Thursday, October 06, 2005


I think I'm going to begin with the Letter of James, since it is one of my favorite books of the Bible and I've been wanting to reflect on it systematically for a while. It really feeds me, and as those of you who read my essay on the Life Principles web page know, it helps me understand some principles of good spirituality.

I want this to be a conversation. My own insights on any given passage may be limp, so if you have anything, please add it to the comments.

Also, you will need a bible in hand, unless you have it memorized. Not a bad plan, by the way.

One of the important things for me is that James seems to be a continuition of the Hebrew Wisdom tradition of proverbs. He seems to have a love for wisdom similar to the author of Proverbs and the Wisdom of Solomon. I often reflect on the Book of Wisdom. I read Proverbs with my son last spring, which was very fruitful.

James starts out by affirming his status as a "doulos"--slave--of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Many people today find "servant" language odious, esp. in light of such statements of Jesus as in the Gospel of John where he says, "I no longer call you servants, but friends."

I found it interesting the other day when talking with a student about kneeling at the consecration. She thought the gesture was too "subservient." I don't really know what is wrong with showing some subservience to God in worship, even if he is calling us to partake in the divine nature. I mean, "humble thyself in the sight of the Lord and He will life you up." Jesus calls us friends, but that is a gift, a grace, not something to be claimed as if somehow we now are established as worthy to approach God as an equal.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

What book should I look at?

There are going to be four types of texts I look at on this blog. The first is Sacred Scripture, the second is the literature of the Catholic tradition, the third is the literature of the 19th and 20th century Catholic revival and the fourth is Church documents. I don't know quite where to begin. I've thought of reading the letter of James, or perhaps Pieper's Leisure as the Basis of Culture, or perhaps Gaudium et Spes on its 40th anniversary. So much to read and so little time!

I recently was at a seminar at Marquette in which we discussed Chapter Six of Chesterton's Orthodoxy. If I could live a life where I did that kind of thing regularly--even daily--I would be very satisfied.

The question that surfaced in the discussion was whether there was a fundamental duality that lay behind the various dualities that Chesterton pointed to as being extremes both of which Catholicism embraces, rather than finding the Greek middle. I suggested spirit/matter. We worked with that some, but I am not sure whether we agreed that it worked in all instances.