May 31, 2012

Let's Play...Why's My Bookbag or E-Reader Equivalent So Heavy?

From Douthat's Bad Religion:
The way orthodoxy synthesizes the New Testament’s complexities has forced churchgoers of every prejudice and persuasion to confront a side of Jesus that cuts against their own assumptions. A rationalist has to confront the supernatural Christ, and a pure mystic the worldly, eat-drink-and-be-merry Jesus, with his wedding feasts and fish fries. A Reaganite conservative has to confront the Jesus who railed against the rich; a post–sexual revolution liberal, the Jesus who forbade divorce. There is something to please almost everyone in the orthodox approach to the gospels, but something to challenge them as well. A choose-your-own Jesus mentality, by contrast, encourages spiritual seekers to screen out discomfiting parts of the New Testament and focus only on whichever Christ they find most congenial.
From Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden
There was a fundamental difference, in his view, between prisoners who arrived from the outside and those who were born in the camp: many outsiders, shattered by the contrast between a comfortable past and a punishing present, could not find or maintain the will to survive. A perverse benefit of birth in the camp was a complete absence of expectations. And so Shin’s misery never skidded into complete hopelessness.
From Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella
The cornstalks are now toast brown in the orangeade sunshine of October; the ballpark smells of burning leaves and frost. The ever-listening corn rustles like crumpling paper in the Indian-summer breeze.

I’ll tell him of the warm-ups, of the home team in their white uniforms doing calisthenics and wind sprints like fast-flying sailboats on a green sea.

But my compulsion is stronger than my guilt.
From In Defense of Sanity by
Chesterton:Therefore there is in them a mere dead identity, never that soft play of slight variation which exists in things produced everywhere out of the soil, in the milk of the kine, or the fruits of the orchard. You can get a whisky and soda at every outpost of the Empire: that is why so many Empire-builders go mad. But you are not tasting or touching any environment, as in the cider of Devonshire or the grapes of the Rhine. You are not approaching Nature in one of her myriad tints of mood, as in the holy act of eating cheese.
From Lynch's Truth Like the Sun:
“Let cats and lizards rejoice in basking in everlasting sunshine,” he says of London’s and Seattle’s similar weather, “but mists and drizzles and even occasional light rains make sunshine all the more welcome and constitute the proper environment of man, wouldn’t you say?”

May 29, 2012

Bruce Jenner

Inspiring story about Bruce Jenner, the real star of his family:
What those people who hate this family from afar can't see is the very particular love that stamps it. Bruce Jenner has taken it upon himself to rescue his ridiculous extended clan by doing what none of its other members will ever do: He has elected to lose. The person in the house who has most earned his fame has chosen to accept the least of it... And he has learned that there may be no greater love a father can give his children than to accept that his life really didn't begin until theirs did.

A Hodge-Podge of Discontinued Items

A reviewer on Good Reads begins her review thusly:
Personal bloggers retire every day. It happens in waves in my Google Reader. Two down here, two down there. No one wants to fill the internet with the inane details of a day anymore. Unfortunately, that’s still what I like to read. I call it “The Curse of Knowing Who Eric Nies Is Syndrome,” or “Coming of Age at the Onset of Reality Television.” More than status updates and Tweets and links on Google+. I’m a sucker for the “And then we went to Trader Joe’s and I couldn’t find my car keys and.”
My pledge to you, the national and international reader, is to continue personal blogging as long as there's weather to write about!

*
Watched the movie "The Cutting Edge" on Ham of Bone's recommendation. Bone has a real soft spot for class-conscious movies where you have a shrewd boy from the hinterlands attempting to woo an upper-crust snob (see "Titanic"). I'm less enamored of that plotline but the movie eventually delivered. At first I thought it was watchable but kind of made-for-TVmovie-ish. And a tad unbelievable. Turns out this hockey player is a bit too good at trading witticisms, even asking her where she "matriculated". And I thought the part where she challenges him to hockey a bit much. No one is that out of touch that they think they can beat a hockey player at hockey. But then it picked up steam and was touching.

*
Certainly got my exercise this weekend what with following 2-year toddler Sam around, playing basketball with him (more or less), jogging, and engaging in a beautifully choreographed 40 minute walk with our dog. We went first through the handsome forest, full of canopied refreshment ("cool and green and shady," as Johannnes Denver once sang), and then enjoyed the fruited expanse of the ponded park, with a water sprite (a fountain) spurting water in the distance like a poor man's Old Faithful. It was an enjoyable stroll in the heat-provided privacy.

Took him the following day around the beautiful lake (big pond? when does a pond become a lake? When does a bill become a law?) at a bigger local park. Stellar sun was appreciated mostly when going through shady parts and observing it at arm's length. The beautiful dappling was enough - I didn't have to be on those serrate-sun'd paths. At least not for long.

*
Blood, sweat and tears. At least I extruded one of the three on a 20 minute run in this over-the-top heat. I saw a biker go by and thought wistfully, there but for my own obstinance go I.

*
At mass Sunday I noticed a whole lot of "Come Holy Spirit"ing going on. The opening hymn was basically the same as the Sequence which was similar to the closing hymn and the Communion hymn. I don't recall that many hymns begging Jesus to come; we seem to have greater confidence in Him. It's assumed, after all, Christ will in Communion. But an alien landing in our church might be forgiven for getting the impression that this Holy Spirit fellow was pretty evasive even though, of course, He is not. The Spirit is spiritual presence of the love between the Father and Son, and so it's hard to see that Love as absent. Still, I think we all lust for the olde time Spirit, the one on the Pentecost day when people tongues and wind appeared and everyone spoke in foreign languages. That was, based on appearances, a manifestation of the Spirit different than today's Pentecost mass, whereas the Communion service seemed very much like the original one - Christ (or in this case the priest in persona Christi) offering his Body and Blood under the appearance of bread and wine. Methinks we have too little faith in the Holy Spirit. Instead of "Come Holy Spirit", how about something more gratitudinal?

So our pastor said he would talk about the gift of courage via the Holy Spirit, and he centered his homily on the egregious HHS mandate. Given where I'm coming from, criticizing the mandate is a no-brainer and so I felt "gypped" though at the same time challenged to do more. Our bishop is taking a very prayer-centric approach and I had to fight off heretical feelings of that being naive. Anyway I'm sure the pastor thought it took some courage to preach against it, and no doubt there are some parishioners who are Obamniacs who think the president craps gold. Certainly with the collection plate being as vulnerable as it is, I suppose it does take some courage.

