August 31, 2010

Deep Fried Beer!

75% Want Law of Gravity to be Optional

Not bloody likely, 'eh? Neither is the fiction peddled by Paula Brooks, who's running for Congress in Ohio and whose big issue is a call for politicians to cut their pay until the budget is balanced. This goes into the Unlikely Hall of Fame next to the highest improbability of them all: that Congress opts into Social Security and gives up its lavish government pension.

Politics is about the art of the possible and what Brooks is actually doing is betting against a minimal amount of savvy on the part of voters in her district. To actually have Congress cut its salary one would have to elect a new Congress on that promise alone. And since the issue will never be brought up, Brooks gets to engage in silliness.

Rexroth Rexcerpts

A bit disappointed to learn over the weekend that one of the best Columbus antiquarian bookstores (noted here and here) is going out of business. They had a sale, 75% off everything, and so, natch, I gobbled up what I could joined with a host of fellow book vultures. Many of the books were cheap to begin with, from $3-$8, so it's mostly storage space that limited my buying. (Ironically, I picked up the Pope John XXIII: Letters to His Family, and he advises a nephew to buy fewer books and concentrate on the ones he has!)

Another of the books purchased was, unfortunately, Sheer Joy by Matthew Fox. Turns out Fox is heretical. Great idea though to imagine a conversation with Thomas Aquinas in today's language.

The poem from before was from one of those books, as is the following, from The Collected Shorter Poems of Kenneth Rexroth:

I lay aside the Diurnal
At the light drenched poetry
Of St. Ambrose that converted
St. Augustine to a world
More luminous and more lucid
Than one where light warred with dark.


The tops of the higher peaks
Of the Sierra Nevada
Of California are
Drenched in the perfume of
A flower which grows only there --
The blue Polemonium
Confertum eximium,
Soft, profound blue, like the eyes
Of impregnable innocence;
The perfume is heavy and
Clings thickly to the granite
Peaks, even in violent wind;
The leaves are clustered,
Fine, dull green, sticky, and musky.
I imagine that the scent
Of the body of Artemis
That put Endymion to sleep
Was like this and her eyes had the
Same inscrutable color.
Lawrence was lit into death
By the blue gentians of Kore.
Vanzetti had in his cell
A bowl of tall blue flowers
From a New England garden.
I hope that when I need it
My mind can always call back
This flower to its hidden senses.

August 30, 2010

Poem Happened Across....

CONDOM by John Popielaski

At thirty-two we aren't looking
to commit ourselves to bearing a child.
The very thought of her conceiving
sometimes qualifies the pleasure
of our making love without one.
So a condom almost always comes
along with us to bed, to bath,
to the point at which it becomes
a kind of appendage, like a sheath
that has meshed with my penis
after years of intimate relations.
Even my desire to make love to her
is now attended by the urge to slip
a lubricated condom on, to feel
protected from the miracle of birth.

Cellphone Pic Monday...

From Saturday:

August 29, 2010

Truth is Freeing

Heard a former pro wrestler on Bill Simmons's podcast say that "anything said over and over on television will be believed." He talked about how even though he was playing a character, doing his schtick, people honestly hated him. They confused him for his wrestling identity.

I heard a similar thing with the woman, then child, who played Nellie Olsen on "Little House on the Prairie." To this day she has strangers coming up to her and yelling "bitch", pouring liquids on her and otherwise assuming she and her character were the same.

If this is true with television, which (mostly) labels itself as a fiction, how much more easily will people believe falsehoods that get repeated on network news shows?

If we generally believe what we've been told over and over on television, perhaps my faith would strengthen if I'm told over and over the Scriptural message by getting into the Word more. The Psalms seem like that - a lot of reminding ourselves who is Boss and who created and saves us. It's like Fox News or CNN or MSNBC except it's the unadulterated truth. Truth, in the form of Scripture, should have just as prevalent a platform.

Cooperation = Work, Leider

On the subject of cooperation between God and man, I think we see that explicitly in the canonization procedure. The Church sure isn't a Quietist on this front (or any other), but actively investigates the cause for sainthood as if everything depended on her, though of course the final say is God's, who either grants or doesn't grant a miracle. I read part of a book today containing the letters of Pope John XXIII to his family, and it's not always the most riveting read. And I think of the papal investigators who have to read every single thing a prospective saint has ever written - just for starters. Perhaps this is a symbol of how we should work our tails off to get into the Kingdom with God having the last say. I'm thinking of this also in conjunction with a Betty Duffy post about Christian unhappiness (not an oxymoron, though neither can you say if you're happy 'you're not doing it right' :-)).

The Church presumably looks at the background and writings of potential saints perhaps in part for the reason she wants to avoid being embarrassed, to avoid the case where someone says the Church canonized this individual despite this anti-Semitic streak or what-not. But it doesn't change the fact that the Church doesn't just sit back, relax, wait for a miracle, investigate it, and then canonize someone.

Late Summer, Turning to Fall

On the budding greens of campus again, soaking in the temperate sun and indulging in memories of the great book sales they used to have here. Over hill and dale I would fly, returning to my car with muscle-bending quantities of books. In some cases whole sets of encyclopedias! And at a price close to free.

The scent of vacationese lingers here, the languid motions of bodies not yet in school but preparing. Oh how holy those old abultions seemed, the gathering of groceries into one’s first “home”, that tiny dorm-room. The all-important furnishings… Oh how it felt like one long summer camp, even in winter, when I’d head to the gymnasium and do my imitation of a gym rat, playing basketball with that fabulous 20-year old body I used to have.

Ach, but isn’t autumn always a time rife with retrospection, fueled by the narcotic of looking back? And yet now I watch the ducks swim against the current at Mirror lake, the waters where in cold November Buckeye fans will take a midnight dip!

The most freeing notion in recent days was reading Caryl’s advice about how we should let go of the sins of the past and not focus on them. It’s familiar, even trite, but so true. Too often I try to motivate myself by looking back on past sins, but wouldn’t it be better to motivate oneself by looking to the present, to the gift of Christ, and our union with Him? Or if we must look at our past shouldn’t we look at our Baptism, our latest sacrament of Penance? The attitude must be gratitude, and Fr. Terry pointed that out on Sunday, how if we grumble about going to Mass or volunteering we know we need a “course correction” and a spirit of thankfulness.

