“If theologians become famous in times like ours, surely they must have betrayed their calling.” – Stanley Hauerwas, Hannah’s Child: A Theologian’s Memoir
Eakins, Thomas. The Champion Single Sculls (Max Schmitt in a Single Scull). Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1871. Oil on canvas.
“But to speak freely, I greatly fear, and this fear remains, that so many autumns will be spent in procrastinating, that the cold of a perpetual winter will set in.” – John Calvin
Gauguin, Paul. Garden under Snow. Budapest. Museum of Fine Arts, 1879. Oil on canvas.
When their minister,
Alice Ling, brought communion to the house
or the hospital bed,
or when they held hand as Alice prayed,
grace was evident
but not the comfort of mercy or reprieve.
The embodied figure
on the cross still twisted under the sun.
– Donald Hall, “Her Long Illness.” Without.
Grünewald, Matthias, and Niclaus Haguenauer. Isenheim Altarpiece. Colmar, France. Unterlinden Museum, 1516. Oil on wood panel.
“Qui vive la pietà quando è ben morta.
Chi é più scellerato che colui
che al giudicio divin passion porta?”
“Here pity only lives when it is dead:
for who can be more impious than he
who links God’s judgment to passivity?”
Dante Alighieri. La Divina Commedia. BUR Rizzoli, 2016.
Dante Alighieri. The Divine Comedy. Translator Allen Mandelbaum.
Williams, Hugh William. View of Thebes. Benaki Museum, 1819. Watercolor.
“Epicurus (c. fourth century BCE), the ancient Greek philosopher, who held that it was impossible to hold these three propositions together:
- God is all-powerful.
- God is all-good.
- Evil exists.
Epicurus’ argument was revived in the eighteenth century by the skeptical Scottish philosopher David Hume. In Hume’s own words: ‘Is [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? whence then is evil?'”
Richard J. Plantinga, Thomas R. Thompson, and Matthew D. Lundberg, An Introduction to Christian Theology.
Hume, David. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.
Tissot, James. Cain leads Abel to death. 1902.
when I was seven and eight.
Unable to sleep
or unwilling, I would call
– waiting in the dark
to hear her footsteps –
. . . .
She nursed so well, I loved
being sick. Freud said
a man thrives his whole life
if he received as a child
“his mother’s entire devotion.”
– Donald Hall, “Song for Lucy.” Without
Barnet, Will. Midnight. 1985.
Daybreak until nightfall,
he sat by his wife at the hospital
while chemotherapy dripped,
through the catheter into her heart.
He drank coffee and read
the Globe. He paced; he worked
on poems; he rubbed her back
and read aloud. Overcome with dread,
they wept and affirmed
their love for each other, witlessly,
over and over again.
– Donald Hall, “Her Long Illness.” Without
Barnet, Will. Self-Portrait. 1981.