September 30, 2011

Double-Paw'd Drinker

And there he really might remain for ever, but that his vagrom spirit is called back to earth by a gentle but resistless, very human summons,—a gradual, consuming, Pantagruelian, god-like, thirst: a thirst to thank Heaven on. So, with a sigh half of regret, half of anticipation, he bends his solitary steps towards the nearest inn. Tobacco for one is good; to commune with oneself and be still is truest wisdom; but beer is a thing of deity—beer is divine.

- Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932), Pagan Papers (London: John Lane, 1898), pp. 48-51
From here, for today's Beer Friday post:

(Arthur Rackham illustration for Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows)

September 29, 2011


...comment found on a blog about the (endless) poverty of Appalachia:
Then there are the post-industrial areas of Appalachia. I understand these areas because that's where I grew up. My family bought land in Lawrence County over 220 years ago, and there are seven generations buried there.

But you know what, most of those in my generation have left for better opportunities. Just as our ancestors left their relatively safe homes in the East to seek a better life in what was then the Northwest Territory (encouraged by the land grants they received for service in the Revolutionary War), we need to encourage the folks in these post-industrial areas to move on and make a life where there are better employment opportunities. Whatever the unemployment might be here in central Ohio at any given time, it's about 4x higher in Appalachia, and I don't see it getting any better - ever.

It's hard to say we shouldn't underwrite the Appalachian schools, because it's not the kids that are making the choice to stay. But there are some school districts down there who pay only 10% of the cost of running their schools - the rest is State and Federal funding. We have to, with compassion, encourage those folks to honor the memories of our pioneering ancestors, and move on to greener pastures.

That's what I think anyway.
Given the tenuous economic status of the rust belt, perhaps some day the whole of Ohio will be in that category, making it necessary to move to the South or West. What interests me is this tension between living where you have roots, versus the necessity of going to where the jobs are. Culture versus economics. The commenter deftly implied that tradition for the Appalachians is pioneering, not staying put.

Morning Ramble

Hyp-mo-tized by the sweeping, self-demolition of the Red Sox over the past couple weeks, with the denouement coming last night. The neatness of the Sox demise reminds one of a planned implosion. First there was the sheer, unmitigated surprise of Tampa Bay coming back from a 7-0 deficit (proving the existence of God for Rays fans) and then nearly simultaneously the Sox lose a one-run lead late in the game (proving the existence of the devil for Bosox'rs). It all has that olde-timey Red Sox-y '86 feel to it. But they have '04 and '07 so you can't feel too sorry for them. Pity the poor Cubs.

Speaking of the Sox, good link from the Anchoress:
“For the love of God . . .” he cried, again and again, as one Bosox batter after another swung and missed, and looming before him was a ninth inning full of Mariano Rivera at his peak.

Watching at home, my son and I heard a hated rival’s naked pain, and we hooted in what might be called cruel appreciation.

Baseball fans understand each other’s afflictions. We could laugh in that moment, because our team was winning, but we recognized all too well the sound of anguish emanating from Beantown; we had felt it enough, in the Bronx. When the umpire called “strike three” at the third out, the single voice dissolved into a bellow of incoherent angst and three hundred miles away we knew the man had slumped into his chair with his head in his hand, and his heart full of hate; not for the Yankees—that was a given—but for his own team, and for the game of baseball, itself, of which the late commissioner A. Bartlett Giammati once wrote, “it breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart.”

The heartbreak is what makes it great, and the source of the heartbreak is the clutch—that period of time (and it can last for a moment or for years) when everything meaningful in your life fades into a peripheral nothingness until an outcome is known. In the clutch, love is balancing—one foot, en pointe—along a thin wire of hope, and still determining if, or when, the next foot might be safely employed.

The virtual home of the Anchoress is at Patheos, and I heard Mark Shea is pitching his tent there as well (the cohabitation is strictly platonic). This era of blogs feels like the '90s business era of mergers and acquisitions; it all feels vaguely unsavory, a corporatization of the blogger model of the individual voice crying out freely in the wilderness. But hey, that's capitalism.

Relished I a white-topped donut, sitting like a Rocky Mountain on the plain of breakfast goodies this morning. (How's that for some bad writing?) It felt deserved (the donut, not the bad writing) after yesterday's slight dislocations and discombobulations. There was the shift at the food bank and then wrestling at home with a new DVR, the old one having been kaput for the last week and the new one not working either. After two reboots I called the help line, and they had me do an unplug, which (surprisingly) worked. The DVR restoration seemed to give the house a sense of order it was heretofore lacking. Too. dependent. on. technology.

(Speaking of videos, I'm sorely tempted to get the new Fr. Robert Barron series on Catholicism. Expensive, but eye-candy for the Catholic eye: plenty of mosaics and churches and Holy Land images. Or so I hear.)

While working on the DVR, I listened to Lino Rulli in the background and he said the things I've often thought, including the plain-spoken "I hate free will." He said he wants it to be easy. "Why couldn't God just make us perfect and then be done with it?" It's a familiar angst indeed and it was pretty cool to hear it expressed aloud.


Read some of "The Bible Made Impossible" which argues against the Bible being a "handbook" or "owner's manual". The author makes the case that there is plenty of biblical data on both sides of many controversial questions, hence divisions in the Bible Alone crowd are inevitable. The Civil War is proof; both sides felt they had the Bible on their side.

September 27, 2011

Another Spin on the Subject of Seasons

by Roy Campbell (1901-57)

I love to see, when leaves depart,
The clear anatomy arrive,
Winter, the paragon of art,
That kills all forms of life and feeling
Save what is pure and will survive.

Already now the clanging chains
Of geese are harnessed to the moon:
Stripped are the great sun-clouding planes;
And the dark pines, their own revealing,
Let in the needles of the noon.

Strained by the gale the olives whiten
Lke hoary wrestlers bent with toil
And, with the vines, their branches lighten
To brim our vats where summer lingers
In the red froth and sun-gold oil.

Soon on our hearth's reviving pyre
Their rotted stems will crumble up:
And like a ruby, panting fire,
The grape will redden on your fingers
Through the lit crystal of the cup

Who's Free?

Found here:
John Stuart Blackie (1809-1895), There is None Free But Jove, in his Messis Vitae: Gleanings of Song from a Happy Life (London: Macmillan and Co., 1886), pp. 64-66:
Οὐδεὶς ἐλεύθερος, πλὴν Διός.—AESCHYLUS.

'There is none free but Jove;' thus speaks
A weighty old tragedian,
Who sang whilom to tuneful Greeks
In Doric airs and Lydian;
And wisely sang—for truth and right,
Once true, are true for ever,
Even as the sun pours forth his light
With strength that faileth never.

