October 19, 2007

Various & Sundry: Spiritual Edition

To ever think in terms of someone being your “project” is a mistake in the first order of magnitude. First, it denies the plank in our own eye and second it is intrinsically patronizing. We always, always, always resist being objects. Rightly so. We are subjects and we cannot attempt to influence a person for any reason other than a deep genuine concern for that other person. The work of conversion is God’s work and is not a mechanical process! That which is a slam-dunk for me - i.e. "how can you not see this!" - can be easily brushed aside by another. I'm too much a creature of the bureaucratic mindset, as if so-and-so reads this and hears this, they will see the light. But that denies individuation and free will as well as the entirely different experiences he's had in life.

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As I mentioned to a friend in an email, if lust was the 'thorn in the flesh' St. Paul experienced, he might have left it mysterious because it's one of the most embarrassing to admit. Paul admits to pride but not to lust and I do find it easier to confess in Confession to other sins more than to lust. But even if the thorn isn't lust, it fits well, in the same way that myth sometimes fits better than 'the facts'. I think I've read that if most of us could see the condition of our soul we would fall into despair. Sexual sin, because it is so obvious, lends itself more easily to despair in that sense. We see the gap there between standard and behavior most easily.

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Oh but it's been too long since I've written one of those wondrous poems about nature (I should mention wondrous to me, though surely not to the poetry snobs, or, more positively, those with good taste). Perhaps they arise out of the peacefulness generated by genteel reading (Walker Percy novels) combined with voluminous walking in the shattering-alone places like the hills of Ireland or in the meadows-within-meadows off the back roads of southeastern Ohio. Oh but to snuffle the composting leaves that will blanket the ground then, in November, when we are scheduled for a return visit. You can’t expect magical thoughts to be released, on command, even with the aid of Guinness. You have to fertilize your brain with brewer’s yeast and pixie dust, with fiction and Shakespeare’s plays, with “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream” and opera music, with great gobs of nature and not concrete. Nothing but weeds grow between the concrete sidewalk cracks. I need the valium of the forest, the serenity found therein, in order to write good loam.

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