Saturday, September 24, 2005

A Wise Stoic

This week I read Seneca's "Letters from a Stoic" and was taken back by how close his doctrine seems at times to Christianity. Seneca was born in 4 B.C. Rome, a well known philosopher and statesmen; rising in prominence to become one of the Chief Advisors to Nero.

Here is a selection from Letter XLI,

"...you are perservering in your efforts to acquire a sound understanding. This is something it is foolish to pray for when you can win it from your own self. There is no need to raise our hands to heaven; there is no need to implore the temple warden to allow us close to the ear of some graven image, as though this increased the chances of our being heard. God is near you, is with you, is inside you. [...] No man, indeed is good without God--is anyone capable of rising above fortune unless he has the help of God? [...] if you come across a man who s never alarmed by dangers, never affected by cravings, happy in adversity, calm in the midst of storm, viewing mankind from a higher level and the gods for their own, is it not likely that a feeling will find its way into you of veneration for him? Is it not likely that you will say to yourself, 'Here is a thing which is too great, too sublime for anyone to regard it as being in the same sort of category as that puny body it inhabits' Into that body there has descended a divine power. A thing of that souls height cannot stand without the prop of the deity. [...] a soul possessed of greatness and holiness, which has been sent down into this world in order that we may gain a nearer knowledge of the divine, associates with us, certainly, but never loses contact with its source."

I must admit that the following moved me severely, and I could not help but think of the greatness of God, all from a non-Christian author. The parallelism between it and our faith are compounded between the fact that Seneca was born the same year as Jesus. Not that it is doctrine but interesting non the less.

Monday, September 05, 2005

The Constant Gardener

I continue to maintain that film, when done correctly, is one of the higher art forms available towards human expression. The ability to blend the visual, audible, and written arts into one--creates a highly poignant medium able to pierce the emotional barrier and cause intellectual affect. The list of such films is bound to vary from critic to critic, however I am certain that "The Constant Gardener", will have a secure listing. Directed by Fernando Meirelles, the director of the Internationally acclaimed "City of God" (2002), and starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz: The Constant Gardener follows a British Diplomat who seeks to uncover the truth behind his wife's brutal murder and in the process discovers her secret yet admirable life, and a wider brutality towards Africa she worked to stop. Beautiful cinemotography and a bending plotline capture the emotional energy behind the characters and I assure you that it is a film that you will be thinking about for days thereafter. And following a few months after "Hotel Rwanda", "The Constant Gardener" continues the work of raising awareness of the fragility and beauty of Africa, and how so often the West's meddlings are its greatest problems.