January 17, 2012

A Diary By Any Other Name....

Reading a bit of "Sex and the Soul", an expose of the sordid state of the college hookup culture and how spirituality and religion fit in (or don't, as the case may be). The thing that comes out loud and clear is that evangelicals take religion & spirituality seriously while those at Catholic colleges don't. But I came across a line in Marcus Grodi's "Journeys Home" about how a convert slowly became convinced that God's not as limited as we think He is by individual and institutional weakness. But not sure "Sex and the Soul" is particularly helpful in improving my sense of hopefulness!

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Work came briefly to a halt while I awaited an answer from someone in another area. So I listened to a payday Friday company radio show. It's interactive; you can instant message responses and naturally I always try to be clever enough to get a mention on air. They were talking technology but got off on a tangent about this ugly (in my view) Russian hat one of the speakers was wearing. They asked the listeners if anyone knew what type it was, and I said, "a chastity enforcing hat". No comment from the hosts on that, naturally. My other response was about Bob, a guest who was late to the gate and was scheduled to speak about new technology finds at a trade show in Vegas. I said he was, "broke and hungover". Not especially funny but I figure you throw enough out there something will schtick. No mention on that one either.

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So the bitter season of cold arrives. On the bright side - literally - it's noticeably brighter outside. We've had a fine run of mild weather, and I'm mildly pleased that there wasn't more snow today (we got merely a dusting). We've certainly had the easiest winter - so far! - I can recall more or less ever. But the temp has dropped like Wile E. Coyote in a Roadrunner cartoon: down to 17 from a relatively balmly 42.

The barren trees wave in the wind while I listen to appropriate music: "Hildegard of Bingen" by "O Ecclesia". Very Middle Ages-ish. Early music is bereft of extraneous instrumentation much like the scene outside is bereft of leaf or ornamentation.

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Odd website of "anarchist, feminist Christian" who seems obsessed with boobs. I assume it's a variant of that feminist obsession with vaginas, as prompted by the play "The Vagina Monologues". She's interesting though; is studying theology which makes her intrinsically interesting. Not a Scott Hahn fan but is reasonable enough not to want to come off as snobby, just saying he doesn't seem to have scholarly credentials.

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Spent a couple hours and finished "Open City". I'm getting better at reading novels, a dubious skill at best. I've reverted back to the days of the late '80s and early '90s when I fairly regularly consumed them: Dickens, Updike, Laurie Colwin etc... Now I'm reading them at a much more rapacious rate, at least by my standards.

"Open City" is a post-modern novel, a stream of consciousness, and therefore plotless. Which doesn't bother me much - plot is bonus. I read not for characterization but for the poetry of the thing. And this had much poetry as many reviewers point out. But it also had a real tinge of sadness throughout which some reviewers also mentioned. A mixed bag: a lot of beauty but too many downbeat notes. Cole wrote so movingly of going to a concert of Mahler's Ninth Symphony that it gave me a real hunger to experience a classical music concert again. It's been so long! Arguably the main character of the book is the city itself, New York City, with all it's gaudy, familiar-unfamiliar beauty.

Now I get to pick another read! I'm thinking maybe "White Teeth" by Zadie Smith. Or finish up the re-read of Percy's "Love in the Ruins". A re-try of "Swamplandia" is possible too.

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Got sidetracked during prayer - or maybe not - when I thought of the poor Rupperts, a family of 11 shot by an uncle in Hamilton, Ohio in 1975. Hearing about that was one of the scariest and awfulest things of my youth. It occurred to me that I should pray for the victims and perpetrator, neither of which I can ever recall doing. Through the magic of the 'net, I found the current owner. It takes some gumption to buy a house where you can still see the bloodstains in the basement ceiling. There's also the obligatory rumors of it being haunted.

Sometimes I wonder how ex-spy Robert Hannsen is doing in his solitary confinement in a Colorado maximum security prison. He's there with Islamic terrorists who are said to often scream, cry, or pray. I wonder if he's making any progress spiritually. The former Opus Dei member still has his wife faithfully praying for him. I just wonder how he deals with life so radically changed.

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The truck, despite never getting much use, still manages to break down in myriad ways. The emergency brake is sticking now, and we were going to try to fix it ourselves (if we could) in the 18 degree weather and so we got out there, couldn't find the jack easily (i.e. without removing the spare, it seemed) and so we said, 'let's take it to the shop". Thank God. A couple months ago squirrels had set up a nest under the hood and eaten the transmission wires, so that was costly. Truck is starting to seem more trouble than it's worth. Anyway, feel like I dodged a bullet in not having to deal with it today.

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Two Hearted ale does a heart good.

