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From the same quote drawer, this from the Sunday NY Times Magazine:
"I was in awe of my father's cerebral prowess. He was always intellectually trigger-happy, plus a bit hard of hearing, and the combination was deadly. If anyone happened to mention it was 'coldish' out, my father would starting bellowing Coleridge: 'Down to the sunless sea....'
During the many times he dragged us through Europe, every inscription on every doorway and pillar had to be decoded, whether from French or German, Latin or Greek. At museums he'd give the guards art history lessons. At a Japanese restaurant he'd correct a waiter's pronunciation. Even at a pizza parlor he'd order in extravagant Italian - a bit of Dante's 'Inferno' thrown in for good measure, complete with rococo arm gestures, kissing his fingers and writing in the air. It was always murder taking him anywhere."
A bit of Dante's 'Inferno'! Is that not rich!? Hi-lair-ious.
I'm incorrigible at attempting to communicate in other languages with strangers. I've tried snippets of Italian on unsuspecting Romans, said "danke schon" when a waitress at the German restaurant in Hermann, Mo. handed me a menu, said "gracias" to the Mexican lady at the local Wendy's, "Dia Duit" to the farmer out standing in his field in Western Ireland, "How!"* to the Cherokee Indian working at a fast food joint just outside an Indian reservation...
* - Disclaimer, did not say "How!". Made that up for humor's sake.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:33 AM
July 11, 2003
Serving Your Wedding Program Needs
I was going thru my old bin of collected quotes last night and came across these gems. In the unlikely event you need a quotation to put at the bottom of your wedding program, I offer these possibilities. Some are a little more romantical than others, see if you can tell the difference:
“When I said I would die a bachelor, I did not think I should live till I were married” – Shakespeare
“…their collected
Hearts wound up with love, like little watch springs.” – Stephen Spender
"I may chance have some odd quirks and remnants of wit broken on me, because I have railed so long against marriage.” – Shakespeare
“Hasty marriage seldom proveth well.” – Shakespeare, apparently favoring long engagements
“Love is not love which alters what alterations finds, or bends with the remover to remove.” – Shakespeare (I'll have to show my wife that one)
“Neither me without you nor you without me.” - anon
“I’m getting married in the morning,
Ding! Dong! The bells are gonna chime.
Pull out the stopper;
Let’s have a whopper;
But get me to the church on time!” - Alan J. Lerner
“May God, the best maker of all marriages, combine our hearts in one” – Shakespeare
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:31 AM
Knock me over... ...a Ham of Bone Update
I was waiting in line for lunch when an old co-worker by the name of Shelly asked me for a Bone update. I reported that he reads the IT positions in the want ads and tries to keep from vomiting - some of them read as though they should say, "must be willing to bend over"; such is life when employers are in the driver seat. Shelly has an innocence about her, a certain wide-eyedness that suggests gullibility. So when I mentioned that Bone was writing another screenplay her strenuous eye-rolling was amusing.
But just as somebody has to win the lotto somebody's gotta sell a screenplay, else we'd all be reading books instead of going to movies. Bone forwarded me an email today that was shocking - his agent contact, who he'd begged to read his screenplay months ago, suddenly out of the bolt blue sent this:
"Hi -----*,
How is the progress? I have, believe it or not, located a producer that is interested in [the screenplay]! We should talk about it if you're interested.
Peace,
Jack"
Despite (still) having never read Bone's screenplay, Jack wants to sign him up. He said he has only five clients, so Ham would get much of his time. On the phone he sounded like the cat who ate the canary, like he knew something that Ham didn't but wouldn't tell till Bone signed. Jack said, "Less than 1/10th of 1/10th of 1% of all screenwriters are sitting where you are. A head of a studio wants to read your script." Just not Jack apparently.
Bone will retain an entertainment lawyer to look over any deals, but apparently there is no cash up front to Jack (i.e. no Nigerian scammer deal where a mere $5,000 will eventually net Bone a major motion picture deal). Jack is a pure "10%'r" - he receives 10% of whatever Ham does.
The out-of-the-blueness of the offer lends credibility but I'd be curious if anyone has any thoughts on this. Just hit the ol' comment button and follow the destructions. Bone says his second screenplay is much better than his first by the way.
* -- the agent remembered Bone's name, I just removed it for privacy purposes, lest you figure out who it is and break into his house in the middle of the night and steal his screenplays.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:14 PM
July 10, 2003
(Update: For what it's worth, I updated the last part of this vast post because I thought it was way too vague and didn't reflect what I was trying to say. Believe it or not, that happens in blogging. )
Labels...We've Got Labels...
There is a natural drive toward division, towards distinctiveness. It is painfully exhibited at our "ultra-orthodox" (to use a label) church by women who wear veils in church shunning women who don't.
Protestants are now more likely to think of themselves as Protestant or non-denominational - in the 1950s, if asked their religion, they would say Baptist or Methodist, never Protestant. Is this bonding because the external threat - once perceived as the Methodists or Episcopalians down the road in the '50s - is now the Muslim or atheist in 2003? Or is it because they are apathetic about theology but passionate about politics? Have we "traded down" by getting worked up over politics instead of theology?
There are legit times to stand up and be counted, so it's not as easy as just ascribe everything to this drive towards division. David Mills makes this point in his book, "The Saints' Guide to the Real Jesus", where he discusses and recusses how the early Christian saints were so dogmatic about the words - the creed - and why it was so important to them. Now we're willing to just fudge the differences - we all love Jesus right? The early saints were willing to die for seeming slight theological nuances because they loved Christ so much they wanted an accurate picture of Him passed on. "It is hard for us, trained as we have been to think that every conflict is a fight over power and control, to realize that some men may have fought for truth and love."
Of course, they were saints and we're not and Mills is careful to say we probably shouldn't try this at home. He explains how the early saints were able to be neither cowards nor foolhardy folks taking joy in skewering, something he admits moderns are mostly unable to finesse.
*
the Changes of the '60s
Fr. Jim Tucker writes:
Changes [in the '60s] were swift, radical, sometimes self-contradictory, and often very poorly explained. Good changes came side-by-side with terrible ones...Most of these changes were effected by clergy and religious (who themselves didn't exactly understand what was going on), and the laity seems to have followed along with whatever Father and Sister said. It didn't take too long for people to see how arbitrary much of this was and either to ignore the religious "professionals" altogether or to follow them quite selectively...The fruits of the chaos seem fairly obvious to me: rotten for everyone....
All of these things (and the other arrangments that others come up with) are, I think, sincere attempts to make sense out of the confusion that we've had since the 1960s, even though they're not equally successful in conveying the full meaning of Catholicism.
Truth Uber Alles
If there were good changes in the Church as a result of Vatican II, that suggests that something of the truth was imperfectly understood in order for changes to have been good. Given that we believe the Holy Spirit guided the Church to Vatican 2, there is no reason not to think the changes were good, at least the changes that were specified in the documents and not simply bad interpretations. The fact that some changes were necessary suggests that the order and discipline in the Church in the '50s was acquired partially at the cost of "under-nuanced" truth. An example of less-than-nuanced truth might be the popular interpretation of "no salvation outside the church" meaning literally "no salvation outside the visible church". But that doctrine, taken in the 50s way, could possibly have produced better Catholics given that folks may've felt willing to give more of themselves to a church that was the sole means of salvation. A poor motivation compared to the pure desire of following Christ, but we do live in a fallen world. Similarly, Mormons may produce good fruits in the form of lower divorce and abortion rates even though their doctrine is haywire. But we must seek after the truth because it shall set us free.
Update: Came across this fascinating nugget from Simone Weil via Hernan's Spanish blog that seems appropo:
Dostoyevski professed a blasphemy when he said: "If Christ is not the truth, I prefer to be with Christ far from the truth". Christ said: " I am the truth ". Also he said that it was bread, that was drink; but he said: "I am the true bread, the true drink", that is to say, the bread only of the truth, the drink only of the truth. It is necessary to wish him first like truth, and only next like food.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:34 AM
Sandra is the Constitution
Bill O'Reilly has often called Hillary Rodham Clinton the most powerful woman in America.
Balderdash!
How can it not be Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the "swing voter" on the Court? Jonah Goldberg irreverently opines:
As Charles Krauthammer and others have noted, Sandy Baby (as John Riggins once dubbed her) is the Constitution of the United States of America. If she wants the text to mean free speech for everybody, then free speech for everybody it is. If she wants it to mean censorship for everybody, well shut my mouth!
....
And, yes, I'm exaggerating when I say Justice O'Connor can single-handedly (single-mindedly) make the American charter mean whatever she wants, but we really do need something dramatic to signal to the public that the Supreme Court is pretty much making stuff up as it goes.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:12 AM
Received email from a left-of-center acquaintence who said about Lee Greenwood's song, "It's not just that it's sappy cornball patriotism, it's that it's really become the Red-State Anthem, the way "Lift Ev'ry Voice" is the "black national anthem," etc. So it makes people nuts that way."
Understood. But is there a song embraced by the left that recognizes that the freedom and wealth we enjoy is on the backs of those who died, some in questionable wars but some in noble ones? I know many on the left approve of Guthrie's song, "This Land is Your Land" but I don't think that fits the gratitude bill. In fact, the final verse goes: In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple / Near the relief office - I see my people / And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin' /If this land's still made for you and me.
My sense is that many cry hysterically about freedoms not enjoyed while never paying homage to those who helped us get what we got. Gratitude is ever a hothouse flower...I recognize my own great lack in that dep't, so this is ridiculously hypocritical.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:11 AM
From Oprah's Book Club Page on "East of Eden".....
THE NOVEL: Timshel—Man's Ability to Choose Between Good and Evil
The main theme for East of Eden turns on the correct translation of the Hebrew word timshel, translated differently in various versions of the Bible. The word appears in the Cain and Abel story in Genesis, when God discusses sin with Cain.
What is the true meaning of this passage?
(a) God promises Cain that he will conquer sin ("thou shalt rule over him")?
(b) God orders Cain to conquer sin ("Do thou rule over him")?
(c) God blesses Cain with free will, leaving the choice to him ("Thou mayest rule over him")?
By studying the passage in the Bible, Adam Trask's Chinese servant, Lee, helps characters Samuel and Adam understand the intended original meaning in this passage from East of Eden:
"…this was the gold from our mining: 'Thou mayest.' The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin (and you can call sin ignorance). The King James translation makes a promise in 'Thou shalt,' meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word timshel—'Thou mayest'—that gives a choice. For if 'Thou mayest'—it is also true that 'Thou mayest not.' That makes a man great and that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win."
Here is the choice each of the characters in East of Eden face; as does, ultimately, every human being. No matter how deep-rooted the sin, there is always a chance for redemption. In the authoritative Orthodox Jewish translation from The Chumash: The Stone Edition the passage in question reads: "Surely if you improve yourself, you will be forgiven. But if you do not improve yourself, sin rests at the door. Its desire is toward you, yet you can conquer it."
****
According to the Bible, Cain was the first murderer in history, committing a sin not only against God but against another human being because he felt unloved. After strife between man and God in Eden, here was strife between man and man; the filial bond is stressed time and again in the sixteen Bible verses, Although the Bible gives no reason* for why God chooses Abel's sacrifice over Cain's, Cain's violence is sparked by anger at the rejection of his gift, and jealousy and resentment toward his brother. As a result, not only does he kill, he lies. As punishment, he is condemned to "till the ground" fruitlessly and to be "a restless wanderer." His mark is not a curse, but a protective sign of God's enduring care. --Oprah Book Club
* -- Aquinas writes that God's love is preferential:
The good that God wills for His creatures, is not the divine essence. Therefore there is no reason why it may not vary in degree.
Everything loves what is like it, as appears from (Ecclus. 13:19): "Every beast loveth its like." Now the better a thing is, the more like is it to God. Therefore the better things are more loved by God.
I answer that, It must needs be, according to what has been said before, that God loves more the better things. For it has been shown (2, 3), that God's loving one thing more than another is nothing else than His willing for that thing a greater good: because God's will is the cause of goodness in things; and the reason why some things are better than others, is that God wills for them a greater good. Hence it follows that He loves more the better things. --St. Thomas Aquinas
Update: Kathy the Carmelite writes, "Actually, God cursed the ground as the result of Adam's sin (Gen. 3:17). Cain should have known better than to have offered God vegetables he grew from the soil!"
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:54 AM
July 9, 2003
ComFest Update
Follow up to my reportage...Music critic Petric in The Other Paper reviewed ComFest (this article's not online unfortunately) and told an amusing/disturbing anecdote.
Between bands a soundguy put the Lee Greenwood song "God Bless the USA" on as a joke. The manager and organizer of ComFest runs over and is fuming. He screams, "Turn that f-cking thing off! Shut it down, now!".
That song is like a red cape before a bull, which I really don't get. I don't think the lyrics are that controversial, are they? I mean he doesn't croon anything about tax cuts or war or pro-life. Oh yeah, God is mentioned.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:52 AM
Praising Disputes
Ye oft-quoted Dominican Friar said that he wants couples to fight, or at least have disputes.
They ask him to preside at their wedding and he asks, "Have you had arguments and disagreements?"
"Oh no Father, we get along fine, we never fight."
"Then go back and have a fight and come back afterwards."
His point is that it is only in disputes that we show our virtue or vice, and that couples find out more about the other person in fighting than in loving. Especially given that dating you tend to see only the best side of the person. He wonders at the quality of a marriage if there are not disputes and intense arguments.
This was background for his talk on Jacob wrestling the angel, which was symbolic of the whole history of Israel. In fact, "Israel" means "wrestles with God". And Father suggests this is sometimes necessary in our relationship with God, for some of the same reasons quoted above.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:17 AM
St. Louis Redux
I awoke Saturday morning with visions of the German Biergarten in my head, of tubas and oooom-pahs, drinking microbrews under the St. Louis sun. That was our plan in Hermann, Mo., a little German enclave about sixty miles outside of St. Louis. Mark had read about this in a tour book, so you know it's got to be true, but alas when we arrived there was only a one-man jazzman at a local winery. Reports of tubas in Hermann were greatly exaggerated.
I shrugged this disappointment off with the help of some wine tasting and later lunch, where I told Anna Marie, who had never had Muenster cheese before, that this is a special "Hermann Muenster" cheese. (Insert groan here). I tried the sampler platter - knackwurst, sauerbraten and something else - and it was surprisingly good given my low expectations. My ancestors in Germany and Ireland didn't always eat well, but they certainly drank well. The German biers and Irish stout are second to none.
We visited the wine cellar, deliciously medieval, filled with the musty fog of fermenting grape. A labyrinth of cavernous arches, I agilely scaled one wall to reach an opening to see a view - of more small cubbys where bones lay in mouldering heaps, at least in my imagination. We came to a sign that said, "No Visitors Past This Point" and walked past the sign, in verboten territory, for photo purposes. We are so jejune.
No one wanted to listen to the jazzman play in the 100 degree heat, so we visited the local Catholic Church up on the hill and absorbed the beautiful stained glass windows depicting the spiritual and corporal works of mercy (such as St. Elizabeth of Hungary feeding the hungry). There was also a representation of St. Louis himself, which I made a point of reading up on since my knowledge of the 13th century Crusader & king was vague.
Saturday night we went to the Irish pub in town, McGurk's, and the food (Gaelic steak) was surprisingly good. In fact it was more restaurant than pub. Sunday morning we arrived at St. Louis Cathedral early and gawked at the spectacular mosaics.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:56 PM
July 8, 2003
Of Modern Doubt
Mark of Particulae (sounds like Pio of Petrelcina or Francis of Assisi doesn't it?) and Amy and Hernan all have interesting posts on modern doubt.
Dr. Geraghty of EWTN's online forum (doctor of philosophy) has some interesting thoughts on the subject.
First, he answers a very long letter-writer who describes his angst concerning the unfairness of the original temptation in the Garden, of the scandal of particularity, etc... with this:
Let me ask you this question: Do you think that you are capable of being evil that you could do deeds that would danm your soul for all eternity? In other words, do you think that you are a sinner? The reason I ask is that, while all Catholics are brought up on the idea that we are sinners in need of redemption, we often do not feel like or really think that we are sinners. In such a case the practice of true religion becomes irksome to us. Catholicism is designed for sinners-- are you a sinner? If you are not, then it is not the religion for you. You won't fit.
I found this interesting because the ancients and not-so-ancients really had an acute sense of their own sinfulness and that is perhaps a gateway to faith..certainly it provides a thirst for the remedy.
Dr. Geraghty also had this to say concerning his wife's conversion:
My wife tells me that, when she was an atheist who wanted to believe in the Church, she saw a priest and kept pounding him with questions about how she could not believe. The priest tried to answer her but she was not satisified. So finally he said: "Look, faith is a gift of God. And God did not give it to you yet." Somehow, my wife says, that made her relax. Just because she wanted something from God did not mean that she would automatically get it. Anyway, she relaxed because she realized that the whole matter of faith was not entirely up to her. So she kept waiting in hope and more peace. The odd thing is that, when she got the gift of faith, she could not remember the exact time when she got it. The gift came to her and she was not ever aware of it for a period of time. It seems that you want to believe. That is good. But God in the final analysis gives the gift. We cannot give it to ourselves.
These responses seem somewhat contradictory. In the first, it's as if a lack of faith is the query writer's fault (in arrogantly not seeing his own sinfulness). In the second, it is seen as gift. This cooperation between man and God is typically a tangled weave - how much one is responsible for one's faith who can say? But I am struck by how Jesus in the Gospel's was often hard on those without faith. "O Ye of little faith!" he'd say. Jesus would surely not chastize those who were not given a gift, so that implies a two-way street of some sort. But Peter's confession of faith was recognized as what it was - a gift from above. It appeals to my laziness to think it a gift, but is at the same time discomfiting, given my desire for control. Faith easily gotten often triggers a sort of religious equivalent to the "smug marrieds" of Bridget Jones fame.
In this third comment, Dr. takes a rather rigorous "act of the will" point of view:
Questioner: I INTELLECTUALLY know that God the Father loves us. But I am having trouble in my heart BELIEVING that and I also don't feel a personal relationship with Him. I have tried to discern His love intellectually but I am coming up somehwat empty. I tell myself to look at the beautiful creation He made for us to enjoy (flowers, animals, sunsets, etc) but sometimes feel that it's all one-sided. Primarily, I feel that my spriritual life is based on me pursuing Him and Him maybe responding or maybe not, based on my state of grace at the time. Am I projecting my earthly father into this? Is there something I can read or look at to understand what the God-to-person relationship is about? Is there a real interpersonal relationship? Is it in the form of Christ-to-person instead of Father-to-person? Hope this is a clear question.
Answer by Richard Geraghty: Dear Catechist,
One should keep in mind that in the Catholic view our love for God is basically a decision, an act of the will. Thus we say our prayers and go to Church on this basis. Sometimes there is feeling attached to this. Many times there is not. What is necessary for us is to be steadfast when we do not have the experience or the feeling of love when we approach God. So I would not worry about it. Keep plugging away. God will take care of things here. It can be a danger to us when we begin to worry why we are "experiencing" God in the way perhaps that other people are. Do not worry about the other people. Some of these may be kidding themselves.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:05 AM
Looking for Transcendence in All the Wrong Places
Fascinating review of by Daniel Mendelsohn of James Wood's "The Book Against God". Mendelsohn makes the case that Wood is a brutal critic of modern novelists because he is looking for God in them:
Wood's own hidden criterion for books is their ability to deliver transcendence, to provide access to the hidden but immanent truths of the universe. (Or at least to struggle with that transcendence, those truths.) Yet there's only one Good Book that claims to be able to deliver what Wood wants; all other good (and even great) books may provide ecstasy and revelation, but the ecstasy is aesthetic, and the revelation can only be about patchy, inconclusive human things that we already know (since we write the books ourselves). Wood has commented of Nietzsche and Camus that ''both of them realize that God cannot be destroyed by 'philosophy' as such, but can only be exchanged for a form of rival belief'': it seems clear that Wood, having broken with God, has set up the novel as His rival. But he believes in the novel with the unyielding belief of the fundamentalist, rather than the gentler and more complicated passion of the true humanist.
...His dismissal of allegory, of magic realism, and the kind of postmodern narrative halls-of-mirrors you find in DeLillo and his followers -- reminds you that a consideration almost wholly absent from his final judgments is that of aesthetic pleasure, of playfulness, of fun. These may seem frivolous, but for better or worse they are an essential component of the aesthetics of our postmodern era, with its emphasis on self-conscious artfulness and play; to judge the products of this era by 19th-century standards -- which is, essentially, Wood's M.O. -- is to fault an apple for not being an orange.
If a great many contemporary novels indulge in the sins of clever symbolisms, self-consciously allegorical structure, slyly autobiographical references and glib provincial humor, it may be because that's the kind of novel we need to be writing just now -- because that's one way that 21st-century novels react both to their literary forebears and to their anxious times.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:01 PM
July 7, 2003
Sensual Aesthetics... & other oxymorons
The Pope wrote, in "Love and Responsibility" that
"Beauty is essentially an object of contemplative cognition, and to experience aesthetic values is not to exploit: it gives joy...Thus, sensuality really interferes with apprehension of the beautiful, even of bodily, sensual beauty, for it introduces a consumer attitude to the object: 'the body' is then regarded as a potential object of exploitation."
Mark of Particulae writes:
An obvious and good example of this is our sexuality. Art can appeal to our sexuality in a manner that is wholesome or harmful and a "lowering of standards" in art is not so much a matter of the object being "too low" so much as the use and interpretation of the object being jejune, inappropriate, or foolish.
I've always wondered at how, concretely and in practice, art can appeal to our sexuality in a wholesome way. Maybe it appeals in a very broad or subtle sense. For many, including Ham of Bone and I (we've had many discussions on it) the sensual huddles in the corner and is quite adept at spoiling any potential aesthetic experience that remotely concerns the sexual. Call us jejune, but not late for dinner.
President James Garfield said that "something went out of him that never came back" after seeing so many men killed during the Civil War. That something he said was a "sense of the sacredness of life". Perhaps in a similar way one can never get back a way of looking at sexuality in a wholesome way after abusing it.
Sensuality creates hunger, aesthetics creates appreciation. At the St. Louis Art Museum I found myself in that familiar spot of lurching from the sensual to the aesthetic even though it was a 'fine art' museum. I suppose the fault lies, dear Brutus, not in the stars...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:02 PM
No Quid Pro Quo
Something I'd wished someone would've told me in my less than saintly past:
Bonacci said single Christians - encouraged, at times, by chastity educators to tout the practical benefits of saving sex for marriage - forget that "morality is not a quid pro quo arrangement".
- The New Faithful by Colleen Carroll, quoting Beth Bonnacci here
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:40 AM
Feelin' the Heat in St. Louis
I could start with the preternatural heat. Seeing 99 on the thermometer got to be routine. And though the saying goes "it's not the heat, it's the humidity", sometimes you get both in spades. Not that I'm complaining; I loathe winter and summer can't hug too tightly.
Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start...
The ostensible reason for going to St. Louis was to visit Nina and Anna Marie, two longtime friends (I used to call Anna Marie "Santa Maria" and ask where the Pinta was). Nina gave me a T-shirt emblazoned with the words "40 Years Old - That's Dead in Dog Years" this year so I'm re-thinking the friendship thing.
I loaded the truck with lots of “distractions” for what would be a eight-hour drive - daunting for those with a short-attention span. Snuggled close were snacks, a cooler, CDs, the audio book “Tis” by Frank McCourt (purchased for $1 at company garage sale – Bone would be proud), and nostalgia-producing tapes. Favorites included Jimmy Buffet’s tear-enducing “A Pirate at 40”…I made enough money to buy Miami but I pissed it away so fast…never meant to last…, “Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above” by the choir at the National Shrine in Washington (sung in the most plaintive innocence) and “Sweet Home Chicago”, off a nearly decomposed Blues Brothers tape.
But finally I arrived: the famous Arch could’ve been a giant trash-heap and I would’ve thrilled to it simply because it was a symbol that meant the end of the drive. After a quick check-in, we gathered under that same Arch with ten thousand others for something called “Fair St. Louis”, a three-day extravaganza held every July 4th weekend. Playing for free (if it’s free, it’s for me) was country star Brad Paisley, who sings an unabashedly pro-life song. Lots of pickin’ and grinnin’, some blue grass and “How Great Thou Art”. Afterwards, the Arch was the frame for a fabulous fireworks display.
Baseballus Interuptus
On Friday we got back from the museums (Art & Missouri Historical) early enough for me to sneak over to the Border’s Books which was but a stone’s throw from our hotel. I sank into one of the comfortable chairs and read an interesting article on boredom and baseball in the “Atlantic”:
It's there in Philip Roth's essay "My Baseball Years," from Reading Myself and Others: "Baseball—with its lore and legends, its cultural power, its seasonal associations, its native authenticity, its simple rules and transparent strategies, its longueurs and thrills, its spaciousness, its suspensefulness, its heroics, its nuances, its lingo, its 'characters,' its peculiarly hypnotic tedium, its mythic transformation of the immediate—was the literature of my boyhood." Hypnotic tedium. Has anyone ever put it better? Maybe only Don DeLillo, in the prologue to Underworld: "Dodgers go down in the top of the ninth and this is when you sense a helpless scattering, it is tastable in the air, audible in the lone-wolf calls from high in the stands. Nothing you've put into this is recoverable ..."
Unrecoverable. Is it any wonder baseball makes us choke up? Three hours a day, six months a year, the baseball fan commits himself to the game. Multi-tasking or mono-tasking, we carry it wherever we go. He listens. She watches. Next morning they read the game story, scan the box scores. On our deathbeds, surrounded by loved ones we almost remember ("Didn't you fetch me some Twizzlers once?"), we'll add up all the hours. Where is the return on all this time? As it says on the ticket stub, "nonrefundable."
The author, David Kipen, comes to this conclusion:
….Boredom is a luxury of the young... Here, at last, is how baseball works its lachrymose and soporific spell on us: we feel nostalgia and boredom, yes, but more than that, we feel nostalgia for boredom, for youth's immensities of wastable time. The lovely poem "Spring and Fall: To a Young Child," by Gerard Manley Hopkins, a man who held no particular brief for baseball one way or the other, begins, "Margaret, are you grieving / Over Goldengrove unleaving?" To be flat-footed about it, Margaret is a girl distraught over the arrival of autumn and the loss of leaves from a favorite copse. For a dozen lines or so the speaker consoles her as best he can. Then, in fittingly arboreal language, he delivers a couplet that distills Margaret's sorrow, and with it that of every grown-up ball fan who ever wondered how a simple game could become so complicated: "It is the blight man was born for, / It is Margaret you mourn for."
Blame Rome First
Walking out with just a magazine seemed an anathemna, so I picked up and began reading St. Augustine’s “City of God” and began to consider it a mini-scandal that I don’t have that on my shelves. If I can have DH Lawrence, surely I should have something other than just the Confessions?
So I go to the cashier, a fulsomely-haired and tattooed youth. I give a hearty hello, too hearty apparently, for he smiled and took this as an invitation to minutely inspect and comment on my purchases, something I promise that I will never do if I land the coveted job of bookstore owner.
“I like reading stuff like this,” he says pointing to “City of God”. “I want to read the Thomas gospel, but you just can’t find it anywhere.”
“Oh really? Out of print?” I ask.
“No…the Catholic Church is preventing it from getting out.”
He can tell by my silence I’m underwhelmed.
“You know those are the real words of Jesus…”
“The Catholic Church can’t stop someone from printing something…” I say.
“Yeah but they just don’t like it.”
To Be Continued
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:16 PM
July 6, 2003
It Is Finished
Every muscle in my body aches. I haven't had a thought deeper than "is it level?" for over 48 hours. I sleep the sleep of the dead each night, my limbs encased in imaginary casts. But the paver patio is finished and looks halfway decent, although around about the 20th hour of work I quit caring. Home improvement projects exist to humble you and also to get you to the point of asking, "I really don't want this ---fill-in-the-blank--- as much as I thought I did". Fortunately, you're half-done and you can't leave it half-done, so that compels you to finish... When I was a four-year old, I wanted to be a "digger man", i.e. construction worker. Be careful what you wish for.
After I put the sand down, the next morning I woke to find that one of our cats thought it a nice big kitty litter. They left a dead mouse as a compensatory "offering".
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:21 PM
July 2, 2003
in the spirit of the Onion
July 1, 2003 - The Westchester Daily - since 1903
Area Blogger Eschews "I"
Area blogger Thomas O'Reilly has forsworn the use of the personal pronoun "I" in blog posts. This despite referring to himself 12,842 times over the past nine blogging months.
"I just decided I was too focused on "I" and was constantly inserting me, me, me in my posts," O'Reilly said. "I'm tired of foisting my opinions on others just because they are my opinions".
When asked how long he thought he could forswear "I", O'Reilly said, "for the rest of the week at least".
Local pundits look for an increase in phrases like "one would think..." and "It occurs to this mind..." to compensate.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:53 AM
Unity in Diversity
One difference between Pentecost and the Tower of Babel was that at Pentecost everyone spoke in a different tongue and yet was still understood, while the opposite occurred in the story of the Tower of Babel. The experience of Pentecost could be seen as a metaphor for the saints who are unique but still a unity.
Part of what makes saints who they are, I think, is their confidence. Confidence in God, yes, but also a confidence in their unique vision of God, their personal relationship. They weren’t wishy-washy and didn't seem to say, "on the other hand..." a lot. St. Jerome was prickly and didn't suffer fools gladly - others might've seen this as a fault, but Jerome was apparently sanguine about it. He was confident in what he believed God wanted him to be. St. Therese of the Little Flower was fearless in her reliance on God's mercy. Other saints might emphasis justice, but she was supremely confident of what her relationship with God was telling her. Saints fill vital roles - imagine the Church without Jerome's scholarship or St. Therese's correction of the Jansenist tendency and one realizes the Potter is at work in their clay.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:49 AM
July 1, 2003
Excerpts from David Mills' Saints' Guide to Knowing the Real Jesus
Picture to yourself what the Christian promise of salvation means. It means that heaven can include Uncle Charlie with his joy but without his lust and gluttony, and Aunt Betty with her compassion but without her fear and anxiety, and your friend Mark with his wit but without his cruelty and condescension.
And you as well, without all those ingrown sins that have made you and others unhappy (most of which you don’t know about) but with your gifts (most of which you don’t know about either) fully developed. It means that you will no longer be a prime example of St. Paul’s saying that the good he wants to do he doesn’t do, and the evil he doesn’t want to do, he does anyway.
In C.S. Lewis’ book “The Great Divorce”, those who have just arrived in heaven are almost transparent and can’t walk on the grass because it hurts their soft feet. They are barely real because they are not very good. Only those who let go of the besetting sin that has warped their life and personality can be truly themselves enough to enjoy heaven and grow more real as they draw nearer to God.
St. Teresa of Avila prayed “..that I may know who my Creator is in order to love him”, which is really what David Mill's book is about.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:24 AM
Various & Sundry
Blogging will be light while I try to hand-dig a swimming pool in my back yard.
At least that's what if feels like.
When I close my eyes I see shovels of dirt endlessly transported by a wheel barrow that occasionally mutates into a barrow (the wheel is falling off). Five soft-drinks, three beers and eight hours later, the pit still looks painfully shallow.
The idea was to put in a paver patio, without using sod-cutters or other fancy-schmancy equipment. My first stab was to just pull up the sod and lay the stones. But after some experiment it became clear I needed to dig down six inches and start with a layer of gravel. Then sand.... So 'nuff said, I'm boring even myself here.
*
In other news, got an email from Jeanne whose husband is a non-reader but read "East of Eden". She reports that he stayed engrossed until he finished the book and then commented, "At least there aren't any big words that I don't understand here."
I do like Steinbeck's stripped down, elegant prose. Given John Updike's decorative prose, this is a refreshing change. "East of Eden" is overly long and has some sections that could've been edited, but there a a few passages that have REALLY stuck with me. I recently read TC Boyle's "Drop City" and while I was just as engrossed (if not more so) there is nothing in that book that I marked with a high-lighter and will want to re-read.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:29 AM
Literary Elitism
Mark tells it like it is with respect to a creeping elitism:
... I wonder if "difficult" sometimes refers to the accessibility of a work to someone of average intelligence and education more than its literary depth. A book might be difficult if it constantly makes references to other literature or distant events or cultural proclivities that I as a person of average intelligence and education find difficult because the references are too esoteric and most people with my background wouldn't know them.
Oprah has been so villified that some are now taking shots at Steinbeck's "East of Eden", as if she is tainting Steinbeck by mere association....
I once sent a lefty colleague this, which makes some immoderate claims about war but then the reasonable "sometimes the herd is right" and he reacted viscerally, completely turned off by that more than the controversial stuff at the beginnning... I recall emailing a blogger/columnist/lapsed Catholic who said she wasn't so much a liberal as an elitist... Least he/she was honest.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:36 PM
June 29, 2003
Supreme Court Says End Justifies the Means
What especially interests me regarding the recent Supreme Court decisions is the common thread it represents among all branches of government over the past thirty years. And that common thread is an amazing lack of restraint when it comes to respecting what your branch of government entails compared to the others or what the role of the Federal gov't is to state gov'ts.
The Senate has basically taken over the nominating process for judges - Presidents now have to get on their knees and ask "who is acceptable to you?" rather than pick his own man. The Senate's power to block appointments was hardly ever used for one hundred and seventy years and now it's commonplace.
Presidents have more or less decided that war is their perogative, for which they may or may not ask Congress' permission despite that power being given, consitutionally, to the legislature.
The Supreme Court, having no one to answer to, simply rolls over precedent, consistency and rational thinking. The Court acts as a super-legislature when it wants to and make arbitrary rulings that constantly surprise for the very reason that they have no rational basis. Certainly the Constitution has ceased being much of a guide for them.
The Court has become purely outcome-based and law is arbitrary enough to allow that. Thus when the Supremes decided that the Florida Supreme Court rulings against Bush in 2000 were a joke (which they were, any eight-year old could tell you it wasn't fair to re-count just a couple counties), they recognized that Bush had won and then came up with some flimsy reasoning afterwards. The Court's motto could now be "the end justifies the means". Mark and Tom ought to be on the Supreme's case.
End of whine.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:52 PM
Hambone Update
Ham of Bone reflects on week four of his being laid-off....
What day is it? The seemingly endless supply of summer days stretches out into perpetuity. The uneasiness of ease has passed replaced by the uneasiness of pending unease - knowing that money-gathering must resume at some point. I will work harder than I ever have before to avoid going back to "work".
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:20 AM
Reporting Live from ComFest 2003
Onward to CommunistFest! A rite of summer is a three-day party at Goodale Park in downtown Columbus known as “Comfest”. It’s been going on for some thirty years, and the right-wingers around the office refer to it as “CommunistFest” for reasons that will become clear. Lots of beads and peacenicks, tie dyes and stoned people. Lots of political causes, supporting everything from saving animals to killing unborn children. I go every year mostly to submerge myself in an entirely different culture, to feel completely alien like the time I toured Central L.A.
In the cozy streetwalk there were a disconcerting number of food shops – how bourgeois! Don’t sell out, Comfest! But I was misled, they merely increased the length of the street walk, winding inside Goodale Park for further opportunities to extract either loyalty or money via booths like “Bastard Nation” (I didn’t ask) or “Choice” (i.e. “pro”, except before intercourse).
To be fair, Comfest is not all anarchy and socialism. The social justice concerns resonate. The anti-war booths could be taken seriously. There was a t-shirt for sale featuring Pope JPII. Obviously not your father's Comfest.
The obligatory gays holding hands was spied, as was the peaceful, zoned out bearded man, seemingly longing for an escape hatch to 1969. (I'm with ya brother! I was six years old and didn't have to shave).
Comfest was everything I could ask for, which wasn't much. The beer and the second hand smoke and the live rock band and sun combined to touch some atavistic memories – I could feel it to the soles of my feet. I remembered this me - the one who drank beers in the sun to the sounds of live rock bands and inhaled second hand smoke.
The people were lively and interesting-looking. I felt a vague sense of guilt, since I contributed little given that I am relentlessly middle-class looking. Reminds me of my long-held views on lawn care: since you see the neighbor’s landscape across the street more than your own, it’s more crucial they keep up their end of the bargain. In that sense, being interesting is an act of charity for neighbor.
And interesting they were. Lots of interesting clothes which I could describe if I knew anything about clothes. Such are the limitations of a wanna-be writer who can’t tell you the difference between wool and saffron. (Other than you can eat the latter). Lots of self-mutilations, also known as piercings. Lots of somber, beetle-eyed girls who want to evangelize their view of the world.
ComFest is succumbing to nostalgia. This year there was a booth titled “Retro” in self-consciously Sixties-type script. Inside were pictures of moon landings, old radios, and a poster of the Brady Bunch. The Brady’s looked scrubbed and elated (just like I remembered them) and it’s interesting that now some kid might buy the poster as irony. I watched them in the 70s and was preternaturally incapable of irony. Times change, lightning fast...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:58 AM
June 28, 2003
Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor
I see the right way, approve it and do the opposite - Ovid
Literary Elitism
Mark tells it like it is with respect to a creeping elitism:
... I wonder if "difficult" sometimes refers to the accessibility of a work to someone of average intelligence and education more than its literary depth. A book might be difficult if it constantly makes references to other literature or distant events or cultural proclivities that I as a person of average intelligence and education find difficult because the references are too esoteric and most people with my background wouldn't know them.
Oprah has been so villified that some are now taking shots at Steinbeck's "East of Eden", as if she is tainting Steinbeck by mere association....
I once sent a lefty colleague this, which makes some immoderate claims about war but then the reasonable "sometimes the herd is right" and he reacted viscerally, completely turned off by that more than the controversial stuff at the beginnning... I recall emailing a blogger/columnist/lapsed Catholic who said she wasn't so much a liberal as an elitist... Least he/she was honest.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:36 PM
June 29, 2003
Supreme Court Says End Justifies the Means
What especially interests me regarding the recent Supreme Court decisions is the common thread it represents among all branches of government over the past thirty years. And that common thread is an amazing lack of restraint when it comes to respecting what your branch of government entails compared to the others or what the role of the Federal gov't is to state gov'ts.
The Senate has basically taken over the nominating process for judges - Presidents now have to get on their knees and ask "who is acceptable to you?" rather than pick his own man. The Senate's power to block appointments was hardly ever used for one hundred and seventy years and now it's commonplace.
Presidents have more or less decided that war is their perogative, for which they may or may not ask Congress' permission despite that power being given, consitutionally, to the legislature.
The Supreme Court, having no one to answer to, simply rolls over precedent, consistency and rational thinking. The Court acts as a super-legislature when it wants to and make arbitrary rulings that constantly surprise for the very reason that they have no rational basis. Certainly the Constitution has ceased being much of a guide for them.
The Court has become purely outcome-based and law is arbitrary enough to allow that. Thus when the Supremes decided that the Florida Supreme Court rulings against Bush in 2000 were a joke (which they were, any eight-year old could tell you it wasn't fair to re-count just a couple counties), they recognized that Bush had won and then came up with some flimsy reasoning afterwards. The Court's motto could now be "the end justifies the means". Mark and Tom ought to be on the Supreme's case.
End of whine.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:52 PM
Hambone Update
Ham of Bone reflects on week four of his being laid-off....
What day is it? The seemingly endless supply of summer days stretches out into perpetuity. The uneasiness of ease has passed replaced by the uneasiness of pending unease - knowing that money-gathering must resume at some point. I will work harder than I ever have before to avoid going back to "work".
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:20 AM
Reporting Live from ComFest 2003
Onward to CommunistFest! A rite of summer is a three-day party at Goodale Park in downtown Columbus known as “Comfest”. It’s been going on for some thirty years, and the right-wingers around the office refer to it as “CommunistFest” for reasons that will become clear. Lots of beads and peacenicks, tie dyes and stoned people. Lots of political causes, supporting everything from saving animals to killing unborn children. I go every year mostly to submerge myself in an entirely different culture, to feel completely alien like the time I toured Central L.A.
In the cozy streetwalk there were a disconcerting number of food shops – how bourgeois! Don’t sell out, Comfest! But I was misled, they merely increased the length of the street walk, winding inside Goodale Park for further opportunities to extract either loyalty or money via booths like “Bastard Nation” (I didn’t ask) or “Choice” (i.e. “pro”, except before intercourse).
To be fair, Comfest is not all anarchy and socialism. The social justice concerns resonate. The anti-war booths could be taken seriously. There was a t-shirt for sale featuring Pope JPII. Obviously not your father's Comfest.
The obligatory gays holding hands was spied, as was the peaceful, zoned out bearded man, seemingly longing for an escape hatch to 1969. (I'm with ya brother! I was six years old and didn't have to shave).
Comfest was everything I could ask for, which wasn't much. The beer and the second hand smoke and the live rock band and sun combined to touch some atavistic memories – I could feel it to the soles of my feet. I remembered this me - the one who drank beers in the sun to the sounds of live rock bands and inhaled second hand smoke.
The people were lively and interesting-looking. I felt a vague sense of guilt, since I contributed little given that I am relentlessly middle-class looking. Reminds me of my long-held views on lawn care: since you see the neighbor’s landscape across the street more than your own, it’s more crucial they keep up their end of the bargain. In that sense, being interesting is an act of charity for neighbor.
And interesting they were. Lots of interesting clothes which I could describe if I knew anything about clothes. Such are the limitations of a wanna-be writer who can’t tell you the difference between wool and saffron. (Other than you can eat the latter). Lots of self-mutilations, also known as piercings. Lots of somber, beetle-eyed girls who want to evangelize their view of the world.
ComFest is succumbing to nostalgia. This year there was a booth titled “Retro” in self-consciously Sixties-type script. Inside were pictures of moon landings, old radios, and a poster of the Brady Bunch. The Brady’s looked scrubbed and elated (just like I remembered them) and it’s interesting that now some kid might buy the poster as irony. I watched them in the 70s and was preternaturally incapable of irony. Times change, lightning fast...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:58 AM
June 28, 2003
Oh the Irony...
The name "Barabbas" means "Son of the Father".
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:37 PM
June 27, 2003
Chivalry Ist Nicht Tot
There is something satisfyingly elegiac about chivalric orders. "The Sovereign Knight-Almoners of Malta"...what a beautiful name.
Here are some slightly less beautiful:
- Knights of the Cold Ale
- "Don't-Call-Us-Masons" Order of Utica
- Dreher Dukes of Adversary
- The Imperial Yet 'Umble Knights of Northeast Pennsylvania
- The Dilbert Order of the Knight-Errants of Ergonomically-Correct Work Environments
- Second Chivalric Order of Knights of Insomnia
- The Manly-Men of Malta-zuma
- The Gallant Knight-Salmoners of Oregon
Okay, ok I'll stop. Remember what you paid.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:38 AM
Convention Wisdom Watch
Shamelessly borrowing from Newsweek's watch... of course the "conventional wisdom" is entirely my subjective opinion. Your mileage may vary.
Canada:
You know it's bad when our Dominican priest says, "Pray for Canada", three words I've never heard together before but appropriate given the morality freefall of her politics.
David Mills:
Saw him give a great interview on EWTN's "BookMark", a show that can be a little dry at times. Had to order his book, "The Saints Guide to the Real Jesus" purely because I think it will be helpful to difficulties my mother has w/r/to the subject. I'll want to read it first though.
Fr. McCloskey:
Not his fault, but having to going on the O'Reilly Factor and talking about the bishops in general and Bishop O'Brien in particular is tough sledding.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:00 PM
June 26, 2003
Coultergheist
Can you imagine Ann Coulter with a blog? Apparently it's going to happen.
Maybe she'll let her hair down and be controversial for a change.
Speaking of controversial, here's an unfortunate statement by a "Margaret" in a post regarding taxes: "Persons "earn" [poverty] by demonstrating little ambition, few skills and poor work habits, thus keeping them at entry level wages."
False. Reasonable people can disagree on tax policy, but it is helpful, I think, for everyone to pay some tax so that they have some "skin" in the game. Otherwise we can vote themselves services without tax repercussions.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:26 AM
The Last Words Written by St. Thomas Aquinas?
Answer is here.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:43 AM
Beautiful Magnifcat meditation today:
We read in Genesis, "and God said, 'Let us make mankind in our image'".
Now this is precisely what humanity will not accept. The whole problem of religion lies here: the problem of the dignity of life, the problem of truth, the problem of deceit - they are all here....God is what ultimately defines us.
To say...that in God is the ultimate identity or the 'definitiveness' of the human being means that the definition of the human being and of his destiny is a mystery. --Msgr. Luigi Giussani
Today's reading is from Genesis (15:1-12, 17-18) and there is something sublime about the trouble God went to to convince Abram of His loyalty and fidelity, which is like Tiger Woods having to prove he's can play golf.
It's wonderful to see this ceremony where Abram brings a heifer, she-goat, ram, turtledove and pigeon and then a flaming torch passes between those pieces, the sign of the covenant. Why? Because it shows God's love and the dignity he chose to confer on man. The fact that God exists is easily believed, given the order of the universe and the unlikeliness of life. But the fact of God's love is something biblically revealed.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:41 PM
June 25, 2003
Quote
With the disappearance of the idea of Original Sin, with the disappearance of the idea of intense moral struggle, the human beings presented to us both in poetry and prose fiction today, and more patently among the serious writers than in the underworld of letters, tend to become less and less real...If you do away with this struggle, and maintain that by tolerance, benevolence, inoffensiveness, and a redistribution or increase of purchasing power, combined with a devotion, on the part of the elite, to Art, the world will be as good as anyone could require, then you must expect human beings to become more and more vacuous.
-- TS Eliot
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:17 PM
Frederica Mathewes-Green's latest column is Finding Your Other Half
there are two mistakes I think a new couple can make. The first is to take marriage too seriously. The second is to fail to take it seriously enough.
Some pastors have noticed that the success of a marriage is inversely proportional to the scale of the wedding.
Via Touchstone's David Mills
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:54 PM
Been pondering the Disputation's quotation from St. Dominic, who advises that we "act, with religious decorum, as men of the Gospel following in the footsteps of their Savior and speaking with or about God to themselves and their neighbor, being careful to avoid undue familiarity with others."
I doubt he'd be a fan of journals masquerading as blogs.
The "undue familiarity" struck me as especially interesting. St. Dominic's strategy would seem a way to lessen distractions and maintain charity, given that undue familiarity may lead to contempt or its opposite. And it is also strikingly counter-cultural in a day and age where we tend to let our hair down at the drop of a blog post. Nancy Nall sees this tendency as a generosity: "this is one reason I'm something of a fool for personal blogs, if they can sustain my interest (most can't) -- finding these little moments of real life that people are generous enough to share." But to what end? Or does there have to be one?
One of the blogs I read is something of a soap opera. I have to read between the lines a bit, which adds to the mystery (an element perhaps lacking in most personal blogs). But I think part of what makes it interesting is that she is on a spiritual quest and spiritual quests are inherently interesting. You root and pray for her to find the Church, just as you would root for the protagonist to slay the dragon. It gives hope to us all when progress is made.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:30 PM
As a fundraiser for a campaign to feed the hungry, our company sponsored an "American Idol" contest, a chance for amateurs to get up and pretend they're, say, Hootie & the Blowfish (to date myself).
And while I've never seen the real "American Idol" I went out of my way to see the winner perform at the company's contest, if only because embarrassment is something I can relate to given that blogging is to professional writing what karaoke is to professional singing.
Except something happened on the way to the forum. The winners, a group of five, weren't embarrassing at all. In fact they were damn good. And the choice of material was important too - it was the Star Spangled Banner, sung acapella, or, as we used to refer to it when we were kids, "Acapulco".
I thought about why this group was so good and part of it was that they were singing about something larger than themselves. And part of it was they had great voices and a great arrangement.
So the lesson is to figure out how we can blend our talents towards the service of God. He is the arranger, conductor and subject of our song...now how shall we sing?
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:10 PM
Cardinal Ratzinger Quotable
The cardinal leaves room for arguments that are sometimes heard nowadays: "I can also pray in the woods, submerged in nature."
"Of course one can," Cardinal Ratzinger replies. "However, if it was only that way, then the initiative of prayer would remain totally within us: Then God would be a postulate of our thought. That fact that he responds or might want to respond, would remain an open question."
"Eucharist means: God has responded," the cardinal continues. "The Eucharist is God as response, as a presence that responds. Now the initiative of the divine-human relation no longer depends on us, but on him, and so it becomes really serious." ...
..."In this prayer we are no longer before a God we have thought about, but before a God who has really given himself to us; before a God who has made himself communion for us, who thus liberates us from our limits through communion and leads us to the Resurrection," Cardinal Ratzinger concludes. "This is the prayer we must seek again."
-- God and the World: Believing and Living in Our Time -- by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:56 AM
Time Bound
Christ's Second Coming is somehow instanteous with his Ascension from God's eye-view, since God is outside time. But the long-awaited Parousia isn't so long-awaited even from the time-bound perspective of human history. Given this, if 150,000 years ago is noon and the present time is midnight, then Abraham was born at about 11:58pm, Jesus at 11:59:20.... Biblical revelation has proceeded apace, despite our impatience. And it is obviously God's perogative and plan to design a world that moves from the less finished to the more finished, both in the natural sphere (evolution) and the spiritual (us).
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:42 AM
Amy quote:
I love watching animals for the same reason I love watching very little children. They are so completely themselves. There is no pretense, no second-guessing, no self-doubt, no mission statements, no policy papers, no committee meetings, no therapy. They just are who they in great purity and honesty.
Which is what God calls all of us, to be, I think, and the reason why faith is so important. When God is the only One to whom we answer, and we live knowing that God is our only judge and our most faithful friend, we can begin to strip away all that inexplicably attaches to us as we grow, and we can look to God as an excited, open-hearted child does, and we can bask in his love, like the sleek sea lion, slicing through the water as if weightless, needing to be no one and nothing but himself.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:08 AM
June 24, 2003
All we are saaaaaaying....is give Harry a chance
You're probably sick of the blogspace devoted to this subject. The right thing would be to remain numb mum, but I'll add my two cents (see blog title):
Everyone has their own definition of what an "evil book" is. Mine would include those by Philip Pullman, not J. K. Rowling. But instead of treating symptoms, why not treat the root cause? Kids in the UK are trying out the occult not because of Rowling's books, but because they don't believe in Christianity. In rock-papers-scissors, Christianity trumps paganism but paganism trumps a vacuum.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:37 PM
June 23, 2003
Might as well work
Riveting essay via Bookslut by the girlfriend of Johnathon Franzen, Kathryn Chectkovich, about her fight with envy... a fight applicable to the Christian life where we also encounter our "limits of goodness". She writes that she was raised to admire a life of service and that she considered writing a way of service only if it is good:
Isn't this perhaps one reason why women, as a whole, are more apt than men to see writing and reading as therapeutic acts? All that private time spent rendering and transforming personal experience on paper is easier to justify if the writer - and, ideally, reader - is healed in the process.
She concludes:
And yet I am doing better because something within me has surfaced: another story. In this new story, every ugly impulse and selfish yearning, the whole insecure unlovable mess, has been given wing. There's no better self to protect any more; the moral high ground has been ceded.
In this story I don't do the work I was born to, perhaps not even the work I am best at, but the work I have chosen - incompletely, erratically, often unhappily and uncertainly.
I have met the circumstances that are larger than my capacity to be gracious, it turns out. I have come up against the limits of my goodness: someone I love has what I want, and he probably always will. What else is there to do for it? I might as well work.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:42 PM
Reading the Bible With the Church Fathers...an interview with historian Robert Louis Wilken. Via David Mills.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:22 AM
Africa & Charity
Been reading Paul Theroux's "Dark Star", a travelogue of Africa, and it's sobering, including where philanthropy is concerned. He writes:
..This [is] the age of charity in Africa, where business of philanthropy was paramount, studied as closely as the coffee harvest or a hydroelectric project. Now a complex infrastructure was devoted to what had become ineradicable miseries: famine, displacement, poverty, illiteracy, AIDS, the ravages of war. Name an African problem and an agency or a charity existed to deal with it. But that did not mean a solution was produced. Charities and aid programs seemed to turn African problems into permanent conditions that were bigger and messier.
Pearl Jam has a line in one of their songs that goes, "you won the lottery / just by being born". That might be applied in multiple ways but Vedder was talking about the sheer fortunateness of being born in the U.S., at least from a material standpoint. I've long thought the best thing to do with the charity dollar is, after providing for the local church, giving to something like Catholic Relief Services, which spends the bulk of their money outside the U.S.. But then I read something like the above and wonder. Can charity become uncharitable? Maybe "Habitat for Humanity" is a better option because it provides something long-lasting without corrupting - since welfare arguably ruined many U.S. families by the culture of dependency being passed down generationally. On the other hand, it's necessary to have people on the ground and in place in time of crisis such as a famine.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:12 AM
Remembering the Feast of St. Thomas More
"If I am distracted, Holy Communion helps me become recollected. If opportunities are offered by each day to offend my God, I arm myself anew each day for the combat by reception of the Eucharist. If I am in need of special light and prudence in order to discharge my burdensome duties, I draw nigh to my Savior and seek counsel and light from Him." --
"It is a shorter thing and sooner done, to write heresies, than to answer them." --Saint Thomas More
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:27 AM
June 22, 2003
Spectator article on Malcolm Muggeridge
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:27 PM
June 21, 2003
Fictional Friday
In rain-besotten Galway stands a public house by the name of O’Hara’s. Its exterior matches the color of the peat fire that warms the interior and scarcely a night passes that the chief proprietor, Mr. Coinneach O’Hara, doesn't pose in the doorway proud as a Beefeater outside Buckingham Palace.
Ivy frames the pub like a halo and mosses and lichens fill the space between the road and O’Hara’s. The air is filled with something between a mist and a sprinkle. For every variety of green in Ireland there is a variety of rain.
Mr. O’Hara begins each day with the pleasant agate of the Irish Times and a cup of hot tea. It doesn’t much matter what the news is, the ritual of creating meaning from the wriggly symbols is enough. He has the craggy face of one who has lived well, yet one still capable of surprise. “Your face at twenty is a gift,” he always said, “your face at forty is what you’ve earned”.
Near the peat fire retirees hold court on the events of 1921, cursing the perfidious English and lamenting the death of Michael Collins. Finely carved canes lean against the bar like horses in a corral.
A group of forty-somethings sit around the single pub table, enlivened by a half-dozen pints drunk in honor of a work friend who recently quit. They talk work, sex, movies, and occasionally drip acidic comments about co-workers not present, making the rest glad they came. Invitations to parties here imply “Come or be talked about”.
The retirees and the workers never mix, although both are often present. The retirees always sit at the bar and the younger folk at the table. The young people can't imagine sitting at the bar and having to stare at their own visages, growing more silly-looking by the pint. The old ones can’t imagine having to sit around a table, shedding their cherished illusion of solitariness for the forced bonhomie of a small table.
But everyone loved Mr. O’Hara.
“Mr. C - who you like in the 5th at Galway?” asked one of the regulars.
“‘Break a Leg’ – trainer says he’s ready!”
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:01 AM
Interesting Combination
My problem comes when it is argued both that the Eucharist is a case of the Church seriously straying into paganism and that the Bible is a reliable guide to faith. Because, as far as I can tell, from my reading of the Church Fathers and of church history, the Church was making that gravely erroneous foray into paganism at the very same time that it was assembling the lists of that thoroughly reliable source of faith, the Bible. So, on what basis am I supposed to believe both that the Church was thoroughly reliable in its choice and recognition of which books were canonical, and that it was thoroughly unreliable in other beliefs that it seems to have been evolving at the very same time? The Shepherd of Hermas was on some of those early lists; Revelations was not on all of them. Is there any really good reason, other than the authority of the early Church, that I should accept Revelations as more authoritative than the Shepherd of Hermas? (Hmm, this makes the anti-Catholicism of some popular "Rapture" fiction particularly ironic.) Could the Church have been simultaneously right in its selection of the canon and wrong in its doctrine of the Eucharist? Sure, easily. But so seriously wrong about the Eucharist that it ought now to be called pagan, and so seriously right about the Bible that I can trust its authority thoroughly? I find this particular combination improbable.
--Lynn Gazis-Sax via Disputations
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:32 PM
June 20, 2003
Edward Oakes on the Prescience of Cardinal Newman
The reason for so harsh a judgment is that Newman could see a coming storm of dissent throughout all of Western Christendom, especially with the rise of an educated Christian public:
"We live in a novel era - one in which there is an advance towards universal education. Men have hitherto depended on others, and especially on the clergy, for religious truth; now each man attempts to judge for himself. Now, without meaning of course that Christianity is in itself opposed to free inquiry, still I think it is in fact at the present time opposed to the particular form which that liberty of thought has now assumed. Christianity is of faith, modesty, lowliness, subordination; but the spirit at work against it is one of latitudinarianism, indifferentism, republicanism, and schism, a spirit which tends to overthrow doctrine, as if the fruit of bigotry, and discipline as if the instrument of priestcraft."
Now obviously the future author of The Idea of a University is not here recommending obscurantism or an illiterate laity. But the tension between orthodoxy and obedience, on the one hand, and liberalism and free inquiry, on the other, meant that the Church was entering into a new and dangerous era. "The church party," Newman ruefully admitted, was "poor in mental endowments," and relied too much "on prejudice and bigotry." That hardly meant, of course, that an uneducated faith was wrong. But it did mean that the Church needed great men who "alone can prove great ideas or grasp them," since moral truths are "gained by patient study, by calm reflection, silently as the dew falls" and do not show well "in the argument of an hour."
--Edward Oakes via Firstthings
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:36 AM
Stop, I'm Getting Aroused
"Books are lovely objects and intensely personal. We are not talking about the people who buy complete sets of Encyclopaedia Britannica for the leatherette binding, but most people still love books as objects," she added.
"They are the right weight, they are tactile, they smell nice, they are quite sensuous. Also people hang on to books because they have been significant at a particular time in their lives. Most people will have a beloved volume from childhood.
The Scottsman, via Bookslut
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:39 AM
Oprah and Me...(separated at birth?)
I'm glad I read "East of Eden" before Oprah made it her latest book club choice because I probably wouldn't have read it. Not that I have anything against her - it was just that I took her choice in reading material to be helpful to me in the sense of knowing what to steer clear of. Until now, her taste struck me as relationship-y chick-flick books in which the protagonist is a cheated-on woman who eventually triumphs over the horrors of paternalism. Not my bag.
But now Oprah has helped re-establish the quaint notion that literature can cross political, economic (definitely economic!), ethnic, religious and cultural differences, because we both put "East of Eden" pretty near the top of our all-time all-star favorite novels. That's what a classic is.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:34 PM
June 19, 2003
At least three times Jesus was given especial glory by his Father: at his baptism, at the Transfiguration and at his Resurrection. All involve humility.
At the time of the baptism, his cousin was a famous, revered preacher. John was the important one in the family, a living prophet. Some thought he was the Messiah, though he baptized with nothing but impotent water. And yet the real Messiah allowed himself to be baptized by John in this surreal event of man baptizing God. Jesus' astonishing humility is rewarded with the words all sons crave: "This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased".
The Transfiguration occurs just after Peter's confession of Christ and Jesus' announcing of his own death. The new awareness on the part of the apostles and acceptance of Jesus of his coming humiliation is rewarded with the Transfiguration. "There he was transfigured before them," given the glory that he'd promised to give away.
The ultimate disgrace of Jesus' death and disfigurement is rewarded with the Resurrection. All power is shed in death, even the miniscule human powers of speech and thought and motion. But instead of merely having a restored physical body, Jesus is raised with a flesh far superior. The reward exceeds what was lost, for the Father did not "make right" in restoring Jesus' corruptible body but went far beyond.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:00 AM
Two Hours....Poof!
Saw the most excreable (literally) movie yesterday - "Daddy DayCare". I could feel my life essence flow out of me. When I got home I read the telephone directory to compensate for the banality.
Oh sure it was cute. Parents of young children might like it, especially if you're amused by nose-picking and flatulence.
But this is one movie where instead of wishing I'd read the book, I was wishing I'd brought a book.
Perhaps my sense of humor is atrophying. I don't remember a funny comedy since Bill Murray's "The Man Who Knew Too Little".
Maybe part of it is not being properly prepared. Marathoners load up on pasta the night before the race in an effort to impregnate their muscles with extra carbohydrate. Similarly, any time you are faced with an intellectual tundra, be it a gathering with the relatives or reading anti-Catholic blogs or watching a lame comedy, it would behoove you beforehand to read draughtily of deep books until you've been surfeited. Then you are refreshed and ready. Another option is to indulge in books or movies drenched in horror. Then you are so glad to be alive that even commercials will appear as oasises. When I was a child I recall being wonderously comforted by Quaker Oats' ads during the terror of Hattie the Witch.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:58 AM
You may not agree...
Okay, I'll fess up. I've been relishing a certain blogger's reluctance to suffer fools gladly.
It seems as though imperfection in knowledge is more easily corrected by the fellow who's just graduated from that particular state of ignorance. Thus the child who can tell the difference between a watermelon and a water balloon is eager to share this knowledge to the one who isn't sure, while the debate can be annoying for the one who polishes off algorhythms. Even more so when the child who thinks the watermelon is the water balloon has already made up his mind and is going around affixing "This is a water balloon!" on every watermelon he sees.
I have what could be termed friends who disagree with me pretty darn near 100% of the time. Feelings of pity are often the necessary antidote to feelings of disgust, although the patronizing nature of the former may not be exactly virtuous. Tis a tricky line between where personal responsibility ends and unwitting ignorance begins. The latter is more easily dealt with but it's not ours to judge.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:58 AM
Solstice
The days bend themselves round
light coming out the corners
exuberance freighted by greys
of pregnant clouds where
seeping fields make
homes for mallards.
Sleep comes to men of pentitent brows
who allow their feet to be washed
and from whose bred-bones’ marrow
grows the holy words.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:26 AM
Maybe by July...
