February 16, 2009

Various Sacred & Profane Thoughts

It was like a taste of the supernatural in the purely natural, that of our dog smelling the seemingly unsmellable, in this case deer in woods in the distance. He didn't see them (as usual --sometimes it's like his breed needs a seeing-eye dog rather than being one), but he could smell 'em. To put it in visual terms, a dog's nose is high-def and a human's is Etch-a-sketch (or the crude markings on a stone tablet).

The lack of bipartianship in Washington is not particularly surprising given that the American people expressly voted for partianship. If we wanted the parties to work closely together we wouldn't have given large majorities to the Democrats in Congress, nor married them with a Democrat president. Sometimes you get what you pay for. We're getting what we paid for.

I like "The Catholic Comparative New Testament", which has eight versions of the bible side-by-side for comparison purposes. Check out the differing translations of 1 Cor 13:7, from the famous Pauline section on love:
"[Love is] always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope..." (Jerusalem), "It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope.." (New Jerusalem), "[Love] beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things..." (Rheims), "[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things...", "Love excuses everything, believes all things, hopes all things" (Christian Community Bible), "Love never gives up, and its faith, hope and patience never fail (Good News Translation).

Winter has a way of making me thirst, Proustian-like, for the summer, even for the deep loneliness of that county fair on that late July night.

I remember it like it was yesterday, the loping horses, the tractor pull, the rabbits and roosters in their cages observed by a coterie of significantly-breasted girls in tight Hooters shirts. I tried to look at them and not look at them at the same time, the sort of look perfected by Vince Vaughn in a scene in Four Christmases.

I could feel the summer slipping away already. On that late July night I felt a corner turned, felt the haunt of age, knew the inadequacy of the dizzying summer to fill me up enough. Oddly it seems that the moments most memorable were the ones that jumped the shark; the first lengthy bike-ride in exotic Clintonville felt satisfyingly disorienting, as if I were on vacation in my own town, but then I repeated it thrice, and fice, and the initial moment was unrecreatable. The story of pleasure, 'eh?

I have trouble ascribing moments of natural transcendence to God, or seeing them as metaphors of Heaven. It’s a sore lack for it would be beneficial in one so inclined to the aesthetic experience. (But then that would give it a utilitarian twinge, as if God doesn't want us to enjoy something simply for its own sake.) I am slightly jealous of those who see a landscape and thank God, such as my wife. It's no wonder she so easily sees dogs in Heaven. I know intellectually that God created everything but my joy in nature is mostly disconnected from God, perhaps because I've long been in the habit of seeing nature as red in tooth and claw and thus "neutral" in terms of the sacred and profane. Or maybe it's a Puritanical streak in seeing no credit in it, as if I’m goldbricking when I’m enjoying created things.

I've sometimes understood capitalism (which is a terrible system though the best we have) in terms in which the goal is to get us to keep up with the Joneses by spending ourselves into an early grave. An advertising-driven, profane phenomenon. I struggle to see it as a way to turn our talents over to God, to spend the day giving something that would help someone else instead of merely satisfying ourselves. I was reading part of “Conversations with God” recently and there was a passage about work that mentioned how we should do it excellently, with great attention to detail, so that it might give a good appearance to others (perhaps some of whom are non-Christian), and they will be drawn to the Faith by our observance to quality.

Sound advice surely, though I thought it a stretch that one work extremely hard so that a co-worker might notice and become Christian. Certainly my own reversion wasn't triggered in the slightest by the examples of co-workers who went to meetings with relish and were seemingly absorbed with minutiae. In fact, they might've been an obstacle. My bad of course. (St. Joseph the worker, pray for me!)

Their mindset was also inconsistent with the philosophy of my own buying habits; back in the early '90s, I actually preferred a “disposable” American car to the higher-quality Japanese models. I was willing to take the gamble of more repairs in return for the cheaper price. Time value of money suggested that less I pay upfront, the better and I didn't want to own the same car for twelve years. I also had the considerable consolation of knowing I was helping save American jobs.

As we all know, the American automoble industry has hugely improved on quality so that's no longer an issue. But that's cars. There are certain professions in which you always yearn for high quality, such as doctors, nurses, priests, lawyers, artists.

1 comment:

William luse said...

I love the way dogs stand and stare into the distance, with such apparent dignity.