The Best a Mother Can Desire

I feel no need to write words of my own when the ideas others have written are so worthy of reflection. I merely feel a need to share what I myself reflect upon.

Anything in you, which, in your own child, would make you feel him not so pleasant as you would have him, is something wrong. This may mean much to one, little or nothing to another. Things in a child which to one parent would not seem worth minding, would fill another with horror. After his moral development, where the one parent would smile, the other would look aghast, perceiving both the present evil, and the serpent-brood to follow. But as the love of him who is love, transcends ours as the heavens are higher than the earth, so must he desire in his child infinitely more than the most jealous love of the best mother can desire in hers. He would have him rid of all discontent, all fear, all grudging, all bitterness in word or thought, all gauging and measuring of his own with a different rod from that he would apply to another’s. He will have no curling of the lip; no indifference in him to the man whose service in any form he uses; no desire to excel another, no contentment at gaining by his loss. He will not have him receive the smallest service without gratitude; would not hear from him a tone to jar the heart of another, a word to make it ache, be the ache ever so transient. From such, as from all other sins, Jesus was born to deliver us; not, primarily, or by itself, from the punishment of any of them. When all are gone, the holy punishment will have departed also. He came to make us good, and therein blessed children.

… It is true that, being thus his offspring, God, as St Paul affirms, cannot be far from any one of us: were we not in closest contact of creating and created, we could not exist; as we have in us no power to be, so have we none to continue being; but there is a closer contact still, as absolutely necessary to our well-being and highest existence, as the other to our being at all, to the mere capacity of faring well or ill. For the highest creation of God in man is his will, and until the highest in man meets the highest in God, their true relation is not yet a spiritual fact. The flower lies in the root, but the root is not the flower. The relation exists, but while one of the parties neither knows, loves, nor acts upon it, the relation is, as it were, yet unborn. The highest in man is neither his intellect nor his imagination nor his reason; all are inferior to his will, and indeed, in a grand way, dependent upon it: his will must meet God’s–a will distinct from God’s, else were no harmony possible between them. Not the less, therefore, but the more, is all God’s. For God creates in the man the power to will His will. It may cost God a suffering man can never know, to bring the man to the point at which he will will His will; but when he is brought to that point, and declares for the truth, that is, for the will of God, he becomes one with God, and the end of God in the man’s creation, the end for which Jesus was born and died, is gained. The man is saved from his sins, and the universe flowers yet again in his redemption.

— George MacDonald

Balance?

On the idea that both good and evil must exist in our world to bring a balance in the world…
I do agree that sometimes balance is needed. However, I think that life is not simplistic in that the same rules always apply across the board to everything, and I think it is easy to misapply rules from one field to another. Chesterton says that a great way to discover the truth about a subject is to ask yourself what the proper state or condition of a thing is, and this easily helps you discover what its true nature and design is, and therefore what is the ‘truth’ of that thing. A man having two limbs (and therefore ‘balance’) is the proper state for a man, and that does actually facilitate him to be able to move, climb and work at his best. And a person can operate with only one arm, but it would be best for him to have two; in other words, having two arms is how he was meant to be. On the other hand, no one in their right mind would ever say that a certain amount of sickness, blindness, or weakness in a man is necessary so that he can achieve his perfect ‘balance’; the proper condition of the human body is to be healthy, not half well and half sick.
Another great way to test an idea is to take that idea and apply it to another field or area, because often times truth will apply to several fields. I have found a great place to test ideas is on my ideals and expectations for my kids, as it is easier to see defects in others than it is in ourselves. Also, as parents, we often have a natural desire to help them grow and achieve their best state. My other favorite testing ground is the world of business, where there is an expectation of not only progress but also output and productivity. IMHO, the proper and healthy condition of a man’s soul is to be good (if you don’t like that word, simply use one that works for you). I would not be happy or feel my kids had achieved ‘balance’ if they were disposed to kill animals or each other half the time, and to be kind and nurturing the other half. I would not be happy if my husband was kind to me one week, and violent another. Taking this thought into the field of business, a company would not be happy if its personnel showed up one day, and not another, or was productive one month, and not the next. These examples clearly demonstrate that some behaviors are not needed to achieve ‘balance’, but rather their presence causes imbalance, because they are ‘away’ or contrary to the ideal we commonly hold of what human beings ought to behave like.
– Watergirl

The Cure for Any Organisim – To be Set Right

However absurd the statement may appear to one who has not yet discovered the fact for himself, the cause of every man’s discomfort is evil, moral evil–first of all, evil in himself, his own sin, his own wrongness, his own unrightness; and then, evil in those he loves: with this latter I have not now to deal; the only way to get rid of it, is for the man to get rid of his own sin. No special sin may be recognizable as having caused this or that special physical discomfort–which may indeed have originated with some ancestor; but evil in ourselves is the cause of its continuance, the source of its necessity, and the preventive of that patience which would soon take from it, or at least blunt its sting. The evil is essentially unnecessary, and passes with the attainment of the object for which it is permitted–namely, the development of pure will in man; the suffering also is essentially unnecessary, but while the evil lasts, the suffering, whether consequent or merely concomitant, is absolutely necessary.

