To be, or not to be

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die, to sleep —
No more — and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to: ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep:
To sleep, perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life,
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of disprized love, the law’s delay, 
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all:
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn away,
And lose the name of action. Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia.— Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.
— William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Act 3, Scene 1.

Abbey, Edwin Austin. “The Play Scene in Hamlet.” 1897.

“Love is an attempt to penetrate another being, but it can only be realized if the surrender is mutual. It is always difficult to give oneself up; few persons anywhere ever succed in doing so, and even fewer transcend the possessive stage to know love for what it actually is: a perpetual discovery, an immersion in the waters of reality, and an unending re-creation.” – Octavio Paz, The Labyrinth of Solitude

Gauguin, Paul. When Will You Marry? 1892. Oil on canvas..jpg
Gauguin, Paul. When Will You Marry? 1892. Oil on canvas.

“Now, Lord, since it is you who gives understanding to faith, grant me to understand as well as you think fit, that you exist as we believe, and that you are what we believe you to be. We believe that you are that thing than which nothing greater can be thought.” – Anselm of Canterbury, Proslogion

“Discourse about God comes second because faith comes first and is the source of theology; in the formula of St. Anselm, we believe in order that we may understand (credo ut intelligam).” – Gustavo Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation

Romanelli, Giovanni Francesco. The Meeting of the Countess Matilda and Anselm of Canterbury in the Presence of Pope Urban II. 1642. Oil on canvas.
Romanelli, Giovanni Francesco. The Meeting of the Countess Matilda and Anselm of Canterbury in the Presence of Pope Urban II. 1642. Oil on canvas.

“Upon the disappearance of the fixed points that should give unity to everyday activity, persons live at the mercy of events, unable to establish fruitful links between them and forced simply to jump from one to another.” – Gustavo Gutierrez, We Drink for Our Own Wells

Van Gogh, Vincent. Wheatfield with Crows. Amsterdam, Netherlands. Van Gogh Museum, 1890. Oil on canvas..jpg
Van Gogh, Vincent. Wheatfield with Crows. Amsterdam, Netherlands. Van Gogh Museum, 1890. Oil on canvas.

Theodicy

“Epicurus (c. fourth century BCE), the ancient Greek philosopher, who held that it was impossible to hold these three propositions together:

  1. God is all-powerful.
  2. God is all-good.
  3. 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..jpg
Tissot, James. Cain leads Abel to death. 1902.

“Since empirical science can only proceed on the working assumption that nature is uniform and subject to universal and necessary laws, and since this presupposition cannot be established by the inductive method of science itself, the question arises: Whence come these larger suppositions? Many scholars today believe that Christianity’s creation doctrine slowly encouraged the requisite philosophy of science needed to supplant Aristotelian cosmology.” — Richard J. Plantinga, Thomas R. Thompson, and Matthew D. Lundberg, An Introduction to Christian Theology

Wright of Derby, Joseph. A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery. Derby Museum and Art Gallery. 1766. Oil on canvas..jpg
Wright of Derby, Joseph. A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery. 1766. Oil on canvas.

“Our prevailing modern Western worldview is no more ‘modern’ than the worldview of the first Christians. All that has happened is that many leading scientists in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, who were attracted to Epicureanism for quite other reasons (not least social, cultural, and political), have interpreted their perfectly proper scientific observations (for instance, concerning the origin and development of different species of plants and animals) within an Epicurean framework. It has then been assumed that ‘science’ actually supports this view of a detached ‘God’ and a world simply doing its own thing. But this is profoundly mistaken.” — N. T. Wright, The Case for the Psalms

Raphael. Epicurus. The School of Athens. 1511. Fresco..jpg
Raphael. “Epicurus.” The School of Athens. 1511. Fresco.

Botticelli, Sandro. Violent against others. 1495.
Botticelli, Sandro. Violent against others. 1495.

“Non ti rimembra di quelle parole
con le quai la tua Etica pertratta
le tre disposizion che il ciel non vuole,
incontinenza, malizia, e la matta
bestialitade?”
— Dante Alighieri. La Divina Commedia. BUR Rizzoli, 2016.

“Have you forgotten, then, the words with which
your Ethics treats of those three dispositions
that strike at Heaven’s will: incontinence
and malice and mad bestiality?”
— Dante Alighieri. The Divine Comedy. Translator Allen Mandelbaum.

“‘Filosofia’, mi disse, ‘a chi la intende,
nota, non pure in una sola parte,
come natura lo suo corso prende
dal divino intelletto e da sua arte:
e se tu ben la tua Fisica note,
tu troverai, non dopo molte carte,
che l’arte vostra quella, quanto puote,
segue, come il maestro fa il discente:
sì che vostr’arte a Dio quasi è nepote.
Da queste due, se tu ti rechi a mente
lo Genesì dal principio, conviene
prender sua vita ed avanzar la gente;
e perché l’usuriere altra via tiene,
per sé natura e per la sua seguace
dispregia, poi che in altro pon la spene.”
— Dante Alighieri. La Divina Commedia. BUR Rizzoli, 2016.

“‘Philosophy, for one who understands,
points out, and not in just one place,’ he said,
‘how nature follows—as she takes her course–
the Divine Intellect and Divine Art;
and if you read your Physics carefully,
not many pages from the start, you’ll see
that when it can, your art would follow nature,
just as a pupil imitates his master;
so that your art is almost God’s grandchild.
From these two, art and nature, it is fitting,
if you recall how Genesis begins,
for men to make their way, to gain their living;
and since the usurer prefers another
pathway, he scorns both nature in herself
and art, her follower; his hope is elsewhere.”
— Dante Alighieri. The Divine Comedy. Translator Allen Mandelbaum.

“God creates nature, and human art springs from and imitates nature [Aristotle]. Usury thus offends both nature (God’s ‘child’) and art (His ‘grandchild’).” — Notes by Peter Armour

“And to the man he said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, “You shall not eat of it,” cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’” — Genesis 3:17-19 (NRSV)

3.17.19.pngCrumb, Robert, and Robert Alter. The Book of Genesis Illustrated.