Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor
I see the right way, approve it and do the opposite - Ovid
SNL, Consumerism & Walker Percy
I've been reading with interest and amusement the ongoing dialogue between two St. Bloggers (let's call them "T" & "S"). It is probably uncharitable for me to enjoy it so; their volleys sometimes approach the tenor of the old those old Aykroyd-Curtin sketches on SNL. (Rule of thumb: The good posts begin by declaring their undying respect of the other.) But regardless, just look at the quality of comments Disputations gets! Chris Burgwald writes: "I think Congar and de Lubac are better Thomists than G-L, in that they have appropriated both the letter and the spirit. Take G-L's Predestination, for example... while he is exact in his replication of Thomas' letter, I'm not sure if Thomas' overall intention is as exactly reproduced." Marvelous. Way above my pay grade. (By the way, Particulae is joining the fray with a post nuancing Steven's nuance concerning the uniqueness of the human).
But I digress. Steven recently blogged, "And there is a 'knowing about God' that serves the human purpose that all knowing can serve, namely, "'Look at me! Look at me! Look how very, very clever I am!'"
His comment reminded me of a what Walker Percy wrote in The Message in a Bottle. He explains how moderns have been so enveloped in consumerism that they can't really see things, they must consume them and be applauded for the wisdom of their consumption.
The highest satisfaction of the sightseer (not merely the tourist but any layman seer of sights) is that his sight should be certified as genuine.... The worst of this impoverishment is that there is no sense of impoverishment...
On tourists experiencing the natives:
"This is it" and "now we are really living" do not necessarily refer to the sovereign encounter of the person with the sight that enlivens the mind and gladdens the heart. It means that now at least we are having the acceptable experience.
On the layman's relation to natural objects:
The highest role he can conceive himself as playing is to be able to recognize the title of the object, to return it to the appropriate expert and have it certified as a genuine find....This loss of sovereignty extends even to oneself. There is the neurotic who asks nothing more of his doctor than that his symptom should prove interesting. When all else fails, the poor fellow has nothing to offer but his own neurosis. But even this is sufficient if only the doctor willl show interest when he says, "Last night I had a curious sort of dream; perhaps it will be significant to one who knows about such things. It seems I was standing in a sort of alley--" (I have nothing else to offer you buy my own unhappiness. Please say that it, at least, measures up, that it is a proper sort of unhappiness). Now that is neurotic.
Card-Collecting as a Subspecies of Sovereignty-alienation
I used to collect baseball cards as a kid. Had thousands. And some of my favorite cards were those of scrubs, like a 1971 card of some catcher for the Braves who had his mitt out and it looked, I swear, like he was holding a pie of some sort. (The photography not being what it is now). Another was a 1972 card of some pitcher for the Rangers who looked exactly like one of my teachers. I became more and more enamoured of star cards. Then, by the 80s, my interest became commoditized. I wanted some obscure rookie card because he might be a big star. The value I placed on an individual card was what a baseball card magazine said it was worth. How sad.
So don't give up your sovereignty to the experts. Follow your bliss. Collect the baseball cards YOU want, regardless of market value. Collect the paintings and poems YOU like, not what experts say. And when you walk in the woods don't try to name that wildflower - instead see it.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:33 PM
April 24, 2003
Resisting the Urge... to Pun this Title
One of the benefits of the semi-anonymity of this blog is that I can address subjects like lust, strictly for the benefit of the reader of course. (This post may end up PG-13, so don't wake the neighbors or phone the kids.)
Two anecdotes, which I hope to tie up at the end:
The first anecdote involves the time I received a gift certificate for a free massage from a licensed massage therapist. As is my wont, I googled "massage therapy" and read about the benefits that might be conferred. Of some interest was a FAQ about what to do about....unwanted arousal. (Whew, I avoided the e-word). The massage therapist jocularly answered that "those things happen" and that they "don't last".
The second anecdote involves the story of our Dominican priest told about two monks. They were walking out in the desert (this is probably apocryphal), a very old one and a very young one. They came to a rather large mud puddle, before which stood a lady-of-the evening / painted lady / member of the world's oldest profession, etc. She apparently had no way to cross without getting knee-deep in mud. The elder monk picked her up, carried her over the mud puddle and then set her back down. The monks continued on their way. The young monk couldn't believe he had touched a woman like that, but he couldn't find a way to bring up the subject. Finally it got to be too much and many hours later he said, "Do you know who you carried over that puddle? Did you see the way she was dressed?". And the old monk replied, "I carried her over a mud puddle. You've carried her all afternoon."
I think the point of these anecdotes is that these types of thoughts do go away. They are best brushed off and given as short a shelf-life as one can manage. Our Dominican priest acknowledged that if you are told not to think about a white elephant, you will, of course, think about a white elephant. So he suggested that the best thing to do is to look back after the carnage has been wrought (if there is any carnage) and consider, truthfully, how much consent you gave to the thoughts. Sin cannot occur outside of the will, and the body will react as the body is wont, without conscious control. (Thank God! Can you imagine what a pain it would be to remind ourselves constantly to breathe?).
Good advice. I think the experience of fasting from food is also a help. Why? Because in fasting one recognizes hunger pains and practices ignoring them instead of serving them. They, too, "go away".
Finally, Bishop Sheen once said that his struggles with his celibacy were least intense during periods he was closest to Christ.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 6:38 PM
For $2, a Bottle of Wine & Change
Kairos guy will surely cringe.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:48 PM
Quote I recall, though not its source
Love is a sort of seventh day, so thinking can rest.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:16 PM
April 23, 2003
What's in a Name?
Happy Administrative Assistant's Day! They used to be called secretaries but that became imbued with negativity and the solution was, as is typically the case, to change the name.
And in this case I think it works. Why? Because it is has a lot of syllables in it! The way to throw off the critics from heaping scorn your way is to make sure your tag is polysyllabic. For example, how many people are going to take the time to say, "Damn Administrative Assistant forgot to make that call!". Much easier to mutter, "damn secretary forgot to make that call". The "-ary" ending is also less impressive than the "-ant" ending. (Cary without the Grant would've been far less successful).
Perhaps this was part of the thinking behind the term "African-Americans". The word "colored" was perfectly fine until bigots began to tinge it with negativity. "Blacks" apparently suffered a similar fate, although its symmetry with "whites" would imply equality. It's too easy to curse blacks but takes too much time and energy for the bigot to say, "African-Americans are blah-blah-blah".
I'm not sure my theory is correct though. "Flight attendents" has the same number of syllables as "stewardesses". Perhaps that change was made because "stewardesses" sounds too feminine.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:28 AM
A woman, Pia de Solenni, writes in National Review:
[Women] can choose their universities, careers, houses, and so on -- but they have no good men from whom to choose because they've set the moral bar so low that men don't need to rise to the challenge of being good men. They don't have to because women don't demand it. Perhaps women no longer even know how to begin; but until we recover our old advantage of moral strength, women's advancement will continue to spin, digging itself deeper and deeper into the muck.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:20 AM
Excerpt from Barbara Carmen article in the Columbus Dispatch:
Strickland's devotion to St. Patrick is personal.
'My grandparents were married seven years and were childless. So they made the pilgrimage back to Ireland to pray at Craugh Patrick,' she said.
The prayers --atop the rocky peak where St. Patrick is said to have fasted and chased the dragons, demons and snakes from Ireland -- worked.
'My father was conceived on the boat home," Strickland said.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:29 PM
April 22, 2003
It's All About Evolution...
...says John Derbyshire in this NRO article on leftism & snobbery.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:12 PM
OJEND*...they just get replanted. This from 1/20/01
It seems unfair to be denied knowledge of the fate of my great-grandfather James Smith, to have no grave to visit or memory to perpetuate. The local library is vast and the internet more so, and they provide answers to nearly any non-metaphysical query I have will to summon. Yet neither the library or the internet ameliorates the great question of James Smith. I feel the infantile right to answers, like a child who demands to know why the sky is blue.
I sometimes treat knowledge different from other forms of endeavor, as if it required neither exertion or Inspiration, as if it were something competely different from physical fitness or wealth or goodness – as if knowledge in this internet age was somehow exempt from our ruthless dependence on God and effort. James Smith, like Ahab’s whale, haunts like the key to an unsolved puzzle.
Just as I cannot know the date of my death or the end of the world so it seems I will never know the fate of the father of papa. That seems unlikely to the extreme – I remember Papa like it was just yesterday – a figure nearly as close to me in my childhood as my own father - bigger than life, bringing Sports Illustrated and the glow of universal popularity within the family. He was a celebrity before the cult of Celebrity, a godfather figure of respect and affection. So how strange that his own father, flesh of his flesh, be as obscure to me as Cain and Abel! We are all a hundred and fifty years from complete obscurity.
The absence of family history creates a want for it; nature abhors a vacuum. Smith is a name without meaning; I imagine James Smith could give it the meaning. In 1913 there was a flood. Did he perish in it? James Smith, is not only without history but without nationality. He could be Irish, English, Welsh, Scottish …..
Neuroscientists, two decades later, have at last answered the question I posed in my high school research paper, “Intelligence – Heredity or Environment?”. We are victims/victors of heredity to a degree scarcely imagined twenty years ago. They tell us our brain is undeveloped film with an IQ pre-determined which can only be “developed badly” by a poor environment. But the limit is there. A neuroscientist can measure our brain waves and tell within thirty seconds our IQ – no need for a test. However, no one is rushing to get this done since it is antithetical to everything we hold dear – that we are products of our own hard work and effort.
Given this knowledge our relatives loom larger in our consciousness knowing that if but… for…. this one thing…we could be them. I imagine my uncle Bob, praised by my grandmother as a sweet and charitable person, but who was an alcoholic and was left at the altar because of it. I could be him, but for a lot more alcohol and charity! There is my uncle Dan, charismatic, athletic, smart, scratch golfer, I could….nevermind. But the idea is that though we be different as snowflakes, we also have certain characteristics that could be directly gifted from our parents or ancestors, and so we seek the symmetry and to find them…because we need, above all, a reason.
* = Old Journal Entries Never Die
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:02 PM
Love songs ain't what they used to be
"The ascendancy of rock has occurred simultaneously with the decline of the love song. As most observers can attest, love songs over the last fifty years have become less about the beloved and more about the lover: that is, the emphasis has shifted from the "other" to the "self". A study titled "Individualism and Alienation in Popular Love Songs" also makes the case that modern love songs reflect an increasing social alienation:
'Most romance lyrics, on the other hand involve only one side of the relationship, the lovers, their pain, impairment, and constriction of vision. The finding of fewer instances of lyrics that imply a mutual love relationship in the last forty years than in 1930-1960 suggests that alienation is increasing in romance lyrics.'"
Via El Camino Real scroll to post Love Songs and Popular Culture
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:59 PM
I challenged and I kept the Faith,
The bleeding path alone I trod;
It darkens. Stand about my wraith,
And harbour me, almighty God.
"Verse is the only form of activity outside religion which I feel to be of real importance; certainly it is the only form of literary activity worth considering." -H. Belloc
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:54 AM
Dylan has a cool post entitled Ars Poetica in Prose. There is an artsy bar on the OSU campus (frequented by leather-clad lesbians) that has open mic poetry night. Most of it is pretty bad and pretty liberal. (I'm not inferring they are the same thing.) Three of us go once a year and Hambone graciously reads my stuff. I still recall one of the poems beginning, "Bad poetry / ain't kilt no one yet /...". as if to numb them for what was to follow. I take modest satisfaction in knowing that that sequence of words had never been spoken in the long august history of the poetry readings there. Then, on another occasion, my friend read a pro-life poem that started out seemingly pro-choice but emphatically made the pro-life point at the end. It was met, surprisingly, by not just jeers but also cheers. One guy even came over and said he voted for Alan Keyes. Go figure!
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:09 AM
No Surburban Stereotype Here
Ran into ye olde Brit today. She's a local used bookstore owner, eccentric as the day is long. A Baptist who flew in the British lady air force back in the 50s, she found herself (mis)planted here and longs to save enough money to retire to Washington state. (She says she took a hit in the stock market, like everybody else).
Her prose has a sort of "English as a second language" quality that I find fascinating. It is a collection of non-sequitors, haikus and Orwellian overtones that require diligent study to unearth the meaning. She's intelligent and well-read so it is all very puzzling. Speaking with her does not result in this sort of confusion.
Truth be told, I most enjoy the large placards on her front lawn. Today's offering: "City Flooded my basement! Neither response or call. Peace, Harmony and Productivity!" The other side disparaged a local mayoral candidate, at least I think that was the intent.
She sounds crazy but she really isn't. She is perfectly lucid in normal conversation. I've not yet worked up to how to say, "where did you learn to write?"
But vive le difference. She makes the lives of commuters a little more interesting, and for that she deserves a shorter Purgatory.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:55 PM
April 21, 2003
Where did my detachment go?
Note to self: elation is not the proper feeling for the ending of Lenten restrictions & proscriptions.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:09 PM
Our pastor read the Easter sermon of St. John Chrysostom today...a consoling one!
Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:19 PM
April 20, 2003
Death of a Good Priest
Msgr Colby Grimes, the priest who officiated at my wedding died on Good Friday. He was 50 years old. I'll never forget the reverence with which he said Mass. He bowed low during the words of consecration and paused a few seconds between each word: "This.....Is.....My....Body". It was arresting and unique and audacious. Flannery O'Connor once said that she had to write stories of grostesqueness because that's the thing the modern reader can grasp. Perhaps Msgr. Grimes felt that he had to say the words with such long pauses in order to allow the reality of the Real Presence to sink in to a congregation who easily loses their way.
One of his dreams was to meet the Pope. It's not easy for a parish priest to meet the pope, but he put his name on the list at the first possible chance and something like seven years later it happened.
When he was in the hospital the first time I sent a get well card and expressed my appreciation for the reverence with which he said Mass. He was not somebody I really wanted to run into for fear of ruining things. First, in the unlikely event he not live up to my image of him. (Heroes are fragile things). Second, and far more likely, that I not live up to mine. Still, I went back once to the old parish after we were married and I ran into him before Mass. He gave me a huge smile, handshake and we chatted.
Journal entry dated June 2000:
....First there was the sad news that Msgr. Grimes, a personal hero (i.e. the person I’d most like to be like) has leukemia. He was not only a bridge to Steph & my wedding, but he promised to ever be there in case of difficulty. One finds comfort to have a personal fire extinguisher behind the glass & the “break glass in case of emergency”. Now he may be on his way to a far better place – heaven.
The Dispatch article:
Grimes was known for his straightforward style and his compassion and selflessness. Even as his body reeled from chemotherapy, he visited sick youngsters at Children's Hospital.
Even when he was sick, or on vacation, Grimes celebrated Mass, she said. Once, she stopped to see him at his home when he was ill and he had set up an altar on his dining-room table.
Earlier Dispatch article.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:14 PM
Spent Saturday in the nascent sun drinking Warsteiners with my brother and helping him put together the parts of a rather elaborate swing-set set. Then we had an aperitif and cursed Montaigne, blaming the world's skeptism on him. We sat trading witicisms just as our ancestors did in County Sligo, engulfed in the smoke of a turf fire equivalent (a couple fine hand-rolleds).
But I shamelessly embellish. Actually we talked about our jobs and watched in disbelief as our little four year old nephew began dismantling the neighbor's stone fence. We sat dumb - "is he really doing what I think he's doing" - before calling down from the high deck upon which we were seated and telling him to stop, like voices from heaven correcting a miscreant. And he stopped.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:44 PM
Online Way of the Cross.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:48 PM
April 17, 2003
I blogged my current reads here (post entitled "Reading).
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:37 PM
It's a Physical Universe After All
Fr. William Most on the distinction between physical evil & moral evil:
A world without physical evils, if a material world, would have to be comprised of one miracle after another, simply because material things can go to pieces, can come apart, can slip, as common sense testifies. Now it is not really rational for God to work miracles routinely, for a miracle is extraordinary, and the extraordinary cannot become ordinary.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:10 AM
The Irish have a fatalistic, morbid streak to which I occasionally succumb to...
Tis not ours to know beyond
“Es regnet!” we called
our bellies full of German laughter,
“It is raining!” we called
like impish stewards.
Bare we knew the trouble ahead,
the horizon fixed at twenty blessed miles.
Survey of Stones
the sunny hill brought forth
a bitter fruit –
a hailstone of tombstones
grey with eager miens and jaunty minders
from thick tree roots gestated.
I looked upon the sober dates they cried
‘what have you to show! I lived far less than you!”
'Are you like me?' asked the Federalist
gowned in Resurrection palms
and atrophied script.
'Are you like me?' asked the Victorian
draped in frank and maudlin prose:
"as you are now, I was once."
'Are you like me?' asked the Modern
impersonal as marbled ice
giving nothing but emptiness.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:35 PM
April 16, 2003
Kairos guy struggles with his conscience concerning Lenten regulations. Our Dominican father has spoken about this before; I believe it was to allow exceptions such as the situation he described but I can't recall. I remember going to a rehersal dinner at an area Dutch kitchen (run by the local Mennonites, a subspecies of Amish) during a Lenten Friday. Not having the broasted chicken at the Dutch Kitchen is like going to an Irish pub and skipping the stout.
Personally, I wrestle with items like this occasionally, which I imagine always gets big guffaws in heaven. Why? Because I could see them saying, "you sure are awfully concerned about this potential very venial sin...we wish you'd just treat your [boss, stepson, etc..] with more charity". In that sense, my preoccupation with having the right position on the Iraq war is disingenuous given that whatever degree of sin that might be imputed to me would be significantly less than what I inflict on myself by my failure to radically love others.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:46 AM
"...one of the most powerful examples of that is the Christian belief (spelled out in St. Anselm's terrific treatise Cur Deus Homo) that the Incarnation and Crucifixion were God's way of marrying justice and mercy, being both fully just and fully merciful. In the words of the Psalmist, "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other" (Psalm 85:10).
--Eve Tushnet, via Hernan Gonzalez, via Camassia
Even in this age, in which moral precepts are widely undervalued, great importance is attached to 'self-improvement'...We seem to take it for granted that there are steps that we can take to enhance our lives. In such a culture, the idea of being saved by another is likely to be unpopular...Yet we cannot cure ourselves; we need to look to another for that service. There is a simple workd that summarizes the whole earthly career of Jesus. It is the Greek preposition hyper, usually translated "for the sake of."
The condemnation of Jesus was not an accident, but happened for our sake. Perhaps we cannot understand how it is that the life of Jesus was a remedy for our sins, but this is what we believe. Jesus lived and died and rose again so that we might have life more abundantly.
--Fr. Michael Casey, O.C.S.O.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:19 AM
Jesus, the Pharisees & Muslims
Good review of Bernard Lewis & his book "What Went Wrong? Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response".
Throughout the Middle Ages, the Islamic Near East was the mightiest military, economic, political, scientific, and cultural power in the world. The majesty of the Islamic empire seemed to confirm the Prophet’s claim to have completed and surpassed the messages of Judaism and Christianity. The infidels of Europe, it was thought, could have nothing of significance to teach Muslims. How much less could they represent a threat?
The early signs of Europe’s rise were therefore ignored. Secure in their assumption of superiority, Muslim diplomats never bothered either to learn European languages or to post permanent ambassadors in European countries.
The mindset that "I can't learn anything from them" is the same one the Pharisees might've had towards Jesus. "I can't learn anything from him," they probably thought, because they were the chief priests and the leaders and he was from Galilee (of all places!) and he should be coming to them. Perhaps if it were more widely known that he was born in Bethlehem the chief priests would've been more humble. Interesting that God doesn't like to provide a "smoking gun" - one must come by faith. It would perhaps not require much faith from the Pharisees if Jesus had been known to have been born in the city of David, from whence the Messiah would come. Coupled with the miracles, his role would've been perhaps too clear for a proper environment of faith.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:54 PM
April 15, 2003
When Do You Win a War But Have Nothing To Show For It?
...when the reason you went to war was simply carted across the border into Syria. Which is probably where the WMDs are now.
I think I'm going to be sick.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:45 PM
The Narrow Path to Our Hearts
Nice meditation on the strategy of Jesus at Disputations with regards to the Jewish leaders.
He also touches on whether part of Jesus's agony was that more Jews didn't follow him. It has been said that if there is a strong enough reason for suffering, you can endure anything. To the extent it seems meaningless it is much less bearable. Someone told that they can save their child by suffering some trial will suffer it more easily than a trial that has lower stakes. In this way, the Passion works against the notion of Universalism - if it is true that some will not be saved, then Christ must've been thinking of them too. As the Good Shepherd, he would forsake the 99 for the lost one. Was the "I thirst" on the Cross also a thirst for souls?
Fulton Sheen once said he thought maybe the agony in the garden was a sort of "making holy" all mental suffering and mental illness, while Good Friday represented the making holy of all physical suffering & illness.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:13 AM
In Search of Balance
...I was also disturbed by some of my ultramontane friends (particularly converts) who put down any attempt to think through the nature of just war in the present day because the pope said no. They're in danger of what someone called "creeping infallibilism." The Catholic Church is a more subtle and complex organism than that.
Theologically creative ideas tend to come from below, to be tested by those high and low, who may or may not get the answer exactly right, and eventually to be approved or not by the high. The Catholic is committed to the belief that the final judgment is correct, but not to the belief that every judgment before that is.
—David Mills(via Amy)
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:07 PM
April 14, 2003
They Ain't Heavy, They're Our Bishops
Excellent, excellent point from the Contrarian, via Disputations:
I am no leftist and I usually disagree with most pronouncements and press releases on social justice issues that emanate from diocesan chanceries and bishops' conferences. Yet, I am not particularly perplexed or angered by those pronouncements with which I disagree so long as they flow directly from a belief that ... "if God took flesh, then this has social implications" and not out of allegiance to purely secular ideologies as a substitute for lapsed faith.
Bishops are not exempt from the powerful undertow of culture, the relentless pull of the Zeitgeist. That is precisely the dilemma we face, in trying to discern whether their statements flow from the lapsed faith of the elites (they are know to hobnob with the Georgetown set and acquire some of their politics that way), or whether their statements reflect a greater understanding and development of the social implications of the gospel. Tricky business indeed.
Here is an eye-opening read concerning the American bishops. But, as the mutual funds say, past performance does not predict future results. In other words, even if the bishops (as the book argues) have been unduly influenced by American culture in the past, that does not predict whether a given statement made now, or in the future, is of lasting worth. In that sense you have to look at every statement as if there were no past, which isn't easy given the validity of the old saying: "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me". I actually have much sympathy for the bishops, seeing in their weakness (i.e. a lack of faith & courage) a reflection of myself.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:10 PM
I'm not sure why we are rattlin' the saber against Syria unless we really intend to use it. Making a public demand of an Arab country like Syria seems counterproductive, doesn't it? Reverse psychology would surely work better - say to Syria, "do the wrong thing! Hide Saddam and his weapons!" That may actually get them to come clean. Israeli intelligence reports that the weapons of mass destruction were carted to Syria before the war, much as his planes were moved to Iran to avoid their destruction.
All of this, of course, presumes we are not serious about going into Syria. If we are, then it is understandable to make our greviance public first....
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:58 PM
Beware the 'Rebound Effect'
If each action has an equal and opposite reaction, beware the tendency that I sometimes experience. After periods like Lent, when I more closely guard my thoughts, rebuffing feelings of anger, there seems to be a period of "negativity rebound" where the spiritual blessings acquired are squandered. One tends to become acclimatized to a certain amount of prayer; when it decreases there is a 'withdrawal' period as there would in whenever you experience a loss of time with your loved one.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:43 PM
April 13, 2003
The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man, and temptation, which leads to sin and death. We must also discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. Finally, discernment unmasks the lie of temptation, whose object appears to be good, a "delight to the eyes" and desirable, when in reality its fruit is death.
God does not want to impose the good, but wants free beings. . . . There is a certain usefulness to temptation. No one but God knows what our soul has received from him, not even we ourselves. But temptation reveals it in order to teach us to know ourselves, and in this way we discover our evil inclinations and are obliged to give thanks for the goods that temptation has revealed to us."
-Origen quoted in CCC 2847
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:36 PM
Minute Particulars has a particularly (couldn't resist) interesting piece entitled "The Union of Wills...Not Opinion":
The modern conflation of consensus of opinion with concord, the union of wills in the love of a common object, has, ironically, spawned both breezy relativisms that cannot consistently object to any affront to human dignity and rigid objectivisms that often exclude different approaches to the same truth.
Great thought. St. Blog's has been a real eye-opener for me, as far as manifesting the variety of opinion out there. I thought, naively I suppose, that orthodox Catholics thought pretty much the same. Au contraire! We've seen the splits in St. Blog's over the war and the "Situation" to name just two, but also over a variety of more or less academic matters.
Part of this I think may be a case of natural contarianism; everyone wants to be thought an "independent thinker". The very fact that we are practicing Catholics in a post-Christian age suggests a native contrariness in us. But even without that characteristic there is always a drive towards division, if not over the major things than over the peripherals. We could see this happening writ large in the Protestant world. Thirty years ago the Baptists would not speak to the Methodists, and their differences would surely seem small to a Catholic. The fact that there are now non-denominational churches is an understanding that there are bigger challenges out there than the Protestant next door - like secularism and atheism.
I sometimes imagine an even greater unity with my spouse & stepson if they converted to Catholicism but I shouldn't look at it in that light but in terms of the benefits they would accrue in entering Christ's Church. Charity is something one can never, it seems, relax in practicing. Not even among fellow Catlickers!
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:30 PM
April 12, 2003
Old Journal Entries Never Die... circa '99
Ahhh….on the road at last. I am passing thru the metropolis of Shade, Ohio, which thoughtfully erected a sign announcing themselves but I look in vain for a town, or a sign saying "Leaving Shade" until I realize that maybe the other side of the sign said "Leaving Shade".
Country folk have the capacity to surprise. One apparently sane person planted a road sign in his front flower bed, just between the tulips and pansies. It is a big Route 33 sign. Whatever works... At the local McDonald's there is an old guy dressed…for what I'm not sure, but he sure is dressed for a Monday morning. He is wearing a western suit, light beige in color, with matching white-piped pants and an expensive looking white cowboy hat. Does boredom lead people to these things? I go by houses with the Ohio River literally in their backyard, and on the other side of the bank a big nuclear power plant. These folks must be compartmentalizers on the scale of Clinton. I guess they can say, "I just look at the river, don't pay no mind to those Chernobyl towers".
I like the signs of small towns - saw one outside a restaurant that said, "Welcome. God food." Probably good too. Along the same lines in Racine, Ohio one said, "Free!!! Heart transplants from Jesus." Another announced, "We now have soft-serve ice cream." What's next, whipped cream? Save that for the new millenium.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:49 AM
Yesterday I watched the movie “Monster’s Ball” starring Halley Berry & Billy Bob Thorton. I try to stick to Westerns or “Black & Whites” - i.e. 40s/50s movies, so this was rather a shock. There was gratuitous & sudden violence (like an electrocution) and gratuitous & sudden displays of flesh. But around those craters there was a heckuva a good story. The loneliness of going to an old folk’s home was dramatized perfectly; I can think of few things more terrifying than that vision of autonomy stripped, of banality imposed. Thorton was dead-on: I’ve met a few blue collar, straight shooters like him in my life and he portrayed it pitch-perfect. The plot was about love overcoming prejudice, and I could cynically say that it was lust overcoming prejudice. Halley Berry overcoming male prejudice is sort of like a 7-footer succeeding on a high school basketball team.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:50 PM
April 11, 2003
Today at Vespers my heart almost broke. It was 7:15pm, the sun streamed in the unbearably beautiful church and it touched memories barely extant. There were eight or nine souls already tending the beautiful liturgy and I felt a longing for all the saints that surrounded me to pray for me – St. Dominic, St. Ephraim, St. John, St. Judas Thaddeus, St. James…
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:49 PM
Thanks go out to Hernan Gonzalez who provided me with a modified comment feature, a vehicle to effortlessly send email. I've resisted having the usual Haloscan comments because a) they screw up 9 out of 10 times b) promise to more completely addict me to blogging (I'd be checking for comments every ten minutes) and c) have a chilling effect on the more self-indulgent posts such as those titled "Old Journal Entries Never Die...", "Fictional Forays" and, of course, the poems. Self-consciousness, after all, is the ruination of blogging.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:35 PM
via Fructus Ventris & Dylan
1. What was the first band you saw in concert?
The band "Yes" at Miami's Millet Hall, 1983.
2. Who is your favorite artist/band now?
3. What's your favorite song?
4. If you could play any instrument, what would it be?
5. If you could meet any musical icon (past or present), who would it be and why?
Musicians, like painters, are most interesting for their art. I guess David the harpist. But he was famous for other things too.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:19 PM
I've been lately pondering the increasing political polarization of the news biz. We see left slant (like NPR) or right slant (Fox News). The three networks undeniably lean left and have for years. I wonder if it has always been so, or if it is more a product of the 60s when restraint, in all its forms, went out the window?
Because it does take restraint to write for a television news show and not slant it. Blogdom is a "celebration" of lack of restraint, a venting of things you can't say in polite company. And you also notice the lack of restraint extends to never letting the other guy get the last word. (Bill O'Reilly cracks me up on this score - he's always saying, "I'll let you have the last word" but half the time he will sneak in a couple words thereafter).
I embrace the emergence of Fox News and conservative talk radio because I am a conservative and because it provides another point of view. But the shame of it is that so few even try to be objective. The notion of an "honor code" that used to define more chivalric wars (i.e. don't kill civilians) also used to define the journalist profession - they were bound to describe, with equal enthusiasm, both sides of an issue. But now that code appears more and more moribund.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:50 AM
I'm adrenally tired due to the war, the 24-7 news cycle, the constant notion that I may be "missing something". Call it data smog or information overload, but I'm ready for some bible reading. And to listen to the birds sing in the morning.
