Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Paul

… a little man with a big, bold head.  His legs were crooked, but his bearing was noble.  His eyebrows grew close together and he had a big nose.  A man who breathed friendliness.  He himself says that his appearance was unimpressive.  He was, he admits, no orator; not, in externals, a charismatic leader.  But the authentic letters which survive him radiate the inner charisma: they have the ineffaceable imprint of a massive personality, eager, adventurous, tireless, voluble, a man who struggles heroically for the truth and then delivers it in uncontrollable excitement, hurrying ahead of his powers of articulation.  Not a man easy to work with, or confute in argument, or rebuke into silence, or to advance a compromise: a dangerous, angular, unforgettable man, breathing friendliness, indeed, but creating monstrous difficulties and declining to resolve them by any sacrifice of the truth.

- from A Short History of Christianity, page 4, by Paul Johnson.

O to know such a man!  I’ve known my share of charismatic men, but I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who came a percentage-point close to that description.  What I would give to meet and work with someone like him …

The best I can come up with, it seems, is through the imagination.

Note: link above was written while listening to, and best results would be to be read while listening to, the first movement, “jig” – not “ostinato” – of St. Paul’s Suite by Gustav Holst.  Oh, why not.  Here it is:

(And yes, I know the piece is not specifically about St. Paul, but about a school named after the great above-described man.  Still, I’ve always conflated the two and have always been pleased with the result.)

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