January 15, 2009

Let's Play....

...why's my bookbag (or e-reader equivalent) so heavy?

My lack of having anything to say is your gain because that is the impetus for going to my handy, dandy amazon Kindle and copying from its "Save Page as Clipping" feature:
...as a rule the New Englander's strength was his poise which almost amounted to a defect. He offered no more target for love than for hate; he attracted as little as he repelled; even as a machine, his motion seemed never accelerated. - Henry Adams stereotyping a swath of the country, which you could do in those days. From "The Education of Henry Adams"

In the cave at Bethlehem, God shows himself to us as a humble “infant” to overcome our pride. Perhaps we would have submitted more easily before power, before pride; but he does not want our submission. He appeals, rather, to our heart and to our free decision to accept his love. He has made himself little to free us from this human pretension of greatness that arises from pride; he has incarnated himself freely to make us truly free, free to love him. - Pope Benedict XVI

The desire to pass is loaded territory and can lead to the ugliest sort of argument there is. “You want to be French, Mary Frances, that’s your problem, but instead you’re just another American.” I went to the window for that one and saw a marriage disintegrate before my eyes. Poor Mary Frances in her beige beret. Back at the hotel it had probably seemed like a good idea, but now it was ruined and ridiculous, a cheap felt pancake sliding off the back of her head. She’d done the little scarf thing, too, not caring that it was summer. It could have been worse, I thought. She could have been wearing one of those striped boater’s shirts, but, as it was, it was pretty bad, a costume, really. Some vacationers raise the roof — they don’t care who hears them — but Mary Frances spoke in a whisper. This, too, was seen as pretension and made her husband even angrier. “Americans,” he repeated. - David Sedaris, "When You Are Engulfed in Flames"

It is significant that in the greatest religious poem existent, the Book of Job, the argument which convinces the infidel is not (as has been represented by the merely rational religionism of the eighteenth century) a picture of the ordered beneficence of the Creation; but, on the contrary, a picture of the huge and undecipherable unreason of it. 'Hast Thou sent the rain upon the desert where no man is?' This simple sense of wonder at the shapes of things, and at their exuberant independence of our intellectual standards and our trivial definitions, is the basis of spirituality. - G.K. Chesterton

The driver recited into his mike, “One of the commonest questions we get is ‘Why is the ice so dirty?’ Well, glacier ice is made of snow, meters of it compressed to a centimeter or two of ice. As you may already know, every snowflake and raindrop has to form around a tiny piece of dirt in the air. The snow melts, but the dirt stays there.” Had Alexandra known that? That snowflakes and raindrops each need a germ of dirt? Does the sky hold enough dirt to supply them all? - John Updike, "Widows of Eastwick"

At the four corners of a child's bed stand Perseus and Roland, Sigurd and St. George. If you withdraw the guard of heroes you are not making him rational; you are only leaving him to fight the devils alone. For the devils, alas, we have always believed in. The hopeful element in the universe has in modern times continually been denied and reasserted; but the hopeless element has never for a moment been denied. As I told "H. N. B." (whom I pause to wish a Happy Christmas in its most superstitious sense), the one thing modern people really do believe in is damnation. The greatest of purely modern poets summed up the really modern attitude in that fine Agnostic line-- "There may be Heaven; there must be Hell." The gloomy view of the universe has been a continuous tradition; and the new types of spiritual investigation or conjecture all begin by being gloomy. -G.K. Chesterton

The lesson of Garibaldi, as education, seemed to teach the extreme complexity of extreme simplicity; but one could have learned this from a glow-worm. One did not need the vivid recollection of the low-voiced, simple-mannered, seafaring captain of Genoese adventurers and Sicilian brigands, supping in the July heat and Sicilian dirt and revolutionary clamor, among the barricaded streets of insurgent Palermo, merely in order to remember that simplicity is complex. -The Education of Henry Adams

[David Foster] Wallace was especially concerned that certain theoretical paradigms — the cerebral aestheticism of modernism, the clever trickery of postmodernism — too casually dispense with what he once called “the very old traditional human verities that have to do with spirituality and emotion and community.” He called for a more forthright, engaged treatment of these basic truths. Yet he himself attended to them with his own fractured, often-esoteric methods. It was a defining tension: the very conceptual tools with which he pursued life’s most desperate questions threatened to keep him forever at a distance from the connections he struggled to make. - NY Times column

My favorite Onion headline was '95% of Americans Support Public Transit for Other People.'" - Peggy Noonan

Henri Bergson once said that the motive power of democracy is love. For many years I didn’t understand what he meant. So much of democratic life is filled with conflict, hyperbole, theatrics, and bad taste. But I think I know now. We serve our democratic institutions best when we love our country; when we nourish its greatest ideals through our own courage, honesty, and active political engagement... There isn’t one “right” answer here. Committed Catholics can make very different but equally valid choices: to vote for the major candidate who most closely fits the moral ideal, to vote for an acceptable third-party candidate who is unlikely to win, or to not vote at all. All of these choices can be legitimate. This is a matter for personal decision, not church policy. -Archbishop Chaput, "Render Under Caesar"

When we arrived in the chapel the following morning, the Pope [John Paul II] was already before the altar, hunched over in a chair, bent nearly double. He had been praying for an hour, a nun explained in a whisper. He seemed to me then such an extraordinary symbol. In spite of his frailty, he was still Pope, and I sensed no diminishing of his power, as if within his weakness lay his strength. -Cherie Blair "Speaking for Myself"

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