Two quotes; I don't recall who said them:
There's more to life than increasing its speed.
The problem with instant gratification is that it's never quick enough.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:17 AM
This just in...
Congrats to two bloggers getting married, announced here. May all their posts be happy ones!
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:39 PM
April 10, 2003
Disordered Affections is inducing house envy.
Not that I'm not proud of my castle.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:31 PM
Anybody know what happened to Raed?
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:57 AM
Interesting/scary quote from The Challenge of Peace by the U.S. Conference of Bishops
"Pope Paul VI called the United Nations the last hope for peace.The loss of this hope cannot be allowed to happen."
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:12 PM
April 9, 2003
Neo-cons versus Realists
The debate in the US over the nature of a post-Saddam Iraq pits democratisers (most often those of "neoconservative" views) against pragmatists (usually "realist" by school). Many realists, like Henry Kissinger, support the removal of Saddam's regime but oppose a protracted high-profile US-led occupation of an Arab capital and an attempt to impose democracy on peoples who do not know or want it.
The biographies of contemporary Islamist terrorists show the majority to be well-educated, semi-westernised young men on the periphery of traditional societies. Force rapid change on such societies with revolutionary ideas like liberal democracy and globe-spanning market economics, and the result will be an accelerated dislocation that will produce more terrorists, not fewer.
The coming experiment is going to be fascinating. Scholar Bernard Lewis is optimistic. I think Belloc might've been less so. Paraphrasing Daniel Patrick Moynihan: the great conservative truth is that culture swamps politics. The great liberal truth is that politics changes culture.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:11 AM
Books & Presidential Candidates
Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey....readily offered that his favorite book was Walker Percy's The Moviegoer, a novel that depicted the aimless existence of a soldier-turned-stockbroker named Binx Bolling. His answer may have revealed too much. The New York Times' Maureen Dowd pounced, claiming Kerrey's confession would worry voters, given that Percy's work was an "anthem of alienation" about a war veteran "out of touch with the rest of America." As The New Yorker's Elizabeth Kolbert later put it, with 20/20 hindsight, "Here was a man proposing himself as the next leader of the free world while apparently identifying with a character who, to all outward appearances, seems to have completely lost his sense of direction." Ouch.
Kerrey holds no grudge against the press for engaging in such psychoanalysis. In fact, he says, there was some truth to it.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:02 AM
There should always be something gratuitous about art, just as there seems to be, according to the new-wave cosmologists, something gratuitous about the universe. Art, out of its own freedom, should excite and flatter our sense of our own. Professionalism in art has this difficulty: To be professional is to be dependable, to be dependable is to be predictable, and predictability is esthetically boring - an anti-virtue in a field where we hope to be astonished and startled and at some deep level refreshed.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:46 AM
the easiest of emotions,
"it’s their fault"
fits like a glove
Into your wound you fly.
pity for others
the most difficult of emotions,
"it’s their fault"
may fit like a glove
but into their wound you fly.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:46 AM
Does your mind desire the strength to gain the mastery over your passions? Let it submit to a greater power, and it will conquer all beneath it. And peace will be in you—true, sure, most ordered peace. What is that order? God as ruler of the mind; the mind as ruler of the body. Nothing could be more orderly.
We would remind [such] people that it is the law of nature that all things must be of gradual growth...
--Pope John 23rd
The law of correspondence with Dr. Coulton is the survival of the rudest. (aka blogdom?)
--H. Belloc, from Pearce's "Old Thunder"
God Bless Our Troops
--sign outside a Columbus strip club
If you want a committed man, visit the mental hospital
--sign seen outside cheap motel on drive to work
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:46 AM
It was early. I was still squinting from the light and from disconnection from the dream state. But I believe I heard a BBC reporter, indignant over the bombing of the Palestine Hotel which left at least one reporter dead, asking:
Is the U.S. military targeting journalists?
If accurate, this sort of cynicism is this side of surreal. I get the same feeling when I hear people say dismissively, "any chemical weapons found will have simply been planted by the U.S.".
The spokesman calmly denied the allegation. It would've been funny to hear him flippantly say:
Thank you for your question. President Bush yesterday signed an executive order eliminating journalists, especially those hostile to the Bush Administration. Given our "smart bombing" technology, we hope to be able to strike London's BBC with a minimum of civilian casualties.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:14 PM
April 8, 2003
All You Need Is Love
In college I was disappointed when I got higher than a 95% on an exam. It meant I had over-studied. Time was a precious commodity, not to be wasted. My goal was to do enough to get the "A", not to surpass that out of any love for the subject matter.
How different this is from the spiritual life! Admittedly, there is and always has been a "test" aspect to it. Our first parents were tested in their obedience to God concerning the forbidden fruit. But that aspect was changed in some fundamental way with the New Covenant. It became a cooperation with God, Emmanuel or 'God with us'. Ideally, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit means doing the right thing is a byproduct of love for Him, rather than surviving the test... I have no ambition for a higher place in heaven, but I should have a desire to love Him more nearly.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:35 PM
Shellynna comments on the Pope on Disordered Affections:
He's got a more universal view. We don't understand what he sees, or how he sees it, but for the most part we can trust it. If it were a different, obviously less holy, less God-centered man than John Paul II, I'd probably be criticizing him, too. As it is, I'm willing to trust.
Makes sense to me.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:20 AM
How does the Christian's life of prayer depend on the Holy Spirit?
1. St. Paul teaches that Christians need and receive the special help of the Holy Spirit to pray as they ought: "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God" (Rom 8.26-27).
2. This passage is frequently taken to mean simply that the Spirit causes us to ask as we should and stirs right desires in us. There seems no reason, however, for excluding a more straightforward meaning of the Spirit "himself intercedes for us."
3. We have good grounds for thinking of ourselves as having distinct personal relationships with each of the three divine persons (24-C). The Holy Spirit is the gift given by the Father to those who ask (see Lk 11.13). The General Instruction to the Liturgy of the Hours teaches: "The unity of the Church at prayer is brought about by the Holy Spirit, who is the same in Christ (See Lk 10.21), in the whole Church, and in every baptized person."
According to the promise of Jesus, the Spirit comes and remains (see Jn14.16-18). He is not only with us as a principle, but present in person. The children of God are not left in loneliness like orphans. The Spirit instructs (see Jn 14.26). He defends and guides (see Jn 16.7-14; Gal 5.25). Because of the presence of the Spirit, we have a concrete realization that we are children of God (see Rom 8.16). We cry out to God: "Father!" (see Rom 8.15). The Spirit makes up for our infantile condition by helping us in our weakness (see Rom 8.26-27). He takes a personal interest in our growth in the Christian life (see Eph 4.30).
4. The work of the Spirit in the Christian's life of prayer might be explained as follows. Prayer is the basic act of Christian life. It is normally a work of living faith--in other words, a work of charity. In praying, God's children act toward him according to the divine nature which he has begotten in them through the gift of the Spirit, as St. Paul also teaches: "For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, 'Abba! Father!' it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Rom 8.14-16). However, as undeveloped, embryonic children of God (see 1 Jn 3.2), we are not yet capable of acting fully by ourselves according to the nature we have from the Father; we do not yet "see him as he is," that is, experience the fullness of divine life.
5. The Spirit, who "is the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son," therefore somehow mediates our relationship with them, supplying what we simply cannot supply ourselves, as a pregnant mother mediates her unborn child's relationships with its human father, with other people, and with the world at large, doing for it what it cannot yet do for itself.
6. Prayer is the fundamental category of Christian life, and the Christian's life of prayer depends on the Holy Spirit in the way explained. Therefore, the Christian's entire life is supplemented by the work of the Spirit.
7. Hence, the fact that the whole of Christian life is lived in the Spirit in no way means that the Holy Spirit fulfills any of the Christian's human responsibilities. Rather, just as Jesus' communion as Word with the Spirit is no substitute for his faithful fulfillment as man of his personal vocation, so Christians' life in the Spirit leaves them with undiminished moral responsibility.
Christian Moral Principles --Germain Grisez
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:52 AM
Best Excuse I've Found Lately to Drink Before Noon
We plopped down in the living room, and I asked him why he hadn't brought his gas mask, chem suit, and Kevlar. "I wore Kevlar in the Balkans once," he said, "but it made me feel like a counterfeit, so I ditched it." Despite this cavalier disregard for safety, I was so grateful for the company that I offered him a Welcome-To-Kuwait shot of "Listerine" (as it is known by Kuwaiti customs officials). "I don't usually start this early," said Hitchens with feigned reluctance, "but holding yourself to a drinking schedule is always the first sign of alcoholism."
-Christopher Hitchens quoted here via Amy Welborn
On the other hand, if you follow a schedule slavishly in every other area of your life, why should drinking be exempt?
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:07 PM
April 7, 2003
I'd appreciate your prayers for my friend Bone who is suffering through numerous trials (recently laid off, wife has thyroid tumor - the doctor thinks it's benign but now's a good time for Heisenprayer). I've written about him here in the past, here and here. He is a colorful guy, a devout Christian, has four small children.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:03 PM
Poetry to Order via the UK Guardian
At Books Unlimited we're so smart we can tell what mood you're in and what would make you feel better. Simply do our test and we'll find you some poetry to soothe your mood.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:19 AM
I love caption contests! Via Disordered Affections
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:19 PM
April 6, 2003
Playing Devil's Advocate...an apologia for pacifism
Another way to look at the war is in a "Pascal's Wager" sort of way. Worst case, if we would've followed the Vatican's approach, we would not have fought the first Gulf War. Saddam would rake in the oil revenues of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and be able to buy nuclear weapons. He would own the Middle East. Millions are killed. (Again, this is the worst case scenerio).
We know the soul is infinitely more valuable than the body. And so Judgment Day comes and the accounting. Any fault imputed to you for your failure to act (i.e. to advocate war) would be mitigated by the following of the Holy Father's counsel. Whereas if you had taken the opposite approach and acted, you would be under even greater judgment for having spurned his counsel. For the Christian, there seems to be no cost, in strictly spiritual terms, of failing to go to war while there is a great cost if you are wrong. Were the early Christian martyrs wrong for leaving their children orphaned? I think not.
If one really and truly believes this life is merely a short stay at a bad motel and that heaven awaits, then one sees the soul as of infinite worth, the body little. All Christians were pacifists for the first couple hundred years. It might've been when they realized that the Second Coming was not going to be tomorrow exactly, that Christians became more "practical" in accomodating ourselves to the "real" world. Or perhaps it was a realization that every era is different, and that there is a time for war and a time for pacifism.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 6:07 PM
Byzantine Catholic prayers.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:35 PM
Lots of Interesting Reads
Review of new book on the King James translation.
Adam Nicolson has a great deal of fun with the absurdities of subsequent translations, all of which is quite deserved; the 18th-century translator who replaced Peter’s ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here’ with ‘Oh, sir! What a delectable residence we might establish here!’, or the insanity of the New English Bible, improving the simple and beautiful ‘Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and yee shall finde’ into ‘Shoot the net to starboard, and you will make a catch.’ These bathetic and inadequate updatings are very funny, but it is important to understand why they are so hopeless. The King James Bible came to demonstrate and embody the principles of expressive English, and any deviation from it can never hope to rival its beauty and perfection.
NY Times review of book on early Christian thinkers, aka the Fathers.
WSJ opines on the Pope.
Eye-opening piece from Bernard Lewis.
[It was] often expressed by Osama bin Laden, among others, that America was a paper tiger. Muslim terrorists had been driven by such beliefs before. One of the most surprising revelations in the memoirs of those who held the American Embassy in Teheran from 1979 to 1981 was that their original intention had been to hold the building and the hostages for only a few days. They changed their minds when statements from Washington made it clear that there was no danger of serious action against them. They finally released the hostages, they explained, only because they feared that the new President, Ronald Reagan, might approach the problem "like a cowboy."
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:00 PM
April 5, 2003
This looks very interesting. The difficulty will be enthusing my wife about it. Perhaps a gathering of St. Bloggers?
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:04 PM
Opening Day, Cincinnati Style
Pageantry tossed from the skies passed
Down from Abner to present she holds
the ancient lineage long the strands
of confetti that reign down on this
her feast and followers of the world's eldest
know that Tradition is darned in our socks
Inbred in our ground balls.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:13 AM
Reading Huizinga's Waning of the MIddle Ages and it's somewhat disabusing me of my benign view of that period. Especially given art like this.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:19 PM
April 4, 2003
It seems gauche to monitor sitemeter, narcissistic even, but* it's hard to overlook the increase in traffic created from a recent link from Ad Orientem, not seen since a year ago link from the queen, Amy Welborn. (I can see the epitaph on my blogstone: Was once linked by Amy Welborn).
Seems Mark's a heavyweight contenda', based on the number of referrals. Dorothy Day can't be too happy about that. :) Sorry, couldn't resist. I must say there is something charismatic about certainty of opinion, be it wrong or right. Day's politics and economic sense are opaque to me, but I'm too awed by her holiness to object. It's sort of like an eccentric family member, you love them despite their eccentricities. (Disclaimer: I'm sure Mark loves Dorothy Day too but just objects to her politics & economics).
Part of the reason I so like Hilaire Belloc is that he was a prophet about so many things. He abhored communism and untrammelled capitalism, which seems to me gets it just about right (and he saw capitalism at its worse, when monopolies and oligarchies ruled).
* -see title of this blog
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:53 PM
"Recovering a sense of the dignity of the human person is a prerequisite for Christianity. Recovering a sense of the natural is a prerequisite of the supernatural....Aristotle said that it was lunar and solar eclipses that most spurred wonder and led on to that quest for God called philosophy."
-excerpts from essay from Ralph McInerny in Crisis
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:46 PM
APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke's,
My cousin's, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.
--TS Eliot excerpt from The Waste Land
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:33 PM
"One has to accept sorrow for it to be of any healing power, and that is the most difficult thing in the world...A priest once said to me, 'When you understand what accepted sorrow means, you will understand everything. It is the secret of life.'"
-- Maurice Baring, via Pearce's Old Thunder
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:59 PM
The following was obtained from an article in a scrapbook at the local historical society. It concerns my great-great grandfather who died in 1914 and who, after first emigrating, had no nearby church:
Rev. James P. Ward, who preached the funeral sermon, said: "Mr. Cogan was known to walk from Glynnwood to Piqua to be present at the divine Sacrifice of the Mass." It was his earnest zeal that prompted him to have a church close at hand, and he with others of the same sturdy faith united their efforts and established a pastorate at Glynnwood..
I checked a map and even as the crow flies the distance between Glynnwood and Piqua is thirty miles!
I went to the Ohio Historical Society a year or so ago and they have a village, like Greenfield Village in Michigan, that is a recreation of life a century ago. The church (of course) is a politically correct one. No cross adorns the chapel lest a non-believer in Christ be offended. (It's a bit difficult to suspend disbelief and think you are back in the 1850s when the chapel has a beautiful stained glass window - of the symbol for Ohio!). The "pastor", or the one who played one in this gig, related how services were often three hours long but that we should not suppose they to be more pious than us - no, this was simply their only social outlet and they milked it for all it was worth. I've noticed this increasingly tendency to believe that there are no real differences between eras or even people within an era - (i.e. George Bush is the same, more or less, as Saddam Hussein.) It is part of our culture of anti-haiography to tear saints down; even Mother Teresa had a dectractor in Christopher Hitchens.
But I ask...if you look around at the great variations in nature, the fact that there are imbeciles and geniuses, there are Tiger Woods' and T O'Rama's...shouldn't that suggest that there are degrees in holiness? Why should saintliness be exempt from the normal pattern of great variation within a species, and why should not cultures, as collections of peoples, not be similar?
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:45 AM
A friend wants to move to Yuma, AZ, where it is said that over 300 days a year are sunny and where we would "not have to feel so uptight" about a day like today, with its accompanying vague sense of unease for not having extracted from it all its profligate goodness. A freakishly warm, sunny day in Central Ohio in early April induces a giddiness such that folks from down south might say, "act like you've experienced a sunny day before!".
Nancy Nall writes: It's spring, honest and truly. NN.C Central is now updating with an open window inches from my right elbow, a glass of Cote du Rhone a few inches closer, and a nice mushroom risotto digesting somewhere else on the triangulation plane. Plus, I rode my bike for nearly an hour after work. I'm SuperBlogger again, my euphoria tempered somewhat by the certain knowledge that my Australian equivalent is slipping into seasonal depression as we speak. To her I say, chin up, sheila! Life is one big wheel.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:06 PM
April 3, 2003
Someone translated my blog into German here. Ye olde blog looks a heckuva lot smarter auf Deutsch. Maybe I'll throw in an occasional mißdeutet or enthält just for the spice.
German was the language of my youth, at least for three years in high school. Third-year German consisted mostly of kreidekriegs, or chalk-wars, because our teacher (sadly) could not maintain discipline and John, Eric and I were the Husseins of the classroom. I'll never forget John heaving a water balloon and watching it splatter against the chalk board, an affront both audacious and mendacious. The dear Fraulein soon fled the teaching profession. But perhaps I digress...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:20 AM
Faith begins at a naive level, with a lot of self-interest mixed in. With time, our act of trust is purified as the barriers between us and God are dismantled. No matter how mixed our motives for approaching Jesus, once we place ourselves in his hands, we can be sure that whatever imperfections are there will be gradually leached out.
When St. John presents his series of 'signs', he is at pains to portray the hopelessness of the situation. The man by the pool at Bethesda had been infirm for 38 years - any prospect of a cure was out of the question. This should encourage us greatly. Even when we consider that our situation is so tangled that no resolution is possible, there is ground for hope. God alone knows how to 'write straight on crooked lines' to bring forth from chaos a world of order and beauty.
--Fr. Michael Casey, O.C.S.O. Return to the Heart
But he knows hardly anything yet wants to think that he knows all that there is to know. This seems to be a common defect in those who have been bred up on physical science. And I think the reason is that physical science tells one a lot of facts, but nothing else.. He can explain quite clearly something which he has been dogmatically taught - such as a third rate materialism of modern English physical science, but he can't explain the problem let alone the solution of the religious appetite in mankind.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:16 AM
Scamming the Nigerian scammers...so I don't have to.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:15 PM
April 2, 2003
Sun o' matic*
Two o'clock escapee
released from the fluorescence
Exultantly she holds the sky
Singing hymns of jubilo!
Palms abut the jutting cirrus'
marvels, turns she to companions:
"Resiliancy, thy name is Spring!"
* - written after witnessing a young woman spontaneously break into joy at the sight of the sun upon leaving her place of work.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:09 PM
David Mills on Islam
Pelagianism is said to be the English heresy (Pelagius was British) and the English dislike theology, or at least metaphysics, and so Islam in its modern form might well appeal to them. It's all very practical and directive, makes your salvation a matter of works it spells out for you, works you can do and know you have done them (none of this Christian concern about whether you've hated your brother in your heart, as long as you've done your duty to him), and doesn't worry about your heart at all, and not much about your mind. It's very English, in some ways.
And I think that in Western European societies, in which Christianity seems so played out and what is "Christian" not much different from what is "secular" (in having high divorce rates, for example), Islam can offer the same blessings or benefits (a vision of stable marriage, for example) as Christianity but seem like a fresh thing and a new deal. And as an identifiable and only partly enculturated community, it will seem to be more successful than Christianity at those things (in having low divorce rates, for example). I have heard people speak in a hazy, wistful way of the wonderful life of Muslim families, when they themselves wouldn't tolerate the life for a second.
Above all, the Islamic life seems to offer order and the resulting benefits of tranquility, stability, and secure status in societies in which most people live disordered lives, who are therefore untranquil, unstable, and insecure. I am told this is the great appeal of the Black Muslims in prisons and slums. Prince Charles may love the ghastly Parker-Bowles, but given the life he has lived so far he must wish at some level for order. His writings on architecture and liturgy suggest this. At least he must wish (I hope he does, for his soul's sake) for a life without adultery.
My friend also noted that... "In Amsterdam last year, the No. 1 male name for babies was Mohammed."
This is what happens when societies stop having children, which is to say, when they give up on life.
George Will has said that "what the government subsidizes, you'll have more of". A corollary might be: What a society values you'll have more of. I've been told that back in the 1940s priests were extremely well-respected. Perhaps too much - they drove the best cars, ate the best food. They were portrayed favorably in Hollywood (ala "Going My Way"). And this "value" placed on priests meant there would be more of them. And there were. But now many not even don't respect priests but look at them as if there were something wrong with them. Result: less priests.
Similarly with children. I heard a talk show host recently say the cut-off is three children. When he had his fourth he became almost a pariah - people looked at him like he was wierd and gave him disapproving looks. How sad! Those folks should be our heroes, those who buck societal trends and have the strong faith that accompanies it. May we value children so that we have more of them. As I tell my Protestant friend (who has four children) - "you're more Catholic than I!"
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:05 PM
Missing the Mark
I began reading Tom of Disputation's post and was ready to object but he anticipated me. He wrote that "everything has a catch".
Tom refers to the convicting passage in 1 John 3: "No one who remains in him sins; no one who sins has seen him or known him." St. Paul, with a stunning matter-of-factness, writes in Romans 6 that we are dead to sin, definitionally: For sin is not to have any power over you, since you are not under the law but under grace.
I recall listening to a Baptist minister on the radio who asked a large crowd to raise their hands if they've gone the last month without sinning. No one raised their hand. Then he asked, "the last week?". Maybe two people raised their hand. "The last day?". Again, hardly anyone. He preached against this notion of sin, this notion that it is impossible to even go through a single day without sinning. This notion that Christ didn't sin because He was God, and we really can't follow his model. The minister said that he sometimes goes a month or so w/out sinning, a clarity that I found worthy of envy. Especially when sinning in one's thoughts is often a very difficult judgment call.
Sin can be hard to grasp for me, especially the aforementioned but also the "sins of omission" category. How much charity is enough? In strictly monetary terms, the OT had an answer: 10%. Given the limitlessness of the NT, that answer must now be made according to one's conscience. And, if you are a rich American (which is pretty much redundant), then one's conscience may be afflicted. But if God afflicts the comfortable and comforts the afflicted, then how is anyone comfortable? Ultimately I recognize the impossibility of my salvation, while nurturing hope since with God all things are possible.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:39 AM
Belloc on the Islamic Threat
...excerpts written in 1938
Islam has survived, and vigorously survived. Missionary effort has had no appreciable effect upon it. It still converts pagain savages wholesale. It even attracts from time to time some European eccentric, who joins its body. But the Mohammedan never becomes Christian. No fragment of Islam ever abandons its sacred book, its code of morals, its organized system of prayer...
In view of this, anyone with a knowledge of history is bound to ask himself whether we shall not see in the future a revival of Mohammedan political power, and the renewal of the old pressure of Islam upon Christendom....
These things being so ([the military impotence of Islam]), the recrudescence of Islam, the possibility of that terror under which we lived for centuries reappearing, and of our civilization again fighting for its life against what was its chief enemy for a thousand years, seems fantastic. Who in the Mohammedan world today can manufacture and maintain the complicated instruments of modern war?
Cultures spring from religions; ultimately the vital force which maintains any culture is its philosophy, its attitude towards the universe; the decay of a religion involves the decay of the culture corresponding to it - we see that most clearly in the breakdown of Christendom today.
That culture [Islamic] happens to have fallen back in material applications; there is no reason whatever why it should not learn its new lesson and become our equal in temporal things which now alone give us our superiority over it - whereas in Faith we have fallen inferior to it.
-- Hilaire Belloc, 1938, The Great Heresies
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 6:45 AM
It's Islam, Stupid
The old saw goes, "the rich are different from us - they have more money". Well unlike the rich, Muslims really are different from us.
This article, via Disordered Affections, underscores the root issue that I've been starting to gain a clue on - what if they don't want freedom, democracy, etc?
Muslim countries mostly fall into two groups: those whose populations hate the U.S. & freedom (freedom meaning the opposite of a theocracy) and those whose leaders hate the U.S. & freedom. This "damned if you do, damned if you don't scenerio" means we'll undoubtedly be left with either a puppet regime that the people will loathe and eventually overthrow (ala Iran) or an evil regime which is what we're trying to get rid of. We could hope for a less evil regime; Iran's leaders look like saints compared to Saddam & his thugs. On the bright side, anyone is better than Saddam and less likely to acquire & use WMDs. But messy business all around.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:04 PM
April 1, 2003
Ex-Pres filling in for current Pres
Back from a day at the ol' ball orchard. The 10-1 loss was not pleasant, although I go to baseball games for aesthetics, like a ballet dance. No one goes to the ballet for the plot do they?
Actually, I go for the same reasons Mike McConnell (WLW radio talk show host) goes:
3) the Game
I usually keep score, mostly because I like being able to report what Larkin did earlier in the game and as an excuse to draw diamonds. Paul Dickson writes, "The world is divided into two kinds of baseball fans: those who keep score at the ballgame... and those who have never made the leap." Something tells me Paul has too much time on his hands.
Yesterday's game was a nice relief from war news anyway.
Okay the park is a baseball park, real grass, etc. But what bothers me are two things:
1) Size of seats. I'm 5'11'', 210 (but reportedly look 170) and my father is bigger. We are collectively way too big for these seats.
2) Advertising uber alles. It spoils the rural ambiance of the game to see every unmarked space urging me to "run like a Deere" or "buy Pepsi". There was an olde-fashioned clock that was a copy of the one at old Crosley Field (1914-1970, RIP), only this one had the name "Subway" on it. Give me a break.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:46 PM
This Just In...
Tom needs a shave.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:11 PM
March 30, 2003
Percy Quote...from the verweile doch
He reminded the engineer of the graduates of Horace Mann, their faces quick and puddingish and acned, whose gift was the smart boy's knack of catching on, of hearkening: yes, I see. If Jamie could live, it was easy to imagine him for the next forty years engrossed and therefore dispensed and so at the end of the forty years still quick and puddingish and childlike. They were the lucky ones.
-- Walker Percy, The Last Gentleman
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 6:48 PM
Well it’s spring and it must be time again for the annual shortenin' of the skirts. The magazine rack at Walden’s alone was enough to induce double-take. For someone who occasionally has eye custodial issues, it’s always something of a surprise. If blame can be assigned, I choose to blame part of it on increased sensitivity due to increased religious observance and fasting (the latter minimal but effective). These tend to make one more alive, more aware of sensations rather than jaded and sluggish. Okay, you're not buying that. Maybe it's simply the anachronistic fruits of an unchaste past.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 6:39 PM
Racing to Extremes
It seems as though polarization occurs in part because of our inability to detail with ambiguity. When faced with ambiguity, such as this war, there is a time of sorting out, of shifting, and if you lean to one side and are attacked for it (even called 'immoral') then you tend to not only continue to lean to that side but to race to the fringe of that side - to embrace it as a moral good though before you merely saw it as a necessary evil. I've felt this tendency in myself by moving from the idea of self-defense to Iraqi liberation & back again (revolutions must be internal, at least in the beginning).
I'm making no moral equivalency, but remember the issue w/r/to the Southern states? By the 1830s, the morality of slavery was ambiguous at best. The Virginia legislature met to decide if slavery should be abolished in that state, and the vote was close. But that ambiguity did not last; abolitionists demonized Southerns and by the 1850s slavery was no longer seen as ambiguous morally, but as an actual moral good as described by John Calhoun & others.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:10 AM
Interesting Comments from the NY Times
Kagan serves up an especially provocative image when he compares the United States and Europe to two men confronting a dangerous bear, one armed only with a knife and the other with a rifle. It is psychologically inevitable, he declares, that the one with the knife will choose to lie low, while the one with the gun will find greater security in trying to shoot the bear. ''This perfectly normal human psychology has driven a wedge between the United States and Europe,'' he asserts.
-Serge Schmenmann on Robert Kagan's "Of Paradise & Power"
''In the end,'' he writes, ''peoples cannot take responsibility for each other; but they serve each other when they take responsibility for themselves.'' Given the dangers we now face from international terrorism and nuclear proliferation, Purdy's stress on tending our own garden seems at least a little beside the point, and some of his readers may see in this a faint family resemblance to the ''blame America first'' mentality identified years ago by Jeane Kirkpatrick. But a closer relative is the strain of American Protestantism that in the face of external threats emphasizes personal purity and redemption from sin. When the towers fell, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson looked inward for the cause. Purdy's impulse takes the same form; it's the content that differs. Where Falwell and Robertson worry about school prayer and sex, Purdy worries about poverty and trees.
--Barry Gewen, on Jedeiah Purdy's book "BEING AMERICA: Liberty, Commerce, and Violence in an American World"
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:09 AM
The Wee Lass on the Brae
As I was a-walkin' one fine summer's day
Oh, the fields they were in blossom and the meadows were gay
I met a wee lassie trippin' over the green
I took her for Helen, the Grecian queen
The Grecian queen, the Grecian queen
I took her for Helen, the Grecian queen
Oh, me parents dote on me, and it's all for their sake
And its ofttimes it causes my poor heart to break
But the more I think on them, the more I'm inclined to say
There's no one will be mine but the wee lass on the brae
The wee lass on the brae, the wee lass on the brae
There's no one will be mine but the wee lass on the brae
--Irish folk song
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:03 AM
March 29, 2003
The day of the martyr’s victory dawned
Marched from cell to theater
With cheerful look and graceful bearing
'To heav'n the deathblow sent
In silence received.
Taken from the Second Reading from the Office of Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours for March 7, the Commemoration of Perpetua and Felicity, martyrs, via Bill White
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:33 PM
March 28, 2003
I’m greedy for the newly printed books that lay thick on my nightstand. They sit plump and erudite – Paul Elie’s “The Life You Save”, a biography of Walker Percy, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton & Flannery O’Connor, and TC Boyle’s “Drop City”. The riches of the reading table do runneth over. I hesitate to start them, wanting to just revel in this era of good feeling. I also have a new found library book: Lorenzo Albacete’s “God at the Ritz”. I’m tanned, rested and ready for the long Sunday read.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:49 PM
Been draggin’ my tired flesh to the Friday night Pre-Sanctified Gifts (aka Vespers) at St. John’s Byzantine Catholic Church during Lent, yet always come away with a renewed peace and sense of making a real connection with Christ as my Liberator. It is an ineffable sweetness to worship with our 76-year old warrior-priest, a liturgical “maximalist” who hasn’t lost his enthusiasm in lo these many years. In a world of cutting corners, he is a throwback. We recently had a visit from the bishop who attested to the latter.
