Monday with Merton


  

The lights of prayer that make us imagine we are beginning to be angels are sometimes only signs that we are finally beginning to be men. We do not have a high enough opinion of our own nature. We think we are at the gates of heaven and we are only just beginning to come into our own realm as free and intelligent beings.” 

― Thomas Merton, The Ascent to Truth

Bebop and Black Berets


  

A 7 Quick Takes Post as hosted at the This Ain’t the Lyceum Blog.

-1-

“Yesterday I was crucified with Him; today I am glorified with Him; yesterday I died with Him; today I am quickened with Him; yesterday I was buried with Him; today I rise with Him. But let us offer to Him Who suffered and rose again for us— you will think perhaps that I am going to say gold, or silver, or woven work or transparent and costly stones, the mere passing material of earth, that remains here below, and is for the most part always possessed by bad men, slaves of the world and of the Prince of the world. Let us offer ourselves, the possession most precious to God, and most fitting; let us give back to the Image what is made after the Image. Let us recognize our Dignity; let us honour our Archetype; let us know the power of the Mystery, and for what Christ died.”

St. Gregory Nazianzen

-2- 

While reading the last issue of First Things magazine this week, I stumbled across a reference in one of R. R. Reno’s columns to a Catholic humor website, Eye on the Tiber.  It is worth a visit, although not all their pieces, IMHO, are strictly satire:

“Geneva, Switzerland–New guidelines set down by the international community during the fifth Geneva Convention this week has extensively defined the basic, spiritual wartime rights of the Church Militant by outlawing all Marty Haugen music used in and around war-zones. What is officially being called The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Parishioners in Times of Spiritual War has become the fifth convention establishing the standards on international law for the humanitarian treatment of spiritual war. “Our new resolution states that all Catholics who are in the process of spiritual warfare are to be treated humanely,” Said General of the Counsel Robert Durant at a press conference earlier this morning. “The following acts are to be henceforth prohibited: Violence to life and person, in particular, cruel treatment and torture by means of being made to listen to Gather Us In. Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment such as asking parishioners to sing along to We Remember. And finally, all acts requiring parishioners to listen to said music during the reception of communion.”

I also noted this eye-catching headline : “BREAKING: Vatican To Posthumously Grant Henry VIII Annulment; Queen To Dissolve Church Of England”  And then there’s this bit of news that I missed from last year:  “Pope Francis Washes Feet Of Eight Men, One Woman, A Muslim, Ferret, And A Double Amputee”  What?  You can find it all HERE

-3-

A week or so ago, I came across yet another interesting article on the Crisis Magazine website, this time concerning the possible issuance of an encyclical on the environment from Pope Francis.  My original reaction on hearing such a document was in the offing was that it was about the worst idea I’d ever heard.  There seemed little that could be said, in the current political atmosphere concerning all things “green”, that wouldn’t be reinterpreted as support for the radical environmental agenda.   All I could envision was how such a document would be twisted and spun by those of leftist persuasion to suit their own purposes, and discredit Church teaching on creation into the bargain.  As the writer, John M. Grondowski notes:

“To put it mildly, the moral question of what to do with your empty Coke can is a consideration quite remote from the central doctrines of the faith. Because environmentalism has acquired a quasi-religious, often pantheistic, character in some circles, it seems imperative that any encyclical on the environment necessarily articulate a Christian perspective of the overall question, consistent with the Christian vision of man’s place in the universe as imago Dei, responsible for, part of, yet qualitatively different from all other creation.”

There is, though, a positive message that could be offered with an encyclical on the environment; the Church has much to offer from Tradition to further the conversation on the subject, especially as regards man as the imago dei, unique in all of creation.  So, there shoud be concern surrounding the issuance of any encyclical on the enviroment, as Grondowski writes:

“Clear articulation of an “integral theology” that sees man as part of creation but still a qualitatively different part of it is imperative. It needs to be explained, taught, and catechized. Absent that, this writer fears that the Church may often find herself co-opted into projects whose ultimate consequences are alien to a Catholic vision of a humane world. There will be a temptation—as in some strains of ecumenism—to shortcut the heavy lifting of addressing doctrinal disagreement by rushing towards the “practical” (e.g., something practical to do, like intercommunion, before we even agree on what the Eucharist is). Absent a common why we are doing what we are doing, the what may lead us where, in the end, we do not and should not want to go.”