Who's free?—a king?—Who first must please
Before he rule a people,
And turn him lightly to the breeze,
Like cock upon the steeple!
A priest—a churchman?—who to fan
The people's hot devotion,
Must fear to stretch his faith a span,
Beyond their narrow notion.

Who's free?—a democrat?—no more
Than any salt sea bubble,
When far-drawn billows rage and roar,
Is free from yeasty trouble;
No more than Autumn leaves are free
To choose their place of falling,
When sea-birds shriek from sea to sea,
And blast to blast is calling.

Who's free?—the lawyer?—not he, bound
With knots of old traditions,
His reason prisoned round and round
With clauses and conditions;
Whose thought to mouldy record clings,
Who loves to walk in fetters,
And chokes the sacred soul of things
With rolls of old black letters.

Who's free?—the scholar?—no; not he
The slave of printed paper,
Who where the sun is free to see,
Lights his own twinkling taper,
And from much nonsense picks some sense
And makes a mighty clamour,
And strangles living eloquence
In mummy bands of grammar.

Who's free?—the statesman?—ask the man
Who fain would do a little,
But shrinks back from the factious clan
That snaps at every tittle,
And fears his party most of all,
Who, at his boldness frowning,
May cast him with a weighty fall
From out the street called Downing!

There is none free but Him above,
The mighty Lord of all things,
With bond of everlasting love
Who binds both great and small things.
And who treads Earth with pure intent
To search into His wonders,
Will live least slaved to sinful bent,
Most free from evil blunders.

A Hodge-Podge of Discontinued Items

Back in the '80s of the century past, I visited the highlands of Africa with a Yale professor.

Not really, i just wanted to start off a post with a romantic image. Sorry. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.


Typical weather at 7:30am today: overcast and brisk, 54 degrees. Not dark yet, though that too will come. I stand outside for a minute or so, just enjoying the enlivening outdoors. I look over flowers still valiantly hanging on and the sturdy, weather-impervious fence. This small pleasure, of being outdoors in the morning however briefly, too will pass.

Then to the bookroom, batman:
Nothing could be finer than to be in the recliner in the morrrrnin'!
Drinking coffee black with a clock that's turning back --
Writing up a storm among the books so gently worn!
It's funny how the seasons are so well-named, winter with its severe cross ("T") in the middle of it, summer with it's first syllable rhyme with "hum" and "yum" and the double "m" as if a reminder you want more of it, just like the double "s" in dessert. Spring with its lively jumping motion and fall with its echoes of the committing of the original sin, or the unhappy happenstance of a physical accident. And yet all have their place. To borrow from a commenter on Heather King's great blog, quoting William Blake:
"It is right it should be so:
Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know
Through the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine."

* <- (this delimiter represents a sudden change of subject)

Am pleased to have made the switch from Chris Matthews and his silly little show to Lino Rulli's "The Catholic Guy" on the afternoon drive. Have no clue why I subjected myself to so long to the irritation of listening to Matthews huff and puff. My take on talk shows: I can take liberal bias and depth, but not bias and nonsense, ala Matthews. Give me the NPR or Bill O'Reilly instead. Or "Morning Joe", which Bill Clinton said today was an example of the kind of media we needed more of. He said that in the morning people don't want sharp conflict which is why the morning shows (like "Fox and Friends") are generally more gentle than evening shows (like Matthews or O'Reilly). Clinton seemed perceptive and I did feel a pang of wistfulness for his years in office.


Betty Duffy's haunting post came to me unbidden, in which she quoted Mother Teresa saying that the "fruit of silence is prayer" and that without the silence you don't have the prayer, with the latter leading to faith and eventually to love and service. I find it touching that the first thing Jesus did after hearing that John the Baptist was beheaded was to find a cave and pray. He knew his life would be changing, that he'd now be the "main guy", that his ministry would be starting and he began with what one should begin with: prayer.

And speaking of BD, how could I not be tempted to hit a Walker Percy conference featuring two bright lights of the blogosphere, Amy Welborn and Betty Duffy? I could wish for more advance notice. It's in mid-October in New Orleans and the desire to be there, in that room listening to those two is a sore temptation.


It occurred to me yesterday in one those "well, duh!" moments, that the reason there was a newly christened section on atheism at the local Borders around 2005-ish was not due to a sudden, inexplicable societal trend, but because of the seminal event of 9/11. That interest in atheism was a recoil from Muslims killing in the name of religion. It's understandable that in the wake of that we'd have to deal with a wave of anti-religion despite the fact that Christians and Muslims tend to differ regarding the use of violence to perpetuate their aims.


The Buddy walk (my dog) Saturday was a fail despite the incredible scene of ten foot tall yellow flowers in the large fields that flank the path. I was so nervous about him tearing up some other dog that I couldn't enjoy it; I had a wild animal on leash and a strong one at that. He already tore up the skin on my knee once, leaving what looks to be a permanent scar. I managed to elude one dog by going backwards and off-path, and two others by taking a long cut when approaching the parking lot. To make matters worse, Buddy threw up in the car on the way there. Note to self: leave Buddy home next time!

But Darby Creek's meadow path is gorgeous, especially the Oak Savannah. I find I like meadows and deserts more than heavily wooded areas these days, probably because of the length of sight-line and presence of sun.


The other night was sitting on the dayclipse, the precipice of dusk. Drank a fine Southern Tier Harvest after a Nosferatu. Unfair to drink them in that order given the stronger taste of the Great Lakes but then perhaps all's fair in love and brews. A helicopter circles over the backyard, circling over a span of about a twenty acres. Odd. I feel a figure of interest.


Am hyp-mo-tized by Goodreads (I know, late to the party), a social network for people of the book. Especially riveted by finding someone whose tastes are close to mine, but who seems a mite more perceptive. I say this on the admittedly thin reed of a single comment made by an Emillia P., concerning the book on the seven deadly sins.

To grossly paraphrase, she said the author is "too despairing but perhaps that's to be expected from a book on sin." I'm drawn to borderline despairers given the natural tendency toward solidarity and yet perhaps it's best to read in the opposite direction. Gerard of early Catholic blog fame, call (earthly) home.


