August 29, 2011

Flâneur

Sunday, or "sun day" yesterday in these parts, held weather almost too perfect to be salvaged. I could scarcely give the weather its due and found myself dozing off and on repeatedly between the hours of 11am and 2pm though I did manage a mile hike with Buddy (I repeated the French word "Flaneur" for purposes of savor). When you don't want to miss a minute of this precious dapply 80 degree sun, it's difficult to spend it reclining. On the hike I did see all manner of people out and about making good use of it: dog walkers, child baseball players, and fishers of fish.

I grabbed some reading early and didn't let go but for moments of somnolence. Books, books, books! I've suddenly got on onrush of new volumes vying for buying. There's of course Heather King's new book, but also a new John Zmirak "Bad Catholic" book (heard a bit of an interview between him and Lino Riulli on satellite radio and it was sublime). The latest Zmirak is on the seven deadly sins. Then too there's the book about Paris. And finally the Jacobs book on "The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction". I think I'd do well with just the Zmirak and King.

Also came across a website - wonder of wonders, is there not a web page for everything under the sun? - which concerns itself with Bible bindings and printings. In other words, simply a sort of review of the physical beauty of newly published Bibles. It's called "Bible Design and Binding" and the author is sufficiently self-aware to refer to himself as shallow for blogging about the externalities of Bibles rather than what's inside. It's pretty beautiful blog because he peppers it with a myriad of pictures.

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Been a long stretch of social obligations on weekends, such that I've lately cherished the weeknights from 6pm-9pm spent reading under a dimming eastern sky. Will have to start relying on light-emitting iPad rather than dark Kindle between 7:30 and beyond. (Ironic that I'm so tempted to buy the book by Alan Jacobs titled "The Pleasures of Reading in a Distracted Age" just to hear more about his solution to the problem of technology: more technology. He found himself reading real books less and less and surfing the 'net more and more until he got a Kindle and reintroduced himself to longform reading.)

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Fr. Larry Richards, on local Catholic radio, praised one of my favorite books of all time, "Crossing the Threshold of Hope" by Pope John Paul II. That he would pick that book, among all others, to recommend says something about our commonality. He said it was the most liberal of books and it was from the Pope - by liberal he gave examples, such as how the Church is silent on even whether there is anybody in Hell. Even Judas is not definitively damned. Fr. Larry is one of those rare birds: orthodox as hell (pardon that locution) and yet merciful as heaven.

The Fr. Larry anecdote that gave me pause was the story of Padre Pio being beaten by demons in the sanctuary of church (no less!). I love anecdotes about St. Pio, and there are so many as to seem inexhaustible. After experiencing this, Padre Pio chastised his guardian angel for not defending him and the angel sheepishly apologized. The scandal for me is that the angel could've sat back and watched it happen without jumping in. I thought the good angels are perfect since they are in or of Heaven, and so I'm trying to make sense of that. Seems like Padre Pio, of all people, should've been able to depend on his guardian angel for guarding purposes. The angel could say, perhaps, he wasn't asked, which suggests we better be doing a lot of asking! Certainly this type of story is not part of the deposit of faith and is open to question, but when there's a lot more authority suggested when it comes from a saint's mouth, one would think.

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A desperate man came to visit the other night. He was fit as a fiddle and engaging as a politician. A meat salesman, he showed his wares with a dexterity and swiftness born of countless hours. I felt bad I couldn't commit to paying the $400-plus for the all the frozen steaks and hamburgers. Here was a thankless job, a job so difficult that he goes about neighborhoods looking for people sitting on their front porch so as to avoid the endless ringing of doorbells. I learned later they chew through salesman in that business.

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Now listening to a pleasingly modern classical piece by Aaron Jay Kernis titled "Musica Celestis for Strings". Sometimes you really want the modern sound, sometimes you feel in the mood for it, especially when everything else seems like a cliche, when you want to be startled out of your mediocrity. It feels stretching, transcending. I forget how satisfying those unmelodic modern stochastic pieces can be. They are as opposite to Bach as Black Sabbath is to Abba, and I take no comfort in the fact that I seem to relish the modern classical more than that spiritual wunderkind J.S..

4 comments:

Bob the Ape said...

Regarding the Padre Pio anecdote: I have come across, somewhere or other, the story of a saint who as a monk was blamed for something he hadn't done, and, because of his vow of obedience, did not defend himself but accepted the reproof and penance imposed by the superior. It may be that something similar happened in this case. Someone with the art could make a good short story out of it.

TS said...

Good point Bob, accepting a rebuke is not the same as deserving it.

Anonymous said...

Lovely post! Thanks for the mention. I remember reading in Fr. Cassaude that whenever we suffer unjustly for something, but are not in a position to resist, we can attribute it to God's permissive will... and remember sins we committed for which we did NOT suffer. Or we can unite them to Christ's suffering and make good use of them for our soul or others'. This is NOT to say we should always be meek and accept injustice--which after all, tempts the unjust to go right on sinning!

John Zmirak

TS said...

Thanks -- Fr. Cassaude's work is something I might have to check out. Am very much looking forward to reading your book as well!