October 15, 2012

Sundry & Various

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?


Riveted by the first reading the other day (above) from Galatians 3 where Paul calls his flock foolish or stupid and mentions "Christ crucified" (?) in the context of condemning the Galatians tendency towards seeing legal contrivances as their salvation rather than faith. The Collegeville commentary puts it plainly in saying that Paul was asking, "were you experiences of the Spirit the result of legal observances or of faith?"

Meanwhile glad to see Steve Ray, one of the early lights of the wave of 1990s-era Catholic apologists, joining the Catechism-reading group for the Year o' Faith. He set up the "Catholic Defender" forum and billboard, a precursor to the blogs, and I loved posting on there way back when. Now he does pilgrimages to the Holy Land and says he's on the road 200 days a year giving speeches and whatnot but hopes to read the Bible and the Catechism in one year.

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Surprised to learn on the way via His Eminence's radio show that Cardinal Dolan had sent a chastising letter to Yanks manager Joe Giardi after the latter had said that boringly usual thing, "I was raised Catholic but didn't meet Jesus until meeting him through my evangelical wife." Dolan said he wrote Girardi saying how a billion Catholics the last two thousand years have met Jesus via another woman: the Church. Kind of surprising he would publicly spar with the Yankee skipper; this seems a "new thing" where Catholic leaders more forcefully defend the Faith.

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"Travel writer Tim Cahill summed this up for travellers in with the following truism: ‘Adventure is simply physical and emotional discomfort recollected in tranquility.’ It’s a classic travel paradox: if you’re willing to suffer a little here, get scared out of your wits there, memories from your trip will be stronger – and fonder – than from one spent in action-free leisure."

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Took a walk in the woods with our dog yesterday. Air temp moderate, but a huge wind made things interesting. Would one of the huge trees hovering over me snap a branch and kill or injury me? This fear was offset by the natural beauty of a carpet of yellow leaves and a wondrous yellow-green combination in the tall trees of this pleasing local park.

Thought about the fragility of life. Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis and that's not an abstract datum from history. I was in my mother's womb at that time, a brand new embryo and likely death would've come to us all. Even more shockingly, my brother and sister would've never been. There's nothing more haunting than the children that have never been, much more even than the victims of abortion who, at least, have the promise of eternal life if a tragically shortened temporal one.

Fr. Terry at Mass said that it's not well known that Kruscheve called Pope John XXIII and said, "Get me out of this!" And that a few days later Robert Kennedy called and said, "Get me out of this!" Two superpowers and they're appealing to a pontiff with no earthly armies, weapons or power. And this "old man in Italy" in response gave an address, just a three minute address, in which he prayed for peace...

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I wonder if there's a common thread to my likes of running and reading. In both cases, they require little set-up and the least amount of equipment. Path of least resistance. They are both very simple. With running, you don't need much other than your legs. No expensive golf equipment or tennis rackets or greens fees or travel to course or court. You derive much joy from simply moving.

With books, similarly, you don't need anything but your local library or simply access to a computer. You are looking at scribbles on a page but you derive much joy from those simple scribbles. Art is expensive; there's a charge to go to the art museum and to buy works is cost prohibitive. But with books you can go to the library for free or purchase a classic work of literature, the literary equivalent of a Picasso painting, for less than ten dollars.

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At Half-Price Books I'd anticipated a fulsome amount of money from the twenty-five books I gave them (I half-joked afterward that some of the books must've actually cost me money given the $3 final figure), so I gathered a half-dozen books I'd planned in getting with my found money. In my quiver was a dirt-cheap Roger Maris biography, a de Bottom book on the "joys and sorrows of work", but most beguilingly a re-telling of Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" by Peter Ackroyd. Here was that famous work in the modern vernacular, which I assumed was how it must've sounded to the original readers or hearers. I read a bit of the Miller's Tale and it's just a completely different experience from reading the original, or semi-original. I was thirsty for the book by virtue of the promise on the fly-leaf to help explicate the Middle Ages (Does not pagan Rome in some ways feel more familiar to us than the Middle Ages?). But ultimately I thought I wouldn't put the time into Akroyd/Chaucer's book so I went with Thomas Merton's far more engaging letters. (Merton's letter on nuclear war and the problems with pacificism was enlightening and kind of surprising.)

I think some of the excitement of the original recipients of Chaucer's tales would be lost on me. The sort of vivid sexual punnery might now seem corny or jarring.One amazon.com reviewer calls Chaucer's work the "greatest poem ever written in Middle English", which is a bit like saying the Bengals are the greatest team in the middle part of the AFC North division. You're narrowing things there. One problem with Ackroyd's retelling is you would certainly never think it was ever a poem.

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