Oh how I remember, going off-road, off-path in Arizona towards the beckoning canyonland and finding an astonishing view. Ignorance is bliss, for I didn't realize I was braving rattlesnakes and scorpions while running through that underbrush. But there is something inestimably satisfying about going just beyond the "facade" of the tourist stage and finding something just as jaw-dropping. As great as the first vista was - and Lord knows it was - there was something really nice about finding another on my own. It seemed to give the area even more charisma since there were more...and more...breathtaking views. The funny thing about the Grand Canyon was that I pictured it as more or less ONE big hole when it's actually a seemingly infinite corridor of colored rock. It goes on and on beyond that which the eye can see. It's that desire for the infinite, or at least a horizon-filling tableau, that is so fulfilling, whether it be space, the ocean or the Grand Canyon. I think this desire is related to our desire not to run out, not to have to deal with scarcity. With the Grand Canyon, the oceans, or space, or God it's safe to say we'll never be able to see all of it or Him in one lifetime.

And then later, in the middle of a book of his essays, I come across these lines from G.K. Chesterton:
I have always mistrusted the Man On the Spot; because I fancy he is the Man in the Spotlight. It is rather like the feeling about the tourist who sends a picture-postcard purchased on the spot; we have a suspicion that the spot is only too well known as a beauty-spot. Particular persons and particular places are picked out by the limelight of publicity, in a way that is not really representative. In fact, I have always had a feeling, myself, that the luckiest of all journeys would be to set out for some famous place, and lose your way and find yourself in another place. It would probably have all the beauties and virtues of the first place; and the virtues would not be vulgarised. You would have the huge good fortune of finding the old, original famous place, before it was famous.

September 23, 2011

Notable Quotable

Advice from St. John of the Cross

When I covet my attractive Bible, I think of this:
One more piece of very good advice: Try to remember what St John of the Cross said about the sacramentals we use (and I think this applies to The Bible.)
"St. John of the Cross points out that sacred objects (sacramentals such as statues, religious articles, spiritual rehcs, crucifixes, rosaries, holy water), and so forth, can play an important role in the spiritual life. However, some people in their prayer life become so attached to these sacred objects that they begin to lose the spiritual benefits they bring. He explains it thus. In the early stages of the spiritual life - he identifies the stages as beginners, advanced, and proficients - God does lead people to him through such sacred objects. However, as they advance in their prayer life from meditative prayer to meditative-contemplative, and finally into pure contemplative prayer, he emphasizes very strongly that they, upon seeing any of these sacred objects, should immediately raise their hearts (souls) to the hidden, incomprehensible God in Heaven Who resides within our own very souls. For He is closer to us than we are to ourselves, but still remains always a hidden God for Whom we should continually search for in our soul. A God Whom we must constantly search out through our prayer life, and through the carrying of our crosses in imitation of Jesus Christ our Saviour. He points out very clearly that when persons sincerely strive for spiritual development and a greater love for God, for holiness, they should avoid the habits of preferring this crucifix to that one because of the quality of wood or metal; or to accumulate rosaries of various types, preferring one to the other because of its colour, metal, size, form and so forth. They begin to accumulate all kinds of statues one after another. In contrast St.John of the Cross affirms that one of the most devout persons he knew had made for himself a rosary of fish bones. Another carried all of his life a simple crucifix made of a palm fastened with a pin.

In following these practices of a habitual attachment to sacred objects considered by them to be more valuable they cease to derive as much spiritual benefit from these sacred objects, than if they had fewer of them. He recommends that they should instead discipline themselves to prayerfully raise their hearts from these sacred objects to the hidden, incomprehensible God. For he cautions, that as such persons excessively attach themselves to sacred objects they are in actuality detaching themselves from a more true, pure love of the hidden God in their hearts and in heaven. He emphasizes, however, lest there be a misinterpretation of what he is advising, that sacred objects are always an aid to raising one's heart closer to God; providing that at a certain stage in one's prayer life, upon seeing these sacred objects, they immediately make a very determined effort to raise their hearts to the ineffable, incomprehensible God."


Photographs Like Art

From the Kenneth Branagh film Much Ado About Nothing:

Beer Friday

My ranking of autumnal brews I've tried:
1) O'Fallon's Pumpkin Ale
2) Great Lakes Nosferatu
3) Southern Tier Harvest
4) New Holland Ichabod
5) Blue Moon Harvest
6) Sierra Nevada Tumbler
7) Great Lakes Oktoberfest

Keeping Up with the Mormons?

Not sure how I feel about this, about how Mormons "game" the system to make sure their sites come up in the top 10 of many Google searches:
For example, [Mormons] host link-clicking campaigns that encourage all Mormons to click on particular links at certain times. This increased activity quickly boosts the rankings of those sites.

Mormon SEO experts also strategically place keywords within their content. Words like “Jesus,” “church,” “family,” and “friend” target the phrases people are searching for on Google.

Interesting take...

....on men and friendship.

September 20, 2011

Order Bible Was Written

I've long been interested in the order the books of the Bible were written, understanding that there is scholarly disagreement surrounding it. Here is the order of the Protestant canon, found here:
Old Testament Books in Chronological order according to the most likely years of their writings:

Job -- 2150 B.C.
Pentateuch -- 1402 B.C. (Gen., Ex., Lev., Num., Deut.)
Joshua -- before 1350 B.C.
Judges and Ruth -- before 1050 B.C.
Psalms -- before 965 B.C.
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon -- before 926 B.C.
1 and 2 Samuel -- before 926 B.C.
1 Kings and 1 Chronicles -- before 848 B.C.
Obadiah -- 848 B.C.
Joel -- 835 B.C.
Jonah -- 780 B.C.
Amos -- 765 B.C.
Hosea -- 755 B.C.
Isaiah -- 750 B.C.
Micah -- 740 B.C.
Jeremiah and Lamentations -- 640 B.C.
Nahum -- 630 B.C.
Habakkuk and Zephaniah -- 625 B.C.
Ezekiel -- 593 B.C.
2 Kings and 2 Chronicles -- 539 B.C.
Daniel -- before 538 B.C.
Haggai and Zechariah -- 520 B.C.
Esther -- after 476 B.C.
Ezra -- 458 B.C.
Nehemiah -- after 445 B.C.
Malachi -- 432 B.C.

