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Remind me, again and again, of my own utter ignorance of the lives that surround me, and whose uneasy, restless surfaces are all I see; all I can see. How again and again You have taken the turbulent, the unharmonious, the rebellious, and out of this unpromising material You have fashioned Your Saints.
There is no substitute for the gift of discernment, no set of rules nor institutional polity by which we can be released from the responsibility for discernment. The world can never be made safe from all possible risks. The Faith must ever be placed at risk in the commerce of ideas.
Likewise, sin can never be destroyed in a person’s heart through pruning or abandoning certain vices or habits. Regardless of how many branches are pruned from it, a live tree will not die but put out new shoots. Anyone who wishes to destroy sin must tear out its very roots – roots which lie deeply and firmly planted in the heart. This can never be a painless process, but it is at least possible now that God has sent the Great Physician, Jesus Christ.
St. Innocent Of Alaska
The allegorical method of Biblical interpretation, the method by which the sense, meaning one thing literally and meaning another thing morally or mystically or analogically, …is the most valuable, perhaps the only valuable way to proceed with much of the text of Bible. It depends for its value on an illumination of greatness; these meanings must be self-evident once they are pointed out, for they can never be proved. Like prayer, their true aim is interior conviction.
The flesh recoils at living by faith.
St. Theophan The Recluse
Christopher Neiswonger – From his blog:
Scripture, and not philosophy, is the primary source material for the Christian whatever their apologetic bent, and reading it plainly with a reasonable mind toward avoiding contradiction is certainly the Christian way of thinking.
Dame Rebecca West – Black Lamb And Grey Falcon:
“The congregation had realized what people in the West usually do not know: that the state of mind suitable for conducting the practical affairs of daily life is not suitable for discovering the ultimate meaning of life. They were allowing themselves to become drunken with exaltation in order that they should receive more knowledge than they could learn by reason;
Another barrier that exists between the average Christian and the works of Charles Williams is the indisputible influence that occult thinking had upon him. Both Christians and occultists seem to want to lay claim to him. The occultists discount his thoroughgoing Nicean Anglicanism, and place undue importance on occult ideas that make their way into his writings. A lot of Christians, on the other hand, wander onto Williams’ turf having heard that CS Lewis thought a great deal of him, and are baffled by the theological landscape they find defined in Williams’ works. They downplay his association with the Order Of The Golden Dawn, saying that his interest was desultory or superficial, a youthful enthusiasm that he later outgrew.
His membership in the Order Of The Golden Dawn lasted from 1917 to around 1938, and Williams never had a dilettantish interest in anything in his life. His interest in the occult was real and lively. Because of Williams’ interest in the occult and his use of occult themes in his work, many Conservative Christians consider him off-limits. Even JRR Tolkien lamented Williams’ influence over Lewis, and referred to him as “that witch-doctor”, although he admitted that Williams appeared to operate under an unusual degree of [Divine] protection, given the intellectual precincts he frequented.
But Williams had other, more salutatory, influences as well. He was a friend of Evelyn Underhill, an Anglican spiritual writer who had a Roman Catholic mystic as a spiritual guide. I don’t know whether to call Mrs. Underhill a mystic or more of a travel-writer of the mystical experience. Through Underwood, Williams gained a familiarity with the Western mystical tradition and the Christian Neo-Platonism of Pico Della Mirandola. Also, through his lifelong association with emigres Nicolas and Militza Zernov, he had more than a nodding acquiantance with the Eastern tradition.
I think the most important idea that Williams garnered from his occult involvement was the very ancient idea of man-as-microcosm, although this idea is found in Maximos the Confessor as much as in Hermes Trimegistus or the astrological tract Almagest of Ptolemy. The ancient idea of the Zodiac signs ruling over certain parts of the body fascinated him from a poetic point of view, and worked its way into the poem Taliessin’s Vision Of The Empire. All of this would be just counter-pieces in an academic game of chess if Williams’ thought on The Index Of The Body hadn’t preceded and foreshadowed Pope John Paul II’s Theology Of The Body:
Secondly, there is the human body, and the movements of the human body. Even know, when as a general rule, the human body is not supposed to mean anything, there are moments when it seems, even in spite of ourselves, packed with significance.