You can read the entire piece, HERE

-4-

To continue that line of thought, and to offer an example of Church teaching concerning man as the imago dei, there is this quote from Pope St. John XXIII’s encyclical, Pacem in Terris

“9. Any well-regulated and productive association of men in society demands the acceptance of one fundamental principle: that each individual man is truly a person. His is a nature, that is, endowed with intelligence and free will. As such he has rights and duties, which together flow as a direct consequence from his nature. These rights and duties are universal and inviolable, and therefore altogether inalienable. 
10. When, furthermore, we consider man’s personal dignity from the standpoint of divine revelation, inevitably our estimate of it is incomparably increased. Men have been ransomed by the blood of Jesus Christ. Grace has made them sons and friends of God, and heirs to eternal glory.”

-5-

Here in Colorado, spring is arriving early.  It’s not uncommon for us to have snowfall late into April, but we seem to be missing it this year.  While I welcome the sunny skies and warm temperatures, I keep reminding myself we need the moisture badly and I am almost, almost, tempted to pray for more snow.  One thing is for sure, you never know what to expect from one day to the next here in the Rockies.  

-6-

In the April issue of First Things, David Bentley Hart’s column was about a conversation he once shared with a Thomist friend of his concerning the topic of eschatology.  They weren’t considering the classic philosophical questions involved in the matter.  No, Hart was talking specifically about whether we will once again see our doggies and kitties after passing to the other side.  Hart, an Eastern Orthodox theologian, believes we will, his Thomist friend, as might be expected, did not.  He describes the matter thus:

“The occasion of the exchange, incidentally, was a long and rather tediously circular conversation concerning Christian eschatology. My interlocutor was an adherent to a particularly colorless construal of the beatific vision, one that allows for no real participation of animal creation (except eminently, through us) in the final blessedness of the Kingdom; I, by contrast, hope to see puppies in paradise, and persevere in faith principally for that reason. On his side, all the arguments were drawn from Thomas and his expositors; on mine, they were drawn from Scripture; naturally, limited to the lesser source of authority, I was at a disadvantage.”

It’s interesting, though, that Hart’s position isn’t just based on some sentimental longing to see pets lost during his lifetime.  He offers the example of a Christian ethicist he knows who, in his concern to keep man in his proper order of creation as the imago dei, refuses to allow his children to display any concern or feeling for animal suffering or pain, or to believe that animals are capable of anything close to human emotions.  This, as with most truths stretched beyond their limits, is a gross distortion.  As Hart points out, compassion is better served when it is expanded rather than diminished.  Teaching a callous disregard for one aspect of creation can only lead to callousness the rest of it.  Not a good idea. 

-7-

Incidentally, I loved the way Hart described his partner in conversation as:

“. . . a young, ardently earnest Thomist . . . you know, one of those manualist neo-paleo-neo-Thomists of the baroque persuasion you run across ever more frequently these days, gathered in the murkier corners of coffee bars around candles in wine bottles, clad in black turtlenecks and berets, sipping espresso, smoking Gauloises, swaying to bebop, composing dithyrambic encomia to that ­absolutely gone, totally wild, starry-bright and vision-wracked, mad angelic daddy-cat Garrigou-Lagrange. . . .”  

I know it’s always a pain having to deal with those “manualist neo-paleo-neo-Thomists of the baroque persuasion” I constantly seem to meet up with in Starbucks these days.  It’s just annoying, the way they keep hanging around.  And don’t get me started on the bebop!

The End Point of Discipline


John Cassian

A 7 Quick Takes post as hosted at This Ain’t The Lyceum

-1-

 “In the same way, fasting, vigils, scriptural meditation, nakedness and total deprivation do not constitute perfection but are the means to perfection. They are not in themselves the end point of a discipline, but an end is attained to through them.”

St. John Cassian

-2-

Football season is over, or is it?  As we start the first day of spring, I feel like I’m being inundated with football news including the upcoming rookie draft, the free agency free for all, and now the veteran combine.  I miss the days when events came in their season, and left when out of season.  Just as I wouldn’t want turkey and stuffing every day of the year, I don’t want football every day of the year.  I guess it’s just become too big a business to be left alone in the off season.