Foolish is the man, and there are many such men, who would rid himself or his fellows of discomfort by setting the world right, by waging war on the evils around him, while he neglects that integral part of the world where lies his business, his first business–namely, his own character and conduct. Were it possible–an absurd supposition–that the world should thus be righted from the outside, it would yet be impossible for the man who had contributed to the work, remaining what he was, ever to enjoy the perfection of the result; himself not in tune with the organ he had tuned, he must imagine it still a distracted, jarring instrument.

The philanthropist who regards the wrong as in the race, forgetting that the race is made up of conscious and wrong individuals, forgets also that wrong is always generated in and done by an individual; that the wrongness exists in the individual, and by him is passed over, as tendency, to the race; and that no evil can be cured in the race, except by its being cured in its individuals: tendency is not absolute evil; it is there that it may be resisted, not yielded to. There is no way of making three men right but by making right each one of the three; but a cure in one man who repents and turns, is a beginning of the cure of the whole human race.

 The one cure for any organism, is to be set right–to have all its parts brought into harmony with each other; the one comfort is to know this cure in process. Rightness alone is cure. The return of the organism to its true self, is its only possible ease. To free a man from suffering, he must be set right, put in health; and the health at the root of man’s being, his rightness, is to be free from wrongness, that is, from sin. A man is right when there is no wrong in him. The wrong, the evil is in him; he must be set free from it. I do not mean set free from the sins he has done: that will follow; I mean the sins he is doing, or is capable of doing; the sins in his being which spoil his nature–the wrongness in him–the evil he consents to; the sin he is, which makes him do the sin he does.

There is another important misapprehension of the words of the messengers of the good tidings–that they threaten us with punishment because of the sins we have committed, whereas their message is of forgiveness, not of vengeance; of deliverance, not of evil to come. Not for anything he has committed do they threaten a man with the outer darkness. Not for any or all of his sins that are past shall a man be condemned; not for the worst of them needs he dread remaining unforgiven. The sin he dwells in, the sin he will not come out of, is the sole ruin of a man. His present, his live sins–those pervading his thoughts and ruling his conduct; the sins he keeps doing, and will not give up; the sins he is called to abandon, and clings to; the same sins which are the cause of his misery, though he may not know it–these are they for which he is even now condemned. It is true the memory of the wrongs we have done is, or will become very bitter; but not for those is condemnation; and if that in our character which made them possible were abolished, remorse would lose its worst bitterness in the hope of future amends. ‘This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.’

–George MacDonald

The Cure for Any Organisim – To be Set Right

However absurd the statement may appear to one who has not yet discovered the fact for himself, the cause of every man’s discomfort is evil, moral evil–first of all, evil in himself, his own sin, his own wrongness, his own unrightness; and then, evil in those he loves: with this latter I have not now to deal; the only way to get rid of it, is for the man to get rid of his own sin. No special sin may be recognizable as having caused this or that special physical discomfort–which may indeed have originated with some ancestor; but evil in ourselves is the cause of its continuance, the source of its necessity, and the preventive of that patience which would soon take from it, or at least blunt its sting. The evil is essentially unnecessary, and passes with the attainment of the object for which it is permitted–namely, the development of pure will in man; the suffering also is essentially unnecessary, but while the evil lasts, the suffering, whether consequent or merely concomitant, is absolutely necessary.

Foolish is the man, and there are many such men, who would rid himself or his fellows of discomfort by setting the world right, by waging war on the evils around him, while he neglects that integral part of the world where lies his business, his first business–namely, his own character and conduct. Were it possible–an absurd supposition–that the world should thus be righted from the outside, it would yet be impossible for the man who had contributed to the work, remaining what he was, ever to enjoy the perfection of the result; himself not in tune with the organ he had tuned, he must imagine it still a distracted, jarring instrument.