The good Father carries on for nearly 2-hour Sunday divine liturgies, heroic Eastern Christian Lenten fasts, weekday liturgies that oft have 3 participants, and a hundred other things like the hassle of driving to homes for the annual blessing. The church itself is astonishingly beautiful; the Theotokos cradles her first born to her cheek and I tell myself I have the same privilege by adoption.
(The Virgin at St. John's is similar to this, although there is a less possessive and wary look on Mary's face.)
The encircling dome contains icons of the twelve apostles looking down with a certain expectancy. There is a glorious mosaic of Christ holding the letters Alpha and Omega, letters that communicate both reproach and goal.
The tranquility fostered at St. John’s is such that I wonder if I could do without it, which almost makes me wonder if I should.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:03 PM
Dylan ist back! I didn't know there was an option to call him but apparently a couple St. Blogger's did. I do admit an increasing curiousity about what my fellow blogland toilers look and sound like. But not enough to drive the 2 hours to Toledo on a work night to meet & greet Amy Welborn and her husband and some of the other Catlicker authors. I did read about Tom & Kathy's meeting with great interest, as well as little tidbits like Steven Riddle's voice is not as deep as the Kairos guy expected it.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:01 PM
"A mother's womb used to be the safest place in the world for a child; now it's the least."
-Fr. Apostoli on EWTN
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:14 AM
March 27, 2003
Whew! But How Do You Really Feel?
Mark Shea writes passionately and very persuasively in a comment on Amy's blog:
I *hope* that a post-Saddam Iraq will be a better place (though judging from Afghanistan's progress that's not a guarantee by any stretch). My point is simply that the rhetoric employed by some pro-war Catholics is grotesque in its implication that the Pope is a wicked fool, that the Catholic Church is "morally bankrupt" because of Catholic opposition to the war and that America's extremely sudden compassion for Iraqi suffering makes America morally superior to our "clueless" (as Mark Sullivan calls him) Pope. I would have more ease following Mark Sullivan's script of America's Messianic Moral Role in the world if Salam Pax and lots of other Iraqis did. As it is, I think the bishop of Baghdad is cutting a much more noble figure than these suburban Pope bashers who seem so certain God is on Their Side. It may be that the Catholic Church in Iraq which has bled along with the Iraqis for two decades has just a slightly higher claim on moral superiority than some embittered sports writer in California who is medicating his rage at the Pope in a comments box, a guy who claims to be a "Real Christian" and a gaggle of people with keyboards who are ready to call the Pope an idiot on hair-trigger notice when he fails to endorse their jingoism.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:05 AM
Just Another Day in Paradise
My wife called me at work and asked:
"I'm ordering from Amazon. I need $1 more for free shipping - is there anything you want?"
I felt like my book manhood was being challenged.
"Uh...yeah...just a sec," though I knew I'd ordered from amazon less than a week ago and the book cart was empty. I looked through the old "Save For Later's", a motley crew of passed overs and close-but-unworthies.
"Well I don't see anything. I could order Scott Hahn's RSV commentary on St. John, but I'm not happy with the idea of buying these books separately at $9.95 a pop instead of waiting until they come out with a single volume, even though it'll be 2020."
"But don't you already have Matt, Mark & Luke?"
"Yeah I should have the full gospels shouldn't I?" (Talking me into buying a book is like talking Michael Moore into railing against white American males).
When I got home I told her that the next time she looks askance at one of my book purchases I'm going to tell her that I'm a "branch librarian for the Body of Christ"*. She laughed and said, "you know I don't give you any trouble about your books!", which is quite true. At least until the upstairs book room collapses into the living room.
No, we disagree about who does the dishes more. We both think we do it about 65% of the time, meaning that those dishes are 130% clean. Clean dishes, clean. As a Lenten "mortification", which insults the root from which that word was taken, I decided to do the dishes all the time without telling her. It's half-way through Lent and she hasn't noticed, strongly suggesting my 65% number might've been a bit low. :)
* - title borrowed from Tom of Disputations
Breaking News: Came downstairs this a.m. and the dishes were done.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:00 AM
Something I'd wondered is why the temple of Jerusalem was never rebuilt. This month's Magnificat mentions one attempt:
Emperor Julian 'the Apostate', who embraced paganism and felt he was destined to restore the old gods of Greco-Roman civilization, attempted to defy Christians by rebuilding the Temple of Jerusalem in 365 AD. St. Cyril is said to have prophesied that nothing would come of it. And it would seem that heaven itself backed him up. Just as work began, a series of earthquakes occurred. As workers cleared the site, gasses trapped in the subterranean passages below the ruins of the old Temple ignited. It caused balls of fire to emerge from crevices in the earth, scorching and killing some of the laborers. The plans were finally abandoned when the emperor himself died shortly afterward.
--Michael Morris, O.P.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:56 PM
March 26, 2003
Post from David Mills
Once you realize what an abortion really is, it is hard not to see it as Molochian. And the society in which it flourishes as it does in our society as equally Molochian.
I suppose this explains why, at the end of the day, Christians like me feel so ambiguous about our country. I despise the leftists and rightists who talk in hysterical terms about America as if it were actively malign and who seem to live fundamentally alienated from the nation, while enjoying all its benefits, such as the freedom to live in such alienation and encourage it in others.
They are at best simple-minded and ungrateful, and at worst blinded by their alienation and what seems in many cases to be hatred. I speak, I must admit, from experience, having felt this in my youth, but having eventually realized how childish and self-indulgent and, to the extent I cultivated the feelings of hatred (which one much enjoys), wicked.
But on the other hand, I cannot look at the number of abortions in this country and its legal protection, and feel unalienated myself. Patriotism is a good thing, and indeed as Chesterton argues elsewhere a godly thing, but not an easy thing for the Christian who loves his country not only because she is his country but for what she is and aspires to be, but must judge her by a higher standard and knows how badly she fails. And knows, in fact, how much she repudiates that standard.
What keeps me from feeling the alienation that others do is the knowledge that the religion of Moloch may be at least partly defeated, even after thirty years of legal establishment. No country can be considered lost to Moloch that has such a large pro-life movement, and that finds his religion defeated even in Congress and perhaps, someday, in the Supreme Court. I would not bet on it, but it may happen.
Concerning the Jesuit magazine America (May 15, 1999), an article on Peacemaking and "The Use of Force: Behind the Pope's Stringent Just-War Teaching"
A Catholic must wrestle with the teaching, and any other Christian should, but I think it suffers from a degree of abstraction, particularly in the repeated assertion that force solves nothing. This practical judgment turns a subtle understanding of war and just war thinking too far toward effective pacifism.
-- Read the whole thing here
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:52 AM
Chesterton snippet...from Ad Orientem
"G. K. Chesterton, who deserves to be sainted, was a vigorous enemy of pacifism, the American Chesterton Society notes.
What he did believe in was the right, or the duty rather, of self-defense and the defense of others.
Chesterton was also a vigorous enemy of militarism. Both ideas, he argued, were really a single idea – that the strong must not be resisted. The militarist, he said, uses this idea aggressively as a conqueror, as a bully. The pacifist uses the idea passively by acquiescing to the conqueror and permitting himself and others around him to be bullied…
"The horror of war," Chesterton wrote, "is the sentiment of a Christian and even of a saint." But in refusing to strike any blow, pacifists announce their readiness to surrender the higher ideals of "liberty, self-government, justice, and religion."
In chapter 6 of "The Everlasting Man" he mentions the "queer habit among the English of always siding against the Europeans, and representing the rival civilisation, in Swinburne's phrase, as sinless; when its sins were obviously crying or rather screaming to heaven."
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:22 AM
He is calmly driving down the sidewalk at a reasonable speed while drinking an intoxicating beverage. Suddenly a police cruiser drives up along side on the road. He begins to panic, knowing he's had too much to drink and that he is now being watched. He begins to move more erratically across the sidewalk. The cop pulls him over while he attempts to hide "the evidence".
"Do you know why I pulled you over?"
"Because I was weaving?" (wondering if he could see the intoxicating beverage).
"You were driving on the sidewalk!"
He is shocked, wondering why this should be an injustice.
This analogy suggests that we will not be held accountable for our misjudgments as such - but for the wilful blindness which leads to our misjudgments. If I quit the intoxicating beverage of selfishness and pride, my judgment and vision will be restored. Instead of focusing on hiding beverages or worrying about weaving, I should aim at abstaining from the aforementioned liquors.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 6:43 AM
Enjoyed the "dueling banjos" over at Tom & Steven's blogs concerning love versus and knowledge of God. I'm reminded of a conversation I once had with Al*. He thought religion was for old people who needed something to relieve the terror of impending death. I was taken aback, asking him "but doesn't it matter if it is true?"
But God has a way of wooing (I adore the "Hound of Heaven" imagery). He met a girl, fell in love, and she's a devout Christian. Her love and peacefulness brought something to the table that interested him even in his relative youth. He was attracted by love, others by truth. Viva l' difference.
* - fictitious name
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:07 PM
March 25, 2003
William F. Buckley Quote
"But then we have always known, have we not?, that the day has never been when the sum total of man's available resources was insufficient to cope with skepticism, one of those resources, in the earliest days of our faith, having been an obligingly ubiquitous God. In respect of apologetics we are better off in the twentieth century than we were in the first. St. Peter would have had a more difficult time engaging a sophist than, say, John Courtney Murray would have today, replying to Bishop Pike. Even so, notwithstanding our intellectual resources, notwithstanding our moral and spiritual resources, we [Catholics] are on the defensive. And it is the excruciating irony that the more highly educated we are, the more keenly we tend to feel the pangs of exclusion from the dominant intellectual hustle and bustle of the age. Our faith is more severely buffeted, now that we move easily in the world of knowledge, than it was when we were illiterate.
One obvious cause is the interminable war between the self-justifying flesh and the forlorn spirit, a war in which all baptized human beings are eternally conscript as double agents. Another cause is the lure of rationalism: If we can perfectly understand how to split the atom, why can't we know how to fuse the Trinity?
Surely another cause is the friction between fundamentalist and transcendent understandings of scripture....The appeal of literalism has done much to shake the faith of the literate."
--William F. Buckley, "Let Us Talk Of Many Things"
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:38 PM
Take me from war arguments...but not yet
Hall-of-famer Satchel Paige once said words to the effect of "avoid fried foods, which angry up the blood". I'm finding I have to avoid war commentary sites to avoid "angryin' up my blood". (My heart and mind tell me to be for the war, my pope something else; the disconnect is unpleasant). The old Soviet Union had almost no terrorist acts perpetrated against them because they reacted ruthlessly the few times it did occur. The terrorists understood - you don't mess with the USSR. Since we are much more sensitive to questions of right and wrong, we cannot, nor should, be as ruthless. Which means that we will necessarily be taken advantage of by terrorists at a higher rate. So it becomes - what is an acceptable rate of terrorism? What is proportional? Very difficult question. It's like mosquitos biting at an elephant - the elephant can let a certain percentage gnaw at him but given some point the loss of blood will cause him to begin taking measures that appear unreasonable because he causes collateral damage to the surrounding forest.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:37 PM
Deal Hudson's Conversion Story...
...is in this week's "This Rock". His confirmation name became "Thomas". He explains:
"In the spring of the year I felt the need to start studying something entirely different. I perused my bookshelves for a title as yet unread and came across a paperback book containing the first question of the Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas. I took it out in the backyard along with a chair and sat under a tree and began reading....
I came to the article posing the question whether everything that exists is good. This question particularly intrigued me, in part because it bears upon the personal matter of my own moral status before God. To put it simply, if a person is sinful and evil is he in some way still good? As I read Aquinas's reply to the effect that everything that exists is good because God who is supremely good created it, I stopped reading and looked up. At that moment a redbird sitting in a birdfeeder above my head began to sing, and the words 'everything that exists is good' seemed to unite themselves with the bird's song. The song seemed to represent both the fact of God's creative act and its import, namely that nothing can be so damaged that its goodness can be completely removed from it."
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:47 PM
History & the Body
Could it be that the Church, as the Body of Christ, is re-creating Christ's life on earth? That just as in the beginning He could not find a home, having to settle for a manger, so too did the early Church struggle against persecution to find a home? And did not the killing of the Holy Innocents mirror the killing of the early saints, the virgins and martyrs? Is this the "Good Friday" of history, the time during which our society, our world cries out, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani..."?
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:56 AM
More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart. - Jeremiah 17:7-10
I've often thought that God effecting a single conversion is more impressive than His curing of an illness. An illness is purely material and is subject completely to Him, while in a conversion God moves around the obstacle of our free will.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:54 AM
Half-moon shines sybilesque
against the pallorous night
Steals through a screen door at the foot of the bed
Into the night it beckons.
Birds sound in their idylls
beating the breath-beat of childhood,
Time stands at the window, past, passed by,
“Grow or die” built-in,
Natural as grace.
The screen door slams
Mary's dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays...
-- Bruce Springsteen "Thunder Road" - one of the most evocative and moving of all Springsteen's songs.
* - There is no "Poetry Tuesday", there is simply "Poetry ---------", where --------- is the day of the week I happen to post some poetry. Just so you'll know. :)
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:47 AM
How bad do you have to be, to be a lefttist and get booed in Hollywood? I didn't think such a thing possible in the present universe. It's sort of like Kruschev being booed at the Politburo.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:28 AM
Must read in today's NY Times - on the roots of Al Qaeda philosphy.
Interesting perspective. The article sort of implies that the Muslim heresy would not "have been necessary" if early Christianity had not dumped Jewish ritual, and that the current Muslim rage would've been lessened if the split in the Western mind between science and religion were not so profound, one that was arguably accelerated and deepened by the Reformation.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:24 PM
March 23, 2003
Pray for our soliders
"We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would do us harm."
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:58 PM
How enjoyable to think back at the long night of the 15th! A good St. Patrick’s Day celebration is an art and requires a bit of luck o' the Irish. It was a stroke of genius on my friend Bone's part to gravitate to the spot we did at AOH. We stood and could survey the band and the dancers and the crowd and we felt a part of it, standing more than half-way up, not loitering in back nor imprisoned in a seat. Location, location, location - so they cry that in the real-estate market and so it is at AOH where the fiddler player holds court. Oh Tireless Youth!
AOH has about it a flavor that is unrecreatable even compared to the Irish Festival in August. I can’t quite put my finger on it, though it has to do with Bone being there and the more intimate atmosphere that AOH inevitably supplies compared to the sterility of Dublin and its Coors sell-out. In the friendly confines of AOH we felt the longing of outsiders wishing to be insiders while getting “lost in the loop” of the repetitive Irish jigs and reels. The restroom was but a stone’s throw away and an agreeable segue between songs.
In my mind's eye I fade to old St. Patrick's at Tara Hall. We're all sitting awkwardly around a large round table eating fried fish in the Aquinas room - Victoria is there, with a child. We sit like knights of the round table with the unlikely accompaniment of women and children. Cal, I think, is there too, and Kindle. We wonder if the wives will leave or if they would follow us to the bar. They don't. We sit in the large heavy oaken barstools and caress a Guinness in front of a barkeep wearing a plastic green bowler hat. He furnishes stout for us at his convenience. A small window reveals Naghten street and in the middle distance the lit-up instrument of our collective torture appears - our workplace. Bu it looks impotent, impotent before our drinking. Not after a Jameson & Guinness! And not on the precious weekend. The sterile place loomed in the distance like a bully without recourse.
I recall the first time we saw the Irish dancers; there was the shock of the impromptu – thru the haze of my Guinness’d eyes there suddenly appeared waves of the most colorfully dressed girls all kicking at tempos I couldn’t keep up with. As I recall it, we were sitting in the front, on the floor, at old Tara Hall and legs kicked only a few feet from our disbelieving eyes. And here it is all these years later and the girls are as young as they were then and kicked just as high and my slo-ginned eye still couldn’t keep up…
Waves of Ireland’s finest
High-stepping weavers of the past
Black-hosed maidens of rural dowries
Garish in your Celtic shields
Holy in your innocence.
The potent opening shot of Jamieson was like Concord’s “shot heard round the world”! We’d walked up to the bar, Bone saying, “you get the Guinness and I’ll get the shots?” and we were suddenly holding the fruits of our labor. My ancestors spent a week's wages for such as these.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:26 AM
March 22, 2003
The sad thing is that I think war is more likely in the future because we've lost one of the ways to prevent it - economic sanctions. Sanctions are heartless and immoral because most dictators simply don't care if people starve. There was a good article in the Wash. Post arguing that sanctions are simply war by another name, one that instead of affecting soldiers and dictators, kills children.
I think the answer, sadly, lies in the book of Genesis. Original sin. Just as thru one man, Adam, death can come into the world so too does this get replayed constantly. Thru the absolute intransigence and hatred of one man (Hitler or Saddam as examples), death rains down. An evil man has great power, unfortunately, and I don't know how we'll ever get around that in this world.
As far as this war, we see the great evil of the last 12 years - evil WE perpetrated in the form of sanctions and two wars. What we DON'T see is the millions of deaths we prevented in the form Saddam having Kuwaiti oil and WPM's and taking over Saudi Arabia and all the Middle East and having untold wealth, land and WPM. There's no reason he couldn't have been an Alexander the Great. We see the cost, but not the opportunity cost.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:19 AM
I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 6:11 PM
March 21, 2003
"Heroic virtue does not mean that the saint performs a type of "gymnastics" of holiness, something that normal people do not dare to do. It means rather that in the life of a person God's presence is revealed -- something man could not do by himself and through himself. Perhaps in the final analysis we are rather dealing with a question of terminology, because the adjective "heroic" has been badly interpreted. Heroic virtue properly speaking does not mean that one has done great things by oneself, but rather that in one's life there appear realities which the person has not done himself, because he has been transparent and ready for the work of God. Or, in other words, to be a saint is nothing other than to speak with God as a friend speaks with a friend. This is holiness.
To be holy does not mean being superior to others; the saint can be very weak, with many mistakes in his life. Holiness is this profound contact with God, becoming a friend of God: it is letting the Other work, the Only One who can really make the world both good and happy."
-- From Letting God work, by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:59 PM
O blest unfabled Incense Tree
That burns in glorious Araby,
With red scent chalicing the air,
Till earth-life grow Elysian there!
I sat by Ballyshannon in the summer,
And saw the salmon leap;
And I said, as I beheld the gallant creatures
Spring glittering from the deep,
Thro' the spray, and throu' the prone heaps striving onward
To the clam clear streams above,
'So seekest thou thy native founts of freedom, Thomas Davis,
In thy brightness of strength and love!"
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:18 AM
"Respect and love ought to be extended also to those who think or act differently than we do in social, political and even religious matters. In fact, the more deeply we come to understand their ways of thinking through such courtesy and love, the more easily will we be able to enter into dialogue with them.
This love and good will, to be sure, must in no way render us indifferent to truth and goodness. Indeed love itself impels the disciples of Christ to speak the saving truth to all men. But it is necessary to distinguish between error, which always merits repudiation, and the person in error, who never loses the dignity of being a person even when he is flawed by false or inadequate religious notions. God alone is the judge and searcher of hearts; for that reason He forbids us to make judgments about the internal guilt of anyone.
Since all men possess a rational soul and are created in God's likeness, since they have the same nature and origin, have been redeemed by Christ and enjoy the same divine calling and destiny, the basic equality of all must receive increasingly greater recognition."
-from The Documents of Vatican II
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:09 PM
March 20, 2003
Today's gospel (Luke 16:19-31) should give anyone with universalist tendencies pause. I remember as a child reading some of these harder-edged parables and much prefering the "after the Resurrection" Jesus, who seemed mellower and said "Peace" and "Do not be afraid" a lot.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:24 PM
I can't expect the Iraqis to welcome war even if it be in their own best interest. No one should expect another to be a martyr, which is basically what an Iraqi civilian is in the position of being (i.e. risking their life for a better future). If the U.S. is a physician, wishing to heal the body of their country via the purging of their cancer (Saddam), we still need the permission of the patient. This war truly must be about U.S. self-defense, not humanitarian reasons.
It is a shame that through one sinful man (a Hitler, Saddam, or Stalin) so many people must die. It is, in a sense, a re-enactment of Adam's sin. Since so much of what we experience has an equal and opposite counterpart, it should come as no surprise that life is given via one man, Jesus.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:42 PM
Uncanny, I Tell Ya
Amy's latest read is TC Boyle's "Drop City", one that I've been dying to read. It really is uncanny how similar my taste in books is to hers - her love of David Lodge for example. Plus her recent interest in Pope John XXIII is appropriate given the seeming abrupt turn toward pacifism the Church has made during his pontificate. Her recent read by Ruth Harris entitled "Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age" is yet another book I've always wanted to read.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:52 AM
via Jeff Miller
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:34 AM
There's a kind of hush....
Steven Riddle writes about the phenomenon of St. Blog's as ghost town. I think he is correct that numbers are way down during Lent and I certainly don't think that's a bad thing. In fact I think it's healthy, and I probably should do the same ('I see the good, I approve it, and I do the opposite' - although hopefully this tendency is being thwarted, especially during Lent). I emailed Amy when she decided to go into semi-retirement and said that in the long run she would never regret not posting something, while she would very much regret not writing that book she always wanted to write.
I have mixed emotions about it to be honest. Should you be reading this blog - or any of our blogs - when such manifest beauty exists in the pages of a Walker Percy novel or, spritually-speaking, in the words of Aquinas or Augustine? I realize it is not an either/or, but I can understand the need to make more space for the best. Blogging is also addictive, and addictions tends to offer less than they require. On the other hand, I think we risk becoming killjoys if we don't indulge in silliness now and then. Killjoys don't make the best witnesses for the faith, imho.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:10 AM
The Noive..or the sweetness of a warm March weekend
He appeared with the wings of Nike on a weekend no less. Sun and mid-70s, with the insouciance of a swaggering drunk. The breath of summer encamped, all hosanna’s and “glad to see ya’s” as if he'd not gone AWOL and left us to the ravages of a winter Verdun. Yea, I say, you drank with Falstaff in foreign climes and now return and expect our embrace?
Yes and yes.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:16 PM
March 19, 2003
The Europeans adored Bill Clinton. They abhore George Bush. Bush is the anti-Clinton in almost every measure, including diplomacy. Bill Clinton is a people-pleaser; he just wants to be loved. It's as if he doesn't feel God's love as powerfully as some and wants that human equivalent. As Shakespeare wrote:
My love is as a fever, longing still / For that which longer nurseth the disease, /Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill, /The uncertain sickly appetite to please.
Right and wrong can be negotiated; he cares (deeply) what others think of him. In that way the Europeans had some power over him - power they lack over Bush and it is infuriating since power lost is power desperately sought. Interestingly, St. Thomas once said something along the lines that those who care what others think about them are still far from the Kingdom spiritually-speaking. When Clinton wanted to help in Bosnia, the U.N. was not enthused and so he waited two years (while thousands died) and went the NATO route and gained that fig leaf. He did not want to urinate the U.N. off, or show up the leaders of Europe, and they liked him for it.
George W. Bush, more devout and purposeful, is less a people-pleaser and more focused simply on what he feels is right. Compromise on moral issues, therefore, is more difficult and he is less able to "fudge" just for someone's approval. He feels God's love fully and firmly and knows that millions are praying for him and he feeds off that knowledge, rather than the knowledge that he is approved of by the world community. By allowing God to be the main spring of his approval, he naturally lessens the power of foreign leaders. He is more likely to do the right thing and be unpopular for it (at least for a politician - a big caveat) than Clinton was. Bush is capable of compromise on lesser issues - like the education bill. But on war and peace he is firm as rock.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:53 PM
Critique of the Just War theory as it is being applied today.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:24 PM
But how do you really feel, Hilaire?
The industrial civilization, which, thank God, oppresses only the small part of the world in which we are most inextricably bound up, will break down and therefore end from its monstrous wickedness, folly, ineptitude, leading to a restoration of sane, ordinary human affairs, complicated but based as a whole upon the freedom of its citizens. Or it will break down and lead to nothing but desert. Or it will lead the mass of men to become contented slaves, with a few rich men controlling them. Take your choice. - H. Belloc in the 1920s
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:09 PM
Tom of Disputations asked a Dominican spirituality lecturer which fruit of the Spirit the American Church needed most. The friar answered, "Joy."
I think the Dominican hit the bull's eye. Orthodox Catholics in other countries frequently remark on the joyless, severe, constantly outraged attitude of so many orthodox American Catholics, like so many grinches with shoes that are always too tight, or people with way too much cheese in their diets.
--Fr. Jim of Dappled Things
My pizza-every-night thing is so over now. Whoda thunk that was it?!
Seriously, Kathy reports that one of the Dominicans said, "The first gift of the Holy Spirit we must seek is God Himself; He then provides the rest of the gifts." So instead of seeking after the spiritual gift of joy, I shall hope for it as a byproduct of seeking after God Himself.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:56 PM
In France I distrust...
What amazes me more than anything is not the Pope's stance on Iraq but Europe's. For them to allow Saddam Hussein....Saddam Hussein! ..to damage our relationship is simply astonishing. The Kyoto Treaty? Maybe. A trade imbalance? Ok. But Saddam Hussein? The U.S. is actually doing them a favor (since he is a threat not just to the U.S. but to everyone). It is an amazing fact that the world is apparently more afraid of the U.S. than Iraq. If you're the pope, can't you ask, "if you are saving the world from terrorism, why isn't there a greater consensus?".
Just War Blackmail
Okay since proportionality is an ingredient, let's say Country A knows that Country B adheres to Just War Theory. Country A can announce "we will kill 100,000 of our own citizens if you cross the border." Now Country B cannot go to war because it knows that the number of saved lives may only be, say, 40,000. Does this mean that Country A can kill up to 40,000 of its own citizens and we can't prevent it? Since Saddam is grooming his sons to take over when he's gone, then I assume you can cumulate all the deaths that they would cause. I wonder if St. Thomas & St. Augustine thought there would be evil on the scale of Saddam - an evil willing to kill its own citizenry. And it's not hypothetical.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:26 AM
The Fragility of the Flesh
Kathy the cheerful Carmelite has offered a collection point for well wishes for Dylan, who is in the hospital. Ms. Knapp just returned from there and is healing.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:54 AM
Link from Amy on American arrogance.
The fact that an infinitely strong God would become infinitely weak (i.e. dead) should give us pause. There is no excuse for rude diplomacy. There is no cost to politeness, no cost to sparing another country from humiliation. Where we should be firm we must be, but where we can afford to be weak it seems we should be that.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:15 PM
March 18, 2003
(via Hernan Gonzalez)
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:57 AM
Rome vs Washington
The Thomist definition of the necessary conditions for a just war is, like all his writing, admirably straightforward. War must be declared by a competent authority; the US president and Congress fulfil this requirement constitutionally in terms of self-defence, but not to cast America in the role of international policeman. There must be just cause, i.e. attack by an aggressor or a need to restore rights lost under aggression; this validated the 1991 Gulf war, provoked by the invasion of Kuwait. There must also be proportionality — the likely suffering and destruction caused by war must be outweighed by the just cause. Most of the world disputes this in the context of Iraq. The remaining stipulation is the right intention, meaning that the belligerent must intend to re-establish justice and a lasting peace. America clearly has the intention of affording Iraqis an opportunity to live under a more just regime; but the acute hazard of destabilising the Middle East, with the possibility of other governments falling to militant Islam and a massive resurgence of terrorism, could be held to cancel that out.
The descendants of Puritan settlers devised the Declaration of Independence, a document in conflict with Catholic doctrine, which was also the inspiration for the French Revolution. The high-water mark of hostility came in 1899 when Pope Leo XIII, in the Apostolic letter Testem Benevolentiae, formally condemned Americanism — the socially progressive errors espoused by such prominent American Catholics as Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore, who had gone native in the pluralist atmosphere of the United States.
The Vatican’s true American allies are the cultural conservatives (to whom Dubya is ideologically closer than his father was) whose doyen the late Russell Kirk, an eminent Catholic, opposed even the 1991 Gulf war.
- Entire article here. Via Touchstone blog
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:26 PM
March 17, 2003
Consoling thoughts from Kathy the Carmelite:
"Certain blogbuddies wonder if their blogs are getting too frivolous. I doubt it. I think we all go through cycles: holiness and backsliding; consolation and dryness; depth and shallowness; zeal and apathy.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:43 AM
"I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.
I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men." --St. Patrick
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:58 AM
Journal du jour
It’s appropriate, perhaps, that on a night that moved at warp speed I type the date of this journal entry as “03/15/01”. Perhaps my muscle memory has only caught up to 2001. Time moves at a much faster rate than I can absorb; my internal clock must be two years behind. Certainly today’s St. Patrick’s party, which was some seven hours, lasted only two hours internally.
We arrived at Dublin’s “Blarney Bash” by 4:30ish. After a beer & a quick trip to McDonald’s we were ready for the “main event’ as they say in boxing and wrestling circles. I was ill-prepared for quite the effect the Hooligans would have on me this day; in that sense it is like religious faith – you trust and then you receive. I trusted that I would have a good time, and went thru the requisite motions, but then I found the most marvelous thing! By the 3rd song I was utterly hooked, utterly convinced - their set was heaven-sent! That it was buffered by a beer and preceded by a bad band were perhaps helpful props, but still the Hooligans hit like a hurricane.
