Journey to the Center of Reality, i.

Having finished up my first year of studying philosophy at Talbot, I thought it would be helpful to write out a few takeaways from the year.  It’s been a challenging academic year, to be sure, but I can confidently say that every moment has been rich with experience and learning and humbling and grace.

  1. Taking school seriously is actually kind of fun.
  2. People will talk to me differently because I’m in seminary.
  3. I’m a poor evangelist, but that is not my identity (it’s just an accidental property I have heh).  I am conscious of this and I need to bring it to God. He will be faithful in guiding me to those He wants me to reach.
  4. There is a way to disagree without offending the other party.
  5. Spiritual disciplines are legitimately helpful.
  6. Philosophy is a mind-molding kind of subject; it often does work in the background of the mind (if such there be).
  7. Church must be far and away greater than what we think it ought to be – in more ways than one.
  8. Old friendships are real anchors.
  9. New friendships are constantly surprising.
  10. Family is so often taken for granted.
  11. I’ve become really self-conscious about the content I produce and rely less and less on a blog to just introspect externally; this is not a positive trend.
  12. Calvinism is not the only theology (gasp) but it IS the best one 😉 kidding! Theological perspectives, in some respects, are held in virtue of personal experience of relationship with and to God.
  13. Being kind is not reserved just for non-Christians (as surprising as the idea of speaking with a kind Christian seems to be nowadays); we must also be kind to the brothers and sisters we meet with regularly lest we take them for granted (see 10).
  14. Pastoring is a serious, thankless job; a special level of maturity and spiritual discernment is required for it. Love your pastors! As humans, they’re trying the hardest and battling the most within themselves to examine their own lives first and be faithful to what they’ve been called to.
  15. There are frequently moments where God opens the eyes to exceeding beauty – how many have I missed?
  16. Granting things in a discussion and still finding a way to make a case is more powerful than complete and utter blindness to the opposition.
  17. The library is actually a wonderful place to be, especially in the study rooms
  18. I’m running out of things (even though there are probably sooo many more), so the last one that comes to mind is: reality is a big thing – I’m gonna need an Atlas (heh). Grateful for professors who have allowed me to come to office hours with very few intellectually rigorous questions, but have grounded my continuing in the program.

Looking forward to seeing what the next year will hold!

On War and Peace.

This post will not be as long as my other ones, but it definitely moved me.

War and Peace, A New Translation by Anthony Briggs, Afterword by Orlando Figes

Page 61, short section preceding Chapter 15.

“‘Oh, my dear count, money, money, money – how much trouble it causes in this world!’ said the countess. ‘But I do need it very much.’

‘My sweet little countess, everybody knows you’re a shocking spendthrift,’ said the count, who then kissed his wife’s hand and went back to his own room.

When Anna Mikhaylovna returned from the Bezukhovs the countess had the money ready under a handkerchief on her little table, all in crisp new notes.  Anna Mikhaylovna could see something was worrying her.

‘Well how did you get on, my dear?’ asked the countess.

‘Oh, he’s in a dreadful state! Unrecognizable.  He’s so ill, so ill…I was only there for a minute, and I hardly said a thing.’

‘Annette, for heaven’s sake, please don’t refuse,’ the countess blurted out with a blush that looked rather odd on her [aging], thin, aristocratic face as she produced the money from under the cloth.  Immediately understanding, Anna Mikhaylovna leant forward, ready to embrace when the moment came.

‘This is for Boris, from me, to get him kitted out…’

Anna Mikhaylovna’s arms were round her.  She was weeping, and the countess wept too.  They wept for their friendship, their kindheartedness and the unfortunate need for lifelong friends to soil their hands with anything as sordid as money, and they wept also for their lost youth..But the tears of both women were sweet…”

Not too long of a passage, but the content that is within deeply moved me.  Although I am not familiar with economic troubles in Tolstoy’s time, the message between the lines strikes me profoundly.  Too often nowadays, we find ourselves “spotting” our friends and having to do with money as a source of friendship, but little do we experience the purity of friendship that is untainted by money.  Though surely none of us can call ourselves counts or countesses, Tolstoy’s words provide me with ample food for thought.  The passage, to me, portrays one of the most beautiful friendships encountered in a human’s life, and though the two women wept, their tears were sweet; no hard feelings between them.  In the beginning of a book titled ‘War and Peace,’ I’d say this book purveys much more than meets the eye, so it is meet for me to take my time with this book, and fully indulge in the work of one of the greatest Russian authors that history has witnessed.

A friendship in the halcyon days of youth is to be desired; a friendship purged of any impurity is to be dreamt of.

– W.L.

p.s. I greatly encourage you to read Divine and Human and Other Works; though the times are different from ours, Tolstoy is a wonderful storyteller, infusing his works with numerous characters, and the short stories are deeply touching.