Magic is transmogrified by the Eucharist, because a cosmos in which bread and wine can become the Body and Blood of Christ is a cosmos in which anything, literally, can happen. Thus, the dark transformations of occultism (and all of Williams’ villians are in some way occultists) make way for, and bend before, the miraculous emergence of the New Man in the center of the Web of Exchange.
NB: JRR Tolkien doesn’t seem to have resented Charles Williams’ influence over CS Lewis as much as I infer. That Tolkien called Williams a “witch doctor” I gleaned from Humphrey Carpenter’s excellent book on the Inklings, somewhere around pages 121-127. Tolkien’s view of the extraordinary level of divine protection Charles Williams enjoyed I believe came from Dick Plotz’ interview of Tolkien in 1967[?] that I vaguely remember hearing on the radio when I was in the first flush of Tolkien fanboy-dom. It may be apocryphal.
Today is the day that the Church commemorates the falling asleep of St. Columba of Iona. He was an Irish princeling who went out and killed hundreds of men because one of them had borrowed a book from him and not returned it. After having been shriven by St. Finnian, he swore never to return to home until he had claimed as many souls for Paradise as he had sent to Hell in the battle. In discussing this with my wife this morning, the recent tragedy at Virgina Tech came immediately to mind.
People haven’t stopped committing barbarous and murderous acts. What we have stopped doing is repenting and bearing fruits of repentance for those actions.
My mother despaired of all the pulp science fiction I kept devouring as a young boy, and the only time I ever read anything decent was when I had to read something off the “required” list at school, which is how I acquired a lifelong taste for Jack London and JD Salinger.
I ran with a well-read and articulate group; Catholics and Democrats who were reading Graham Greene, Gore Vidal, and Thomas Pynchon in high school. One of my friends went to California and had his only acid trip in Bishop James Pike’s swimming pool.. Looking back on them now, I am certain that I was the idiot jester of the group, who was put up with for comedic relief.
But I was the first in my high school to discover Tolkien. I had seen the Ace paperbacks on sale in a local drug store and had paged through a bit of the The Fellowship of The Ring. It seemed terribly confusing. Later, in January of 1967, the first Ballantine paperback came out. I purchased The Hobbit and read it in a single night, finishing at about 3 am.
The trilogy was next. At that time the whole Ballantine trilogy had not been published, only The Fellowship Of The Ring. The other two volumes arrived at my local bookseller later that spring. I finished the whole series sometime in July of 1967, not long after hearing The Grateful Dead for the first time. By the time I went back to school in the fall, I was a full-fledged Tolkien fanboy, complete with a membership in Dick Plotz’ Tolkien Society of America, and a vintage Frodo Lives button.
I still kinda like the Grateful Dead too.
After finishing Tolkien and Lewis, a lot of people wonder where to go from The Lord Of The Rings or The Chronicles Of Narnia. You can descend into the miasma of post-Tolkien fantasy, which has its high points and its low points. Terry Brooks’ early Shanarra books almost did it for me, and I have heard good things about Robert Jordan’s almost interminable Wheel Of Time series, but I haven’t read it. The best post-Tolkien books for my money are Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea books and, unfortunately, Phillip Pullman’s series, His Dark Materials. Post-Tolkien fantasy literature either tends to be very derivative (as Brooks’ earlier books were) or dark in their metaphysics (as Pullman and Rowling)
The Good Stuff, the Afghan Blond of Fantasy Literature, is the pre-Tolkien material, the stuff that was written since the late Victorian age and into the ‘fifties, when Fantasy was very much a minority taste. Here is a sampling from that era.
Lud-In-The-Mist by Hope Mirrlees. This is the overlooked gem of the 20th Century. Hope Mirrlees was an Edwardian heiress whose only production was this little gem. Set in the comfortable and oh-so-respectable Whig utopia of Dorimare, this book is for the inner Jacobite in all of us.
Governed by her prosperous commercial oligarchy, Dorimare doesn’t lament the Revolution that overthrew her fairy aristocracy some 300 years ago. Master Chanticleer, one of the leading families in the capital of Dorimare, is enjoying a calm and well-ordered life until his son is accused of that most horrifying of crimes, eating fairy-fruit….