New Testament Books in Chronological order according to the most likely years of their writings:

James -- A.D. 49 (written from Jerusalem)
1 and 2 Thessalonians -- A.D. 52 (written from Corinth)
1 Corinthians -- A.D. 55 (written from Macedonia)
2 Corinthians -- A.D. 56 (written from Macedonia)
Galatians -- A.D. 57 (written from Ephesus)
Romans -- A.D. 58 (written from Corinth)
Luke -- A.D. 59 (written from Caesarea)
Acts -- A.D. 60 (written from Rome)
Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon -- A.D. 61,62 (written from Rome)
Matthew -- A.D. 63 (written from Judea)
Mark -- A.D. 63 (written from Rome)
Hebrews -- A.D. 64 (written from Jerusalem)
1 Timothy -- A.D. 65 (written from Macedonia)
1 Peter -- A.D. 65 (written from Babylon)
2 Peter -- A.D. 66 (written from unknown)
Titus -- A.D. 66 (written from Greece)
Jude -- A.D. 67 (written from unknown)
2 Timothy -- A.D. 67 (written from Rome)
John -- A.D. 85-90 (written from Ephesus)
1 John -- A.D. 90-95 (written from Judea)
2 and 3 John -- A.D. 90-95 (written from Ephesus)
Revelation -- A.D. 90-95 (written from the Isle of Patmos)
(Photo credit: Bible Design and Binding website)

On Freedom

Collected in the RSS feed, almost back-to-back: Link here:
Cicero, De Officiis 1.20.69-70 (tr. Walter Miller):
But there have been many and still are many who, while pursuing that calm of soul of which I speak, have withdrawn from civic duty and taken refuge in retirement. Among such have been found the most famous and by far the foremost philosophers and certain other earnest, thoughtful men who could not endure the conduct of either the people or their leaders; some of them, too, lived in the country and found their pleasure in the management of their private estates. Such men have had the same aims as kings—to suffer no want, to be subject to no authority, to enjoy their liberty, that is, in its essence, to live just as they please.
Link here:
One morning, I got a letter from my wonderful aunt, a secular humanist who runs a nonprofit and dedicates her entire life to helping women leave situations of slavery. While I love and admire and appreciate her dearly, it is worth noting that she is in no way what I would consider a practicing Christian.

Her letter began: "My dear, I woke up this morning and felt I should write to you about freedom. It is an issue I have thought about for many long years. And what I have realized is this: My freedom ends where another's begins..."

September 19, 2011

Summer's Swan Song

It's tempting to get all sentimental and nostalgic about being off work last week already: the gauzy trip to the beer store with all those bright tempting bottles, the hike at Glacier Ridge, the kayak in the sun, the Bob Evans breakfast, the long read of "The Pleasures of Reading" while smoking a cigar and watching the sun slowly transport from east to west with the sound of classical music in my ears. All impossibly romantic, like an Isak Dinesen novel.

Oh how wonderful the time off was! How nice not to "busy", or not to engage in busyness but to have a broad margin to life for a week. When else can I enjoy a fine cigar at 9:30 in the morning? Or leisurely drink coffee for two hours while perusing the blogs? Eating can seem a chore. Who wants to get and the car and drive to get food when you can read or drink or think or pray?

I'm convinced we house-bound humans spend far too little time looking at the sky. It's amazing, and it's free. The masses of white clouds today looked like a large canvas of art and it's a good reminder that there's something bigger than us. If we had to pay to see the sky we'd all gawking at it.

I'm thankful, and thanked God for blogs. How nourishing they can seem! I was especially riveted today by a blog by a woman who'd been raped and had had a sexually illicit past and is now devout. She's married now, seven years I think, and says that she almost walked out last month and decided to resume her formerly libertine ways. This from a woman whose Bible is highlighted to death! She makes no excuses and if she's got a harder row to hoe she seems to have put her nose to the marriage grindstone. My heart goes out to her.

Also interesting was her understanding of the French. That wide-eyed Parisian on the Canyon trip was not flirtatious so much as simply "trying to derive as much pleasure out of the mundane experiences of life," as the blogger above wrote, and of course all the more so given we were on vacation in the Grand Canyon. How different she seemed! How culturally pre-determined we seem! We're all human beings, but there was something so foreign about that Parisian and not just her but others from France. Now this blogger, who's lived in France, sees le difference in a clearer way.

The weather today was oft chilly by summer standards last week - 45 degrees one recent morning. But I experienced it completely turned on its head, converted to good weather in just the wink of an hour. I rather liked the contrast: the restful autumnal mornings followed by high-spirited summer afternoons. Best of both worlds? When the morning is cold and cloudy but you think the afternoon will be sunny, it's sort of nice. Like knowing "this too shall pass" and enjoying the contemplative if gloomy air. It's a great feeling to be indoors and snug under a cover with a book or 'puter at hand...

Read yesterday more of Bad Catholic's Guide, this time on temperance (while drinking 3.5 beers, which provided an interesting disconnect). Had lots of good things to say about Chesterton -- speaking of, Alan Jacobs wrote about how his opinion of Chesterton changed suddenly after years of not really getting him. Interesting case made for re-reading.

September 13, 2011


Dale Ahlquist review of latest Chesterton biography.

"The most sniveling criticism of the book has been that it is too long. The book weighs almost as much as Chesterton himself. And yet, if anything, it is a miracle of condensation. After Maisie Ward completed her biography of Chesterton, more stories and personal accounts poured in so that she was prompted to write a supplemental work, Return to Chesterton, because it was clear there were those who simply did not get enough of him in the first go-round. Ker has, in essence, done both of these things and more in one volume. There is the basic account of Chesterton’s life (which necessarily relies heavily on Maisie Ward, as all Chesterton biographies must), and then there are fascinating new details, especially of Chesterton’s travels, that have never before been revealed. The most interesting new sources are the occasional diaries of Frances Chesterton and correspondence from Chesterton to Hilaire Belloc. In addition, Ker provides succinct synopses of all Chesterton’s major books and some minor ones, too. Though he says he is not going to go into Chesterton’s journalism, he still manages to go into it quite a bit. The resulting combination will make this a standard work of reference for years to come. It is the most comprehensive biography of Chesterton ever .written. It will not satisfy everyone. Actually, it will not satisfy anyone. No book on Chesterton ever will. Even those who are pleased by the book will still want more. Fortunately, there is more. The rediscovery of Chesterton is just beginning, in spite of those who think they can easily dismiss him. Chesterton is saying to the critics, as he said to Shaw: 'You have just jumped into this deep river to prove that it was shallow.'"

September 12, 2011

2001 Coverage of 9/11

So I couldn't tear myself away from the uninterrupted 9/11 replay of the Today Show coverage from ten years ago. It was something I'd always wanted to see because I was at work at that time and so wasn't able to follow the events in real time. I always wondered how the anchors and television personalities handled it, and the team of Matt Lauer, Katie Couric and Tom Brokaw did an exceptional job. Many of their insights have stood the test of time. Brokaw understood this was an act of war unparalleled for a century, and that we would now be potentially giving up some of our freedoms, that this would be a changed country.

I was also relieved that neither me nor the anchors saw people jumping out of the buildings. That's something I really didn't want to see.

Couric, who only once looked a bit choked up, emphasized the human cost while Brokaw seemed fixated, at times, by things like air travel being suspended and the effect of our liberties being henceforth circumscribed.

