April 2007

The faith doesn’t seem to affect some people’s lives that much. It surely didn’t used to affect mine. In crisis for instance God can be a great comfort, but many of us seem to think that the teaching of Jesus is like a laid out buffet:

“I’ll have the eternal life, without the third, the sixth and the tenth commandment. Skip that needle eye and give me a packacge of Camel.

Without filters.”

Jesus didn’t lose up the commandments. He sharpened them. I do not believe in Christianity as some form of smörgåsbord, where you can pick and choose. The Church is a package deal: Either you take the whole shaboom, or you don’t. It’s either or.

These very rules are guarded and interpreted by the Church, which he founded upon his disciple Simon Peter.

I believe the teaching of Christ is guarded by St. Peter, and his followers in the holy chair at the Vatican, therefore it is important that all Christians unite under this banner. Not under personal interpretations of Ulf Ekman’s in the “Word of Life” or the “Bride of Christ’s” in the sect of Knutby.

His Church is a living Church. You can’t only trust your own interpretations. If this was the meaning, Jesus would have written a book instead of teaching his disciples. The keys to the kingdom is in the hand of his living Church, ever since that day he gave them to St. Peter, who later settled down in Rome and then on his death, passed them down unto his successors.

When Jesus Christ instituted the Church, the Bible was not written yet. It is clearly by the authority of the Church and the Holy tradition his teachings are meant to be upheld. The Bible was put together in this tradition and should be interpreted through this tradition.

Either you believe in Jesus Christ or you don’t. If you do, there is no middle way: Et Unam, Sanctam, Cathólicam et Apostólicam Ecclésiam**. It all comes down to the Cathedra Petri, the Chair of Saint Peter. To acknowledge this will lead you to heaven.

I find it hard to relate to Jesus on the cross. I mean, it’s almost too great to grasp: The suffering of it all, being nailed to a cross, left to die in agony, taking on the sins of the whole world, yet being totally without sin. I have a hard time to relate to it on a more personal level. Somehow I feel it is easier for me to understand Mary’s pain in this. I can relate to her sufferings, because I can put myself in her shoes, kneeling by the cross, crying for her son. But I can’t grasp the suffering of Christ himself.

Another part of the bible that is difficult to comprehend is when poor Abraham are asked to sacrifice his only son. Everybody with children can relate to this tremendous proffer. I doubt I would be able to do what Abraham was prepared to do. I have asked myself how God could ask this of him, and why. I can’t understand how a loving God can ask this of a parent.

In the passion I can understand why, but I can’t really relate to the emotional side. In Abraham’s sacrifice I can relate to the emotional perspective, but I can’t understand why. And yet, Abraham’s sacrifice and the Passion of Christ is very similar parts of the bible: The father sacrifices his only son.

When I think of God’s great sacrifice for us in these terms, I can suddenly grasp what God have done and how he could ask this of Abraham. But God, in his great compassion gave Abraham a way out: He let Abraham keep his son and further let him have many more. God could ask this of Abraham because He could do the same for Abraham. He asked for Abraham’s sacrifice but did not fulfill his request. In the end Abraham did not sacrifice his son, but God did sacrifice his. The question should not be how he could ask this of Abraham, but how he could ask this of himself. And then the answer is more evident: For the love of us.

It is in this context, someone simpleminded as me, actually can grasp the passion of Christ and the endless love God has for us. God actually sacrificed his only son for us, for his people, for my family, for me…

The universal bias of God for each and one of us is important here. “Dieu nous aime d’un amour universellement partial” – God loves us with a love which is universally partial, as Gabriel Marcel puts it. The personal bond which He has, with each and one of us. The greatest sacrifice is universally done for us as individuals. The son of God died upon the cross for my sins, for your sins, for the sins of Abraham and his son. For all our personal sins, individually.

There you have it. How could one be indifferent for this great sacrifice? Someone has given us his only son to help us gain our lives.

– How, on earth, could we not take him up on his offer?

If you, as I did, found out that Jesus actually is sitting there waiting for you, to which church would you belong? The Mormons or maybe the Baptists? The Church of England or perhaps of Sweden? Maybe the Orthodox Church has shoes that fit, or the Roman Catholic? Or perhaps we don’t need a church at all…

In a couple of posts I will describe my view upon different churches and why I chose the way I chose.

Jesus as merely a philosopher
Here in Sweden it is common to believe in some good power, instead of the traditional Christian God. Those people often say that they feel that Jesus was some kind of great philosopher…

Well, have they really thought this through? Listen to this:

And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.Matthew 28:18-20*.

This is not the words of a great philosopher. This man is either a complete lunatic or the Son of God. It’s either or.

For me his divinity struck me a few years ago. I couldn’t help it. I believe we all, sooner or later, have to make this choice of to believe or not, and if we find ourselves with a belief in God, we should seriously contemplate the consequences on how we live our lives, not out of fear but in humble respect and love.

Between 1854 to 1863 Gerard Manley Hopkins was educated at the Highgate school. For a couple of months in 1861 – when Hopkins was sixteen -the English poet R.W. Dixon was an assistant master there and even though they did not really got acquainted at that time, Dixon made such an impact on Hopkins, that seventeen years later Gerard wrote a letter to Dixon in which he expressed his high regards towards his old master and especially for his writing.

In response Dixon wrote a letter which I think draws a colourful image upon Dixons perception of Gerard as a young boy.

I think that I remember you in the Highgate School. At least I remember a pale young boy, very light and active, with a very meditative & intellectual face, whose name, if I am not vastly mistaken, was yours. If I am not deceived by memory, that boy got a prize for English poetry. I may be deceived in this identification: but if you have time to write again, I should like to know. I little thought that my gift to Mr. Lobb, which I had quite forgotten, would bear such a fruit.

