January 21, 2015

Reviewer Nails It

Yes! Somebody else sees the naked emperor that is "Forrest Gump". From Rolling Stone:

"This is the same Hollywood culture that turned the horror and divisiveness of the Vietnam War era into a movie about a platitude-spewing doofus with leg braces who in the face of terrible moral choices eats chocolates and plays Ping-Pong. The message of Forrest Gump was that if you think about the hard stuff too much, you'll either get AIDS or lose your legs. Meanwhile, the hero is the idiot who just shrugs and says 'Whatever!'whenever his country asks him to do something crazy.

Forrest Gump pulled in over half a billion and won Best Picture. So what exactly should we have expected from American Sniper?"

January 20, 2015

Finds Found on the Web and Elsewhere

Here's the thing about biomechanics. Everything is interrelated. How we move at the ankle affects the knee and the hip, then the pelvis and the spine. How we sit affects the pelvis, then the spine above and our legs below. How well our spine moves affects how well our arms move. Beginning to correct things in this chain brings about changes you would not expect. One of the books that I've been reading is Move Your DNA. I absolutely love the point that it makes that what we perceive as normal (because everyone around us moves the same way) is not actually optimal. It's not how we were made to move, and it's not the best we can do. We can do better....I don't know if I can fully explain this on a biomechanical level, but it is a cascade of effects. 
Fully understanding the dignity of the human person is not easy, but it is so important. I can't help but think that some of this horrible violence is because people do not understand their own dignity and worth, much less someone else's. Certainly, there is a chaos that is happening with regard to what we consider "okay" in terms of relationships and having children. We are not even certain what all effects these are having on people in day to day life. 
*

Fascinating thoughts from art historian Kenneth Clark on the history of the female nude:
Since the earliest times the obsessive, unreasonable nature of physical desire has sought relief in images, and to give these images a form by which Venus may cease to be vulgar and become celestial has been one of the recurring aims of European art….
Following Plato's example, we might call them the Vegetable and the Crystalline Aphrodite. These two basic conceptions never quite disappear, but since art involves the application of laws, the distinction between the two Aphrodites grows very slight; and even when most unlike one another they partake of each other's characters. Botticelli's Venus 'born of the crystalline sea of thought and its eternity' has a piercing strain of sensuality; Ruben's Venus, a cornucopia of vegetable abundance, still aspires to the ideal. 
*

Who's up for an international conversation about Islam?  Because, you know, if we just had a national conversation on race it would clear everything up.

Bill O'Reilly made a trenchant point the other day:
Mr. Abdul-Jabbar [writes]:
“Knowing that these terrorist attacks are not about religion, we have to reach a point where we stop bringing Islam into these discussions. I know we aren't there yet because much of the Western population doesn't understand the Islamic religion.”
That's true. But here's what Mr. Abdul-Jabbar is missing: Much of the Muslim world does not understand the Islamic religion. Take Pakistan, for example. It allows the Taliban – major human rights violaters – sanctuary. Is that permissible under Islam? Apparently, the government of Pakistan believes it is. How about Turkey? It will not assist the West in fighting the ISIS killers on its border. Does Islam condone the beheading of innocent people? Doesn't the Koran state that a good Muslim protects the innocent and fights against injustice? Apparently the Turkish government does not understand the Islamic religion either. I could give you dozens of other examples from wealthy Islamists funding al Qaeda and ISIS to Sharia law being used to abuse women on a massive scale.

January 16, 2015

Too Funny

From Jonah Goldberg:
It’s true that the Obama administration has had remarkable success playing word games. They “created or saved” millions of jobs — as if that was a real economic metric. (For what it’s worth, I do or save 500 pushups every morning).

Short Takes Friday (as begun by Jennifer Fulweiler)


Interesting comments from ebook reader subscription firms:
Zacharius of Kensington: Data we receive from subscription services is very interesting. Some people take 6 months to read a book.
Scribd:  Lots of people get two thirds through a book and don’t finish. Surprising.
*

Sighted on Zippy Catholic:
"This is to show the world that I can paint like Titian. Only technical details are missing." – Wolfgang Pauli, caption for a blank page
*

Am impressed by the regnant glow of John the Baptist's humility. Just before his rightly famous “I must decrease, he must increase,” there were other piquant quotes. I'm moved by the fact St. John was moved by being merely the “best man” at a wedding. He'd effectively played matchmaker, asking his countrymen (the bride) to give up their sins before the coming wedding banquet, and then introduced them to the man next to whom he was not worthy: “The very reason why I have come, with my baptism of water, is to make him known to Israel.” When John's disciples seemed disgruntled at the attention Jesus was getting, John told them:
“A man must be content to receive the gift which is given him from heaven, and nothing more.” (Knox)
Alternative rendering:
“A man can only have what God gives him…He who comes from above is above all others.” (NEB)
I love the matter-of-fact humility where John sort of shrugs and says, “I only have what I've been given. I'm not God.” Nor can we, though we enjoy playing god in our daily life.

