12 TH ANNIVERSARY The Alumni Issue
The Dartmouth Apologia exists to articulate Christian perspectives in the academic community.
Graphic by Prin, licensed from Adobe Stock Photos
APOLOGIA Volume 14, Issue 2
THE ALUMNI ISSUE
TABLE OF CONTENTS
AN INTERVIEW WITH ANDREW SCHUMAN 6
Charlie Clark 11
The journal's founder discusses its history with our incoming editor-in-chief.
ON (NOT) STANDING BY WORDS A Theology of the Cross for Writers
Hayden Kvamme 16
THE PARADOX OF CHRISTIAN PROGRESS The Way Up is the Way Down
Margaret Cross 20
SPIRITUAL ENVY Overcoming the "Big Green"-Eyed Monster
Sarah Clark 26
THE PURPOSE OF SUFFERING C.S. Lewis and the Goodness of Grief
Xanthe Kraft 30
FULFILLED BY BEAUTY HIMSELF How Art Leads Us to God and a Complete Life
Sara Holston 38
DARTMOUTH AND "CHRISTIANIZING THE CHILDREN OF PAGANS" The Biblical and Historical Influences on Dartmouth's Founding Vision
Robert Smith 44
FROM THE SIDE OF CHRIST Sacramentality in Christian Life
APOLOGIA EXECUTIVE BOARD LEVI ROSEMAN '21 Editor-in-Chief MAURA CAHILL '20 Executive Manager MICHAEL STEEL '21 Managing Editor CHRIS CANDELORA '22 Special Edition Editor MICHAEL CARLOWICZ '22 Business Manager NATALIE MENDOLIA '19 Production Manager
EDITORIAL BOARD Jake Casale '16 Sara Holston '17 India Perdue '19 Andrea Jenkins '20 Hailey Scherer '20
ADVISORY BOARD Gregg Fairbrothers '76 Eric Hansen, Thayer James Murphy, Government Lindsay Whaley, Classics
SPECIAL THANKS TO Council on Student Organizations The Eleazar Wheelock Society
Behind the Cover: Alumna and contributor Sarah Clark '11 spent approximately forty hours carving, inking, and printing this issue's cover template by hand. The final product is courtesy of the College's printshop, a favorite place of hers as a student. To the right is a draft of the image. We thank her for this special contribution.
The opinions expressed in The Dartmouth Apologia are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of its editors or Dartmouth College. Copyright Â© 2020 The Dartmouth Apologia.
ANDREW SCHUMAN '10 serves as the Executive Director of The Veritas Forum, where he is responsible for leading Veritas into its next season of growth and effectiveness. Prior to Veritas, Andrew founded the award-winning Dartmouth Apologia magazine, the Augustine Collective network of Christian thought journals, and the Eleazar Wheelock Society at Dartmouth College. He received his Bachelor's degree in Engineering Sciences and Philosophy from Dartmouth.
CHARLIE CLARK '11 graduated with a degree in Classical Archaeology and
during his time at Dartmouth served as editor-in-chief of the Apologia, 20092010. After college, he attended law school then managed his family's scrapyard in his hometown of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Charlie is a founding editor and chairman of Fare Forward and chairman of the Eleazar Wheelock Society. Having recently returned to the Upper Valley, he is a writer and retractor.
HAYDEN KVAMME '14 majored in Mathematics and served as the executive
editor of the Apologia from the fall of 2013 to the spring of 2014. He is currently a pastor in residency at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa, where he lives with his wife Kathryn and their two children. He decided to write his article because he sees it as an intersection between his life and work since Dartmouth and what he found so fruitful about his time with the Apologia.
MARGARET CROSS '19 is a recent graduate who double-majored in English
and Government, and she currently works at Harvard Business School where she writes and edits case studies in the Strategy Unit. She was an editor for the Apologia in 2018-2019, and in the same year, she served as the founder and director of the "Breaking Bread at Dartmouth" dinner series and as a member of the Wheelock Conference planning committee. The Aquinas House, Apologia, and EWS communities were central to her Dartmouth experience, and she will always be grateful for the friendship they brought her and the ways in which they challenged her to integrate her studies and her faith. Her article is a reflection on "spiritual envy"â€”what it is, why people feel it, and how people can overcome it to achieve healthier relationships with their peers.
CONTRIBUTORS, continued SARAH CLARK '11 graduated with an English and Russian Area Studies double
major. At Dartmouth, she served as the managing editor of the Apologia her junior and senior years, as well as writing several articles for the journal. After graduation, she was a founding editor of Fare Forward. Currently, she owns a letterpress shop called Scale House Print Shop and works as a freelance writer and editor. She lives in the Upper Valley with her husband Charlie. Her article was inspired by reading C.S. Lewis with new eyes during a difficult year; her design for this issue's cover was inspired by the alumni issue's themes of completion and the passage of time.
XANTHE KRAFT '16, M.A. '18 always straddled the boundaries of art and sci-
ence. She graduated frorm Dartmouth College with a major in Computer Science modified with Digital Arts and a minor in Philosophy, worked for Yahoo! and then returned to Dartmouth for a Master's in Digital Musics. In Dartmouth's Interdisciplinary program, she studied Composition and the intersection of Music and Philosophy as theorized by Bonaventure, writing both a compositional thesis and a written thesis on how concretely music leads to knowledge of God. This article is based on her Master's thesis. Xanthe lives in her hometown of Spokane, Washington, as a sacred music composer, liturgical director, cantor, and teacher.
SARA HOLSTON '17 graduated with a degree in English. She joined the Apologia
her freshman fall and was a writer and editor for every edition from the spring of 2014 to the spring of 2017. She was also the EWS Student Director from 2015 to 2018. Currently, she works as a Story Lead on the editorial team for Episode, an interactive story game. She became interested in Dartmouth history as a student and previously wrote an article on the secularization of the College. That piece was meant to be the second of a pair of articles examining the two major milestones in the College's relationship to Christianity, with the first part looking at the Christian roots of its founding. Especially given Dartmouth's recent 250th Anniversary, this edition was the perfect chance to complete the two-part set, and to open discussion on this complex but pivotal topic. ROBERT SMITH '14 is a former editor and business manager of the Apologia. He
graduated from Dartmouth with a major in Government and minors in Music and Anthropology. After college, Robert served as a legislative aide to U.S. Representative Mike Kelly and attended the University of Virginia School of Law. He then practiced as a litigation associate at Sidley Austin LLP before clerking for Judge Eric E. Murphy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Robert is particularly interested in the intersection of politics, culture, and religion. His piece was inspired by his experience teaching Sunday school in Charlottesville, Virginia, as well as by recent debates within the Catholic Church.
from the E DITORS
Dear Reader, First of all, we want to thank you for reading this special anniversary issue of the Dartmouth Apologia. Exciting things are happening at the Apologia, and it is a special privilege to connect so intimately with our 12-year history of exciting events at the journal. Second of all, I (Levi) want to thank the co-author of this letter, Chris Candelora, for his tireless efforts in organizing and executing all of the necessary steps to publish this special edition of the Apologia. His impressive leadership and formidable management skills are exactly whatâ€™s needed to see a project like this to completion. Speaking of completion, this special 12-year anniversary issue represents completion in a number of ways. In a Biblical sense, the number 12 is one of the most recurring motifs in the Bible. So, what exactly does the number represent? To some it is a sign of faithfulness, as there were twelve apostles, Jesusâ€™ most faithful followers. To others, it is a sign of divinity, being the product of 3 (the Divine) and 4 (the Earthly). To us, as to others in the Bible, it is a symbol of wholeness and completion. Do you long for completeness anywhere in your life? Maybe you have been wrestling with the idea of God, but long to complete a journey that leads to the foot of his throne. Maybe you believe in God but long to experience what it means to be completely remade by an all-loving creator. Maybe you think of yourself as religious, but you long to know how faith can complete every aspect of your family life, your work life, and your social life. We are not about to tell you that this journal is an elixir for all of your yet-incomplete problems, but as you engage with the ideas of our writers, we invite you to meditate on where you long for completion in your life. Listen to ideas or inspirations that pop into your head. At the very least, we invite you to enjoy the thought-provoking material in this journal, whether you read one or two articles, or read the journal to completion. Before we close, I (Chris) would like to thank each alumnus for taking the time to write these articles and contribute something to this issue. All these alumni have their own lives to live, and I am so grateful that you all took the time to fit the Apologia into your busy lives. It was an absolute pleasure working with all of you, and I hope you all are as proud of this issue as I am.
Levi Roseman Editor-in-Chief
Graphic by i000pixels from istockphoto.com
Chris Candelora Special Edition Editor
with founder Andrew Schuman '10
BY CHRIS CANDELORA '22 ANDREW SCHUMAN '10 serves as the Executive Director of The Veritas Forum, where he is
responsible for leading Veritas into its next season of growth and effectiveness. Previously, Andrew served as the Director of Veritas Labs, where he launched new programming to extend and deepen Veritas' mission across university life. Prior to Veritas, Andrew founded the award-winning Dartmouth Apologia magazine, the Augustine Collective network of Christian thought journals, and the Eleazar Wheelock Society at Dartmouth College. He also helped to launch the Life Worth Living initiative at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. Andrew received an MBA in Nonprofit Management and an MAR in History of Christianity from Yale University. He received his Bachelor's degree in Engineering Sciences and Philosophy from Dartmouth College. He, his wife Caitlin, and their son Benjamin live in Somerville, Massachusetts.
Hello Reader! Founder Andrew Schuman saw a void on campus that could only be filled by this wonderful journal. In our interview, we discuss the birth and growth of the Dartmouth Apologia, following its story all the way to today. Andrew’s narrrative should serve as an inspiration for all who have internal questions that demand answers. CHRIS: To get started, would you mind retelling how the Apologia came to be? What made you start it and what were some of the defining moments that made you realize the campus needs an apologetics journal? ANDREW: It started my freshman year. I showed up on campus for freshman orientation and I was excited for college to be a time of ask-
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ing the big questions and trying to explore truth with really thoughtful peers. What I quickly realized was that everyone has big questions about the world, about God, and about the meaning and purpose of their lives. I remember wanting to find a way to ask those questions well, in a way that felt like a normal part of college life, with religious views and perspectives on the table. At the end of freshman orientation, I wound up having a conversation with one of my roommates at the time, and I was talking about my own Christian faith, and how that influenced how I saw the world. He seemed a bit surprised by this and asked, “Does mean that Christians think?” And I thought, oh, wow. I wonder how common this feeling is. And it did seem to me that there was a widespread idea that faith and reason are at odds: there’s a life of faith on one
Graphic by jenesesimre, licensed from Adobe Stock Photos
hand and the life of reason on the other. around what Christianity is—what it means and I started to think to myself, in the Chrishow it affects the way we see the world. tian tradition, faith and reason are together and they’re joined at the hip. I thought, what CHRIS: This does sound like it was an extremewould it look like for us to create a publication ly smooth-going process—you saw the void, you that brought faith and reason back together? knew how to fill it. But were there any major It would draw upon obstacles you faced when the long legacy of you were trying to estabThe average Dartmouth student is lish the journal, or even faith in the academy and it would make not anti-religious; they're just on after it was founded? that kind of inquiry a spiritual quest. normal on campus. ANDREW: The biggest That was rechallenges early on were ally the origin idea of the Apologia. It was to in building a team that was sufficiently robust bring together faith and reason and start a camand ecumenical, and in finding students and pus-wide conversation about it. faculty able to pull off a publication that was academic in nature. We sent calls for papers early CHRIS: You were speaking on how there’s this on and we ended up getting around 50 pages of idea that Christians don’t really use reason and papers. The problem was that most of the writfaith interchangeably and that Christians don’t ing was either highly academic in the sense that see through the eyes of reason. I remember faith wasn’t really a part of it or it was too devohearing there was a survey that was conducted tional and didn’t integrate the academic aspect. on spirituality. Did that survey confirm these In the end we actually didn’t accept any suspicions? of those submissions. We realized that we had to define what the Apologia voice was. This voice ANDREW: Yes, very much so. We had been had to have a balance between faith and reason publishing the journal a few years and we really without compromising either. There were 10 wanted to better understand our readership. We faculty on our advisory board at the beginning wanted our core audience to be what we called that helped us figure out how to do that. It was “the body of the spiritual bell curve”: the avalso important for us that the staff represent all erage student that probably believes in God in the main Christian denominations. We wanted some way but hasn’t really thought much about to have people who were Catholic, Protestant, it. So, we set up a table in the Hop and handed and Eastern Orthodox involved in what we were out surveys for a couple days until 500 students doing. It took a little bit of time to build a team had taken our survey—interestingly, students of that diversity that was also unified around loved taking it and we ended up achieving our our mission for campus. 500-student goal days before we expected. What we found was that 88 of students consider themCHRIS: Once you established the voice, how selves on a spiritual quest, which was really indid you go about getting more articles? At the teresting to see. It confirmed what we initially birth of the journal, were there weekly discusthought: the average Dartmouth student is not sion meetings, or was it mostly focused on pubcommittedly anti-religious; they’re just on a lishing? spiritual quest. We also found that a considerable portion of the student body prays weekly or ANDREW: We were mostly focused on the pubmonthly, although attendance at religious serlication because there were so many decisions vices wasn’t terribly high. So we thought there that needed to be made early on. A fairly small really is a spiritually interested, spiritually cuteam of about seven of us met weekly to work rious body at the bell curve that we could enon producing the first issue. We refined each gage with a robust and thoughtful conversation other’s writing and we discussed the articles in
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depth, but we didn’t really do a lot of other formation in addition to that because we were a small group. We were all freshmen and sophomores.
with what we held to be true by faith. It is, I think, primarily what the Apologia did for me. It gave me a community of people who wanted to learn about the world in the most holistic sense, considering all sources of insight and truth. And it also gave me a community of friends who believed that we could make a contribution to Dartmouth College. By advancing this kind of inquiry, with these perspectives, we could make Dartmouth a better place for everyone to learn and grow.
CHRIS: How long did it take you all to publish your first issue?
