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Getting some help

The beginning of Lent seems like a good time to remember a Brit who wryly said that the Original Sin was immediately followed by the Original Excuse. The Brit was John Henry Newman, 19th century Anglican curate, Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, and later Roman Catholic priest.

Edward T. Oakes, S.J, writing in First Things, says that Newman is remembered as a brilliant theologian, but he also understands how we try and fail to be better people since he’s made similar attempts himself. Newman uses a word to describe those failures that many people do not like and do not use anymore, and as you’ve guessed, the word is sin. He doesn’t use the word harshly. For Newman sin is like a self-inflicted blindness that prevents us from being truthful about ourselves and as brave and happy as we could be. But he’s hopeful. As he observes, wryly again, “In passing out of the country of sin, he necessarily passes through it.”

That we cannot become truthful, brave, and happy by ourselves, but have to learn to rely on the help of God, was both a Christian and a Socratic concept. A remarkable number of Brits who achieved brilliant things believed in that idea.

I have never read Newman. Oakes’ essay was a good place to start.

Via Hugh Hewitt