One surprise during the set was the Hooligan’s surprise. They were doing Finnigan’s Wake, and the line “Mrs. Finnigan called for lunch” is always echoed by the crowd saying “lunch!”. We did so and the Hooligan’s broke out in huge grins, as if this were in some way revelatory. I was delighted by their delightment. Apparently we had stepped on the line of the younger Keane singer, who had some sort of bon mot to deliver in that musical pause.
Their set was over in about 100 minutes, (20 minutes my time), and my only regret was being unable to convey the requests “Risin’ of the Moon” and “John Paul Polka” (we mis-yelled “John Paul Shuffle” at one point). They did sing “Four Green Fields” and “The Unicorn Song”, the latter twice.
We left by 8:00 and headed for the AOH (Ancient Order of Hibernians) celebration at St. Joseph Montessori. AOH fit us like a warm glove on a cold night! We walked into the more intimate gathering and they had Guinness, which was nectar after that horrible Coors & Killian Red.
The main act, Vinegar Hill, was okay. Though the singer had a rather high-pitched voice, he was tolerable, especially on songs I already knew. Goosebumps flourished during the last five minutes, all of us standing and singing at the top of our lungs:
Give Ireland Back To The Irish
Don't Make Them Have To Take It Away
Give Ireland Back To The Irish
Make Ireland Irish Today
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:39 AM
March 16, 2003
Understanding the Pope
JPII said nice things about (and was very respectful towards) Islam in "Crossing the Threshold of Hope". He famously kissed the Koran. Couple that with the fact that due to declining birthrates, the future of the Church is in Africa and Asia, and voila we have:
"[The Pope] is looking ahead for the rest of this century where Christian-Muslim relations are key to peace and religious freedom in African and many parts of Asia." - Rev. Thomas Reese
The US-Iraq war will hurt Christian-Muslim relations for decades and derail the freedom to practice Christianity in Africa and Asia. I'm not sure that appeasement, however, is healthy in any relationship. A good end (good relations with Muslims) doesn't justify a bad means (giving Saddam room), but I better understand now why the Pope wants to distance himself from Bush.
Here's another reason for the Pope's solidarity with Muslims (email from a smarrt friend):
"Over the past twenty years, the Vatican has fought tirelessly at the UN and its conferences over abortion and family planning. Sometimes the US has been on its side (like now) and sometimes not (like with Clinton). Through that time, Muslim countries have been been (along with Ireland, I guess) the only nations that have stood with the Vatican on this. In fact, someone told me that if it weren't for the opposition of Muslim nations to abortion and state-mandated family planning (aka coercion), the results of all those meetings - Cairo, etc...would have been VERY different than they were."
Finally, here's a link on how the Pope views Islam. Interesting...via the wise Tom of Disputations
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:33 PM
March 14, 2003
His enthusiasm is catching
Outside my friend's office there is a large whiteboard. In the southeast corner there is a shamrock drawn in green magic marker and below that 'the countdown'. Dave has been keeping track since somewhere north of 300 days. As the father of four children under 7, he rarely gets out of the house. In fact his wife allows it a couple times a year, and for no time longer than for the St. Patrick's Day celebration, which will begin for us at 4pm Saturday. God willing.
Of Irish interest - the USCCB has helpfully provided this Irish movie list.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:49 AM
As an appreciator of oxymorons, especially biblical ones (such as 'Virgin Mother'), I glance around the Catlicker bloggers for inspiration:
Tenebrae et Lux: the sublime one from Dylan. The name has since been changed, natch.
Gospel Minefield: when I see the phrase "mine field" I think of landmines and the possibility of being blown up, which is not "good news" or gospel except in the sense of "dying to self". But if you take it as a gold mine that's a different story. Kathy gets extra credit for having her blog mean two different things at the same time.
Perpetual Ephemera - by Louder Fenn
Disordered Affections - as a fellow sufferer, I can relate. But in Reality (i.e. heaven) all affections are ordered.
Minute Particulae - Mark rarely if ever deals in minute particulars.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:54 AM
March 13, 2003
"I've been wanting to write a piece directly on the subject of how containment -- as a moral argument -- is morally offensive for quite a while. Walter Russel Meade does precisely that today in the Washington Post, and brilliantly so. If you want to argue that containment is preferable to war as a national security argument, that's intellectually acceptable. But if you want to make the moral argument that containment is better, you have to demonstrate why more pain and death over a long period is preferable to less pain and death over a short period. And that's a hard argument to make in moral terms."
- J. Goldberg
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:51 PM
March 12, 2003
Times article describing the universe as a "doughnut". Homer Simpson would be pleased.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:34 AM
"[Bush] has more information than anyone else, he has people skilled in evaluating intelligence, he has the authority (granted by Congress) and the responsibility to make decisions. Can he err? Yes, alas. No one in the world is infallible, and American intelligence has had grievous failures.
Since he cannot be 100% certain, should he therefore do nothing until an attack occurs? But such an attack might leads hundreds of thousands, or even tens of millions, of Americans dead. How would the Untied Sates respond to a massive biological attack if it felt it had been betrayed by its allies and persuaded to do nothing while Hussein used terrorists to poison the United States? Do the Europeans really want the world’s most powerful nation wounded with millions of its citizens dying, and feeling betrayed by its allies and almost the whole world?
The United States has behaved with enormous restraint, but war brutalizes. We destroyed German and Japanese cities in our fury at being dragged into the war, even though our own civilian population was untouched. How would we respond with 20 million Americans dead? The rest of the world should contemplate that, and decide whether it wants to leave Hussein in power." -- L. Podles
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:29 AM
Old Journal Entries Never Die.... (you know the rest)
I fondly recall the time spent on a cruise ship on the package Carribean tour, for the purpose (according to the brochure) of “demythologizing the Carribean for people who still have the mistaken notion that there is something exotic about a few sea islands a hop, skip & jump south of Florida”.
When I was younger I had a dream – I always wanted to go to a place that could be pronounced (correctly) two different ways (“Carry-be-in” and “Carib-ian”). True, Ohio was “O-HI-O” and “O-Hi-ya” but that didn’t count. I would practice prounouncing it both ways, trying to decide which was more sophisticated. As a child locked in land-locked Ohio, the notion of islands anywhere held a paradiscal quality that gave off imaginings of adventurers like Robinson Curoso, Lewis & Clark, the Professor & Skipper. I’d become intoxicated by “The Light in the Forest”, the story of a white boy raised by Indians who was convinced he was Indian. I always thought I was an Indian at heart, trapped in white skin and raised in this stiff-collared “civilization”.
But by ’87 I was traveling to debunk the idea that there is purity anywhere – I sought foreign climes where I might test my theory. My first cruise was two years out of college, upon a huge Carnival boat where we drank Bud Lights as St. Kitts floated by; we attempted to identify her as if by labeling her we could somehow brag that we’d seen (owned?) her. If it's Thursday it must be Dominica….
I stared morosely as the wake streamed away from the island of Dominica on the last day of the cruise. If ever there were an island where I could be the red man, it was there. Auden’s poem came to mind: we were that generation “neither happy nor good”. My friends and fellow disillusioners were grabbing cold pizza and stale cookies up on the promenade deck while I watched the generation of ceaseless white surf from the starboard side. I let myself into the cold salt water quietly, with nary a splash or a saynora; I swam in the bracing waters with my sneakers like tow-weights towards my green destination – friendly Dominica. I swam, swam like the wind, till I hit the muddy shores and ascended the hill where cannibals used to hold court and order white meat at a makeshift deli counter. How sweet it was! I would become the “noble savage”, the Mogli in Disney’s adaptation!
My first days on the island were idyllic; I read “Adrift”, the story of a survivor of a shipwreck who lived on a raft for 1,128 days. I noted that time held a quality it hadn’t since pre-college; it was as if the quality of time was directly proportional to the amount of time you could afford to waste.
Portions of the above, of course, are pure blarney.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:00 PM
March 11, 2003
“A flood of words is never without fault; whoever controls the lips is wise” --Prov 10:19
my allotment of breath
falling quiet as my grandfather,
only the sound of scissors talking
to the beat of falling hair?
Worse, what if
the words turn cursive
biting at curds
and bitter herbs?
Antidote to Dullness
Down Naughten Street a stranger walks
the former “Irish Broadway”,
Now warehouses and non-descripts
Prosaic as the day.
What interest would he sure provoke
if this be eighteen-eight!
Fueled by Finney's "Time and Again"
I'd follow to know his fate.
Fast he walks to young St. Patrick's
Worshipping in Latin
Swimming in the dear old Faith
Chin above the patin.
The answer be if we could just
move faster than light's speed,
or see the world through eyes less blind
re-awakened by the Creed.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:06 PM
The Two Secrets of Dominican Contemplation
Keep at it.
-- via Disputations
Reminds me of the ol' shampoo bottle instructions: "Wash. Rinse. Repeat." An antidote to needless complexity.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:20 PM
One of the reasons Catholicism has survived for so long is because of its ability to bend without breaking, to encompass many different groups and sensibilities. The Pope, of course, has a free will, and infallibility is a negative charism, one that only prevents heresy, not bad judgments. Our very orthodox Dominican priest stresses the great freedom of belief – how wide the pasture of what one can believe is. The Church’s doctrine are fences on the far edges of the landscape pointing to the cliffs that have already been discovered. There are many theologies but one doctrine. Catholics can disagree on the war with Iraq and not be bad Catholics.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:38 PM
from the Catholic World Report
Percentage of College Students Answering "Yes" to These Questions
Abortion should be legal: 1997=61.1%, 2001=71.6%
If two people really like each other, it's all right for them to have sex even if they've known each other for only a very short time: 1997=40.2%, 2001=58.8%
Wow. I'm not so much surprised by the numbers as by the trend - four years is an amazingly short time to see the numbers change on that sort of scale. I'm beginning to wonder if the so-called trend towards greater orthodoxy of the young is just smoke & mirrors.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:02 AM
Saddam's soldiers attempt the soldierly equivalent of premature ejaculation - embarrassing for everyone involved.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:30 PM
March 10, 2003
Interesting commentary from Camilia Paglia:
Cults multiply when institutional religion has lost fervor and become distracted by empty ritual. Early Christianity, for example, began as a rural rebellion against the fossilized Temple bureaucracy in Jerusalem. In 1950s America, the political and professional elite were still heavily WASP. Prosperous congregations were overly concerned with social status at church or at its annex, the country club. Roman Catholicism, searching for social credibility, was steadily purging itself of immigrant working-class ethnicity, a process of genteel self-Protestantization in music, ceremony, and decor that in middle-class parishes is now virtually complete. Many of those attracted to cults in the sixties and early seventies were escaping mainline denominations where bland propriety was coupled with sexual repression. It is a striking fact that few young African-Americans joined cults: surely the reason was that the gospel tradition, rooted in the South, invited emotional and physical expressiveness, stimulated by strongly rhythmic music.
--via another controversialist, Rod Dreher
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:36 AM
Winter, We Hardly Knew Ye
Old Man Winter sputtered & spat after the warmth of a 60 degree Saturday. But the ol' curmugeon must sense his time is nigh; he protests too much. I laughed at the 20s on Sunday, took the dog a walk and said to the ol' man, "you're just a paper tiger, a lame duck!". Courage is easy when the light at the end of the tunnel has been spotted.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:11 AM
...is still in progress. "Verweile doch" is German for "linger awhile" which is the name I've given to long Sunday reads (truncated from: Verweile doch, du bist so schon meaning "linger awhile, you are so beautiful"). My stepson wanted his copy of CS Lewis' The Screwtape Letters back so I was able to fulfill my Lenten obligation early by finishing it this afternoon. It was excellent, as anyone who's read it knows. His insight into human nature is keen.
This got me to reading a Lewis biography by George Sayers called "Jack" which, in turn led me to the 'net to read about a particularly interesting tidbit about his take on Catholicism via a book by someone named Derrick, which led me to this, which I haven't read yet but plan to.
In George Sayer's biography he comments, "I agree with Derrick that Lewis was nearest to becoming a Catholic in about 1950, but I do not regret that he did not. I think that it would have limited his influence, especially among evangelical Christians." Perhaps God can work in the mysterious way such that the less good - my wife's nondenominationalism - be a positive, in the sense that it might have helped incline my (previously) agnostic stepson towards Christianity (given that his take on Catholicism is apparently it be too heavy on ritual and too light on biblical exposition).
Note to self: Now quit blogging & go back to reading!!
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:40 PM
March 9, 2003
This Just In....
Guess I may as well jump in on this (minutiae) bandwagon:
1. What was the last song you heard?
Boulavogue off Tommy Makem's "Irish Revolutionary Songs".
2. What were the last two movies you saw?
"Heist" with Gene Hackman, "Rachel And the Stranger" - western from the 40s with Bill Holden & Loretta Young.
3. What were the last three things you purchased?
Shoelaces. Reds tickets to a game in June. Huizinga's "Waning of the Middle Ages".
4. What four things do you need to do this weekend?
Hike at least an hour at Darby Park. Pay bills. Go to Mass. Keep the Sabbath rest (I'm really good at that one). Complete my translation of the bible. (Just kidding).
5. Who are the last five people you talked to?
- Wife, stepson, stepson's girlfriend, friend Dave (aka "Hambone"), boss
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:32 PM
The Daddy Country?
MSNBC's Chris Matthews (a Democrat) calls the Republican party the "daddy party" - i.e. the party more likely to make unpopular decisions and impose necessary discipline (not necessarily fiscal as we've seen of late, although one could argue that since a deficit is the only thing that constrains government tumescence it may be a necessary contrivance).
It seems America was thrust by the events of 9/11 into the role of "daddy country" - i.e. making unpopular decisions and imposing necessary discipline. An example? This Week reported today that many countries want the U.S. to unilaterally deal with the North Korea situation - the same countries attempting to block U.S. action w/r/t Iraq! This is the sort of thing a child wants - to have his cake and eat it too - and it is exhibited in spades by France, which signed a resolution (1441) it obviously never intended to honor.
The Pope has earned the moral authority and can call in his chits as he apparently is doing now. That I can respect. But France and the other comfortably numb "allies" seem to be simply shirking their responsibility.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:43 PM
Peggy Noonan brought up an interesting point on an interview show. She basically said why in the world should we have expected anything different from the U.N. than we've seen given that it was a huge struggle to get the coalition together for the first Gulf War? For then France couldn't argue that Iraq hadn't invaded Kuwait (as they argued that Iraq had no WMDs)...There is a certain clarity about a country marching over a border. And yet Sec of State Baker had to do a lot of cajoling then.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:07 AM
March 8, 2003
Such a woman indeed...
Nice article on fasting in the Washington Times via Dappled Things. After reading that, I fear I'm not doing enough. Rich meditation on the book of Wisdom at Old Oligarch.
Today is the feast of Saints Perpetua and Felicity (wonderful names!):
The day of the martyrs' victory dawned. They marched from their cells into the amphitheater, as if into heaven, with cheerful looks and graceful bearing. If they trembled it was for joy and not for fear....The others stood motionless and received the deathblow in silence, especially Saturus, who had gone up first and was first to die; he was helping Perpetua. But Perpetua, that she might experience the pain more deeply, rejoiced over her broken body and guided the shaking hand of the inexperienced gladiator to her throat. Such a woman--one before whom the unclean spirit trembled..
--via Bill at Summa Minutiae.
Okay now that really makes my Lenten sacrifices seem small. There is a sense in which I can bear anything if someone next to me is bearing something worse, which is sad in a way. There is an amazing relativity in these things. I was complaining about someone the other day and realized that the gulf between myself and your average saint is infinitely greater than the gulf between myself and that person. And there is an infinite gulf between the saint and the holiness of God. It sort of reminds me of that "Powers of 10" link that Disordered Affections posted that showed showed the grand scope of the universe by showing pictures at millions of light years out and until the sun is faintly visible, then earth, then a tree on earth, then a leaf, a cell, a nucleus...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:30 AM
March 7, 2003
Thomas Hibbs has the winter blues:
We have discovered a type of despair that escaped the notice of Kierkegaard and Freud: an existential crisis prompted by geographical despair.
Walker Percy wisely noted that the hardest part of life is passing time with no diversion. For one of his characters, Lancelot, the worst time was between dinner and sleep. For us, during winter break, it was midafternoon.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:36 PM
March 6, 2003
I've gotten a couple more emails from Nigerian scammers and I'm not quite sure it's covered by the Geneva Conventions, but I've decided to respond with to them with my fictional forays! Yes, instead of inflicting them on you, my loyal if tiny reading public, I will inflict them on Nigerian scammers! Ingenious I'd say.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:01 PM
Steinbeck addresses a question that has been on my mind. Is it possible to let your beneficence blind you to certain realities?
I think your father has in him, magnified, the things his wife lacks. I think in him kindness and conscience are so large that they are almost faults. They trip him up and hinder him.
-- Steinbeck, East of Eden
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 4:40 PM
Catholics Debating: Back President or Pope on Iraq?
Article in NY Times...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:45 PM
I misread Disordered Affections post about wanting to strangle people yesterday. Must. blog. while. fully. awake. I had an equal and opposite reaction. I distrust feelings, so feelings of holiness triggered by fasting I'm inclined to ignore. (In the past I've felt holy while being in the state of mortal sin; Gen'l Stonewall Jackson felt holy while fighting for slavery - but that's another issue. Besides he was probably invincibly ignorant). The result of the fast was undeniably a greater patience, coupled with a greater appreciation for those who are poor. Part of it was that I was just too damn tired to be tense with anyone. I had nothing but mellowness to give. (Reminds me of the old story about how someone goes out for an hour run after a fight with his wife and after 15 minutes he forgets what he was arguing about and after 30 minutes he forgot he had a wife). Finally, I woke up Wednesday knowing the day could be grim and so my expectations were lowered. I was unaccountably cheerful because the day would not disappoint me. And knowing that all the bloggers and other Catlickers were out there fasting gave me a sense of solidarity that was thrilling. Prayer is also much more intense during fasting, don't you think?
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 11:07 AM
I was listening to the Teaching Company on the commute today and Prof. Peter Saccio made the point that you can tell a lot about a culture by its self-help books. The Victorians, having made a lot of money from the Industrial Revolution, were obsessed with class and so bought books dealing with etiquette and how to write letters...His [Saccio's] generation was into sex, so that begat a spate of books on achieving orgasm and the joy of sex. Our generation might be considered about money, how to make money in the stock market, how to get rich...Shakespeare's generation read books about death - how to die well. To them the most important moment of life was the moment of your death, for your eternity hinged upon it. Deaths in Shakespeare's time were public, not hidden in the hospital but at home with friends and family and neighbors. I fear that most self-help books concerning death for our generation deal with how to kill yourself.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:02 AM
Who Am I?
- brutal dictator
- violated the treaty of the previous war by re-arming
- was given the latitude to continue re-arming
- caused a holocaust, both figurative and literal
Answer: Adolf Hitler
Sound familiar? There are sins of comission and sins of omission; I wonder if Pres. Bush wouldn't be committing a sin of omission by not enforcing the Gulf War treaty. We know that little sins lead to bigger ones - Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point explains that the reason crime in NYC dramatically fell during Mayor Guiliani's administration was that he "sweated the small stuff" - he no longer looked the other way for things like scrawling graffitti. It worked.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:56 AM
The Snow Will Continue until Morale Improves
Another beating of snow this morning, reaching the point of parody. It reminds me of a book I read as a teen - Harold Hill's How to Live Like a King's Kid, which said that God will give us a live-in mother-in-law until we stop 'needing her' - i.e. that until you are at peace with her. This analogy was lost to me then, since I didn't have a mother-in-law nor could I imagine my grandma being a burden to my dad...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:14 AM
Fascinating exchange of views last night on Bill O'Reilly's show. O'Reilly says the Pope is being naive and idealistic on the war. The guest says O'Reilly is being naive if he thinks violence will not beget more violence. He brings up the Israeli situation - is their situation any more secure after 40 years of giving tit for tat? O'Reilly shoots back that at least they're there, saying that if they didn't resort to violence they would be wiped off the face of the map, which is what their neighbors want. Compelling arguments on both sides.
George Weigel was on Pat Buchanan's show, still wearing the ashes he'd received. He argued that we are defending ourselves from an act of aggression if one defines aggression a bit more subtly, i.e. the nature of Saddam coupled with the gathering of weapons of mass destruction IS an act of aggression. I found it somewhat unconvincing. I never thought that the pre-emption argument was that good - I'm surprised that was the best Weigel could come up with. Saddam's weapon program is ultimately why we are going to war, but it's not the rationale - just as the feds got Al Capone on tax evasion.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:06 AM
The Blog-in News
Hernan Gonzalez is back from a month-long hiatus...
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 5:01 PM
March 5, 2003
I'm starting with C.S. Lewis and The Screwtape Letters but hope to read Death on a Friday Afternoon later in Lent. But most of all I hope to follow Gerard Serafin's suggestion and simply read the bible.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:13 AM
I'm sick, you're sick, we're all sick of....war talk. So let's cleanse the palate with a little Seamus Heaney:
The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head
But I've no spade to follow men like them.
All year the flex-dam festered in the heart
Of the townland; green and heavy-headed
Flax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods.
As a child, they could not keep me from the wells
And old pumps with buckets and windlasses,
I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells
Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.
Now to pry into roots, to finger slime,
To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring
Is beneath all human dignity. I rhyme
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.
-excerpts from poems by Irish poet Seamus Heaney
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:47 AM
As Yogi Berra might say, "90% of fasting is 75% mental". I recall that after a marathon most runners say they will never run another. Eventually that attitude wears off and they're enthusiastic again. So here's to another Lent! I am cheered by the notion that not only it is what I need but what our fractious, beleaguered world needs.
Also - here's an Ash Wednesday poem I posted a couple weeks ago.
Hymns in English & Gaelic! Via Dylan!
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:43 AM
It's not about pre-emption
I've never thought the war could be validated by pre-emption. If that's what it's about, then my misgivings about the war will turn to anti-war protest (but I will skip the nude rallies). No, what I see is something similar to what U.S. marshalls faced back during the 30's - Al Capone robbed and killed until they got him - on a technicality. Income tax evasion. Now you can say that Pres. Bush has Saddam Hussein on a technicality - that he violated the Gulf War treaty and failed to disarm. But a technicality is still legal, and the fact that much suffering and death was prevented by locking up Al Capone (or Saddam Hussein) is icing on the cake.
I'm leaning towards John Paul on this one. I would not vote for the war in part because I'm too conservative (small 'c'), meaning that I don't relish a "big bet" - which this war certainly is. I also don't know what Iraqi civilian casualties would be, which seems to me a big unknown that would effect the justness of the war.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 3:59 PM
March 4, 2003
Witnessed the disturbing image of a protest in downtown Santiago featuring naked middle-aged men, proof-positive that the "I'm anti-war, so I'm taking off my clothes" movement has definitely jumped the shark.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:49 PM
Still struck by this Khalid Shaikh Mohammed guy who apparently was rudely awakened from sleep, not quite ready for prime-time what with his swarthy unshaven shoulders and bleary eyes, his t-shirt hangin' low ala Jennifer Beals in Flashdance...I'm just blown away by the fact that he got up every day thinking of ways to terrorize and kill Americans, that it was his job. Like a businessman he's got his laptop computer, cell phone, and his job is sit around and "think outside the box" on how to kill people. I don't get it. I guess part of it is that that picture was taken without his sheik-wear and thus he looks less alien and more "guy next door". It's just so calculated and corporate. You get the idea he's written up one of those ubiquitious mission statements and is reading Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. (Or was).
His hatred of America and disregard for life seems of an impersonal variety, like that old cartoon where there's this sheep dog, Sam, and his job is to protect the sheep from wolves and at 5pm the whistle blows and then Wile E. Coyote calmly says to the dog "See you tomorrow Ralph" or words to that effect. Nothin' personal, I just have to kill your charges. Of course the coyote is killing for food and this wolf is killing for ? Anyway I can relate to Kathy's comment "I find it easier to pray fervently for Osama's soul than for the souls of people who irritate me!".
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 1:05 PM
Interesting NY Times article on the perils of ignorning the Sabbath:
And not even our group leisure activities can do for us what Sabbath rituals could once be counted on to do. Religious rituals do not exist simply to promote togetherness. They're theater. They are designed to convey to us a certain story about who we are without our even quite noticing that they are doing so. (One defining feature of religious rituals, in fact, is that we often perform them for years before we come to understand what they mean; this is why ministers and rabbis are famously unsympathetic when congregants complain that worship services or holiday rites feel meaningless.)
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 8:55 AM
Note to self: Read this this...via fructus ventris and this via Disordered Affections.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:26 AM
Riveting exchange between Disputations & Camassia on the opaque topic of who shall be saved.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 2:15 PM
March 3, 2003
Exercising Spiritual Muscle
One truism in the world of fitness is to "surprise" your muscles. Don't go through the same routine and allow your body to get too comfortable which will, at best, merely maintain current levels of fitness.
Our Byzantine priest had a surprise at Vespers yesterday, something to awaken us from our comfortable numbness. Nearing the end of the service, he said we should all come up (there were perhaps 20 of us), form a line and hug each other and offer the 'kiss of peace' which was of the European sort - a peck on each cheek. My immediate reaction was to gauge the distance between myself and the back door and to calculate the odds of being noticed leaving. But that was so patently outside the spirit of Lent that I couldn't pull the trigger. So the first person went up and gave the kiss of peace and then stood to the left of the priest. The next person offered the gesture to both the priest and that person and then stood to the left of them, and so on...It was all very sweet. Most of us seemed a little more enthusiasm when greeting the opposite sex, which I suppose is only natural.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 10:07 AM
Came across this on the web by Scott Steinkerchner OP:
William James' essay The Will to Believe brings this mindset to bear on the seminal religious question, "How is it that one can rightly have religious faith?" His answer is intriguing. First he puts forward a certain category of truth which can only be acknowledged if it is first believed provisionally in faith. For example, personal friendships cannot be established without first trusting a potential friend, a trust that as yet has no basis in absolute proof. If one trusts, proof can come and a friendship can be established. If one refuses to trust, no friendship is possible. James then suggests that religious affirmations are exactly of this sort. They cannot be decided beforehand, they can only be believed and then subsequently verified. Of course, an individual is free to not believe, but this is just as self-ratifying as believing and thus no more objective. As he says, "Skepticism, then, is no avoidance of option; it is option of a certain particular kind of risk. Better risk loss of truth than chance of error."
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 9:54 AM
I like Disputation's Lenten preparations. Coming off a sickness, I've not had a beer for almost two weeks and food has been very problematical due to a slight nausea. Drats! If not for this I coulda been a contenda'!
More seriously, on the way to church yesterday I pondered the fact that if you are obvious about your fasting and wear a scowl then you've already had your reward. But what if you are proud about keeping it to yourself? Snares everywhere! The devil makes me paranoid.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:49 AM
On the writer Tony Hillerman:
Hillerman learned to shun material wealth and to follow his dreams from his older brother, Barney. 'I was lucky in having a brother who is unusually wise," says Hillerman. "He asked what good is money when you've got your rent paid and you've got food and clothing. Beyond that, he said, what can you buy with it?"
Barney's point was that the only good about having money is 'that you can ransom yourself back from the system,' continues Hillerman. "What you've got to do, he said, is find a way to get your basic needs met doing something you like to do, so you don't have to buy your time back and thus don't have to have a lot of money." --Catherine Walsh
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 7:40 AM
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are customarily, and I think rightly, said to have contributed to the realistic quality of Baroque religious art... A particularly striking feature - and one that surely fired the imagination of artists - is what Ignatius calls 'compostion, seeing the place, the aim of which is 'to see with the eye of the imagination the corporeal place where the object one wishes to contemplate is found'. The 'secularization of the transcendental' (to use Friedlaender's term) was not long in manifesting itself in Spain, where painters and sculptors seized upon realism as a means of bringing the beholder into a state of mystical communion with the divine.
-- John Rupert Martin, If it ain't Baroque, don't fix Baroque
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:23 PM
March 2, 2003
Stopping at a 7/11, I saw situated by the door a height chart. I thought, "how nice - they put that up for kids to measure themselves with." The cashier got quite a chuckle from that one. Obviously it was there so that when robbed they could provide a better description.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:18 PM
Very good homily from a visiting priest this weekend. He started the sermon by approvingly quoting Ben Franklin's line, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." That got my attention! And then he described the phenomenon of "comfort" food and how odd a notion that is. He asked why we eat when we are not hungry, suggesting that we are looking for something from food that cannot be had.
The purpose of fasting, he says, to focus us on what it is we are really hungry for. He reminded how one cannot simply apply fasting over our old wineskin - how we have to be willing to be remade and be flexible enough to expand. The hope for our hopelessness is supplied by the First Reading today from the book Hosea, where God promises us to "lead us to the desert" and forgive and remake us.
Prayer, alms and fasting - the cure for what ails for twenty centuries.
posted by TS O'Rama @ Comment @ 12:16 PM
That in the end
I may find
Something not sold for a penny
In the slums of Mind.
That I may break
With these hands
The bread that wisdom grows
In the other lands.
For this, for this
I do wear
The rags of hunger and climb
The unending stair.
To a Blackbird
O pagan poet you
And I are one
In this we lose our god
-at the set of the sun.
We dream while earth's sad children
Go slowly by
Pleading for our conversion
With the Most High.
-- Patrick Kavanagh
posted by TS O'Rama @ 4:48 PM
February 28, 2003
Mohandas Gandhi, who was a Hindu, called 'worship without sacrifice' an absurdity of the modern age.
--Scott Hahn, The Lamb's Supper
posted by TS O'Rama @ 4:01 PM
My Nigerian scammer email got bounced because his inbox was too full. Perhaps others are trying to scam the scammers.
Old Oligarch sez:
Apparently, 16 dolts lost $345,000 last year, and a few have even been whacked in Nigeria, according to this Wired article.
