Go figure: Calvin, Hall and a bunch of songs...

Go figure: for some reason - probably after reading Marilynne Robinson's rethinking of John Calvin - I find myself going back to the old man's insights - and some from Douglas John Hall, too - in anticipation of this year's Lent. “God tolerates even our stammering, and pardons our ignorance whenever something inadvertently escapes us - as, indeed, without this mercy there would be no freedom to pray.” God knows I need this sense of radical grace - especially as I look backwards over the stupidity of parts of my past! (NOTE: Isn't this sculpture by artist, Bob Clyatt, wonderful!?! See more of his work at: www.clyattsculpture.com/SaintsArahants.html)

I am particularly drawn to his careful and loving reflections on the Psalms. In my current Psalm-mantra - Psalm 131 - Calvin notes: The quiet of the soul he alludes to is opposed to those tumultuous desires by which many cause disquietude to themselves, and are the means of throwing the world into agitation.... In the passage now before us, what is recommended is that simplicity of which Christ spake,“Unless ye become like this little child, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of God.”
(This clip from "Brother Sun, Sister Moon" puts this into a visual prayer: you start with what is broken, apply deep trust and patience like a child and...) Another scholar notes: Of all explanations the best is that of considering the comparison to consist between the humbleness and simplicity of the Psalmist’s mind, and that of a little child, in whom there does not exist a sufficient consciousness to create an ambition for any worldly object. The comparison is not with יונק, a suckling; for it has a longing after the mother’s breast, and, therefore, such a comparison would not be appropriate. The same, indeed, may be said of a child who has only just been weaned; for, in that stage, how often does it cry and mourn after that of which it has been deprived, and the possession of which was just before its chief pleasure? We therefore conclude, that the comparison is intended to be with a child who has been weaned a sufficient time to have forgotten its infantile nutriment, and who is not conscious of any particular desires or cravings, and quietly resigns itself to its mother’s care and training.

Calvin concludes: Our hope is of the right kind when we cherish humble and sober views of ourselves, and neither wish nor attempt anything without the leading and approbation of God. Douglas John Hall adds: Jesus says in his movement there is a new way for people to live:

+ You show wisdom by trusting people; you handle leadership by serving -
You deal with offenders by forgiving and manage money by sharing - You handle enemies by loving and deal with violence by suffering.

In fact, you have a new attitude towards everything and everybody: toward nature, toward the state in which you happen to live, toward women and men, toward slaved and every single thing. Because this is a Jesus movement - and you repent NOT by feeling bad, but by thinking different! How did St. Paul put it: Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Then you will be able to test and discern what is God's will.

Seems like it is going to be a rich and interesting Lent around here... maybe even like this Eucharistic feast!


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