April 27, 2010

"I Was in Prayer in the City of Pittsburgh"

In the first reading from Acts the other day, I was struck by the line in Acts about how Peter said, "I was in prayer in the city of Joppa" and I suddenly wondered where Joppa is and wanted to connect it to being a "real" city in the same way Pittsburgh is a real city. Too often the obscure towns and cities of ancient Israel make it like reading "Lord of the Rings" with its Middle Earth geography. So I mentally substituted "Pittsburgh" for "Joppa" in the reading. I doubt St. Peter would mind.

April 26, 2010

Just Sayin'

Officially on vacation, which I'm celebrating with a Taddy Porter and a Sierra Pale, in that order. I'm ensconced in the bookroom listening to an '80s station. "50 thou a year will buy a lot of beer" goes the lyric to the song The Future's So Bright (I Have to Wear Shades) but 50 thou ain't what it used to be. An inflation calculator says that 1985's $50K is 2009's $100K. Never reference money in a song lest you date yourself.

This & That

My subterranean longing for poetry oft gets expressed in non-poetical activities, at least in the literal sense. For example, coffee at the bookshop with the smell of wafting ink and glue and roasted beans, or a hike in the woods with trees like censors carrying the incense of flowery scents. Rarely do I "hit the books" and directly mainline poetic prose or prose-y poetry.
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Took the dog hiking Saturday. I loved the variety of barks of the arboreal kind, some smooth and light-colored, others shaggy and craggy, still others ridged like rivers seen from a height. A favorite was garnished with a ring of green leaves as if a shiny bow on a gift.

The trees seemed to divide themselves into the straight and the crooked, the beautiful and ugly, but then I saw one beautifully straight with a crooked limb that had been incorporated into that marvelous trunk. A metaphor that God can make us, in the end, straight. And that gives hope.

The forest quiet left me thirsting for one of those St. Therese Retreat Center retreats. It's a weekend in which we play as monks, with tiny but clean rooms and thick St. Joseph edition Bibles on the writing tables. April was so busy I missed both retreats, meaning nothing till September now. The prayers at the center are frequent as a pious Islamist's. There's also the smell in the book-lined lecture room and there's the promise of all sessions being optional which means I could always steal away at any point and have the chapel to myself. So much time to think and pray and study the Bible! But I remind myself you can't become a contemplative in 48 hours. "Instant contemplative" is more oxymoronic than "jumbo shrimp". But there's that hope that all the cells of your body will, in that rareified air, be soaked with the Spirit. The times I remember best there are the moments with the ugly green Bible which becomes comely by association with that prayerful atmosphere.
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Prayed part of the Divine Hours in the 10-15 mins before Mass and so "hit the ground running" at Mass instead of feeling numbed-out for the first half. I never know for sure if I'm supposed to like the songs. If they're too schmaltzy I think I'm effeminate for liking them.I know the ice cream Haagen Daaz is okay, but not the Marty Haagen and his friend Daas.  :-)
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Enjoyed some peace and quiet reading National Review which included an interesting review of Roger Scruton's I Drink Therefore I Am by John Derbyshire. There was also a Douthat review of the film Date Night starring Tina Fey and Steve Carrol, and an ambling story by Richard Brookhiser concerning his reading of Proust. Just 3-4 pages but all gold - makes me want to dig up my old NRs and start reading them again. It seems to have fallen by the wayside.

April 23, 2010

Liked this Tea Party Sign...

Diaristic FridayThoughts

Been reading more of "Drink".  It's a history of the world as much as a history of alcohol.  Occasionally eye-opening, it makes the Vikings come alive since to me they were mostly caricatures or stick-figures. They're still caricatures but also now characters; their barbarism was so matter-of-fact barbaric that it's scary.

Also been reading online dispatches from the Butler County Democrat in the year of the great flood. The April 14th, 1913 issue doesn't list my great-grandfather as missing nor dead (it's said he died in the flood).

Elsewhere in the paper: "The people of South A street were the first to be affected by the flood: at 8:30am Tuesday morning the water was creeping up to their first floor in the highest houses. But that was only back water and they thought nothing of it until 9am when the water crowded them so they had to move to the 2nd floors.  At 9:30, things were looking more serious as the river was up on lower South B street.  Still the men on Main Street did not think they'd be affected and that is how many were caught in a trap."

There's Ever a Song Somewhere, My Dear was sung at the burial of the flood victims, a sentimental James Whitcomb Riley poem. Read recently that the sentimental goes with toughness...seems counterintuitive but then 1913 was both a lot tougher and a lot more sentimental than ours.