*

Eve Tushnet has gone to Patheos. Patheos killed the blogger star. Reminds me of how successful businesses merge to make an oligarchy of firms. The "wild west" aspect of individual bloggers has given way to this "corporate", monopolistic site to which all the talent streams, automatically, since that is where the pay is. (I jest of course. I love mountainin' molehills.)



A riot of flowers
and a feeder to boot:
come hummingbirds, come!

*

Sitting under the old maple in the backyard with the screamin' banshee of our neighbor's chainsaw disturbing peace and serenity. But, of course, a noisy outside beats the quiet indoors. I o'erlook undulating fields of grass and clover, tall trees pointing towards civilization in the form of traffic. Nice not to be in it. I'd rather (NOT) be driving.

I'm also planted next to my garden plants. They are growing so fast in this heat that I have half a mind to measure it, to get out the tape ruler and "watch" them grow. Fecundity.

*

The hug of grass and air
spring's embrace,
the smell of jazz.

*

The garden looks quite handsome given the lack of weeds and the coloration post-watering. Very debonair that dark sea-earth. Nothing better than freshly turned earth freshly planted. It's like a new Eden, before sin (and weeds) enter the world. Of course I could pluck the weeds next week and next month but that just encourages the bastards. If I do they're back up before I return to the patio. But now it's a very pleasant thing to look over that patch of earth and growing things freshly laundered.

*
I managed to catch up on all the saved web articles, and a very thought-provoking lot they were about a disparate array of subjects. From the strangeness of going to Harvard (written by a Canadian Harvard grad) to the therapy of Jennifer Fulwiler to why some nations are rich and others poor, I certainly hit the jackpot in readable finds.

May 24, 2012

Heirloom Spanning the Globe

From 5/19/04:


Spanning the Globe to Bring You the Constant Variety of Posts

My own mother, who is actually anti-breastfeeding, was constantly hounding me to wean my first child. Finally one day she said, "really darling, when ARE you going to wean him?" and I said very matter-of-factly, "when his five o'clock shadow starts to irritate me." She never asked again. - smockmomma of Summa Mamas

Minds are like parachutes: If you leave 'em open all the time, they get all tangled and grotty. - commenter on Mark Shea's blog

They break the most beautiful things
But I hear violins
When I close my eyes
I am at the center of the sun - unattributed, via Fr. Jim of "Dappled Things"

It's a sort of catharsis, just encountering such certainty: furious certainty of rhythym, certainty of definition that leaves the dark, nebulous spirit of neopaganism "formulated, sprawling on a pin." It is meant to be a war poem, to rouse and encourage resistance. But it is tempered with caution: the White Horse must be patiently and continuously tended, or the grass will cover it. Evil is like the grass - it cannot be conquered "once and for all" (until the end of the world, anyway). There is no earthly "end to evil." Complacency is death. In this Chesterton is very close to Tolkien (the points of overlap between the two have become more apparent to me lately), as in several other places in the poem. It is interesting to see how Tolkien quotes Chesterton in his lectures and letters. Tolkien didn't care for The Ballad of the White Horse; he thought that Chesterton didn't know anything about "Northernness" and that the ending (where the King retakes London) was ridiculous. (He didn't explain this last judgement.) Of course, Tolkien and GKC were very far apart in style and vocation and temperament. Still... both of them understood the "tree" of tradition, the power of "fairy-stories," the need for humility - and the savour of eucatastrophe. - blogger at "Basia Me Catholica Sum" on Chesterton's "The Ballad of the White Horse"

Dear Abby: Dateline Rome...I wasn't going to marry a Mohammedan anyway, being already married to the only woman who'd ever put up with me, but in case you were here is some good advice from Rome: Don't. - John at the "Inn at the End of the World", on the recent Vatican suggestion not to marry Muslims

There is *nothing* more dangerous to the soul than being really right in a fight. Under the influence of original sin, the sense of justly aggrieved righteousness (not phoney righteousness, but the real deal) is most potent blindness-inducing chemical on the planet. - Mark Shea

"Rebuke not thy neighbour in a banquet of wine: and despise him not in hip mirth." -- nice typo, from Douay-Rheims online version, http://www.drbo.org/chapter/26031.htm

The people we meet: great sinners all. The people we meet: beloved by God all. It's said St. Catherine of Siena was able to perceive the state of other people's souls. That's not a charism I'd want for myself, tempting as it is to someone as filled with the vice of curiosity as I am, for fear that I might be able to perceive the state of my own soul. I suspect, though, that it's my dullness regarding my own relationship with Christ that makes it so unnatural for me to even consider that the people I meet each have their own relationship with Him, whether they know it or not. If I were suitably aware of and concerned with my sins, and so suitably eager to ask Jesus to give me eternal life, then I bet I'd be more honestly concerned with the sins of others, not in a holier-than-they sense, but out of a zealous (St. Catherine might say burning) desire they too receive eternal life. - Tom of Disputations

Given that 46% of the population doesn't even think that homosexual acts should even be legal, I'm practically bleeding-heart on the issue. Just keep the snake in its cage while the kids are around, and I think everyone will do pretty okay. - Robert of "Hokie Pundit"

I don't believe a person can remain in mortal sin while praying the Rosary. -Pope John XXIII

The unborn had faith in Santorum / For he said, "You bet, I'm all for 'em!" / But when their protector / Met Senator Specter, /He said, "What the hell, I'll ignore 'em." - Bob the Ape of "Trousered Ape", who humorously calls his blog an "exercise in presumption"

I don't keep these commandments in order to make God love me. This is extremely important for us to understand. I don't keep the commandments so that God will love me. God will love me regardless. God will love me, I think, even if I'm burning in Hell. I keep the commandments because they are the concrete way for me to love Him. If I ignore these commandments, it means that my love is cold. - Fr. Jim of "Dappled Things"

I've been Catholic all my life, but I've been a practicing Catholic again since March 27, 2004. I left because it seemed like it was the right thing to do. I came back because the grace of God drew me. I've been freshly acquainting myself with the Rosary, Eucharistic Adoration, daily Mass, morning and evening prayer (thanks very much, Magnificat magazine). I'm rich. Who knew it would be such a blessing? - Roz of "In Dwelling"

I became a Catholic because they had all the cutest girls: Italians, French, Spanish, Mexican, Brazilian, even half of the Germans and a fair number of the English, for heaven's sake. - Dave Armstrong, who forgets about the cute Irish girls.