*

Interesting article in the newspaper discusses Generation X   We are said to have demanded and got a better work-life balance than generations previous in part due to one song: Harry Chapin's Cat's in the Cradle.  I think to deny the power of popular culture is a mistake and that haunting three-minute song seemed to sear its way into our collective consciousness.

The article says those born in the mid-1960s watched the "fires of social upheaval" and "chaotic convulsions....The 1970s oil crisis, for one, had knocked the wind out of the global economy and helped trigger a stock-market crash, soaring inflation and high unemployment...The younger baby boomers and Gen Xers share a sense that it’s a cruel world out there, that the economy is not unlimited,” said Paul Taylor, a senior fellow with the Pew Research Center.

You'd think that those who realized the economy is not unlimited and that things are precarious would save more money, just as folks raised during the Depression would later do, but I'm not sure the savings rate of GenX'rs is anything to write home about.

*

I see our state governor's daughters, depicted with him at his swearing in, in the Columbus Dispatch.  One is wearing a dress short as the late Little Jimmy Dickens. It's the style these days I suppose. I check Twitter to see if anyone has commented inappropriately (because that's what Twitter's for) and one ne'er-do-well says the gov's daughters are "boots".

I have no idea what that means, of course, but via the miracle of the internet can instantly decode slang.  Hipsters beware, we can read your thoughts.

I'm old enough to remember a baseball player called Boots:  Boots Day. Played for the Expositionals (Expos).

*

Killed some time the other day watching Joe Biden administer the oath of office and pose for pictures with the new Republican senators. It was oddly compelling if only for watching a political master glad-hander in his glory, his face Botox'd and plastic surgically enhanced. He's a throwback to the old Irish pols of yore. He greeted the children and family members as if they were God's gift to the world, and so they are.

*

I read a Christianity Today article that said most sin is simple excess. The sin of anger is when it gets carried too far, into bitterness or rage or unforgiveness. The sin of sadness or despair is when it becomes excessive. The sin of lust is sexual desire excessive and contrary to reason.

In fact “contrary to reason” seems the key. To be reasonable is practical and thus kind of boring but surely quite religious and moral. Virtue is often the “middle way” between extremes.

I read yesterday of the almost superhuman chastity of Joseph, son of Jacob, in Egypt. How the Pharaoh's wife begged him to have sex with her. And he loved his wayward brothers without bitterness. Joseph really seems like THE saint of the OT. You can have your Elijah and Jeremiah and maybe even Job. Joseph seems otherworldly in terms of forgiveness, maturity and love. He seems like a New Testament figure.

*

Embarrassing that MLK's children are constantly suing each other. The latest is that the two brothers are suing the sister in order to sell MLK's personal Bible and Nobel Peace Prize.

It's interesting that it's come to this - the selling of the most personal objects left. All his personal papers have already been sold for tens of millions of dollars. Hard to underestimate the need for greed.

If the brothers have their way, which they likely will, what will the sons and daughters of Martin Luther King have to pass on to their children of a sentimental value? It's ironic the great preacher of peace and harmony couldn't pass that down.

MLK used the court system to try to effect justice on behalf of his people, and his children appear to use the court system to fight among themselves for their own benefit. You can see the devolution of society right there. Jesus wanted to make things right for us, with no benefit to himself. MLK wanted to make things right for African-Americans. MLK's children want to make things right for themselves. A metaphor for our age.

*

Heard priest homily the other day - he said what he finds most moving/inspiring about the priesthood.  It's that grown men cry in front of him when they realize the love God has for them.  That makes it for him.   He asked when was the last time we cried over the same realization.

*

Suggested to Steph another potential name for our new puppy: “Maris”, short for “Stella Maris”, a title of Mary's and the name of a dog we met in Hilton Head. Surprising to me, she loved it and moved it near the front of the list, right up there with “Faith”.