Watching the coverage it's easy to remember the tragedy of it, but another way to view it was how many more lives could've been lost. I remember doing the math at the time, having heard there were about 20,000 or more in the towers likely at the time. I figured about half might be dead, for 10,000 total. So another way to see it was as a success as far as evacuating people - thank God for the fast and efficient elevators and the first responders who helped - such that about 75-80% people in the towers that day were saved. Fortunately the towers at the time were only about half-filled. The dividing line of life or death turned out to be the floors the plane hit: if you were above the floors of impact you likely didn't survive, if you were below you did. And fortunately the planes struck the higher floors, though that is no comfort to the thousands who did lose their lives that day.

Omeros by Derek Walcutt

It's amazing someone could write a whole book with this sort of lyricism:
"O-meros," she laughed. "That's what we call him in Greek,"
stroking the small bust with its boxer's broken nose,
and I thought of Seven Seas sitting near the reek

of drying fishnets, listening to the shallow's noise.
I said "Homer and Virg are New England farmers,
and the winged horse guards their gas-station, you're right."

I felt the foam head watching as I stroked an arm, as
cold as its marble, then the shoulders in winter light
in the studio attic. I said, 'Omeros,"

and O was the conch-shell's invocation, mer was
both mother and sea in our Antillean patois,
os, a grey bone, and the white surf as it crashes

and spreads its sibiliant collar on a lace shore.
Omeros was the crunch of dry leaves, and the washes
that echoed from a cave-mouth when the tide has ebbed.

The name stayed in my mouth. I saw how light was webbed
on her Asian cheeks, defined her eyes with a black
almond's outline, as Antigone turned and said:

"I'm tired of America, it's time for me to go back
to Greece. I miss my islands," I write, it returns--
the way she turned and shook out the black gust of hair.

I saw how the surf printed its lace in patterns
on the shore of her neck, then the lowering shallows
of silk swirled at her ankles, like surf without noise,
and felt that another cold bust, not hers, but yours
saw this with stone almonds for eyes, its broken nose
turning away, as the rustling silk agrees.

But if it could read between the lines of her floor
like a white-hot deck uncaulked by Antillean heat,
to the shadows in its hold, its nostrils might flare..


She lay calm as a port, and a cloud covered her
with my shadow; then a prow with painted eyes
slowly emerged from the fragrant rain of black hair.

And I heard a hollow moan exhaled from a vase,
not for kings floundering in lances of rain; the prose
of abrupt fishermen cursing over canoes.

Return to Goose Poop Island

    "Staycation's all I ever wanted..." - bastardized GoGos tune

Saturday's expanse lay before me like a warm embrace. I listened to Fr. Larry on the radio speak about the theological virtues while engaging in McDonald's breakfast gluttony. Feeling uncomfortably full afterward, I headed out with Buddy for a hike at the local park. There the trees opened up to me and I walked the corridor of the forest's edge, taking in every sampling of tree and bush leaf. How gladdened I was by the dark green of the oak, the "king of trees", but seemingly fragile in its early stages when competing with the onslaught of fast-growing bushes and maples. I saw too the extravagant leaves of the beech, looking almost tropical in her curvaceous large lobes. I walked for almost an hour, not wanting to leave this paradise and planning a return trip later in the week to sit by the cattails and read, sans dog, just doing my own kind of fishing on the pond bank.

Back home Steph got back from aerobics and we headed out on a short bike trip to the local 9/11 memorial, where I snapped pictures alongside a professional from the Dispatch; I eagerly checked the paper the next morning to see which picture he chose and how it was composed. From the angle it appeared he'd simply squatted low to the ground (a favorite photographer's trick since the amateur always seems too lazy to squat for a picture) and to slightly tilt his camera for a 45-degree effect. It seemed gimmicky yet it worked; I liked his picture better than mine. Oh and another tip a different professional told me: always have a human in a picture. People add interest.

It happened that the annual street festival was happening so we walked down a crowded Main street, encountering first a Chinese lady trying to get us to go to a Chinese dance production downtown next month. We had trouble understanding her but that lent authenticity to the whole deal. She wouldn't let us go, and showed us pictures of celebrities who'd gone, appealing to the American need for the imprimatur of the famous. "Do you want to go?" asked Steph and I said, "Yes, we should study our new masters."

One children's violin choir later, we sat and listened to a blue-grass ensemble as the sun fell pleasantly upon our arms.


Fast forward to today. Waking up when it's still dark and expecting a great, sunny day feels like an act of faith, like planting a tiny seed and expecting to gather fruits. Fine sunny days occur most often when the light is strong at 7am, not when it's nearly pitch-black. But I have it on the weather authority that today will be bright and sunny and without rain which is ideal timing for the beginning of my week off.

After a dutiful two-mile slog through the streets of suburbia, I threw the kayak in the trunk and headed off to the nearest lake system. I was bent on scratching my itch for the natural, to float by the cattails and katydids, to look at water for awhile like the fisherman do. A quick check of the weather revealed only Monday and Tuesday of this week as extant, alluvial veins of undiluted summer while the rest of the week temperatures are purportedly to be ten degrees cooler. So I let no moss grow under my feet.

I put the boat in the water and provided the motor and soon I was transfixed by a rare bird of unknown heritage, with bright yellow legs and feet and looking like a small heron of some sort. I let the kayak drift towards him and noiselessly approached before he flew away. Then I headed out on the open lake, gazing at that distant shore horizon, pretending I was William F. Buckley sailing his craft towards Tonga. A large flock of birds were sighted flying way overhead in a southwesterly direction and I envied them their mobility and weather smarts.

Over the lake and under a bridge I went, finding a "dog beach" dead ahead, a place where canine owners throw balls into the water with the hope of them being retrieved. On this golden day there was a golden retriever and a black lab and three of the two-legged sort.

I headed out to unpopulated climes, towards the elusive island in the middle of the lake. With a minute of rowing I arrived at that marvelous solitude, all rocky and sandy on the western side but on top dressed with all manner of ingeniously hardy small trees and weeds and bush-like plants. At one time it was all sand and rocks but nature in her effort to leave nothing wasted, somehow managed a toehold on this unpromising real estate. The whole island is the size of a regular-sized room raised on a platform some fifteen feet high. And all that sand and rock was turned into arable soil over time, from the decay of the weeds that could live in sand, through, perhaps manure of birds, through I don't know what. All I know is once there was sand and rocks and now there is a foot or so of soil, a soil good enough to support a small ecosystem.

I'd remembered this uncharted island before in my travels but I didn't remember the black poop all along the shore-line, the familiar refuse of Canadian geese. It lent an unpleasant smell to the festivities and made climbing to the top of the island unpalatable, so I docked my ship and watched the water for awhile.