Sunshine good:
Can sunshine, now shunned by so many who fear skin cancer and wrinkles, save many more lives than it harms? Most definitely, says a leading expert in the field, Dr. Michael F. Holick, a professor of medicine, dermatology, physiology and biophysics at the Boston University School of Medicine.
Dr. Holick, who discovered the active form of vitamin D, has pulled together an impressive body of evidence in support of his advice that no one should be, as he puts it, a "sunphobe" or, for that matter, a sun worshiper.
He has concluded that relatively brief but unfettered exposure to sunshine or its equivalent several times a week can help to ward off a host of debilitating and sometimes deadly diseases, including osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, depression and cancers of the colon, prostate and breast. In other words, Dr. Holick says, sunshine is good medicine.
Okay...so the ideal trifecta is exercising in the sun while drinking red wine. Don't try it at home.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:37 PM
June 18, 2003
They Say the Lights Are Bright at Night on Blogway
Excerpts on the art of bloggadocia from Glenn Reynolds:
...there's a way in which blogging, like jazz, always succeeds: if it's reflecting the feelings of the blogger, it's a success at some level, regardless of whether anyone else likes it. (There's only one hard-and-fast rule: get rid of the typos. No blog that's full of typos looks good.)
But that said, there are some things that - in my opinion - make good blogs good. And the most important of those things are (1) a personal voice; and (2) rapid response times.
And from James Lilleks:
A wire story consists of one voice pitched low and calm and full of institutional gravitas, blissfully unaware of its own biases or the gaping lacunae in its knowledge. Whereas blogs have a different format: Clever teaser headline that has little to do with the actual story, but sets the tone for this blog post. Breezy ad hominem slur containing the link to the entire story...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:21 PM
Crisis?
Amy Welborn cogently describes the dilemma Catholics have in wanting a hierarchical structure (to avoid the disunity of Protestantism) while at the same time having checks & balances. I appreciate the way she cuts to the core issue.
But instead of modelling the Church on American democracy (after all, we of little faith place more faith in political structures than religious ones), it might be better to ask what Jesus' model was.
The fact that he singled out Peter (despite the presence of many other apostles - there was no communication problem then such that he couldn't have had that discussion with all twelve) suggests that he intended a hierarchy. The fact that Jesus told some things in private to just the twelve (instead of the crowds) again suggests a hierarchical element.
The biggest reason bad priests were shuffled around and unfit ones ordained is because of the shortage of priests. But Jesus told us there would be few priests unless we asked for them. And how many of us pray for vocations? "The harvest is rich and the workers are few" he said. This is something I have failed to pray regularly about and need to change. The trigger for prayer is usually crisis - and crisis w/r/t priests is probably defined as the day Mass isn't convenient (i.e. there aren't enough priests to say three Sunday Masses). We'll all pray then, though it be late.
One of the worst things about the scandal is that it will mean many non-Catholics won't even give the Church a chance now. And that is a shame, but understandable. When you see Catholics threatened by the scandal of bishops doing bad, then you certainly are going to have non-Catholics completely turned off. But I also believe that there will be no more priests getting away with abusing children (either with or without the lay panel) because the bishops finally *get* it. The bishops know that they will go to jail the next time they cover for priestly misdeeds. So I don't believe there is a crisis w/r/to protecting children.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:00 PM
Quotable
Scott Hahn teaches occasionally at the seminary in Columbus and he says the number one challenge facing seminarians and all of Generation X is learning how to pray. He says the biggest challenge is "will they be able to develop an interior life in this culture"?
Fr. Vincent McNabb, (via Disputations):
It is not very good for people to know how well they pray! To try to find out whether we are standing well with God is rather a perilous thing. It is not a good thing for us to be taking our spiritual temperature. But experts seem to say that prayer is a sort of spiritual thermometer. The state of our prayer would be an index of our perfection and our love of God....
It is very important to have such simple things as morning and right prayers. That was dinned into my ears by an old theologian. He said, ` If penitents say to you that they have committed grievous bodily sins, and are very sorry, that is enough. But if they say they have habitually omitted their morning and night prayers, have a row with them.’...
It is very important to have even a minimum of deliberate prayer...It is very difficult to think and to keep our attention fixed. St. Francis de Sales said we could only keep our attention for a quarter of an hour. St. Thomas Aquinas, who knew much more about prayer, said we could only keep it during one Credo...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:45 PM
June 17, 2003
Man of La Mancha
My friend Ham of Bone, having received his sixty day notice eighty days ago, is now living la vida loco and is reveling in the freedom. He just called to offer the news and seemed in a bit of hurry - is there no man more busy than one fully alive? He received his severance, a very healthy 5-figure number, and given his frugality it should have some legs. He looks for jobs on Monster.com for the purpose of collecting unemployment, but the IT descriptions leave such a distaste that he says he'd rather frame houses.
I look at his grand experiment with conflicting emotions - a tinge of jealousy, a tad of relief. Vicariously I imagine that I would read to delirium, and write...would I write! I'd spend my days panning for bad poetry with a Guinness for coaxing.
Ah but prince Bone is not lolling about his day bed...
Ah, ha, my lord, this prince is not an Edward!
He is not lolling on a lewd day-bed,
But on his knees at meditation;
Not dallying with a brace of courtezans,
But meditating with two deep divines;
Not sleeping, to engross his idle body,
But praying, to enrich his watchful soul
Ham hews to a strict 8-5 schedule of reading and writing; his booklist includes philosophy, mythology and lawncare. The latter is not for any personal lawn hygiene, but for character-development for a screenplay which revolves around a failed landscaper. The mythology book is to attempt to write characters that will cross national, cultural boundaries. Wouldn't want to lose that Polynesian audience. He has so much of Don Quixote about him doesn't he?
*
Never durst poet touch a pen to write
Until his ink were temper'd with Love's sighs;
O, then his lines would ravish savage ears
(all quotes are Shakespeare)
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:20 PM
Serving Up the Minutiae*
My wife misspelled a word in an email and sent a retraction.
"I mean indisputable. ugh"
I missed that faux paus. I must have had a dyslexic moment. Misspellings appear correct to dyslexics.
"A faux pas with foreign words doesn't count, does it?"'
Hey aren't there two ways of spelling it?
"But only one that is recognized by dictionary.com. It's French! You're the German Knower, I'm the French Knower!"
True, you are more right than me. But I wanted it on record that there are a lot o' mispellers of faux pas out there.
* - or pondering the difficulty in placing the words "was", "I" and "wrong" in the correct order.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:44 PM
First Things Article on Mother Teresa
Yet only in the modern period has the dark night of the soul taken the form of radical doubt, doubting not only one’s own state of grace, but God’s promises and even God’s existence. A wise Benedictine, John Chapman of Downside Abbey, made this point in a 1923 letter to a non-monastic friend: “[I]n the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries most pious souls seem to have gone through a period in which they felt sure that God had reprobated them. . . . This doesn’t seem to happen nowadays. But the corresponding trial of our contemporaries seems to be the feeling of not having any faith; not temptations against any particular article, but a mere feeling that religion is not true.”
For this annihilating temptation, Chapman wrote, “the only remedy is to despise the whole thing, and pay no attention to it—except (of course) to assure our Lord that one is ready to suffer from it as long as he wishes.” The “feeling of not having any faith” is painful because it is an authentic purgation, during which “faith is really particularly strong all the time,” and one is being brought into closer union with the suffering Christ.
*
If these days are in any sense a dark night for the Church, then Mother Teresa shows the way forward: faith that we are undergoing a purification rather than a free-fall, and fidelity, in small things as well as big, to the vows that bind in order to set free. --Carol Zaleski
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:30 AM
Bad, man, Bad!
"...This reminds me of a story I heard of a conservative Episcopal priest, forced to endure hours of instruction on “inclusive” language at a clergy retreat. The instructors, beamed upon by the bishop, stressed how language shapes thinking and how “gender stereotypes” and traditional generic language distort our understanding of men and women, and how they all had to go.
At the end of the day, this priest raised his hand and asked the bishop, “Does this mean that we can renounce Satan and all her works?” I am told all the clergy collapsed laughing, even the liberals. —David Mills
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:01 AM
Read, don't write books say two blowhards.
Poetry, short stories, blogging -- all of these can deliver fun, satisfaction and the pleasures of craft. But writing a book isn't something that can be done in a week or a month.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:55 AM
Phone the Kids, Wake the Neighbors...
The 3rd Annual Nigerian Email Conference.
Keep your tech skills up-to-date.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:54 AM
Robert Lowell
Interesting piece on the poet Robert Lowell and literary reputation. Charles McGrath concludes:
Lowell may have belonged to the last generation to believe seriously in the poetic vocation. His friends and colleagues...didn't imagine themselves teachers of creative writing who would turn out the occasional slim volume; they saw themselves as the heirs to, and the equals of, Yeats and Eliot.... They believed that poetry must be the ''ruling passion'' of life.
They were all a little nuts, of course -- or, in the case of Lowell and Schwartz, more than a little sometimes. Except for the teetotaling Jarrell, they were all alcoholic, and they smoked like chimneys. Berryman killed himself, and Jarrell most likely did. Major American poet, mid-20th century -- it's not a job description or a lifestyle that you would wish upon anyone.
Part of their misery was that so few people were paying attention. Poets have always complained about the smallness (and unfitness) of their audience, of course, and in fact the mid-20th century was not such a bad moment for being a poet in America. It was a far better moment than the early 21st century is -- when poetry has become an art form with more practitioners than actual readers..... The poet must dedicate himself to poetry, Schwartz wrote, even though ''no one else seems likely to read what he writes; and he must be indestructible as a poet until he is destroyed as a human being.''
Poems still get written, naturally, but the flames, one suspects, don't burn quite so hot these days. Poets behave better, live longer and probably settle for less.
I wonder at this implied assertion that a person's happiness is tied in some way to the amount of prestige/"props" they receive in their job. Part of why I liked Henry D. Thoreau was that he cared so little about his literary reputation. I don't have a lot of sympathy for those who can't get read (*grin*). Creativity is its own reward.
With respect to poets I think the real issue of their unhappiness might have more to do with this. But the greats in any profession pay a heavy price. That would obviously include the saints. (Editor's Note: Obviously we are all called to be saints).
Walker Percy in one of his non-fiction books argued that there is a "re-entry" problem for artists, that it is very difficult to experience transcendence and return to "earth" (just as the alcoholic wants to live forever in the transcendence of drunkenness). I think that if Lowell had stuck with Catholicism (he was a convert in '41) he would've been much better for it, mentally as well as spiritually. Whether poetically is debatable. Some say that TS Eliot wrote his best poetry before he became convinced of the Truth, perhaps because God then came before his art and genuine art is a jealous mistress. But what is it to win the whole world but lose your own soul? I also wonder if Lowell's attempt to fill a God-shaped void motivated him in a way that exceeded those who've believe and have received at least some small measure of divine fullness. Certainly Lowell's poetry during his Catholic period (at least what was quoted) sure seemed lame even to me.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:58 AM
June 16, 2003
Le Weekend Excerpts
Drove south Friday and endured the suffocation of a clogged freeway, moving three miles in 40 minutes while a dinner reservation waited at the end of the hundred mile trip. I exercised patience by taking it out on the unlit end of a cigar.
Ran a 5K Saturday. The race was a pleasure, if you can believe that. The delightful early morning ride to Oxford, the gathering anticipation, the presence of Katelyn this time all contributed. And the race, this glorious excuse to leave nothing on the table, this invitation to knock the pavement of all that’s been eating you... to run "on the brink" miles and experiencing the body’s disbelief while not allowing the disbelief to matter. Afterwards lingers a hard-won mellowness, a contradictory combination of mental sharpness (an oxygenated brain) and physical lassitude. I wonder why I only do it twice a year. May have something to do with the pain.
*
My niece has crossed a boundary of some sort. At the tender age of 7 ½, I can see a slight loss of enthusiasm. She’s still as effervescent and sweet as the day is long – a living example of “Thank Heavens for Little Girls” – but she is starting to acquire, if not irony, then its pre-adolescent relative. And watching this unfold is fascinating. She is more easily bored. She no longer runs to her uncle with the same frenzy. But that, of course, is the difference between dogs and humans; humans are less easily impressed.
*
It’s mid-June and reports of summer’s arrival are greatly exaggerated. At least I've been conditioned to it by the last two Junes. The Junes of this century are nothing like the Junes of my youth, when unendurable classroom instruction extended to a sweltering arid June 5th finale....but then everything is improved by nostalgia.
But also how can I protest when my landscape is reaping the benefits of constant rain? The asparagus grows fast as grass, the tomatoes have revivified from their earlier disputatiousness. The annuals look pleased. Everybody but me. But there is nothing quite as wonderful as reading indoors with the rain slap-happy against the roof. I feel no compunction to be running or biking or weeding or otherwise engaged in trivial outdoor pursuits.
Plus there is nothing quite as wonderful as reading indoors with the rain slap-happy against the roof. I feel no compunction to be running or biking or "sunning while imbibing" or otherwise engaging in trivial outdoor pursuits. So I tell myself.
Besides, sunny days induce panic, as described by Helen Fielding in "Bridget Jones Diary":
Feel strange sense of unease with the summer....Realize, as the long hot days freakishly repeat themselves, one after the other, that whatever I am doing I really think I ought to be doing something else. The more the sun shines the more obvious it seems that others are making fuller, better use of it elsewhere: possibly at some giant softball game to which everyone is invited except me; possibly alone with their lover in a rustic glad by waterfalls where Bambis graze, or at some large public celebratory event...Maybe it is our climatic past that is to blame. Maybe we do not yet have the mentality to deal with a sun and cloudless blue sky, which is anything other than a freak incident. The instinct is to panic, run out of the office, take most of your clothes off and lie panting on the fire escape is still too strong.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:38 AM
Moving post via Nancy Nall concerning loss of faith and a sound system. Pray for him and his "pastor".
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:45 PM
June 13, 2003
The Marvel of JPII
There are two sorts of spiritual reading that I dislike - that which leads me to despair and that which leads me to untruth. The latter is typically the "I'm okay-You're Ok" sort as exemplified by John O'Donohue's New Agey "Celtic Wisdom" or more formidably by Teilhard De Chardin. The former type might be St. John of the Cross or my current spiritual read - selections of St. Catherine of Siena's Dialogue. There is nothing that lacks truth in it but I always feel after that I am on the brink of damnation (inducing further 'servile fear'). Perhaps that is salutary. I read it like I eat spinach.
But I bring this up to just say there is one author who neither lets us off the hook nor induces despair - Pope John Paul the Great. He navigates this line between despair and hope and inspires. There is something to be said, it would seem, to reading the works of those who live in our time since the Holy Spirit speaks to our condition. Even if that condition be that we are wussies (i.e. unable to take the strong drink of St. Catherine).
Robert Hutchinson in When in Rome writes that the papal encyclicals of the church are 'beautiful but unliveable'. Pope John Paul, to my mind, writes encyclicals both beautiful and liveable.
posted by <$BlogItemAuthor$> @ Comment @ 8:53 AM
Much Ado about Clothing
Kathy the Carmelite brings up a vexing issue near and dear to my heart - what to do about a beloved article of clothing that acquires a stain that you cannot remove. What I try to do when that happens is simply drape my arm or hand over the offending spot while wearing. Sure sometimes it's awkward (depending on where the spot is!) and your arm gets tired, but it is the Hambone-approved way to save money that would be wasted on new clothes. The trick is to be casual about it.
Kathy replied, Do you know, I actually DID that? I went to the supermarket for a couple of items--instead of using a basket, I clutched the items up to myself to strategically cover the stain!
Plus, nobody really cares. What are they going to say? "Look! That lady has a stain on her dress."
Not exactly grounds for Molokai.
Very true, but I always assume (to assume otherwise would be unChristian) that if someone sees a stain they will think, "oh, he must've just eaten lunch", rather than, "oh, he's a tightwad who won't buy new clothes!". (This works better at the supermarket or opera than at work, where repeated viewings necessarily limit charitable thinking).
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:51 AM
Books
I've been managing to go longer and longer periods without buying a book (up to a lunar month). Fortunately I have some excellent current reads: Paul Eli's "The Life You Save", Paul Theroux's "Dark Star Safari: A Journey thru Africa", et al and thus am in no hurry. Wodehouse's "The Code of the Woosters" has been a tasty new find, proving my susceptibility to blogfluence.
But time waits for no man and the ol' Amazon shopping cart grows apace. If you've read and/or have input on any of these, let me know. I don't take these decisions lightly.
Final Four
1. "Good Faith" - Jane Smiley
2. "The Way of the Disciple" - Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis
3. "Electric Light" - poems of Seamus Heaney
4. "Lord Have Mercy" - Scott Hahn
5. "Living History" - HRC
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:00 PM
June 12, 2003
"Her Citizenship is Ardent"
You're sick, I'm sick, we're all sick ....of the hype. But you gotta love Updike's take:
Senator Clinton is an excellent and thorough-going politician and not a novelist; her description of "the most devastating, shocking and hurtful experience" of her life is nowhere as moving or human as the legalistic vignettes of furtive partial pleasures in the Starr Report. Her surprise at her husband’s belated confession is indeed surprising, as if they had never quite met before. But I loved the sentence, "I hadn’t decided whether to fight for my husband and my marriage, but I was resolved to fight for my President." Her citizenship is ardent.
--John Updike
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:25 PM
Around the Horn
Nice posts on "Why Blog?" here and here.
Also through the lens of Bablefish you can get a flavor of Hernan's ascetic February vacation. I haven't done anything like that since a trip to Bardstown, KY back in '95. Perhaps it's time.
He also analyzes spam (never thought I'd see the word 'penis' on his blog) as well as Jansenism (old heresies never die, they just fade away...).
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:38 AM
Recent NY Times column makes one proud to be male:
They may have started as hunters and gatherers, but in commercials and comedy, American men still bask in their antifashion, antishopping attitudes.
I hate to play into stereotypes, but when I see men following women around the couture departments of Bergdorf's on a rainy Saturday afternoon like trained poodles, it crosses my mind that they should be home on their Barcaloungers watching ESPN and eating a Jerry's sub.
....
"It's true that a lot of men might not like shopping," Ariel Foxman says. "But certainly men like to have things. So we can advise them how to make shopping an easier, more pleasant, quicker experience. Gay or straight, every guy needs a new pair of jeans sometimes."
....
"Men don't need to see 40 different pairs of black pants, the way women like to see," Mr. Cohen said. "They want to see three pairs of black pairs, have some clerk tell him what to wear with them and move on."
--Maureen Dowd
Three pairs?? Talk about redundancy, sheesh.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:30 AM
Received an interesting email from a fellow inquirer on the religious/lay issue.
She writes in part:
Just last night on our family walk around the neighborhood I was pondering whether those in the religious life need more grace than the married. I was actually wondering whether it was that people who were too distracted by human relationships are called to celibacy so they can focus better on God, or that people who aren't strong enough to cope without the constant support of marriage and family life are called to marriage so they don't despair and lose their focus on God. I had always figured it was the latter, but maybe it's both. Maybe neither.
I think in theory a celibate could have less need for grace because he would have the time to focus on God and even in his human relationships there would be less distraction than in marriage where a couple can end up feeling just like partners in managing a house and paying the bills and so on. But marriage has so many lesser goods to help keep your strength up if you don't let them displace God which I suppose is the hard part. I only have one child but I'm really disorganized and wasn't the best prepared for these responsibilities, still, having him has done so much to help me get my priorities in order -- meaning put God first which is the only way I can be the best mother for him. And it's not just that I realize I'd better shape up because raising kids is hard and I need help from God; it's also that he is so incredibly sweet and wonderful and naturally elicits a flow of gratitude and praise to God for this gift. Having six children I honestly believe would multiply the blessings much more than the crosses or temptations.
I replied that she may be right that additional blessings accruing from having more kids, but a mother I know well had three and said it about killed her. Another PIQ (person in question) had six and experienced severe depression - it almost broke her. That was back in the days when men just went to work and did nothing around the house or help with the children.
So to my mind it's more impressive in some ways to be a mother of six than to be, say, an average priest, one of whom told me that selfishness is a real problem among his fellow priests precisely because they don't have anyone to answer to. They often live quietly with a housekeeper and lots of free meals. With any exercise you only develop the muscles you need for that particular exercise - in other words, running won't prevent sore muscles after playing tennis. Similarly, developing the muscle of patience is done by exercising it (easier said than done) and unselfishness ditto.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:02 PM
June 11, 2003
Shot Glasses
Been ponderin' posts at Disputations and Steven Riddle (you know the links by now, right?) on the religious life versus the lay life.
It would seem the religious life is a higher calling, but that personal holiness is not a reflection of the height of the calling but to what extent you fill the role of the calling. St. Therese said that everyone's glass will be full in heaven, just that some glasses will be taller than others. So those called to the religious life typically have taller glasses. If the glasses are taller, that suggests a need for greater graces. So the religious require greater graces. But where this analogy breaks down is that it seems as though a mother of six has more need for grace than your average monk...
It would thus seem there are two ways to have a "short glass" (i.e. 'shot glass'): one is to have been pre-destined to a smaller role, a smaller calling. The second way is to poorly fulfil the role that God has given you. The first is legitimate, the second not.
I don't think the Church has fully thought out the laity/religious dictonomy. And I think the fear in calling the religious life a higher calling stems from a desire to not have the laity think their sacrifices are small potatoes. But in the world of the Kingdom humility is a virtue, so to fill a shorter glass would seem to be something to, if not boast of, at least be sanguine about since its size was determined by God's design. Shot glasses, at the very least, serve to lend perspective.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:33 PM
Spinning Spam into Gold
Author Jonathan Franzen of The Corrections fame once wrote that good fiction writing takes what is mean and base and spins that silk (or worse) into gold. (Not a bad analogy for God's creative action, come to think of it).
So with Franzen's comment in mind I greet the usual spam-full inbasket and try to spin it not into gold, but garnet. Or perhaps quartz. Feldspar?
But I'm at a loss. I keep an eye on spam, thinking it may give birth to some sort of poem or comedy such as the unintentionally ironic ("re:How to Get Rid of Spam!") to the gross ("Free Sample of Sceptic Treatment") to the wildly improbable ("re: add inches!"). But it's just plain banal.
Similarly only differently, my screen-writing friend "Ham of Bone" laments that his experience is a thin gruel from which to fashion art. If he writes what he knows he will have written either an elaborate Dilbert cartoon (work) or a portrait of the typical suburban existence (home). That's not to say he can't find compelling material in his home situation; I've told him it is a rich vein. I passed on the warm blogger reception to my post about how he didn't flush the toilet to save money and he was encouraged enough to begin down that road. Urine into gold I suppose.
Anne Tyler, by the way, writes well of the home front, although not comedically, and the latter is how Bone would be presumably be presenting his story. His book could be a cross between "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" and "The Tightwad Gazette" titled "Please Don't Flush the Toilet".
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:52 AM
New Yorker article on Helen Keller:
She is not an advocate for one side or the other in the ancient debate concerning the nature of the real. She is not a philosophical or neurological or therapeutic topic. She stands for enigma; there lurks in her still the angry child who demanded to be understood yet could not be deciphered. She refutes those who cannot perceive, or do not care to value, what is hidden from sensation: collective memory, heritage, literature.
--CYNTHIA OZICK
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:45 AM
Humility through Sex and Food
I was puzzled by a line I'd read recently which recalled Malcolm Muggeridge joking to the writer Graham Greene, "I am a sinner trying to become a saint and you are a saint trying to be a sinner". Greene talks of his "unhappy affairs", which strikes me as almost oxymoronic since affairs imply a short-termness that would be ended in the event of unhappiness. I guess his were semi-committed affairs.
His perspective on food and sex is more head-scratching, a way of looking them that I'd never considered:
The helplessness or complicity of our humanity in its involuntary needs, cravings, and decay aroused a resentment conspicuous above all in many of Graham's responses to women. For much of his life he had wrestled, in love and in his books, with the paradox of desire and consummation, illusion and disgust, ectasy and blame. It was not difficult to imagine him holding the view ascribed by Plutarch to Alexander the Great - another abstemious eater - that 'sleep and the act of generation chiefly made him sensible that he was merely mortal.'
-- Shirley Hazzard, Greene on Capri
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:52 AM
Good post from Steven Riddle:
One person in the group brought up an interesting point, she said, "But as a mother with two small children, I really want those periods of quiet and respite that allow me to regenerate and be a better mother later." I pointed out to her that her desire for quiet was likely to make her unquiet. The need for the time of regeneration would be likely to engender short-temperedness and other negative qualities, because we seek rather than accepting what comes. There would be nothing wrong with using quiet time that comes to us to regenerate, but it is in seeking it that we go wrong, because then it becomes a driving goal--when we do not achieve it we are diminished, tired, angry, frustrated, and less capable of being ourselves. I noted that the saints seemed to work tirelessly, dawn to dusk, without complaint, without request for rest, though they undoubtedly could do with some.
The desire for peace, quiet and respite is often disquieting.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:06 PM
June 10, 2003
On Immigration
As long as Latin Americans make about 5% of the average U.S. wage we will have illegal immigration, which begs the question:
Why is Mexico poor, given their abundant natural resources (like oil)? The succession of corrupt governments is surely a big part of the cause; how much are the people culpable for their governments? Surely somewhat. Yet I know that I have little to do with having the government we have, given that I didn't arrange my birth in a country with brilliant Founding Fathers and technologically efficient national zeitgeist.
And does the infusion of U.S. dollars into the Mexican economy (via illegal immigrants who send money home) hurt Mexico in the long run by ignoring the root problem? Again, I don't know...
On Lay vs Religious
Is it, though, in some sense "easier" to be holy as a vowed religious than as a secular layperson? I think that might be an ill-formed question. Holiness isn't a quality amenable to statistical analysis. We become holy only be responding to God's grace, which is as present on a city street as in a rural cloister. Personally, I think I have a much better chance of becoming a saint -- and, for that matter, of helping others to become saints -- living in the world than in a monastery. And "personally" is the only real way to speak of holiness. -- Disputations
I found this very interesting. It is reasonable and persuasive. Yet should we not mark Christ's words that Martha had chosen the better way? Does not the religious life, with its constant prayer, its constant access to the sacraments, to trained spiritual directors, et all not make a difference? But God is not bound by those things. Certainly our experience screams that the religious life confers not so much advantage as we might romantically think - Thomas Merton paints a picture in his journals of his fellow monks as, well, not quite completed Christians. No surprise there.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:48 PM
Ha!
Worship and entertainment are distinct, and both Catholics and Protestants frequently forget that the focus of worship is God, and He does not need to be entertained – He has the spectacle of human folly to contemplate should He ever feel the need for amusement.
--Leon Podles
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:11 PM
Life Uber Alles
Kathy the Carmelite mentions the death penalty and her son's reasons for being for it.
People I respect think differently about the issue, but to look at it from a crass, political angle it seems like a no-brainer to be against it. Why? Because although to equate the unborn with those on death row is a crudity, given the innocence of the former and guilt of the latter, abolishing both abortion and the death penalty would send a consistent message about human life to a culture that is very confused about its value. And although 99% of pro-choicers would not make the trade (i.e. abolish the death penalty in exchange for an end to abortion), it would take away a sword we Christians offer them - that of our perceived hypocrisy. St. Paul wrote about not being a scandal to our brethren; in this case the scandal that the death penalty represents to many is reason enough to abolish it given the alternative of life imprisonment. If we want to emphasize the value a life has, why not make prison much tougher and enforce life in prison for murderers rather than end the life of the perpetrator?
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:11 AM
Aunt Pixel in younger days...
Where are the Nigerian scammers when you need 'em?
It'd been a long time between scams and last week's email caught me off guard since I lacked a ready reply. My personal favorite episode in what I call "Scammin' the Nigerian Scammer...so you don't have to!" was sending a reply in Greek and receving the reply, "Sir, I cannot understand your language". All Greek to him too. Anyway, last week I was caught off-guard and I won't make that mistake twice. Here is my proactive response:
Dear Nigerian Scammer,
Thank you for your missive. I believe it is very possible for us to make this deal since it's a win-win - you free up your funds and I get a modest, "awww-shucks" cut. But in order to make this work, I humbly ask the smallest favor from you. You see my Aunt Pixel from Pittsburgh has put me in a bit of a pickle.
Aunt Pixel never married because she had a birthmark on her left calf and feared it would turn off men (which showed a gross misunderstanding of sexual response in men, but that's another story). We shook our heads about it because other than that subtle birthmark (which looked like a cross between that animated Nemo fish and the annoying Microsoft Paperclip masquerading as 'helper') she was a looker. But she was so self-conscious about the birthmark that she wore lycra pants to the beach.
Auntie understood the time value of money and began socking it away from the time she turned twenty. As her favorite nephew, she promised a large chunk of it as inheritence. She's decided to give it to me early, so that she can see me enjoy it instead of waiting until she's dead.
However, she did make one stipulation.
She requests that I, in a sign of solidarity and affection, get a tattoo that looks like a cross between the animated Nemo fish and the annoying M$ paperclip - on my left calf!
Well I started looking into it and I don't like pain (it hurts) and moreover I don't trust the needles. May well be tainted with HIV or hippopotamus B.
So I contacted a VERY reputable tattoo artist in Munich who will do it as an operation - you know, give me the anesthesia, knock me out completely, use sterilized needles, the whole big-bang - for $10,000. Now I don't want to go Auntie and confess my wussiness, so if you wire $10,000 to me I could get the operation, collect Aunt Pixel's money, provide you with 35% of the inheritence with which you could use to free up your own clotted money problem and then receive 25% of the proceeds (all percentages negotiable)!
Delta's sale price on flights to Europe ends Friday so please remit the $10,000 immediately if not sooner.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:02 PM
June 9, 2003
Amy writes on European Christians:
What comes through loud and clear is the crisis in authority - and not just institutional authority, but authority, period. Subjective experience has won the current battle, and if anyone here is serious about evangelization, we should understand that this is the issue at hand.
Nail...hammer..head. I've been long interested in this tension between the personal and the "impersonal" knowledge of God. There is the modern's constant desire to prevert the process by basically telling God, "hey, I'm not going to take the Pope's say-so on anything. In fact, I'm not going to trust the apostles, because the fact that they died for the faith is not that impressive given Muslim extremists and the Heaven's Gaters...If you want me, you have to perform some fireworks and prove yourself to me experientially."
But if this is way God intended, why wouldn't he simply appear to us individually as he did to St. Paul and allow us to experience in the flesh - touch his wounds as St. Thomas? On the other hand, God loves us enough to be willing to satisfy the honest inquirer. And I think that the little clues and helps in a daily relationship with Him are a fuel for praise and gratefulness though the latter should be present at all times.
My stepson perceives that his conversion was due not so much to C.S. Lewis and other apologetic materials like Strobel's "The Case for Christ" or even the bible. What converted him was "a feeling in my chest, this amazing burning sensation of the Holy Spirit", which was facilitated by an openness triggered by meeting and dating his beautiful Christian girlfriend. But what is ironic now is that he has come under the sway of the pastor of his evangelical church and accepts the dogmas (such as sacraments as symbols, etc) unquestioned. So in a sense he now submits to authority, the very authority he was not attracted to before his conversion. This isn't uncommon of course. As a revert it took me a long time to get from seeing the Church as providing helpful opinions to seeing the Church as possessing the fullness of truth.
*
Btw, our priest gave an interesting sermon Sunday on the Pentecost and answered the question, "why is it not like this today?". And he said that our personal Pentecost is, obviously, the Sacrament of Confirmation at which time we receive not a tongue of fire but of chrism, of oil - of potential fire. And he asks, "do we really want to be Christian, to be apostles? Are we willing to let God determine the shape of even our religion - willing to be missionaries...or charismatics... if that's what he wants?"
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:29 PM
Verweile Doch
Interesting coincindental juxtaposition of readings this weekend, excerpted below:
From The Kulture of Germany by Henrique de Medonca:
The Germanic spirit, prone to expansiveness like all its earlier contemporaries, used to indulge from the first in the most exaggerated flights of romantic idealism. We have a familiar instance of the kind in the youthful creation of Goethe - Werther. Remember how he could find no other means of ridding his brain of a criminal passion than by shattering it with a pistol-shot. The vogue created by this romance became so extraordinary throughout Germany that imitators arose on all sides. An epidemic of passional suicide ran throughout the nation. Goethe had to hasten to check it...
From Belloc How the Reformation Happened, after the explaining that the posting of the 95 Theses was not unusual nor heretical:
But the point was this: Luther's action came at a moment of perilous instability, and a wild enthusaism seized not only the people of the place, but great bodies of German folk. It was a confused enthusiasm, but its general inspiration was unmistakable. It was a violent reaction against the authority of Rome...
Of Science & Religion
As theology and metaphysics arose out of mythology, likewise did ancient science. Mythology was the great mother science. And as the special sceinces gradually freed themselves from mythology and became more strictly scientific, so did theology and metaphysics also. Hence, instead of Comte's statement being true, that theology and metaphysics have become outgrown and useless, precisely the contrary is the case. With the methodical and logical advance of the special sciences, theology and metaphysics have advanced in like manner. Theology, metaphysics, and science have all advanced in concert, or in close relation to one another, sometimes one, sometimes another being in the lead. And there is not any rational ground for inferring that the course of civilization, in this respect, will be different in the future.
--William Elkin
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:09 PM
June 8, 2003
Seamus Heaney Poetry
Perch
Perch on their water-perch hung in the clear Bann River
Near the clay bank in alder-dapple and waver,
Perch we called "grunts," little flood-slubs, runty and ready,
I saw and I see in the river's glorified body
That is passable through, but they're bluntly holding the pass,
Under the water-roof, over the bottom, adoze,
Guzzling the current, against it, all muscle and slur
In the finland of perch, the fenland of alder, on air
That is water, on carpets of Bann stream, on hold
In the everything flows and steady go of the world.
Excerpt from The Loose Box
Michael Collins, ambushed at Beal na Blath,
At the Pass of Flowers, the Blossom Gap, his own
Bloom-drifted, soft Avernus-mouth,
Has nothing to hold on to and falls again
Willingly, lastly, foreknowledgeably deep
Into the hay-floor that gave once in his childhood
Down through the bedded mouth of the loft trapdoor,
The loosening fodder-chute, the aftermath ...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:37 PM
June 6, 2003
Divine!
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:47 PM
Journal du jour
A brilliant-lit sunny day, a day of small piquancies, of trees palpably strong in their greenness, in their confidence. The rains have subsided and I know without seeing the roots are fat and full. Leaves are brandished by the wind and the picture of it all is unbearably beautiful.
People of every age and ethnicity are walking down the street and I am struck by their fragility – by our fragility – how temporary these bodies, these markers of differences. How silly to fixate on gender, race or beauty! To dust we shall return, soon. Walking skeletons, they and me. How to live with that knowledge? How to make best use of time?
*
Undefragged
Scrupulousity grows lichen-like
where the shadows gather
where the devil’s reasonable voice
speeds beads of 'feit moisture
whispering always of lack.
*
Seamus
Print falls like scales from my eyes
Finned words of Heaney’s Lough Neagh
Lines like softed turrets and wedding banns
Like salmon leaping into the perfect white.
*
Veiled
Was instantiates versteckt
in die reveries entfernt und streng?
Von verlorenen Ursachen und heiligen longings
reels die Spannvorrichtungen
des gerbstoffartigen Wassers
über eklektischen Träumen
des Jahrwunderns hinaus.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:38 PM
Revel in the Complement
One of the great things about Christianity is that it's the obverse of the world and we can relax in that complement. By not having to measure by outward signs we can find tremendous rest. Inferiorities shrink in His sun. Instead of viewing the apostles in the Upper Room as having received something we cannot, we can have confidence that nothing is held back that but that we make it so.
We can look at many of the mysteries of the rosary as great outpourings of grace upon our mother and brothers; the nature of a close family is that if success occurs to one, it occurs to all. Outsiders no more, we hold the mysteries as precious family heirlooms.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:17 PM
Interesting Comment from Ben on Disputations
Last night I was speaking to my wife, and she was troubled by the repetitive and burdensome nature of her work as a housewife. I can understand her complaint. I'm also troubled by the seemingly useless and repetitive nature of my work as an office worker.
But then I came to an understanding, that the root of our disatisfaction is that the both of us were conditioned by 16-20 years of education to be goal-oriented creatures. We were taught that what we do is inherently meaningless unless we do it for the greater purpose of achieving some goal or other (this is an essential ideology for the current economic system). Yet the work of a housewife is not goal oriented. There are no quarterly reports or major accomplishments. One does not really improve at the task of vacuming the floor, nor indeed accomplish it since it must be done again in a matter of hours.
Yet I feel this relates to your point about Creation. Creation is not goal oriented. God does not have "objectives" He is trying to achieve by adhering to "core principles" and "mission statements" He is not striving for "measureable outcomes for success". He is pure actuality. The capitalist mind can't get arround that concept, becaues we are too involved with "continuously improving our processes".
Anyway, your post, coupled with the conversation I had with my wife last night has given me a whole new insight into the parable of the birds and the lilies of the field.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:47 PM
Today's Assignment
Pick up a copy of Hitler's Mein Kampf and everywhere it says "Jew" mentally substitute "George Bush", everywhere it says "bourgeoisie" mentally subsitute "Big Oil" and everywhere it says "Zionist" substitute "Bush Administration" and voila - you now have a fresh Salon.com article. Or a NY Times/LA Times/Pravda editorial. Picture Maureen Dowd with slightly less humor.
By way of background, Ham of Bone & me and two other co-workers created a little email club in which strident voices are sometimes heard. (I joke that the club should be renamed "cancelling each other's vote since 1984"). Two lefties, two righties - can they get along? It sounds like a sitcom.
Some recent bon mots:
I have called Bush "venal", "dimwitted", "hypocritical", "dishonest", and "morally bankrupt"...His brand of pharisaical religiosity gives Christians a bad name, but it is the unapologetic, breathtakingly self-righteous hypocrisy of his administration that sticks in my craw the most.
The ongoing venality of the current appointistration will make Clinton look positively statesmanlike in comparison.
If it is OK for heads of state and captains of industry to be interchangeable, then let's just call it what it is: fascism. The checks and balances inherent in our purported system of government are largely theoretical at this point.
And that's the nice commentary. Bush = evil is commonplace.
It's a training camp for charity. Set vent off.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:39 PM
Truth be Told
I've been pondering of late the idea that the gospels leave a lot of questions open, which invites one, well, to ask. Ask others, ask theologians, or best of all, ask Jesus. But I struggle with the idea of asking Jesus questions like that for a couple reasons. First, it strikes me as presumptuous, to ask questions which far holier have longed to know. Second, I'm not sure it's relevant as far as helping me on the road to salvation. Third, if the experience of Protestantism teaches anything, it's that one can trust only the Church, not personal revelation, to the point that I so fully distrust the latter that it probably borders on the unhealthy. Our Dominican priest has a very different view, telling us that there is a wide pasture of things we can explore and believe, and that the Church only teaches us what the boundaries are - for example the divinity of Christ. But there is much freedom. But freedom to error? If I am convinced of something and my neighbor something else and we are both Christians, someone is wrong. It bothers that previous generations - our forefathers in faith - believed lies. Jews believed, for example, that their personal sins or their father's sins caused sickness. Still, the root issue might be one of pride, for even if I believed no outright untruths the knowledge I do have pales beside the fullness of truth. It is our portion and cup to look through the glass darkly. I recall visiting a tiny olde-timey ship in Boston. The actors on board portrayed 17th century pilgrims and played their parts. I asked, "how do you have privacy for sex?" (I was 22 at the time - 'nuff said). He pointed his nose skyward at such an impertinent question and intoned with a British accent, "Privacy is something given to you, not taken by you". In a fallen world, truth is a privilege, not a right.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:00 PM
June 5, 2003
Post-Resurrection Different from Post-Ascension Body?
Jesus' body after the Resurrection was normal in that he could eat and Thomas could probe his wounds and the hundreds who saw him could look upon Him without incident (although it could pass through walls). But post-Ascension seems a different matter, given St. Paul's encounter on the road to Damascus and St. John's in the Apocalypse. At that point His glory seems so powerful, more powerful by far than during the Transfiguration, that those who look upon Him fall involuntarily immediately to the ground, sometimes blinded. I've never heard anyone remark on this before. It's almost as if Jesus, after returning to the Father absorbed His glory in a way similar (only infinitely greater) than how Moses came down from the mountain glowing. I bring it up because I've heard it said the Eucharist is a way to receive Him without being blinded or overwhelmed by his glory...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:19 PM
I received an email suggestion from a correspondent who I daresay would prefer to remain anonymous (as many Cincinnati Bengal fans likewise would). He suggested boobs as a way to increase site traffic. Bad, Phil*, bad!
On an entirely different subject, you wouldn't believe how many folks come to this blog attempting to find the lyrics to Donny & Marie's "Morning Side of the Mountain". And you thought I was the only closet lover of corny love songs?
* - not his real name
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:38 PM
State of the Blog Address
From: TS O'Rama; Chief Financial Officer
SiteMeter stats are down this month, and we're going to have to make some reductions to make our June number.
During the 2003 All-Associate Meeting, our CEO Reilly Girtz described the challenges we face given difficult blog markets. Reilly understands that the work we do today to build a great website prepares us for when the environment is more supportive of our posts. As the chief financial officer for Video Melioria...blah, blah,blah my main focus in Building a Great Blog is, of course, Financial Discipline and performance.
Great blogs review expenses as a matter of practice. At Video Melioria...., we call this Challenging the Base and it needs to involve everyone. This is not a project. It is a discipline and it is about continually evaluating our costs as part of our ongoing expense management process.
Our current goal is to permanently remove $125 billion in expenses from our bottom line. This will help us keep our 2003 promise, but, perhaps more importantly, better support our future goals starting in 2004. As bloggers, our role is to uncover why hits are down and what can be done about it. Weather-related excuses are simply not acceptable; it is sunny in Los Angeles every day of the year and their blogs have not been hit.
We should all recommend and decide ways for improvement and then act upon them. Please share your ideas with your Finance Office.
*******the Blog-In News*******
Jeff Culbreath of El Camino Real has an interesting post on blogging. He made the move to blog-city just in time. I concede his point that in the flesh is better, but it's probably a symptom of my preverse desire for speed & efficiency that I say I can read more quickly than I can listen, and I can write more interestingly than I can speak.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:48 PM
From yesterday's Magnificat meditation
It's in the nature of the Church to survive all crisises - in however battered a fashion...Everything has to operate first on the literal level...I suppose what bothers us so much about writing about the return of modern people to a sense of the Holy Spirit is that the religious sense seems to be bred out of them in the kind of society we've lived in since the eighteenth century. And it's bred out of them double quick now by the religious substitutes for religion. There's nowhere to latch on to, in the characters or the audience. If there were in the public just a slight sense of ordinary theology (much less crisis theology), if they only believed at least that God has the power to do certain things. THere is no sense of the power of God that could produce the Incarnation and the Resurrection. They are all so busy explaining away the virgin birth and such things, reducing everything to human proportions that in time they lose even the sense of the human itself, what they were aiming to reduce everything to.
--Flannery O'Connor
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:11 AM
Written to a Nigerian Scammer Pastor Joseph:
Pasture Joe, thank you for your missive. As a fellow fiction writer, I feel a certain solidarity. Here's a poem I wrote for you:
"There is a land
where the men never grow tired
where the pounds shed easily
and the women all want you...
Where Nigerians offer you a cut
to free their money.
There is a place
called Spam."
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:54 AM
Reviewed "Drop City" over at Catholic Bookshelf...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:41 AM
Quick Quotes...from Russel Kirk's The Sword of Imagination
'At certain epochs,' says Innocent Smith in Chesterton's Manalive, 'it is necessary to have another kind of priests, called poets, actually to remind men that they are not dead yet.'
Ordinary human senses measure only a small range of the phenomena that are in heaven and earth. Dogs, for instance, hear sounds imperceptible to humans even at close range, and can be summoned by whistles silent to the human eardrum. In a mechanized world, the average man - aye, even the average educated man, or perhaps especially such a one - tends to fancy that everything is an exercise in technology. Kirk suspected that a people whose imagination has been atrophied by the machine may lose the faculty for ruling themselves.
--Russel Kirk
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:05 PM
June 4, 2003
Our Dominican priest gave an interesting homily the other day. He said that the Church, even the local one, is typically built on martyrs, something the American church lacks (and suffers for). North American martyrs who gave their lives hundreds of years ago are not part of our culture - the flag under which the martyrs died was French or Spanish. He suggests that the lack of having canonized martyrs might be due to the fact that we are products of a culture in which compromise is not only valued but is the basis for our form of government. He wonders if that tendency to compromise extends to the Faith to the point of robbing us of heroes.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:04 AM
Part of a poem found on First Things
But, night will soften
and the faithful countenance of sun will brighten
the penumbra of death (foul-breathed, sharp-fanged canine)
and chase this rabid dog from our brother’s crate.
Ave and Pater, my fingers towards heaven
ascending, meditating on metaphysics
and these most glorious mysteries. Yes, the five
which may hold a clue as to what this life is for.
As Sun opens sleepy eye, he makes Lilith re-
treat westward, screeching through the dark night. She goes to
hide with hound in hell, knowing well that Light has won.
--Matthew Stanford
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:57 AM
American Idle
From a Washington Post article:
Whether entertainment as we experience it equals leisure no doubt is debatable, but we have so completely blurred the line between work and play that it often is very hard to tell which is which....
No, we probably don't allow ourselves enough vegging-out time at the pool or on the beach, but on the other hand we have to make a real effort if we want to escape all those people trying to entertain us for one reason or another.
That's fine so far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough. Gini does quote Aldous Huxley's description of our "almost infinite appetite for distractions," but his discussion of the subject is mostly focused on the places to which we go for vacation or leisure, such as those mentioned above, and our infatuation with "gadgets and toys like Jet Skis, roller blades, and mountain bikes." The truth, though, is that we're being distracted even when we don't realize it, by the all-pervasive entertainment culture. This adds dimensions to Gini's subject that in some cases he simply fails to acknowledge and in others passes over too lightly.
There are some things he's right about. Leisure may be a walk in the country or a roller-coaster ride in an amusement park, but it also should be "time given to contemplation, wonder, awe, and the development of ideas." Too much of such leisure time as is given to us on weekends is spent at work of one sort or another, especially in two-earner households. Our inclination to "seek comfort and consolation in the pleasures and products of shopping" has brought us to the point that for some it becomes "an addiction, a fetish, a diversion, an obsession." The same is true for many of those who seek the same satisfactions in spectator sports.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:55 AM
Captions...We've Got Captions....We've Got Lots and Lots of Captions
A new form of blogger comedy has been exploited here... I can't leave a good thing be:
"Nice, but do you play tuba?"
"Getting closer!"
"Don't worry...you didn't break the skin!"
"Halitosis, schmalitosis!"
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:47 PM
June 3, 2003
Mystery and Beauty
I recall reading in JPII's Love and Responsibility a passage about how infatuation is aided and abetted by the fact that the other person possesses much mystery and so we use our imagination to "fill in the blanks" with qualities so bright they can only be dimly cogitated. I realized this was not unlike what I do with poems, with Eliot or Joyce. The proximate cause of this thought was reading that John Updike liked TS Eliot as a child even though he was only dimly aware of what it meant, and I suddenly wondered if that was actually an advantage in some ways. He writes, "Once I borrowed "The Waste Land," having seen it mentioned in The New Yorker as a modern classic, and found its opacity pleasingly crisp..."
The opacity itself is pleasing! I indirectly blogged about this in posting a poem titled "Found at the Confluence of Fotos & Babelfish". I had put the Hernan González's Spanish blog thru Babelfish but the resulting phrases had "holes" of untranslatable words (at least untranslatable by Babelfish) and into those gaps I could imagine the most piquant pleasures! I suddenly felt sorry for Hernan, who knows what the words mean. (No great tragedy, but I'm sure you see what I'm driving at). The poem went:
evocative of their childhood chaqueña
in the gallery of Flowery street 681
I ran into one of those gratuitous recitales
with a conjuntito of tango
those "bitter" cortazianos personages
apostatized of the humanity and the cosmos
as consolation and psychic food
to prevail and to affect, through the elegance
of here cerquita and yesterday just
to ayunar as God commands.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:00 AM
Blessed are they who do not see, but still believe
Some interesting thoughts here and here on the question "Why Ascend?". It's something I've wondered about too. What follows are my own un-imprimatur'd thoughts. Correct and reprove accordingly.
I think the Ascension was necessary because faith is so highly regarded in the heavenly kingdom that obstructing it, through obvious displays of power, lessens our reward. The Resurrected Jesus in the flesh is very obviously a display of power. Faith, like charity, is a big denomination of currency in the spiritual realm. By being present to us, He would perhaps be obstructing our faith by taking away some of our free will, thus lessening the currency we would have to spend in heaven.
There is speculation that our Blessed Mother didn't receive a post-Resurrection visit from Jesus because she didn't need it. It's certainly possible that He did appear to her and it just isn't recorded, but some say that such appearance would be extraneous given Mary's great faith, and miracles aren't for gratification - they serve a purpose. Those visited by supernatural events (like St. Paul on the road to Damascus) suffer proportionately the greater for it, often martyrdom.
Jeanne Schmelzer comments on Disputations:
I myself have seen and have participated in physical and spiritual healings. I had a tumor in my jaw healed when prayed with. I've had spiritual healings of relationships repaired of which I was unable to repair myself. The reason I believe I was healed wasn't to try to get me to believe, because I already did. It was to show how much Jesus loved and cared for me when I felt terribly abandoned, and that he was around and available to me. It did build my strong faith to be even stronger.
The Saints Say:
St. Augustine: "But could He not send Him while here, Him, Who, we know, came and abode on Him at His baptism, yea Him from Whom we know He never could be spearated? What meaneth then, "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come until you", but, ye cannot receive the Spirit, so long as ye know Christ according to the flesh? Christ departing in the body, not the Holy Ghost only, but the Father, and the Son also came spirtually."
St. Gregory: "As if He said plainly, if I withdraw not My body from your eyes, I cannot lead you to the understanding of the Invisible, through the Comforting Spirit."
Augustine: "The Holy Ghost the Comforter brought this, that the form of a servant which our Lord had received in the womb of the Virgin, being removed from the fleshly eye, He was manifested to the purified mental vision in the very form of God in which He remained equal to the Father, even while He deigned to appear in the flesh."
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:44 AM
They'd Not Forgotten How to Cringe
It is well-nigh irresistible to read time-period pieces, to travel back in time, tainted though the essays might be by prejudices of the moment. Read part of "The Causes of the War" by Charles Horne, written in the 1920s (the war in the title being, of course, WWI). The prescience, written before Hitler took power, is astonishing. One is tempted to say, "Mr. Horne, you ain't seen nothin' yet":
The world has never before seen such astounding examples of mass-hypnosis, the instant uprising on command of a fervid and genuine emotion in an entire people. Ther German government had only to give its order, "Hate the Britons, they have suddenly snared our straightforward goverment in a trap long prepared!" and the German people swung to the new emotion with the smoothness of a pendulum and the regularity of a military platoon.
Why?
For centuries Germany had been divided into hundreds of little semi-independent states, seldom united in actions either of peace or war. In consequence, the land had been repeatedly ravaged by victorious foreign armies; the people had learned their helplessness, and had learned, alas, to cringe and bend before the storm. Then under Prussian leadership, quite suddenly after 1866, they became strong in a military sense, the strongest nation in the world. Had such strength come to them slowly, with the training in pity and in kindly tolerance that should go with strength, the German people might have grown worthy of their high position. But alas, power had come too swiftly to allow of that gradual development of racial character which requires many generations. The Germans had not forgotten how to cringe....The coward knows no law save that of brute force. Give him the upper hand and he will surely use it like a brute.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:16 AM
June 2, 2003
Saw the CBS mini-series "Hitler: the Rise of Evil" this weekend. It was interesting to see how the fully reality of Hitler's maliciousness dawned on different people at different times - some were early warning "canary in coalmine" types, others were sympathizers even to the war and beyond. It helps to occasionally look above the "three yeards and a cloud of dust" of our own seemingly petty battles and see where a trail of bad decisions lead. Evil seems to serve a purpose on earth - most obviously in Christ's expiating death, but also in its effect in driving us to God and sanity. A friend of my father hadn't said a rosary in twenty years; he got down on his knees and said one immediately after seeing "The Exorcist".
On an unrelated note, except in demonstrating how an individual in power can hypnotize, I caught a mesmerizing bit of C-Span. They taped a college class invited to ask Q & A of former Pres. Clinton at his Little Rock library. The class was in full adoration mode, the young women smiled at him incandescently. (A friend jokes that he's never seen a look of womanly lust as pure as the one George Stephanapolis received from a fellow staffer after Clinton's victory as presented in the documentary "The War Room". This class at least gave that moment a run for its money). One of the women said, "I have a personal question for you Mr. President. My sister is disabled, and she got a lot of help during your time in office, but now it's much more difficult. I just want to know...(starts to break down) ...I just want to know why you care so much." Clinton studies his shoes for a second, his face reddens and after a long pause, his voice choking with emotion, says "My momma raised me right". The young women began to cry and the teacher walked over to comfort her. It was downright hypnotizing. It's also helpful for those in need of a purgative.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:01 AM
Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor
I see the right way, approve it and do the opposite - Ovid
Still only 25 cents
Archives enchilada, whole
Bone Update
For those following the Hambone saga (KTC?), today is his last day although he has an interview Tuesday in another area within the company. The severance package, twelve week's pay, looms over him irresistibly; he has already mentally fornicated with the money, er, mentally spent the money (the spending being paying for law school and new windows). He promised his wife the new windows and now despairs at the thought of having to cut his savings rate from 20% to 16% in order to afford them. He rushes to his lump-sum payout as sailors did to Scylla's deadly embrace, "the monstrous lips, the darting neck of their love-death" as the poet Donald Davidson wrote. He admits the hand of God in this, the lesson that money doth not avail.
He says, "Let me play Percy to your Foote" and he explains that it is not his depression depressing him, it is that he has no reason to be depressed. Percy wrote about this condition often, this feeling that you can have everything - wife, family, money - without it availing. He understands, intellectually at least, that the job, if he gets it, is infinitely preferable to many other jobs, such as cleaning toilets or writing speeches for Presidential "hopeful" Dennis Kucinich.
So, the prospect of a patch of freedom, of writing screenplays, appeals to him, yet the hope of a steady job does too. He sits in the valley of despair, dreading the worst - that he gets the job but no severance. He fears that because he still has an interview outstanding, they will postpone the ceremonial "cutting of the check" until after the results of this job lead.
He asks a hard question: how will I know if I am detached from the money? "If I give the whole lump sum to charity?" "10%?"
UPDATE: Ham of Bone received his severance check, or at least the guarantee of it.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:41 PM
May 30, 2003
Women Are the Gatekeepers
NRO's The Corner published an email:
Dear Jonah:
Your reader, and your comment on social life in college, have hit upon the great truth that was Socrates's argument for the education of women: In general, men will do more or less whatever women want, so the key to a good society is to educate women to want the right things.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:12 AM
Top Ten Books On The New York City Schools Summer Reading List
10. "Horton Hears A Gunshot"
9. "The Postman Always Rings Twice...Then Breaks The Window And Steals Your Home Entertainment Center"
8. "'Promotion,' 'Bonus' And Other Words You Will Never Hear After Attending A New York City School"
7. "Encyclopedia Brown And The Mystery Of The Dead Guy On The Subway"
6. "Lord Of The Flies, And Other Street Vendor Names"
5. "A Farewell To Strip Joints Thanks To That Nose Bleed Giuliani"
4. "Moby Dick's Self-Destructive Cousin Andy Dick"
3. "A Clockwork Orange That Reads 'Rolex' But Only Costs $10"
2. "Men Are From Mars, Hillary Clinton's From Arkansas, Damn It!"
1. "Of Mice And Donuts"
- David Letterman
"Horton Hears a Gunshot" cracks me up.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:40 AM
Lots o' Prayer
Out of curiosity I picked up a couple of the flyers in the breezeway of church. They were pamphlets on religious orders, complete with their daily schedules:
Sister Servants of the Eternal Word pray five hours a day and work five hours a day.
Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration pray some six hours a day and work 4 hours a day.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:42 PM
May 29, 2003
Pondering Mark 16:17-18
The words from Mark's Gospel (Mark 16:17-18) seemed more difficult to comprehend that usual today, coming on the heels of the discouraging news concerning Dylan. It seemed there were two options with respect to the latter: either it isn't God's will at this time to heal him or the faith and sacrifice of St. Blog's was lacking. There seems a hierarchical element to prayer - Jesus' prayer was more effective than the apostles, the apostles more than saints (the apostles raised the dead) and the saints more than us. I went to my beloved commentaries.
First the verses:
"And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."
The Ignatius Study Bible - the Gospel of Mark - shrunk from the question.
Orchard's "Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture" didn't flinch:
When sending the Apostles on a temporary mission in Palestine, Christ gave them power to cast out demons in order to strengthen the appeal of their preaching. Now he promises to believers miraculous signs to guarantee the truth and divine origin of the doctrine which they had accepted. The promise is made to the community of the faithful rather than to each individual believer. In the early days of the Church, possibly becuase of a greater need for extraordinary signs in order to move a skeptical and hostile world to which the Gospel and Church were still new, some of these manifestations of miraculous power were more frequent than in later times. But Christ's promise is not limited to a particular period. In every age miracles have given proof that Christ abides with the Church.
From the Catena Aurea:
St. Gregory: Are we then without faith because we cannot do these signs? Nay, but these things were necessary in the beginning of the Church, for the faith of believers was to be nourished by miracles, that it might increase. Thus we also, when we plant groves, pour water upon them, until we see that they have grown strong in the earth; but when once they have firmly fixed their roots, we leave off irrigating them. These signs and miracles have other things which we ought to consider more minutely. For Holy Church does every day in spirit what then the Apostles did in body.
I tend to make the mistake of assuming universal applications to everything in the Gospels, when sometimes passages are meant merely for the Apostles ears. Similar are some of the predictions that pre-figure the catastrophe (for the Jews) in 70AD.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:16 PM
On the Wagon...
...from silliness. It was all I could do to refrain from commenting "Limbo? Don't like it. Hurts my back." on Tom's blog. Completely inappropriate. (Speaking of his blog, it was sad to see to see it didn't get a mention in Mark Shea's article on St. Blog's parish in this month's Crisis).
The discussion on unbaptized babies is a critical thing because it very effectively exposes the "head" thinking versus "heart". I am literally surrounded by heart thinkers w/r/to religion. One PIQ (person in question) believes in all her heart that a good God would not be capable of not having animals in heaven (I'm tempted to say 'please not mosquitoes...please!'). Another close PIQ simply cannot imagine a God who would consider using artificial birth control as a sin leading unto death. She said, "I would rather go to hell than have had another kid," which immediately shut down that conversation although it begged the question, "you mean than foregoing sex?". Certainly it is a hard teaching, but easier than telling homosexuals not to engage in homosexual acts.
As far as Limbo, it is natural, and nearly overpowering, to want certainty as to the destiny of your child, if he/she died before Baptism. Perhaps the Scriptures were designed, albeit unsatisfyingly, to focus thusly:"What are the implications of the Gospel for me?," not, "What are the implications for a class of persons to which I do not belong? as Tom wrote.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:05 PM
Back in the U.S....
There is something Dali-like surreal in seeing a clip of Paul McCartney playing "Back in the U.S.S.R" in Red Square, Moscow to thousands of Russian youth. Having grown up in the 70s, the Soviet Union seemed so serious, and lended that sobriety to our every move. Now having a pop star play outside the Kremlin, is, well, like having Madonna sing "Like a Virgin" in Tehran.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:06 AM
Excerpt from Belloc's Path to Rome on the Mass
In the first village I came to I found that Mass was over, and this justly annoyed me; for what is a pilgrimage in which a man cannot hear Mass every morning? Of all the things I have read about St Louis which make me wish I had known him to speak to, nothing seems to me more delightful than his habit of getting Mass daily whenever he marched down south, but why this should be so delightful I cannot tell. Of course there is a grace and influence belonging to such a custom, but it is not of that I am speaking but of the pleasing sensation of order and accomplishment which attaches to a day one has opened by Mass; a purely temporal, and, for all I know, what the monks back at the ironworks would have called a carnal feeling, but a source of continual comfort to me. Let them go their way and let me go mine.
This comfort I ascribe to four causes (just above you will find it written that I could not tell why this should be so, but what of that?), and these causes are:
1. That for half-an-hour just at the opening of the day you are silent and recollected, and have to put off cares, interests, and passions in the repetition of a familiar action. This must certainly be a great benefit to the body and give it tone.
2. That the Mass is a careful and rapid ritual. Now it is the function of all ritual (as we see in games, social arrangements and so forth) to relieve the mind by so much of responsibility and initiative and to catch you up (as it were) into itself, leading your life for you during the time it lasts. In this way you experience a singular repose, after which fallowness I am sure one is fitter for action and judgement.
3. That the surroundings incline you to good and reasonable thoughts, and for the moment deaden the rasp and jar of that busy wickedness which both working in one's self and received from others is the true source of all human miseries. Thus the time spent at Mass is like a short repose in a deep and well-built library, into which no sounds come and where you feel yourself secure against the outer world.
4. And the most important cause of this feeling of satisfaction is that you are doing what the human race has done for thousands upon thousands upon thousands of years. This is a matter of such moment that I am astonished people hear of it so little. Whatever is buried right into our blood from immemorial habit that we must be certain to do if we are to be fairly happy (of course no grown man or woman can really be very happy for long—but I mean reasonably happy), and, what is more important, decent and secure of our souls.
--Hilaire Belloc
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 6:17 PM
May 28, 2003
What to make of this?
My stepson left this book out on the kitchen counter, which in our household is the universal way of announcing, "look what I'm reading!". Things tend to get left there "accidentally on purpose".