--via a sharp-eyed Kathy at Gospel Minefield
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:02 AM
A reading list for every young woman. But applicable to everyone. Scroll down a ways for comments on Augustine.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 7:08 AM
More possibilities on the Pope's perspective:
- Given the spotty record of Catholic monarchies and theocracies, why would he bet the farm (long-term) that the thoroughly secularized U.S. would be a benevolent power? Indeed, don't we capitalists loathe unregulated monopolies? What is the U.S. military but an unregulated monopoly?
- Perhaps the Pope believes we are in the end times and that there may only be a couple successors to the chair of Peter left. If the war goes awry, does he really want to meet the Lord having blessed what led to the final conflagration?
posted by TS O'Rama @ 5:28 PM
February 27, 2003
Amy Welborn ruminates about the war and asks the reasonable questions "Why Iraq? Why now?". My guesses:
1) Saddam's impotent militarily. China? North Korea? Gain a clue, we're not suicidal.
2) He is, or should be, a viable target from a United Nations perspective (if, perhaps, not from a 'Just War' perspective). Saddam's constantly violated U.N. resolutions for 12 years. For the U.N. to resist the war is nonsensical and most likely naked anti-Americanism. It's like asking someone who is pounding you on the head to keep on pounding.
3) To fight terrorism. If you win the war, you now have a base right in the middle of that putrid nest of terrorism, the Middle East. You can set up an intelligence operation. You have a place to land planes and troops without getting Turkey's or Saudi Arabia's permission. In the best case scenerio, you have a democracy that might lead to other democracies.
4) Partially personal. Someone trying to kill your father isn't something easily forgotten.
So, this matrix means you get a lot of bang for your buck if you're President Bush. I'm not justifying the war, I'm just saying that I think I understand why he's doing it.
One thing is for sure - I can certainly understand why the Pope doesn't approve. If he didn't approve of the Gulf War with the whole U.N. behind us and clearer justification, he certainly isn't going to approve of this war. On the bright side, at least the Church isn't alienating hundreds of millions of non-Americans by coming out for it.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 10:03 AM
Kudos to St. Blog's
It's really amazing to me how good the writing is around the parish. I just read a piece from the Pew Lady on hell (via Disordered Affections) and it was impressive.
What is it about this connection between literacy and orthodox Catholicism? I realize there is self-selecting going on and that you don't have a blog unless you care about writing, but gee whiz....When I saw some of the scores from that vocabulary test I was a little stunned. Y'all shouldn't be getting over 170 so easily, should you?
The pew lady is not alone. Professional writers like Karen Hall are, of course, the real thing, but look at how some of the amateurs write! I'd rather not mention favorites since my tour of St. Blog's isn't comprehensive.
My point is that it is very consoling to be ensconced in my day job when I see the talent of my fellow amateurs have. My dream job would be the buyer at a publishing house, but tis odd that in writing (not just reading) I find out things. Sometimes I begin writing in my journal or blog and I think, "I didn't know I thought that.."
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:24 AM
More Byzantine Bowlin' Fun!
Jeff Miller adds:
It also depends if they are Byzantine in union with Rome. The Byzantine Orthodox bowling league is a little different.
* They believe that the bowling ball proceeds from the chute only and reject any modification made to the bowling creed.
* They believe that all bowling leagues are equal and that the bowling league from Rome does not have authority over the other leagues.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 10:06 AM
February 26, 2003
Musings on Peale
The Thomas a Kempis quote reminded me of a time, years ago, when I was perusing Norman V. Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking. I was struck by how mechanistic it was; the mind a computer to be programmed with Pauline verses like, "I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me". At the time I thought: wouldn't it be better if we let God inspire us with those thoughts? Peale's approach, perversely, seemed to be taking God out of the picture - we shall simply program ourselves for love and confidence in God.
Now I see that what is needed is not "either/or" but "and/both". It's a microcosm of the endless mystery of cooperation between man and God - a symbiosis where one never quite can tell where man ends and God begins, where the natural is left behind and grace is added. This reprogramming might be a purely human activity, but the richness of the Word has within itself the seeds of divine activity. The successful Pealite might be successful partially due to the programming and partially due to the grace of the God, which does accomplish all things which strengthen us. One could say that it is merely programming reality into oneself, like constantly repeating, "the grass is green...the earth is round..."
posted by TS O'Rama @ 6:26 AM
What if U.S. Grant were fighting the Civil War today…
...& imagine that before the war Grant was the head of a shoelace manufacturing company:
Dan Rather live from somewhere just outside the Wilderness:
"Day 1072 of this terrible civil war, and I am live outside the tented headquarters of U.S. Grant where a group of protestors have gathered." (Cut to montage of seven protestors, one with sign "GRANT us Peace!", another with "Save the Horses - End this War").
"The White House today denied any connection between the war and the revived shoelace manufacturing industry, an industry which contributed heavily to Lincoln's election coffers and which, I don't need to remind you, was Grant's source of income prior to the war."
"Let's go to Mike outside Spotslvania. Mike?"
"Yes Dan. There is no known link so far - and again I want to emphasize that the link could be there but we just haven't found it yet - between the Big Shoelace campaign contributers and the way this war is being prosecuted. There are confirmed reports that shoes left on the battlefield often have perfectly fine shoelaces, presumably requiring new government contracts for the shoelace concerns. One must ask if this is a payback for the Big Shoelace companies. Dan?"
"Thank you Mike for that fine report. Now we go to Sherrie Rice in Atlanta, Sherrie?"
"Yes Dan, there are reports that the Sherman's army is heading this way. I'm standing outside the southeast's biggest shoelace company, a company becoming rich due to this war by supplying--
posted by TS O'Rama @ 6:26 AM
The one thing that the God beats us with a megaphone with, over and over, is that he is to be found in unlikely places, like a manger, a burning bush, a piece of bread, a stranger. How elusive is God! How could the innkeepers who rejected Mary & Joseph know who they were rejecting? Or the high priests of Jerusalem when they found a suffering Messiah not a good fit for that role? David’s father, who presumably knew him best, couldn’t see David as annointed. “Couldn’t see” – that’s the point isn’t it? That is the blindness Jesus mentions over and over.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 6:25 AM
Thomas a Kempis:
The wise lover regards not so much the gift of Him Who loves as the love of Him Who gives. He regards the affection of the Giver rather than the value of the gift, and sets his Beloved above all gifts. The noble lover does not rest in the gift but in Me Who am above every gift.
To fight against evil thoughts which attack you is a sign of virtue and great merit. It is not an illusion that you are sometimes rapt in ecstasy and then quickly returned to the usual follies of your heart. For these are evils which you suffer rather than commit;and so long as they displease you and you struggle against them, it is a matter of merit and not a loss.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:13 PM
February 25, 2003
Bowling For Pirohi
You can imagine my surprise when an insert in the church bulliten read:
"WANTED! - Byzantine Bowlers for the 48th National Byzantine Bowling Tournament"
I'm wondering how a Byzantine bowler differs from a regular bowler...some possibilities (with affection):
* Bowling balls, shoes, gloves, lane, pins blessed
* Sign of the Cross (three times) before every roll
* Pirohi with beer between games
* Reverend Father has an icon on his bowling ball
* Instead of 10 frames, there are 12 (for the apostles - plus they are maximalists, allergic to Jesuitical minimums - if the Latins do ten, we shall do more!)
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:00 PM
Old Journal Entries Never Die...they just get replanted.
Saw this while going thru my journal, from three years ago this week. The occasion was my niece's baptism. My evangelical wife was present, hence the cringe-factor was higher than it otherwise would have been. (Since, of course, I would that she convert and would prefer the style of the liturgy not be an obstacle).
I do seem extremely "holier-than-thou" in this entry.
Church at St. Jude’s seemed almost like a spiritual vacuum, sucking the salt from me in the vapid liturgy. I cringed at the priest referring to the martyr-soaked privilege of offering Holy Eucharist as “work”, as in “I had to work all morning because the other priest is sick”, and then preceeding to offer a “sermon” that, as near as I could tell, was a recap of his moving and living arrangements. I suppose for the parish who had him as a priest for awhile would feel sufficient shock and curiousity to warrant some of the talk, but the spiritual sustenance given was woefully low. One got the impression that the priesthood was just another job. Leave us our illusions! Even if be that way, need they strive to prove to every non-Catholic in the audience that Catholicism is just another Moosehead Lodge club? The musicians tried to cover up the embarrassing lack of fervor by long musical selections, but it was to little avail. It was all a bit disspiriting. At least Dad was singing, dependable as a Tiger Woods’ drive, bringing some life to the old joint.
But the worst was yet to come. Arguably the most important sacrament of all, the one that must come before all the others, was embarrassing to the point of parody. Baptism, that noble sacrament that Jesus took pains to start and end his ministry with – beginning with John in the Jordan and ending in his final words before the Ascension – was turned into some kind of side-show. I suddenly longed to be a Southern Baptist. The jocular deacon would be fine as the color man at a sporting event, but here the sports reports just seemed jarring. I cringed right from the very beginning, and cringed right to the very end. As we were walking out the door he said, "twelve babies baptized in one hour! Call the Guinness book of World Records!". As if! As if this were a contest or a game! Did he not for a minute pause and consider the significance of what he was doing? Has he not read the portion on Baptism in the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Has he not any consideration of the emptiness of ritual without the underlying love and meaning? A body without a soul is dead. God made us, gave us bodies, for which we don't have to be embarrassed about using literally as prayer, number one because Jesus had a body and exercised it in a prayerful way by receiving water in the Jordan. Why should we be sheepish about doing His will, are we afraid to look foolish in the eyes of the world for believing that what we do in concert with Him has eternal consequences? Would that self-same deacon be disturbed if his wife were fooling around on him and told him, "well I'm just cheating on you with my body, I am still pledged to you in my heart and spirit". I think he might not take that so well. Did the deacon treat these Baptisms with more care and reverence than a waiter brings food in a fine restaurant? The great consolation, of course, is that God is not limited by our weakness or lack of awareness and that He gave each infant's soul a mark that cannot be erased today. That He can work through us, such flawed instruments, is truly a wonder and my appreciation for Him grows.
Whew! Reading this reminds me of an anecdote from Frank McCourt's life. It's been a long time since I've read his books, but either him or his brother made fun of their mother for going to great lengths to self-baptize her grandchildren against her son's wishes. Maybe it was that she baptized them multiple times in case one of the times didn't "take"; memory fails. I guess she was at one extreme - i.e. baptize the child and they're bound for heaven. The old school mechanical Catholic where the sacraments work like levers. But today there is an almost opposite zeitgeist - the outward sacraments don't much matter, you don't have to go to church or go to confession - it's what's in your heart.
Balance, where art thou?
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:40 PM
Never Gets Old
I've been offered an urgent business arrangement with a Dr. Yetunde Bassey. Apparently he's a bank manager at the Diamond Bank of Nigeria, Lagos branch. I've been offered an opportunity to make some money by helping him out of some sort of bureaucratic difficulty. I replied with an email of pilfered Greek - Iô ouk oid' hopôs humin apistêsai me chrê, saphei de muthôi pan hoper proschrêizete peusesthe: kaitoi kai legous!' (exclamation point mine).
What's the similarity between a Nigerian scammer and Saddam Hussein? Both have lost the benefit of the doubt.
So....will the last person scammed by a Nigerian scammer please stand up? Can there really be someone out there left? Sure people are always getting computers for the first time, but isn't the market for these guys is dwindling? If everyone replied to every Nigerian scammer, wouldn't it be less profitable for them since they'd be inundated by emails?
posted by TS O'Rama @ 4:52 PM
Been reading the Pope's opinion of the original Gulf War in Weigel's biography Witness to Hope. The Holy Father's thoughts about the war were almost "apocalyptic" according to Weigel, quoting him as saying, "the imminence of an armed confrontation with unforeseeable but certainly disastrous consequences."
In the flush of success the Gulf War seemed, at least in the early 90s, an unqualified success. But the lasting effect feels sinister and vaguely disastrous. Perhaps the developments would've happened anyway, but Bin Laden might not have started his jihad. (Everything points to his enragement beginning the minute U.S. troops landed in his holy land, Saudi Arabia). The World Trade Center bombing might not have happened. Millions of Iraqis suffered from sanctions. Many of our veterans suffer from exposure to chemical weapons, aka the Gulf War syndrome. A second war looms with apocalyptically. At least some of these disasters could've been prevented by finishing the first Gulf War. Best to cut off the king's head rather than wound him.
It ultimately shows the power of one evil individual to wreck sheer unadulterated havoc. If you saw the "60 Minutes" piece Sunday night, you'll know what I'm talking about. A very respected and credible Iraqi defector said that Hussein wants to re-make the map of the Middle East. From the attack on Iran to the attack on Kuwait, it is war that he lives for. I suppose it is war he shall have.
The author Robert Kagan says that you can live in a Kantian, peaceful world and not a brutal Hobbesian one if....a big if...all the other players agree to it. That has been achieved in Western Europe, where they live in this protected sphere of peace because none of the nations of Europe are Hobbesian. But it all it takes is one rogue leader...
From Weigel's bio:
John Paul did not believe that the Pope's role in such a crisis was to conduct a public review of the classic criteria legitimating a just war; and then give a pontifical blessing to the use of armed force if those criteria had been met. The Church's mission in world politics was to teach the relevant moral principles that ought to guide international statecraft. Beyond that, it was the responsibility of the statesman to make prudential judgements on the question of when nonviolent means of resolving a conflict and restoring order had been exhausted.
Just-war reasoning involves rigorous empirical analysis, which was sometimes lacking in the Holy See's approach to the Gulf crisis.The assumption that more dialogue could coax Saddam Hussein into withdrawing from Kuwait and making restitution for the wreckage he had caused was never very persuasive, given what was already known...Nor did Holy See proposals for negotiation seem to take sufficient account of the likelihood that delays in military action heightened the chance that Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:45 PM
The Long Loneliness of Tony Blair
Riveting read on Tony Blair's conundrum. How lonesome it must be to be where he is, having access to the highest religious authority on earth and finding no solace. It can only come from his own conscience.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:17 PM
At last it can be told - Nihil's identity. Nice going Gregg the Obscure! Everyone loves a good mystery solved.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:40 AM
Bill O'Reilly Opines on Religion
People say, “Why do you go to church?” I say, “Why not? What is a better use of my time? For an hour a week, I can think about things of a spiritual nature in a nice church with beautiful sculptures and stained-glass windows and a 2,000-year-old tradition that makes sense. Why would I not go?”
What’s the downside of going? What if there is no God? Well, so what? If there is no God, I’m dead. It doesn’t matter, OK? I’m looking at it like, “What’s to lose? What’s the problem here?”
This sounds like a version of Pascal's Wager, which always sounded to me a bit cold and calculating. (But then I could be ridiculous or a hypocrite; heaven is not earned and I'm not above hedging my bets). I just feels like he's minimizing what we must give to God - which is more than just going to church. Going to church for moi is the fun part, the less easy is fasting from sin or food, becoming charitable to the point of a cost to self, etc...But my wife points out that he is reaching the unsaved in this way, trying to get them not to be so viciously anti-religion. A spoonful of sugar... Full article is here
posted by TS O'Rama @ 5:06 PM
February 24, 2003
I Wish I Was In Dixie...
Disputations is a bit peppery today with many piquant posts. He writes about the fascinating contradiction about some of the Confederate generals, holy men fighting for an unholy cause:
"People are complex," as they say, and complexity makes for both good story-telling and fruitful meditation. How can honor and nobility co-exist with a willingness to kill to preserve slavery? That's an important question without a simple answer.
One way to come to terms with the likes of Lee and Jackson is to remember that they were not members of the one holy Catholic Church. Thus they really didn't believe in the development of doctrine. Thus because slavery is condoned by St. Paul ('slaves, obey your masters') then Lee might seem able to justify it. Still that doesn't explain the fact that the Spirit blows where it will and that the guidance of the Holy Spirit in these prayerful men would seemingly have given the sufficient light to understand the evil of slavery. And thus the mystery. (I understand that the issue might be framed as state's rights and not slavery, but I also understand that slavery typically was considered a moral evil after it became economically unviable. How con-veeen-ient. This somewhat undermines Northern 'righteousness' but also, in my mind, undermines some of the Southerner's 'state's rights' claims).
I read a great biography of Stonewall Jackson, a very fervent, devout Christian. He had not the slightest doubt about the rightness of his cause, but this in a way makes him more interesting. They say that evil is banal and that goodness is the opposite, but the admixture, at least in this life, often seems most interesting given that our minds like complexity. One of Russell Kirk's six "principles that have endured" was an "affection for variety and mystery over uniformity." Still, heaven will be infinitely interesting I'm sure, so the lack is on this side.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:19 PM
Adrienne von Speyr is excerpted today in Magnificat concerning a monk (perhaps Anthony) who went through a period of time during which he did not pray well. He was an experienced Christian who was in an active ministry. He eventually went to the desert to pray in solitude, recognizing that his desire to give up praying was a temptation from the devil, and in the desert spent years praying well off and on, depending on the circumstances (i.e. distractions) like the weather, or his hunger, etc...
Finally he realized that there lurked in him a self-love that made him seek desperately after any attraction, just to be freed from prayer.
From the moment he cut his own self out, he received an understanding of God's Trinity. For the truth is, he said, that as long as in prayer man experiences his own personality, he cannot come to know the threefold personal being of God. As long as the ego lives...God cannot then be more differentiated in relation to man than man is himself.
I am way too American in my thinking - I want instant success. I want to "fix something". I loathe, most of all, inefficiency. And so I think, "wow that was inefficient for that monk to spend twenty years to discover the problem in his prayer...I wonder what I shortcut I can find." But it doesn't work that way for at least a couple reasons. One is that the 'pearl of great price' is worth everything whatever the inconveniences, whatever the pain, however seeming inefficient. Secondly, man cooperates with God. It is a partnership, and it certainly isn't a sole proprietorship. I can no more build a tower to God than those poor unfortunates at Babel. Third, we simply don't appreciate what is not attained with difficulty. I would that I be more happy for that person rather than focusing on my lack.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:30 PM
Lord, your mercy is my hope, my heart rejoices in your saving power. I will sing to the Lord for his goodness to me."
The beauty of the above psalm reminded me of what Kathleen Norris wrote in one of her books concerning her mild-to-moderate depression. She found that the two things that made the most difference for her was daily exercise (in the form of a walk), and a daily reading of some of the Psalms. Medicine for body and soul.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:11 PM
Dear checker-work of woods, the Sussex Weald!
If a name thrills me yet of things of earth,
That name is thine. How often have I fled
To thy deep hedgerows and embraced each field,
Each lag, each pasture - fields which gave me birth
And saw my youth, and which most hold me dead.]
posted by TS O'Rama @ 7:22 PM
February 23, 2003
You may want to say a prayer for Natalie, who is going through a trial of illness.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 10:21 AM
February 21, 2003
Reminder to Self
Caption to man being given medical attention:
More common is the tendency to mentally exaggerate the consequences of keeping the fast, but with time and experience, this too will come under control of the will. - Disputations
One aspect of fasting is that it is not an even playing field and should be individually-gauged or tuned. My 92-year old grandmother, God bless her - her only joy in life is food. She is house-bound, can't travel, can't do many of the things I have the luxury of doing (I shan't name them but you get the drift). So for her to give up food is necessarily a greater trial than for me to give up food because it is a sacrifice of a greater percentage of what makes her happy, at least in an earthly sense. I understand that pleasure does not equal happiness, but sometimes the perception of lack, of dearth, contributes to a sense of unhappiness when the lack is not joined properly with God.
I remember one time a friend asking me why selfishness was so hard to eradicate in oneself and I said unselfishness typically involves a sacrifice of temporal personal happiness. If it were easy, everyone would do it. It's the delaying of personal gratification towards the laying up of treasure in heaven. It's the same reason the savings rate for Americans is so abysmal. Unselfishness on the order of Mother Teresa is an astonishing example of delayed gratification.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:55 AM
I know I'm beating a dead post here, but I was watching C-Span's Booknotes (yeah, I was the one) and the guest was Robert Kagan, author of the book Europeans are from Mars, Americans from Venus, (actually The Paradise and the Power), and he made the comment that "dependency usually leads to resentment." There it was again, the third time I'd heard that in a week.
I've been mulling this over as it relates to God. I don't consciously feel any resentment towards my dependence on Him, in fact I feel a sense of relief when awareness of my dependence on Him is realized (coupled, of course, with the fact of his love). I suppose that part of the reason dependence breeds resentment is that the dependent country feels a loss of autonomy; perhaps that is why God gives us this gift of free will, a will so free that it has resulted in outrages like my mediocrity. But this free will enables us to never feel resentment because of His lack of coercion.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:03 AM
Me Being Nosy
My Dominican parish has recently finished a major parish annex, including a nice library. I've been checking the perenially locked door and finally today was rewarded and able to check out the goodies. Most of the boxes haven't been unpacked yet, but I did notice two marked "Rahner" and "Kung" (excuse me for not having an umlaut handy). It'll be interesting how much from the TAN set will make it. Maybe an Incorruptibles or two? Or perhaps a better radical equivalent would be something by Lefebvre? (Pardon all you Rahner fans, I realize he's no Lefebvre. Supply your own equivalent).
It is amazing how much your library says about you, be it parish or an individual. It's a small thing, but I remember one of my aunt's favorite books was Trinity by Leon Uris which I understand isn't very friendly to the faith. I've only read a smidgeon of it, but perhaps it simply reflects the faith as was lived which is not always pretty (i.e. 'the Situation'). Anyway, she was a 'liberal' Catholic if we can use those coarse labels and I always thought that maybe book reflected that, just as the 'conservative' Catholic might be a fan of J.F. Powers or Flannery O'.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:25 PM
February 20, 2003
Another Belloc Quote
He is a thoroughly good man...he has something like Holiness in his expression and an intense anxious sincerity. He spoke of individual conversion as opposed to political Catholicism in a way which - with my termperament all for the Collective Church - profoundly impressed me....
--H. Belloc, on his audience with Pope Benedict XV
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:09 PM
Thanks go to Karen at Disordered Affections for our recent after-ad existence! And for her willingness to dispense free advice here.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 2:30 PM
Hey Tim Drake's back (via Kat). His final missive back a half-year or more ago was a shot across the blogging bow, making the case that blogging was clique-ish and a vanity press. I'm not so sure he's not right. I recall that St. Thérèse of Lisieux had to be forced to write her "Story of a Soul" under the pain of obedience. Something tells me she'd not be a blogger. I think the saint most likely to be a blogger would be St. Augustine who poignantly wrote about his spiritual journey.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:15 PM
Where's the justice in that?
Nihil Obstat is ad-free.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 11:11 AM
My guess is that the next time Disputations posts, it will remove said ad. It appears to be a St. Blog's phenomenon - I checked Tightly Wound (no salvation outside the church, or St. Blog's apparently) and his ad is still tightly attached.
I feel very sheepish if someone spent their hard-earned money on keeping this lame site ad-free. I'm still not sure it's not a Blogger glitch though...
posted by TS O'Rama @ 11:10 AM
Did I miss something? Blogger isn't putting at an ad at the top of my site, at least at this particular moment in time. I checked Dylan and he doesn't have an ad but Disputations does. No time now to further explore this improbability.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:58 AM
Man Protected by the Shield of Faith
Maarten van Heemskerck (Netherlandish, 1498–1574)
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:50 PM
February 19, 2003
Kirk could flat out write
Some years ago, I was in Europe participating in two international conferences... Between sessions, I tramped about England and Scotland with an American friend, an executive in a great industrial corporation. Being something of a classical scholar, my friend collects sixteenth- and seventeenth-century editions of Latin works -- particularly Cicero and Seneca -- and pokes happily about Roman remains.
We found for his library, in the dusty caverns of Scottish secondhand bookshops, a number of admirable things at trifling prices. There lay the noble elephant folio of Strabo, in two immense volumes, at a mere thirty-five shillings; and the Strawberry Hill edition of Lucan, beautifully bound, at five guineas; and a twelve-volume set of Cicero for a pound. In an age of progressive inflation, one commodity alone remains stable, or increases little in price: classical works. At the devil's booth in Vanity Fair, every cup of dross may find its ounce of gold; but the one thing which Lucifer can't sell nowadays is classical learning. Who wants Latin texts? No twentieth-century Faustus disposes of his immortal soul for mere abstract knowledge. The copies of Strabo and Lucan and Cicero for which a Schoolman might have risked his life ten times over are now a drug on the market. As my friend remarked to me, "These things are cultural debris. It's as if a great ship had sunk, but a few trifles of flotsam had bubbled up from the hulk and were drifting on the surface of the great deep. Who wants this sea drift? Not the sharks. You and I are rowing about in a small boat, collecting the bits of debris."
-Russell Kirk, excerpt via Summa minutiae
posted by TS O'Rama @ 6:57 PM
Excerpts from Letter 1
of Letters to a Soul by Dom Hubert van Zeller, OSB
You mention your discouragement and the sense of failure. You say you are trying to resist the obvious temptation to be discontented and bitter, and that everything you attempt only increases your feeling of inadequacy. But isn't this because you expected a certain kind of success and have not found it? Wouldn't it be better to accept your limitations and be content within them? It is an art in life to put up with being second best. I don't mean that we must make compromises with our weaknesses, but I do think that we have to admit we are mediocrities. To accept the role we have to play, even if it's a small part when we have the talent to play the more important and successful one, is not to invite failure or frustration. It is to submit to the condition of life that God has planned for us. Once we have made this submission -- which is not a lowering of an ideal but on the contrary, because it essentially involves humility, is a raising of the ideal of serving God in truth -- we are less disappointed at the evidence of our inadequacy. Accepting our mediocrity, while all the time trying to make the most of our opportunity, not only brings a certain peace but is what the parable of the talents is all about. So long as we don't bury the insignificant talent, and put the blame on God for its insignificance, we can go on trading with it as effectively as the more talented.
This via Dylan. I'm sure you've all seen it already but I keep my blog also as a repository of impactful quotes for reference purposes. Good gracious, did I just say "impactful"? Even worse, did I just say "good gracious"?
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:25 AM
5 Innies & Outies
The outer-directed blog is communistic in spirit - nothing is privately owned, all is public domain. This blog links to news of the day that the blogger thinks will be of interest to the reader. It is often a series of links to depressing church news, and it sometimes has the grimness about it that Eastern Germany did before the curtain came down. This is a necessary service though, so the communist analogy breaks down somewhat.
The inner-directed blog is capitalistic in spirit. The blogger is writing mostly for himself or herself and may have a small or non-existent audience, but in the sharing of private things they may find greater solidarity with those who can relate than the outer-directed blog. Thus as in the capitalist system where everyone works toward their self-interest which often (not always of course) results in the greatest good to the greatest number of people, so too in blogging. Enlightened selfishness, you might call it. Like capitalism, it can be carried too far.
Some blogs are hybrids of both categories and others fit neither category. Some blogs address the big issues of the day while trying to think with the mind of the Church. Or provide spiritual encouragement of one sort or another. These are perhaps the most valuable services blogs can provide.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:13 AM
I used to view British Prime Minister Tony Blair with suspicion, as if he were a Anglo Bill Clinton. But he is no Bill Clinton. Whatever you think about the war, you've got to admire the guy's convictions.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:32 PM
February 18, 2003
Top 5 Fav Male Saints
(1) St. Thomas Aquinas - not for his writing, but his humility. I can't get the image out of my head of his perfect acceptance at being called the "Dumb Ox".
(2) St. Pio of Petrelcina - a saint of the confessional, his ability to diagnose spiritual faults was unparalleled in modern times.
(3) St. Paul - for sheer impact on daily life, few have had as much effect as the chief writer of the New Testament.
(4) St. Patrick - converter of fair Eire.
(5) St. Anthony - a favorite childhood saint, he saved my arse many a time when I was young and lost something valuable.
Honorable Mention: St. Joseph, foster father extraordinaire whose star seems to pale beside the Blessed Mother's and yet who showed tremendous obedience to God's will.
Ultimately, my favorite saint is any who would claim the likes of me. Saints? Any out there listening?
I was fortunate to have received the name "Thomas", given the plethora of possible patron saints. (I'm sure Tom of Disputations can relate).
I can easily identify with Thomas the Apostle, the pragmatist who wanted to see our Lord post-Resurrection before saying "My Lord and My God". I was delighted when I discovered that St. Thomas More's feast day happens to coincide with my birthday so he's another patron saint of special order. And of course the great St. Thomas Aquinas, whose Summa the Fathers of Trent made it part of the order of the conclave to lay upon the altar, and whose combination of sweetness of disposition with scholarly intelligence are an otherworldly mix.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:27 AM
Through the efforts of post-Marxists, radical Islamists, anti-Semites, and an array of old-fashioned authoritarians in the General Assembly and the Security Council, the U.N. now unfortunately reflects the aggregate amorality of so many of it members.
We built the arena, the players came — and, for many Americans, it now seems almost time to leave: Syria on the Security Council; Iran and Iraq overseeing the spread of dangerous weapons; Libya a caretaker of human rights. How about a simple law to preserve a once hallowed institution: To join the U.N.'s democratic assembly, a country must first be democratic? Why should a U.N. diplomat be allowed to demand from foreigners the very privileges that his government denies to its own people?
--Victor D. Hanson
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:30 PM
February 17, 2003
I worry about this country breaking the thin strand of international law....If this country decides to go it alone and basically make Resolution 1441 meaningless, then what will prevent other countries from breaking similar agreements? If this country is unable to (in the fashion of Clinton's "it depends on what 'is' is") stand by the clear meaning of words then they are a threat to international peace.
This country I'm speaking of? France.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 11:30 AM
He can flat-out write
Just began The Path to Rome by Belloc and in the preface alone there are riches!
* And was it not his loneliness that enabled him to see it?
* Let us suffer absurdities, for that is only to suffer one another.
