...Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied;Virtue and vice, wheat and tares, grow up together and human creatures do not easily discern among them. Is it possible, then, that the Friar's wisdom could be as harmful as the Nurse's foolishness?...After Romeo learns that he has been banished, Friar Laurence is trying to comfort Romeo, but Romeo won't listen, so the Friar says, "O, then I see that madmen have no ears," and Romeo replies, "How should they, when that wise men have no eyes?" In criticizing Romeo for having no ears, the Friar is criticizing Romeo's resistance to obeying his counsel; Romeo's criticizes the Friar for not recognizing the experience of his own life and situation. I cannot help thinking that Friar Laurence has set his confidence on himself and his own cleverness instead of encouraging Romeo to hope in Christ... He reminds me of the priest in the conclusion to Walter Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz: after counseling a woman who wants to euthanize her child, the priest realizes that he had not preached the Gospel to her, but merely stoicism with a Christian patina...It is only fitting, then, that I answer the catastrophe of the play with an image of the hope that was never urged or tried. When he sees Juliet's tomb, not knowing that she was not truly dead, Romeo describes it as
And vice sometimes by action dignified.
Thou detestable maw, thou womb of death,Instead of leaping into this maw or denying it by calling it a lantern (as Romeo does later in this scene)...Christ, not mere human cunning, pries open the mouth of this nothingness with the cross (not a crowbar)...Had Friar Laurence thought to educate Romeo in hope (a hope present even in the desolation that Romeo felt at his exile!), he might not have accepted the finality of Juliet's death and taken his fate into his own hands, but instead hoped in Christ, done nothing, and discovered Juliet restored suddenly, as if by grace. - Frederick of "Deep Furrows"; post here
Gorged with the dearest morsel of the earth,
Thus I enforce thy rotten jaws to open,
And, in despite, I'll cram thee with more food!
Cardinal Zen said he accepted the pope’s invitation with “little hesitation,” but soon discovered, much to his surprise, that his early drafts did not reflect a very Christian attitude. He said he had to step back and purify himself of the “less than charitable feelings” he had toward those who made Jesus suffer and who “are making our brothers and sisters suffer in today’s world.” In “thinking about persecution,” he wrote, “let us also (think) about the persecutors” and how even they are being called to salvation by God. - On Cardinal Zen writing the meditations accompanying the Stations of the Cross for Good Friday
As a corrective to those dealing with anger-management issues and a noticeable lack of patriotism, Edward Everett Hale's excellent short story "A Man without a Country", about a young United States Army leutenant who, when tried for treason, bitterly renounces his nation shouting "Damn the United States! I wish I may never hear of the United States again!" -- suffice to say the judge grants him his wish, the sentence carried out to the letter. The end result is that he came to understand how much he had lost in receiving his wish. A similar lesson might be a book my father read to us when we were little: Peter Jenkin's memoir, A Walk Across America, about an angry young radical who was challenged by an older, wiser man to actually explore the country he was thinking about leaving in his disgust -- and literally walked across our nation, meeting and staying with American citizens of every color, class and stripe along the way. At the time he read it to us my brothers and I thought it was a neat story, a great adventure -- in retrospect, perhaps he was trying to teach us something more. - Christopher of "Against the Grain"
Making the Mormons Look Better Every Day--title of "Inn at the End of the World" post concerning Obama's pastor
Catholic blogger Tom Kreitzberg is opposed to irony, basically because he views it as a destructive form of humor, one that is parasitic on the good. But he inadvertently offers one of the best justifications of irony I've ever read. He writes: "Irony has no place in the Kingdom of God." Which, in my view, is exactly why irony is so crucially helpful in the world we live in. The Kingdom of God is a place of love and truth — a place where there is joy because there is truth: "What is" and "what should be" are identical. In our world — excuse the understatement — the powerful and the good are, ahem, not identical. Irony is the weapon the powerless use to reassert human dignity — to point out that when preening politicians lie, unctuous clergymen are vicious and faithless, regimes that glorify "The People" actually torture and oppress the people, none of this is as it should be. Irony has no place in the Kingdom of God — but, boy, do we ever need it down here. Irony points out precisely the ways in which we fall short of the Kingdom — and can therefore serve as a prophetic grace. - Mike Potemra in NRO's "The Corner"
The whole point...was to give me a creative outlet and an intellectually-engaging pastime to escape a bit from the dull monotony of everyday life and to recreate virtually the mentally-stimulating environment I had grown used to in university and seminary. As I've added other pastimes and outlets and friendships over the years, my personal need for the blog has really evaporated...The purpose was never ministerial or evangelical, although I suppose it has collaterally served that purpose from time to time...At a time when acrimony and and a bellicose spirit often characterize the interactions of religious and non-religious people, I have tried to keep the tone of this blog irenic and to show the worldly folk the riches of Catholic tradition, and the Catholic folk the contributions of the worldly or non-Catholic, and to look at the positive ways in which different people express both their common humanity and their different spiritual visions. - Fr. Jim of "Dappled Things" last post