Athanasian Dance

Good morning!

I just finished Chesterton’s book The Everlasting Man, and I highly recommend it. It’s like reading a good coffee stout.

In one of his final chapters, Chesterton comments on how strange, how contra mundum Christianity is. He notes that if there is one thing the enlightened and liberals of every age have pointed to as exemplary of the endless argument and disagreement that is Christian theology, it is “this Athanasian question of the Co-Eternity of the Divine Son;” and that if there is one thing that these same enlightened and liberal offer as simple, pure and unspoiled Christian thought, “it is the single sentence, ‘God is Love.'” He then says this:

Yet the two statements are nearly identical; at least one is very nearly nonsense without the other. The barren dogma is only the logical way of stating the beautiful sentiment. For if there be a being without beginning, existing before all things, was He loving when there was nothing to be loved? If through that unthinkable eternity He is lonely, what is the meaning of saying He is love? The only justification of such a mystery is the mystical conception that in His own nature there was something analogous to self-expression; something of what begets and beholds what it has begotten. Without some such idea, it is really illogical to complicate the ultimate essence of deity with an idea like love. If the moderns really want a simple religion of love, they must look for it in the Athanasian Creed.

Thanks for that, GK. Eschewing a logical Christianity for a colorful one leaves us not with a colorful Christianity at all, just the hopeful and ultimately substance-less idea of color. A God who is able to love, yet not eternally, is more Athenian than Athanasian.

-Daniel

Coffee: The Slow-down Stimulant

Morning!

CoffeeA word on coffee- one I hope will prove timely as you enter the weekend. We think of coffee as a pick-me-up, speed-me-up, wake-me-up kind of brew, and it is, of course. It’s a stimulant. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, either- God knew it was a stimulant when he made it, and it’s one of those trees from which our first parents were commanded to eat. But have you ever noticed how unpleasant it is to chug a scalding hot cup of black, unsweetened coffee? We cool it down with ice or cream and sweeten it up with syrups and sugar to make it a drink to go. I suppose the Philistines do this just to make their java palatable, and in their case the crime begets the judgement– but I digress.

To properly enjoy a freshly-brewed cup of hot, black coffee, you must slow down. At least, I know no other way to appreciate the warmth of the cup in my hands, the sight of white steam swirling on a black surface, the unique smell that coffee has, and its bitter, rich, bold taste. I love to sit on my couch on a morning when I have no where to go and look out the window, holding my cup against my cheek and letting my mind take me where I will. And it is the coffee which forces me to do this, to slow down, because stimulant though it is, I just can’t gulp liquid this hot.

I don’t have much of a point, I guess; just an exhortation to slow down. G.K. Chesterton said that often an external hum of busy-ness belies inactivity rather than productivity. He gives as his example a street busy with cars containing people not moving at all. I wonder if he might say the same thing about men and women bustling about the skyway in downtown Minneapolis with their cups of coffee clutched in their hands. Would he say all that movement just disguises minds which don’t know how to handle silence, stillness, and meditation?

Who knows. Just take some time this weekend to slow down with a cup of your favorite brew and think. I think you will enjoy it.

-Daniel