Sitting high off the hog, up on the 11th floor estuary in Thompson, a flood plain of knowledge. The day is cool and breezy with intermittent sun, a day as autumnal (in a late Septemberish way) in every way but visually, where the trees still carry their green camo. I think I’ll miss this weekly trip to the library, this “other world” so near and far from work. If last week was overkillian on beer this week underkillian. The daily ration of sun has been ratcheted down. From a minimum of 2 hours a night (6-8) to the new normal of 20 minutes (6-6:20).

Both Betty Duffy and Heather King emphasize that their journals are not their blogs, and that there is much shaping and editing that goes on. It's suggested they are more mean-spirited in their journals, more frustration. Heather said recently she is not a fan of stream-of-conscious renderings outside the journal. I wonder what makes it okay for a journal but not for a blog? Is it the negative influence we may have on others? Is it for privacy? Is it that it would undermine their real or potential writing careers? Is it some combination of the above?

Blogs are often a half-way house between serious writing and a journal. They house the momentary thought fragments of the author. A distinguishing characteristic, for me, is the personal nature of blogs, the way they can read like the personal letters of a public figure.

August 27, 2010

Blue Grass Friday

Down the Crooked Road
by The Dixie Bee-Liners
Heading out of Ferrum on this winding, two-lane road,
mountain music a-hummin' on my dashboard radio.
Singing along to those good old songs of faith & strife & woe,
rollin’ through the memories where the Holston River flows.

WCYB, I can hear you loud and clear,
songs of the brothers Stanley ringing sweetly in my ear.
There’s a store in Floyd, VA where they pick a mean guitar,
then it’s off to Galax Smokehouse and wet my whistle from an old fruit jar.

A fiddle, a bow & an old banjo, what we call mountain soul:
Come and be a part of it down on The Crooked Road.
Over the hill to Bristol, where the Speedway hot rods roar:
Tune in for Jim & Jesse, Bonnie Lou & Buster Moore.

Mother Maybelle & old Dock Boggs could really pick it right
Pull up on to the Burger Bar for our last meal tonight
Heading down to the Carter Fold and hit that old dance floor
I’ll do the buttermilk reel and the cornbread stomp til I can’t dance no more.
We’ll hit the Country Cabin if the room ain’t overpacked
and finish up at Lay’s Hardware if we bypass Mayor Jack.

Mountain music treasures are housed upon a hill,
Keith and Roy Lee’s legacies that we remember still,
where Curly Ray still saws away and Carter still lives on
and music lovers everywhere can come and join the song.


Persuasive account of why lean times will be semi-permanent - because there are not enough young people.
“The rise in ‘prime age’ savers globally may also have played an important role in the story of the ‘savings glut’, putting downward pressure on global real interest rates. Here too, the demographic underpinnings of that story could intensify in the next 10-15 years.”

These elements conspire to keep America in a vicious cycle: the imbalance of savers (prospective retirees) and borrowers (young families and entrepreneurs) keeps returns on assets low, and low asset returns force the prospective retirees to save more, which increases the imbalance. That is just what happened in Japan during the 1990s...

August 25, 2010

My Most Controversial Books

Librarything has a new feature that measures the standard deviation of members star ratings. Kind of interesting: (click to enlarge)

August 24, 2010

Hoping to be the Millionth Post on Mosque-gate

I understand if this the one millionth post I'll win an all expenses paid trip to Mecca where I'll be allowed to install a Padre Pio shrine. Just so you'll know that is why I'm posting on such a controversial topic.

Personally I'd like to hear someone say in response to "how far is far enough from GZ" some determinative answer like, 3.5 blocks. It might quiet Chris Matthews for a few seconds.

Another thought: This Imam Rauf may well be a moderate Muslim in the circles he frequents. Like Hillary Clinton at a Netroots convention.

Really it seems bad form for the builders not to be magnanimously withdrawing their plan, but then they ain't English and the world isn't a cricket match. And it does allow the developers to play victim and Lord knows that's a successful strategy.

Don't Try This at Home (unless you're Betty Duffy or Bill Luse)

Years ago I decided to try my hand at painting, and so went out and bought some art supplies and went to work, sans instruction. This idea was born of the fact that modern art was so pitiful that it looked like many works were painted by a chimp. And some were. The barriers to entry seemed low.

I have the results of those efforts, prompted by Betty Duffy's real art.

(This, btw, is proof this blog has jumped the shark!)

* * *

I call this "someone left the cake out in the rain". It was painted using only the best oil paints available at Kroger's Grocery store. Circa 1999.

"The Diamond" is a retrospective in the folk art vein asking the question: "What if someone who knew nuthin' about paintin' were to paint a baseball diamond?" Your answer appeareth. It evokes all the playfulness of America's game.

"The Battle of the Sexes" was inspired by the anniversary of the Bobby Riggs v. Billy Jean King match of 1973. It speaks to primal urges using a primary color.

No model was used in the production of this work, believe it or not.

"Risin' Sun, Indiana" looks better in person. Honestly.

Teachout's Tweets

I wonder what Terry Teachout means by "coping". I hope he's not ill....
Coping gets old. I'm a bit tired of it this evening. about 9 hours ago via web


Right now I'm listening to the second movement of Beethoven's Op. 111. No music--perhaps no work of art--is more consoling. about 9 hours ago via web


Why does music have this power? I know no greater mystery. about 9 hours ago via web


Thank God for music, which makes most things tolerable, or at least endurable. about 9 hours ago via web


From Beethoven to the blues: now I'm listening to Joe Turner and Pete Johnson doing "Piney Brown Blues." about 8 hours ago via web

Poetry Tuesday

by Lee Ann Roripaugh

There are nights I dream of goldfish,
and in my dreams they sing to me in
fluted, piercing sopranos like the Vienna
Boys Choir. Althought in the daylight
they are mostly silent and ravenous—
the suction-cup grip of their mouths
on my fingertip like tiny rubber bath-
room plungers when they rise to strike
at an offering of chopped green peas.
Sometimes a frenetic clicking of marbles
nosed and nudged across the aquarium
floor during scavenging sessions for food,
sounding like the rack and crack of a game
of pool. Such hunger. Such extravagance.

Their ovoid bodies are like Faberge eggs
filigreed with flakes of hammered gold,
a glittering armor of polished gill
plates, their dorsal fins elegant ribbed
silk fans that open when in motion,
and fold themselves shut in repose.
Clever pectoral fins maneuver and oscillate
like small propellers, and the circling
tails flare and twirl with the hypnotic
flourish of the toreador's cape. All
is endless metaphor here. All of it.

