July 31, 2012

St. Genesius

The name found on the tattoo of a young lady; from Wikipedia:
Saint Genesius of Rome (died c. 286 or c. 303) was an actor who worked in a series of plays that mocked Christianity. One day while performing in a work that made fun of baptism he received sudden wisdom from God, realized the truth of Christianity, and had a conversion experience on stage. He announced his new faith, and refused to renounce it, even when ordered to do so by emperor Diocletian. He is the patron saint of actors, lawyers, barristers, clowns, comedians, converts, dancers, epileptics, musicians, printers, stenographers, and torture victims. His feast day is 25 August.


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At the start of the play Genesius lay down on the stage as if sick. Two other actors asked what was wrong. Genesius said he felt a weight that he wanted removed. Hence, two other actors, dressed as a priest and exorcist, were called in. They asked what the he wanted. He replied, "A baptism." Thereupon, he said, he saw a vision of angels bearing a book with all his sins inscribed. The actor portraying the priest asked him: "My child, why did you send for me?"

At this point, Genesius claimed to actually see angels and asked to be baptized himself onstage. Enraged, Diocletian had him turned over to Plautia, prefect of the praetorium, who tortured him in an effort to force him to sacrifice to the pagan gods. When Genesius persisted in his faith, he was beheaded.

Appreciation for the Curt Jester

I liked Jeff Miller's stroll down memory lane in a post commemorating his tenth anniversary as a Catholic blogger. Like old man river, he just keeps going and it's a comfort. I hate to bring something so base as an advertising term into this, but he seems to have the perfect "brand", consistency being one mark of a good brand. And he's consistently funny while also adding the more conventional form of depth in the form of commentary and book reviews. It's hard to imagine a Catholic blogosphere without the Curt Jester's inimitable voice anchoring his corner of it.

The Obligatory Trip Log


Resplendent as the blaze of summer noon, Or the pale radiance of the midnight moon. - "The Odyssey"
SUNDAY:

My mind still churns, turns over a work problem, hoping that by fussing it I'll arrive at some grand insight and make it go away. There could've been a better time for vacation, just a week later would've worked in this case. Am surprised at how the issue haunts me, even in my dreams. Which suggests, perhaps, that I need a vacation. Over and over my mind goes to that addicting slot machine of an Excel spreadsheet, the one where with the correct formula change will cause the cascading column of red (i.e. unmatched records) to turn to a splendid line of 0s, indicating a perfect match. I kept playing this week with different combinations of formulas hoping for success even though I know, logically, that you can't solve for an equation with three unknowns. I guess I'm a victim of my own success, the success of having made enough changes to see 95% of the records change to zero gold.

*

But oh I feel the soothe of the ocean, this Sunday morning. I look over the palms beneath the patio and am surprised at my reaction: all these visits to this condo and I'd never noticed how the palms are perfectly cylindrical at their base? How they plunge into the earth like poles, without the swell of impending roots? How odd I should notice now!

Meantime the breeze lifts with the scent of sea while squadrons of pelicans fly by. I look over the vast playground ocean and feel the Pavlovian expectation of biking and drinking and running and music.

The trip down went as smoothly as it ever has. A nice, tame drive whiled away with part of Bill O'Reilly's "Killing Lincoln" on audio, a C-Span podcast on the authors of a book about how ex-U.S. presidents have something of a private fraternity of understanding, a spot of music and, as a salve, some good fiction while Steph drove (a novel called "Beautiful Ruins" which I saw via Goodreads that Amy Welborn gave 3 stars - my approach to fiction over the past couple years has been to fly blind as blindly as possible and avoid reviews so that I can discover the book as if it were virgin territory, unexplored by anyone else and thus untainted by any prejudices I may bring to it).

*

And so into the July heat I run, into the warm embrace of ambrosial sand and white-foamed waters. The brief coffe-toxicated patio writings, Mass with the consoling vision of Christ on the cross (sometimes, it seems, the part I get most from Mass aside from Communion seems to be the art in the church. Well, as Pope Benedict says, the "face" of Jesus for us, now, are the wounds of Christ. Baptists always seem to me to tie one hand behind their back, given their allergy to religious art. I recall how Joan of Arc requested she see a crucifix while on the stake.

* (Asterisks, the king of awkward blog segues.)