A Judge Belden spoke and said that "despite the present distress, Hamilton is not dead. We shall build upon the ruins a new and greater city.  When our children and children's children are told about this disaster they will stand in doubting amazement, for we will build a city so great, so beautiful, that the story of the present aspect will seem like a fairy tale."

One of the things that occurred to me was how even things for which we have proof there is a need for faith if we haven't personally experienced it.  I can never quite understand how a strong swimmer could die in a flood, but that is likely a failure of imagination, in being unable to imagine a current so fierce or so unexpected. And I guess that's simply because I've never experienced it even though I've been in heavy ocean surf. About 200 people died in that flood, far more than typically die in a tornado even though the latter seems far more dangerous.  Why is that?  I'm not sure other than wind damage is more common in our neck of the woods than flooding.  And since the building of levees the Miami river looks so calm and imperturbable.

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It's always surprising to me how a long familiar Bible passage will suddenly open up in new depth.  For example, "God's power is most shown in our weakness."  It occurred to me that this is most obviously true in our death, after which we are at our most helpless - far more helpless than when we were infants because as infants we can cry and affect their environment. It is after our death and the end of the world that God's power is made most evident, in our resurrection.  And so this should ideally lessen the fear of death.

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I think that at least 90% of the spiritual life is simply to be willing to cheerfully re-learn the lessons that you thought you'd already learned.

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I've lately been fascinated by Simeon, the one who saw the baby Jesus at the Presentation and saw in this infant the glory of his people Israel.  Simeon had eyes to see so much more.  What looked like just an ordinary baby to others was so thrilling to Simeon that he could call on the Lord to send him home.  Even when Jesus had done nothing - no miracles, no teaching, no impressing the elders at the synagogue - Simeon was thrilled to see Him.   And I thought about how true that is of the Eucharist, how the bread is something that we can easily overlook and yet is our salvation too since in both cases it is Jesus.  We are all Simeons now, should we desire to be so.

April 21, 2010

Could You Read This One Too.

We recently received a "strategy package" from our employer that includes a Personal Objectives worksheet which says we need to deliver "persnalized" customer experience.

Turns out we're so personalized that we've personalized the spelling of personalized!

Of Human Mentorage

I've always been a tad spiritually greedy, even going back to childhood days of pretending to offer Mass for my siblings and goldfish.  Sunday just wasn't enough for me. But I also remember being greedy enough for mentoring that I found secularist equivalents. (The parish priest, as it turned out, was abusing young boys so I'm glad I didn't turn to him.) Between Thoreau, Gordon, Sarton and Abbey, a lot of my early heroes were atheists or deists. What was I finding in them I didn't find in saintly mentors? Probably they tickled my ears with the music I wanted to hear.

I think it was telling now that my Confirmation name was "William", chosen after my grandfather. Of course this was 1976, I think right after the television show Roots came out, and so I was (not unlike today) into family history and tradition and liked having one of my names be from someone in my line. In retrospect that seems too "culturally Catholic," a wasted opportunity in the sense of wishing I'd formed a close relationship with a saint such that I could take their name. I like the idea of hoping to attract a saint's attention by choosing their name! But that is to ignore what I already have and treasure, including St. Thomas More whose feast day coincides with my birthday. Greedy me! Greedy I suppose, like with the original sin of Adam and Eve who wanted the assurance of care and knowledge.

April 20, 2010

Could You Read This Post.

Received an email forwarded from Sarah (not her real name) forwarded from one of our bigger bosses -- in terms of authority rather than girth -- which said:
Sarah,
Could you distribute.
A question without a question mark, but then that bit of punctuation would seem too tentative for someone in leadership while apparently a "Please distribute" is too demanding-sounding.

And such is the way language and grammar evolve I suppose.

[And Bill White calls himself the lord of summa minutiae!]