-3-

Do you realize it’s only four months until the Broncos open their 2015 training camp?

-4-

Chesterton would say, I think, that he is a Christian because the teachings of Christianity ring true and provide the best explanation of what we can see happening in the world around us.  Every other proposed explanation of the way the world is constructed, the way people act, fails, often spectacularly.  Is that a good enough reason to say that a person should be a Christian?  I think, in The Everlasting Man, Chesterton accounts for the fact that much of what is found in the Bible is beyond our understanding by saying that, if you were looking for something written under the inspiration of God, that’s what you might expect.  In any case, I recognize for my part that there is, indeed, a good deal in the Bible I don’t understand.  But, as Mark Twain said, there’s enough in the Bible I do understand that I’m bothered by it.  Perhaps that’s as it should be too.

-5-

I see my old denomination; the rather aptly named PCUSA (standing for Presbyterian Chuch USA) is taking further action to bring about its own destruction.  Their latest moves include approving same sex marriage to condoning abortion.  Since 1992, PCUSA has lost 37% of its members and the decline will only be accelerated with these latest moves.  One can’t help but wonder what they are thinking.

-6-

Everywhere you look these days, doesn’t much matter the venue, you’ll see someone using a cell phone.  This happens even in Church, even in the most important business meetings being conducted by the supreme boss, both locations where you would think people would have enough common sense to show some respect.  I think, though, that the cell phone is a positive instrument for creating and putting on display for all to see, disrespect.  It used to be considered the height of disrespect to meet with someone, have them over to dinner or meet for lunch or a beer and such and sit there paying no attention to them by reading or by talking to someone else or writing a letter.  It just wasn’t done and was thought the height of rudeness.

-7-

I am now out of ideas, and, for lack of anything more positive to contribute, I will sign off for this week.

As We See It Happening


St Athansius
St. Athanasius

A 7 Quick Takes Post as hosted at This Ain’t the Lyceum

-1-

 It is right that creation should exist as he has made it and as we see it happening, because this is his will, which no one would deny. For if the movement of the universe were irrational, and the world rolled on in random fashion, one would be justified in disbelieving what we say. But if the world is founded on reason, wisdom and science, and is filled with orderly beauty, then it must owe its origin and order to none other than the Word of God. St. Athanasius

-2-

I’ve been spending some time at the company I retired from, helping out on various and sundry projects.  It’s been fun, in it’s own way, but has taken time away from retirement and recreation.  While I’ve enjoyed being there, I’m quite happy to be more or less back to my normal routine, and back to blogging.

-3-

Timothy, of the excellent Catholic Bibles blog, has taken on the challenge of using only one Bible, not one translation but one edition, for reading and prayer for 2015.  I think that’s a wonderful idea because it’s a demonstration of the Benedictine spirit of stability, something I struggle with daily.  I have a hard enough time sticking with one book to read through to it’s completion, much less one Bible translation, for more than a few days.

As far as Bibles go, I tend to read a passage in, say, the RSV version, and something makes me wonder how that passage might read in the NABRE version, and so I’m off.  I just learned about this experiment a few days ago and I’m tempted to try myself but I know I would fail within a week.  Besides, it’s already a week into the New Year, so it’s too late.  It will be interesting to see how Timothy does with his experiment and if he can last all year.

-4-

There was an interesting piece by Anthony Esolen on the Crisis magazine website about last week, basically, the disappearance of Catholic culture.  One thing he talked about, something that might not seem very significant, is calendars that stores used to give out back in the day.  He writes,

 “I could recall the calendars that my grandmother got from De Rosa’s grocery store. They were Catholic calendars, with Sundays and holy days of obligation in red, names of the saints in black for their feast days, the emblem of a fish for each Friday and the weekdays of Lent, and the mysterious Latin word “Feria” for weekdays without a saint and outside of the great octaves. It was time, sanctified; to be replaced by time, blank.”

Growing up in Detroit, I remember those calendars being given out by stores and I knew, even as a Protestant, that most of the symbols and such used by the calendar makers, were there for Catholics.  I was impressed by that, us Protestants got no such special treatment and I, admittedly only vaguely, understood those symbols represented something important.  I think the absence of even something so small has had a tremendous role in diminishing the faith of Catholics over the years.  The sad thing is that Catholics don’t even know they should be missing these things.