* Rabelais! Master of all happy men! Are you sleeping there pressed into desecrated earth under the doss-house of the Rue St. Paul, or do you not rather drink cool wine in some elysian Chinon looking on the Vienne where it rises in Paradise? Are you sleeping or drinking that you will not lend us the staff of Friar John wherewith he slaughtered and bashed the invaders of the vineyards, who are but a parable for the mincing pendants and blood-less thin-faced rogues of the world?
Here is a link to the poems of Hilaire Belloc
posted by TS O'Rama @ 10:31 PM
February 16, 2003
Interesting Historical Perspective
Britain and France united to oppose the American approach of 'lift and strike' - i.e. lift the U.N. arms embargo that effectively favored the Serb aggressors over the Bosnian victims, and strike by assisting the outgunned Bosnian forces with U.S. air sorties. Their opposition was based originally on a crude but understandable calculation that since the Serbs were bound to win anyway, we should not prolong the war by giving false hope to the Bosnians that the West would come to their aid.
London and Paris did all they could to prevent the Americans from assisting Bosnia - until their calculations were devastatingly rebuked by the course of the war itself, in which the modest U.S. and NATO intervention reversed Bosnian losses and forced the Serbs to negotiate.
The Bosnian crisis teaches a number of lessons. It casts a harsh light on the argument that the Europeans have adopted an enlightened international ethic of rules over military force. As the bloody corpse of Bosnia circa 1994 demonstrated, pacific multilateralism can be at least as brutal as intervention - without being as likely to attain its objective. Furthermore, the fact that Anglo-French opposition deterred Washington from its successful intervention for more than two years shows the degree to which U.S. policy can be distorted by a failure to play alliance politics effectively.
Iraq is now a crisis because Bush decide to remove Saddam Hussein before the dictator could acquire and perhaps use weapons of mass destruction. Bush's boldness may be justified - I think it is - but it is also bound to be questioned by those who prefer peace at any price, by those who think arms-control procedures superior to military force, and by the broad Left.
--J. O'Sullivan, National Review
posted by TS O'Rama @ 11:41 AM
February 15, 2003
Haven't read this yet but it looks interesting: the pious and the war
posted by TS O'Rama @ 10:28 AM
Good morrow, Benedick. Why, what's the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?
--Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:03 AM
A quarto of drawn-Guinness
gentle with a barber’s care-
the clanking of the glasses, the craick
of cloistered hospitality
in an inhospital clime
muddied they trundle accented paths
the essence of the particular.
He drank till he remembered himself--
in the bogland his trouser cuffs dirty,
collecting peat for fires lit by progeny
the rousing of the fiddle the flurry of feet
shamans and charlatans and shape-shifters all;
a fleet of Children of Lir
Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:00 AM
One of my friend's favorite movies is Vanilla Sky, starring Tom Cruise. He gave me the VHS tape last night and while it's not my favorite I can say that it was a very Christian movie (despite the nudity, but that's what a fast-forward button is for). It is the pluperfect antidote to the thinking that actions don't have consequences. For me, the exceedingly haunting scene (this led to reflection on some of the wrong paths I took in the late 80s) was the palpable sense of regret when they both realize how things would be different if he had just not gotten into his ex-girlfriend's car (presumably for one last 'ride', sexually speaking, for which he got more than he bargained for). The hope though that 'good can come of bad' was expressed by her saying they will be together again (though it be delayed) which seems to me a supremely Christian message.
The movie reminds me of a bit Dicken's "Christmas Carol" in its effect, in its warning that bad behavior has eternal consequences and in its prodding to leave behind selfishness. I also liked how even though Cruise's character imagined the worst of his friend though it turned out his friend had stood by him...Cruise thought he didn't have friends but both his Sophia and his writer friend and the family friend at work showed his suspicions were unfounded, much as any suspicions of God's love are unfounded.
The flick sent an electric shock to the heart like Scrooge & Marley did. The character played by Cruise had his face and manner eventually match the ugliness of his heart; you saw his hidden inner repulsiveness on full sacramental display, a crooked smile of half-humanity - what our souls must look like to God.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:56 AM
February 14, 2003
Desperately Seeking the Meaning of Nugatory
I got a 169 on the vocabulary quiz. I blame the sad score on my misspent youth.
That baby was tailor-made for Dylan. Can't say I'm surprised by his 189.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:26 AM
Humorous Mark Shea post
Jesus said unto them, "Who do you say I am?"
And Peter answered him, saying, "You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the kerygma in which we find the ultimate meaning of our interpersonal relationships."
And Jesus said, "Huh?"
posted by TS O'Rama @ 4:23 PM
February 13, 2003
Cyril of Jerusalem
Reading Kathy the Carmelite's post on Cyril of Jerusalem makes me feel severely under-catechized (regular readers probably already assumed that). But that is in some sense is a blessing because of the ocean of riches still awaitin'. I don't like the idea of the sea being exhaustable.
In an un-put-downable Christianity Today article the author says:
Yes, those four [Merton, O'Connor, Day & Percy] were great. Yet for the Catholic writer their greatness is cold comfort, even a reproach. It compounds your isolation. It suggests what you are not. If you try to identify with them, claim them, write the way they did, it just doesn't work.
Why? One reason, of course, is that the times were different. When you read their books you confront this again and again. Merton's autobiography implied that there was no salvation outside the church. O'Connor asked a priest for permission to read Madame Bovary. And here is Dorothy Day, in the confession scene at the beginning of The Long Loneliness:
'"Bless me father, for I have sinned," is the way you begin. "I made my last confession a week ago, and since then…." Properly, one should say the Confiteor, but the priest has no time for that, what with the long lines of penitents on a Saturday night, so you are supposed to say it outside the confessional as you kneel in a pew, or as you stand in line with others.'
That might as well be the week after Trent. Times have changed. So has the church.
We don't like to acknowledge it, but what we admire in them is not their books alone but the whole package—the books and the lives all together. We'd like to have them as companions. We'd like to be like them. We'd like to efface ourselves in them, to bury our unbelief in their belief, and in fact many of their readers have lost themselves in this sort of veneration.
When Paul Elie says "times have changed, so has the church" and quotes Day on confession and how Merton's autobiography implied a belief in no salvation outside the Church, he is expressing a subterranean longing for Catholic fundamentalism. Elie writes about Catholicism in an elegiac, romantic "Lost Cause" sort of way... But I wonder how much that lack of faith is due to the Church changing (i.e. extra ecclesiam nulla salus) versus a general lack of proper catechization. Are we "depraved because we are deprived" as the line from West Side Story's "Gee, Officer Krupke" goes? That alienation he writes about is real though. Many of us live far from the Catholic ghettos are parents lived in, ghettos in which faith was already given in the sacrament of Baptism and watered and fed with the Baltimore Catechism. You were Catholic in the same way you were Irish or Italian. It was merely how, not whether, to live it.
Perhaps that is all nostalgic hooey though. Anyway David Mills writes in Touchstone about a bishop in England: "Self-identification equals faith, he thinks. Gosh. I would have thought Jesus' warnings to the Pharisees and others would have taught the man that this is not true, but apparently not. Surely he's known men who thought they were the life of the party when they were really drunken boors.
Anyway, on catechizing Cyril of Jerusalem comes to the rescue:
He is the all-time King of Catechesis. In his day (347), he delivered his "Catechetical Lectures", about which I'll post more in the future. These are the prototype for today's RCIA programs. If more RCIA presentations were as interesting and meaty as Cyril's, and more presenters as knowledgeable about the faith, our new converts might help us grow into something that looks a lot more like the Church Militant. Cyril was witty, succinct, and able to think on his feet. He could illuminate six or seven different aspects of one doctrine without confusing or boring a listener (or, in my case, a reader). Every other sentence in his lectures seems to be an allusion to Scripture.
(Incidentally, some of the Old Testament references astound me, especially the ones to books like Judges and Ezekiel. From the context, it appears that he expected his catechumens to understand exactly what and whom he was referring to! And there were no printed Bibles back then--there was not yet even one set Canon agreed upon, and probably not many copies of Old and New Testaments in one place. Not like today, when catechumens are mechanically issued red paperback NABs from the RE office. These people must've scrounged far and wide, and maybe even hand-copied their own Bibles.) -- Kathy Swistock
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:09 PM
Ten Great Magazines via Fructus Ventris. I can certainly vouch for numbers 2, 5, 6 and 7, which I either read or subscribe to.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:46 PM
Ash Wednesday in a Hard Winter
Milkwhite in his alb and still as this temple,
The priest waits with the stone patience of a heron.
I approach in the deadfall of midafternoon,
Flotsam blown in out of the snow-harrowed day.
He stabs once, twice, raking my cold brow
With the stiff bill of his ash-black thumb.
"Remember, man, thou art dust . . ."
His cello voice, half altar, half mountain,
Groans more than speaks my name and blame.
Stabbed and marked, I make my way to a back pew.
Here, the act seems mere calligraphy-
Cross and death and their one-day shadow.
Meanwhile I relax, regarding the solemnities
Of stained glass and enjoying the hearth-fire warmth.
Oh yes, a fierce winter for us and worse for the beasts.
Where is the mercy, I ask, in this season
Of bird-killing ice and tree-snapping wind,
This bitter winter made by the Maker of All Things?
But the heron priest has pressed the answer
Onto and into my everyman brow.
Murmur as I may, I know that this bitter time,
As all bitter things, was made by me
When I walked, winter innocent, in the old garden
And plucked in summer joy the ash-bearing fruit.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 10:25 AM
One of my favorite scenes in the bible is where Martha and Jesus exchange words after Lazarus' death. Martha shows tremendous faith by saying "I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." When Jesus says "Your brother will rise again", Martha knows the plan and is docile to it. "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." But then comes the shattering reply, "I am the resurrection and the life..."
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:43 AM
There is something very beautiful about orthodox icons. At the Byzantine church I frequent there is a gigantic one of the Theotokos behind the altar. No matter what side of church I sit on it's as if she is looking at me and it is comforting.
Many of the figures on icons have a stern look about them, like the one below. When you walk into a Byzantine church you realize that your own sinfulness and unworthiness just by looking at the icons.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 7:59 AM
Moreover - and this is less often noticed - "as a very frequent historical phenomenon, through a fresh application, a new verification, of the very ancient law of antinomies," the very conflict between two doctrines nearly always implies certain presuppositions common to both. Whence arises another danger for the theologian who makes too many concessions to the demands of controversy. In his struggle against heresy he always sees the question, more or less, willingly or unwillingly, from the heretic's point of view. He often accepts questions in the form in which the heretic propounds them, so that without sharing the error he may make implicit concessions to his opponent, which are the more serious the more explicit are his refutations... - Kevin Miller
On The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity...By Philip Jenkins
One issue that Jenkins fails to address in depth is the future of Christianity in Europe and North America. A reader might easily conclude that Christianity is strongest among people who have experienced poverty and persecution. The Gospel is, indeed, “good news for the poor.” Does this mean that Christianity has no future in the peaceful and prosperous West? Although he does not go that far, Jenkins suggests that it does become harder for the faith to prosper in such settings—“as hard as passing through the eye of a needle.” --J. Peter Nixon
I think the problem lies in radically disconnecting this life with the next life, as if they were two acts of a play. But life eternal has already begun in us. That's what baptism is, that's the meaning of Easter, that's the good news. Baptism isn't something we get now to use later, like a pair of skis during a summer sale. It is a participation, right now, in eternity. Jesus came in the flesh and died on the Cross to "free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life," as the Letter to the Hebrews says. I don't know how many evangelical pacifist Catholics think death is the worst thing that can happen to us, but if any do, I hope they will realize that death has already happened to us, and that we won. -Disputations
What is interesting about Kathy's initial point is that it only became in some degree true with the Reformation. At that point and almost Manichean element entered certain branches of the Protestant Reformation. The metaphysical poets are remarkable for their retention of the Catholic intergration of physical/mental/spiritual. But in Bunyan, and even to a certain degree Milton, you begin to see the separation of heart and head, physical/spiritual/ and mental. - Steven Riddle
I read recently (in the book of Kreeft on Pascal): "It is necessary to love our soul, but to despise oursekves; the modern world pushes us the opposite: to love ourselves and to be not worried us by our soul "... - Hernan Gonzalez
Do not despair, child. Lawd gonna gitcha. Caint hide from the Lawd. Sneak right up on yo sorry butt and BAM! Th' Lawd done gotcha! - father of the Barrister
posted by TS O'Rama @ 10:32 AM
February 12, 2003
Nancy Nall's Blissful over "Joe Millionaire"
I've never been keen on watching car chases, explosions or train wrecks on the glass teat. Why, then, this itchy curiosity to see "Joe Millionaire"? I've watched only part of one episode, but this human-train-wreck-waiting-to-happen would be must-see TV if I could in any way rationalize my viewing. Perhaps I'm being needlessly puritanical, but to watch it would only reward the network for putting it on. Not only does if fail the test of "good use of time" but also of good taste... and it's exploitive and ..(help me here).
Okay, I've talked myself into not watching it again.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:37 AM
Disputations discusses the United Nations....a few questions:
How do we reconcile our democracy - the notion of representational gov't - with that of a non-representational gov't (the U.N.)? Can our elected leaders cede their authority without our permission? Reminds me of the ol' Protestant issue with St. Peter. Some say "the Lord gave Peter authority, but Peter did not have the right to cede that authority to the next pope."
Can the U.S. be "Cafeteria Catholics" when it comes to the U.N., i.e. pick and choose when we will submit to it, or will that cost the U.N. too much in terms of credibility?
Just as a democracies are only as good as the people they are composed of, international bodies are only as good as the represented national bodies. Most of the nations in the U.N. are either non-Christian, anti-Christian, or post-Christian. Thus I wonder at how that model can hold up.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:14 AM
Now That is Old
...the universe according to WMAP is 13.7 billion years old, plus or minus one percent.
--NY Times article
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:32 PM
February 11, 2003
Why They Hate Us - Part 2
Astonishing 60 Minutes piece this past weekend on South Korea, bastion of anti-American sentiment. Despite three billion a year in the form of military protection, the South Korean gov't had to send out troops to protect the U.S. Embassy from its citizens. They routinely burn the American flag. The correspondent asked an expert there why they hate us - they are not Islamic extremists. He said, "we've had a relationship of dependency for 50 years now and dependency leads to resentment." Maybe Pat Buchanan was right. Is it proper to help someone who doesn't want your help?
posted by TS O'Rama @ 6:20 PM
Dust Carrying Precious Cargo
One of the reasons I so like Cardinal Ratzinger is his honesty, even when it's not something I'd prefer to hear. If the Irish are dreamers, then the Germans live much closer to the ground and are a necessary antidote to excess.
I was thinking this while reading about his view of the Eucharist in God and the World. My view has always been a John 6 sort of view, that the Eucharist is life giving, that after receiving I am dust carrying precious cargo. My view tends toward a medicinal one, like the woman seeking to touch the hem of His garment. Or as the spiritual equivalent of liquorous spirits, giving you the courage to do what you wouldn't normally do.
But this is unsatisfying; it doesn't explain why I am not better, or why priests and religious often aren't much better people.
But Ratzinger, who is allergic to sentiment and superstition, writes:
In any case, if we look at the sacraments too much from the viewpoint of efficiency and regard them as a means to impart miraculous powers to man and fundamentally change him, then, as it were, they fail the test. Here we are concerned with something different. Faith is not something that exists in a vacuum; rather, it enters into the material world. And it is through signs from the material world that we are, in turn, brought into contact with God.
The Risen One, who is now present [in the Eucharist] is not a thing. I don't receive a piece of Christ. That would indeed be an absurdity, but this is a personal process. He himself is giving himself to me and wants to assimilate me into himself....Once, in a sort of vision, Augustine thought he heard these words: 'Eat me; I am the bread of the strong." Jesus is saying here that it is the opposite to how it is with ordinary food that your body assimilates. That food is lesser than you, so that it becomes part of your body. And in my case, it is the other way around: I assimilate you into me. I am the stronger; you will be assimilated into me. This is, as we said, a personal process. Man, if he abadons himself in receiving this, is in his turn received.
The Cardinal On Mary:
The figure of Mary has touched the hearts of men in a special way. On one hand, the hearts of women, who see themselves in this and feel very close to Mary, but also the hearts of those men who have not lost their appreciation for mother and maiden...through the Mother they find God so close that religion is no longer a burden, but a matter of trust and a help in coping with life.
There is, on the other side, a kind of purist Christianity, a rationalizing, that can seem a bit cold. Of course the feelings - and we must allow this to be the task of the professors- have to be scrutinized and purified, again and again. This must not deteriorate into mere sentimentality, which no longer keeps in touch with reality, which can no longer acknowledge the greatness of God. But since the time of the Enlightenment- and we are now involved in another enlightenment- we have experienced such an enormous trend toward rationalizing and puritanism, if I may so express it, that the heart of man sets itself against this development and holds tight to Mariology.
--Cardinal Ratzinger, God and the World
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:03 AM
What if Great Writers Were Infected with Corporate Buzzword-Speak?
(Definition of stovepipe)
Homer: The rosy fingers of dawn did appear beyond the horizon, as the Sirens, thinking out of the box, gave Odysseus some real "opportunities" when trying to ramp up his synergy after his descent into the maelstrom...
Lewis Carroll: 'Twas brillig, and the stuffy suits did gyre and gimbol in the wabe all drilled down were the stovey pipes as the mome raths outgrabe...
James Whitcomb Riley: When the frost is on the punkin and yer rampin' up yer synergy an' the stovepipe refrences has drained you of all energy, 'Bout the time you hear tell of a new verb what's called "lev'rage", Then's the time to slam a jug o' some white lightnin' beverage.
Dashiel Hammet: "The jig is up, dollface. We found the joker who pumped your old man full a' hot lead, and it looks like you were the only one in the solarium during the timebox of his death" "Well, with our new paperless environment you got nothin' to pin on me" "I've curtailed your scope creep through iterative processing, sugar, and by matrixing with the state cops we got all exit routes surrounded" "Does this mean I'll be deployed via a fast-track methodology to the state pen?" "You know I can't crystal ball what the judge will say when you're transitioning from citizen to criminal to inmate, sweetcakes. I hope for your sake he leverages some time off for good behavior."
Anonymous: On the first day God put a hard stake in the ground and said, "Let us take a buy vs. build strategy, with an out of the box, vanilla implementation, and after we get our arms around it we will drill down from the 50,000 foot view to where the rubber meets the road." And then there were "some opportunities".
--friend & colleague & raconteur, J. Dyer
posted by TS O'Rama @ 3:26 PM
February 10, 2003
Michael Novak claims the war is just.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 2:37 PM
Man Bites Dog
The glass teat actually offered something interesting last week - a show called Miracles on ABC. At least the pilot was good; can't vouch for upcoming episodes.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 2:24 PM
Cardinal Ratzinger's, "God and the World"
Paul Theroux's "Hotel Honolulu"
John Updike's "Seek My Face"
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:24 PM
Still pondering Golda Mier's comment about how "Israel is the only country who still likes America despite having received her aid". In the Russell Kirk book, there was an anecdote (which I'll paraphrase badly), about a potential employee who went to interview and said self-righteously that he would never take a loan because he did not want to be beholden to anyone. The man didn't hire him because he did not want somebody who would never allow himself to be beholden. The point is that mindset of self-reliance seems to be totally opposed to the gospel. We are the welfare recipients in the spiritual sense.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:41 PM
Congratulations to Ellyn vonHuben, who knew that the Pogues took their name from the Gaelic phrase "Pogue Mahone" which means "kiss my ass". My what an edifying blog this is.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:11 AM
Notes on EWTN's Show
Franciscan University's latest show had Dr. Ralph McInerny as guest on the topic, "A Catholic View of the Arts". Much food for thought. McInerny, interestingly, compared the Holy Father's Letter to Artists to his earlier Fides et Ratio. He said that just as philosophy and faith need to co-exist despite a certain tension, so does humanistic art and sacred art. Both philosophy and art can "go off the rail" but that both are necessary; reason and beauty being divine attributes. Scott Hahn even went a step further in suggesting that Rudolf Otto hijacked a notion of holiness in portraying it as 'absolutely other', as if the Holy Spirit was wholly other than God - and then went on to praise beauty as a reflection of holiness. Christ, in the incarnation, became the mediator between the sacred and secular, human and divine.
Lots of good bon mots - Regis Martin quoted somebody as saying, "what would the devil have to do without God?" in suggesting that nihilistic art in its efforts to be profane is paying an indirect homage to the sacred. It has to have something to "bounce off of".
Another: Hemingway said, "if you want a message, call Western Union" in emphasizing his desire not to write tracts of any sort, only the truth (which McInerny said he did successfully for the first 2/3rds of his career).
Dr. Martin also mentioned that beauty is the "forgotten transcendental" and that Dostoyevsky said that the world would be saved by it. Beauty, Hahn said, is like morality not relativistic, something Flannery O'Connor learned from Art & Scholasticism.
They touched briefly on the paradox of how horrible people can write brilliant books and vice versa and McInery argued that no one completely decadent ever produced great art - good art, but not great. Hahn spiritualized it by comparing it to those who do great spiritual works - like curing people or prophesizing - and yet will have God say to them "I do not know you" because of the lack of interior holiness.
As for what is art? McInerny quoted C.S. Lewis as saying literature is that which is read more than once. He also said that art is a continuum and said positive things about even popular fiction, remarking on the puzzling fact that that we should be interested in what fictional characters say or do - there is something inherent within us that wants to ascribe in a linear fashion meaning in events of fictional characters that will help us in our own search.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:31 PM
February 9, 2003
Kudos to Dylan for catching the Pogue miscue. Extra credit: Why are the Pogues so-named?
posted by TS O'Rama @ 3:05 PM
"Some may ask, 'What is the fruit of penance?' The answer to this is quite simple - the fruit is the changing of the heart, the turning back with our whole mind and heart to the true meaning of life..God Himself. In order for penance to bear good fruit in the soul, though, it can't just be a half turn away from self (just an insistent NO), it must be a full turn away from self and toward God (an insistent NO to self and insistent YES to God). It is only a half turn then we will feel the void of our denial and the end will more than likely be discouragement or pride."
--Deacon Bill Steltemeier of EWTN
posted by TS O'Rama @ 2:11 PM
"The first time I visited San Marco an art critic pointed out to me the plan of Fra Giovanni's work: scenes from the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary in the cells of the young Dominicans.; the Sorrowful Mysteries in the cells of middle aged, and for the old, the Glorious Mysteries. My friend laughed when I asked how they coaxed the young ones to move into the cells with the sorrowful mysteries and the middle aged to admit they were old enough for the Glorious!"
--Sister Juliana D'Amato, O.P., pastoral associate at St. Margaret's in Columbus
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:10 PM
February 8, 2003
Rare Old Mountain Dew
Let grasses grow and waters flow
in a free and easy way
But give me enough of the rare old stuff
that is made near Galway bay
Come gangers all from Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim too
Oh well give them the slip and well take a sip
Of the rare old Mountain dew
There's a neat little still at the foot of the hill,
Where the smoke curls up to the sky;
By a whiff of the smell you can plainly tell
That there's poitin, boys, close by.
For it fills the air with a perfume rare,
And betwixt both me and you,
As home we roll, we can drink a bowl,
Or a bucketful of mountain dew.
Now learned men as use the pen,
Have writ the praises high
Of the rare poitin from Ireland green,
Distilled from wheat and rye...
The Pogues - Celtic Rock
It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won't see another one
And then he sang a song
The Rare Old Mountain Dew
And I turned my face away
And dreamed about you
Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one
I've got a feeling
This year's for me and you
So happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true...
- Shane McGowan, "The Pogues"
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:33 AM
Mirage-like it floats into my consciousness; there I am endorphined on Bowman’s beach with a houseboat sitting big as life just offshore, some fellow alone with the golden sunlight split between the rudders. Life as a solitude, he fishes in the reflected glory of God’s creation, putting out in the great 75% of the earth. Worries there dissolve like selzers, cast like dead mollusks on the shoreline, gleaming gleams of embarrassed delight, embarrassed that worries ever saw the light of day. Oh sailorman, in your life less traveled, what did you catch today? What briny fish of unblinking eye hath caught your eye?
ain't it purty?
Along this coast I cast a cold eye on life, on death; only the fish heads remain from the work of seabirds. Before lay the reality of sand, of chilled water and generous horizon, the broad tame bank of water. Numbness falls, another week I stand with the net over the side catching water. Hoist ye anchor! Brim up to the hull of life, seek ye what can't be grasped.
The ocean’s saline personality extrudes on my Midwestern life. I recall the little Sanibel bookstore and her eagerly provincial myopism filled with shell-collecting books and Travis McGee fiction. On a wall of used books, all ten dollars, I found a Camilia Paglia volume and watched her crack the whip on progressive Presbyterianism. A lesbian agnostic defending orthodox Christianity from Presbyterians – surely the end is nigh!
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:01 AM
Fictional Foray on Sisters
Ah, the grand experiment! Start out with siblings, one or two or three or more and grow up with similar genetics and environments. Nature and nuture, exploring different paths as if to better the chances of finding the right one.
“You go that way, and I’ll go this!”
And so one impregnates with movies, with pop tunes and popular culture. Another finds books and runs down alleys blind and otherwise. Another goes family, finds the answers within her own womb. Each imagine their sibling's version of faith to be fragile or flawed; they don’t ask nor tell thinking the topic taboo.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:59 AM
The Real World
It's hard to keep up with the blogs I frequent, but I thought I'd pluck the magic twanger and choose one at random from the huge cacophony of Blogroll. I assumed I would get something light; Catlicker blogs tend to be weightier. Instead I got something I didn't bargain for. A blog of a guy who lost his wife at the age of 25, after six years of marriage. How sad.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 3:25 PM
February 7, 2003
Rod Dreher weighs in on the war, pretty even handedly (more fairly than I would've suspected):
Does anybody want ordained men and women uncritically baptizing war? The pope was right to call war, even just war, a "defeat for humanity".
posted by TS O'Rama @ 2:34 PM
You are a Dubliner.
What's your Inner European? brought to you by Quizilla (via Flos Carmeli)
posted by TS O'Rama @ 10:38 AM
Interesting Exchange On Crossfire Last Night
CARLSON: Tariq Aziz knows what he's doing for Valentine's Day. On February 14 the deputy prime minister of Iraq will meet with Pope John Paul II....Aziz is hoping for a useful photo-op. As a top aide to Saddam Hussein for 40 years, Aziz is an architect of modern Iraq and it's police state. And he's complicit in its many crimes. Will the pope publicly scold him for enslaving millions of people and murdering tens of thousands more? Probably not.
On the other hand the pope had no trouble scolding the United States recently for being mean to Iraq. "War against Iraq," he said last month, would like all wars, be, quote, "a defeat for humanity."
Really? Is humanity worse off now that the Nazis are gone, that the Soviet Union has collapsed and Baby Doc, Pol Pot and Idi Amin have been swept away by all force? Of course not. Their defeats were victories for humanity and Saddam's will be as well.
BEGALA: Oh now where do I begin on this? First, let me correct your history. The Soviet Union fell without a war. It fell because of containment. Now let me correct you...
CARLSON: Actually there were dozens of little wars all around the world during the Cold War.
BEGALA: We never marched on Moscow. Now let me correct your reporting. The Holy Father gave a speech on January 1 of 2000 where he called for world day of prayer for peace. And he did say that a war is a defeat for humanity. You know what else he said? An I'm quoting...
BEGALA: And I'm quoting from the Holy Father. He said, "At times brutal and systemic violence has to be countered by armed resistance." He said, "There is a duty in some cases of humanitarian intervention," and he listed when, Just War Doctrine of the Catholic Church goes back to St. Thomas Aquinas. War has to be a last resort and many people wonder if...
CARLSON: Yes, no, I am familiar with this.
BEGALA: ... you should address a wrong, not be preemptive. It should be proportional. We don't know if it will be in the violence. And we should protect non-combatants, which I know the American military will do to the best of our ability. But you ought to be fair to the Holy Father, Tucker. This is not just a political speech.
CARLSON: Actually, I think I am being fair...
BEGALA: You were massively unfair.
CARLSON: I think it's quite unfair of the Pope to be used as a propaganda tool by Tariq Aziz is on the very day that that report goes to the U.N. It's a shame.
BEGALA: Tucker, with all due respect, I don't think the Pope needs to take lessons from you on standing for human rights. He's one of the great men.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 10:33 AM
I couldn't agree mo' with this post from Minute Particulae on the reaction to the Columbia.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:52 AM
I've had a disagreement with someone who flatly disbelieves that God never gives us more than we can handle. She points to suicides and insanity as examples. I point out the verse where St. Paul says that God never gives us more than we can take but that is not persuasive, she apparently thinks it an overly enthusiastic embellishment.
One thing to think about is this: if you accept that God came to earth in the person of Jesus, then how can you possibly accept that He would go back to the Father without giving us everything that we need? In other words, would someone die on the Cross for you and then calmly ascend to heaven without giving you the grace needed? It would make no sense. He would stay on the earth forever if that is what was required.
And in one sense he has. In the Eucharist. Here is commentary on John chapter 6:
In verse 10, Jesus tells the people to sit down (literally 'recline') on the green grass before distributing the bread. What is signified by the posture of reclining? Does one work to earn God's grace or is it freely given? (Eph 2:8-9) How could this be described as the real Sabbath rest (CCC 624)? How is this different from Numbers 11, where the Jews had to get up early and go out to gather the manna from the ground (EX 16:14-18)? Under the New Covenant, how is the eating and gathering different from the gathering and eating of the Old Covenant (notice the different sequence of actions)?
In the Old Testament, men worked for six days, then rested on the seventh. In the New Testament, we start the week with rest and then work for six days (CCC 2175, 2190). Regarding salvation, this change in the work week is an example of 'work' versus 'grace' (Jn 1:17;CCC 2025). We must first receive the free gift of God, by resting in Christ by faith, and then go out to serve him and do the good works of charity and sanctification required of us (Eph 2:8-10,; Tit 2:14, 3-8). In the OT, the people of Isreal worked -gathering with their hands; by contrast in the NT, Christ does the work and then gives bountifully into our hands with basketfuls left over.