Spanning the Globe to Bring You the Constant
Variety of Posts

I know parents and families whose days and weeks are filled with activities, from the end of the school day to nightfall, and all weekend. Some of them love it and flourish, and others confess such relief when a game or practice is cancelled. All I know is that my son loves karate and wants to be a black belt someday. But on the days he has nothing after school, which is 3 out of the 5 school days in a week, he is ecstatic. He’s home by 3:30, and he can just…play. He and his brother may squabble. The little boy across the street may get on his nerves some times. The two children down the street, who are younger than he is, may not be his ideal companions. But he can play. And as he plays, as he imagines, as he is free from rules and schedules, and as he can create his very own world…he is so happy...I am pretty convinced that the current activity-centered culture which demands so much of families exists only because people don’t have many children. - Amy Welborn

Here’s a post over at the Long Now Foundation on the ever-interesting topic, “How to Restart Civilization From Scratch.” One thing they haven’t mentioned is the “doomsday book” that has already preserved and restarted civilization from scratch more than once in the past: the Catholic church. - Bill of Summa Minutiae

The difference between Intelligent Design Christians and Evolutionist Christians is the difference between people who think that God's causal agency is of the same sort that occurs within creation, and people who think that God's being radically transcends creation, and so can't be "fit" into it--in the way that ID arguments make it look like God fills in the gaps of an otherwise coherent naturalist process. I believe this all gets back to the question of whether Being may be univocally predicated of God and creatures. Thomas says no, some later Scholastics say yes. The problem is, once you have a conception of God according to which he is just one more entity in your ontology, then you start to have to explain how his agency works with the agency of other things in your ontology. And hence it starts to look as if God becomes more and more excluded, the more and more we can explain naturalistically. Classical theism, which holds that God's being is *not* univocal with creaturely being, does not have this problem... I guess what I'm trying to point out in the above comment is that believing that "intelligence agency" lies behind the created world does *not* in any way commit one to ID's account of that agency. - Commenter on Zippy Catholic

My husband and I did the Safety Dance at the wedding last weekend. People gathered around to watch, so we put ourselves into it, and the next morning, we were both plagued with doubt. “I’m just worried that I didn’t look as good as I thought I did doing the Safety Dance,” my husband said. It was a legitimate concern...I'm writing in long sentences, stream-of-consciousness because I'm reading Faulkner right now, and as Mrs. Darwin said in a comment stream here, "What he (Faulkner) does not repeat much is the period," and nothing is more alarming than a period that goes MIA, as evidenced by the fifty dollars worth of pregnancy tests I took this month trying to figure out where mine went--which is no where, that is, until without rhyme or reason, it decided to return, and now I want my money back. - Betty Duffy

During the height of my ambition, perhaps around age 10, I thought I might write the Great American Novel. I wasn't really clear what exactly the Great American Novel was, but I was sure it involved summer camp, and I spent a great deal of time hashing out the details of my character's names and personal appearance and the number of brothers and sisters they had -- all crucial details in such literary serials such as The Baby Sitters Club which the girls in sixth grade passed around during study hall. These were the sort of seminal works in which you learned all you needed to know about the characters by description of their personal appearance: such girl had frizzy reddish hair and braces and wore a turquoise turtleneck! This one had her ears double-pierced and wore big sweaters and leggings! 'Nuff said.... My enthusiasm to write the Great American novel waned along with my fondness for the nifty names with which I endowed my juvenile characters (but none of my actual children), and I try to avoid the kinds of novels in which the height of characterization is to describe the clothes the characters wear ("her Prada handbag brushed against her toned thigh as she strode down the hall, her Manolos clicking on the parquet floor with each step..."). Still, I miss the idealism of the days in which a vast literary potential could be unlocked if only I had the proper writing instrument and a fresh blank notebook. Then, time was on my side. - Mrs. Darwin of "Darwin Catholic"

On the topic of individual versus collective in earlier, it strikes me that one of the important things to understand here is that the groups within which we live out our lives (families ties, church ties, associative ties, etc.) may not be capable of committing sins as a group, but that the necessary reparation for sin does often carry through a group. This is because sin is not merely the violation of a legal code, but is destructive to the relationships that bind us together into communities...Imagine a situation in which it becomes known that the father of a family abused one of the children over a period of years. This is clearly a sin of the father .. bBut the relationship between the mother and the abused child, and the other siblings and the abused child will have been changed by the father's sin. They can't just ignore the fact that the sin occurred, and indeed they will need to make special efforts to heal their relationships with the abused member of the family... In our family of the Church, we now face a similar situation. Few of us shared any knowledge or culpability in the abuse which a small percentage of priests perpetrated, and yet our relationships with those abused, with each other, and with our priests have been changed by the fact that this abuse occurred within our family. That is why healing will require work towards reparation on the part of all Catholics (in different ways depending on our places within the Church) even though most of us hold no personal culpability in the sins themselves. - Darwin Catholic

