Random thoughts in the Easter Octave

For some reason the joyfulness of the Easter season is bound up for me  with the exuberance and shrewd, jovial insights of English Catholic writer and thinker G. K. Chesterton. From Twelve Types:

“Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of ‘touching’ a man’s heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it.”

The difficulty of empathy, a wordless touching of the heart that moves beyond reason — something I  I have been reading about in Edith Stein’s The Problem of Empathy.

The hard-won credo of poet and cancer survivor Christian Wiman:

Writing against those who might call themselves spiritual but not religious and those whose experience of religion is without creed or community, Wiman affirms: “Christ is God crying I am here, and here not only in what exalts and completes and uplifts you, but here in what appalls, offends, and degrades you, here in what activates and exacerbates all that you would call not-God.”


Stanley Hauerwas arguing against war (the quotation taken from a critical review of his  book War and the American Difference:  Theological Reflections on Violence and National Identity in First Things):

We are fated to kill and be killed because we know no other way to live, but through the forgiveness made possible by the cross of Jesus we are no longer condemned to kill. A people have been created who refuse to resort to the sword, that they and those they love might survive. They seek not to survive, but to live in the light of Christ’s resurrection. The sacrifices of war are no longer necessary. We can now live free of the necessity of violence and killing. War and the sacrifices of war have come to an end. War has been abolished.

If only.

Somebody whose thinking has become increasingly important to me in recent years, Marilynne Robinson, a great Christian novelist and lay theologian of the 21st century. From her essay ‘Imagination and Community’:

I would say, for the moment, that community, at least community larger than the immediate family, consists very largely of imaginative love for people we do not know or whom we know very slightly. This thesis may be influenced by the fact that I have spent literal years of my life lovingly absorbed in the thoughts and perceptions of—who knows it better than I?—people who do not exist. And, just as writers are engrossed in the making of them, readers are profoundly moved and also influenced by the nonexistent, that great clan whose numbers increase prodigiously with every publishing season. I think fiction may be, whatever else, an exercise in the capacity for imaginative love, or sympathy, or identification.

Empathy and the  appeal to the heart; a vision moving beyond war as necessary evil; the dream of community.
Edith Stein writing as Sr Teresa Benedicta of the Cross in the context of the Nazi tyranny:

Edith stein




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