CHRIS: While we are on the topic of what the Apologia did for you, is there one fond memory Apologia gave me a community in particular that you have from the Apologia? of people who wanted to learn
ANDREW: We officially decided we’re going to do this during freshman orienabout the world... [using] all ANDREW: Yeah, so probtation in the fall of ably my fondest memory sources of insight and truth. 2006. It was going was when our fifth isto be the first Chrissue of the Apologia was tian publication like this at Dartmouth and we published. The fifth issue is probably still my were really excited about it. At that point I think favorite because it was the first one that was we could have been described as “ignorance on entirely run by Charlie—the editor-in-chief affire.” We were very convicted about the importer me—and his team. As soon as it came out, tance of the mission but had no idea how to do I realized it was an order of magnitude better it. None of us had ever published anything bethan anything we’d done previously. And that fore, but again, we were a team of mostly freshwas extremely exciting because that was the men. We were approved as a student group that moment I knew that the Apologia could really fall. To get approved, we had to write up our grow into something special that could last for constitution, get an advisor, and find interested a long time. Charlie is such a brilliant editor students, and that happened at the end of the and leader, and he did a fantastic job of it. You fall. Then we published our first issue during know you’ve been successful when the person the spring. So, it was all within a year. coming after you—and the product coming after CHRIS: You already alluded to how the journal affected you on campus, and with this issue focusing on completion, I was wondering what sort of closure the journal brought to you during your time at Dartmouth College? ANDREW: Those of us who were in the Apologia used to joke that we went to class at Dartmouth but got educated at the Apologia. That’s because the Apologia was this place where we brought our whole selves to the table and really tried to do the hard work of worldview formation by integrating all that we were learning in our classes
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you—is better than what you were able to accomplish. And so that was just a really special moment. Seeing it improve in this way was our first glimpse that this could be a multi-generational effort that improves through the years and is a long-term contribution to Dartmouth. CHRIS: The Apologia set a template for other apologetic magazines nationwide. We have the Augustine Collective now and from what I’ve been told there are twenty other journals that have followed suit. ANDREW: Yeah, it’s closer to 30 now.
Graphic by samuii, licensed from Adobe Stock Photos
CHRIS: When you had founded this journal, did you ever imagine it growing into a movement like this?
site and officially launch the effort. That’s when we started calling our fledgling network the Augustine Collective and it was mostly an informal network of editors around the country who believed in this mission and wanted to support each other and do it with excellence. I then stayed at Dartmouth for three years after I graduated to help start the Wheelock House, to run the Augustine Collective, and to work at Christ Redeemer Church. And it was really fun to watch the Augustine Collective start to meaningfully grow.
ANDREW: No, not at all. Definitely not in the beginning. After we published our first issue and started to get so many positive reactions, I did start to wonder if this was going to spread. I had this fleeting thought that it would be super cool if other schools did this too, but I didn’t think it would happen. And then during my sophomore and junior years I started to get a lot of phone calls from students around the country CHRIS: And would you mind giving us a quick who wanted to start publications like the Apoblurb on the Augustine Collective so that our logia on their campus. I actually spent a lot of readership has a better understanding of it? my sophomore and junior years fielding those phone calls and walking other students through ANDREW: So today, the Augustine Collective the process. is a network of student-run journals of ChrisBy the end of my junior year several othtian thought across colleges in the US (and one er journals had successfully launched and we in the UK at Oxford). held our first retreat. We have close to 30 By that point there We hope to serve as a beacon of publications and over were sister publicastudents as a part tions at Harvard, Yale, light for all those trying to answer 500 of the network. We host Brown, Williams, and some of these big important our annual conference U Maine. We all gathin Boston—which last ered together in a cabquestions. year had over 200 stuin in Alton Bay, New dents and this year Hampshire. will be over 250 students—for a weekend of There were about 12 to 15 of us and even training and equipping for how to create imthough we were a small group we started to pactful publications on campus. We also run think this could be the beginning of something a leader’s retreat where we have young alumspecial. ni that serve as publication coaches. The mission is really still the same, which is to supCHRIS: So that retreat was basically the first port student-run journals on college campuses Augustine Collective meeting? ANDREW: Yes, that’s right. We didn’t call it the Augustine Collective at the time. We just called it the “journals retreat.” The next year we met again, in the spring of 2010. Then when I graduated in 2010 we raised a little bit of seed capital to launch the web-
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to thoughtfully integrate faith and reason and open that dialogue on campus.
dition that I think many people could find really intriguing and attractive. My hope for Apologia is that it would continue to do a great job CHRIS: Do you think that our publication and picking up the big, important questions people other organizations like this could fulfill or are really asking and then bringing both faith complete a spiritual void on a national level? and reason to the table. I think Apologia can find And where do you see the future of the organia national voice among people in our generation zation going, or what who are looking would you like to see for meaning and in it going forward? purpose, and conWe need to start talking about the tinue to be a wonimportant things again. We need ANDREW: I think a derful example to talk about religion, the purpose lot of people are realfor how thoughtizing that we need to ful Christianity of our lives, and how we fit into a get better at dialogue. can contribute to larger story. We need to start talkthe university exing about the imporperience. tant things again. We need to talk about religion, the purpose of This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. our lives, and how we fit into a larger story. I think thereâ€™s an increasing awareness of this. Graphic by samuii, licensed from Adobe Stock Photos And there are so many wonderful resources for Photograph by Alex Mercado, D'11 thought and life within Christian belief and tra-
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ON (NOT) STANDING BY WORDS A Theology T h e o l o g y of o f the t h e Cross C r o s s for f o r Writers Writers BY CHARLIE CLARK '11
ristotle famously said that philosophy begins with wonder. Maybe it is the anxious times I live in, but for me, philosophy has always begun not so much with wonder but with worry. I am hardly alone in this regard— Soren Kierkegaard comes to mind, as does Kierkegaard's American interpreter, Walker Percy, who struggled throughout his life with the worry that he would commit suicide. Percy’s great antagonist, Rene Descartes, worried that he could not trust his own eyes. And of course, Martin Luther shaped the agenda for the Reformation by his obsessive worrying about the state of his soul and whether he could ever be confident in his salvation. For this special edition of the Dartmouth Apologia, we alumni were invited to revisit our Image by Andrii Zastrozhnov, licensed from Adobe Stock Photos
past contributions and consider how they might be completed, and naturally, this became an occasion of worry for me. Looking back at work I had published a decade ago, I thought about how much I have learned about my own fallibility. There were things I had written that I now doubted. It was not that I was now certain that they were wrong; but neither was I sure they were right. For the past twelve years, the writers and editors of the Apologia, myself included, have published our best thoughts and our most careful reasoning in this journal. But as founding editor Andrew Schuman ’10 wrote in our very first issue, “We don’t claim always to be right.” We have probably made mistakes and errors in judgment. Some of the things we’ve chosen to
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write about have probably caused misunderin the ear will be shouted from the rooftops.”iii standings rather than furthering the converAs writers, we bring this disaster upon oursations we want to have—some may have even selves. We deliberately seek it out. caused our readers pain. We risk all of these It gets worse. As writers for the Apologia, consequences by putting our words down on pawe take it upon ourselves to teach others about per and publishing them. the Christian tradition, or about how faith and For Christians, words are a high-stakes reason intersect. We aren’t always experts in our matter. The Bible subjects, but if we didn’t think we has much to say had some knowledge or insight to In writing for publication, about their misshare, why bother? And here Chrisuse. James 3:8, there is always an element tians are enjoined to be even more for example, says, careful: “Not many of you should of pride. “But no human become teachers, my brothers, for being can tame you know that we who teach will the tongue. It is be judged with greater strictness.”iv What about our readers? Could someone intera restless evil, full of deadly poison.”i Jesus himself said, “But I tell you that everyone will pret what we have written incorrectly (or worse, have to give account on the day of judgment for correctly) and be led astray? Jesus again: “It every empty word they have spoken.”ii In sevwould be better for them to be thrown into the eral Christian traditions, believers confess at sea with a millstone tied around their neck than every weekly liturgy that they have sinned in to cause one of these little ones to stumble.”v In writing for publication, there is al“thought, word, and deed.” ways an element of pride. We are trying to renConsidering how often we hurt ourselves der our words not only public, but permanent. and others with our words, and the special This pride is reinforced by the common notion condemnation Scripture places on this kind of that we ought to “stand by” our words: that in sin, we might wonder why more Christians do saying something publicly, we are committing not take a vow of silence. No doubt many more to defend it. In this way, we become identified should. But at least we can usually fall back with our public statements so that our fates beon the excuse that our words were spoken in haste, without adequate deliberation: “It just came out! I didn’t mean it!” And hopefully our worst moments are relatively private, with not many ears to hear the words we wish we had never said. But when a Christian decides to write for a public audience, these defenses fall away. Here, neither the excuse of haste nor the hope of obscurity will save us. We sit with our words, sometimes for hours come entwined. If our arguments are refuted, or even days, then put them where others are we ourselves seem to be rejected and devalued. sure (or, at least, able) to find them: we “pubWe may offer the disclaimer that we aren’t allish” our words, that is, intentionally render ways right and don’t know all the answers, but them public. Jesus warns his disciples that on we have still put our best work and thought into the day of judgment “what you have whispered
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Graphic from chasingtheturtle.wordpress.com
what we have written. When challenged, we are to the public eye. Even if we can try to retract both tempted and expected, socially speaking, to our errors and correct our omissions, how dare dig in our heels and defend our words. we go on writing and publishing in light of this? I think Augustine of Hippo had these concerns in mind when he wrote Retractationes OUT OF ANXIETY toward the end of his life in 426 AD. In this Kierkegaard addressed this anxiety in work (the title of which is commonly translatthe conclusion to Either/Or, his book comparing ed “The Retractions” but might be more accuthe aesthetic and ethical modes of life. The conrately translated as “The Revisions”), Augustine cluding section of the book is entitled “The Upreviews his considerable corpus of theological building That Lies in the Thought That in Relatreatises, Scriptural commentaries, sermons, tion to God We Are Always in the Wrong.” His and letters to make clarifications, corrections— argument is that freedom from anxiety comes and yes, a few full-fledged retractions.vi He, from recognizing that our moral lives are not like every writer ever published, had things he a matter of doing some things right and other wished he could unwrite. The task of setting the things wrong and sorting the two into those record straight was so urgent to him that he for which repentance is required and those for undertook it even as his city was under siege by which it is not. Rather, in our moral lives in barbarians. And so, Augustine went through his relation to God, we are always in the wrong and works, book by book, confessing that such and our only consolation can come from grace. such was said “completely inconsiderately” or When what we have written is chal“that statement does not please me.” lenged, we can refrain from defending ourselves Augustine’s approach to correcting his and admit that we are wrong. When we look writings does offer an appealing alternative to back at everything that we have written and stubbornly defending everything we have ever published, we can find the places where we written; yet, I cannot find it ultimately very did not say things well enough or where we got comforting. After all, how are we ever to know something wrong and actively move to publish whether we have corrected or retracted everythose wrongs ourselves, as Augustine did. But, thing that we should? following Kierkegaard’s Looking at it this argument, this sorting way, the problem we face as out of error will never be Even our best efforts and publishing writers is no difenough to put us in the most brilliant insights ferent than the foundational right. The only possible principle of Christian ethics: are not only fraught with right attitude is of total that none of our good works humility, not only toward error or not good enough: can make us acceptable to our actions but also tothey are total failures. God. In his letter to the Phiward our written words. lippians, the Apostle Paul Even our best efforts and wrote that, having become a most brilliant insights are Christian, he considered his not only fraught with error or not good enough: personal righteousness to be worthless, concludthey are total failures, each and every one. ing, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because And yet even despite this futility and of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus the certainty of failure, we must go on writing, my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss and publishing our work too. In the Heidelberg of all things and count them as rubbish.”vii In Disputation, Marthe face of God’s perfection, our best efforts and tin Luther interhighest achievements are not merely inadequate prets the inevitable but “counted as loss,” as points against us, as actively disqualifying. So are our words, whether merely spoken or written down and submitted Graphic by Carolyn from antiqueimages.blogspot.com
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As Christians, we are called to go on giving our best efforts even though “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.”ix We are instructed to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” not to fall into despair over the “sin that so easily entangles.”x We are not permitted to simply give up on our vocations. For those of us called to be writers, the same applies. We can’t simply refuse the task any more than we can do it without failing. Having done the best we can, we must accept our failure with humility and receive the grace we are offered for it. As Luther writes, “It is impossible for a person not to be puffed up by his ‘good works’ unless he has first been deflated and destroyed by suffering and evil until he knows that he is worthless and that his works are not his but God’s.”xi In writing, as in life, we must attribute anything good in what we have written to Christ and anything bad in what we have written to ourselves. We need to fail in order to receive the grace we need. T.S. Eliot, looking back on the remarkable first half of his literary career, which included the publication of poems like “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” The Waste Land, and “Ash Wednesday,” wrote in “East Coker”:
failure of every Christian life in light of Christ’s death, what Luther calls a “theology of the cross.” For Luther, our failures are not an illusion, yet it is in death and failure that God is most at work. Luther addresses just this point about inevitable failure: Now you ask: What then shall we do? Shall we go our way with indifference because we can do nothing but sin? I would reply: By no means. But, having heard this, fall down and pray for grace and place your hope in Christ in whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection.viii
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So here I am, in the middle way, having
had twenty years— Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l’entre deux guerres Trying to use words, and every attempt Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure Because one has only learnt to get the better of words For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which One is no longer disposed to say it.xii Image by Lucas Cranach the Elder, via Wikimedia Commons from theconversation.com
Eliot’s experience as a writer taught him that the whole process of coming to grips with the world through words is a continual failure, which makes it no different from our efforts to come to grips with the world through religion or morality or any other kind of human effort. His conclusion, therefore, is generally applicable: “The only wisdom we can hope to acquire / Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.”xiii
In writing, as in life, we must attribute anything good in what we have written to Christ and anything bad in what we have written to ourselves. We need to fail in order to receive the grace we need. Augustine of Hippo
Consider the first of Luther’s NinetyFive Theses, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” We try to do the right thing, and we fail utterly, and we humbly accept the grace we are offered and go on trying. Might we also say that the entire life of a writer is to be one of retraction? Maybe nothing we write will be finished until we have realized its failure and retracted it. A GENERAL RETRACTION Humility is freedom from worry. Accepting your own fallibility, recognizing your insignificance, relinquishing the desire to be esteemed and even the fear of being despised—in this way, you are free. That is why I hereby retract all my published works: past, present, and future. Thank you for bearing with me.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
James 3:8 (NIV). Matthew 12:36 (NIV). iii. Luke 12:3 (NIV). iv. James 3:1 (NIV). v. Luke 17:2 (NIV). vi. For a thorough discussion of Augustine’s Retractationes, see Meredith Eller, The Retractiones of St. Augustine, 1946, Boston University, PhD dissertation. vii. Philippians 3:8-9 (NIV). viii. Martin Luther, “The Heidelberg Disputation,” 16, http://bookofconcord.org/heidelberg.php. ix. Isaiah 64:6 (NIV). x. Hebrews 12:1 (NIV). xi. Luther, 21. xii. T.S. Eliot, The Four Quartets, “East Coker” (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 1971), 30. xiii. Eliot, 15. ii.