In a two-country race to kill as many foreign babies as possible: " The head of the World Health Organization signaled Wednesday the United States -- not Canada -- was on the right track over the question of supporting access to abortion services amid an international bid to improve child and maternal health. Dr. Margaret Chan ... added: "I am very pleased to see the change in President Obama -- this is really wonderful; sometimes ... it is not easy for outside people to tell them what to do."... Let me make note of the fact that the World Health Organization is the kind of organization that has a director general who considers killing babies "really wonderful." - Tom of Disputations

In Roe v. Wade, the keen-eyed Justice Harry Blackmun secured the right to procure and commit abortion by discerning a sacred and inviolable right to privacy hidden among the penumbral emanations of the Constitution. Obamacare will force Americans to buy health insurance, which involves disclosing private medical history to an insurance company. Not that the Constitution means anything anymore, but wouldn't it be sweet irony if Roe v. Wade made Obamacare unconstitutional on privacy grounds? - Bill of "Summa Minutiae"

Often poetry is taught in school as though each poem were some sort of rebus or puzzle that needs to be deconstructed, analyzed, and reconstructed to the specifications of whatever the present school of criticism is teaching about poetry.  Most people approach a poem as though it were some sort of exotic and potential deadly animal ready to unleash its fury at the slightest provocation. I think we have Eliot and Pound to blame for that--purposeful obscurity and the creation of the rebus/puzzle poem.  But most poetry before the twentieth century, and a good deal during and after is not at all like that.  A poem is an invitation to take a break, to share a moment with the poet, to see as he or she does.  In that seeing you'll sometimes get a message, but if you don't, it is the seeing that is the thing after all. - Steven at "Momentary Bliss"

April 19, 2010

How My Appreciation of Different Composers Has Changed Over the Years

This and That

The readings from Revelations this time of year are both daunting and humbling in that they, in true Holy Spirit fashion, both "cause our soul to fear and our fears relieve." Matthew Henry writes that fear of the Lord is the Christian's best friend in that it helps keep us from stumbling.

From today's Office of Readings:
In the unity of the person of the Word, his human nature was the instrument of our salvation. Thus in Christ there has come to be the perfect atonement that reconciles us with God, and we have been given the power to offer the fullness of divine worship.
So it's also because Christ is exalted that, paradoxically, we are given power to offer the fullness of divine worship, that we are counted as worthy, that we are sons of God.

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Caught a bit of a YouTube interview with Fr. Richard Neuhaus, and he explained how love after 40 years of marriage is different from married love early in a marriage. In the beginning there is still anxiety and "what ifs" while at the end there's more a sense of thankfulness and appreciation. He said that couples come to the conclusion that the love of God can be trusted - a money quote if ever I heard one: "...the discovery that love, which is ultimately the love of God, can be trusted - and that's the discovery they've made..."

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Read the verse in Acts how the apostles after being flogged "rejoiced that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name."  That mindset never fails to startle me and is profoundly humbling.  But I can tell that I have hope by the fact that I have breath within me. "Tomorrow is another day," is a famous line from "Gone With the Wind" but today is another day too, this very moment another "day".

The other moment of Lichtenstein was a small revelation of the mercy of God spoken by the priest in the Communion Antiphon: "...and He rose again to make us worthy of life."  I've tended to think of Christ's resurrection solely as proof of the Father's approbation, but it as, like Christ's death, also for us. 

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Julian of Norwich quote:
God showed two manners of sickness that we have; the one is impatience or sloth, for we bear our travail and our pains heavily. The other is despair or doubtful dread...And these two are they that most travail and trouble us, as by that which Our Lord shewed me...It is God's will that they be known, for then we shall refuse them as we do other sins.

And for help against this, full meekly Our Lord showed the patience that he had in his hard Passion; and also the joy and the liking that he hat of that Passion, for love. And this he shewed in example, that we should gladly and easily bear our pains, for that is great pleasing to him and endless profit to us. And the cause why we are travailed with them is for unknowing of love.

For some of us believe that God is All Mighty, and may do all, and that he is All-Wisdom, and can do all; but that he is All-Love and will do all, there we fail. And this unknowing it is, that most [hinders] God's lovers, as to my sight.

April 15, 2010

An Outsider's View of Benedict

It's interesting to see my decades-long lapsed Catholic father-in-law's evolution on Pope Benedict. He didn't much care for this pope until he (the Pope) came to America. When my father-in-law saw and heard him, it completely changed his opinion of the pontiff, saying how kind and gentle and holy the man seemed. Interesting the power of television in forming opinions.

