The disciple is a figure who identifies with more than one time and place

Anglican theological ethicist Oliver O’Donovan:

The disciple is, literally, a “learner,” but at the same time, given the patterns of rabbinic learning current in Jesus’ day, a “follower.” The cognitive and affective are bound together in the life of the disciple who learns by following and follows by learning. At the central climax of the synoptic narrative Jesus turns to address “anyone who would follow after me” to “deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). “Following” is an idea with more than one sense: it means following with, adhering to the master and being in his company, and also following after, coming later, carrying on the work of teaching where it has been left off, extending his wisdom into the mission of a school. To follow “after” Christ is to be conformed in love to the moment of resolution that occurred in his death, to carry forward in our living the imprint of the living-to-die that he lived. The disciple is a figure who identifies with more than one time and place: a time and place to inhabit, another time and place to be centered upon. He or she has recognized a time and place in history, there and not elsewhere, then and not before or after, where the possibility of wisdom was decisively given. In understanding this moment in relation to that moment, in finding in that moment the key to this moment’s meaning and purpose, the disciple has overcome what was most threatening and destructive about historical relations, their contingency and moral arbitrariness. The narrative of the Gospel has conferred moral sense upon the contingencies of time. The disciple has realized the meaning of time by belonging not simply to a historical community (in which one may be born, live, and die without asking any questions about the universal right), but to an historically interpretive community with its life rooted in that central moment. All doings and and sufferings are located in relation to the disclosure of meaning that Christ’s death effected for all who come after. The love of Christ directs historical loyalties, as the love of God “above” all things directs natural loves. The “ends” for the sake of which it pursues and discounts the things of the world are presented from a new point of view as an historical achievement. [1]

[1] Oliver O’Donovan, Finding and Seeking: Ethics as Theology: Volume 2 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014), 117-118.


Time viewed from within the pursuit of wisdom

So teach us to number our days
    that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Return, O Lord! How long?
    Have pity on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
    and for as many years as we have seen evil.
Let your work be shown to your servants,
    and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
    and establish the work of our hands upon us;
    yes, establish the work of our hands! (Psalm 90:12-17)

Anglican theological ethicist Oliver O’Donovan makes an important contrast between chronological time and sapiential time:

Time viewed from within the pursuit of wisdom is not cyclical, but has one line and one outcome. The tensions thus generated are articulated unforgettably in the ninetieth Psalm. The vast amplitude of recurrent time, the poet complains, reduces our scope for life and action to insignificance. From generation to generation, Adonai sustains his people; his own existence stretches back pre-cosmically, before mountains, earths, and ages; that of the people, while less extensive, covers many generations. But the tenure on life of individual men is brief out of all proportion to these expanses. They die and return to the nothingness they came from, their few scores of years consumed in a whimper. Overshadowed by death, never free of “labor and sorrow,” their every step dogged by the incongruity of their span of life to the eons of world-time. Yet, the poet dares to think, there is another time to be thought of, a time that permits us human beings to incline our hearts to wisdom, including our practical affairs. We may learn “to number our days,” not in the sense of knowing in advance how many they will be, which is impossible, but by taking them one by one, receiving each day “in the morning.” There is hope that Adonai will turn to us in his favor and give us our own time, as in world-time we have encountered his disregard. He must reach out to us, accommodate his own doings to our little scope: “Show thy servants thy work. Prosper thou the work of our hands!” We may remember and predict, wonder and grieve over time given to the world, which supports narrative and anticipation, surprise and predictability; but time of our own elicits resolve and action, eagerness for opportunity. [1]

[1] Oliver O’Donovan, Finding and Seeking: Ethics as Theology: Volume 2 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014), 114-115.

What does “I love you” really mean?

In a recent sermon, my priest quoted some profound words by Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper (1904-1997). Eager to read the words in their context, I found the passage in his work on theological virtues, Faith, Hope, Love:

And so there may well be an untold number of possible ways for human beings to feel good toward one another, to like each other, to feel closeness and affection for one another. But varied as these forms and unsystematic as these degrees of fondness, attachment, liking and solidarity obviously may be, they all have one thing in common with friendship, parental love, fraternity and specifically erotic love: that the lover, turning to the beloved says, “It’s good that you are here; it’s wonderful that you exist!”

