May 15, 2012

This & That

Being only half-Irish, I always felt a bit weak in identifying so with the Irish. Apparently I'm not of the Elizabeth Warren one-drop school.

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Saw Martin Sheen's The Way. Amazed by the good reviews, critical and popular. It left me in the minority, scratching my head and feeling the curmudgeon, seeing how I was sympatico with this review.

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Inspiring mini-biographies sighted in my diocesan newspaper. Holy cow:

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Listened to Cardinal Dolan's Town Hall on the Catholic Channel. I was struck by his answer on Catholic schools, how living on the "edge" financially lends a sort of grittiness to schools. He realizes how serious the situation is but refuses to see it as a "hospice" situation where people talk about the schools as if they are near death.

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It's touching how the local woman's religious order, "The Children of Mary", personalize things. I ordered a CD of their rosary, which was slightly mesmerizing. The voices sound of innocence personified. And they attached a handwritten note thanking me and mentioning that my requests are in their prayers. Sample here.


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Am also hypnotized by Ross Douthat's electrically-charged "Bad Religion". Here a real pro of a writer tackles that which has been a perennial question of our time: how did we go from the "Catholic moment" when Bishop Sheen was on television with huge audiences to today's religious lameness? He says the question is less "why?" since orthodoxy is always subject to failure in practice, but "why then?".

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Read more of "Hitlerland" - I'm like every other middle-aged white male as far as interest in Hitler goes. That has to be the main demographic for the History Channel, once known as the "Hitler Channel". It's another "what went wrong?" phenomena as far as how the Germans could allow the disaster to unfold.

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Speaking of bad religion, I realized how in the distant past I was so set on the conviction that God created the Spirit, not the body, that his part in my creation was to ensoul me, not to embody me.  I looked at the physical creation of people as completely human undertakings via the means of sexual intercourse.  But I think that ignores Psalm 139 which says God knows his before we were in the womb, which would include our physical selves.  My gnostic-like belief also ignored the fact that there are all sorts of providential things happening around one's conception, such that the parents have to meet, connect, and one particular sperm out of millions must reach a particular egg. Why can't God be involved in the last?  It's a mystery, that sense of man cooperating with God to create human life such that it can look either like all man ("I chose my mate on eHarmony and we decided to have a child") or all God ("it was purely God's grace that I met you and that we conceived a child") when it seems like there's likely a combination of the two. 

Really liked the vivid first reading from Acts the other day, where Paul speaks to Gentiles and explains that God loves them too. The NABRE notes are suitably utilitarian, not even giving Paul credit: "Rather than showing Christianity is the logical outgrowth of Judaism, as he does in speeches before Jews, Luke says that God excuses past Gentile ignorance and then presents a natural theology arguing for the recognition of God's existence through his activity in natural phenomena." The Orthodox Study Bible quotes St. John Chrysostom by way of contrast. I like both.

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Finally broke the pattern of non-fiction all the time by reading Mark Doty this morning in the bookroom. He writes of Manhattan light, a combination that would of course fascinate me given my appreciation for both individually. Then too there was a single phrase at the start of another poem: "Zenith June....".

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Read an interview with French author Michael H., (who penned the mediocre "The Map and the Territory") and he talks about that severe difference between college and work. "I think that there is a sharp contrast for most people between life at the university, where they meet lots of people, and the moment when they enter the workforce, when they basically no longer meet anyone. Life becomes dull. From then on, nothing happens and you have to pretend to be interested in your work. So as a result people get married to have a personal life." Unduly pessimistic but interesting. The sheer variety of subject matter in school is sweet. Be nice to be involved with reading novels as part of the "work curriculum".

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Strange dream involving Betty Duffy, not sexual although I can't recall the specifics. I think she was in the frontal lobe due to my reading a post from her concerning her large NFL thighs. Or so she claims.

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A walk in "Zenith May" yesterday, which has charms to soothe the savage, most especially since no matter how cold it starts out there is reason for optimism in the longer run. May highs seldom fail to reach a temperate clime and eventually the blanket used on the back porch was discarded, right along the time I caught a whiff of my neighbor's pipe and thought to light up a cigar while reading about the Hermit Kingdom, i.e. North Korea.

The big time-taker was a 70 minute walk out at at the fabulous Glacier Ridge. Not crowded at all, in sublime dog-privacy I walked with Buddy in the splendor of the fields right up to Giddy Point. I fell into the rhythm, that satisfying rhythm, about 40 minutes into it. In the beginning I noticed the handsome cattails and brackish looking waters but by the end they were not so discrete and other but familiar and within me.

The walk began with druthers: I'd druther be reading, I thought. But as the walk went on I came to a lovely old house with rocking chairs and a huge wrap-around porch and I stared with pleasure at the Amish workers as they built an addition to it. It seemed an entrance to another life and I felt some of that Steven Riddle romanticism of the "nobel savage" myth that is the Amish. I thought how even the Amish exiles, as portrayed on tv at least, seemed more grounded that the average Joe.

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Interesting Amy Welborn post:
I’ve mentioned before that one of the reasons I don’t blog on heavy, contentious issues anymore is because I don’t have a sane, adult supportive companion at home who would help regroup and recalibrate after the crazy intensity of online discussions. But secondly, there comes a point at which you do tire of participating in the discussions, because they tend to be so predictable. Nothing wrong with predictability, really – it just points to the persistence of the issues – but it does get wearisome. Especially if a new reader pops in and is all “Hey! I noticed that you don’t mention THIS! Why don’t you see THIS POINT! “….which happens to be a point you and readers made and hashed over in your previous 87 blog posts on the subject over almost twelve years of online life.

1 comment:

Gregg the Obscure said...

Loved that Sheen movie, but I related to one of the characters quite intensely, which probably biased the results.