December 02, 2008


The title of my talk has been taken from Francois Mauriac. He struggled for many years to overcome the unbending austerity and narrow rigidity resulting from the theological pessimism of the Jansenism of his childhood. In 1931 he overcame this heritage. Thereafter life became a creative drama that engages the fullness of the person by being true with body and soul. Mauriac’s “clearing” was where he discovered the dramatic convergence of form and content. The wholeness of two polarities is manifested within the unity of body and soul in the human person. - text from a talk given by Cardinal Stafford

This patriotic impulse is based on a deep truth about culture. When human beings invest in a tradition or community or nation over long periods of time, something of our intrinsic dignity as creatures made in the image of God cannot help but find its way into the fabric of the culture. There’s almost always something in every human society worth honoring, which is one reason why patriotism is a natural virtue. I understand the widespread sentiment in contemporary Christian theology that judges patriotism, especially American patriotism, a temptation toward idolatry. Stanley Hauerwas has rightly pointed out the theological absurdity of the old Protestant habit of placing the American flag alongside the pulpit, as if the Pledge of Allegiance were on the same existential plane as the Nicene Creed. But we can go too far in our critiques of political idolatry and end up with a deracinating iconoclasm. Worldly loves such as patriotism and regional pride prepare us for the incorruptible love of God. In genuine patriotism, we give ourselves away to our roots—not unequivocally, not uncritically, not without reserve, but really and without hedging our bets. All our flags are corrupted by sin, but when we salute them, we prepare the heart for a deeper, life-abandoning salute to the cross and abandonment to God. - R. R. Reno at "First Things"

- Photo by Elena of "My Domestic Church"
Non c'è nessuna più bella ... Yet another reason to watch the local news here in Boston: channel 5's iconically luminous, ineffably splendid Rhondella Richardson. - Dylan of "Last Harp"

We need more Mobley like Bach's Cello in G, Suite 1, Prelude needs more cowbell. - commenter at the Golf Channel website concerning a competitor on "Big Break X", which features Bill Luse's daughter among others

I guess if you ARE the Messiah, church is kind of, well, where ever you are. - Barbra Nicolsi on Obama's not having been to church since the election

Rick Steves is the bane of the “serious” traveler, much like Rachael Ray is the bane of the serious cook. Making someting popular, but on a superficial level. I try not to get too snobbish about these things because, you know, it’s not as if I am some sort of renowned traveler myself. But what happened this time is that all my Italy books are still up in the unsold FW house, and I really didn’t want to spend the money on new ones, and Rick Steves’ Rome was the only one in the local library the day I went, so I packed him. He’s good for the basics, but get beyond that, it’s no good. - Roma lover Amy Welborn

My own standards are not quite so high. I'm holding out for a Catholic who is taller than I am and who can build bookcases. - single Catholic female at "Sancta Sanctis"

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