Kindle v. iPad & Future of Reading

Provocative article about the future of reading in the e-reader age:
Even for those who love books enough to persevere with reading without e-ink will soon face another problem with the awesomeness of the iPad. The device does so many different things so well that there’s a constant urge when you’re using one to do something else. Two or three pages into a book, you’re already wondering whether you’ve got new mail, or whether anyone has atted you on Twitter. One of the joys of reading is to be able to shut yourself away from distractions and lose yourself in a book. When the book itself is packed with distractions, the whole experience is compromised.

April 13, 2010

Spanning the Globe to Bring You the Constant Variety of Posts


In addition to the novena, I've spent some time each day reading from St. Faustina's Diary in which the visionary wrote about her visits from the Lord, as well as her own thoughts, reflections and experiences. In it one encounters Jesus in a unique way as He opens His merciful heart for this young saint and for us, patiently explaining the depth of His mercy and how our God expects us, as Christians, to respond. I could probably spend pages and pages writing about some of these messages from our Lord, but one in particular struck a significant chord today: “You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to absolve yourself from it" [Diary, 742]. - Deacon D. at "Being is Good"

I learned the Chaplet of Divine Mercy from the Sisters of Life back in 2004, and few days have passed since then that I haven't said it. It has been a good fit for me as a devotion: it's short, it goes by quickly, and it hammers home relentlessly the point that God's mercy trumps his righteous justice, which is, I suppose, why some Traddies shun it. After all, it's human nature to insist that those pathetic stragglers who showed up on the job at the eleventh hour not be paid a full day's wages. It's human nature to reel in horror when you see your father having a huge party for your wastrel brother who spent down his fortune on booze and whores. But if God were only a God of justice, we would fear Him, but we would not love Him. And God wants our love, and wants it freely given. And who could not love so good a God as He, who looks at us, as He revealed to Saint Faustina, through the wounds of His Son, with compassion for our fallenness, our brokenness, our sin? - Blogger at Pentimento

Part of the problem of growing up in a well-read family is that we all knew that some books were better than others...None of my reading counted. Meanwhile, in our living-room, my older sister had curled her body into a pretzel and was squinting her eyes into the minuscule print of Gone With the Wind which she finished in all of two weeks. Her concentration was unbreakable. I was invisible to her, though I crawled up behind the wing-back chair in which she sat and put my finger in her ear, or whispered words like “suburban” and “couperf” and “satchel” because I knew she hated those words. Her friends would ride their bikes over to play, find her reading, and have to be satisfied with my company. And I would be playing Barbies, no doubt, making the dolls do naughty things, and then saying, “It’s ok, they’re married,” even though in my head, they were not. - Betty Duffy

Every day, I can wake up and have the newspaper already sitting on my desk in the form of a piece of “paper” that changes on a daily basis or whenever I happen to need it for something. I carry around the better part of a library in my pocket, and when I find I’m lacking something it’s the matter of a few moments while it is beamed to me from far off locales to prevent me the inconvenience of getting up and driving to the store. In moments of curiosity, this wonderful device [the Kindle] can get me answers to most any question by accessing one of the largest knowledge bases in existence from nearly anywhere in the world at no charge with no questions asked. It’s so mundane right now, too. That’s quite possibly the most surreal point of all. We have devices like the Kindle and nook and a dozen others to choose from, the main difference between them often being aesthetics and level of convenience, and nobody even realizes what they mean! - blogger at a Kindle blog

How discuss verity with cynics, cynicism being a plant with no fruit or interesting seed? - - Marianne Moore via Dylan of "dark harp"

Most Republicans spent the first two-thirds of 2009 underestimating how big a problem pro-life resistance would be for the Democrats. If they had run ad campaigns based on the issue in the districts of pro-life Democrats, it would have made it harder for those Democrats to back the bill in the end. Those Democrats could well have been the decisive holdouts. Here, again, Republicans were on the popular side of an issue — even many supporters of legal abortion don’t want government funding — but failed to press their advantage. - Ramesh Ponnuru of "National Review"

This morning's paper mentioned in passing that today is James Joyce's birthday.. I remember was a quote from a friend of his who recalled that he, Joyce, loved to drink and loved to dance: "Ah, the drink went straight to his feet." I never read Ulysses..but did have a go at Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man... And I am grateful to it for two things. The first is one of the great hell-fire and brimstone sermons in print. Short, but a powerful piece of work and worthy of the Jesuits of the turn of the last century. The second is a permanent love for the Little Office of Our Lady. It's not dwelt on in the book but the mention of it in the "Portrait" fascinated me. I got a copy immediately. (They were still available in those days, but disappearing fast.) I have a small collection now of various versions. - John at "The Inn at the End of the World"

The word of the Lord has not come to me, as far as I know. But I don't think it requires any new divine revelation to see that an alliance with the world against the Pope will not end well for the Church. - Tom of Disputations

April 10, 2010

Terry Teachout on Flannery O'Connor:

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/viewarticle.cfm/believing-in-flannery-o-connor-15085?page=all

April 09, 2010

My Favorite iPod Touch Apps....