Driving to SC yesterday made me long again for sightseeing travel, even if it be the anodyne type atop a double-decker tour bus. I hunger for travel while at the same time depend on these beach vacations as wonderful full-glottal stops in the slip-stream of time. Apropos of nothing, I think back to a recent visit to someone in the hospital and how intergenerational it felt, how the young were ministering to the very old. I guess that's the cycle of life, the very young and the very old dependent on the service and goodwill of everyone else. The beach is a stage and all must play a part. The elderly remind us of the transience and perishability of convention views of beauty. The young provide the entertainment without which no play works.

Ballykissangel was on the "telly" yesterday. Nostalgia on steroids. It was comforting to see those characters again, to re-experience the associations of my younger self. Ballykissangel and Monarch on the Glen seem to take on greater currency than the quality of the shows would indicate if only because my surrounding life was soaked in a sort of contemplative existence.

MONDAY:
"...every body of a piece, every factual expanse of skin, the contour of them— that’s what language can’t do, curve and heft of it, that stretch…Oil and shadow, fat and wax, grief solidified." - from a Mark Doty poem
The occasional refreshing breeze sluices over the deck, along with the singing of a girl near me who listens to her earphones while maximally unclad. Meanwhile the glassine sea breaks and re-forms constantly. The beach feels crowded. Perhaps it's my imagination or the tide is shortening the beach when I'm down there. It all feels vaguely reminiscent of the local pool, the shrieks and cries, the ebbs and sighs.

I read "In Praise of Hangovers" (which I rarely get anymore due to a more moderate drinking schedule) after moving to an especially sweet spot now, in a "private" space with arable sand around me and spacious ocean in front. I'm listening to tropical music with the pleasant foreknowledge of beers and running ahead. Another run on the beach and this was much easier lung and leg-wise, but much harder chafe-wise. Felled by that most banal of "injuries", I run like I'm bowlegged. Then into the saltwater for a cool, refreshing burn. My motto: neither burn of sun, nor chafe of thigh, nor rip of contact nor ear of swimmer shall keep me from my appointed sea-ly rounds.

TUESDAY:

So the day began, helpfully, with Mass. Good readings and great peacefulness inside that daily mass cocoon. There's something healing and "monasterial" about the ride under the tall pines draped with Spanish moss and the ensuing quiet sanctuary at Holy Family. Daily mass is so qualitatively different from the busy Sunday version.

I suggested lunch at the Smokehouse Grill where we pigged out on pig. We were edified there by the sight of a tattoo on a young woman. Across her upper back, in calligraphic script, read: "St. Genesius". I'd never heard of the saint so Steph checked the 'net and it turns out he's the patron saint of actors, having starred in plays mocking Christ but then experiencing a deep conversion that led eventually to martyrdom. Wow.

Then found a brand new bike path. Pristine forest primeval, a cathedral of pines flanking our way, Spanish moss like melting gargoyles, a place the envy of even Sea Pines. We ended up at Crossing Park, with a meadow labeled as such (how quaint! Who does not love a meadow, that oasis of order surrounded by chaos?)

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It's a body conscious world down here, at least for us. I appreciate the bigger bellied shirtless guys, as if providing cover, as if body grading is on a curve. Steph asks me to point out women closes to her build. It's a shame, really, that we're so weight conscious but it is what it is.

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The tide has carried the sea afar, the white caps twinkling randomly like lightning bug flashes. As a conservative, a lover of stability, I can't say I'm so fond of these liberal tide movements. But I make do, ha. I wonder what the seagulls find so appetizing in these little makeshift eddies of temporary water in small dips on the beach? Crabs I guess. Odd they find a meal in an inch of water.

Wed:
O'er the warm Lybian wave to spread my sails; That happy clime, where each revolving year / The teeming ewes a triple offspring bear. - The Odyssey
In the mornings I tend to be spiritually ambitious and long for a contemplative day (ha!), more salutary and uplifting reading, etc.. In a word, a touch of retreat, of that magical time at St. Theres's with that big, fat, green Bible on in the tiny crucifix'd room. A flavor of spiritual savor.By late afternoon my idea of a good vacation is music and beer. I listen to Rumbon, a Latino station, to try to get me through the equatorial heat of another run. Doesn't really work. Methinks I have some fitness issues.