*

Blogs mean never having to say you're sorry for asterisked segues.

*  (hey, there's one right now, stage left!)

Hope via St. Basil:
If we devote ourselves to imitating the saints, then no matter which virtue we feel ourselves lacking, we can fine in Scripture, as if in a medical clinic, the proper medicine for our particular ailment. Whoever is focused on chastity, for example, can reflect on the history of Joseph in the Old Testament. We learn from him chaste actions. We find him well disciplined - firm in self-control with regard to pleasure - and we see him making virtue a habit.

January 09, 2015

Pope Francis & Mullarkey

I used to find First Things blogger Maureen Mullarkey worth reading, but lately she's been shrill, seeming to have a sort of Catholic Hierarchy Derangement Syndrome -- particularly with respect to Pope Francis and Cardinal Dolan.

She writes of Francis: "Megalomania sends him galloping into geopolitical thickets, sacralizing politics and bending theology to premature, intemperate policy endorsements."

And the same day I saw that, I read the thought of the day from Pope Francis as if in response:
Christians should be the first (and often we are not!) in rejecting the hasty identification of maturity with adaptation. Jesus, no less, was considered by many people of his time the paradigm of the maladjusted and, therefore, the immature.
By the way, R. Reno has responds to criticisms of Mullarkey here.

January 07, 2015

Of Dogdom & Bams



So went to a local restaurant overlooking the city and river. The river was shockingly low as a result of dams being removed. "It's a much healthier river," said the waitress, but not quite as scenic I thought.  A spiritual metaphor, perhaps.

Afterward we headed to theatre for Unbroken, the big bestseller about a guy surviving WWII.  The movie nearly broke me vicariously

I had low expectations, figuring it would be depressing, and it's always a plus to have low expectations going in. First, though, there were gobs of advertisements for coming attractions with Mom humorously panning each one loudly.

The movie was sort of like The Passion of the Christ meets Chariots of Fire. There were long - torturously long - scenes of torture. Forty-eight days lost at sea. Japanese prison camp. Solitary confinement. Working to exhaustion hauling coal. Mentally abused by sadistic guard with hinted-at homosexual tendencies.  (SPOILER alert full steam ahead!)

The beginning was like a different movie altogether - boy delinquent finds running as an outlet and ends up as high school runner in 1936 Olympic Games, finishing first.

Later his "toughest battle" was severe PTSD; he tried booze and psychiatrists to get over his thirst for revenge but eventually, via Billy Graham, found Christ and ended up going back to Japan and forgiving his captors. (The sadistic guard would not meet with him.)

From Cincy Enquirer Paul Daugherty's blog:
"We saw Unbroken. It was slightly better than OK. No match for the book, which was meticulous, compelling and fabulous. Not sure how I could watch this tale of abject heroism and not feel especially moved. But that's what happened."
Oh the perils of reading the book before seeing the movie. No such issue for me.

*

Christmas always seems very shortlived despite the billing of twelve days, or even more given the liturgical season. To me it feels like even the Church has seemingly moved on what with the Sts Stephen and John days and Holy Family feast. Of course you can't just have the Christmas reading every day.

*

Feels magical to have this transportive Kindle, a screen that takes me to places I want to go - like the life of Heather King, the deck of the Pequad, the novel All the Light We Cannot See, Scott Hahn's new book on the birth of Christ.

I also relished the mood-altering drug of the OSU victory against Alabama. And nice to have the national championship game to look forward to, although this game felt like a national championship given who we beat (number 1 team). Even the name - “Bama” - feels powerful and forbidding, the first syllable being the aggressive “bam”. Their program has the scent of college football divinity about it.

Their crowds occasionally look a bit dorky. Kind of white and bourgeois; the guys sometimes dressed in blazers -- they look like they all belong to an old school '50s-era fraternity. I think how fascinating it would've been to have gone to a truly Southern college, like Ole Miss or Alabama. Whatever regional differences remain would likely linger there. Perhaps poverty is the only guarantor of difference, because the newly wealthy south attracts so many outsiders, diluters if you will. Pockets of real regional difference probably center in Appalachia and the Indian reservations of the West, at least the ones without casinos.

*

Death, taxes and Sunday babysitting. The three things beside the theological virtues that endure. Vegas won't even take odds on them because everybody dies, pays taxes, and we, at least, babysit on Sundays.

