Generous Orthodoxy  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

St. Augustine in David Brooks' column

I got an email this morning from a colleague expressing wonderment at David Brooks' op-ed column today (see previous post). How does Brooks do it? I have not read this passage from Augustine's Confessions  for a long time. In fact, I had forgotten it. What a blessing to read it this morning in--yes!--The New York Times, no less.
β€œIt is not physical beauty nor temporal glory nor the brightness of light dear to earthly eyes, nor the sweet melodies of all kinds of songs, nor the gentle odor of flowers, and ointments and perfumes, nor manna or honey, nor limbs welcoming the embraces of the flesh; it is not these I love when I love my God. Yet there is a light I love, and a food, and a kind of embrace when I love my God β€” a light, voice, odor, food, embrace of my innerness, where my soul is floodlit by light which space cannot contain, where there is sound that time cannot seize, where there is a perfume which no breeze disperses, where there is a taste for food no amount of eating can lessen, and where there is a bond of union that no satiety can part. That is what I love when I love my God.” 
--The Confessions of St. Augustine,

(I don't know why this link to David Brooks' column is not "hot." will have to cut-and-paste.)  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How to be a true helper

David Brooks, the ever-reliable columnist who seems to have a strong leaning toward Christianity even though he is Jewish (or perhaps because he is Jewish...?), refers today to a Sojourners magazine blog post. If you don't take the time to read the Sojourners post, do read Brooks' summary and commendation, called "The Art of Presence," here:

There have been many articles with similar advice, but this one is particularly notable for having been written by a young woman who, having lost her sister in a horseback-riding accident, was hit by a car and suffered the severe mutilation of her face. From a devout Christian family, she is able to sort out the difference between helpful and unhelpful ministry, understanding the deep theological reasons that we should never offer glib reassurances like "everything happens for a reason" (and Brooks understands this himself so well that he is able to encapsulate it in just one paragraph).

All of us would profit by reading this column, even those of us who have spent a whole lifetime in ministry to the afflicted. It is so easy to think that we know it all. This is a salutary reminder that we do not, and that fact in itself can be an offering.