Caveat: with repining restlessness

The Pulley

When God at first made man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by,
"Let us," said he, "pour on him all we can.
Let the world’s riches, which dispersèd lie,
Contract into a span."

So strength first made a way;
Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honour, pleasure.
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure,
Rest in the bottom lay.

"For if I should," said he,
"Bestow this jewel also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts instead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature;
So both should losers be.

"Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlessness;
Let him be rich and weary, that at least,
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to my breast."
– George Herbert (Welsh-English poet, 1593-1633)

Although I like the poetry, and in some ways I can appreciate the concept, too, I find this portrait of God deeply unsympathetic. Of course, as CS Lewis has observed, we're not supposed to like God, are we? That's not really the point. In a similar vein, I have always found the gnostic portrait of the creator God (i.e. of the Pentateuch) as an enemy of humanity compelling – a view which perhaps was more integral (implicitly rather than explicitly) to pre-modern Christian views of God, as suggested by the above poem. Anyway my own view remains that I appreciate all these stories as strong metaphors, but I remain militantly anti-transcendentalist.

[daily log: walking, 6.5km]

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