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They say only 10% of Catholics regularly confess their sins, and of the 10% I wonder how many confess sins of omission. I'd say less than one tenth of 1%. Dreamt I was waiing in line at a big McDonald's where I'm going to confess my sins to the Pope! Only the ground rules are a bit different (besides the odd location)...he's requesting every penitent preach a homily.

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Already feeling the want of a new novel. Continued my search; many candidates but after "interviewing" many (by reading the first chapter) I found most wanting. I started off with the list of best novels of 2011, then 2010, according to WaPo and the NY Times and such. I've gotten extremely lucky with the last four novels I've read, by Arthur Philips, Jeffrey Eugenides and Teja Cole.

It looks like the last remaining novelistic survivors include "The Sense of an Ending" by Julian Barnes and Michael Houellebecq's "The Map and the Territory".

This minutiae brought to you by Nike, where the slogan is "Just Read It!"

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Non-fiction wise I'm reading Scott Hahn's academic journal on the nature of biblical inspiration. It's a series of essays by authors known and unknown. Occasionally heavy, needlessly convoluted and/or repetitious, it's something I'm reading for the gem-like line here or there. Gotta kiss a lot of frogs, as they say.

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The world is my oyster, goes the line and sometimes I feel the Kindle world is my library. Still, the one book I feel hunger to read, May Sarton's "Recovering", is unavailable on Kindle. I'll have to wait for it to be delivered or maybe see if it's at the library. Speaking of which, check out this near erotic love of libraries written by a blogger I follow:
"No mat­ter how many times I visit the library, the premise of it con­tin­ues to slay me. I can walk into an archi­tec­tural­ly inter­est­ing build­ing and I can read the books from here for free. FOR FREE. I can indis­crim­i­nate­ly tug titles from shelves, read the inner flap -- or not -- and make a stack in my arms. And then I can scan them in a way that thrills my inner 9-year-old who must have, must have, played librar­i­an at some point, take them home, rub my eye­balls all over them and then return them. Libraries. My god. A girl could lose her mind."
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Went to store to pick up beer and cereal, the two main staples of my diet. Call them the irreplaceables. Weather is overcast as a working day is long but I listen to jazz, the music of choice. It's just so damn cheerful! Less kind souls might call it "elevator music" but I call it music to lift one's spirit on a cloud-full day! Ohioans for jazz.

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I think this weekend was the beer tasting at the Columbus convention center. Ach, I forgot, but I think it was Saturday at 7:30 and I was shortly thereafter watching a pro football game (Denver-Pats) that turned immediately into a route, the way cotton candy immediately dissolves in your mouth upon contact. Steph said that she doesn't enjoy football too much because it makes her anxious. Indeed. And you got to watch a lot of games before you get the pay-off, that transcendent game that seemingly transfigures existence around it. I felt that after last weekend's Pittsburgh/Denver match-up. There was something so satisfying about the unlikely result, the achingly symbolic win of good guy Tebow over bad boy Big Ben. It felt a proxy for the war we're all in, the war of good against evil, and it's a spur to the virtue of hope to see good win once in awhile.

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"All American Muslim" is one those "reality" shows and I've found it compulsively watchable. The original reality show, Survivor", I found unwatchable, but since then reality television has gone to interesting places, like in the swamps of Louisiana ("Swamp People"), a fishing boat in Alaska ("Hook, Line and Sisters") and now the Dearborn, MI Muslim community.

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Mostly lazy day, yesterday's off day for MLK. Went to church in the a.m. and afterwards slumped into the recliner and leisurely read the newspaper on Kindle while sipping java. Purblind bliss. Also read a fine blog post by Steve Gershom that linked to a riveting section of "Surprised by Joy" by C.S. Lewis...

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One of the mundane activities is getting one's hair cut. Interesting talk though from Barb the barber. Her daughter-in-law got in a fight with her son over a trivial matter on Christmas Day. She (the daughter-in-law) calls the police, the police arrest her because she left fingermarks on his face. She has to spend Dec 25th, 26th in jail because of the federal holiday. It feels of poetic justice, and yet force & punishment are not the answer. When D. (the daughter-in-law) was a child, her mother used to hit her in the face when she misbehaved and it seemed to have absolutely no impact on her then or now. We see also in criminals how such a high percentage of them complain of being innocent. Crime doesn't pay, but neither does punishment. It seems to me the reason to have jails is for protection of others rather than for purposes punitive. Purgatory without sorrow for sin is meaningless, but with sorrow is extraneous... similarly prison. Or so from my perspective.

2 comments:

Bill White said...

Hmm... I often think about Hanssen, too, and wonder how he's doing out there. Perhaps that's a prompt to pray for him.

TS said...

A likely prompt for me as well. Seems like he's doing his Purgatory on earth.