This is your pastor...and I approve this message. - our pastor, playing comedian, after his homily

Excerpts from Douthat's "Bad Religion"

Interesting tidbits:
Nothing prepared Catholic America for the flood of 2003, which began in New England but ultimately left no diocese or community untouched, reaching even to the doors of the Vatican itself. Horror upon horror, cover-up upon cover-up, and sacrilege piled on sacrilege—it was like an anti-Catholic polemic from the nineteenth century, except that it was all too terribly true. No atheist or anticlericalist, no Voltaire or Ingersoll or Twain could have invented a story so perfectly calculated to discredit the message of the Gospel as the depredations of Thomas Geoghan and the legalistic indifference of Bernard Cardinal Law.


*

Although the “para” [church] groups were immensely successful at religious mobilization, they weren’t as effective at sustaining commitment across a life span or across generations. They were institutions for an anti-institutional faith, you might say, which meant that they were organized around personalities and causes and rarely created the sense of comprehensive, intergenerational community that both the Mainline churches and Catholicism had traditionally offered. You couldn’t spend your whole life in Campus Crusade for Christ, or raise your daughter as a Promise Keeper, or count on groups like the Moral Majority or the Christian Coalition to sustain your belief system beyond the next election cycle. For that kind of staying power you needed a confessional tradition, a church, an institution capable of outlasting its charismatic founders. Instead, Evangelicalism became dominated by empire-building megachurch pastors whose ministries often burned brightly and then just as quickly burned out.

The emphasis on potent individuals over enduring institutions tends to incline Evangelicals to a great man theory of political engagement, in which all that’s required for good to triumph over evil is for the right Christian politician to “stand at the crossroads and change things for good.” The widespread sense that George W. Bush was such a figure helps explain why Evangelicals, more than any other constituency or cohort, remained intensely loyal to him long after the rest of the country had given up on him. Saints may deserve such loyalty, but politicians rarely do. The urge to rally around “their” president robbed many conservative Christians of the capacity for prophetic witness and left them captive to a team player mentality that was fatal to religious credibility. The ease with which Evangelicals (and many conservative Catholics as well) fell in line behind the invasion of Iraq was understandable, if unfortunate in hindsight. The vigor with which they sealed themselves off from bad news from the front was much more depressing. The polls showing that frequent churchgoers were the most fervent supporters of waterboarding detainees, among other seemingly un-Christian practices, were more depressing still.

No sooner had Barack Obama succeeded Bush in the White House than there was an immediate search for the next political hero or heroine, the next godly Evangelical come to save the republic from itself. Many of the candidates for this role (including Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry) embodied Evangelical politics at its worst: the tendency toward purely sectarian appeals, the reliance on the language of outrage and resentment, the conflation of partisanship with Christian principle and the confusion of the American political system with the Church itself.

*

Christianity is a paradoxical religion because the Jew of Nazareth is a paradoxical character. No figure in history or fiction contains as many multitudes as the New Testament’s Jesus. He’s a celibate ascetic who enjoys dining with publicans and changing water into wine at weddings. He’s an apocalyptic prophet one moment, a wise ethicist the next. He’s a fierce critic of Jewish religious law who insists that he’s actually fulfilling rather than subverting it. He preaches a reversal of every social hierarchy while deliberately avoiding explicitly political claims. He promises to set parents against children and then disallows divorce; he consorts with prostitutes while denouncing even lustful thoughts.

In the revisionist mind-set, synthesis is always suspect. We have to choose between Mark’s Jesus or John’s Christ, between the aphoristic Jesus and the messianic Jesus, between Jesus the Jew and Jesus the light to the Gentiles. There’s no possibility that the original Jesus married eschatology to everyday ethics, or that he seemed both divine and human, in different ways and at different times, even to the first apostles. There’s no chance that he actually contained multitudes...

May 22, 2012

Bookish Pleasure

Found here:
W. Robertson Nicoll (1851-1923), A Bookman's Letters (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1913), p. 217:
Reading has been the chief pleasure of my life. It has given me so much pleasure that I feel that I am in danger of falling into extravagance when I speak of it. The pleasure has gone on increasing, and is stronger now than ever. Of many things we grow weary in the course of years, but nowadays I have a greater happiness in reading than ever I had before, and I am thankful that this is so. For reading is not an expensive nor an unreachable pleasure. It is within the power of all to get the joy of reading, and the independence of reading, for it means a great deal of independence and separation from care. Besides, it is an elevating pleasure if the books are rightly chosen, and ought to brighten and elevate and purify the character. It is always more pleasant to meet with one who is a bookman than with one who is not. I always feel safe and comfortable and happy in the presence of any one who is really fond of reading.

May 18, 2012

Healing Catholic “Bible Envy"

Seems there's a handsome line of Catholic Bibles produced by Harper Collins. "There's no reason for Catholic envy of Protestant Bibles anymore," saitheth their marketer in so many words. He goes on to praise the NABre and notes, and it makes me appreciate them more. The historical-critical method we shall always have with us, so best to relax and enjoy it given the inevitability.

Link here.

Babelfish Translation Fun

A Kindle review translated from the original French to Porteguese to English:
An opinion in Frenchman that will exactamente make exactamente different Which pretty instrument of reading only this kindle. Many people m' she said qu' they liked to have feeling of the book between its hands. Good me also, but the content is more important that the container and this kindle allows me to read of l' excellent content. E more j' it adores the format, the functionalities and the possibilities of this device. J' it likes l' to have enters the hands very in such a way how much j' it likes to have a paper book. The dimension of the policy can be chosen. That with a book-paper can be never made. Kindle keeps in memory the page where we return ourselves despite it l' the closed one. Immediately qu' the book confides qu' it was read, returns it the last page deals. The technology has frequent good things to consider and is bête to close l' spirit to these changes. E the more that salute many trees therefore, c' it is good for l' environment.
Same review from French to German to English:
An opinion on French that will make just now differently which beautiful reading tool only this kindle. Many m' people; said qu' they might have had feeling the book in their hands. Well me also, but contents are more important than the container, and this kindle permits me, from l' to read; outstanding contents. And in addition j' worships the format, the functionality and the possibilities of this equipment. J' like you l' in the hands completely as much as j' to have; may you have a book of paper. One can select the size of the police. One can never make that with a book paper. The kindle keeps the side in memory, where we are returned even if one l' closed A. immediately qu' one opens the qu' book; one read, one returns to the last read side. The technology has often good things which can be suggested, and it is stupid, itself l' to close; Spirit at these changes. And in addition that saves many trees thus, to c' is for l' well; Environment.

High on a Mountaintop

It's hard not to just sleep in the sun.

That's the temptation on a sublime May day with its 78 degrees and harmless palette of white clouds.

It's the sort of day almost impossible for me to have off work, since I tend to back-load days towards the end of the calendar year, for better or for worse. Days taken here and there in May rarely coincide with the sort of picture-perfect weather displayed today.

A flutterby blys fy.

