Thursday, January 14, 2021

Unruly wills and affections

 More big words. The collect for the 4th Sunday in Lent.

O Almighty God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men: Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old words above. That's what I grew up with, when we as children could understand that order meant set in order, and not the abusive dictatorial sense of order as in I order you.

Newer words below

Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly
wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to
love what you command and desire what you promise; that,
among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts
may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with
you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Same ideas just less terse. Why do we need so much explanation? No amount of explanation will bring about faith. What does bring about faith? 

I am not sure. I assume it is more than intelligence and yet requires little intelligence. I expect dogs have more faith than humans. In a human, maturing in faith requires discipline (=discipleship, willingness to take both instruction and correction, but nothing to do with external violent control.) I have associated in my thinking and my glosses the idea of set in order with command.

Yes there is commandment, but that is not barked on a parade square, but rather part of a mandate to be executed with the authority that instructs. The form 'thou shalt' is the embedding of a promise for hearing and following (obey, from the old French to hear).

Yes, there is a place for giving orders. It's not the best or the ultimate place, but it has its analogy. Do automatons have faith? Consider the light-seeking behaviour of a silverfish. Their bootstrap is in us as well. Are we of much more value than a silverfish which is wiped up with a little TP after a scurried flight from a shadow? 

So what starts faith and gets it to test itself and mature and become something beautiful? The beginning is a small turning, but that's not its end. The continuing is an opening of the ear and a willingness to participate, fixing the heart (like a compass needle in a magnetic field) even in the face of the sundry and manifold changes of the world. The end is true joy. Not the deeply repressed anger that we see also in our unruly natures. And beauty, the opening of the film Room with a View, yes - it should become beautiful. 

If your freedom is not beautiful, what is it worth?



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