Friday, April 14, 2023

Eliott's Still Point, The Crucifixion and Resurrection

When something comes in threes, I take note. (see Holy Trinity)

I was reading The New Criterion on the evening of Good Friday, That talked of Elliott's "Still Point"  

Digging into that article I found some quality quotes: 

Was there any condition, any reality, that stood apart from the violence of history? A place where force was not simply met by competing force, but where stillness, silence, and peace might reign?
Being Good Friday, my mind quickly went to the Crucifixion and Resurrection as being "outside of time"  ... always present. 
In Eliot’s day, the reduction of human life and the world to what Nietzsche called “the will to power” was a dominant idea that drove the ideologies of communism and fascism and haunted the life of the liberal West. In our day we see that, for the mainstream of our intellectuals and the broader population as well, the possibility that life could consist of anything other than power and its abuse seems nearly unimaginable. The story of Eliot’s life and work, in this regard, seems a salutary reminder that genuine peace is possible, even if it is a peace “not as the world gives.”

I have often lamented the modern situation of "living" in a materialist machine, with more and more realizing that they are not living at all.  

Either life is a natural tragic cycle of violence and revenge, which we may enact but never escape, or we must surrender “self-possession” and allow ourselves by supernatural grace to be possessed. Only complete abstention from action can allow divine grace to lead us beyond history and its busy motions to the “Peace which passeth understanding” (to use the words of St. Paul quoted in the notes to The Waste Land).
We cannot hope to remake ourselves by force of will but must surrender to being transformed by a will superior to our own. In the second, Eliot states directly that all that lies within history, including moral values, is mere flux. The principles of truth and goodness exist beyond time, and only in surrendering to them and judging in terms of them can we live in contact with that which is permanent. God’s eternity is the reality by which the unreality of time must be understood.
Most religions and mystics talk of this "point of possession by the eternal". As for all eternally important matters, we need to be aware that Satan is real, and is extremely willing to possess you. Baptism into Christ and a life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit, maintained by accepting Grace through daily Bible reading and prayer, regular reception of Holy Preaching, and regular Holy Communion is the only way I know to stay connected to that  "still point". Perhaps there are other ways, but Christ states that he is the way, the truth, and the life. And so I believe. 

Much to my surprise, as the sermon on Easter Vigil began, here is the opening:

To borrow a phrase from T. S. Eliot’s epic poem about time, tonight is a “still point in the turning world.” The Creation of the world, from darkness to light, and chaos to order; the Exodus out of Egypt, in which the angel of death passed over the faithful and the Israelites passed over the Red Sea on dry ground; the Passion of our Lord, instituting His Supper, His betrayal in the garden, the unjust trial and His bloody crucifixion; the Resurrection from the tomb; your Resurrection on the final day. All this, the past and the future of redemption is right now. This, your redemption, is not merely celebrated like a birthday or an anniversary, but it is re-lived in us by faith this very night.

  I do believe that the Trinity is present with us in the form of the Holy Spirit at all times. Was this a coincidence, or concilliance? As I read the linked post at the top, "coincidence" fell from my radar. 

As covered in the link at the top of the post, here is Sir Roger Scruton  (a man I struggle to not idolize) on the topic:

Leaving aside all learned theology, but taking inspiration from the poets, painters and composers who have treated this subject, I would say that Christ’s resurrection, like his death, is an event in eternity. It occurs in me and in you, just so long as we put our trust in the possibility of renewal. It is a re-affirmation of the creative principle, and of the love that brought about Christ’s death. The darkness that came over the world on that first Easter Saturday could be dispelled only by a renewal of this love, and this renewal comes through us. The Cross is a display of supreme forgiveness, which invites us to forgive in our turn.

Seeing the Christian mystery in that way we open a path to reconciliation with the other Abrahamic faiths. Christ’s death is not a once- off event in ordinary time but, to borrow T. S. Eliot’s words, ‘the point of intersection of the timeless with time’. The wonderful concretion of the Gospels, which give us the shape and feel of Christ’s earthly life, show love shining from a source beyond those vivid moments. To translate that idea into theological terms is not necessary. It is enough to see that there is a love that overcomes all suffering, all resentment, all negativity, and that this love is the source of our own renewal.

Give me a clue once, twice, but THREE TIMES? As a computer scientist, my training leads to skepticism, however, like Thomas, sometimes we Christians need to thrust our hands into the reality of the Crucifiction and Resurrection!  

Christ is risen! 

He is risen indeed! 

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