He also offers an interesting explanation of how all this came about: “Intellectuals are the great image-smashers. Sometimes, when they fall victim to the virus of pride, they scorn anything that cannot be reduced to propositions comprehensible to their capacious three-gallon intellects. And things of the body resist that reduction. The Babe in the manger is not a theological proposition.”  In a way, the faith is far too simple for what Spiro Agnew once called “pointy headed intellectuals.”  It is frustrating.

The article is HERE.

-5-

Sometimes I look around at this world we all now live in and I wonder if there hasn’t been a crazy pill introduced into the water supply of every nation in the West, especially in those used by those in intellectual circles.  Here’s just one example from an article in First Things last week about the latest trend in studying English:

 “At Stanford, literary scholar and marxist critic Franco Moretti proposes a radical plan for English departments: less reading, more computing. With an ocean of texts yet to be studied, literary-historians must, Moretti argues, adopt the methods of quantitative history, geography, and evolutionary theory.”

REALLY?  Can you explain to me why anyone with any sense would want to apply quantitative history study to The Brothers Karamazov?   The trend is called “post literacy”, I kid you not.  Surely, some time soon, the adults in the room are going to wake up and say ENOUGH.  Won’t they?

The article is here, and worth a read.  I think.

-6-

I’ve made a great discovery over the last month or so, a quite useful little app that was promoted on some web site or other called “Pocket”.  With this app you can save copies of articles you stumble across but don’t have time to read, or that you’d just like to keep in a safe place for future reference.  I know, the whole world knows about Pocket, but it was a wondrous discovery for me, so I’m sharing it.

-7-

This is a bit of a warning, there’s going to be a post next week that will be longer than any post I’ve done here so far; I just wanted to provide some brief explanation of what I hope I’m doing with it.

Simply put, I read Fr. James Schall’s book, Another Sort of Learning, again this January, as I have done every January for the last three or four years.  This year, I decided to write about it.  That’s not quite true, I began to draft a post about it roughly eighteen months ago and just never finished it.  Now I have and you’ll get to read it.  One of the best things about Another Sort of Learning, is that it has list upon list of really good books that one should read, some of them even appear on my Classic Catholic’s Reading List.  The result of all this is that I’ve set myself the goal of reading one of the books on Fr. Schall’s lists each month this year and writing about it here.  There, you’ve been warned.

An Unprofitable Effort


A 7 Quick Takes Post as hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler at her  Conversion Diary blog.

-1-

St.-Symeon-the-New-Theologian-3This is a quote from St. Symeon the New Theologian, an Eastern saint:

“The aim of all those who live in God is to please our Lord Jesus Christ and become reconciled with God the Father through receiving the Holy Spirit, thus securing their salvation, for in this consists the salvation of every soul. If this aim and this activity is lacking, all other labour is useless and all other striving is in vain. Every path of life which does not lead to this is without profit.”

-2-

I’ve been pondering the events of the recent Synod, and all the electronic ink spilled over the event. It seems nearly every blog and Catholic news outlet has weighed in with an opinion on the topics covered by the bishops. I can’t help but wonder if there aren’t far too many Catholics more involved in Church politics than in building the faith. Has all of this controversy been a good thing? Has the Church been helped by it all? I think it’s been greatly harmed. I wish more people would heed the words of St. Symeon, “if [reconciliation with God] and this activity is lacking, all other labour is useless . . .”

-3-

I like to make up these meager blog posts on my iPad. In the past, I’ve used the Pages app from Apple, but this week Microsoft made their Office 365 apps available free on mobile devices. The switch seemed a no-brainer since the Office 365 apps are virtually the same as  the PC versions. However, it seems they are no where near as stable as the PC version. I had this post completed, almost completed, when I decided to copy a quote from the web and it came in an extremely large font. In trying to correct this, I managed to wipe out the entire post with one keystroke. Gone forever.   Ain’t technology grand?

-4-

Am I the only one who thinks that we’ve reached the saturation point with football on TV? I’m beginning to think so; when 30 million people tune in to watch the Cowboys and the Seahawks you might think something in society is a bit out of whack. On a personal level, the thought crosses my mind that I’d rather watch 3 hours of Mark Udall speeches than another football game.   I enjoy football as much as the next guy, but maybe we’re being fed far too much of a good thing.  Just sayin . . .

