August 14, 2018

Seven to Twelve Quick Takes

Went down the “distraction wormhole”. Started reading a Mark Helprin novel, which mentioned the old buildings of a university. That led me to download a free book on Miami U., full of historical photos, and a mention of 1953 missing student Ron Tammen, which led me to blog of a gal who was determined to crack that cold case (she thinks government involved and he was placed in witness protection), which led me to google what she’s up to now -- a professional dancer for the Chicago Bulls! Well now, putting her journalism degree to good use, I think snidely.

She mentions her favorite quote, by Samuel Beckett: “Dance first. Think later. It’s the natural order.” Which in context was meant by Beckett in a disparaging way, how humans do things impulsively and repent later.

But she took it literally, and I like it too in the sense that it reminds me of the quote from Samuel Johnson, approving of exercise’s impact on mental health, way back in the 1700s: “The necessity of action is not only demonstrable from the fabric of the body, but evident from ... how much happiness is gained, and how much misery escaped, by frequent and violent agitation of the body.”

So yes, run first and ask questions later.

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So on this anniversary of my brother-in-law's untimely death (who was a Pelatonia participant), I rode a couple hours down to Plain City and back. Enjoyable romp that began in the sun and ended in clouds. The trail was nearly empty as I rode down that elegant tree-and-farm-lined lane into the quietest of quiet country near trail’s end. It made me think of the London house we almost bought and how loud I-70 was despite being almost a mile away. We should have thought of house-buying as something requiring the patience of years, not a couple months.

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Last eve I drank in some baseball, which was surely tonic-ful. Got to hear Joe Morgan talk during an A’s game. Man technology is beautiful.

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Read some of McCarrick’s book of columns. He mostly skates around the sexual issues; perhaps because he felt like he’s okay since he didn’t prey on children (too much), or, that he had been forgiven his sins and thus had a right to lead the anti-abuse parade. Happy the man for whom God has buried his sins.

Read some of Romans, chapter 4, and that’s just a goldmine of a chapter. Certainly I must keep uppermost in mind how God *forgives*, it’s what he does most of all. A saint said he wants to forgive us like a mother wants to save her child from a burning building.

The commentaries: “The Law remains in force, but the keeping of the Law does not sanctify us; rather, God’s grace enables us to go beyond the Law through a life of charity.”

The money quote from the Knox translation:

When a man’s faith is reckoned virtue in him, according to God’s gracious plan, it is not because of anything he does; it is because he has faith, faith in the God who makes a just man of the sinner.

I also thought of Fr Hayes calling Christ “feral”. It has a negative, or at best neutral, connotation, but part of what makes our dog Max “wild”, at least in his utter unpredictability, is he knows no boundaries in his affections. He’s scarcely trained at all - he peed in sunroom and barked till midnight (God calls for us incessantly, if extremely quietly), but there’s also a tenderness and gentleness that I’ve not seen in our other more well-behaved dogs. A feral God doesn't equate to a demanding God, those are unrelated non-sequitors. Wildness in God is simply that He's larger than life, especially tame life.

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Simcha Fisher:
"You think you want to run away from the church. You think you will find a place where there is not so much hypocrisy, so much entrenched evil, a place that isn’t built from layer upon layer of guilt and shame and depravity. You may find such a place; I don’t know. But you will not find in it a God who weeps and bleeds and dies, who has taken sin into His bosom, swallowed it whole, let it burn in his belly until it finally burns out. You will only find this God in the Holy Roman Rotten Catholic Church, where the depraved teach young men how to confect God.

It is a rotten church. But it is not rotten to the heart because Jesus is the heart. There is more bloodshed there than I expected to see. But Jesus is there. He knew about Uncle Ted, and he knew about everything else we’re about to find out. That is why he came. Remember this, whatever else we do."
Decent rebuttal to the Rod Drehers of the world.

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Interesting WSJ piece on favorite 100 novels on how people thirst for story over lyricism (me the opposite!):
Perhaps, for many readers, it does not make much difference whether a story is told in print or images on a screen. The narrative itself is what matters. In fact, the Great American Read list confirms that there is a great hunger in our culture for grand, mythic narratives. The adoration of the Harry Potter books, like the nearly scriptural status of the Star Wars movies, involves more than just fandom. These are comprehensive universes, complete with their own laws and histories, heroes and villains, morals and meanings. They serve the purpose that was once served by epic poems like “The Iliad” or “The Odyssey,” or even by biblical stories: They dramatize the spiritual truths and longings that shape our world.

Indeed, while there are some books on the top 100 list that could be categorized as strictly escapist entertainment, what’s striking is how many of them have a serious, didactic purpose. Americans are a moralistic people—that’s one reason why we argue so bitterly about politics—and our books reflect our love of sermons. “Atlas Shrugged” is a sermon on individualism and capitalism, just as “The Handmaid’s Tale” is a sermon on feminism and patriarchy. “The Catcher in the Rye” and “ Siddhartha ” are books that help young people, in particular, formulate a whole philosophy of life.

Then there are tales of good fighting against evil, whether they take the form of teen fantasies like “The Hunger Games” and “Twilight” or use an explicitly Christian vocabulary, such as Frank E. Peretti’s “This Present Darkness” and the “Left Behind” series, which is set in a post-Rapture world. In a sense, you could say that the most influential book on the list is John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” from 1678, which helped to pioneer the combination of religious moralizing and fantastic adventure.

The need for such epic stories predates printed or even written literature and will survive even if books disappear, as many writers and readers now fear. In fact, the most interesting thing about the Great American Read list is the way it reminds us that stories are something separate from, and more fundamental than, what we call fiction, which is a fairly recent category, historically speaking. After all, it wasn’t until the 18th century that the novel became a dominant literary form, first in Europe and then around the world.

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From Helprin novel: "It is possible to have eyes that are carelessly unobservant, that in failing their task they betray a listless soul." Well that’s a positive spin on lack of custody of the eyes.

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This, from the sociologist author of Cheap Sex:
he end result [of porn] is spiritual passivity. And the empirical evidence supports this claim. Using two waves of survey data collected from the same people, University of Oklahoma sociologist Samuel Perry notes that pornography use predicted subsequent growth in religious doubts and declining personal importance of religion. Even being prompted to recall sexual experiences was found to diminish subsequent religious/spiritual aspirations in a series of controlled experiments conducted by researchers at a Belgium university.
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Q & A from Peter Thiel on potential for lifespan to be 150 years:
Q: You don’t fear that at some point life is getting boring?
A: A couple of years ago, I was talking to a former math professor in his early 70s. He said “I don’t know if there is an afterlife, but I hope not because I don’t want to run into my exwife.” The mentality we should have instead: We want to treat the people around us, we want to be doing things, so that every day is such that you want it to go on forever. If you have a 5 year old kid around you who is bored, you don’t say: Hopefully you will die soon. You say: There are a lot of things to do. So there is no reason to be bored.

1 comment:

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