January 28, 2014

Quick Takes

...as begun by Jen of Conversion Diary:

So there's this husband of my wife's friend, Randy, with whom I went to NYC a few years back (the four of us). He lives in Kentucky and is of the liberal political persuasion but talks mostly about sports, mainly collegiate, and mostly University of Kentucky. On Facebook he's generally quiet as a titmouse, only once every six months posting a picture of his kid, or praising his mom (on the anniversary of her death) or opining on some UK basketball game. So you can imagine how surprised that he posted an article about Cardinal Sean in Boston, a picture and account of the prelate apparently being anointed by a female Protestant minister.

For me it was a non-story, in the sense that I was neither outraged by the Cardinal participating in it, nor was I particularly pleased by it. Maybe deep down I viewed it as just another indication of our current desperation, of how our church is humbling itself to try to win friends. You can argue that this is in imitation of Christ, who humbled himself for us, or you can argue that we're losing respect for our own tradition or losing the certainty of truth.

So I'm not particularly interested in Cardinal Sean's doings but I am amazed that Randy would be interested in this because he's a Protestant who seems to show no particular interest in religion. I think it's sort of related to Pope Francis's popularity too. I hope to ask Randy soon why he posted it and what he's thinking. Perhaps it's as simple as the photo of Cardinal Sean being anointed by a woman minister is such a "man bites dog" story, a "Ripley's Believe It or Not!". And I'm not sure if he approves because he's Protestant and thus can identify with the lady, or disapproves because he's a Protestant who doesn't believe in women pastors. Any way you slice it I'm really surprised a Kentucky Protestant would post a link of a top Boston prelate given the disparity of cult and geographical area.


From Morning Prayer's Ps 117 I read "The Lord is at my side; I do not fear" and thought immediately at how that was *literally* true for Dismas, the good thief.  The Lord was at his side, dying on the cross next to him, and I thought about how for Dismas The Lord being at his side did not preclude his suffering from crucifixion and pain but that he could still be chipper about it, saying that what he was dying of he deserved.  (No wonder he's St. Dismas.)


This just in: it's cold!

I tend to use evolution as a crutch, as if we're not called to overcome whatever impediments are in our way. I see this even in the weather - I think, “man, this is not what I'm naturally inclined to take. It's 49 in Galway, Ireland now. That's what I've been conditioned to.”
I lust not for flesh but books, for whisper-quiet libraries and genteel Sunnybrook days for patio-sittings --- oh how I long for a return to the Yard, that Eden, to campfires fed by booze and Zane Grey novels.

I miss Pope Benedict, his gently understated and undemanding ways, his scholarly bent and introversion, his way of not applying guilt.  Pope Francis so different and yet so needed!  The Church is not "I" but "we" and how much do we thirst for the yang of Francis after the yin of Benedict. Benedict taught us to look to Christ and now, as naturally as day follows night, Francis teaches us to look to Christ in our neighbor.  As Amy Welborn wrote the other day, "the primary way that I, as an individual, encounter the Holy Spirit is through the prayer, works of mercy....".**


The Drudge Report reads almost like a parody given its constant parade of doom, doom, and more doom. Read a bit of Chesterton as a redress to hopelessness. He is such a prophet of hope, responding here to Yeats's cry that we leave this sad world and escape into myths and faeries:
"The world is hot and cruel,
We are weary of heart and hand
But the world is more full of glory
Than you can understand."


Rod Dreher's never been my favorite columnist; he just tends to rub me the wrong way for whatever reason. I still come across his work via the American Conservative, a publication I started reading for the insights of Alan Jacobs, who seems to have a very small footprint of late. 

Anyway, Dreher wrote a piece arguing for less sympathy towards those in Hell and the Hell-bound, buttressing it with the "scriptural" account known as Dante's Inferno.  The piece annoyed me for this whole adulatory practice of raising Dante to the word of God (Dreher going so far as to say "tolle lege" at the end, a reference to Augustine's inspiration to read the real Bible).  It amazes me how many Christians seem to take Dante's masterpiece as non-fictional. (Although I'm certainly not above putting my pet writer in the pantheon of inspired scripture: certainly I see in Shakespeare a kind of otherworldly wisdom.)

Anyway, last time I checked the Divine Comedy wasn't part of the Bible and that Dante wasn't canonized.  Set rant off.


Oh Mahler! The ale for what cures me!  Mahler's 6th has winds to lift me from the quotidian on this day, my mind bone-wearied by too much information running through my brain. I sprinted to the finish, I did, sacking Rome and dredging the canal of work right up till quittin' time.  Drove me crazy trying to tie up the never-ending loose ends of SQL, such a demanding fiend!


Spent some time enjoying the ever-rich river of  Logos Bible software, centered this time on St. Paul's assertion in 2 Cor 5:13:

For if we are out of our minds, it is for God; if we are rational, it is for you.
Or, from the NJB:
If we have been unreasonable, it was for God; if reasonable, for you.
Very different interpretations given: some say it means that Paul is referring to ecstatic experiences that scared off some would-be converts, others think he's referring to stern corrections and hard discipline!


* * (full context): "When we reflect on how the Holy Spirit acts in our lives, I think we should be wary of an overly individualistic take.  The way I have come to understand it is that the Spirit was poured out on the Church – the Church as a whole  – and that the primary way that I, as an individual, encounter the Holy Spirit is through the prayer, works of mercy and big T Tradition of that Church."


Kevin Hammer said...

Unrelated, but some fiction you might enjoy:

TS said...

Thanks for the tip!