-5-

An article this past week by George Weigel tells about the work being by a Professor Alan Guth on the Big-Bang Theory. He refers to an article about Dr. Guth that appeared in the Boston Globe.

“The universe is roughly 13.8 billion years old, and it began from a patch of material packed with this repulsive gravity. The patch was . . . tiny—one 100-billionth the size of a single proton. But the repulsive gravity was like a magic wand, doubling the patch in size every tenth of a trillionth or a trillionth of a second. And it waved its doubling power over the patch about 100 times in a row, until it got to the size of [a] marble. And that happened within a hundredth of a billionth of a trillionth of a second. As a point of comparison, the smallest fraction of time that the average human being can detect is about one-tenth of a second.”

As Mr. Weigel points out, the question is begged, what happened just before that first trillionth trillionth of a second?  Physical scientists are coming around to that fact it’s impossible to know and, therefore, the possibility of a Creator can’t be ruled out. It’s only those working in the life sciences, that breeding ground of militant atheists, that are still incapable of recognizing such a question exists. It’s an interesting article and you can see the whole thing HERE.

-6-

This must be the week for reading newspapers. An article in the Wall Street Journal last week reviewed Amazon’s new Kindle. It may just be the best thing to come down the pike since fur lined underwear, according to the reviewer.  However, unlike most e-reader commenters, he doesn’t venture into electronic vs print book controversy, rather he looks at dedicated e-readers vs e-books on tablets. In doing so, he makes the interesting point that reading books on tablets is a sure way to invite distraction from email and other message notifications. He says, “Reading books shouldn’t be part of a multi-tasking regimen. If we’re going to remain literate in the years to come, we need to think about how we read, and not just what we read.”

I agree that we need to think of both, but can’t get to the idea that electronic books are the way to do that. The thought keeps crossing my mind that, if the internet was ever hijacked by people of evil intent, or if somehow the power ever goes out (conspiracy nut? Nah) all those books on the web would be gone. Yes, it’s possible to burn print books, but all of them?  BTW, it’s been a long time since I’ve thought multi-tasking of any kind was a good idea.

-7-

Do ya’ think?

“Morning Showers Should End by Early Afternoon”—headline, Atlanta Journal-Constitution website, Nov. 6

H/Tt to the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto’s Best of the Web Today from last Friday.

 

Monday with Merton


image

From Ascent to the Truth

“One might compare the journey of the soul to mystical union, by way of pure faith, to the journey of a car on a dark highway. The only way the driver can keep to the road is by using his headlights. So in the mystical life, reason has its function. The way of faith is necessarily obscure. We drive by night. Nevertheless our reason penetrates the darkness enough to show us a little of the road ahead. It is by the light of reason that we interpret the signposts and make out the landmarks along our way.

Those who misunderstand Saint John of the Cross imagine that the way of nada is like driving by night, without any headlights whatever. This is a dangerous misunderstanding of the saint’s doctrine.”

Monday with Merton


image

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.

Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”

Thomas Merton

Love is Worth More Than Intelligence


A 7 Quick Takes on Friday post, hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary

(1)

“Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. There may be legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not… with regard to abortion and euthanasia.” Pope Benedict XVI

This quote highlights one of the surprises I had in store for me coming into the Church. My misconception centers around an idea common to most Protestants, that the Catholic Church defines, in detail, everything a Catholic must mindlessly believe. The surprise was how relatively little the Church holds as infallible dogma; there are a great many areas where Catholics are free, with a well formed conscience, to make up their own minds.

(2)

“Christianity taught men that love is worth more than intelligence.” Jacques Maritain

Some times a person can be too smart for their own good, and the good of those around them. We’re seeing amble evidence of it in the newspapers and TV news shows this week, for sure.