When we verbalize our affection in the phrase “I love you”, we mean “It’s good that you are here; it’s wonderful that you exist!”, which reinforces what the psalmist says about the unique divine imprint on every human being who is “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13-16).

Apprenticeship in attention

In our distracted age, nothing may be more difficult in life than what French mystic Simone Weil called an apprenticeship in attention. If I am to obey the law of love, I must learn to give my attention to God and to neighbor.

For deep insights on attention, I turn to American philosopher and psychologist, William James. In Chapter XI “Attention” of The Principles of Psychology: Volume 1, he defines attention and describes our “scattered condition of mind” along with its “awakening”:

Every one knows what attention is. It is the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains[Pg 404] of thought. Focalization, concentration, of consciousness are of its essence. It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others, and is a condition which has a real opposite in the confused, dazed, scatter-brained state which in French is called distraction, and Zerstreutheit in German.

We all know this latter state, even in its extreme degree. Most people probably fall several times a day into a fit of something like this: The eyes are fixed on vacancy, the sounds of the world melt into confused unity, the attention is dispersed so that the whole body is felt, as it were, at once, and the foreground of consciousness is filled, if by anything, by a sort of solemn sense of surrender to the empty passing of time. In the dim background of our mind we know meanwhile what we ought to be doing: getting up, dressing ourselves, answering the person who has spoken to us, trying to make the next step in our reasoning. But somehow we cannot start; the pensée de derrière la tête fails to pierce the shell of lethargy that wraps our state about. Every moment we expect the spell to break, for we know no reason why it should continue. But it does continue, pulse after pulse, and we float with it, until—also without reason that we can discover—an energy is given, something—we know not what—enables us to gather ourselves together, we wink our eyes, we shake our heads, the background-ideas become effective, and the wheels of life go round again.

This curious state of inhibition can for a few moments be produced at will by fixing the eyes on vacancy. Some persons can voluntarily empty their minds and ‘think of nothing.’ With many, as Professor Exner remarks of himself, this is the most efficacious means of falling asleep. It is difficult not to suppose something like this scattered condition of mind to be the usual state of brutes when not actively engaged in some pursuit. Fatigue, monotonous mechanical occupations that end by being automatically carried on, tend to produce it in men. It is not sleep; and yet when aroused from such a state, a person will often hardly be able to say what he has been thinking about Subjects of the hypnotic trance seem to lapse into it whenleft to themselves; asked what they are thinking of, they reply, ‘of nothing particular’!

The abolition of this condition is what we call the awakening of the attention. One principal object comes then into the focus of consciousness, others are temporarily suppressed. The awakening may come about either by reason of a stimulus from without, or in consequence of some unknown inner alteration; and the change it brings with it amounts to a concentration upon one single object with exclusion of aught besides, or to a condition anywhere between this and the completely dispersed state.

James goes on to consider how many things we can attend at once, which dispels the contemporary ideal of multi-tasking:

The number of things we may attend to is altogether indefinite, depending on the power of the individual intellect, on the form of the apprehension, and on what the things are. When apprehended conceptually as a connected system, their number may be very large. But however numerous the things, they can only be known in a single pulse of consciousness for which they form one complex ‘object’ (p. 276 ff.), so that properly speaking there is before the mind at no time a plurality of ideas, properly so called. […]

If, then, by the original question, how many ideas or things can we attend to at once, be meant how many entirely disconnected systems or processes of conception can go on simultaneously, the answer is, not easily more than one, unless the processes are very habitual; but then two, or even three, without very much oscillation of the attention. Where, however, the processes are less automatic, as in the story of Julius Cæsar dictating four letters whilst he writes a fifth, there must be a rapid oscillation of the mind from one to the next, and no consequent gain of time. Within any one of the systems the parts may be numberless, but we attend to them collectively when we conceive the whole which they form.