How might it be significant that there was no surplus with the manna in the wilderness (Ex 16:16-21), yet there is an abundant surplus with Jesus' provision? How does the Eucharist help us understand the great generosity of God?
--Stephen Ray, St. John's Gospel
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:18 AM
Blogging from the Other Side
Amy terminated her blog, but thankfully still can say meaningful things via a link on Mark Shea's blog. Her html on the Vatican and New Age statement was fine reading.
This was especially interesting, first a quote from the document, then her commentary:
"The techniques and methods offered in this immanentist religious system, which has no concept of God as person, proceed 'from below'. Although they involve a descent into the depths of one's own heart or soul, they constitute an essentially human enterprise on the part of a person who seeks to rise towards divinity by his or her own efforts. It is often an “ascent” on the level of consciousness to what is understood to be a liberating awareness of “the god within”. Not everyone has access to these techniques, whose benefits are restricted to a privileged spiritual 'aristocracy'.
The essential element in Christian faith, however, is God's descent towards his creatures, particularly towards the humblest, those who are weakest and least gifted according to the values of the “world”. There are spiritual techniques which it is useful to learn, but God is able to by-pass them or do without them. A Christian's “method of getting closer to God is not based on any technique in the strict sense of the word. That would contradict the spirit of childhood called for by the Gospel. The heart of genuine Christian mysticism is not technique: it is always a gift of God; and the one who benefits from it knows himself to be unworthy”
…..All meditation techniques need to be purged of presumption and pretentiousness. Christian prayer is not an exercise in self-contemplation, stillness and self-emptying, but a dialogue of love, one which “implies an attitude of conversion, a flight from 'self' to the 'You' of God”. It leads to an increasingly complete surrender to God's will, whereby we are invited to a deep, genuine solidarity with our brothers and sisters. (3.4)
An invitation to meet Jesus Christ, the bearer of the water of life, will carry more weight if it is made by someone who has clearly been profoundly affected by his or her own encounter with Jesus, because it is made not by someone who has simply heard about him, but by someone who can be sure “that he really is the saviour of the world” (verse 42). It is a matter of letting people react in their own way, at their own pace, and letting God do the rest. (5)"
Now, those who have no real engagement with the world and with the faith of others but through the pages of books and internet websites won’t like this. But those who actually live and minister in a world populated by real human beings on real journeys know how true it is.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:08 AM
I've been invited to hear Medjugorje visionary Ivan speak who is coming to a city near me - Cleveland. I'm not a big fan of Medjugorje (see Garabandal comment below), especially after reading E. Michael Jones's book "Medjugorje Deception". Also my hero Cardinal Ratzinger dissed it as I recall. But I suppose I am curious enough to dirve a couple hours and witness this talk. If anyone has already been to see him, I would appreciate an email on whether it is worthwhile.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:07 AM
So That's Why They Hate Us
"Israel is the only country that still likes the US despite having received aid from them." - Golda Meir
I guess it is a burden to be beholden to another country.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:03 AM
Ambrose of Milan taught that it has not pleased God to save men through logic. Richard Weaver assented to this, knowing as he did the nature of the average sensual man and the limits of pure rationality. Yet with a high logical power, Weaver undertook an intellectual defense of inherited culture, and of order and justice and freedom.
-Russell Kirk, "The Sword of Imagination"
posted by TS O'Rama @ 4:58 PM
February 6, 2003
Nothing minute at Minute Particulae - his latest discussion on miracles with this quote from Stanley Jaki is interesting:
They [miracles] represent the challenge of external reality, not of axioms of logic. That true miracles are never coercive, whatever their occasional impact on skeptics and scoffers, is their chief recommendation. A dispensation would never be truly divine that would take man's freedom away because such a dispensation would not also be fully human...
Jaki appears to imply that the impact of miracles on skeptics and scoffers is a secondary effect, but I thought it was the effect in the Old & New Testaments. Miracles in the bible were accepted as proof of authority. The test of prophets in the OT was, well, prophecy and miracles. Jesus said, "believe because of the signs and wonders" if you must. And more to the point, St. Paul certainly would seem to have had his freedom impinged upon, as did Jonah, and numerous others. I'm okay with saying that "human freedom will NORMALLY not be compromised". Of course the way around it is that Jaki could mean it as an "all or none" - either we have no freedom or all freedom, which is not the way I thought it worked. (Not that I'm arguing with Jaki; he's brilliant and I'm not. I'm just trying to understand that statement).
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:19 AM
I concur with Dylan's sentiments the ultimate sin is to be boring, but almost immediately realized, alas, that my foray into the blogging equivalent of vacation slides forfeited that high moral ground...
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:03 AM
Quick follow-up to the Irish/German post...I'll never forget Peggy Noonan's spin on the fact that the Irish attention to housecleaning is..shall we say...light, such that spiderwebs are referred to as "Irish lace". Peggy opined that this was merely a rational choice - when faced with whether to read Joyce or Pearse or dust, the Irish understood priorities.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 7:40 AM
Washington Post's best fiction of 2002 list. I've read some Murakami when I was younger and liked his off-beat style. Much of the rest appears to be Flotsam and Jetsam...
posted by TS O'Rama @ 11:32 PM
February 5, 2003
On the Difficulties of being Half-Irish, Half-German
Perpetually at war with self, the German's love of order, discipline and punctuality married with the Irish love for drink, laziness and chaos results in, at the very least, a punctual drinker...I'm never late for happy hour.
The so-called "English" frequently played a key role in mediating between the Scotch-Irish and the Germans, who often did not mix together in backwoods society. The Scotch-Irish had a reputation for impulsiveness, were very politically active, and were fierce Indian fighters. The Germans, on the other hand, were sober and perhaps the best farmers in colonial America, but they were generally politically apathetic. -- Richard Drake, A History of Appalachia
posted by TS O'Rama @ 11:18 PM
The history of all approved apparitions shows that the Church requires unequivocal evidence of supernaturality. This can be cures, as at Lourdes and Beauraing, or a supernatural prodigy, as at Fátima. The reason from the Church's mystical theology is that most mysticism (as both St. Thomas Aquinas and St. John of the Cross teach) is mediated by the angels (who have a created angelic nature). What the good angels can do the bad angels can imitate, so that many so-called "supernatural" phenomena are merely preternatural (above human nature, but not above the angelic nature). - EWTN - C. Donovan
posted by TS O'Rama @ 10:40 PM
It appears as though France and the other security council members boxed themselves into a corner by agreeing to a resolution last November that invoked 'serious consequences' if Iraq failed. Apparently this is a case of words having no meaning to the French, who consider the word 'serious' to mean 'let's allow the inspection team more time'. Why couldn't the French have been more honest and simply said they didn't want war?
France and Germany should've had the cahoonies to stand up from the beginning and simply say, "we can live with the risk Saddam affords, we lived with it for 40 years with the Soviet Union, we can live with it now." That would be far more persuasive than playing the inspections charade and expecting different results from the same actions.
You can say that they didn't want to telegraph that sentiment and thus give Saddam comfort in the unlikely event he would have a sudden conversion and comply, but it just seems like now they are in a position of breaking their word by not respecting the November resolution.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 6:29 PM
The world seen, as it were, flat, with no associations, none of the subtle hints of other things, no correspondence with ideas and experiences that link us to the first great history of mankind, would be dull and meaningless, hardly sensuous at all.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 3:43 PM
(Lines on the loss of the "Titanic")
And as the smart ship grew
In stature, grace, and hue,
In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.
Alien they seemed to be;
No mortal eye could see
The intimate welding of their later history,
Or sign that they were bent
By paths coincident
On being anon twin halves of one august event,
Till the Spinner of the Years
Said "Now!" And each one hears,
And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres.
-- Thomas Hardy, excerpts of Convergence of the Twain
posted by TS O'Rama @ 3:18 PM
He's not always right; it only seems so. Very convincing post. I wonder what Mr. Dreher would say.
Not to imply that this period is nearly as bad as the time just before the Reformation, but I do wonder what could've been done in the Church to prevent the splitting of Christendom. If there were more like St. Thomas More, medievals who employed prayers, fasting, and maybe writing letters and sit-in's, would it have been enough to reform the Church from within instead of having it reformed by necessity? Faith says 'yes'.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:52 AM
I'm in awe of anyone who makes a living writing, so you can imagine my immediate affection for Disordered Affections, whose blogmistress is a screenwriter. My best friend is among Thoreau's mass of desperate men and is attempting to escape the corporation by writing a screenplay. I am surprised at his dilligence; he's read five books on screenplays, he's read at least four or five actual screen plays and he is now on his second revision (he says he will give it to me after this revision, for help in making the third). It is a sequel to a well-known comedy - I had originally blogged the title of only to receive a panicked visit asking that I remove it:
"Remember Shawshank Redemption? If anyone had said anything--" (He compares his eventual escape with the prisoner in Shawshank Redemption)
"Shawshank Redemption is (say it with me) ff-ff-ffiction".
Anyway, the hilarious thing is that after the first revision he said,
"It's pretty good, although it's not funny."
"Let me get this straight. You wrote a comedy that's not funny?"
"Yeah, that'll come with the second revision."
posted by TS O'Rama @ 3:20 PM
February 4, 2003
Nancy Nall gives Amy a proper send-off, and in doing so says:
Of course, journalism generally does a fairly piss-poor job covering religion in general, for reasons that don't bear much resemblance to the ones usually trotted out by pissed-off religious people -- mostly ignorance, and also because we're perhaps a little uncomfortable quoting people who claim prayer cured their cancer, and the chemotherapy had nothing to do with it.
There's often a backlash to sentiments attributing everything to God, even though everything is ultimately attributable to God. Protestants are especially prone to it. I've cringed at hearing my mother-in-law express sentiments that rain is literally angel's tears, or something to that effect. I fall prey to it at times. When I took food too late before Mass, I attributed my being able to receive due to God having arranged it - i.e. the priest starting Mass late and the homilist going long. That was no doubt narcissistic and probably false in attributing supernatural agencies to that which perhaps was purely coincidental or natural. It certainly drives non-believer Bill Mahrer crazy; he slams football players for thanking God for catching a pass. But it seems better to error on the side of attributing too much to God than too little.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 2:53 PM
I have found when I am sodden
All my sins are fast forgodden,
But when I put the gin away
My sinful thoughts they stick and stay.
So to a man of sinful thinking
I say there is no sin in drinking.
For such a man the only sin
Is to hide away the fifth of gin.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 9:25 AM
Today's Irish Lesson
St. Patrick did his job - the Irish were a holy folk. Where else do you say hello by saying "God to you?". There is no word for "hello" in the Irish language - "dia duit" meant "God to you". The reply would be "Dia is Muire duit" meaning "God and Mary to you.". The reply to that (if starved for conversation) was "God and Mary and Joseph to you". I'm not sure who the next saint in line would be should it be carried farther. Hear it here.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:58 AM
Fat, drunk & stupid no way to go thru life*
Interesting anecdote in Kirk's Sword of Imagination. At this time Kirk is living in suburbia, the intellectual tundra of Central Michigan, and William F. Buckley visits him and his first question is, "What do you do for friendship here?" (Implying that hobnobbing with the proles would be a non-starter). Kirk merely swung his arms around his vast library of books and said, "here are my friends!".
* -although you may have more company
posted by TS O'Rama @ 8:49 AM
God be with Jeff Miller, who is also ending his blog. I love that picture of the Holy Father he has in the upper left corner, I've been meaning to steal it.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 4:59 PM
February 3, 2003
Posts, we've got posts, we've got lots and lots of...
I must be going thru the manic blogging phase, but I was struck earlier today by the anamoly of praying for our spiritual betters. From the earliest times it was understood that some pray-ers have more "success" than other pray-ers. Perhaps for reasons of closeness to God, greater fervency, greater faith, greater willingness to sacrifice, I don't know.
So intercessory prayer for my betters has been problematic. My praying for the Pope is like someone on a respirator praying for an Olympic marathon runner. Feels sort of presumptuous at the least. But now I'm beginning to understand it - and this will probably be obvious to you spiritual gurus - that it is Jesus praying in me. If I can accept (no easy task given my sinfulness) the presence of God within me, then I can accept His presence praying for and through me.
This still does not quite answer the greater efficacy great saints have. I read the inspiring story of Maria Goretti the other day; she prayed for her assassin and eventually he became a monk. I hope this isn't too facetious but it just goes to show if you're going to kill someone, make it a saint.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 4:45 PM
My mood is inversely proportional to:
(length of time since my last vacation) + (time since last quality prayer session*)
* - perhaps ill-defined as prayer leaving me faithfilled rather than faithless
It is proportional to the number of beers I've had.
I'm reminded of a cartoon I once came across:
Brandy co-worker Bill to another co-worker: "What's up with Brandy?" (Brandy looks pained).
Co-worker: "Her post-vacation euphoria just dried up."
Bill: "How long did it take this time?"
Co-worker: "About 15 minutes."
Bill: "Wow, that has to be a new record."
posted by TS O'Rama @ 4:10 PM
Kathy the spirited Carmelite suspects on Disputations that some of the vehemence that denies the possiblity of a just war is actually a function of unbelief in life eternal.
I've often thought that this is how the Church could defend its persections of heresy. I'm no Church history expert, and I know that persecutions have been greatly exaggerated and/or have been state-sponsored and not Church-sanctioned, but if the Church did okay persecutions of the Albigensians you could see why if you consider the soul to be immortal and that hell is a worse result than death. Is there a greater causa belli than this? To save others from hell? Killing to prevent greater casualties (as Truman did with the A-bomb in WWII to prevent the loss of tens of thousand of additional casualties) seems morally small potatoes by comparison. The documents of Vatican II on Religious Freedom and others have spelled out the development that those in the state of invincible ignorance can be saved, and thus now it is a moot point. But if in the past they believed that the killing of some heretics was justified, by the souls they were saving of countless others who would have been damned.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 2:46 PM
But Tom, how do you REALLY feel?
Speaking of war, I was surprised by how vehemently NY Times' Tom Friedman dismisses the Europeans. Certainly here is a guy who is extremely well-traveled and knowlegeable and he says that the Europeans are of no help in determining the morality of the Iraq war. This is something I've suspected; objectivity is so difficult to come by either in this country or in Europe...America is starting to resemble what Cardinal Ratzinger wrote concerning the historic Jesus - there is no one who doesn't bring bias to the table.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:20 PM
Walker Percy always wondered why we are "happiest" when tragedy strikes. Our attention is riveted, we feel fully alive. I'm struggling to understand...Perhaps it is simply that we can focus on others, and this is a relief from selfishness. Perhaps I've become jaded.
My mom and wife don't like to read novels much. They like true stories. I've never heard of her but apparently Ann Rule has written many novelistic offerings that portray true life crimes, murders. The line between fiction and fact weakens. People look for entertainment from real life (hence 'reality' tv). There is a media temptation to thus package real-world tragedies as made-for-TV Lifetime movies.
I think as Christians we can use this to our advantage. Let's show graphic Center for Bio-Ethical Reform images if it will cause us to care more about unborn babies. If war is treated too cavalierly, let's show the suffering it wreaks...There is the risk of becoming jaded, but it might help the cause.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:01 PM
More Blog-In News...
As you probably already know, Amy is shutting down her blog. I think she's making the right decision - most of us exhaust what we have to say about really important issues and then sort of hang-on (although I am still learning from some of the blogs out there; you know who you are - don't you shut down :).
As the old saying goes, when she looks back on her life will she wish she spent more time blogging? Or more time on a project or book that could potentially have a more lasting impact?
posted by TS O'Rama @ 11:42 AM
Lots o' interesting reading...
St. Thomas More okays Reality TV?
Imagine my surprise at reading this in Barzun's Dawn to Decadence:
[Thomas] More suggests that if fools, that is, lunatics, are treated kindly there is no harm in their being used to entertain the people by 'their foolish sayings and ridiculous actions.' It will ensure their being valued and well taken care of.
Anybody know what night Joe Millionaire's on? (Just kidding).
Q: Does not over-concentration on religion tend to insanity?
A: To overdo anything is a mistake, and this applies even to religion. A well-balanced man avoids extremes in all departments of life, whether by excess, or by defect. And just as one can damage his health by eating too much, or by not eating at all, so one can injure his mind and soul by religious over-indulgence or by neglect of religion...I admit that over-concentration in religious directions is likely to be more dangerous than in other matters. For religion is so much a part of man's very being, and of his complete nature, gripping mind and heart and wil, and embracing man's imaginative and emotional tendencies, and reaching deep down into the subconscious recesses of the soul...That is why religion needs a rational and common-sense approach as few things else.
--Catholic priests Rev. Rumble & Rev. Carty, Radio Replies
Now, how to define "over-concentration"... the difficulty is how not to succumb to spiritual mediocrity while not over-concentrating on it.
Lionel Trilling lamented in 1950: Our liberal ideology has produced a large literature of social and political protest, but not, for several decades, a single writer who commands our real literary imagination. We all resopnd to the flattery of agreement; but perhaps even the simplest reader among us knows in his heart the difference between the emotion and the real emotions of literature.'
To the monumental literary figures of the 20th century, Trilling went on, 'the liberal ideology has been at best a matter of indifference.' Proust, Joyce, Lawrence, Eliot, Yeats and other writers had 'no love of the ideas and emotions which liberal democracy, as known by our educated class, has declared respectable. So that we can say that no connection exists between our liberal educated class and the best of the literary minds of our time. And this is to say that there is no connection between the political ideas of our educated class and the deep places of the imagination.'
--Russell Kirk, The Sword of Imagination
posted by TS O'Rama @ 5:19 PM
February 2, 2003
The Blog-in News
It appears foto del apolcalypse is taking a break for awhile...
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:28 PM
February 1, 2003
white the yearning statue; all neck and stretch
longs she upward; set guard before the gathering hedge
of myth-leaves green and waxy
gathering the birth-right sun.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:55 AM
chair on the beach
Set it at a jaunty angle
set seaface to foam
ale for what ails, so pale
be fat-billed birds and cirrus clouds.
Banks of sand and birds of mien
mystic fish fly up at strange intervals
seaweed gesticulates in the Gulf waves
sand-dollars spend their ancient inscriptions
in the vanishing between sea and sky
and ineluctably drawn-eye.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:37 AM
Scene: bland corporate fitness center. The usual suspects: young, muscled men lifting weights; old men doing stair machines or treadmills. Young women walking around in outfits that accentuate already obvious gender differences.
Amid the usual suspects was a tall, long-haired man in his mid-to-late 20s who wore a sleeveless t-shirt that revealed a large tattoo of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary, complete with thorns. Vive le difference. As I circled the running track I was greeted each time by edifying visages.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 1:05 AM
Drowning drams of the daily pulp;
war news, liberals, conservatives
cross-talk on Crossfire
like Manichean caricatures
plastic army men wholly good or evil.
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:55 AM
Walker Percy Quotes
”Here they would sit, in my ‘enclosed patio’, on their broad potato-fed English asses, and speak of the higher things.”
“The bricks smell of old wax. After all these years particles of Pledge wax still adhere to the cindery pits that pock the glaze.”
posted by TS O'Rama @ 12:43 AM
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Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor
I see the right way, approve it and do the opposite - Ovid
Still only 25 cents
02/01/2003 - 02/28/2003
03/01/2003 - 03/31/2003
current enchilada, whole
photo via Tenebrae
Other Blog O'Rhythms
the Mother Blog, from whose womb many blogs have sprung...
the inimitable Peter Kreeft
Theology of the Body
Arts & Lit
OED Word o' the Day
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! / Even though the sound of it Is something quite atrocious / If you say it loud enough You'll always sound precocious
More Fine Young Blogs
All But Dissertations
Atheist to a Theist
Fotos Del Apolocalipsis
From the Anchor Hold
Gregg the Obscure
ye Olde Oligarch
Praise & Glory List of Catlicker Blogs
Summa Minutiae (B. White)
Tenebrae et Lux
View from the Core
Faith & Reason I (Particulae)
Faith & Reason II (Particulae)
06/01/02 - 06/30/02
05/01/02 - 05/31/02
04/01/02 - 04/30/02
03/01/02 - 03/31/02 ***
O'Rama Productions; copyright pending. Taking self too seriously since 1963.
Amy has a thought-provoking post in which she states, It's been said elsewhere that the easiest way to lose your faith is to work for the Church - and that applies to any denomination - it's not peculiar to Catholics.
There are things I'd just rather not know, like how sausage is made. I've more or less gotten my head around it; I tell my mom that there is nothing inherently wrong with politics. It is a God-given means, though sometimes as inelegant as a bathroom visit. When she argues about how calculating the Pope is in making huge numbers of "conservative" cardinals that will vote in the next papal election, I say, hopefully honestly, that if the situation were reversed and the Pope were "liberal" and was using political means to achieve liberal ends then it must be the will of the HS, at least as far as who the next Pontiff will be. Perhaps a more nuanced view is that the right man might not get the job, but that he will not teach false doctrine. More nuanced and more nuanced we become, gradually widening the circle of human error, until we allow for the greatest possible lattitude for human error, which gets it just about right. God is respectful of our freedom, and very economical when it comes to wielding power. Forty million U.S. abortions is proof of that.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 3:26 PM
January 31, 2003
What I Did On My Winter Vacation
I always write what I call a "trip log", with the mistaken notion that I will actually one day go back and read it. At the very least it affixes the details in my mind one last time. Since I wrote it anyway, I will post it in the fine tradition of "let no writing go unposted". You are under no obligation to read it, of course. Triplogs prior to my reversion at least proffered erotic poetry (note to self: destroy erotic poetry soon!); I can promise no sex or violence in the following:
Here lieth the sun deck, where I laid sprawled befriended by Kirk and a cold one.
The advertising on the rental car was right, at least right now. "Florida - the Sunshine State" proved to be all of that as we loaded our weary bodies into a rental which still held the aroma of "new car". From Ft. Myers we took the causeway into sunny Sanibel where we blinked like uncovered slugs.
The condo had a small screened-in back porch overlooking the pool, where a fat cigar and a couple ales on repeating days tended to invoke nostalgia. I had a terribly strong sense of deja vu, and of remembrance of things past. The large green shade tree was much like the one at our house growing up, the one near which we dug a large hole with the hope of reaching China (our knowledge of the hot earthen core being incomplete). The sun deck and pool had 60s style accoutrements that reminded me of my best friend's grandma's swimming pool and her maddeningly strict rules of no swimming for an hour after eating; I recall being out of the pool more than in it. The sun deck ascended in whitely glory, a mad pad to which I would carry a ridiculous number of books despite always choosing to read Kirk's Sword of Imagination.
The leafy courtyard had antebellum lamps and reminded me of my alma mater, which reminded of what Burke wrote concerning the man who hangs about college after having graduated - "he is like a man who, having built and rigged and victualled a ship, should lock her up in dry dock." Ah but what a gloriously unbattered ship she would be!
The complex had the aura of a retirement villa about it; the average resident age in the 70s. The beach scenes looked like retirement or insurance advertisements - loving grey-haired couples walking hand-in-hand. This was a nice feature since I would be able to avoid eye custodial issues which inevitably arise when bikini-clad young women happen by. Instead I was reading Russell Kirk sans distraction, as the sun made her inevitable trek...
When daffodils begin to peer,
With heigh! the doxy over the dale,
Why, then comes in the sweet o' the year;
For the red blood reigns in the winter's pale.
The white sheet bleaching on the hedge,
With heigh! the sweet birds, O, how they sing!
Doth set my pugging tooth on edge;
For a quart of ale is a dish for a king.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:04 PM
Disputations has an attention-grabbing science experiment.
My first thought was that economics is a science too, although if you ask four economists what will happen you'll get five opinions.
I recall that the committee formed on the question of birth control came out in favor of artificial methods. Pope Paul VI wrote Humane Vitae instead. That sort of put theologians in the proper perspective. Ideally, we should be content with the teachings we have been given.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:01 AM
A belated Happy St. Thomas Aquinas day to you and yours. It was excrutiating being out of town during one of my favorite feast days. Not only am I curious what the fine Dominican friars at my St. Patrick parish would've said during the homily, but the local Dominican college always has a wonderful lecture program that day. Providentially, Tuesday was the one day I was able to make it to Mass and the priest there gave a wonderful talk on the great one. I had unthinkingly drank coffee beforehand, but the Mass started late and the enthusiastic homilist made reception possible for which I am thankful.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:52 AM
Serving All Your Knightly Needs
For the man who has everything: $2,450!?! Oy vey.
More affordably, the the scowling knight. (Any resemblance to your correspondent purely coincidental).
Finally, the handy knight.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:25 PM
January 30, 2003
Crypto-Catholic on Ash Wednesday
Hides he Wedesday's ashes
protecting his Mother's reputation
lest she be seen undesireable
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:18 PM
Watched Bill Murray in Groundhog Day and was struck by how his experience in the movie mirrors our lives. First Murray reacted to the repeating days with the childish glee of lawbreaking: venial things like inconsideration for others, eating everything off the dessert tray, smoking cigarettes. Then he upped the ante in the way some adolescents favor - he drank heavily, smashed his car into mailboxes, tried to evade police and was arrested. The next day he took it a step further by manipulating a stranger into having sex with him. It was plainly unsatisfying because what he really wanted was the character played by Andie MacDowell, and she would not be manipulated. He slid into nihilism, killed himself several times, until finally he abjectly admitted that it was he who was the problem. Because he could not have who he wanted most (Andie), he no longer concerned himself with her as a goal; he became altruistic out of desperation - the grain of wheat and fell to the ground and died. The byproduct of his altruism was Andie's falling in love with him.
Read much of John Hershey's depressing Hiroshima on the plane ride back from Florida. One of the survivors was a German Catholic priest who spent the next 30 years in almost constant pain from side effects of the radiation but who unfailing thought of others and never gave into self-pity. Just as it would be almost impossible for the early, selfish Bill Murray to imagine the later, altruistic Murray with anything but white-knuckle distaste, so it is for we who are not where that priest was spiritually to appreciate the beauty, rather than the horror, of his sacrifice. The priest at one point calmly remarked that he was glad to suffer his purgatory here.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 7:46 PM
Back from a week idyll; my folks spend two weeks every year in the land of flos carmeli (i.e. Florida) and we spent five glorious days visiting, regaining our sanity and avoiding the worst the winter has to offer (it felt a form of cheating, as if the winter is an exam and I looked off someone else's paper)...
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 3:55 PM
Two by Seamus
We have no prairies
To slice a big sun at evening--
Everywhere the eye concedes to
Is wooed into the cyclops' eye
Of a tarn. Our unfenced country
Is bog that keeps crusting
Between the sights of the sun.
Every layer they strip
Seems camped on before.
The bogholes might be Atlantic seepage.
The wet centre is bottomless.
--Seamus Heaney, excerpt of Bogland
And if I spy into its golden loops
I see us walk between the railway slopes
Into an evening of long grass and midges,
Blue smoke straight up, old beds and ploughs in hedges,
An auction notice on an outhouse wall--
You with a harvest bow in your lapel,
Me with the fishing rod, already homesick
For the big lift of these evenings, as your stick
Whacking the tips off weeds and bushes
Beats out of time, and beats, but flushes
Nothing: that original townland
Still tongue-tied in the straw tied by your hand.
The end of art is peace
Could be the motto of this frail device
That I have pinned up on our deal dresser--
Like a drawn snare
Slipped lately by the spirit of the corn
Yet burnished by its passage, and still warm.
--Seamus Heaney, excerpt of The Harvest Bow
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:16 PM
January 24, 2003
Herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That, when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wonder'd at,
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him.
--Shakespeare Henry IV
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:50 PM
breath-castles in the near-distance
sing, Statehouse, sing a pro-life song!
Scraggely band of hooded sweatshirts
and mittened applause;
of evangelical sensibilities singing
Our God is an Awesome God
while unfeeling toes remind of
toes that scarcely felt.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:49 PM
There's something alarming about listening to the Old Dogs and realizing Waylon Jennings, who sang the following, is dead:
Drink ginseng tonics, you're still gonna die.
Try high colonics, you're still gonna die.
You can have yourself frozen and suspended in time,
But when they do thaw you out, you're still gonna die.
You can have safe sex, you're still gonna die.
You can switch to Crest, you're still gonna die.
You can get rid of stress, get a lot of rest,
Get an AIDS test, enroll in EST,
Move out west where it's sunny and dry
And you'll live to be a hundred
But you're still gonna die.
I suppose it is a Christian message in the sense of "remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return." It's actually a cheery song, if you can believe that.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:14 PM
A Different Perspective
Fotos Del Apocalypse has a promising post on the war, promising because thru the eyes of Babelfish I can only make out so much. Hernan has the advantage of being farther removed from the war than we are while (hopefully) lacking the anti-American bias that many Europeans have.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 5:21 PM
I'll be out o' town next week; blogging will resume upon return, God-willing.
Meanwhile, a keeper from Deal Hudson:
"...it's true, we're bound to follow our conscience. However -- and this is essential -- our conscience MUST be properly formed. People who disagree with the Church's teachings tend to do so out of hand without first trying to understand those teachings. That's not following your conscience, that's following your will."
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 4:53 PM
Near parody --via Minute Particulae
I can't quite believe how blatantly Mr. Weddington showed his hand, or more vulgarly, his ass. Shades of Dicken's Scrooge who when told many would die in poverty said they had better so as to "decrease the surplus population". Yikes.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:47 PM
Interesting tidbit for you fellow Bob Novak afficiandos:
Amazon.com: How did you get your nickname, "The Prince of Darkness"?