*

The sun is out and the music good ("Love's Gonna Live Here" playing on the bluegrass station). I'd like to read some Mark Doty poetry before it's o'er too.

So it's May and this season of growing things reaches an apex. Flowers are everywhere, numerous fantastic blooms, seas of them undulate with the wind to my right.

I feel a tad nostalgic on this May day for it gives off the cues of past nostalgias, that of the end of so many school years. They ended on notes just like today, with a pile of future promises to collect and the whiff of freedom unvarnished.

*

It's only mid-May, but there are snippets of June in the air. There's an early release of the cottonwood tree seeds, which bathe the air in an elixir of richness. I underrate May; it has the long nights without the hangover of foreshortening days that late June and July and August have. The temperatures may be cooler, but as I grow older and thus heavier the temps seem warmer and are in any wise mitigated by the aforementioned knowledge that the light isn't going backwards. Yet.

*
I like the title of my latest potential read, "Truth like the Sun" but not sure I'm going to commit to it. It's set in Seattle, a town I have a passing interest in given that it's so. far. away. Wouldn't mind going there sometime. It has the frisson of hipness, but one can't hold that against it. It's also said to be often greycast, but there's a foreignness to attaches to it nevertheless, if only in terrain with that mountain range in sight.

Am always on the lookout for the poetical novel, or maybe the novelistic poem. Downloaded the opening chapters of some seven novels and will give each a decent try or, as the Irish say, a "day-cent" try. Leaning towards Seattle presently.

*
Oh the civilizing influence of that one singular day off, that Monday, my figurative Antonia! Drank I from the well of welcome quietude while suffusing with literature and enjoying the "tri C's": chocolate, coffee and cigars. I was feeding my word-buzz as the afternoon spilt gold on the patio. How I pined, post-Monday, for an extension. Surely I could write something interesting about the past, or at the very least perhaps another term paper on the effect of John Denver on my youth.

"High on a Mountain Top" comes to mind, the old Marty Stuart cover: "As my memories return / oh how my heart did yearn / for you and the days that used to be. High on a mountaintop, standing all alone, wonderin' where the years of my life have flown... High on a mountaintop, winds blowin' free, thinking about the days that used to be."

*

Spring has a frisson, literally. So says one of the novels I'm thinking of taking on: "There's a curious frisson in the city's atmosphere today, almost spring-like, though spring is long gone, but you recognize that slightly vernal restlessness in the people going by, that stirring of potential in the air, that possibility of audacity- though what audacities they might be, here in Vienna, who can say?"

How can I not buy that novel, since it uses my favorite word (frisson)? I feel such a book-lust upon finishing a novel and thus having a "right" to another. (The best I can say about "The Map and the Territory" was it was readable. It must've been for me to finish some 480 pages.)

*

Enjoyed a systematic reading of my Google RSS feed after work. Betty Duffy's dog
died and Steven Gershom writes of envy and loner'ing. The great HK seems to be going through a particularly wrenching time in which she's revisiting some of her basic assumptions about God's will and such. To put it simply, she can't keep living off her nest egg and has to get a real job. It seems like she's experiencing the cruel reality of capitalism: you must give me something many others want in order to feed and clothe and house yourself. Not enough people wanted, or knew of, her book. I'm not sure what I give at work is popular enough either, which means I'm similarly vulnerable to a "market correction".

May 15, 2012

Heirloom Spanning the Globe

From November of '03:
Spanning the Globe to Bring You the Constant Variety of Posts


While writing, I am frequently challenged by this standard: how do I know I am really writing truth? There is no scientific measure of how sin and grace affect man; all I can know is how they affect me, along with a dim guess of how they affect others. And I'm hardly clear-sighted enough to fully perceieve the entire truth. There is nothing more frightening than nearly hitting the truth, and in doing so, writing a piece that appears truthful, and yet, seen through the eyes of God, is a gross misinterperation of it.
- Katrina of Wanderings of My Mind

I'm not in a very good mood right now. But that kind of thing is supposed to be subordinated to various Virtues, no? But how much is being charitable and positive, and how much is lying? If I told you I had a wonderful time going through the Sistine this afternoon, it would be a lie. However, instead of doing that, I could tell you about how wonderful the paintings were, how the Delphic sybil is framed by a graceful and satisfying circle because of her cloak on the one side and her arm on the other. AARARRCGHGHHG, trapped by virtue! - Theresa of Destination:Order

Elijah's Mother: 'Always work hard son. God is not going to provide you with a Golden Chariot.' Abraham's Mother: 'All this traveling and your self-importance of being the father of nations, and yet still you have not given us any grandchildren.' Isaac's Mother: 'All father and son trips aren't like the last one. Next time your father asks you to go up a mountain carrying wood on your back, just ask him if you can go fishing instead.' - Jeff Miller of Curt Jester, on what some biblical mother's might've said to their sons.

So haben Gerhard Schröder und die katholische Kirche ein gemeinsames Problem: Wie bringen wir die Leute wieder dazu, an das ewig lodernde Feuer zu glauben?
-Scipio of Credo ut intelligam. [I do span the globe, you know. Translation? 'So Gerhard Schroeder and the Catholic Church have a common problem: How do we bring the people back to believe in the eternally blazing fire?']

As Br. Nicholas pointed out, a person's actions flow from his character, which needs to be formed by virtues. I heard somewhere (it might have been von Hildebrand cited in Moral class?) that the man who is most virtuous, right, ordered, is going to be the least able to explain the detailed rationale for his acts. There is a point to that. In the end you need guidelines, the moral rules which act as a frame for virtue to raise up and make live. - Theresa of Destination:Order

From this central doctrine of the Gospel, the Atonement, may be drawn two contradictory conclusions. The first is that from the moment of our Lord’s death upon the Cross all evil would be annihilated; or secondly, that since He did not in his own Person destroy it instantaneously, no wonder if He should take time in destroying it in the world or in His Church. The former of those conclusions is perhaps the more natural; but the interval of gloom and sadness which overwhelmed His followers on His death, and still more their history, as contained in the Acts of the Apostles, is sufficient to show that it is not the right conclusion.
--John Henry Newman of Heaven

I think getting people to laugh or smile can be a good end, but I'm starting to suspect we aren't as particular as we ought to be regarding the means we use to get people to laugh. - Tom of Disputations

Last night, after my RCIA presentation on Mary, I felt inspired to pray the Rosary for the first time. I did it according to the instructions in the back of de Montfort's "Secrets of the Rosary", a book that has freaked me out every time I glanced through it. It was a surprisingly prayerful experience, one whose benefits I'm still enjoying this morning.
- Sean of Swimming the Tiber

