Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added)
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.
--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Myrrh for innocence

Borrowed from Wesley Hill's Writing in the Dust tumblr log:

In the same way, the only thing that my religious tradition has to offer to the bereaved of Newtown today--besides an appropriately respectful witness to their awful sorrow--is a version of that story, and the realism about suffering that it contains.

That realism may be hard to see at Christmastime, when the sentimental side of faith owns the cultural stage. But the Christmas story isn’t just the manger and the shepherds and the baby Jesus, meek and mild.

The rage of Herod is there as well, and the slaughtered innocents of Bethlehem, and the myrrh that prepares bodies for the grave. The cross looms behind the stable — the shadow of violence, agony and death.

In the leafless hills of western Connecticut, this is the only Christmas spirit that could possibly matter now.

 --Ross Douthat, “The Loss of the Innocents”

***
Wesley is a young theology professor, a recent Ph.D. grad of Durham University (UK) and professor at Trinity in Ambridge, PA. His first book is Washed and Waiting.

6 comments:

  1. The awe and wonder of God (for those who have this) is indeed all-encompassing and more than even our imaginations can hold. Death, birth, joy, sorrow - all things under one heaven, and in all its glory.

    Is this what one should be offering to parents and families in raw bereavement? Isn't this the sort of thing that may settle into people over time?

    I am at a loss over, "The Loss of the Innocents".

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  2. I'm not a parent, much less one who suffered the loss of a child. But this, I think, is a condolence. The image of Christ haunts the image of every murdered child in Brueghel's painting, "The Slaughter of the Innocents." The implication is God is always present to those who suffer--in this case, the children and the parents. If I am a Christian at all,I'm not a traditional Christian,but this idea I find at the bottom of the best and most consoling ideas the Christian tradition has to offer, despite the fact that it does not dissolve our deep sorrow and outrage.

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  3. I borrowed a quote because I don't want to add a comment to the world on this one.

    But I went to a mass said in the honor of the slain children and teachers. Beauty, empathy, and pain were twined in the sermon...

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  4. Naturally, I have added my voice to the general din profusely.
    Can't help it.

    People express their mourning in so many ways. Some of those expressions are bound to hit 'home' and comfort those in need of comfort. This is good : )

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  5. I don't mind your voice a bit! Just somehow feel it bothersome when writers pontificate about certain things.

    Oh!

    Shan't go into it. Maybe I'll post about it some day.

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  6. And oh, there is quite a bit of commentary on the facebook link to this on my page... if people want more.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.