Friday, November 21, 2014

A to V

From A to V

Oh my, it’s so true. Anu Garg’s Thought For Today, “Every man is guilty of all the good he didn’t do” (Voltaire 1694-1778). Yet at this point in life what can one say or do but press on. The thought is not all that different to my recall of our discussion at seminary thirty-five or so years ago, of Anselm’s thoughts on atonement. (a) In that one’s obligation, one’s debt to God is to live a perfectly sinless life, (b) even one sin cannot be made up for by doing good, because good is one’s obligation anyway; but (c) in God’s perfect justice, sin debt must be paid; and in that because of (a) such payment is beyond human doing, (d) only God’s own self is able to pay the debt, which (e) was paid once for all by Christ on cross.

If that’s not quite accurate, I’m not about to dig back into Anselm this morning, and I don’t buy Anselm anyway; but Voltaire’s quotation has it right. I could have done other, different, better. I could have taken another bus, boarded a different train; but here I am, bus left and missed my train, standing on the platform watching the caboose round the bend and across the heavens.

+++   +++   +++ 

Always, Anselm’s successor four centuries later, Thomas Cranmer, in the daily office  

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name.

and in Cranmer’s litany, with its theology of atonement,

REMEMBER not, Lord Christ, our offences, nor the offences of our forefathers; neither take thou vengeance of our sins: Spare us, good Lord, spare thy people, whom thou hast redeemed with thy most precious blood, and be not angry with us for ever.
The thoughts, the theme, Anselm, Cranmer, Garg, Voltaire, seem more appropriate to Lent than to the bursting to be free anticipatory joy of Episcopalians humming but not singing Christmas carols that Advent has evolved, or devolved, into in our time. But as we creep through the dregs of fall and on into winter, March seems a long way off. Too far, when life itself is so unsure. Or too soon. Let the reader understand.

Dearly have I loved Thomas Cranmer, but his portraits are always so dour. As though he suddenly realized the problem: he forgot to drink his prune juice. 

No matter.


Boy howdy, that didn't go where I intended. I was thinking of Bill Cosby, "poor Bill" I was thinking except that it's poor me, losing the wonderful humor and loving gentleness that Bill was to me all these years. Bill is stewing in his own juice as many a male would do if life caught up with him in the end; but it's poor me, I'll miss the Bill Cosby I loved all those years. 

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