Rod of Jesse – Author’s Blog

August 9, 2011

The Sanity of Santayana

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Ernest Werner @ 8:34 am

Among those few distinguished minds in the century now past who found an approach to our question (and did not simply despise it) we place our Spanish-American philosopher. His book on the Gospels, as I imply, is notable for its freedom, its sympathy, its sanity and its truth. He takes these old documents at face value without a serious care over whether this or that incident may have happened as written. He is unconcerned to deny the miracles of Christ, for instance, and he will understand the ‘moral’ truth of the thing which is thus ‘dramatically’ expressed. Not to say by these words, which are favorites of his, that the Gospels are high drama: they are sometimes effective in a liturgical setting, especially when handled by an understanding pastor, but overall, except possibly the Fourth Gospel, they are very miscellaneously composed.
Santayana well understood that it was the aim of no Evangelist to record the mere facts. Jesus and Judas at a fruit-stand, for example, Judas with his money bags haggling over the price of a bunch of figs — what is this to us? There is nothing of the journalist in the Evangelist. Not a word in the Gospels describes the face of Jesus except to say once that it shone like the sun, or once again that he looked around him with anger, nor is anything told of his manner except for the action expressed, which is half miraculous and half verbal. So we find in these old writings only the Idea of Christ as a man (the one being told of) in whom the purposes of God are being carried out. Not to say that Jesus is presented as a god. Only in the latest portions of the Gospels is the nearness of God to Christ suggestive of a divine Presence.
Santayana works, in the first place, with what we have. This is realism, is it not? And he finds in the Gospels as we have them (and not as we might like to have them) a spirit wisely attuned to the tragic character of life and which gives us their abiding value. This is focussed supremely in the figure and fate of Jesus. To understand the Gospel, as his treatment implies, is to understand the Idea of Christ, which he interprets with the aid of the later doctors of the church who had understood the deeper mystery of the figure of Jesus.

June 24, 2009

Human Fact/Historical Fact

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Ernest Werner @ 11:22 am

We understand that any such thing as Gospel truth requires the human fact of Jesus without whom we dissolve everything else into the myth of an ancient sacramental Mystery cult. Jesus is the one indissoluble fact that makes for an abiding faith. Yet that same fact accepted – in faith – does not count for history apart from our belief in it, does not provide proof. It is simply the faith of the Christian mind.
In Rod of Jesse I have assumed the canons of history as we generally understand history today. In this perspective we must see Jesus without his halo and refusing to perform for us and our generation a Sign, as once before he refused when asked to do so. I have assumed a man who cannot be distinguished from other men unless by some quality of genius or high intellect and spirit that is evident – as for instance we do seem to see in an Einstein, a Michaelangelo, a Tolstoy, or in the portraits of Washington.

The significance of Christ is in our deep and inward identification with him, whether this is to be achieved by partaking of the Sacrament – a primitive method – or simply by taking the Gospel to heart. So understood and so taken, Christ presents the very Idea of the Kingdom of God. And this ideal may be called a vision of Truth: the ‘Kingdom’ is this way because the ‘world’ is this way. Nevertheless, from this same sacred vision we cannot precipitate facts just as we cannot cause the stars to fall upon us like ripe figs or falling stones. Faith is anchored in its vision: as it were, the contemplation of an Ideal Realm which is out of reach, and in inwardness, self-consciousness and in the Self.

May 31, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Ernest Werner @ 10:35 am

Written slowly & with much reflection by the author, Rod of Jesse is the summation of a lifetime’s endeavor. Ordained a Lutheran pastor after eleven years of training (in the ‘old’ Missouri Synod) & later ‘fellowshiped’ among the Unitarians, & as one who has preached in industrial communities as well as academic, I have never abandoned my deep interest in the Gospels. A personal ‘revolution’ through which my mind has passed has long since been clarified. Rod of Jesse gives my best results.

I thank you beforehand for any interest you may show in my book. If your personal ‘Quest’ is for a deeper understanding of the Tales & Teachings which our Gospels give, you will surely find it rewarding.

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