Old Wine in a New Wineskin

“I do not doubt the valor of your people.  But the world is changing.”

So said Frodo to Boromir on the slopes of Amon Hen; and so I say to you.  The people we would speak to seldom read, and when they read, it is with the focused constancy of a butterfly that flits from flower to flower. And there are, O, so very many flowers in our media meadow. I do not doubt the valor of our pens, but I do doubt the power pens alone.  Some of us must learn to speak through a “hot medium.”  I have begun to do this by producing videos my classes, and will begin from time to time to do it here.  Behold, the video edition of my latest post.

It takes some time to put one of these together, but I will try to render some of the more promising selections from my archive in this format, and to give forthcoming essays this same treatment when I have time.  This video is public on Youtube and contains fingerposts pointing back to the Orthosphere.  When it gets a few brothers, I hope it will drive some traffic.

8 thoughts on “Old Wine in a New Wineskin

  1. My dear sir, may I be given the task of being the “voice-over” for such a YouTube post in future? I am very serious about this!

    • It sounded better to me when I listened to it a second time in full. Good work, Prof. Smith. I thought the background music was well selected as well. And you are right I think: modern audiences do not read, or when they do read they are easily distracted by a thousand distractions. Although I am not well convinced that they listen any more attentively than they read. Seems almost impossible to me that they should.

  2. Pingback: Old Wine in a New Wineskin | Reaction Times

  3. This is an excellent video. I have some sense of how much work is involved the making of such things. Do you have preferred sources for the images of paintings? Your selections are delightfully apt.

    I meant to comment on your original post, so I will take this opportunity.
    When Christ died on the cross, his historical cause in the visible world of first-century Judea was lost. Judaism would not be reformed, the Romans would not be expelled, and the line of David would not be restored. Considered as a merely historical event with these narrow and contingent purposes, the cause of Jesus ended in defeat and ignominy. But his cause was raised from the stream of history and resurrected as a cosmic cause because his disciples remained loyal when the historical cause was lost. They idealized the historical cause of Jesus, placed it on a transcendental level, and thus transformed a failed revolt in a minor Roman province into a cosmic revolution that changed the world.
    I am not comfortable with this recruitment of early Christianity to Royce’s purposes. Royce seems to have fallen under the destructive spell of late nineteenth century criticism and analysis of the Bible texts, and the modernism that arose from that, with its rejection of the historical validity of the Gospels.

    To put this in the terms proper to Christianity, a lost cause dies in history and is resurrected in eternity through the undying loyalty of those who keep the faith.
    These terms are not, as I see it, proper to Christianity. The “lost cause” of Easter Saturday, the corpse of the cause, beginning to putrefy in the tomb, was resurrected _in history_ in the small hours of Easter Sunday. If Christianity were obliged to rely on the undying loyalty of Christians, how would it have survived? Look at the precipitous decline of Christianity in the Western world in the last half-century.

    It may well be the case that various ideals, or idealisations, are elevated to transcendental status in the minds of a dedicated coterie of followers, but any notions of the transcendental are available to human beings by virtue of the instinct for such things that inevitably disturbs our slumbers. These instincts are either some malfunction of evolution, or an appetite for the true food and the true drink which can satisfy it.

    The true transcendental reality never fades, and though nearly all who yearn for it may fall away, yet some will embody the desire, and will pass it on. And this, because the desire is not sustained by human will, nor bounded by human lifetimes.

    • Thanks. I agree that this account of Christianity leaves something to be desired if we take it as theology. I really intended it as an analogy, and analogies of course break down when pushed too far. It is true that Christ was resurrected “in history,” as opposed to, say, some place entirely out of this world; but it seems that he was “in history” in a way that no one had ever been “in history” before. His resurrection body was not exactly the same as the body that was nailed to the cross, perhaps most notably in the fact that it was now beyond the reach of death. I am far from certain just what this means, but it seems to me analogous to what happens when history is transformed into legend.


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