I once read the goldfish memory span
was three seconds, and does this mean
each moment is an astonishment
in a series of quick incarnations spiraling
outward the way water ripples away
from a disturbance, so that, in the end,
each brief flicker of awareness
is long enough to learn to simply be,
and isn't this really, after all, enough?

One morning I woke to find the red-capped
oranda in distress—fins clamped sadly
down, listless tail, gasping on the back
corner floor of the aquarium. I netted
her and put her in a glass bowl sugared
with a quarter cup of sea salt crystals—
the way my Japanese grandfather once
showed my mother, and the way my mother,
years later in America, once showed me.

And several hours later, the sheer veils
of tail and fin began to bloom, to resume
their arabesques and veronicas around
the sleek shimmer of her white satin body—
the scandal of her scarlet cap dipping
coquettishly, onyx beads of eyes swiveling
in their turquoise socket rings. She swam
around and around the clear glass bowl,
until my heart swung left and followed her
around and around from above the way
red-throated loons on the Island of Seto
circle and follow the fishing boats, tamed
by the fishermen, and calling out
with their strange and mournful cries.

* * *

Wild Heart
by Gregory Orr (b. 1947?)

Where would I be if not for your wild heart?
I ask this not from love, but selfishly--
how could I live? How could I make my art?

Questions I wouldn't ask if I was smart.
Take the whole thing on faith. Blind eyes can see
where I would be if not for your wild heart.

Love or need--who can tell the two apart?
Nor does it matter much, since both agree
that I need you to live and make my art.

Are you the target; am I the bow and dart?
Are you the deer that doesn't want to flee
and turns to give the hunter her wild heart?

I bite the apple and the apple's tart
but that's the complex taste of destiny.
How could I live? How could I make my art

in some bland place like Eden, set apart
from the world's tumult and its agony?
Where would I be if not for your wild heart?
How could I live? How could I make my art?

Le Great Twitter Controversy

I tweeted something yesterday:
TS O'Rama (@tsorama)
8/23/10 6:23 PM
RT @alaindebotton The difference between hope and despair boils down to an ability to spin different stories from the same facts.
Or rather that's what I re-tweeted last night, a quote from author Alain de Botton, and no sooner was it posted than someone called me out on it.  "You don't really believe that, do you?" said Cowpi. 
I knew the statement would be provocative and was ready for a defense. 

Weren't judas's and peter's sins roughly equal, and didn't one hope and one despair? Aren't the facts the same for all of us, that we are sinners and in light of that we either hope or despair?

August 23, 2010

Spanning the Globe to Bring You the Constant of Variety of Posts

While I'm skeptical that any moral claim can be made in entirely secular terms all the way down--in other words, eventually you do have to discuss your fundamental metaphysical beliefs and deepest loves/loyalties--I think the case against gay marriage is about as secular as the cases against, say, torture or the death penalty. In other words, I think we can talk for a while before you get to God, and that's what I try to do. - Eve Tushnet

He became acutely conscious of “the danger of allowing others—not just friends and colleagues but the masses—to exert too much influence on one’s thinking.” The more connected a society becomes, the greater the chance an individual can become a creature, or even slave, of that connectedness. - Peggy Noonan on author of "Hamlet's Blackberry"

The answer that people thought [Obama] was a Muslim is of course what made the headlines because of course trying to broadcast the stupidity of people is what makes headlines, especially if you are trying to make a specific segment look dumb.  But of course there were all those people who believed 9/11 was an inside job — so finding people who believe things such as this is no difficulty. - Curt Jester

On Reading Chinese Poetry
In translation the words
are the same. The moon
shines the same on Brooklyn
and Xi'an, and boats at night
on lakes are much the same.

But the spirit of the Chinese moon
is world away from New York.
The sound of boats on water
changed when it is played against
Chinese and southern moon.
- Steven Riddle of "...recollected in tranquility…"

Pope Pius XII had the experience of seeing the Fatima “miracle of the sun” on three successive days at four p.m.—October 30, 1950; October 31, 1950; and November 1, 1950—while praying the Holy Rosary in the Vatican Gardens…This announcement at Fatima marked the first time in the history of the Roman Catholic Church that a papal vision was announced during the pontiff's lifetime. - Janice Connell

We have Robert Burns’ “My love is like a red,red, rose.” We have Wordsworth’s “Thy soul was like a Star.” But for my money--today anyway--the prize goes to brother Californian/fellow Angeleno/noir genius Raymond Chandler who, in Farewell, My Lovely, wrote: “He was about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food.” - Heather King's on greatest simile of all time

I, who have always been resolutely anti-blog (cause doncha know, I’m a purist, I’m a professional), have started (obviously) a blog. I’m interested to see how it unfolds, what I’ll learn. In two weeks, I’ve already realized: Oh okay, this is like everything else. It’s not going to make you famous. It’s not going to gain you a big “following.” It’s work and if you look at it in any other way than that it’s a gift then the blog won’t be any good, it won’t be you, and you’re going to be burdened by the fact that it’s work and pissed that no-one’s paying attention. In fact, one of the main reasons I started a blog at all was because I have so many unpublished essays, reflections, and snippets of ideas I figured: Why not start just giving them away! - Heather King of "Shirt of Flame"

St. Pius X

Saturday marked the feast of St. Pope Pius X, Apostle of Hope; see quotes here and here as examples thereof. “You, Lord, gave St. Pius X the strength of an Apostle….” goes the Divine Office. Indeed. An apostle of our time. And I thought about how his heart was so broken by the advent of WWI that he seemingly died of it. And that was BEFORE all the bloodshed that wasn’t predicted to come, had come. St. Pius, pray for us!

This & That

Listening to some Keith Jarrett jazz, cool for a hot summer day. It’s funny how the same music can seem slightly mournful in the cold, dark recesses of winter but can seem cheerful in the blaze of summer. It’s like the Mona Lisa, some see a smile, some see something else. How we experience things seems so subjective on the margins.

And so the weekend wanes; 5pm on a Sunday. What joy to read a physical book again after a significant absence. Could feel the pages “fall and rise…in all their raging glory,” to paraphrase that tune of yore, arguably the greatest song ever written. Could also smell the brine of the pages, that sea-worthy smell of print and ink.

Stopped off for a quarter-hour at that fast-dying institution: the brick and mortar (almost said 'brick and mortal') bookstore. And lo and behold found something I wouldn't have otherwise - a memoir called The Haygoods of Columbus, an enjoyable read with a lot about Columbus. The author went to Miami U. too and describes that experience. A really cool find, and an absolute steal at $4.99.

