July 08, 2015

Non-Imprimatur'd Thoughts


I read somewhere an opinion piece suggesting men are necessary as priests as a sort of acknowledgement of the weakness of men, that without this “carrot” they would be indifferent to religion even more so than is already currently the fashion. Already women comprise sixty percent or more of congregations, and there's the sense that if they became priests that number would rise.

And I thought of that while I read something about the breakdown of the family, suggesting the respect and responsibility men had back in the '40s and '50s was irreplaceable. From a short story in Paris Review:
“…at least patriarchy existed. I mean, as a social system it was able to perpetuate itself. There were families with children, and most of them had children. In other words, it worked, whereas now there aren't enough children, so we're finished.”
It's perhaps that God condescends to the weakness of the male that he allows him positions of authority like father or priest.

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One could see the ocean as impossibly large and impersonal, as something so big that it's a resource wasteful and easily wasted --  but with a slightly larger frame of reference you notice it's a mere speck in the solar system let alone the galaxy let alone the universe. Given that perspective, it's incomparably precious.

I think of the water cycle, the way vapor from the ocean rises to clouds and snows or rains miles away, and I think of how careful nature is to recycle, such that we could learn a lesson.

*

The pope's encyclical is engaging because it's not too abstruse or theological, but neither is it the dumbed-down cliche-driven bromides given at weekly audiences. Those weekly audiences are pep talks, like what you might hear in the huddle in a football game. Here Francis is at his most persuasive by explaining the why of it, not sound bytes.

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The first reading today was Jacob's hip problem after wrestling with God. It made such an impression on his fellows that the Israelites began avoiding the eating of the sciatic muscle, presumably as a way of remembrance and reverence. You'll know Jacob by his limp, in Heaven, just as Thomas (and us) shall know Jesus by his wounds. When God and man come together there are injuries, bruises, collisions of wills.

“I have seen God and lived,” says Jacob, the Old Testament's version of salvation and God's approval. To look upon God or to enter the Holy of Holies was to court death, or ecstasy. Now we receive Christ in the sacrament, more holy than the Holy of Holies, but know that the Judgement Day will be a risky, risky business, and so in that sense not too different from the ancient Jews.

*

Thursday I hitched up my pony (my bike) and made out while the getting was good. Put my earphones in and listened to music while cycling to the very end of the bike path. First time this year. The old saying about corn, “knee high by the fourth of July” is now “eye high” by this Fourth of July.

Towards the very end of the path I came across that rarest of rare sights: a bluebird. Man but that's a beautiful bird. Though surely not more so than a cardinal and yet I'm numb to cardinals having seen them so often. We only seem to appreciate the rare, the scarce! Is that why no prophet is without honor except in his own hometown?  A hometown prophet (like the cardinal) is too familiar to people to warrant appreciation and belief?

A fine ride it was on intermittent sunshine, sun that would soon falter and weaken and die, going to sleep around noon-thirty after which it became relentlessly overcast and rainy.  “A Republic, if you can keep it,” said one of the Founding Fathers of this nation. “A sunny day, if you can keep it,” sayeth I today.

*

The Fourth was, shockingly, sunny.  We checked out the fireworks that night and it's just so much more amazing in person versus the television screen and it makes me think that so too is the experience of the astronauts in space back in the '70s compared to our watching them on TV. Some things just can't be replicated or approximated.  Really, I'm not sure why the bother to televise them.

Then the next day to the ol' ball orchard. There's nothing quite like the moment you first glimpse the ballpark through the narrow walkway (section 140 in this case). It's “visual poetry”, seeing that expanse of green with only the outfielder and pitcher in view (we arrived after the game started). I felt with that first glimpse the way Emily Dickinson felt about the sea:
    Exultation is the going
    Of an inland soul to sea–
    Past the houses, past the headlands,
    Into Deep Eternity!
    Bred as we, among the mountains
    Can the sailor understand
    The divine intoxication
    Of the first league out from land?
So a nice couple hours at the ol' ball orchard despite the cloudiness and the shock of beer prices - $22.50 for two of them. Culpable, to buy beer at those prices. I think beer at a ball game is price inelastic, to borrow a term from Econ 101. You can charge pretty much anything and you'll have suckers.

*

Light ups like slots
Lightning bugs at dusk
Running the 8:55 bus
To immortality (a mate and offspring).

*

While plenty of people assert, validly, that God still works miracles in our day, there's no doubt that He doesn't raise people from the dead anymore. Or at least I haven't heard of it happening. That suggests that miracles should not be used as a proxy for God's care and concern for us. One can be certain that if more miracles and dead-raisings would truly help us, God would do it. And the proof of that is the Cross: St Augustine wrote, “He came to the marriage bed of the cross…and when he sensed the creature sighing in her breath, he surrendered himself to torment for his bride in a communication of love.” As much as I tend to think miracles show God's love, it's really not so because miracles are simply an expression of power and take absolutely no effort on God's part. Becoming man and dying on a cross takes effort and shows a level of love that dwarfs the mere exercise of power.

*

Kind of interesting to think of Christ as the "real Pan".  A shepherd of flocks and herds.  Man and God (as Pan was goat and man).  Christ's sudden appearance (Resurrection appearances) caused terror initially. "God of nature or the universe". 





3 comments:

William Luse said...

"As much as I tend to think miracles show God's love, it's really not so because miracles are simply an expression of power and take absolutely no effort on God's part. Becoming man and dying on a cross takes effort and shows a level of love that dwarfs the mere exercise of power."

Pretty good, TS.

TS said...

Thank you Bill!

Banshee said...

It happens. But it tends to get overshadowed by the everyday medical miracles, or it's explained as someone declaring death too soon.

Not to say that it happens often, but it's not unheard of.