Some background: Back in his materialist days I noticed him reading the above book in my library. He read it for at least twenty minutes, an eternity to be reading what he called at the time "biased" books (he said he preferred to read "objective" books - i.e. not written by believers). Thrilled by this, I gave him the book for his birthday (this was two years ago.) Now the book hath just resurfaced, which I'm not sure is a pluperfectly good thing. First, though I have the greatest respect for Fr. Most, I don't know that he is the best for my stepson at this time. Perhaps he's the most orthodox, which is a relief, and he is also very honest. Painstakingly honest. So he airs controversial subjects like "Are there errors in Scripture?". "Has the Church changed her position on Religious Freedom?". Now, these arguments are necessarily very nuanced, which means that they are not slam-dunks in the sense of "Did O.J. kill his wife?". So you (I) could wish that the book took a bit more "big picture" view of the Church. Still, beggars can't be choosers!
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:44 PM
Some bloke who’s able, lift up the table!
I've long liked the tune "I'm Getting Married in the Morning" from My Fair Lady, partly because I could relate to the character "Doolittle" and partly because as a connoisseur of oxymorons I relish the thought of such an irresponsible blackguard singing a song about responsibility - his responsibility to get to the church on time no matter what it takes. It is everyone's song if one sees "church" as heaven and recognizes that we are all are more or less screw-ups. I like the way Doolittle depends on his friends (i.e.the saints); he recognizes he can't get there alone. He desires what we do at the Heavenly Banquet - to be "spruced up and looking in our prime". "Drug me or jail me / Stamp me and mail me" rings out with the attitude of a willingness to pay any price for the Kingdom, followed even more emphatically by, "Feather and tar me; Call out the army". In other words, don't let my will to party and carouse get in the way of the appointment of Bliss.
There’s just a few more hours.
That’s all the time you’ve got.
A few more hours
Before they tie the knot....
There are drinks and girls all over London, and I’ve
gotta track ‘em down in just a few more hours!
I’m getting married in the morning!
Ding dong! The bells are gonna chime.
Pull out the stopper!
Let’s have a whopper!
But get me to the church on time!
I gotta be there in the mornin’
Spruced up and lookin’ in me prime.
Girls, come and kiss me;
Show how you’ll miss me.
But get me to the church on time!
If I am dancin’
Roll up the floor.
If I am whistlin’
Whewt me out the door!
For I’m gettin’ married in the mornin’
Ding dong! the bells are gonna chime.
Kick up an rumpus
But don’t lost the compass;
And get me to the church,
Get me to the church,
For Gawd’s sake, get me to the church on time!
Drug me or jail me,
Stamp me and mail me.
But get me to the church on time!
I gotta be there in the morning
Spruced up and lookin’ in me prime.
Some bloke who’s able
Lift up the table,
And get me to the church on time!
If I am flying
Then shoot me down.
If I am wooin’,
Get her out of town!
All
For I’m getting married in the morning!
Ding dong! the bells are gonna chime.
Doolittle
Feather and tar me;
Call out the Army;
But get me to the church.
All
Get me to the church...
Doolittle
For Gawd’s sake, get me to the church on time!
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:28 PM
May 27, 2003
Quotable
Humor trades in incongruity. The practical joker pulls the chair out from under the guest of honor, revealing that he, no less than the rest of us mortals, is a helpless subject of gravity. The divine joke is to pull the gravity out from under the chair. In the divine comedy, we play the part of the fool, but this turns out to be our best role. For our folly conducts us to paradise, bringing us into the arms of the beloved (as in the Shakespearean comedies of mismatched loves resolved) and lifting us to the court of the Most High, where by all logic and etiquette we most certainly do not belong. When finally we come to prostrate ourselves before the divine throne, it will very likely be because we have tripped.
-- Carol Zaleski via Blog for Lovers
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:55 PM
Hell's Population
Steven Riddle has an interesting post on the population of hell, suggesting that the kindler/gentler theology of the moderns might be a development of doctrine, and he may be right. I'm no expert, but it seems that while God doesn't change, our perception of Him is certainly a moving target. From least inclusive to most inclusive is the pattern of salvation history - from Adam & Eve to a family (Noah) to a tribe (Abraham) to the twelve tribes (Israel) to the Davidic kingdom to "here comes everybody" (i.e. the Gentiles). On the other hand, the last book in the New Testament certainly doesn't give me the "warm-fuzzies". There is immense spiritual warfare depicted, with high stakes.
Development is a tricky thing which is why I'm glad I don't have to decide what is and what isn't. Many non-Catholics, for example, think that the lack of disciplinary requirements in their churches (such as days of fast and abstinence and days of obligation) are "development" given that the New Testament expired many of the OT requirements and regulations. And in making sacraments mere symbols, they sacralize everything, they invoke a ubiquitnessness that denies the especial Presence. Some wrongly see that as development given the biblical trend. God was so inaccessible in the OT Holy of Holies that only the high priest could be there (extremely hierarchical), but that segued to the NT practice of all the faithful receiving Him and some project (too far) that Jesus intended a completely flat, horizontal Church. It is too easy to see the trend and follow it to (what you believe) is the logical conclusion. I've certainly been guilty of making this error in the stock market.
Part of the difficulty is that we are in a phase of Church history that is completed and yet not finished. In other words, although we are in the final days (meaning post-Pentecost) we still see through the glass darkly. The Church has recognized the glass is dark on this subject and has not weighed in on how many are saved. Reading theologians, on this subject, seems akin to reading tea leaves.
I just saw a documentary on angels on the History Channel, and they interviewed a man who had no interest in God who suffered an injury (lacerated intestine) that went untreated for 10 hours. 90% of the time it leads to death, and he had the classic near/after death experience - he looked over his dead body, etc...And he was given a choice to pray to God, which he did, and he lived and became a minister. He was utterly changed by his experience, something that a pyschologist says doesn't happen after dreams or hallucinations.
This is admittedly anecdotal, but if true here was a guy given another chance presumably after he died or at least in the second before death. That would certainly lead one to believe that hell would be less populated than one might think, given that if that man were given that chance, why wouldn't everyone? Alicia rightly says that those may still choose wrongly, but what amazes me about that is that it goes so directly against their self-interest. Who would choose death over life? You say that the drug addict does (or the sinner for that matter), but he does because he perceives a short term 'good'. There would seemingly be no short term good to choosing hell at the moment of death, would there? Perhaps only pride...which I suppose that is one reason it's the greatest sin.
Ultimately, the answer is unknowable on this side of the divide but that doesn't stop us from pure speculation.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:58 AM
Bruce Almighty
It's interesting the reaction the new movie "Bruce Almighty" is getting. The Baptist minister on the talk show I occasionally listen to is aghast - he says it is outrageously irreverent and that you watch - you just watch - Christian reviewers will say this movie is okay. I checked the Bishop's review, and sure enough they think it's okay for adults albeit there are some of the typical juvenile hijinks.
I might see it just because it lampoons whiners (like myself) who think they have it rough. Jim Carrey, for example, is upset with his girlfriend's looks - played by Jennifer Aniston.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:09 PM
May 26, 2003
Memorial Day Weekend Recap
After four years of marriage, one begins to fall into a sort of rhythm such that both partners intuit what will happen on a given holiday. For us, Memorial Day is a family day of obligation.
We went camping Friday night and Saturday (camping being a euphemism for “communal living in a park-like setting”). It exists mainly so that you appreciate your house when you get back. (Which reminds me of the classic explanation of why jogging is such a joy - so that when you stop it will feel so good).
Saturday afternoon we drive to "Grandma Faye's" general store; my brother-in-law humorously suggests Grandma is a middle-aged man. I tell him "Fat Fred's" just doesn't have the same ring to it. We pick up the essentials - beer, cigars and Milky Ways - and return for more "nature". Family groups stare unnervingly at us as we drive by at the requisite 6 mph, their mouths slack and eyes glazed. Chris notices - "why would they camp there, on display like that?".
Sleeping with three or more adults in a tent or camper improves the odds that one will snore. And one will object to your unobtrustive reading light. Routines are destroyed, which isn’t such a bad thing – author Paul Theroux says that routines make time go by too quickly. Camping exists to slow down time. To go offline. And that - seriously - isn’t a bad thing.
But you know I can't miss church. So it was either get up early on Sunday morning or drive the wee hours Saturday night. Sleepless in southeast Ohio, I chose the latter and bolted from the fold. My truck was parked more than a half-mile away and so I enjoyed a rare midnight walk amid the tiki lights, the good bretheren putting out their fires before bed, the sight of a jet-black sky and motherlode of stars. In a couple of hours I traded it all for the city and a mordantly-lit starless sky. But I sure slept well.
I reaped a traffic-less drive while listening to classical music interspersed with WLW’s “Trucking Bozo” show. The classical music was mercifully free of the daytime pledge drive and when I tired of a selection I listened to the trucker’s beefs, a rare glimpse into another life. “I used to love doing this, now it’s just a job,” they said. "Drivers don't take care of each other anymore. They only look out for numero uno." The DJ takes calls; the truckers are articulate in a country sort of way. They have good ears for conversation, know how to deliver a punch line, presumably from years of practice. Truckers are the last cowboys, out there on the open range called interstates.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:40 PM
Of Hairshirts & the Like
Amy's having a fascinating discussion on mortification. I like what she's saying - because I'm of the Chestertonian variety of Christian - but I'm skeptical for that very reason. I think Therese is right when she sees it as "behavior modification". If one punishes oneself after a repeated transgression, knowing what we know of human psychology that is surely an effective means of making that transgression less palatable.
Via Amy's blog...a quote from a letter of St. Jane de Chantal to a priest to whom she was giving spiritual direction:
Take my word for it, our Lord is more pleased with our accepting the relief our body and spirit require, than by all these apprehensions of not doing enough and wanting to do more. All God wants is our heart. And He is more pleased when we value our uselessness and weakness out of love and reverence for His holy will, than we do violence to ourselves and perform great works of penance. .....What God, in His goodness, asks of you is not this excessive zeal that has reduced you to your present condition, but a calm, peaceful unselessness, a resting near Him with no special attention or action of the understanding or will except a few words of love or of faithful, simple surrender, spoken softly, effortlessly, without the least desire to find consolation or satisfaction....
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:11 PM
May 25, 2003
Still seems it strange, that thou shouldst live forever?
Is it less strange, that thou shouldst live at all?
This is a miracle; and that no more.
-Edward Young
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:38 PM
Great Posts of Late
You say, "But I've already read these!" I say, "hey, I want them archived on my blog so that I can do a find on them in a quick minute".
Minute Particulars discusses faith:
What this all boils down to is not a wager or bet, but knowledge of the credibility of witnesses and assent to the content of their testimony.
Thus, Aquinas writes:
"Now, whoever believes, assents to someone's words; so that, in every form of belief, the person to whose words assent is given seems to hold the chief place and to be the end as it were; while the things by holding which one assents to that person hold a secondary place. Consequently he that holds the Christian faith aright assents, by his will, to Christ, in those things which truly belong to His doctrine."
Tom of Disputations discusses bible-readin':
Obviously, a parish priest inventing a rule to make life easier for himself is not quite the same as the Pope promulgating a universal and categorical injunction, but the difference isn't always appreciated from the perspective of the pew.
Outside the Church, of course, it's all grist for the mill. Various regions of the Church, at various times, in response to specific circumstances, did forbid the reading of Scripture by the laity. That's enough truth for the club carvers. Used with the pre-conciliar memories of Father Stentorian and Sister Mary Sternhand saying only wicked little children read the Bible, it's a pretty effective charge.
The overarching fact, though, is that in the Roman Catholic Church the general encouragement of the reading of Scripture by the laity is relatively new, even if forbidding it never much happened. Reading Scripture is good, of course, but not reading it isn't quite as wicked as Bible-only Protestants would have us believe -- particularly for those living within Christendom. I'm not sure what a generalized felicity for quoting Romans 8 would have brought to the medieval party.
KTC on confession:
First, the stereotype of hypocrites running back out to sin again: unlike many Evangelical protestant churches, which are congregational in nature, the Catholic Church is parochial; that is, it is accessible to all baptized believers in a given geographical area. Most evangelical churches have little patience with what they call "carnal Christians"; instead of making allowance for them to come along at their own pace, evangelicals tend to throw down the gauntlet from the pulpit. "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." "Clothe yourselves with Christ."
Groups of believers who hear Biblical exhortation publicly in this way tend to want to conform. Even Catholics in Bible studies or third order groups respond similarly. Whereas each Catholic homily is designed to accompany the reading of that particular day in the Liturgical calendar, protestant sermons are often topical--at the discretion of the preacher. Furthermore, congregational-type churches tend to attract like-minded groups; people who cannot or will not conform (like the Christmas-and-Easter "Carnal Christians") are soon winnowed out.
The parochial Catholic Church, however, follows the Biblical model of the wheat and the tares. Knowing that the Holy Spirit chooses a different timetable for each individual, the Church offers The Mass and the Sacraments for all the baptized.
When a congregational protestant protests against the hypocrisy of Catholics who sin after they leave the confessional, ask him if he'd prevent a hypocrite from hearing a good sermon. Certainly not: even if the Word didn't bear fruit immediately, it is certain that a seed was planted in his hypocritical soul--perhaps the next sermon will spur his conversion! So it is with the Sacrament of Confession.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:45 PM
May 23, 2003
It's All Blogger's fault...
Blogger has been so sluggish of late that my reading of blogs has been cut down. Nature abhors a vacuum, so this gives me the time to further mediocritize my own blog. My friend and pal is packing his things as his 60-day pass wanes and found our infamous "Steinberg novella", co-written in 1993.
But first, some research. I found the definition of "self-indulgent post":
S.I.P. -n - loosely, a post even your mother would say, "are you sure you want to post that?". The theoretical archetypal self-indulgent post would be excerpting from your co-written amateur sci-fi novel. This is to self-indulgent posting what Fred Astaire is to dancing.
As one ever ready to test boundaries, I will now excerpt portions. Reading it, I get the sense that it will stand the test of time, if time is narrowly defined as a 30-second interval. To give you an idea of just how bad it is, one of the character's names is "Bite MyAss".
We entered it in the Toast Point Bad Fiction Contest since they published everything, but I noticed after awhile they removed it from their website. We weren't good enough to be called "bad fiction" - now that's gotta hurt.
Without further ado! Plot: Gina and Johnathon are being taken hostage by thugs. Gina has special powers by virtue of being half-alien.
I tried not to feel overdramatic, as they half-carried us up the big hill, in my mind the hill of Calvary. The symbolism of the day ending as my life was ending brought tears to my eyes and I realized anew how difficult it was to get tears off your cheeks when your hands are tied. I had to rub my face against Gina's hair, which was not an unpleasant endeavor.
"Gina," I whispered, "we need to break loose don't you think?"
"Na baby na, don't cry-"
"I'm not," I protested a bit much, "it's my contacts!"
***
But then I remembered the rolling hills and vales of their farm and the music "Suddenly...last summer" came to mind. "Will summer never end, will summer never begin?..it takes me standing still...it takes all my will... when suddenly....last summer."
***
"Bite my ass, Bite Myass!", Herr said, uttering a line that cut Bite to the core. Buttahfinga had spoken the unspeakable, the one line that brought to mind a million childhood rages. Like a severed Achillies heel, Bite reacted with red-hot fury.
***
"Where are we?" Jonathan asked, groggy and weak from lack of blood.
"I carried you here to Aunt Mame's barbeque. Figured the smell of ribs would waken you."
***
[Gina says] "I am serious. I am half-Cabootan, which means I'm a little sharper in most of my senses than humans...Don't look at me like that! Don't hate me because I'm Cabootan, hate me because I'm beautiful!"
I gave an exasperated sigh while we cleaned up the wound. I wanted her to put alcohol on it, like they do in westerns, but neither of us drink much and so we didn't have any. She put nail polish remover on it instead, and it hurt like hell.
"I think we ought to go to a hospital, though I'm loathe to admit it," I said.
"Gina, tell me the truth - why is somebody trying to kill us and why do the words of MacArthur Park elude me? I've spent a lifetime trying to forget them, and now that I have, it scares me."
"Ok, you're entitled. You have a war wound to prove it. The fumes from the nail polish I used cause you to slowly lose all memory. Don't fuss, it's just till we're safely ensconced on earth or North Caboot & can check for bugs. If we're captured, I think you may be a teller."
"A teller?"
"Yes, one who tells. Like I said, your memory will be returned and amplified when we're safe."
"Gina?"
"Yes?"
"What's a teller?"
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:23 AM
Promises
Soft cold rain falls
on forlorn tomato plants;
they look misplaced, aggrieved
expecting a Mexican climate.
I rub their tender leaves
for the scent of summer
it lingers but does not avail,
summer is nontransferable.
The inside beckons still,
the loft of book ease
cushioned and distractionless;
the weather accords good study
slack limbed deep sleep.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:08 AM
Baseball players for life. Now there's a real hall of fame!
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:16 AM
A Pope By Any Other Name....is still a pope!
What bothers is not that Protestant denominations reject the teachings of the RCC; rather it is the disingenuous argument many use for rejecting the papacy and authority.
All Protestant denominations have had popes whether they call them that or whether they even realize it or not. For if the main Christian branches have different bibles, how can the bible be the sole rule of faith? Either the RCC, the Orthodox or the Protestants are the "most correct" in determining which books should be in the bible.
I read somewhere that Revelation is not the bible, Revelation stands behind the bible and shines through it. And men such as Luther and Calvin and others determined the canonicity of certain books, determined the interpretation and translation of the bible as surely and powerfully as any pope. The ideas evangelical Protestants currently hold were typically not arrived at by themselves in a moment of inspiration from the Holy Spirit and after years of study - no, those ideas (such as the role of Mary and which sacraments are effective and how they work) were passed down to them by prior protestant popes. And the dearness with which many hold them suggests a belief in the charism of infallibility.
I think the right question is not, "which is the most exciting, spirit-led church in 21st century Columbus, Ohio", but "which is the most exciting, Spirit-led church since Pentecost?". And how can I build up the latter?
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:11 PM
May 22, 2003
Japanese author Haruki Murakami quote in the Guardian
"If it's art or literature you're looking for," he wrote, in the voice of his narrator, in Hear the Wind Sing, "you'd do well to read the Greeks. In order for there to be true art, there necessarily has to be slavery. That's how it was with the ancient Greeks: while the slaves worked the fields, prepared the meals and rowed the ships, the citizens would bask beneath the Mediterranean sun, rapt in poetical composition or engaged in their mathematics. That's how it is with art. Mere humans who root through their refrigerators at three o'clock in the morning can only produce writing that matches what they do. And that includes me."
--Haruki Murakami
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:45 PM
Geoffrey Chaucer Chimes In
... if gold ruste, what shal iren doo?
For if a preest be foul, on whom we truste,
No wonder is a lewed man to ruste;
And shame it is, if a prest take keep,
A shiten shepherde and a clene sheep.
--- Chaucer (The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue, 502-506)
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:25 PM
Steven Riddle shares some charming anecdotes involving his son. Reminds me of a story close to home. After months of misdiagnosis, my mother learned she had tore her rotator cuff. My seven-year old niece said, 'Grandma, I knew you broke your arm because I was praying for you and if it wasn't broken I know God would have made it better!'. Sweet kid.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:54 AM
Torturing Self So You Don't Have To
The parents of my stepson's near-fiancee gifted him with a Quest Study Bible for his birthday. And I succumbed today to reading what it has to say about some of "Catholic distinctives" in Scripture. I wondered if it was in the same league as the egregious Halley's anti-Catholic commentary. And it wasn't, not even close. It passed the whore of Babylon test.
Interestingly, it was reasonably fair on Matt 16:18, although 'binding' & 'loosing' is applied to what is already binded and loosed already in Scripture. But it gives Peter the possibility of being the rock. Authority isn't apparently as controversial as the sacraments, for you could really see bias on anything relating to the Eucharist. "Is it the real body and blood of Christ? No, Christians aren't cannibals," a sidebar explains, with Magisterium-like authority. Oy vey. (Cannibals eat their own - God is not us, via KTC).
Why in John 6 do disciples leave immediately after Jesus saying that you unless you eat my flesh you do not have life within you? Simply because they wanted him to fight the Romans. Nothing whatsoever to do with what was just said.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:43 AM
Alright Already ... or give the bishops a break
It wasn't just the hierarchy guilty of the Reformation. It was the people in the pews. The bishops are a reflection of the holiness (or non-holiness) of the people and if Bill Clinton was the President we deserved in the 90s, then these are the bishops we deserve.
It's been said that they aren't democratically elected so that analogy doesn't hold. And if the Church is a purely political institution then they may be right. But if she isn't, then her course will be determined not just by those in power but influenced by the prayers and sacrifices of her members. We either believe in the power of prayer, or we don't. If we do, then reform in the Church can and will happen.
My uncle never told us why he left the priesthood after just five years, now some twenty-five years ago. But we heard he didn't get along with his superiors and I suspect it was because the reality didn’t live up to the ritual, that he saw the bishops had feet of clay and it was obscenely off-putting. It's an understandable reaction – he’d signed up when he was absurdly young, something like 14 years old, still idealistic as the wind.
But that is why they call it faith – it’s not readily apparent. In fact, it can look downright contradictory. "How can I see the action of the Holy Spirit in these uninspiring men?" he probably wondered.
It seems something of a catch-22: if you are aware of your own depravity and how close betrayal lay within you, then you will be a lot less disappointed in your bishops. But the young and idealistic – whom we most have need of - rarely have that awareness.
Faith is difficult. I have a hard time imagining that the Holy Trinity resides in this bit of clay. But I do anyway. Similar with the Church. So if you say we should sympathize with and pity those who leave the Church over this scandal, I would concur, just as we should sympathize with and pity anyone with weak faith.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:17 PM
May 21, 2003
Country Song Wednesday
I've been liking this new song by newcomer Craig Morton, called "Almost Home". It's even better with the tune and if you ignore certain meteorological impossibilities:
He had plastic bags wrapped ‘round his shoes
he was covered with the evening news
had a pair of old wool socks on his hands.
The bank sign was flashin’ five below
it was freezin’ rain and spittin’ snow
he was curled up beside some garbage cans.
I was afraid that he was dead,
I gave him a gentle shake,
When he opened up his eyes
I said, “oh man, are you okay?”
he said...
Ref:
I just climbed out of a cottonwood tree
I was runnin’ from some honeybees
Drip-dryin’ in the summer breeze
After jumping into Calico Creek.
I was walking down an old dirt road
Past a field of hay that had just been mowed
Man I wish you'd just left me alone
I was almost home.
--"Almost Home" by Craig Morton
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:44 PM
Remember What You Paid for These...
It's fun to slightly change words to a song such that a phrase is hilariously off-key.
For example, changing the guttural, instinctive "want" to the more refined "wish to" in pop songs might be considered humorous:
Example: Eddie Murphy's one hit:
"My girl wishes to party all the time, party all the time, party all the time..."
Or:
"Macho, macho man....I wish to be a macho man..."
Ellyn vonHuben has a great example - she says the Stones' Satisfaction still grates like nails on a chalkboard after 40 years. "But I can't imagine any impact in Mick singing, 'I cannot attain any satisfaction'.
******
St's Francis & Claire
Is it any wonder that there would be an attraction there? They loved the unloveable....how much more would they love the loveable!
Quoteable: "One of my former Carmelite teachers quoted an old Spanish proverb: 'Between a male saint and a female saint, brick and mortar!' ...a profound spiritual bond....Nothing is more deceptive than a lonely human heart!" - Kathy the Carmelite
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:14 PM
Habsburg Quote
It is characteristic of a generation that has lost its sense of historical perspective and become so self-centered that it no longer sees the continuity of which it is part. In rejecting its past, it has renounced its future, and sometimes its erratic and futile measures in the present convince one that these are the desperate activities of those who truly anticipate annihilation. The perspective of history has been lost because history gives up its meaning only in the perspective of eternity.
--Russell Kirk's friend Otto von Habsburg
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:13 AM
Ahhhhh....
My stepson is being pluperfectly pleasant and on the constant lookout for opportunities to convert me to his view of church. I like this side of the fence better, the courted instead of the court-er. When he was in his materialist phase, I was the one ever eager for opportunities to present another side. I still want to present Catholicism in the best light, but some of the pressure is off given his new-found Christian faith. (Interesting note: his hard science reading material - involving biology, chemistry, physics - has dropped off to nothing. I wonder how integrated his faith and reason is; perhaps he considers it an impediment to his faith).
I do think we have to ruthlessly examine our motives for evangelization - it has to be truly about wanting the other person's highest welfare. If I am inconsistent in wanting that other person's best welfare in ways other than spiritual, then I must suspect my motives evangelistically.
And I do feel a bit guilty that his mom & me pay only for his tuition/ food. He has said (somewhat belatedly) that he feels he missed out on college in the traditional sense (i.e. the dorms, the off-campus apt., etc). And I'm sympathetic to that because I do believe the "full college experience" should include living at school. But we told him that if it were important to him, he could get a student loan. I felt that college should be a financial partnership since that ensures both sides will be eager to conclude it in 4 or 5 years instead of six...seven...eight!
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:01 AM
David Mills opines...
"If you are interested in church architecture, you may find of interest "A Machine for Believing", an article from today's New York Times Magazine on a new church in Munich, the Herz Jesu Kirche (roughly, Church of the Sacred Heart).
It is a very modern church but apparently simple and orderly. It looks — the article includes three pictures — infinitely better than most modern Catholic churches I have seen, which were designed by people with no taste and apparently no sense of what their religion requires. However, I must admit that such simplicity makes me nervous, because it is offered so often in the service of iconoclasm, by people (including Catholic liturgists and architects) who want so to "spiritualize" the Faith that it becomes a great and blowsy abstraction. Simple church buildings began blank convases upon which they can paint whatever picture they want.
But on the other hand I have been in some very old Catholic churches that seemed puritan in their simplicity, and were as emotionally affecting in their own way as the greatest Romanesque and Gothic churches are in theirs. I suppose one's response depends on the context and what one thinks is actually going on there, a meeting of the faithful with the Holy Trinity or a meeting of the (temporarily) gathered community to celebrate each other.
In better times, simplicity will be a good thing, but such simplicity as the Herz Jesu Kirche offers may be a problem in an age in which the culture strips out all signs and signals of the transcendent. Most of us need as many visual reminders as we can get."—David Mills
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:12 PM
May 20, 2003
Newman Article
Interesting article on Cardinal Newman by Edward Oakes in First Things. I feel sheepish writing this, what with the august Cardinal's picture on my blog, but what bothers me is this occasional tendency to proffer beneficial side-effects from certain doctrines as if it were part of its proof:
One of the reasons Newman defended the doctrine of Purgatory was because it would in the long run prove more suitable as a goad to moral rigorism than would constant preaching of the doctrine of the Atonement in Evangelical circles.
I would rather, like Tom of Disputations, know if it is true, rather than to prove doctrine by its fruit. It reminds me of the proscription against artificial birth control. Pope VI predicted in parts of Humane Vitae, correctly as it turned out, the negative impact readily available birth control would have on society at large. But I'm not sure how that shows birth control is morally wrong anymore than drinking alcohol is morally wrong because of its negative influence on society. Fortunately the encyclical and later teachings of John Paul II have provided a more adequate grounding...although not persuasive to the Garry Wills' of the world.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:17 PM
Sobering piece on the NY Times monomaniacal dreams.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:36 PM
Bitte, Danke
I visited an old German church in town and on the ceiling were fresco-type paintings of saints underneath each of which was the word Bitte followed by the saint's name. This momentarily puzzled me - my rudimentary German informed me that "bitte" was not the word for "pray for us" which is what I expected. No, "bitte" meant please. And that pleased me. Because it sounded more informal, more mendicantory, more in the spirit of what prayer is - "begging". Please, St. Anthony.
I recall in another church seeing the shrine of Blessed Margaret of Costello, who was born blind and lame and deformed. I recall feeling pity for her until we shared a chuckle - for she was feeling the same for me, her spiritual obverse!
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:46 AM
Peter Kreeft on spiritual dynamite.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:51 PM
May 19, 2003
Bon Mots from a NY Times article on "God & Bush":
"I suspect Bush takes the view (which may prove right) that the ultimate argument will be between people who believe in something larger than themselves, and people who believe that it's all an accident of chemistry," Mr. Easterbrook said.
I think that is the ultimate argument and don't have a problem with it. I suspect that if the Christian community isn't robust and charitable enough to make Christianity attractive and compelling then perhaps we aren't the salt we need to be.
The interesting story, then, is not that Mr. Bush is a captive of the religious right, but that his people are striving to make the religious right a captive of the Republican Party.
Funny thing is that the Democratic Party is also striving to make the religious right captive of the Republican Party!
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:49 PM
The Life You Save
Paul Elie's new book is proving to be a riveting read. From last night's verwelie doch:
"The parochial school system applied the pattern of imitation on a vast scale. By schooling them together, the system gave Catholic children of many nations a common store of knowledge...And by keeping them separate from Protestants the school made separateness a source of unity and pride, instilling in young Catholics the belief that their way of life was separate from, and superior to, the Protestant one.
The system became so pervasive that it is taken for granted. But its stress on separateness actually was a departure from the usual theological notions of Catholicism and Protestantism. In Europe, where the Catholic Church was present as early as the fourth century, the impulse to separate oneself, to stand apart, was associated with Protestants, and since the time of the Reformation the Catholic Church has seen separatism as the egregious sin of Protestantism, condemning the Protestant churches as wayward children who had spitefully broken off relations.
Now, in North America, it was the Catholics who stood apart...Catholics achieved a degree of unity that would have been inconceivable in Europe. It was a unity grounded in a biblical sense of themselves as a chosen people, a people set apart. As it happened, however, the sense of apartness, the conviction of chosenness, was the defining trait of all the religious peoples who went their way outside the American Protestant mainstream: of black Christians, of Jewish immigrants, of Shakers and Quakers, and, after the Scopestrial of 1925, of the Protestant fundamentalists of the Deep South."
Elie then examines how Flannery O'Connor understood this separateness. Most of O'Connor's writing was not autobiographical, but her short story "A Temple of the Holy Ghost", though not overtly so, deals with a Catholic child coming to terms with the Eucharist:
During the drive home the child becomes 'lost in thought.' As she watches night fall outside the car window she sees the sun - a 'huge red ball like an elevated Host drenched in blood' - streaking the sky red like a road in a hillbilly song. It is an image of God, and of the way to God, and an image of Protestantism and Catholicism reconciled on the horizon - but the image of the sun eucharistically looming over all, above and apart, suggests the pride the Catholic child is prone to, the deadliest sin of all.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:32 AM
Accountability
My stepson has gone from agnostic to committed evangelical Christian, praise God. And so I necessarily have much less to dispute with him. His perspective is that his church is a "Pauline one with fellowship and accountability", in other words, by including some cult-like features such as the time-honored precepts of peer pressure, constant comparisons to another's "walk", shunning in extreme cases and constant gatherings to read the Word, he feels he is much more likely to make progress in the spiritual life. And I can't really disagree with him there. Most of us are to some extent or another lazy, and that accountability factor may be necessary. Now I could answer that the RCC has accountability - it's called Confession. Kathy the Carmelite, by the way, was brilliant in anticipating, almost in a psychic sort of way, what his position would be.
I'm not sure how convincing Confession as accountability would be to him - certainly it wasn't convincing to a fellow Protestant friend who said that when he was growing up in the 60s the Catlickers were seen as going to Confession and promptly sinning egregiously immediately. In his eyes, Confession seemed to have no impact. Such is the power of example - our behavior is the acid test of faith.
I guess I could say if you really want fellowship, community and accountability, there's always a monastery! (Just stay away from the hermitage).
UPDATE: See Kathy's response.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:54 AM
Great art.....not! Saddam Hussein's collection. A billion dollars in oil revenue and this is the best he could come up with?
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:49 AM
May 18, 2003
Haven't read it yet, but this NY Times article entitled "Dating a Blogger and Reading All About It" looks interesting. Also Amy Welborn has a link to the NY Times review of The Life You Save Might Be Your Own.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:27 AM
Irish Song Friday
Rambles Of Spring
--Tommy Makem
There's a cold & wintry breeze blowing through the buddin' trees
and I've buttoned up my coat to keep me warm
But the days are on the mend and I'm on the road again
With me fiddle snuggled close beneath my arm
REF:
I've a fine felt hat and a strong pair of brouges
I have rosin in me pocket for me bow
and my fiddle strings are new and I've learned a tune or two
So I'm well prepared to ramble, I must go
I'm as happy as a king, when I catch a breath of Spring
and the grass is turning green as winter ends
and the Geese are on the wing, as the Thrushes start to sing
and I'm headed down the road to see my friends
REFRAIN
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:39 PM
May 16, 2003
A Partial List of Beautiful Things
- Nature
- 20th century papal encyclicals
- Seamus Heaney poetry
- TC Boyle’s words on the big brow of a page...would that I could write like him
****
Of Boyle
He of the affectatious “TC”
-it takes one to know one
Ploughs the widening page
Deep-furrowed furloughs
For readers all;
Planting morphemes sundry
To be recovered by uncoverers
And de-cryptologists.
Books like easy chairs
Scent of the ink, the big-margined
fatted calf-covered volumes of leisure
Bays of words abut the crevice
Falling, falling off the cliff into absorption
Characters too keenly felt.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:38 PM
Olde Times
Moonlit horse sky-Blue
once poached the Colorado,
nibbled canyon grasses
pushin’ daisies now.
We pitched camp near the Columbia
took fire-coffee in battered tins
hiccup’d through the ol’ cowboy lines
blue-granite mountain backdrop
nip of whiskey to keep warm
telling folk tales at the cacklin’ fire...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:36 PM
Ruffled by the want of a journal entry….*
Backed. Up. A backed-up septic tank. That’s what I feel like. Not that I’m full of it, although that is probable, but I haven't journalized in two weeks. Haven’t written a poem yet in May. Hmmm….how about ”May showers bring June flowers?” So many issues…so little time. The mind whirls like the Unresolved Problems segment on O’Reilly (I always wonder: what couldn’t be classified as unresolved? Unresolves fly off the assembly line like chocolates in that I Love Lucy episode).
The Problematic Case of Bone
Prone to conspiracy theories, Bone collapses into the final stretch, sans job. Unemployment compensation maxes out at $22K a year, which, even given his heroic savings rate, would pinch. Pinch hard. So it looks much less palatable. But at the same time the evil geniuses at HR simply cannot find their way out of a paper bag. And so Bone is left holding the bag. One must “jif” for job openings, which is another way of saying, “fill out some paperwork, touch your head with your left head, count backwards and stick out your tongue”. So he jiffed for eight, ten, twelve open positions and then a couple weeks later HR says that they are in the process of reorganizing the Jiffing process and that his JIFs now are consigned to the the equivalent of limbo. Choosy mothers don’t choose this JIF. It becomes ever more difficult to maintain the fiction that he will remain employed, even after lo these twelve years. “What ifs” litter the landscape and I sweep them away.
Bacchus
Gleaves Whitney recently quoted Fritz Wilhelmsen of the University of Dallas: "Everyone must give Bacchus his due." Given that St. Paul warns against making provisions for the flesh (subject to your interpretation of what ‘flesh’ means – sex? drugs? rock’n’roll?) it is a dubious thought. Bacchus would seem to have a streak of “relative to what?” about him. For if I’m a teetotaler and I have two beers, Bacchus goes home and retires easily. If I’m used to the constant stimulation of rock and roll at nightclubs till 2am, becoming a monk and listening to the Gregorian Chant will feel much different than someone elderly and housebound, who would thrill to spend his days in that church choir.
But there is possibly a built-in component too. Crisis magazine recently reported that suicide rates among the young Mormons of Salt Lake City are very high. The author was careful not to draw a crude conclusion, but there was a hint of “they have no fun!”. Suicide rates are much higher in the West, especially the more forlorn areas of the west such as the Plains states. Could it be too quiet there?
Lunar Eclipsing
Spied thru a gimlet eye the lunar eclipse. There was the anticipation of it, the craning the neck and then ahhhhh-- there it is! Yep, that’s a lunar eclipse. Sun’s in back of us, and despite her great size because she’s so much farther away it appears the moon, earth and sun are relatively the same size. For the occlusion is neat, neither too much nor too little. Just right.
_____
* - recalling Charles Dicken's line, "I'm ruffled by the want of a cigar"
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:11 PM
Avoiding the Natural
"The Bible never asks us to do the easy and the natural. In fact, its very greatness is how it introduces us to the revolutionary idea that makes Western civilization possible. Namely that it is not only possible, but vital that we overcome nature, particularly our own. Toilet training a young child is the first time this lesson is administered. Don't relieve yourself when it would be natural to do so, just as animals do. Be unnatural. Hold it in until an appropriate time and until you're in an appropriate place. Behaving naturally is not the goal, dominating our nature is.
Although many in America consider it uncivilized to eat without first saying a blessing of gratitude for the food, it would be hard to find instructions about grace before meals in the Bible. However in the eighth chapter of Deuteronomy we are clearly instructed to give thanks after eating, "And you shall eat, be satisfied, and bless the Lord your God."
Ancient Jewish wisdom assures us that most of us feel considerably more spiritual and holy when hungry. (This dictum must be related closely to the one about no atheists in foxholes!) Fasting is necessary to observe the Day of Atonement because it puts us in the mood to atone. Since hunger induces piety, it is completely natural for all sensitive humans to say grace prior to satisfying their hunger. Thus, we can be counted on to do so without instruction. What is unnatural is for the satiated diner with bulging belly, to pause prior to staggering away from the table in order to express profound gratitude to the Creator. That is an amazingly unnatural feat and it is precisely what is demanded of us."
— Rabbi Daniel Lapin is president of Toward Tradition.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:35 PM
Another Muggeridge article.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:36 PM
May 15, 2003
Whoda Thunk It
I always thought that in Romeo & Juliet when the nurse tells the infant Juliet, "thou wilt fall backward when thou has more wit!" it was an eerie foreshadowing that Juliet would die, falling backwards. Instead, according to the series of tapes I listen to, it was merely the randy nurse's way of saying that Juliet would lie on her back for copulation purposes. Boy do I feel naive.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:49 PM
Softies
Blogs abhore a vacuum, so instead of mining the ol' journal I'll post some excerpts from the Catholic World Report piece. They recently took a distinctly unsoft-hearted look at the "strained optimism" of the Second Vatican Council. I have conflicting emotions about it; think about how many converts would not have made the leap without a more open Church? And yet one can hardly ignore the disastrous weakening in the Church since the Council. The Pope, when asked about the post-conciliar crisis, made the distinction between "qualitiative" and "quantitiative" renewal, indicating that the Church's loss of members is not as significant as genuine spiritual renewal which has taken place (writes Hitchcock).
One sure benefit personally is that when I was young there seemed to be very few "whys", just "this is how it is". You just don't do this (fill in a sin) because we say so. Ideally, this should have been enough. James Hitchcock writes: Pope John Paul's approach to human sexuality is perhaps the best index to the guiding spirit of his pontificate. He unambiguously affirms Church teaching, while at the same time endeavoring to take it to a higher level by synthesizing it with the best of modern thought and presenting it in a highly positive , even inspirational, way...
Right on.
Another interesting excerpt:
The Council identified atheism as one of the most fundamental problems of the modern world. But the irenic spirit was manifest in the fact that the Council did not condemn atheism outright but offered sympathetic guidance to the atheist, acknowledging that at times atheism has been fostered by the failings of Christians themselves. Here and elsewhere, the implication of Gaudium et Spes was that modern errors are mostly the result of misplaced goodwill and can be overcome by patient effort.
I suppose it comes down to our view of sin - how much comes from ignorance and how much from deliberate malice. And since I can barely figure out what combination of ignorance and deliberateness led to the errors of my past & present, it is certainly appears difficult in applying a formula for the world. To state the obvious, the pope has a tough job.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:23 AM
Bloggin' what's on my mind...
This may infinitely approach minutiae for you all, but it's been weighing heavy on my mind.
My friend "Hambone" is down to something like fifteen business days before the once-seemingly infinite conveyor belt of paychecks comes to an end. (Actually he will get twelve weeks severance, so only his presence at work will end immediately).
His acting skills perhaps haven't been up to snuff - he's about as excited about another IT job as getting a cavity filled. He proffers this sublime example, calling it about as enticing as Dante's 7th circle:
Sys Project Lead
Duties:
- lead projects
- take minutes at meetings
- NIKU time reporting - make sure everyone reports their time accurately
....
He says he'd rather stock grocery shelves. And that it is difficult in an interview to fake enthusiasm. Creating more mixed emotion is the fact that there is a big carrot at the end of the stick, a healthy 12-week severance and ensuing six months of unemployment checks. Followed by the possibility of living off savings, which is where we ran into difficulty. He said that he would be able to earn his living expenses by making 4% a month in the stock market, via risky stock options. Oy vey.
The way he's being treated by HR suggests a name change should be in order - to HE for "human expenses". He thinks maybe it is God's plan that he escape the corporate Leviathon awhile, and maybe it is. I will be cheering from the sidelines. I will pray that God's will be done, not that he get a job - since they may not be identical.
By the way, Ham of Bone always got excellent reviews and raises, rarely missed a day of work, has a very strong work ethic, etc...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:54 PM
May 14, 2003
Scandalized...
Amy's having a riveting discussion on Christian art (lately having an oxymoronic quality). I've had various reactions, which, as a blogger, are my duty to post regardless of coherence.
I think it was Chesterton who said that your metaphysics comes through with every word you say. In other words, one must say nothing in order not to extrude a world view. And so Hollywood purveys a world view, no surprise there. Let he imbibe who can handle it.
And yet others say that art exists outside of politics - I've heard of those who became atheists after reading Dostoyevski (finding his depiction of Ivan extremely persuasive) and others who claim it second only to the bible in spiritual inspiration. I suppose that is a mark of great art, its ability to be all things to all people.
I haven't seen Six Feet Under, but I personally wouldn't be offended by its portrayal of sins I don't have - only by sins that I do. In other words, violence, homosexuality and swearing wouldn't bother me. (I understand it's a different issue for those with young children). But since I am susceptible to lust, the nudity would.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:07 AM
The Death of Leisure
Gleaves Whitney in NRO says that Bill Bennet's real problem is all of ours - how to properly use leisure:
As Bennett, Eustachy, and Price could tell you, Bacchus especially wants his due after the day's work is done. During the night. In dimly lit spaces. Beyond the reach of our neighbors' eyes. That is to say, disordered appetites are usually indulged when we have leisure time.
Now we are hitting upon something truly interesting, for leisure rightly considered should be a nursery not of vice, but of virtue.
Aristotelians see human time divided into three major spheres: (1) working for a living, (2) recovering from working for a living, and (3) leisure time. Leisure is the highest use of time. It is the antithesis of "wasting time" or "killing time" with diversions and amusements.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:00 AM
Powerful Post from Tom at Disputations:
"I think part of what fuels this -- drawing Catholics to apparition sites, drawing Protestants to blessing sites where charismatic gifts are passed out like sugared candies -- is laziness. Anyone with any knowledge of the Church's history or of her spiritual traditions knows being a Christian is hard work, and that God intends it to be that way for almost everyone. But if Mary tells you exactly what to do, you don't have to spend all that time in discerning prayer. If the pastor zaps you with the gift of tongues because you shoved your way to the front row, you don't have to defeat the flesh, the devil, and the world day by day in private.
A better sense of history, a deeper knowledge of the experiences and traditions of the holy people who have gone before us, will teach us that these short cuts don't work. They don't work because the effort and pains put into working out our salvation aren't just inconveniences along the road, they are the road."
I constantly have to relearn this, this idea of the spiritual life being one of constant effort while keeping it married to the knowledge that it is God who supplies. St. Paul is inspirational here in receiving the most remarkable grace on the road to Damascus, a breath-taking, awe-inspiring grace. He, almost alone of the Pharisees....oh how highly favored. And yet! And yet afterwards he labored, labored and labored. He traveled and preached and was imprisoned. And sure there were miracles, but I get the sense it was a crucible for him. "I've fought the good fight" is the attitude, hardly a laid-back approach.
On the other hand, there is an admittedly small risk of "refusing the good", of seeing the only hard things as of spiritual value. "No pain, no gain" becomes not pain for the sake of gain but pain for pain's sake. And so we reject not just the sufferings but the gifts. Okay, so this is extremely unlikely, but it has happened in the past (see "Enthusiasm" by Ronald Knox, the Puritans, etc.)
Of Apparitions
The subject of apparitions hits close to home because a certain loved one craves them. And I think she craves them to be true not necessarily to avoid effort, but for blessed certainty of it, as a prop to her faith and to feel God's love and to know it is still extant, here in less miraculous times. Perhaps I'll ask her why these visions be so desirable to her. It seems as though the greater one's faith, the greater one's ability is to withstand/embrace redemptive suffering. We read stories of women lifting cars to free a trapped child. Those women might never lift that weight in normal circumstances but the reward of lifting that weight is so great and so palpable that they can do the seeming impossible. Perhaps an apparition provides this in that making the reward palpable and present.
She's also extremely interested to know if we are in the End Times. If it is true that we could know that there would only be one Pope after the present one, would not the pontificate of JPII's successor keep us on the edge of our seats? As Flannery O'Connor wrote, we could all be good with a gun at our heads each and every moment of every day. In that sense, it does display a lack of willingness to work, a hunger to only work when the owner of the vineyard is due to arrive.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:51 PM
May 13, 2003
Friday Five via Alicia
1. Who are your favorite cartoon characters?
Dilbert
2. Have you yet reached the point where you feel like you are from a different generation than today's youth?
Yes.
3. What was the first Music Video that really impressed you? What made it so amazing?
Am still waiting for this to happen.
4. Name a song and an era that comes to mind when you hear the word "Retro."
I have to go with Alicia's - "Rock around the Clock" and the 1950s.
5. How has your life been affected by HIV or AIDS?
Still remember where I was, and the shock, when I heard Magic Johnson had it.
6. Yesterday in the USA, we celebrated "Mothers Day," a day where we honor the mothers in our lives. If you were on a "special day" nominating committee, who or what would you recommend that we create a day in honor of?
"Lightning Bug Day". The little critters are due in three weeks.
7. Last week, we have several Tornadoes tore through many neighborhoods, destroying homes and devastating the lives of the residents. How would you feel if you lost every possession you owned? Or would it matter? How would you go on with your life?
It's easy for me to say from this vantage point, but if no one were hurt it would hardly be a tragedy, given this age of insurance. Books can be replaced. Walker Percy said he felt best, most alive, in times of peril. The inconvenience of it would suck.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:07 PM
Russell Kirk on Donald Davidson
Donald Davidson was a poet/professor and a Southern Agrarian - a Christian humanist who criticized industrialized mass society, detested communism and other forms of collectivism and was attached to the ways of the Old South.
Kirk writes in The Sword of the Imagination:
In his poem "Old Sailor's Choice" he describes a twentieth-century Ulysses of the Long Street on his voyage to Hell and beyond. Contrary to the counsels of a modern Circe, he chooses Charybdis over Scylla, though modern men lust for Scylla's deadly embrace, "the monstrous lips, the darting neck of their love-death."
And I saw the stretching neck and the grinning teeth
In the soundproof room where artificial daylight
Blacks out the scudding clouds and the churning storm-wrack,
And the secretary with half-naked breasts
Extends the telephone on a crimson claw
And murmers Washington is calling!
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:24 AM
Time Travelin'
On my recent sojourn to a used book shop in Tampa, I exited with only one book (which could be considered a moral victory). I've heard it said more than a few times that the end of "innocence" and the start of a more aggressive, malignant modernity could be dated around the time of the First World War. (The automobile might've had an impact, as Jonah Goldberg wrote). So I was interested in a book by someone who straddled the time period and might have a different perspective. I could time-travel without Jack Finney.
This book is "The Age of Confidence: LIfe in the Nineties" (that's 1890s) by Henry Seidel Canby. Henry wrote it in 1937, and it is interesting just from a politically incorrect perspective; he spends a third of the book unduly class conscious. (The references to the Irish are natch especially cringe-worthy. He was a Quaker boy and describes how as children they would gang up to fight the 'micks', or get beaten up by them for he gives the micks their due.) But much more interesting is his prediction of the future and the contrast with the past, which I plan to blog about later...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:20 PM
May 12, 2003
Next week, the BBC reveals the results of a poll to find the nation's top 100 novels. But one man's masterpiece can be another's claptrap.
...the worst great books (according to some).
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:21 PM
NY Times Mea Culpa
If you're like me, then you're greatly relieved that the NY Times is still against making stuff up. Would love to see a page one story exposing their advocacy of socially liberal causes...(fade to dream sequence):
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Correcting the Record May 12, 2003
We Deceived You
For the past two decades it has been the operating policy of this newspaper to advance causes such as gay marriage, abortion, cloning and other socially liberal goods. This is not simply an editorial page policy but extends to all sections of the paper (including the obituaries*). We apologize for slanting the news but the reader is better for it.
It has long been the aim of the New York Times to correctly spell the name of the assistant to the assistant to the Assistant of the Secretary of the Treasury. Our daily Corrections column has been a particularly effective way to show our obsession with accuracy at the expense of truth. We have, at least, been accurate in our bias.
* - Charles "Chuck" Boudvier, 73, Long Island, leaves a wife and three children. Mr. Boudvier was popular in right-wing circles for his vehement disapproval of Roe v Wade. He was particularly active in attempting to ban a procedure known as "partial-birth abortion" and authored tracts towards the goal of rolling back women's rights, specifically a woman's right to an abortion. Mr. Boudvier appeared unrepentant to the last.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:24 AM
Catholic World Report Excerpts
Unfortunately it isn't online, but Catholic World Report has a particularly interesting article entitled, provocatively, The End of Guadium et Spes?. James Hitchcock is the author. Really one has to read the whole thing to get the jist but here are some excerpts:
..the Council implied that even error springs from good intentions and can be corrected by deeper understanding. It took little notice of human reality often proclaimed in Scripture: hatred of turth and goodness, love of evil for its own sake.
The Church in the 1950s was a cohesive institution whose members showed a high degree of commitment. But there was a certain fragility about the cohesiveness, a sometimes excessive reliance on rules and safeguards, a pervasive suspicion of the world, an apparent apprehension (which turned out to be accurate) that letting down the guard in small ways might lead to large disasters.
The pervasive good will expressed in Guadium et Spes unintentionally helped to erode the crucial distinction between hope and optimism, which in Christian terms are often polar opposites....Conflating hope with optimism actually denies hope by minimizing the power of evil and insisting that good is triumphing despite all evidence to the contrary.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:39 PM
May 11, 2003
For Those Experiencing Trying Times
St. Ignatius: How to survive Desolation...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:47 PM
May 9, 2003
Catherine of Siena on Sensuality:
Neither does any sin, abominable as it may be, take away the light of the intellect from man, so much as does this one. This the philosophers knew, not by the light of grace, because they had it not, but because nature gave them the light to know that this sin obscured the intellect, and for that reason they preserved themselves in continence the better to study. Thus also they flung away their riches in order that the thought of them should not occupy their heart.
Seeking to fly by the light of reason while indulging one's passions is a recipe for disaster.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:58 AM
Hamish Hamilton in the Spectactor reviews John Updike's latest:
Few respectable writers satisfy our readerly greed for particularities (and, indeed, for closely observed types of tissue) quite so generously as John Updike. The sensuous incidental pleasures offered by his writing will always keep me reading: a used tea-bag sitting in the sink ‘like a tiny-black-brown handbag’; a suckling baby ‘clutching and unclutching one of her mother’s fingers in a wrinkled palm that gripped as softly as a snapdragon’. I am, I must confess, a complete sucker for Updike’s scatter-gun lyricism, headily mingling tea-bags and babies, sentimentality and repulsion.
But in this novel, as so often in Updike’s best fiction, one is made aware that the grains of sand are inexorably trickling away. This goes beyond even the usual Updike trick of combining revulsion and attraction in particularities, and dwelling with especial perverse tenderness upon the freckles, saggings and other age-related imperfections...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:46 AM
Links
Fascinating Touchstone article on Malcolm Muggeridge Meets Francis Schaeffer.
I wished I could have, at some level, dismissed the differences between the two men as those of two radically different personalities based on some Myers-Briggs personality ratings. But it was much more than that.
For Muggeridge, the story of Christianity, with its implicit rejection of worldliness, materialism, and concupiscence, and its truth realized in the otherworldly figure of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, summarized for him what Christianity was all about—a rejection of all that this world had to offer in money, sex, or power, the raised fist or the raised phallus.
For Francis Schaeffer, the system of Christianity, with its doctrinal formulations rooted in Scripture, had to be defended at all costs. To relinquish truth at any level was to descend down the slippery slope to liberalism and modernity into a world without the safety net of God’s clear propositional word to man found solely in Holy Scripture.
I remember reading some of Muggeridge's a few years back and being underwhelmed by his "artistic truths" view, especially in regards to the Virgin birth. A couple of EWTN'rs weighed in on it:
I do not think in the same category of thought as presented by Malcolm Muggeridge and so prefer not to comment upon his text as such, except to say that the Church formally teaches the historicity of the Gospels, which certainly includes historical truths contained therein regarding the Virgin Mary.
--Fr. John Echert
Dr. Geraghty wrote: I am wary of making too big a distinction between literal truth and artistic truth. The teaching is that Mary remained a virgin. This is part of the teaching of the Incarnation but it would also be a literal truth. Again, the teaching is that Christ rose from the dead. Literally, then, his body really did arise. Therefore, there could be no bones left. If, for the sake of argument, one discovered the body of Christ, that discovery would deny the teaching of the Resurrection.
*
Recently saw "About Schmidt" - for those who also have Crisis review is here.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:52 AM
Wrapping up ye Travelogue
Tuesday trips included the Tampa Art Museum and the Florida Aquarium. Much of the art museum was unfortunately closed but the Aquarium was an unexpected pleasure and a nice respite from the heat. The huge atrium makes you believe you’re outside, and the fresh water animals are in tanks that come up to your belly. The smell of the fresh water and mass of greenery was intoxicating. The turtles eschewed the bulk of the large tank and like fervent metaphysicians constantly strained at the glassy limits.
a three-hour tour...
Enjoyed a dinner cruise Tuesday night with my wife's customer service group. Filet Mignon, a live band and open bar helped ensure a good time. Customer service managers in the chemical industry apparently know how to party, the dance floor was packed.
Apropos of Nothing - random thoughts on vacation
There is a repetitive task syndrome for those who do the same manual task everyday – is there a corresponding repetitive task syndrome for the brain?
Aquinas makes it easier to forgive – he says that all sin is a seeking of the “good” even if it be misguided or short-sighted.
Imagine the indentations on the Host are the wounds of Christ so that we, like Thomas, can put our fingers in His side.
*
Death of the Vacation
An air of perishability hangs over the final day, but the noon check-out doesn’t deter me from a 9-to-12 poolside vigil, complete with three Busch’s to make it a bloody fine wake. Beer before noon is a forbidden pleasure and made the sun’s swift move tolerable. 80s music dominates the radio; given that and the beer the lengthening bridge from college seems much shorter, almost transparent in fact.
The pool is mostly empty this early but the sun is nice and warm. I like the peace; the peace in not having to constantly joust thoughts of an unchaste variety. A fellow dinner cruise joins me, I offer a beer but he laments that he can’t drink or jog anymore. Slim, grey-haired, 50-something and in need of a heart transplant, says he went for a routine checkup and found that his arteries were clear as could be but it’s just his heart that is the problem. Nice, likeable guy. He did have a beer during the dinner cruise but quoted a friend: “Drinking one or two beers is like looking at cleavage!” He runs a hair salon and I’m thankful I didn’t blurt the obvious: “You’re a straight hair-dresser?!?”.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:27 PM
May 8, 2003
From the latest issue of Crisis:
Skye
The deepest seas embrace the Isle of Skye
And give it height and place and form.
Who sees its cliff walls blown with storm,
And hears its rock-sown shores resound
With squalls, knows all that pleases ear and eye;
He sees the cloud-white sky above each bay
And cove, and loves what he has found.
And I believe with all my mortal heart
That insofar as any man
Can cure his soul, on Skye he can.
For rage is banned from all its sites,
And grief’s been made an exile kept apart
From this small isle. Peace practices its art
Where quiet respite fears no spite.
I know that this is so, and yet…I know
As well that hiding in the caves
Of Skye, or counting starving waves
From crags that carve the sky like prows,
Or climbing hills where nothing ever grows,
And lonely humankind will never go,
Is not enough. I know that now,
And tell you this: that man cannot provide
Himself. He cannot make his own
Heart’s peace from everything he owns
Inside it. Even in a place
Like Skye, his power has no force; his pride
Will not suffice. The school of Stoics lied
To teach he was his own true grace.
No, God the King—our greatest king—commands
In everything that stirs the heart
Of man with storm. No human art
Alone can rule those seas; the will
Of God shall have them surge when He demands.
And as He calms them by His loving hand,
The tempest of the soul lies still.
— Samuel Johnson
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:18 AM
Melting in Margaritaville
Back from the five day Tampa trip. I'm always a little stunned to find after a vacation that I hadn't any great insights or sudden epiphanies*. This travelogue will attempt to prove it.
It was hot
It was hot. Mogadishu hot. So running in this sun I wasn’t sure if I was a mad dog or an Englishmen, both unpalatable options to those with a drop of Irish blood. The lushness of the the waxy green leaves belie this desert sun. How do they stand it? But the heat is a good thing - it relaxes the muscles to such an extent that jogging feels almost effortless. And the warmth on the body at the pool is like a massage.
At Clearwater beach the poor, the rich, the good bodies, the bad bodies, walked by ceaseless as the tide. One old man twitched and danced to the music in his walkman, seeking the eye of we, his constituents. A 9-month pregnant woman walked by in a bikini, her bulbous protrubence worthy of “Ripley’s Believe it or Not!”.
The Brazilianization of the American beaches continues apace; there were plenty of thongs obviating the need for the imagination. It feels unnatural to be exposed to so much non-familial flesh. But then again so much of our world is unnatural. From an evolutionary standpoint we are radically disconnected/alienated from the nature, living in concrete houses cut off from the seasons, from the forest....all extremely recent from an evolutionary perspective.
Living in one's head for 40x40 (40 hours a week for 40 yrs) seems unnatural too – hunter/gatherers worked an average of fifteen hours a week, albeit they lacked a VCR. And yes the living conditions were hellish. And of course the natural world is also unnatural, at least as far as man goes, given the Fall. So we are doubly alienated.
Meanwhile, Back at the Pool...
Axle-grease for the lips
First, the pool looked nothing like the above picture, this was from the hotel website. When I was there, it was hot, sunny and crowded. Tis difficult to concentrate; Percy’s “The Last Gentleman” is lyrical but apparently requires too much attention. Non-fiction feels too heavy/tedious. The poolside scene ebbs with the sun. The coolness invigorates. The late hours at the pool are sweet; self-consciousness has abated either via alcohol or attrition.
Like Manahattan parkers who move their cars at ritualistic intervals, so do the women contort and retort to avoid the nightmare of the visible tan line. By the pool they flock with so much to say! The water line must loosen their tongues like alcohol. I’m slightly envious, free entertainment, light as a gossamer’s wings. They are verbal bloggers without using storage space. I see anew the wisdom of Thomas a Kempis and the rule of the Trappists.
A snippet of conversation caught my ear:
“….Deborah Norville, the pitcher who lost his arm to cancer-“
“Gotta go! Gotta go! It’s 4:30 already-“
“Barbara Bush, “
“My grandmother’s idol!”
“Everyone of them talked about their relationship with God...”
***
Dreams of an unwritten novel predominate; my wife laughs as if I were a little boy with his train set. I read part of "The Life You Save May Be Your Own", a biography of Day, Merton, O'Connor & Percy, and the author describes how Tolstoy started out writing classics and ended writing religious tracts – what he thought worth a reader's time must've changed.
I found an old used bookshop and examined ye olde books. Hime’s “Morality”, circa 1880, cautions against “sowing your wild oats when young” as a viable moral strategy. It caught my eye not because I’m young enough to be eligible but because Hambone has four boys and wonders if such a strategy might work. As the son of a Fundamentalist minister in upstate Maine, he lived an adolescence of such moral austerity that dancing was verboten. (And I thought Footloose was pure fiction). Since he had trouble in that area of morality, he wonders if he should discretely get them a prostitute when they reach 17. I argued that that wouldn’t satiate them, but he seemed to think that to de-mystify sex may inoculate them. Mr. Hime convincingly suggests reasons not to, starting most obviously (duh) – it’s a sin. Even if it worked you can't have an bad means to a good end.
To Be Continued
* - I did have one (appropriately and not surprisingly at Mass) but it is a little too personal for the blog.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:43 PM
May 7, 2003
Mini-Vacational
A little Hilaire Belloc:
The air was full of midsummer, and its mixture of exaltation and fear cut me off from ordinary living. I now understood why our religion has made sacred this season of the year; why we have, a little later, the night of St John, the fires in the villages, and the old perception of fairies dancing in the rings of the summer grass. A general communion of all things conspires at this crisis of summer against us reasoning men that should live in the daylight, and something fantastic possesses those who are foolish enough to watch upon such nights. So I, watching, was cut off.... The woods before and behind me made a square frame of silence, and I was enchased here in the clearing, thinking of all things.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:30 PM
May 2, 2003
The Patience of God
I'm currently reading the book of Leviticus for the first time and am struck, as many have been, by the complexity of the laws and instructions that are so famously contained therein. Impressions include: the holiness of God, the foreshadowing and power of Christ's sacrifice, the admonition "'Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy."
But one also notes the great patience of God. The Israelites believed they could fall out of favor with God over things that are incomprehensible to our way of thinking. Like menustration. And the reason is that they believed blood (and other bodily fluids) were a life force, a sign of mystery since God is the author of life, and therefore the loss of blood (life) meant you had to have your life restored by God, by a sin-offering.
Their belief that sickness was caused by their personal sin (or their fathers) was also something that was eventually corrected by Christ, after many generations of false belief. This is a long, evolutionary process of working with His children where they are, with infinite patience, in pointing them to the direction they should go. And so the modern mind, with its desire for speed and efficiency, is at odds with God's. No surprise there. One thinks, "why not correct their vision sooner?".