How, then, can I become an apprentice in attention? Here, psychology is of little help, which explains why I am interested in learning more about Benedictine spirituality, lectio divina, contemplative prayer, and Ignatian spirituality, all for the goal of practicing loving attentiveness.

Resources for an apprenticeship in attention

  • Benedictine spirituality: Dennis L. Okholm, Monk Habits for Everyday People (Brazos Press).
  • Lectio divina: Enzo Bianchi, Lectio Divina: From God’s Word to our Lives (Paraclete Press); Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading (Eerdmans); James C. Wilhoit & Evan B. Howard, Discovering Lectio Divina: Bringing Scripture into Ordinary Life (IVP Books).
  • Contemplative prayer: Josef Pieper, Happiness and Contemplation (St. Augustine’s Press). Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer (Herder & Herder); Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation (New Directions); Juliet Benner, Contemplative Vision: A Guide to Christian Art and Prayer (IVP Books).
  • Ignatian spirituality: Kevin O’Brien, The Ignatian Adventure: Experiencing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in Daily Life (Loyola Press); James Martin, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life (HarperOne).

A luminous body blazing with the fire of love


Craig Aitchison, Crucifixion (2008)

Thanks to Sister Wendy Beckett’s devotional book, The Art of Lent, which pairs words and images for each day of the Lent season, I was introduced to the Scottish painter Craigie Aitchison (1926-2009). Here is a biography on him from the National Galleries Scotland:

Craigie Aitchison was born in Kincardie-on-Forth, and grew up in Dunbartonshire and on the Island of Arran. He studied law but later turned to art, attending the Slade School of Fine Art in London. His paintings are renowned for their sparse but balanced composition and for the use of intense, pure and flatly-applied colour. After visiting Italy in 1955, Aitchison was inspired by the landscape and religious art but most profoundly affected by the light, which influenced him to begin producing his signature richly-coloured paintings. Aitchison’s subject matter was traditional – still lifes, portraiture and landscape, though he was particularly associated with religious paintings. His depictions of the Crucifixion form a major part of his artistic output and have a timeless and poetic quality.

Here is Sister Wendy’s meditation on the painting she chose for Good Friday:

In art, there are few crucifixions that stress the inner truth of Jesus’ death: that Christ accepted with enormous happiness that he had accomplished all that his Father willed.

Shortly before his death, Craigie Aitchison painted this extraordinary crucifixion. The world has been reduced to absolutes, in which only nature is innocent. The earth has become desert, and yet Jesus draws new life, the scarlet of a poppy. The very presence of the cross has created a strip of living green against which we can make out Aitchison’s beloved Bedlington dog. But above the land soars Christ on the cross, a luminous body blazing with the fire of love. His features are consumed in the intensity of his passionate sacrifice. Over his head hovers the skeletal outline of the Holy Spirit. There are stars in the sky catching fire from the fire of Jesus, and we see the great curve of the rainbow, a sign of God’s covenant with humankind. Aitchison is showing us not what the crucifixion looked like, but what it truly meant.

The Cross still shines


Smoke rises in front of the cross in the interior of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. A catastrophic fire engulfed the cathedral on Monday, as tourists and Parisians looked on from the streets below. —Philippe Wojazer/AP

As the world grieves the fire that ravished Notre Dame de Paris — a national treasure of France and a symbol of Western civilization — the giant cross behind the high altar in the nave stands tall, shining in the ashy darkness, which is no coincidence during Holy Week when Christians journey toward the Cross. A journalist rightly noted, “Physical structures may feel like safe, permanent homes for humanity’s history, but they are also fragile, vulnerable to human error and malice alike.” The Cross of Christ is the only artifact of history that will survive because it is the emblem of divine love. When I prayed the collect for Tuesday in Holy Week this morning, I was arrested by its providential timing:

O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an
instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life:
Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly
suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior
Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Gregory of Nazianzus on Christ

When studying the doctrine of Christ (or Christology), I came across this wonderfully clear and cogent statement from Gregory of Nazianzus (329-89):

We do not separate the humanity from the divinity; in fact, we assert the dogma of the unity and identity of the Person, who aforetime was not just human but God, the only Son before all ages, who in these last days has assumed human nature also for our salvation; in his flesh passible, in his Deity impassible; in the body subject to limitation, yet unlimited in the Spirit; at one and the same time earthly and heavenly, tangible and intangible, comprehensible and incomprehensible; that by one and the same person, a perfect human being and perfect God, the whole humanity, fallen through sin, might be recreated. […] For what has not been assumed has not been healed; it is what is united to his divinity that is saved.

