November 15, 2011

This & That Thursday

A fine couple tidbits from Eve Tushnet:
* This is third-hand, so bear with me, but one reading of the parable of the Good Samaritan is that when the story is finished and Jesus asks, "Who was his neighbor?" and the Pharisee says, "The one who showed him mercy"... the Pharisee is placed in the role of the wounded man. The one who thought of himself in the powerful role, the role of the man extending his hand in charity, instead sees himself as the wounded man in need of mercy. And Jesus not only acknowledges his wounds and dirtiness and pledges to cleanse, heal, and forgive him, but also gives him the task of going and doing likewise--now from a position of gratitude and humility, rather than a never-sullied position of privilege and power.

* We were asked to think of three concrete ways God has shown us mercy. I had a few in mind, but after hearing from several of the other participants I realized that I had only identified places where I have been lucky. Privilege, basic health, good work, and financial security are things I'm immensely grateful for, but God's mercy is a fiercer thing.

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Heard about St. Christina the Astonishing today. She could smell sin, and it wasn't pleasant. She went about hiding in closets trying to avoid the stench. Yikes! She rose from her own coffin and set up camp in the rafters to avoid the smell of the congregation. I reckon I wouldn't smell too good my own self. It seems so hard to believe, that of Christ's unconditional love, such that I'm faced with the truth that my sins do not define the compass of Christ's love, smell or no smell.

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Our pastor Sunday talked about the upcoming changes and mentioned the "for many" versus "for all" controversy and said that the reason for "many" is that we all know that some reject Christ and thus even though Christ died for all that some reject Him.

But this seems a bit iffy in the face of the assertion that Hell could be empty. How can we say "many" when we don't know the eternal fate of a single soul?

As one friend said, it seems to elevate human choice. On the other hand, if we take the long view we see that the Church has almost always elevated human choice since the word has been "many" for a long, long time before the New Mass came in. So I can't get too excited over it given the history. The Church has survived worse.

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It felt bracing and "empowering" (as the corporate-types so want us to feel) to blow off one of those egregious "Lunch 'n Learns" (meetings held in lieu of lunch that I alone appear to view as optional) despite it being politically inadvisable. It's amazing how you have to please so many more people now. Directors, AVPs, VPs...I get so much face time with higher-ups now and that's just not in my favor.

Feel uncomfortable with authority figures, primarily priests and assistant vice presidents. Hence I have difficulty with the semi-yearly sit-down chats. I would love to know the genesis of the fad to personally meet everybody on the planet. Blessed obscurity, where art thou? Flying beneath the pretty radar, how canst I?

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Am reading "The Compass of Pleasure" and the author promises to go into the heart of the subject: why does every human, and many animal, culture seek out ways to alter their brains via substances like alcohol or caffeine or hallucinagens? Have to wade through a lot of science & dancing dendrites along the way though.

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