The Worm Oroboros by E.R. Eddison. I believe this book may be out of print. That would be a shame. In the first few years after the initial success of The Lord Of the Rings, a lot of fantasy was published by Ballantine, and this was one of them.
E.R. Eddison’s Spencerian sympathies makes English sound like one of Tolkien’s Elvish languages. His names are wonderfully evocative (the protagonists Spitfire, Goldry Bluszco, and Brandoch Daha) and the exploits are all of a heroic cast. Fair ladies, treacherous villains, noble knights, and heroic self sacrifice abound.
Really, the plot isn’t that inventive if you’ve read Beowulf, Malory, or Gawain And The Green Knight, but the sheer shimmering beauty of Eddison’s wordsmithery is certain to pull you in and carry you through.
Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay This is one of the strangest books I’ve ever read, and for sheer imagination, it tops them all. Linday is the only writer in this or any other genre who ever attempted to describe a new primary color or different media of perception spawned by the numerous new sense-organs the protagonist grows and discards as he progresses through the landscapes of Tormance.
Lindsay’s metaphysics are difficult to parse. I found the ending unsatisfying after being enchanted by the rest of the book. I have heard him referred to as a “triply-distilled Calvinist”, but I never saw that. For someone whose book is awash in sensory data, his denouement is austere and ascetic. I know I’m not the only person who enjoyed this book, as I have met a young woman named Joiwind.
It would be close to a capital crime not to mention the work of clairvoyant Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, although he is not thought of as a fantasist. It would be hard to recommend any one of his books over the others, and since most of his published books are anthologies of his shorter works, I really don’t have to.
I enjoyed Fictions, The Book Of Sand, and Labyrinths. Borges is one Spanish writer who translates well into English, since he was bilingual and spent a lot of time in English-speaking countries. The creepiest story of his I have ever read is Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius which, if it is “about” anything is about the emergence of Berkeleyan ideal world into ours, piece by coin by candleabra.
The parking lot of a suburban Central Florida community college was the last place I ever expected to find a peacock, and yet there he was, picking about the dumpster like a rooster and gobbling down stray grains. Looking back in retrospect I probably should have called security and found out where the poor bird had escaped from. His long tail feathers (peahens have no such decoration) dragged along in the dust behind him. I was in an awful funk. I had been laid off the previous year and was struggling to make ends meet working in positions that I was not good at.
Fortunately, I found a position teaching computer programming at the above mentioned community college, the stipend of which went a long way towards alleviating my financial burdens and for which I remain grateful. Nevertheless, it was a very dark period in my life and that particular day was darker than most. I don’t remember now what had occurred to precipitate such a dark mood, but I do remember the peacock. At first, the bird paid no attention to me, continuing to pick out grains around the dumpster, but when I turned to look at him, he turned to look at me, opened his tail feathers in a magnificent fan, and began strutting towards me. After a few paces, I guess he figured out that I wasn’t a peahen, folded his breathtaking plumage, and returned to his supper. I went on to my class. The words of the Beatitudes presented themselves immediately to my mind:
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.
It was if the illustrations concerning the birds of the air and the lilies of the field were accordioned together into this one gorgeous animal: I had nothing to fear, finally. I and mine would be taken care of, perhaps not in the style to which we had become accustomed, perhaps not in the way we were accustomed to expect, but we would be cared for.
In a similar way, beasts have often accompanied me in prayer. Before becoming Orthodox and introducing icons into my prayer life, my greatest preference was to pray outdoors. This is a habit that I acquired in college, in the acres and acres of orange groves that surrounded the Central Florida campus. Once, there was a time when a very close friend needed prayer. I found a little bench next to a small drainage pond and began to pray. It was one of those times when prayer wasn’t work, when I didn’t have to “prime the pump”. By the grace of God I was allowed to pray with great liberty and boldness for my friend for an extended period of time. When I finished, I found myself surrounded by a menagerie; a pair of squirrels, a heron, a butterfly, several small birds of the sparrow or finch type, and a pesky bee buzzing around my head. All of these animals were closer to me than animals usually approach. The squirrels and the heron were practically in my lap. When I finished praying they went their own ways.
