October 29, 2010

Bush & the Pope

From Drudge Report on new George Bush book:
In the chapter "Stem Cells", Bush describes receiving a letter from Nancy Reagan detailing a "wrenching family journey".

But ultimately, Bush writes: "I did feel a responsibility to voice my pro-life convictions and lead the country toward what Pope John Paul II called a culture of life."

In the book, Bush describes an emotional July 2001 meeting with the Pope at the pontiff's summer residence.

Savaged by Parkinson's, the Pope saw the promise of science, but implored Bush to support life in all its forms.

Later, at the Pope's funeral -- and after a prodding from his wife that it's a time to "pray for miracles" -- Bush found himself saying a prayer for the cancer-stricken ABCNEWS anchor Peter Jenning

October 27, 2010

Quick Quotes

Now THIS is a zinger:
"Fr. James Martin, SJ -- who often has interesting things to say about Catholic culture -- makes a disappointing foray into the "tone of the Catholic blogosphere" melee. (To call it a "debate" would be an insult to televised senatorial and presidential debates.)" - Tom of Disputations
And Darwin Catholic weighs in on the NPR debacle:
In a sense, NPR's decision to fire commentator Juan Williams, for saying, as a guest commentator on Fox's Bill O'Reilley show, that he finds himself feeling nervous when he sees people on an airplane flight dressed in traditional Islamic attire, is entirely explicable and normal. Most cultures punish people for saying or doing things that violate cultural taboos. It is most unquestionably a major cultural taboo of the American Left (of which NPR has long made itself both spokesman spokesperson and totem) that one may not admit to being scared of non-white people who show signs of belonging to particular cultures through their dress or demeanor. Thus, you can admit to being scared of a white person in a religious t-shirt because you're concerned about "right wing violence", but you can't admit to being scared of a non-white person dressing in a way that suggests to you correlation with criminal or dangerous activity.

Williams violated this taboo when he talked about being nervous when he saw people in traditional Muslim attire on airplane flights and so it's not surprising that NPR chose to ritually drive him out.

This & That...

Chesterton poem:

'Elder father, though thine eyes
Shine with hoary mysteries,
Canst thou tell what in the heart
Of a cowslip blossom lies?

'Smaller than all lives that be,
Secret as the deepest sea,
Stands a little house of seeds,
Like an elfin's granary,

'Speller of the stones and weeds,
Skilled in Nature's crafts and creeds,
Tell me what is in the heart
Of the smallest of the seeds.'

'God Almighty, and with Him
Cherubim and Seraphim,
Filling all eternity—
Adonai Elohim.'

* * *

View outside my door...

View on my TV...

* * *

The sky is a subdued blue, a far cry from apricot-colored Sunday. I truck to the car and open all the windows in order to smell the itemized rain, intermixed with the whine of tornado warning sirens. The hum-echo of the sirens sound vaguely haunted, like the muezzin call in a forlorn desert. It makes me long to read a travelogue.

And a boundary so marked one can scarcely recall! The pre-rain day poignant with clouds but surprisingly warm, until the deluge begins and a forceful chill descends. The rain pours in great gusts and it's a pleasing sort, for the seasonal aspect of it. Do we not long, deep down, for spring to look like spring, winter like winter, summer like summer and fall like fall? Don't we want the essence of a thing mirror its surface?

Have moved ever-briefly to the friendly confines of a nearly empty cafeteria, looking out the rain-soaked windows and half-listening to the light jazz in the background. Missing only my decanter of coffee, the necessary accompaniment to bloggish journeys. Read a bit of the Dispatch and how taken the academic community is with the Burning Man festival. I'm ever hyp-mo-tized by how the academics are wont to fall for the notion of Utopia, especially when it involves nekkid folks. A LA Times piece says that one dissertation writer couldn't "help noticing the dichotomy between female empowerment and male lust." The empowerment being all the women who took a bare-chested ride on bicycles outside Reno. The male lust is obvious. It's clear what men are thinking when they see a topless girl, it's a bit less clear, to me anyway, why girls going naked would be a symbol of power. "It was women celebrating being women," said one. Okay then.

* * *

This online book organizer seems intriguing.

