Fill The Commonplace: Holy the Firm


A commonplace book has traditionally been a place where one copies quotes, poetry, recipes, factoids … well, just about anything. People have been making commonplace books since at least the Elizabethan times. In fact, I learned about commonplace books from a podcast about Shakespeare.

I have read a lot of books over the years. Often, I’ll underline passages that I find particularly noteworthy. I have the idea of starting my own commonplace book (a digital one, of course), and thus, this series of posts is born.

I’ll be rummaging through all my old books and pulling passages from them to put in my commonplace book (maybe you should start a commonplace book, too). And, for your enjoyment, I’ll post them here, as well. So, without further ado, let’s get to it!

Holy the Firm is a deep, poetically written work on how to reconcile the seeming meaninglessness of the universe, and why innocent people often suffer undeservedly, and the idea of God. It was published in 1977.

Has God a hand in this? Then it is a good hand. But has he a hand at all? Or is he a holy fire burning self-contained for power’s sake alone? Then he knows himself blissfully as a flame unconsuming, as all brilliance and beauty and power, and the rest of us can go hang. Then the accidental universe spins mute, obedient only to its own gross terms, meaningless, out of mind, and alone. The universe is neither contingent upon nor participant in the holy, in being itself, the real, the power play of fire. The universe is illusion merely, not one speck of it real, and we are not only its victims, falling always into or smashed by a planet slung by its sun ̶ but also its captives, bound by the mineral-made ropes of our senses. 

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