Thomas Hardy, “The Distracted Preacher”

Embury__Philip.jpgMelville House has an attractive series called “The Art of the Novella.” Since time is limited at the end of the academic year, I opted for Thomas Hardy’s novella, The Distracted Preacher. Besides my fondness for the author, the title alone got my attention. Naturally, I wanted to know why the preacher is distracted. I should have guessed the answer because it is a temptation common to man. Here is the publisher’s description:

From the master of Victorian tragedy, the surprisingly comic adventures of a man caught between romance and religion. When young Mr. Stockdale arrives in a small village to fill in for the Methodist minister, he finds himself pining for his comely new landlady. But she leads a mysterious life, keeping odd hours and speaking in hushed tones. As his love for her grows, he’s soon at the center of a hilarious high-stakes adventure, complete with slapstick, hijinks, and a marauding band of cross-dressers. And he’s forced to choose: follow his heart or his higher purpose?

The Distracted Preacher turns a propositional truth of Jesus — “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt. 22:15-22) — into an entertaining and educational story. Mr. Stockdale’s landlady, Lizzy Newberry, participates in her town’s smuggling operation of liquor. By hiding and selling the contraband, she fails to render to the King the things that are the King’s, as her love-struck tenant entreats after a nocturnal adventure:

“Lizzy, all this is very wrong,” he said. “Don’t you remember the lesson of the tribute-money? — ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.’ Surely you have heard that read times enough in your growing up?”

“He’s dead,” she pouted.

“But the spirit of the text is in force just the same.”

“My father did it, and so did my grandfather, and almost everybody in Nether-Moynton lives by it; and life would be so dull if it wasn’t for that, that I should not care to live at all.”

“I am nothing to live for, of course,” he replied, bitterly. “You would not think it worth while to give up this wild business and live for me alone?”

This passage fascinates me because it reveals a double gesture characteristic in Hardy’s writing: he invokes Christian morality only to (partially) subvert it, not only in Mrs. Newberry’s atheist pronouncement about the Son of God’s death, whose words were quoted to her as if they had authority, but also in the minister’s weak-kneed qualification that a divine aura still lingers in the Bible. Even worse, Mr. Stockdale invites his beloved into idolatry, begging Lizzy to give up “this wild business and live for [him] alone,” with emphasis on the word “alone.” As a minister, his vocation obliges him to implore the sinner to repent for the sake of God alone.

Clearly, the preacher is more than distracted. That adjective is a euphemism, concealing his spiritual crisis. He is at risk of damnation if romantic aspiration leads him to become Lizzy’s partner in crime. Notice, in his appeal to scriptural authority, he left off the second half of Jesus’ teaching about rendering to God the things that are God’s; it is the most important half because everything — from liquor to love — belongs to God. Was this omission a lapse of memory or a deliberate alteration of the text?

If Mrs. Newsberry must render liquor to the king’s men, who sniff every corner of her village for the contraband, then Mr. Stockdale must render his smitten heart to God, a sacrifice that is far more costly. To his credit, he makes the needful sacrifice, pursuing his religion over romance. Ultimately, however, his loss of love is found again because of providential generosity, which comports with another teaching of Jesus: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). For an agnostic author typically given to pessimistic fatalism, this conclusion ironically imitates the generosity of his Maker. 

Jane Austen, the philosopher

Since my twin loves are ideas and stories, I am pleased that Oxford University Press has a series called “Oxford Studies in Philosophy and Literature,” which currently features volumes on such works as the Oedipus plays of Sophocles, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. 