Then, renewed in energy, I rowed back towards Dog Beach, the prow of the kayak gathering in the glinting sun-diamonds along the water's surface. I rowed with rhythm and with a gentle rocking east and west that lent the effort not the least bit disagreeable. I trolled momentarily along the banks and took in the yellow wildflowers before heaving-ho back to the car and civilization.

Friday Musings

Read much of the genteel "Pleasures of Reading in a Distracted Age" tonight. Talk about a singeing remark! The slothful dons of 18th century have nothing on me - they look like ambitious cusses compared to me. That was a bit disconcerting but, on the other hand, one always likes to read about oneself, even if unflattering. The author, Alan Jacobs, emphasizes re-reading, saying that he constantly monitors when he's ready to re-read an old favorite, being careful not to re-read too frequently since there's the law of diminishing returns to reckon with. It reminds me of the pleasure I get from Chesterton and how much I enjoyed the re-read of Orthodoxy. Who knew that I would like a book titled "Orthodoxy" more when I was 47 than when I was 37 and freshly converted? Chesterton is one whose prodigious output makes one feel one always has something new to read. Shakespeare's like that too; you read his whole oeuvre and then you can start over with new eyes. Mental note: read some Chesterton on this vacation! It seems crazy to have to REMEMBER to read one of your favorite authors, but such it seems. I am free as a bird for five days, as free as I ever get, and I hope I make good use of it. Also want to read some Pat Conroy and dream I'm at the beach, sucking down liquor and squashing sand on my soles. Oh sweet liberty, may I read, read like the wind! Cite me for textual inebriation this week.


Heard some wonderful jazz songs of Champian Fulton (there's a name for ya). She has an amazingly unique and goose bump-y voice, the type that could sing "Happy Birthday" and you'd sit there entranced. I also got the latest Brad Paisley album because I have every Brad Paisley album and even though he's starting to sound repetitive to me, I have trouble passing up one of my favorite all-time artist's work. John Anderson's "Seminole Wind" is playing in my earbuds now and the only song more autumnal is "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald". You'd think I'd want to stiff-arm Seminole, but I don't, I embrace it and turn up the volume. The season is *new*, and there's something exciting about any new season like any new song or book or movie. The desire to be current sometimes outweighs the desire to be where you'd rather be. Or perhaps, deep down, I really do like autumn. It's a season with a sense of urgency about it.

My bibleolatry seems a bit tamed of late by continued readings from Second Chronicles. Not all Bible books are created equal, it would seem to me, and yet I want to treat the whole Bible the same: as if 2nd Chron were the equal of the Psalms. I tend to want to resist a hierarchization of the Bible despite the fact that I'm fine with the Church doing it - she does it by choosing our daily readings. She decides, in her wisdom, which parts of the Bible are most important. And that's as it should be. It's 72 different books, not one book. God is not a one-size fits all God. He's not likely to speak to me as clearly in 2nd Kings as in Colossians.

September 10, 2011

September 08, 2011

Gleanings from the RSS Reader

Since finding a new and different interface with which to enjoy Google Reader, I've been savoring a fountain froth of posts and feeds. I bring the iPad to work and it sits quietly, scarcely breathing, far from its natural habitat and sluggish as a reptile in winter. It can only be a receptacle for my thoughts at work while at home it becomes enlivened by the grace of wi/fi, much as the Warren Beatty character in Heaven Can Wait suddenly jumped up when a new soul came to live in him...

Here are a few tidbits:
Despite the hardship, some refugees have found a creative outlet for their anguish. This man has learned to paint under the guidance of other artistic refugees.

After Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled in Iraq in 2003, groups of refugees who had lived in the country for many years tried to leave the chaos and lawlessness that soon ensued. Hundreds of people started fleeing to the border with Jordan, including Palestinians in Baghdad and Iranian Kurds from the Al Tash refugee camp in central Iraq.

Aside from a few Palestinians with family connections inside the neighbouring country, the refugees were refused entry and free movement in Jordan. Thousands were soon stranded in the no-man's land between Iraq and Jordan or at the desert camp of Ruweished, located 60 kilometres inside Jordan.

Since 2003, Palestinians, Iranian Kurds, Iranians, Sudanese and Somalis have been living there and suffering the scorching heat and freezing winters of the Jordanian desert. UNHCR and its partners have provided housing and assistance and tried to find solutions – the agency has helped resettle more than 1,000 people in third countries. At the beginning of 2007, a total of 119 people – mostly Palestinians – remained in Ruweished camp without any immediate solution in sight.

The camp was closed on November 5th 2007, date where the last family resettled in a third country.

From a Darwin Catholic post:
While I appreciate the argument regarding the dignity of work, it seems to me that the ELR idea is actually a false solution to the problem. The dignity of work, it seems to me, stems from doing work which actually provides value either to you or to others. I don't think that doing make-work in return for a guaranteed income will provide a sense of dignity to the worker -- and indeed, it may serve to destroy his sense that working has dignity in the longer term, leading to a "they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work" attitude that will be carried through into "real" jobs later on, making it harder for him to provide for himself and find satisfaction in his work.
It's interesting to see the value of work less as what the worker himself sees as its value, but the value someone is willing to pay for it. The latter can vary from the former; a sanitation engineer arguably has a more important job than a football star but the value people place on their respective professions is startlingly different in terms of pay.


This picture of the twenty-six martyrs of Japan is eerie; it's so strange to see such a multiplication of crosses:


Origin on Scripture from Frederick at Late Papers:
"The more we read on, the higher rises the mountain of mysteries. And as someone who sets out to sea in a small boat is less afraid as long as the land is near, but when he has gradually moved out into the deep and the waves get bigger, and he begins to be tossed up on the crests and plunged down into the troughs, then indeed is he seized with fear and terror for entrusting such a slender craft to such great waves; the same seems to happen to us who, with little merit and slight talent, dare to enter into so vast a sea of mysteries.... For everything that happens happens in mysteries" (Origen: Spirit and Fire, 90).

Msgr. Charles Pope on the difference between seeking healing versus seeking relief.


Mark Hart the Bible Geek: "The joy of 'knowing Christ' is less about us knowing Him as it is realizing (and rejoicing) that He knows, loves and saves us." (Lk 10:20-21)


Laziness and busy-ness:

John Steinbeck and Edward F. Ricketts, Sea of Cortez: A Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research (1941; rpt. New York: Penguin Books, 2009), pp. 182-183:

For in some beastly way this fine laziness has got itself a bad name. It is easy to see how it might have come into disrepute, if the result of laziness were hunger. But it rarely is. Hunger makes laziness impossible. It has even become sinful to be lazy. We wonder why. One could argue, particularly if one had a gift for laziness, that it is a relaxation pregnant of activity, a sense of rest from which directed effort may arise, whereas most busy-ness is merely a kind of nervous tic.