But it's a-okay because it's nothing God and beer won't bring me thru. At least I have the right order there.

Steph took one boy to the animal shelter for potential dog adoptions. She said that he was a good test case, to see if the dog would get along with him (and thus kids) and I couldn't disagree. So I held down the fort with a Will-a-thon, listening to Five Little Monkeys endlessly. Second circle of Hell they play that song repeatedly by the way.  Later I peeled off for a well-earned 30 minute run. Running never tasted so good.

One thing is self-evident: Steph without a dog is like Columbus without the Buckeyes, New York without the swagger, Texas sans pride, policemen without Dunkin' Donuts, me without vacations. It simply does not compute.

The first option Steph presented me with was two 12-week pups, a brother and a sister located about an hour away. Both golden retrievers, so that was right, but both way too young and one too many. This was the very definition of a non-starter, and I dismissed it immediately. Words cannot express my distaste at the thought of having not one but two puppies, and thus facing a two-year slog of double-trouble in the form of chewed artifacts and semi-destroyed furniture. A worse idea can scarcely exist.

Wasted a couple hours watching the ever dubious Bengals drop yet another playoff game. “One and done” should replace the “Who dey” motto. “Who dey” being whomever they play in the playoffs.

*

Read more about that perennially interesting foreign country: Detroit, Michigan from the book Devil's Night: And Other True Tales of Detroit. This chapter on churches leaves you just gaping in astonishment that such color can exist in these semi-homogenized United States. Honestly it reads like fiction. A Sunday night service the author attended had no less than four collections, one unabashedly announced as going towards a Mercedes Benz for the pastor. You simply can't make that up. At one point, the pastor cuts his white robe into squares and sells them for $5 a piece. Again, that seems fictional. An excerpt:
Boyd’s church is more elaborate than most, but it is still a modest edifice for a man who claims to be in direct, personal touch with God: blond wood pews, a small altar and walls decorated with neon signs—DIVINE GOD and 7 (God’s perfect number)—that look like beer advertisements. Adjacent to it is the House of Holiness, a combination sacristy, meditation facility and boutique where Boyd meets with congregants. When I went to see him on a Saturday afternoon, there was a long line of people ahead of me. As I waited I browsed through the merchandise in his store, which runs to the exotic. Holy hyssop bath oil ($5.00), hyssop floor wash, Voodoo dolls ($3.25), Jinx Remover, Triple Strength Cast-Off Evil Incense, Holy Vision Bath Oil ($5.25), High John the Conquerer Soap (“It conquers all evil forces”), and cards inscribed with the Reverend Boyd’s revelations (sample: “I am, I am in perfect harmony with the law of prosperity”) for $2.50.
Now tell me that doesn't make for riveting reading. Boyd also sells winning lottery numbers, or at least predicted winning lottery numbers. Your mileage may vary.

*

So the search continues. Two strikeouts on the golden retriever rescues we wanted. Impatience isn't conducive to acquiring the crown prince of dogdom. There's a reason they call them “golden”.

I left messages at both shelters (one near Cleveland, the other here) and was collins'd (i.e. from Phil Collins, as in the song "no reply at all"). I called both back around 3 and lo and behold both dogs were on hold already. One golden retriever rescue service requires a "home visit", a blood-signed vetting from your veterianian and an oath to become vegan. You really can't make it up. The continuing humanization of canines continues apace.

Love v. Life



Recent highlight was surely the gestation of some superabundant Love, specifically the eye-opener in the Lit of the Hours we say on feast days, and how it applies not just to our attitude towards God, but God's attitude towards us, as contained in this line:

“For your love is better than life.”

Didn't Jesus in fact trade his life for our love? For the Father's, surely, but also for ours? I've said that prayer so many times and today it hit me for the first time in that reciprocal way and not seeing it merely as an instruction from God that we see His love as worth more than our life but that He did so first.

It's ridiculous, but I always seem to be surprised when I (re-)learn that God loved us first and that He really lives up to what He preaches in the Bible and Church. There's no "do as I say, not as I do" with God.

From the Spencer monks:
It’s a wonderful insight to grasp the core of Jesus’ message by realizing the magnitude, the depth, the comprehensiveness of the divine embrace, of Jesus’ ardor for you – you as beloved of God. It can be spiritually inebriating if you let it touch you as deeply as Jesus intends to touch you. But there is more! The more here is simply the realization moment by moment that each of us is always and everywhere the beloved of God, someone with whom God is madly in love.

