Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Simone Weil on 'Forgive us our debts' - trans. Brad Jersak

‘And remit us our debts, in the same way that we also have remitted our debtors.’

In the moment that we say these words, we must already have remitted all debts. This includes not only letting go of the reparation of any offences we think we have suffered; but also any recognition and gratitude for the good we think we have done. And in a completely general way, anything that we expect from people or things, everything we believe is our due, the absence of which has made us feel frustrated.

Forgiveness is letting go of every right we believe is ours in the past or in the future. First, this includes the right to a certain permanence. When we have enjoyed something for a long time, we believe it is ours, and that fate must allow us to keep enjoying it. Second, we let go of the right to compensation for all of our efforts, regardless of the nature of our effort, work, suffering or desire.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Review of Ron Dart and Brad Jersak's 'George P. Grant: Canada's Lone Wolf' by Robert Martens

Ron Dart and Brad Jersak, George P. Grant, Canada's Lone Wolf: Essays in Political Philosophy. Abbotsford: Fresh Wind Press, 2011. 120 pp.

What is liberalism, and what conservatism? Over time, these terms have degenerated into clich├ęs useful mainly for mudslinging and fingerpointing. George Grant, in his brief and enigmatic Lament for a Nation, articulated a vision of what "liberal" and "conservative" essentially mean. His open, suggestive style of writing, however, leaves room for a wide and healthy variety of interpretation. In their new book of essays, George P. Grant, Canada's Lone Wolf, Ron Dart and Brad Jersak help clear the air by introducing and then analyzing the ideas, or perhaps more accurately, the proposals of Canada's great philosopher.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Unpublished Sermon Notes - George Grant (McMaster, 1961?)

In a letter from Sheila Grant to Ron S. Dart, dated June 19, 1998, she typed out the following sermon notes from George's time at McMaster. 

In a p.s. to the letter, Sheila left this note: "I enclose this sermon, mainly for its ending. It expresses G.’s kind of “theology of the Cross” quite well, though in note form."

Notes for Sermon at McMaster (1961?)

(1)  talk about the Holy Communion
(2)  call it what you will.
(3)  Shared by all.
(4)  It is what it is and petty differences don’t matter.
(5)  It can be looked at in many ways.
(6)  The feast of the suffering of the innocent.
(7)  Suffering in general – the way of the world. Not our own, which is terrible – but others’.
(8)  It is on suffering that the faiths of the western world divide.
(9)  Humanism:       N. America from liberalism.
   European from existentialism.
   Russia from Marxism.
      Faced with suffering – man must make a world in which it does not exist.
      The idea of God impossible in the face of suffering.
(10)  This is where Christianity says no.
            In some strange way suffering must be consented to.
            It is part of the divine purpose.
(11)  This is of course the terrible stumbling block in Christianity for the humanist.
(12)  Let me make clear what I mean by consent – not consent to what we can do anything about;
(13)  But there are things … that we can do nothing about.
(14)   Not only present but past. Spartacus revolt.
(15)  How are we to make consent to that, to love God through and in that?
(16)  Marxists love the future.
(17)  But we love God – the perfection which is now.
(18)  How are we to make that act of consent, -- consent to that evil which may completely destroy us?
(19)  Let us admit that most of us do not make that act of consent – that is for the saints and not many of us are that.
(20)   The question is not then to make it – but to learn to approach it – to fix our gaze upon its perfection.
(21)  We see it at many places in the world – families where a tide of evil and despair sweeps through – nothing seems to be able to break through – the only way it is broken is when a member of that family consents to that evil for herself or himself. Such consent is innocence –is the purity which alone breaks the cycle of evil. It is the just man or woman who consents to the consequence of evil.
(22)  We see this always in the greatest literature of all eras, from Homer to Dostoievsky. Homer’s Iliad – force and violence and horror is what men live amongst – Cassandra consents, bears it.
(23)  And of course the supreme act of consent is that of X in the Garden of Gethsemene. Here the absolutely pure, the absolutely just, the absolutely innocent consents to bear, to accept the full weight of the evil of his day, 
[24]  – the full weight of the Roman Empire, the evil of the ecclesiastics of his own race. And think what it cost him. “His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Think how we tremble and shake when we ourselves suffer – whether we consent to it or not. But this was the absolute consent. The perfect act.
(25)  And as such it is the act of God himself, for only God can consent to be nothing. This to use language which is difficult for modern people – yet which is supremely significant. In the Garden of Gethesemene we see the very consent within God – as we say between the Father and the Son – that act which is love itself.
(26)  It is that act of consent – far beyond any of our imagining of what consent could be – it is that perfection which is given us at every Christian altar – perfection upon which we can fix our attention.
(27)  And it seems to me that this is finally why we should go to Church. I often ask myself, what is the use of going to Church when I am in such a mood – rushed, moody, quite involved in my own evil. Get the children through breakfast, see one’s neighbours in Church who one doesn’t much like. Why go when there is no spontaneity in one’s heart – when God seems far away?
   One goes to contemplate that perfect act in which the innocent has absolutely consented to his suffering – that is to contemplate the divine act itself.

Announce Hymn 86.  When I survey the wondrous Cross.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Reversing the Reversal: Contemplation and Action by Ron Dart

George Grant was drawn to Martin Heidegger for the simple reason that Heidegger was, probably, one of the most severe critics of the modern way of doing philosophy and the western understanding of mind and what it means to think.  Heidegger was convinced that western philosophy had lost its way, and rationalism led to a cul-de-sac that diverted the longing pilgrim from a deeper notion of being. Heidegger’s commitment to philosophy had a great deal to do with returning to the ancient way marks and a pointing of the way to wisdom and contemplation. Grant was convinced that the clearing that Heidegger was a guide towards offered more possibilities than the sterility of modern philosophy.

Grant was not only drawn to Heidegger’s commitment to contemplation and wisdom as an antidote and corrective to rationalism and a hyper activism, but Heidegger’s turn to the ancient Greeks was a turn that Grant also made, but did so with a difference. Grant agreed with Heidegger that much modern philosophy was lost in a dark wood with few paths out, but he differed with Heidegger on what wisdom and contemplation might mean on the journey.