October 25, 2010

From latest National Review

Hyp-mo-tized by the Greek tragedy of the late Joseph Sobran who, it's said, could "write like Chesterton" but who ended up underachieving, to put it charitably. A prose sample from his better days:
The highest form of appreciation is worship. I don't insist that there is a correlation between formal religion and conservatism. But there is an attitude prior to any creed, which may make a healthy-minded unbeliever regretful that he has nobody to thank for all the goodness and beauty in his life that he has done nothing to deserve. One might almost say that the crucial thing about a man is not whether he believes in God, but how he imagines God: as infinitely good and adorable, or merely as an authoritarian obstacle to human desire? The opposite of piety is not unbelief, but crassness.

October 22, 2010

The Walls Have Ears

A female employee talks to a male employee about the company co-ed soccer league:
"Girls just want to play on a good team. Guys want to be the star of the team. That's why even these guys who aren't that good are switching teams. They don't want to sit the bench."

October 21, 2010

From an 1839 Ohio Newspaper...

Spanning the Globe to Bring You the Constant Variety of Posts

The “road to perfection” sounds so binding and final. I get hung up on that word, “perfection” and overlook the fact that that’s just the name of the road. - Betty Duffy

Darwin and I used to send each other tomes of agonized love, rich with all the cliches of the genre. I believe I fancied myself a great stylist. Upon sorting out our closet preparatory to the move, I found a box (a shoe box!) full of this old correspondence. As I paged through his letters and mine, I felt a sensation akin to that of the unfortunates subjected to the Total Perspective Vortex. Passages that once seemed so eloquent and incendiary now paraded with all the grace of a herd of hormonal elephants. The most engaging bits were the parts I tossed off as stupid filler: minutiae about family life or the weather or work. The most fascinating letter of all was one Darwin sent me from Greece, simply describing the place and his travels there. And I burned with shame to recall that at the time I'd sulked because I thought he didn't write enough about ME. - Cat of Darwin Catholic

When you go into the hospital for a risky surgery, you have to face the Big Nothing. They crack you open, and you can read the writing on the walls of your arteries. A slow recovery, big scar up your chest, short of breath, no energy—you can’t help but think. You’re warmed up by death’s proximity, softened up. You rewrite your will, amend for your mistakes. You call your kids to gather round, you tell people the important stuff, you appreciate the very little things, like urinating. But now—pfff. No risk, no fuss, one afternoon, in and out, and your heart condition is all better, and back you scurry to play golf and yell at the valet and expect your children to apologize first. Total up all the love produced by invasive surgery and subtract all the love prevented by speedy laser surgeries. That’s love lost. - Arthur Phillips novel "The Song is You"

Isn’t it exactly as I feared, that if I kept beating on that glass ceiling of my mediocrity, I’d one day burst through into the realm of holiness where all the holy people scrub the corners of their houses with toothbrushes and listen to classical music, and read only books written before 1945 with an imprimatur? - Betty Duffy

This year, whenever I approached an aid station during an ultra[marathon], I'd call out "whiskey". At Massanutten, a worker at the mile 40 aid station pulled out a flask, and poured me a half shot of bourbon, which I chased with a shot of Coke. Boy, did the next three miles of road pass painlessly! - co-worker/runner

On Facebook, links and status updates posted to one's wall are visible to everyone in one's network. Which, of course, runs counter to the most basic rule of having more than two friends in the world: you don't talk about everything with everyone. - Darwin Catholic

At the four corners of a child's bed stand Perseus and Roland, Sigurd and St. George. If you withdraw the guard of heroes you are not making him rational; you are only leaving him to fight the devils alone. For the devils, alas, we have always believed in. The hopeful element in the universe has in modern times continually been denied and reasserted; but the hopeless element has never for a moment been denied. - GK Chesterton

Inch by inch, reading the book, doing about a meditation a week, saying the Rosary, showing up at Mass during the week—practicing devotion—the decision to organize the sock drawer was somehow a manifestation of a new freedom—freedom from my chronic “No.” - Betty Duffy

Percy MacKaye's Trees of Miami (circa 1923)


Trees of Miami, -Miami,
Oracular word
In a far red dawn first uttered
By the vowelling cry of a dawn-red-
(-Miami! Miami! Miami!)
Echoed there by the muttered
Song of an ancient earth-red race
In a shadowy, sacred place, -
Trees of Miami, beautiful trees!
What do you brood in your reveries?