The Dartmouth Apologia • Spring 2020
THE PARADOX OF CHRISTIAN PROGRESS The Way Up is the Way Down BY HAYDEN KVAMME '14
he Abrahamic religions—Christianity, Judaism, and Islam—have always recognized the vital power of images to shape our understanding of God. Sometimes, as when Jesus compared himself to a shepherd, images are used to help us understand God better. But often, as when the Mosaic law forbids making “graven images,” there is a concern that the way we picture God will lead us into misunderstandings. As centuries of debate about the nature of Jesus’ divinity and humanity attest, this concern extends even to the metaphors we use when discussing theology. Yet it is practically impossible to avoid image-based metaphors in
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our day-to-day thinking about God or our relationship to Him. For example, how should Christians imagine spiritual progress, the drawing nearer to God for which the traditional term is “sanctification”? Toward what do Christians progress, and in what direction or directions? Many common images of sanctification have pictured it as an upward movement of the believer toward God. However, this image of upward movement presents at least three problems. First, it pictures God as passive and static rather than as actively bridging the gap between Himself and the believer. Second, it does not resemble Photograph of "Baptism of Christ" by Francesco di Cristofano by Matt Adams via Wikimedia Commons
the pattern of failure and renewed grace that The first way we can imagine Christypically characterizes the Christian experitian progress as a downward movement is as a ence. Finally, it can lead Christians to associdownward movement into our own sin and sufate holiness with distance from suffering, even fering. This is strange, and unexpected. How the suffering of others. can a movement deeper into our own sin and What if we consider an alternative: suffering be progress? A paradigmatic story imagining sanctification as a “downward movefrom Scripture illustrates the point: the stoment”? In the Nicene Creed, Christians prory of Abraham and Sarah. When the two are claim that the Son introduced, we learn of God “came down that Sarah is barren. from heaven.” ScripGod comes (down) Rather than imagining ture reveals a God to Abraham with exsanctification as an upward who, in Christ, “fills traordinary promises, all things,” and in movement toward God in heaven, including that He this way sanctifies all we can imagine it as a downward will make of Abra-ii i of creation. God is at ham a great nation. movement toward God at work in Abraham wonders if work to sanctify, or make holy, the whole God will bring this the world. cosmos, just as Jesus about through a mere instructed His followmember of his houseers to pray: Thy Kinghold—Eliezer; God dom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. specifies: Abraham will bear a son through This prayer suggests that Christian progress is whom God will make this great nation.iii Abraham wonders if he can bear this son through nothing more or less than a participation in Hagar, Sarah’s slave girl, since Sarah has born God’s sanctifying of the whole world: an inhim no children, and Hagar bears Ishmael. dividual Christian’s progress includes God’s Strife ensues.iv God specifies again: God will sanctification of him or herself, but also, and give Abraham a son, Isaac, by Sarah, his wife. often simultaneously, God’s sanctification Abraham pleads with God that Ishmael might of the entire world. Christian progress thus be his heir through whom God will fulfill these mirrors God’s own movement into the world promises, arguing that God can hardly expect through Christ, for the sake of the world, amid a nearly 100-year-old man and a 90-year-old the world’s sin and suffering. Rather than woman to bear a child. God says no.v Eventuimagining sanctification as an upward moveally, Isaac is born: God fulfills His own promment toward God in heaven, one can imagine ise, allowing Sarah to conceive and bear Isaac. it as a downward movement toward God at Yet even this is not a simple “happy ending.”vi work in the world. We can imagine this downThroughout this story, Abraham reward movement more specifically in at least peatedly tries to ignore, deny, or sidestep the two ways: first, as a downward movement into harsh reality of his own old age and Sarah’s our own sin and suffering, where we encounter barrenness. The reader is told immediately Christ again and again, present and working that Sarah is barren. Yet Abraham deals with amid our own weakness; second, as a downthis reality only slowly, reluctantly, and painward movement into the sin and suffering of fully. Abraham tries to avoid his and Sarah’s our neighbors and of creation, in and among brokenness and suffering. Indeed, he’s willing whom Christ is present and working, inviting to engage in a web of questionable decisions and empowering us to join Him in loving serto avoid encountering their brokenness. But vice by the power of the Spirit. In these ways, God refuses to work on these terms. God works we participate in God’s own downward moveprecisely in and through Abraham and Sarah’s ment toward the world amid its and our broweakness to show that God’s love and faithfulkenness.
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ward humanity, toward sin and suffering. Jeness depend not at all on our own strength, sus heals people who are sick, even touching or might, or power, or goodness. God does not them before he heals them.viii The cross amplineed Abraham’s or Sarah’s fertility to accomfies and focuses this reality: Jesus plish God’s purposes. God has chosen them visibly bears our sin and sufferat least in part precisely to illustrate this ing and becomes a curse for us, point. Yet Abraham and Sarah recognize as Paul writes in Galatians.ix Disthis only slowly: as they come to terms with cussing Martin Luther’s commentheir own brokenness, they simultaneously tary on this section of Galatians, come to terms with God’s grace. Their story Tuomo Mannermaa writes, “The serves as an image of Christian progress, special emphasis of Luther’s theand it is by no means out of the ordinary in vii ology of incarnation lies precisely Scripture. This pattern can hardly be described as an ascent toward God in heaven: in the notion that Christ was, in it is much more of a descent into their own the human nature which he assuffering. sumed, the greatest sinner of all.”x Of course, Jesus dies, God raises Jesus from the dead, and Having explored the way in which ChrisJesus ascends to be seated at the right hand of tian progress can initially appear as a downGod in power. Yet, as Jesus Himself attests in ward movement, it is tempting still to imagJohn’s Gospel, He “goes up” in order that the ine Christian sanctification, over the course of Spirit might “come down.”xi Moreover, Christ one’s life, as an upward movement, culminatpromises to return. In Christ, God “comes ing in a movement up to heaven to be with God down,” to us, to our sin, to our suffering. after death. Put another way, we can imagine What does this have to do with sanctifisanctification as mirroring Christ’s own ascencation, or Christian progress? Just as God moves sion, so that, while death and suffering may toward the sin and suffering of the world, God be a part of it, its goal is resurrection and ulticalls us to do the same. mately escape from By coming down in Jethe world into the Christian progress is progress sus, God frees us from presence of God, our need to ascend to be where we will reign toward our neighbors in loving with God, because God with Christ in gloservice, especially in their need is with us right where ry. While this picand suffering. we are, in our weakture holds a grain ness, in our suffering, of truth, there are and in our sin. Rather at least two probthan have us ascend to Him, God thus invites lems with it: first, that many, if not all, Chrisus to join Him in service toward our neighbor, tians can attest that life just does not work out and to find Christ there as well. Again, a story this way—being Christian does not lead to less from Scripture illustrates the point. In Matsin and less suffering, whether for us or for thew 25, Jesus describes the Son of Man (Himthose around us; second, and even more to the self) coming in His glory and sitting on His point, this is not what God calls us to do, nor throne. If there is anywhere we might expect is this what God does. suffering to be out of the picture, this might be To see this, consider the incarnation. the place. The Son of Man has returned and is The scandal of the incarnation, of God moving the unquestioned king. Yet this king does not deeper into the sin and suffering of the world, despise or distance Himself from the hungry, is not an unforeseen departure from the story of the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, or the ima God who otherwise steers clear of humanity prisoned under His rule—instead He identifies and thus all of creation’s sin and brokenness. with them. This king goes so far as to say that This way of downward moving, rather, seems whenever someone meets and serves such a perto be central to God’s activity. God moves to-
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Graphic from lifescriptdoctor.com
son, she in fact meets and serves the king! On no more tears, no more pain, no more death, the other hand, those who approach the king no more mourning; but Scripture imagines while trying to avoid the even this realhungry, the thirsty, the ity as God’s new stranger, the naked, and heaven and new God has not abandoned us or the the imprisoned discover earth, God’s new world in our broken state, but that such a movement is Jerusalem, comimpossible. The king may ing down.xv Perinstead He redeems the world be on the throne, but and its creatures by continuing to haps descent, if unexpected, is not the king is equally presmove toward us. such a grim image ent in those whom Jesus of sanctification calls “the least of these after all. who are members of my xii family.” i. Ephesians 4:10, NRSV; see also, e.g., Psalm 72:19, Jer This story illustrates that Christian emiah 23:24, and Philippians 2. progress is not progress toward God’s throne ii. Genesis 12:2. on high, in ignorance of others or at their exiii. Genesis 15:4. pense; rather, Christian progress is progress toiv. Genesis 16. ward our neighbors in loving service, especially v. Genesis 17:15-21. in their need and suffering, where we meet and vi. Not only would I point here to the near-sacrifice of join God. God works through us, a reality LuIsaac (Gen. 22), but to the whole of Genesis; indeed to ther describes as us becoming “Christs to one the whole of the Hebrew Bible, through the New Testaanother.”xiii As the story from Matthew’s gospel ment, up to the present day. Few if any would argue that reveals, it is not only or perhaps even primarGod has unambiguously fulfilled these promises made to ily that we are Christ to those we serve—they Abraham and Sarah and their descendants. Yet so much are Christ to us. This movement toward our of Scripture rests on them. neighbors in which Christ meets us, working vii. On a related trajectory (though I only recalled this afthrough us and on us, is best described not as ter the fact) Timothy Wengert has succinctly catalogued an ascent, but as a descent. As Luther himsimilar stories from Scripture of what he calls “foolish, self says, “Through love we descend beneath weak people—losers, one and all” in Reading the Bible with ourselves to serve our neighbor.”xiv Finally, Martin Luther: An Introductory Guide. while it is most natural to think of this secviii. e.g., Luke 5:12-16. ond way (the downward movement toward our ix. Galatians 3:13. neighbors) as following the first (the downward x. Tuomo Mannermaa, Christ Present in Faith: Luther’s View movement into our own sin and suffering), we of Justification, ed. Kirsi Irmeli Stjerna, 1st Fortress Press in fact hop back and forth between the two in ed. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005), 14. no particular order. When we recognize Christ xi. C.f. especially John 16:4b-15. in those we meet and serve, we see these two xii. Matthew 25:40, my translation. ways overlap. xiii. Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian, trans. Mark While imagining Christian progress as D. Tranvik, Luther study edition (Minneapolis: Fortress a downward movement may seem grim at first, Press, 2008), 84. it is also realistic, faithful, and powerful in xiv. Luther, 89. a world that, nearly two thousand years after xv. Revelation 21:1-4. Christ’s descent, still appears so bleak. God has not abandoned us or the world in our broken state, but instead He redeems the world and its creatures by continuing to move toward us, even using human beings as agents of the new creation. Of course, in the end God promises
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SPIRITUAL ENVY O v e r c o m i n g the Overcoming t h e "Big " B i g Green"-Eyed G r e e n " - E y e d Monster Monster BY MARGARET CROSS '19
nvy. Like its cohort of ominously-dubbed ‘‘deadly sins,” it has gained infamy for causing more harm than good. Everyone, from parents to preachers to Instagram poets, encourages us to count our blessings instead of envying others’ possessions or talents. But what if blessings, particularly in the forms of spiritual gifts and messages from God, are the very currency in which we feel most impoverished relative to our peers? Such insecurity leads us to confront an insidious temptation— that of spiritual envy. WHAT IS SPIRITUAL ENVY? The Mosaic commandments—God’s loving instructions for a joyful life—caution us to avoid coveting our neighbors’ goods and spouses, and by extension, we can reason that God desires us not to envy the relationships that our neighbors enjoy, including their relationships to God. Philosopher-friar Thomas Aquinas emphasizes the danger of envy in Summa Theologiae, when he writes that “envy” involves “griev[ing] over a man’s good, in so far as his good surpasses ours” and that this “is always sinful... because to do so is to grieve over what should make us rejoice—our neighbor’s good.”i Nothing should make us more content than the will of God, including when that will manifests in the devotion and zeal of our neighbors. When we envy another person’s closeness to God, we begrudge God’s saving of his or her soul, in a cruel contradiction of our promise to evangelize. Moreover, contemporary Catholic Msgr. Charles Pope defines envy as “sorrow, sadness, or anger at the goodness or excellence
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of someone else because I take it as lessening my own”; he positions envy as a type of spiritual violence, much like hatred, whereby “I do not merely want to possess the good or excellence you have, I want to destroy it.”ii The violence of spiritual envy becomes abundantly clear through the chief priests’ response to Jesus in the Gospels. The priests fear that Jesus’ holy influence will lessen their own, and they seek to destroy his excellence by handing him over to Pilate to be executed, “because of envy” (Matthew 27:18, NASB). Thus, when we allow spiritual envy to grip us, we not only fail to model Christ, but also actively emulate his killers. Uprooting this sin, then, is a matter of urgency for all of us who seek to follow Christ. MY PERSONAL GREEN-EYED MONSTER Unfortunately, coveting others’ profound communion with our shared God proved a struggle for me during my time at Dartmouth. Growing up in a Christian-hostile public school, an emptying parish, and a sleepy New Hampshire town with only a few cobwebs of pilgrim piety still attached, I spent my childhood nourished by an abundance of agnostic friends, a side dish of VeggieTales, and some half-baked Sunday School for dessert. As a result, when I arrived at Dartmouth and met sincerely Christian peers other than my siblings for the first time, I hardly knew how to respond. On the one hand, observing my Dartmouth Christian friends of all denominations in their close walks with Christ served as a profound inspiration to me, one that stirred me to learn more about theology and to pray
well-being more than your own. Whoever he is more consistently. Yet some Christians I knew whom you persecute with jealousy can evade and at Dartmouth talked about things that were escape you. You cannot escape yourself... you totally foreign to me: speaking in tongues or are captive under the tyranny of jealousy…. prophesying, consecrating themselves to Mary, It is a persistent evil to persecute a man and receiving loud and clear, audible heavenly who belongs to the grace of God. It is a guidance when making big decisions. Meancalamity without remedy to hate the happy.iii while, I went to church and fellowship events, Cyprian understood that we were made to reI knew the commandments and the Gospel, ceive grace, not to resent those who receive it and I strove to live with love—but I didn’t hear before or differently than we do. God aches for God’s voice audibly, nor receive visions or prous, and Satan gloats, when we hate his holy phetic words, even when I pleaded with God to ones. show or tell me what he desired of me. Why It is also important to recognize that was it that when I prayed about what to major the resentment and hard-heartedness sparked in, or whom to date, or what to do after graduby spiritual envy finds its kindling in pride. As ation, I heard silence? And why, in my times Christians, we are called to practice humility, of anxiety (one of my heaviest crosses), hadn’t which requires that we accept—and even hope— God stepped in to referee the pig pile of worthat others will become holier than we, while ry mounting in my brain? What did these other, we focus on becoming as holy as God wills us peace-filled Christians have that I didn’t? to be.iv Believers prone to perfectionism, spiri Soon enough, my confusion, fear of tual envy, or pride (and especially those of us missing out, and feeling of neglect by God who wrestle with all three) are likely to resent soured into envy of my spirit-filled neighbors. the idea that we may never be the holiest peoIt was easier to tell myself ple in our comthat others were “faking munities. We it” or acting on the power All sins alienate us from our are not alone of suggestion than to adin this strugneighbors and from God, but... mit that they communed the earlienvy has an especially rotting effect gle: with the Holy Spirit in a est disciples way that I couldn’t (or at on our hearts, minds, and spirits. sought to outleast, hadn’t). The thorn compete each of jealousy, stemming other to be the from spiritual dryness, greatest in the embedded itself in my heart. Kingdom of God. Jesus corrects this prideful All sins alienate us from our neighbors pursuit by offering his friends the example of a and from God, but I know from personal expehumble, little child (Luke 9:46-48). Distilling rience that envy has an especially rotting effect the moral of this passage, Cyprian writes, “A on our hearts, minds, and spirits. Early Chrisdisciple of Christ... must not be envious. With tian bishop Cyprian of Carthage (c. 200-258 us there can be no contest for exaltation; from AD) puts it best: humility we grow to the highest attainments.”v What a gnawing worm of the soul is it... what a rust of the heart, to be jealous of another, either in respect of his virtue or of his happiness; that is, to hate in him either his own deservings or the divine benefits... to make other people’s glory one’s own penalty, and… apply a sort of executioner to one’s own breast, to bring the tormentors to one’s own thoughts and feelings, that they may tear us with intestine pangs.... Whoever you are that are envious and malignant… you are the enemy of no one’s
Thus, humility offers an antidote to spiritual envy—but how can we open our hearts to humility once they have been clutched by envy? As is often the case, we can find guidance in the Gospels, particularly in the parable of the Prodigal Son and in the stories of Martha and Elizabeth.
