Saturday, April 07, 2007

"When you go to the Barbarian tribes"

"Zixia said: 'The various craftsmen occupy workshops in order to complete their tasks, but the gentleman studies in order to develope his Way." ]."- Confucius, Analects, Bk. 19, 7.

"Fan Chi asked about humaneness. The Master said: 'Courtesy in private life, reverence in handling business, loyalty in relationships with others. They should not be set aside even if one visits the barbarian tribes."- Confucius, Analects, Bk. 13, 19.

[There is no one I am willing to call Master but Jesus Christ and there is no Way but the Way now that I know enough to think of it. But this does not prevent me from seeing the good and the nobility in the writings of Confucius. The two sayings somehow struck a note in me. Though I remembered them slightly different than they appear upon review, the first helped me to reflect and sharpen my awareness of the necessity of making studies subservient to the goal of the transformation of the mind in Christ. They must serve this end, all the more now that He is known to me through the gospel witnessed in human context. The second I remembered paraphrased like this: "When you go to the barbarian tribes, do not cease to be a gentleman." Frankly, I see a certain level of barbarity and lazy brutishness and decadent indirection and glorying in sin. I see it but Isaah would really see it, I think. But, again, the idea is not to be trapped in the hostilities of this world but to be transformed by the renewing of ours minds. So the expected power over one, may it be broken by willing acceptance of the cross.]

"You, have you heard the six sayings about the six hidden consequences?' When he replied that he had not, the Master went on: 'Sit down and I will tell you. If one loves humaneness but does not love learning, the consequence of this is folly; if one loves understanding but does not love learning, the consequence of this is unorthodoxy; if one loves good faith but does not love learning, the consequence of this is damaging behavior; if one loves straightforwardness but does not love learning, the consequence of this is rudeness; if one loves courage but doe not love learning, the consequence of this is rebelliousness; if one loves strength but does not love learning, the consequence of this is violence." Bk. 17, #7.

[What can the part I emboldened mean in Confucius's context? What does his conservatism mean? I don't fully know so I wonder how much I am just using these sayings as a convenient peg to impose my meanings. I don't know. But I want to look at what such a statment might mean in a Christian context because it seems helpful... (the others are more clearly helpful, it seems to me). Understanding without love is judged for what it is in 1 Corinthians 13- a resounding gong. Pascal writes:

"I cannot forgive Descartes. In all his philosophy he would have been quite willing to dispense with God" (#77).

It may be that the resounding gong of nuclear explosions will be the peak of scientific achievement that would destroy all flesh except for the return of Christ at the end times, if we allow ourselves through science and technology to become pathologically materialistic (methodological naturalism becoming pathological naturalism). Or perhaps, the gong of machines still running after the heat has killed the last human. Or, we show some restraint for the sake of the really valuable and livable.]

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