December 22, 2014

Un-imprimatur'd Thoughts


William Howells wrote in one of his books about the early peoples of Ohio, "Our Ice Folk must have dressed like their fur-descended children, the Eskimos, in furs and skins."

And I thought about how even back then, millennia ago, there was use by humans of primitive technology to protect against the elements.  Nature made man nude and without fur (except Italians, perhaps) and yet we artificially constructed for ourselves a second skin or fur.  In this way we seem "naturally unnatural" as a species, always changing what nature will or won't do to us, always shielding ourselves from "true" nature.  I can't really think of any animal species that covers itself in something foreign to itself in order to stay warm; only via evolution do animals acquire protections and shields.

To wonder how people survive in seemingly untenable natural environments is to think in an individualistic manner since until recent times we survived them only with the help of others, including the historical oral knowledge of centuries.  Knowledge of how to perform sexual intercourse is passed down, surely unfailingly, across all cultures and all centuries.  No matter that instruction may be limited to simply, "place this genital in that genital", that knowledge had to be transmitted in order for the continuance of human life.  That knowledge is passed down; how much more important a knowledge of Christ be passed down.

*

The gospel from Matthew has Christ's genealogy through Joseph. And of course everyone assumes Jesus is not biologically related to Joseph. But why does this have to be? Jesus had to have DNA from a male and a female and so the Holy Spirit had to create ex niliho genetic material - why not from St. Joseph's line? Wouldn't it be funny if the foster father was also the biological father?

*

Kind of interesting to read this about the Amazon Kindle given that with books, especially Bibles, we do exactly the opposite - we gild them and decorate them as a symbol that what's inside is hugely important and valuable:
From the start, Amazon has defined its hardware mission narrowly: to build devices that disappear in the hand, with uniquely useful features, for a low price. "We would never make a gold thing, because that’s too distracting," Green says. "There are many companies that create pieces of jewelry. We’re not going to do that, because that's an added cost that takes away from the actual content."

December 19, 2014

Quotables

From the novel Let Me Be Frank by Richard Ford:
Normally I counsel patience in most things. Patience, though, is a pre-lapsarian concept in a post-lapsarian world

*

Copland’s soaring as I make it out onto the bridge. Barnegat Bay, this morning, is a sea of sequins the wind plays over, with the long island and Seaside Heights out ahead, appearing, in a moment of spearing sunlight, to be unchanged. Gulls are towering.

*

a parking lot behind the Pathway paves over the sacred midden of the lost Lenape

*

the sight line stretches all the way up to Ortley Beach and beyond, to where the old roller-coaster bones sit marooned in seawater.

*

He reminded his rich customers of the get-your-hands-dirty (and smelly) New England work ethic that made this republic great, powerful, and indomitable and always would, and that they’d gone to Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth to make sure they never got any closer to than the length of Arnie’s sweaty arm.

*

And because of something Sally said, I feel a need to more consciously pick my feet up when I walk—“the gramps shuffle” being the unmaskable, final-journey approach signal. It’ll also keep me from falling down and busting my ass. What is it about falling? “He died of a fall.” “The poor thing never recovered after his fall.” “He broke his hip in a fall and was never the same.” “Death came relatively quickly after a fall in the back yard.” How fucking far do these people fall? Off of buildings? Over spuming cataracts? Down manholes? Is it farther to the ground than it used to be? In years gone by I’d fall on the ice, hop back up, and never think a thought. Now it’s a death sentence.

*

I don’t look in mirrors anymore. It’s cheaper than surgery.

*

Arnie may simply want me to take the trouble to be there—to be his witness. It’s what the Christers all long for, dawn to dusk. It’s why there are such things as “best men,” “pallbearers,” “godfathers,” “invitees to an execution.” Everything’s more real if two can see it.

*

In later years, these tidy frame homes have been re-colonized by Nicaraguans and Hondurans who do the gardening, roof repair, and much of the breaking-and-entering chores out in Haddam Township,

*

A few vestigial Negroes have managed to hold on—by their teeth. Since my wife, Sally, and I moved back to Haddam from The Shore, eight years ago, and into the amply treed President streets—“white housing,” roughly the same vintage and stock as the formerly all-black heritage quarter—we’ve ended up on “lists” identifying us as soft touches for Tanzanian Mission Outreach, or some such worthwhile endeavor. We’re likewise the kind of desirable white people who don’t show up grinning at their church on Sunday, pretending “we belong, since we’re all really the same under the skin.” Probably we’re not.