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ment. Likewise, we who are prone to spirituFINDING THE FATTENED CALF al envy may genuinely desire the salvation of Since leaving the “Dartmouth bubble,” souls, but any apparent favoritism on the part of I have been surrounded, more than ever, with our Father God wounds our pride. euphorically faithful young people. At first, I Fortunately, the father in the parable, felt my tendency toward comparison (that pesemblematic of our Eternal Father, knows his ky thief of joy, as Theodore Roosevelt purportson’s heart. He does not chastise his elder edly dubbed it) coming to a head. I especially son for his pride or jealousy. Instead, he reasdoubted that I could keep up with the lively sures him, “‘Son, you have always been with Bostonian Catholics I was meeting, and I figme, and all that is mine is yours’” (Luke ured it would be easier to shrug them off as 15:31, NASB, emphasis mine). This parable wacky and crouch back into myself. Still, I saw reminds those of us who struggle with spiria beauty in them that I craved. I pleaded with tual envy that we, as believers, are always with God: Lord, let me see them through your eyes. Let me our Father. We are known, seen, and loved by celebrate their goodness, and help me to be humble. And him, and we have already received from him please, fix whatever it is inside me that’s keeping me a bountiful, endless inheritance in heaven. We are from you. called to rejoice in our own relationship with An anGod, rather than contrastswer came in ing it with our neighbor’s, the gentlest of Our all-knowing Father does not and to share, rather than ways, as I was distribute gifts unevenly; rather he hoard, God’s love for us. previewing the Every baptized person distributes them purposefully and Sunday Scriphas a “fattened calf” in the ture readings, perfectly, for the common good. form of a spiritual gift, but which includnot all look the same, though ed the story they are all gifts from God and all of equal imof the Prodigal Son. In this famous parable portance.vi There are many gifts of the Spirit, of two brothers and their infinitely compas“but the same Spirit distributes them. There are sionate father, the wayward younger brother different kinds of service, but the same Lord” returns home and is met by his father’s lar(1 Corinthians 12:4-5, NASB). Our all-knowgesse. The elder brother, who has served his ing Father does not distribute gifts unevenly father dutifully, seethes with envy as he tells in order to deny us intimacy with him; rather, his father, “‘Look! For so many years I have he distributes them purposefully and perfectly, been serving you and I have never neglected “for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7, a command of yours; and yet you have never NASB). Some are blessed with wisdom, others given me a young goat, so that I might celeknowledge, faith, healing, prophecy, miracle brate with my friends; but when this son of working, speaking in tongues, or interpreting yours came, who has devoured your wealth tongues, and “all these are the work of one with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to for him!’” (Luke 15:29-30, NASB, emphasis each one, just as he determines” (1 Corinthians mine). As I read, I immediately recognized 12:11, NASB; see also Romans 12:6-8). Moremyself in the elder brother; my spiritual envy over, practical gifts that serve God’s Kingdom, echoed his fraternal envy. The elder brother ranging from hospitality to almsgiving, leaderdoes not resent his brother for coming home, ship to music, and writing to evangelism, are nor his father for forgiving him. The injustice, also worthy of celebration.vii A crucial first step in the elder brother’s eyes, is that he perceives in overcoming spiritual envy is noticing and his father as being more generous toward and nurturing our own fattened calves, instead of more intimate with his brother, and he sees eyeing our neighbors’.viii no justification for this preferential treat-
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BIBLICAL MENTORS Like the prodigal son’s brother, I had been too busy treating my fellow believers as the “winners” of our Father’s attention and boohooing myself as the “loser” that when I had asked God to speak to me or the Spirit to act in me, it was often with an undercurrent of defeatism. “My prayers must not matter very much to him,” I rudely reasoned. How can those of us who struggle with spiritual envy break free from this defeatist (and ironically, prideful) mindset? The examples of Martha and Elizabeth offer us a way forward. Appearing in Luke and John’s Gospels, Martha is the frazzled, overworked, but loyal sister of Lazarus and Mary. Luke describes her as follows: A woman named Martha welcomed [Jesus] into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” (Luke 10:38-40, NASB)
When interpreting this passage, we often focus on Martha’s overvaluing of worldly priorities, but Martha’s rebuke of Mary also indicates a twinge of spiritual envy. Martha, who is dutifully trying to please God through her service and hospitality (which are spiritual gifts and acts of love in their own right), watches with frustration as Mary grows apparently closer to the Lord. Indeed, Mary enjoys a unique physical closeness to Jesus, as seen when she anoints his feet with her hair in John’s Gospel (John 12:3). Martha likely envies Mary’s ability to touch and listen to Jesus without a hint of anxiety, restlessness, or self-consciousness, all of which we can imagine plague people-pleasing Martha. Witnessing Mary’s joy and tranquility, Martha contrasts it to her own anxious mind and feels spiritually neglected. Yet rather than herself pursuing closeness with Christ, Martha attempts to yank her sister away. Graphic, "Handpainted Watercolor Christmas Holy Family" by Cavna Elements Team from canva.com
Jesus recognizes the envy and hurt in Martha’s heart. He reassures her that he knows her by calling her by name, he acknowledges her suffering, and he encourages her to seek an up-close-and-personal relationship with him. “The Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:41-42, NASB). Here, Jesus makes it known that he will not deny his follower, Mary, her spiritual gift of piety that serves his Kingdom. Once Martha accepts that Mary’s gift pleases God, she unburdens herself of her jealousy and focuses on cultivating a unique relationship with God, which becomes every bit as valuable and beautiful as that her sister enjoys. In fact, it is Martha, not Mary, who runs to Jesus after her brother’s death and expresses unwavering faith in his ability to restore her brother to life (John 11:20-21). Long before his resurrection, Martha knows, through profound trust, that death has lost its sting in Jesus.ix Notably, Martha does not gloat in Mary’s spiritual moment of weakness when the latter declines to meet Jesus after Lazarus’ death (John 11:20). Instead, freed from envy, Martha calls her sister back into right-relationship with God, telling Mary that the Teacher (Jesus) has called for her (John 11:28). The Gospel does not indicate that Jesus had done so and thus implies that Martha appeals to her sister out of love and evangelism, not merely out of duty. Martha could savor her monopoly on Jesus’ attention. Instead, she invites her sister back into the communion she had once coveted, as an equal sharer in the love of Christ. In Martha, we see an example of envy overcome. Martha’s softening toward Mary instructs us to serve and en-
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courage those in our lives whose holiness the Enemy wants us to feel threatened by. Like Martha, we are challenged to accept differences in spiritual gifts (such as Martha’s hospitality versus Mary’s piety) as part of God’s perfect plan. Another woman of the New Testament, Elizabeth, provides for us an exemplar of humility and fellowship in the Body of Christ. When Mary, pregnant with the Messiah himself, visits her cousin Elizabeth, the latter exhibits no envy of Mary’s unique closeness to God, nor dissatisfaction with her own relatively peripheral role in salvation history, though both reactions would be natural enough. Instead, she rejoices with Mary, recognizing Mary’s motherhood as crucial to the Kingdom of God while at the same time giving thanks for her own blessing—her miraculously conceived son, John. Elizabeth celebrates Mary as “blessed among women” and humbly asks, “And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me?” (Luke 1:42-43, NASB). With an open heart, she accepts the love that her holier cousin shows her, and she voices her own love in return. Elizabeth embodies the un-jealous person of Cyprian’s description: “[she] who knows not to be jealous, and who with one heart and in meekness loves [her] brethren, is honored with the recompense of love and peace.”x Eliz-
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abeth counts her own blessings and her neighbor’s (Mary’s) and gives thanks for both. So
We are called to rejoice in the victories of God in others. must we do as well. Like Elizabeth, we are called to rejoice in the victories of God in others. HEALING FROM SPIRITUAL ENVY Drawing encouragement from these Biblical mentors, we can confidently make changes in our own lives, with God’s help. First, we can reframe our moments of spiritual insecurity, not as God’s disfavor or neglect, but as His invitations to seek out spiritual food, perhaps by asking for the recipe (in the form of spiritual guidance) from those whose plates are full and whom we are wont to envy. This could mean fellowshipping with other Christians, finding a spiritual advisor, joining a Bible study, doing community service, or reconciling with a family member. Second, we can dare to pray the prayer that irritates or scares us. The Enemy wants to peddle us cheap envy, suspicion, and cynicism to distract us from God’s treasures. I’m learning to lean in to holy practices that used to annoy or unnerve me in others, such as d e m o n s t r a t i ve prayer postures, public prayer, and fasting, and I’ve noticed a deepening in my relationship to Christ as a result. Finally, we can remind ourselves that discipleship is a
Graphic by R.Wilairat, licensed from Adobe Stock Photos
team sport, not a race. We can imagine our Christian brethren as fellow Olympians representing the same nation (that is, the Kingdom of God) alongside us. Some days, our teammates will win gold while we win bronze. Rather than becoming discouraged by this difference, we can be grateful that together, we are stronger than either of us would be alone. As Cyprian recommends, “favor those whom you envied…. Imitate good men, if you are able to follow them; but if you are not able to follow them, at least rejoice with them, and congratulate those who are better than you. Make yourself a sharer with them in united love.”xi When we dedicate ourselves to a humble, team-oriented pursuit of holiness, we “tear out from [our] breast[s the] thorns and thistles,” of envy, “that the Lord’s seed may enrich [us] with a fertile produce… [and] all bitterness which had settled within be softened by the sweetness of Christ.”xii Reader, if you are aware of the love of Christ, then you have already been offered a complete inheritance. Holiness is an infinite resource that is always available to you. Your neighbor’s holiness does not diminish your own but rather has the potential to strengthen and refine it. Indeed, in the wise words of Thérèse of Lisieux, “every flower [God] has created has a beauty of its own... the splendor of the rose and the lily’s whiteness do not deprive the violet of its scent nor make less ravishing the daisy’s charms... so it is in the world of souls, the living garden of the Lord.”xiii I hope you will join me in committing to spend less time comparing and more time thanking God for the diverse garden that is the Christian family, while continuing to pursue personal devotion to Christ. That others may become holier than we, provided that we may become as holy as we should—Jesus, grant us the grace to desire it!xiv
If you are aware of the love of Christ, then you have already been offered a complete inheritance. Holiness is an infinite resource that is always available to you. i.
Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, II-II.36.2, 1485, accessed October 2019, http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3036.htm. ii. Charles Pope, “How Envy is Different from Jealousy and Is a Diabolical Sin,” Community in Mission, April 18, 2016, accessed October 2019, http://blog.adw. org/2016/04/how-envy-is-different-than-jealously-andis-a-diabolical-sin/. iii. Cyprian of Carthage, “On Jealousy and Envy,” Treatise 10, accessed October 2019, http://www.newadvent. org/fathers/050710.htm. Emphasis mine. iv. See “The Litany of Humility,” attributed to Rafael Merry del Val (1865 -1930), accessible at EWTN, https:// www.ewtn.com/catholicism/devotions/litany-of-humility-245. v. Cyprian of Carthage, Treatise 10. vi. See 1 Corinthians 12:7. vii. For more information on charism theology, see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 798-799. viii. On a personal note, when I finally recognized music as a spiritual gift in my life, I was able to stop pining after visions or tongues and focus on growing closer to God in the present through the gift with which He had already blessed me. If you find yourself struggling to identify your spiritual gifts, I encourage you to not only pray, but also ask your friends, family, and/or congregation (who are often more perceptive of our gifts than we are), or take a Spiritual Gift Inventory assessment such as that developed by Michael Haywood, which is widely available online. ix. See 1 Corinthians 15:55. x. Cyprian of Carthage, Treatise 10. xi. Cyprian of Carthage, Treatise 10. xii. Cyprian of Carthage, Treatise 10. xiii. Marie Françoise-Thérèse Martin, also known as Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul, translated by Michael Day (Charlotte: Tan Books, 2010), 4. xiv. Adapted from the Litany of Humility.