Where the freshet-torn
Clay-blue banks of the Tallawanda
Gape, to reveal forlorn
Relics of your rooted ancestors,
What do you ponder
There, on those primordial shores,
Out of the clay
Lifting green thoughts into the golden

What are the secret reasons
That stir your leaves to sing?
Out of a million seasons
Of seqent life -
Wraths of autumn, rages of lyric
Winter's calm self-conquering,
And summer's rife
Fecundant, rapt foreseeing --
What are your vernal reasons
For this unintermittent being?

In answering choir
Leafy and sibylline,
Out of the shadowy green
Echoed that only word, opal with


Trees of Miami, what bird
Of your boughs will unriddle that

Flicker, --flicker,
Resolute toiler elate,
What do you iterate, iterate,
Tapping it there with your elfin tick-
     er? --
. . . Truth, --truth, --truth!

Redbird, burning
Heart of ecstasy, what is your yearn-
     ing? --
. . . Youth, --youth, --youth, --youth!

Wood dove, wild dove,
You that call--
In pensive music--all
Those that pass
Ever and ever over the grass
Beneath you, what are you fluting
     of? --
. . . Truth, --remembrance, --youth!
     Miami! Miami!


Ah, trees of Miami! now
The voice of a vowelling bird--
Once, twice, thrice -- from a secret
Has unriddled your sacred word:

Truth - remembrance - youth: of
You brood in your ancient reveries;
In the flow of universal tides
This is the knowledge that keeps you
Only beauty abides;
Youth is eternal.

October 20, 2010

Top 10 Reasons to Drink Craft Beer

From Old Paint Blog...

Cyber Sleuthing Results...

I'm distantly related to the guy with the goatee, who lives in Massachusetts. We share a great-great grandfather named Patrick, who had sons by the name of Michael and William. I come through the William line while he does Michael's. From what I can tell, his grandfather (Michael's son) lived in Ohio all his life but his kids moved out to Mass.

Yes, I realize there's no reason on earth you should care about this post but it's too easy to hit "Publish Post".


Hyp-mo-tized by life of a Catholic apologist post-scandal, in this case one who left his wife and took the kids. Is there public Catholicism after scandal? Apparently so, though he removed his name from his website and refers to himself on the site by the royal "we". The urge to opine publicly and connect via the internet seems an irresistible impulse, and if what you are interested in happens to be faith matters, then that is what you'll continue to opine on, scandal or no scandal.

What's more surprising is it seems he still has an audience, as evidenced by the fact that he mentions getting a heated reaction to his anti-pants commentary. He writes how pants show a figure better: "Sadly, and we understand you may not be aware of this, but almost every style of pants reveals private information about your figure (by way of contour) what only your husband... should perceive."

I'm always fascinated by the juxtaposition of shamelessness and Christianity, of how Jesus ate with tax collectors and prostitutes and how sin does not ultimately conquer Christianity or define us. Jim Bakker, Robert Hanssen, Jimmy Swaggert - these are the folks who are fallen "but somehow rise" (to borrow from John Mellancamp's "Little Pink Houses") post-forgiveness.

October 19, 2010

October 18, 2010

Hitch Can Write

Samples of the iridescent prose of Christopher Hitchens in Hitch-22:
Once, after staying with a school friend on the Mumbles peninsula of South Wales, I had been as distressed as William Blake by my brief glimpse of the hell-mouth scenes of the steelworks and coal-pits around Port Talbot. But now I realized that, just on the other side of the bright Bristol Channel from the lovely moors and uplands of my upbringing, there was a world as remote from my own as the moon, or as Joseph Conrad’s Congo.

Several aspects of this hitherto-occluded other Britain lodged in the mind. First of all, its inhabitants worked mostly under the ground, like the Morlocks in H.G. Wells. Second, they spoke a non-English language at home and at church, and considered themselves conquered and dispossessed as a nation as well as suppressed as a class. Third, they thought of going on strike as an act of unselfish solidarity and emancipation rather than as “holding the country to ransom.”

* * *
In the annals of “good-bad,” then, I would put How Green Was My Valley in the same class as Uncle Tom’s Cabin: a work that leaves an ineradicable “scratch on the mind,” to borrow Harold Isaacs’s useful phrase.

* * *
My new school was in town, and in the ancient town of Cambridge at that, instead of out on some blasted heath where long and muddy cross-country “runs” could be inflicted on you and even the nearest manic-depressive hamlet was many furlongs or versts or miles away.

