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Archive for February, 2013

Moving

I have decided to move over to ponticianus.com

The content will be more/less the same, with an emphasis on original writing. I encourage you to follow me over there, as well as on twitter : @ponticianus

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Si quis autem vestrum indiget sapientiam postulet a Deo qui dat omnibus affluenter et non inproperat et dabitur ei; postulet autem in fide nihil haesitans qui enim haesitat similis est fluctui maris qui a vento movetur et circumfertur.

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For Iames the gentele iugeth in his bokes
That fayth withouten feet is feblore than naught
And as ded as a dore-nayl but yf the dedes folowe:
Fides sine operibus mortua est.
Chastite withouten charite worth cheyned in hell;
Hit is as lewed as a laumpe that no liht is ynne. (I.181-185)

For gentle James judges in his book
That faith without works is a feeble thing,
Dead as a doornail unless deeds follow:
Faith without works is dead
Chastity less charity will be chained in hell;
It is as useless as a lamp that bears no light. (Trans. Pearsall)

William Langlang, Piers Plowman

As we draw closer to Lent, these words haunt me.

Two weeks ago I was on the bus, as is often, and most folks were quiet and enjoying the dark rainy ride home from a long day at work, save one woman on her phone. She had her newborn snuggled up to her in a Moby-wrap, and was talking to her partner(?) about their rent due and another issue involving a lawyer and more money going out of their pockets. It was likely uncomfortable to most because her business had instantly become their business. I imagine most people might have been upset as this one phone call was now their unsolicited phone call.

I knew I had a five-dollar bill in my billfold. It wasn’t a twenty or a fifty or even a ten. And it was more than just a crumpled single or a bit of change. It was enough to offer mercy, but hopefully not enough to make her feel uncomfortable to take it. “It’s not much,” I though over in my head, “but this may help you and your child more than I will help me.” The words were with me and well rehearsed. I even felt back in my wallet to make sure the bill was still there. It was, but as we drew nearer to the busstop, I grew tense. I worried that the gesture might embarrass her in front of so many people on the full bus. “I don’t want/need your charity,” I imagined her saying. She might even resent me and my offer, and give me a few words in reply for sticking my nose in her family’s financial business.

The bus stopped. The crowds and I exited as the mother and her son sat quietly to move on to the next terminal.

Langland’s words haunt me.

Langland is writing a poem about the world he sees around him, drenched in commerce and commodification. The Church, evinced its priests, monks, and friars are  everywhere in his society, but so too vice; the virtues are latent.

The poem’s main protagonist, Will, is all too often concerned with how he might save his soul (I.80).

Me too, Good Will.

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Nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine secundum verbum tuum in pace quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum
quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum lumen ad revelationem gentium et gloriam plebis tuae Israhel. (Lk 2.29-32)

Lord, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light to the revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.

Presentation

Giotto, The Presentation in the Temple (1304-06)

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