God is, of course, outside of time which is difficult to contemplate, but one is even tempted to ask in relation to this: "is hurry evil?". There was recently a "Good Samaritan" study that measured responses to a person lying hurt on a sidewalk. Who would stop to help and who would not? It turned out that it wasn't the most religious. Much more banal than that. The ones most likely to stop were simply those not in a hurry. Those who weren't late to somewhere.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:20 AM
Excellent Meditation from the Greatest Saint of Modern Times
Look at little children: they never stop breaking things, tearing things, falling down, and they do this even while loving their parents very, very much. When I fall in this way, it makes me realize my nothingness more, and I say to myself: "What would I do, and what would I become, if I were to rely upon my own strength?"
I understand very well why St. Peter fell. Poor Peter, he was relying upon himself instead of relying only on God’s strength. I conclude from this experience that if I said to myself: “O my God, You know very well I love You too much to dwell upon one single thought against the faith,” my temptations would become more violent and I would certainly succumb to them.
I’m very sure that if St. Peter had said humbly to Jesus: “Give me the grace, I beg You, to follow You even to death,” he would have received it immediately.
I’m very certain that our Lord didn’t say any more to His Apostles through His instructions and His physical presence than He says to us through His good inspirations and His grace. He could have said to St. Peter: “Ask Me for the strength to accomplish what you want.” But no, He didn’t because He wanted to show him his weakness and because, before ruling the Church that is filled with sinners, he had to experience for himself what man is able to do without God’s help.
Before Peter fell, our Lord had said to him; “And once you are converted, strengthen your brethren” (Luke22:32). This means; Convince them of the weakness of human strength through your own experience.
-St. Therese of Lisieux
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:44 AM
Intriguing Find
THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE
From ‘Tales from the Magic Monastery’ by Theophane, courtesy Amazon .com
He asked me what I was looking for. “Frankly,” I said, “I’m looking for the Pearl of Great Price.”
He slipped his hand into his pocket, drew it out, AND GAVE IT TO ME. It was just like that! I was dumbfounded. Then I began to protest; “You don’t want to give it to me? Don’t you want to keep it for yourself? But…….”
When I kept this up, he said finally: “Look, is it better to have the Pearl of Great Price, or to give it away?”
Well, now I have it. I don’t tell anyone. From some there would just be disbelief and ridicule. “You, you have the Pearl of Great Price? Hah!” Others would be jealous, or someone might steal it. Yes, I do have it. But there’s that question – “Is it better to have it, or to give it away?” How long will that question rob me of my joy?"
--via The Benedictine Oblate Newsletter of St. Gregory’s Chapter Perth Western Australia
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:43 AM
Bernard Lewis
The ever-interesting Bernard Lewis has an article in The Atlantic entitled I'm Right, You're Wrong, Go to Hell...religions and the meeting of civilization
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:49 PM
May 1, 2003
Grindin' Down the Week
I'm going to be spending next M-T-W in fair Florida, accompanying my wife on her business trip since her bidness is paying for the hotel. I plan on much reading, writing, and drinking, not necessarily in that order (the idea of drinking is often better than its execution). Vacations tend to positively influence both the week before and the week after such that there is much less pressure on the actual days to "live up" to the vacational ideal. The week before goes by with a jolly serenity, for one knows there is a finish line in sight. The week after is a breeze, you are "tanned, rested, and ready" and you just sit right down and whip that work out.
*
Blog o' the Day & de Monfort
I have to say one of the most physically attractive of all blogs is Summa Minutiae. Setting off the grey boxes for quotes, well, you got to hand it to Bill, it's a beautiful way to handle them. There is something appropriate about beauty in a Catholic weblog given the abundance of that quality in our beliefs. And where else can you find the slogan an "ass-kicking saint" when referring to St. Louis de Monfort?
St. Louis de Montfort was a huge early influence on me. I think I was about 10 years old when.... (my wife teases me, says that everything happened when I was 10 since that is my age du jour when not sure)... I was given a glow-in-the-dark rosary by my Aunt Mary. (I returned the favor this past weekend - I gave my 4-year old niece a glow-in-the-darker with an instruction book "ABC - the Rosary for Children". I thought she was too young, but she found my rosary and expressed interest and so strike - iron - hot. I gave her the gift that I had bought for my other niece's first Holy Communion which I'll have to replace).
I digress. I started saying the rosary at around age 10 and a year or two later (all dates approximate) read St. Louis de Monfort's Secret of the Rosary. What a comforting, consoling book! You didn't have to ask me twice to read a book that suggested that devotion to the rosary was a sign of predestination. I know de Montfort has fallen out of favor, with the moderns thinking his approach superstitious, but this is book is one reason I'm glad Tan Publishers is around. On the cover is a painting of the Blessed Mother that is a mixture of Byzantine and Western styles; I was always captivated by the story of its retrieval: "After the troops had departed one of the Bernardine nuns in putting things in order found a piece of cardboard on which was pasted a pornographic picture and she tore it off to consign it to flames. To her astonishment she found that it covered this beautiful representation of the Blessed Virgin!"
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:38 AM
Today's Hilarious Line
...Above is a picture of a helium party balloon (not a monstrance from the 70's)...
-Mark at Minute Particulae
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:07 PM
April 30, 2003
Interesting article on gay marriage by Stanley Kurtz.
From Hitler's library:
The sentence not only caught Hitler's attention—beneath it is a thick line, and beside it in the margin are three parallel pencil marks—but was echoed two years later in one of his monologues. "Mind and soul ultimately return to the collective being of the world," Hitler told some guests in December of 1941. "If there is a God, then he gives us not only life but also consciousness and awareness. If I live my life according to my God-given insights, then I cannot go wrong, and even if I do, I know I have acted in good faith."
Wow...is there a better case to be made for not trusting oneself?
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:05 PM
On Rejecting the Modern
I'm about 2/3rds of the way thru TC Boyle's "Drop City". It is compulsively readable, I care about the characters and what happens to them to the point that it has become almost soap operic (if that's not a word it should be). I have to know what happens next. The characters seem so real I was tempted to pray for them. Boyle's book tells the truth. He doesn't glamourize the sex or the drugs - quite the contrary he portrays the characters sympathetically while showing the perniciousness of their lifestyles (at least so far).
But I tend to feel a bit grimy after reading it. It's not unduly salacious, it's certainly no worse than the average modern novel although because it deals with hippies it does deal with sex. Billy Graham once remarked how "unclean" he felt after watching some movies, as if he needed a bath (I suspect he's not talking about Deep Throat - probably not even something R-rated.) G. Gordon Liddy protects his indomitable will by never drinking alcohol and, more oddly, by rejecting many kinds of music. He likes Abba, and martial band music. Modern music brings him down, he says, leaves him suspectible to weakness.
So....after reading a few chapters of "Drop City" I considered how different I felt compared to after a recent viewing of the '40s movie "The Bishop's Wife" starring David Niven, Loretta Young & Cary Grant. The movie was as uplifting as the Boyle's book was enervating/squalorous. Does one type of entertainment cleanse the palate for the other? Would a steady diet of either be a grind? If the purpose of art is to break out of oneself then Boyle's book was effective. Viktor Shklosky said that defamiliarization was what literature is all about. "Habit devours objects, clothes, furniture, one's wife and the fear of war... art exists to help us recover the sensation of life."
Ideally, of course, what is good for you would also not be attractive to you but we know that is not so. (Check the sales of cigarettes). Further, Fr. Jim Tucker quotes Chesterton as saying, "To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it."
On the other hand, being Catholic means not being a Puritan. And so the Terry Teachout's of the world (movie critic for Crisis magazine) would be underwhelmed by the idea of rejecting modern movies. Similarly our own Amy Welborn is surely richer for having engaged the culture, for being able to speak to the culture via her reading of David Lodge, TC Boyle and others.
I guess, as is often the case, it depends on the individual...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:41 AM
When Pigs Fly...
John Steinbeck signed his letters with his personal "Pigasus" logo, symbolizing himself 'a lumbering soul but trying to fly.' His Latin motto Ad Astra Per Alia Porci translates 'To the stars on the wings of a pig'.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:40 PM
April 29, 2003
Weekly Standard article on Malcolm Muggeridge
Haven't read this yet but it looks very interesting.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:05 AM
Sun/Son
Indefatigueable Son!
from morning exult
to evening vesper,
undefeated, untied
by clouds by death
the winsome ever-last sky
sing'd-leaves from the sun-vation.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 6:18 PM
April 28, 2003
Lifecycles of a Christian*
Conversion/Reversion:
The sky is bluer, the ah-ha feeling of being "onto something" is perceived, the gratuitness of it is intuited and gratitude the result. In hoops they call this a "look-what-I-found" rebound. Unmerited grace.
Pratfalls:
At some point the gift may become devalued in our eyes either because:
a) it is ubiquitous, and we scarce appreciate what is common (albeit the Crucifixtion is the cure for this ailment) or
b) we begin to think we merited it and cast judgment upon others. If I figured this out (be it faith itself, a cure for alcoholism, the authority given to the Catholic Church, a given doctrine, etc..) then surely you should be able to. This false humility, the humility of "hey I'm nothing special so what's your problem?" is pernicious. If I can get a rebound, why can't you?
c) doubt that the gift was received in the first place.
Wisdom, i.e.Conversion/Reconversion again.
Rinse & Repeat (the conversion part!)
* - your mileage may vary
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:48 PM
The Balm of Gilead... (or "Boy, I Needed That")...via Amy Welborn
Mercy, of course, is another word for the compassionate, forgiving love of God.
Do you believe in it?
I don’t mean in general – I mean in particular. Do you believe in it for you?
Doubt is a part of almost everyone’s faith, and when we think of Thomas, we usually think of it in terms of doubting the possibility of the truth of various tenets of faith. But in the context of Divine Mercy, we might take it to a deeper level. How tempted are we to doubt that most basic tenet of faith – the one that tells us in words and in the figure of Jesus Crucified and Risen, that Mercy is ours?
What pain, what difficulty, what suffering we put ourselves through because we close ourselves off to God’s mercy. For some strange reason, we decide that we know better than God: God may have said that we can be forgiven, but in our strange, masochistic pride, we decide that we can’t. God must be wrong.
Sin is a terrible thing with terrible consequences. When we have done something wrong, we stand looking in horror at what our selfishness has unleashed. It seems impossible that we could ever be forgiven. We will not believe it, we say.
But perhaps, we need to be more like Thomas. We need to confront our doubt and put our fingers in Jesus’ side. We need to contemplate Jesus crucified and consider why he is there. Is he there so we can continue to beat ourselves over the head or be buried under our own crosses? Was he just wasting his time so we can continue our frustrated, angry, mournful journeys, letting sin define who we are rather than God’s love? Or are we willing to really embrace the gift of our baptisms, which is the victory over sin and death? Are we free in Christ or does sin still have power over us? (Romans 6)
We are called to embrace Mercy – God’s mercy on us, God’s mercy on the world, an unbounded mercy that we are invited to share.
Like Thomas, we doubt. We doubt that God could have really meant to include us and our specific wretchedness in his embrace. We doubt that Jesus crucified really and truly has anything to do with us. We doubt that the promise of resurrection can be fulfilled in our spirits, chained down by sin, right here and right now.
But it is never too late. Never too late to join our voices to Thomas’, and say “My Lord and My God.” Never too late to turn our hearts and pray, as often as we need, “Jesus, I trust in you.”
--Amy Welborn
And an 'Udder ...via Particulae
The proud cannot bring themselves to hold out empty hands to God, they insist on offering virtues, good works, self denials, anything in order not to have nothing. They want to be beautiful for him from their own resources, whereas we are beautiful only because God looks on us and makes us beautiful. God cannot give himself to us unless our hands are empty to receive him. The deepest reason why so few of us are saints is because we will not let God love us. To be loved means a naked, defenceless surrender to all God is. It means a glad acceptance of our nothingness, a look fixed only on the God who gives, taking no account of the nothing to whom the gift is made.
--Ruth Burrows
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:59 PM
This looks interesting. Apocalyptic conference via Bill Cork.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:27 PM
Commonweal Article on Work
I'm not normally a reader of Commonweal but I requested a free copy back when Amy Welborn was published there. It finally arrived last week. And there was an interesting article entitled "Something Missing" about a raft of recent books about the battle to integrate our work and spiritual lives.
The three books reviewed were, "Forgetting Ourselves on Purpose: Vocation and the Ethics of Ambition" by Brian Mahan, "On-the-Job Spirituality: Finding God in Work" by Marianne Roche, and "Rethinking the Purpose of Business: Interdisciplinary Essays from the Catholic Social Tradition", by Cortright and Naughton.
Excerpts:
Yes, we are eloquent talking about work abstractly and theoretically - about how work enables us to participate in the process of creation, about how all work is holy. We are also eager to warn people (simultaneously) how bad it is to exploit the poor and make decisions solely on money. In between these two poles - neither of which resonates with the experience of most working people - we are less good at helping them see and react to the world they actually face.
How do we decide which employees stay and which don't, in an age when ruthlessness is 'in'? How do we know how much money is enough for us? When should we stay working for a company we dislike, and when is it time to get out? Does it matter what career we choose? The old Catholic 'observe, judge, act' paradigm for interacting with the world only goes so far as a model, and is no longer common parlance in any case. It's clearly time for some new tools...
*
Marianne Roche's "On-the-Job Spirituality" is like reading a cookbook by someone who has sworn off food. "I have struggled with and ultimately abandoned this American value system," says Roche, a lawyer who gave up that career (temporarily, it appears) to work as a shelver in a bookstore.
*
Stakeholder theory says companies are responsible to other consistuencies besides their shareholders: employees, customers, suppliers, and even society as a whole. Alas for its proponents, stakeholder theory remains just that: a theory that no business has ever managed itself by for more than a day or so.
--Thomas Baker, March 14th issue of Commonweal
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:28 AM
Interconnectivity
An Irishmen with no tale to tell is like... an incomplete simile. (Whew!). Fortunately, my friend Ham of Bone has more stories than any ten Irishmen.
By way of background, Bone made $35,000 in the year 1992 and spent $3,700. That's as shorthand as I can get in communicating his frugality. Needless to say, that year he learned to like peanut butter and Cheerios. For dinner. Often.
His desire was mine, only trebled: that being to purchase his freedom, to achieve financial independence. His singlemindedness awed me. He really ought to have been on the cover of Money magazine as "Saver of the Year".
Perhaps the most amazing twist in all this is that he ended up getting married (dates consisted of a library-rented movie and Jiffey-Pop). One of my favorite stories after he got married was when he decided to try to save $10 a quarter by not flushing the john. This was "his" bathroom and he used it only to urinate (just so you won't be completely grossed out). The denouement for that little episode was when his mother-in-law dropped by unexpectedly and decided to take a smoke break in there. Needless to say, she was underwhelmed by the odor. Needless to say his wife put a stop to that saving strategy, pronto.
Bone bought a Geo Metro because it got a gadzillion miles to the gallon. He signed up for the GM credit card, which offered like 1% of your charged amount towards the purchase of a new car. He dilligently bought everything on credit - groceries, $3 cafeteria lunches, gum, etc... and managed, over the course of something like eight or ten years, to earn $3,000 off towards the purchase of a new car, which, natch, was to be a Metro. He wheeled and dealed and then pulled out this ace in his back pocket and watched as the salesman's jaw thudded against the floor. He bought a new car for something like $3,800.
He planned to drive this Geo Metro for ten years or more before buying another one but recently learned the tragic news that the Metro was dead-O. No more Metros were being built due to small sales. Bone was crushed.
And so the point of all this is to consider how tremendously interconnected we all are. He is not going to be able to drive the car of his dreams simply because it wasn't the car of very many other people's dreams.
I think likewise in the spiritual life we are much more interconnected than we imagine. Our spiritual poverty is partially (I'm trying not to make excuses here) a reflection of our neighbor's spiritual poverty. When Jesus breathed on the apostles and gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit, it was they who were given the charge of breathing that Life upon others. To the extent they (we) fail to do so, so withers the Spirit upon the earth. But with God all things are possible.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:12 PM
April 27, 2003
Children, Have You Any Fish?*
"Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk?"
-Peter, Acts 3:12
* John 21:5
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:43 PM
April 25, 2003
Spring
A new revelation of the sun
stare I squirrelly-eyed at the quality of light
uncomprehending,
the winter stone rolled back.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:35 PM
The Downside of Humility
My friend Hambone wasn't at work today, he took the day off and spent it finishing a screen play in a cheap motel drinking Early Times, the drink of Walker Percy (as if inspiration were transferable). There is a contest for would-be screenwriters with a May 1st date and he is attempting to play that lottery.
He got his sixty-day notice a couple weeks back. Part of the reason he received it was his own heavy-handedness, his insistence on doing things his way (almost always the right way, but not his bosses way). I wonder if I could not have trimmed his sails in some way, told him to back down a little.
Now he is humbled, but I miss his old arrogance, his old swagger. I used to think that humility in other people is the most attractive thing, but this sort of humility I would fain see pass.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:49 PM
Ascending
Some interesting thoughts in blogland on the question "Why Ascend?". It's something I've wondered about too. I think the Ascension was necessary because faith is so highly regarded in the heavenly kingdom that obstructing it, through obvious displays of power, lessens our reward. The Resurrected Jesus in the flesh is a very obvious display of power. Faith, like charity, is a big denomination of currency in the spiritual realm. By being present to us, He would perhaps be obstructing our faith by taking away our free will, thus lessening the currency we would have to spend in heaven.
There is speculation that Mary didn't receive a post-Resurrection visit from Jesus because she didn't need it. It's certainly possible that He did appear to her and it just isn't recorded in Scripture, but some say that such appearance would be extraneous given Mary's great faith, and miracles aren't for gratification - they serve a purpose. Those visited by supernatural events (like St. Paul on the road to Damascus) suffer proportionately the greater for it, often martyrdom.
American Idle
From a Washington Post article:
Leisure may be a walk in the country or a roller-coaster ride in an amusement park, but it also should be "time given to contemplation, wonder, awe, and the development of ideas." Too much of such leisure time as is given to us on weekends is spent at work of one sort or another, especially in two-earner households. Our inclination to "seek comfort and consolation in the pleasures and products of shopping" has brought us to the point that for some it becomes "an addiction, a fetish, a diversion, an obsession." The same is true for many of those who seek the same satisfactions in spectator sports.
But, night will soften
and the faithful countenance of sun will brighten
the penumbra of death (foul-breathed, sharp-fanged canine)
and chase this rabid dog from our brother’s crate.
Ave and Pater, my fingers towards heaven
ascending, meditating on metaphysics
and these most glorious mysteries. Yes, the five
which may hold a clue as to what this life is for.
As Sun opens sleepy eye, he makes Lilith re-
treat westward, screeching through the dark night. She goes to
hide with hound in hell, knowing well that Light has won.
- Matthew Stanford
I'm beginning to think there's more to the minimalism of the Gospels -- all the elided details! all the unanswered questions! -- than the stock explanation that they were written to fill specific needs in specific communities by men writing in specific literary traditions. Jesus spoke in parables in public, only explaining Himself in private to those who were close to Him. The Gospels, too, are parabolic: they invite us to fill in details, to draw conclusions, to search out connections. They (all Scripture, but the Gospels especially) are no more brute facts we passively accept than is the Resurrection. Just as the Ascension demands that we see the Resurrection through the eyes of faith, so the Gospels demand we see the whole life of Jesus, not just with our eyes as we read, but with our faith as we ask the Holy Spirit to help us.
This is an extraordinarily inefficient way of forming disciples, but it seems to be typical of the way God reaches out to man.
--Disputations
Written to a Nigerian Scammer Pastor Joseph:
Pasture Joe, thank you for your missive. As a fellow fiction writer, I feel a certain solidarity. Here's a poem:
"There is a land
where the men never grow tired
where the pounds shed easily
and the women all want you...
Where Nigerians offer you a cut
to free their money.
There is a place
called Spam."
Haruki Murakami Quote
"If it's art or literature you're looking for," he wrote, in the voice of his narrator, in Hear the Wind Sing, "you'd do well to read the Greeks. In order for there to be true art, there necessarily has to be slavery. That's how it was with the ancient Greeks: while the slaves worked the fields, prepared the meals and rowed the ships, the citizens would bask beneath the Mediterranean sun, rapt in poetical composition or engaged in their mathematics. That's how it is with art. Mere humans who root through their refrigerators at three o'clock in the morning can only produce writing that matches what they do. And that includes me."
--Haruki Murakami
http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/generalfiction/story/0,6000,957520,00.html
Novella
Hambone's been going thru his desk and pulled something from the "way-back" machine - a co-written sci-fi novella. To say it is badly written is to insult badly written books everywhere. Reading it now I get the sense that it will stand the test of time, if time is narrowly defined as a 30-second interval. To give you an idea of just how bad it is, one of the character's names is "Bite MyAss".
We entered it in the "Toast Point Bad Fiction Contest" since they published everything on their website, but I noticed after awhile they removed it. We weren't good enough to be called "bad fiction" - now that's gotta hurt.
Without further ado! Plot: Gina and Johnathon are being taken hostage by thugs. Gina has special powers by virtue of being half-alien (from the planet "Caboot"):
EXCERPTS:
I tried not to feel overdramatic, as they half-carried us up the big hill, in my mind the hill of Calvary. The symbolism of the day ending as my life was ending brought tears to my eyes and I realized anew how difficult it was to get tears off your cheeks when your hands are tied. I had to rub my face against Gina's hair, which was not an unpleasant endeavor.
"Gina," I whispered, "we need to break loose don't you think?"
"Na baby na, don't cry-"
"I'm not," I protested a bit much, "it's my contacts!"
***
"Bite my ass, Bite Myass!", Herr said, uttering a line that cut Bite to the core. Buttahfinga had spoken the unspeakable, the one line that brought to mind a million childhood rages. Like a severed Achillies heel, Bite reacted with red-hot fury.
***
"Where are we?" Jonathan asked, groggy and weak from lack of blood.
"I carried you here to Aunt Mame's barbeque. Figured the smell of ribs would waken you."
***
[Gina says] "I am serious. I am half-Cabootan, which means I'm a little sharper in most of my senses than humans...Don't look at me like that! Don't hate me because I'm Cabootan, hate me because I'm beautiful!"
I gave an exasperated sigh while we cleaned up the wound. I wanted her to put alcohol on it, like they do in westerns, but neither of us drink much and so we didn't have any. She put nail polish remover on it instead, and it hurt like hell.
"I think we ought to go to a hospital, though I'm loathe to admit it," I said. "Tell me the truth - why is somebody trying to kill us and why do the words of MacArthur Park elude me? I've spent a lifetime trying to forget them, and now that I have, it scares me."
"Ok, you're entitled. You have a war wound to prove it. The fumes from the nail polish I used cause you to slowly lose all memory. Don't fuss, it's just till we're safely ensconced on earth or North Caboot & can check for bugs. If we're captured, I think you may be a teller."
"A teller?"
"Yes, one who tells. Like I said, your memory will be returned and amplified when we're safe."
"Gina?"
"Yes?"
"What's a teller?"
From KTC!
First, the stereotype of hypocrites running back out to sin again: unlike many Evangelical protestant churches, which are congregational in nature, the Catholic Church is parochial; that is, it is accessible to all baptized believers in a given geographical area. Most evangelical churches have little patience with what they call "carnal Christians"; instead of making allowance for them to come along at their own pace, evangelicals tend to throw down the gauntlet from the pulpit. "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." "Clothe yourselves with Christ."
Groups of believers who hear Biblical exhortation publicly in this way tend to want to conform. Even Catholics in BIble sutdies or third order groups respond similarly. Whereas each Catholic homily is designed to accompany the reading of that particular day in the Liturgical calendar, protestant sermons are often topical--at the discretion of the preacher. Furthermore, congregational-type churches tend to attract like-minded groups; people who cannot or will not conform (like the Christmas-and-Easter "Carnal Christians") are soon winnowed out.
The parochial Catholic Church, however, follows the Biblical model of the wheat and the tares. Knowing that the Holy Spirit chooses a different timetable for each individual, the Church offers The Mass and the Sacraments for all the baptized.
When a congregational protestant protests against the hypocrisy of Catholics who sin after they leave the confessional, ask him if he'd prevent a hypocrite from hearing a good sermon. Certainly not: even if the Word didn't bear fruit immediately, it is certain that a seed was planted in his hypocritical soul--perhaps the next sermon will spur his conversion!
So it is with the Sacrament of Confession.
***
Someone then suggested an exercise for the reader: "explain the difference between an incantation and a valid Eucharistic prayer or Baptism." It seems to me John Granger's position depends on what is meant by "magic." In the Church, magic is customarily defined to be a means to an end that either ignores God's actions or denies His freedom. By that definition, magic is not the foundation of faith, but its debasement. [Get it? Not de foundation, but de basement. Ha!]
By a broader (sociological?) definition of magic -- as, say, a means to an end for which the physical actions performed are an inadequate cause -- Baptism might be considered magic. Even here, though, the Church's understanding of the operation of Baptism bears no significant similarity to, say, a pantheist's understanding of how a healing chant attunes him to the healing powers of the cosmos. To say gazing into a crystal and baptizing a baby are both instances of magic is to give the term magic a uselessly broad meaning. It's like defining the word "Pennsylvanian" to mean "a resident of either Pennsylvania or Transylvania;" you can do it, but it's not a very useful concept.
Be that as it may, I would have thought Baptism is an example of an invocation, not an incantation: "I baptize you in the Name of the Father...." There is not some cosmic harmony of regeneration to which we attune the baptized through form and matter. There is a Trinity of Persons, Whom we invoke, asking for Their graces based on the promise of the Son. The fundamental difference between Christian prayer and magic is the same as the fundamental difference between Christianity and everything else: a participation in the life of a community of Divine Persons.
I've been thinking of it in terms of God promising to effect what the sacraments signify and being bound by His promise. But that's probably not such a good way of thinking of it. It's not like God is settled into His easy chair, then hears a priest somewhere speaking the words of consecration, and says, "Oh, for My sake, here We go again," and heaves Himself up to go fulfill His promise.
He wants to give us these graces. He died for the chance to give them to us. Saying God promises us grace through the sacraments is like saying a golden retriever promises to play catch with us. It's not that God keeps His promise because it would be unloving of Him to break His word, it's that what we see as His promise is an expression of His love, one of the forms Divine Charity assumes in Its imminence in creation. -Disputations
What this all boils down to is not a wager or bet, but knowledge of the credibility of witnesses and assent to the content of their testimony.
Thus, Aquinas writes
Now, whoever believes, assents to someone's words; so that, in every form of belief, the person to whose words assent is given seems to hold the chief place and to be the end as it were; while the things by holding which one assents to that person hold a secondary place. Consequently he that holds the Christian faith aright assents, by his will, to Christ, in those things which truly belong to His doctrine. --Mark of Particulae
Mo'
Obviously, a parish priest inventing a rule to make life easier for himself is not quite the same as the Pope promulgating a universal and categorical injunction, but the difference isn't always appreciated from the perspective of the pew.
Outside the Church, of course, it's all grist for the mill. Various regions of the Church, at various times, in response to specific circumstances, did forbid the reading of Scripture by the laity. That's enough truth for the club carvers. Used with the pre-conciliar memories of Father Stentorian and Sister Mary Sternhand saying only wicked little children read the Bible, it's a pretty effective charge.
The overarching fact, though, is that in the Roman Catholic Church the general encouragement of the reading of Scripture by the laity is relatively new, even if forbidding it never much happened. Reading Scripture is good, of course, but not reading it isn't quite as wicked as Bible-only Protestants would have us believe -- particularly for those living within Christendom. I'm not sure what a generalized felicity for quoting Romans 8 would have brought to the medieval party.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:54 AM
(Of TC Boyle of "Drop City" Fame.....)
*Boyle*
He of the affectatious “TC”
for it takes one to know one
Ploughs the widening page
Deep-furrowed furloughs
For readers all;
Planting morphemes sundry
To be recovered by uncoverers
And de-cryptologists.
Books like easy chairs
Scent of the ink, the big-margined
Fatted calf-covered volumes of leisure
Bays of words abut the crevice
Falling, falling off the cliff into absorption
With characters too keenly felt
as is his service
Service to the reader!
*****
* Olde Times *
Moonlit horse sky-Blue
once poached the Colorado,
nibbled canyon grasses
pushin’ daisies now.
We pitched camp near the Columbia
took fire-coffee in battered tins
hiccup’d through the ol’ cowboy lines
blue-granite mountain backdrop
nip of whiskey to keep warm
telling folk tales at the cacklin’ fire...
****
Backed. Up. A backed-up septic tank. That’s what I feel like. Not that I’m full
of sh-t, although that is probable, but I haven't journalized anything in two
weeks. Haven’t written a poem yet in May. Hmmm….how about ”May showers bring
June flowers?” I feel the need. So many issues…so little time. The mind whirls
like the Unresolved Problems segment on O’Reilly (I always wonder: what
couldn’t be classified as unresolved? Unresolves fly off the assembly line like
chocolates in that I Love Lucy episode).
St. Catherine
Read St. Catherine of Siena, who said that if the way you are treated by someone
influences the way you are treat that person then, well, you just don’t get it,
do you? And the amazing thing is that I do get it, for that period of time,
though it feel evanescent as the wind. And I know that, which makes it worse. I
try to hold it, but like water it seems to evaporate within a few hours. Or for
sure after a night’s sleep. Then it feels just as foreign to me as can be. The
Irish hold grievances like their liquor.
der Bone
Bone stretches into the final stretch, sans job. Unemployment maxes out at $22K
a year, which, even given his heroic savings rate, would pinch. Pinch hard. So
it looks much less palatable. But at the same time the evil geniuses at HR
simply cannot find their way out of a paper bag. And so Bone is left holding
the bag. One must “jif” for job openings, which is another way of saying, “fill
out some paperwork, touch your head with your left head, count backwards and
stick out your tongue”. So he jiffed for eight, ten, twelve open positions and
then a couple weeks later HR says that they are in the process of reorganizing
the Jiffing process and that his JIFs now are consigned to the the equivalent
of limbo. Choosy mothers don’t choose this JIF. It becomes ever more difficult
to maintain the fiction that he will remain employed, even after lo these
twelve years. “What ifs” litter the landscape and I sweep them away.
Bacchus
Gleaves Whitney recently quoted Fritz Wilhelmsen of the University of Dallas:
"Everyone must give Bacchus his due." Given that St. Paul warns
against making provisions for the flesh (subject to your interpretation of what
‘flesh’ means – sex? drugs? rock’n’roll?) it is a dubious thought. Bacchus
would seem to have a streak of “relative to what?” about him. For if I’m a
teetotaler and I have two beers, Bacchus goes home and retires easily. If I’m
used to the constant stimulation of rock and roll at nightclubs till 2am,
becoming a monk and listening to the Gregorian Chant will feel much different
than someone elderly and housebound, who would thrill to spend his days in that
church choir.
But there is possibly a built-in component too. Crisis magazine recently
reported that suicide rates among the young Mormons of Salt Lake City are very
high. The author was careful not to draw a crude conclusion, but there was the
hint of “they have no fun!”. Suicide rates are much higher in the West,
especially the more forlorn areas of the west such as the Plains states. There
is much quiet there; too much?
Lunar Eclipsing
Spied thru a gimlet eye the lunar eclipse. There was the anticipation of it and
the craning the neck and then ahhhhh-- there it is! Yep, that’s a lunar
eclipse. Sun’s in back of us (by ‘us’ I mean the earth), and despite her great
size because she’s so much farther away it appears the moon, earth and sun are
relatively the same size. For the occlusion is neat, neither too much nor too
little. Just right.
Blogger A:
"I think part of what fuels this -- drawing Catholics to apparition sites, drawing Protestants to blessing sites where charismatic gifts are passed out like sugared candies -- is laziness. Anyone with any knowledge of the Church's history or of her spiritual traditions knows being a Christian is hard work, and that God intends it to be that way for almost everyone. But if Mary tells you exactly what to do, you don't have to spend all that time in discerning prayer. If the pastor zaps you with the gift of tongues because you shoved your way to the front row, you don't have to defeat the flesh, the devil, and the world day by day in private.
A better sense of history, a deeper knowledge of the experiences and traditions of the holy people who have gone before us, will teach us that these short cuts don't work. They don't work because the effort and pains put into working out our salvation aren't just inconveniences along the road, they are the road."
ME:
The subject of apparations hits close to home because a certain loved one craves them. And I think she craves them to be true not necessarily to avoid effort, but for blessed certainty of it, as a prop to her faith and to feel God's love and to know it is still extant, here in less miraculous times. Perhaps I'll ask her why these apparations be so necessary to her. It seems as though the greater one's faith, the greater one's ability is to withstand/embrace redemptive suffering. We read stories of women lifting cars to free a trapped child. Those women might never lift that weight in normal circumstances but the reward of lifting that weight is so great and so palpable that they can do the seeming impossible. Perhaps an apparation provides this in that making the reward palpable and present.
Blogger JB:
You know what makes me mad at God? the fact that "being a Christian is hard work, and that God intends it to be that way for almost everyone," is not true.
1/4 to 1/3 of all pregnancies result in miscarriages. Some larger number of fertilized eggs apparently never implant. Historically, (and in many parts of the world still) infant and childhood mortality rates meant a large number of live births never resulted in an adult who could be called to account for his or her action or inaction. The overhelming majority of the human race has never had to confront its broken nature, nor do the hard work of accepting sometimes seemingly fleetingly offered help. Most of the people God has invested with life have taken the express lane to the Beatific Vision, while I'm stuck in traffic, with the gas gauge riding the "E", radiator fluid cascading onto the pavement, and a cop who never learned how to manage traffic, directing the flow of cars at the head of the line.
SNL, Consumerism & Walker Percy
I've been reading with interest and amusement the ongoing dialogue between two St. Bloggers (let's call them "T" & "S"). It is probably uncharitable for me to enjoy it so; their volleys sometimes approach the tenor of the old those old Aykroyd-Curtin sketches on SNL. (Rule of thumb: The good posts begin by declaring their undying respect of the other.) But regardless, just look at the quality of comments Disputations gets! Chris Burgwald writes: "I think Congar and de Lubac are better Thomists than G-L, in that they have appropriated both the letter and the spirit. Take G-L's Predestination, for example... while he is exact in his replication of Thomas' letter, I'm not sure if Thomas' overall intention is as exactly reproduced." Marvelous. Way above my pay grade. (By the way, Particulae is joining the fray with a post nuancing Steven's nuance concerning the uniqueness of the human).
But I digress. Steven recently blogged, "And there is a 'knowing about God' that serves the human purpose that all knowing can serve, namely, "'Look at me! Look at me! Look how very, very clever I am!'"
His comment reminded me of a what Walker Percy wrote in The Message in a Bottle. He explains how moderns have been so enveloped in consumerism that they can't really see things, they must consume them and be applauded for the wisdom of their consumption.
Excerpts:
The highest satisfaction of the sightseer (not merely the tourist but any layman seer of sights) is that his sight should be certified as genuine.... The worst of this impoverishment is that there is no sense of impoverishment...
On tourists experiencing the natives:
"This is it" and "now we are really living" do not necessarily refer to the sovereign encounter of the person with the sight that enlivens the mind and gladdens the heart. It means that now at least we are having the acceptable experience.
On the layman's relation to natural objects:
The highest role he can conceive himself as playing is to be able to recognize the title of the object, to return it to the appropriate expert and have it certified as a genuine find....This loss of sovereignty extends even to oneself. There is the neurotic who asks nothing more of his doctor than that his symptom should prove interesting. When all else fails, the poor fellow has nothing to offer but his own neurosis. But even this is sufficient if only the doctor willl show interest when he says, "Last night I had a curious sort of dream; perhaps it will be significant to one who knows about such things. It seems I was standing in a sort of alley--" (I have nothing else to offer you buy my own unhappiness. Please say that it, at least, measures up, that it is a proper sort of unhappiness). Now that is neurotic.
Card-Collecting as a Subspecies of Sovereignty-alienation
I used to collect baseball cards as a kid. Had thousands. And some of my favorite cards were those of scrubs, like a 1971 card of some catcher for the Braves who had his mitt out and it looked, I swear, like he was holding a pie of some sort. (The photography not being what it is now). Another was a 1972 card of some pitcher for the Rangers who looked exactly like one of my teachers. I became more and more enamoured of star cards. Then, by the 80s, my interest became commoditized. I wanted some obscure rookie card because he might be a big star. The value I placed on an individual card was what a baseball card magazine said it was worth. How sad.
So don't give up your sovereignty to the experts. Follow your bliss. Collect the baseball cards YOU want, regardless of market value. Collect the paintings and poems YOU like, not what experts say. And when you walk in the woods don't try to name that wildflower - instead see it.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:33 PM
April 24, 2003
Resisting the Urge... to Pun this Title
One of the benefits of the semi-anonymity of this blog is that I can address subjects like lust, strictly for the benefit of the reader of course. (This post may end up PG-13, so don't wake the neighbors or phone the kids.)
Two anecdotes, which I hope to tie up at the end:
The first anecdote involves the time I received a gift certificate for a free massage from a licensed massage therapist. As is my wont, I googled "massage therapy" and read about the benefits that might be conferred. Of some interest was a FAQ about what to do about....unwanted arousal. (Whew, I avoided the e-word). The massage therapist jocularly answered that "those things happen" and that they "don't last".
The second anecdote involves the story of our Dominican priest told about two monks. They were walking out in the desert (this is probably apocryphal), a very old one and a very young one. They came to a rather large mud puddle, before which stood a lady-of-the evening / painted lady / member of the world's oldest profession, etc. She apparently had no way to cross without getting knee-deep in mud. The elder monk picked her up, carried her over the mud puddle and then set her back down. The monks continued on their way. The young monk couldn't believe he had touched a woman like that, but he couldn't find a way to bring up the subject. Finally it got to be too much and many hours later he said, "Do you know who you carried over that puddle? Did you see the way she was dressed?". And the old monk replied, "I carried her over a mud puddle. You've carried her all afternoon."
I think the point of these anecdotes is that these types of thoughts do go away. They are best brushed off and given as short a shelf-life as one can manage. Our Dominican priest acknowledged that if you are told not to think about a white elephant, you will, of course, think about a white elephant. So he suggested that the best thing to do is to look back after the carnage has been wrought (if there is any carnage) and consider, truthfully, how much consent you gave to the thoughts. Sin cannot occur outside of the will, and the body will react as the body is wont, without conscious control. (Thank God! Can you imagine what a pain it would be to remind ourselves constantly to breathe?).
Good advice. I think the experience of fasting from food is also a help. Why? Because in fasting one recognizes hunger pains and practices ignoring them instead of serving them. They, too, "go away".
Finally, Bishop Sheen once said that his struggles with his celibacy were least intense during periods he was closest to Christ.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 6:38 PM
For $2, a Bottle of Wine & Change
Kairos guy will surely cringe.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:48 PM
Quote I recall, though not its source
Love is a sort of seventh day, so thinking can rest.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:16 PM
April 23, 2003
What's in a Name?
Happy Administrative Assistant's Day! They used to be called secretaries but that became imbued with negativity and the solution was, as is typically the case, to change the name.
And in this case I think it works. Why? Because it is has a lot of syllables in it! The way to throw off the critics from heaping scorn your way is to make sure your tag is polysyllabic. For example, how many people are going to take the time to say, "Damn Administrative Assistant forgot to make that call!". Much easier to mutter, "damn secretary forgot to make that call". The "-ary" ending is also less impressive than the "-ant" ending. (Cary without the Grant would've been far less successful).
Perhaps this was part of the thinking behind the term "African-Americans". The word "colored" was perfectly fine until bigots began to tinge it with negativity. "Blacks" apparently suffered a similar fate, although its symmetry with "whites" would imply equality. It's too easy to curse blacks but takes too much time and energy for the bigot to say, "African-Americans are blah-blah-blah".
I'm not sure my theory is correct though. "Flight attendents" has the same number of syllables as "stewardesses". Perhaps that change was made because "stewardesses" sounds too feminine.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:28 AM
A woman, Pia de Solenni, writes in National Review:
[Women] can choose their universities, careers, houses, and so on -- but they have no good men from whom to choose because they've set the moral bar so low that men don't need to rise to the challenge of being good men. They don't have to because women don't demand it. Perhaps women no longer even know how to begin; but until we recover our old advantage of moral strength, women's advancement will continue to spin, digging itself deeper and deeper into the muck.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:20 AM
Excerpt from Barbara Carmen article in the Columbus Dispatch:
Strickland's devotion to St. Patrick is personal.
'My grandparents were married seven years and were childless. So they made the pilgrimage back to Ireland to pray at Craugh Patrick,' she said.
The prayers --atop the rocky peak where St. Patrick is said to have fasted and chased the dragons, demons and snakes from Ireland -- worked.
'My father was conceived on the boat home," Strickland said.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:29 PM
April 22, 2003
It's All About Evolution...
...says John Derbyshire in this NRO article on leftism & snobbery.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:12 PM
OJEND*...they just get replanted. This from 1/20/01
It seems unfair to be denied knowledge of the fate of my great-grandfather James Smith, to have no grave to visit or memory to perpetuate. The local library is vast and the internet more so, and they provide answers to nearly any non-metaphysical query I have will to summon. Yet neither the library or the internet ameliorates the great question of James Smith. I feel the infantile right to answers, like a child who demands to know why the sky is blue.
I sometimes treat knowledge different from other forms of endeavor, as if it required neither exertion or Inspiration, as if it were something competely different from physical fitness or wealth or goodness – as if knowledge in this internet age was somehow exempt from our ruthless dependence on God and effort. James Smith, like Ahab’s whale, haunts like the key to an unsolved puzzle.
Just as I cannot know the date of my death or the end of the world so it seems I will never know the fate of the father of papa. That seems unlikely to the extreme – I remember Papa like it was just yesterday – a figure nearly as close to me in my childhood as my own father - bigger than life, bringing Sports Illustrated and the glow of universal popularity within the family. He was a celebrity before the cult of Celebrity, a godfather figure of respect and affection. So how strange that his own father, flesh of his flesh, be as obscure to me as Cain and Abel! We are all a hundred and fifty years from complete obscurity.
The absence of family history creates a want for it; nature abhors a vacuum. Smith is a name without meaning; I imagine James Smith could give it the meaning. In 1913 there was a flood. Did he perish in it? James Smith, is not only without history but without nationality. He could be Irish, English, Welsh, Scottish …..
Neuroscientists, two decades later, have at last answered the question I posed in my high school research paper, “Intelligence – Heredity or Environment?”. We are victims/victors of heredity to a degree scarcely imagined twenty years ago. They tell us our brain is undeveloped film with an IQ pre-determined which can only be “developed badly” by a poor environment. But the limit is there. A neuroscientist can measure our brain waves and tell within thirty seconds our IQ – no need for a test. However, no one is rushing to get this done since it is antithetical to everything we hold dear – that we are products of our own hard work and effort.
Given this knowledge our relatives loom larger in our consciousness knowing that if but… for…. this one thing…we could be them. I imagine my uncle Bob, praised by my grandmother as a sweet and charitable person, but who was an alcoholic and was left at the altar because of it. I could be him, but for a lot more alcohol and charity! There is my uncle Dan, charismatic, athletic, smart, scratch golfer, I could….nevermind. But the idea is that though we be different as snowflakes, we also have certain characteristics that could be directly gifted from our parents or ancestors, and so we seek the symmetry and to find them…because we need, above all, a reason.
* = Old Journal Entries Never Die
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:02 PM
Love songs ain't what they used to be
"The ascendancy of rock has occurred simultaneously with the decline of the love song. As most observers can attest, love songs over the last fifty years have become less about the beloved and more about the lover: that is, the emphasis has shifted from the "other" to the "self". A study titled "Individualism and Alienation in Popular Love Songs" also makes the case that modern love songs reflect an increasing social alienation:
'Most romance lyrics, on the other hand involve only one side of the relationship, the lovers, their pain, impairment, and constriction of vision. The finding of fewer instances of lyrics that imply a mutual love relationship in the last forty years than in 1930-1960 suggests that alienation is increasing in romance lyrics.'"
Via El Camino Real scroll to post Love Songs and Popular Culture
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:59 PM
Belloc's Epitaph
I challenged and I kept the Faith,
The bleeding path alone I trod;
It darkens. Stand about my wraith,
And harbour me, almighty God.
"Verse is the only form of activity outside religion which I feel to be of real importance; certainly it is the only form of literary activity worth considering." -H. Belloc
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:54 AM
Poetry Readings
Dylan has a cool post entitled Ars Poetica in Prose. There is an artsy bar on the OSU campus (frequented by leather-clad lesbians) that has open mic poetry night. Most of it is pretty bad and pretty liberal. (I'm not inferring they are the same thing.) Three of us go once a year and Hambone graciously reads my stuff. I still recall one of the poems beginning, "Bad poetry / ain't kilt no one yet /...". as if to numb them for what was to follow. I take modest satisfaction in knowing that that sequence of words had never been spoken in the long august history of the poetry readings there. Then, on another occasion, my friend read a pro-life poem that started out seemingly pro-choice but emphatically made the pro-life point at the end. It was met, surprisingly, by not just jeers but also cheers. One guy even came over and said he voted for Alan Keyes. Go figure!
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:09 AM
No Surburban Stereotype Here
Ran into ye olde Brit today. She's a local used bookstore owner, eccentric as the day is long. A Baptist who flew in the British lady air force back in the 50s, she found herself (mis)planted here and longs to save enough money to retire to Washington state. (She says she took a hit in the stock market, like everybody else).
Her prose has a sort of "English as a second language" quality that I find fascinating. It is a collection of non-sequitors, haikus and Orwellian overtones that require diligent study to unearth the meaning. She's intelligent and well-read so it is all very puzzling. Speaking with her does not result in this sort of confusion.
Truth be told, I most enjoy the large placards on her front lawn. Today's offering: "City Flooded my basement! Neither response or call. Peace, Harmony and Productivity!" The other side disparaged a local mayoral candidate, at least I think that was the intent.
She sounds crazy but she really isn't. She is perfectly lucid in normal conversation. I've not yet worked up to how to say, "where did you learn to write?"
But vive le difference. She makes the lives of commuters a little more interesting, and for that she deserves a shorter Purgatory.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:55 PM
April 21, 2003
Where did my detachment go?
Note to self: elation is not the proper feeling for the ending of Lenten restrictions & proscriptions.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:09 PM
Happy Easter
Our pastor read the Easter sermon of St. John Chrysostom today...a consoling one!
Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:19 PM
April 20, 2003
Death of a Good Priest
Msgr Colby Grimes, the priest who officiated at my wedding died on Good Friday. He was 50 years old. I'll never forget the reverence with which he said Mass. He bowed low during the words of consecration and paused a few seconds between each word: "This.....Is.....My....Body". It was arresting and unique and audacious. Flannery O'Connor once said that she had to write stories of grostesqueness because that's the thing the modern reader can grasp. Perhaps Msgr. Grimes felt that he had to say the words with such long pauses in order to allow the reality of the Real Presence to sink in to a congregation who easily loses their way.
One of his dreams was to meet the Pope. It's not easy for a parish priest to meet the pope, but he put his name on the list at the first possible chance and something like seven years later it happened.
When he was in the hospital the first time I sent a get well card and expressed my appreciation for the reverence with which he said Mass. He was not somebody I really wanted to run into for fear of ruining things. First, in the unlikely event he not live up to my image of him. (Heroes are fragile things). Second, and far more likely, that I not live up to mine. Still, I went back once to the old parish after we were married and I ran into him before Mass. He gave me a huge smile, handshake and we chatted.
Journal entry dated June 2000:
....First there was the sad news that Msgr. Grimes, a personal hero (i.e. the person I’d most like to be like) has leukemia. He was not only a bridge to Steph & my wedding, but he promised to ever be there in case of difficulty. One finds comfort to have a personal fire extinguisher behind the glass & the “break glass in case of emergency”. Now he may be on his way to a far better place – heaven.
The Dispatch article:
Grimes was known for his straightforward style and his compassion and selflessness. Even as his body reeled from chemotherapy, he visited sick youngsters at Children's Hospital.
***
Even when he was sick, or on vacation, Grimes celebrated Mass, she said. Once, she stopped to see him at his home when he was ill and he had set up an altar on his dining-room table.
Earlier Dispatch article.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:14 PM
Samstag
Spent Saturday in the nascent sun drinking Warsteiners with my brother and helping him put together the parts of a rather elaborate swing-set set. Then we had an aperitif and cursed Montaigne, blaming the world's skeptism on him. We sat trading witicisms just as our ancestors did in County Sligo, engulfed in the smoke of a turf fire equivalent (a couple fine hand-rolleds).
But I shamelessly embellish. Actually we talked about our jobs and watched in disbelief as our little four year old nephew began dismantling the neighbor's stone fence. We sat dumb - "is he really doing what I think he's doing" - before calling down from the high deck upon which we were seated and telling him to stop, like voices from heaven correcting a miscreant. And he stopped.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:44 PM
Online Way of the Cross.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:48 PM
April 17, 2003
Books
I blogged my current reads here (post entitled "Reading).
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:37 PM
It's a Physical Universe After All
Fr. William Most on the distinction between physical evil & moral evil:
A world without physical evils, if a material world, would have to be comprised of one miracle after another, simply because material things can go to pieces, can come apart, can slip, as common sense testifies. Now it is not really rational for God to work miracles routinely, for a miracle is extraordinary, and the extraordinary cannot become ordinary.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:10 AM
Poetry
The Irish have a fatalistic, morbid streak to which I occasionally succumb to...
Tis not ours to know beyond
“Es regnet!” we called
our bellies full of German laughter,
“It is raining!” we called
like impish stewards.
Bare we knew the trouble ahead,
the horizon fixed at twenty blessed miles.
***
Survey of Stones
the sunny hill brought forth
a bitter fruit –
a hailstone of tombstones
grey with eager miens and jaunty minders
from thick tree roots gestated.
I looked upon the sober dates they cried
‘what have you to show! I lived far less than you!”
'Are you like me?' asked the Federalist
gowned in Resurrection palms
and atrophied script.
'Are you like me?' asked the Victorian
draped in frank and maudlin prose:
"as you are now, I was once."
'Are you like me?' asked the Modern
impersonal as marbled ice
giving nothing but emptiness.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:35 PM
April 16, 2003
Kairos guy struggles with his conscience concerning Lenten regulations. Our Dominican father has spoken about this before; I believe it was to allow exceptions such as the situation he described but I can't recall. I remember going to a rehersal dinner at an area Dutch kitchen (run by the local Mennonites, a subspecies of Amish) during a Lenten Friday. Not having the broasted chicken at the Dutch Kitchen is like going to an Irish pub and skipping the stout.
Personally, I wrestle with items like this occasionally, which I imagine always gets big guffaws in heaven. Why? Because I could see them saying, "you sure are awfully concerned about this potential very venial sin...we wish you'd just treat your [boss, stepson, etc..] with more charity". In that sense, my preoccupation with having the right position on the Iraq war is disingenuous given that whatever degree of sin that might be imputed to me would be significantly less than what I inflict on myself by my failure to radically love others.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:46 AM
Quote Corner
"...one of the most powerful examples of that is the Christian belief (spelled out in St. Anselm's terrific treatise Cur Deus Homo) that the Incarnation and Crucifixion were God's way of marrying justice and mercy, being both fully just and fully merciful. In the words of the Psalmist, "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other" (Psalm 85:10).
--Eve Tushnet, via Hernan Gonzalez, via Camassia
***
Even in this age, in which moral precepts are widely undervalued, great importance is attached to 'self-improvement'...We seem to take it for granted that there are steps that we can take to enhance our lives. In such a culture, the idea of being saved by another is likely to be unpopular...Yet we cannot cure ourselves; we need to look to another for that service. There is a simple workd that summarizes the whole earthly career of Jesus. It is the Greek preposition hyper, usually translated "for the sake of."
The condemnation of Jesus was not an accident, but happened for our sake. Perhaps we cannot understand how it is that the life of Jesus was a remedy for our sins, but this is what we believe. Jesus lived and died and rose again so that we might have life more abundantly.
--Fr. Michael Casey, O.C.S.O.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:19 AM
Jesus, the Pharisees & Muslims
Good review of Bernard Lewis & his book "What Went Wrong? Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response".
Throughout the Middle Ages, the Islamic Near East was the mightiest military, economic, political, scientific, and cultural power in the world. The majesty of the Islamic empire seemed to confirm the Prophet’s claim to have completed and surpassed the messages of Judaism and Christianity. The infidels of Europe, it was thought, could have nothing of significance to teach Muslims. How much less could they represent a threat?
The early signs of Europe’s rise were therefore ignored. Secure in their assumption of superiority, Muslim diplomats never bothered either to learn European languages or to post permanent ambassadors in European countries.
The mindset that "I can't learn anything from them" is the same one the Pharisees might've had towards Jesus. "I can't learn anything from him," they probably thought, because they were the chief priests and the leaders and he was from Galilee (of all places!) and he should be coming to them. Perhaps if it were more widely known that he was born in Bethlehem the chief priests would've been more humble. Interesting that God doesn't like to provide a "smoking gun" - one must come by faith. It would perhaps not require much faith from the Pharisees if Jesus had been known to have been born in the city of David, from whence the Messiah would come. Coupled with the miracles, his role would've been perhaps too clear for a proper environment of faith.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:54 PM
April 15, 2003
When Do You Win a War But Have Nothing To Show For It?
...when the reason you went to war was simply carted across the border into Syria. Which is probably where the WMDs are now.
I think I'm going to be sick.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:45 PM
The Narrow Path to Our Hearts
Nice meditation on the strategy of Jesus at Disputations with regards to the Jewish leaders.
He also touches on whether part of Jesus's agony was that more Jews didn't follow him. It has been said that if there is a strong enough reason for suffering, you can endure anything. To the extent it seems meaningless it is much less bearable. Someone told that they can save their child by suffering some trial will suffer it more easily than a trial that has lower stakes. In this way, the Passion works against the notion of Universalism - if it is true that some will not be saved, then Christ must've been thinking of them too. As the Good Shepherd, he would forsake the 99 for the lost one. Was the "I thirst" on the Cross also a thirst for souls?
Fulton Sheen once said he thought maybe the agony in the garden was a sort of "making holy" all mental suffering and mental illness, while Good Friday represented the making holy of all physical suffering & illness.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:13 AM
In Search of Balance
...I was also disturbed by some of my ultramontane friends (particularly converts) who put down any attempt to think through the nature of just war in the present day because the pope said no. They're in danger of what someone called "creeping infallibilism." The Catholic Church is a more subtle and complex organism than that.
Theologically creative ideas tend to come from below, to be tested by those high and low, who may or may not get the answer exactly right, and eventually to be approved or not by the high. The Catholic is committed to the belief that the final judgment is correct, but not to the belief that every judgment before that is.
—David Mills(via Amy)
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:07 PM
April 14, 2003
They Ain't Heavy, They're Our Bishops
Excellent, excellent point from the Contrarian, via Disputations:
I am no leftist and I usually disagree with most pronouncements and press releases on social justice issues that emanate from diocesan chanceries and bishops' conferences. Yet, I am not particularly perplexed or angered by those pronouncements with which I disagree so long as they flow directly from a belief that ... "if God took flesh, then this has social implications" and not out of allegiance to purely secular ideologies as a substitute for lapsed faith.
Bishops are not exempt from the powerful undertow of culture, the relentless pull of the Zeitgeist. That is precisely the dilemma we face, in trying to discern whether their statements flow from the lapsed faith of the elites (they are know to hobnob with the Georgetown set and acquire some of their politics that way), or whether their statements reflect a greater understanding and development of the social implications of the gospel. Tricky business indeed.
Here is an eye-opening read concerning the American bishops. But, as the mutual funds say, past performance does not predict future results. In other words, even if the bishops (as the book argues) have been unduly influenced by American culture in the past, that does not predict whether a given statement made now, or in the future, is of lasting worth. In that sense you have to look at every statement as if there were no past, which isn't easy given the validity of the old saying: "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me". I actually have much sympathy for the bishops, seeing in their weakness (i.e. a lack of faith & courage) a reflection of myself.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:10 PM
Syria Next?
I'm not sure why we are rattlin' the saber against Syria unless we really intend to use it. Making a public demand of an Arab country like Syria seems counterproductive, doesn't it? Reverse psychology would surely work better - say to Syria, "do the wrong thing! Hide Saddam and his weapons!" That may actually get them to come clean. Israeli intelligence reports that the weapons of mass destruction were carted to Syria before the war, much as his planes were moved to Iran to avoid their destruction.
All of this, of course, presumes we are not serious about going into Syria. If we are, then it is understandable to make our greviance public first....
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:58 PM
Beware the 'Rebound Effect'
If each action has an equal and opposite reaction, beware the tendency that I sometimes experience. After periods like Lent, when I more closely guard my thoughts, rebuffing feelings of anger, there seems to be a period of "negativity rebound" where the spiritual blessings acquired are squandered. One tends to become acclimatized to a certain amount of prayer; when it decreases there is a 'withdrawal' period as there would in whenever you experience a loss of time with your loved one.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:43 PM
April 13, 2003
CCC 2847
The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man, and temptation, which leads to sin and death. We must also discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. Finally, discernment unmasks the lie of temptation, whose object appears to be good, a "delight to the eyes" and desirable, when in reality its fruit is death.
God does not want to impose the good, but wants free beings. . . . There is a certain usefulness to temptation. No one but God knows what our soul has received from him, not even we ourselves. But temptation reveals it in order to teach us to know ourselves, and in this way we discover our evil inclinations and are obliged to give thanks for the goods that temptation has revealed to us."
-Origen quoted in CCC 2847
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:36 PM
Particulae
Minute Particulars has a particularly (couldn't resist) interesting piece entitled "The Union of Wills...Not Opinion":
The modern conflation of consensus of opinion with concord, the union of wills in the love of a common object, has, ironically, spawned both breezy relativisms that cannot consistently object to any affront to human dignity and rigid objectivisms that often exclude different approaches to the same truth.
Great thought. St. Blog's has been a real eye-opener for me, as far as manifesting the variety of opinion out there. I thought, naively I suppose, that orthodox Catholics thought pretty much the same. Au contraire! We've seen the splits in St. Blog's over the war and the "Situation" to name just two, but also over a variety of more or less academic matters.
Part of this I think may be a case of natural contarianism; everyone wants to be thought an "independent thinker". The very fact that we are practicing Catholics in a post-Christian age suggests a native contrariness in us. But even without that characteristic there is always a drive towards division, if not over the major things than over the peripherals. We could see this happening writ large in the Protestant world. Thirty years ago the Baptists would not speak to the Methodists, and their differences would surely seem small to a Catholic. The fact that there are now non-denominational churches is an understanding that there are bigger challenges out there than the Protestant next door - like secularism and atheism.
I sometimes imagine an even greater unity with my spouse & stepson if they converted to Catholicism but I shouldn't look at it in that light but in terms of the benefits they would accrue in entering Christ's Church. Charity is something one can never, it seems, relax in practicing. Not even among fellow Catlickers!
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:30 PM
April 12, 2003
Old Journal Entries Never Die... circa '99
Ahhh….on the road at last. I am passing thru the metropolis of Shade, Ohio, which thoughtfully erected a sign announcing themselves but I look in vain for a town, or a sign saying "Leaving Shade" until I realize that maybe the other side of the sign said "Leaving Shade".
Country folk have the capacity to surprise. One apparently sane person planted a road sign in his front flower bed, just between the tulips and pansies. It is a big Route 33 sign. Whatever works... At the local McDonald's there is an old guy dressed…for what I'm not sure, but he sure is dressed for a Monday morning. He is wearing a western suit, light beige in color, with matching white-piped pants and an expensive looking white cowboy hat. Does boredom lead people to these things? I go by houses with the Ohio River literally in their backyard, and on the other side of the bank a big nuclear power plant. These folks must be compartmentalizers on the scale of Clinton. I guess they can say, "I just look at the river, don't pay no mind to those Chernobyl towers".
I like the signs of small towns - saw one outside a restaurant that said, "Welcome. God food." Probably good too. Along the same lines in Racine, Ohio one said, "Free!!! Heart transplants from Jesus." Another announced, "We now have soft-serve ice cream." What's next, whipped cream? Save that for the new millenium.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:49 AM
Movie
Yesterday I watched the movie “Monster’s Ball” starring Halley Berry & Billy Bob Thorton. I try to stick to Westerns or “Black & Whites” - i.e. 40s/50s movies, so this was rather a shock. There was gratuitous & sudden violence (like an electrocution) and gratuitous & sudden displays of flesh. But around those craters there was a heckuva a good story. The loneliness of going to an old folk’s home was dramatized perfectly; I can think of few things more terrifying than that vision of autonomy stripped, of banality imposed. Thorton was dead-on: I’ve met a few blue collar, straight shooters like him in my life and he portrayed it pitch-perfect. The plot was about love overcoming prejudice, and I could cynically say that it was lust overcoming prejudice. Halley Berry overcoming male prejudice is sort of like a 7-footer succeeding on a high school basketball team.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:50 PM
April 11, 2003
Today at Vespers my heart almost broke. It was 7:15pm, the sun streamed in the unbearably beautiful church and it touched memories barely extant. There were eight or nine souls already tending the beautiful liturgy and I felt a longing for all the saints that surrounded me to pray for me – St. Dominic, St. Ephraim, St. John, St. Judas Thaddeus, St. James…
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:49 PM
Thanks go out to Hernan Gonzalez who provided me with a modified comment feature, a vehicle to effortlessly send email. I've resisted having the usual Haloscan comments because a) they screw up 9 out of 10 times b) promise to more completely addict me to blogging (I'd be checking for comments every ten minutes) and c) have a chilling effect on the more self-indulgent posts such as those titled "Old Journal Entries Never Die...", "Fictional Forays" and, of course, the poems. Self-consciousness, after all, is the ruination of blogging.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:35 PM
Friday five
via Fructus Ventris & Dylan
1. What was the first band you saw in concert?
The band "Yes" at Miami's Millet Hall, 1983.
