The Dancing Puritan

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sacred Air

Breathing Seminary Air

Men's Shop and More at SBTS

This morning I was thinking that we might expect too much of the air of excellence. 

The air that I have been breathing this week at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has been refreshing. Everything from the spit-shined floors to the silk ties, fountain pens and safety razors in the men's shop, communicates excellence. Walking through these hallowed halls and conversing with men, substantive in their pursuit of Christ, calls me upward.

I think that the air here, though it may be idolized and imagined that it has abilities that it does not, is nevertheless good air. There is the feel that one should aim high and pursue God's glory in all things.  

Yet the air is a gift. It wafts through the brain bringing with it refreshment, clarity and renewal.  But the air is not the Giver. The air had an origin. The gift was given.  This morning, as I prepare to leave this place, I thank God for the good gift of refreshing air.

From My Reading Stack

 Selection from The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis. 

Very often what comes first is simply a delighted pre-occupation with the Beloved--a general, unspecified pre-occupation with her in her totality.  A man in this state really hasn't leisure to think about sex. He is too busy thinking of a person.  The fact that she is a woman is far less important than the fact hat she is herself. He is full of desire, but the desire may not be sexually toned. If you asked him what he wanted, the true reply would often be, 'To go on thinking about her.' He is love's contemplative.  And when at a later stage the explicitly sexual element awakes, he will not feel (unless scientific theories are influencing him) that this had all along been the root of the whole matter. He is more likely to feel that the incoming tide of Eros, having demolished many sand-castles and made islands of many rocks, has not at last with a triumphant seventh wave flooded this part of his nature also--the little pool of ordinary sexuality which was there on his beach before the tide came in.  Eros enters him like an invader, taking over and reorganizing one by one, the institutions of a conquered country. It may have take over many others before it reaches the sex in him; and it will reorganize that too....

Sexual desire, without Eros, wants it, the ''thing itself' Eros wants the Beloved.

The 'thing itself' is a sensory pleasure; that is, an event occurring within one's own body.  We use a most unfortunate idiom when we say, of a lustful man prowling the streets, that he 'wants a woman.'  Strictly speaking, a woman is just what he does not want. He wants a pleasure for which a woman happens to be the necessary piece of apparatus.  How much he cares about the woman as such may be gauged by his attitude to her five minutes after fruition (one does not keep the carton after one has smoked the cigarettes).  Now Eros makes a man really want, not a woman, but a particular woman,  In some mysterious but quite indisputable fashion the lover desires the Beloved herself, not the pleasure she can give.

Houghton-mifflin / 1991 / pp 93-94