December 15, 2009

This 'n That

So, according to Drudge, Harry Reid can't find 60 senators. Color me skeptical. Wasn't it not long ago that three senators were holding up even a debate on health care? Didn't they all fold like tin cans? Do tin cans fold? This health care bill has more lives than a reincarnated cat. And I really find it hard to believe that the Senate wants to extend a program (Medicare) that even its defenders (like Obama) say is full of fraud and abuse and which doctors treat like the plague.

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Watched the DVD The Star which proposes that God literally wrote in the heavens of the birth and death of his Son, with a crescent moon at Virgo's feet (Rev. 12) to a full lunar eclipse at the Son's death. Beautiful & recommended.

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Perhaps too imbued with the therapeutic but interesting thoughts here via Steven Riddle, on Lydia Davis collection of short stories:
It’s been making my daily train ride from Queens to Manhattan and back again almost tolerable, too. Unlike James Wood, who read straight through, beginning to end, I just sort of reach into my bag, grab the book, and let it fall open where it may. I hadn’t intended on reading it this way, but something about the stories encourages it. It occurred to me yesterday that there are only two other categories of books I (and probably many people) read like this: poetry collections and religious texts (in my case, the Bible).

What do the Davis, poetry, and religious tomes have in common? I think it’s that they all operate as devotional texts, defined, in my mind, as speaking to an emotional need; as employing aphorism (they offer concise wisdom or instruction); and, perhaps most significantly, as possessing many chambers. These are books you walk into: although their various components—individual poems, stories, verses—come together to form a whole, they are distinct. One doesn’t follow linearly from another. You don’t necessarily know what you will find when you flip the book open, but you are sure to find something that suits your current mood. And this is why they become companions; the books you take everywhere, objects of devotion.
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As a child my favorite Christmas specials were A Christmas Carol and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I soaked up the messages contained therein as if they were Scripture. What were the messages? In How the Grinch Stole Christmas, his conversion was so complete and neat and fast and, more or less, painless. In TV examples, the misery is all in the pre-conversion stage. You are miserable, you find Love, and are happy. But is that the way it works? Conversion is an on-going process that involves self-denial. With the Grinch, it seems there isn't an outside force (God) who intervenes; instead simply the thought occurs to him that "maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store; maybe Christmas means a little bit more." And his heart was touched by it. But God can, of course, give us promptings and thoughts we otherwise wouldn't have had. And it's hardly a Pelagian tale for the Grinch tries to save the sleigh full of toys from sliding down the mountain and he (and the little dog) are using every ounce of strength they have and it's obviously inadequate.

Suddenly his heart is said to have grown 3 times its size through no effort of his own and he is given prodigious strength such that makes the sleigh as light as a feather. The end result is a civilized, socialable Grinch with good table manners. :-) At the moment of conversion his eye color changed from a blood-red/brown to a light blue but at the end of his struggle with the sleigh it reverted briefly to red with his face reflecting fear; then there seemed a second wind of a conversion, this time conferring strength.

Did the Grinch make me think back then that conversion happens without personal effort and that it is always accompanied by sheer joy? Of course the Grinch did exert personal effort in attempting to save the gifts on the sled.

Did I think that only those visited by three ghosts or whose hearts bust - i.e. have supernatural experiences like Scrooge & the Grinch - have need of improvement? I found A Christmas Carol motivating in the sense that I wanted to be good so as not to become like Scrooge. Back then it wasn't about God so much - it would've never occurred to me as a teen to pray that I not be like Scrooge or that I be given the graces Scrooge was given. I thought with my own effort I could avoid his friend Marley's fate.

2 comments:

Bob the Ape said...

I believe tin cans crumple.

They might fold like wet cardboard; although, in this context, "fold" as the first part of a simile (are there technical grammatical terms for the two parts? - if so, I'd love to know what they are) seems to call for a poker analogy as the second part.

TS said...

Thanks Bob! "Wet cardboard" was what I was looking for but I can't resist an awful mixed metaphor when I can find one. :-)