The gift Mr. Dixon is referring to was his book: Christ’s Company, published in 1861. A book Gerard referred to – in his previous letter to Dixon – as a part of my own mind. Dixons memory was not vastly mistaken. The pale young boy was indeed Gerard Hopkins. And GM wrote back: The correspondence between Dixon and Hopkins evolved to a deep friendship and lasted a decade, until the very end of Hopkins lifetime.

Gerard Manley Hopkins was a Victorian poet but he can’t really be placed in any particular literary school. Poets like T.S. Eliot and Dylan Thomas have both been influenced by him. The Auden generation with poets like Robert Graves held him in high esteem. Hopkins heralds the modernistic poetry. He is famous for his very rhythmic, almost musical, poetry. Consonance, Assonance, alliteration and internal rhymes are important part of his poetry. The use of prepositions, conjunctions and pauses are an instrument of rhythm.

He uses the words like no other. Verbs, often in present participle, is creating a drive, a running feeling in the text, he transforms words to different word classes. For example the verbification: Let him Easter in us. He also often makes use of displacement of meaning, e.g. he can let a predicate belong to two subjects and bring forth simultaneous alternatives of interpretation. He is creating a weave of sounds and rhythm, forming associations and meaning.

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

As king fishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.

I say more: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

Cardinal John Henry Newman commenced a profound spiritual influence on the Church of England as well as the Catholic communion in the nineteenth century. His writing is still of great importance, perhaps especially to people in religious difficulties. Sometimes Newman is referred to as: The Father of the Second Vatican Council. He was made Cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in 1879 and there is a movement to further his process towards beatification.

After a brief correspondence initiated by Gerard Manley Hopkins, in a letter dated the 28th of August 1866, Hopkins met Father Newman to discuss how to proceed with his conversion and how to deal with his masters at Oxford as well as with his parents. In contrast with what you may expect of a religious leader Newman advocated consideration. (Martin 1992). Afterwards Hopkins wrote to Bridges on his perception of the meeting:

Dr. Newman was most kind, I mean in the very best sense, for his manner is not that of solicitous kindness, but genial and almost, so to speak, unserious. And if I may say so, he was so sensible. He asked questions which made it clear for me how to act; I will tell you presently what that is: he made sure I was acting deliberately and wished to hear my arguments; when I had given them and said I cd. see no way out of them, he laughed and said ‘Nor can I’…. In no way did he urge me on, rather the other way…

No there were no arguments against his conversion and 21st October 1866 Gerard was received into the Roman Catholic Church.

I’m not sure how I will profile myself, here in the virtual world. IRL I try to shave regularly and wear clean clothes. When I’m out with people I’m trying not to talk to loud. I’ll adjust to the present situation, like almost everybody else. It’s so much more complicated with digital profiling. Both the people from history as well as those from future sees it. People meet me, that I don’t really meet.

My first attempt at profiling myself on the Internet was some ten years ago. I made a homepage. My only problem was that I hadn’t got the slightest idea to why I did it, I didn’t feel that I had something to say. So I made a homepage that consisted of different backgrounds… With kind of blurred, deep blue and red, colors. And nothing more.

I think it’s still out there in Cyberspace somewhere, Don’t know where though. It’s probably not indexed as the search engines got nothing to index, on it. I forgot the address too.

Web site
A couple of years ago I was as a webmaster for a non-profit organization. It took care of what to write about: Annual reports, advirtisments for the different activitys we arranged, on-line tutorials, etcetera. The problem this time was the opposite than before. I couldn’t write what I wanted to write, my interests was not all within the organizational span,

I was more and more picking up my old interest in literature and wanted to write about that too. I started to write about it in the Swedish Wikipedia, but I have never been very fond of encyclopedias, even when it is scholars writing them… And I spent too much time getting upset over articles, so I decided to give it up. I’m not that interested in debating anyhow. When my religious pondering became more and more important Wikipedia had definitely lost all its interest to me.

Homepage again
So about three years ago I made a site about my efforts in translating a poet into Swedish, after awhile it grew to be a site about Gerard Manley Hopkins. I also made a personal homepage that told a little about myself and my studies at the Department of Computer and system science.

But my interests kept evolving and scatter, as interests often do and the homepage concept didn’t work well with change. I find Websites works well if its subjects are deep rather then broad, static, or at least slowly changing, rather than dynamic. I like poking with the text, and letting it evolve over time, but posting about a new subject once a week, would have made my homepage a hodgepodge.

Some time ago I found that blogging is actually a great way for me to be both shallow and (pretending) to be deep. And changing topics wasn’t really an issue here, rather the opposite. Here I can write whatever comes to mind. No matter what topic it is that has caught my interest.

I started blogging some time ago at a blog at my University. It’s kind of nice to have a context and to know that some of those who read my blog is people I also will meet in real life. However, I’m not so pleased with some of the technical sides of that blog, and at the moment I can’t even create new posts, so I started to look around for another Blog solution. My university blog was kind of nice looking, but you couldn’t personalize it enough. I don’t like the look on Blogger (and what’s that blue and orange thing they got over there. Does anyone actually like those colors combined?

Finally I arrived here. I find that Worldpress have some nice features as well as a great look. Perhaps when I’m rich and famous I even pay the few dollars for accessing the style sheets.

This will probably be my main site in the future, with links to my other projects. I’m thinking of keeping my University blog though, but start writing in Swedish there instead and keep this one in English. It’s a good way to practice my translation skills as well. I don’t seem to get the time to write on my Hopkins page, but perhaps I can instead write posts about him here. And then of course Catholic pondering, thoughts on my studies, my view upon art etcetera.


And whatever the future have in store.

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