Oh, and did I mention how truly baffled, perplexed, and otherwise simply DISMAYED I am that a naked woman isn't enough? As in this one woman, right here, the one, oh, I don't know, to whom I'm MARRIED??
- Thomas the MP, on the Naomi Wolf link that suggested a naked women isn't stimulating to the average porn-addicted male anymore

The real secret code that largely goes unnoticed by many Bible believing Christians is the Bethlehem code. The subtle message that is written into the New Testament that points to where the Risen Christ may be found... In Luke 2: 8 the shepherds are told by the angels who appear to them that this will be "a sign" to them...What is the sign they will witness? They are told that they will fine an "infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." A manger is a feeding box for animals. When the angels leave, the shepherds look to one another and say, "Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." The key phrase here is "Bethlehem" which literally means "house of bread". "Let us go to the House of Bread to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." ....All of this is how the Gospel of Luke begins... how does it end? The Risen Christ joins two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They do not recognize him. He opens the Scriptures to them. They invite Him to stay with them. He takes bread, says the blessing, breaks it, gives it to them, then physically vanishes from their site. Luke tells us quite blatantly, for the really dense reader, that they recognized Him in the "breaking of the bread". Where are we to find Jesus this day? In the bread that is broken in the Eucharist!
- Michael of Annuciations

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.

*
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.

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

*
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.

*
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?".

*
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.

*
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.

*
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....".

*
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".

*
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.

*
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.

*
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.

May 09, 2012

Let's Play...Why's My Bookbag or E-Reader Equivalent So Heavy?

From Douthat's Bad Religion:
As with the sexual revolution, these shifts were intuitive without being intellectually necessary. A more global perspective on politics and culture required giving more serious consideration to non-Western traditions and theologies. But it did not require, as a logical consequence, the thoroughgoing relativism about religious truth that many Americans came to embrace.

*
the fourth great trend undercutting Christianity in the 1960s: the changing economic landscape and the religious consequences of America’s ever-growing wealth. One need not subscribe to a vulgar Marxism to recognize the impact of economic changes on patterns of belief. It was John Wesley, no prophet of secularization, who remarked that “wherever riches have increased, the essence of religion has decreased in the same proportion.”

*
only rarely in the Council’s hundred thousand words is the distinction between natural and supernatural even implied.”... Neuhaus pointed out, the documents of Vatican II—and especially Gaudium et Spes, the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World—described “the Christian hope … in remarkably this-worldly terms,”

*
“In ten years people will believe only what they experience; anything else they will not believe,” a Jesuit told readers of U.S. Catholic in 1968.

*

the reformers had overestimated the potential for sustaining religious practices by marrying them to secular causes. “He who marries the spirit of the age is soon left a widower,” the Anglican Ralph Inge remarked, and so it was with the accommodationists.

*

Progressive clergy shed their vestments on the sacristy floor, threw their incense in the trash, and sold their golden vessels to antique dealers, only to discover that somehow the puritanical young men and women who had marched with them on the picket line had got hold of all these discards and more besides—tarot cards, Ouija boards, Tibetan prayer wheels, and temple gongs. The Latin had been eliminated from the Mass so that the young could comprehend it, but they preferred instead to chant in Sanskrit. Campus chaplains had ceased trying to sell prayer and were selling social action instead, but their former constituents were hunting up Hindu gurus and undertaking systematic regimens of meditation and fasting.
From Charles Murray's Coming Apart:
GREAT NATIONS EVENTUALLY cease to be great, inevitably. It’s not the end of the world. Britain goes on despite the loss of its onetime geopolitical preeminence. France goes on despite the loss of its onetime preeminence in the arts. The United States will go on under many alternative futures. “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation,” Adam Smith wisely counseled a young correspondent who feared that Britain was on its last legs in the 1700s.1 As a great power, America still has a lot of ruin left in it.

Rome’s initial downward step, five centuries before the eventual fall of the Western Roman Empire, was its loss of the republic when Caesar became the first emperor. Was that loss important? Not in material terms. But for Romans who treasured their republic, it was a tragedy that no amount of imperial splendor could redeem. The United States faces a similar prospect: remaining as wealthy and powerful as ever, but leaving its heritage behind.

Over the course of the twentieth century, western Europe developed an alternative to the American model, the advanced welfare state, that provides a great deal of personal freedom in all areas of life except the economic ones. The restrictions that the European model imposes on the economic behavior of both employers and employees are substantial, but, in return, the citizens of Europe’s welfare states have (so far) gotten economic security. I think it is a bad trade. In chapter 15, I indirectly described why. Let me be more explicit here. The European model assumes that human needs can be disaggregated when it comes to choices about public policy. People need food and shelter, so let us make sure that everyone has food and shelter. People may also need self-respect, but that doesn’t have anything to do with whether the state provides them with food and shelter. People may also need intimate relationships with others, but that doesn’t have anything to do with policies regarding marriage and children. People may also need self-actualization, but that doesn’t have anything to do with policies that diminish the challenges of life.

The ways in which food and shelter are obtained affects whether the other human needs are met. People need self-respect, but self-respect must be earned—it cannot be self-respect if it’s not earned—and the only way to earn anything is to achieve it in the face of the possibility of failing. People need intimate relationships with others, but intimate relationships that are rich and fulfilling need content, and that content is supplied only when humans are engaged in interactions that have consequences.

All of these good things in life—self-respect, intimate relationships, and self-actualization—require freedom in the only way that freedom is meaningful: freedom to act in all arenas of life coupled with responsibility for the consequences of those actions. The underlying meaning of that coupling—freedom and responsibility—is crucial. Responsibility for the consequences of actions is not the price of freedom, but one of its rewards. Knowing that we have responsibility for the consequences of our actions is a major part of what makes life worth living.

*

Toynbee took up the processes that lead to the disintegration of civilizations. His argument went like this: The growth phase of a civilization is led by a creative minority with a strong, self-confident sense of style, virtue, and purpose. The uncreative majority follows along. Then, at some point in every civilization’s journey, the creative minority degenerates into a dominant minority. Its members still run the show, but they are no longer confident and no longer set the example.

Why were four-letter words, which formerly were seen by the upper-middle class as déclassé, appearing in glossy upscale magazines? How had “the hooker look” become a fashion trend among nice girls from the suburbs? How had tattoos, which a few decades ago had been proof positive that one was a member of the proletariat, become chic? Toynbee would have shrugged and said that this is what happens when civilizations are headed downhill—America’s creative minority has degenerated into a dominant minority, and we are witnessing the universal next step, the proletarianization of the dominant minority.