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C.S. Lewis and the Goodness of Grief
BY SARAH CLARK '11 26 The Dartmouth Apologia â€¢ Spring 2020
Image by Engin Akyurt from Pexels on canva.com
.S. Lewis, one of the great Christian thing that I had in common with Lewis, which thinkers of the twentieth century, wrote is that I did not know what grief was like until two books about suffering. The first, published it actually happened to me. Lewis knew perfectly in 1940, is a philosophical work entitled The well that suffering is part of life; he had writProblem of Pain; the second, A Grief Observed, is a ten the book on it. He writes in A Grief Observed, personal reflection that was published in 1961. “I had been warned—I had warned myself—not What passed in the twenty years between the to reckon on worldly happiness. We were even two books was Lewis’s marriage to Joy Davidpromised sufferings. They were part of the proman and her death from cancer just three years gramme. We were even told ‘Blessed are they that later. mourn’ and I accepted it. I’ve got nothing that I I read both of these books this year in hadn’t bargained for.”i He goes on to say that he had even thought about the fact that suffering search of help understanding my own pain: I would be different had just lost both when he personally my mother and my The more we think we can figure experienced it than mother-in-law within ten months of each things out on our own, the more we when he was just observing it happening other, and I was exneed pain to show us that we are to other people. But periencing serious he still was not pregrief for the first time insufficient for our own needs. pared for how much in my life. I was also it hurt. Me neither. figuring out someLike Lewis, I understood intelC.S. Lewis lectually that suffering was a part of life, but I did not know what to expect when grief became part of mine. Each of Lewis’s two books on pain helped me to understand and process my grief in a different way. In The Problem of Pain, Lewis gives three reasons for why pain is necessary—why it is, in fact, good for us. The first reason that we need pain is that it is an unmissable sign that something is wrong, so we can no longer convince ourselves that “all is well.”ii In one of the most famous lines in The Problem of Pain, Lewis puts it this way: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”iii But why does God need to rouse us at all? Why can he not just leave us alone? Lewis’s answer is that God uses pain to wake us up— Image from reformclub.blogspot.com
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we have, whether good or bad in itself, is our own and enough for us.”v God knows, Lewis writes, that the only way for human beings to be happy is for us to surrender our wills to him and become what he has meant for us to be. Either we are “like God” and “share His goodness in creaturely response” or we are “miserable”—not because God is making us miserable, but simply because no other way to be happy actually exists.vi The more we think we can figure things out on our own, the more we need pain to show us that we are insufficient for our own needs. “This illusion of self-sufficiency may be at its strongest in some very honest, kindly, and temperate people, and on such people, therefore, misfortune must fall,” Lewis writes.vii Even people who know that not everything is well are tempted to think that they can make things right on their own. Suffering reminds us that we cannot. And again, per Lewis’s first reason, we need to know that in order to be really happy and well. Finally, Lewis argues that we cannot specifically, to the reality that we need a relationknow that we have surrendered our wills to God ship with him—because he loves us. Leaving us without pain. Giving up our own inclinations is alone in our sin and our self-absorption, even if painful in and of itself, even when to do so is we thought we were happy that way, would not the only way to find true happiness. We are too be loving. We can look to our own experiences to accustomed to turning our own way for it to be see that: “It is for people whom we care nothing otherwise. The fulfillment of our real purpose about that we demand happiness on any terms: and nature is on the other side of that pain: “Huwith our friends, our lovers, our children, we are man will becomes truly creative and truly our exacting and would rather see them suffer much own when it is wholly God’s, and than be happy this is one of the many senses in in contemptible It helps to understand that which he that loses his soul shall and estrangfind it.”viiii We do have to lose somepain exists for a reason, and ing modes.”iv It thing in the process, because otheris indifference, to try to make the most of the wise we would still be stuck in the not love, to leave same efforts toward self-fulfillment lessons it teaches. someone alone to that led us to need pain in the first do whatever they place. For all three of these reasons, want, even if what they want is bad for them. Lewis argues, God allows people to experience God’s love for us means that he desires our real pain in order to do us good. It is a manifestation good and our real happiness. of his love for us. The second reason why pain is good for But though Lewis thought a great deal us is that it breaks down “the illusion that what about suffering and had written a book arguing
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Graphic from Bookseller & Stationer, 1919, via Wikimedia Commons
that we can believe in a good God not only in spite of the existence of pain but in fact because of it, he was undone by the experience of grief. He fell in love, and the person he loved most in the world died. In the first grip of grief, he did not turn away from God, but he felt the comfort of his faith falling away. “Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand,” he writes in A Grief Observed.ix As he works his way through his grief, Lewis writes that suffering has revealed his faith to be “a house of cards.”x Yes, as he points out, this confirms his hypothesis from The Problem of Pain about the necessity of pain to bring our own insufficiency to light: “Nothing less will shake a man—or at any rate a man like me—out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself.”xi We have to go through the actual suffering to learn its lessons. There is no other way to know if you trust the strength of a rope except to trust your whole weight to it on the edge of a cliff. It would be wonderful if we could trust God and surrender our wills to him in the good times, but people find over and over again that we cannot. Lewis could not. Neither could I. I see myself in Lewis’s arguments in The Problem of Pain. I see my
We do the best we can, and when God needs to, he knocks down our best efforts and shows us how insufficient they are. own complaisance, my self-satisfaction, and I recognize that I needed something to show me that the good things I had in my life were not enough, and that my faith was just a “house of cards” when it was tested. It helps to understand that pain exists for a reason, and to try
to make the most of the lessons it teaches. But seeing Lewis’s real grief and recognizing that he experienced some of the same things I did (and expressed them a lot better) helps a lot more. Once Lewis got through the most immediate aftermath of losing his wife and grieving for her, he started to put his faith and his ideas back together. He knew how insufficient it still was. He writes, “And all this time I may, once more, be building with cards. And if I am He will once more knock the building flat. He will knock it down as often as proves necessary.”xii That is how we people are. We do the best we can, and when God needs to, he knocks down our best efforts and shows us how insufficient they are. It hurts, sometimes almost unbearably, but it is not a sign that God has abandoned us—it is quite the opposite. Lewis, once again, put it best: “Two widely different convictions press more and more on my mind." One was that what God had in store for him might be "even more painful than our severest imaginings can forbode. But the other, that ‘all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.’”xiii i.
C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (Samizdat, 2016), 17. C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 2001), 94. iii. Lewis, Pain, 91. iv. Lewis, Pain, 32-33. v. Lewis, Pain, 94. vi. Lewis, Pain, 47. vii. Lewis, Pain, 96. viii. Lewis, Pain, 101. ix. Lewis, Grief, 12. x. Lewis, Grief, 18. xi. Lewis, Grief, 18. xii. Lewis, Grief, 32. xiii. Lewis, Grief, 30-31. ii.
Graphic from digitalstampdesign.blogspot.com
The Dartmouth Apologia • Spring 2020
FULFILLED BY BEAUTY HIMSELF How Art Leads Us to God and a Complete Life BY XANTHE KRAFT '16
the dualistic-exclusive view of reality—explains WHAT MAKES A LIFE COMPLETE? why many people’s concept of reality itself can he culturally widespread concept of the keep them from intently pursuing a fulfilling bucket list implies the right experiences life. Examining the philosophical underpinmake our lives complete. From skydiving or a nings of the separation of the material from trip to Italy to appearing on television, writing the spiritual will help delineate the connection a novel, or owning a dog, human beings long for between one’s view of the nature of reality and fulfillment, and bucket lists ensue. Such lists, its relationship to the pursuit of a complete life. as their name implies, suggest that experiences The thirteenth-century Italian philosopher Boor accomplishments comprise a life completed. naventure writes on how beautiful objects lead However, satisfying bucket list items rarely us to a fulfilling life—a life united with God. satiates the desires that created them. Often, By navigating the theoretical details of a sacraupon completing long-aspired tasks our sense mental and dualistic-exclusive view of reality, of longing—rather than disappearing—takes on we can become convinced of the very real connew life in the form of another item, or warps nection between the material and spiritual. This into an even deeper emptiness-tinged sensamaterialitytion. No matter how long our spirituality bucket lists become, or how How do spiritual goals and integration many items we check off, that or sacramenunderstandings evolve beyond longing remains. Some of tal worldview the most common aspirations comforting but vague platitudes? inspires us to relate to travel, as physical include more journeying masks a more probeautiful objects in our lives and draw closer to found spiritual probing characteristic to being God in order to live a complete life. human. However, the connection between traversing the Great Wall of China and traversing MATERIAL SPIRITUAL SEPARATION the fundamental truths of humanity seem to Many Americans, and people across the many a saccharine analogy, not a rigorously acglobe, live their everyday lives as if the soul cepted reality. Many Americans unknowingly (or mind) and body are mutually exclusive, view the spiritual and material aspects of realand that little of what we do with one impacts ity as separate. Perhaps the material realities the other. Flourishing among many Protestant are all that matters to someone, with spirituthinkers of the sixteenth century, this mind/ ality seen as an add-on to an already well-esbody duality—what I term a dualistic-exclusive tablished life. How do those with such a view view of reality—persists in American culture transition to embracing the spiritual reality even as Christianity declines. Various but comconnected with the material? How do spiritual mon phrases like “it doesn’t matter what you goals and understandings evolve beyond comlook like, it’s what’s inside that counts” and “my forting but vague platitudes? Understanding faith is between me and Jesus and no one else” this theory of material/spiritual separation—
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or “I believe in science because only science is world; this proposition seems simple enough what is real” reveal a metanarrative that the to accept. However, the fact that one can exmaterial world and spiritual world (if it exists) perience, yet rarely directly observe, the tranare distinct and non-interacting entities. In the scendent in the material world makes speaking extreme, this dualistic-exclusive view becomes, about purpose and a complete life challenging. to someone who doubts the validity of any spirEvery math teacher knows that even if overitual reality, extreme materialism or scientism. arching principles, like the relationship beA scientism adherent believes that only what is tween sides of a triangle, can be deduced from measured by the scientific method, or empiriexperiencing the material world, not everyone cally observed, is real at all. Within scientism, readily grasps them. Ideas or concepts, like concepts like justice, truth, love, and anything geometric relationships, must be perceived and not physically found in this world don’t actuconceptualized individually by each thinker in ally exist on their own. Rather, these concepts her own way. The fifth-century North African exist only in philosopher Augustine expounds on our common this fact in his work Of Music. Just opinion of What makes a life complete is like a geometric theorem, evidence them. On the of God’s ordered design of the uninot treating the soul and other hand, verse (which he calls the Rhythm of body as discrete. to those who God) can only be seen in the matevalue spiriturial world by a mind who perceives ality, a dualand conceptualizes it.i Otherwise, since the concept of a divinely ordered design istic-exclusive view of reality entails the matedoes not exist in the person’s brain, it doesn’t rial has little or nothing to do with spirituality. practically exist (to them) at all. Such adherents often propose that the mind is The precise nature of God’s ordered deall that matters: as long as you’re happy, that’s sign—the nature of God Himself—was heavily all that is important. In this view, if an abletheorized and debated within medieval univerbodied adult lives in his parent’s basement for sities. Christians at this time, while disagreeall of his life, subsidized to play video games, ing on minutiae of God’s nature and therefore as long as all members involved in this scenarhow precisely to live in union with Him, agreed io consent and say they’re happy, or feel happy, that God is something beyond what we observe what’s the problem? Different things make difin the material world and that living in union ferent people happy, so if someone says they’re with Him stems from and includes the graces happy, they are. However, both of these expresgiven in active church life. Paul wrote in his sions of dualistic-exclusive reality do not take letter to the Philippians, “Finally, brothers, into consideration the very real relationship whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatbetween the spiritual and the material—that ever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, both aspects of the world are part of a larger whatever is grastructure of reality and very much integrated. cious, if there is What makes a life complete is not treating the any excellence soul and body as discrete. Our minds and bodand if there is ies are certainly distinct, but not separate. Unanything worthy derstanding the cohesiveness of the mind and of praise, think body promotes living in a way that enables the about these whole being to thrive and live a complete life. We things.”ii Examining both the history of Chrisglimpse in His tianity and the separation of the mind from created world the body helps us understand how to live a the truth about life united to God. Human beings can expewho we are to rience and observe material in the material Graphic by Sergeypykhonin from dreamstime.com
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God. What is good, true, and beautiful are all ing salvation through living life with God in different descriptors for what exists to the fullHis Church was replaced by the notion of pasest: Being Itself—God. These scholastic ideas sively being saved with salvation as a state of championed by Thomas being: one is either saved or Aquinas—God as Being not saved. Living life with God Itself, and the complete warped into simply a matter Luther sought to argue and fulfilled life lived of professing God, with notha logical secession from in excellence within ing more needing to be done. the Catholic Church— No sacraments, no church life, the authority of the dominated thought in nothing of the culture of the Catholic Church without the middle ages. Catholic Church was explicit These scholly necessary for salvation: sola undermining its moral ars recognized the auscriptura.v teachings. The Protestant Reformathority of the Catholic tion disrupted the medieval Church through scripunity of thought regarding ture, tradition, reason, God’s nature, inadvertently replacing the mediand living witnesses of its many outstanding eval sacramental understanding of reality with servants, despite the corruption of certain a dualistic-exclusive severing of the material church members. Yet it wasn’t until the sixand spiritual. Martin Luther and other Protteenth century that philosophical arguments estant revolutionaries, contrary to Aquinas’ disputing the nature of God would be turned to scholasticism, favored a different metaphysiquestion the authority of the Catholic Church. cal understanding of God: views combining Previously, intellectuals like the scholastics nominalism and voluntarism. Drawing from John and nominalists recognized the importance of Duns Scotus, an obscure thirteenth-century the Church that Jesus established being the Catholic philosopher who emphasized God’s unified line of apostolic succession and thereunlimited power, Luther held that God was fore blessed by Christ Himself—that the gates iii not Being Itself but instead the highest, most of hell would not prevail against. Therefore, disagreement over God’s nature was never used perfect version of a Being. Luther sought to to justify separation until fifteen hundred years argue a logical secession from the authority of after Jesus’ death. At this time, clerical abuses the Catholic Church without undermining its and desires for Church land among many othmoral teachings. To do this, Luther and other er causes inspired Protestant philosophers to Protestants viewed God not as Being Itself, but turn to theories of the nature of God to show as the Supreme Being sharing the essence of why the Catholic Church was not an imporcreature with humans. If God is not Being Ittant entity for receiving Jesus’ salvation. After self, but the Supreme Being, He directly interthe Protestant Reformation, the goal of the huacts with humans in the material world, and if man life as living in union with God began to God directly interacts with humans as another disappear from academic and cultural thought, competing force in existence, then the sacrasince it became unclear what that life looked ments and the Catholic Church are no longer like and since people could be externally jusrequired to live a life close to God. In Luther’s tified by God alone. How did one practically nominalist-adapted view, God does not interlive life unified with God, beyond reading saact through the materiality of sacraments and cred scripture, if all of scripture’s applications material nature itself but in spite of it. God is had to be interpreted by the reader? All ideas His own Being altogether and His ways are had to come from the reader’s opinion. But if His ways: distinct from the material world, the the reader’s opinion differed, what authority Catholic Church, or any church. This change could delare it better or worse than someone is in contrast to the scholastic view of living else’s?iv Therefore, the notion of actively livlife in union with God, which involved expe-
