Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Beautiful, beautiful piece from Crisis magazine

Father Rutler writes so well. Read the entire piece. (Just click above.) It's on Auden and I can't help but excerpt it -

"Delusion thinks that the self is a steady axle, and everyone else spins about in the turmoil of change and its toll on the flesh. W. H. Auden was only a few years older than I am now when in my early 20s he seemed to me half as old as time. His face was so wrinkled; I had never seen anything like it. I had seen weather-beaten faces blown red and scuffed by gales and wars, but I had never seen so many wrinkles. A friend of his from schoolboy days remarked that it seemed to have come on all of a sudden ...

... Unlike many actors on the shaky stage of culture in the 1960s, he knew that no drama matches the eternal drama of Redemption. He wrote:

Just as we were all, potentially, in Adam when he fell, so we were all, potentially, in Jerusalem on that first Good Friday before there was an Easter, a Pentecost, a Christian, or a Church.

He was certain that none of us will imagine ourselves as cowering and terrified disciples. Few are important enough to imagine being Pilate or good enough churchmen to suppose we might have been of the Sanhedrin.

In my most optimistic mood I see myself as a Hellenized Jew from Alexandria visiting an intellectual friend. We are walking along, engaged in philosophical argument. Our path takes us past the base of Golgotha. Looking up, we see an all too familiar sight—three crosses surrounded by a jeering crowd. Frowning with prim distaste, I say, ‘It’s disgusting the way the mob enjoy such things. Why can’t the authorities execute criminals humanely and in private by giving them hemlock to drink, as they did with Socrates?’ Then, averting my eyes from the disagreeable spectacle, I resume our fascinating discussion about the nature of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful.

I take those lines as an indictment of myself, for all the while I was prodding Auden for something shining to say about the True, the Good, and the Beautiful, that wrinkled face was engraved with intimations of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and I in my young clumsiness with deep things just kept pouring him some lesser spirit on ice. He had lived long enough in New York to require ice with his whiskey ..."

I hope I haven't broken any copyright laws, and gosh, that's lovely.

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