Stories of saints and animals have always moved me deeply. St. Seraphim and his bear was one of the first I learned about in an Orthodox context:
Saint Seraphim began to go to a “far wilderness,” which was a desolate place in a forest 5 miles away from the Sarov monastery. He reached great perfection during that time. Bears, hares, wolves, foxes and other wild animals would come to the hut of the ascetic. One day, Matrona, one of the nuns, saw him sitting on a tree trunk in the company of a bear. Terrified, she let out a scream. The staretz turned around and, seeing her, patted the animal and sent him away Then he invited Matrona to come and sit beside him. ‘But’, Matrona relates, ‘hardly had we sat down when the animal returned from the wood and lay down at the staretz’ feet. I was as terrified as before, but when I saw Father Seraphim, quite unconcerned, treating the bear like a lamb, stroking him and giving him some bread, I calmed down. When I was wholly assured, the Father gave me a piece of bread and said ‘You needn’t be the least afraid of him, he won’t hurt you.’So I held out the bread to the bear, and it was such joy to be feeding him that I wanted to go on doing so.’
The bear became a frequent traveling companion of St. Seraphim, placid and gentle with those who loved the Staretz from the heart, but threatening to those who wished him ill.
The story of St. Francis and the penitent wolf of Gubbio is also well known, as is that Saint’s love of animals. I do wish we Orthodox could venerate Saint Francis officially, but that will have to wait until we have achieved a greater degree of unity than we presently have. In the meantime, his sanctity and example illumine our Catholic brothers and we rejoice.
While Francis was staying in Gubbio, he learned of a wolf so ravenous that it was not only killing and eating animals, but people, too. The people took up arms and went after it, but those who encountered the wolf were killed.
Francis took pity on the people and the wolf as well and decided to go out and meet the wolf. He was desperately warned by the people, but he insisted that God would take care of him. Suddenly the wolf, jaws wide open, charged out of the woods at the couple. Francis made the Sign of the Cross toward the wolf who immediately slowed down and closed its mouth. Then Francis called out to the wolf: “Come to me, Brother Wolf. I wish you no harm.” At that moment the wolf lowered its head and lay down at St. Francis’ feet, meek as a lamb.
St. Francis explained to the wolf that he had been terrorizing the people, killing not only other animals, but humans as well. “Brother Wolf,” said Francis, “I want to make peace between you and the people of Gubbio. They will harm you no more and you must no longer harm them. All past wrongs are to be forgiven.”
The wolf showed its assent by moving its body and nodding its head. Then to the absolute surprise of the gathering crowd, Francis asked the wolf to make a pledge. As St. Francis extended his hand to receive the pledge, so the wolf extended its front paw and placed it into the saint’s hand.
Then he offered the townspeople peace, on behalf of the wolf. The townspeople promised in a loud voice to feed the wolf. Then Francis asked the wolf if he would live in peace under those terms. He bowed his head and twisted his body in a way that convinced everyone he accepted the pact. Then once again the wolf placed its paw in Francis’ hand as a sign of the pact. From that day on the people kept the pact they had made. The wolf lived for two years among the townspeople, going from door to door for food. It hurt no one and no one hurt it. Even the dogs did not bark at it. When the wolf finally died of old age, the people of Gubbio were sad.
Pigeons are a particularly despised bird. Like other animals such as squirrels and rats, they have learned to thrive in the artificial urban environments man has created for himself. Most people look upon them as disease-ridden pests, even though our Lord the Spirit chose their form in which to descend upon our Lord Jesus Christ in his baptism. St. John Maximovich, in his final troubled years, found consolation in the company of a small pigeon he took in and nursed back to health:
This particular day I noticed a white pigeon with a reddish pattern in its feathers, making pigeon noises outside the window on a specially built ledge. It was pacing back and forth, obviously not intending to fly away, but, as I assumed, waiting to be fed. As it seemed no stranger to her, I paid little attention then.
On the feast day of the Baptism of the Lord, I chanced to be in St. Tikhon’s for the Blessing of Water. To my great surprise, as St. John was blessing the water, a dove flew right out into the courtyard. It flapped its wings and actually soared over the basin of holy water, I was amazed, as I had never seen such a service with a live dove hovering over this holiness.