Weekend Ramblings

Read some potent Chesterton this weekend, as well as "Hamlet's Blackberry" and then heard a remarkable speech from the Chesterton Conference on CD by a "futurist".

Chesterton and Mr. Futurist want us to be more outward, while Mr. Hamlet Blackberry wants us to be more inward. The difference couldn't be more vivid, such that Chesterton thought it so wrong that someone would listen to music via reproduction rather than attending a concert hall and Mr. Blackberry approves the invention of iPods, saying that it takes a previously public event (music) and makes it inward, just as reading became a private event with the introduction of silent reading around Augustine's time. The case for inwardness is that it is what creates time to think, to mull over, to acquire depth. He says that we are too outward-focussed, too shallow-thinking. Chesterton and Futurist applaud human interaction, the more tactile the better. (Mr. Futurist said the thing we touch the most during the day is a keypad, and keypads don't touch back.) Chesterton made some very interesting points about the Triune God and how the difference between the East and the West is symbolized by the wide-eyed saints (outward-looking) of the West compared to the closed-eye Eastern Buddhas (inward). The East gave us hermitages, the West monasteries such that even the Trappists are brotherly in their silence.

Futurist said many of us are suffering from distraction and A.D.O.S - "Attention deficit OH, SHINY!"

Mr. Blackberry says that we're too connected now and that's why we're so thirsty for inventions that are inward (such as the iPod). But is it a reaction to the environment that is too outward or is it something else? Writing is a semi-inward activity, at least it was for Seneca (who complained about too many books and so wrote letters).

October 15, 2010


Read long yesterday from the November issue of First Things, a very appetizing issue full of the sort of things that fascinate me, like what went wrong with the German soul such that led to the horrors of the last century, and what did Mark Twain have to say in his one-hundred years delayed autobiography.

Then too there were piquant ratings of various religious-affiliated universities, by overall excellence and then by how Catholic (or not) they were and such. Very interesting stuff and the transparency is an excellent service. Too many still haven't gotten the memo (though admittedly they're unlikely to be First Things readers) that not all schools alleged to be Catholic are, in fact, Catholic. Of First Things' top 25 schools in America, Thomas Aquinas College, Franciscan University, Notre Dame, University of Dallas and Providence made up the Catholic list. Ave Maria noticeably absent, which is the sort of inside baseball I appreciate seeing. Protestant school Wheaton College was numero uno.

An excerpt from the article about Germany:
The problem was that Germany exalted its cultural achievements to the point of idolatry. The only prayer Goethe could utter in earnest, Rosenzweig comments, was Psalm 90's 'Establish thou the work of our hands.' Kultur became Germany's national religion, with terrible consequences...

To a great degree, the main intellectual movements of the postwar years can be understood as efforts to purge idolatries of blood and mind from our collective imaginations. Germany has all but abjured the Kultur it once worshiped; it is hard to find a German schoolchild today who can quote four lines of Goethe from memory. And at present fertility rates, the German population will shrink by 98 percent over the next two centuries.

That is not only Germany's tragedy, but ours. The great project of German theologians such as Barth, Urs von Balthasar, and Rosenzweig - to restore religious orthodoxy in the modern world after Kant and Nietzsche - was a work in progress when Hitler took power...If what was good in Germany is lost along with the ill, it will be all the harder for us and for our children to find our bearings.

Parody blog updated...

I understand the gals at The View don't much like Bill O'Reilly saying that a group of Muslims attacked us on 9/11 but prefer to say that "Muslim extremists" attacked us. But who's to say "Muslim extremists" won't become offensive tomorrow?

Thursday Eve

Grandson Sammy and "GG" (great-grandma) came over and afterward I made a beer run for Sierra Nevada Tumbler purposes, my new all-purpose "foil" beer for the duskier stouts and porters. Waited in line behind a woman with a twelve-pack of that same Tumbler; she'd forgot her Giant Eagle card and was reduced to mumbling her phone number to the clerk, presumably because she didn't want the guy wearing socks with flip-flops (me) to overhear. I gave them as much privacy as could be afforded, though it was slightly hilarious that the cashier took ten minutes to get the number right. But his cheerfulness covered a multitude of sins. The earlier solo Nevada Pale Ale was delicious if precious. I stopped there merely because I wanted to go into the weekend with a full thirst. "It takes beer," the German proverb goes, "to make thirst worthwhile." And, to a certain extent, one needs a thirst to make beer worthwhile.