*

American exceptionalism is not just something that Americans claim for themselves. Historically, Americans have been different as a people, even peculiar, and everyone around the world has recognized it. I am thinking of qualities such as American industriousness and neighborliness discussed in earlier chapters, but also American optimism even when there doesn’t seem to be any good reason for it, our striking lack of class envy, and the assumption by most Americans that they are in control of their own destinies. Finally, there is the most lovable of exceptional American qualities: our tradition of insisting that we are part of the middle class, even if we aren’t, and of interacting with our fellow citizens as if we were all middle class.

I am not suggesting that people in the new upper class should sacrifice their self-interest. I just want to accelerate a rediscovery of what that self-interest is.

Simplify, Simplify

Where once I carried five books, tennis shoes, towel, shorts and t-shirt in a huge gym bag to work everyday, now I sleekly carry in a Kenneth ("Don't Call me Ken") Cole European shoulder bag all my daily needs.

How?

Simple. The Kindle replaces the books. Weight = .000005 ounce, give or take.

No need for sneakers when I use the elliptical because my work shoes can double as my workout shoes. The durable shoes have lasted three years now.

No need for towel since I workout at the end of the workday.

So now I carry a Kindle, shorts and a T-shirt and I'm all set. Total weight on shoulder = -.5 ounces.

May 08, 2012

Persecution

It's interesting to note that Paul fled persecution in Acts 14:20-21. The Orthodox Study Bible commentary on this verse says, "Leaving town in the face of persecution shows wisdom, not lack of faith (Mt 10:23)."

I think of this in connection with so many Christians who have fled Iraq. While terrible to have to leave your homeland, it seems like a wise policy.

Heirloom Spanning the Globe

From eight and a half years ago, way back in November of 2003:

Spanning the Globe to Bring You the Constant Variety of Posts

American culture is so deeply niched these days, I have no idea what it means to talk about American culture, or any shared culture, except that which is dictated by corporate entities. The only shared culture we have, it seems to me, is what we buy. And, in brief, I have a really hard time taking any argument that conservatives have "won" any culture war in a society in which pornography, as 60 Minutes reported last night, is consistently the most profitable sector of countless businesses, from hotel chains to cable and satellite providers to the Internet. Yeah. That's a victory for you. --Amy Welborn

It’s amazing really. From Bach to Eminem, every bit of music is a variation on eight simple notes. The same goes for literature – the Greeks identified roughly a half-dozen different plots, and that’s all anyone has ever used. Unhappiness is the same way. There are only a handful of ways to become unhappy. Seven means to seven sorrows. --Steven of the Fifth Column, on the seven deadly sins

The only succor I took from this little exercise was that "I was wrong" doesn't seem to appear over on Disputations, the blog Minute Particulars aspires to be like when all grown up. -- Mark of Minute Particulars, whose blog Video Meliora aspires to be like when all grown up, on the absence of "I was wrong" on his and most blogs.

If my sinfulness -- and it's sinfulness here that counts, I think, rather than the discrete sins circumstances afford me -- isn't really all that big of a deal, then neither is God's mercy toward me. If His mercy isn't that big of a deal, then God Himself isn't that big of a deal, at least as lawgiver and judge, and Christ Crucified is something of a show-off. --Tom of Disputations

In My Angel Will Go before You, Georges Huber wrote, "Man has too little; God has infinitely too much, if we may put it that way;--and to spread himself he creates guardian angels and uses them to distribute his largesse." - Enbrethiliel of Sancta Sanctis

Fear sickens. Secrets kill. Embarrassment liberates! - Karen of Anchor Hold

Of Matthew 25:31-46 , of " I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty.... "... in the story, those that did the good are astonished so much as the others, and thus they ask " Sir, when we saw you hungry, and we gave you to eat; or thirsty, and we gave you to drink? ". That is to say, those that helped the brother, made the good to Christ, of a way hides... but also it hides to its own eyes. It is that Simone considers this ignorance like an essential characteristic, as a necessity or to have for the Christian. He is interesting and suggestive, although debatable - like so many things of Simone. And some funny one could object then that the sermon of Jesus would be a " spoiler ": if we do not have to know it, it harms when telling us the end of history... In truth, if we read too much literally, we would say that, arrived the case and hoping that we comprise of the safe ones, we would not make the question " When we saw you hungry and we gave you to eat ", because we - having read the gospel according to San Mateo- we know ... We know? But... we would have to know it or we would have to ignore it? - Hernan of Fotos, through the lens of the Babelfish translator

With St. Benedict, let us roll naked in the nettles until we are cured of this scourge of electronic ephemera that substitutes pride, emotionalism, and modernism for the reality of life. -- Trad commenter "JG", against blogging and the internet, on El Camino Real

If we followed the Pope's advice [to Lena Allen-Shore] to "be ourself" would we be something else? I know deep down that when the Pope tells Lena to be herself that he knows that she is a follower of Christ. That something in her early years catechized her to the truth of the Gospel and it has never left her. And I truly believe that if each of us was the person that God created us to be, namely ourself, we too would hear the truth of the Gospel and coming to Christ in the Eucharist would be something that would enable us to become even more truly who we are! --Michael of Annunciations

His Holiness John Paul II, Vicar of Christ, Pius IX, Pius XII, Leo XIII, Innocent III, Nicholas I, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val, John Henry Cardinal Newman, Bishop Fulton Sheen, Frank Duff, Christopher Dawson, Richard M. Weaver, Heinrich Rommen, Jaques Maritain, Deitrich von Hildebrand, Hillaire Belloc, John C. Calhoun, James Longstreet, and Robert E. Lee --Secret Agent Man of SecretAgentMan's Dossier, under title "People Who Definitely Ought to be Canonized"

I think there's a tendency to romanticize the persecutions of the Early Church...Some of that may be due to a sense that the only way we're going to be canonized is through martyrdom, but some may be due to a false sense of our own ability to withstand persecution. The problem is, our own ability to withstand persecution does not exist in this cosmos. Any such ability we might have is an undeserved gift from God. --Tom of Disputations

I have a sense, based on Matthew 4:8-9 and similar passages, that the world is Satan's home field, and the Christians are the visiting team. --commenter Rob on Disputations

Miracles from Msgr. Pope

Why are there not more miracles in our day as in Biblical times?

May 07, 2012

Periodicals Galore



I learned from Eric Scheske that there's a cornucopia of archived periodicals at Unz.org. Some fascinating stuff (Bill White take notice).

The Bookman, from January 1933, has an interesting article called Proust and the Modern Dilemma.