After the service I learned the following touching story of Archbishop John’s “heavenly bird.” Once Archbishop John came home to discover that a pigeon was hurt, his wing was damaged, and was sitting outside the window. He opened the window and let it in. The bird could barely flutter, and Archbishop John bound its wing and fed it. That was enough to make it feel adopted. The bird stayed around, especially when the Saint would arrive and would feed it. Actually it remained a mystery how both of them conversed. But one thing we knew: the pigeon reacted to the words of St. John as if it understood what he said. I was told that both of them would sit facing each other, the man softly speaking and the bird making its pigeon sounds in agreement and peacefully walking to and fro, as if memorizing what it was taught.
On the day Archbishop John died, the bird began to pace the window and flutter in agony, as if knowing about its master. When the death knell announced the earthly end of Archbishop John, the bird was frantic. It fluttered in agony, missing the Saint, and its little heart also stopped a few months afterwards, to our deep sorrow.. I remember Archbishop John’s words to me when I used to complain that in some cities birds are removed from the streets: ‘Yes, now throughout the whole world, attacks are carried out against all living beings that surround us.’
It remains only to point out the obvious: the fantastic way of life we have chosen in the six or seven generations since the advent of Industrial Revolution has estranged us from Creation in ways we can scarcely imagine. We grow more and more estranged from each other as we attempt to make our lives conform more closely to the images that are projected into our craniums during practically every waking moment. If some of the current research into the interface between the human nervous system and the cybernetic networks we have recently created ever bears fruit, we may be tempted to dispense with the natural world as much as possible and take up residence in a fantasy of our own devising. One can only hope God will the cast that particular Tower down before it is ever constructed, but our servants the beasts have never forgotten their blessedness in Paradise, nor do they ever cease to yearn, in their inarticulate way, for the restoration of their communion with their Master Adam.
The work of Charles Walter Stanley Williams (1888-1945) is not likely to spawn a blockbuster motion picture, although I would like to see one of the better directors such as Wim Wenders or Guillermo Del Toro take a crack at All Hallow’s Eve. He is a cinematic practioner of what is called Magical Realism, and could come close to the eerie sense of Supernaturalism interpenetrating and existing “under, with, and in” the elements of ordinary waking life that is the food and drink of Williams’ work.
Charles Williams doesn’t enjoy the celebrity of his better known colleagues among the Inklings, JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis for several reasons. First of all, I don’t believe that he is nearly as good a writer of prose as either Lewis or Tolkien. There is a lot of churn in his narrative, it is hard to tell sometimes what is going on, and he has the bad habit of obscuring his thought with what appears to be a private language.
This is especially true when he treats religious or theological material. At times he can be deciphered when he refers to a well-defined dogma of the Church in a new or novel way, but what keeps me coming back to Williams isthe suspicion that, buried in the idiosyncracies of his language are orthodox truths that have been neglected or under-scrutinized and that Williams alone of all his contemporaries has been mining these neglected nodes and wrenching some fresh jewels from them.
A second complaint that I have about Williams is that his characters are not very well developed. Now that I think about it, vivid characterization is not a hallmark of either Lewis or Tolkien either. Puddleglum is Lewis’ best fictional creation, as Éowyn is Tolkien’s. Puddleglum doesn’t attain to much more than a burlesque, and Éowyn is a very minor character. If you want vivid characters, you’re better off reading Virginia Woolf or Graham Greene.
But Williams’ characters are even more iconic than anything in Lewis or Tolkien. Quite often, they exist to illustrate or incarnate one or another of the theological virtues or one or another of the Seven Deadly Sins. Justice or Temperance is who leaps off the pages at you, not a just or temperate person. And those are the good characters. Whereas in Tolkien, the evil characters have an industrial proletarian cast to them, and Lewis’ evil characters are usually consumed by some evil ideology, Williams’ villains are stultifyingly bland.
Then, finally, for Evangelical readers, Williams is obscure because he is the least Evangelical of the Inklings, as Lewis is the most. In Williams’ novels, the evil machinations of the villains are almost always undone not by heroic virtue or right belief, but often by simple courtesy, kindness, or pardon; the sort that would be sought by a middle-class housewife of her neighbor after her dog had dug up her neighbor’s gladiolas. Natural virtue gets short shrift, referred to as “works-righteousness’ or “filthy rags”, but it takes a Williams to get us to notice that natural virtue was God’s original plan, and that the small, insignificant acts of goodness we perform every day can be transformed by grace to become the building blocks of an unshakeable castle.