So now I linger on the sun deck. I see some college kids and remember the richness of time then, of how wealthy they seem not in terms of money but with time. They do not swoon, moonstruck, over seven days off.

This morning watched a sobering documentary-style re-enactment of three fishermen trapped on an island off the coast of Baja California. Fourteen days without much food or water and one of them, sadly, perished. So close! Just one day from being rescued. "His face was different," was how his companion described him about finding him dead. So sad the way he died, having become angry and delusional. One seeks a happy ending in this life if only where "happy" is defined as accepting and repentant.

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The beach is clustered with tents and umbrella cities. Another sign of the wussification of America? I remember when people put a towel down on the sand and liked it. But people are heavier now (and thus deal with heat more poorly) and are more used to a/c. Or people (other than me) have simply gotten smarter, realizing that being in the sun increases the risk of skin cancer!

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Saw a couple women reading the infamous "Fifty Shades of Gray" down here. They weren't turning fifty shades of red.

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Wednesday. 4:38pm. Rocky time. I mean literally time to play the theme from Rocky on my headphones. There's a tissue-thin but significant difference between 3 o'clock and 4 o'clock. The wind picks up, increasing to wind tunnel proportions, and the ocean pulls back creating a lack of intimacy with the water unless you move, which of course we're hellbent on not doing. And by 4 or 5 there's that melancholic slant of sun that signifies not "vacation" but the familiar post-workday light.

Thursday:
"Charm'd with that virtuous draught, the exalted mind / All sense of woe delivers to the wind." - "The Odyssey"
Ah the days of brainlessness, of sea and sky and running wild on the heavy sands. Did a long bike this morning to Harbor Town and environs, including the ever-melting garden and horses at Lawton. Oh to look upon a sunflower demurely bowing in the heat of deep summer! The little dirt path looked like out of "Walton's Mountain". Steph petted the animals and we both admired the huge draft horse "Harley". Very rarely do I touch an animal that big - it provokes a sense of awe. Gave him some water from the palm of my hand and the tongue was ginormous. It's just a whole new order of scale from what I'm used to, i.e. a hundred-pound dog. Equivalent to about 15 dogs!

*
Sprint-ran a mile in the forbidding sands. A month down here and I'd be in pretty good shape. Eating just isn't a priority here, it takes time away from the myriad of other activities. So it's Thursday already. "Ain't it Funny How Time Slips Away," -- I bought the Willie Nelson version of the song off iTunes. With today's music we're not leaving anything on the table: "Jersey Girl" by Springsteen, "Whiskey River" and "Pancho & Lefty" from Willie Nelson, "No Tie-ups" via Wolftone.

There's a slight comfort in happy hour Thursday, in knowing a full day is left at least. I read a bit of a light novel, some sonnets of Shakespeare and a bit of Homer. Something about that rhythmic sing-song of "The Odyssey" and the sonnets that appeal in this beachy place. The seas white-top like canvas sneakers of yore - I recall those squeaks on the gym floor, the glide motion of emotion, the centrifuge at the basket, the sweat, fret, the lithesome cords of net, release spinning ball, wrist fall, crunch of sneaker back to earth.

I like the possibility of recapturing that fluidity of youth, that economy of physical expression, that singing surge of applied adrenalin. It somehow feels important even as the sedentary activity of reading becomes more prominent in my daily life. Perhaps I underestimate the physical in "real" life given how we've acclimated and evolved to move. Lack of movement ought be the exception rather than the rule.

Friday:
Engage your journey o'er the pathless main / Where savage pirates seek through seas unknown / The lives of others, venturous of their own. - The Odyssey
Oh the Spanish moss! Nothing says "Hilton Head" or "vacation" like the silver draperies on trees that initially I thought unsightly or unduly Victorian. Now I associate it with those stellar bike rides and the red pine needle carpets on my right and left. I'll miss you Spanish moss.

Hard not to be a clockwatcher on this last day. 10:45am already? Mornings and early afternoons, of course, are a great deal of what makes a vacation so special given that I relatively have outdoor access to them in the course of a work day.

