Jan 28: Jesus-y

Today from the Imitation of Christ (Vol. 7, paired with Augustine’s “Confessions”.) We’ve been just Jesus-ing it up the past couple days; I don’t mind, so much, but what would the Greeks have said? Is this really the kind of company they want to be keeping?

I’m a fan of Jesus, however, his early work in particular, so I’m happy to dive in – or fly, “since by two wings is man lifted above earthly things.” The title of the chapter is “Of a pure mind and simple intention,” which is so unobjectionably spiritual that even a masseuse would agree with it.

Again with the “reacheth” stuff in the translation. The King James Bible has a lot to answer for – you can say what you want against modernity, but it least it freed us up from stuff like this.

“If there is any joy in the world surely the man of pure heart possesseth it, and if there is anywhere tribulation and anguish, the evil conscience knoweth it best.” – SO, if you feel bad, it’s your fault.

Now to Chapter V, of self-esteem (or “self-steam” as I like to think of it). As far as I can see it’s saying not to judge others because one’s own record is hardly a prize. Self-esteem has surely come a long way since the 16th century.

-- Apparently this Jesus person seems to be very important, as one should love him and not living creatures. And yet he also “canst quickly drive away Jesus and lose His favour if thou wilt turn away to the outer things.” So he’s touchy, too. No wonder they needed a chapter on self-steam.

-- “But a true lover of Christ, and a diligent seeker after virtue, falleth not back upon those comforts, nor seeketh such sweetnesses as may be tasted and handled, but desireth rather hard exercises, and to undertake severe labours for Christ.” I think they should have had this reading closer to Lent. As the possessor of a Catholic boyhood, it has a familiar tone (even if my own high Vatican II youth had much less of it than is stereotypical).

-- This seems wise: “I have never found any man so religious and godly, but that he felt sometimes a withdrawal of the divine favour, and lack of fervour.” I mean, it’s followed by exhortation which those of you with a church background will find (too) familiar, but it’s nice for the flaws to be acknowledged once in a while.

I’m kind of surprised this is even in the Harvard Classics. The Confessions are one thing, but this is really super-heavy Jesus. And, if the Harvard Classics are kind of a monument to self-improvement, it’s kind of funny that they include a manual to a completely different kind of self-improvement within it.

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