So why hasn't the world produced the Great Columbus novel? Or poem or essay? Perhaps Wil Haygood has the answer:
Essayists and poets haven't written much about my Columbus by way of explaining its texture and mood. Perhaps it's a little too elusive. Maybe it's thought of too much as just a football-mad town. Maybe it's because sometimes it can seem otherworldly. A couple years back, [then] Gov.George Voinovich fired Billy Ray Inmon as manager of the Ohio State Fair. Being manager of the Ohio State Fair is a pretty powerful job in Columbus. Inmon didn't take the dismissal lightly. He fought back, staging a hunger strike on the statehouse lawn. One night a homeless man came into the tent and peed on him. That story made the news wires.
At the bookstore happened across Hamlet & His Blackberry about the ill-effects of being too-plugged in, too connected, too addicted to screens.. It's one of those books I want to have read more than to read. Peg Noonan recommended it in a recent column.

So spent the early afternoon weighing down the hammock and observing the fine fettle of leaves arranged artistically around it. There were a lot of clouds in the sky, which lent a certain atmosphere. Clouds, sun, don't matter too terribly much as long as it's warm. I lushed it up Saturday with a squadron of beers in the late afternoon, early evening. Definitely like the spreading out of the hops & barley instead of the concentrated Friday nacht.

Yesterday, like most mornings, I spent a hare of time outside admiring the cut of the day’s gib. I ambled out to the black bench looking at the dry grass and fall-like slant of the sun on the horizon beyond the hammock. Facts are facts, and if I were smarter I would welcome them instead of resisting them, and revel in the truth rather than pine for some fool fiction like eternal summer. And so the autumn comes, full of delights of its own, but also harsh harbinger of cold and ruin, of decimating temperatures killing leaves of green and sending song birds south.

August 20, 2010

Room with a View

Another trip to ye olde Ohio State University aerie:

Looking south, towards downtown

The Grand Reading Room at OSU

Unfortunate sign found in restaurant window on OSU campus

A fine aperitif of light

* * *

Excerpt of poem

Satire V from The Scourge of Vacuity
This poem first appeared in the June 2, 1970, issue of NATIONAL REVIEW.

By L. J. Fattoroski

The liberal I sing, thrice blessed sage —
Presiding spirit of this gaudy age.
No prejudice has he, but, Argus-eyed,
He sees of every question every side.
At Berkeley he was trained to keep his mind
Wide open — at both ends. He’s not the kind
To hasten to a rash decision; no,
Enlightened men act seldom and think slow.

The first hint of fall in the air occurred yesterday morning, August 19th. There is something so definable about each season and yet the boundaries are fluid. I drove out to campus and the weather was admirable to the point of award-winning, the sun warm but not overly so, the sights crystalline. I was tempted to stop in Italian village at an empty bench in the shade and set up camp there. Instead I did so in the aerie in Thompson Library and even now I overlook the statue of Mr. Thompson as well as a myriad of trees. The best view, I’ve decided, faces south but there’s little chance of acquiring that one short of being there when the joint opens. These college kids know what they’re doing. UPDATE: It opened up!

It still lingers, I can still feel the ocean fall & rise and “hear its raging glory”. I remember those golden moments on the balcony with a tip of the cup to Mr. Java as the ocean tipped the horizon line. I relish and read a bit of Pat Conroy’s “South of Broad” about Charleston, in South Carolina, which is where Hilton Head is.

I remember taking in a full nostril of sea ale, that salty concoction of water and minerals that make up the ocean. It was accidental of course - the unexpected wave combined with a planned breath.

Bike-rides were not overdone - just enough along the way to give me a taste of the live oaks and Spanish moss before the one long ride that last day to the far reaches where I met up, again, with the sea oats of the Empty Quarter and lo and behold the sea captivated me again, freshly, even this my sixth day down there.

I recall the good strong dollops of reading balanced against the totally different activities of swimming and drinking. There was the feel of the thick sand making me run in slow motion but my heart in fast. There was the sky, so present to me in a way it’s rarely is elsewhere, it making such a big impression, literally.

Oh how necessary, it seems, to connect such pleasurable activities to the Source!

Not too much time before Labor Day. The wistful songs are already playing on the radio, like Kenny Chesney’s “The Boys of Fall”. Please, no wistful songs before Labor Day, even if the weather this morning screamed “wistful”. All in good time.

I head from one grand reading room to another, from the 11th floor of Thompson to 2nd floor’s to the outside patio seating. Just now I’m looking at shiny-gilt bindings with incomprehensible Chinese characters adorning the spines. It feels like an art museum in here, made more so by the winged Nike, armless and headless as if the Romans had intended that when it was actually just that those appendages fell off over time, and yet we expect, in our hazy art nostalgia, to see headless and armless statues. They say “Greek” or “Roman” more than actual Greek or Roman statues as they existed at the time.

August 19, 2010

Turf This!

I don't get how Nancy Pelosi, who famously called the tea party movement "astroturf" rather than acknowledging it as a real grass-roots movement, now wants to "investigate" the people opposed to the mosque two blocks from Ground Zero. In both cases she appears to believe that anyone who disagrees with her must be funded by a shady right-wing organization. She must not have gotten/believed that polls that show close to 70% of Americans think the mosque shouldn't be built there. Her reaction smells of Jonah Goldberg's book "Liberal Fascism".

So It's Really Not the Heat After All...

It is the humidity. And the lack thereof yesterday was a fine accompaniment for a bike ride.

  Sign proclaims Cedarville, Oh birthplace of Labor Day

Inside a rusty caboose at "Caboose Graveyard"

Yesterday there was wall-to-wall sun despite ten days of errant forecasts, and weather wasn't the only bad 'cast. Mark, our fellow rider, had forecasted a flat bike course and my mother's super-duper slope detector went off like the bells and whistles of a Vegas jackpot. There was an slight upgrade for the first few miles and while we consoled ourselves that this meant we'd be going downhill at the end, with bike rides, like life, the downhills are less appreciated than the uphills bemoaned.

Weather forecasts are normally about as accurate as Chinese fortune cookies, yet we fall for them every time. In this weathermen and my friendly neighbor are alike since with both you think THIS time it will be different. This time she'll have a real emergency or this time it'll rain. With my neighbor the latest 5-call fire alarm WAS an emergency of the nasal sort (she being nosy). She wanted to know what happened to my car. I was happy to oblige her with the news that it was at the shop being worked on.