*

WHEN THE RED-COATED BLACK WOMAN AT MY FRONT door realized no one was answering, and that a car had crunched into the snowy driveway, she turned and issued a big welcoming smile down to whoever was arriving, and a demure wave to assure me all was well here—no one hiding in the bushes with burglar tools, about to put a padded brick through my back window. Black people bear a heavy burden trying to be normal. It’s no wonder they hate us.

I got out of my car, advertising my own welcoming “I know you’re probably not robbing me” smile.

*

At least four prior owner/occupants have come to visit houses I’ve lived in over these years. I’ve always thrown the doors open, once it was clear they weren’t selling me burial insurance and I’d gotten my wallet off the hall table. I’ve just stood by like a docent and let them wander the rooms, grunting at this or that update,

Usually it takes no longer than ten minutes—standard elapsed time for re-certifying sixty years of breathing existence. Generally it’s the over-fifties who show up. If you’re much younger, you’ve got it all recorded on your smartphone. And it’s little enough to do for other humans—help them get their narrative straight. It’s what we all long for, unless I’m mistaken.

*

I experienced a sudden, ghostly whoosh of vertigo—something I’ve been being treated for, either along with or because of C-3 neck woes. The world’s azimuth just suddenly goes catty-wampus—and I could end up on my back. Though it can also, if I’m sitting down, be half agreeable—like a happy, late-summer, Saturday-evening zizz, when you’ve had a tumbler of cold Stoli and the Yanks are on TV.

*

Ms. Pines looked at me uncertainly, possibly stifling the urge to ask, “Are you okay?” (No more grievous words can be spoken in the modern world.)

*

Statistics show that great cravings of almost any nature, including a wish to assassinate, can be overcome just by brief interludes of postponement—the very thing no one ever believes will work, but does. That IS news.

December 18, 2014

The Douay Mistress


Interesting assertion made in NY Times about kids today and reading:
Children today are also more literal minded, she said. Her most popular book, “The Giver,” which this year became a movie starring Meryl Streep, is often assigned in schools, and Ms. Lowry receives 50 to 60 letters a day from students. “Kids today don’t like the ambiguity of the ending,” she said. “They would like things clearly spelled out. That saddens me because I think it implies a failure of the imagination.
I guess it makes sense from the point of view that increasingly people in general want to view the Bible through a newspaper lens. Hence the increase of fundamentalist Christians and fundamentalist atheists.  We're definitely more allergic to mystery and a lack of a clear endings.

*

Last night watched a bit of Anchorman 2. I had low expectations given the reviews but it was "free" on Netflix and there were moments of comedy gold. I watch so little comedy these days that I feel like a damn German. Funniest bit might've been the Steve Carrel character coming out of an accident/hospital visit with one of those “cones of shame” they make doggies wear to keep from scratching their face.

*

I find it rather touching that the Baseball Hall of Fame honors even players from the distant past whom almost no one has ever heard of let alone seen play. Sort of St. Therese "Little Way"ish in their invisibility. In 1963, John Clarkson was inducted, a pitcher from the late 1880s.

Clarkson seems to show that Scripture must include, in order to be applicable to all people, plenty of criticism as well as encouragement, for Cap Anson said Clarkson suffered from a lack of confidence and needed plenty of encouragement.
“'Scold him, find fault with him and he could not pitch at all,' Anson said. 'Praise him and he was unbeatable.'”

*

Mailed, with the proverbial mixed emotions, my short-lived Douay pocket-sized. It went to a fellow in Colorado. I'm sure he was pleased to get that “Shipped!” email, that being something we all like to see shortly after we buy something online. I could easily put myself in his place given I was waiting for the same email for the same item just a few days ago.

It's a small jewel of a book, the sort you wouldn't be adverse to having around as a collectible. I like that it includes not one but three papal encyclicals on the subject of Scripture beginning with Pope Leo XIII's.

It was a shooting star that landed on my front porch, a bright black leather object with gold-edged pages and that time-leaping, old-fashioned print that Baronius Press excels in. You could feel yourself traveling back to 1924 just by opening it.

