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

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Bebop and Black Berets


  

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

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“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

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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

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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

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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.”

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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.  

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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. 

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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

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 “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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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 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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

On Prigs and Self-Righteous Bullies


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

 

The Words Are Rising Gummous


7_quick_takes_sm1A 7 (not so) Quick Takes on Friday post.

            I should never have written that post on having nothing to say; I’ve had nothing to say ever since and it’s driving me crazy.  (I know some would say…well, never mind.)  I’ve been reading some heavy stuff, and that probably contributes to the problem; reading Father Schall and Pope Benedict makes you stop and think over just about every sentence. The problem is, when I try to write about such things, true as they are, it sounds phony and contrived, like something written by a dreary 19th century Russian novelist.  I’m trying to find a way out of this and the only thing I can think of is just to put some words on paper and hope something sticks.  If not, I’ll be forced try some advice from the 18th century writer (Tristram Shandy), Laurence Stern:

“[When] the thoughts rise heavily and pass gummous through my pen… I never stand conferring with pen and ink one moment; for if a pinch of snuff or a stride or two across the room will not do the business for me — … I take a razor at once; and have tried the edge of it upon the palm of my hand, without further ceremony, except that of first lathering my beard, I shave it off, taking care that if I do leave hair, that it not be a gray one: this done, I change my shirt — put on a better coat — send for my last wig — put my topaz ring upon my finger; and in a word, dress myself from one end to the other of me, after my best fashion.” — Laurence Sterne

I know exactly what it feels like to have thoughts “pass gummous” through my pen, well, keyboard, and sometimes taking up a razor seems an entertaining idea, although, slicing my hand up seems kind of counterproductive.  Besides, I don’t even have a straight razor.  Guess I’ll just have to keep typing.

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            I could write about some things I’m grateful for.  I’m looking out my back window at the tail end of a thunderstorm, and everything is wet and looks almost as green as the greenest glens in Ireland.  There’s soft light with highlights to make Rembrandt proud on the wet rocks out back. It’s very good to have the moisture as it offers some reprieve from the danger of fires such as we had last year at this time.  God is good and I don’t need to worry if I have the worst case of writers block this side of infinity.  It doesn’t matter if I say anything brilliant or original, or put out the deepest insight into the purpose of all things ever devised, because there is nothing new to say, not really.  It’s all been said, just in different ways by different people.

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            My far better half told me last night about the doctor who has his office in the small shopping mall owned by her company.  He’s selling his practice, retiring, because he doesn’t want to face the alien world of Obamacare.  I wonder how many doctors are doing something similar, and if medical care will become a rather scarce commodity?  It’s the great mistake of our leaders these days thinking that government can do everything for everyone and that with just the right training and with the best people in charge, we can have the perfect world.  Christians have known that this is false because they’ve read Genesis.  It’s often forgotten that Christianity teaches that there is no perfect society, not on this side of the roots anyway, justice isn’t to be found here; it will be found in the eternal kingdom of God alone.  Our true business is charity, love.  If we did a better job of sharing that truth, we wouldn’t be dealing with some of the sad consequences that seem to be in the news lately.

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            Well, it’s raining again and I’m going to go look out the window and just enjoy watching things get wet, and be grateful that I don’t have to stand out in the yard and water new grasses we just put in.  We have a terrible, and never ending, problem with deer in our neighborhood.  We tried growing Mungo Pines in the planter in the backyard, the deer were supposed to find them repulsive.  I guess the deer didn’t get the message; after a rather hard winter, and with the loss of feeding area as a result of last year’s fires, those poor plants were done for by April Fool’s Day.  The grass is our last resort, so far, surprisingly, the deer haven’t bothered with grasses we’ve planted in other parts of the yard, so it seems a logical choice.

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            I guess I should mention, in fairness to the deer, that they aren’t the only four footed problem we have in our neighborhood.  During the summer, we have a plentiful supply of hummingbirds, and we would dearly love to put out hummingbird feeders so we could enjoy them in our yard.  Well, the bears have other ideas.  I put out a hanger, made of something similar to steel rebar, and hung a feeder on it the second year we were here.  Within a week, we found the bar twisted like a pretzel, the hummingbird feeder on the ground with all the contents poured out around it, and realized that hadn’t been a good idea; turns out, bears have a sweet tooth. We tried again last year, with the same results.  What’s the definition of insanity again?  Oh, and did I mention the bobcat having kittens under our deck?  OK, I won’t go there.

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            I’m going to do this week’s post as a 7 Quick Takes, title courtesy of Jennifer Fulwiler, the gracious host of Conversion Diary, simply because it seems to fit that format really well, considering by the time I finish there’ll be 7 notes to this post.

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            I do wonder where my topaz ring got off to, and my last wig has simply disappeared.  I blame global warming.  Has anybody tried conferring with their laptop lately?

Enjoy your weekend.

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A Creative Vocation


Icon of the Pentecost

“Most important of all – Man’s creative vocation to prepare, consciously, the ultimate triumph of Divine Wisdom.  Man, the microcosm, the heart of the universe, is the one who is called to bring about the fusion of cosmic and historic processes in the final invocation of God’s wisdom and love.  In the name of Christ and by his power, Man has a work to accomplish – to offer the cosmos to the Father, by the power of the Spirit, in the Glory of the Word.  Our life is a powerful Pentecost in which the Holy Spirit, ever active in us, seeks to reach through our inspired hands and tongues into the very heart of the material world created to be spiritualized through the work of the Church, the Mystical Body of the Incarnate Word of God.”  Thomas Merton

In the face of all that is going on in this world today, the onslaught of gay marriage, NBA players announcing they’re gay (getting congratulatory calls from the President, no less), nude protesters at a major university dressing (I don’t quite know how) like the pope, Catholics are going to have to be more creative than ever to bring the Word of God back to this world.

It used to be that such outlandish things were done mostly for the shock value; an effort to upset the old fogies who think that marriage is between a man and a woman and that there is such a thing as God and culture.  But now it’s more than just an effort at achieving the maximum shock value.  Dare I say it’s blatant evidence that there is, indeed, evil in the world and that it’s goal is to destroy any capacity man has to respond to the good?  Screwtape would be proud.  But Merton is right, it is our responsibility as Catholic Christians to imaginatively oppose this, to pray for the inspiration to reactivate the work of the Church and show the world the way to the Truth and to salvation.  Sad to say, the job gets harder with every passing day, but we know which side must win in the end.

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Fr. Z’s Blog (olim: What Does The Prayer Really Say?) | Commentary on Catholic issues & slavishly accurate liturgical translations – by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf o{]:¬)


Fr. Z’s Blog (olim: What Does The Prayer Really Say?) | Commentary on Catholic issues & slavishly accurate liturgical translations – by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf o{]:¬).

See Fr Zs blog post above.

Let’s see, you can’t discriminate against someone who believes it’s perfectly legitimate to be in a disordered relationship, but you CAN discriminate against the Church that believes such relationships wrong.  What am I not getting here?

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