November 13, 2013


Spectacular sunset on the way home from work today: massive, muscular clouds surrounding streaming chords of color. Just the briefest of glimpses possible since I was driving, but it felt important to acknowledge it. As an Irish poem goes, “We wish to a new child / a heart that can be beguiled by a flower.”


Bought my mom The Message: Catholic Ecumenical Version since she's ever confused by St. Paul's letters and I'm thinking that will help, even though it's a paraphrase and thus understandably frowned upon. It's amazing how the same verse, with the same meaning, can feel so different depending on how colloquial or formal the translation. It's all English and yet The Message sometimes makes me laugh, inappropriately, due to the informal language. Knox never does that. What I cannot know is how formal/informal the language sounded to the original listeners in the Greek or Hebrew. Of course languages change so fast that I suspect that for most of the past couple thousand years the language of the Bible has sounded slightly archaic and once it sounds fetchingly “other” and stylistically formal then it's hard to go back. Witness the KJV phenomenon.


Interesting comment on the Catholic Bibles blog:
Do you think these 'themed' Bibles (like the “Social Justice Bible”) are really a good idea? It would certainly seem to question regard for the integrity of the text. It smacks a little of the 'medicine chest' approach of Gideons - go to page 80 if you're depressed etc. Coming from a Benedictine background I would certainly consider this approach as contrary to 'lectio'.


There have been a lot news stories about the impending fiftieth anniversary of the JFK assassination and it's easy to see the killing as an unprovoked, senseless tragedy and wonder about what might have been had it not happened, especially in regards to Vietnam. One gets the feeling that if the motorcade had simply gone another way through Dallas bloodshed would've been avoided. But I'm not so sure.

Was the assassination unprovoked? Kennedy was reportedly bent on killing Fidel Castro. According to one book on the subject, this reckless foreign policy made the assassination appear likely.  Certainly there would have been a lot of motivation for our leaders afterward to have tried to minimize Oswald's ties to Cuba and Russia as a face-saving measure, since they knew we couldn't risk a showdown with Cuba and thus the Soviet Union.

The phrase “lives by the sword, dies by the sword” came to mind and so I googled that with Kennedy's name and there's actually a book by that title with exactly that scenario, that Kennedy would've been killed by somebody sooner or later given all his (or the CIAs) persistent (and botched) attempts to kill Castro.

Certainly the whole U.S. practice of knocking off heads of state fell into disfavor immediately after the Kennedy assassination. Which is telling.  There's the sense that we learned our lesson and even forty-some years later we refused to kill Saddam Hussein except in the context of a formally announced war.

It kind of makes the Kennedy myth less “romantic” given this feud with a leader of another country. Could the killing have been the rational act of a leader (Castro) who was trying to protect himself?

Patriarch Joe Kennedy Sr. repeatedly told the young John Kennedy: “Can't you get it into your head that it's not important what you really are? The only important thing is what people think you are?” In that way Joe got his way. People think of JFK as a martyr whose death was as senseless as the sneak attack at Pearl Harbor.


I was too young to remember the assassination, but my wife remembers it, even at two weeks shy of four years old. Says it might be her earliest memory. She was coming in from playing and saw her mom crying and, at the time, couldn't understand why she was crying about someone on tv. But she knew it was big.

I checked the weather records database for 11/22/63 in Columbus: high of 68. Clement weather for playing outdoors.  


I feel that familiar post-baseball season malaise, a type of missing limb syndrome caused by the abrupt and final loss of that daily rhythm. The pure dailiness of baseball, with its scores and soap opera turns, is something I miss during the five long months without it. Other sports are sporadically interesting and frequently sporadic: pro basketball is the closest thing I suppose given the near dailiness of play but it's never been the same since LeBron left Cleveland. That was what drew me to pro basketball: the spectacle of a basketball genius available to be seen every day or three (since I'm in the Cleveland FoxSports television market). It's pretty hard to get used to Kenny G once you've heard Mozart.


Read more of the sobering Thomas Peters story. A saint in the making, and his wife of six months as well. I was struck dumb by how a priest said Peters' ministry was actually more effective now, to the extent Peters offers his suffers up.

Anyway, the Peters post was a useful reminder of how difficult some people have it and how easy I do. Today I was thinking about the Psalm that goes, very roughly, “I do not think about what is too deep for me, that which is beyond me.” In the past I've considered that meaning in my life to not try to imagine how the Trinity works, or how many will be saved, etc… But perhaps it could also mean I will not try to trod the paths of those who have experienced much greater pain than me, who have been asked to carry heavier crosses. Perhaps the “depth” that the Psalmist speaks can be thought of not only as the mysteries of God but the great mystery of suffering.


Tis the season: from First Things blog (Maureen M.):
Cajoling the dead is a pragmatic measure, pre-Christian counterpoint to a religious shudder. Yet it is not without a certain tenderness. It suffers an understanding that living and dead are bound together in defiance of extermination.
Christian trust in the communion of saints is a stream fed by more than one spring.


Kevin Hammer said...

An odd item I saw in JFK coverage, Lee Harvey Oswald gave a talk to Jesuit seminarians in Mobile in July '63. (He had a cousin in the seminary.)

TS said...


William Luse said...

Great picture of the sunset.

When your wife was four years old, I was sitting in a high school classroom, so I remember the events of that day quite well. I point this out so that you guys can feel young again.

The Peters story is one of those that's hard to comprehend. You know, the old "why bad things happen to good people" problem.

That Maureen M. is pretty good (I recently discovered. Haven't read her much.) She had a piece paying tribute to a particular quality of Newman's, and it seemed quite perceptive to me.

TS said...

Yes I just recently discovred Maureen M. as well, and she's impressie. I haven't seen that Newman piece but she writes a lot about art.

Oh so true about the Peters tragedy.