2. Who is your favorite artist/band now?
Gaelic Storm
3. What's your favorite song?
Adeste Fideles
4. If you could play any instrument, what would it be?
Fiddle.
5. If you could meet any musical icon (past or present), who would it be and why?
Musicians, like painters, are most interesting for their art. I guess David the harpist. But he was famous for other things too.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:19 PM
Restraint, RIP
I've been lately pondering the increasing political polarization of the news biz. We see left slant (like NPR) or right slant (Fox News). The three networks undeniably lean left and have for years. I wonder if it has always been so, or if it is more a product of the 60s when restraint, in all its forms, went out the window?
Because it does take restraint to write for a television news show and not slant it. Blogdom is a "celebration" of lack of restraint, a venting of things you can't say in polite company. And you also notice the lack of restraint extends to never letting the other guy get the last word. (Bill O'Reilly cracks me up on this score - he's always saying, "I'll let you have the last word" but half the time he will sneak in a couple words thereafter).
I embrace the emergence of Fox News and conservative talk radio because I am a conservative and because it provides another point of view. But the shame of it is that so few even try to be objective. The notion of an "honor code" that used to define more chivalric wars (i.e. don't kill civilians) also used to define the journalist profession - they were bound to describe, with equal enthusiasm, both sides of an issue. But now that code appears more and more moribund.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:50 AM
I'm adrenally tired due to the war, the 24-7 news cycle, the constant notion that I may be "missing something". Call it data smog or information overload, but I'm ready for some bible reading. And to listen to the birds sing in the morning.
Two quotes; I don't recall who said them:
There's more to life than increasing its speed.
The problem with instant gratification is that it's never quick enough.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:17 AM
This just in...
Congrats to two bloggers getting married, announced here. May all their posts be happy ones!
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:39 PM
April 10, 2003
Helloooo!
Disordered Affections is inducing house envy.
Not that I'm not proud of my castle.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:31 PM
Anybody know what happened to Raed?
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:57 AM
Interesting/scary quote from The Challenge of Peace by the U.S. Conference of Bishops
"Pope Paul VI called the United Nations the last hope for peace.The loss of this hope cannot be allowed to happen."
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:12 PM
April 9, 2003
Neo-cons versus Realists
The debate in the US over the nature of a post-Saddam Iraq pits democratisers (most often those of "neoconservative" views) against pragmatists (usually "realist" by school). Many realists, like Henry Kissinger, support the removal of Saddam's regime but oppose a protracted high-profile US-led occupation of an Arab capital and an attempt to impose democracy on peoples who do not know or want it.
The biographies of contemporary Islamist terrorists show the majority to be well-educated, semi-westernised young men on the periphery of traditional societies. Force rapid change on such societies with revolutionary ideas like liberal democracy and globe-spanning market economics, and the result will be an accelerated dislocation that will produce more terrorists, not fewer.
--More here
The coming experiment is going to be fascinating. Scholar Bernard Lewis is optimistic. I think Belloc might've been less so. Paraphrasing Daniel Patrick Moynihan: the great conservative truth is that culture swamps politics. The great liberal truth is that politics changes culture.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:11 AM
Books & Presidential Candidates
Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey....readily offered that his favorite book was Walker Percy's The Moviegoer, a novel that depicted the aimless existence of a soldier-turned-stockbroker named Binx Bolling. His answer may have revealed too much. The New York Times' Maureen Dowd pounced, claiming Kerrey's confession would worry voters, given that Percy's work was an "anthem of alienation" about a war veteran "out of touch with the rest of America." As The New Yorker's Elizabeth Kolbert later put it, with 20/20 hindsight, "Here was a man proposing himself as the next leader of the free world while apparently identifying with a character who, to all outward appearances, seems to have completely lost his sense of direction." Ouch.
Kerrey holds no grudge against the press for engaging in such psychoanalysis. In fact, he says, there was some truth to it.
--Brent Kendall
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:02 AM
Updike Quote
There should always be something gratuitous about art, just as there seems to be, according to the new-wave cosmologists, something gratuitous about the universe. Art, out of its own freedom, should excite and flatter our sense of our own. Professionalism in art has this difficulty: To be professional is to be dependable, to be dependable is to be predictable, and predictability is esthetically boring - an anti-virtue in a field where we hope to be astonished and startled and at some deep level refreshed.
--John Updike
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:46 AM
Matthew 18:33
self-pity
the easiest of emotions,
"it’s their fault"
fits like a glove
Into your wound you fly.
pity for others
the most difficult of emotions,
"it’s their fault"
may fit like a glove
but into their wound you fly.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:46 AM
Quote Wednesday
Does your mind desire the strength to gain the mastery over your passions? Let it submit to a greater power, and it will conquer all beneath it. And peace will be in you—true, sure, most ordered peace. What is that order? God as ruler of the mind; the mind as ruler of the body. Nothing could be more orderly.
--St. Augustine
We would remind [such] people that it is the law of nature that all things must be of gradual growth...
--Pope John 23rd
The law of correspondence with Dr. Coulton is the survival of the rudest. (aka blogdom?)
--H. Belloc, from Pearce's "Old Thunder"
God Bless Our Troops
--sign outside a Columbus strip club
If you want a committed man, visit the mental hospital
--sign seen outside cheap motel on drive to work
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:46 AM
Targeting Journalists?
It was early. I was still squinting from the light and from disconnection from the dream state. But I believe I heard a BBC reporter, indignant over the bombing of the Palestine Hotel which left at least one reporter dead, asking:
Is the U.S. military targeting journalists?
If accurate, this sort of cynicism is this side of surreal. I get the same feeling when I hear people say dismissively, "any chemical weapons found will have simply been planted by the U.S.".
The spokesman calmly denied the allegation. It would've been funny to hear him flippantly say:
Thank you for your question. President Bush yesterday signed an executive order eliminating journalists, especially those hostile to the Bush Administration. Given our "smart bombing" technology, we hope to be able to strike London's BBC with a minimum of civilian casualties.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:14 PM
April 8, 2003
All You Need Is Love
In college I was disappointed when I got higher than a 95% on an exam. It meant I had over-studied. Time was a precious commodity, not to be wasted. My goal was to do enough to get the "A", not to surpass that out of any love for the subject matter.
How different this is from the spiritual life! Admittedly, there is and always has been a "test" aspect to it. Our first parents were tested in their obedience to God concerning the forbidden fruit. But that aspect was changed in some fundamental way with the New Covenant. It became a cooperation with God, Emmanuel or 'God with us'. Ideally, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit means doing the right thing is a byproduct of love for Him, rather than surviving the test... I have no ambition for a higher place in heaven, but I should have a desire to love Him more nearly.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:35 PM
Shellynna comments on the Pope on Disordered Affections:
He's got a more universal view. We don't understand what he sees, or how he sees it, but for the most part we can trust it. If it were a different, obviously less holy, less God-centered man than John Paul II, I'd probably be criticizing him, too. As it is, I'm willing to trust.
Makes sense to me.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:20 AM
How does the Christian's life of prayer depend on the Holy Spirit?
1. St. Paul teaches that Christians need and receive the special help of the Holy Spirit to pray as they ought: "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God" (Rom 8.26-27).
2. This passage is frequently taken to mean simply that the Spirit causes us to ask as we should and stirs right desires in us. There seems no reason, however, for excluding a more straightforward meaning of the Spirit "himself intercedes for us."
3. We have good grounds for thinking of ourselves as having distinct personal relationships with each of the three divine persons (24-C). The Holy Spirit is the gift given by the Father to those who ask (see Lk 11.13). The General Instruction to the Liturgy of the Hours teaches: "The unity of the Church at prayer is brought about by the Holy Spirit, who is the same in Christ (See Lk 10.21), in the whole Church, and in every baptized person."
According to the promise of Jesus, the Spirit comes and remains (see Jn14.16-18). He is not only with us as a principle, but present in person. The children of God are not left in loneliness like orphans. The Spirit instructs (see Jn 14.26). He defends and guides (see Jn 16.7-14; Gal 5.25). Because of the presence of the Spirit, we have a concrete realization that we are children of God (see Rom 8.16). We cry out to God: "Father!" (see Rom 8.15). The Spirit makes up for our infantile condition by helping us in our weakness (see Rom 8.26-27). He takes a personal interest in our growth in the Christian life (see Eph 4.30).
4. The work of the Spirit in the Christian's life of prayer might be explained as follows. Prayer is the basic act of Christian life. It is normally a work of living faith--in other words, a work of charity. In praying, God's children act toward him according to the divine nature which he has begotten in them through the gift of the Spirit, as St. Paul also teaches: "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, 'Abba! Father!' it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Rom 8.14-16). However, as undeveloped, embryonic children of God (see 1 Jn 3.2), we are not yet capable of acting fully by ourselves according to the nature we have from the Father; we do not yet "see him as he is," that is, experience the fullness of divine life.
5. The Spirit, who "is the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son," therefore somehow mediates our relationship with them, supplying what we simply cannot supply ourselves, as a pregnant mother mediates her unborn child's relationships with its human father, with other people, and with the world at large, doing for it what it cannot yet do for itself.
6. Prayer is the fundamental category of Christian life, and the Christian's life of prayer depends on the Holy Spirit in the way explained. Therefore, the Christian's entire life is supplemented by the work of the Spirit.
7. Hence, the fact that the whole of Christian life is lived in the Spirit in no way means that the Holy Spirit fulfills any of the Christian's human responsibilities. Rather, just as Jesus' communion as Word with the Spirit is no substitute for his faithful fulfillment as man of his personal vocation, so Christians' life in the Spirit leaves them with undiminished moral responsibility.
Christian Moral Principles --Germain Grisez
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:52 AM
Best Excuse I've Found Lately to Drink Before Noon
We plopped down in the living room, and I asked him why he hadn't brought his gas mask, chem suit, and Kevlar. "I wore Kevlar in the Balkans once," he said, "but it made me feel like a counterfeit, so I ditched it." Despite this cavalier disregard for safety, I was so grateful for the company that I offered him a Welcome-To-Kuwait shot of "Listerine" (as it is known by Kuwaiti customs officials). "I don't usually start this early," said Hitchens with feigned reluctance, "but holding yourself to a drinking schedule is always the first sign of alcoholism."
-Christopher Hitchens quoted here via Amy Welborn
On the other hand, if you follow a schedule slavishly in every other area of your life, why should drinking be exempt?
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:07 PM
April 7, 2003
Prayers
I'd appreciate your prayers for my friend Bone who is suffering through numerous trials (recently laid off, wife has thyroid tumor - the doctor thinks it's benign but now's a good time for Heisenprayer). I've written about him here in the past, here and here. He is a colorful guy, a devout Christian, has four small children.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:03 PM
Poetry to Order via the UK Guardian
At Books Unlimited we're so smart we can tell what mood you're in and what would make you feel better. Simply do our test and we'll find you some poetry to soothe your mood.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:19 AM
I love caption contests! Via Disordered Affections
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:19 PM
April 6, 2003
Playing Devil's Advocate...an apologia for pacifism
Another way to look at the war is in a "Pascal's Wager" sort of way. Worst case, if we would've followed the Vatican's approach, we would not have fought the first Gulf War. Saddam would rake in the oil revenues of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and be able to buy nuclear weapons. He would own the Middle East. Millions are killed. (Again, this is the worst case scenerio).
We know the soul is infinitely more valuable than the body. And so Judgment Day comes and the accounting. Any fault imputed to you for your failure to act (i.e. to advocate war) would be mitigated by the following of the Holy Father's counsel. Whereas if you had taken the opposite approach and acted, you would be under even greater judgment for having spurned his counsel. For the Christian, there seems to be no cost, in strictly spiritual terms, of failing to go to war while there is a great cost if you are wrong. Were the early Christian martyrs wrong for leaving their children orphaned? I think not.
If one really and truly believes this life is merely a short stay at a bad motel and that heaven awaits, then one sees the soul as of infinite worth, the body little. All Christians were pacifists for the first couple hundred years. It might've been when they realized that the Second Coming was not going to be tomorrow exactly, that Christians became more "practical" in accomodating ourselves to the "real" world. Or perhaps it was a realization that every era is different, and that there is a time for war and a time for pacifism.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 6:07 PM
Byzantine Catholic prayers.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:35 PM
Lots of Interesting Reads
Review of new book on the King James translation.
Adam Nicolson has a great deal of fun with the absurdities of subsequent translations, all of which is quite deserved; the 18th-century translator who replaced Peter’s ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here’ with ‘Oh, sir! What a delectable residence we might establish here!’, or the insanity of the New English Bible, improving the simple and beautiful ‘Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and yee shall finde’ into ‘Shoot the net to starboard, and you will make a catch.’ These bathetic and inadequate updatings are very funny, but it is important to understand why they are so hopeless. The King James Bible came to demonstrate and embody the principles of expressive English, and any deviation from it can never hope to rival its beauty and perfection.
***
NY Times review of book on early Christian thinkers, aka the Fathers.
***
WSJ opines on the Pope.
****
Eye-opening piece from Bernard Lewis.
[It was] often expressed by Osama bin Laden, among others, that America was a paper tiger. Muslim terrorists had been driven by such beliefs before. One of the most surprising revelations in the memoirs of those who held the American Embassy in Teheran from 1979 to 1981 was that their original intention had been to hold the building and the hostages for only a few days. They changed their minds when statements from Washington made it clear that there was no danger of serious action against them. They finally released the hostages, they explained, only because they feared that the new President, Ronald Reagan, might approach the problem "like a cowboy."
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:00 PM
April 5, 2003
Muggeridge Conference
This looks very interesting. The difficulty will be enthusing my wife about it. Perhaps a gathering of St. Bloggers?
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:04 PM
Opening Day, Cincinnati Style
Pageantry tossed from the skies passed
Down from Abner to present she holds
the ancient lineage long the strands
of confetti that reign down on this
her feast and followers of the world's eldest
know that Tradition is darned in our socks
Inbred in our ground balls.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:13 AM
Reading Huizinga's Waning of the MIddle Ages and it's somewhat disabusing me of my benign view of that period. Especially given art like this.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:19 PM
April 4, 2003
Sitemeter sez....
It seems gauche to monitor sitemeter, narcissistic even, but* it's hard to overlook the increase in traffic created from a recent link from Ad Orientem, not seen since a year ago link from the queen, Amy Welborn. (I can see the epitaph on my blogstone: Was once linked by Amy Welborn).
Seems Mark's a heavyweight contenda', based on the number of referrals. Dorothy Day can't be too happy about that. :) Sorry, couldn't resist. I must say there is something charismatic about certainty of opinion, be it wrong or right. Day's politics and economic sense are opaque to me, but I'm too awed by her holiness to object. It's sort of like an eccentric family member, you love them despite their eccentricities. (Disclaimer: I'm sure Mark loves Dorothy Day too but just objects to her politics & economics).
Part of the reason I so like Hilaire Belloc is that he was a prophet about so many things. He abhored communism and untrammelled capitalism, which seems to me gets it just about right (and he saw capitalism at its worse, when monopolies and oligarchies ruled).
* -see title of this blog
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:53 PM
"Recovering a sense of the dignity of the human person is a prerequisite for Christianity. Recovering a sense of the natural is a prerequisite of the supernatural....Aristotle said that it was lunar and solar eclipses that most spurred wonder and led on to that quest for God called philosophy."
-excerpts from essay from Ralph McInerny in Crisis
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:46 PM
APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke's,
My cousin's, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.
--TS Eliot excerpt from The Waste Land
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:33 PM
Accepted Suffering
"One has to accept sorrow for it to be of any healing power, and that is the most difficult thing in the world...A priest once said to me, 'When you understand what accepted sorrow means, you will understand everything. It is the secret of life.'"
-- Maurice Baring, via Pearce's Old Thunder
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:59 PM
No Blarney?
The following was obtained from an article in a scrapbook at the local historical society. It concerns my great-great grandfather who died in 1914 and who, after first emigrating, had no nearby church:
Rev. James P. Ward, who preached the funeral sermon, said: "Mr. Cogan was known to walk from Glynnwood to Piqua to be present at the divine Sacrifice of the Mass." It was his earnest zeal that prompted him to have a church close at hand, and he with others of the same sturdy faith united their efforts and established a pastorate at Glynnwood..
I checked a map and even as the crow flies the distance between Glynnwood and Piqua is thirty miles!
I went to the Ohio Historical Society a year or so ago and they have a village, like Greenfield Village in Michigan, that is a recreation of life a century ago. The church (of course) is a politically correct one. No cross adorns the chapel lest a non-believer in Christ be offended. (It's a bit difficult to suspend disbelief and think you are back in the 1850s when the chapel has a beautiful stained glass window - of the symbol for Ohio!). The "pastor", or the one who played one in this gig, related how services were often three hours long but that we should not suppose they to be more pious than us - no, this was simply their only social outlet and they milked it for all it was worth. I've noticed this increasingly tendency to believe that there are no real differences between eras or even people within an era - (i.e. George Bush is the same, more or less, as Saddam Hussein.) It is part of our culture of anti-haiography to tear saints down; even Mother Teresa had a dectractor in Christopher Hitchens.
But I ask...if you look around at the great variations in nature, the fact that there are imbeciles and geniuses, there are Tiger Woods' and T O'Rama's...shouldn't that suggest that there are degrees in holiness? Why should saintliness be exempt from the normal pattern of great variation within a species, and why should not cultures, as collections of peoples, not be similar?
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:45 AM
A friend wants to move to Yuma, AZ, where it is said that over 300 days a year are sunny and where we would "not have to feel so uptight" about a day like today, with its accompanying vague sense of unease for not having extracted from it all its profligate goodness. A freakishly warm, sunny day in Central Ohio in early April induces a giddiness such that folks from down south might say, "act like you've experienced a sunny day before!".
Nancy Nall writes: It's spring, honest and truly. NN.C Central is now updating with an open window inches from my right elbow, a glass of Cote du Rhone a few inches closer, and a nice mushroom risotto digesting somewhere else on the triangulation plane. Plus, I rode my bike for nearly an hour after work. I'm SuperBlogger again, my euphoria tempered somewhat by the certain knowledge that my Australian equivalent is slipping into seasonal depression as we speak. To her I say, chin up, sheila! Life is one big wheel.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:06 PM
April 3, 2003
Someone translated my blog into German here. Ye olde blog looks a heckuva lot smarter auf Deutsch. Maybe I'll throw in an occasional mißdeutet or enthält just for the spice.
German was the language of my youth, at least for three years in high school. Third-year German consisted mostly of kreidekriegs, or chalk-wars, because our teacher (sadly) could not maintain discipline and John, Eric and I were the Husseins of the classroom. I'll never forget John heaving a water balloon and watching it splatter against the chalk board, an affront both audacious and mendacious. The dear Fraulein soon fled the teaching profession. But perhaps I digress...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:20 AM
Quote Thursday
Faith begins at a naive level, with a lot of self-interest mixed in. With time, our act of trust is purified as the barriers between us and God are dismantled. No matter how mixed our motives for approaching Jesus, once we place ourselves in his hands, we can be sure that whatever imperfections are there will be gradually leached out.
When St. John presents his series of 'signs', he is at pains to portray the hopelessness of the situation. The man by the pool at Bethesda had been infirm for 38 years - any prospect of a cure was out of the question. This should encourage us greatly. Even when we consider that our situation is so tangled that no resolution is possible, there is ground for hope. God alone knows how to 'write straight on crooked lines' to bring forth from chaos a world of order and beauty.
--Fr. Michael Casey, O.C.S.O. Return to the Heart
But he knows hardly anything yet wants to think that he knows all that there is to know. This seems to be a common defect in those who have been bred up on physical science. And I think the reason is that physical science tells one a lot of facts, but nothing else.. He can explain quite clearly something which he has been dogmatically taught - such as a third rate materialism of modern English physical science, but he can't explain the problem let alone the solution of the religious appetite in mankind.
--H. Belloc
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:16 AM
Scamming the Nigerian scammers...so I don't have to.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:15 PM
April 2, 2003
Sun o' matic*
Two o'clock escapee
released from the fluorescence
Exultantly she holds the sky
Singing hymns of jubilo!
Palms abut the jutting cirrus'
marvels, turns she to companions:
"Resiliancy, thy name is Spring!"
* - written after witnessing a young woman spontaneously break into joy at the sight of the sun upon leaving her place of work.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:09 PM
David Mills on Islam
Pelagianism is said to be the English heresy (Pelagius was British) and the English dislike theology, or at least metaphysics, and so Islam in its modern form might well appeal to them. It's all very practical and directive, makes your salvation a matter of works it spells out for you, works you can do and know you have done them (none of this Christian concern about whether you've hated your brother in your heart, as long as you've done your duty to him), and doesn't worry about your heart at all, and not much about your mind. It's very English, in some ways.
And I think that in Western European societies, in which Christianity seems so played out and what is "Christian" not much different from what is "secular" (in having high divorce rates, for example), Islam can offer the same blessings or benefits (a vision of stable marriage, for example) as Christianity but seem like a fresh thing and a new deal. And as an identifiable and only partly enculturated community, it will seem to be more successful than Christianity at those things (in having low divorce rates, for example). I have heard people speak in a hazy, wistful way of the wonderful life of Muslim families, when they themselves wouldn't tolerate the life for a second.
Above all, the Islamic life seems to offer order and the resulting benefits of tranquility, stability, and secure status in societies in which most people live disordered lives, who are therefore untranquil, unstable, and insecure. I am told this is the great appeal of the Black Muslims in prisons and slums. Prince Charles may love the ghastly Parker-Bowles, but given the life he has lived so far he must wish at some level for order. His writings on architecture and liturgy suggest this. At least he must wish (I hope he does, for his soul's sake) for a life without adultery.
My friend also noted that... "In Amsterdam last year, the No. 1 male name for babies was Mohammed."
This is what happens when societies stop having children, which is to say, when they give up on life.
—David Mills
George Will has said that "what the government subsidizes, you'll have more of". A corollary might be: What a society values you'll have more of. I've been told that back in the 1940s priests were extremely well-respected. Perhaps too much - they drove the best cars, ate the best food. They were portrayed favorably in Hollywood (ala "Going My Way"). And this "value" placed on priests meant there would be more of them. And there were. But now many not even don't respect priests but look at them as if there were something wrong with them. Result: less priests.
Similarly with children. I heard a talk show host recently say the cut-off is three children. When he had his fourth he became almost a pariah - people looked at him like he was wierd and gave him disapproving looks. How sad! Those folks should be our heroes, those who buck societal trends and have the strong faith that accompanies it. May we value children so that we have more of them. As I tell my Protestant friend (who has four children) - "you're more Catholic than I!"
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:05 PM
Missing the Mark
I began reading Tom of Disputation's post and was ready to object but he anticipated me. He wrote that "everything has a catch".
Tom refers to the convicting passage in 1 John 3: "No one who remains in him sins; no one who sins has seen him or known him." St. Paul, with a stunning matter-of-factness, writes in Romans 6 that we are dead to sin, definitionally: For sin is not to have any power over you, since you are not under the law but under grace.
I recall listening to a Baptist minister on the radio who asked a large crowd to raise their hands if they've gone the last month without sinning. No one raised their hand. Then he asked, "the last week?". Maybe two people raised their hand. "The last day?". Again, hardly anyone. He preached against this notion of sin, this notion that it is impossible to even go through a single day without sinning. This notion that Christ didn't sin because He was God, and we really can't follow his model. The minister said that he sometimes goes a month or so w/out sinning, a clarity that I found worthy of envy. Especially when sinning in one's thoughts is often a very difficult judgment call.
Sin can be hard to grasp for me, especially the aforementioned but also the "sins of omission" category. How much charity is enough? In strictly monetary terms, the OT had an answer: 10%. Given the limitlessness of the NT, that answer must now be made according to one's conscience. And, if you are a rich American (which is pretty much redundant), then one's conscience may be afflicted. But if God afflicts the comfortable and comforts the afflicted, then how is anyone comfortable? Ultimately I recognize the impossibility of my salvation, while nurturing hope since with God all things are possible.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:39 AM
Belloc on the Islamic Threat
...excerpts written in 1938
Islam has survived, and vigorously survived. Missionary effort has had no appreciable effect upon it. It still converts pagain savages wholesale. It even attracts from time to time some European eccentric, who joins its body. But the Mohammedan never becomes Christian. No fragment of Islam ever abandons its sacred book, its code of morals, its organized system of prayer...
In view of this, anyone with a knowledge of history is bound to ask himself whether we shall not see in the future a revival of Mohammedan political power, and the renewal of the old pressure of Islam upon Christendom....
These things being so ([the military impotence of Islam]), the recrudescence of Islam, the possibility of that terror under which we lived for centuries reappearing, and of our civilization again fighting for its life against what was its chief enemy for a thousand years, seems fantastic. Who in the Mohammedan world today can manufacture and maintain the complicated instruments of modern war?
Cultures spring from religions; ultimately the vital force which maintains any culture is its philosophy, its attitude towards the universe; the decay of a religion involves the decay of the culture corresponding to it - we see that most clearly in the breakdown of Christendom today.
That culture [Islamic] happens to have fallen back in material applications; there is no reason whatever why it should not learn its new lesson and become our equal in temporal things which now alone give us our superiority over it - whereas in Faith we have fallen inferior to it.
-- Hilaire Belloc, 1938, The Great Heresies
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 6:45 AM
It's Islam, Stupid
The old saw goes, "the rich are different from us - they have more money". Well unlike the rich, Muslims really are different from us.
This article, via Disordered Affections, underscores the root issue that I've been starting to gain a clue on - what if they don't want freedom, democracy, etc?
Muslim countries mostly fall into two groups: those whose populations hate the U.S. & freedom (freedom meaning the opposite of a theocracy) and those whose leaders hate the U.S. & freedom. This "damned if you do, damned if you don't scenerio" means we'll undoubtedly be left with either a puppet regime that the people will loathe and eventually overthrow (ala Iran) or an evil regime which is what we're trying to get rid of. We could hope for a less evil regime; Iran's leaders look like saints compared to Saddam & his thugs. On the bright side, anyone is better than Saddam and less likely to acquire & use WMDs. But messy business all around.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:04 PM
April 1, 2003
Ex-Pres filling in for current Pres
Back from a day at the ol' ball orchard. The 10-1 loss was not pleasant, although I go to baseball games for aesthetics, like a ballet dance. No one goes to the ballet for the plot do they?
Actually, I go for the same reasons Mike McConnell (WLW radio talk show host) goes:
1) Sun
2) Beer
3) the Game
I usually keep score, mostly because I like being able to report what Larkin did earlier in the game and as an excuse to draw diamonds. Paul Dickson writes, "The world is divided into two kinds of baseball fans: those who keep score at the ballgame... and those who have never made the leap." Something tells me Paul has too much time on his hands.
Yesterday's game was a nice relief from war news anyway.
Stadium Beefs
Okay the park is a baseball park, real grass, etc. But what bothers me are two things:
1) Size of seats. I'm 5'11'', 210 (but reportedly look 170) and my father is bigger. We are collectively way too big for these seats.
2) Advertising uber alles. It spoils the rural ambiance of the game to see every unmarked space urging me to "run like a Deere" or "buy Pepsi". There was an olde-fashioned clock that was a copy of the one at old Crosley Field (1914-1970, RIP), only this one had the name "Subway" on it. Give me a break.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:46 PM
This Just In...
Tom needs a shave.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:11 PM
March 30, 2003
Percy Quote...from the verweile doch
He reminded the engineer of the graduates of Horace Mann, their faces quick and puddingish and acned, whose gift was the smart boy's knack of catching on, of hearkening: yes, I see. If Jamie could live, it was easy to imagine him for the next forty years engrossed and therefore dispensed and so at the end of the forty years still quick and puddingish and childlike. They were the lucky ones.
-- Walker Percy, The Last Gentleman
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 6:48 PM
Well it’s spring and it must be time again for the annual shortenin' of the skirts. The magazine rack at Walden’s alone was enough to induce double-take. For someone who occasionally has eye custodial issues, it’s always something of a surprise. If blame can be assigned, I choose to blame part of it on increased sensitivity due to increased religious observance and fasting (the latter minimal but effective). These tend to make one more alive, more aware of sensations rather than jaded and sluggish. Okay, you're not buying that. Maybe it's simply the anachronistic fruits of an unchaste past.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 6:39 PM
Racing to Extremes
It seems as though polarization occurs in part because of our inability to detail with ambiguity. When faced with ambiguity, such as this war, there is a time of sorting out, of shifting, and if you lean to one side and are attacked for it (even called 'immoral') then you tend to not only continue to lean to that side but to race to the fringe of that side - to embrace it as a moral good though before you merely saw it as a necessary evil. I've felt this tendency in myself by moving from the idea of self-defense to Iraqi liberation & back again (revolutions must be internal, at least in the beginning).
I'm making no moral equivalency, but remember the issue w/r/to the Southern states? By the 1830s, the morality of slavery was ambiguous at best. The Virginia legislature met to decide if slavery should be abolished in that state, and the vote was close. But that ambiguity did not last; abolitionists demonized Southerns and by the 1850s slavery was no longer seen as ambiguous morally, but as an actual moral good as described by John Calhoun & others.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:10 AM
Interesting Comments from the NY Times
Kagan serves up an especially provocative image when he compares the United States and Europe to two men confronting a dangerous bear, one armed only with a knife and the other with a rifle. It is psychologically inevitable, he declares, that the one with the knife will choose to lie low, while the one with the gun will find greater security in trying to shoot the bear. ''This perfectly normal human psychology has driven a wedge between the United States and Europe,'' he asserts.
-Serge Schmenmann on Robert Kagan's "Of Paradise & Power"
''In the end,'' he writes, ''peoples cannot take responsibility for each other; but they serve each other when they take responsibility for themselves.'' Given the dangers we now face from international terrorism and nuclear proliferation, Purdy's stress on tending our own garden seems at least a little beside the point, and some of his readers may see in this a faint family resemblance to the ''blame America first'' mentality identified years ago by Jeane Kirkpatrick. But a closer relative is the strain of American Protestantism that in the face of external threats emphasizes personal purity and redemption from sin. When the towers fell, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson looked inward for the cause. Purdy's impulse takes the same form; it's the content that differs. Where Falwell and Robertson worry about school prayer and sex, Purdy worries about poverty and trees.
--Barry Gewen, on Jedeiah Purdy's book "BEING AMERICA: Liberty, Commerce, and Violence in an American World"
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:09 AM
The Wee Lass on the Brae
As I was a-walkin' one fine summer's day
Oh, the fields they were in blossom and the meadows were gay
I met a wee lassie trippin' over the green
I took her for Helen, the Grecian queen
The Grecian queen, the Grecian queen
I took her for Helen, the Grecian queen
Oh, me parents dote on me, and it's all for their sake
And its ofttimes it causes my poor heart to break
But the more I think on them, the more I'm inclined to say
There's no one will be mine but the wee lass on the brae
The wee lass on the brae, the wee lass on the brae
There's no one will be mine but the wee lass on the brae
--Irish folk song
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:03 AM
March 29, 2003
Perpetua’s Felicity
The day of the martyr’s victory dawned
Marched from cell to theater
With cheerful look and graceful bearing
'To heav'n the deathblow sent
In silence received.
Taken from the Second Reading from the Office of Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours for March 7, the Commemoration of Perpetua and Felicity, martyrs, via Bill White
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:33 PM
March 28, 2003
Books
I’m greedy for the newly printed books that lay thick on my nightstand. They sit plump and erudite – Paul Elie’s “The Life You Save”, a biography of Walker Percy, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton & Flannery O’Connor, and TC Boyle’s “Drop City”. The riches of the reading table do runneth over. I hesitate to start them, wanting to just revel in this era of good feeling. I also have a new found library book: Lorenzo Albacete’s “God at the Ritz”. I’m tanned, rested and ready for the long Sunday read.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:49 PM
Mainlinin’ Beauty
Been draggin’ my tired flesh to the Friday night Pre-Sanctified Gifts (aka Vespers) at St. John’s Byzantine Catholic Church during Lent, yet always come away with a renewed peace and sense of making a real connection with Christ as my Liberator. It is an ineffable sweetness to worship with our 76-year old warrior-priest, a liturgical “maximalist” who hasn’t lost his enthusiasm in lo these many years. In a world of cutting corners, he is a throwback. We recently had a visit from the bishop who attested to the latter.
The good Father carries on for nearly 2-hour Sunday divine liturgies, heroic Eastern Christian Lenten fasts, weekday liturgies that oft have 3 participants, and a hundred other things like the hassle of driving to homes for the annual blessing. The church itself is astonishingly beautiful; the Theotokos cradles her first born to her cheek and I tell myself I have the same privilege by adoption.
(The Virgin at St. John's is similar to this, although there is a less possessive and wary look on Mary's face.)
The encircling dome contains icons of the twelve apostles looking down with a certain expectancy. There is a glorious mosaic of Christ holding the letters Alpha and Omega, letters that communicate both reproach and goal.
The tranquility fostered at St. John’s is such that I wonder if I could do without it, which almost makes me wonder if I should.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:03 PM
Dylan ist back! I didn't know there was an option to call him but apparently a couple St. Blogger's did. I do admit an increasing curiousity about what my fellow blogland toilers look and sound like. But not enough to drive the 2 hours to Toledo on a work night to meet & greet Amy Welborn and her husband and some of the other Catlicker authors. I did read about Tom & Kathy's meeting with great interest, as well as little tidbits like Steven Riddle's voice is not as deep as the Kairos guy expected it.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:01 PM
Overheard
"A mother's womb used to be the safest place in the world for a child; now it's the least."
-Fr. Apostoli on EWTN
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:14 AM
March 27, 2003
Whew! But How Do You Really Feel?
Mark Shea writes passionately and very persuasively in a comment on Amy's blog:
I *hope* that a post-Saddam Iraq will be a better place (though judging from Afghanistan's progress that's not a guarantee by any stretch). My point is simply that the rhetoric employed by some pro-war Catholics is grotesque in its implication that the Pope is a wicked fool, that the Catholic Church is "morally bankrupt" because of Catholic opposition to the war and that America's extremely sudden compassion for Iraqi suffering makes America morally superior to our "clueless" (as Mark Sullivan calls him) Pope. I would have more ease following Mark Sullivan's script of America's Messianic Moral Role in the world if Salam Pax and lots of other Iraqis did. As it is, I think the bishop of Baghdad is cutting a much more noble figure than these suburban Pope bashers who seem so certain God is on Their Side. It may be that the Catholic Church in Iraq which has bled along with the Iraqis for two decades has just a slightly higher claim on moral superiority than some embittered sports writer in California who is medicating his rage at the Pope in a comments box, a guy who claims to be a "Real Christian" and a gaggle of people with keyboards who are ready to call the Pope an idiot on hair-trigger notice when he fails to endorse their jingoism.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:05 AM
Just Another Day in Paradise
My wife called me at work and asked:
"I'm ordering from Amazon. I need $1 more for free shipping - is there anything you want?"
I felt like my book manhood was being challenged.
"Uh...yeah...just a sec," though I knew I'd ordered from amazon less than a week ago and the book cart was empty. I looked through the old "Save For Later's", a motley crew of passed overs and close-but-unworthies.
"Well I don't see anything. I could order Scott Hahn's RSV commentary on St. John, but I'm not happy with the idea of buying these books separately at $9.95 a pop instead of waiting until they come out with a single volume, even though it'll be 2020."
"But don't you already have Matt, Mark & Luke?"
"Yeah I should have the full gospels shouldn't I?" (Talking me into buying a book is like talking Michael Moore into railing against white American males).
When I got home I told her that the next time she looks askance at one of my book purchases I'm going to tell her that I'm a "branch librarian for the Body of Christ"*. She laughed and said, "you know I don't give you any trouble about your books!", which is quite true. At least until the upstairs book room collapses into the living room.
No, we disagree about who does the dishes more. We both think we do it about 65% of the time, meaning that those dishes are 130% clean. Clean dishes, clean. As a Lenten "mortification", which insults the root from which that word was taken, I decided to do the dishes all the time without telling her. It's half-way through Lent and she hasn't noticed, strongly suggesting my 65% number might've been a bit low. :)
* - title borrowed from Tom of Disputations
Breaking News: Came downstairs this a.m. and the dishes were done.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:00 AM
Something I'd wondered is why the temple of Jerusalem was never rebuilt. This month's Magnificat mentions one attempt:
Emperor Julian 'the Apostate', who embraced paganism and felt he was destined to restore the old gods of Greco-Roman civilization, attempted to defy Christians by rebuilding the Temple of Jerusalem in 365 AD. St. Cyril is said to have prophesied that nothing would come of it. And it would seem that heaven itself backed him up. Just as work began, a series of earthquakes occurred. As workers cleared the site, gasses trapped in the subterranean passages below the ruins of the old Temple ignited. It caused balls of fire to emerge from crevices in the earth, scorching and killing some of the laborers. The plans were finally abandoned when the emperor himself died shortly afterward.
--Michael Morris, O.P.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:56 PM
March 26, 2003
Post from David Mills
Once you realize what an abortion really is, it is hard not to see it as Molochian. And the society in which it flourishes as it does in our society as equally Molochian.
I suppose this explains why, at the end of the day, Christians like me feel so ambiguous about our country. I despise the leftists and rightists who talk in hysterical terms about America as if it were actively malign and who seem to live fundamentally alienated from the nation, while enjoying all its benefits, such as the freedom to live in such alienation and encourage it in others.
They are at best simple-minded and ungrateful, and at worst blinded by their alienation and what seems in many cases to be hatred. I speak, I must admit, from experience, having felt this in my youth, but having eventually realized how childish and self-indulgent and, to the extent I cultivated the feelings of hatred (which one much enjoys), wicked.
But on the other hand, I cannot look at the number of abortions in this country and its legal protection, and feel unalienated myself. Patriotism is a good thing, and indeed as Chesterton argues elsewhere a godly thing, but not an easy thing for the Christian who loves his country not only because she is his country but for what she is and aspires to be, but must judge her by a higher standard and knows how badly she fails. And knows, in fact, how much she repudiates that standard.
What keeps me from feeling the alienation that others do is the knowledge that the religion of Moloch may be at least partly defeated, even after thirty years of legal establishment. No country can be considered lost to Moloch that has such a large pro-life movement, and that finds his religion defeated even in Congress and perhaps, someday, in the Supreme Court. I would not bet on it, but it may happen.
Concerning the Jesuit magazine America (May 15, 1999), an article on Peacemaking and "The Use of Force: Behind the Pope's Stringent Just-War Teaching"
A Catholic must wrestle with the teaching, and any other Christian should, but I think it suffers from a degree of abstraction, particularly in the repeated assertion that force solves nothing. This practical judgment turns a subtle understanding of war and just war thinking too far toward effective pacifism.
-- Read the whole thing here
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:52 AM
Chesterton snippet...from Ad Orientem
"G. K. Chesterton, who deserves to be sainted, was a vigorous enemy of pacifism, the American Chesterton Society notes.
What he did believe in was the right, or the duty rather, of self-defense and the defense of others.
Chesterton was also a vigorous enemy of militarism. Both ideas, he argued, were really a single idea – that the strong must not be resisted. The militarist, he said, uses this idea aggressively as a conqueror, as a bully. The pacifist uses the idea passively by acquiescing to the conqueror and permitting himself and others around him to be bullied…
"The horror of war," Chesterton wrote, "is the sentiment of a Christian and even of a saint." But in refusing to strike any blow, pacifists announce their readiness to surrender the higher ideals of "liberty, self-government, justice, and religion."
More Chesterton
In chapter 6 of "The Everlasting Man" he mentions the "queer habit among the English of always siding against the Europeans, and representing the rival civilisation, in Swinburne's phrase, as sinless; when its sins were obviously crying or rather screaming to heaven."
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:22 AM
But Occcifer...
He is calmly driving down the sidewalk at a reasonable speed while drinking an intoxicating beverage. Suddenly a police cruiser drives up along side on the road. He begins to panic, knowing he's had too much to drink and that he is now being watched. He begins to move more erratically across the sidewalk. The cop pulls him over while he attempts to hide "the evidence".
"Do you know why I pulled you over?"
"Because I was weaving?" (wondering if he could see the intoxicating beverage).
"You were driving on the sidewalk!"
He is shocked, wondering why this should be an injustice.
This analogy suggests that we will not be held accountable for our misjudgments as such - but for the wilful blindness which leads to our misjudgments. If I quit the intoxicating beverage of selfishness and pride, my judgment and vision will be restored. Instead of focusing on hiding beverages or worrying about weaving, I should aim at abstaining from the aforementioned liquors.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 6:43 AM
Miscellaneous Musing
Enjoyed the "dueling banjos" over at Tom & Steven's blogs concerning love versus and knowledge of God. I'm reminded of a conversation I once had with Al*. He thought religion was for old people who needed something to relieve the terror of impending death. I was taken aback, asking him "but doesn't it matter if it is true?"
But God has a way of wooing (I adore the "Hound of Heaven" imagery). He met a girl, fell in love, and she's a devout Christian. Her love and peacefulness brought something to the table that interested him even in his relative youth. He was attracted by love, others by truth. Viva l' difference.
* - fictitious name
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:07 PM
March 25, 2003
William F. Buckley Quote
"But then we have always known, have we not?, that the day has never been when the sum total of man's available resources was insufficient to cope with skepticism, one of those resources, in the earliest days of our faith, having been an obligingly ubiquitous God. In respect of apologetics we are better off in the twentieth century than we were in the first. St. Peter would have had a more difficult time engaging a sophist than, say, John Courtney Murray would have today, replying to Bishop Pike. Even so, notwithstanding our intellectual resources, notwithstanding our moral and spiritual resources, we [Catholics] are on the defensive. And it is the excruciating irony that the more highly educated we are, the more keenly we tend to feel the pangs of exclusion from the dominant intellectual hustle and bustle of the age. Our faith is more severely buffeted, now that we move easily in the world of knowledge, than it was when we were illiterate.
One obvious cause is the interminable war between the self-justifying flesh and the forlorn spirit, a war in which all baptized human beings are eternally conscript as double agents. Another cause is the lure of rationalism: If we can perfectly understand how to split the atom, why can't we know how to fuse the Trinity?
Surely another cause is the friction between fundamentalist and transcendent understandings of scripture....The appeal of literalism has done much to shake the faith of the literate."
--William F. Buckley, "Let Us Talk Of Many Things"
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:38 PM
Take me from war arguments...but not yet
Hall-of-famer Satchel Paige once said words to the effect of "avoid fried foods, which angry up the blood". I'm finding I have to avoid war commentary sites to avoid "angryin' up my blood". (My heart and mind tell me to be for the war, my pope something else; the disconnect is unpleasant). The old Soviet Union had almost no terrorist acts perpetrated against them because they reacted ruthlessly the few times it did occur. The terrorists understood - you don't mess with the USSR. Since we are much more sensitive to questions of right and wrong, we cannot, nor should, be as ruthless. Which means that we will necessarily be taken advantage of by terrorists at a higher rate. So it becomes - what is an acceptable rate of terrorism? What is proportional? Very difficult question. It's like mosquitos biting at an elephant - the elephant can let a certain percentage gnaw at him but given some point the loss of blood will cause him to begin taking measures that appear unreasonable because he causes collateral damage to the surrounding forest.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:37 PM
Deal Hudson's Conversion Story...
...is in this week's "This Rock". His confirmation name became "Thomas". He explains:
"In the spring of the year I felt the need to start studying something entirely different. I perused my bookshelves for a title as yet unread and came across a paperback book containing the first question of the Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas. I took it out in the backyard along with a chair and sat under a tree and began reading....
I came to the article posing the question whether everything that exists is good. This question particularly intrigued me, in part because it bears upon the personal matter of my own moral status before God. To put it simply, if a person is sinful and evil is he in some way still good? As I read Aquinas's reply to the effect that everything that exists is good because God who is supremely good created it, I stopped reading and looked up. At that moment a redbird sitting in a birdfeeder above my head began to sing, and the words 'everything that exists is good' seemed to unite themselves with the bird's song. The song seemed to represent both the fact of God's creative act and its import, namely that nothing can be so damaged that its goodness can be completely removed from it."
--Deal Hudson
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:47 PM
History & the Body
Could it be that the Church, as the Body of Christ, is re-creating Christ's life on earth? That just as in the beginning He could not find a home, having to settle for a manger, so too did the early Church struggle against persecution to find a home? And did not the killing of the Holy Innocents mirror the killing of the early saints, the virgins and martyrs? Is this the "Good Friday" of history, the time during which our society, our world cries out, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani..."?
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:56 AM
Tortuous Indeed
More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart. - Jeremiah 17:7-10
I've often thought that God effecting a single conversion is more impressive than His curing of an illness. An illness is purely material and is subject completely to Him, while in a conversion God moves around the obstacle of our free will.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:54 AM
Poetry Tuesday*
Half-moon shines sybilesque
against the pallorous night
Steals through a screen door at the foot of the bed
Into the night it beckons.
Birds sound in their idylls
beating the breath-beat of childhood,
Time stands at the window, past, passed by,
“Grow or die” built-in,
Natural as grace.
***
The screen door slams
Mary's dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays...
-- Bruce Springsteen "Thunder Road" - one of the most evocative and moving of all Springsteen's songs.
* - There is no "Poetry Tuesday", there is simply "Poetry ---------", where --------- is the day of the week I happen to post some poetry. Just so you'll know. :)
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:47 AM
Michael Moore
How bad do you have to be, to be a lefttist and get booed in Hollywood? I didn't think such a thing possible in the present universe. It's sort of like Kruschev being booed at the Politburo.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:28 AM
Sunday Read
Must read in today's NY Times - on the roots of Al Qaeda philosphy.
Interesting perspective. The article sort of implies that the Muslim heresy would not "have been necessary" if early Christianity had not dumped Jewish ritual, and that the current Muslim rage would've been lessened if the split in the Western mind between science and religion were not so profound, one that was arguably accelerated and deepened by the Reformation.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:24 PM
March 23, 2003
Pray for our soliders
"We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would do us harm."
--George Orwell
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:58 PM
Flashback
How enjoyable to think back at the long night of the 15th! A good St. Patrick’s Day celebration is an art and requires a bit of luck o' the Irish. It was a stroke of genius on my friend Bone's part to gravitate to the spot we did at AOH. We stood and could survey the band and the dancers and the crowd and we felt a part of it, standing more than half-way up, not loitering in back nor imprisoned in a seat. Location, location, location - so they cry that in the real-estate market and so it is at AOH where the fiddler player holds court. Oh Tireless Youth!
AOH has about it a flavor that is unrecreatable even compared to the Irish Festival in August. I can’t quite put my finger on it, though it has to do with Bone being there and the more intimate atmosphere that AOH inevitably supplies compared to the sterility of Dublin and its Coors sell-out. In the friendly confines of AOH we felt the longing of outsiders wishing to be insiders while getting “lost in the loop” of the repetitive Irish jigs and reels. The restroom was but a stone’s throw away and an agreeable segue between songs.
In my mind's eye I fade to old St. Patrick's at Tara Hall. We're all sitting awkwardly around a large round table eating fried fish in the Aquinas room - Victoria is there, with a child. We sit like knights of the round table with the unlikely accompaniment of women and children. Cal, I think, is there too, and Kindle. We wonder if the wives will leave or if they would follow us to the bar. They don't. We sit in the large heavy oaken barstools and caress a Guinness in front of a barkeep wearing a plastic green bowler hat. He furnishes stout for us at his convenience. A small window reveals Naghten street and in the middle distance the lit-up instrument of our collective torture appears - our workplace. Bu it looks impotent, impotent before our drinking. Not after a Jameson & Guinness! And not on the precious weekend. The sterile place loomed in the distance like a bully without recourse.
I recall the first time we saw the Irish dancers; there was the shock of the impromptu – thru the haze of my Guinness’d eyes there suddenly appeared waves of the most colorfully dressed girls all kicking at tempos I couldn’t keep up with. As I recall it, we were sitting in the front, on the floor, at old Tara Hall and legs kicked only a few feet from our disbelieving eyes. And here it is all these years later and the girls are as young as they were then and kicked just as high and my slo-ginned eye still couldn’t keep up…
Waves of Ireland’s finest
High-stepping weavers of the past
Black-hosed maidens of rural dowries
Garish in your Celtic shields
Holy in your innocence.
The potent opening shot of Jamieson was like Concord’s “shot heard round the world”! We’d walked up to the bar, Bone saying, “you get the Guinness and I’ll get the shots?” and we were suddenly holding the fruits of our labor. My ancestors spent a week's wages for such as these.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:26 AM
March 22, 2003
Losing Alternatives
The sad thing is that I think war is more likely in the future because we've lost one of the ways to prevent it - economic sanctions. Sanctions are heartless and immoral because most dictators simply don't care if people starve. There was a good article in the Wash. Post arguing that sanctions are simply war by another name, one that instead of affecting soldiers and dictators, kills children.
I think the answer, sadly, lies in the book of Genesis. Original sin. Just as thru one man, Adam, death can come into the world so too does this get replayed constantly. Thru the absolute intransigence and hatred of one man (Hitler or Saddam as examples), death rains down. An evil man has great power, unfortunately, and I don't know how we'll ever get around that in this world.
As far as this war, we see the great evil of the last 12 years - evil WE perpetrated in the form of sanctions and two wars. What we DON'T see is the millions of deaths we prevented in the form Saddam having Kuwaiti oil and WPM's and taking over Saudi Arabia and all the Middle East and having untold wealth, land and WPM. There's no reason he couldn't have been an Alexander the Great. We see the cost, but not the opportunity cost.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:19 AM
I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.
-Mother Teresa
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 6:11 PM
March 21, 2003
Ratzinger Quote
"Heroic virtue does not mean that the saint performs a type of "gymnastics" of holiness, something that normal people do not dare to do. It means rather that in the life of a person God's presence is revealed -- something man could not do by himself and through himself. Perhaps in the final analysis we are rather dealing with a question of terminology, because the adjective "heroic" has been badly interpreted. Heroic virtue properly speaking does not mean that one has done great things by oneself, but rather that in one's life there appear realities which the person has not done himself, because he has been transparent and ready for the work of God. Or, in other words, to be a saint is nothing other than to speak with God as a friend speaks with a friend. This is holiness.
To be holy does not mean being superior to others; the saint can be very weak, with many mistakes in his life. Holiness is this profound contact with God, becoming a friend of God: it is letting the Other work, the Only One who can really make the world both good and happy."
-- From Letting God work, by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:59 PM
O blest unfabled Incense Tree
That burns in glorious Araby,
With red scent chalicing the air,
Till earth-life grow Elysian there!
--George Darley
I sat by Ballyshannon in the summer,
And saw the salmon leap;
And I said, as I beheld the gallant creatures
Spring glittering from the deep,
Thro' the spray, and throu' the prone heaps striving onward
To the clam clear streams above,
'So seekest thou thy native founts of freedom, Thomas Davis,
In thy brightness of strength and love!"
-Samuel Ferguson
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:18 AM
"Respect and love ought to be extended also to those who think or act differently than we do in social, political and even religious matters. In fact, the more deeply we come to understand their ways of thinking through such courtesy and love, the more easily will we be able to enter into dialogue with them.
This love and good will, to be sure, must in no way render us indifferent to truth and goodness. Indeed love itself impels the disciples of Christ to speak the saving truth to all men. But it is necessary to distinguish between error, which always merits repudiation, and the person in error, who never loses the dignity of being a person even when he is flawed by false or inadequate religious notions. God alone is the judge and searcher of hearts; for that reason He forbids us to make judgments about the internal guilt of anyone.
Since all men possess a rational soul and are created in God's likeness, since they have the same nature and origin, have been redeemed by Christ and enjoy the same divine calling and destiny, the basic equality of all must receive increasingly greater recognition."
-from The Documents of Vatican II
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:09 PM
March 20, 2003
Today's gospel (Luke 16:19-31) should give anyone with universalist tendencies pause. I remember as a child reading some of these harder-edged parables and much prefering the "after the Resurrection" Jesus, who seemed mellower and said "Peace" and "Do not be afraid" a lot.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:24 PM
Hmm....
I can't expect the Iraqis to welcome war even if it be in their own best interest. No one should expect another to be a martyr, which is basically what an Iraqi civilian is in the position of being (i.e. risking their life for a better future). If the U.S. is a physician, wishing to heal the body of their country via the purging of their cancer (Saddam), we still need the permission of the patient. This war truly must be about U.S. self-defense, not humanitarian reasons.
It is a shame that through one sinful man (a Hitler, Saddam, or Stalin) so many people must die. It is, in a sense, a re-enactment of Adam's sin. Since so much of what we experience has an equal and opposite counterpart, it should come as no surprise that life is given via one man, Jesus.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:42 PM
Uncanny, I Tell Ya
Amy's latest read is TC Boyle's "Drop City", one that I've been dying to read. It really is uncanny how similar my taste in books is to hers - her love of David Lodge for example. Plus her recent interest in Pope John XXIII is appropriate given the seeming abrupt turn toward pacifism the Church has made during his pontificate. Her recent read by Ruth Harris entitled "Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age" is yet another book I've always wanted to read.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:52 AM
via Jeff Miller
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:34 AM
There's a kind of hush....
Steven Riddle writes about the phenomenon of St. Blog's as ghost town. I think he is correct that numbers are way down during Lent and I certainly don't think that's a bad thing. In fact I think it's healthy, and I probably should do the same ('I see the good, I approve it, and I do the opposite' - although hopefully this tendency is being thwarted, especially during Lent). I emailed Amy when she decided to go into semi-retirement and said that in the long run she would never regret not posting something, while she would very much regret not writing that book she always wanted to write.
I have mixed emotions about it to be honest. Should you be reading this blog - or any of our blogs - when such manifest beauty exists in the pages of a Walker Percy novel or, spritually-speaking, in the words of Aquinas or Augustine? I realize it is not an either/or, but I can understand the need to make more space for the best. Blogging is also addictive, and addictions tends to offer less than they require. On the other hand, I think we risk becoming killjoys if we don't indulge in silliness now and then. Killjoys don't make the best witnesses for the faith, imho.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:10 AM
The Noive..or the sweetness of a warm March weekend
He appeared with the wings of Nike on a weekend no less. Sun and mid-70s, with the insouciance of a swaggering drunk. The breath of summer encamped, all hosanna’s and “glad to see ya’s” as if he'd not gone AWOL and left us to the ravages of a winter Verdun. Yea, I say, you drank with Falstaff in foreign climes and now return and expect our embrace?
Yes and yes.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:16 PM
March 19, 2003
Understanding Styles
The Europeans adored Bill Clinton. They abhore George Bush. Bush is the anti-Clinton in almost every measure, including diplomacy. Bill Clinton is a people-pleaser; he just wants to be loved. It's as if he doesn't feel God's love as powerfully as some and wants that human equivalent. As Shakespeare wrote:
My love is as a fever, longing still / For that which longer nurseth the disease, /Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill, /The uncertain sickly appetite to please.
Right and wrong can be negotiated; he cares (deeply) what others think of him. In that way the Europeans had some power over him - power they lack over Bush and it is infuriating since power lost is power desperately sought. Interestingly, St. Thomas once said something along the lines that those who care what others think about them are still far from the Kingdom spiritually-speaking. When Clinton wanted to help in Bosnia, the U.N. was not enthused and so he waited two years (while thousands died) and went the NATO route and gained that fig leaf. He did not want to urinate the U.N. off, or show up the leaders of Europe, and they liked him for it.
George W. Bush, more devout and purposeful, is less a people-pleaser and more focused simply on what he feels is right. Compromise on moral issues, therefore, is more difficult and he is less able to "fudge" just for someone's approval. He feels God's love fully and firmly and knows that millions are praying for him and he feeds off that knowledge, rather than the knowledge that he is approved of by the world community. By allowing God to be the main spring of his approval, he naturally lessens the power of foreign leaders. He is more likely to do the right thing and be unpopular for it (at least for a politician - a big caveat) than Clinton was. Bush is capable of compromise on lesser issues - like the education bill. But on war and peace he is firm as rock.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:53 PM
Critique of the Just War theory as it is being applied today.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:24 PM
But how do you really feel, Hilaire?
The industrial civilization, which, thank God, oppresses only the small part of the world in which we are most inextricably bound up, will break down and therefore end from its monstrous wickedness, folly, ineptitude, leading to a restoration of sane, ordinary human affairs, complicated but based as a whole upon the freedom of its citizens. Or it will break down and lead to nothing but desert. Or it will lead the mass of men to become contented slaves, with a few rich men controlling them. Take your choice. - H. Belloc in the 1920s
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:09 PM
Good Point
Tom of Disputations asked a Dominican spirituality lecturer which fruit of the Spirit the American Church needed most. The friar answered, "Joy."
I think the Dominican hit the bull's eye. Orthodox Catholics in other countries frequently remark on the joyless, severe, constantly outraged attitude of so many orthodox American Catholics, like so many grinches with shoes that are always too tight, or people with way too much cheese in their diets.
--Fr. Jim of Dappled Things
My pizza-every-night thing is so over now. Whoda thunk that was it?!
Seriously, Kathy reports that one of the Dominicans said, "The first gift of the Holy Spirit we must seek is God Himself; He then provides the rest of the gifts." So instead of seeking after the spiritual gift of joy, I shall hope for it as a byproduct of seeking after God Himself.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:56 PM
In France I distrust...
What amazes me more than anything is not the Pope's stance on Iraq but Europe's. For them to allow Saddam Hussein....Saddam Hussein! ..to damage our relationship is simply astonishing. The Kyoto Treaty? Maybe. A trade imbalance? Ok. But Saddam Hussein? The U.S. is actually doing them a favor (since he is a threat not just to the U.S. but to everyone). It is an amazing fact that the world is apparently more afraid of the U.S. than Iraq. If you're the pope, can't you ask, "if you are saving the world from terrorism, why isn't there a greater consensus?".
Just War Blackmail
Okay since proportionality is an ingredient, let's say Country A knows that Country B adheres to Just War Theory. Country A can announce "we will kill 100,000 of our own citizens if you cross the border." Now Country B cannot go to war because it knows that the number of saved lives may only be, say, 40,000. Does this mean that Country A can kill up to 40,000 of its own citizens and we can't prevent it? Since Saddam is grooming his sons to take over when he's gone, then I assume you can cumulate all the deaths that they would cause. I wonder if St. Thomas & St. Augustine thought there would be evil on the scale of Saddam - an evil willing to kill its own citizenry. And it's not hypothetical.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:26 AM
The Fragility of the Flesh
Kathy the cheerful Carmelite has offered a collection point for well wishes for Dylan, who is in the hospital. Ms. Knapp just returned from there and is healing.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:54 AM
Link from Amy on American arrogance.
The fact that an infinitely strong God would become infinitely weak (i.e. dead) should give us pause. There is no excuse for rude diplomacy. There is no cost to politeness, no cost to sparing another country from humiliation. Where we should be firm we must be, but where we can afford to be weak it seems we should be that.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:15 PM
March 18, 2003
(via Hernan Gonzalez)
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:57 AM
Rome vs Washington
The Thomist definition of the necessary conditions for a just war is, like all his writing, admirably straightforward. War must be declared by a competent authority; the US president and Congress fulfil this requirement constitutionally in terms of self-defence, but not to cast America in the role of international policeman. There must be just cause, i.e. attack by an aggressor or a need to restore rights lost under aggression; this validated the 1991 Gulf war, provoked by the invasion of Kuwait. There must also be proportionality — the likely suffering and destruction caused by war must be outweighed by the just cause. Most of the world disputes this in the context of Iraq. The remaining stipulation is the right intention, meaning that the belligerent must intend to re-establish justice and a lasting peace. America clearly has the intention of affording Iraqis an opportunity to live under a more just regime; but the acute hazard of destabilising the Middle East, with the possibility of other governments falling to militant Islam and a massive resurgence of terrorism, could be held to cancel that out.
The descendants of Puritan settlers devised the Declaration of Independence, a document in conflict with Catholic doctrine, which was also the inspiration for the French Revolution. The high-water mark of hostility came in 1899 when Pope Leo XIII, in the Apostolic letter Testem Benevolentiae, formally condemned Americanism — the socially progressive errors espoused by such prominent American Catholics as Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore, who had gone native in the pluralist atmosphere of the United States.
The Vatican’s true American allies are the cultural conservatives (to whom Dubya is ideologically closer than his father was) whose doyen the late Russell Kirk, an eminent Catholic, opposed even the 1991 Gulf war.
- Entire article here. Via Touchstone blog
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:26 PM
March 17, 2003
Consoling thoughts from Kathy the Carmelite:
"Certain blogbuddies wonder if their blogs are getting too frivolous. I doubt it. I think we all go through cycles: holiness and backsliding; consolation and dryness; depth and shallowness; zeal and apathy.
Big deal."
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:43 AM
"I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.
I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men." --St. Patrick
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:58 AM
Journal du jour
It’s appropriate, perhaps, that on a night that moved at warp speed I type the date of this journal entry as “03/15/01”. Perhaps my muscle memory has only caught up to 2001. Time moves at a much faster rate than I can absorb; my internal clock must be two years behind. Certainly today’s St. Patrick’s party, which was some seven hours, lasted only two hours internally.
We arrived at Dublin’s “Blarney Bash” by 4:30ish. After a beer & a quick trip to McDonald’s we were ready for the “main event’ as they say in boxing and wrestling circles. I was ill-prepared for quite the effect the Hooligans would have on me this day; in that sense it is like religious faith – you trust and then you receive. I trusted that I would have a good time, and went thru the requisite motions, but then I found the most marvelous thing! By the 3rd song I was utterly hooked, utterly convinced - their set was heaven-sent! That it was buffered by a beer and preceded by a bad band were perhaps helpful props, but still the Hooligans hit like a hurricane.
One surprise during the set was the Hooligan’s surprise. They were doing Finnigan’s Wake, and the line “Mrs. Finnigan called for lunch” is always echoed by the crowd saying “lunch!”. We did so and the Hooligan’s broke out in huge grins, as if this were in some way revelatory. I was delighted by their delightment. Apparently we had stepped on the line of the younger Keane singer, who had some sort of bon mot to deliver in that musical pause.
