May 07, 2012

Diaristic Musings

I used to think that the light that is mentioned in so many near death experiences was a bit too cheesy and something of a cliche. We have experiences of light on earth, so it seems too predictable, too prosaic. I wanted near-deathers to describe something with more special effects than the instruction to "come to the light". But at least a couple things changed for me in the meantime. One is that I've become addicted to sunlight, appreciating it to an extent far beyond what I did as a child. The second thing is that I've become more used to the idea that God likes to use simple, natural things. An example of this is the fact that he entrusts the job of propagating the Faith to fallible, weak humans. He also uses water in Baptism and bread for His body. Simple things.

At the Indy Art Museum I was struck by how many paintings of the Nativity there were. It seems it's a subject not just ripe for music in the form of the many Christmas carols, but also artists. It's somewhat lost on me although I do have more of a devotion to Jesus as Infant (specifically the Infant of Prague) than before. I think part of why it makes sense for us to worship the infant Jesus is because it turns our power-worshipping on its head. The superhero is easy to acknowledge and worship; the babe less so. Similarly the folks we pass by in life often seem to be a pain when they are actually little Christs to us.

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I thought about running a 5k race at 5pm but it was downtown and it was $40, two unpleasantries too many. It didn't seem worth it for 30 minutes of running with strangers, albeit many good-looking ones.

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"Pray, hope and don't worry," goes St. Padre Pio's famous words. (Funny how few of the spiritual writers seem to recommend keeping a journal. It would seem so out of character to hear Mother Theresa or St. Padre Pio say, "pray, hope and keep a journal of your innermost thoughts.")

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A breath of fresh air, that is the Byzantine liturgy. As Fr. Terry related in his homily, visitors are always coming up to him saying how beautiful the liturgy is and he always says, "Thanks" but now says he will say, "Join us." Evangelize, in other words.

What struck me most today was Jesus saying that his food, in other words the eternal food, is doing the Father's will. So rather than look at "works" as something designed to make me feel guilty, why not look at them as Jesus did, as "food". Everlasting food. My how countercultural the gospel feels to me, even after all these years.

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Proof of the Resurrection? Receiving his resurrected Body at Mass!

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Finished Charles Murray's "Coming Apart" yesterday. A stimulating read. He's trying to inspire people to appreciate the American experiment and American exceptionalism. If Europe goes bad, as he believes it will, then it will give us new faith in our model as opposed to Europe's. Although it does seem like we've waited a long time for Europe to "go bad" and even now it seems to be going bad more because of the common currency than anything else (since countries in debt can't devalue their currency).

In the book Murray (a libertarian) mentions how the Federal gov't shouldn't usurp the roles of families and communities, but I wonder why that doesn't apply to communities co-opting the role of families. For example, a guy on the school board is starting a tutoring program for a local suburban elementary school - which is lately all the rage across many districts. Sounds good, but I do wonder if it's a band-aid approach to what would seem to be families or teachers dropping the ball. Another sign of decline it would seem. As Terrence Berres recently wrote of nuns: "I hope that one day someone researches how they managed classrooms of 55 kids. If that is a skill that could be taught, the potential benefit could dwarf anything the sisters have been doing since."

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Read about someone with real troubles, that of a North Korean who escaped a prison camp there. Very salutary reading for the whine-imbiber. Then a good gulp of Douthat's "Bad Religion" before a finishing rinse of the novel "The Map and the Territory", which has taken a very ugly turn indeed. Have a hunger to buy Jonah Goldberg's "The Tyranny of Cliches" which I've ordered from the library.

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Have been enjoying prolonging the moment of sleep by watching some of "Lillehammer", the fish-out-of-water story (a Netflix exclusive, which sounds sort of like a 'Walmart exclusive' but...) about an ex-mafioso who goes to Norway and finds the culture different there. I like the fine photography of a distant locale and the main character has a kind of watchableness about him.

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