims to understand will end lying face-down in the dust; that much is sure.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas to all my gracious readers—through all the darkness in the world, may this Christmas bring you light for the feast and in the year to come.

I have been meaning to write to recommend a book which is wonderful in everything but its title: Reclaiming Humility, by Jane Foulcher (Liturgical). Humility can't be claimed, much less reclaimed, but this is the book's only fault. It is scholarly without being pedantic and is so beautifully written that you have no sense of the usual dry scholarly monograph. Her research is impeccable and her insights original. Highly recommended.

Also, Breaking the Alabaster Jar: Conversations with Li-Young Lee, ed. Earl Ingersoll (BOA editions). Repetititive in places, but when Li-Young gets going he is full of silence and insight.

Finally, The Taste of Silence by Bieke Vandekerckhove, published by Liturgical Press. It is a down-to-earth treatment of pain, religion, meditation. She is well-known in Belgium: She has ALS (in remission) and is half-paralysed, and yet she has been ordained a zen master with the name “Light of Kenosis”. She is also deeply into Benedictine monastic spirituality.

In early January I will be going again on a 3-month retreat on a remote island in Scotland and will have virtually no access to internet—and no, I don't have a pub date yet for vol. 2. But I'm working on it. Slowly and painfully.

May your New Year be filled with joy to aid you in the fight against the darkness.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Wisdom from H.L. Mencken





The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. 
The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
− Henry Louis Mencken, writing for the Baltimore Evening Sun on 26 July 1920, in an article entitled "Bayard vs. Lionheart" and reprinted in the book ‘On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe.”

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Election 2016

Monday, October 24, 2016

"In Pursuit of Silence"

This award winning film will be screened in Oxford on All Saints' Day, November 1, at 6 PM at the Phoenix Cinema in Oxford (on Walton Street). Maggie Ross makes a brief appearance (!) and does some of the voice-overs.