Arimathea
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Religion
The human animal is the worshipping animal. Toward the divine, we have a need to pray, to sacrifice, to offer up, and to praise. From the spirit dances of primitive animism to the rational contemplation of philosophical paganism, from the ethical code of the rabbis to the theological vision of the scholastics, from the sprinkled blood (the origin of blessing) of temple cults to helping the poor in simple Christian charity, men need to relate the immanent and the transcendent -- they see their particular lives in time and space transfigured and transfused with meaning unbounded by human things. Religion is this aspect of human life where the everyday and worldly intersects with the ultimate and divine. Is this an accident of human evolution, or is it a racial neurosis brought upon us as conscious beings who live in the shadow of our own death? Is it a reflection of the divine order, where creatures naturally orient themselves toward their source? Has God revealed himself to us, as the Christians claim? In this realm, I shall try to delve into such questions as an Orthodox Christian who ever pesters God with "Why?"
Saturday, July 31, A.D. 2010
And Did Those Feet in Ancient Time

Today is the feast of Saint Joseph of Arimathea on the new calendar. For those of you so ordered, have a blessed feast.

Below is William Blake’s poetic preface to Milton, which refers to the legend of Joseph’s having brought the Christ Child to the lovely island of Albion:

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.

The poem has been popularized as the patriotic song “Jerusalem.”

It hearkens back to England’s better days . . .

Posted by Joseph on Saturday, July 31, Anno Domini 2010
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Monday, July 26, A.D. 2010
Patriarch Kirill Plants a Tree

Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church has been on the job for a year and a half. I was initially worried about his elevation to the patriarchate, but he has been doing pretty good work on the spiritual, ecclesial, cultural, political, and diplomatic fronts. I am relieved to have been wrong. The patriarch is currently visiting the Ukraine; I hope that he can help to end the schism there and to regularize its ecclesial life.

OBL News has a pleasant story with charming pictures about the patriarch’s planting a birch tree (of course) at a monastery in Odessa: “Patriarch Kirill Plants Tree.”

We should not put our trust in princes, in the sons of men. However, Russia gives me hope for the near future of Christendom.

Posted by Joseph on Monday, July 26, Anno Domini 2010
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