E. M. Dadlez, a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Central Oklahoma, edited the volume, Jane Austen’s Emma: Philosophical Perspectives (2018).In her introduction, she confronts difficulties “some critics have in looking to Austen’s novels for deeper insights or in regarding them as contenders for canonization.” One “difficulty involves what Austen doesn’t choose to write about, rather than what she does decide to take up. Thus, some charges of conventionality and parochialism stem from what Austen has left out.” Dadlez gives several responses to this difficulty. Here are two perceptive excerpts:

Emma is a revolutionary work in other respects as well. We are, after all, given a heroine who is emphatically not as good as she is beautiful: a protagonist with flaws, whose mistakes largely dictate the trajectory of the plot. Austen’s female characters are notable for speaking truth to power and for demonstrating the courage of their convictions. But only Emma can continue to engage us despite errors and overconfidence. That is, Emma is also unusual in that it presents a female character with flaws more commonly considered masculine: boldness, overconfidence, taking charge of others’ lives. Hubris. And Austen’s acerbic reflections on the economic and social limitations to which women were subjected in the early nineteenth century are given more voice in Emma than in any of her other novels.


The very fact that Austen is a comic writer might be enough in some quarters to be thought to deprive her work of any prospect of profundity. All of Austen’s novels are, after all, comic novels to one degree or another. If this were indeed a philosophical liability, the case would be closed. But there is nothing to say that comedy cannot be as great a source of insight or philosophical fodder for reflection as a tragedy would be, or, indeed, as would be any other work indulging more directly in the depiction of sweeping issues of rights or justice or the plight of humanity at large. . . . [C]omedy and tragedy employ remarkably similar tactics both in presenting their subject matter and in arousing characteristic emotional reactions to that subject matter. Both, that is, rely on eliciting reactions to incongruity or reversal of expectations. Tragedy arouses, so Aristotle would tell us, a catharsis of pity and fear, while comedy arouses amusement. Each reaction involves or arises from a kind of clarification. That is, each depends on recognition or discovery – the type of realization allowing one to understand a tragic misapprehension or, alternatively, to “get” a joke. Aristotle’s description of recognition and discovery – the revelation of the causal process that made the outcome inevitable – is not unlike the revelation of meaning in irony or satire, in which what is said is often the opposite of what is meant. Here there is realization of the intended rather than the literal meaning.

I applaud Dadlez’ conclusion:

Austen’s small stage proves a positive advantage for certain kinds of philosophical explorations, rather than a liability. It is the very narrowness of Austen’s scope, her relentless focus on the everyday experiences of ordinary quite familiar people, that provides a spotlight on all the minutia of motive and decision and self-deception which so often supply material for philosophical speculation. It is the smaller arena that permits one to observe and track the consequence of particular choices, and it is the smaller population that enables one to observe relationships: their tensions and reciprocities and values. A description of a picnic can afford as many insights into human nature or the human condition as depictions of political upheaval; it will just do with less fanfare and fewer corpses.

Murder in the Cathedral

When I was teaching The Canterbury Tales to my students this year, I became absorbed with the destination of the pilgrims, as recorded in the opening lines of “The General Prologue:”

Then folks, too, long to go on pilgrimage,
And palmers hope to seek there, on the strange strands,
Those far-off shrines well known in many lands;
And especially, from every shire’s end
Of England, to Canterbury they wend;
The holy, blessed martyr they all seek,
Who has helped them when they were sick and weak.

This “holy, blessed martyr” refers to Saint Thomas Becket, who was killed by Henry II’s henchman on December 29, 1170 in Canterbury Cathedral. The setting of his martyrdom became England’s premier pilgrimage site in the Middle Age.

Murder in the CathedralTo remedy my ignorance about Thomas Becket, I watched the 1964 movie, “Becket,” featuring Peter O’Toole as the King and Richard Burton as the Archbishop; it was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won for Best Adapted Screenplay. I also read the 1963 drama, Murder in the Cathedral, by T. S. Eliot, which is his most accomplished work as a playwright, offering a “poetically masterful handing of issues of faith, politics, and the common good.” Once I completed the drama, I thought it could just as easily share the title with Willa Cather’s 1927 novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop. 