How can such a process have become a shame and a sin? Only in laziness can one achieve a state of contemplation which is a balancing of values, a weighing of oneself against the world and the world against itself. A busy man cannot find the time for such balancing. We do not think a lazy man can commit murders, nor great thefts, nor lead a mob. He would be more likely to think about it and laugh. And a nation of lazy contemplative men would be incapable of fighting a war unless their very laziness were attacked. Wars are the activities of busy-ness.

Post-Blogging the Debate

Sen. Schumer of New York shakes his head on MSNBC's Morning Joe this morning and laments, as he often will when Republicans have any power at all, about the sad state of partisanship in the Congress. Democrats like their Republicans to be neutered and tutored.

Leaving that aside, Congress has only Congress to blame for greater partisanship given that they are the ones who gerrymandered uber-safe districts that produce candidates fearful of primary challenges, which thereby produces uncompromising politicians. And yet Schumer acts like it's a greater mystery than the Trinity as to how there could be such a divide in Congress. Sheesh Louise.

I likely sound almost as cranky as Jonah Goldberg, who can't get over how dumb MSNBC was for putting up a post-debate panel composed of apparatchiks. It's simple: MSNBC is choosing agenda over money and popularity and the correct response on the part of America is to refuse to watch the panel. I watched ten seconds of Chris Matthews before doing the right thing and turning off the television.

I thought the debate itself was engaging and somewhat helpful despite the best efforts of the moderators, including their farce of having someone with a Hispanic surname from Telemundo swoop in to ask a question about illegal immigration in a risible attempt to manipulate Republicans into tempering the rhetoric. (What's next, a death row inmate to ask questions about the death penalty?) The poor Telemundo guy was treated like a prop by MSNBC and ushered off the stage faster than a bad contestant on The Gong Show.

Perry's take on Social Security was refreshingly honest. As The Economist's live-bloggers wrote: "Social security is a ponzi scheme. Isn't the definition of a ponzi scheme that it relies on new members to keep paying out the sums promised to existing ones? Isn't that what social security does?... Perry should quote Paul Samuelson noting that Social Security is actuarially unsound and that 'A growing nation is the greatest Ponzi scheme ever contrived...'"

And Perry's unwillingness to obliterate the economy at the behest of the scientific community receives a warm welcome with me. With the global warming controversy, cooler heads have prevailed.

Other candidates who stood out were Cain and Huntsman, the latter whom I instinctively disliked simply because the MSM likes him but who did a credible job. I don't know enough about his positions (read: zero) though. I loved Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan.

In the end though I'm leaning Romney. Perry may be plain-spoken but ultimately from what I've seen so far I don't think he can win in November of '12.

September 07, 2011

Mass in Wartime

Found here.

Top 5 Bibles of the Blogger at Catholic Bibles

Interesting to read his eclectic take. I think it's cool he bridges the "Catholic left" and "Catholic right" in his list.

Speaking of the Bible, Maureen at Aliens in this World mentions St. Gregory's views:
St. Greg’s Homily 6 on Ezekiel talks a lot about how to read Scripture, because the topic of “the book written on, inside and outside” comes up. (From Ezekiel 4:9 and Revelation 5:1.) Since it’s pretty commonly seen as representing the Bible itself (among other things), it’s a handy time for St. Greg to bring up his thoughts.

St. Greg also sees the Bible being read in different ways: according to the letter by newbies, close reading by “vigilant” people (though still of literal points), and more spiritually and allegorically by more spiritually and Biblically experienced people. (The moral points are pretty much figured out by everybody, although more experienced people will understand these things better.) Literal meanings are “written on the outside”, and spiritual meanings bring you further and further “inside” the book.
I wonder if there might be two different varieties of "Bible alone Christians". One of the more fundamentalist variety and the other more of the skeptical kind. One holds all Scripture in great reverence and thus inadvertently attests to the validity of the Church, since most of the documents of the NT are not from eye-witnesses. These folks generally ignore the church that follows after the canon was finished due to supposed corruption of the true faith. Others trust the gospels over the church for historical, not religious reasons, since those documents are eye-witness accounts of Christ. Looked at this way, one can see why historical criticism is the be all and end all for some, since they try to base their faith not on Faith but on science, to the extent historical research can be called a science.

September 06, 2011

The Joy of Microfinance

Email from
We wanted to pass you a really neat video that shows the impact of Kiva over the years. A couple of our engineers mapped the flows of money between Kiva lenders and borrowers for the past 5+ years, and made a really slick video. Check it out here

Cleveland Oktoberfest Graphic

Liked this Cleveland Oktoberfest graphic, especially of the beer/torch-bearer!

Excerpts from "The Bad Catholic Guide"

The guy is hilarious:
"Call me a Chesterton-style Catholic. And yes, I have no Bernanos."


"[If not for the Fall], man's world would have been a vast but pious nudist colony that didn't make you cringe, look away, and wish for 'quality control'."


"One might start by violently truncating a single range of activities - by getting rid of your iPad and Blackberry, for instance, and insisting on some time during the day when you are both silent and unreachable. Use that time for some idiot-simple repetitive prayer, like the Rosary or Divine Mercy chaplet. It might seem useless at first, but it surely can't do any harm. (Indeed, we have assurance in forms of dozens of creepy, wonder-working apparitions that such prayer makes a huge difference in the the world, but never mind that for now.)


"[Historically], the mass of people lived in sparsely functional homes but lavished their extra wealth on decorating their places of worship. In the 1970s, we threw this engine in reverse. We focused on making our homes into comfy, high-tech palaces, while churches were stripped of ornament, thrown together out of cheap concrete and decorated with chintzy abstract windows, crappy banners, and Ficus trees."


"I don't think I'm lapsing into Gnosticism when I say that, for much of mankind, sexuality is less like a big, shiny present left for us by a loving Father than a dose of poison ivy that lasts for decades - which it's a mortal sin to scratch."

Oy vey...

Complaining while living in a first world nation is unseemly, to say the least, so if you're easily "seemed" please skip this post.

Nobody is as dependent on their company's cafeteria as yours truly and I've been lucky to have it. The vendor provides breakfast, lunch and dinner five days a week, give or take, depending on holidays. The breakfast and lunches are for me, the dinners for both me and my wife. Retirement will mean cutting off our main food supply.

