Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Old and New Man

Karen Edmisten quotes from Joan Didion's chilling essay"Slouching Towards Bethlehem":

"I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not.  Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, and who is going to make amends."

As William Faulkner wrote, "The past is never dead. It's not even past."

Although Christ separates the lives of converts (and reverts) into two halves -- the earlier life without Him, and the new life in Him -- the old life cannot help but inform the new.  We are still who we were, even though we are, at the same time, completely transformed.  And even if we have amended our lives, it's probably a bad idea to forget what they once were.


Enbrethiliel said...


From the book I'm currently reading, Greek Gods and Heroes by Robert Graves:

To the left of [Hades' palace] grew a cypress tree, marking Lethe, the Pool of Forgetfulness, where ordinary ghosts flocked thirstily to drink. At once they forgot their past lives, which left them nothing whatever to talk about. But ghosts who had been given a secret password by Orpheus, the poet, whispered it to Hades' servants, and went instead to drink from Mnemosyne, the Pool of Memory, marked by a white poplar. This allowed them to discuss their past lives, and they could also foretell the future . . .

Pentimento said...

Here's a poem by the great Czeslaw Milosz.

Memory and memory

Not to know. Not to remember. With this one hope:
That beyond the River Lethe, there is memory, healed.

(This was actually the first quote I used on the header of my blog; it's been supplanted by a couple more since, most recently one from the most awesome Betty Duffy.)

BettyDuffy said...

I think this post represents the tug-of-war that is the essence of a Penitent's vocation. It is a different vocation entirely (not a better one, not a worse one) than the one of a Christian who has never separated himself from God.

BettyDuffy said...

And thank you for calling me awesome.

Pentimento said...

Ha! You ARE awesome!

eaucoin said...

It's not a boring story at all, and I am a revert as well. Most of my regrets revolve around the things that I have not taught my children well. Even still, I see that we each need to be converted to even recognize what we are battling. One of my daughters recently began living with her boyfriend and started taking the pill. I knew I had to say something even though she already knew how I felt about couples living together before marriage. I told her that there was a reason for the rules of the Catholic church and that it wasn't because the pope is an outdated old man, and God knows that human nature doesn't change. My daughter argued that, in fact, people have evolved. I remember that big lie. How is it that Satan convinces us that technology represents our own evolution when most of us couldn't even start a fire without a match.