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riencing God through living life to the fullest within the structure and with the sacraments of the Catholic Church. Luther’s formulation of God as a Being, the Highest Being, sought to emphasize God’s overriding authority to become close to anyone of God’s choice. Luther reasoned that the very idea of humans striving to live-life-to-the-fullest was incompatible with God’s overriding power to be fully united with any human being He chooses, regardless of his or her state of living. Luther thought the notion of living life to the fullest put too much emphasis on the ability of human beings rather than God’s ability. Therefore, instead of Christians actively living a life-long purpose through and in a continuous relationship with God, Protestants favored a static label of “Christian” that relied only upon the believer’s profession of faith, not upon a lived identity. vi Furthermore, because the idea of living-lifeto-the-fullest—with God—required Catholic clergy to distribute spiritual goods (the sacraments), abolishing this active purpose of the Christian life abolishes the need for the Catholic clergy or its authority at all. In Luther’s view, God aids simply because God wills it, not by acting through any human (priest) or any material object (the sacraments). Luther and other Protestants’ dualistic-exclusive metaphysics intended to save Christianity from what they viewed as an irredeemably corrupt church, yet this change from a sacramental to a dualistic-exclusive view yielded two major consequences. First, it eliminated the materially enshrined universal call to living life in union with God. Viewing God as separate from materiality detached all human pursuits themselves, from the study of music and morality to day-to-day activities of life, from any specific ultimate purpose. Being a Christian lies in professing faith and nothing more. Therefore, what more could be done? Second, and important for our purposes, this dualistic-exclusive material/immaterial separation stripped the ability of Image Paweł L. from Pexels on canva.com
the material to have any direct spiritual consequences. Whereas previously the two realms acted as one larger reality—God acted through the material world (the sacraments)—Luther held the material and spiritual as mutually exclusive. God does not act through priests, sacraments, or the material world. Rather, God wills his actions within the material world. He is another material cause acting with humans in the material realm of causality.vii In fact, Luther argued that the materiality of human actions distracted from God’s separate, ‘immaterial’ actions and unknown awesome power. These two consequences of disposing with a sacramental understanding of reality enforce the mind/body dualistic separation underlying much of American thought today. Luther and other Protestants perhaps unintentionally sprang one of the greatest metaphysical paradigm shifts in history.viii The American dualistic-exclusive view, inherited from sixteenth-century Protestant thought, holds this mutually exclusive soul/ body dichotomy. However, spirituality disembodied from sacraments or physical churches
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leads people to believe that they require nothjestic romance of God’s love for us. If we as ing from the material world but material needs. Christians embrace a sacramental understandIf a house, or church, keeps one dry from the ing of reality—that the material leads us to rain and is reasonably furnished and comfortthe all-encompassing divine—we need beauty. able, it’s sufficient. If someone makes their We need art. We need poetry, music, painting, home beautiful or their church extravagant, sculpture, theater, dance, opera. We especialthat’s nice, but it’s above and beyond what is ly need the sacraments—material manifestareally necessary in life. No true spiritual need tions of spiritual realities—to lead our senses for the material exists. In a dualistic-exclusive to grasp greater conceptions. We need physical view, there is no important spiritual role for vestiges of beauty that bear the mark of their the materially extravagant, the decadent, or Creator’s brilliance. Like the deer longs for the superfluity of beauty or the arts. running streams, our souls long for Christ and However, the very existence of humans true intimacy with Him.ix By engaging with and loving beautiful things, we learn how to be calls this dualistic separation into question. If superfluously and extravagantly loved by our human spirits don’t need the material, or huown Maker. man bodies don’t need the spiritual, then why did God make us—humans who possess both BONAVENTURE’S THEORY soul and spirit—as one unified being? More How, specifically, does beholding beauover, why did God make us at all? Humans tiful things—engaging with the material world serve no material purpose to God. We ourselves of natural and crafted objects—lead us to God? were born out of the superfluity and extravaWe glimpse in His created world the truth gance of His love. If we ourselves have no use about who we are to God. Bonaventure, a theofor the materially superfluous—that which we logian from the thirteenth century, describes don’t physically need—how can we understand how experiencing the material world leads to a our own beautiful superfluity to God? greater understanding of God and his invisible To live a life that is truly fulfilling— created reality. Rather than viewing the matecomplete—we need to live sacramentally—unrial and spiritual aspects as separate worlds, derstanding that what we engage with in the Bonaventure understands the interconnectedmaterial world directly impacts our spiritualness of the mind and body and how sensing ity. Our material actions directly enhance or the material world, being stirred by its beautidegrade our spiritual health. Material reality ful objects, leads can lead us to God or keep us one to understand from Him. We must reclaim By engaging with and loving God as the Artist this understanding of the conwho created us. nection between the material beautiful things, we learn In his book The and spiritual and recognize that how to be superfluously and Soul’s Journey into by understanding creation, we God, Bonaventure draw closer to its Creator. The extravagantly loved by our draws from Aumaterial leads us to the spiriown Maker. gustine’s citation tual. What could better demof 1 Corinthians onstrate this connection, of our 15:53 “clothing the mortal within the immorrelationship with God, than art? Art is matetal” in formulating how the material world’s rially decadent, physically unnecessary, and organization mirrors God’s divine order.x The speaks beyond our material needs to nourish a immortal, unified order of God manifests greater spiritual desire for God—and intimacy in the mortal, material world at all levels.xi with Him. To live a complete life and reconGod’s created world, visible and invisible, is nect the material-immaterial separation, we one complete reality. Every changing, corruptneed to engage with art—material that imparts ible, and material object has the possibility to us the decadence of the immaterial: the ma-
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of communicating unchanging, eternal, transcendent knowledge of God. Bonaventure explains precisely how one discerns this immortal Rhythm of God from the mortal, directly observable rhythms in the physical world: ascending various levels of contemplation. Humans gain knowledge of the transcendent by apprehending the material world through the senses and reflecting on these sensations. One begins by considering objects outside the mind, then inside the mind, and finally (with the help of God) beyond the mind.xii The journey of the soul is the desire to live in conjunction with God’s whole created reality by contemplating the material, personal, and transcendent—which yields moral, intellectual, and artistic fulfillment: The universe itself is a ladder in which we can ascend into God. Some created things are vestiges, others images, some are material, others are spiritual; some are temporal, others everlasting; some are outside us, others within us. In order to contemplate the First Principle, who is most spiritual, eternal and above us, we must pass through his vestiges, which are material, temporal and outside us… we must also enter into our soul, which is God’s image, everlasting, spiritual and within us… we must go beyond to what is eternal, most spiritual and above us.xiii Bonaventure divides reality into three spheres: matter (sensible vestiges or footprints of the divine), the mind (mental concepts or images of the divine), and the Eternal Art (the eternal or knowledge-beyond-images).xiv Our minds progress in knowledge of God through this order. First, one begins by contemplating what is outside the mind, towards exterior material objects. The second stage involves contemplating what one has sensed, what is now Image from Wikipedia, "Bonaventure" Graphic by Maryna Kriuchenko from dreamstime.com
within the mind, towards looking inward at itself. The third stage consists of contemplatingwhat is above the mind. As Bonaventure quotes from the Book of Wisdom: “For from the greatness and beauty of created things, their Creator can be seen and known” (Wisd. 13:5). xv He claims one can clearly sense the power, wisdom, and goodness of God through a thorough study of the origin, magnitude, multitude, beauty, fulness [sic], activity, and order of the Bonaventure external world.xvi Bonaventure’s description of the role of the external world best reveals the value of art to lead souls to God. The external world, according to Bonaventure, enters our soul through five senses via apprehension: the process of a sensible object passing through the external organ and being enjoyed by the inner organ. Pleasure, or any reaction to an outside object, comes through this stage. An object is pleasurable to the extent that it is well proportioned. The self’s inner faculties, according to Bonaventure, delight in proportion, and so anything that is sweet, wholesome, and beautiful brings joy because of its perceivable order. He holds this proportion with the highest regard, defining beauty as “nothing more than harmonious symmetry,” or “a certain arrangement of parts with pleasing color.” In this way, even an unintended reaction to the sensory world is rife with opportunity to discern and experience God.xvii For example, when one listens to Bach’s St. John Passion and delights in its drama from dissonance to consonance, its throbbing rhythms, and searing melodies. After apprehension and pleasure (delight), the soul exercises judgment on the experience—forming a reason as to why this is or is not pleasurable. xviii The observer asks, why is this beautiful, why is this pleasant, why is this wholesome? From this, the soul reflects on the proportion of har-mony of the object or experience sensed.
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In our case, the listener ponders Bach’s St. John Passion and how its overall structure, orchestration, and chord progressions mirror the tumult of human emotion in response to utter scorn and betrayal coupled with a divinely resolved and perfect love employed in suffering for an undeserving humanity. With each reflection on each beautiful thing, we come closer to realizing what beauty is, or rather, who Beauty Itself is. God is perfect proportion: a fully human understanding coupled with perfect love. Because this divine Harmony doesn’t change or pass away, every instance of delight refines and clarifies to the soul what exactly this Harmony is. The sensible enters the intellectual faculty through judging, purifying, and abstracting sensory experiences. Sensible objects, especially beautiful or well-proportioned objects, aid in imparting knowledge of the divine through this process of our appreciation and contemplation of beauty.xix IMPLICATIONS OF A SACRAMENTAL WORLDVIEW Meditating on beautiful things teaches us the even greater love God has for us than we have for beautiful objects. Loving beautiful objects mirrors God’s love for us in a smaller way. By engaging with artistic items and taking delight in them, despite their not being materially necessary to us, we learn about how, though we too are not necessary to God, He loves us beyond comprehension. God loves us and teaches us about the splendor of His love for us unnecessary beings by evoking our ability to love things that are materially unnecessary. Art, natural beauty, and other externally beautiful objects are largely unnecessary to the dualistic-exclusive view of reality. However, within a sacramental understanding of reality— where the material interacts with the immaterial and leads to the divine—beautiful material
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objects demonstrate the reality of our humanity. We ourselves are not necessary to God, and yet, the reality of our condition is that we are loveable. God’s love gives us worth, not our material necessity. The same way in which what makes Art worthy is that which makes it lovable, what makes us worthy to God is God who made us loveable. Our nature is to be loved by God and others and to love God and others in return. Only beauty can teach us this truth about our essence as humans and inspire us to live this love every day in a way that completes our life. To live a complete life, we need beauty. We need the extravagance that feigns to think itself an essential, because we ourselves are extravagantly created beings. We are not necessary to God, but were created as add-ons to a perfect love: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in perfect, overflowing unity. Outside of time, God is complete. He does not create humans because he tires of the angels, or because he craves affection from material beings. He creates because He loves. He creates because He is love and that’s what love does. Creation necessarily expands beyond itself, making necessary the unnecessary. Beautifully, humanity is created, not to fulfill a need, but to accept an invitation: to love our creator in return. By our meditating on beautiful things, we better understand our relationship with God who is love, His magnanimous superfluity to desire our existence. Through discovering the connection between God and us, and us and beauty, meditating on beautiful things makes us complete. How do we live our lives with more beautiful things? God is the origin of beauty, Graphic from thegraphicsfairy.com
so to begin we must spend time in prayer and proportioned painted figures to understand discern what magnificence of His creation God how fearfully and wonderfully we are made is calling us to experience. Start with a piece and let that inspire us to praise and give our of classic literature you own that you’ve always lives to Love, our maker.xxi The true bucket list item that fulfills wanted to read or re-read. Brew a cup of your our life is union with the divine. That is the favorite tea and sit down. Take the scenic route irreplaceable wisdom we gain to church evfrom beauty, from living life ery Sunday. Ask To live a complete life, we imbued with this sacramenGod, and He will tal connection of the spirigive you many need beauty. tual immersing the material. more ideas than We need to be continually reany list could. minded in our need-driven lives to love freely Do you have a local symphony, museum, or because we ourselves were made to fulfill a craft fair you are able to attend? Make beauwant, not a need. We were made to be loved. ty a priority. Just like prayer should occupy the first place in a Christian’s life, don’t i. Alexandra X. G. Kraft, Re-sounding Harmony: Nature, shirk your right to experience the wisdom Longing, and Landscape as a Narrative Towards Transcendence from beauty. Understand art as a spiritual (Proquest, Hanover, NH: 2018), 27. need and give it an important place as such. ii. Philippians 4:8 (NABRE). The sacrifice of Jesus shows us what iii. Matthew 16:18. logic declines to say: that God, self-sufficient iv. Brad S Gregory, The Unintended Reformation: How a Reand perfect who does not need us, showers us ligious Revolution Secularized Society (Cambridge, MA: Harwith graces as though He does. The all-powervard University Press, 2012), Kindle edition, 485, 1902. ful creator of the universe deigned to become v. Gregory, 852. flesh, restricted flesh, tempted flesh, for our vi. Gregory, 1896. sake. The maker of all existence doesn’t just vii. Gregory, 2037. wait to be found and admired; He seeks us out viii. Kraft, 27-30. with His love. He is a spendthrift lover, tossix. Psalm 42:2. ing coins in the pond just to get us to turn and x. Bonaventure, Ewert H. Cousins and Ignatius Brady, see Him, becoming humiliated and killed on Bonaventure: The Soul’s Journey into God, the Tree of Life, the a tree in order to give us life, pining after us Life of St. Francis (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1978). so much more than a self-respecting fallen huxi. Specifically, this reference from 1 Corinthians 1:15 man would—because love makes one silly, and xx regards the resurrection of the dead. Within the context God’s folly is wiser than human wisdom. What ultimately signifies a life comof the chapter, we learn not only that our bodies will be resurrected with our souls, but that the unified design plete is not the mere taking of a trip to Italy of the divine manifesting in the natural as well as superbut learning from exposure to its art about how natural created world. God artfully loves us, created us, and has a xii. Bonaventure uses “soul” and “mind” interchangeably, plan and purpose for our lives. We don’t need to mean the spiritual consciousness of the human perto go so far as to write a novel, swim with dolson. phins, or dive through the air in order to grasp xiii. Bonaventure, 60. the artful uniqueness, purposeful grandeur, or xiv. Bonaventure, 60. exhilarating adventure of our existence created xv. Bonaventure, 63. by the most boundless Genius. But we do need xvi. Bonaventure, 65. to meditate upon beautiful objects to know God xvii. Bonaventure, 71. and ourselves. We do need to experience the xviii. Bonaventure, 72. act of loving to comprehend the life-altering xix. Kraft, 36-39. fact of our being loved. We need to observe inxx. 1 Corinthians 1:25. tricately embellished ceramics, hear sublimely xxi. Psalm 139:14 (NRSVCE). evoked melodic phrases, and behold brilliantly