Kiva Thoughts

From a recent Zenit article:
"Experiences such as micro-credit, and initiatives to create cooperative associations show that it is possible to harmonize economic objectives with social necessities, democratic government and respect for nature," the Pontiff affirmed. "It is also advisable to encourage manual work and to promote an agriculture which works in favor of local people, viewing these activities with the respect they deserve."
It seems like the Holy Father approves the work of a micro-credit entity like kiva.org.

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.

*
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.

*
"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.")

*
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.

*

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."

*

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.

*
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.

May 04, 2012

Friday

Boy beer tastes good though. Nothing quite like a Columbus IPA on a stormy Friday night, or pretty much any night. It seems the workweek ended coterminously with the good weather.

This morning was great though, the sun high while I remembered with fondness my 24 hours in Indy and wishing, natch, I'd extended it to 48 while gluttonously reading and ordering room service, and occasionally sitting at the handsome desk and writing alluvially while looking out that city window and pretending I was on the left bank in Paris among the arrondissements.

*

Seem to have little use for the 1962 Missal I purchased a couple years ago. It's a handsome book that has a talismatic quality but I'm not sure how to actually use it. It doesn't have the daily Mass readings, only Sundays. The Latin is, of course, cryptic to say the least. But it's nice-looking, what with the gilt-edged pages, black leather binding and colorful, plentiful ribbons.

The Weather, John Adams, etc...

Read some of "14 Minutes" this morning, the account of marathoner Alberto Salazar's spiritual and medical path. He has some interesting things to say about how a tendency towards perfectionism and religion don't mix. I like his spiritual thoughts and wish he'd have more of that and slightly less biographical material (even while realizing it is a biography). While in Medjugorje, his rosary turned from silver to gold overnight; he wasn't ready to call it a miracle but instead a "sign".

*
How I'd liked to have taken advantage of the unseasonably warm weather on Thursday and criss-crossed home and kissed the Kindle (which sometimes I bring to my nose, momentarily forgetting the smell of new book is not present there). Oh I wish I'd have taken a half-day off and lingered in the languor, jingled in the jangle. But now surrounded by leafy goodness, in the hammock slung. Young, vibrant greens from trees and bushes not yet suffering summer heat or drought, young, firm light greens. Before too long we'll be at midsummer's eve and I shall have to do my annual re-reading of Summer in Donald Hall's natural wonder book "Seasons at Eagle Pond". The sun gesticulates so winningly, so charmingly does she glance off housetops and gaily reaches the hammock. Unfortunately it won't be long till mosquitoes appear, especially given the mild "winter".

*

Feel relieved that the brilliant John Adams had diary entries as inconsequential as mine.

*
It seems like you lose a lot if you travel to a foreign country that speaks a foreign tongue. You're reduced to the merely visual. Alexis de Tocquville's traveling companion said that without mastering the language of the locals "one might as well take strolls in one's room with the windows shuttered."

That would seem to narrow the playing field to England, Ireland, Australia. I may go to China one day via a business trip my wife may have to take, but I do wonder what's it's like to, right off the bat, eliminate newspapers, theatre, overheard conversations, television, church services, etc... from the vacation template. You still have food, the sense of taste is not dependent on borders. And I suppose there are musical concerts. But it does seem to leave a bit to be desired.

*
I felt for awhile upset with myself for developing another "need", i.e. the Kindle (when books work fine) although perhaps that's just because this "need" popped up during my lifetime. I need a car, or would seem to, but I don't begrudge myself for that simply because the automobile was grandfathered in, an invention before my birth. The funny thing about cost of living indexes is that they don't take into account new inventions that one "has" to have, such as smartphones or Kindles or even the personal computer. All of these things somehow got added to my personal cost of living index along the way.

Saw a neighbor happily puffing on a cigar butting the grass with a riding mower. Oh yes, a riding mower - another "have" that wasn't when, at the tender age of 20, I was planning my retirement at 35. I remember reading a book about "How to Retire at 35" which turned out to be move to an impoverished country where the dollar will go far. (Pretty soon the dollar ain't gonna go far anywhere, given the debt we're piling up.)

May 02, 2012

Diaristic Wanderings


_____

A surprisingly warm and humid eve, one I initially spent voraciously reading "Hitlerland", an account of Germany from 1918-1940 taken entirely from the American visitors, diplomats and journalists who were there. Oddly fascinating to see who predicted Hitler would "go viral" and who didn't. One poor German Jew lost his life at Dachau, always saying that Germans would eventually wise up about Hitler. (Trusting people, even in a democracy, may not be the wisest thing. Just ask any of the million American aborted fetuses last year.)

Anyway I love buying books, perhaps almost as much as reading them, and so I impulse-purchased this "Hitlerland" despite having a hundred and one others in front of it. The trick to book buying and reading is to read faster.

*
Am relieved to learn that I'm not lazy, I'm just dopamine-challenged. So says a new study that says dopamine levels are low in those who see small challenges as large ones. Lord, is there free will anywhere anymore? If free will was a stock, it'd be downgraded to "Sell at any price" by now.

*
Also tempted to buy Jonah Goldberg's new book called, "The Tyranny of Cliches", which dismantles liberal "truths" that they see as self-evident. It looks to be a tasty read if only because Goldberg is a pretty interesting writer. Most of the cliches are self-evidently false to me already, so there's an aspect of fishing in a barrel here, but I read the first couple chapters and he made it interesting. He defends the Catholic Church in one chapter (such as on Galileo) - he's getting the truth out.

*

Tumblr is sort of fun - it appeals to my collecting impulse. It *feels* like I'm saving all these pictures even though it's sort of ephemeral in that it's really saving 1's and 0's on some server using software that could be bought and closed down tomorrow. Not quite the same as saving a butterfly in the pages of a thick book. It all reminds me of e-reading. E-books are yours and yet... are not yours somehow.

*

The air smells of summer. Actually lilacs, but that's close enough. The temperature is warm and it's still reasonably light out now at the advanced chronological time of 8:43 in the evening. Of course we've crossed into May which means these sorts of evenings will grow increasingly common. I still can't believe it's May given how cold it was just last weekend: 45-degrees with a cruel wind. I have weather whipsaw; call me a chiropractor.

*

We can put a man on the moon, or at least could back in the day, but I can't get my diocesan newspaper delivered to me. Three times over the past 18 months I've called my parish office to explain the error, given that I did pay for the Catholic Times, and each time the office worker promised to rectify the situation, which was never rectified.