October 13, 2010

Catholic Tea Party

The latest tempest in a teapot concerns the Catholic Tea Party, of which I do not want to be a part. Catholic Beer Party? Yes! Catholic Coffee Party? Okay! But I am not particularly fond of tea.

[This message brought to you by the the producers of Beer, the Natural DrinkTM).

Too Funny

"I only wish someone would police US Catholic."

Found here.

The Poet's Shack

My alma mater was in the vanguard of offering a "poet in residence" position which, around 1920, was offered to Percy MacKaye:

October 12, 2010

Various & Sundry

Have gotten adept at surfing the last waves of warmth this fall, keeping a keen weather-eye on the weather and planning accordingly. Today wanted to go out at lunch and read outside but elected for the "early release program", and so at 4pm darkened the goodbye door and came rushing into the arms of the brief interlude, 5-6, of solar splendor. Have the obligatory misgivings and misbegones at writing so much about the weather rather than about moments of enlightenment, those crucial pediments that make living worthwhile. What can I say on that score? Just that I meditate on the sufferings of Christ and post-offer my own past sufferings, figuring that even if in the moment I had trouble offering them up, I can at least try to do so now with a weather-eye towards the future. I ponder the electric impulse of Morning Prayer, the resolute, hammer-it-home necessity of recognizing Who is God and that he owns even the "tops of the mountains". I can look into the distance and see God's flag, can look at the moon and see it too. We go in search of distant vistas and think them unclaimed but they exist in the eye of God.

* * *

Was interested by a blog post at "No Wealth but Life" on the topic of happiness. My tendency is to think happiness for the Christian is a tad extraneous, as meaningful as the male nipple.

* * *

Am hypmotized by the increasing narrowcasting made possible by the 'net. There's a channel called "Class Reunion 1985", my very graduation year, a year drenched with longing for sex and a fresh four years of college (not necessarily in that order - oh who am I kidding) with the hits tailored to exactly those needs. I click to it and wonder if there's a song on that station I've not heard given that 1985 was the apex of my musical familiarity. As if in answer to my hubris, the song "Nemesis" by Shriekback comes on. But then comes the Hooters "And We Danced" and I am put in spirit if not body to those semi-innocent undergrad days.

* * *

Was moved by Masterpiece Theater's Inspector Lewis episode from a month or so ago but just now catching it. The stoic sidekick meets a childhood flame and she leaves his heart in Oxford, England. Such maddening ambiguity! He asks, basically, "did you use me?" and she say "You don't really think.." and the viewer is forced to conjecture whether she's thinking, "you don't really think we were real" and "you don't really think I was faking". Wanting to think the former, I can't trust my reading of her body language. But then the shocking denouement: "You're not one of us." which pretty much decides it given that "us", her family, her caste, was her creed.
01:19:47 And what about you and me? What was that?
01:19:49 Your way of getting close to the investigation?
01:19:54 You don't really think...?
01:20:02 You're not one of us.
01:20:08 No.
Then too there was this:
00:46:18 I thought for a moment you'd chased after me to declare your undying love.
00:46:21 I'm not sure men do that nowadays, do they?
00:46:24 Perhaps they should.

Parody blog...

...updated with the latest Obama shamelessness, where he accused the Chamber of Commerce sans proof.

This & That...

Grilled out Sunday the best steak I've had in at least a couple years. Juicy, tender perfectly cooked filet that my wife brought home from the grocery. Also a side of hamburger and cheese broccoli. Doesn't get any better than that.
* * *
Listened to the dulcet sounds of "Promenade in A-major" as played by the water in the fountain out front. Thinking about how jazzed I was at work after automating a repetitive and trying process. Indeed, I'm at my best when uncovering ways to avoid work. Nothing motivates me to automate a process more than my having to do it repeatedly.

So there's that, as well as the fine leaf-scented air of mid-October vintage. Listened to Fr. Ian Ker on Chesterton and Newman from the Chesterton conference CD today. Rich material and gives me renewed hunger to read more of GK.