The play consists of two parts with an interlude. The scene for Part I is the Archbishop’s Hall on December 2, 1170, marking his return to England after a seven-year exile in France due to strife with the King. The scene for the Interlude is the Cathedral on Christmas morning in 1170 when the Archbishop preaches a sermon on martyrdom. The scene for Part II is also the Cathedral on December 29, 1170, the fateful day when the Archbishop was slain.

I throughly enjoyed this drama, especially Part I which employs brilliant “intertextuality” with the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). The Christlike Archbishop faces his tempters, resisting them each time with a faithful and emphatic “No!” Here are salient passages for me.


Chorus: Destiny waits in the hand of God, shaping the still unshapen:
I have seen these things in a shaft of sunlight.
Destiny waits in the hand of God; not in the hands of statesman
Who do, some well, some ill, planning and guessing,
Having their aims which turn in their hands in the pattern of time.
Come, happy December, who shall observe you, who shall preserve you?
Shall the Son of Man be born again in the litter of scorn?
For us, the poor, there is no action,
But only to wait and to witness.


Chorus: I see nothing quite conclusive in the art of temporal government,
But violence, duplicity and frequent malversation.
King rules or barons rule:
The strong man strongly and the weak man by caprice.
They have but one law, to seize the power and keep it,
And the steadfast can manipulate the greed and lust of others,
The feeble is devoured by his own.


Tempter: Real power is purchased at price of a certain submission.
Your spiritual power is earthly perdition.
Power is present, for him who will wield.


Thomas: Those who put their faith in worldly order
Not controlled by the order of God,
In confident ignorance, but arrest disorder,
Make it fast, breed fatal disease,
Degrade what they exalt.


Thomas: Sin grows with doing good. […]
While I ate out of the King’s dish
To become the servant of God was never my wish.
Servant of God has chance of greater sin
And sorrow, than the man who serves a king.
For those who serve the greater cause may make the cause serve them,
Still doing right: and striving with political men
May make that cause political, not by what they do
But by what they are.


Thomas: We celebrate at once the Birth of Our Lord and His Passion and Death upon the Cross. Beloved, as the World sees, this is to behave in a strange fashion. For who in the World will both mourn and rejoice at once and for the same reason? For either joy will be overborne by mourning, or mourning will be cast out by joy; so it is only in these our Christian mysteries that we can rejoice and mourn at once for the same reason.


Thomas: A Christian martyrdom is never an accident, for Saints are not made by accident. Still less is a Christian martyrdom the effect of a man’s will to become a Saint, as a man by willing and contriving may become a ruler of men. A martyrdom is always the design of God, for His love of men, to warn them and to lead them, to bring them back to His ways. It is never the design of man; for the true martyr is he who has become the instrument of God, who has lost his will in the will of God, and who no longer desires anything for himself, not even the glory of being a martyr.


Second Priest: What day is the day that we know that we hope for or fear for?
Every day is the day we should fear from or hope from.
One moment
Weighs like another. Only in retrospection, selection,
We say, that was the day. The critical moment
That is always now, and here. Even now, in sordid particulars
The eternal design may appear.


Chorus: Human kind cannot bear very much reality.


Thomas: All my life they have been coming, these feet. All my life
I have waited. Death will come only when I am worthy,
And if I am worthy, there is no danger.
I have therefore only to make perfect my will.


Thomas: I have had a tremour of bliss, a wink of heaven, a whisper,
And I would no longer be denied; all things
Proceed to a joyful consummation.


Thomas: Dead upon the tree, my Saviour,
Let not be in vain Thy labour;
Help me, Lord, in my last fear.

Dust I am, to dust am bending,
From the final doom impending
Help me, Lord, for death is near.


Third Priest: For all things exist only as seen by Thee, only as known by Thee, all things exist only in Thy light, and Thy glory is declared even in that which denies Thee; the darkness declares the glory of light.