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DARTMOUTH AND "CHRISTIANIZING THE CHILDREN OF PAGANS" The Biblical and Historical Influences on Dartmouth's Founding Vision
BY SARA HOLSTON '17
he charter of Dartmouth College declares that the institution will “[educate] and [instruct the] youth of the Indian tribes in this land in reading, writing, and all parts of learning that appear necessary and expedient for civilizing and christianizing children of pagans…”i While the language of that statement raises numerous issues of colonialism, this article focuses on the implications of Dartmouth’s founding vision of “christianizing” Native Americans. The idea draws in part on the ideological core of the Bible’s teachings on evangelism—the practice of spreading the gospel. Though many instances of missionary work have featured the use of aggression to force the Christian worldview on other cultures, this is
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not evangelism in its original form. The Bible merely commands Christians to go out as servants and share the message of the gospel—literally, the “good news;” whether non-Christian listeners convert to the faith is between them and God. The language of “christianizing” in the charter, however, comes more from the Great Awakening, one of the largest and most significant Christian revivals in American history and a major influence on the founding of Dartmouth twenty years later. Missions work in the Great Awakening did maintain some of the ideological core of biblical evangelism; the movement emphasized God’s invitation to salvation and the true happiness that might be found therein. In practice, however, it fell Graphic, "Handpainted Watercolor Three Kings Christmas Characters" by Canva Elements Team from canva.com
short of the biblical framework, failing to apvarious methodologies, none of which include proach the Native Americans with the humble violence or force. Some of these, as quoted preattitude and intentions of a servant, or to leave viously, favor acting to serve non-believers, but any conversion to the Native Americans and never to oppress them. Other passages favor to God. Though the idea of “christianizing the an approach by which non-Christians come to children of pagans” draws from the biblical see and understand the gospel by observing the call to evangelism, the vision ultimately strays behavior and lives of believers. Christ tells his from the Bible’s directive followers that “this is to to serve non-Christian my Father's glory, that "The spirit of the Lord is on communities and leave you bear much fruit, any conversion to God and showing yourselves to me, because he has anointed those individuals, instead be my disciples.”iv He me to proclaim also notes that “by this prioritizing the colonial everyone will know goals of English settlers good news to the poor." that you are my disand assuming responsibilciples, if you love one ity for conversion. another,”v and he exhorts them overall to “let The New Testament issues numerous your light shine before others, that they may commands that Christians spread the Good see your good deeds and glorify your Father News, and the overall picture that these crein heaven.”vi In these passages, it is suggested ate offers a framework for evangelism in which that by living their own lives in fulfillment the Christian goes forth as a servant to the of Christ’s commands, Christians set an exworld to extend to the world God’s invitation ample that prompts others to recognize someto a relationship with him. In one translation thing desirable in them and their lives. This of one such passage, Gospel writer Luke states: acknowledgement in turn inspires these nonThe spirit of the Lord is on me, Christians to live in communion with God, as because he has anointed me well. A third approach encourages readers to to proclaim good news to the poor. engage non-believers intellectually, and “alHe has sent me to proclaim freedom ways be prepared to give an answer to everyone for the prisoners who asks you to give the reason for the hope and recovery of sight for the blind, that you have. But do this with gentleness and to set the oppressed free.ii In another passage, from the Book of Matthew, respect.”vii This evangelistic model calls on JeJesus exhorts his disciples to go throughout the sus’ followers to articulate their beliefs confiworld and “proclaim this message: ‘The kingdently and compassionately, helping others undom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, derstand the story and message of the gospel, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, as well as its implications in their lives. None drive out demons. Freely you have received; of these Biblical methodologies call Christians iii freely give.” All these are commands to serve; to act in violence or attempt to coerce nonthe spreading of the good news is intended to believers to convert. Rather than issuing combe a service to those who hear the message of mands that Christians interfere with the lives hope, and evangelists ought to approach their of others, then, these passages speak directly to listeners not as morally superior or as conquerhow followers of Christ ought to live their own ors, but as humble servants who heal the sick lives, that they might be effective messengers and free the oppressed. Though evangelism has of the good news. often gone hand in hand with conquering, vio Indeed, the biblical calls to evangelence against non-Christian peoples is the oplism carry a common theme among them: the posite of the New Testament mandate. Christian responsibility to spread the good In fact, the very wording of the passages news does not include an obligation to see concalling Christians to share the gospel suggests version. The passages merely emphasize that
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Christians must be prepared to share God’s whose famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of An invitation to salvation and relationship with Angry God has contributed to the characterizathose who have otherwise not heard it. Early tion of the evangelistic style of the period as Christian convert and evangelist Paul further focusing on the threat of divine punishment reiterates this concept; and eternal suffering for when he writes to the those who fail to answer To Paul, the real power to Corinthians, Paul states God’s call. While the fire that “Christ did not send and brimstone elements convert others was in the me to baptize, but to of Sinners weren’t entirecross... and not in the words preach the gospel—not ly unusual for Edwards with wisdom and eloor the Great Awakening, or actions of the evangelist. quence, lest the cross of to reduce the teaching Christ be emptied of its of the period to this emviii power.” At first glance, Paul’s words seem phasis is to neglect the overwhelming theme counterintuitive; he was instructed to spread in the movement, and in Edwards’ preaching the gospel, but he claims not to do it especially especially, of the joy and glory that a relationpersuasively. To Paul, the real power to convert ship with God promises. When Edwards deothers was in the cross—the compelling nature scribed his own conversion to Christianity, he of the good news itself—and not in the words recalled, “There came into my soul, and was as or actions of the evangelist. While the New it were diffused through it, a sense of the glory Testament foregrounds the command to share of the divine being; a new sense, quite differthe good news with all the world, the Bible ent from anything I ever experienced before.” does not demand that Christians gain converts He was so much enraptured that, as he put it, by any means necessary; it reserves conversion “I thought with myself, how excellent a Being entirely to God. that was; and how happy I should be, if I might The charter’s declaration that Dartenjoy that God, and be wrapped up to God in mouth will “christianize” the chilheaven, and be as it were dren of pagans already runs counter swallowed up in him.”ix Edwards also preached to the biblical framework for evanthat “[t]he very end for gelism. The idea of “christianizwhich this supremely ing” the Native American students social being created the assumes that they will end up as universe was… ‘the comChristians, and, indeed, that this munication of happiresult is a necessary component of ness’ to his creatures.”x the realization of Dartmouth’s viEdwards not only found sion. Rather than leaving converhappiness in his own resion to God and the decision of lationship with God, he the Native American students in also believed that God’s desire was to bring question, then, Dartmouth claimed responsithat happiness to all of creation, and that bility for bringing that about, and in doing so such blessings were therefore the promise to overstepped the boundaries of how evangelism all who became Christian. This is not to sugought to be practiced. gest that Edwards expected the Christian life Missions work during the Great Awakto lead to instantaneous unmitigated joy, but ening revival was largely ideologically aligned he did believe it was through the trials of faith with the biblical framework for evangelism, that true happiness was realized, noting that but in practice fell short of the vision for how “[r]oses grow upon briers, which is to signify it ought to be carried out. One of the foremost that all temporal sweets are mixed with bitter. preachers, missionaries, and theologians of But what seems more especially to be meant by the Great Awakening was Jonathan Edwards,
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Image by Buecherwurm_65 from Pixabay on canva.com
it, is that true happiness, the crown of glory, is to be come at in no other way than by bearing Christ’s cross by a life of mortification, selfdenial and labor, and bearing all things for Christ.”xi The overwhelming emphasis on the true happiness in Edwards’s writing serves as a testament to his understanding of the invitation God offers and that Christ's claims can only be found in the Christian gospel.xii Edwards’s writing on the true happiness of a life lived for Christ carried over into his missions work as well. In 1751, Edwards moved to the town of Stockbridge, Connecticut, where Native Americans and English settlers lived side by side. At first Edwards emphasized the sins and vices of the community, “as he always had in [his congregation in] Northampton.”xiii He quickly pivoted, however, to preaching primarily on the happiness and glory that could be found in communion with God. Other missionaries had reported greater success speaking on “the love and compassion of God in sending his Son to suffer for the sins of men,” and perhaps Edwards found this to be the case as well. Edwards did not entirely shy away from speaking on the harder topics of sin and the suffering that would befall those who did not accept God’s offer of salvation, but neither had he done so in his previous congregation, and in Stockbridge he tempered these points with God’s mercy as much as he could. Judgment and loving mercy were intertwined in all of Edwards’ preaching and theology. He presented God as loving but righteously indignant at those who reject love and live under the rule of the devil. God was also marvelously forgiving in suffering to provide salvation for many. While not altering his theology, Edwards dwelt especially on the mercy and compassion of God in allowing his own son to suffer and die.xiv Edwards’s emphasis on happiness in his own Christian life, his preaching, and his missions work align with the Biblical understanding of what evangelism is meant to do: spread Image Dominika Roseclay from Pexels on canva.com
the good news throughout the world that everyone may have the opportunity to know God in Jesus Christ and to be saved for a life with him. In practice, however, Great Awakening missionaries started to stray from the biblical model for realizing that vision; they prioritized their own colonial goals by expanding into Native American territory, and they allowed political concerns to corrupt their evangelistic intentions. The continuous advancement of
the English colonists onto Native American land undermined any illusion that the English saw themselves as servants, the way they ought to have approached the communities they were evangelizing. Indeed, “[e]ven in a settle-
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was to convert Native Americans to Christianment like Stockbridge, where genuine efforts ity; if missionary work ought to be about sharwere made to balance the interests of the two ing the good news and allowing listeners to peoples, the ever-expanding English populamake their own decisions, then the principles tion inevitably tipped the balance in their own by which the Native Americans lived should favor.”xv Rumors of a planned massacre of the English population of the town shed light on have had relatively little bearing on the effecthe conflict between the two groups. Some of tiveness of this exchange of ideas. Regardless, the Native American youths who were involved the interaction was not characterized by the revealed that they “had been told that their “gentleness and respect” that Peter encouraged. people were fools for being taken in by pretend Ultimately, the desired effect of both ed shows of English kindness and instruction “civilizing” and “christianizing” was to endear when the English ‘were only opening a wide English settlers to Native Americans, a prosmouth to swallow’em up, when they should see pect which “had immense strategic importance xvi a convenient time.’” Given the reality of coloto the English, who expected renewal of war nial expansion, such a point was hard to argue. with the French and urgently needed to do Not only did the English better in winning Indian settlers prioritize their allegiance.”xviii By seeking not only to convert own perceived needs for The evangelism of the Great Native Americans to the expansion, they did so to Awakening missions was not Christian faith, but also the outright detriment of Native American comthe service-oriented endeavor to assimilate them into a more European, and munities. In practice, the Bible calls for evangelism specifically a more Engthen, the evangelism of to be. lish culture, the British the Great Awakening hoped their alliances missions was not the with the Native Ameriservice-oriented endeavcans would be stronger—hopefully stronger or the Bible calls for evangelism to be. than those between the Native Americans and The colonists also considered the “christhe French. This integration of political motitianizing” of Native Americans to be of politivations into the spiritual desire to evangelize cal as well as spiritual value, and this blend of did not “necessarily make either sort of momotivations led them to strive for conversion, tive the less genuine. Few eighteenth-century rather than simply sharing the gospel message. Christians would have thought of the two inIt is here that Dartmouth’s goals of “civilizterests as separable.”xix That the intentions may ing” and “christianizing” become harder to have been genuine, however, does not change parse out, as the colonists began to think that the fact that by conflating them, the end goal “Indians might be more effectively evangelized was no longer simply sharing the good news. if they learned to live with the English and acTo reap political benefits, the colonists needed cording to English principles. Civilizing, it was the Native Americans to adopt the Christian believed, should go faith, and the English culture. In deviating hand in hand with from this mission to share the gospel by priorievangelizing.”xvii The idea that one might tizing English colonial goals over serving Nabe evangelized tive Americans and by assuming responsibility more effectively by for “christianizing” these communities, rather adopting the Engthan leaving that up to God, Great Awakening lish lifestylealready missionaries failed to realize the biblical ideal suggests that the for evangelism. colonists' intention The idea of “christianizing” in Dart-
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Graphic by ChrisGorgio from istockphot.com
mouth’s charter is rooted in a Christian concept, but is filtered through the College’s historical context to become something radically different. It is important to note that “evangelism” as practiced by Great Awakening ministers was rarely effective. Indeed, while Edwards may have been respected by, and on good terms with his Native American neighbors, “there was no revival [in Stockbridge] and he made no reports of remarkable conversions.”xx The fact that “the English were almost always trying to settle the territories where they evangelized” became “the great defect in English missions to the Native Americans,” and contributed to the widespread failure of Great Awakening missions work.xxi Furthermore, in Dartmouth’s case only nineteen Native American students were graduated in the College’s first 200 years.xxii Though the exact reasons are not known at this point, it is significant to note that Dartmouth College was also ineffective at “christianizing” Native Americans as it largely failed to interact with the communities at all. Perhaps such a result speaks to the importance of intentionality behind evangelism; when the goal is specifically to see the conversion of nonChristian communities, the message of the good news is compromised.
Graphic from ARTSTOR
Dartmouth College Charter. Luke 4:18 (NIV). iii. Matthew 10:7-14 (NIV). iv. John 15:8 (NIV). v. John 13:35 (NIV). vi. Matthew 5:15-16 (NIV). vii. 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV). viii. 1 Corinthians 1:17 (NIV). ix. George M. Marsden, Jonathan Edwards: A Life (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003), 660-661, Kindle. x. Marsden, 1144. xi. Edwards in Marsden, 1992-97. xii. John 14:6 (NIV). xiii. Marsden, 5443. xiv. Marsden 5448-5451. xv. Marsden, 5629-5630. xvi. Marsden, 5624-5625. xvii. Marsden, 5217-5218. xviii. Marsden, 5314. xix. Marsden, 5313-5317. xx. Marsden, 5453-5454. xxi. Marsden, 5625-5626. ii.
