Thoughts on the ‘Logos asarkos’

Great piece regarding Athanasius’ work On The Incarnation.

Jacob G. Hanby

(an excerpt from a paper I recently wrote for Theopolis Institute)

Athanasius speaks of the pre-existence of the Word; the Son is “by nature bodiless and existing as the Word;” in time He “appeared to us in a human body for our salvation.” (Incarnation, 1) Yet Athanasius also speaks frequently of the act of creation not by abstracting, but in reference to “our Savior Jesus Christ” (particularly in Against the Gentiles, 2). He looks back on the whole of the life of God through the lens of what God has done in Christ on the cross.

Robert Jenson (in the first volume of his Systematic Theology as well as his clarifying article, ‘Once More the Logos asarkos‘) takes this further. For Jenson, we cannot conceive of the Word of God asarkos, without flesh. That is, the Word of God is Jesus of Nazareth, not a metaphysical entity to…

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What Lies Between Storm and Shine


The Oxbow – Thomas Cole (1836)

*See Note on the composition of this poem below.

What Lies Between Storm and Shine

For Eva and Eloise and those beloved who have departed to at last find peace.


So odd

I always thought

how light like a pacifist

drifts away on the winds

before the storm conquers the sky

and the sun surrenders its shine

or how barometric conflict

brings such beauty upon the earth.


Stranger still

that on this sphere

of light and shadow and motion

we should chance to live

dare to love

and so soon expire

knowing somewhere

between the agony

and the ecstasy

lies the stillness

for which we so languish

and so long

that conspires to persist

not in the storm’s absence

but in its midst.

© Jedidiah Paschall

I wrote this poem initially in November of 2001, shortly after 9/11 and the murder of a family member. During this tumultuous period I had also dropped out of college (for the first time) following a nervous breakdown, and I was battling bipolar disorder. I would not be diagnosed as manic-depressive for another two years, but the symptoms began presenting in 1999 when I was twenty and reached the first of several catastrophes that I have learned to navigate. The best I can describe living as manic-depressive is if someone were to imagine that they were riding a thoroughbred that is being chased by lightning on the edge of a razor; fall off the edge into the abysses of mania or depression and the whole cognitive-affective balance goes off the rails.

Anyway, aside from removing some mixed metaphors out of the original draft, this present edition is substantially unchanged from the original. I look back on this time in my life, which up to this point was the most prolific in my poetic journey the way a salty old prospector might scour a dry creek bed long after the storm abated – sure it was a snarled up mess, but there was a few precious stones in there as well. Lisel Mueller writes in her poem ‘Cirriculum Vitae’, The death of the mother hurt the daughter into poetry. The daughter became a mother of daughters. It is the incomprehensibility of grief that often drives us to the peculiar order of poetry – of course poetry is more than the sum of our pain, it is also the language of joy and love and hope and longing, but it is in the ability to apprehend the meaning of our scars that we learn to live with them. It was the pain of her mothers passing that made Mueller a mother of so many beautiful poems, and her experience not only as the mother of poems but also daughters became the thread that knit together the rich tapestry of her life’s work. In a very real sense she is my poetic mother, and as a reader I have been able to draw off of the wisdom, texture, color, and experience of her poetry to find my own voice.

Four Quartets over at Eclectic Orthodoxy


[The Above Image ‘The Fire and the Rose are One” by Makoto Fujimura is a work inspired by Eliot’s final Quartet ‘Little Gidding’. To see more of Fujimura’s work inspired by Eliot, see his Four Quartets Gallery at]

Fr. Aidan Kimel is back to his meditations on TS Eliot’s Four Quartets. This work by Eliot is immense in scope and difficulty, but to the patient reader it yields treasures that are dearly earned and forever unspoiled. I might tackle a longer reflection on this work someday, but for now I am grateful for the yeoman’s work that Fr. Kimel is doing for all of us who love Eliot and his poetry.

Here is his second meditation on Little Gidding III which comprises part of Eliot’s final Quartet dealing primarily with the element of fire.

Here is the link to Kimel’s Meditations on Eliot’s Four Quartets to date.

Fr. John Behr on the Gospel of John

I am currently reading the Gospel of John for Lent out of David Bentley Hart’s New Testament. Hart, belongs to Eastern Orthodoxy, and is one of the most important theol translation is a landmark work that has far reaching implications and it is well worth reading.

Fr. John Behr, also an Orthodox scholar, is one of the preeminent scholars on the Church Fathers as well as the Gospel of John. Here he gives his inaugural lecture as Professor at the Amsterdam Centre for Orthodox Theology at Virje Univeriseit Amsterdam – this lecture is a challenging scholarly exploration of John as the Paschal Gospel; it is well worth the listen. Behr’s lecture begins at the 10:30 minute mark:

Lenten Hymn

(See sources below)

Lenten Hymn

Midwinter frost on the predawn window peers out into darkness

through the mists of time to Sinai’s mountain;

where the darkness of God roars from the secret place of thunder,

the sound of boulders crack and tumble over the cobblestones of

a storm-tossed shore.

Moses recalls the consuming Fire of the bush unburned,

awaiting a greater Light to blaze in the darkness.


Lenten snow blankets the pocked mounds and craters

on the field of Verdun,

forgotten bones lay in frozen silence beneath,

their cries unable to break the ground above.

The raven call in the surrounding wood beckons his flock to feed

on the carrion of a nameless beast.


The red dust and blood-stained sepulchers in the Valley of Vision

full of rusting bones that tarry  –

watchmen in the long night for dawn’s breaking,

to hear Ezekiel’s divine utterance –

the alchemy of Aionian fire to purge and quicken their frames

with flesh unalloyed, golden, drossless into undying Zion.


