While reading Wendell Berry’s story collection, That Distant Land, I was struck by this description of a character named Martha Elizabeth Coulter:
She was a woman always near to smiling, sometimes to laughter. Her face, it seems, had been made to smile. It was a face that assented wholly to the being of whatever or whomever she looked at.
I don’t know whether Wendell Berry is a student of Thomas Aquinas, but that description of Martha Elizabeth as a person who “assented wholly to the being” of the people and things around her sounds like the kind of thing Aquinas would say.
That idea of assent is key to Aquinas’s understanding of love. And, as I will argue, it’s a major reason to write; in fact, assent may be the writer’s most important reason of all.
I’ll be paraphrasing and quoting from Josef Pieper, who was himself paraphrasing Aquinas. (The page numbers below refer to Faith, Hope, and Love, which collects three of Pieper’s long essays.)Read More