December 22, 2009

Spanning the Globe to Bring You the Constant Variety of Posts

Over our altars floats the joy of the joyful message, from the plains of Bethlehem it sinks into our hearts and breathes consolation and hope into our souls. The Saviour is born for us, a Saviour who will deliver us from sin and from the thralldom of Satan, who reconciles us to God and opens heaven to us. - St. John Vianney, Sermons on the Nativity

A priest once told me that that "self-talk," those words that comfort us or tear us down in our heads are like our friends. If our friends are advising us to be dissatisfied, or criticizing our loved ones, etc, then we're hanging out with the wrong crowd. - Betty Duffy

I’ve read and enjoyed any number of classics not assigned in school. I started Shakespeare early, thanks to my parents’ leftover college textbooks...I like pretty much all the major and minor poets until after World War I. I really enjoyed Moby Dick — it’s a hallucinatory techno-thriller, written by a natural blogger who loves to digress. I read Boswell’s Life of Johnson until my eyes started to cross. The unabridged Don Quixote was a bit of a slog for a sixth grader, but things do happen that aren’t all despairdespairdespair. And nobody made me sit in English class and discuss What Things Meant. But most of the books assigned in school are depressing, depressing, depressing. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. (Didn’t make it past the first chapter.) Earth Abides. (One of the top ten worst sf novels ever!!) Stupid Catcher in the Rye. Stupid Stranger in a Strange Land. That dang Bear story by Faulkner. (Also skipped.) To Kill a Mockingbird. (Okay, not stupid or hideous, but not exactly enjoyable.) Crime and Punishment. (At least when it gets into the investigation thriller part, there’s some relief.) We don’t teach schoolkids to enjoy wit and depth; we teach them that literature is about the mute endurance of literary suffering and despair. Fortunately, I was a voracious reader before, after, and during my English classes, so even the horrors of assigned reading couldn’t convince me that all books were dull, stale, and unprofitable. - post at "Aliens in This World"

British historian Arnold Toynbee argued that civilizations thrive when the lower classes aspire to be like the upper classes, and they decay when the upper classes try to be like the lower classes. Looked at through this prism, it’s hard not to see America in a prolonged period of decay. - Jonah Goldberg of NRO

Universalism is perhaps the second-most American belief about the afterlife possible. For the most nationally characteristic view, I turn to an existentialist friend of mine, who once told me, "I heard someone say that everybody gets the afterlife he or she believes in. And I couldn't help but think, That's so American!" Americans believe in a universe whose order is apparent to the naked eye; an order where God's justice lines up neatly with American cultural preferences for self-definition and multiple "truths." This is a mindset that we might expect from a nation that has built its identity on both Enlightenment philosophy and immigration -- as ZZ Top didn't quite sing, everybody's crazy 'bout a self-made man. Even our Last Things must be self-wrought and accommodating, pluralist and tolerant and as blandly nice as an American airport smile. - Eve Tushnet

Patronal dissonance: I found a lost St. Anthony medal today. - Tom of Disputations tweet

I've given up all hope of finding my St. Jude prayer card. - John J McG tweet

Where platitudes are concerned, I dislike them because Jesus is not just the reason we celebrate the season, he’s the reason for my entire life. I don’t like the idea that I have to cue up warm fuzzy Advent and Christmas feelings simply because I’ve pressed the pause button on my crazy life. It so rarely works and then I feel disappointed...As long as my joy is my Christ, no one can take it from me. But I can squander it, as easily as I stop “doing” my faith. If I am not practicing my faith and my joy every day, then it’s no wonder I feel nothing when I pause to remember the reason I celebrate anything. - Betty Duffy

Books to the ceiling,/ Books to the sky,/ My pile of books is a mile high./ How I love them! How I need them!/ I'll have a long beard by the time I read them. - Arnold Lobel

There's a terrific moment in the TV show House, in which the irascible and brilliant Dr. Greg House is explaining to a lapsed Catholic subordinate why he doesn't believe in the afterlife. House, with all the self-lacerating irony that actor Hugh Laurie can impart to the character, says, "I would hate to think that all of this was just atest."....[Modernity] poses the question, "Are pious actions good because the gods love them, or do the gods love pious actions because they are good?" No fully Christian answer can accept the terms of the question, since it drives a wedge between God and the world He created...As a final argument that this life is not just a test, I'll point to the sacred wounds of the risen Christ. When Christ appeared, resurrected, before the apostles, He was so thoroughly wounded that St. Thomas could actually poke a finger into His bleeding side. What happened to Him in this life was irrevocable. There are no "do-overs"; there are no "give-backs." Whatever healing or transformation of our wounds occurs in the next life, I suspect the wounds themselves will remain, just as Christ's wounds remained. So think of the penitent centurion -- think of his heaven. In his heaven, he is still the man who speared the side of Christ. His wrong action was not erased by God's love -- though it was transformed. His life was witness, not a test: In a test, all that matters is whether you pass. In witness, what matters is whether you live the unique and strange vocation you were given in a way that makes it possible for Christ's fingerprints to be seen on your face. - Eve Tushnet post

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