Their set was over in about 100 minutes, (20 minutes my time), and my only regret was being unable to convey the requests “Risin’ of the Moon” and “John Paul Polka” (we mis-yelled “John Paul Shuffle” at one point). They did sing “Four Green Fields” and “The Unicorn Song”, the latter twice.
We left by 8:00 and headed for the AOH (Ancient Order of Hibernians) celebration at St. Joseph Montessori. AOH fit us like a warm glove on a cold night! We walked into the more intimate gathering and they had Guinness, which was nectar after that horrible Coors & Killian Red.
The main act, Vinegar Hill, was okay. Though the singer had a rather high-pitched voice, he was tolerable, especially on songs I already knew. Goosebumps flourished during the last five minutes, all of us standing and singing at the top of our lungs:
Give Ireland Back To The Irish
Don't Make Them Have To Take It Away
Give Ireland Back To The Irish
Make Ireland Irish Today
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:39 AM
March 16, 2003
Understanding the Pope
JPII said nice things about (and was very respectful towards) Islam in "Crossing the Threshold of Hope". He famously kissed the Koran. Couple that with the fact that due to declining birthrates, the future of the Church is in Africa and Asia, and voila we have:
"[The Pope] is looking ahead for the rest of this century where Christian-Muslim relations are key to peace and religious freedom in African and many parts of Asia." - Rev. Thomas Reese
The US-Iraq war will hurt Christian-Muslim relations for decades and derail the freedom to practice Christianity in Africa and Asia. I'm not sure that appeasement, however, is healthy in any relationship. A good end (good relations with Muslims) doesn't justify a bad means (giving Saddam room), but I better understand now why the Pope wants to distance himself from Bush.
Here's another reason for the Pope's solidarity with Muslims (email from a smarrt friend):
"Over the past twenty years, the Vatican has fought tirelessly at the UN and its conferences over abortion and family planning. Sometimes the US has been on its side (like now) and sometimes not (like with Clinton). Through that time, Muslim countries have been been (along with Ireland, I guess) the only nations that have stood with the Vatican on this. In fact, someone told me that if it weren't for the opposition of Muslim nations to abortion and state-mandated family planning (aka coercion), the results of all those meetings - Cairo, etc...would have been VERY different than they were."
Finally, here's a link on how the Pope views Islam. Interesting...via the wise Tom of Disputations
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:33 PM
March 14, 2003
His enthusiasm is catching
Outside my friend's office there is a large whiteboard. In the southeast corner there is a shamrock drawn in green magic marker and below that 'the countdown'. Dave has been keeping track since somewhere north of 300 days. As the father of four children under 7, he rarely gets out of the house. In fact his wife allows it a couple times a year, and for no time longer than for the St. Patrick's Day celebration, which will begin for us at 4pm Saturday. God willing.
Of Irish interest - the USCCB has helpfully provided this Irish movie list.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:49 AM
Favorite Oxymorons
As an appreciator of oxymorons, especially biblical ones (such as 'Virgin Mother'), I glance around the Catlicker bloggers for inspiration:
Tenebrae et Lux: the sublime one from Dylan. The name has since been changed, natch.
Gospel Minefield: when I see the phrase "mine field" I think of landmines and the possibility of being blown up, which is not "good news" or gospel except in the sense of "dying to self". But if you take it as a gold mine that's a different story. Kathy gets extra credit for having her blog mean two different things at the same time.
Perpetual Ephemera - by Louder Fenn
Disordered Affections - as a fellow sufferer, I can relate. But in Reality (i.e. heaven) all affections are ordered.
Minute Particulae - Mark rarely if ever deals in minute particulars.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:54 AM
March 13, 2003
Interesting
"I've been wanting to write a piece directly on the subject of how containment -- as a moral argument -- is morally offensive for quite a while. Walter Russel Meade does precisely that today in the Washington Post, and brilliantly so. If you want to argue that containment is preferable to war as a national security argument, that's intellectually acceptable. But if you want to make the moral argument that containment is better, you have to demonstrate why more pain and death over a long period is preferable to less pain and death over a short period. And that's a hard argument to make in moral terms."
- J. Goldberg
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:51 PM
March 12, 2003
Times article describing the universe as a "doughnut". Homer Simpson would be pleased.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:34 AM
"[Bush] has more information than anyone else, he has people skilled in evaluating intelligence, he has the authority (granted by Congress) and the responsibility to make decisions. Can he err? Yes, alas. No one in the world is infallible, and American intelligence has had grievous failures.
Since he cannot be 100% certain, should he therefore do nothing until an attack occurs? But such an attack might leads hundreds of thousands, or even tens of millions, of Americans dead. How would the Untied Sates respond to a massive biological attack if it felt it had been betrayed by its allies and persuaded to do nothing while Hussein used terrorists to poison the United States? Do the Europeans really want the world’s most powerful nation wounded with millions of its citizens dying, and feeling betrayed by its allies and almost the whole world?
The United States has behaved with enormous restraint, but war brutalizes. We destroyed German and Japanese cities in our fury at being dragged into the war, even though our own civilian population was untouched. How would we respond with 20 million Americans dead? The rest of the world should contemplate that, and decide whether it wants to leave Hussein in power." -- L. Podles
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:29 AM
Old Journal Entries Never Die.... (you know the rest)
I fondly recall the time spent on a cruise ship on the package Carribean tour, for the purpose (according to the brochure) of “demythologizing the Carribean for people who still have the mistaken notion that there is something exotic about a few sea islands a hop, skip & jump south of Florida”.
When I was younger I had a dream – I always wanted to go to a place that could be pronounced (correctly) two different ways (“Carry-be-in” and “Carib-ian”). True, Ohio was “O-HI-O” and “O-Hi-ya” but that didn’t count. I would practice prounouncing it both ways, trying to decide which was more sophisticated. As a child locked in land-locked Ohio, the notion of islands anywhere held a paradiscal quality that gave off imaginings of adventurers like Robinson Curoso, Lewis & Clark, the Professor & Skipper. I’d become intoxicated by “The Light in the Forest”, the story of a white boy raised by Indians who was convinced he was Indian. I always thought I was an Indian at heart, trapped in white skin and raised in this stiff-collared “civilization”.
But by ’87 I was traveling to debunk the idea that there is purity anywhere – I sought foreign climes where I might test my theory. My first cruise was two years out of college, upon a huge Carnival boat where we drank Bud Lights as St. Kitts floated by; we attempted to identify her as if by labeling her we could somehow brag that we’d seen (owned?) her. If it's Thursday it must be Dominica….
I stared morosely as the wake streamed away from the island of Dominica on the last day of the cruise. If ever there were an island where I could be the red man, it was there. Auden’s poem came to mind: we were that generation “neither happy nor good”. My friends and fellow disillusioners were grabbing cold pizza and stale cookies up on the promenade deck while I watched the generation of ceaseless white surf from the starboard side. I let myself into the cold salt water quietly, with nary a splash or a saynora; I swam in the bracing waters with my sneakers like tow-weights towards my green destination – friendly Dominica. I swam, swam like the wind, till I hit the muddy shores and ascended the hill where cannibals used to hold court and order white meat at a makeshift deli counter. How sweet it was! I would become the “noble savage”, the Mogli in Disney’s adaptation!
My first days on the island were idyllic; I read “Adrift”, the story of a survivor of a shipwreck who lived on a raft for 1,128 days. I noted that time held a quality it hadn’t since pre-college; it was as if the quality of time was directly proportional to the amount of time you could afford to waste.
Portions of the above, of course, are pure blarney.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:00 PM
March 11, 2003
“A flood of words is never without fault; whoever controls the lips is wise” --Prov 10:19
Weariness
What if
words fail
mute
mime
my allotment of breath
spent
falling quiet as my grandfather,
only the sound of scissors talking
to the beat of falling hair?
Worse, what if
the words turn cursive
biting at curds
and bitter herbs?
***
Antidote to Dullness
Down Naughten Street a stranger walks
the former “Irish Broadway”,
Now warehouses and non-descripts
Prosaic as the day.
What interest would he sure provoke
if this be eighteen-eight!
Fueled by Finney's "Time and Again"
I'd follow to know his fate.
Fast he walks to young St. Patrick's
Worshipping in Latin
Swimming in the dear old Faith
Chin above the patin.
The answer be if we could just
move faster than light's speed,
or see the world through eyes less blind
re-awakened by the Creed.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:06 PM
The Two Secrets of Dominican Contemplation
Pray.
Keep at it.
-- via Disputations
Reminds me of the ol' shampoo bottle instructions: "Wash. Rinse. Repeat." An antidote to needless complexity.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:20 PM
Bad Catlickers?
One of the reasons Catholicism has survived for so long is because of its ability to bend without breaking, to encompass many different groups and sensibilities. The Pope, of course, has a free will, and infallibility is a negative charism, one that only prevents heresy, not bad judgments. Our very orthodox Dominican priest stresses the great freedom of belief – how wide the pasture of what one can believe is. The Church’s doctrine are fences on the far edges of the landscape pointing to the cliffs that have already been discovered. There are many theologies but one doctrine. Catholics can disagree on the war with Iraq and not be bad Catholics.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:38 PM
Free-fall...
from the Catholic World Report
Percentage of College Students Answering "Yes" to These Questions
Abortion should be legal: 1997=61.1%, 2001=71.6%
If two people really like each other, it's all right for them to have sex even if they've known each other for only a very short time: 1997=40.2%, 2001=58.8%
Wow. I'm not so much surprised by the numbers as by the trend - four years is an amazingly short time to see the numbers change on that sort of scale. I'm beginning to wonder if the so-called trend towards greater orthodoxy of the young is just smoke & mirrors.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:02 AM
Ooops...
Saddam's soldiers attempt the soldierly equivalent of premature ejaculation - embarrassing for everyone involved.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:30 PM
March 10, 2003
Interesting commentary from Camilia Paglia:
Cults multiply when institutional religion has lost fervor and become distracted by empty ritual. Early Christianity, for example, began as a rural rebellion against the fossilized Temple bureaucracy in Jerusalem. In 1950s America, the political and professional elite were still heavily WASP. Prosperous congregations were overly concerned with social status at church or at its annex, the country club. Roman Catholicism, searching for social credibility, was steadily purging itself of immigrant working-class ethnicity, a process of genteel self-Protestantization in music, ceremony, and decor that in middle-class parishes is now virtually complete. Many of those attracted to cults in the sixties and early seventies were escaping mainline denominations where bland propriety was coupled with sexual repression. It is a striking fact that few young African-Americans joined cults: surely the reason was that the gospel tradition, rooted in the South, invited emotional and physical expressiveness, stimulated by strongly rhythmic music.
--via another controversialist, Rod Dreher
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:36 AM
Winter, We Hardly Knew Ye
Old Man Winter sputtered & spat after the warmth of a 60 degree Saturday. But the ol' curmugeon must sense his time is nigh; he protests too much. I laughed at the 20s on Sunday, took the dog a walk and said to the ol' man, "you're just a paper tiger, a lame duck!". Courage is easy when the light at the end of the tunnel has been spotted.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:11 AM
Verweile Doch
...is still in progress. "Verweile doch" is German for "linger awhile" which is the name I've given to long Sunday reads (truncated from: Verweile doch, du bist so schon meaning "linger awhile, you are so beautiful"). My stepson wanted his copy of CS Lewis' The Screwtape Letters back so I was able to fulfill my Lenten obligation early by finishing it this afternoon. It was excellent, as anyone who's read it knows. His insight into human nature is keen.
This got me to reading a Lewis biography by George Sayers called "Jack" which, in turn led me to the 'net to read about a particularly interesting tidbit about his take on Catholicism via a book by someone named Derrick, which led me to this, which I haven't read yet but plan to.
In George Sayer's biography he comments, "I agree with Derrick that Lewis was nearest to becoming a Catholic in about 1950, but I do not regret that he did not. I think that it would have limited his influence, especially among evangelical Christians." Perhaps God can work in the mysterious way such that the less good - my wife's nondenominationalism - be a positive, in the sense that it might have helped incline my (previously) agnostic stepson towards Christianity (given that his take on Catholicism is apparently it be too heavy on ritual and too light on biblical exposition).
Note to self: Now quit blogging & go back to reading!!
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:40 PM
March 9, 2003
This Just In....
Guess I may as well jump in on this (minutiae) bandwagon:
1. What was the last song you heard?
Boulavogue off Tommy Makem's "Irish Revolutionary Songs".
2. What were the last two movies you saw?
"Heist" with Gene Hackman, "Rachel And the Stranger" - western from the 40s with Bill Holden & Loretta Young.
3. What were the last three things you purchased?
Shoelaces. Reds tickets to a game in June. Huizinga's "Waning of the Middle Ages".
4. What four things do you need to do this weekend?
Hike at least an hour at Darby Park. Pay bills. Go to Mass. Keep the Sabbath rest (I'm really good at that one). Complete my translation of the bible. (Just kidding).
5. Who are the last five people you talked to?
- Wife, stepson, stepson's girlfriend, friend Dave (aka "Hambone"), boss
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:32 PM
The Daddy Country?
MSNBC's Chris Matthews (a Democrat) calls the Republican party the "daddy party" - i.e. the party more likely to make unpopular decisions and impose necessary discipline (not necessarily fiscal as we've seen of late, although one could argue that since a deficit is the only thing that constrains government tumescence it may be a necessary contrivance).
It seems America was thrust by the events of 9/11 into the role of "daddy country" - i.e. making unpopular decisions and imposing necessary discipline. An example? This Week reported today that many countries want the U.S. to unilaterally deal with the North Korea situation - the same countries attempting to block U.S. action w/r/t Iraq! This is the sort of thing a child wants - to have his cake and eat it too - and it is exhibited in spades by France, which signed a resolution (1441) it obviously never intended to honor.
The Pope has earned the moral authority and can call in his chits as he apparently is doing now. That I can respect. But France and the other comfortably numb "allies" seem to be simply shirking their responsibility.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:43 PM
Peggy Noonan brought up an interesting point on an interview show. She basically said why in the world should we have expected anything different from the U.N. than we've seen given that it was a huge struggle to get the coalition together for the first Gulf War? For then France couldn't argue that Iraq hadn't invaded Kuwait (as they argued that Iraq had no WMDs)...There is a certain clarity about a country marching over a border. And yet Sec of State Baker had to do a lot of cajoling then.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:07 AM
March 8, 2003
Such a woman indeed...
Nice article on fasting in the Washington Times via Dappled Things. After reading that, I fear I'm not doing enough. Rich meditation on the book of Wisdom at Old Oligarch.
Today is the feast of Saints Perpetua and Felicity (wonderful names!):
The day of the martyrs' victory dawned. They marched from their cells into the amphitheater, as if into heaven, with cheerful looks and graceful bearing. If they trembled it was for joy and not for fear....The others stood motionless and received the deathblow in silence, especially Saturus, who had gone up first and was first to die; he was helping Perpetua. But Perpetua, that she might experience the pain more deeply, rejoiced over her broken body and guided the shaking hand of the inexperienced gladiator to her throat. Such a woman--one before whom the unclean spirit trembled..
--via Bill at Summa Minutiae.
Okay now that really makes my Lenten sacrifices seem small. There is a sense in which I can bear anything if someone next to me is bearing something worse, which is sad in a way. There is an amazing relativity in these things. I was complaining about someone the other day and realized that the gulf between myself and your average saint is infinitely greater than the gulf between myself and that person. And there is an infinite gulf between the saint and the holiness of God. It sort of reminds me of that "Powers of 10" link that Disordered Affections posted that showed showed the grand scope of the universe by showing pictures at millions of light years out and until the sun is faintly visible, then earth, then a tree on earth, then a leaf, a cell, a nucleus...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:30 AM
March 7, 2003
Thomas Hibbs has the winter blues:
We have discovered a type of despair that escaped the notice of Kierkegaard and Freud: an existential crisis prompted by geographical despair.
Walker Percy wisely noted that the hardest part of life is passing time with no diversion. For one of his characters, Lancelot, the worst time was between dinner and sleep. For us, during winter break, it was midafternoon.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:36 PM
March 6, 2003
I've gotten a couple more emails from Nigerian scammers and I'm not quite sure it's covered by the Geneva Conventions, but I've decided to respond with to them with my fictional forays! Yes, instead of inflicting them on you, my loyal if tiny reading public, I will inflict them on Nigerian scammers! Ingenious I'd say.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:01 PM
Hmmmmm....
Steinbeck addresses a question that has been on my mind. Is it possible to let your beneficence blind you to certain realities?
I think your father has in him, magnified, the things his wife lacks. I think in him kindness and conscience are so large that they are almost faults. They trip him up and hinder him.
-- Steinbeck, East of Eden
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:40 PM
Catholics Debating: Back President or Pope on Iraq?
Article in NY Times...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:45 PM
Oy vey...!
I misread Disordered Affections post about wanting to strangle people yesterday. Must. blog. while. fully. awake. I had an equal and opposite reaction. I distrust feelings, so feelings of holiness triggered by fasting I'm inclined to ignore. (In the past I've felt holy while being in the state of mortal sin; Gen'l Stonewall Jackson felt holy while fighting for slavery - but that's another issue. Besides he was probably invincibly ignorant). The result of the fast was undeniably a greater patience, coupled with a greater appreciation for those who are poor. Part of it was that I was just too damn tired to be tense with anyone. I had nothing but mellowness to give. (Reminds me of the old story about how someone goes out for an hour run after a fight with his wife and after 15 minutes he forgets what he was arguing about and after 30 minutes he forgot he had a wife). Finally, I woke up Wednesday knowing the day could be grim and so my expectations were lowered. I was unaccountably cheerful because the day would not disappoint me. And knowing that all the bloggers and other Catlickers were out there fasting gave me a sense of solidarity that was thrilling. Prayer is also much more intense during fasting, don't you think?
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:07 AM
Death
I was listening to the Teaching Company on the commute today and Prof. Peter Saccio made the point that you can tell a lot about a culture by its self-help books. The Victorians, having made a lot of money from the Industrial Revolution, were obsessed with class and so bought books dealing with etiquette and how to write letters...His [Saccio's] generation was into sex, so that begat a spate of books on achieving orgasm and the joy of sex. Our generation might be considered about money, how to make money in the stock market, how to get rich...Shakespeare's generation read books about death - how to die well. To them the most important moment of life was the moment of your death, for your eternity hinged upon it. Deaths in Shakespeare's time were public, not hidden in the hospital but at home with friends and family and neighbors. I fear that most self-help books concerning death for our generation deal with how to kill yourself.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:02 AM
Who Am I?
- brutal dictator
- violated the treaty of the previous war by re-arming
- was given the latitude to continue re-arming
- caused a holocaust, both figurative and literal
Answer: Adolf Hitler
Sound familiar? There are sins of comission and sins of omission; I wonder if Pres. Bush wouldn't be committing a sin of omission by not enforcing the Gulf War treaty. We know that little sins lead to bigger ones - Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point explains that the reason crime in NYC dramatically fell during Mayor Guiliani's administration was that he "sweated the small stuff" - he no longer looked the other way for things like scrawling graffitti. It worked.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:56 AM
The Snow Will Continue until Morale Improves
Another beating of snow this morning, reaching the point of parody. It reminds me of a book I read as a teen - Harold Hill's How to Live Like a King's Kid, which said that God will give us a live-in mother-in-law until we stop 'needing her' - i.e. that until you are at peace with her. This analogy was lost to me then, since I didn't have a mother-in-law nor could I imagine my grandma being a burden to my dad...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:14 AM
Fascinating exchange of views last night on Bill O'Reilly's show. O'Reilly says the Pope is being naive and idealistic on the war. The guest says O'Reilly is being naive if he thinks violence will not beget more violence. He brings up the Israeli situation - is their situation any more secure after 40 years of giving tit for tat? O'Reilly shoots back that at least they're there, saying that if they didn't resort to violence they would be wiped off the face of the map, which is what their neighbors want. Compelling arguments on both sides.
George Weigel was on Pat Buchanan's show, still wearing the ashes he'd received. He argued that we are defending ourselves from an act of aggression if one defines aggression a bit more subtly, i.e. the nature of Saddam coupled with the gathering of weapons of mass destruction IS an act of aggression. I found it somewhat unconvincing. I never thought that the pre-emption argument was that good - I'm surprised that was the best Weigel could come up with. Saddam's weapon program is ultimately why we are going to war, but it's not the rationale - just as the feds got Al Capone on tax evasion.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:06 AM
The Blog-in News
Hernan Gonzalez is back from a month-long hiatus...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:01 PM
March 5, 2003
Lenten Reading
I'm starting with C.S. Lewis and The Screwtape Letters but hope to read Death on a Friday Afternoon later in Lent. But most of all I hope to follow Gerard Serafin's suggestion and simply read the bible.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:13 AM
Sampling Seamus
I'm sick, you're sick, we're all sick of....war talk. So let's cleanse the palate with a little Seamus Heaney:
The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head
But I've no spade to follow men like them.
___
All year the flex-dam festered in the heart
Of the townland; green and heavy-headed
Flax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods.
___
As a child, they could not keep me from the wells
And old pumps with buckets and windlasses,
I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells
Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.
Now to pry into roots, to finger slime,
To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring
Is beneath all human dignity. I rhyme
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.
-excerpts from poems by Irish poet Seamus Heaney
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:47 AM
Happy Lent!
As Yogi Berra might say, "90% of fasting is 75% mental". I recall that after a marathon most runners say they will never run another. Eventually that attitude wears off and they're enthusiastic again. So here's to another Lent! I am cheered by the notion that not only it is what I need but what our fractious, beleaguered world needs.
Also - here's an Ash Wednesday poem I posted a couple weeks ago.
Hymns in English & Gaelic! Via Dylan!
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:43 AM
It's not about pre-emption
I've never thought the war could be validated by pre-emption. If that's what it's about, then my misgivings about the war will turn to anti-war protest (but I will skip the nude rallies). No, what I see is something similar to what U.S. marshalls faced back during the 30's - Al Capone robbed and killed until they got him - on a technicality. Income tax evasion. Now you can say that Pres. Bush has Saddam Hussein on a technicality - that he violated the Gulf War treaty and failed to disarm. But a technicality is still legal, and the fact that much suffering and death was prevented by locking up Al Capone (or Saddam Hussein) is icing on the cake.
I'm leaning towards John Paul on this one. I would not vote for the war in part because I'm too conservative (small 'c'), meaning that I don't relish a "big bet" - which this war certainly is. I also don't know what Iraqi civilian casualties would be, which seems to me a big unknown that would effect the justness of the war.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:59 PM
March 4, 2003
Witnessed the disturbing image of a protest in downtown Santiago featuring naked middle-aged men, proof-positive that the "I'm anti-war, so I'm taking off my clothes" movement has definitely jumped the shark.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:49 PM
Lunacy
Still struck by this Khalid Shaikh Mohammed guy who apparently was rudely awakened from sleep, not quite ready for prime-time what with his swarthy unshaven shoulders and bleary eyes, his t-shirt hangin' low ala Jennifer Beals in Flashdance...I'm just blown away by the fact that he got up every day thinking of ways to terrorize and kill Americans, that it was his job. Like a businessman he's got his laptop computer, cell phone, and his job is sit around and "think outside the box" on how to kill people. I don't get it. I guess part of it is that that picture was taken without his sheik-wear and thus he looks less alien and more "guy next door". It's just so calculated and corporate. You get the idea he's written up one of those ubiquitious mission statements and is reading Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. (Or was).
His hatred of America and disregard for life seems of an impersonal variety, like that old cartoon where there's this sheep dog, Sam, and his job is to protect the sheep from wolves and at 5pm the whistle blows and then Wile E. Coyote calmly says to the dog "See you tomorrow Ralph" or words to that effect. Nothin' personal, I just have to kill your charges. Of course the coyote is killing for food and this wolf is killing for ? Anyway I can relate to Kathy's comment "I find it easier to pray fervently for Osama's soul than for the souls of people who irritate me!".
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:05 PM
Interesting NY Times article on the perils of ignorning the Sabbath:
And not even our group leisure activities can do for us what Sabbath rituals could once be counted on to do. Religious rituals do not exist simply to promote togetherness. They're theater. They are designed to convey to us a certain story about who we are without our even quite noticing that they are doing so. (One defining feature of religious rituals, in fact, is that we often perform them for years before we come to understand what they mean; this is why ministers and rabbis are famously unsympathetic when congregants complain that worship services or holiday rites feel meaningless.)
--Judith Shulevitz
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:55 AM
War commentary
Note to self: Read this this...via fructus ventris and this via Disordered Affections.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:26 AM
Riveting exchange between Disputations & Camassia on the opaque topic of who shall be saved.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:15 PM
March 3, 2003
Exercising Spiritual Muscle
One truism in the world of fitness is to "surprise" your muscles. Don't go through the same routine and allow your body to get too comfortable which will, at best, merely maintain current levels of fitness.
Our Byzantine priest had a surprise at Vespers yesterday, something to awaken us from our comfortable numbness. Nearing the end of the service, he said we should all come up (there were perhaps 20 of us), form a line and hug each other and offer the 'kiss of peace' which was of the European sort - a peck on each cheek. My immediate reaction was to gauge the distance between myself and the back door and to calculate the odds of being noticed leaving. But that was so patently outside the spirit of Lent that I couldn't pull the trigger. So the first person went up and gave the kiss of peace and then stood to the left of the priest. The next person offered the gesture to both the priest and that person and then stood to the left of them, and so on...It was all very sweet. Most of us seemed a little more enthusiasm when greeting the opposite sex, which I suppose is only natural.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:07 AM
Came across this on the web by Scott Steinkerchner OP:
William James' essay The Will to Believe brings this mindset to bear on the seminal religious question, "How is it that one can rightly have religious faith?" His answer is intriguing. First he puts forward a certain category of truth which can only be acknowledged if it is first believed provisionally in faith. For example, personal friendships cannot be established without first trusting a potential friend, a trust that as yet has no basis in absolute proof. If one trusts, proof can come and a friendship can be established. If one refuses to trust, no friendship is possible. James then suggests that religious affirmations are exactly of this sort. They cannot be decided beforehand, they can only be believed and then subsequently verified. Of course, an individual is free to not believe, but this is just as self-ratifying as believing and thus no more objective. As he says, "Skepticism, then, is no avoidance of option; it is option of a certain particular kind of risk. Better risk loss of truth than chance of error."
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:54 AM
Thin Tuesday
I like Disputation's Lenten preparations. Coming off a sickness, I've not had a beer for almost two weeks and food has been very problematical due to a slight nausea. Drats! If not for this I coulda been a contenda'!
More seriously, on the way to church yesterday I pondered the fact that if you are obvious about your fasting and wear a scowl then you've already had your reward. But what if you are proud about keeping it to yourself? Snares everywhere! The devil makes me paranoid.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:49 AM
On the writer Tony Hillerman:
Hillerman learned to shun material wealth and to follow his dreams from his older brother, Barney. 'I was lucky in having a brother who is unusually wise," says Hillerman. "He asked what good is money when you've got your rent paid and you've got food and clothing. Beyond that, he said, what can you buy with it?"
Barney's point was that the only good about having money is 'that you can ransom yourself back from the system,' continues Hillerman. "What you've got to do, he said, is find a way to get your basic needs met doing something you like to do, so you don't have to buy your time back and thus don't have to have a lot of money." --Catherine Walsh
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:40 AM
Quote
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are customarily, and I think rightly, said to have contributed to the realistic quality of Baroque religious art... A particularly striking feature - and one that surely fired the imagination of artists - is what Ignatius calls 'compostion, seeing the place, the aim of which is 'to see with the eye of the imagination the corporeal place where the object one wishes to contemplate is found'. The 'secularization of the transcendental' (to use Friedlaender's term) was not long in manifesting itself in Spain, where painters and sculptors seized upon realism as a means of bringing the beholder into a state of mystical communion with the divine.
-- John Rupert Martin, If it ain't Baroque, don't fix Baroque
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:23 PM
March 2, 2003
Blonde Moment
Stopping at a 7/11, I saw situated by the door a height chart. I thought, "how nice - they put that up for kids to measure themselves with." The cashier got quite a chuckle from that one. Obviously it was there so that when robbed they could provide a better description.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:18 PM
Lent
Very good homily from a visiting priest this weekend. He started the sermon by approvingly quoting Ben Franklin's line, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." That got my attention! And then he described the phenomenon of "comfort" food and how odd a notion that is. He asked why we eat when we are not hungry, suggesting that we are looking for something from food that cannot be had.
The purpose of fasting, he says, to focus us on what it is we are really hungry for. He reminded how one cannot simply apply fasting over our old wineskin - how we have to be willing to be remade and be flexible enough to expand. The hope for our hopelessness is supplied by the First Reading today from the book Hosea, where God promises us to "lead us to the desert" and forgive and remake us.
Prayer, alms and fasting - the cure for what ails for twenty centuries.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:16 PM
Poetry Friday
Ascetic
That in the end
I may find
Something not sold for a penny
In the slums of Mind.
That I may break
With these hands
The bread that wisdom grows
In the other lands.
For this, for this
I do wear
The rags of hunger and climb
The unending stair.
To a Blackbird
O pagan poet you
And I are one
In this we lose our god
-at the set of the sun.
We dream while earth's sad children
Go slowly by
Pleading for our conversion
With the Most High.
-- Patrick Kavanagh
posted by TS O'Rama @ 4:48 PM
February 28, 2003
Mohandas Gandhi, who was a Hindu, called 'worship without sacrifice' an absurdity of the modern age.
--Scott Hahn, The Lamb's Supper
posted by TS O'Rama @ 4:01 PM
My Nigerian scammer email got bounced because his inbox was too full. Perhaps others are trying to scam the scammers.
Old Oligarch sez:
Apparently, 16 dolts lost $345,000 last year, and a few have even been whacked in Nigeria, according to this Wired article.
--via a sharp-eyed Kathy at Gospel Minefield
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:02 AM
A reading list for every young woman. But applicable to everyone. Scroll down a ways for comments on Augustine.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 7:08 AM
More possibilities on the Pope's perspective:
- Given the spotty record of Catholic monarchies and theocracies, why would he bet the farm (long-term) that the thoroughly secularized U.S. would be a benevolent power? Indeed, don't we capitalists loathe unregulated monopolies? What is the U.S. military but an unregulated monopoly?
- Perhaps the Pope believes we are in the end times and that there may only be a couple successors to the chair of Peter left. If the war goes awry, does he really want to meet the Lord having blessed what led to the final conflagration?
posted by TS O'Rama @ 5:28 PM
February 27, 2003
Amy Welborn ruminates about the war and asks the reasonable questions "Why Iraq? Why now?". My guesses:
1) Saddam's impotent militarily. China? North Korea? Gain a clue, we're not suicidal.
2) He is, or should be, a viable target from a United Nations perspective (if, perhaps, not from a 'Just War' perspective). Saddam's constantly violated U.N. resolutions for 12 years. For the U.N. to resist the war is nonsensical and most likely naked anti-Americanism. It's like asking someone who is pounding you on the head to keep on pounding.
3) To fight terrorism. If you win the war, you now have a base right in the middle of that putrid nest of terrorism, the Middle East. You can set up an intelligence operation. You have a place to land planes and troops without getting Turkey's or Saudi Arabia's permission. In the best case scenerio, you have a democracy that might lead to other democracies.
4) Partially personal. Someone trying to kill your father isn't something easily forgotten.
So, this matrix means you get a lot of bang for your buck if you're President Bush. I'm not justifying the war, I'm just saying that I think I understand why he's doing it.
One thing is for sure - I can certainly understand why the Pope doesn't approve. If he didn't approve of the Gulf War with the whole U.N. behind us and clearer justification, he certainly isn't going to approve of this war. On the bright side, at least the Church isn't alienating hundreds of millions of non-Americans by coming out for it.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 10:03 AM
Kudos to St. Blog's
It's really amazing to me how good the writing is around the parish. I just read a piece from the Pew Lady on hell (via Disordered Affections) and it was impressive.
What is it about this connection between literacy and orthodox Catholicism? I realize there is self-selecting going on and that you don't have a blog unless you care about writing, but gee whiz....When I saw some of the scores from that vocabulary test I was a little stunned. Y'all shouldn't be getting over 170 so easily, should you?
The pew lady is not alone. Professional writers like Karen Hall are, of course, the real thing, but look at how some of the amateurs write! I'd rather not mention favorites since my tour of St. Blog's isn't comprehensive.
My point is that it is very consoling to be ensconced in my day job when I see the talent of my fellow amateurs have. My dream job would be the buyer at a publishing house, but tis odd that in writing (not just reading) I find out things. Sometimes I begin writing in my journal or blog and I think, "I didn't know I thought that.."
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:24 AM
More Byzantine Bowlin' Fun!
Jeff Miller adds:
It also depends if they are Byzantine in union with Rome. The Byzantine Orthodox bowling league is a little different.
* They believe that the bowling ball proceeds from the chute only and reject any modification made to the bowling creed.
* They believe that all bowling leagues are equal and that the bowling league from Rome does not have authority over the other leagues.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 10:06 AM
February 26, 2003
Musings on Peale
The Thomas a Kempis quote reminded me of a time, years ago, when I was perusing Norman V. Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking. I was struck by how mechanistic it was; the mind a computer to be programmed with Pauline verses like, "I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me". At the time I thought: wouldn't it be better if we let God inspire us with those thoughts? Peale's approach, perversely, seemed to be taking God out of the picture - we shall simply program ourselves for love and confidence in God.
Now I see that what is needed is not "either/or" but "and/both". It's a microcosm of the endless mystery of cooperation between man and God - a symbiosis where one never quite can tell where man ends and God begins, where the natural is left behind and grace is added. This reprogramming might be a purely human activity, but the richness of the Word has within itself the seeds of divine activity. The successful Pealite might be successful partially due to the programming and partially due to the grace of the God, which does accomplish all things which strengthen us. One could say that it is merely programming reality into oneself, like constantly repeating, "the grass is green...the earth is round..."
posted by TS O'Rama @ 6:26 AM
What if U.S. Grant were fighting the Civil War today…
...& imagine that before the war Grant was the head of a shoelace manufacturing company:
Dan Rather live from somewhere just outside the Wilderness:
"Day 1072 of this terrible civil war, and I am live outside the tented headquarters of U.S. Grant where a group of protestors have gathered." (Cut to montage of seven protestors, one with sign "GRANT us Peace!", another with "Save the Horses - End this War").
"The White House today denied any connection between the war and the revived shoelace manufacturing industry, an industry which contributed heavily to Lincoln's election coffers and which, I don't need to remind you, was Grant's source of income prior to the war."
"Let's go to Mike outside Spotslvania. Mike?"
"Yes Dan. There is no known link so far - and again I want to emphasize that the link could be there but we just haven't found it yet - between the Big Shoelace campaign contributers and the way this war is being prosecuted. There are confirmed reports that shoes left on the battlefield often have perfectly fine shoelaces, presumably requiring new government contracts for the shoelace concerns. One must ask if this is a payback for the Big Shoelace companies. Dan?"
"Thank you Mike for that fine report. Now we go to Sherrie Rice in Atlanta, Sherrie?"
"Yes Dan, there are reports that the Sherman's army is heading this way. I'm standing outside the southeast's biggest shoelace company, a company becoming rich due to this war by supplying--
posted by TS O'Rama @ 6:26 AM
The one thing that the God beats us with a megaphone with, over and over, is that he is to be found in unlikely places, like a manger, a burning bush, a piece of bread, a stranger. How elusive is God! How could the innkeepers who rejected Mary & Joseph know who they were rejecting? Or the high priests of Jerusalem when they found a suffering Messiah not a good fit for that role? David’s father, who presumably knew him best, couldn’t see David as annointed. “Couldn’t see” – that’s the point isn’t it? That is the blindness Jesus mentions over and over.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 6:25 AM
Thomas a Kempis:
The wise lover regards not so much the gift of Him Who loves as the love of Him Who gives. He regards the affection of the Giver rather than the value of the gift, and sets his Beloved above all gifts. The noble lover does not rest in the gift but in Me Who am above every gift.
To fight against evil thoughts which attack you is a sign of virtue and great merit. It is not an illusion that you are sometimes rapt in ecstasy and then quickly returned to the usual follies of your heart. For these are evils which you suffer rather than commit;and so long as they displease you and you struggle against them, it is a matter of merit and not a loss.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:13 PM
February 25, 2003
Bowling For Pirohi
You can imagine my surprise when an insert in the church bulliten read:
"WANTED! - Byzantine Bowlers for the 48th National Byzantine Bowling Tournament"
I'm wondering how a Byzantine bowler differs from a regular bowler...some possibilities (with affection):
* Bowling balls, shoes, gloves, lane, pins blessed
* Sign of the Cross (three times) before every roll
* Pirohi with beer between games
* Reverend Father has an icon on his bowling ball
* Instead of 10 frames, there are 12 (for the apostles - plus they are maximalists, allergic to Jesuitical minimums - if the Latins do ten, we shall do more!)
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:00 PM
Old Journal Entries Never Die...they just get replanted.
Saw this while going thru my journal, from three years ago this week. The occasion was my niece's baptism. My evangelical wife was present, hence the cringe-factor was higher than it otherwise would have been. (Since, of course, I would that she convert and would prefer the style of the liturgy not be an obstacle).
I do seem extremely "holier-than-thou" in this entry.
Church at St. Jude’s seemed almost like a spiritual vacuum, sucking the salt from me in the vapid liturgy. I cringed at the priest referring to the martyr-soaked privilege of offering Holy Eucharist as “work”, as in “I had to work all morning because the other priest is sick”, and then preceeding to offer a “sermon” that, as near as I could tell, was a recap of his moving and living arrangements. I suppose for the parish who had him as a priest for awhile would feel sufficient shock and curiousity to warrant some of the talk, but the spiritual sustenance given was woefully low. One got the impression that the priesthood was just another job. Leave us our illusions! Even if be that way, need they strive to prove to every non-Catholic in the audience that Catholicism is just another Moosehead Lodge club? The musicians tried to cover up the embarrassing lack of fervor by long musical selections, but it was to little avail. It was all a bit disspiriting. At least Dad was singing, dependable as a Tiger Woods’ drive, bringing some life to the old joint.
But the worst was yet to come. Arguably the most important sacrament of all, the one that must come before all the others, was embarrassing to the point of parody. Baptism, that noble sacrament that Jesus took pains to start and end his ministry with – beginning with John in the Jordan and ending in his final words before the Ascension – was turned into some kind of side-show. I suddenly longed to be a Southern Baptist. The jocular deacon would be fine as the color man at a sporting event, but here the sports reports just seemed jarring. I cringed right from the very beginning, and cringed right to the very end. As we were walking out the door he said, "twelve babies baptized in one hour! Call the Guinness book of World Records!". As if! As if this were a contest or a game! Did he not for a minute pause and consider the significance of what he was doing? Has he not read the portion on Baptism in the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Has he not any consideration of the emptiness of ritual without the underlying love and meaning? A body without a soul is dead. God made us, gave us bodies, for which we don't have to be embarrassed about using literally as prayer, number one because Jesus had a body and exercised it in a prayerful way by receiving water in the Jordan. Why should we be sheepish about doing His will, are we afraid to look foolish in the eyes of the world for believing that what we do in concert with Him has eternal consequences? Would that self-same deacon be disturbed if his wife were fooling around on him and told him, "well I'm just cheating on you with my body, I am still pledged to you in my heart and spirit". I think he might not take that so well. Did the deacon treat these Baptisms with more care and reverence than a waiter brings food in a fine restaurant? The great consolation, of course, is that God is not limited by our weakness or lack of awareness and that He gave each infant's soul a mark that cannot be erased today. That He can work through us, such flawed instruments, is truly a wonder and my appreciation for Him grows.
Whew! Reading this reminds me of an anecdote from Frank McCourt's life. It's been a long time since I've read his books, but either him or his brother made fun of their mother for going to great lengths to self-baptize her grandchildren against her son's wishes. Maybe it was that she baptized them multiple times in case one of the times didn't "take"; memory fails. I guess she was at one extreme - i.e. baptize the child and they're bound for heaven. The old school mechanical Catholic where the sacraments work like levers. But today there is an almost opposite zeitgeist - the outward sacraments don't much matter, you don't have to go to church or go to confession - it's what's in your heart.
Balance, where art thou?
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:40 PM
Never Gets Old
I've been offered an urgent business arrangement with a Dr. Yetunde Bassey. Apparently he's a bank manager at the Diamond Bank of Nigeria, Lagos branch. I've been offered an opportunity to make some money by helping him out of some sort of bureaucratic difficulty. I replied with an email of pilfered Greek - Iô ouk oid' hopôs humin apistêsai me chrê, saphei de muthôi pan hoper proschrêizete peusesthe: kaitoi kai legous!' (exclamation point mine).
What's the similarity between a Nigerian scammer and Saddam Hussein? Both have lost the benefit of the doubt.
So....will the last person scammed by a Nigerian scammer please stand up? Can there really be someone out there left? Sure people are always getting computers for the first time, but isn't the market for these guys is dwindling? If everyone replied to every Nigerian scammer, wouldn't it be less profitable for them since they'd be inundated by emails?
posted by TS O'Rama @ 4:52 PM
Been reading the Pope's opinion of the original Gulf War in Weigel's biography Witness to Hope. The Holy Father's thoughts about the war were almost "apocalyptic" according to Weigel, quoting him as saying, "the imminence of an armed confrontation with unforeseeable but certainly disastrous consequences."
In the flush of success the Gulf War seemed, at least in the early 90s, an unqualified success. But the lasting effect feels sinister and vaguely disastrous. Perhaps the developments would've happened anyway, but Bin Laden might not have started his jihad. (Everything points to his enragement beginning the minute U.S. troops landed in his holy land, Saudi Arabia). The World Trade Center bombing might not have happened. Millions of Iraqis suffered from sanctions. Many of our veterans suffer from exposure to chemical weapons, aka the Gulf War syndrome. A second war looms with apocalyptically. At least some of these disasters could've been prevented by finishing the first Gulf War. Best to cut off the king's head rather than wound him.
It ultimately shows the power of one evil individual to wreck sheer unadulterated havoc. If you saw the "60 Minutes" piece Sunday night, you'll know what I'm talking about. A very respected and credible Iraqi defector said that Hussein wants to re-make the map of the Middle East. From the attack on Iran to the attack on Kuwait, it is war that he lives for. I suppose it is war he shall have.
The author Robert Kagan says that you can live in a Kantian, peaceful world and not a brutal Hobbesian one if....a big if...all the other players agree to it. That has been achieved in Western Europe, where they live in this protected sphere of peace because none of the nations of Europe are Hobbesian. But it all it takes is one rogue leader...
From Weigel's bio:
John Paul did not believe that the Pope's role in such a crisis was to conduct a public review of the classic criteria legitimating a just war; and then give a pontifical blessing to the use of armed force if those criteria had been met. The Church's mission in world politics was to teach the relevant moral principles that ought to guide international statecraft. Beyond that, it was the responsibility of the statesman to make prudential judgements on the question of when nonviolent means of resolving a conflict and restoring order had been exhausted.
Just-war reasoning involves rigorous empirical analysis, which was sometimes lacking in the Holy See's approach to the Gulf crisis.The assumption that more dialogue could coax Saddam Hussein into withdrawing from Kuwait and making restitution for the wreckage he had caused was never very persuasive, given what was already known...Nor did Holy See proposals for negotiation seem to take sufficient account of the likelihood that delays in military action heightened the chance that Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:45 PM
The Long Loneliness of Tony Blair
Riveting read on Tony Blair's conundrum. How lonesome it must be to be where he is, having access to the highest religious authority on earth and finding no solace. It can only come from his own conscience.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:17 PM
At last it can be told - Nihil's identity. Nice going Gregg the Obscure! Everyone loves a good mystery solved.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:40 AM
Bill O'Reilly Opines on Religion
People say, “Why do you go to church?” I say, “Why not? What is a better use of my time? For an hour a week, I can think about things of a spiritual nature in a nice church with beautiful sculptures and stained-glass windows and a 2,000-year-old tradition that makes sense. Why would I not go?”
What’s the downside of going? What if there is no God? Well, so what? If there is no God, I’m dead. It doesn’t matter, OK? I’m looking at it like, “What’s to lose? What’s the problem here?”
This sounds like a version of Pascal's Wager, which always sounded to me a bit cold and calculating. (But then I could be ridiculous or a hypocrite; heaven is not earned and I'm not above hedging my bets). I just feels like he's minimizing what we must give to God - which is more than just going to church. Going to church for moi is the fun part, the less easy is fasting from sin or food, becoming charitable to the point of a cost to self, etc...But my wife points out that he is reaching the unsaved in this way, trying to get them not to be so viciously anti-religion. A spoonful of sugar... Full article is here
posted by TS O'Rama @ 5:06 PM
February 24, 2003
I Wish I Was In Dixie...
Disputations is a bit peppery today with many piquant posts. He writes about the fascinating contradiction about some of the Confederate generals, holy men fighting for an unholy cause:
"People are complex," as they say, and complexity makes for both good story-telling and fruitful meditation. How can honor and nobility co-exist with a willingness to kill to preserve slavery? That's an important question without a simple answer.
One way to come to terms with the likes of Lee and Jackson is to remember that they were not members of the one holy Catholic Church. Thus they really didn't believe in the development of doctrine. Thus because slavery is condoned by St. Paul ('slaves, obey your masters') then Lee might seem able to justify it. Still that doesn't explain the fact that the Spirit blows where it will and that the guidance of the Holy Spirit in these prayerful men would seemingly have given the sufficient light to understand the evil of slavery. And thus the mystery. (I understand that the issue might be framed as state's rights and not slavery, but I also understand that slavery typically was considered a moral evil after it became economically unviable. How con-veeen-ient. This somewhat undermines Northern 'righteousness' but also, in my mind, undermines some of the Southerner's 'state's rights' claims).
I read a great biography of Stonewall Jackson, a very fervent, devout Christian. He had not the slightest doubt about the rightness of his cause, but this in a way makes him more interesting. They say that evil is banal and that goodness is the opposite, but the admixture, at least in this life, often seems most interesting given that our minds like complexity. One of Russell Kirk's six "principles that have endured" was an "affection for variety and mystery over uniformity." Still, heaven will be infinitely interesting I'm sure, so the lack is on this side.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:19 PM
Ponderable
Adrienne von Speyr is excerpted today in Magnificat concerning a monk (perhaps Anthony) who went through a period of time during which he did not pray well. He was an experienced Christian who was in an active ministry. He eventually went to the desert to pray in solitude, recognizing that his desire to give up praying was a temptation from the devil, and in the desert spent years praying well off and on, depending on the circumstances (i.e. distractions) like the weather, or his hunger, etc...
Finally he realized that there lurked in him a self-love that made him seek desperately after any attraction, just to be freed from prayer.
From the moment he cut his own self out, he received an understanding of God's Trinity. For the truth is, he said, that as long as in prayer man experiences his own personality, he cannot come to know the threefold personal being of God. As long as the ego lives...God cannot then be more differentiated in relation to man than man is himself.
I am way too American in my thinking - I want instant success. I want to "fix something". I loathe, most of all, inefficiency. And so I think, "wow that was inefficient for that monk to spend twenty years to discover the problem in his prayer...I wonder what I shortcut I can find." But it doesn't work that way for at least a couple reasons. One is that the 'pearl of great price' is worth everything whatever the inconveniences, whatever the pain, however seeming inefficient. Secondly, man cooperates with God. It is a partnership, and it certainly isn't a sole proprietorship. I can no more build a tower to God than those poor unfortunates at Babel. Third, we simply don't appreciate what is not attained with difficulty. I would that I be more happy for that person rather than focusing on my lack.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:30 PM
Psalm-aid
Lord, your mercy is my hope, my heart rejoices in your saving power. I will sing to the Lord for his goodness to me."
--Ps 12:6
The beauty of the above psalm reminded me of what Kathleen Norris wrote in one of her books concerning her mild-to-moderate depression. She found that the two things that made the most difference for her was daily exercise (in the form of a walk), and a daily reading of some of the Psalms. Medicine for body and soul.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:11 PM
Dear checker-work of woods, the Sussex Weald!
If a name thrills me yet of things of earth,
That name is thine. How often have I fled
To thy deep hedgerows and embraced each field,
Each lag, each pasture - fields which gave me birth
And saw my youth, and which most hold me dead.]
--Wilfrid Blunt
posted by TS O'Rama @ 7:22 PM
February 23, 2003
You may want to say a prayer for Natalie, who is going through a trial of illness.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 10:21 AM
February 21, 2003
Reminder to Self
Caption to man being given medical attention:
More common is the tendency to mentally exaggerate the consequences of keeping the fast, but with time and experience, this too will come under control of the will. - Disputations
One aspect of fasting is that it is not an even playing field and should be individually-gauged or tuned. My 92-year old grandmother, God bless her - her only joy in life is food. She is house-bound, can't travel, can't do many of the things I have the luxury of doing (I shan't name them but you get the drift). So for her to give up food is necessarily a greater trial than for me to give up food because it is a sacrifice of a greater percentage of what makes her happy, at least in an earthly sense. I understand that pleasure does not equal happiness, but sometimes the perception of lack, of dearth, contributes to a sense of unhappiness when the lack is not joined properly with God.
I remember one time a friend asking me why selfishness was so hard to eradicate in oneself and I said unselfishness typically involves a sacrifice of temporal personal happiness. If it were easy, everyone would do it. It's the delaying of personal gratification towards the laying up of treasure in heaven. It's the same reason the savings rate for Americans is so abysmal. Unselfishness on the order of Mother Teresa is an astonishing example of delayed gratification.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:55 AM
Dependence
I know I'm beating a dead post here, but I was watching C-Span's Booknotes (yeah, I was the one) and the guest was Robert Kagan, author of the book Europeans are from Mars, Americans from Venus, (actually The Paradise and the Power), and he made the comment that "dependency usually leads to resentment." There it was again, the third time I'd heard that in a week.
I've been mulling this over as it relates to God. I don't consciously feel any resentment towards my dependence on Him, in fact I feel a sense of relief when awareness of my dependence on Him is realized (coupled, of course, with the fact of his love). I suppose that part of the reason dependence breeds resentment is that the dependent country feels a loss of autonomy; perhaps that is why God gives us this gift of free will, a will so free that it has resulted in outrages like my mediocrity. But this free will enables us to never feel resentment because of His lack of coercion.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:03 AM
Me Being Nosy
My Dominican parish has recently finished a major parish annex, including a nice library. I've been checking the perenially locked door and finally today was rewarded and able to check out the goodies. Most of the boxes haven't been unpacked yet, but I did notice two marked "Rahner" and "Kung" (excuse me for not having an umlaut handy). It'll be interesting how much from the TAN set will make it. Maybe an Incorruptibles or two? Or perhaps a better radical equivalent would be something by Lefebvre? (Pardon all you Rahner fans, I realize he's no Lefebvre. Supply your own equivalent).
It is amazing how much your library says about you, be it parish or an individual. It's a small thing, but I remember one of my aunt's favorite books was Trinity by Leon Uris which I understand isn't very friendly to the faith. I've only read a smidgeon of it, but perhaps it simply reflects the faith as was lived which is not always pretty (i.e. 'the Situation'). Anyway, she was a 'liberal' Catholic if we can use those coarse labels and I always thought that maybe book reflected that, just as the 'conservative' Catholic might be a fan of J.F. Powers or Flannery O'.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:25 PM
February 20, 2003
Another Belloc Quote
He is a thoroughly good man...he has something like Holiness in his expression and an intense anxious sincerity. He spoke of individual conversion as opposed to political Catholicism in a way which - with my termperament all for the Collective Church - profoundly impressed me....
--H. Belloc, on his audience with Pope Benedict XV
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:09 PM
Unmerited Grace
Thanks go to Karen at Disordered Affections for our recent after-ad existence! And for her willingness to dispense free advice here.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 2:30 PM
Hey Tim Drake's back (via Kat). His final missive back a half-year or more ago was a shot across the blogging bow, making the case that blogging was clique-ish and a vanity press. I'm not so sure he's not right. I recall that St. Thérèse of Lisieux had to be forced to write her "Story of a Soul" under the pain of obedience. Something tells me she'd not be a blogger. I think the saint most likely to be a blogger would be St. Augustine who poignantly wrote about his spiritual journey.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:15 PM
Where's the justice in that?
Nihil Obstat is ad-free.
*grin*
posted by TS O'Rama @ 11:11 AM
Further sleuthing
My guess is that the next time Disputations posts, it will remove said ad. It appears to be a St. Blog's phenomenon - I checked Tightly Wound (no salvation outside the church, or St. Blog's apparently) and his ad is still tightly attached.
I feel very sheepish if someone spent their hard-earned money on keeping this lame site ad-free. I'm still not sure it's not a Blogger glitch though...
posted by TS O'Rama @ 11:10 AM
Did I miss something? Blogger isn't putting at an ad at the top of my site, at least at this particular moment in time. I checked Dylan and he doesn't have an ad but Disputations does. No time now to further explore this improbability.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:58 AM
Man Protected by the Shield of Faith
Maarten van Heemskerck (Netherlandish, 1498–1574)
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:50 PM
February 19, 2003
Kirk could flat out write
Some years ago, I was in Europe participating in two international conferences... Between sessions, I tramped about England and Scotland with an American friend, an executive in a great industrial corporation. Being something of a classical scholar, my friend collects sixteenth- and seventeenth-century editions of Latin works -- particularly Cicero and Seneca -- and pokes happily about Roman remains.
We found for his library, in the dusty caverns of Scottish secondhand bookshops, a number of admirable things at trifling prices. There lay the noble elephant folio of Strabo, in two immense volumes, at a mere thirty-five shillings; and the Strawberry Hill edition of Lucan, beautifully bound, at five guineas; and a twelve-volume set of Cicero for a pound. In an age of progressive inflation, one commodity alone remains stable, or increases little in price: classical works. At the devil's booth in Vanity Fair, every cup of dross may find its ounce of gold; but the one thing which Lucifer can't sell nowadays is classical learning. Who wants Latin texts? No twentieth-century Faustus disposes of his immortal soul for mere abstract knowledge. The copies of Strabo and Lucan and Cicero for which a Schoolman might have risked his life ten times over are now a drug on the market. As my friend remarked to me, "These things are cultural debris. It's as if a great ship had sunk, but a few trifles of flotsam had bubbled up from the hulk and were drifting on the surface of the great deep. Who wants this sea drift? Not the sharks. You and I are rowing about in a small boat, collecting the bits of debris."
-Russell Kirk, excerpt via Summa minutiae
posted by TS O'Rama @ 6:57 PM
Excerpts from Letter 1
of Letters to a Soul by Dom Hubert van Zeller, OSB
You mention your discouragement and the sense of failure. You say you are trying to resist the obvious temptation to be discontented and bitter, and that everything you attempt only increases your feeling of inadequacy. But isn't this because you expected a certain kind of success and have not found it? Wouldn't it be better to accept your limitations and be content within them? It is an art in life to put up with being second best. I don't mean that we must make compromises with our weaknesses, but I do think that we have to admit we are mediocrities. To accept the role we have to play, even if it's a small part when we have the talent to play the more important and successful one, is not to invite failure or frustration. It is to submit to the condition of life that God has planned for us. Once we have made this submission -- which is not a lowering of an ideal but on the contrary, because it essentially involves humility, is a raising of the ideal of serving God in truth -- we are less disappointed at the evidence of our inadequacy. Accepting our mediocrity, while all the time trying to make the most of our opportunity, not only brings a certain peace but is what the parable of the talents is all about. So long as we don't bury the insignificant talent, and put the blame on God for its insignificance, we can go on trading with it as effectively as the more talented.
This via Dylan. I'm sure you've all seen it already but I keep my blog also as a repository of impactful quotes for reference purposes. Good gracious, did I just say "impactful"? Even worse, did I just say "good gracious"?
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:25 AM
5 Innies & Outies
The outer-directed blog is communistic in spirit - nothing is privately owned, all is public domain. This blog links to news of the day that the blogger thinks will be of interest to the reader. It is often a series of links to depressing church news, and it sometimes has the grimness about it that Eastern Germany did before the curtain came down. This is a necessary service though, so the communist analogy breaks down somewhat.
The inner-directed blog is capitalistic in spirit. The blogger is writing mostly for himself or herself and may have a small or non-existent audience, but in the sharing of private things they may find greater solidarity with those who can relate than the outer-directed blog. Thus as in the capitalist system where everyone works toward their self-interest which often (not always of course) results in the greatest good to the greatest number of people, so too in blogging. Enlightened selfishness, you might call it. Like capitalism, it can be carried too far.
Some blogs are hybrids of both categories and others fit neither category. Some blogs address the big issues of the day while trying to think with the mind of the Church. Or provide spiritual encouragement of one sort or another. These are perhaps the most valuable services blogs can provide.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:13 AM
I used to view British Prime Minister Tony Blair with suspicion, as if he were a Anglo Bill Clinton. But he is no Bill Clinton. Whatever you think about the war, you've got to admire the guy's convictions.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:32 PM
February 18, 2003
Top 5 Fav Male Saints
(1) St. Thomas Aquinas - not for his writing, but his humility. I can't get the image out of my head of his perfect acceptance at being called the "Dumb Ox".
(2) St. Pio of Petrelcina - a saint of the confessional, his ability to diagnose spiritual faults was unparalleled in modern times.
(3) St. Paul - for sheer impact on daily life, few have had as much effect as the chief writer of the New Testament.
(4) St. Patrick - converter of fair Eire.
(5) St. Anthony - a favorite childhood saint, he saved my arse many a time when I was young and lost something valuable.
Honorable Mention: St. Joseph, foster father extraordinaire whose star seems to pale beside the Blessed Mother's and yet who showed tremendous obedience to God's will.
Ultimately, my favorite saint is any who would claim the likes of me. Saints? Any out there listening?
I was fortunate to have received the name "Thomas", given the plethora of possible patron saints. (I'm sure Tom of Disputations can relate).
I can easily identify with Thomas the Apostle, the pragmatist who wanted to see our Lord post-Resurrection before saying "My Lord and My God". I was delighted when I discovered that St. Thomas More's feast day happens to coincide with my birthday so he's another patron saint of special order. And of course the great St. Thomas Aquinas, whose Summa the Fathers of Trent made it part of the order of the conclave to lay upon the altar, and whose combination of sweetness of disposition with scholarly intelligence are an otherworldly mix.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:27 AM
Precisely
Through the efforts of post-Marxists, radical Islamists, anti-Semites, and an array of old-fashioned authoritarians in the General Assembly and the Security Council, the U.N. now unfortunately reflects the aggregate amorality of so many of it members.
We built the arena, the players came — and, for many Americans, it now seems almost time to leave: Syria on the Security Council; Iran and Iraq overseeing the spread of dangerous weapons; Libya a caretaker of human rights. How about a simple law to preserve a once hallowed institution: To join the U.N.'s democratic assembly, a country must first be democratic? Why should a U.N. diplomat be allowed to demand from foreigners the very privileges that his government denies to its own people?
--Victor D. Hanson
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:30 PM
February 17, 2003
I worry about this country breaking the thin strand of international law....If this country decides to go it alone and basically make Resolution 1441 meaningless, then what will prevent other countries from breaking similar agreements? If this country is unable to (in the fashion of Clinton's "it depends on what 'is' is") stand by the clear meaning of words then they are a threat to international peace.
This country I'm speaking of? France.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 11:30 AM
He can flat-out write
Just began The Path to Rome by Belloc and in the preface alone there are riches!
* And was it not his loneliness that enabled him to see it?
* Let us suffer absurdities, for that is only to suffer one another.
* Rabelais! Master of all happy men! Are you sleeping there pressed into desecrated earth under the doss-house of the Rue St. Paul, or do you not rather drink cool wine in some elysian Chinon looking on the Vienne where it rises in Paradise? Are you sleeping or drinking that you will not lend us the staff of Friar John wherewith he slaughtered and bashed the invaders of the vineyards, who are but a parable for the mincing pendants and blood-less thin-faced rogues of the world?
Here is a link to the poems of Hilaire Belloc
posted by TS O'Rama @ 10:31 PM
February 16, 2003
Interesting Historical Perspective
Britain and France united to oppose the American approach of 'lift and strike' - i.e. lift the U.N. arms embargo that effectively favored the Serb aggressors over the Bosnian victims, and strike by assisting the outgunned Bosnian forces with U.S. air sorties. Their opposition was based originally on a crude but understandable calculation that since the Serbs were bound to win anyway, we should not prolong the war by giving false hope to the Bosnians that the West would come to their aid.
London and Paris did all they could to prevent the Americans from assisting Bosnia - until their calculations were devastatingly rebuked by the course of the war itself, in which the modest U.S. and NATO intervention reversed Bosnian losses and forced the Serbs to negotiate.
The Bosnian crisis teaches a number of lessons. It casts a harsh light on the argument that the Europeans have adopted an enlightened international ethic of rules over military force. As the bloody corpse of Bosnia circa 1994 demonstrated, pacific multilateralism can be at least as brutal as intervention - without being as likely to attain its objective. Furthermore, the fact that Anglo-French opposition deterred Washington from its successful intervention for more than two years shows the degree to which U.S. policy can be distorted by a failure to play alliance politics effectively.
Iraq is now a crisis because Bush decide to remove Saddam Hussein before the dictator could acquire and perhaps use weapons of mass destruction. Bush's boldness may be justified - I think it is - but it is also bound to be questioned by those who prefer peace at any price, by those who think arms-control procedures superior to military force, and by the broad Left.
--J. O'Sullivan, National Review
posted by TS O'Rama @ 11:41 AM
February 15, 2003
Haven't read this yet but it looks interesting: the pious and the war
posted by TS O'Rama @ 10:28 AM
Good morrow, Benedick. Why, what's the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?
--Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:03 AM
As Gaeilge
A quarto of drawn-Guinness
gentle with a barber’s care-
the clanking of the glasses, the craick
of cloistered hospitality
in an inhospital clime
muddied they trundle accented paths
the essence of the particular.
