[ by Charles Cameron ]
You don’t have to be a Christian to see the force of this pair of quotes… you just have to love words.
I ran across the Milton quote somewhere today: I thought grievous wolves was a great example of the power of poetry, and when I checked to make sure I had the right attribution, found St Paul had used the phrase first — at least in the King James version — so it’s also an instance of the power of sanctity — or at least, sanctity in translation.
And the idea transcends a particular faith, too. Students of Max Weber will recognize in it the routinization of charisma, readers of Simone Weil the workings of gravity against grace… and those whose devotion is to the Book of Nature, the pattern by which a stream that flows from a fresh-water spring gets progressively more polluted as it proceeds past villages and towns towards the port city and the sea…
You can draw an infinite number of lessons from the process by which the soft and flexible coagulates and hardens, yet the moral is simple and always the same: it pays to return to the source.
Grievous wolves. Brrrr.