We started at Xenia, a town whose water tower states that it's "the bicycle hub of the world," only I got that wrong, noting on the trip back that it actually said - more modestly - "bicycle hub of the Midwest". No false braggadocio there, a very Midwestern trait.

We shared the path with more butterflies than one would've thought lived in all the Midwest, and some of the little yellow ones were named "Sulpher", which seemed a bit fire and brimstone-ish for such a fine flier. Our midway point was the homespun metropolis of Cedarville, a clean little town with friendly librarians who must be accustomed to bikers using their facilities. On the very outskirts of the business district we found a Mom & Pop dairy shop called "Mom and Pop Dairy". We had the delicious sundaes in a tiny place festooned with bumper stickers like "Read the Bible" on the walls. There's something special and cozy about small towns.

We continued the ride despite the croaking protestations of Mom's bike, which was functional but had some sort of complaint that oil didn't address. We soon came to the famous "Caboose Graveyard," a term Mark made up on the fly to describe the collection of rusting train cars found along the route. Before sighting it, it was thought Mark referred to an actual graveyard starring a Mr. Caboose, but the alternative seemed no less interesting. He hopped up and read something inside one of the cabs, nicely printed: "If you are smart enough to be able to read this, then you best get the f--- out of here". Something like that.

August 18, 2010


Jonah Goldberg puts the blame on Mayor Bloomberg, but I think what's lost in the shuffle is that the mosque instigators themselves share some responsibility. As Dennis Miller suggested on O'Reilly last night, what a publicity coup if the mosque developer offered to move the location! That's assuming a publicity coup is desired, which if this is truly about healing and hospitality and moderate Islam then it is. I wonder if we have a condescending bigotry of low expectations concerning the developers of the mosque?

Another interesting thing is O'Reilly said point-blank that the mosque will never get built because no construction workers in NYC would life a finger to build it. Haven't heard that anywhere else. Be interesting to see if that proved true.

It's also interesting to me to note which media figures change their language in response to valid points made by the opposition. For example, some on the right now say, more accurately, "mosque near Ground Zero" rather than "mosque at Ground Zero".

You can see something similar going on on the left when they refer not to "tea baggers" but "tea partiers".

It's a small mark of integrity - but about all we have left! - when a media person is honest enough to concede that the other side has a point and reflects that in their language.

McMurtry's Books

Oh how I love to read about things bookish, such as Books by Larry McMurtry. His shop in Texas contains some 400,000 volumes, which is my library multiplied by a couple hundred. I can't imagine having two hundred books for every book I have now...

Read rapturously of McMurtry's stray thoughts and wished he was a believer. He may be my latest favorite author, at least based on how quickly I snapped up his Walker Benjamin at the Dairy Queen quasi-autobiography after finishing Books. Just $5.00. A steal, and acquired after my other steal, a $4.75 copy of his literary memoirs. Between his fiction (the expansive "Lonesome Dove") and his memoir-ish non-fiction, I'm pretty well stocked. I can't even get too upset about what looks like an obvious way to pad a book: pen 80 chapters, some only a page long and the longest about four. Sometimes he broke for a new chapter where others might not start a new paragraph. I guess he's got a lot of sway with his editor/publisher.

He writes vivid little portraits with few words. Of the American aristocrat/diplomat David Bruce he writes that Bruce shouldn't have had his WWII diaries published because it painted his estrangement from the war and humans. It made me want to look up the diaries just to see if what he saw came through to me too.

McMurtry's love of books comes through in spades, as does his love of re-reading. The only thing he could read during his year and a half depression was the twelve-volume set of the diaries of James Lees-Milne. There's something satisfying obscure in that. I sense McMurtry may be the middle-brow equivalent to Shelby Foote, who read all of Proust nine times. I love the idea that someone getting on in years would not suffer from the sickness of wanting to read everything but content to re-read particular personal treasures. There is something romantic, I think, in re-reading something so many times.

I also bought, on his recommendation, what is sometimes touted as the greatest travel book of all-time, "Arabian Sands". I was hypmotized by the early lines in it, similar in tone to Karen Blixon's "Out of Africa" opening. I was transfixed by the author's (masochistic?) love of the desert, despite the surreal hardships he encountered. I'm fascinated by those who say 'Yes' to the Cross, even crosses of their own making.

I googled for info about his grand bookstore down there in Middle-Of-Nowhere, Texas and dreamed of visiting someday. He still lives in his hometown of ranchers and rural folk even though the author of a column on him said he doesn't really fit in. But then given the eccentricities of most authors that's hardly surprising.

August 17, 2010

Food Has Been Very, Very Good to Me

So it was Assumption Sunday, a double-day of obligation, and I sang the familiar Marian hymns ("constant was the love she gave Him / though He went forth from her side") and heard a sermon given by an aged priest serving the Franciscan missions in faraway Zambia. He said that he'd bet anyone $10 that every prayer they'd ever said has been answered. The bet will be paid off in Heaven, when he says to us, "see, I told you so!"

Heard on EWTN radio where another priest, author of a cookbook of sorts, said that "food is love," or at least is associated with love. We give food to those we love, we eat with those we love and it's no coincidence that Jesus comes to us in the form of food. Food is good, and God thus appropriates this imagery.

So how to explain those poor souls without food? I checked out St. Augustine's commentary on Matt 6:31:
Aug., Serm. in Mont., ii, 17: But when we read that the Apostle suffered hunger and thirst, let us not think that God's promises failed him; for these things are rather aids. That Physician to whom we have entirely entrusted ourselves, knows when He will give and when He will withhold, as He judges most for our advantage. So that should these things ever be lacking to us, (as God to exercise us often permits,) it will not weaken our fixed purpose, but rather confirm it when wavering.