Back to my trusty steed and the path of wanderlust: and I feel so John Muir-ish: I love each and every tree I pass by, each plant, bush and flower, and the sun is ridiculously dependable (the weather was said to be partly cloudy this week with a chance of thunderstorms each day - ha, fat chance - just sun. In Ohio partly cloudy means half the day is overcast; in south South Carolina it means nothing.) The exhilarating freedom of that long ride, of those sudden glimpses of beautiful golf course between sky high bamboo shoots, of those beds the color of Irish hair, those red-hued pine needle affairs.

It seems almost providential that as the meter ran out on beach time Friday, the skies grew grim and a "Southeaster" began brewing. Severe thunderstorm alert for Hilton Head, and so by 6 we packed up our bags and left on our own terms, slowly making our way before washing the sand off us at the water hose station, and putting an effective end to our trip.

And so the clock has run out and the light dies. Nothing makes for better last-day reading than some good doom and gloom stuff, some of that "the new generation is going to hell in a handbasket," and I received it from "The Fix", a book about addictions of our generation. As Walker Percy might say, doom and gloom is sort of a amphetamine for the soul. One wants some sort of cataclysm to wake one up. Perhaps even on a vacation.





Jeremiah & Prayer

Have been reading the "backstories" of those Old Testament prophets like Jeremiah and Amos via the books about the Bible. The prophets always seem so...negative. And yet I can't quite believe that their "negativity" wouldn't equally apply to today's world, as bad as things are spiritually-speaking, and of course to me. But what really melted my heart was reading about how Jeremiah was quite a peace-loving, confrontation-avoiding soul, one who merely obeyed God. He seemed prone to depressions and certainly suffered greatly for his unpopular message. One sees a lot of similarities between him and Christ, and how really the harsh words of Christ or the prophets are done at great personal cost, how the message must be important enough to warrant that sort of suffering. It makes it easier to hear news (in the form of,"straighten up and fly right!") from someone who really doesn't want to be telling you, or who will suffer on account of it but is willing to suffer because they feel the message is so important for your own spiritual welfare. There's also a small sense of consolation in the mere fact of God-sent prophets in that when things get bad God will tell you so. There are warnings, in other words.

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The pastor at our Byzantine church said the greater miracle than the gospel about Jesus walking on water was what happened just before - Jesus went off by himself to pray. It is the fact that we humans can be in communion with God through prayer which is the true miracle. That we have a intimate relationship with the Creator of all! Amazing indeed.

July 12, 2012

Sympathy for the (Modern) Devil

"Doctrine" and "dogma" are dirty words these days, having fallen into greater disrepute than the gal with the plunging neckline and the micro-skirt in the bad part of town. We've come a long way from when rejoicing Christians greeted the bishops of the 5th century after the latter determined that Mary was indeed the Theotokos, the Mother of God. Even some Catholics are doctrinal-allergic, either because of a weariness with apologetics, fear of division, or simply out of anger at those, like Fr. Corapi, who offered vinegary speech while failing to live up to it. (Hey, hypocrites are people too! And how did Corapi attract such a large crowd if offering vinegar?)

It's like shooting fish in the barrel, talking about how bad, old doctrines get in the way of a relationship with Christ, or that it's better to be "spiritual rather than religious." It's really a shame because many doctrines are quite beautiful, in addition to being true. There's the surety, for example, of the sacraments.

Truth, though, has a hard row to hoe and surely always had. Beauty, it's said, will save the world, a slippery concept perhaps. Pretty pictures? (Mark Doty wrote a poem titled Theories of Beauty.)

And so with that parenthetical, I'll quit pontificating.

More Excerpts from Douthat

Provocative quotes from Ross Douthat's Bad Religion:
The way orthodoxy synthesizes the New Testament’s complexities has forced churchgoers of every prejudice and persuasion to confront a side of Jesus that cuts against their own assumptions. A rationalist has to confront the supernatural Christ, and a pure mystic the worldly, eat-drink-and-be-merry Jesus, with his wedding feasts and fish fries. A Reaganite conservative has to confront the Jesus who railed against the rich; a post–sexual revolution liberal, the Jesus who forbade divorce. There is something to please almost everyone in the orthodox approach to the gospels, but something to challenge them as well. A choose-your-own Jesus mentality, by contrast, encourages spiritual seekers to screen out discomfiting parts of the New Testament and focus only on whichever Christ they find most congenial.