Meanwhile I feel out of the loop, missing some good stuff like George Weigel's columns and local Catholic news. (One time they even had an article on Catholic blogs.) They do have editions online in pdf form but I rarely think to go out and dislike reading long form articles on computer. But decided to download the latest issue to my Kindle and I read it and was interested to learn that there's an 8-day trip to Medjugorje coming up. I'm not a big Medjugorje fan but it's been a lifelong dream of my Mom's so I'm wondering if I should take it with her and Dad if they want to go. Then too there's a pilgrimage to Rome/Florence and Vienna that looks even more tantalizing. Only been to Europe once, back in '96, and I'm starting to feel the itch again.

*

At a retreat once we were asked what were the characteristics of God. Rather than spout the "cliche" of love I said "surprise." God is surprising. But what is most surprising about Him is his love. It's not fairness or justice that is surprising, rather it is that He loves and cares for sinful us!

I loved the Psalm from the other day's mass, Psalm 87. How melting this finish: "and while they dance they will sing: ‘In you all find their home.’" What is more surprising than Emmanuel, God-with-us? And while the psalmist praises those of Zion, we see a paradox: "Babylon and Egypt I will count among [those of Zion]".

Meanwhile the first readings have cheering, as so many during Easter are - we read of gospel success. Of Gentiles streaming towards the Lord. Now that's a refreshment, in our day of spiritual decline.

May 01, 2012

From May 1st LOGOS app Devotional...

Lo, the flowery month is come! March winds and April showers have done their work, and the earth is all bedecked with beauty. Come my soul, put on thine holiday attire and go forth to gather garlands of heavenly thoughts. Thou knowest whither to betake thyself, for to thee “the beds of spices” are well known, and thou hast so often smelt the perfume of “the sweet flowers,” that thou wilt go at once to thy well-beloved and find all loveliness, all joy in him. That cheek once so rudely smitten with a rod, oft bedewed with tears of sympathy and then defiled with spittle—that cheek as it smiles with mercy is as fragrant aromatic to my heart. Thou didst not hide thy face from shame and spitting, O Lord Jesus, and therefore I will find my dearest delight in praising thee.

In Jesus I find not only fragrance, but a bed of spices; not one flower, but all manner of sweet flowers. He is to me my rose and my lily, my heart’s- ease and my cluster of camphire. When he is with me it is May all the year round, and my soul goes forth to wash her happy face in the morning-dew of his grace, and to solace herself with the singing of the birds of his promises. Precious Lord Jesus, let me in very deed know the blessedness which dwells in abiding, unbroken fellowship with thee. I am a poor worthless one, whose cheek thou hast deigned to kiss!

Hierloom Spanning the Globe

From six years ago tomorrow, here's a special heirloom edition of STG:

Spanning the Globe to Bring You the Constant Variety of Posts

Constantine was the first astronaut, also, although the U.S. government has been suppressing the evidence Neil Armstrong found proving the emperor went to the moon in 322. After enjoying a picnic lunch in the Sea of Tranquillity (he left behind a ceramic decanter bearing his imperial insignia), he got the idea to take over the Christians and make them all call him Pappy or Papa, or, in Greek, POPE. Upon returning to Earth, he declared all women "constitutionally compromised," mandated that they be raped daily by a Catholic priest, and decreed that all men except a few bishops were inferior to him in wisdom and knowledge of the Bible. He shared power with those few bishops in exchange for land, buildings and war booty. At least 1 billion people died in Europe alone to sate his lust for power...Thanks for nothing, Constantine. - commenter on Amy's blog, spoofing the DaVinci Code

Was listening to National Public Radio sometime last month -- something I don't often do -- and they were discussing the proposed South Dakota abortion law. They said it would ban all abortions except those that would "save the life of the pregnant woman." They couldn't bring themselves to say "life of the mother." - keenly missed Dylan of "More Last than Star", returning after 2+ year blogging absence

In our culture matter is what seems most real to many. Nevertheless, an overriding Nominalism or Neo-Platonism in modern thinking seems to bring with it an implicit rejection of the idea that the non-material realm can affect (much less effect) the material world. At the ID lecture a couple of weeks ago (that I mentioned here), there was a biology graduate student who was interested in learning more about Aristotelian causality. He had never heard of it before. As formal causality was being explained to him, he would laugh out loud. This happened several times. His laughs were not deriding but seemed more out of surprise, in the sense of asking ‘but how’? This is similar to the responses that I get when I teach this idea to my undergraduates, for those who actually grasp the implications any way....Over the next seven posts or so, I will try to address these erroneous presuppositions while showing why Sacraments are real, makes sense, and are exactly what one would expect given human nature. - blogger at "Cosmos, Liturgy and Sex"

Today I was reading a rather uncharitable post at another blog and I was particularly struck by one of the comments in response. A previous commentor had said something along the lines of "people that don't agree with us don't belong in the Church." (yeah, heard that one a few thousand times) To which the following commentor emphatically agreed "got that right," and then went on to say: Happy Divine Mercy Sunday everyone! - Mark of "You Duped Me Lord!"

Divine Mercy flows in the direction toward those who need it most, even if they don't realize how much mercy they need. You have to remember, mercy is defined as being treated better than they deserve. In this case if they can't imagine a church big enough for everyone then they need a lot of mercy. - commenter responding to abve post on "You Duped Me Lord"

God's wrath, throughout history, basically consists of giving us what we want. - Scott Hahn, via Julie of "Happy Catholic"

Here is my challenge to you. Look at the Fathers and the councils and notice how they worked from positions of less to greater clarity. I see how you can say in some instances that as the church matured she was open to new streams of thought, but only to the degree that they illuminated the pre-existing tradition.- Greg Popchak to JCecil (last year)

Too bad Terri Schiavo wasn't an illegal immigrant - title of Curt Jestian post

So, what's God busy teaching me? That I'm small, and He's big. That I have work to set my hands to, whether it's what I would choose or not. That rest is important, and He can handle the world while I get some sleep. (Imagine that.) That prayers don't have to "feel" good to be efficacious and necessary. They just have to be done. That bearing burdens can be a glorious vocation--it's just hard to remember that when you're right in the middle of it! - MamaT of "Summa Mamas"

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UPDATE: Ahh....memories of old time blogs. 2002 list of Christian blogs. Old Oligarch, I hope you're doing well.

From "Word Among Us"

All through history, those who are called by the Father to unite themselves with his Son must examine and re-examine Jesus’ identity. Who is Jesus for all of us; who is Jesus for me? Somehow, our response to these questions and the growth of our life in Christ are linked together. One of the special characteristics of the second gospel is the way it describes the insistent but gradual way in which Jesus revealed himself to his followers—the struggle they went through to grasp and accept what he was preparing them to understand. As we read and pray about the Gospel of Mark, it is often possible to identify with the episodes described. We can take consolation in the fact that faith and understanding have always been hard-won prizes, even for those who enjoyed the visible presence of the Lord.