February 16, 2010

Spanning the Globe to Bring You the Constant Variety of Posts

The Saints are a sign of that radical newness which the Son of God - with his Incarnation, death and Resurrection - grafted on to human nature. As outstanding witnesses of faith, they are not representatives of the past but rather constitute the present and future of the Church and of society. - Pope Benedict, via the blogger at "Beggar for Love"

I HAVE BEEN DULL to-day, haunted by the thought of how much there is that I would fain know, and how little I can hope to learn. The scope of knowledge has become so vast. I put aside nearly all physical investigation; to me it is naught, or only, at moments, a matter of idle curiosity. This would seem to be a considerable clearing of the field; but it leaves what is practically the infinite. To run over a list of only my favourite subjects, those to which, all my life long, I have more or less applied myself, studies which hold in my mind the place of hobbies, is to open vistas of intellectual despair. In an old note-book I jotted down such a list—“things I hope to know, and to know well.” I was then four and twenty. Reading it with the eyes of fifty-four, I must needs laugh. There appear such modest items as “The history of the Christian Church up to the Reformation”—“all Greek poetry”—“The field of Mediaeval Romance”—“German literature from Lessing to Heine”—“Dante!” Not one of these shall I ever “know, and know well”; not any one of them. Yet here I am buying books which lead me into endless paths of new temptation. What have I to do with Egypt? Yet I have been beguiled by Flinders Petrie and by Maspero. How can I pretend to meddle with the ancient geography of Asia Minor? Yet here have I bought Prof. Ramsay’s astonishing book, and have even read with a sort of troubled enjoyment a good many pages of it; troubled, because I have but to reflect a moment, and I see that all this kind of thing is mere futile effort of the intellect when the time for serious intellectual effort is over. - From Bill of Summa Minutiae; George Gissing, "The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft, XVI"

Epic Self Examination Fail: Writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education, a philosophy professor from University of Denver considers the question of "Why do liberal arts professors lean left" and determines, "Oh, it's because we obviously understand the nature of reality better than everyone else." - Darwin Catholic

Somewhere along the line, though, the word "vacation" stopped sounding like a relevant description of what actually happens when my husband and I, and our five children set out for some destination lasting more than two days. Some people know they're on vacation when they're spread out on a poolside lounger drinking a pineapple cocktail. I know I'm on vacation when I'm huddled behind some bushes, hiding from my kids, so I can smoke a cigarette in the middle of the day. I like to smoke on vacation because it's the only thing that really distinguishes a vacation from any other day of breaking up fights and wiping bottoms, albeit in a different location. - Betty Duffy

I've grown very wary of the pretty conclusion, the spiritual lesson learned, the great insight gained through the grind of daily life. I know why writers use this trick, and I've done it myself -- hard up for something, anything, to post, I remember this little anecdote that could just do for posting if I can put some little inspirational twist on it. And people seem to eat the stuff up, so it must be fine, right? Of course people draw inspirational conclusions from daily life all the time. What I find tiresome is the... craftedness of it all. Of course good writing must be crafted, not just flung at the page, but it takes a particular talent to draw inspiration from the ordinary while not seeming gimmicky or easy...I don't even want inspiration from the internet anymore. I've been trying to immerse myself in Scripture, reading passages from the Wisdom literature each night. This is real. This is what can reach into my soul and open me to God in a way that reading a blog can never emulate. Who can say anything that Qoheleth didn't cover 23 centuries ago? And that's fine. I like reading funny stories about people's kids, with no moral tacked on. I like musings on the political situation (to a point). And I love good, true writing -- not flashy, not gimmicky, not designed to lift me up or force a life lesson or "make me think". Bloggers can do the writing and I'll do my own thinking, without a serving of Chicken Soup for the internet soul. - Mrs. Darwin of "Darwin Catholic"

Michelle Obama is beginning a campaign to fight childhood obesity. Now if we can just get her husband to do something about government obesity. - Dylan of "dark speech upon the harp"

I would like to submit that this could increase the credibility of the IPCC, not decrease it. Aren't mistakes human? Even the IPCC is a human institution. - Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice chairman of the IPCC

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only thing moving
Was the steam of the coffee. - Dylan of "dark speech upon the harp"

I still remember sitting on the dryer in the laundry room of my uni hostel, reading this book while waiting for my washing to get done. Certain lines made me feel as if the earth had just moved under me, and I actually nearly lost my balance once or twice!...I also remember reading it at night, by the light of a small bed lamp, and feeling as someone had just blown a bugle outside my window. The world is more heroic when the Incarnation is allowed to be at the heart of history. - Enbrethiliel at "Shredded Cheddar" on first reading Chesterton's "The Everlasting Man"

1 comment:

dylan said...

The "steam of the coffee" quotation should credit Wallace Stevens with a big assist!