So I had a mere half-day with my Douay mistress. Too short, too short. But I don't think my eyes are going to be getting any better over time and small print is a barrier to entry I don't need. The language itself, formal and sometimes unfamiliar, is barrier enough. Doesn't help that the OT books have opaque names.

It's tragic that Catholicism's finest Bible maker makes only Douays [Update: I forgot about the Knox!]. The worst translations have all that passionate intensity while the best, the Jerusalem, lack fine bookmaking conviction. (“Other than the translation and the print-size, how was the book Mrs. Lincoln?”)

I felt about the Douay perhaps the way J.P. Morgan felt about his illustrated medieval manuscripts: they were there to look at, fondle, admire, but not to read.

*

Oh yes when the student is ready the teacher appears: I normally (shamefully) delete without reading the St Vincent de Paul emails that come in the daily drench of spam. But something, or Someone, bid me read this one and I was riveted by it not being simply a solicitation request but recommended books to read on poverty. So this email came at a receptive time and I immediately borrowed from the library one of the recommended books: When Helping Hurts. I read about half in one sitting and I think it hits certain assumptions on my part that reveal a sort of fundamental misunderstanding of work and its purpose. I think it colors a lot of my attitudes. I'm in a sort of untenable position: if I don't value work, which I tend to too oft think of as the “curse of the drinking class”, then it follows I can't really hold others to the “work is good” paradigm and thus I should be giving lots of my money away blindly, because why should I worry about enabling dependency if I don't see self-sufficiency and work as valuable in itself?

I also read with great interest in the book's take on microfinace, and my beloved Kiva.org: 1) there's no gospel message attached 2) it mainly only helps the vulnerable middle class since loans too small aren't made and 3) it does not encourage savings or wealth building.

So true. And lo and behold I see that Catholic Relief Services is way ahead of me and has a program to incentivize savings.

*

Finally got around to checking on the CMAs via my DVR. (Enough acronymns?) Interesting to see the generational variety. Young kids barely out of their teens, the big dawgs in their late 20s/early 30s, and the stars on the declension, like George Strait and Vince Gill.

Gill was interesting, saying how he envied how well the younger generation got along, loving each other, high-fiving, implicitly implying his generation was cutthroat. Cynically, I thought it's just more veiled with this generation but there's no way for me to keno given how unfamiliar I am worn the GenX/GenY crowd. And many times people rebel, in a good way, against the sins of their fathers, witness the younger generation being more pro-life than the boomers.

*
I sometimes wonder how introversion can be integrated into a heavenly vision.  The Trinity, after all, is the ultimate symbol of continuous community.  And so...my parody in the style of "The Onion"  (at the risk of irreverency):
Father in Heaven Needs Some Solitude
Heaven--  God the Father told the Son and the Holy Spirit today that he was going to be by himself in his Godcave for a little while where he could read and recollect himself.
“You know I'm the Introvert in the bunch, and we introverts appreciate our alone time."
The Son and Holy Spirit were not available for comment at press time. 
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Edward Dyer poem:
The lowest trees have tops, the ant her gall,
The fly her spleen, the little spark his heat;
The slender hairs cast shadows, though but small,
And bees have stings, although they be not great;
     Seas have their source, and so have shallow springs;
    And love is love, in beggars and in kings.

Where waters smoothest run, there deepest are the fords:
The dial stirs, yet none perceives it move;
The firmest faith is found in fewest words,
The turtles do not sing, and yet they love;
    True hearts have ears, and eyes, no tongues to speak:
    They hear, and see, and sign, and then they break.

December 17, 2014

December 13, 2014

December 12, 2014

Feinstein's Report

So, Sen. Diane Feinstein wanted this report to come out despite the fact she was on the Intelligence Committee and heard a good deal about the “enhanced interrogation” program in real time? The question the $40 million report did not answer - of course! - is “what did Feinstein know and when did she know it?”

And the whole debate about whether there was actionable intelligence or not strikes me as the height of irrelevancy. You can't torture for a "good cause".

I do wonder sometimes if there's a bit of chronological snobbery though. Because, deep down, we think we're so much better than those poor, benighted folks in the '40s when the decision was made to round up people of Japanese ancestry and lock them up after Pearl Harbor. Or any of the myriad of other horrendous errors the country made in its history. That's not supposed to happen now because we're all sinless these days, at least Democrats are (according to Democrats) as are Republicans (if you're Republican) and Independents (if you're an Independent).