On Advent: "We Are All Lying in the Mud, but Some of Us Are Looking at the Stars"

Truly beautiful...A Shakespearean soul indeed.

Posted by gabrielpicasso at November 27, 2006 8:30 AM

The worst mistake a man can make is to misestimate his enemy, to ascribe to him motivations and reasoning he does not ascribe to, much less use.

This includes saying that his enemy surely can't mean what he is saying, for no rational man would say such things. On the contrary, the more outrageous your enemy's statements the more likely it is he means what he says. When the tyrant says he will destroy your society is when you take him at his word.

Posted by Alan Kellogg at November 27, 2006 11:38 AM

"The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason." G. K. Chesterton

Posted by Mary B. at December 2, 2006 11:58 AM

Reason can never ascertain that we are saved not by strength and rational thinking, but by acknowledging our most profound weakness and neediness in the darkest, lonliest, most silent night of the Advent Soul. Being at the end of our rope is often a very holy place to be where Real Hope Begins in the humblest of places.

Posted by Webutante at December 4, 2007 5:32 AM

Not to proselytize, but this post has much in common with the Pope's latest encyclical, Spe Salvi. You should check it out --it's just 30 pp.-- I think you'd enjoy it.

Spe Salvi

Posted by RC2 at December 4, 2007 5:17 PM

We would have to "slip the surly bonds" of human nature, with its feet of clay, to be truly reasonable.

Posted by Sissy Willis at December 5, 2007 3:38 AM

Frail ladders leading on to the rim of the world:

"I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that though Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Eveyone there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filled with light. But they do not call it goodness. They do not call it anything. They are not thinking of it. They are too busy looking at the source from which it comes. But this is near the stage where the road passes over the rim of our world. No one's eyes can see very far beyond that: lots of people's eyes can see further than mine." (CS Lewis, Mere Christianity)

Posted by stevesh at December 5, 2007 7:14 PM

Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Thank you.

Peace,

Bill Gnade

Posted by Bill Gnade at December 7, 2007 2:48 PM

Why do we find toddlers lovable, irresistible?
Their radiating love is enrapturing, rupturing the the shells around our hearts. We then blossom too, in smiles, laughter, tears of gratitude.

The reason for this is obvious --- and beyond reason.

Posted by FamouslyUnknown at December 8, 2007 3:59 PM

This is one of your best among many greats.

>>And I am moved by the poetry of this most modern of images, not by the triumph of Reason which it seems to enshrine, but by that which is beyond Reason yet within it all the same.

At the range the picture was taken of the launch, the ground shakes and the sound waves shake your innards.

I work in this field and every spacecraft and aircraft is the product of unreasonable desires propelled by reason: it takes a lot of arguing and hurt feelings to get to orbit successfully.

Everytime something is launched, half the guys working on it say: "Oh, God don't let me be right." and half are saying "By God, I knew I was right."

God built us well; the things we build beggar Reason, but Reason is temporal....
(M'eh--you said it better.)

Posted by Gray at November 29, 2008 10:29 PM

Gray - Strange, is it not, that the same species that can shake the ground, create the thunder and make night turn to day in the service of Reason and the truth that makes men free - that same species can make the destroying light, the thunder like (to quote) the slamming of a vast door in the depths of Hell and the heat like Hell's door opening. Which we choose to do, within the next fifty years or so, will also be the choice between life and death for our species. And the choice cannot be unmade.

Posted by Fletcher Christian at November 30, 2008 2:50 AM

Gerard, thank you for the dedication! I wish I remembered what post of mine prodded you, way back when. But I always enjoy re-reading this post of yours. Have a blessed Advent season!

Posted by Donald Sensing at November 29, 2009 8:45 AM

Another wonderful piece, Gerard. Halfway through, I thought of the comment by Ishi when asked what he thought about white men: "They are very clever but not wise."

Posted by LT at November 29, 2009 12:03 PM

Heh! Back in 2004, when you first posted this, I didn't know then how I inspired it. But thanks again.

Posted by Donald Sensing at November 29, 2009 2:19 PM

I was recently teetering on the edge of hillside porch watching the sun rise through a distant line of bare November trees.

I had to remind myself that the laws of gravity still apply when we're soaring.

This essay did the same for me.

Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Posted by Cathy at November 30, 2009 7:17 AM

This, and the post that precedes it, reminded me of a poem:

Diagram, by Robinson Jeffers

Look, there are two curves in the air: the air
That man's fate breathes: there is the rise and fall of the Christian culture-complex, that broke
its dawn-cloud
Fifteen centuries ago, and now past noon
Drifts to decline; and there's the yet vaster curve, but mostly in the future, of the age that began at Kittyhawk
Within one's lifetime.—The first of these curves passing its noon and the second orient
All in one's little lifetime make it seem pivotal.
Truly the time is marked by insane splendors and agonies.
But watch when the two curves cross: you children
Not far away down the hawk's-nightmare future: you will see monsters.

Posted by Aquila at November 29, 2010 8:46 PM

"Our Here. Our Now. Our miracle. Impossible but actual. On this unlikely melding of earth, air, fire and water, fused far ago from starstuff and now circling a single sun swimming in some out-of-the-way arm of a second-class galaxy, where we lift Atlantis into orbit; where we seek to populate the far stars in our searching." ... This is beautiful. The essay is too rich for me to digest in one sitting, I will have to sleep on these words, but I know just this one paragraph alone ... This one little bite will nourish my night. And ... I already can't wait to see the entire piece again. So glad you re-ran this today.

Posted by DeAnn at November 26, 2011 9:04 PM

Bravo to you Alan Kellog, well said.

The picture would be even more beautiful if rather than showing Atlantis' launch it showed the first of hundreds of ICBM launches destined for Iran and Pakistan. Nuke Iran Now!

Posted by Scott M at November 27, 2011 2:12 AM

"God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason."
Dag Hammarskjold, "Markings"

Posted by Howard at December 2, 2012 12:19 PM

We did not raise Reason to rule us,
rather to serve us.
Unable to predict all the consequences of our "reasonable" actions, we take on the burden of destructive means and dead-ends.
On the other hand, Love's consequences are: less stuff, more contentment, and more love.
Buddha and Christ and that kind person you meet, have the key, doorway, door, and room for you.
Welcome.

Posted by Howard at December 2, 2012 12:42 PM


Equality of conditions persuades men to conceive an instinctive disbelief in the supernatural and a very lofty, often exaggerated, conception of human reason. Human opinions form only a sort of intellectual dust which swirls in every direction, unable to settle or find stability-
Tocqueville

Our intellect is not the most subtle, the most powerful, the most appropriate instrument for revealing truth. It is life that, little by little, example by example, permits us to see that what is most important to our heart, or to our mind, is learned not by reasoning but through other agencies. Then it is that intellect, observing their supremacy, abdicates its control to them upon reasoned grounds and agrees to become their collaborator-
Proust

Reason’s last step is that recognition that there are an infinite number of things beyond it-
Pascal


Posted by james wilson at December 2, 2012 8:24 PM

A fine Advent meditation, Gerard. Thanks.

The preparations begin!

Posted by Joan of Argghh! at December 1, 2013 3:58 AM

The bones of the Enlightenment were in the bodies of the victims who died as sacrifices to scientific socialism in the Gulag.

Posted by ErisGuu at December 2, 2013 6:39 AM

The bones of the Enlightenment were in the bodies of the victims who died as sacrifices to scientific socialism in the Gulag.

Posted by ErisGuu at December 2, 2013 6:40 AM