If I Could Go Back, Bernard’s “Tumescence”

1.  H.I. Marrou, A History of Education in Antiquity (page 272).  According to Marrou, when Augustine remembered “the sufferings he went through at school” and other aspects of his childhood at age 72, he asked, “Who is there who would not recoil in horror and choose death, if he was asked to choose between dying and going back to his childhood!”

I’d rather go back to my childhood, to be honest.  Not many responsibilities.  People think I’m smart (well, at least after the fourth grade, by which time I had overcome a learning disability).  I had clear ideas as to what I thought the truth was.  At the same time, I do value my independence, so I’m not sure if I’m totally sold on going back to my childhood!

In the movie, The Green Mile, one of the death row inmates envisions heaven as a place where he will get to relive his favorite memory, over and over again.  Heaven is where he can go back, in short.  His favorite memory was of a day that he spend with his wife, in which they talked and made love on the beach.  Personally, I’d pick the summer before I went to Harvard.  My future is ahead of me.  People think I’m smart.  I’m reading the Book of Romans and comforting myself in God’s love, confident that God will use me to witness at that bastion of secular humanism.  Pentecostals pray over me.  I get spiritually fed at a variety of churches.  I get to love on my kitties, Smokey and White Baby, as well as my doggies, Teddy and Penny-dog.  I enjoy the company of my family.  I think that maybe I’ll find a girlfriend at Harvard, since I’ll be around people who value their studies.

Then, I go to Boston and encounter a lot of disappointments!  That’s life, I guess.  It’s an experience that humbled me, yet also scarred me.  Welcome to the real world, James!  And I wonder: do we grow in the mountains, or in the valleys?  How have I grown?  I certainly added more resentments to the ones that I had previously.  But that may occur with the passing of time, as I get more things to resent.  As my AA sponsor said to me this morning, “The longer people are in AA, the more reasons they have not to be in Alcoholics Anonymous!”  On a positive note, though, I hope that I’m more tolerant of people, less proud, and less prone to look down on others for whatever reason.

2.  Marvin Pope, Song of Songs (page 123), on Bernard of Clairvoux: An episode in Bernard’s youth…throws light on the saint’s zeal for asceticism and his contempt for the flesh, especially female flesh.  Young Bernard once exchanged admiring glances with a girl and experienced an erection which so perturbed him that he dunked himself in an icy pond till the tumescence subsided and there and then he resolved to become a monk.

That’s how an Intervarsity sponsor recommended that I overcome sexual temptation: take a cold shower!  Does that work in causing one’s “tumescence” to subside?

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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