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It was the noonday hour, under a man-eating Charleston sun, the air so full of humidity it made me wish for a set of gills beneath my earlobes. - from a Pat Conroy novel

Once upon a time in Texas, men and women did things. Blood feuds were enacted, brooding Gothic novels were written, railroads were built, ranches were fenced off. The men fought, drank, swung hammers, sang. The women bore children, sewed quilts, slaved over hot stoves, and glowed (not sweated). And they did it all without air conditioning. Man, those guys were tough. - Mrs. Darwin of "Darwin Catholic"

Miss Irwin engaged another kind of mystery, The Mystery, which is not a puzzle, for the answer is provided to all those who have faith in divine providence. - Fr. George Rutler

Christ, with his infinite knowledge of the human heart, knew that we tend to be blocked, and then act badly, out of shame and guilt. Kafka's The Trial rings so true because on some level we sense that we are always being judged for an unknown offense that we're not sure we committed. The Misfit, in Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find" voices this same dilemma in a different way: our existential loneliness is so excruciatingly painful that we can't help feeling we're being punished to an extent that goes far beyond our "crimes"--no matter how bad they were. So even after our track record starts to improve, we tend to think the painful things that happen in life are somehow our fault. Over and over again, because it seems to make sense, we upload the old image. I think the function of prayer is to very slowly change that. After a long, and seemingly unrewarded, and more or less unswerving, doggedly persistent effort we get a tiny glimpse of the possibility of starting to upload a new image. We start to see that we actually have some control over the image of ourselves and the world that we carry secretly around, and mull over, and harbor, and base our decisions and lives upon. We start to dare to believe that we are loved, and have been all along, in spite of our brokenness. - Heather King of "Shirt of Flame"

Almost everything about Los Angeles seemed wrong but we came anyway. Maybe it was the birds-of-paradise and Mexican sage and bougainvillea, maybe it was that we both knew there weren’t that many more years in which we might have the energy and impetus to make a major move, maybe in the end it was the light: so seductive, so beckoning, so full of hope. When we first moved, to a rented house in the Culver City neighborhood of Palms, I got a load of the cars shining in the driveways, the shady green lawns, and the first night propped my bike against an angel-pink oleander in the side yard and went to bed. The bike was gone in the morning, of course, a perfect introduction to the trompe l’oeil contradictions with which every Los Angeleno resides, and that even now keep me wondering from second to second whether I am living in heaven or hell. This sense that appearances are deceiving, that a level of reality exists beyond anything my senses could observe, turned out to be a recurring theme. The woman with jungle-red nails and stiletto heels turned out to sing in the church choir, the teenager on the bus bench with a serpent tattooed on her neck was bringing soup to her grandmother, the black guy who looked like a pimp was a hospice nurse, the Vietnamese guy who looked like a hospice nurse was a crack dealer. - - Heather King of "A Shirt of Flame"

I need a new image for contemplation, a new soul transporting, sensory enlivening image that helps me love this life and this mess and all these unlovely people with whom I share this bit of earth a little more. The image would have to be darker than the halogen lights at Wal-mart, more painful than brushing up against my fellow consumers, more odiferous than my van. It might have to have some blood in it, death even, to remind me that I’m not actually hurting. And for location, someplace I’d never want to go, a place so hideous it could only be called The Skull. - Betty Duffy

I chose the Cross. I'd choose it again. And I'm trying to make amends with the fact that by some odd series of historical events (the industrial revolution, the commercialization of farming, capitalism, and my having five children) that means Wal-mart is going to have ME by the balls. - Betty Duffy

She [Mother Theresa] would kiss the hands of the priest who had given her Communion in thanks for having brought Jesus, but she had no illusions: More than once did I hear her say how people wherever she went felt betrayed by priests. Nonetheless she asked them to remember her as the drop of water mingled with the wine in the preparation of the chalice. - Fr. George Rutler

Gratitude for Hilton Head

She could feel the ocean fall and rise / She saw its raging glory...

I remember it like it was yesterday, those sea-dog days spent south. There was that quantitative difference of "being away from it all," being free of distraction, work around the house, phone calls, etc...

A Hilton Head day begins with morning prayer or Mass, then a cigar on the balcony with the word processor/books for reading/writing purposes, joined to the stellar view, and a leisurely breakfast either at the condo or out on the town, then onward to beach about noon or 1pm. Read a bit then swim, bike, run in the afternoon (1pm-3pm). Then happy hours (3-6) followed by dinner followed by movie. Nice. I think I'm a European on the inside, wont to long vacations and such.

August 15, 2010

Great Line...

From Fr. Rutler, concerning time management:

"Of course, it is best not to travel. But this can only be achieved if you live in New York City, since you are already there."

August 13, 2010

Beer Books!

Current Events

I've been remiss in failing to write an expository on the case of the flight attendant who flew the coop, a double-fisted drinker who took two beers with him down the career chute.

The act has resonated with Americans the way Johnny Paycheck's song "Take This Job & Shove It" resonated. It appeals because 99% of us lack fiscal independence, and so the specter of someone without that financial independence leaving his job in such a way as to seemingly preclude future employment in that industry, well, shall we say, that's pretty bold. Of course he'll probably land a reality show and make more in a week than he did in a year at Jet Blue. Such is life in these United States.

Like with Christopher Hitchens, who writes so well it's hard to stay mad at him, it's hard to get too outraged with a flight attendant who leaves his employ by grabbing two beers to go: Now that's what I call making an exit.

I'm hyp-mo-tized by Congressman Charlie Rangel's take-no-prisoners approach to his approaching unemployment. His defiance rings of the San Patricios, albeit the latter had a much more just cause. If the stalwart 19th century captain goes down with his ship even if the ship goes down through no fault his own, Rangel chooses not to go down with a ship he wrecked. But that's human nature in action. It's a cautionary tale that testifies to the effect of power and authority and its corrupting influence, especially when propped up by an adoring press. Adoring until quite recently, although the beltway media takes not the sublime joy they would've had Rangel been a conservative. Still, I cringe at the thought of having less of the Fourth estate available to keep an eye on things.

John Zmirak has an interesting column about religious liberty:
It is not the job of the state to repress religious error, defend the integrity of the gospel, or protect its "helpless" citizens from injurious ideas. In teaching this, the Church abandoned the intellectual protectionism Catholics had welcomed since the late writings of St. Augustine – when he called for Christian emperors to forcibly crush the Donatists. We went back to the writings of the early Augustine, when all he sought for the Church was liberty, a free market of ideas.
I'm always hypmo-tized when those intellectually brilliant AND holy, such as the great St. Augustine, get it wrong, assuming he did get it wrong. But whenever I feel that way I recall that that is a major difference between God and man. Even the holiest human doesn't bat 1.000.

The theological continuum must be a very expansive thing. That's my hunch after once reading Fr. Neuhaus's minor criticism of the theology of William F. Buckley. And in another recent read, I think it was Rutler's book, I learn that Neuhaus wasn't a theologian and that was meant, presumably, as slightly pejorative (else why point it out?). I find it interesting because both Buckley and Neuhaus have surely forgotten more theology than I know.