“The Native Legacy at Dartmouth College,” Native American Program, https://students.dartmouth.edu/ nap/about/history
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FROM THE SIDE OF CHRIST S a c r a m e n t a l i t y in Sacramentality i n Christian C h r i s t i a n Life Life BY ROBERT SMITH '14
any of us know someone who is “spiritual but not religious”—the twenty-something who lost faith in college but still believes in a Higher Power; the self-identified agnostic who recently attended a meditation retreat; the global traveler hoping to “find himself.” Even within Christianity, there are those who say they “love Jesus, but not the Church.” This is an understandable sentiment, for the Church is perennially rocked by scandal, undermined by its own moral failings. We seek truth but find ideological posturing, hypocrisy where there should be witness. It can be tempting, therefore, to make the banqueti of faith a dinner buffet for one, to “follow” Jesus while avoiding our neighbor. After all, isn’t a personal relationship with Him enough? This is the state of spirituality in America: atomized, autonomous, and anti-institutional.ii We go our own, deracinated ways. But stripped of its historical roots and removed from wider communion, Christianity becomes malleable and abstract. Ironically, a fully subjective faith ends not in personal relationship but in practical atheism. It produces a Christianity “without any concrete expression in life.”iii In fact, it stops being Christianity altogether. At its heart, Christian life is sacramental. The Church itself is a visible sign of invisible grace, both an image and an unchanging reality. This is a puzzling paradox. If the Church is a sign, then it is culturally particular and shared in communion. How else would it be intelligible? As Augustine writes, “It is impossible to keep men together in one religious denomination, whether true or false, except they be united by means of visible signs or sacraments.”iv But which signs matter? What
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should we make of the concrete tradition from which Christianity emerged, that of the Old Law, which Christ came “not to abolish but to fulfill”?v And if the Church is always tied to culture, then how can it remain fundamentally the same? How will Christ stay, for us, “the same yesterday, today, and forever”?vi You see, we live between the now and the not yet, between the Incarnation and the Eschaton. Christ has come, his saving mission is complete, and yet salvation history somehow continues to unfold. The age-old story of the “People of God”vii is told anew—and not just told, but lived, for while we are “witnesses of these things,”viii we have also been baptized into that very fold where Christ is with us “always, until the end of the age.”ix The age has not ended,x as strange as that may seem. We instead face the undeniable historicity of our own lives, and that of the mystical body we call the Church.xi The Book of Hebrews tells us that though “God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors,” He has “in these last days” spoken to us definitively “through a son.”xii Yet this Son, the fullness of God’s revelation, was someone who lived at a particular moment in time. To the extent He still “lives” with us today, two millennia later— to speak of the Word in a temporal sense—it is necessarily through some medium: through the Church, other persons—perhaps, we might say, through particularity itself. If Christ has come, then why do we still see “indistinctly, as in a mirror”?xiii Haven’t we already seen Him “face to face”?xiv The concept of “sacrament” is a hermeneutic for addressing such questions. For Christians, there is permanence amid ephem-
erality. While our lives are passing away,xv they are also particular by design. The Scriptures speak of not only a new heaven but a new earth.xvi We start in a garden and end in a city: New Jerusalem.xvii Accordingly, the signs and forms of Christian life are not an illusion; they matter in eternity. So too do they matter today, in an era when eternity has already broken in.
he English word “sacrament” is derived from the Latin sacer, meaning “sacred” or “holy,” and the Greek word musterion, meaning “mystery” or “sacred secret.”xviii Simply put, a sacrament is a sort of sign that both reveals and is imbued with the hidden presence of God.xix The Church has historically accepted certain outward signs as Christinstituted means of conferring grace, and this is what first comes to mind upon encountering the term “sacrament.”xx But in a broader sense, sacraments are those shared things that make God’s grace present and tangible to us. We should, of course, be wary of overextending the idea. In recent decades, theologians have stretched the concept of sacrament to its breaking point. David Brown, for example, has argued that some art is sacramental because it points “beyond itself to another order of reality.”xxi Sacraments are not just reminders of God, however; they really confer grace. If we adopt too broad a definition, “if everything is sacramental, then nothing is.”xxii It is better to think of sacraments as effective “actions of Christ in time through his Church.”xxiii Even so, “the extended usage [of sacramentality] is justifiable, provided that we realize its limitations.”xxiv Our own life in the Church has a sacramental character, one that finds perhaps its fullest expression in the one who is Life itself: Christ, the sacrament of God. He is, for us, “the image of the invisible God.”xxv And not only an image, but God Himself—the sign and the thing signified.xxvi Likewise, “the Church is for us the sacrament Graphic, "Handpainted Watercolor Baby Jesus in Manger on Christmas" by Canva Elements Team from canva.com
of Christ,” writes Henri de Lubac. “[S]he represents him, in the full and ancient meaning of the term; she really makes him present.”xxvii Christ, as Word, is the fullness of revelation, so we can conclude that public revelation,xxviii divine communication to mankind as a group, has ended with Him.xxix Essential matters of faith and morals simply cannot change. Yet Christ’s message must be transmitted across generations, and so it is necessarily expressed in varied forms. While there will be no future state where man will “possess the grace of the Holy Ghost more perfectly than he has possessed it hitherto, especially the apostles who received ‘the firstfruits of the Spirit,’xxx” the New Law is still “subject to change with regard to various places, times, and persons.”xxxi Christian denominations obviously disagree about how this unchanging but mediated truth is preserved. While Protestants profess sola scriptura, or Scripture alone, as the sole authority for Christian doctrine and practice, Catholics also point to Tradition—to the Church itself—as a co-equal and infalliblexxxii voice. Still, both traditions recognize that the timeless Word must be communicated anew in the particularity of every age. This is what the Church does, albeit with guidance from above. Christ has gone away, if only for a “little while,”xxxiii but he has sent an “Advocate,” “the Spirit of truth,” to assist.xxxiv Our posture today is therefore very different from that of the Ancient Israelites, who were still awaiting the coming of the Messiah.xxxv Those of us who live after Christ’s coming have been radically transformed in a way that the Ancient Israelites could only anticipate. We continue to communicate the truth through images—and therefore through developing culture—but these “images” are something more. They are sacraments, endowed with a hidden but effective grace. Christ’s discourse on marriage is instructive in this regard. The Mosaic law had allowed for divorce, but “from the beginning it
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was not so.”xxxvi It was “[b]ecause of the hardPassover. The Paschal lamb symbolized God’s ness of… hearts” that Moses permitted this exdeliverance of the Israelites from slavery in ception.xxxvii For the Christian, however, marEgypt and foreshadowed the coming of the riage, in its intrinsically indissoluble nature, Messiah. In our age, Christ is both a sign and is something both old and new. It is elevatthe cause of our salvation. “For there was once a ed to the status of a sacrament: a reflection type, but now the reality has appeared,” Meliof Christ’s own love for the Church.xxxviii Like to writes.xliii Still, in tying Christ’s sacrifice to Christ’s sacrifice, it is efficacious, conferring the signs of the Old Testament, Melito helps grace on the couple administering it. us to see the cyclicity of God’s story, how the Indeed, it is only in light of Christ’s covenantal signs of Ancient Israel have been sacrifice that we can begin to understand sacratransformed in the New Covenant. He helps mentality generally. Christ’s passion is, first, a us to avoid the error of a strict supersessionism sign. His death on the cross points to a salvific that disregards the Old Testament as irrelevant mission. Moreover, Christ’s sacrifice involves to the modern Christian. an underlying, but hidden, reality. His death This attachment to ancient forms should saves us from sin, and in turn makes all other be balanced by a respect for inculturation: the sacraments possible. We refer to Christ as the idea that Christ’s message—though it arose in a xxxix because it was from primordial sacrament, culture of its own—must be adapted to each culHis side that there came forth “the wondrous ture for evangelization. Just as the signxliv of the burning bush sacrament of the whole Church.”xl God’s plan as revealed by illumined the Christ’s life, death, and resurrecpath to the A Christianity that separates tion—and by the sacraments—is invisible Yahitself from the wider Christian what we call the Paschal Mystery. weh, the one body can never be life-giving. from whom It is a plan that reveals something startling: in his entrance into Moses hid his death, into the depths of particuface,xlv so must the Church bring the light of Christ to today’s larity, God has not only provided the fullest world. Accordingly, sacramental signs should expression of the divine life, of who He is—He simultaneously preserve the link to ancient has transformed human life as well. “In the Hebraic and Christian tradition, have meanCross of Christ not only is the Redemption acing within contemporary culture, and yet point complished through suffering, but also human to something beyond culture. suffering itself has been redeemed,” writes xli To live sacramentally, therefore, we John Paul II. Grace does not destroy human nature, but perfects it.xlii The risen Christ remust appreciate the cultural rootedness of all tains his wounds. Sacraments, therefore, are religious practice. We must understand that not merely a means to an end. As signs, in Christian practice in the sacraments is a means their form, they have eternal significance. of entering into a specific sacrificial story. Fi Thus, while religious form is culturnally, we must live in communion. To be culally contingent, it is also essential to authentic turally intelligible, sacraments must be shared. Christian life. A Christianity that separates itself from the In his secondwider Christian body can never be life-giving. century sermon In contrast, the sacramentality of the life of the Peri Pascha, for Church calls us out of our individuality into example, Melito relationship, into the solidarity of the “new of Sardis shows People of God.”xlvi In a time of alienation, it is essential how Christ parfor believers to restore sacraments to the cenallels the sacter of Christian life. The sacrament of the rificed lamb of
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Graphic by 94clover from istockphoto.com
Eucharist is a prime example of how this can be achieved. Though rooted in tradition, the body and blood of Christ is—according to those who believe in the Real Presencexlvii—a truly effective sacrament, a way of bestowing grace. It is also a mark of Christian unity.xlviii We join with those across the ages who have shared the same meal, from the church fathers to believers around the world today. This is the communion of saints bound together in sacramentality, an antidote to the loneliness of our era. In this way, in uniting us to past, present, and future believers, such sacraments also herald the time ahead. They anticipate the eschatological fulfillment of God’s kingdom and make it present for us here on earth. “The hour is coming,” Christ tells us, when He will no longer speak “in figures” but tell us “clearly about the Father.”xlix For today’s believers, and indeed for believers of all time, these paradoxical figures are more than enough. We can rightly say, echoing the disciples, “Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech.”l Now, Christ, you “have conquered the world.”li i.
Matthew 22:1–14; Luke 14:15–24. See generally Ross Douthat, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics (New York: Free Press, 2012); “In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace,” Pew Research Center, Oct. 17, 2019. iii. Robert Cardinal Sarah, The Day is Now Long Spent (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2019), 39. iv. Augustine, Contra Faustum 19.11, quoted in Aquinas, Summa Theologiae III.61.1. v. Matthew 5:17. vi. Hebrews 13:8. vii. Exodus 6:7; Judges 20:2. viii. Luke 24:48. ix. Matthew 28:20. x. See Matthew 24:34: “Amen I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.” Many early Christians took these words literally, expecting Christ to return within their lifetimes. xi. 1 Corinthians 12:12–26. xii. Hebrews 1:1–2. xiii. 1 Corinthians 13:12. xiv. 1 Corinthians 13:12. xv. 1 Corinthians 7:31; 2 Corinthians 5:17. ii.
Revelation 21:1. Revelation 21:2, 9–27. xviii. Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), s.v. “sacrament, n.” xix. Paul VI, “Speech Opening the Second Session of Vatican II” (Vatican City, Sept. 29, 1963). xx. The Catholic Church, for example, recognizes the seven sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. xxi. Patrick Sherry, “The Sacramentality of Things,” New Blackfriars, Vol. 89, No. 1023 (2008), 577. xxii. Sherry, 576. xxiii. Sherry, 588. xxiv. Sherry, 575. xxv. Colossians 1:15. xxvi. Westminster Confession of Faith 27.2. xxvii. Henri de Lubac, Catholicism (London: Burns, Otes, and Washbourne, 1950), 29. xxviii. In contrast to private revelation, which could be ongoing. xxix. Cf. 1 Timothy 6:14. xxx. Romans 8:23. xxxi. Aquinas, I-II.106.4. xxxii. Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus (July 18, 1870), ch. 4. xxxiii. John 16:16. xxxiv. John 14:16–17; John 16:7, 13. xxxv. Aquinas, III.61.4. xxxvi. Matthew 19:8; Mark 10:5-6. xxxvii. Matthew 19:8; Mark 10:5-6. xxxviii. Ephesians 5:25. xxxix. Edward Schillebeeckx, Christ, the Sacrament of the Encounter with God (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1963), 15. xl. Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium (Dec. 4, 1963), sec. 5. xli. John Paul II, Salvafici Doloris (Feb. 11, 1984), sec. 19. xlii. Aquinas, I.1.8. xliii. Melito, Peri Pascha, ed. Alistair Stewart-Sykes (New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2001), 38. xliv. Exodus 3:12. xlv. Exodus 3:6. xlvi. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium (Nov. 21, 1964), sec. 9, 13. xlvii. Cf. John 6:22–69. xlviii. Corinthians 10:17; Augustine, In Joannis Evangelium 26.13. xlix. John 16:25. l. John 16:29. li. John 16:33. xvii.
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A Prayer for Dartmouth This prayer by professor of religion Lucius Waterman appears on a plaque hanging outside Parkhurst Hall. O Lord God Almighty, well-spring of wisdom, master of power, guide of all growth, giver of all gain. We make our prayer to thee, this day, for Dartmouth College. Earnestly entreating thy favour for its people. For its work, and for all its life. Let thy hand be upon its officers of administration to make them strong and wise, and let thy word make known to them the hiding-place of power. Give to its teachers the gift of teaching, and make them to be men right-minded and high-hearted. Give to its students the spirit of vision, and fill them with a just ambition to be strong and well-furnished, and to have understanding of the times in which they live. Save the men of Dartmouth from the allurements of self-indulgence, from the assaults of evil foes, from pride of success, from false ambitions, from hardness, from shallowness, from laziness, from heedlessness, from carelessness of opportunity, and from ingratitude for sacrifices out of which their opportunity has grown. Make, we beseech thee, this society of scholars to be a fountain of true knowledge, a temple of sacred service, a fortress for the defense of things just and right, and fill the Dartmouth spirit with thy spirit, to make it a name and a praise that shall not fail, but stand before thee forever. We ask in the name in which alone is salvation, even through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.
We at the Dartmouth Apologia invite people from all intellectual, philosophical, religious, and spiritual backgrounds to join in our discussion as we search for truth and authenticity. We do, however, reserve the right to publish only that which aligns with our statement of belief. We, the members of the Dartmouth Apologia, affirm that the Bible is inspired by God, that faith in Jesus Christ is necessary for salvation, and that God has called us to live by the moral principles of the New Testament. We also affirm the Nicene Creed, with the understanding that views may differ on baptism and the meaning of the word â€œcatholic.â€?
We (I) believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. We (I) believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end. We (I) believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. We confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and we look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.
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[1 Peter 3:15]