The philanthropist who regards the wrong as in the race, forgetting that the race is made up of conscious and wrong individuals, forgets also that wrong is always generated in and done by an individual; that the wrongness exists in the individual, and by him is passed over, as tendency, to the race; and that no evil can be cured in the race, except by its being cured in its individuals: tendency is not absolute evil; it is there that it may be resisted, not yielded to. There is no way of making three men right but by making right each one of the three; but a cure in one man who repents and turns, is a beginning of the cure of the whole human race.

 The one cure for any organism, is to be set right–to have all its parts brought into harmony with each other; the one comfort is to know this cure in process. Rightness alone is cure. The return of the organism to its true self, is its only possible ease. To free a man from suffering, he must be set right, put in health; and the health at the root of man’s being, his rightness, is to be free from wrongness, that is, from sin. A man is right when there is no wrong in him. The wrong, the evil is in him; he must be set free from it. I do not mean set free from the sins he has done: that will follow; I mean the sins he is doing, or is capable of doing; the sins in his being which spoil his nature–the wrongness in him–the evil he consents to; the sin he is, which makes him do the sin he does.

There is another important misapprehension of the words of the messengers of the good tidings–that they threaten us with punishment because of the sins we have committed, whereas their message is of forgiveness, not of vengeance; of deliverance, not of evil to come. Not for anything he has committed do they threaten a man with the outer darkness. Not for any or all of his sins that are past shall a man be condemned; not for the worst of them needs he dread remaining unforgiven. The sin he dwells in, the sin he will not come out of, is the sole ruin of a man. His present, his live sins–those pervading his thoughts and ruling his conduct; the sins he keeps doing, and will not give up; the sins he is called to abandon, and clings to; the same sins which are the cause of his misery, though he may not know it–these are they for which he is even now condemned. It is true the memory of the wrongs we have done is, or will become very bitter; but not for those is condemnation; and if that in our character which made them possible were abolished, remorse would lose its worst bitterness in the hope of future amends. ‘This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.’

–George MacDonald

The Silent Collapse

A great silent collapse, an enormous unspoken disappointment, has in our time fallen on our Northern civilization. All previous ages have sweated and been crucified in an attempt to realize what is really the right life, what was really the good man. A definite part of the modern world has come beyond question to the conclusion that there is no answer to these questions, that the most that we can do is to set up a few notice-boards at places of obvious danger, to warn men, for instance, against drinking themselves to death, or ignoring the mere existence of their neighbours. Ibsen is the first to return from the baffled hunt to bring us the tidings of great failure.

Every one of the popular modern phrases and ideals is a dodge in order to shirk the problem of what is good. We are fond of talking about “liberty”; that, as we talk of it, is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. We are fond of talking about “progress”; that is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. We are fond of talking about “education”; that is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. The modern man says, “Let us leave all these arbitrary standards and embrace liberty.” This is, logically rendered, “Let us not decide what is good, but let it be considered good not to decide it.” He says, “Away with your old moral formulae; I am for progress.” This, logically stated, means, “Let us not settle what is good; but let us settle whether we are getting more of it.” He says, “Neither in religion nor morality, my friend, lie the hopes of the race, but in education.” This, clearly expressed, means, “We cannot decide what is good, but let us give it to our children.”

G. K. Chesterton, Heretics

What We Are Becoming Each Day…

“Each day we are becoming a creature of splendid glory or one of unthinkable horror.” C. S. Lewis

That is why it is so important for us to be conscious and careful about the decisions we make… Everything we do or even do not do leads us down one of two paths. If we are not growing in one direction we are growing in another, whether we realize it or not. If we make good choices, we are opening the door for good things and good influences to come into our lives. If we make bad choices (or even if we just fail to do what we know is right), we have opened pandoras box and bad things will follow. And somehow one bad thing seems to lead to another, at a much faster pace than we even thought possible.

– Watergirl 

Today I Shall Meet Cruel Men

“Orual,” she said, “you make me think I have learned the Fox’s lessons better than you.

Have you forgotten what we are to say to ourselves every morning? ‘Today I shall meet cruel men, cowards and liars, the envious and the drunken. They will be like that because they do not know what is good from what is bad. This is an evil which has fallen upon them not upon me. They are to be pitied, not – ‘.” She was speaking with a loving mimicry of the Fox’s voice; she could do this as well as Batta did it badly.

“Oh child, how can – ” but I was choked again. All she was saying seemed to me so light, so far away from our sorrow. I felt we ought not to be talking that way, not now. What I thought it would be better to talk of, I did not know.

–Till We Have Faces, Lewis