(3)

Got the first clarinet lesson in this week, and boy, do I have a lot of work to do. I’m having to relearn everything from putting the horn together to preparing the reed before playing and a whole host of other good stuff. My main problem, and I’m not sure why it is so, is keeping good time, as the music is written. Another surprise this week, I’m not squeaking and squealing as much as I expected. My instructor plays in a couple of local symphony orchestras and teaches classical clarinet, so it’s not surprising he’ BIG on details. I’m going to be doing a lot of exercises, but I’m using the very same book I used when I first started playing.
(4)

image“Life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans.” John Lennon

Another thing my clarinet instructor insists on is 45 minutes per day of practice, at least. I thought that wouldn’t be any problem at all. Turns out, that’s hard work! Also, I’m practicing during the time I used to do writing, so I’m having to rearrange my routine. One of the nice things about Benedictine spirituality is that it’s built for situations like this; if you have something planned you needn’t get upset when your nicely conceived plans fall down around your ears. John Lennon would have been a very good Benedictine.

(5)

“One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.” Gilbert K. Chesterton

(6)

“Be proud that you are helping God to bear the cross, and don’t grasp at comforts. It is only mercenaries who expect to be paid by the day. Serve Him without pay.” — St. Teresa of Ávila

(7)

imageToday is the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings during World War II.  These landings were crucial to the defeat of Nazi Germany and I ask you all to take a moment today to remember the incredible heroism of those American, British and allied soldiers who took part in those landings.  We owe our freedom to them.

On Prigs and Self-Righteous Bullies


(1)

I’m going to try to do a post today, even though I’ve done little thinking about much of anything for the last 10 days. I’m just now beginning to recover from a cold cum sinus infection that progressed with alarming speed into a nasty case of bronchitis. Bronchitis at this altitude (7,000 MSL) can be quite debilitating, even if it’s not particularly severe. I made what I hope is a final trip to the doctor yesterday and got a course of killer antibiotics that I think have already begun to make a difference. I hope to be back to what passes for normal for me next week. Bear with me for any incoherences I commit with this post. I see our Holy Father has a cold, so I guess I’m in good company and can take some consolation from that.

(2)
One especially noteworthy event of the past week, in my opinion, is the collapse of plans to hold a black mass at Harvard. I’m amazed, and quite heartened, that young Catholic students at the university were able to fend this thing off. I think this is a major triumph over the forces of ignorance and, dare I say it, evil, so pervasive in the world we live in. It could only have come from the prayers of many Catholics and, as I said, it’s quite heartening.

(3)
Actually, it wasn’t only students at Harvard who opposed the holding of a black mass, it looks like the president of the school also opposed the thing. Here’s a quote from the Catholic Culture website:

” ‘Vigorous and open discussion and debate are essential to the pursuit of knowledge,’ Faust said in a May 12 statement. Although she denounced the plans for a enactment of the black mass as “abhorrent,” she said that the principle of free speech on campus weighed against any action to stop the event. Faust announced:

‘I plan to attend a Eucharistic Holy Hour
and Benediction at St. Paul’s Church on our campus on Monday evening in order to join others in reaffirming our respect for the Catholic faith at Harvard and to demonstrate that the most powerful response to offensive speech is not censorship, but reasoned discourse and robust dissent.’ “

I think I agree with her.

(4)
cropped-chesterton-2.jpgStill, as might be expected, Chesterton has a better answer:

“The devil can quote Scripture for his purpose; and the text of Scripture which he now most commonly quotes is, “The Kingdom of heaven is within you.” That text has been the stay and support of more Pharisees and prigs and self-righteous spiritual bullies than all the dogmas in creation; it has served to identify self-satisfaction with the peace that passes all understanding. And the text to be quoted in answer to it is that which declares that no man can receive the kingdom except as a little child. What we are to have inside is a childlike spirit; but the childlike spirit is not entirely concerned about what is inside. It is the first mark of possessing it that one is interested in what is outside. The most childlike thing about a child is his curiosity and his appetite and his power of wonder at the world. We might almost say that the whole advantage of having the kingdom within is that we look for it somewhere else.” G. K. Chesterton

(5)
On the other hand, I see that the administration and student government of Notre Dame (of all places) has turned down the application of a pro-marriage, pro-life organization on campus. See the story here. There is still much work to do, apparently all the more on the campuses of so-called Catholic universities. And then, there’s Cardinal Kasper. It boggles the mind.

(6)
Part of my sinus and bronchial problems has come, I suspect, from the crazy weather we’ve had in Colorado over the past two weeks. We’ve gone from several inches of snow and freeze warnings to rain and to bright sun and warm temperatures. Ah, springtime in the Rockies.