*

Her story captures the grittiness of spiritual exertion—the psychological agony involved in shutting off one’s internal monologue, the cruel physicality of extended prayer and meditation, the boredom that so many rituals can inspire, the necessity of fighting your way through all these obstacles. Then it captures, humorously but also movingly, what so many mystics have found waiting on the other side: the sense of an overwhelming divine love, like a “lion roaring from within my chest”

*

For a faith rooted in mystical experience alone, this is probably an inevitable problem. The sense of harmony, unity, and communion that so many mystics experience can provoke a somewhat blasé attitude toward sin and wickedness, and a dismissive attitude toward ordinary moral duties.

If pushed too far, Julian of Norwich’s mystic’s creed that “all will be well and all will be well and all manner of thing will be well” can become a blithe assumption that every choice and happening is divinely inspired. If God is beyond personality, perhaps He is beyond morality as well—and thus why should his beloved followers worry overmuch about petty questions like whom they happen to be sleeping with, or how best to dispose of their income? After all, all will be well and all will be well and all manner of thing will be well….

The result isn’t megalomania but a milder sort of solipsism, with numinous experience as a kind of spiritual comfort food rather than a spur to moral transformation—there when you need it, and not a bother when you don’t.

*

According to Smith and Denton, the “de facto creed” of America’s youth has five main premises. 1. “A God exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.” 2. “God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.” 3. “The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.” 4. “God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.” 5. “Good people go to heaven when they die.”

The theology’s supposed “moralism,” meanwhile, is astonishingly weak. The God of MTD “is not demanding,” the authors note. “He actually can’t be, because his job is to solve our problems and make people feel good.” Therapeutic religion doesn’t call its adherents to prayer or repentance, to works of charity, or even the observance of a Sabbath. Instead, being a moral person “means being the kind of person that other people will like,” which is to say pleasant, respectful, well-behaved, and nondisruptive.64 Niceness is the highest ethical standard, popularity the most important goal, and high self-esteem the surest sign of sanctity.

Amen

Good Mark Shea quote via MuellerStuff:
"I like that the Catholic Church is so transparently inept and so plainly filled with such obviously failed and ridiculous people, not only among us laity, but throughout the ranks of its clerics as well. My abiding sense, ever since converting, has been one of relief. In sectarian Protestantism, the question is always whether you are pure enough, whether you are a “real Christian”, whether your “really meant it” when you asked Jesus into your heart, whether your latest grotesque failure means your whole life as a Christian has been one huge fraud.

The great thing about the Catholic communion is that it begins every single act of worship with the Confiteor in which we all look at each other and say, “Who am I kidding? i don’t belong here any more than you do, so let’s pray for each other and ask the the Graduates in Heaven to put in a good word for us, trusting that God will cut us slack again just so long as we keep cutting each other slack.” It’s a place where there’s room for me: a screwup who can’t tell my butt from a hole in the ground who has no business darkening the door of a Church, much less brazenly walking up there and receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Almighty God, if you please. The whole project is so outrageous from beginning to end that my only excuse is that God tells all these other people they not only can but must do it, so I guess it’s okay that a dubious jerk like me does it too."

July 11, 2012

N.T. Wright on Bible Reading


Good link on reading the Bible thoroughly instead of only in liturgical bite-sized pieces.

Various & Sundry

Mark Doty poem on sunflowers (I may've gotten the line breaks wrong):
All smolder and oxblood,
these flowerheads, flames of August:
fierce bronze, or murky rose, petals concluded in gold—
And as if fire called its double
down the paired goldfinches come swerving quick
on the branching towers, so the blooms sway with the heft of hungers indistinguishable, now, from the blossoms.

If I were a sunflower I would be the branching kind,
my many faces held out in all directions,
all attention, awake to any golden incident descending;
drinking in the world with my myriads of heads, I’d be my looking.

Nothing gold can stand apart from any other;
the sunflowers are trafficked by birds,
open to bees and twilight, implicated, alert:
fire longs to meet itself flaring,
longing wants a multiplicity of faces,
branching and branching out,
heads mouths eyes wishing always to double their own heat.
*

Felt significantly fatigued today after yesterday's exertions. Muscle soreness and overall tiredness such that it was quite an effort to do the 3.5 mile hike at the park. Then a quick doze on the hammock after googling, "Why don't the Jews build a third temple." Lots of reasons it would seem, at least in present day Israel given that there's a mosque on the Temple Mount. I'm ever fascinated by the anecdote rarely mentioned, that of a temple being attempted in the 4th century only to have it destroyed by inexplicable fires (i.e. from God).