Might've been the last beautiful summer-like weekend of the year. It's certainly "pure gift", since nothing great after September can be expected; the old sun is too far away to be anything but punch-drunk. It feels like instant nostalgia, to see the hammock operative again. Front porch was uber-fine, sheltered from the wind and full of the seasonally appropriate wheezing of crickets and locusts. The birch with brilliant yellow leaves stands behind the fountain. An iron Victorian bench sits ready for an occupant. The dog lays flat against the door frame.
* * *
Beer, that poetry of liquids, is verboten for awhile due to weight control 101 (avoid superfluous caloric liquids).

* * *
Heather King's marvelous post on Simone Weil still resonates. I like the whole Baptism thing as being crucial, as being that step that makes us part of the Body of Christ and gives us a sense of belonging and, curiously, also a sense of not being anything special. Because our Baptism means that we are no longer "other". I think NOT being baptized gives one a sense of still being "in play", still being desirable to those within the "in" circle. To be baptized gives one more reason to be outward-focused than inward-looking. Ideally anyway, alack & alas.
* * *
From Hamlet's Blackberry:
Walking [NYC] in those days, I was both surrounded by others and utterly alone, and it was this solitude within the crowd that made city life magical. It's what E.B. White was talking about when he observed that New York City 'blends the gift of privacy with the excitement of participation...insulating the individual (if he wants it, and almost everybody wants or needs it) against all enormous and violent and wonderful events that are taking place every minute.

October 04, 2010

Online Scavi Tour!

This & That ...

Looking over an expanse of recently acquired books via the going out of business sale of a local bookstore (75% off). Such beautiful, fine volumes! The Dickens biography especially calls, as does the great basketball book of Bill Simmons that I have yet to finish.

Dandies, that's what they are, the Fox Sports guys. Three-piece suits and handkerchiefs carefully folded in their vest pockets. All to talk about football. Go figure. What's next, tuxes?

Chernow's new biography of George Washington is over nine-hundred pages long proving either that modern biographers need editors or that there are those for whom trivia enthralls in a non-utilitarian sort of way. George Washington may've slept there, but I don't have time to read about it.

State judges align themselves publicly with a political party, so I find it curious/humorous that their party isn't indicated on the ballot. Seems a pretense given that most judges' philosophy can be deduced from their political affiliation.

I'm hyp-mo-tized by the transparency and candidness of a pastor at a downtown church. In the bulletin he says, "People jokingly, and sometimes not so jokingly, label me as the pastor who spends too much money and is occupied too much with financial affairs...Yes, I spend money, but I do not regret it. Money is meant to be spent. It keeps people employed and gives parishioners a sense that things are being attended to."

It's surreal that Big Brother insists I register my kayak.

Heard an EWTN radio show about combating vices. It can't be done on willpower, they said. It has to come from the Spirit. This goes to my confusion over the amount of effort, or effortlessness, is necessary to overcome sin. Everybody says that only through God is change possible, yet I tend to see the willpower as equivalent to human effort. In the past I've thought that it's a mystery; that human effort and divine help are hopelessly entangled. Maybe that's true, but I have my doubts now. The saints don't seem confused about where God starts and they end - they give all the credit to God. They say that without God they could've done nothing. If the line between God and man is obscured, how does man give proper praise to God? (Of course, our very existence is due to God, so every good we do is a praise of God.)

I've never wanted to write a novel that I wouldn't want to read, which is why I've never written a novel. In other words, I'd want it to toss off insights and pleasure-giving phrases on every page and preferably every paragraph and I can't achieve that. It's something I get only rarely from the best novelists; it's too bad I don't like to read cheap fiction. I wonder if it's "selling out" to write beneath one's own taste, or whether that's merely pride talking in the way a teacher may not want to teach that which he or she considers too basic. But the essence of sharing, it seems to me, is to share what you value. If you don't value Harlequin romance, then offering it would seem a sham.

Listening to the Pretender's Don't Get Me Wrong with the lyrics about an impromptu meeting-turned-to-love while "just passing in the street." Seemingly a random moment. And I thought that a analogy of our relationship with God, where at any moment we might be surprised by His sudden overture. Certainly my meeting my wife was a chance one. Life can turn for the good on a moment's notice. I think of how Mary might've received the angel Gabriel at just a random moment, a moment that changed everything.