I've so far successfully stiff-armed the impulse to buy an iPad and though I can't rule that out I do appreciate my iPod. My favorite apps? Glad you asked.

1) iBreviary - it has the Daily Office as well as the Mass readings.

2) Olive Tree Bible Reader - while the Jerusalem translation isn't available, it's pretty fantastic how they integrated the app so that while you're reading a given Bible passage you can see the New English Translation notes, or read the Matthew Henry commentary. I have three translations available: Douay-Rheims (free), the NRSV ($14) and the NET (free).

3) Rate Beer - the name pretty much says it all. Beer Universe is good too.
 
4) Score Mobile -  I can not only check the scores of professional and collegiate games but also the individual statistics of the players involved. Pretty schweet app. Baseball Statistics 2009 contains lifetime statistics of every major league baseball player.

5) Twitterific - very attractive interface for Twitter. Sometimes even makes my tweets look good.
 
6) Fluent News - a fine news aggregator; Start Up! is also good.

7) Instapaper - allows you to read anything on the web on the iPod/iPhone in a decent font.

8) Audio Books - can listen to public domain books for free! Been lately enjoying Albert Payson Terhune's "His Dog".

Live from Friday, it's Columbus Night!

I've been lately interested in what we put in our bodies and how they came to be discovered and how previous generations and cultures dealt with the good and bad of things like alcohol and sugar and coffee.

Ancient history isn't a keen interest of mine, but I'd like to know who invented beer and give them a shout/props. Also like to read "Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History." It examines how refined cane sugar went from no part of our diet to an almost a third within a short space of time. Finally I'd like to read about the development of coffee in A History of the World in Six Glasses.

* * *

Been reading random snippets of Joyce; the good thing about Ulysses is it doesn't have to be read in any particular order since it's equally opaque whether read forward or backward. But the sentences are a stream of precious trout. 

* * *

Growing up watching television shows like Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons led me to believe that neighbors were present only in cases of emergency, like to help rebuild your barn if it burns down. In real life I learned it was more the opposite - they are omnipresent in times of non-emergency and scarce when you could really use them. I jest! Though I am blessed/cursed with very visible neighbors. 'Tain't no Betty Duffy-type acreage at our house.

* * *

A four-day work week it 'twas but it felt longer as is paradoxically typical in the case of 4-day weeks. A single day off, as opposed to a week off, just makes me lazy. Did mow down a few sniping errands, like doing the city taxes and paying the bills and cutting the grass. Sometimes mowing down errands is literal.

So what else? Confession with the good Dominican priest. He came to the parish so inspired and fresh and full of inspiration that I try to stiff-arm cynical thoughts that he'll burn out on the parish. These folks are high maintenance what with the omnipresent Confession lines (Lord, St. Pat's must be the sinning-est church since Corinth) plus many tend to bog down in the typical traditionalist minutiae, like scruples over mantilla-wearing and the proper fulfillment of the Fatima revelations. I confessed the lameness of my motivations given that even now, this Confession, was prompted by the promises of Mercy Sunday. He called my confession a good diagnosis and said that all of our motives are mixed and even if only 5% is for God then we're on the right side.

From Beer and Philosophy...

Proving, perhaps, that there's a book on every subject known and unknown to man:

April 07, 2010

Huntington Park

Partial List of Things I Don't Get

  • The all-consuming interest in Tiger Woods. That an athlete strays from monogamy is tedious to the point of nails-on-chalkboard. No one covered Babe Ruth's return to the line-up after a night out on the town, so I don't get why this is even a news story.

  • How Congress, with a straight face, can write a law saying that there will be a penalty if you do not buy health insurance, but within the same law says there can be no penalty if someone doesn't buy health insurance?

  • Why the therapeutic culture gives no credit to the Church for listening to the therapeutic culture back when the therapeutic culture thought sex offenders could be rehabilitated.

  • The relevancy of the racial make-up of Tea Party members.