I find it inspiring, these bible scholars, who see how human the making of the Scriptures looks and yet still believe it as God's revelation. It takes more faith arguably than someone thinking God gave the King James version directly to the apostles.

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It's surprising to me that you can't buy an audio book (of recent vintage) for your smartphone except by signing up with something like audible.com and incurring a monthly charge. Count me out, audible.

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So many good things on the 'net (or the "internets" as some people call it) recently. A memorable post by Mrs. Darwin on our mutual swan song, death, and how we have confidence that Mary will take us to Jesus. Jennifer F. of Conversion Diary put it starkly in a post on a talk with her gay friend: "We are a religion of the crucifix, we give up everything for the promise of endless joy," or words to that effect. Okay that deserves checking for the actual quote: "I have converted to the religion of the crucifix, a belief system that promises joy in exchange for losing it all." Good Betty Duffy post as well. (Purely incidental, by the way, that all three happen to be attractive women. All my favorite novelists are male.)

*
Reading "The Fix", a book about how addiction is a sliding scale not an either/or thing and how we're all becoming addicted to our electronic devices and such. (Ironically, if you're addicted to books then he's a part of the problem!) Also "had" to get Mary Karr's memoir "Lit" in the hopes it'll be HK-like. I sing, "Gonna read my ass off / read my ass off/ read my little ass off.." to '80s tune "Heat Is On" by Glenn Fry. TMI perhaps. Karr says that alcohol contributed to her depression ("after all, it is a depressant," she says) but I wonder if that is to typecast alcohol. It may be a depressant, but it seems to have a stimulative effect on me. Alcohol always wakes me up, makes me more alert. I can rarely stay up late unless I'm drinking, which suggests it's not as much a sedative as one would think.

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It never quite dawned on me why the Twelve Step program so emphasizes addiction as disease. The thinking is that if you think it's your fault - the other option - then you'll be caught in a shame cycle where you desire the drug again to escape the shame. I suppose there's a little bit of this in the sin psychology of church liberals: if you tell people they sin and they subsequently feel bad about themselves, they'll be more likely to lean even more on those sinful structures. One gets the sense that the only way out is the pure positivity of God and to focus on him, that yes we sin but He forgives.

*
So how could I leave Adoration? I wasn't signed up, but I was alone with Our Lord and it felt wrong to leave him "unguarded". I waited another ten minutes and it looked like I should leave so I could have time to eat before going to the hospital to visit someone. But when I started to head out, I came across the sign-up list with a note that said words to the effect, "Please wait for the next person to come to Adoration. Someone needs to be here at all times." So how could I leave? I went back inside and sat down in a rare act of obedience. (Also ringing in my ears was Fr. Martin's tweet about how Christ asked us "not to worship him, though we should, but to follow him.") And not ten seconds later a family came in. I smiled. God just wanted that small act of obedience.

*
Birds sing into the drink
of our fountain, lozenging water,
spritzing it over their backs with sprightly
half-jumps beneath a Spanish-like sun.

*
The thermometer cracked the 100 degree mark the other day, a rather rare event in Central Ohio. This sudden transition from low 80s to 100s was swift - the turning of seasons ought be gradual (except when leaving a poor one, ha). Certainly there is something lost in that tissuey, mythical air of mid-June so brief! Cottonwood fuzz no more, where once we spent evenings on the patio until the lightning bugs arrived now we spend most time indoors, the heat and humidity quickly oppressive. How sad to see June's flower so quickly wither into July's maturity!

*
From Pope Benedict:
"Then, the proverbial scene of the doubting Thomas that occurred eight days after Easter is very well known.....'Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe'.


Basically, from these words emerges the conviction that Jesus can now be recognized by his wounds rather than by his face. Thomas holds that the signs that confirm Jesus' identity are now above all his wounds, in which he reveals to us how much he loved us. In this the Apostle is not mistaken.".

