Monday, 29 January 2007

A week of reading

1. At least he isn't 'nice'. Nietzsche makes me laugh with his sheer arrogance - but Ecce Homo contains a gem of a passage against libres penseurs in which he calls them incorrigible blockheads and clowns of "modern ideas" - which you'd know why I chuckled at if you've spent time in any of the libre pensé-ed Belgian or French universities; and a hilarious passage in which he curses Luther for having restored the Church: "an impossible monk who, thanks to his own "impossibility," attacked the Church, and in so doing restored it!" Nietzsche isn't impressed. Amusing passages aside, I'm puzzled because he seems to aspire to the destruction of ideals - an anti-platonist, if you will. The world is all there is - there is no higher, purer, or more true, thus "the moral man is no closer to the metaphysical world than the physical man, for there is no metaphysical world." Yet it seems that Nietzsche does profess an ideal - expressed in his Zarathustra, the one who is Yea and Amen. Indeed he seems to portray, in a passage that rings similar to C.S.Lewis on heaven(!), an ideal world and man much more real than the "most lifelike and unconscious parody" of these things which we know now. This ideal he sees Christ as denying, so sets up "Dionysus versus Christ." But does Christ truly supress the grand ideals to which he aspires? In as much as Nietzsche's ideal denies the image of God in man, and that the route to glory and the consummation of reality lies through vicarious suffering, yes, he rails against it in a Genesis 3 / 11 repeat which he seems to think is brilliantly novel. But I wonder if Nietzsche had read Lewis, who found an interesting place for Bacchus (Dionysus) under Christ's Lordship (e.g., seen figuratively towards the end of Prince Caspian), what would have been... 'But no one is ever told what would have been.'

It struck me with greater force how much Nietzsche's thought permeates our society. Now there is one with whom one can really engage - quite a joy after Dawkins! And as if I can sum it up in 1 point!

2. Fun with the fathers: 2000 years of Christ's power vol 1: The age of the early Church fathers. Needham sparked off this post on things worth fighting for, but has also made my head hurt with many Greek-named divisions in the church which I'm not quite sure were worth fighting for, as I don't really have my head round Christology yet. Thus the reading list expands...

3. When people are big and God is small is clear, challenging and gospel-soaked. What struck me most was the argument that we don't 'need people / relationships' so much as we lust after idols. That is, created to reflect God's glory, our goal is to love people more than we 'need' them. Selfserving needs are not meant to be satisfied; they are meant to be put to death. Others are not there to fulfill my needs; I am to serve others. (He spends much time putting this carefully and showing it Biblically: read the book.)

4. Keep in step with the Spirit - only 1st chapter so far. Small print not easy to concentrate on, as I tend to read either with meals or in the 30min-hour between the evening & bed.

5. Brahms, Mendelssohn & Dvořák. As I read these I was playing my violin. Namely, Festival Overture, Violin Concerto in Em, and the 9th ('New World') Symphony. My orchestra, the South Birmingham Sinfonia, had a concert, and another one this Saturday in Bournville. I'm loving being back in an orchestra giving concerts.
6. John 17 with Aston CU small group leaders - Jesus' glory!

7. John 20 with BUECU small group leaders - see, through the eye-witness testimony of the apostles, that Jesus is the Son of God, and believe!

P.S. I got my bike fixed. Oh, the joy of cycling!


Mike said...

I found When People are Big... really helpful with regard to my attitude towards myself and God. The key to everything is being Christ-centred; obvious really, but so easy to ignore.

Nietzsche was a silly man, wasn't he? Incredibly clever, just bonkers.

étrangère said...

Yes, I find the most helpful books are those which push my vision onto God, and push my vision of God bigger. It could be summed up: God is glorious, & you are in Christ: trust him! But I think I'll need to keep hearing / reading that regularly all the way to glory.

étrangère said...

And idolatry has a habit of making you bonkers... those who make them become like them. Even that less-visible idolatry of the heart. If you hold up as 'ideal' an idol - that is anything which rebels against reflecting the image of God to his glory, e.g., his Dionysian superman, then you lose the humanity you were given in his image.