(7)
There are many fine blogs participating in the weekly 7 Quick Takes posts that Jennifer Fulwiler graciously hosts each week. Please stop by there to read them all.

 

I Think, Therefore . . .


A 7 Quick Takes Post

(1)

I have a funny quote from Fred Allen to start off this week. It appeared in our local newspaper on Sunday:

“A committee is a group of people who individually can do nothing, but who, as a group, can meet and decide nothing can be done.”

Kind of reminds me of Congress, or maybe the U.N. Oops!

(2)

Cogito ergo cogito sum —

I think; therefore, I think I am. Ambrose Bierce

imageI offer this cogent quote from Ambrose Bierce because earlier this week, while surfing the web, I discovered something called The Original Ambrose Bierce Site – Definitive Ambrose Bierce Site Since 1996. I thought that hugely interesting, especially considering Bierce died in 1914. I knew Bierce was a genius, but didn’t know he was so precocious.

(3)

April Fool’s Day passed again this year, as usual, mostly unnoticed by me. It’s part of the body of my deepest inbred prejudices that I hate practical jokes; which meant, of course that without fail during my working days there had to be one lost soul in the office who was absolutely in love with the things. I have in mind a certain fate for all such folks that I won’t indulge in sharing here, out of charity, of course.

(4)

There’s been a pressing matter on my mind this week so pressing it’s forced me into inaction. It encompasses a question that I absolutely should find the answer to but can’t work up the ambition. The problem is the proper use of commas. I know I overindulge the little beggars I put them in where they have no business being or omit them from their proper places altogether. But I can’t leave the darned things alone. I’m stymied though by memories of 7th and 8th grade English classes with their interminable lessons in punctuation grammar and worst of all the diagramming of sentences the reason for which I’ve never yet understood. Maybe I should just ban commas from the rest of this blog and never use them again.

(5)

We woke up on Thursday morning to 2″ of snow, a winter weather warning in effect, and accidents occurring all over town. On Wednesday afternoon, we were sitting in shirtsleeves on the deck, enjoying the warm sun. Ah, spring time in the Rockies, you just never know what to expect.

(6)

Speaking of punctuation marks, I’ve become more aware of in the last month or two of the abuse of the lowly period (.). The internet has dealt a severe blow to the power and prestige of this little dot on the screen and I’ve been just a guilty as the next fellow. For example, for years now I’ve written such things as the name of the English author we all love without periods — GK Chesterton, when I know in my guts it should be G. K. Chesterton. It’s oh, so easy to leave out the periods when typing a name or abbreviation on the web. This sloppiness has, in my opinion, led to even worse offenses such as leaving out capital letters completely which is fine for e. e. cummings but specifically disallowed for everyone else. And don’t get me started on the complete abandonment of proper grammar and spelling; there are many things I see on the web, even on the sites of large newspapers and magazines, that make me wonder whatever happened to the editorial staff of those institutions. Does no one proof read anything anymore?

(7)

I notice there is a new book out by Nicholas Basbanes on the history of paper. Reading a review of the book in the Times Literary Supplement, I learned that the wood based paper everyone uses today wasn’t patented until 1845, much more recently than I would have imagined. It also seems that, despite the decades old dream of computers and other digital devices freeing us from our unbreakable chains of paper, just the opposite is happening. Here’s a quote from the article:

“In the decade since then (9/11/2001), Silicon Valley has touted the paperless office as the answer to deforestation. Basbanes’s [sic] rejoinder is that paper, made for centuries from old clothes, was one of the first industrial products to incorporate recycled materials. More famous for its digital spying, the US’s National Security Agency processes plenty of old-fashioned paper, to judge from the 100 million documents it pulps every year before turning them over to manufacturers of pizza boxes and egg cartons. Paper and computers may not be polar opposites so much as conjoined twins. Paper punchcards were integral to the first calculating machines, and the twentieth-century spread of personal computers and printers increased consumption of the paper that they were originally expected to render obsolete.”

The reviewer attributes the longevity of paper to it’s durability, portability, and foldability, traits which even the most up to date electronic gadgets have yet to replicate. I’m glad of that.