  • How/why Bart Stupak grasped defeat from the jaws of personal victory in the waning moments of the health care vote.
  • Ponnuru's Predictions

    Ramesh Ponnuru's predictions back in September of '08 about Obamacare smell of truth. He said that even if Obama turned out to be a one-termer, the damage he could do should not be underestimated. I think we're awake to that fact now.
    As James Capretta has pointed out in these pages (September 1), Obama’s health-care plan is designed to evolve into a national health-insurance program along the lines of Canada’s. The resulting government monopoly or near-monopoly on health insurance would stifle innovation, require bureaucratic rationing, and infringe on freedom. But it would also move American politics permanently leftward...

    First, the inevitable disappointments and failures of a nationalized system would just as inevitably be blamed on underfunding, creating a bidding war that liberals would usually win. On those occasions when voters understood that spending had to be controlled, they would prefer that liberals control it, so as to do the bare minimum necessary.

    Second, the creation of a new health-care regime would alter the incentives for all the interest groups involved. In the short run, at least, squeezing money out of the government system would be more advantageous than abolishing it.

    Third, the creation of a new system would make free-market alternatives look more radical to the public than they do now, because they would be more radical. The public’s aversion to risk, which now hurts advocates of liberal policies as much as it helps them, would only help them.

    So national health insurance could be a lasting political success for liberals even if it is a colossal policy failure; it could, indeed, succeed politically because of its failures.

    April 06, 2010

    Interesting...

    RT @FrontPorchRepub: New post: Against Great Books (http://cli.gs/jE5n2)

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


    Nature abhors a vacuum: The Church got rid of devil's advocates, but we still have the New York Times! - Tom of Disputations tweet

    Listening to the media, one gets the impression that New England's floodwaters would abate, and the Bruins would win a Stanley Cup, and the national debt would be erased -- if only "the Vatican" would ordain women and drop the celibacy requirement. - Dylan of "dark speech upon the harp"

    Gaga's hypersexuality defined through skinny pubescent bodies is tedious, predictably destructive of female self-esteem and male female-esteem. And I maintain her hip ugly head-do is a manifestation of the male-gaze gone openly necrophilic. - blogger at "Mildred's Umbrella" on Lady Gaga

    There is no doubt a sense - that of the American Declaration of Independence, the supposedly self-evident truth that all men are created equal - in which everyone is important simply by virtue of drawing breath; but of course this kind of importance is not sufficient for the self-esteemist, who derives no comfort from it whatsoever. What he needs is to be more important than someone else in order to have his self-esteem. Nor is it sufficient that he should be more important than somebody else only in his own eyes, because we are all more important in our own - Theodore Dalrymple

    I think it's wise not to live-blog vacations, because every post would be a clever variation on "These kids are driving me crazy!" Whereas in retrospect, we can now say that everything went smoothly. And that we wish we had more days of vacation, which we certainly did not wish as we pulled into our driveway at 11:30 PM two Saturdays ago...A long car ride with your spouse is the ideal time to plan out the rest of your life together, especially since none of the plans require concrete action at that moment. - Mrs. Darwin Catholic

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    Seas, sailed by little Ahabs,
    Each cursing his whale. - haiku by Bob of "Trousered Ape"

    In Still Life with a Bridle, Zbigniew Herbert includes “Letter,” an essay in the form of an imaginary letter written by Vermeer to his friend Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the Delft lens grinder, inventor of the microscope and pioneering microbiologist. Herbert has Vermeer question van Leeuwenhoek’s reductive approach to science, verging on pure materialism. The painter writes: “Our task is not to solve enigmas, but to be aware of them, to bow our heads before them and also to prepare the eyes for never-ending delight and wonder.” ...A writer of sophisticated realism renders enigmas – that is, human hearts and minds – without presuming to solve them like differential equations. They are not reducible to simpler forms. - blogger at "Anecdotal Evidence"

    And Something About Non-Sober Intoxicating Beverages...

    Randy Mosher in Tasting Beer writes about agricultural societies and the invention of beer:
    "Those who study the birth of civilizations and beer note that the two happened at about the same time. Barley was one of the earliest cultivated grains, and the fact that it emerged in domesticated form with just the right characteristics for brewing tells us a lot. Leaving the nomadic life behind for a pot of gruel is one thing, but toss in beer and it's a hard deal to turn down.
    It is my belief that squeezing people into cities generates a certain amount of itchy friction, but this can be eased by a social lubricant like beer, served up in that other beloved institution, the tavern, which appeared on the scene not long after beer...