It's a November weather day: 50, fully cloudy, with occasional sprinkles. It's the sort of day that I could see welcoming with nostalgia and open arms were I a full-time resident of Southern California, but here now it feels like the semi-permanent return of an unpleasant roommate. Still, I look at it as a refreshing challenge to renew my relish of "the great indoors". Though what would be cool would be to have a room with a 10' by 10' sunroof!

Yesterday was the big main library bookstore but blew it off. I have so many treasures already, so many wonderful books, not the least my Chesterton collection. The odds of finding something there I liked were decent, but that's why I didn't go. I don't need anything usurping the place that Chesterton currently deserves.

Besides, I get tired of driving. Chesterton himself opines:
The motor car has progressed because nobody is happy where he is. The idea of leisure has become the idea of getting away somewhere else in the hope that by some extraordinary chance it may be better...Modern civilized life is so miserable for both rich and poor, because of its vulgar and stifling atmosphere, that people are always full of that divine human illusion that if only they rush around the corner they will find something that is a little better, and they make round the corner exactly like what they have left.

Though let's stipulate that Chesterton had an interesting job and one that involved a lot of interesting travel.
Watched HOUSE; seemed pretty soft-porn, with a main character lounging around nekkid in bed all day. Didn't need to see that. (Although I recognize that perhaps my definition of 'soft porn' has been sliding.)

Corporate fads come and go, and the latest one in our "shop" is treating our multitudinous cabinet as celebrities, such that we can sign up for "exchange sessions".

In the past we could buy tickets for a chance for lunch or golf with one of the AVPs. I've witnessed online chats with some of these figures and I'm always impressed by how "content free" the discussions tend to be, sort of like watching politicians talk on the Sunday shows. Just as the politician's goal is usually to never make news, similarly the party line is predictably paraded perchance we be persuaded by a cult of personality.

Read long from the inspiring Pearce biography of Chesterton. Pearce seems to share that Chestertonian sense of hope, at least that's always the thread I found running through his Oscar Wilde book. Chesterton's love for his wife was inspirational and it crushed her when he died. Another example of how earthly love entails loss and thus pain. To love much is to suffer much.

"The Rolling English Road" is a Chesterton poem that is taken to be just a drinking song but is actually an allegory of life. The young man is carefree, he grows older and becomes aware of social justice and patriotic duty, then he grows conscious of sin ("which would blast even the material beauty of the world but for the mercy of God") and finally "the approach of death expels the folly of youth and clears his vision for the good news of God."

Chesterton wrote about how there was too much focus on the spice of life, rather than life itself. Sports as religion was a theme and he said that "our world will end in despair unless there is some way of making the mind itself, the ordinary thoughts we have at ordinary times, more happy than they seem to be just now, to judge by the most modern novels and poems. You have got to be happy in those quiet moments when you remember that you are alive."

He became upset over the economic folly of "bullying people into purchasing what they do not want; of making it badly so that they may break it and imagine they want it again; of keeping rubbish in rapid circulation like a dust-storm in a desert; and pretending that you are teaching men to hope, because you do not leave them one intelligent instant in which to despair."

He defined the free man as "he who is in charge of himself. He may, and does, damage himself. He may smoke too much, drink too much, work too hard, walk too little; he may starve fanatically, either for fasting or for slimming. But he decides."

More Chesterton...

He takes the words of Christ about us having to lose our lives to save them, and give tremendous backstory to them:
Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. "He that will lose his life, the same shall save it," is not a piece of mysticism for saints and heroes. It is a piece of everyday advice for sailors or mountaineers. It might be printed in an Alpine guide or a drill book. This paradox is the whole principle of courage; even of quite earthly or quite brutal courage. A man cut off by the sea may save his life if he will risk it on the precipice.

He can only get away from death by continually stepping within an inch of it. A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to life, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape. He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine. No philosopher, I fancy, has ever expressed this romantic riddle with adequate lucidity, and I certainly have not done so. But Christianity has done more: it has marked the limits of it in the awful graves of the suicide and the hero, showing the distance between him who dies for the sake of living and him who dies for the sake of dying. And it has held up ever since above the European lances the banner of the mystery of chivalry: the Christian courage, which is a disdain of death; not the Chinese courage, which is a disdain of life.

And now I began to find that this duplex passion was the Christian key to ethics everywhere. Everywhere the creed made a moderation out of the still crash of two impetuous emotions.