Stolen from another Website, not the author’s own, alas. It is an excellent incantation to accompany the beginning of a journey into The Matter Of Britain, a place where legend emerges into archtype, the murmuring of Druids mingles with the proclamation of the Cross, and the bright geometry of Byzantium intersects the organic tangle of Brociliande
Taliesin to Brother Prayer
Speak, good brother, in your own rhythms,
in your internal music tuned to external cadences,
your stories of the princeling Arthur
weaning himself for battle with the dark
keening sorrow at youthful fault;
Speak, good Taleteller, in words
the commons use. You have no need to
share my iambs, borrow from my heritage of
metaphor–your voice is clear and sound and strong.
[Stronger now, in this flat world without poetic soul,
than mine–far-reaching, telling truth
as Story that reveals its larger Truth.]
Speak, good Friar, let your crafted words
echo across the continent and declare
another Arthur, another Avalon
in crystalline dreams. Let your modulating voice
Blend strains of red and white, green and brown,
white and black…create anew my Arthur
as your own, your Arthur to become
my own, our own to share with all the worlds.
Speak, good brother, who once mastered
song and now–through choice–elevates
pure speech to incorporate the living cadences
and rhythms of the deeper Song subsuming all.
© Michael R. Collings, 1996
When I was five or six years old, my troubled parents moved to the nation’s capital in a fruitless attempt to halt my father’s descent into mental illness. Within a year they were divorced, and somehow, I discovered church. My mother brought the three of us every Sunday to Westminster Presbyterian Church, which at the time was located close to us in Silver Springs, Maryland, being just across the state line in the District of Columbia. I was unceremoniously dropped into the nursery where, with dozens of other Baby Boomers, I was left pretty much to fend for myself.
There was a book of Bible stories in that nursery. It is likely familiar to many because I have seen the same volume in doctors’ and dentists’ offices. I believe it is published by the Seventh Day Adventists, and it is richly illustrated. At five years of age, the book’s illustrations seemed to me to be backlit with the very Uncreated Light of Tabor itself. The account of the Creation, the Fall, and the Flood, ignited my young imagination and made me an instant evangelist. There was a young teenaged girl watching us in the nursery that Sunday, and I approached her with the book opened to the account of Noah and the flood. Breathlessly, I retold the story of how a man built a boat and God brought all the animals to him, and then He made it rain a long long time…
The teenaged girl looked at the book and smiled at me. With the all authority early adolescence could muster over against the earnestness of childhoold, she informed me: “That’s like a fairy story, you know. It’s a nice story but it didn’t really happen.” When I returned to read the book, the light had died on its pages. I threw the book into a corner and picked up some plastic dinosaurs.
There are a lot of things I don’t remember from my very early childhood, but I do remember that incident. The idea that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, so long discredited in biology, seems to me to have some bearing in spiritual formation, so that at the tender age of five or six, I had thrust upon me the soul-choking infidelty and unbelief of mid twentieth century liberal Protestantism at floodtide. Interestingly, that particular congregation takes great pride in the continuity of this particular mindset in its midst down to the present day.
But I remembered the Light I saw on the pages of that book. All my life, whenever I had to make a conscious decision about divine or moral things, I have had to choose between moving towards that Light or away from it. In my early twenties, early in my conscious Christian walk, I was given a package of Watchtower material to read. It contained a lot of teaching about the Bible, but the Light wasn’t there, not like it was in the Baptist, Pentecostal, and Catholic material I was devouring at that time. It was as if someone was trying to dance a waltz while the orchestra was playing a quadrille.
I shudder to say that I didn’t immediately sit down with my Bible and a Strong’s Concordance and puzzle through every Scripture reference in the Watchtower material to see, like the Bereans, if these things were so. Had I taken such a puntillistic approach at that time, who is to say whether I would not have ended up as a Jehovah’s Witness. Subsequent contacts with members of this sect have shown them to have a strong belief in the power of argument, debate, reason, comparing text to text, and acrimony to establish the truth of Scripture, and subsequent experiences with the Scriptures have informed me that they do not yield their treasures easily to the disputers of this age.