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An Argument for Prelacy

Ok, so this isn't actually an argument for prelacy per se--more a comment on an advantage the Episcopal churches seem to have over us Reformed folks--that is, the issue of names.
We Reformed folk seem to have a very narrow stock of possible church names--basically, some combination of Christ, Trinity, Covenant, and Reformed (or Reformation). That's really about all there is to work with, it seems. Now, allowing for up to two names per church, this allows us only 16 options to choose from (of which not all would really work well), plus a couple odds and ends. This kind of redundancy can lead to a great deal of confusion, even within the narrow Reformed world--"Wait, did you say you were from Covenant Reformed or Reformation Covenant? Oh, that explains the confusion--Covenant Reformed is in Maine, not Iowa!)

In my experience, though, the Episcopal churches prefer to draw from the riches of Church history and name their churches after any number of saints. St. Luke's, St. Mark's, St. John's, St. Bartholomew's, St. Stephen's, St. Thomas's, maybe even St. Bede's.

Why are we Reformed folk so averse to using saints' names in our churches? I assure you that if I ever start a church, it will not have the words "covenant" or "reformed" in it. *ducks and runs*

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart"--
Lord God, set our hearts aflame with Thy love, that we may burn with the desire to be near Thee, to please Thee, to rest in Thee. Help us to to so order our passions that we may love all others only insofar as they enable us to love Thee more; let no creature lead us away from the love of Thee.

"With all thy soul"--
God Almighty, fill us with the fear and awe of Thy holiness and the joy of Thy beauty, that we may bow before Thee in humility and praise and delight in Thee, that we may soar heavenward and let the light of Thy presence shine on us. Help us learn to feel Thy presence in every hour and to rest in Thee, rather than being tossed and turned by the turmoils of this world.

"And with all thy mind"'--
Father of Lights, inspire our minds with the knowledge that is from above, that we may ever meditate on Thee and see and judge all else in the light of Thy ineffable splendour. Teach us to use our minds in Thy service, not in the vain pursuit of the knowledge which puffs up, and keep us ever mindful of our limitations; train our understanding in Thy ways, which surpass all understanding.

"This is the first and great commandment."

Wittgenstein and Kierkegaard

For my Traditio final, we were asked to bring a short presentation on some topic relating to the term, and I used the opportunity to jump into another can of worms, to see what I can fish out of it over the next few months. Specifically, I'm getting fascinating with Wittgenstein, his enigmatic approach to philosophy, and the resemblance it bears to Kierkegaard's approach. Hopefully I will have the opportunity to think and write more about this soon, but for now, here is the presentation I gave:

Wittgenstein is usually understood as having had two distinct periods, with very different approaches to philosophy. The traditional interpretation goes as follows:
In his earlier work, The Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, he advocated an ideal language philosophy, in which he carefully circumscribed the areas of meaningful discourse along rigorously logical lines, and insisted that our understanding of reality must conform to these formulas. Therefore, many statements, such as those concerning religion and metaphysics, are actually nonsense statements, and philosophy must stick to what is logical and avoid such nonsense. In this sense he is considered to have prefigured and influenced the Logical Positivist philosophers of the Vienna Circle.
In his later work, however, the Philosophical Investigations, he repented of his rigidly logical system and admitted that language was actually much more complex and meaning was far less fixed. All we have is “language games”—sets of artificial rules that bear some “family resemblance” to one another.

However, this view tends to neglect the strange and cryptic remarks that close the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, as well as Wittgenstein’s reaction to the logical positivists’ use of his work. In the final sections of the Tractatus, he argues that according to the principles developed, metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, religion—in short everything of real meaning—transcends the logical limits of language, so that the traditional discussions of philosophy become nonsense and philosophy is rendered meaningless. His own argument, indeed, by its own principles, is nonsense—“through the philosophy of the book one must come to see the utter meaninglessness of philosophy.”
That he was not intending the same thing as the logical positivists seems clear from his subsequent interactions with them:
“The Tractatus also caught the attention of the philosophers of the Vienna Circle, especially Rudolf Carnap and Moritz Schlick. The group spent many months working through the text out loud, line-by line. Schlick eventually convinced Wittgenstein to meet with members of the circle to discuss the Tractatus when he returned to Vienna (he was then working as an architect). Although the Vienna Circle's logical positivists appreciated the Tractatus, they argued that the last few passages, including Proposition 7, are confused. Carnap hailed the book as containing important insights, but encouraged people to ignore the concluding sentences. Wittgenstein responded to Schlick commenting, ‘I cannot imagine that Carnap should have so completely misunderstood the last sentences of the book and hence the fundamental conception of the entire book.’ “
This revealing statement—that the final sentences of the book contained the key to understanding the whole—suggest that Wittgenstein’s goal in the Tractatus was actually something much more along the lines of Kierkegaard—using philosophy to show the futility of traditional philosophical endeavors, and its inability to discuss all of the highest truths, which lie outside its domain. The role of philosophy, then, in this conception, is therapeutic—philosophy serves to show us the limitations of our traditional methods of analysis, and to lead us to a more honest conception of realitywhich does justice to its mystery and complexity. If this is true, then the Tractatus need no longer be interpreted in contrast to the Philosophical Investigations, but can be seen as saying indirectly what he later decided to say directly.
The penultimate proposition says “My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: Anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical, when he has used them - as steps - to climb up beyond them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.)” Scholar Cora Diamond emphasizes Wittgenstein’s careful word choice “anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them” not “anyone who understands them eventually recognizes them…” The reader is to understand Wittgenstein himself, not what he is saying in the propositions, because the propositions are actually saying something quite to the contrary. They are drawing a limit to thought in order that that limit might then be transcended. As he wrote to his editor,
“the book’s point is ethical. I once meant to include in the preface a sentence which is not in fact there now, but which I will write out for you here, because it will perhaps be a key for you. What I meant to write then was this: my work consists of two parts: the one presented here plus all that I have not written. And it is precisely this second part that is the important one. For the ethical gets its limit drawn from the inside, as it were, by my book; and I am convinced that this is the ONLY rigorous way of drawing that limit. In short, I believe that where many others today are just gassing, I have managed in my book to put everything firmly into place by being silent about it… For now I would recommend you to read the preface and the conclusion, because they contain the most direct expression of the point.”