Jude, whose brow was crowned with Pentecostal fire,

whose tongue uttered ecstatic songs we long to sing,

remember us who wander lost in the hopeless wastes

perceiving only darkness and thunder on the holy hill,

pining to behold that Fire within.


Origen, who now reclines at the celestial banquet to feast on grace,

help our hearts bear the bitter truth in the wilderness we now trod –

that which is most beautiful is most maligned.


Julian teach us the behovliness of this broken world,

that soon, soon the Aionian fire shall make

all manner of things well

and burn away the rot that wracks all that is wretched within.


Good Shepherd gather your lost on a thousand hills to the lonely peak of


Let us at last hear the seraph’s song that kindles joy in the hearing;

Until at long last all creation is alight with unceasing incandescence of

Pentecostal Fire.

© Jedidiah Paschall

Ad Fontes:

St. Gregory of NyssaThe Life of Moses

St. Jude – Patron Saint of Lost Causes

Origen of AlexandriaSee Article – ‘Saint Origen’  by David Bentley Hart

Julian of NorwichRevelations of Divine Love

Henri Bergson, TS Eliot and Time

There are certain pieces of literature that have an inescapable gravity. For some time I have been fixated on TS Eliot’s masterpiece, Four Quartets. Eliot draws off of a cacophony of settings and images in a polyphonic witness to Christianity in the modern era. The further I have delved into Eliot’s work, the more acquainted I have become with some of his sources. One of the towering figures in Eliot’s intellectual heritage was the French philosopher Henri Bergson. Bergson was married to the cousin of the great novelist Marcel Proust, and his philosophy had a marked impact on Proust’s work In Search of Lost Time. My quest to understand Eliot has lead me to read some of Bergson’s philosophical writings, where he elevates the place of intuition in the quest for knowledge, and ponders the human experience of time. The following line from Eliot’s first poem in Four Quartets, Burnt Norton is quintessentially Bergsonian:

Time past and time  future

What might have been and what has been

Point to one end, which is always present.

In Four Quartets, the term ‘point’ has a two-fold use. Eliot’s first use describes ‘point’ is a vector which can point toward or away from something in the human experience of time. The second, and use is ‘point’ as the fixed axis around which everything rotates, like the hub as the immobile ‘point’ of the wheel. Eliot takes this up in his rendering of the eternal point around which everything moves. Take for example his musings on the Christian notion of how God’s a-temporal eternity transects human time in his lines, also in Burnt Norton:

     At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh, nor fleshless;

Neither from or towards; at the still point, there the dance is,

But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,

Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor


Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,

There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.

And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.


In Bergson’s seminal essay, “An Introduction to Metaphysics”, he describes analysis as an important mode of inquiry of knowing about an object that is abstracted in time. However, for Bergson, analysis can only ever lead us to know about an object (persons, places, scientific discoveries, etc). In order to truly know and object, one must dispense with mere analysis and engage in an intuitive process that includes a sympathy for the object known. I find this to be much closer to the biblical concept of knowing, which is fundamentally relational, and never merely a series of propositions that can be analyzed. It is one thing to know about God through theological inquiry and analysis, it is still another thing entirely to know him truly. In the final estimation, God has revealed himself in Jesus, everything that the Father thinks of himself he has spoken in his Word (the Divine Logos) who was Incarnate in space and time when the Word was joined to human flesh in Jesus. Faith is, in some senses, very much similar to the sympathetic/intuitive process of knowing that Bergson describes. I could write much more on this, but for now I will share a sketch of a reflection – a ‘wild and wandering cry’ to steal one of Tennyson’s lines – that I came up with the other night as I search out what it means to be both a Christian and an artist:

The mists of memory are all of the past that remains in the present, yet in that cloud the present takes shape and moves in time toward the future. Time defies all analysis. Any knowledge of duration is the soul’s province. It is through the subrational and suprarational intuitions that cannot be touched by the empirical process that knowledge-of begins to take shape. The facts of the past are always debatable, and as Napoleon famously noted, history is a set of lies that everyone agrees upon. Certainly this is, at least in part true, but Napoleon lies even in his attempt at the truth. That the events of human experience actually occurred is a fact that cannot, in the final estimation be disputed. But, what these events were and what they mean in the present can only be known through a recursive and sympathetic intuition where the artist more than the historian; the poet more than the journalist; the mystic more than the dogmatist can render with prophetic prescience the reverberating inflections of meaning – a narrative of hope or of doom or of both.

The artist understands that historical persons are more than facts of history, they are characters. These characters, all individuals really, are part of an unfolding story that can be grasped through empathy and intuition. People and events are a nexus of dynamism, full of potential and contradiction that play a vital part as the story of history is being drawn to its conclusion, the very end for which the story exists. The end of all history is in its beginning, where the Word of the Father is spoken and Incarnate through the Spirit, is both Alpha and Omega. All things are summed up in him because all things are spoken and exist in him. The language of nature and the song of the soul belong to him, and their melodies, harmonies, discords, and crescendos can be heard in the inaudible echoes of eternity. The Word spoken and the Word Incarnate are one in the same. He is the fixed, eternal point around whom all time and all who exist in time dance, and to whom all things point. In him all time points to its beginning and its end, and he is and always will be known in the present which transects both time and eternity.

I don’t know if any of this will ever make much sense to the reader, nor am I sure it makes much sense to me. But, as Tennyson says in his Preface to In Memoriam:

We have but faith, we cannot know,

For knowledge is of things we see,

And yet we trust it comes from Thee,

A beam in darkness, let it grow.