Presidential press secretaries are paid to be likeable. They are the lion tamers of the press corps, the snake charmers, the soothing voices that lie like rugs. But occasionally moments of truth emerge, gaffes as they are colloquially called, and so I rather enjoyed Robert Gibbs's comment on the "professional left".

My favorite press secretaries include Gibbs, Dee Dee Myers (hey she's cute), Dana Perino (hey she's cute), Marlin Fitzwater.

August 12, 2010

Jonah Goldberg... the beach:
I am at the beach for much of August...The Delmarva coast has a lot going for it (Delmarva is not only a fitting name for a transvestite born with the name Del, it's also an abbreviation for the intersection of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, in case you didn't know). It's quaint. The people are nice. It's family oriented. What it doesn't have going for it is climate. In California, New England, etc., you go to the ocean and you cool off. But this is figurative. You can sit outside and have a sandwich without looking and feeling like the Wicked Witch of the East after Dorothy threw water on her ("Helios! Look what you've done to me, I'm melting!"). In Delmarva, or so it seems during this heat wave, you have to be physically in the ocean to cool off. Step out of the ocean and within seconds you feel like a forgotten order of fries under a Denny's heat lamp.
Goldberg said it far more colorfully than I did. But then a hot day at the beach is better than...


Mrs. Darwin has a beautiful post up about devotions near and dear to her. Here are my favorites:

1. Morning Prayer of the Office.

Scarcely a day goes by when I'm not lifted up, or challenged by, the Psalms and hymns and readings of the Morning Office. A line will always jump out, like yesterday's appealing note of confidence and certitude: "In the day of distress I will call / and surely you will reply, / Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord...". Sometimes I don't get around saying it until afternoon, but I figure "it's morning somewhere."

2. The Jesus Prayer.

Influenced by my Byzantine Catholic parish, which was influenced by the Orthodox, I'll repeat the prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner." Often I'll say the Tom of Disputations version: "Lord Jesus Christ, son of Mary, have mercy on me a sinner."

3. The Divine Mercy

Mrs. D says it better than I could:
"Well, to be fair, I don't know if I can say accurately that I'm devoted to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, since I rarely say the whole thing in its proper form, with the beginning and ending prayers attached. But I frequently find myself praying, "For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world," under my breath."
This devotional is so potent that I don't use it too often, for fear I weary of it. I like to have a arrow in my quiver. I also plan to say it on the deathbed of those I know who I fear may not be in right relationship with God.

4. The Rosary

I seem to be all over the place with the rosary. Sometimes I say it decently, some times exceedingly poorly. But I feel partial to it because of my gratitude to Mary for caring. I've been greatly influenced by her apparitions, most especially the on-going miracle that is Our Lady of Guadalupe, although admittedly I don't fast or do penance nearly enough (two of the three things she asks us to do in many apparitions). This is my oldest devotional, going back to those childhood days of the glow-in-the-dark rosary given to me by my aunt.

Tagging: Dylan, Job, Bill.


Heather King is blogging. And saying true things.

Isak Dinesen and Catholicism

Interesting link on the author of Out of Africa and Babbitt's Feast by the blogger atTea at Trianon.

August 10, 2010

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The man truly sounded like an angel as he ever so graciously assured us the population of the world will be Judeo-Christian. Incredulous, we asked how that could come to pass...He said: ‘When Christians realize who Christ is, all will come to know.’ - "Secrets of Mary"

I cannot speak for your age, Dear Reader, but already in our nineteenth century just approaching the two-thirds mark, tragedy was replacing comedy in the eyes and hearts and analytical minds of “serious readers.” Shakespeare’s tragedies were to be found on the stage more frequently than his brilliant comedies and they received more serious reviews and discussions. The sustained and profound humour of, say, a Chaucer or Cervantes was being replaced in the short list of masterpieces by the more serious tragedies and histories of both the classics and our contemporaries. - Drood: A Novel by Dan Simmons

[Robert] Frost gleaned his precise rhythms from the Puritan instinct to be parsimonious with words. His mother had been a Swedenborgian, which I think worsened things by mixing Puritan sobriety with unresolved mysticism. “Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on thee and I’ll forgive thy great big one on me.” A generation earlier that coyness had been Sturm und Drang: the background is hugeness and confusion, shading away into black and chaos. - George Rutler, "Cloud of Witnesses"

Dame Barbara [Cartland] knew that one can hardly be more lapsed than to have lapsed from the Church of England, as she threatened to do. “I know you don’t think our bishops are real bishops, but at least they used to be gentlemen and now they are not even that.” - George Rutler, "Cloud of Witnesses"

Let’s just hope we are...retired before this house of cards comes crashing down. - Corner author Kevin Williams quoting S&P structured-finance guy describing a deal he was working on

A former drunk myself, I have always believed the blackout to be a crude form of mystical union. I have come to prefer being (mostly) awake. But being awake is not for the faint of heart. In fact, a drunk, trying to imitate a pilgrim searching for the lost city of Kitezh, being shot by Werner Herzog, to create a film I am going to watch, alone, from a darkened Hollywood apartment, embodies almost more ecstatic truth than I can handle... - Heather King of "Shirt of Flame" blog fame

One of my chief goals in the coming year is to learn to have a meaningful online presence that doesn't involve debating issues. Online "debates" don't just hurt the social fabric, but also the selves who depend on the adrenaline jolt of disputation. - Alan Jacobs

Hearing live music was different. We did not have stereo cassettes in our ears all day and your compact discs to capture any kind of music in the history of the world. When music was difficult to find, it was very powerful. And the Gypsies themselves were men of fire, rustic gods who could enchant you and make you dizzy. - Prague: A Novel by Arthur Phillips

You should not look a gift universe in the mouth. - GK Chesterton

Drink Every Time Media Says, "Gov't is Broken"

I'm amused and bemused by how unfailingly the MSM sounds the government-is-broken siren concerning the failure of a given piece of liberal legislation the media favors. It's high-laire how we never heard the "Gov't is broken!" (sing to tune, "Morning Has Broken") meme when Bush was trying to sell the privatization of Social Security. Rule number one for liberal media: Government is only broken when liberal legislation fails to get passed.