He drank till he remembered himself--
in the bogland his trouser cuffs dirty,
collecting peat for fires lit by progeny
the rousing of the fiddle the flurry of feet
shamans and charlatans and shape-shifters all;
a fleet of Children of Lir
Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:00 AM
Vanilla Sky
One of my friend's favorite movies is Vanilla Sky, starring Tom Cruise. He gave me the VHS tape last night and while it's not my favorite I can say that it was a very Christian movie (despite the nudity, but that's what a fast-forward button is for). It is the pluperfect antidote to the thinking that actions don't have consequences. For me, the exceedingly haunting scene (this led to reflection on some of the wrong paths I took in the late 80s) was the palpable sense of regret when they both realize how things would be different if he had just not gotten into his ex-girlfriend's car (presumably for one last 'ride', sexually speaking, for which he got more than he bargained for). The hope though that 'good can come of bad' was expressed by her saying they will be together again (though it be delayed) which seems to me a supremely Christian message.
The movie reminds me of a bit Dicken's "Christmas Carol" in its effect, in its warning that bad behavior has eternal consequences and in its prodding to leave behind selfishness. I also liked how even though Cruise's character imagined the worst of his friend though it turned out his friend had stood by him...Cruise thought he didn't have friends but both his Sophia and his writer friend and the family friend at work showed his suspicions were unfounded, much as any suspicions of God's love are unfounded.
The flick sent an electric shock to the heart like Scrooge & Marley did. The character played by Cruise had his face and manner eventually match the ugliness of his heart; you saw his hidden inner repulsiveness on full sacramental display, a crooked smile of half-humanity - what our souls must look like to God.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:56 AM
February 14, 2003
Desperately Seeking the Meaning of Nugatory
I got a 169 on the vocabulary quiz. I blame the sad score on my misspent youth.
That baby was tailor-made for Dylan. Can't say I'm surprised by his 189.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:26 AM
Humorous Mark Shea post
Jesus said unto them, "Who do you say I am?"
And Peter answered him, saying, "You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the kerygma in which we find the ultimate meaning of our interpersonal relationships."
And Jesus said, "Huh?"
posted by TS O'Rama @ 4:23 PM
February 13, 2003
Cyril of Jerusalem
Reading Kathy the Carmelite's post on Cyril of Jerusalem makes me feel severely under-catechized (regular readers probably already assumed that). But that is in some sense is a blessing because of the ocean of riches still awaitin'. I don't like the idea of the sea being exhaustable.
In an un-put-downable Christianity Today article the author says:
*
Yes, those four [Merton, O'Connor, Day & Percy] were great. Yet for the Catholic writer their greatness is cold comfort, even a reproach. It compounds your isolation. It suggests what you are not. If you try to identify with them, claim them, write the way they did, it just doesn't work.
Why? One reason, of course, is that the times were different. When you read their books you confront this again and again. Merton's autobiography implied that there was no salvation outside the church. O'Connor asked a priest for permission to read Madame Bovary. And here is Dorothy Day, in the confession scene at the beginning of The Long Loneliness:
'"Bless me father, for I have sinned," is the way you begin. "I made my last confession a week ago, and since then…." Properly, one should say the Confiteor, but the priest has no time for that, what with the long lines of penitents on a Saturday night, so you are supposed to say it outside the confessional as you kneel in a pew, or as you stand in line with others.'
That might as well be the week after Trent. Times have changed. So has the church.
We don't like to acknowledge it, but what we admire in them is not their books alone but the whole package—the books and the lives all together. We'd like to have them as companions. We'd like to be like them. We'd like to efface ourselves in them, to bury our unbelief in their belief, and in fact many of their readers have lost themselves in this sort of veneration.
*
When Paul Elie says "times have changed, so has the church" and quotes Day on confession and how Merton's autobiography implied a belief in no salvation outside the Church, he is expressing a subterranean longing for Catholic fundamentalism. Elie writes about Catholicism in an elegiac, romantic "Lost Cause" sort of way... But I wonder how much that lack of faith is due to the Church changing (i.e. extra ecclesiam nulla salus) versus a general lack of proper catechization. Are we "depraved because we are deprived" as the line from West Side Story's "Gee, Officer Krupke" goes? That alienation he writes about is real though. Many of us live far from the Catholic ghettos are parents lived in, ghettos in which faith was already given in the sacrament of Baptism and watered and fed with the Baltimore Catechism. You were Catholic in the same way you were Irish or Italian. It was merely how, not whether, to live it.
Perhaps that is all nostalgic hooey though. Anyway David Mills writes in Touchstone about a bishop in England: "Self-identification equals faith, he thinks. Gosh. I would have thought Jesus' warnings to the Pharisees and others would have taught the man that this is not true, but apparently not. Surely he's known men who thought they were the life of the party when they were really drunken boors.
Anyway, on catechizing Cyril of Jerusalem comes to the rescue:
He is the all-time King of Catechesis. In his day (347), he delivered his "Catechetical Lectures", about which I'll post more in the future. These are the prototype for today's RCIA programs. If more RCIA presentations were as interesting and meaty as Cyril's, and more presenters as knowledgeable about the faith, our new converts might help us grow into something that looks a lot more like the Church Militant. Cyril was witty, succinct, and able to think on his feet. He could illuminate six or seven different aspects of one doctrine without confusing or boring a listener (or, in my case, a reader). Every other sentence in his lectures seems to be an allusion to Scripture.
(Incidentally, some of the Old Testament references astound me, especially the ones to books like Judges and Ezekiel. From the context, it appears that he expected his catechumens to understand exactly what and whom he was referring to! And there were no printed Bibles back then--there was not yet even one set Canon agreed upon, and probably not many copies of Old and New Testaments in one place. Not like today, when catechumens are mechanically issued red paperback NABs from the RE office. These people must've scrounged far and wide, and maybe even hand-copied their own Bibles.) -- Kathy Swistock
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:09 PM
Ten Great Magazines via Fructus Ventris. I can certainly vouch for numbers 2, 5, 6 and 7, which I either read or subscribe to.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:46 PM
Ash Wednesday in a Hard Winter
Milkwhite in his alb and still as this temple,
The priest waits with the stone patience of a heron.
I approach in the deadfall of midafternoon,
Flotsam blown in out of the snow-harrowed day.
He stabs once, twice, raking my cold brow
With the stiff bill of his ash-black thumb.
"Remember, man, thou art dust . . ."
His cello voice, half altar, half mountain,
Groans more than speaks my name and blame.
Stabbed and marked, I make my way to a back pew.
Here, the act seems mere calligraphy-
Cross and death and their one-day shadow.
Meanwhile I relax, regarding the solemnities
Of stained glass and enjoying the hearth-fire warmth.
Oh yes, a fierce winter for us and worse for the beasts.
Where is the mercy, I ask, in this season
Of bird-killing ice and tree-snapping wind,
This bitter winter made by the Maker of All Things?
But the heron priest has pressed the answer
Onto and into my everyman brow.
Murmur as I may, I know that this bitter time,
As all bitter things, was made by me
When I walked, winter innocent, in the old garden
And plucked in summer joy the ash-bearing fruit.
--John Martin
posted by TS O'Rama @ 10:25 AM
One of my favorite scenes in the bible is where Martha and Jesus exchange words after Lazarus' death. Martha shows tremendous faith by saying "I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." When Jesus says "Your brother will rise again", Martha knows the plan and is docile to it. "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." But then comes the shattering reply, "I am the resurrection and the life..."
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:43 AM
There is something very beautiful about orthodox icons. At the Byzantine church I frequent there is a gigantic one of the Theotokos behind the altar. No matter what side of church I sit on it's as if she is looking at me and it is comforting.
Many of the figures on icons have a stern look about them, like the one below. When you walk into a Byzantine church you realize that your own sinfulness and unworthiness just by looking at the icons.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 7:59 AM
Greatest Hits
Moreover - and this is less often noticed - "as a very frequent historical phenomenon, through a fresh application, a new verification, of the very ancient law of antinomies," the very conflict between two doctrines nearly always implies certain presuppositions common to both. Whence arises another danger for the theologian who makes too many concessions to the demands of controversy. In his struggle against heresy he always sees the question, more or less, willingly or unwillingly, from the heretic's point of view. He often accepts questions in the form in which the heretic propounds them, so that without sharing the error he may make implicit concessions to his opponent, which are the more serious the more explicit are his refutations... - Kevin Miller
On The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity...By Philip Jenkins
One issue that Jenkins fails to address in depth is the future of Christianity in Europe and North America. A reader might easily conclude that Christianity is strongest among people who have experienced poverty and persecution. The Gospel is, indeed, “good news for the poor.” Does this mean that Christianity has no future in the peaceful and prosperous West? Although he does not go that far, Jenkins suggests that it does become harder for the faith to prosper in such settings—“as hard as passing through the eye of a needle.” --J. Peter Nixon
I think the problem lies in radically disconnecting this life with the next life, as if they were two acts of a play. But life eternal has already begun in us. That's what baptism is, that's the meaning of Easter, that's the good news. Baptism isn't something we get now to use later, like a pair of skis during a summer sale. It is a participation, right now, in eternity. Jesus came in the flesh and died on the Cross to "free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life," as the Letter to the Hebrews says. I don't know how many evangelical pacifist Catholics think death is the worst thing that can happen to us, but if any do, I hope they will realize that death has already happened to us, and that we won. -Disputations
What is interesting about Kathy's initial point is that it only became in some degree true with the Reformation. At that point and almost Manichean element entered certain branches of the Protestant Reformation. The metaphysical poets are remarkable for their retention of the Catholic intergration of physical/mental/spiritual. But in Bunyan, and even to a certain degree Milton, you begin to see the separation of heart and head, physical/spiritual/ and mental. - Steven Riddle
I read recently (in the book of Kreeft on Pascal): "It is necessary to love our soul, but to despise oursekves; the modern world pushes us the opposite: to love ourselves and to be not worried us by our soul "... - Hernan Gonzalez
Do not despair, child. Lawd gonna gitcha. Caint hide from the Lawd. Sneak right up on yo sorry butt and BAM! Th' Lawd done gotcha! - father of the Barrister
posted by TS O'Rama @ 10:32 AM
February 12, 2003
Nancy Nall's Blissful over "Joe Millionaire"
I've never been keen on watching car chases, explosions or train wrecks on the glass teat. Why, then, this itchy curiosity to see "Joe Millionaire"? I've watched only part of one episode, but this human-train-wreck-waiting-to-happen would be must-see TV if I could in any way rationalize my viewing. Perhaps I'm being needlessly puritanical, but to watch it would only reward the network for putting it on. Not only does if fail the test of "good use of time" but also of good taste... and it's exploitive and ..(help me here).
Okay, I've talked myself into not watching it again.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:37 AM
Disputations discusses the United Nations....a few questions:
How do we reconcile our democracy - the notion of representational gov't - with that of a non-representational gov't (the U.N.)? Can our elected leaders cede their authority without our permission? Reminds me of the ol' Protestant issue with St. Peter. Some say "the Lord gave Peter authority, but Peter did not have the right to cede that authority to the next pope."
Can the U.S. be "Cafeteria Catholics" when it comes to the U.N., i.e. pick and choose when we will submit to it, or will that cost the U.N. too much in terms of credibility?
Just as a democracies are only as good as the people they are composed of, international bodies are only as good as the represented national bodies. Most of the nations in the U.N. are either non-Christian, anti-Christian, or post-Christian. Thus I wonder at how that model can hold up.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:14 AM
Now That is Old
...the universe according to WMAP is 13.7 billion years old, plus or minus one percent.
--NY Times article
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:32 PM
February 11, 2003
Why They Hate Us - Part 2
Astonishing 60 Minutes piece this past weekend on South Korea, bastion of anti-American sentiment. Despite three billion a year in the form of military protection, the South Korean gov't had to send out troops to protect the U.S. Embassy from its citizens. They routinely burn the American flag. The correspondent asked an expert there why they hate us - they are not Islamic extremists. He said, "we've had a relationship of dependency for 50 years now and dependency leads to resentment." Maybe Pat Buchanan was right. Is it proper to help someone who doesn't want your help?
posted by TS O'Rama @ 6:20 PM
Dust Carrying Precious Cargo
One of the reasons I so like Cardinal Ratzinger is his honesty, even when it's not something I'd prefer to hear. If the Irish are dreamers, then the Germans live much closer to the ground and are a necessary antidote to excess.
I was thinking this while reading about his view of the Eucharist in God and the World. My view has always been a John 6 sort of view, that the Eucharist is life giving, that after receiving I am dust carrying precious cargo. My view tends toward a medicinal one, like the woman seeking to touch the hem of His garment. Or as the spiritual equivalent of liquorous spirits, giving you the courage to do what you wouldn't normally do.
But this is unsatisfying; it doesn't explain why I am not better, or why priests and religious often aren't much better people.
But Ratzinger, who is allergic to sentiment and superstition, writes:
In any case, if we look at the sacraments too much from the viewpoint of efficiency and regard them as a means to impart miraculous powers to man and fundamentally change him, then, as it were, they fail the test. Here we are concerned with something different. Faith is not something that exists in a vacuum; rather, it enters into the material world. And it is through signs from the material world that we are, in turn, brought into contact with God.
The Risen One, who is now present [in the Eucharist] is not a thing. I don't receive a piece of Christ. That would indeed be an absurdity, but this is a personal process. He himself is giving himself to me and wants to assimilate me into himself....Once, in a sort of vision, Augustine thought he heard these words: 'Eat me; I am the bread of the strong." Jesus is saying here that it is the opposite to how it is with ordinary food that your body assimilates. That food is lesser than you, so that it becomes part of your body. And in my case, it is the other way around: I assimilate you into me. I am the stronger; you will be assimilated into me. This is, as we said, a personal process. Man, if he abadons himself in receiving this, is in his turn received.
The Cardinal On Mary:
The figure of Mary has touched the hearts of men in a special way. On one hand, the hearts of women, who see themselves in this and feel very close to Mary, but also the hearts of those men who have not lost their appreciation for mother and maiden...through the Mother they find God so close that religion is no longer a burden, but a matter of trust and a help in coping with life.
There is, on the other side, a kind of purist Christianity, a rationalizing, that can seem a bit cold. Of course the feelings - and we must allow this to be the task of the professors- have to be scrutinized and purified, again and again. This must not deteriorate into mere sentimentality, which no longer keeps in touch with reality, which can no longer acknowledge the greatness of God. But since the time of the Enlightenment- and we are now involved in another enlightenment- we have experienced such an enormous trend toward rationalizing and puritanism, if I may so express it, that the heart of man sets itself against this development and holds tight to Mariology.
--Cardinal Ratzinger, God and the World
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:03 AM
What if Great Writers Were Infected with Corporate Buzzword-Speak?
(Definition of stovepipe)
Homer: The rosy fingers of dawn did appear beyond the horizon, as the Sirens, thinking out of the box, gave Odysseus some real "opportunities" when trying to ramp up his synergy after his descent into the maelstrom...
Lewis Carroll: 'Twas brillig, and the stuffy suits did gyre and gimbol in the wabe all drilled down were the stovey pipes as the mome raths outgrabe...
James Whitcomb Riley: When the frost is on the punkin and yer rampin' up yer synergy an' the stovepipe refrences has drained you of all energy, 'Bout the time you hear tell of a new verb what's called "lev'rage", Then's the time to slam a jug o' some white lightnin' beverage.
Dashiel Hammet: "The jig is up, dollface. We found the joker who pumped your old man full a' hot lead, and it looks like you were the only one in the solarium during the timebox of his death" "Well, with our new paperless environment you got nothin' to pin on me" "I've curtailed your scope creep through iterative processing, sugar, and by matrixing with the state cops we got all exit routes surrounded" "Does this mean I'll be deployed via a fast-track methodology to the state pen?" "You know I can't crystal ball what the judge will say when you're transitioning from citizen to criminal to inmate, sweetcakes. I hope for your sake he leverages some time off for good behavior."
Anonymous: On the first day God put a hard stake in the ground and said, "Let us take a buy vs. build strategy, with an out of the box, vanilla implementation, and after we get our arms around it we will drill down from the 50,000 foot view to where the rubber meets the road." And then there were "some opportunities".
--friend & colleague & raconteur, J. Dyer
posted by TS O'Rama @ 3:26 PM
February 10, 2003
Michael Novak claims the war is just.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 2:37 PM
Man Bites Dog
The glass teat actually offered something interesting last week - a show called Miracles on ABC. At least the pilot was good; can't vouch for upcoming episodes.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 2:24 PM
Yesterday's Reading:
Cardinal Ratzinger's, "God and the World"
Paul Theroux's "Hotel Honolulu"
John Updike's "Seek My Face"
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:24 PM
Still pondering Golda Mier's comment about how "Israel is the only country who still likes America despite having received her aid". In the Russell Kirk book, there was an anecdote (which I'll paraphrase badly), about a potential employee who went to interview and said self-righteously that he would never take a loan because he did not want to be beholden to anyone. The man didn't hire him because he did not want somebody who would never allow himself to be beholden. The point is that mindset of self-reliance seems to be totally opposed to the gospel. We are the welfare recipients in the spiritual sense.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:41 PM
Congratulations to Ellyn vonHuben, who knew that the Pogues took their name from the Gaelic phrase "Pogue Mahone" which means "kiss my ass". My what an edifying blog this is.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:11 AM
Notes on EWTN's Show
Franciscan University's latest show had Dr. Ralph McInerny as guest on the topic, "A Catholic View of the Arts". Much food for thought. McInerny, interestingly, compared the Holy Father's Letter to Artists to his earlier Fides et Ratio. He said that just as philosophy and faith need to co-exist despite a certain tension, so does humanistic art and sacred art. Both philosophy and art can "go off the rail" but that both are necessary; reason and beauty being divine attributes. Scott Hahn even went a step further in suggesting that Rudolf Otto hijacked a notion of holiness in portraying it as 'absolutely other', as if the Holy Spirit was wholly other than God - and then went on to praise beauty as a reflection of holiness. Christ, in the incarnation, became the mediator between the sacred and secular, human and divine.
Lots of good bon mots - Regis Martin quoted somebody as saying, "what would the devil have to do without God?" in suggesting that nihilistic art in its efforts to be profane is paying an indirect homage to the sacred. It has to have something to "bounce off of".
Another: Hemingway said, "if you want a message, call Western Union" in emphasizing his desire not to write tracts of any sort, only the truth (which McInerny said he did successfully for the first 2/3rds of his career).
Dr. Martin also mentioned that beauty is the "forgotten transcendental" and that Dostoyevsky said that the world would be saved by it. Beauty, Hahn said, is like morality not relativistic, something Flannery O'Connor learned from Art & Scholasticism.
They touched briefly on the paradox of how horrible people can write brilliant books and vice versa and McInery argued that no one completely decadent ever produced great art - good art, but not great. Hahn spiritualized it by comparing it to those who do great spiritual works - like curing people or prophesizing - and yet will have God say to them "I do not know you" because of the lack of interior holiness.
As for what is art? McInerny quoted C.S. Lewis as saying literature is that which is read more than once. He also said that art is a continuum and said positive things about even popular fiction, remarking on the puzzling fact that that we should be interested in what fictional characters say or do - there is something inherent within us that wants to ascribe in a linear fashion meaning in events of fictional characters that will help us in our own search.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:31 PM
February 9, 2003
Kudos to Dylan for catching the Pogue miscue. Extra credit: Why are the Pogues so-named?
posted by TS O'Rama @ 3:05 PM
Penance
"Some may ask, 'What is the fruit of penance?' The answer to this is quite simple - the fruit is the changing of the heart, the turning back with our whole mind and heart to the true meaning of life..God Himself. In order for penance to bear good fruit in the soul, though, it can't just be a half turn away from self (just an insistent NO), it must be a full turn away from self and toward God (an insistent NO to self and insistent YES to God). It is only a half turn then we will feel the void of our denial and the end will more than likely be discouragement or pride."
--Deacon Bill Steltemeier of EWTN
posted by TS O'Rama @ 2:11 PM
Good Point
"The first time I visited San Marco an art critic pointed out to me the plan of Fra Giovanni's work: scenes from the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary in the cells of the young Dominicans.; the Sorrowful Mysteries in the cells of middle aged, and for the old, the Glorious Mysteries. My friend laughed when I asked how they coaxed the young ones to move into the cells with the sorrowful mysteries and the middle aged to admit they were old enough for the Glorious!"
--Sister Juliana D'Amato, O.P., pastoral associate at St. Margaret's in Columbus
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:10 PM
February 8, 2003
Rare Old Mountain Dew
Let grasses grow and waters flow
in a free and easy way
But give me enough of the rare old stuff
that is made near Galway bay
Come gangers all from Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim too
Oh well give them the slip and well take a sip
Of the rare old Mountain dew
There's a neat little still at the foot of the hill,
Where the smoke curls up to the sky;
By a whiff of the smell you can plainly tell
That there's poitin, boys, close by.
For it fills the air with a perfume rare,
And betwixt both me and you,
As home we roll, we can drink a bowl,
Or a bucketful of mountain dew.
Now learned men as use the pen,
Have writ the praises high
Of the rare poitin from Ireland green,
Distilled from wheat and rye...
--Traditional
**
The Pogues - Celtic Rock
It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won't see another one
And then he sang a song
The Rare Old Mountain Dew
And I turned my face away
And dreamed about you
Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one
I've got a feeling
This year's for me and you
So happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true...
- Shane McGowan, "The Pogues"
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:33 AM
Vacational Flashbacks
Mirage-like it floats into my consciousness; there I am endorphined on Bowman’s beach with a houseboat sitting big as life just offshore, some fellow alone with the golden sunlight split between the rudders. Life as a solitude, he fishes in the reflected glory of God’s creation, putting out in the great 75% of the earth. Worries there dissolve like selzers, cast like dead mollusks on the shoreline, gleaming gleams of embarrassed delight, embarrassed that worries ever saw the light of day. Oh sailorman, in your life less traveled, what did you catch today? What briny fish of unblinking eye hath caught your eye?
ain't it purty?
Along this coast I cast a cold eye on life, on death; only the fish heads remain from the work of seabirds. Before lay the reality of sand, of chilled water and generous horizon, the broad tame bank of water. Numbness falls, another week I stand with the net over the side catching water. Hoist ye anchor! Brim up to the hull of life, seek ye what can't be grasped.
The ocean’s saline personality extrudes on my Midwestern life. I recall the little Sanibel bookstore and her eagerly provincial myopism filled with shell-collecting books and Travis McGee fiction. On a wall of used books, all ten dollars, I found a Camilia Paglia volume and watched her crack the whip on progressive Presbyterianism. A lesbian agnostic defending orthodox Christianity from Presbyterians – surely the end is nigh!
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:01 AM
Fictional Foray on Sisters
Ah, the grand experiment! Start out with siblings, one or two or three or more and grow up with similar genetics and environments. Nature and nuture, exploring different paths as if to better the chances of finding the right one.
“You go that way, and I’ll go this!”
And so one impregnates with movies, with pop tunes and popular culture. Another finds books and runs down alleys blind and otherwise. Another goes family, finds the answers within her own womb. Each imagine their sibling's version of faith to be fragile or flawed; they don’t ask nor tell thinking the topic taboo.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:59 AM
The Real World
It's hard to keep up with the blogs I frequent, but I thought I'd pluck the magic twanger and choose one at random from the huge cacophony of Blogroll. I assumed I would get something light; Catlicker blogs tend to be weightier. Instead I got something I didn't bargain for. A blog of a guy who lost his wife at the age of 25, after six years of marriage. How sad.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 3:25 PM
February 7, 2003
Rod Dreher weighs in on the war, pretty even handedly (more fairly than I would've suspected):
Does anybody want ordained men and women uncritically baptizing war? The pope was right to call war, even just war, a "defeat for humanity".
posted by TS O'Rama @ 2:34 PM
You are a Dubliner.
What's your Inner European? brought to you by Quizilla (via Flos Carmeli)
posted by TS O'Rama @ 10:38 AM
Interesting Exchange On Crossfire Last Night
CARLSON: Tariq Aziz knows what he's doing for Valentine's Day. On February 14 the deputy prime minister of Iraq will meet with Pope John Paul II....Aziz is hoping for a useful photo-op. As a top aide to Saddam Hussein for 40 years, Aziz is an architect of modern Iraq and it's police state. And he's complicit in its many crimes. Will the pope publicly scold him for enslaving millions of people and murdering tens of thousands more? Probably not.
On the other hand the pope had no trouble scolding the United States recently for being mean to Iraq. "War against Iraq," he said last month, would like all wars, be, quote, "a defeat for humanity."
Really? Is humanity worse off now that the Nazis are gone, that the Soviet Union has collapsed and Baby Doc, Pol Pot and Idi Amin have been swept away by all force? Of course not. Their defeats were victories for humanity and Saddam's will be as well.
BEGALA: Oh now where do I begin on this? First, let me correct your history. The Soviet Union fell without a war. It fell because of containment. Now let me correct you...
CARLSON: Actually there were dozens of little wars all around the world during the Cold War.
BEGALA: We never marched on Moscow. Now let me correct your reporting. The Holy Father gave a speech on January 1 of 2000 where he called for world day of prayer for peace. And he did say that a war is a defeat for humanity. You know what else he said? An I'm quoting...
CARLSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
BEGALA: And I'm quoting from the Holy Father. He said, "At times brutal and systemic violence has to be countered by armed resistance." He said, "There is a duty in some cases of humanitarian intervention," and he listed when, Just War Doctrine of the Catholic Church goes back to St. Thomas Aquinas. War has to be a last resort and many people wonder if...
CARLSON: Yes, no, I am familiar with this.
BEGALA: ... you should address a wrong, not be preemptive. It should be proportional. We don't know if it will be in the violence. And we should protect non-combatants, which I know the American military will do to the best of our ability. But you ought to be fair to the Holy Father, Tucker. This is not just a political speech.
CARLSON: Actually, I think I am being fair...
BEGALA: You were massively unfair.
CARLSON: I think it's quite unfair of the Pope to be used as a propaganda tool by Tariq Aziz is on the very day that that report goes to the U.N. It's a shame.
BEGALA: Tucker, with all due respect, I don't think the Pope needs to take lessons from you on standing for human rights. He's one of the great men.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 10:33 AM
I couldn't agree mo' with this post from Minute Particulae on the reaction to the Columbia.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:52 AM
Breaking Points
I've had a disagreement with someone who flatly disbelieves that God never gives us more than we can handle. She points to suicides and insanity as examples. I point out the verse where St. Paul says that God never gives us more than we can take but that is not persuasive, she apparently thinks it an overly enthusiastic embellishment.
One thing to think about is this: if you accept that God came to earth in the person of Jesus, then how can you possibly accept that He would go back to the Father without giving us everything that we need? In other words, would someone die on the Cross for you and then calmly ascend to heaven without giving you the grace needed? It would make no sense. He would stay on the earth forever if that is what was required.
And in one sense he has. In the Eucharist. Here is commentary on John chapter 6:
In verse 10, Jesus tells the people to sit down (literally 'recline') on the green grass before distributing the bread. What is signified by the posture of reclining? Does one work to earn God's grace or is it freely given? (Eph 2:8-9) How could this be described as the real Sabbath rest (CCC 624)? How is this different from Numbers 11, where the Jews had to get up early and go out to gather the manna from the ground (EX 16:14-18)? Under the New Covenant, how is the eating and gathering different from the gathering and eating of the Old Covenant (notice the different sequence of actions)?
In the Old Testament, men worked for six days, then rested on the seventh. In the New Testament, we start the week with rest and then work for six days (CCC 2175, 2190). Regarding salvation, this change in the work week is an example of 'work' versus 'grace' (Jn 1:17;CCC 2025). We must first receive the free gift of God, by resting in Christ by faith, and then go out to serve him and do the good works of charity and sanctification required of us (Eph 2:8-10,; Tit 2:14, 3-8). In the OT, the people of Isreal worked -gathering with their hands; by contrast in the NT, Christ does the work and then gives bountifully into our hands with basketfuls left over.
How might it be significant that there was no surplus with the manna in the wilderness (Ex 16:16-21), yet there is an abundant surplus with Jesus' provision? How does the Eucharist help us understand the great generosity of God?
--Stephen Ray, St. John's Gospel
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:18 AM
Blogging from the Other Side
Amy terminated her blog, but thankfully still can say meaningful things via a link on Mark Shea's blog. Her html on the Vatican and New Age statement was fine reading.
This was especially interesting, first a quote from the document, then her commentary:
"The techniques and methods offered in this immanentist religious system, which has no concept of God as person, proceed 'from below'. Although they involve a descent into the depths of one's own heart or soul, they constitute an essentially human enterprise on the part of a person who seeks to rise towards divinity by his or her own efforts. It is often an “ascent” on the level of consciousness to what is understood to be a liberating awareness of “the god within”. Not everyone has access to these techniques, whose benefits are restricted to a privileged spiritual 'aristocracy'.
The essential element in Christian faith, however, is God's descent towards his creatures, particularly towards the humblest, those who are weakest and least gifted according to the values of the “world”. There are spiritual techniques which it is useful to learn, but God is able to by-pass them or do without them. A Christian's “method of getting closer to God is not based on any technique in the strict sense of the word. That would contradict the spirit of childhood called for by the Gospel. The heart of genuine Christian mysticism is not technique: it is always a gift of God; and the one who benefits from it knows himself to be unworthy”
…..All meditation techniques need to be purged of presumption and pretentiousness. Christian prayer is not an exercise in self-contemplation, stillness and self-emptying, but a dialogue of love, one which “implies an attitude of conversion, a flight from 'self' to the 'You' of God”. It leads to an increasingly complete surrender to God's will, whereby we are invited to a deep, genuine solidarity with our brothers and sisters. (3.4)
An invitation to meet Jesus Christ, the bearer of the water of life, will carry more weight if it is made by someone who has clearly been profoundly affected by his or her own encounter with Jesus, because it is made not by someone who has simply heard about him, but by someone who can be sure “that he really is the saviour of the world” (verse 42). It is a matter of letting people react in their own way, at their own pace, and letting God do the rest. (5)"
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Now, those who have no real engagement with the world and with the faith of others but through the pages of books and internet websites won’t like this. But those who actually live and minister in a world populated by real human beings on real journeys know how true it is.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:08 AM
I've been invited to hear Medjugorje visionary Ivan speak who is coming to a city near me - Cleveland. I'm not a big fan of Medjugorje (see Garabandal comment below), especially after reading E. Michael Jones's book "Medjugorje Deception". Also my hero Cardinal Ratzinger dissed it as I recall. But I suppose I am curious enough to dirve a couple hours and witness this talk. If anyone has already been to see him, I would appreciate an email on whether it is worthwhile.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:07 AM
So That's Why They Hate Us
"Israel is the only country that still likes the US despite having received aid from them." - Golda Meir
I guess it is a burden to be beholden to another country.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:03 AM
Ambrose of Milan taught that it has not pleased God to save men through logic. Richard Weaver assented to this, knowing as he did the nature of the average sensual man and the limits of pure rationality. Yet with a high logical power, Weaver undertook an intellectual defense of inherited culture, and of order and justice and freedom.
-Russell Kirk, "The Sword of Imagination"
posted by TS O'Rama @ 4:58 PM
February 6, 2003
Miracles
Nothing minute at Minute Particulae - his latest discussion on miracles with this quote from Stanley Jaki is interesting:
They [miracles] represent the challenge of external reality, not of axioms of logic. That true miracles are never coercive, whatever their occasional impact on skeptics and scoffers, is their chief recommendation. A dispensation would never be truly divine that would take man's freedom away because such a dispensation would not also be fully human...
Jaki appears to imply that the impact of miracles on skeptics and scoffers is a secondary effect, but I thought it was the effect in the Old & New Testaments. Miracles in the bible were accepted as proof of authority. The test of prophets in the OT was, well, prophecy and miracles. Jesus said, "believe because of the signs and wonders" if you must. And more to the point, St. Paul certainly would seem to have had his freedom impinged upon, as did Jonah, and numerous others. I'm okay with saying that "human freedom will NORMALLY not be compromised". Of course the way around it is that Jaki could mean it as an "all or none" - either we have no freedom or all freedom, which is not the way I thought it worked. (Not that I'm arguing with Jaki; he's brilliant and I'm not. I'm just trying to understand that statement).
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:19 AM
I concur with Dylan's sentiments the ultimate sin is to be boring, but almost immediately realized, alas, that my foray into the blogging equivalent of vacation slides forfeited that high moral ground...
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:03 AM
Quick follow-up to the Irish/German post...I'll never forget Peggy Noonan's spin on the fact that the Irish attention to housecleaning is..shall we say...light, such that spiderwebs are referred to as "Irish lace". Peggy opined that this was merely a rational choice - when faced with whether to read Joyce or Pearse or dust, the Irish understood priorities.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 7:40 AM
Washington Post's best fiction of 2002 list. I've read some Murakami when I was younger and liked his off-beat style. Much of the rest appears to be Flotsam and Jetsam...
posted by TS O'Rama @ 11:32 PM
February 5, 2003
On the Difficulties of being Half-Irish, Half-German
Perpetually at war with self, the German's love of order, discipline and punctuality married with the Irish love for drink, laziness and chaos results in, at the very least, a punctual drinker...I'm never late for happy hour.
The so-called "English" frequently played a key role in mediating between the Scotch-Irish and the Germans, who often did not mix together in backwoods society. The Scotch-Irish had a reputation for impulsiveness, were very politically active, and were fierce Indian fighters. The Germans, on the other hand, were sober and perhaps the best farmers in colonial America, but they were generally politically apathetic. -- Richard Drake, A History of Appalachia
posted by TS O'Rama @ 11:18 PM
Garabandal
The history of all approved apparitions shows that the Church requires unequivocal evidence of supernaturality. This can be cures, as at Lourdes and Beauraing, or a supernatural prodigy, as at Fátima. The reason from the Church's mystical theology is that most mysticism (as both St. Thomas Aquinas and St. John of the Cross teach) is mediated by the angels (who have a created angelic nature). What the good angels can do the bad angels can imitate, so that many so-called "supernatural" phenomena are merely preternatural (above human nature, but not above the angelic nature). - EWTN - C. Donovan
posted by TS O'Rama @ 10:40 PM
Powell Post-Mortem
It appears as though France and the other security council members boxed themselves into a corner by agreeing to a resolution last November that invoked 'serious consequences' if Iraq failed. Apparently this is a case of words having no meaning to the French, who consider the word 'serious' to mean 'let's allow the inspection team more time'. Why couldn't the French have been more honest and simply said they didn't want war?
France and Germany should've had the cahoonies to stand up from the beginning and simply say, "we can live with the risk Saddam affords, we lived with it for 40 years with the Soviet Union, we can live with it now." That would be far more persuasive than playing the inspections charade and expecting different results from the same actions.
You can say that they didn't want to telegraph that sentiment and thus give Saddam comfort in the unlikely event he would have a sudden conversion and comply, but it just seems like now they are in a position of breaking their word by not respecting the November resolution.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 6:29 PM
The world seen, as it were, flat, with no associations, none of the subtle hints of other things, no correspondence with ideas and experiences that link us to the first great history of mankind, would be dull and meaningless, hardly sensuous at all.
--George Scott-Moncrieff
posted by TS O'Rama @ 3:43 PM
(Lines on the loss of the "Titanic")
And as the smart ship grew
In stature, grace, and hue,
In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.
Alien they seemed to be;
No mortal eye could see
The intimate welding of their later history,
Or sign that they were bent
By paths coincident
On being anon twin halves of one august event,
Till the Spinner of the Years
Said "Now!" And each one hears,
And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres.
-- Thomas Hardy, excerpts of Convergence of the Twain
posted by TS O'Rama @ 3:18 PM
Exactly
He's not always right; it only seems so. Very convincing post. I wonder what Mr. Dreher would say.
Not to imply that this period is nearly as bad as the time just before the Reformation, but I do wonder what could've been done in the Church to prevent the splitting of Christendom. If there were more like St. Thomas More, medievals who employed prayers, fasting, and maybe writing letters and sit-in's, would it have been enough to reform the Church from within instead of having it reformed by necessity? Faith says 'yes'.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:52 AM
I'm in awe of anyone who makes a living writing, so you can imagine my immediate affection for Disordered Affections, whose blogmistress is a screenwriter. My best friend is among Thoreau's mass of desperate men and is attempting to escape the corporation by writing a screenplay. I am surprised at his dilligence; he's read five books on screenplays, he's read at least four or five actual screen plays and he is now on his second revision (he says he will give it to me after this revision, for help in making the third). It is a sequel to a well-known comedy - I had originally blogged the title of only to receive a panicked visit asking that I remove it:
"Remember Shawshank Redemption? If anyone had said anything--" (He compares his eventual escape with the prisoner in Shawshank Redemption)
"Shawshank Redemption is (say it with me) ff-ff-ffiction".
Anyway, the hilarious thing is that after the first revision he said,
"It's pretty good, although it's not funny."
"Let me get this straight. You wrote a comedy that's not funny?"
"Yeah, that'll come with the second revision."
posted by TS O'Rama @ 3:20 PM
February 4, 2003
Nancy Nall gives Amy a proper send-off, and in doing so says:
Of course, journalism generally does a fairly piss-poor job covering religion in general, for reasons that don't bear much resemblance to the ones usually trotted out by pissed-off religious people -- mostly ignorance, and also because we're perhaps a little uncomfortable quoting people who claim prayer cured their cancer, and the chemotherapy had nothing to do with it.
There's often a backlash to sentiments attributing everything to God, even though everything is ultimately attributable to God. Protestants are especially prone to it. I've cringed at hearing my mother-in-law express sentiments that rain is literally angel's tears, or something to that effect. I fall prey to it at times. When I took food too late before Mass, I attributed my being able to receive due to God having arranged it - i.e. the priest starting Mass late and the homilist going long. That was no doubt narcissistic and probably false in attributing supernatural agencies to that which perhaps was purely coincidental or natural. It certainly drives non-believer Bill Mahrer crazy; he slams football players for thanking God for catching a pass. But it seems better to error on the side of attributing too much to God than too little.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 2:53 PM
Slightly irreverent...
I have found when I am sodden
All my sins are fast forgodden,
But when I put the gin away
My sinful thoughts they stick and stay.
So to a man of sinful thinking
I say there is no sin in drinking.
For such a man the only sin
Is to hide away the fifth of gin.
—Max Sparber
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:25 AM
Today's Irish Lesson
St. Patrick did his job - the Irish were a holy folk. Where else do you say hello by saying "God to you?". There is no word for "hello" in the Irish language - "dia duit" meant "God to you". The reply would be "Dia is Muire duit" meaning "God and Mary to you.". The reply to that (if starved for conversation) was "God and Mary and Joseph to you". I'm not sure who the next saint in line would be should it be carried farther. Hear it here.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:58 AM
Fat, drunk & stupid no way to go thru life*
Interesting anecdote in Kirk's Sword of Imagination. At this time Kirk is living in suburbia, the intellectual tundra of Central Michigan, and William F. Buckley visits him and his first question is, "What do you do for friendship here?" (Implying that hobnobbing with the proles would be a non-starter). Kirk merely swung his arms around his vast library of books and said, "here are my friends!".
* -although you may have more company
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:49 AM
God be with Jeff Miller, who is also ending his blog. I love that picture of the Holy Father he has in the upper left corner, I've been meaning to steal it.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 4:59 PM
February 3, 2003
Posts, we've got posts, we've got lots and lots of...
I must be going thru the manic blogging phase, but I was struck earlier today by the anamoly of praying for our spiritual betters. From the earliest times it was understood that some pray-ers have more "success" than other pray-ers. Perhaps for reasons of closeness to God, greater fervency, greater faith, greater willingness to sacrifice, I don't know.
So intercessory prayer for my betters has been problematic. My praying for the Pope is like someone on a respirator praying for an Olympic marathon runner. Feels sort of presumptuous at the least. But now I'm beginning to understand it - and this will probably be obvious to you spiritual gurus - that it is Jesus praying in me. If I can accept (no easy task given my sinfulness) the presence of God within me, then I can accept His presence praying for and through me.
This still does not quite answer the greater efficacy great saints have. I read the inspiring story of Maria Goretti the other day; she prayed for her assassin and eventually he became a monk. I hope this isn't too facetious but it just goes to show if you're going to kill someone, make it a saint.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 4:45 PM
Post-vacation Euphoria
My mood is inversely proportional to:
(length of time since my last vacation) + (time since last quality prayer session*)
* - perhaps ill-defined as prayer leaving me faithfilled rather than faithless
It is proportional to the number of beers I've had.
I'm reminded of a cartoon I once came across:
Brandy co-worker Bill to another co-worker: "What's up with Brandy?" (Brandy looks pained).
Co-worker: "Her post-vacation euphoria just dried up."
Bill: "How long did it take this time?"
Co-worker: "About 15 minutes."
Bill: "Wow, that has to be a new record."
posted by TS O'Rama @ 4:10 PM
More Pondering
Kathy the spirited Carmelite suspects on Disputations that some of the vehemence that denies the possiblity of a just war is actually a function of unbelief in life eternal.
I've often thought that this is how the Church could defend its persections of heresy. I'm no Church history expert, and I know that persecutions have been greatly exaggerated and/or have been state-sponsored and not Church-sanctioned, but if the Church did okay persecutions of the Albigensians you could see why if you consider the soul to be immortal and that hell is a worse result than death. Is there a greater causa belli than this? To save others from hell? Killing to prevent greater casualties (as Truman did with the A-bomb in WWII to prevent the loss of tens of thousand of additional casualties) seems morally small potatoes by comparison. The documents of Vatican II on Religious Freedom and others have spelled out the development that those in the state of invincible ignorance can be saved, and thus now it is a moot point. But if in the past they believed that the killing of some heretics was justified, by the souls they were saving of countless others who would have been damned.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 2:46 PM
But Tom, how do you REALLY feel?
Speaking of war, I was surprised by how vehemently NY Times' Tom Friedman dismisses the Europeans. Certainly here is a guy who is extremely well-traveled and knowlegeable and he says that the Europeans are of no help in determining the morality of the Iraq war. This is something I've suspected; objectivity is so difficult to come by either in this country or in Europe...America is starting to resemble what Cardinal Ratzinger wrote concerning the historic Jesus - there is no one who doesn't bring bias to the table.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:20 PM
Ponderings
Walker Percy always wondered why we are "happiest" when tragedy strikes. Our attention is riveted, we feel fully alive. I'm struggling to understand...Perhaps it is simply that we can focus on others, and this is a relief from selfishness. Perhaps I've become jaded.
My mom and wife don't like to read novels much. They like true stories. I've never heard of her but apparently Ann Rule has written many novelistic offerings that portray true life crimes, murders. The line between fiction and fact weakens. People look for entertainment from real life (hence 'reality' tv). There is a media temptation to thus package real-world tragedies as made-for-TV Lifetime movies.
I think as Christians we can use this to our advantage. Let's show graphic Center for Bio-Ethical Reform images if it will cause us to care more about unborn babies. If war is treated too cavalierly, let's show the suffering it wreaks...There is the risk of becoming jaded, but it might help the cause.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:01 PM
More Blog-In News...
As you probably already know, Amy is shutting down her blog. I think she's making the right decision - most of us exhaust what we have to say about really important issues and then sort of hang-on (although I am still learning from some of the blogs out there; you know who you are - don't you shut down :).
As the old saying goes, when she looks back on her life will she wish she spent more time blogging? Or more time on a project or book that could potentially have a more lasting impact?
posted by TS O'Rama @ 11:42 AM
Lots o' interesting reading...
***
St. Thomas More okays Reality TV?
Imagine my surprise at reading this in Barzun's Dawn to Decadence:
[Thomas] More suggests that if fools, that is, lunatics, are treated kindly there is no harm in their being used to entertain the people by 'their foolish sayings and ridiculous actions.' It will ensure their being valued and well taken care of.
Anybody know what night Joe Millionaire's on? (Just kidding).
***
Religious fanaticism?
Q: Does not over-concentration on religion tend to insanity?
A: To overdo anything is a mistake, and this applies even to religion. A well-balanced man avoids extremes in all departments of life, whether by excess, or by defect. And just as one can damage his health by eating too much, or by not eating at all, so one can injure his mind and soul by religious over-indulgence or by neglect of religion...I admit that over-concentration in religious directions is likely to be more dangerous than in other matters. For religion is so much a part of man's very being, and of his complete nature, gripping mind and heart and wil, and embracing man's imaginative and emotional tendencies, and reaching deep down into the subconscious recesses of the soul...That is why religion needs a rational and common-sense approach as few things else.
--Catholic priests Rev. Rumble & Rev. Carty, Radio Replies
Now, how to define "over-concentration"... the difficulty is how not to succumb to spiritual mediocrity while not over-concentrating on it.
**
Lionel Trilling lamented in 1950: Our liberal ideology has produced a large literature of social and political protest, but not, for several decades, a single writer who commands our real literary imagination. We all resopnd to the flattery of agreement; but perhaps even the simplest reader among us knows in his heart the difference between the emotion and the real emotions of literature.'
To the monumental literary figures of the 20th century, Trilling went on, 'the liberal ideology has been at best a matter of indifference.' Proust, Joyce, Lawrence, Eliot, Yeats and other writers had 'no love of the ideas and emotions which liberal democracy, as known by our educated class, has declared respectable. So that we can say that no connection exists between our liberal educated class and the best of the literary minds of our time. And this is to say that there is no connection between the political ideas of our educated class and the deep places of the imagination.'
--Russell Kirk, The Sword of Imagination
posted by TS O'Rama @ 5:19 PM
February 2, 2003
The Blog-in News
It appears foto del apolcalypse is taking a break for awhile...
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:28 PM
February 1, 2003
apparation
white the yearning statue; all neck and stretch
longs she upward; set guard before the gathering hedge
of myth-leaves green and waxy
gathering the birth-right sun.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:55 AM
chair on the beach
Set it at a jaunty angle
set seaface to foam
ale for what ails, so pale
be fat-billed birds and cirrus clouds.
Banks of sand and birds of mien
mystic fish fly up at strange intervals
seaweed gesticulates in the Gulf waves
sand-dollars spend their ancient inscriptions
in the vanishing between sea and sky
and ineluctably drawn-eye.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:37 AM
Scene: bland corporate fitness center. The usual suspects: young, muscled men lifting weights; old men doing stair machines or treadmills. Young women walking around in outfits that accentuate already obvious gender differences.
Amid the usual suspects was a tall, long-haired man in his mid-to-late 20s who wore a sleeveless t-shirt that revealed a large tattoo of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary, complete with thorns. Vive le difference. As I circled the running track I was greeted each time by edifying visages.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:05 AM
Drowning drams of the daily pulp;
war news, liberals, conservatives
cross-talk on Crossfire
like Manichean caricatures
plastic army men wholly good or evil.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:55 AM
Walker Percy Quotes
”Here they would sit, in my ‘enclosed patio’, on their broad potato-fed English asses, and speak of the higher things.”
“The bricks smell of old wax. After all these years particles of Pledge wax still adhere to the cindery pits that pock the glaze.”
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:43 AM
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Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor
I see the right way, approve it and do the opposite - Ovid
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03/01/02 - 03/31/02 ***
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O'Rama Productions; copyright pending. Taking self too seriously since 1963.
Amy has a thought-provoking post in which she states, It's been said elsewhere that the easiest way to lose your faith is to work for the Church - and that applies to any denomination - it's not peculiar to Catholics.
There are things I'd just rather not know, like how sausage is made. I've more or less gotten my head around it; I tell my mom that there is nothing inherently wrong with politics. It is a God-given means, though sometimes as inelegant as a bathroom visit. When she argues about how calculating the Pope is in making huge numbers of "conservative" cardinals that will vote in the next papal election, I say, hopefully honestly, that if the situation were reversed and the Pope were "liberal" and was using political means to achieve liberal ends then it must be the will of the HS, at least as far as who the next Pontiff will be. Perhaps a more nuanced view is that the right man might not get the job, but that he will not teach false doctrine. More nuanced and more nuanced we become, gradually widening the circle of human error, until we allow for the greatest possible lattitude for human error, which gets it just about right. God is respectful of our freedom, and very economical when it comes to wielding power. Forty million U.S. abortions is proof of that.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 3:26 PM
January 31, 2003
What I Did On My Winter Vacation
I always write what I call a "trip log", with the mistaken notion that I will actually one day go back and read it. At the very least it affixes the details in my mind one last time. Since I wrote it anyway, I will post it in the fine tradition of "let no writing go unposted". You are under no obligation to read it, of course. Triplogs prior to my reversion at least proffered erotic poetry (note to self: destroy erotic poetry soon!); I can promise no sex or violence in the following:
Here lieth the sun deck, where I laid sprawled befriended by Kirk and a cold one.
The advertising on the rental car was right, at least right now. "Florida - the Sunshine State" proved to be all of that as we loaded our weary bodies into a rental which still held the aroma of "new car". From Ft. Myers we took the causeway into sunny Sanibel where we blinked like uncovered slugs.
The condo had a small screened-in back porch overlooking the pool, where a fat cigar and a couple ales on repeating days tended to invoke nostalgia. I had a terribly strong sense of deja vu, and of remembrance of things past. The large green shade tree was much like the one at our house growing up, the one near which we dug a large hole with the hope of reaching China (our knowledge of the hot earthen core being incomplete). The sun deck and pool had 60s style accoutrements that reminded me of my best friend's grandma's swimming pool and her maddeningly strict rules of no swimming for an hour after eating; I recall being out of the pool more than in it. The sun deck ascended in whitely glory, a mad pad to which I would carry a ridiculous number of books despite always choosing to read Kirk's Sword of Imagination.
The leafy courtyard had antebellum lamps and reminded me of my alma mater, which reminded of what Burke wrote concerning the man who hangs about college after having graduated - "he is like a man who, having built and rigged and victualled a ship, should lock her up in dry dock." Ah but what a gloriously unbattered ship she would be!
The complex had the aura of a retirement villa about it; the average resident age in the 70s. The beach scenes looked like retirement or insurance advertisements - loving grey-haired couples walking hand-in-hand. This was a nice feature since I would be able to avoid eye custodial issues which inevitably arise when bikini-clad young women happen by. Instead I was reading Russell Kirk sans distraction, as the sun made her inevitable trek...
When daffodils begin to peer,
With heigh! the doxy over the dale,
Why, then comes in the sweet o' the year;
For the red blood reigns in the winter's pale.
The white sheet bleaching on the hedge,
With heigh! the sweet birds, O, how they sing!
Doth set my pugging tooth on edge;
For a quart of ale is a dish for a king.
--Shakespeare
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:04 PM
Disputations has an attention-grabbing science experiment.
My first thought was that economics is a science too, although if you ask four economists what will happen you'll get five opinions.
I recall that the committee formed on the question of birth control came out in favor of artificial methods. Pope Paul VI wrote Humane Vitae instead. That sort of put theologians in the proper perspective. Ideally, we should be content with the teachings we have been given.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:01 AM
A belated Happy St. Thomas Aquinas day to you and yours. It was excrutiating being out of town during one of my favorite feast days. Not only am I curious what the fine Dominican friars at my St. Patrick parish would've said during the homily, but the local Dominican college always has a wonderful lecture program that day. Providentially, Tuesday was the one day I was able to make it to Mass and the priest there gave a wonderful talk on the great one. I had unthinkingly drank coffee beforehand, but the Mass started late and the enthusiastic homilist made reception possible for which I am thankful.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:52 AM
Serving All Your Knightly Needs
For the man who has everything: $2,450!?! Oy vey.
More affordably, the the scowling knight. (Any resemblance to your correspondent purely coincidental).
Finally, the handy knight.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:25 PM
January 30, 2003
Crypto-Catholic on Ash Wednesday
Hides he Wedesday's ashes
protecting his Mother's reputation
lest she be seen undesireable
by association.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:18 PM
Déjà vu
Watched Bill Murray in Groundhog Day and was struck by how his experience in the movie mirrors our lives. First Murray reacted to the repeating days with the childish glee of lawbreaking: venial things like inconsideration for others, eating everything off the dessert tray, smoking cigarettes. Then he upped the ante in the way some adolescents favor - he drank heavily, smashed his car into mailboxes, tried to evade police and was arrested. The next day he took it a step further by manipulating a stranger into having sex with him. It was plainly unsatisfying because what he really wanted was the character played by Andie MacDowell, and she would not be manipulated. He slid into nihilism, killed himself several times, until finally he abjectly admitted that it was he who was the problem. Because he could not have who he wanted most (Andie), he no longer concerned himself with her as a goal; he became altruistic out of desperation - the grain of wheat and fell to the ground and died. The byproduct of his altruism was Andie's falling in love with him.
*
Read much of John Hershey's depressing Hiroshima on the plane ride back from Florida. One of the survivors was a German Catholic priest who spent the next 30 years in almost constant pain from side effects of the radiation but who unfailing thought of others and never gave into self-pity. Just as it would be almost impossible for the early, selfish Bill Murray to imagine the later, altruistic Murray with anything but white-knuckle distaste, so it is for we who are not where that priest was spiritually to appreciate the beauty, rather than the horror, of his sacrifice. The priest at one point calmly remarked that he was glad to suffer his purgatory here.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 7:46 PM
Back from a week idyll; my folks spend two weeks every year in the land of flos carmeli (i.e. Florida) and we spent five glorious days visiting, regaining our sanity and avoiding the worst the winter has to offer (it felt a form of cheating, as if the winter is an exam and I looked off someone else's paper)...
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 3:55 PM
Two by Seamus
We have no prairies
To slice a big sun at evening--
Everywhere the eye concedes to
Encrouching horizon,
Is wooed into the cyclops' eye
Of a tarn. Our unfenced country
Is bog that keeps crusting
Between the sights of the sun.
Every layer they strip
Seems camped on before.
The bogholes might be Atlantic seepage.
The wet centre is bottomless.
--Seamus Heaney, excerpt of Bogland
***
And if I spy into its golden loops
I see us walk between the railway slopes
Into an evening of long grass and midges,
Blue smoke straight up, old beds and ploughs in hedges,
An auction notice on an outhouse wall--
You with a harvest bow in your lapel,
Me with the fishing rod, already homesick
For the big lift of these evenings, as your stick
Whacking the tips off weeds and bushes
Beats out of time, and beats, but flushes
Nothing: that original townland
Still tongue-tied in the straw tied by your hand.
The end of art is peace
Could be the motto of this frail device
That I have pinned up on our deal dresser--
Like a drawn snare
Slipped lately by the spirit of the corn
Yet burnished by its passage, and still warm.
--Seamus Heaney, excerpt of The Harvest Bow
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:16 PM
January 24, 2003
Herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That, when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wonder'd at,
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him.
--Shakespeare Henry IV
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:50 PM
breath-castles in the near-distance
sing, Statehouse, sing a pro-life song!
Scraggely band of hooded sweatshirts
and mittened applause;
of evangelical sensibilities singing
Our God is an Awesome God
while unfeeling toes remind of
toes that scarcely felt.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:49 PM
There's something alarming about listening to the Old Dogs and realizing Waylon Jennings, who sang the following, is dead:
Drink ginseng tonics, you're still gonna die.
Try high colonics, you're still gonna die.
You can have yourself frozen and suspended in time,
But when they do thaw you out, you're still gonna die.
You can have safe sex, you're still gonna die.
You can switch to Crest, you're still gonna die.
You can get rid of stress, get a lot of rest,
Get an AIDS test, enroll in EST,
Move out west where it's sunny and dry
And you'll live to be a hundred
But you're still gonna die.
I suppose it is a Christian message in the sense of "remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return." It's actually a cheery song, if you can believe that.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:14 PM
A Different Perspective
Fotos Del Apocalypse has a promising post on the war, promising because thru the eyes of Babelfish I can only make out so much. Hernan has the advantage of being farther removed from the war than we are while (hopefully) lacking the anti-American bias that many Europeans have.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 5:21 PM
I'll be out o' town next week; blogging will resume upon return, God-willing.
Meanwhile, a keeper from Deal Hudson:
"...it's true, we're bound to follow our conscience. However -- and this is essential -- our conscience MUST be properly formed. People who disagree with the Church's teachings tend to do so out of hand without first trying to understand those teachings. That's not following your conscience, that's following your will."
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 4:53 PM
Near parody --via Minute Particulae
I can't quite believe how blatantly Mr. Weddington showed his hand, or more vulgarly, his ass. Shades of Dicken's Scrooge who when told many would die in poverty said they had better so as to "decrease the surplus population". Yikes.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:47 PM
Interesting tidbit for you fellow Bob Novak afficiandos:
Amazon.com: How did you get your nickname, "The Prince of Darkness"?
Novak: It's not as interesting a story as you might think. In the late '50s, I covered the Senate for The Wall Street Journal along with a reporter for The Washington Post, and aside from the wire service reporters, we were the only two who had to stay in the Senate until the last dog died. So we'd sit there and watch the Senate and have these long discussions. I was in my late 20s and I was very pessimistic about the state of the world. I thought it was going right down into depravity, and he started calling me the Prince of Darkness because I was so gloomy. Long before I had any particular prominence, people called me the Prince of Darkness because I had a kind of a grim visage. And then when I became a columnist and a TV commentator, the whole thing fit, and it sounded like I was given the name because I was so conservative.
Amazon.com: Do you mind that nickname?
Novak: Nah, I don't care.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:55 AM
Denver's Letter
My father rarely gave me advice, so when he did it took on a Mount Sinai importance. And one piece of advice was to never, ever use drugs. I believed him; drugs were bad. So you might have an inkling of the dismay I felt when I read that another hero of mine, the singer John Denver, was accused of using drugs. At the tender age of ten, I had to reconcile the advice my father gave with the example my favorite singer gave. So I decided to write John Denver. I said that I'd read that he used hashish and marijuana, and that perhaps the song "Rocky Mountain High" and "Poems, Prayers and Promises" were not as innocent as they seemed. They had both seemed tainted to me now, especially the lyric "and pass the pipe around" in "Poems, Prayers and Promises"...
He wrote back about a year later. I still have the letter; it's on beautiful "John Denver stationary" with a little Rocky Mountain vista on the background of the letterheard. He neither confirmed or denied the reports I had heard but one sentence forever lingers in my mind:
Don't let your perceptions of me get in the way of the value the music has for you.
You can call it what you like, a cop-out, a dodge. But he was saying "look to the music. Don't look at me." So perhaps this is a lesson to us all - when bishops or priests or we ourselves disappoint us don't let the behavior affect our faith - look at God.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:27 AM
"I would have given any number of neo-classical pediments for one poor battered gargoyle." - Russell Kirk
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:08 AM
An issue must be complicated if Bob Novak and Kate O'Beirne don't see eye-to-eye on it. The fellow Capital Gang conservative Catholics have been divided over whether war with Iraq is necessary; Bob taking a negative view and Kate a positive view.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:04 AM
Fun with Protestants: We ran into a group from the Oligarch's area of Virginia, and one of the marchers asked us, "And where do you fellowship at?" Slight pause, Oligarch correctly translates this as "What church do you belong to?" and answers, but later notes wryly, "Yeah, I 'fellowship at' [St. X], except I go there alone, and I don't talk to anyone!" Eve via Mark
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:21 PM
January 23, 2003
Interesting New Yorker fiction piece by George Saunders that I much enjoyed, although, as they say, your mileage may vary. (That will seem funnier after you have read it). I'm not sure it is entirely appropriate for a Catholic blog so the easily offended should steer clear.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 7:03 PM
Interesting article about Russel Kirk's stories..
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:28 PM
Proof again, as if we needed it, that those who are weak are usually the ones who defend the weak - in this case a nearly aborted baby:
The actor Jack Nicholson, who discovered as an adult that the woman he was raised to believe was his sister was actually his mother, who had conceived him when she was a teenager. She was advised to get an abortion, but chose life. Her son became a pro-lifer. He once said, "I'm very contra my constituency in terms of abortion because I'm positively against it. I don't have the right to any other view. My only emotion is gratitude, literally, for my life." - from The Corner
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:05 PM
The official Geek hierarchy courtesy NRO
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:02 PM
It's not his feast day but St. Anthony has always been one of my favorite saints.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:02 PM
January 22, 2003
Old Journal Entries Never Die...
There is nothing more prosaic than nostalgia, but can it possibly have been so long since I was there at King Library at Miami, sitting completely appalled at the graffitti scripted on the bathroom carol? Can it have been that long ago, really? The fog of mysticism was murderously dense that senior year, dense with past loves and manured by meditative time superfluously supplied. The very air in Oxford hung wet with intrigue; the senior class knew it was about to go through labor – to labor – and would be cast out like mewling youths into the working world. We were people who knew their own death dates – we walked around with heavy hearts and carrying burdensome bags of nostalgia. We of deep tans would look longingly during Linear Programming and sigh as if….as if we only had more time….Winsome lads and lasses would pass phone numbers that would soon expire. We were heavy-laden with so many memories of splendour; the head-rush of so many dreams simultaneous with so many memories. We were breathing beneath the water, that senior year, we were dead men walking. The ivory tower was turning ebony. We were no longer part of the majesty, the four-year paegeant, the four-year spectacle of potential and grace.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 8:41 PM
Mosaics of the saints
pointillistic artworks of God
full of discrete points of goodness
while God is the dots
connected.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 8:32 PM
Anatomy of a Fast
First 25%: Mixed emotions; half-hearted enthusiasm haunted by the knowledge that there is significantly less to look forward to today. Prayer helps.
Second 25%: Vague sense of un-ease settles in...must resolve not to become resentful. Tell self: the fast includes a fast from irritability. Wonder if I'm as grumpy as usual if that counts since at least the fast isn't making me worse than usual. Think to self that perhaps I should've fasted from irritability alone and not worry about food.
Third 25%: Keep on keeping on, momentum has swung, hunger pangs remind me of His. I wonder: 'does drinking coffee break a bread and water fast?'. I rationalize drinking coffee for greater alertness - i.e. it's for my job.
Final 10%: That wasn't so bad... want to stretch it out some. Why was I such a wuss about it? And why did I have to drink that coffee?
