April 17, 2004

Random Thoughts

Monday we go to Larry’s bar and the passionate poet reminds me of my own lack of creativity. Shouldn’t Maslow have included “creative writing while drinking beer” on his list?

I’m ready to dive into my books; the latest arrival is a sweet firebird-red 1905 edition of Chesterton’s “Heretics”. The cover alone breaks your heart with its beauty, the simplicity of that single word in the typeface time forgot. Nearby is Paul Theroux’s odd “Hotel Honolulu” and next door is Belloc’s wonderous travelogue “Path to Rome” where all the reds in the obscure European villages he traverses are of a remarkable vintage. I note the little TAN insignia at the bottom of Bellocs's neighbor “This is the Faith” and it warms, just the mere insignia. It reminds me of TAN’s “Glories of Divine Grace” and how I treasure it by not reading it. That is the fate of the books in the rareified air of the top .01%. They cannot be read because they would disappoint, or even if they didn’t reading them would be consuming them and I prefer they not be consumed. They are worth more in their virginal state. Pearce’s “Literary Converts” shares a similar fate, to be read when no other Pearce books are available, or on my deathbed, whichever comes first. A book can be too highly valued to be read. I've managed to avoid this practice with respect to the Bible, convinced by the truth of St. Jerome's “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”.

I tire easily of the endless debates about lax bishops and GIRM and modern liturgical music and other hot-button St. Blog issues. And unfortunately I’m usually not pious enough to appreciate the posts of Steven Riddle or Mary of Ever-New. So I look for something else, something surprising and artful, something Dylan-esque. Something I can’t even define it other than I know it when I see it. Mostly it’s the case of someone saying what I’m thinking but am too reticent to talk about, like the Internet Monk's refreshing “I Hate Theology” bit. (He doesn’t really hate theology so much as he hates how it tends to make one proud, less appreciative of devotional practices and too vigilant of other’s error.) Ultimately world politics and church politics and theological debates all tend to exercise the same overused (left-brain) muscle. There’s a need for beauty, but it shouldn't be mere afterthought, as if to “set the plate” for more politics. Politics is an accelerant. Beauty is often a somnolent. Lush prose or poetry rests me. A strange word or bucolic image will strike a chord of a memory past and I’ll slide to dreamland.

Blogs can provide the “surprise” that newspaper columns can’t or won’t. They seem more human - there’ s an element of self-disclosure found previously only in diaries published after famous person’s deaths. I venture occasionally outside of St. Blog’s though it’s usually a fool’s errand. Most bloggers are young and most of the young are simply foolish (I certainly was/am). I come across a blogger who links to a site that raises money for breast cancer by having women bloggers submit pictures of their breasts. Has it come to that? That we have to see naked pictures in order to donate to charity?

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Our bed is a magnet for animals. No, not that. I mean first our cat & now our dog. Obi lays his head so sweetly against the pillow, intuiting its purpose if by accident. He understands creature comforts and we share that trait in our mutual embodiments. Oh but what of responsibilities? They sleep free of care, their small brains their comfort.

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My evangelical wife decides, for the first time ever, she wants to go to a Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. Where this inspiration came from I know not. After a few calls I find a Stations and it’s at a parish I infrequent, at 7:30pm. Her sister Karen joins us, and it’s as desultory as Roman church services are reputed to be. The church is nearly empty, the priest old and limping and skips every other station’s singing verse presumably in order to shorten the service. It seems to reinforce the reasons they left the Church: a lack of excitement, the lackluster crowds, the minimalism rather than maximalism. But it is not my business but God's.

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