    Those more scholarly than I make the claim that beer is one thing that allowed people to come together in unnaturally crowded settings, like cities. It's certainly true today that beer helps to take the edge off and makes cities much more livable. I'm not pointing any fingers, but look at the places where beer is absolutely forbidden. It's easy to see the contrast."
    I wonder how careful are we to respect the way we've evolved? To respect the fact that we're designed to move, not sit all day, for example. And perhaps all the trouble that American Indians have with alcohol is primarily a failure to recognize that that's not something they've evolved to process, unlike those of European descent. Alcohol is meant to go with agricultural societies and Indians have been nomadic until relatively recently. Seems like Native Americans go against the grain (pun intended) in drinking the "fire-water" that the Europeans unnaturally introduced late to their society.

    More from Sober Intoxication

    More from Fr. Cantalamessa's klieg-light of a book. Many piquant sentences like "Modesty proclaims the mystery that the body is united to a soul...and that we do not belong to ourselves and that there is something in us that goes beyond our bodies." But the money quote may well be:

     "The meaning and the purpose of human existence become clear when we present ourselves to God as a pure and holy sacrifice. For what reason, in fact, did God give us the gift of life and of existence if not so that we would have something precious to offer Him, which we could return to him as gift?"

    In some ways that's a foreign idea to me since I mostly think of being on the receiving end rather than the giving.

    Humility is the key to everything because faith precedes understanding and that takes humility,  to admit we don't have all the answers and can't get to some answers through human effort.  Came across another beautiful quote in the book of Wisdom. "For neither herb nor moulding plaster cured them / but it was your word, Oh Lord, that heals all people." A rather startling rebuke to the idea that "in Science (or medicine) we trust."

    April 04, 2010

    Easter-themed excerpt...

     ...from Fr. Cantalamessa's "The Sober Intoxication of the Spirit," appropriate for this special day:
    If the annointing of Christ was for us, why doesn't it come to the Church immediately? Why is there a long interval between the time Jesus receive the Spirit at the Jordan and the time when, at Easter and Pentecost, He gave it to His disciples?

    The Spirit, as St. Irenaeus said, needed to become accustomed to dwelling among men. He needed first to find a place in which He could dwell. The Spirit was completely present in the purest humanity of Christ, like a perfume in an alabaster vase, but He could not be poured out until Christ had been "glorified" (John 7:39). In His passion the alabaster vase was broken - that is Jesus' humanity was broken - and the perfume filled the whole house, the Church . He "gave up his spirit" (John 19:30), and His last breath became the first breath of the Church. The very evening of Easter Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22).

    April 03, 2010

    Bill O'Reilly writes

    "A number of Catholics have left the church because of the priestly sins, but not me. From the beginning, in Sister Claudia's first grade class, I understood that the Catholic Church was about Jesus, not Father Flannery. Believe me, I saw so many loons in my Catholic school days that I should be a Buddhist. But it is the theology, not church leadership, that keeps me in the fold."

    April 02, 2010

    Retweet from @pcstokell Good rendition of the opening of Bach's "Saint Matthew Passion."

    A 17-year-old Gave This Speech

    In the course of genealogy research, came across a speech one of my ancestor's gave at his graduation. Given eighty years ago, it's timely as today's headlines. Here's an excerpt:
    What is to be done? How can this theory of "success at any cost" be combated? Science has done some wonderful things in our time, but science has never yet produced any mechanical device which will change the moral fiber of a nation. Whatever change comes, must come thru the realization by individual men and women that ideals are distinctly worthwhile. And it is of vital importance that our young men of brains and power, our future leaders, understand this truth thoroughly. And where can this best be taught? There is no better place in the world than our own Catholic educational centers. The love of absolute truth, the appreciation of other than mere material gain, the fearlessness of strong convictions are in the very atmosphere of our schools. Most readily within their bounds, high standards become usual, ideals, but commonplace. The Catholic colleges and schools have always been the teacher of those ideals, which are so essentially connected with a nation's greatness. Herein lies the noblest function and the fairest promise.

    May our Catholic high schools and colleges continue in the future as they have in the past to train our youth to know high standards and to live up to them, to hate a cowardly compromise and despise a lie so that the term "Catholic education" will always stand for high ideals, for fighters who prove that material success is not the supreme deity amongst we Americans, that the pocketbook is not the symbol of national devotion, nor the dollar mark the seal of our greatness.

    The Eucharist

    "How shall I make a return of a hundred-fold?"
    said the Father to the Son
    when Christ gave His body and blood
    and the world became undone.

    April 01, 2010

    This Surprises Me....(click to enlarge)

    Liked this photo of Amy Welborn's son in New Orleans