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 8:20 PM
Mahatma Ghandi
"It seems to me as clear as daylight that abortion would be a crime."
All Men Are Brothers: The Life and Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi, Columbia University Press, New York, NY, 1958
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 5:04 PM
The rising feminist movement was against abortion. Not even the most radical considered abortion to be an instrument of freedom for women; on the contrary, abortion was understood to be an aspect of male domination, whereby (outside marriage) men tried to conceal the results of their seduction, or (inside marriage) women behaved tragically because of the terrible conditions of a home governed by a tyrannical husband.
--Tim Stafford, on the women's movement circa 1870
****
The Deadly Dozen
****
a sad 1973 NY Times front page
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 4:19 PM
my guardian dear
I was in charge of eucharistic adoration at my parish. One day I asked one of my fellow parishioners if she knew how to find out the name of one's guardian angel. She said to pray in adoration, and God would let me know my angel's name. I prayed each Saturday for several weeks.
One Saturday before benediction a man entered the chapel. He was at least six feet tall and had clear blue-green eyes and long, wavy blonde hair. He knelt down in front of the Blessed Sacrament with his long arms outstretched toward heaven and started to pray the most beautiful prayers to our Lord. Everyone at adoration always prayed in silence, and we were in awe of this stranger.
After benediction, everyone started to leave and, as I always did, I greeted our guests. I walked up to the blonde man, introduced myself, and gave him the schedule of our weekly visits with Jesus. When I was finished, he bent down to look into my eyes, and as he shook my hand he said, 'My name is Edward. Isn't it nice to finally meet your angel?' I stood watching him walk away down behind the side of the church. I turned away for a second, and when I looked back he was gone. I have not seen him again.
Jesus answers even the smallest of prayers.
-Lisa Ladrido, in This Rock
I liked this on several levels...one that the prayer was answered so extravagantly - instead of coming to knowledge of the name in an impersonal, subtle experience she met him and was shown by him how to adore Christ properly. I also liked the fact that she was unafraid of taking up God's time with something the worldly would consider minutiae if they believe it at all. I shy from these type of prayers because I have a utilitarian streak a mile long, and assume it would be a presumption to ask for something like that instead of something like 'spiritual growth' or 'the conversion of Bill Mahrer'. Like eating ice cream instead asparagus. And yet...love is....lovely. It's not master-slave, but father-son.
If sometimes I seem bumptious to my guardian angel, I remind him or her that at least they get to go to Mass more often than the average GA.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:17 AM
"There was no great truth of which the medieval mind was more certain than those words from the Corinthians, 'For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face.' They never forgot that everything would be absurd if it exhausted its meaning in its immediate function and form of manifestation, and that all things extend in an important way to the world beyond."
--Johan Huizinga, Autumn of the Middle Ages
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 4:04 PM
January 21, 2003
Bellocian article here..
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 3:24 PM
Seeing thru the war glass darkly...
At the barber stand there was talk of war. It twould seem Saddam did not lived up to treaty he signed in 1991. In fact, he did not live up to that on day one when inspectors showed up to witness the mass conflagration of his weapons and instead were greeted with an elaborate "Where's Waldo?" game. So shouldn't we have gone to war on day one? The barber said, "but that was so long ago - we didn't do anything about it then." And that's true. But is that a bad thing? Shouldn't we delay, delay, delay war as long as possible?
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:01 PM
More Ratzinger
Augustine experienced this in the case of his mother: while, he with his friends, all of whom came from the academic world, stuggled helplessly with the basic problems of humanity, he was struck again and again by the interior certainty of this simple woman. With astonishment and emotion, he wrote of her: 'She stands at the pinnacle of philosophy.' -- J. Cardinal Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, pp. 340-342.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:45 AM
Concerning Goldhagen's Book
"As Lucy Dawidowicz saw in 1946, the Holocaust was the product not of Christendom, but of Christendom's collapse. The destruction of Christendom effected (1) the rejection of Catholic natural law and (2) the rise of the absolute nation-state, previously impossible because popes could depose and counterbalance kings...."
--Mark Riebling in National Review
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 5:12 PM
January 20, 2003
Learning my ABCs...
You mean "OCDS" doesn't stand for "Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Syndrome"? I recently learned it means "Order of Carmelites Discalced Secular", for any fellow rubes out there.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:33 PM
More Belloc
For the first time, Belloc wrote to Maurice Baring on 13 April 1908, he had given up drinking beer or wine in Holy Week:
...'partly to see what it is like, partly in memory of the Passion, and partly to strengthen my will which has lately had bulgy spots on it.
I have now gone through thirty-six hours of this ordeal, and very interesting and curious it is...The mind and body sink to a lower plane and become fit for contemplation rather than for action: the sense of humour is also singularly weakened.'
In later years Belloc extended his abstinence to the whole of Lent. 'I have become a Protestant and am drinking no wine during Lent, with the most terrible results to my soul which is in permanent despair', he wrote to Chesterton in 1912. 'I now see what a fool everybody is, a truth which, until now the fumes of fermented liquor had hidden from me.'
-- Joseph Pearce, Old Thunder
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 7:45 PM
January 19, 2003
Flos Carmeli has a thoughtful and interesting review of Hitler's Niece, a book I've come close to acquiring on numerous occasions. Since my reversion, I've attempted to limit what I read to only what I consider "healthy", i.e. that which doesn't get in the way of God. But I don't want to be a Puritan either. (Belloc's friend Maurice Baring once wrote "..then the damned Puritans cast their stinking tarpaulin of respectability over their filthy vices and pretended to be virtuous"). I'm not sure my curtailment of certain books has borne any fruit, at least as far as spiritual improvement, but see Flos's Red Queen comment. Besides Updike, I'm also unsure of Paul Theroux, whose novel "Hotel Honolulu" looks interesting.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 6:11 PM
Bellocian Comments
"Faith goes and comes, not (as the decayed world about us pretends) with certain waves of the intelligence, but as our ardour in the service of God, our chastity, our love of God and his creation, our fighting of our special sins, goes and comes. Faith goes and comes. You think it gone forever (you go to Mass, but you think it gone for ever), then in a miraculous moment it returns. In early manhood one wonders at this, in maturity one laughs at such vicissitudes...But the Church is permanent. You know what our Lord said: He said 'I have conquered the world'...With every necessity, with every apparition of tangible human and positive truth the Faith returns triumphant. By that, believe me, the world has been saved. All that great scheme is not mist or a growth, but a thing outside ourselves and time."
- H. Belloc, in Pearce's Old Thunder
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 6:02 PM
The Wind That Shakes the Barley
Above the uplands drenched with dew
The sky hangs soft and pearly,
An emerald world is listening to
The wind that shakes the barley.
Above the bluest mountain crest
The lark is singing rarely,
It rocks the singer into rest,
The wind that shakes the barley.
Oh, still through summers and through springs
It calls me late and early.
Come home, come home, come home, it sings,
The wind that shakes the barley.
--Katharine Tynan
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 12:44 AM
January 18, 2003
On the Dilbertization of the Workplace
...or thoughts during a meeting
Nancy Nall is convinced that the "next Big Novel -- OK, the next Big Comic Novel -- we all read and discuss will be about work. There's just too much material. On the other hand, it's the sort of material that takes the wind out of satire's sails, because it transcends it in every way."
We recently had a second pre-meeting before an upcoming overview session. Lard upon lard. These meetings have a sort of out-of-body experience to them; I could take them more seriously if everyone else took them less seriously. We all know what has to be done and could do it w/out the pageantry and project charters. The meeting made me feel old or cynical or both.
I think to self, “she is too old to be so enthusiastic”; I try to recall that her job depends on enthusiasm, on rallying the troops, on making management see that she is valuable player. But it still feels like farce. I feel like I’m watching a bad play. The meeting is interrupted by someone leaping up. His phone is space-age cool, like something George Jetson would have. A little blue light fired on as he flipped it up. It looked like a toy.
It wouldn't have felt this way years ago. I still recall those halcyon days; I projected all the sophistication and importance of the world upon my job. I showed my parents my desk and bragged, only half-joking, that this is where the important decisions are made.
The truth is that most work outside the home seems unutterably small, with the exception of ministry work, the professions, and art. Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief. Priest, prophet, poet. And yet all work is meaningful, by definition, because work is done by humans and humans are of inestimable value. A shoe-maker’s work is as valuable to God as a CEOs. But I have trouble getting this construct into my head though. I make the linkage intellectually but… Perhaps I’m bastardizing the corporate experience – without ambition to advance it becomes a farce. They can become exercised over minutiae because they are hungry – they want to get to the next level. Strip “the game” from the corporate rat race and you’re left with…what?
And yet these are surely just the musings of the terribly spoiled. What about the Mexican migrant worker who sends every dime back to Mexico so that his wife can join him? What about the starving in Africa? They would love a farcical job.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:36 PM
January 17, 2003
THE FACE: DOORWAY TO THE SOUL
Catholic–minded Christians favor rituals and set prayers; Evangelical-minded Christians think these are insincere, that a prayer or action must come from the heart, and that set prayers and rites are dead. Samuel Johnson, good Anglican that he was, disapproved of the Presbyterian version of this attitude in his Journey to the Western Isles.
"The Naked Face" by Malcolm Gladwell in the August 5 New Yorker explores the meaning of facial expressions. They are universal and largely involuntary. A trained or naturally intuitive person can detect a liar, and much else, by facial expressions.
When I worked as a federal investigator, we were trained to pick up verbal and facial clues of liars - nothing as subtle as the article discusses, but useful anyway. To practice we had a film and transcript of Ted Kennedy explaining what he did at Chappaquiddick. We were told to look for signs that he was lying. Most of us stopped at 100.
A current researcher (who was pro-Clinton) noticed that Clinton had characteristic facial expressions. The researcher contacted Clinton’s communications director and said, “Look, Clinton’s got this way of rolling his eyes along with a certain expression, and what it means is ‘I am a bad boy.’ I don’t think it is a good thing. I could teach him how not to do that in two or three hours.” Clinton refused. In any case the expression was revelatory.
I am always getting into trouble because of my facial expressions, I don’t suffer fools gladly, and even when I keep my mouth shut, my expression must give me away, because people get angry with me after they have said something stupid. They suspect it is stupid, and see by my face that I think it is extremely stupid.
However, returning to the Catholic-Evangelical disagreement, researchers have also discovered that facial expressions can create the corresponding emotions.
A researcher asked one group to remember a distressing situation, and monitored their heart beat, etc. They showed signs of stress. He then asked another group to make a facial expression of distress without thinking of anything. They showed the same physiological signs of distress as the first group. One group held a pen tightly between their lips, which made it impossible to smile. They were shown cartoons. They were not amused. Another group held a pen in their mouths in such a way that they were forced to smile. They found the cartoons hilarious.
Pascal (I believe) advised someone who said he had trouble believing in Christianity to take holy water on entering a church, and that belief would follow. Our external actions tend to create the corresponding internal attitudes.
Catholics: You are right, actions create the emotions.
Protestants: You are right, the heart will out no matter how hard we try to conceal it.
However, if a person has decided something is right – that he should venerate God or love his wife - but for some reason doesn’t feel the emotions he ought to feel, he can perform the actions, bowing and kneeling, or kissing and bringing flowers. These actions tend to create the emotions, and are not insincere, because the will has made a decision based on the truth, and wants to bring the heart into conformity with realty. This is the definition of truth and truthfulness. So High Chuchmen are a little more right than Low Churchmen (who in any case often have their own unacknowledged rituals). --Leon Podles
Postcript: Minute Particulae blogged about The Naked Face back in August.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:54 AM
Ratzinger Quote via Olde Oligarch
On the other hand, a society and a humanity will not long endure in which persons in service careers -- in hosptials, for instance -- no longer find meaning in their service [because it is not intellectual], and universal irritation, mutual suspicion, destroy life in common. God's revelation was to the simple -- not out of resentment against the great, as Nietzsche would have it -- but because they possess that precious naivete that is open to truth and not subject to the temptations of nihilism. This should be the foundation of the great respect the Christian should feel to those who are simple of heart. - Cardinal Ratzinger
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:24 AM
I'll always be your beast of burden
Overheard at a restaurant, table of eight next to us, one grey-haired couple and two young couples. Older gent gives older lady a peck on the cheek, after which she appears pained and then warns, "Oh, men always want sex - no matter how old they are!".
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 7:39 AM
Interesting post from Minute Particulars. Read the whole thing, but if not read this:
The "credibility of others" is woven so tightly within the human act of faith that practically speaking it's inextricable from any notion of faith in God alone. Our faith is in God alone, but the manner in which we become disposed to such an assent very much involves the dynamic of believing in the testimony of other human beings so that we can, as Pieper puts it, "participate in the knowledge of a knower."
Here's where the shoe pinches a bit for me in the issue of how we might respond to those who have "lost faith" because of the actions of others. Of course faith has God as its object. And indeed faith is ultimately a gift. And yes our genuine assent requires the grace of the Holy Spirit. But all of this is sort of highlighting the end of a very long and nuanced theological argument. It's a response to a denial that God is the Source and End of all that is, was, or will be, including the assent of faith in each of us when it occurs; but I'm not sure it's a response to the despair many find themselves in when they are betrayed by priests and bishops.
I think, deep down, everyone wants to be a saint since that's what we were created for. The restlessness that St. Augustine wrote about is a restlessness for sanctity because sanctity is a greater oneness with God. But we want to be saints without the work, or, if work is necessary, then it be done with the surety that the goal (sanctity) will be achieved. Thus when my mother says that in the 1950s Catholics were not any holier than Protestants, she was also saying, "not eating meat on Friday and making every go to Mass on Sunday or they will go to hell" did not work, i.e. did not make them saintly. This is sort of what Nietsche said when he said, "if Christians are redeemed, why don't they look redeemed?".
Similarly, if priests, bishops, and monks are not any holier than the average Joe (despite their access to the sacraments and the arduous journey that includes celibacy requirements and extensive biblical/spiritual learning), then some wash their hands of it because they see that the arduousness of the journey does not even guarantee the destination - holiness. But ...as St. Peter bluntly said, "Oh Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life." It is folly to ignore the paths the saints since you cannot get there without those steps, even if there is no guarantee you will arrive if you do take them.
A Paradox from Minute Particulars:
In theory God can reveal Himself to anyone without our efforts to evangelize. But a corollary to this would seem to be that in theory we can't come between God and another human being. I think these both have to be true lest we distort Creator and creature or limit the power of God. Yet, and I admit this is a strange thing to say, we can't live as if these theoretical notions are true. If we do I think we commit the sin of presumption. We can't presume that God doesn't require our efforts to spread the Good News, even though somehow we know that He doesn't. And we can't presume that our sinfulness won't affect another human being's ability to know God, even though somehow we know that nothing we do could ever finally hinder God.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 12:26 PM
January 16, 2003
More from the Irish Page
An Ghaeilge
Is mise an Ghaeilge
Is mise do theanga
Is mise do chultúr
D'Úsáid na Filí mé
D'Úsáid na huaisle
D'Úsáid na daoine mé
is d'Úsáid na lenaí
Go bródúil a bhí siad
Agus mise faoi réim.
Ach tháinig an strainséir
Chuir sé faoi chois mé
Is rud ní ba mheasa
Nior mhaith le mo chlann mé
Anois táim lag
Anois táim tréith
Ach fós táim libh
Is beidh mé go beo.
Tóg suas mo cheann
Cuir áthas ar mo chroí
Labhraígí mé
Ó labhraígí mé!
The Irish Language
I am Irish
I am your language
I am your culture
The poets used me
The nobles used me
The people used me
and the children used me
Proud they were
And I flourished
But the stranger came
He suppressed me
Something worse than that was
my own people rejected me
Now I am weak
Now I am feeble
But still I am with you
and I will be forever.
Raise up my head
Put joy in my heart
Speak me
Oh speak me!
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:29 AM
Sun spills despite the clouds
into my winter hovel
agilely missing pregnant chads
radiant excesses at random intervals
keeps me at the bay.
grey-stoke stick-trees
look upended, leaves planted;
only the roots show.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:24 AM
Minimalist poem about College Life
Vivarin®,
beer.
Repeat.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:22 AM
...And Poetry
excerpts from Nine Little Goats
It's a cock's foot of a night:
If I go on hanging my lightheartedness
Like a lavender coat on a sunbeam's nail,
It will curdle into frogspawn.
The clock itself has it in for me,
Forever brandishing the splinters of its hands,
Choking on its middle-aged fixations.
Darkness will be dropping in
In the afternoons without an appointment,
A wolf's bite at the windowpane,
And wolves too the clouds
In the sheepish sky.
---Núala Ní Dhomhnaill, translated from the Irish by Medbh McGuckian
Núala Ní Dhomhnaill (NOO-la Nee GO-nal), Ireland's foremost present-day poet writing in Irish, was born in 1952 in Lancashire. In 1957, her parents returned to Ireland -- to the Dingle Gaeltacht in Kerry, where she grew up. She writes all her poetry in Irish because she believes that Irish is a language of enormous elasticity and emotional sensitivity; of quick and hilarious banter. Many international scholars have commented that this language of ragged peasants "seems always on the point of bursting into poetry." (Dhomhnaill, 2)- via the Irish Page
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:14 PM
January 15, 2003
Irish Song Wednesday
A Man You Don't Meet Every Day
I have acres of land I have men at command
I have always a shilling to spare
So be easy and free when you're drinking with me
I'm a man you don't meet every day
So come fill up your glasses with brandy and wine
Whatever it costs I will pay
So be easy and free when you're drinking with me
I'm a man you don't meet every day...
--Traditional
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:03 PM
Wherefore Mosquitoes?
Came across this quotation...
Perhaps the real question is not why does God allow for physical evil, but why did God create us in a material world? Some suggest that God created us in an imperfect material world so that we would not rely on ourselves but come to love and rely on the perfect God (2 Cor 1:8-9). St. Irenaeus of Lyons (190 A.D.) wrote:
"...where there is no exertion, there is no appreciation. Sight would not be so desirable if we did not know what a great evil blindness is. Health, too, is made more precious by the experience of sickness; light by comparison with darkness; life with death. In the same way, the heavenly kingdom is more precious to those who have known the earthly one. But the more precious it is, the more we love it; and the more we love it, the more glorious shall we be in the presence of God. God, therefore, permitted all these things, so that we, instructed by them all, might in future be prudent in all things, and, wisely taught to love God, might abide in that perfect love." [Against Heresies IV,37,7] -- from A Catholic Response
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:58 PM
January 14, 2003
I can certainly see the appeal of Tan Publishers. Their newsletter arrive/brochure arrived in the mail today and though I rarely buy anything I find the mere reading of it enriching and oddly comforting. I wouldn't mind being a Catholic fundamentalist - we'll all be fundamentalists in the next life - i.e. everything will be black and white and much clearer. Tan has a lot of edifying books that are not Fundie books, don't get me wrong. There are summaries of the Summa and lives of saints and others. But what prompted this post was this nugget from the letter:
If you are going to read the Bible, get a copy of the Douay-Rheims Bible and read the real Bible. In my opinion, it is the only really accurate English translation of the Bible there is. Every verse evokes the authorship of Almighty God, and many times just a sentence or a clause from the Douay-Rheims will bring the answer to a question that has been bothering you for a long time.
That's a pretty effective sell. Never mind the great break-throughs in biblical research and manuscripts that have occurred since the Douay-Rheims. It's our KJV.
Moreover, the publisher tackles the question: Why read the spiritual classics?
One of the things we certainly need to engage in is spiritual reading, for excellent spiritual reading-- such as found in the powerful books from TAN - gives us 1) the adult knowledge of the Faith that we need in order to practice it well, plus 2) the motivation to do so.
Sounds reasonable.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:21 PM
Interesting post from Doxos (via Dylan) on the infinite distance between the Irish and the Irish-American. Alas, perhaps only landscape and songs like Kevin Barry remain. If I went back to the olde sod, I would never go to Dublin. I would go to Belfast and Northern Ireland where perhaps vestiges of yesterday can be found. At best, touring can be like time travel; at worst the homogenizing of culture and self-consciousness that the tourist trade induces makes it unpalatable. Truly foreign cultures become more attractive, albeit more deadly. A visit to say Damascus or Baghdad would be a real treat because it is there we can find a difference (at the cost of many of them hating your guts, a small price to pay). Certainly my yen to travel has decreased steadily as I've approached middle-age.
A WASPish English professor at school raved about how strange it is that whites want to go to England or Ireland and blacks to Africa and Asians to Asia. He was a connoisuer of Japanese culture and constantly preached the gospel of learning about and traveling to truly "other" countries.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 4:12 PM
excerpt from Étude Réaliste
A baby's eyes, ere speech begin,
Ere lips learn words or sighs,
Bless all things bright enough to win
A baby's eyes.
Their glance might cast out pain and sin,
Their speech make dumb the wise,
By mute glad godhead felt within
A baby's eyes.
--Algernon Charles Swinburne
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 2:17 PM
Hokie Pundit laments the fact that some branches of Christianity do not have open Communion and that some get unduly hung up on the use or non-use of alcohol for Communion. An ex-priest I know (as well as a very close loved one) also think the RCC's Communion policy distasteful. Hence this question interested me.
I think CS Lewis would beg to differ. He urged no one to stand in the hallway of Christianity, but to pick a room (i.e. denomination or branch) and live its tenets and particularities. To have an open Communion, it seems you'd have to have it in the hallway, metaphorically-speaking.
There are some things even the Pope has no power to change - such as the use of wine in Communion. What is special about wine? Or what is special about water, when used in Baptism? Besides that Jesus used both, there's a sense in which water, for example, is not merely a symbol of cleansing but was created firstly for Baptism and only secondarily for thirst-quenching and cleansing. In other words, instead of thinking that God appropriated water as a symbol since it had cleansing and thirst-quenching properties, consider that He imagined primarily for the sacrament and that secondary uses were applied so that its real use in Baptism might be better understood.
For those who think, "who cares? it's just a material substance", think about the universe. That an invisible God created a material universe leaves us wondering why, but the fact that he did makes it, by default, important. The fact that God-made-man decided to attach an importance to common everyday objects is determinative, because God alone determines whether something is important.
***
The thing not too many people like to bring up is that Catholics believe, or are supposed to believe, that Communion is something entirely different from what an evangelical would believe it to be. Thus I'm not sure how you can have an "open Communion" when the very thing itself is the object of dispute.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:40 PM
Jaded by Beauty
A professor friend of mine who used to teach college in Appalachia wrote to me recently: "When I moved to the Tennessee mountains, I was always stunned at how much kids raised there could not see the beauty that was all around them, and all of the amazing kid stuff there was to do in mountains and lakes and waterfalls and music and everything. A small place, but a wonderful place. But the students from there said they never, ever thought of that. They were comparing their lives with MTV, and advertising, and HBO, and the products of New York and Los Angeles."
--R. Dreher, NRO
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:26 PM
Ode to Libraries
"Those buildings were oases, elegant, cathedral-like spaces where you could sit for hours and hours. You could go to the bathroom and find a fresh roll of toilet paper in the dispenser, and you could go scavenging for the latest novel by Toni Morrison or Robert Stone, and it would actually be there, waiting for you to come and claim it. I loved libraries fiercely. They were gratifying, inviting, intellectual, clean: everything that the rest of the world all too often was not...
...a few years ago I became a member of the New York Society Library, where they actually know my name and whose elegant rooms make me feel as though I'm living out a scene in a Henry James novel."
----Meg Wolitzer, via bookslut
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:28 AM
First of all you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions and saying, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation."
--2 Peter 3:3-4
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 8:50 AM
News you can use
My friend has four children under the age of six, and seems to often be the recipient of vomit from sick kids. This happened to him over the weekend, but then he remembered his reading on serial killers. He is a movie buff who wanted to know how close to reality Hannibal Lector was and so he came across a serial killers website and found that some of them put Vicks Vaporub under their nose in order to deal with unpleasant odors. My friend remembered this, quickly grabbed the Vicks, and was spared from wretching himself (and was able to clean up the voluminous vomit w/out incident). Pick Vicks - the choice of serial killers everywhere.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:33 PM
January 13, 2003
A Two-Sided Equation
Where John baptized with plain water, Jesus added the Holy Spirit.
When He was given plain water, He made fine wine.
When He was given five loaves and two fish, He multiplied them.
When He is given bread and wine, he makes his Body and Blood.
***
Minute Particulae has a particularly bracing post reminding us that things are different with us, post-Pentecost. St. Paul makes this point over and over and the Church teaches it as well - that we are fundamentally different, living in the new Dispensation. Not only that many of the old rules don't apply - meaning some of the rites of the Old Law such as dietary disciplines and circumcision - but that we are given a gift that they did not have. This is easy for the pessimist to forget. Whether we feel it, or see it in history, is quite irrelevant. As MP says, "Our baptism has freed us from such things. Our task as a people of God baptized in the Holy Spirit is radically different from John the Baptist; we are to proclaim the Good News of the Risen Lord as his friends, and as sons and daughters of the Father."
My mother and I once had the discussion abou this - she said the world seems not to have changed, human nature is such as it always is (a different point!) and that the Post-Pentecost world is not much better than pre-Pentecost. I argued contra, and also sent this rather blunt query to EWTN's online guru for more. Here is his passionate reply, which I sent to mom:
Q: Why does the world post-Pentecost look just as bad as the world pre-Pentecost? The Bible said that the Holy Spirit would usher in a new age but it looks much the same.
Answer by Fr. John Echert: Do not Imagine for a moment that the world redeemed by Christ is no better than the world apart from Christ. We have inherited a world in which the Gospel spread rapidly from one end to the other, as is evident from the early writings which comprise the New Testament. In a matter of a couple decades the Good News of Jesus Christ and the knowledge of the one true God began at its center in Jerusalem and had reached the center of the Empire of the time at Rome. What would the world look like without Jesus Christ? Think for a moment the visible indications of the breaking in of God's Kingdom. Jesus cast out demons, restored sight to the blind, gave hearing to the deaf, raised the dead to life. The physical miracle were authentic and signs of a deeper reality: Jesus had power over sin and death. Imagine the difference had Jesus Christ not risen from the dead. You would have no hope for eternal life and would see only darkness in the world. By now the darkness may have overtaken any natural hope for life and destroyed any natural goodness. Given modern methods of warfare, the world might by now have destroyed itself or be barely habitable. Yes, Thomas doubted and Saul persecuted the Church. But they were won over by the grace of God experienced in a visible manifestation of the Risen Christ. For the rest of us, we depend upon faith and the witness of those who personally experienced the Lord in the Gospel period and the Apostolic Church.
What a blessing for us, undeserved by accepted in faith. Finally, let me give you an example of a difference between pre-Pentecost and post-Pentecost times: 14:66 And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the maids of the high priest came; 14:67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him, and said, "You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus." 14:68 But he denied it, saying, "I neither know nor understand what you mean." And he went out into the gateway. 14:69 And the maid saw him, and began again to say to the bystanders, "This man is one of them." 14:70 But again he denied it. And after a little while again the bystanders said to Peter, "Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean." 14:71 But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, "I do not know this man of whom you speak." 14:72 And immediately the cock crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, "Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times." And he broke down and wept. 5:26 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but without violence, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people. 5:27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 5:28 saying, "We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us." 5:29 But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men. 5:30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 5:31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 5:32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him." Believe me, you cannot imagine the darkness and hopelessness that would by now envelope the world, had not the Son of God taken upon Himself our humanity and redeemed us from sin and death. Yes, human freedom remains and so does sin, since each person has the ability to choose sin. But grace has made an incredible difference; a grace which does not compel but works to wear down our resistance and find a place in our hearts and minds.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 12:31 PM
I know I like to know what people are reading so I will share the earth-shaking news that verweile doch was very, very good to me last night. Enjoyed large, languid quantities of Walker Percy's "The Last Gentleman", read the latest issue of Crisis, which included an edifying article on Evelyn Waugh (which led me to pick up the old $2 Brideshead Revisited copy I had found at a library sale last year and plow into it). Also read Bud MacFarlane's "Conceived Without Sin", which I had bought at the Cathedral Shrine shop in Washington ostensibily for my sister, wondering if it were a bit too apologetic in nature. She enjoys mass market fiction and sometimes wavers in her commitment to the Church, so it seemed a kinda/sorta good fit but I don't want to come off as some sort of huckster since that can have an equal and opposite reaction...
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:10 AM
Memories of a Breakfast Drink
Tang, sprang plain-sung against the tongue
orange pistoles blasting orange twang.
*
Winter Whine
Nature dieth
we acclimate,
accustom our arses to the
furniture of our minds;
live there awhile
eschew the outdoors
till numbness ensues;
till the summer sun seems sudden-garish;
like a drunk at the symphony.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:58 AM
Interesting item from dead tree National Review
[L.Brent] Bozell faulted the West for having accepted too thoroughly Aristotle's declaration that the intellect is what truly distinguishes man from other creatures: 'The most exquisitely equipped 'rational animal' could not, in virtue of that equipment, believe, or hope, or love supernaturally. Reason does none of this things, nor can it explain them.'
--Michael Potemra
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:45 AM
January 11, 2003
Got this from Davey's mommy, who got it from others...
"Nothing gives one a more spuriously good conscience than keeping rules, even if there has been a total absence of all real charity and faith."
And from Thomas Merton, via Dylan:
The pleasure of a good act is something to be remembered -- not in order to feed our complacency but in order to remind us that virtuous actions are not only possible and valuable, but that they can become easier and more delightful and more fruitful than the acts of vice which oppose and frustrate them.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:32 AM
Cow's Heads in Formaldehyde ...Peggy Noonan's Latest
I have a theory that liberals and leftists prefer their leaders complicated, and conservatives prefer their leaders uncomplicated. I think the left expects a good leader to have an exotic or intricate personality or character. (A whole generation of liberal journalists grew up reading Jack Newfield and Pete Hamill on Bobby Kennedy's sense of tragedy, Murray Kempton on the bizarreness that was LBJ, and a host of books with names like "Nixon Agonistes" and "RFK at Forty," and went into journalism waiting for the complicated politicians of their era to emerge. They are, that is, pro-complication because their ambition to do great work like the great journalists of the 1960s seems to demand the presence of complicated political figures.)
Liberals like their leaders interesting. I always think this may be because some of them have not been able to fully engage the idea of a God, and tend to fill that hole in themselves with politics and its concerns. If the world of government and politics becomes your god, and yields a supergod called a president, you want that god to be interesting.
Conservatives, on the other hand, don't look for god in government, for part of being a conservative is holding the conviction that there is no god in government. They like complicated personalities in their TV shows and from actors and opera singers, but they want steadiness and a vision they can agree with from their presidents. Actually I think conservatives want their presidents the way they want their art: somewhere in the normal range. They don't like cow's heads suspended in formaldehyde and don't understand that as high art; by 1998 they thought Bill Clinton was the political version of a cow's head in formaldehyde, and they didn't like that either.
And so my liberal friends say: Why do people like Mr. Bush? And they want an interesting answer. But I do think part of the answer is: Because he's not complicated and perhaps not even especially interesting as a person. We just love that.
-- Peggy Noonan
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 4:46 PM
January 10, 2003
Mining for Gold in a Sea of Chaff *
Bruce Springsteen is out-of-date. His song, "Fifty-seven Channels But Nothin's On" should be "Two-hundred Channels But Nothin's On". But amid this tsunami of dross, this tornado of torpitude, I've found one show I like to watch - CBS's "The Guardian". And this season they have really cool theme song, Empire In My Mind by the Wallflowers.
One internet reviewer opined:
...But the song is another good one, with Jakob [the song writer] taking a long, hard look at himself, and finding good and bad, but sounding surprised by exactly how much bad there really is.
I cannot deny/There's a darkness that's inside/I am guilty by design/And now I realize that temptation's made me blind/To the empire in my mind.
I'm assuming that this empire represents all that he aspires to be, all that he's convinced himself he's already close to being. But upon closer inspection, he realizes where he thought there was order, there is chaos, and even crime, and his biggest fear is this: I'm afraid someday I'll find/There's no empire in my mind. No good at all inside him. And while this may not be autobiographical, it's certainly a theme we can all relate, including Jakob, obviously.
* - entrant for 2003 "Mixed Metaphor" in a Catlicker Blog Award (MMCBA)
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 2:25 PM
Kairos and Disputations have had good posts on the all-important but infrequently asked question: 'Is it true?'. It is understandable how few ask that question, because the answer simply may not, in their view, be "survivable". In other words, to take an example off the shelf, the gay person cannot really ask, 'is it true that God does not approve of homosexual acts?' because that would require a scenerio of life (i.e. one without sex) that is simply unsurvivable. (The obligatory disclaimer is of course that this "unsurvivability" is a perception, not reality). Christians are accused by atheists of this (see Gov. Ventura's "weakminded" comments). Many Protestants want the assurance of "once saved, always saved", because not having that is unsurvivable (Luther, for example, is said to have had a problem with scrupulosity). Thus we have to try to force God into our pre-conceived notions, mostly because the stakes are so high. I remember in my licentitious days thinking, "I can't believe God would send me to hell for this. I simply refuse to believe it, because then everyone I know is going to hell...". Now I think more along the lines of, "hey I better improve, before I 'get improved'" - i.e. if I don't develop the virtue of patience, it will perhaps be given to me by virtue of something catastrophic.
We see even scientific "truth" bent for our purposes. E. Michael Jones in "Degenerate Moderns" provided an eye-opening look at the hidden motivations of many of the leading figures of modernity. Most of those profiled were/are revered for their seeming objectivity, but Mr. Jones shows the faulty moral framework that caused them to have huge ulterior motives in bending truth to their own particular problem.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:39 PM
To share another's affliction is the pluperfect way to care about them. In other words, if I have a heart condition, I cannot help but be extremely sympathetic to those who have a heart condition. There is little merit in that, it being a purely human phenomenon, but it seems we should take advantage of whatever natural advantages we have. This is a preface to saying how moved I was by this post from the Kairos guy. Thank God for Confession, where hope is renewed. I was reading the second chapter of Acts the other day and it was marvelously consoling. Reading about Christ's power is something that gives one hope, in a world where oft times God whispers. To know that you are not alone is helpful, close to the point that 'to be understood is to be cured'.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:28 PM
I recall that one of the blogs suggested the practice of designating their daily rosary for someone. I've found it useful that if I was angry at someone that day, they automatically become the designatee for that day. This has the salutary effect of providing even more incentive not to become angry.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:20 PM
Interesting Tidbit from the Cath Convert Billboard
Q: Surely, as Catholics, we have access to much more grace than the average Israelite had under the Old Covenant, so why aren't we much better morally?
A: One guess would be that we live in an age that is much more conducive to sin. Think about it, it's just as easy to type "www.redhotporn.com" as to type "www.catholic-convert.com." The internet gives easy access to all kinds of sin. Indeed, seemingly everything about our popular culture encourages materialism and sin. The very idea of sin is down-played and laughed at. Those who try to practice self-denial are looked on as bizarre and fanatical.
Our modern technology might also play a part. The more climate-controlled and comfortable our lives become, the less we feel the need for God. I believe one of the saints said that weather was the best penance because it comes to us directly from the hand of God. But we live in an age where it's possible never to see the weather if we so choose. We are insulated and isolated from life itself to a much greater degree than an Israelite in a tent who lives or dies depending upon when God sends rain.
I would also guess - though I don't know - that where grace abounds, demonic attack and temptation abounds as well. When God steps up His activity, I suspect that Satan steps up his, too.
Finally, I don't think our free will is much different than that of the ancient Israelites. Indeed, the human condition never really changes, which is why the Bible is as relevant to us today as it was when it was written.
--www.catholic-convert.com
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 2:31 PM
January 9, 2003
Truth & Hubris
I was struck by this comment on Amy's blog concerning Anne Lamott:
A sinner on a radiant trajectory toward Jesus is in better shape than a "solid on all the disputed questions" type who's come to a dead stop. Watch this girl.
I'm fascinated by the connection between knowledge of the truth and hubris. There is a tendency to feel smug or proud of the truth one believes, be it the Catholic who feels he/she is better because they have "the truth" or the Protestant who believes likewise, or Christians over Muslims and vice-versa. Perhaps the reason the truth at times seems muddled is intentional on God's part - to prevent us from becoming insufferable.
Matt 13: "He replied, 'The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: 'Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: "`You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.' But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear."
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 2:17 PM
The Sad Death of Jack Kerouac
In 1969, the last year of his life, Jack and Gabrielle, and Jack's third wife, Stella, lived in St. Petersburg, Florida. It was a retirement town, and Jack seemed retired, spending most of his time indoors, drinking Johnny Walker Red and reading National Review, the Bible, Pascal, and Voltaire. He was watching television the morning of October 20, eating tuna fish out of the can, sipping whiskey, and scribbling a note. There was a pain in his stomach. He made it to the bathroom in time to vomit a waterfall of blood. His liver, long cirrhotic, had finally hemorrhaged. The blood filled Jack's chest and welled up into his throat.
He was rushed to St. Anthony's hospital. He remained unconscious while doctors operated on him and pumped thirty pints of blood into his body. He died an alcoholic's death, drowning in his own blood, at 5:30 a.m. the next morning.
--E. Micheal Smith
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 2:12 PM
Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him. - Acts 2 38:39
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:30 AM
Lamonttisms
Then Lamott is back to what she does best: proclaiming the grace of God. "But there wasn't a single thing that I'd do that Jesus would say, 'Forget it, you're out, I've had it with you, try Buddha!' - Christianity Today article
Now, even if you have problems with Lamott for whatever reason you might, you really have to admit that this last statement is one to sort of stop you in your tracks and force you to re-evaluate your sense of what faith is all about and how tempting it is for religiously-minded folk to decree that other sinners (whose sins are, somehow, worse than the religious folks' sins) must be, have to be, cut off from God's grace. - Amy Welborn
I recall reading Flannery O'Connor's The Violent Bear it Away and, truth be told, not enjoying the ride too much. But the ending! Wow...what a powerful ending...
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:15 AM
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to My breast.
--G. Herbert
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:09 AM
Cardinal Newman thoughts...
Another must-read post at Disputations here. Makes sense to look at history first in attempting to determine if something is true. Certainly, in the examples he gives, papal documents are not going to be convincing to outsiders...I googled for these interesting Cardinal Newman comments:
'The more one examines the Councils, the less satisfactory they are.....[but] the less satisfactory they, the more majestic and trust-winning, and the more imperatively necessary, is the action of the Holy See.'.......
Newman also wrote to the Guardian sharply denying the allegation of J.M. Capes that he did not really believe in papal infallibility, and citing a number of passages in his writings, beginning with the Essay on Development, for more or less explicit avowals of the doctrine...... "As regards the relation between history and theology, Newman is unequivocal in his criticism of Dollinger and his followers......'I think them utterly wrong in what they have done and are doing; and, moreover, I agree as little in their view of history as in their acts.' It is not a matter of questioning the accuracy of their historical knowledge, but 'their use of the facts they report' and 'that special stand-point from which they view the relations existing between the records of History and the communications of Popes and Councils.' Newman sums up the essence of the problem: 'They seem to me to expect from History more than History can furnish.' The opposite was true of the Ultramontanes, who simply found history an embarrassing inconvenience....
But he wondered why 'private judgment' should 'be unlawful in interpreting Scripture against the voice of authority, and yet be lawful in the interpretation of history?'....No Catholic doctrine could be fully proved (or, for that matter, disproved) by historical evidence - 'in all cases there is a margin left for the exercise of faith in the word of the Church.' Indeed, anyone 'who believes the dogmas of the Church only because he has reasoned them out of History, is scarcely a Catholic.'
--from Ian Ker's John Henry Newman: A Biography via Dave Armstrong's site.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 12:11 PM
January 8, 2003
At last...I understand why Bill Buckner missed that ground ball. Kudos to Dylan.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:12 AM
"You know what I love about the Irish? The way they don't seem to be after your money. Everyone else in the world is."
--P. McCarthy, McCarthy's Bar
Sadly, the Irish are merely behind the times. But one can hope they will not be assimilated too.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:12 AM
Adams quote
The appeal of young women was exceedingly strong; an elderly John Adams wrote that he was of an 'amorous disposition from as early as ten or 11' but kept himself in rein. 'No virgin or matron ever had cause to blush at the sight of me...My children may be assured that no illegitimate brother or sister exists or ever existed'.
--D. McCullough's John Adams
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:10 AM
Fictional Wednesday
The local pawn shop was having a President’s Day sale. All items 50% off, stolen items 75% off. I went because I had been recently retired, right-sized or otherwise been acted upon instead of acting on. My services would not be required. I lugged a sousaphone carefully through a door decorated with bars.
I’d had the tuba since high school but hadn’t played it since. My lips were out of shape and my lung power suspect, the result of a pack-a-day habit that had begun in my 20s until by 40 I was shivering outside my workplace, experiencing the odd sensation of feeling both good and bad simultaneously. Like when you cut yourself shaving in a nice, hot shower.
The tuba had been in cold storage for over 30 years, but with its sale imminent, nostalgia overcame me and I began making loud, flatulent notes. Soon I was playing the melody line of every John Phillip Sousa song I could recall. The next day I was at it again attempting Vivaldi's "Four Seasons”. It sounded like a German grocer on speed.
LaTonya Baumgartner was the proprietor. I’d expected someone seedier, like Adrian’s brother Pauli in Rocky. She grimaced when she saw the tuba.
“How much for this?” I said.
“You know, this shop is kinda small. That would take up a lot of room. Do you want to find something in trade, something equally big?”
I looked around numbly. The sad collection of misfit toys looked morosely back at me, like one large Evil Eye. Guns and jewelry filled the shop, much of it traded for drug or booze money. Trading the permanent for the temporary.
“Well, I could use some cash…”
“How about that foosball table?”
She eventually agreed to take the tuba for $20.
I spent the sundown on Mallory Square where the best entertainment was the sunset but where the people-watching was good too. There was the tight-rope walking dog named Mo, and his shaggier owner. Later at a karokee bar called “Two Friends” I discovered the etymology of the word "Karokee": it's the Japanese word meaning “those who lack the embarassment gene”.
There was the ice princess in the short skirt singing irenic, ironic songs like “Black Velvet” and “Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz”. She accepted applause as her birthright. There was Bunny, the scared little girl who gripped the microphone like a lifeline and your heart went out to her as she stood rigid as a statuette. There was the tall and angular-faced Ric Ricardo, still possessing boy-next-door-looks despite grazing the north pastures of the 40s. He sang standards so old they’re coming back in style, and he also sang “Song, Sung Blue” straight-up, irony-free.
The emcee for the evening was friendly and wore his poker face even during the worse song fractures, which apparently must be part of the job description.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:09 AM
Various & sundry
It seems to me that as notions of God become more specific and more loving, they become harder to believe but more consoling. It would seem to be an act of faith to believe that all this is an accident. To believe that a billion-billion stars exist and that we naturally perceive the beauty in those stars and the trees and seas purely by evolutionary means is hard to believe. To believe that the level of complexity in the earth started with an ameoba takes, well, an act of faith. Thus it is a miracle that God created the world, but it would also be a miracle if it happened by accident - either way is a leap. But to believe in a loving God is different from believing in a creating God, and it seems to me that believing in the Jewish notion of God is easier than believing in divinity of Jesus because it is harder to believe that God would take human form. An omnipotent God is more in line with our expectations. God went from being nameless ("I am who am") to taking human form to taking the form of bread, each requiring a greater seeming humility of God and each requiring greater faith on our part but offering the consolation of greater closeness.
We have things backwards - we want mysticism so as to love God more fully, whereas mysticism grows out of a love for God and the willingness to suffer. I wish I spent as much time exploring Christ's wounds as I do my own ("suffering and sorrow are proportional to love" wrote St. Catherine of Siena).
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 4:38 PM
January 7, 2003
George Herbert (1593-1633)
All may of Thee partake:
Nothing can be so mean,
Which with his tincture--"for Thy sake"--
Will not grow bright and clean.
A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine:
Who sweeps a room as for Thy laws,
Makes that and th' action fine.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 4:20 PM
Hilarious!
Chuckled at this clever comment from Edward Trumbo on Mark Shea's blog concerning the "blame the Vatican first" mindset:
We must have married lesbian priestesses liturgically dancing down the aisle with their cloned babies on the feast day of St. Margaret Sanger, or the terrorists will have already won.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 2:48 PM
Pope Praised in Pravda
Who knew that Pravda is still extant? And is on the web in English? It includes this snippet:
Here is Pravda's interesting take on the Pope:
The spiritual leader of all Catholics, Pope John Paul II, is, of course, an extraordinary person. With the Pope, the Catholic church recovered its authority and power. Many articles and books have been written about the pope, and now even a film is being shot about the pontiff's childhood and youth. The pope is an anti-communist, and they say the socialist camp would not have been ruined without his assistance.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 2:32 PM
Disputations has had some excellent posts lately. He aims at quality, not quantity, whereas I employ the "broadcast" method. He speaks humorously of the viral theory of heresy, which I have been prone to (his dig at those avoiding Merton because of something he wrote in his journal in '67 especially hit home).
My (very) limited theological reading suggests to me that much of it is speculation, an issue perhaps peculiar to my cast of mind. For example, here is a quote from Hans Van Baltahasar:
"Consider the abysmal problem of the relation between God's Kingdom and earthly power (into the ultimate depths of which probably only Reinhold Schneider has the courage to descend today): whether, for example, a call to arms by the Church, a blessing of weapons, or taking up the sword of this world is an expression of the courage of the Christian faith or, on the contrary, the symptom of an unchristian and faithless anxiety; whether something that can be defended and justified in a hundred ways with penultimate reasons drawn from faith (quite apart from the lessons of Church history - but then what does Church history teach?) will collapse miserably before the throne of judgment of the ultimate reason - because what of course appeared to be God's weapon in the hands of God's warrior against God's enemies is now suddenly exposed as Peter's desperate sword-waving against the high priest's servant, whose side Jesus takes in order to expose such brandishing of weapons for what it was: anxious betrayal."
This was great, I loved reading it, thinking about it, but in the end it fell flat, too speculative. The short answer is that he doesn't know what the connection between God's Kingdom and earthly power should be. And that's fine and I appreciate the honesty, but so much of theological writing is like this - pure speculation on this side of life. Similarly, how many are saved - wither many or few - has been debated ad nauseum with no clearer picture. Theologians have been all over the map, and rightly so since it is only for God to know. These "criticisms" if you can even call it that, may be the by-product of my math-oriented mind, concerned with being able to look in the back of the book for the answer - i.e. that a = (b + c)/ d. But clarity is overrated. Neither Zechariah nor Mary were given much clarity by the angel Gabriel, but one chose the better path.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:06 AM
Speaking of movies...
Here are some aging emails I exchanged with a Christian movie reviewer concerning Speilberg's "A.I." - written when it first came out:
my email
....I thought the movie not very friendly to Christianity. Surely it wasn't a coincidence that little Haley prayed 2,000 yrs (Christ's death to now) before getting a mechanistic, unsatisfying answer to his prayer in the form of his Mom-for-a-day. How reflective of our times to have his prayers answered by science and not by God! It seemed a mocking of religion to me, not something unusual for Hollywood but unusual from Spielberg.
excerpt of his reply:
"not something unusual for Hollywood but unusual from Spielberg."
Indeed. Still, all of those final events were in Kubrick's story treatment. Spielberg just changed them from being "chilling" to a rather forced sentimental warmth, which just didn't make any sense. So I wouldn't say Spielberg is suggesting science will be our savior...I think the only thing he cared about was giving the boy a merciful sendoff. And Kubrick, well, he would never say science will be our savior, unless he's suggesting it as a nightmare that we had better try and avoid... That's my current notion, anyway (it keeps changing with this movie.)
my reply:
"And Kubrick, well, he would never say science will be our savior..."
Very true, but Haley's quest was that someone make him "real" - something other than mechanical parts. Today it is fashionable to believe that we are nothing more than moving parts, that there is no soul or free will (my stepson believes this). So I understood the movie as setting up the proposition that only God can make us real and that the ending was the moviemaker's statement that just as there was no Blue Ferry to make Haley real, there is no God that gives us a soul.
His reply:
It's amazing to me to think that so many people can live day to day believing they have no freewill. Why would God bother to create us if we could not have relationship? If we could not surprise him? I've been reading First Samuel... and was fascinated to see that God "regretted" making Saul king. That implies disappointment, which implies surprise. (And there are so many other evidences in the Scripture.) But I guess you need to believe the Bible in the first place to find any convincing arguments about life there.
***
I was a little disappointed in his last reply, given that whether God is capable of being surprised is something debateable, given that his foreknowledge is perfect....
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:43 AM
We are all John Nash
Under the favorite movie category of a blog questionnaire I briefly considered A Beautiful Mind. The movie portrays the John Nash's recovery from paranoid schizophrenia, partially through pure force of will - the discipline of daily disregarding paranoidal thoughts. This could be seen as a metaphor for all of us. Certainly sin is a sickness, a form of insanity (Frank Sheed emphasizes this with the title of his book: Theology and Sanity). We see things in a false light, through colored glasses (see Matt 16:23). Thus we need to constantly discipline our thoughts with respect to what is real.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:38 AM
Old Journal Entries never die.....they just get posted:
Gruff, older middle-aged man, not completely assimilated, walks over to friend's cube (aka known by my stepson as a 'veal fattening pen'). He is of that exquisitely rare type, that hot-house flower, the never-been married 50ish man. He maintains a sort of razor-sharpness (perhaps due to having never had a poor night's sleep). He is rough edges all extant, eccentricities allowed to flourish, his world untrammelled by the paths oft taken, he lives eagle-eyed for trespass and finds in my friend the troubled youth he never had:
"What are you doing sending notes like that? I don't know anything about the LAD database project!".
My friend had sent a note out to the whole dep't, on orders from his boss & boss's boss, with a helpful EOM ('end of message') at the end. The note applied to the older man, whether he cared or not, albeit no action was required. He reminded me faintly of a drunken neighbor we once had when I was a kid, a man whose world view was such that anything out of the ordinary was eyed suspiciously: "What you readin' a book fer, son?" My buddy (aka "Bone") had sent out a note that smelled suspicious.
That this guy would take the time to walk over instead of call or write over a matter of such triviality left me awed. I put off going to the bathroom when I need to, just to avoid the inconvenience of rising, and here this guy rushes to my friend's desk like it's a 4-alarm fire. All over a no-line note.
My buddy, blindsided & unaware of his trespass on the other's Lotus kingdom, suppresses the instinct to lash or laugh.
"Just delete it....You know..."
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:14 PM
January 6, 2003
"Motion pictures can standardize the ideas and habits of a nation. Because they are made to meet market demands, they reflect popular tendencies, rather than stimulate new ideas and opinions. Film is a medium rife with ambivalence: to purvey is not to analyze. That means film is ripe for horror, because horror is the expression of ambivalence: we do not know the cause of what is going wrong, for we are the cause of what is going wrong. .....
Horror thrives only when the distinction between good and evil has been lost - indeed, the presence of horror is the sign that the distinction has been repressed and forgotten...."
--E. Michael Jones
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 12:58 PM
Via Amy's Blog
"What I think of as Christian novels are those that point out man's need for redemption. Crime and Punishment, Robinson Crusoe, Les Miserables, that wonderful one by Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory, all those books declare that man is incapable of saving himself, of delivering his own redemption. Yet we don't call those Christian novels, we call them classics."
--Leif Enger, author of Peace Like a River
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 12:48 PM
Oblique House led me to this bon mot from Catholic Light: Most blogs are self-indulgent, masturbatory junk, emanations from people who couldn't get published anywhere else.
And the point is? Most people are self-indulgent masturbators (uh, metaphorically-speaking of course) in their daily life; why should it be any more egregious written down rather than spoken or otherwise expressed? Especially given that reading a blog is optional, while in real life putting up with insufferable people (including ourselves) is often not.
The policy of this blog is, in the fine Jesuitical tradition, to come as close to the line of self-indulgent masturbation as possible without crossing over. Only you can judge if I am successful.
Walker Percy once said that Americans are newspaper readers and fornicators, and for many bloggers (not the Catlickers of course), the blog is the form of entertainment that combines their two loves - porn and news.
*
For me, one interesting part of the blogsperience is watching the "politics of linking", as well as dealing with the rejection of not being linked on blogs where your buddies are linked. That rejection is beneficial of course - no pain, no gain. As St. John of the Cross put it (I'm paraphrasing): "those who seek the praise of others are like the 5 foolish virgins who have no oil for their lamps and go in search of it".
Another fascinating part is watching the spiritual growth of others. The young are particularly fluid - Lord knows my stepson lurches from atheism to theism on a quarterly basis (prayers always thankfully received!). There's a 21-yr religion major whose blog I watch for similar reasons...
The Politics of Linking ....to tune of the "Politics of Dancing"
This is not as clear as one would imagine. There are many possible policies or combinations of policies:
1) Link to only those you read
2) Link to those who you wish you would read (i.e. I wish I would read "Daily Meds" more, but link to it as reparation for that)
3) Link to those who link you
4) Link to everyone (a daunting task in the Catlicker blog world)
5) Link to no one, giving only the "Praise & Glory" link
6) Link to the "big name bloggers" (i.e. Amy & Mark, et al)
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:44 AM
Mark Shea makes the good point by asking:
Am I the only one who thinks it's rather suicidal...
for Christians in a rapidly de-Christianizing and increasing anti-Christian culture to urge Caesar to kill as many citizen as he can? It's not my main reason for thinking the Pope is basically right to want to limit (not "abolish") capital punishment. But I think it deserves consideration.
Our learned Dominican associate pastor thinks it's conceivable that we again be outright persecuted for our faith...in this country...in our lifetime. I don't need that reason to oppose the death penalty since, well, I'm slavishly devoted to our Pope and I'm ok with whatever he says. If he told us to say a Rosary three times every day while hopping on one leg, I'd start exercising and grab a 15-decader.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:13 PM
January 5, 2003
Cardinal Ratzinger tackles a tough one
In his new book with Peter Seewald, the Cardinal is asked:
Q: The question is whether faith really makes us so much better, more merciful, more caring toward our neighbor...Let's take those people whom God has called to faith...Why is it that among monks and nuns we see so much bearing of grudges, so much envy and jealousy and such a lack of willingness to help?
A: This is indeed a most pressing question. There we can see once again that faith is not just there, but that it either withers or grows, that it either rises or falls on the graph. It is not just a ready-made guarantee, something one can regard as accumulated capital that can only grow. Faith is always given only in the context of a fragile freedom. We may wish it were otherwise. But just therein lies God's great gamble, which we find so hard to understand, that he has not given us stronger medicine.
Even if we are bound to notice inadequate patterns of behavior (behind which, of course, there is always a weakening of faith) within the world of those who believe, we cannot ignore the positive side of the account.
(He goes on to describe the many faith-filled people whose actions more closely follow their Christianity.)
--Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, God and the World
Makes sense to me. It's been said that God is a "just in time" God; he gives us our daily Bread, rather than a longer-term supply. A daily recommitment is necessary. I'd never heard faith compared to a graph but it comports to reality and would also help explain the "Situation" concerning wayward priests.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:52 PM
Buckeyes as Metaphor
With Ohio State, all is prologue till the final play. There is no assurance; one must persevere to the end. Watching them reminds me of a line from Rosanne Cash's "Seven Year Ache" - see how much your old heart can take.
There is the agonizing fact that a resurrection requires a death, and during the national championship game the Buckeyes would lose before they would win. Rigor mortis began after a failed 4th down play in overtime; there they lay, slumped on the field full of recriminations that they had taken it too far this time, that lady luck was on sabbatical. For an ebbing few heartbeats it was finito, until a yellow flag appeared, appropos of nothing, like a folded burial cloth in an empty tomb, and the jubilant, devilish Miami mascot was shooed off the field. Interference had been called against Miami, and the Buckeye body sprang to life, like the besotted whiskey drinker in the Irish drinking chune "Finnegan's Wake" (as they say on Thistle and Shamrock):
Tim Finnegan lived in Walkin Street
A gentleman Irish, mighty odd
He had a tongue both rich and sweet
And to rise in the world he carried a hod
Now Tim had a sort of a tippling way
With a love of the liquor poor Tim was born
And to help him on his way each day
He'd a drop of the cratur every morn
CHORUS
Whack fol de do now dance to your partner
Round the floor your trotters shake
Wasn't it the truth I told you
Lots of fun at Finnegan's wake
One morning Tim was rather full
His head felt heavy which made him shake
He fell from the ladder and broke his skull
So they carried him home, his corpse to wake
They wrapped him up in a nice clean sheet
And laid him out upon the bed
With a gallon of whiskey at his feet
And a barrel of porter at his head
Chorus
His friends assembled at the wake
And Mrs. Finnegan called for lunch
First, the brought in tea and cakes
Then pipes with tabacco and whiskey punch
Miss Biddy O'Brien began to cry
'Such a neat clean corpse did you ever see
Yerrah Tim, avourneen, why did you die?'
'Ah hold your toungue,' says Paddy Magee
Chorus
Then Biddy O'Connor took up the moan
'Biddy,' says she, 'you're wrong I'm sure,'
But Biddy gave her a belt in the gob
And left her sprawling on the floor.
Oh then a mighty war did rage
'Twas woman to woman and man to man
Shillelagh law did all engage
And a row and ruction soon began.
Chorus
Then Mickey Maloney ducked his head
When a naggin of whiskey flew at him
It missed him, falling on the bed
The liquor splattered over Tim
Bedad, he revives and see how he rises
And Timothy rising from the bed
Says 'Fling your whiskey round like blazes
Thunderin' Jaysus, do you think I'm dead ?'
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 2:27 PM
Ode to the Weekend
A weekend besotted is grounds for a waylaid week, the weekend perches with careful synchronicities; one cannot not much fool with its perfect measure. Time, tradition and study has given a blueprint: the Friday night drink, music and healing writing. Friday night is the purgation of the week’s (perceived) trials and tribulations, though both be laughable. Saturday dawns with the promise of hope; the dragons slayed, the cart emptied, here is a time for celebration, renewal, nature, a lingering coffee at the breakfast table. Often there is a movie, preferably a Western, most preferably a Western filmed recently with all its glorious cinematology, the stark landscape of the West such that I can feel the plains beneath my feet. Always a hike in the forest, to incarnate the landscape just seen. Sunday a.m. be the defining moment, the foundational stone. The divine liturgy at our Byzantine parish, followed by the half a Mass at a Latin rite parish so that I can hear the readings and sermon. Later Sunday there is the "long Sunday read", aka verweile doch.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 8:19 AM
Nice meditation from Daily Meds on today's remarkable gospel. She points out that John the Baptist, monk (maybe an Essene?), holy one filled with the Holy Spirit while still in the womb, did not recognize Christ until gifted with that knowledge. What a nice reverse "tower of Babel".
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 4:57 PM
January 3, 2003
An apologia of Belloc.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:26 AM
'Oetry Friday
Sang Solomon to Sheba,
And kissed her Arab eyes,
'There's not a man or woman
Born under the skies
Dare match in learning with us two,
And all day long we have found
There's not a thing but love can make
The world a narrow pound.'
*
The Realists
Hope that you may understand!
What can books of men that wive
In a dragon-guarded land,
Paintings of the dolphin-drawn
Sea-nymphs in their pearly wagons
Do, but awake a hope to live
That had gone
With the dragons?
--WB Yeats
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:14 AM
Jesus, the Eucharist and Our Prayers
Prayer sometimes can become so internally directed and so self-affirming that we can legitimately ask if it really is directed toward someone else or if it might not really be talking to ourselves. How do we understand and practice an awareness of Jesus as a real "other person"? How do we come to an inter-personal relationship with him? He knew this would be a problem for us and so offered to remain among us in some sort of real personal presence. There is a material dimension to his presence; it is not only spiritual. He is with us at Mass and Eucharistic Devotion and there relates to our own physical qualities as well as our spiritual qualities. He is with us as the "other" so that our relationship with him can have a deper dimension of reality.
--our pastor, Msgr. Frank Lane
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 7:35 PM
January 2, 2003
Toast to the NY Times:
A drink or two a day provides the equivalent of a potent cholesterol medicine and a weak blood thinner, as well as a variety of other substances that may keep the body's metabolism tuned and its cells in good repair. Alcohol raises the blood levels of H.D.L., the "good" cholesterol, thought to scour blood vessels free of the fatty plaques that can cause heart attacks, strokes and other problems. Moderate drinking can raise the levels more than 10 percent. By comparison, running a few miles a week increases H.D.L. a fraction of that, while the B vitamin niacin, probably the most effective medication for raising H.D.L. levels, has to be taken at high doses that entail many side effects for similar results. --NY Times
Zee problem is dat 1 or 2 drinks, unless they be 40-ouncers, are not too appealing (like having one potato chip). Four would be a more appropriate number. But if one is drinking with a meal, it is quite easy and natural to have 1 or 2 drinks...whereas at 9pm I would be tempted to over-indulge, at 6pm, with food, it is easy to be temperate. Of course they need to prorate these drinks based on weight. For a healthy 210-lb'r like myself it would seem that 1.5 drinks is an anathemna.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:23 PM
January 1, 2003
St. John of the Cross
Given its subject matter, it feels a bit disconcerting to derive such pleasure and succor from a book entitled Dark Night of the Soul. Yet John of the Cross seems to understand human nature and the pitfalls of spiritual progress to a "T". One senses there are more spiritual pitfalls after conversion than before! (Is that why many folks like the unsaved more than the saved?).
Obligatory disclaimer: I have not read very far. This is based only on the very beginning, where he diagnoses sins of the self-righteous, the spiritually gluttonous, etc..
Many can never have enough of listening to counsels and learning spiritual precepts, and of possessing and reading many books which treat this matter, and they spend their time on all these things rather than on works of mortification. Guilty as charged.
Ever Elusive Moderation
"There are others who are vexed with themselves when they observe their own imperfectness, and display an impatience that is not humility; so impatient are they about this that they would fain be saints in a day...Some souls, on the other hand, are so patient as regards the progress which they desire that God would gladly see them less so."
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 12:29 AM
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I see the right way, approve it and do the opposite - Ovid
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