Change is inevitable and there's always an itch for change from corporate leaders since if they point to the status quo, they're not beefing up their résumé. It's pretty hard to say, if you're in charge of the cafeteria, "our cafeteria has good food at decent prices and with minimal waits in lines." If you say that every year at your annual evaluation they'll think you're not really trying. Got to snazz it up. Think along the lines, "we now offer multi-cultural food with right-sized portions for the differently-appetited with long lines that testify to the appeal of the food."

So as you may be able to surmise there's a new sheriff in Cafeteria Town. The old vendor was unceremoniously dumped after decades of service. The new vendor - which mainly provides food for grade schools, hospitals and the otherwise incarcerated - was cheaper, and has gone overboard with the multi-cultural, politically correct, smaller portion-sized food choices (they call it 'right-sized', which always means 'smaller than normal but with the same price'). The new cafe menu looks like the buffet at a United Nations convention of anorexics. And if I wanted "Middle East platters" I'd move to the Arab Emirates.


Oh the indignity! Had to break out a sweatshirt yesterday for outdoor wear, even at 1, 2, 3pm in the afternoon. A sullen 64 degrees with a 16 mph wind and the sun in her hidey-hole made the day scarcely fit for men or beasts spoiled by a warmer climate. Tis only September 5th, but that shows the variability of early September: one day it's 97 and you're clamoring to get indoors, the next it's 64 and windy and you're clamoring to get indoors. This is the second straight "off" day, since Sunday was rainy and less than clement. With July and August, it's hard to find consecutive poor weather days, unless you count too hot which, of course, I don't. I can scarcely hide my covetousness towards Heather King's southern CA clime.

There's no fooling Mother Nature and she knows what time it is: 7am and the days of the swift hinds of summer seem astonishingly past. It's 7am: do you know where your sun is? The earth's axis has tilted and it's dark and gloomy and the temperature an intemperate 54 degrees. There's no possibility, already, of that civilized routine I so cherished in July and August, that of coffee and books out on the well-lit front porch. Labor Day is well-positioned indeed as the unofficial "end of summer".

I am full of half-remembered dreams from the night spent cozily in the cool sheets of autumn. They, the dreams, always seem so important at the time. Yesterday caution was thrown to the wind and I had four beers, a goodly and generous number, from the hills of the Columbus IPA to the plains of a pumpkin ale.

In my quest for the perfect study bible, I looked up Col 2:1 since it mentioned Laodicea, a town I have a keen interest in because they were famously lukewarm and I'm lukewarm as well. (I was hoping for some kind words from some source.) Surprisingly, the printed Bibles didn't offer anything, but the online ones did. The Ignatius had a rather innocuous comment if a bit of master-of-the-obvious (along the lines of "Laodicea was a nearby city"). The NABRE was what I was looking for, since it gave all references (linked!) to Laodicea along with a more precise rendering of where Laodicea was. Strictly speaking, this NABRE isn't even a study bible; it merely has notes, but strenuous notes they are. I can only imagine how rich the Little Rock Study Bible and the NABRE Study Bible are. I appreciate a printed study bible more than a e-Bible, but I have to say that convenience is helpful and e-book Bibles are the cat's meow in terms of convenience.


I feel a second wind with Monday's day off, a regeneration and renewal, a resumption of energy. It was made concrete by the impress of small improvements made around the house: the freshly framed "Dusk at Lake Michigan" from the art show, the clean bathroom sink (when a child, I thought it 'zink', which somehow seems more fitting), the reasonably tidy book room.

September 05, 2011

Photos Monday

Dog's eye, followed by pictures of a oicture on cover of a book.


Reading a biased account of the King James version (the Douay Rheims doesn't even get a mention, which seems odd). The Catholic church is definitely painted in negative terms in this one and I cringe for non-Catholic readers encountering the book.

But it's interesting and lively and Emily Dickinson, a figure of interest to me, is profiled. "She penned poems that were poignantly frustrated with promises in the Bible she no longer seemed to feel. The judgment of Scripture and absence of God became two of her persistent themes...[she wrote] 'Had but the Tale a warbling Teller-- / All the boys would come--/ Orpheus' Sermon captivated --- / it did not condemn--'". Dickinson could sure have used St. Therese and her "love lens" through which the saint viewed the Gospels! Dickinson and St. Therese seem to have come from environments not conducive to seeing God's love: Dickinson from the hard double-predestination Calvinism and St. Therese from the Jansenist age. But how different their responses!

Dickinson wrote tenderly of Christ, but not God the Father. She wrote that the "crucifixion requires no gloves", meaning we can approach and touch the God who died on the cross. Dickinson was attracted mostly to the Book of Revelation which is certainly a judgmental book; you would think given her longing for a less moralizing religion she would concentrate elsewhere.

September 01, 2011

Interesting Link...

...on the New American Bible Revised Edition here.

OSU Library Tour

On the walk there, "free smells"

The main reading room

Room with a view

The 11th floor "aerie"

Even the floors have words!

Main reading room redux

Pretty books

National Review review of McCullough's "The Greater Journey"

As a friend wrote, "Just goes to show you: God can save us from ourselves by any means He chooses!"
But McCullough saves the place of honor, the grand finale, for Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The preeminent American sculptor of the late 19th century, Saint-Gaudens was known for his Civil War monuments, and in the 1890s, New York City commissioned him to cast an equestrian statue of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman for the entrance of Central Park at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 59th Street.


Just as his artistic success reached its apex, his health collapsed. His wife left for the U.S., depriving him of his emotional ballast, and a tumor conquered his lower intestine. One day, he succumbed to depression and “decided that I would end it all.” He ran to the Seine, mounted a bridge, and was about to end his life when “I saw the Louvre in the bright sunlight and suddenly everything was beautiful to me.” He believed, concludes McCullough, that it was Paris itself that had saved him.

At that moment, Saint-Gaudens realized Paris’s true power, which Harriet Beecher Stowe had described several decades earlier: “One in whom this [sense of beauty] had long been repressed, in coming into Paris, feels a rustling and a waking within him, as if the soul were crying to unfold her wings.” A fuller sense of beauty was Paris’s gift to these young people, a gift they bequeathed to future generations of Americans.

Through all of these stories, McCullough reminds us that these Americans didn’t love their country merely because it was their own, but because it was lovely — and they wished to add to its beauty. By rescuing their stories from oblivion and telling them in his luminous prose, he adds to the luster of history, a field in which, these days, a sense of beauty is sorely lacking. McCullough succeeds because he sees the greater significance of his work, and the care with which he writes reveals that greater purpose. He tells these stories so as to inspire the current generation of Americans to the pursuit of excellence: a virtue McCullough’s work both encourages and exemplifies.