Our Dog in his "Hidey-Hole"

July 10, 2012

Book Lust

Came across the following humorous post on a Logos Bible Software forum (as I consider the desirability of this resource):
I recently upgraded to the Portfolio base product because of several resources in it which I'd had on my wish list for some time which I realized would be cheaper to buy if I simply upgraded to that highest package, and it came with a bunch of other stuff too, which I wasn't really wanting, but some of which I've found to be interesting. I said here on the forum after upgrading "There is nothing left in my 'books to lust after' list" -- but it turned out that it didn't take me long (two days!) to start going through Logos's entire catalogue of books to see if there was anything else they had which I might be interested in buying someday, and sure enough, I've populated my book-lust-list again.

Ecclesiastes 5:10 says it well (with my amendments due to a recently discovered textual error in the original manuscripts): "He who loves money books never has money books enough."  Here is the more extended version...which seems to have been translated from the corrected manuscripts:
10Those who love books never have enough;

those who love Logos are never satisfied with their library.

This too is meaningless.

11 As resources increase,

so do those who consume them.

And what benefit are they to the owners

except to feast their eyes on them?

12 The sleep of basic Bible Study owners is sweet,

whether they read little or much,

but the abundance of Portfolio owners

permits them no sleep.

July 09, 2012

July 05, 2012

Good Read

In the Paris Review, an interview with poet/memoirist Mary Karr. She sounds Heather King-ish: ex-alcoholic who found God and has a talent for writing.

A couple snippets:
In times of pressure or anxiety—like when Mother was dying—I’ll do a daily rosary for everybody. Or I’ll light candles and climb in the bathtub, try to put my mind where my body is—the best prayers are completely silent. Otherwise, I do a lot of begging. I just beg, beg, beg, beg like a dog, for myself and those I love. And I do the cursory, “If it’s your will . . .” but God knows that I want everything when I want it. He knows I’m selfish and want a zillion bucks and big tits and to be five-ten. So I’m not fooling him with that “If it’s your will” shit. The real prayer happens when I’m really desperate, like when I was going through a period of illness last year. Amazing what power there is in surrender to suffering. Most of my life I dodged it, or tried to drink it away—“it” being any reality that discomfited me.

*

People have different ideas of what natural is. Since the romantics we’ve all been big fans of the natural, as though natural equals good. Shitting in your pants is natural, wanting to boink the pizza-delivery kid is natural. Stabbing people who get in front of you at the cafeteria line—that’s probably a natural impulse. Where do you draw the line between what’s good natural and what’s bad natural?

*

Even in Primo Levi’s camp, there were small sources of hope: you got on the good work detail, or you got on the right soup line. That’s what’s so gorgeous about humanity. It doesn’t matter how bleak our daily lives are, we still fight for the light. I think that’s our divinity. We lean into love, even in the most hideous circumstances. We manage to hope.

July 03, 2012

Thank You Nordlinger

I find it interesting, these conservative bravos we're hearing for Chief Justice Roberts. From George Weigel to George Will, we hear America singing, giving Roberts the benefit of the (grave) doubt. 

Some, like Weigel, are relieved that the Court hasn't taken upon itself too much power.  After all, this is the institution who gave us unrestricted abortion - therefore, the chorus grows, we must trust the people rather than nine robed lawyers. I can certainly see that, but at the same time I see how the Founding Fathers never intended a pure democracy. The system of checks and balances was implemented for a reason, and if sometimes judges error and sometimes the people (or president) error, the idea is that hopefully we'll err less with three branches of government.  And if even Justice Kennedy, for heaven sakes, saw the Obama bill as overreach then, well... 

Pure democracy is much less than it's cracked up to be.  California, of state governments, has arguably the purest form of democracy and look where that got them. Bring back the smoke-filled room in CA I say. Give me a representative republic, not a democracy. If you don't like the elites, then change the education system that produces them, don't try to write them out of the Constitution. 

Jay Nordlinger shoots and scores with his post at National Review:
Let me try something out on you: People say, “Wait for the next election. Settle this thing — settle health care — in the political arena, where it belongs.” I have used this kind of language myself, about various issues. But, you know? Every branch has its duty. We have separation of powers in this country. We have checks and balances.

 The executive doesn’t have carte blanche for four years; Congress doesn’t have carte blanche, for any period....If a bill is unconstitutional, it is the duty of the Supreme Court to say so. Every branch has a role, every officer has a part to play.