December 29, 2009

Various & Sundry

Was listening to Mendelssohn's 4th last night as the Cavs demolished the Houston Rockets. It almost looked like the Globetrotters versus the Generals. My absence from NBA basketball has been so long that I recognize only a half dozen names across the league. Mostly I watch simply for LeBron James, after seeing him on a 60 Minutes segment. An unusual route to NBA-fandom, 'eh?

When last I followed pro basketball, back fifteen years ago in the Age of Jordan, only Dennis Rodman seemed to have tattoos. Now it seems everybody has them. I think they look better, less obtrusive, against black skin.

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I'm enjoying the social networking sites Facebook & Twitter lately in a different way than with blogspot. When there is a small pocket of downtime I enjoy reading the cavalcade of short messages from different sources while rarely personally contributing - there's something about them that make me tongue-tied. Feels too public, ha. But the stream of little jibs and jabs feel almost haiku-like, from Dylan's "Three o'clock and I'm awake. Splendid beyond my capacity to describe." (sarcasm?) to Jeff's cryptic Hobbesian lines to Amy's Christmas pictures to Smock's child's baptism notice.

I'm following enough folks on both sites to ensure a pretty decent stream of nibbles and there's something sort of mesmerizing about hitting refresh and seeing whose name will pop up next on the iPod, with an interface well-suited to the short messages. I generally seem to gravitate more to Twitter than Facebook.

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Loved the Christmas Mass at dawn and the homily from the austere former engineer who pastors St. Ann's. The responsorial psalm was "Be glad in the Lord, you just..." and then the second reading, as if responding to our question of whether we are just, answers in the affirmative: "Our savior appeared...that we might be justified by his grace." The Mass at dawn is the best Christmas mass for all its readings, including the first reading from Isaiah that goes, "and you shall be called 'Frequented,' a city that is not forsaken." Christ felt forsaken on the cross that we may be frequented.

Mom surprised me by mentioning that the tradition of Grandma's generation was to go to two Christmas masses on Christmas! You can't get enough of Christ's mass on Christmas.

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Saw The Blind Side on Boxing Day. Nice flick. Very watchable and inspiring. Based on a true story as they say.

Sunday after Mass I had the house to myself and gloried in What Shall I Read? Had lots of time, the whole rest of the day, with nothing pressing. Enjoyed the mere prospect of reading and eventually went with some of The Odyssey by our friend Homer as well as the first chapter (on Homer) of Beowulf on the Beach, a guide to the classics. Then some of George Rutler's book on the Cure d'Ars.

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And from Isaiah: Interpreted by Early Christians:
The Old Testament is a very large book, and it is not obvious how everything that is found in it (e.g., the ritual of the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16 or the love poetry of the Song of Songs) derives its meaning from Christ.

Following St. Paul, the church fathers argued that a surface reading of the Old Testament, whhat Origin calls the 'plain' meaning, missed what was most important in the Bible, Jesus Christ. The subject of Scriptures, writes Cyril of Alexandria, is 'the mystery of Christ signified to us through a myriad of different kinds of things. Someone might liken it to a glittering and magnificent city, having not one image of the king but many, and publicly displayed in every corner of the city...Its purpose is not to provide us an account of the lives of the saints of old. Far from that. Its purpose is to give us knowledge of the mystery [of Christ] through things that make the word about him clear and true.'...

In the words of Henri de Lubac, 'The conversion of the Old Testament to the New or of the letter of Scripture to its spirit can only be explained and justified, in its radicality, by the all-powerful and unprecedented intervention of Him who is himself at once the Alpha and the Omega...Therefore Jesus Christ brings about the unity of Scripture, because he is the endpoint and fulness of Scripture. Everything in it is related to him.'

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The book of Leviticus and the Song of Songs cry out for a spiritual interpretation if they are to be read profitably by Christians. Taken only in its literal sense Leviticus, as Origen once observed, is more of an obstacle to faith than a means of exhortation or edification. It is surely significant that books such as Leviticus and the Song of Songs are seldom read in Christian worship today. Without allegory, that is, a spiritual interpretation to Christ, they languish.

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