August 09, 2010

Irishfest Recapture

"If found, please return to pub." - T-shirt spotted

Twas a sunny Sunday and after a brief misfire (a lost credit card that was eventually found behind the seats of the car), I traveled towards the great state of Irishdom, the festival in Dublin, Ohio. I drove to Red Roof & then got out the bike and pedalled to the front gate, tethering my bike to a large light pole. Fortunately it was still there eight hours later when I was heading home.

Met M. & S. outside the Dublin stage where the Clancy Legacy was playing. They mentioned the acts they had seen, the most moving being Mossy Moran who sang "Four Green Fields", handed down from the late Tommy Makem. Just before one pm, we headed towards "Two2Many", an amusing and eclectic group of musicians featuring a father and her lovely daughter and a manic fiddle player who looked like he'd be equally happy doing stand-up comedy. They were entertaining and played good music as well. There's something about a plugged-in fiddle that I really appreciate, the one thing the Hooligans lack.

I managed to talk M & S into going to the Celtic Rock stage, and I realized how much I missed that sort of act, the sort of unabashed, Pogues-like force of nature music. Barley Juice was the act, and there was a fine tune called "Song for Sinners". I was surprised by at least two things: one, that the crowd had more gray hair than expected, men much older than me swaying to the beat and overly loud sound, and second, that the hits of Barley Juice were barely tolerable but the other songs inspired.

I was glad to learn that Fr. Stephen Hayes was here again this year, and Mark amusingly pointed out that he (Fr. Hayes) was teaching leather works and something called "fingerloop braiding." Around 3:30pm we headed to Mossy Moran but the mellow balladeer prompted a return visit to the Celtic rock stage, to "Enter the Haggis," whose CD I'd bought a couple years ago at the recommendation of Robert of Hokie Pundit despite having never seen them play.

I wasn't fooled by the girls wearing t-shirts that said, "Kilt Inspector." Promises, promises.

Soon it was time for the Hooligans, playing at 5:30pm, and even though the venue was hot and airless and we were far from the stage, I still enjoyed the songs, especially the famous "Dead Set".

At 6:30 Bridget's Cross: they consistently produce a high energy, highly-entertaining show. We groaned when the father was called on the stage, infamous for his "Rooster" song, but were pleasantly surprised when instead of the Rooster we heard an impassioned version of "Danny Boy". They ended the set with lovely renditions of the Irish & American national anthems.

Interesting Word Among Us Column

Particularly the bullet-point not seeing medicine as a way God heals:
Some Reasons Why People 
Are Not Healed
By: Francis MacNutt

For the most part, we need encouragement to believe that God does heal people. But after we do summon up the courage to launch out and start praying, we may get discouraged when we realize that people are not always healed through our prayers. This is especially puzzling to those who have been exposed to a very simplistic approach to healing: “All you have to do is claim your healing.”

The best point of view, I think, is to see that God’s ordinary will is that people be healed. We need to believe in God’s healing power and pray for healing, while at the same time realizing that there is a mystery involved and that this particular person may not be healed. In my ministry, I have discovered a number of these reasons, some of which are given below:

A False Value Attached to Suffering. While it is true that some suffering is redemptive and is for a higher purpose, we must balance this statement by saying that most sickness does not appear to be redemptive. I have been asked to pray for people who didn’t really want to be free of their suffering. It seemed to me that their sickness was destructive and was not a blessing sent by God, but they had been so conditioned by their training that they felt guilty about asking God to take away their suffering. When you see a person depressed and unhappy under the weight of disease, you can be fairly sure that he is not being blessed by God.

Not Using the Natural Means of Preserving Health. Although most of us have a high estimation of the medical profession, many of us neglect the ordinary means of keeping balance in our lives. If we neglect these, we should not be surprised if we fall sick and prayer does not cure us. It’s as if the body needs a rest, and God is telling us: “Put more balance in your life. Unless you take ordinary care of yourself, do not expect to be cured of your sickness through extraordinary means. You are sinning against your own body.”

Not Seeing Medicine as a Way God Heals. I firmly believe that physicians and medicines are the instruments that God ordinarily uses to bring about healing. The Book of Sirach explicitly says that after we pray we should “give the doctor his place lest he leave; for you need him too. There are times that give him an advantage, and he too beseeches God that his diagnosis may be correct and his treatment bring about a cure” (Sirach 38:12-14). Time after time, enthusiasts set up a kind of opposition between the world that God has created and the “supernatural.” This false opposition further damages the sick person and sets up a needless controversy with physicians that results in mutual suspicion between religion and science.

Lack of Faith. When the disciples could not cure the epileptic demoniac, Jesus upbraided them for their lack of faith (Matthew 17:14-20). I believe that this is still the reason we do not see more healings; there is a general skepticism that looks at healing as nothing more than a natural psychological process. But even for those of us who do believe, we need to grow in faith. I find that I have more faith than I did a few years ago. We need to grow in faith—even those of us who have seen miracles of healing—in order that God can use us still more.

Not Praying Specifically. Several times I have prayed for inner healing and I thought we were praying about the right problem, and yet nothing happened. It was only when we went back and found the root incident, which had been forgotten, and prayed for Jesus to enter into that moment and heal it, that the healing finally took place. Some evangelists teach that the reason why people who have been healed and later regress is that they lack the faith to hold onto their healing. That is one possible reason. But another reason may not be in the sick person but in the person praying for healing. It’s possible that he or she has prayed only for the healing of symptoms. We should never be too hasty in accusing people of lacking faith.

August 08, 2010

More from George Rutler

"As the last of the post-World War I academic poets, flashing sestinas and villanelles, he read Ginsberg to us, with the unction of an anthropologist unveiling a howling curiosity. Professor Eberhart took another tack, and in a pleasant house now marked with a tablet as though the house itself had died, he read to teenaged scriveners of a “Mystery made visible / This lyric mortal loveliness / The earth breathing, and the sun.”

From Rutler's "Clouds of Witnesses"

"The first impression really was the lasting one in my instance with the Rev. Stanley Ladislas Jaki (1924–2009). More than twenty years later, I vividly see him sitting me down on the porch of a house in Princeton and telling me that religious freedom was the most important teaching of Vatican II."

Interesting Peter Kreeft piece...

On "liberals" and "conservatives" in the Church:

"Liberals prioritize personal freedom; conservatives prioritize objective truth. Liberals absolutize persons and see truth as relative to persons. Conservatives absolutize truth and see persons as relative to truth. (Both are right in what they affirm and wrong in what they deny. Both persons and truth are absolute.)"