This indirect methodology is, as some scholars have pointed out, a hallmark of Kierkegaard’s, who never sets forth a systematic expression of his philosophical thought but relies on irony and literary techniques to make his point. In several works, he argues from a perspective that is not really his own in order to reveal the weaknesses of that perspective.
Charles Creegan describes it:
“Kierkegaard's and Wittgenstein's concern with methodology is an expression of the fundamental difference in their conception of philosophy. The idea of philosophy against which they are reacting is that of the search for foundations and the construction of a unified understanding of the world. Metaphysical concerns are central to such a philosophical system.
The philosopher's use of multiple methods, masks and metamorphoses is the last step in the breakdown of monolithic 'Philosophy' which begins with the transition from factual investigation to conceptual investigation.”
And it is not merely in method that they agree. Kierkegaard, like Wittgenstein, is concerned to “discover what thought itself cannot think” in order to make way for the weightier matters, which traditional philosophy has been unable to address.
An interesting additional point of reflection would be to use both of these thinkers as a foil for understanding Kant; because really this debate in Wittgenstein interpretation is very similar to a debate in Kantian interpretation: namely, how honest was Kant being when he said, “I am destroying reason to make way for faith.” When Kant set rigid limits to the province of human reason, was he saying: all beyond this transcends reason and thus is not fit material for men to think or discuss—it is only for foolish faith”; or, was he saying, “Reason can only go so far, and is thus radically limited—to be fulfilled, to discover the important truths, we must go beyond the realm of pure reason by faith”? I’m not going to try to answer that question here, but, as far as Wittgenstein goes, I believe he takes the latter route, not, as traditionally understood, the former.

First Post, post-NSA

I also posted this on my Xanga, but it seems appropriate as an inaugural post here.

I woke up this morning to the first day of the rest of my life—life post-NSA, post-Moscow, post-late-night chats with my fellow nerds about Eastern Orthodoxy, the Eucharist, or nominalism, post-1,000+ pages of reading a week, post-Appel, post-Schlect, post-Leithart, and the list goes on. Some of these, granted, may not apply if I come back here for graduate school, but, nevertheless, so much will be new.

I feel that NSA was not merely a phase in my life, but another life altogether. All before it is so different and distant that it seems like part of another existence—or that I was only half-alive then. NSA has taught me how to live, or begun to at any rate. No doubt, what is beginning now shall be a very new life, perhaps as different as NSA was from what went before. But may I never forget all that I have learned here and all those whom I have known here, the wisest and most godly teachers and friends I have ever known. May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I forget you, oh New Saint Andrews!

Perhaps God has grand and marvelous adventures in store for me, but for now, I must focus on working diligently, studying with joy, loving my neighbor—seeking not a poetic life, but to make the prosaic in life poetic.

I woke up this morning to the first day of the rest of my life…at 6:15, and went to breakfast with my dad, and helped my roommate study, and ran a few errands. I wanted it to begin so, for, if I can be faithful in little things, perhaps one day I will be faithful in greater things.

It may be relevant here to post the poem I read at Graduation yesterday, the conclusion of “For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio,” by W.H. Auden.

Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes --
Some have got broken -- and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week --
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted -- quite unsuccessfully --
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.
The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
Be very far off. But, for the time being, here we all are,
Back in the moderate Aristotelian city
Of darning and the Eight-Fifteen, where Euclid's geometry
And Newton's mechanics would account for our experience,
And the kitchen table exists because I scrub it.
It seems to have shrunk during the holidays. The streets
Are much narrower than we remembered; we had forgotten
The office was as depressing as this. To those who have seen
The Child, however dimly, however incredulously,
The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.
For the innocent children who whispered so excitedly
Outside the locked door where they knew the presents to be
Grew up when it opened. Now, recollecting that moment
We can repress the joy, but the guilt remains conscious;
Remembering the stable where for once in our lives
Everything became a You and nothing was an It.
And craving the sensation but ignoring the cause,
We look round for something, no matter what, to inhibit
Our self-reflection, and the obvious thing for that purpose
Would be some great suffering. So, once we have met the Son,
We are tempted ever after to pray to the Father;
"Lead us into temptation and evil for our sake."
They will come, all right, don't worry; probably in a form
That we do not expect, and certainly with a force
More dreadful than we can imagine. In the meantime
There are bills to be paid, machines to keep in repair,
Irregular verbs to learn, the Time Being to redeem
From insignificance. The happy morning is over,
The night of agony still to come; the time is noon:
When the Spirit must practice his scales of rejoicing
Without even a hostile audience, and the Soul endure
A silence that is neither for nor against her faith
That God's Will will be done, That, in spite of her prayers,
God will cheat no one, not even the world of its triumph.

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