Novak: It's not as interesting a story as you might think. In the late '50s, I covered the Senate for The Wall Street Journal along with a reporter for The Washington Post, and aside from the wire service reporters, we were the only two who had to stay in the Senate until the last dog died. So we'd sit there and watch the Senate and have these long discussions. I was in my late 20s and I was very pessimistic about the state of the world. I thought it was going right down into depravity, and he started calling me the Prince of Darkness because I was so gloomy. Long before I had any particular prominence, people called me the Prince of Darkness because I had a kind of a grim visage. And then when I became a columnist and a TV commentator, the whole thing fit, and it sounded like I was given the name because I was so conservative.
Amazon.com: Do you mind that nickname?
Novak: Nah, I don't care.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:55 AM
My father rarely gave me advice, so when he did it took on a Mount Sinai importance. And one piece of advice was to never, ever use drugs. I believed him; drugs were bad. So you might have an inkling of the dismay I felt when I read that another hero of mine, the singer John Denver, was accused of using drugs. At the tender age of ten, I had to reconcile the advice my father gave with the example my favorite singer gave. So I decided to write John Denver. I said that I'd read that he used hashish and marijuana, and that perhaps the song "Rocky Mountain High" and "Poems, Prayers and Promises" were not as innocent as they seemed. They had both seemed tainted to me now, especially the lyric "and pass the pipe around" in "Poems, Prayers and Promises"...
He wrote back about a year later. I still have the letter; it's on beautiful "John Denver stationary" with a little Rocky Mountain vista on the background of the letterheard. He neither confirmed or denied the reports I had heard but one sentence forever lingers in my mind:
Don't let your perceptions of me get in the way of the value the music has for you.
You can call it what you like, a cop-out, a dodge. But he was saying "look to the music. Don't look at me." So perhaps this is a lesson to us all - when bishops or priests or we ourselves disappoint us don't let the behavior affect our faith - look at God.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:27 AM
"I would have given any number of neo-classical pediments for one poor battered gargoyle." - Russell Kirk
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:08 AM
An issue must be complicated if Bob Novak and Kate O'Beirne don't see eye-to-eye on it. The fellow Capital Gang conservative Catholics have been divided over whether war with Iraq is necessary; Bob taking a negative view and Kate a positive view.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:04 AM
Fun with Protestants: We ran into a group from the Oligarch's area of Virginia, and one of the marchers asked us, "And where do you fellowship at?" Slight pause, Oligarch correctly translates this as "What church do you belong to?" and answers, but later notes wryly, "Yeah, I 'fellowship at' [St. X], except I go there alone, and I don't talk to anyone!" Eve via Mark
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:21 PM
January 23, 2003
Interesting New Yorker fiction piece by George Saunders that I much enjoyed, although, as they say, your mileage may vary. (That will seem funnier after you have read it). I'm not sure it is entirely appropriate for a Catholic blog so the easily offended should steer clear.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 7:03 PM
Interesting article about Russel Kirk's stories..
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:28 PM
Proof again, as if we needed it, that those who are weak are usually the ones who defend the weak - in this case a nearly aborted baby:
The actor Jack Nicholson, who discovered as an adult that the woman he was raised to believe was his sister was actually his mother, who had conceived him when she was a teenager. She was advised to get an abortion, but chose life. Her son became a pro-lifer. He once said, "I'm very contra my constituency in terms of abortion because I'm positively against it. I don't have the right to any other view. My only emotion is gratitude, literally, for my life." - from The Corner
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:05 PM
The official Geek hierarchy courtesy NRO
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:02 PM
It's not his feast day but St. Anthony has always been one of my favorite saints.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:02 PM
January 22, 2003
Old Journal Entries Never Die...
There is nothing more prosaic than nostalgia, but can it possibly have been so long since I was there at King Library at Miami, sitting completely appalled at the graffitti scripted on the bathroom carol? Can it have been that long ago, really? The fog of mysticism was murderously dense that senior year, dense with past loves and manured by meditative time superfluously supplied. The very air in Oxford hung wet with intrigue; the senior class knew it was about to go through labor – to labor – and would be cast out like mewling youths into the working world. We were people who knew their own death dates – we walked around with heavy hearts and carrying burdensome bags of nostalgia. We of deep tans would look longingly during Linear Programming and sigh as if….as if we only had more time….Winsome lads and lasses would pass phone numbers that would soon expire. We were heavy-laden with so many memories of splendour; the head-rush of so many dreams simultaneous with so many memories. We were breathing beneath the water, that senior year, we were dead men walking. The ivory tower was turning ebony. We were no longer part of the majesty, the four-year paegeant, the four-year spectacle of potential and grace.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 8:41 PM
Mosaics of the saints
pointillistic artworks of God
full of discrete points of goodness
while God is the dots
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 8:32 PM
Anatomy of a Fast
First 25%: Mixed emotions; half-hearted enthusiasm haunted by the knowledge that there is significantly less to look forward to today. Prayer helps.
Second 25%: Vague sense of un-ease settles in...must resolve not to become resentful. Tell self: the fast includes a fast from irritability. Wonder if I'm as grumpy as usual if that counts since at least the fast isn't making me worse than usual. Think to self that perhaps I should've fasted from irritability alone and not worry about food.
Third 25%: Keep on keeping on, momentum has swung, hunger pangs remind me of His. I wonder: 'does drinking coffee break a bread and water fast?'. I rationalize drinking coffee for greater alertness - i.e. it's for my job.
Final 10%: That wasn't so bad... want to stretch it out some. Why was I such a wuss about it? And why did I have to drink that coffee?
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 8:20 PM
"It seems to me as clear as daylight that abortion would be a crime."
All Men Are Brothers: The Life and Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi, Columbia University Press, New York, NY, 1958
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 5:04 PM
The rising feminist movement was against abortion. Not even the most radical considered abortion to be an instrument of freedom for women; on the contrary, abortion was understood to be an aspect of male domination, whereby (outside marriage) men tried to conceal the results of their seduction, or (inside marriage) women behaved tragically because of the terrible conditions of a home governed by a tyrannical husband.
--Tim Stafford, on the women's movement circa 1870
The Deadly Dozen
a sad 1973 NY Times front page
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 4:19 PM
my guardian dear
I was in charge of eucharistic adoration at my parish. One day I asked one of my fellow parishioners if she knew how to find out the name of one's guardian angel. She said to pray in adoration, and God would let me know my angel's name. I prayed each Saturday for several weeks.
One Saturday before benediction a man entered the chapel. He was at least six feet tall and had clear blue-green eyes and long, wavy blonde hair. He knelt down in front of the Blessed Sacrament with his long arms outstretched toward heaven and started to pray the most beautiful prayers to our Lord. Everyone at adoration always prayed in silence, and we were in awe of this stranger.
After benediction, everyone started to leave and, as I always did, I greeted our guests. I walked up to the blonde man, introduced myself, and gave him the schedule of our weekly visits with Jesus. When I was finished, he bent down to look into my eyes, and as he shook my hand he said, 'My name is Edward. Isn't it nice to finally meet your angel?' I stood watching him walk away down behind the side of the church. I turned away for a second, and when I looked back he was gone. I have not seen him again.
Jesus answers even the smallest of prayers.
-Lisa Ladrido, in This Rock
I liked this on several levels...one that the prayer was answered so extravagantly - instead of coming to knowledge of the name in an impersonal, subtle experience she met him and was shown by him how to adore Christ properly. I also liked the fact that she was unafraid of taking up God's time with something the worldly would consider minutiae if they believe it at all. I shy from these type of prayers because I have a utilitarian streak a mile long, and assume it would be a presumption to ask for something like that instead of something like 'spiritual growth' or 'the conversion of Bill Mahrer'. Like eating ice cream instead asparagus. And yet...love is....lovely. It's not master-slave, but father-son.
If sometimes I seem bumptious to my guardian angel, I remind him or her that at least they get to go to Mass more often than the average GA.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:17 AM
"There was no great truth of which the medieval mind was more certain than those words from the Corinthians, 'For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face.' They never forgot that everything would be absurd if it exhausted its meaning in its immediate function and form of manifestation, and that all things extend in an important way to the world beyond."
--Johan Huizinga, Autumn of the Middle Ages
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 4:04 PM
January 21, 2003
Bellocian article here..
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 3:24 PM
Seeing thru the war glass darkly...
At the barber stand there was talk of war. It twould seem Saddam did not lived up to treaty he signed in 1991. In fact, he did not live up to that on day one when inspectors showed up to witness the mass conflagration of his weapons and instead were greeted with an elaborate "Where's Waldo?" game. So shouldn't we have gone to war on day one? The barber said, "but that was so long ago - we didn't do anything about it then." And that's true. But is that a bad thing? Shouldn't we delay, delay, delay war as long as possible?
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:01 PM
Augustine experienced this in the case of his mother: while, he with his friends, all of whom came from the academic world, stuggled helplessly with the basic problems of humanity, he was struck again and again by the interior certainty of this simple woman. With astonishment and emotion, he wrote of her: 'She stands at the pinnacle of philosophy.' -- J. Cardinal Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, pp. 340-342.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:45 AM
Concerning Goldhagen's Book
"As Lucy Dawidowicz saw in 1946, the Holocaust was the product not of Christendom, but of Christendom's collapse. The destruction of Christendom effected (1) the rejection of Catholic natural law and (2) the rise of the absolute nation-state, previously impossible because popes could depose and counterbalance kings...."
--Mark Riebling in National Review
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 5:12 PM
January 20, 2003
Learning my ABCs...
You mean "OCDS" doesn't stand for "Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Syndrome"? I recently learned it means "Order of Carmelites Discalced Secular", for any fellow rubes out there.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:33 PM
For the first time, Belloc wrote to Maurice Baring on 13 April 1908, he had given up drinking beer or wine in Holy Week:
...'partly to see what it is like, partly in memory of the Passion, and partly to strengthen my will which has lately had bulgy spots on it.
I have now gone through thirty-six hours of this ordeal, and very interesting and curious it is...The mind and body sink to a lower plane and become fit for contemplation rather than for action: the sense of humour is also singularly weakened.'
In later years Belloc extended his abstinence to the whole of Lent. 'I have become a Protestant and am drinking no wine during Lent, with the most terrible results to my soul which is in permanent despair', he wrote to Chesterton in 1912. 'I now see what a fool everybody is, a truth which, until now the fumes of fermented liquor had hidden from me.'
-- Joseph Pearce, Old Thunder
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 7:45 PM
January 19, 2003
Flos Carmeli has a thoughtful and interesting review of Hitler's Niece, a book I've come close to acquiring on numerous occasions. Since my reversion, I've attempted to limit what I read to only what I consider "healthy", i.e. that which doesn't get in the way of God. But I don't want to be a Puritan either. (Belloc's friend Maurice Baring once wrote "..then the damned Puritans cast their stinking tarpaulin of respectability over their filthy vices and pretended to be virtuous"). I'm not sure my curtailment of certain books has borne any fruit, at least as far as spiritual improvement, but see Flos's Red Queen comment. Besides Updike, I'm also unsure of Paul Theroux, whose novel "Hotel Honolulu" looks interesting.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 6:11 PM
"Faith goes and comes, not (as the decayed world about us pretends) with certain waves of the intelligence, but as our ardour in the service of God, our chastity, our love of God and his creation, our fighting of our special sins, goes and comes. Faith goes and comes. You think it gone forever (you go to Mass, but you think it gone for ever), then in a miraculous moment it returns. In early manhood one wonders at this, in maturity one laughs at such vicissitudes...But the Church is permanent. You know what our Lord said: He said 'I have conquered the world'...With every necessity, with every apparition of tangible human and positive truth the Faith returns triumphant. By that, believe me, the world has been saved. All that great scheme is not mist or a growth, but a thing outside ourselves and time."
- H. Belloc, in Pearce's Old Thunder
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 6:02 PM
The Wind That Shakes the Barley
Above the uplands drenched with dew
The sky hangs soft and pearly,
An emerald world is listening to
The wind that shakes the barley.
Above the bluest mountain crest
The lark is singing rarely,
It rocks the singer into rest,
The wind that shakes the barley.
Oh, still through summers and through springs
It calls me late and early.
Come home, come home, come home, it sings,
The wind that shakes the barley.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 12:44 AM
January 18, 2003
On the Dilbertization of the Workplace
...or thoughts during a meeting
Nancy Nall is convinced that the "next Big Novel -- OK, the next Big Comic Novel -- we all read and discuss will be about work. There's just too much material. On the other hand, it's the sort of material that takes the wind out of satire's sails, because it transcends it in every way."
We recently had a second pre-meeting before an upcoming overview session. Lard upon lard. These meetings have a sort of out-of-body experience to them; I could take them more seriously if everyone else took them less seriously. We all know what has to be done and could do it w/out the pageantry and project charters. The meeting made me feel old or cynical or both.
I think to self, “she is too old to be so enthusiastic”; I try to recall that her job depends on enthusiasm, on rallying the troops, on making management see that she is valuable player. But it still feels like farce. I feel like I’m watching a bad play. The meeting is interrupted by someone leaping up. His phone is space-age cool, like something George Jetson would have. A little blue light fired on as he flipped it up. It looked like a toy.
It wouldn't have felt this way years ago. I still recall those halcyon days; I projected all the sophistication and importance of the world upon my job. I showed my parents my desk and bragged, only half-joking, that this is where the important decisions are made.
The truth is that most work outside the home seems unutterably small, with the exception of ministry work, the professions, and art. Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief. Priest, prophet, poet. And yet all work is meaningful, by definition, because work is done by humans and humans are of inestimable value. A shoe-maker’s work is as valuable to God as a CEOs. But I have trouble getting this construct into my head though. I make the linkage intellectually but… Perhaps I’m bastardizing the corporate experience – without ambition to advance it becomes a farce. They can become exercised over minutiae because they are hungry – they want to get to the next level. Strip “the game” from the corporate rat race and you’re left with…what?
And yet these are surely just the musings of the terribly spoiled. What about the Mexican migrant worker who sends every dime back to Mexico so that his wife can join him? What about the starving in Africa? They would love a farcical job.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:36 PM
January 17, 2003
THE FACE: DOORWAY TO THE SOUL
Catholic–minded Christians favor rituals and set prayers; Evangelical-minded Christians think these are insincere, that a prayer or action must come from the heart, and that set prayers and rites are dead. Samuel Johnson, good Anglican that he was, disapproved of the Presbyterian version of this attitude in his Journey to the Western Isles.
"The Naked Face" by Malcolm Gladwell in the August 5 New Yorker explores the meaning of facial expressions. They are universal and largely involuntary. A trained or naturally intuitive person can detect a liar, and much else, by facial expressions.
When I worked as a federal investigator, we were trained to pick up verbal and facial clues of liars - nothing as subtle as the article discusses, but useful anyway. To practice we had a film and transcript of Ted Kennedy explaining what he did at Chappaquiddick. We were told to look for signs that he was lying. Most of us stopped at 100.
A current researcher (who was pro-Clinton) noticed that Clinton had characteristic facial expressions. The researcher contacted Clinton’s communications director and said, “Look, Clinton’s got this way of rolling his eyes along with a certain expression, and what it means is ‘I am a bad boy.’ I don’t think it is a good thing. I could teach him how not to do that in two or three hours.” Clinton refused. In any case the expression was revelatory.
I am always getting into trouble because of my facial expressions, I don’t suffer fools gladly, and even when I keep my mouth shut, my expression must give me away, because people get angry with me after they have said something stupid. They suspect it is stupid, and see by my face that I think it is extremely stupid.
However, returning to the Catholic-Evangelical disagreement, researchers have also discovered that facial expressions can create the corresponding emotions.
A researcher asked one group to remember a distressing situation, and monitored their heart beat, etc. They showed signs of stress. He then asked another group to make a facial expression of distress without thinking of anything. They showed the same physiological signs of distress as the first group. One group held a pen tightly between their lips, which made it impossible to smile. They were shown cartoons. They were not amused. Another group held a pen in their mouths in such a way that they were forced to smile. They found the cartoons hilarious.
Pascal (I believe) advised someone who said he had trouble believing in Christianity to take holy water on entering a church, and that belief would follow. Our external actions tend to create the corresponding internal attitudes.
Catholics: You are right, actions create the emotions.
Protestants: You are right, the heart will out no matter how hard we try to conceal it.
However, if a person has decided something is right – that he should venerate God or love his wife - but for some reason doesn’t feel the emotions he ought to feel, he can perform the actions, bowing and kneeling, or kissing and bringing flowers. These actions tend to create the emotions, and are not insincere, because the will has made a decision based on the truth, and wants to bring the heart into conformity with realty. This is the definition of truth and truthfulness. So High Chuchmen are a little more right than Low Churchmen (who in any case often have their own unacknowledged rituals). --Leon Podles
Postcript: Minute Particulae blogged about The Naked Face back in August.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:54 AM
Ratzinger Quote via Olde Oligarch
On the other hand, a society and a humanity will not long endure in which persons in service careers -- in hosptials, for instance -- no longer find meaning in their service [because it is not intellectual], and universal irritation, mutual suspicion, destroy life in common. God's revelation was to the simple -- not out of resentment against the great, as Nietzsche would have it -- but because they possess that precious naivete that is open to truth and not subject to the temptations of nihilism. This should be the foundation of the great respect the Christian should feel to those who are simple of heart. - Cardinal Ratzinger
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:24 AM
I'll always be your beast of burden
Overheard at a restaurant, table of eight next to us, one grey-haired couple and two young couples. Older gent gives older lady a peck on the cheek, after which she appears pained and then warns, "Oh, men always want sex - no matter how old they are!".
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 7:39 AM
Interesting post from Minute Particulars. Read the whole thing, but if not read this:
The "credibility of others" is woven so tightly within the human act of faith that practically speaking it's inextricable from any notion of faith in God alone. Our faith is in God alone, but the manner in which we become disposed to such an assent very much involves the dynamic of believing in the testimony of other human beings so that we can, as Pieper puts it, "participate in the knowledge of a knower."
Here's where the shoe pinches a bit for me in the issue of how we might respond to those who have "lost faith" because of the actions of others. Of course faith has God as its object. And indeed faith is ultimately a gift. And yes our genuine assent requires the grace of the Holy Spirit. But all of this is sort of highlighting the end of a very long and nuanced theological argument. It's a response to a denial that God is the Source and End of all that is, was, or will be, including the assent of faith in each of us when it occurs; but I'm not sure it's a response to the despair many find themselves in when they are betrayed by priests and bishops.
I think, deep down, everyone wants to be a saint since that's what we were created for. The restlessness that St. Augustine wrote about is a restlessness for sanctity because sanctity is a greater oneness with God. But we want to be saints without the work, or, if work is necessary, then it be done with the surety that the goal (sanctity) will be achieved. Thus when my mother says that in the 1950s Catholics were not any holier than Protestants, she was also saying, "not eating meat on Friday and making every go to Mass on Sunday or they will go to hell" did not work, i.e. did not make them saintly. This is sort of what Nietsche said when he said, "if Christians are redeemed, why don't they look redeemed?".
Similarly, if priests, bishops, and monks are not any holier than the average Joe (despite their access to the sacraments and the arduous journey that includes celibacy requirements and extensive biblical/spiritual learning), then some wash their hands of it because they see that the arduousness of the journey does not even guarantee the destination - holiness. But ...as St. Peter bluntly said, "Oh Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life." It is folly to ignore the paths the saints since you cannot get there without those steps, even if there is no guarantee you will arrive if you do take them.
A Paradox from Minute Particulars:
In theory God can reveal Himself to anyone without our efforts to evangelize. But a corollary to this would seem to be that in theory we can't come between God and another human being. I think these both have to be true lest we distort Creator and creature or limit the power of God. Yet, and I admit this is a strange thing to say, we can't live as if these theoretical notions are true. If we do I think we commit the sin of presumption. We can't presume that God doesn't require our efforts to spread the Good News, even though somehow we know that He doesn't. And we can't presume that our sinfulness won't affect another human being's ability to know God, even though somehow we know that nothing we do could ever finally hinder God.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 12:26 PM
January 16, 2003
More from the Irish Page
Is mise an Ghaeilge
Is mise do theanga
Is mise do chultúr
D'Úsáid na Filí mé
D'Úsáid na huaisle
D'Úsáid na daoine mé
is d'Úsáid na lenaí
Go bródúil a bhí siad
Agus mise faoi réim.
Ach tháinig an strainséir
Chuir sé faoi chois mé
Is rud ní ba mheasa
Nior mhaith le mo chlann mé
Anois táim lag
Anois táim tréith
Ach fós táim libh
Is beidh mé go beo.
Tóg suas mo cheann
Cuir áthas ar mo chroí
Ó labhraígí mé!
The Irish Language
I am Irish
I am your language
I am your culture
The poets used me
The nobles used me
The people used me
and the children used me
Proud they were
And I flourished
But the stranger came
He suppressed me
Something worse than that was
my own people rejected me
Now I am weak
Now I am feeble
But still I am with you
and I will be forever.
Raise up my head
Put joy in my heart
Oh speak me!
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:29 AM
Sun spills despite the clouds
into my winter hovel
agilely missing pregnant chads
radiant excesses at random intervals
keeps me at the bay.
look upended, leaves planted;
only the roots show.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:24 AM
Minimalist poem about College Life
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:22 AM
excerpts from Nine Little Goats
It's a cock's foot of a night:
If I go on hanging my lightheartedness
Like a lavender coat on a sunbeam's nail,
It will curdle into frogspawn.
The clock itself has it in for me,
Forever brandishing the splinters of its hands,
Choking on its middle-aged fixations.
Darkness will be dropping in
In the afternoons without an appointment,
A wolf's bite at the windowpane,
And wolves too the clouds
In the sheepish sky.
---Núala Ní Dhomhnaill, translated from the Irish by Medbh McGuckian
Núala Ní Dhomhnaill (NOO-la Nee GO-nal), Ireland's foremost present-day poet writing in Irish, was born in 1952 in Lancashire. In 1957, her parents returned to Ireland -- to the Dingle Gaeltacht in Kerry, where she grew up. She writes all her poetry in Irish because she believes that Irish is a language of enormous elasticity and emotional sensitivity; of quick and hilarious banter. Many international scholars have commented that this language of ragged peasants "seems always on the point of bursting into poetry." (Dhomhnaill, 2)- via the Irish Page
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:14 PM
January 15, 2003
Irish Song Wednesday
A Man You Don't Meet Every Day
I have acres of land I have men at command
I have always a shilling to spare
So be easy and free when you're drinking with me
I'm a man you don't meet every day
So come fill up your glasses with brandy and wine
Whatever it costs I will pay
So be easy and free when you're drinking with me
I'm a man you don't meet every day...
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:03 PM
Came across this quotation...
Perhaps the real question is not why does God allow for physical evil, but why did God create us in a material world? Some suggest that God created us in an imperfect material world so that we would not rely on ourselves but come to love and rely on the perfect God (2 Cor 1:8-9). St. Irenaeus of Lyons (190 A.D.) wrote:
"...where there is no exertion, there is no appreciation. Sight would not be so desirable if we did not know what a great evil blindness is. Health, too, is made more precious by the experience of sickness; light by comparison with darkness; life with death. In the same way, the heavenly kingdom is more precious to those who have known the earthly one. But the more precious it is, the more we love it; and the more we love it, the more glorious shall we be in the presence of God. God, therefore, permitted all these things, so that we, instructed by them all, might in future be prudent in all things, and, wisely taught to love God, might abide in that perfect love." [Against Heresies IV,37,7] -- from A Catholic Response
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:58 PM
January 14, 2003
I can certainly see the appeal of Tan Publishers. Their newsletter arrive/brochure arrived in the mail today and though I rarely buy anything I find the mere reading of it enriching and oddly comforting. I wouldn't mind being a Catholic fundamentalist - we'll all be fundamentalists in the next life - i.e. everything will be black and white and much clearer. Tan has a lot of edifying books that are not Fundie books, don't get me wrong. There are summaries of the Summa and lives of saints and others. But what prompted this post was this nugget from the letter:
If you are going to read the Bible, get a copy of the Douay-Rheims Bible and read the real Bible. In my opinion, it is the only really accurate English translation of the Bible there is. Every verse evokes the authorship of Almighty God, and many times just a sentence or a clause from the Douay-Rheims will bring the answer to a question that has been bothering you for a long time.
That's a pretty effective sell. Never mind the great break-throughs in biblical research and manuscripts that have occurred since the Douay-Rheims. It's our KJV.
Moreover, the publisher tackles the question: Why read the spiritual classics?
One of the things we certainly need to engage in is spiritual reading, for excellent spiritual reading-- such as found in the powerful books from TAN - gives us 1) the adult knowledge of the Faith that we need in order to practice it well, plus 2) the motivation to do so.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:21 PM
Interesting post from Doxos (via Dylan) on the infinite distance between the Irish and the Irish-American. Alas, perhaps only landscape and songs like Kevin Barry remain. If I went back to the olde sod, I would never go to Dublin. I would go to Belfast and Northern Ireland where perhaps vestiges of yesterday can be found. At best, touring can be like time travel; at worst the homogenizing of culture and self-consciousness that the tourist trade induces makes it unpalatable. Truly foreign cultures become more attractive, albeit more deadly. A visit to say Damascus or Baghdad would be a real treat because it is there we can find a difference (at the cost of many of them hating your guts, a small price to pay). Certainly my yen to travel has decreased steadily as I've approached middle-age.
A WASPish English professor at school raved about how strange it is that whites want to go to England or Ireland and blacks to Africa and Asians to Asia. He was a connoisuer of Japanese culture and constantly preached the gospel of learning about and traveling to truly "other" countries.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 4:12 PM
excerpt from Étude Réaliste
A baby's eyes, ere speech begin,
Ere lips learn words or sighs,
Bless all things bright enough to win
A baby's eyes.
Their glance might cast out pain and sin,
Their speech make dumb the wise,
By mute glad godhead felt within
A baby's eyes.
--Algernon Charles Swinburne
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 2:17 PM
Hokie Pundit laments the fact that some branches of Christianity do not have open Communion and that some get unduly hung up on the use or non-use of alcohol for Communion. An ex-priest I know (as well as a very close loved one) also think the RCC's Communion policy distasteful. Hence this question interested me.
I think CS Lewis would beg to differ. He urged no one to stand in the hallway of Christianity, but to pick a room (i.e. denomination or branch) and live its tenets and particularities. To have an open Communion, it seems you'd have to have it in the hallway, metaphorically-speaking.
There are some things even the Pope has no power to change - such as the use of wine in Communion. What is special about wine? Or what is special about water, when used in Baptism? Besides that Jesus used both, there's a sense in which water, for example, is not merely a symbol of cleansing but was created firstly for Baptism and only secondarily for thirst-quenching and cleansing. In other words, instead of thinking that God appropriated water as a symbol since it had cleansing and thirst-quenching properties, consider that He imagined primarily for the sacrament and that secondary uses were applied so that its real use in Baptism might be better understood.
For those who think, "who cares? it's just a material substance", think about the universe. That an invisible God created a material universe leaves us wondering why, but the fact that he did makes it, by default, important. The fact that God-made-man decided to attach an importance to common everyday objects is determinative, because God alone determines whether something is important.
The thing not too many people like to bring up is that Catholics believe, or are supposed to believe, that Communion is something entirely different from what an evangelical would believe it to be. Thus I'm not sure how you can have an "open Communion" when the very thing itself is the object of dispute.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:40 PM
Jaded by Beauty
A professor friend of mine who used to teach college in Appalachia wrote to me recently: "When I moved to the Tennessee mountains, I was always stunned at how much kids raised there could not see the beauty that was all around them, and all of the amazing kid stuff there was to do in mountains and lakes and waterfalls and music and everything. A small place, but a wonderful place. But the students from there said they never, ever thought of that. They were comparing their lives with MTV, and advertising, and HBO, and the products of New York and Los Angeles."
--R. Dreher, NRO
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:26 PM
Ode to Libraries
"Those buildings were oases, elegant, cathedral-like spaces where you could sit for hours and hours. You could go to the bathroom and find a fresh roll of toilet paper in the dispenser, and you could go scavenging for the latest novel by Toni Morrison or Robert Stone, and it would actually be there, waiting for you to come and claim it. I loved libraries fiercely. They were gratifying, inviting, intellectual, clean: everything that the rest of the world all too often was not...
...a few years ago I became a member of the New York Society Library, where they actually know my name and whose elegant rooms make me feel as though I'm living out a scene in a Henry James novel."
----Meg Wolitzer, via bookslut
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:28 AM
First of all you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions and saying, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation."
--2 Peter 3:3-4
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 8:50 AM
News you can use
My friend has four children under the age of six, and seems to often be the recipient of vomit from sick kids. This happened to him over the weekend, but then he remembered his reading on serial killers. He is a movie buff who wanted to know how close to reality Hannibal Lector was and so he came across a serial killers website and found that some of them put Vicks Vaporub under their nose in order to deal with unpleasant odors. My friend remembered this, quickly grabbed the Vicks, and was spared from wretching himself (and was able to clean up the voluminous vomit w/out incident). Pick Vicks - the choice of serial killers everywhere.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:33 PM
January 13, 2003
A Two-Sided Equation
Where John baptized with plain water, Jesus added the Holy Spirit.
When He was given plain water, He made fine wine.
When He was given five loaves and two fish, He multiplied them.
When He is given bread and wine, he makes his Body and Blood.
Minute Particulae has a particularly bracing post reminding us that things are different with us, post-Pentecost. St. Paul makes this point over and over and the Church teaches it as well - that we are fundamentally different, living in the new Dispensation. Not only that many of the old rules don't apply - meaning some of the rites of the Old Law such as dietary disciplines and circumcision - but that we are given a gift that they did not have. This is easy for the pessimist to forget. Whether we feel it, or see it in history, is quite irrelevant. As MP says, "Our baptism has freed us from such things. Our task as a people of God baptized in the Holy Spirit is radically different from John the Baptist; we are to proclaim the Good News of the Risen Lord as his friends, and as sons and daughters of the Father."
My mother and I once had the discussion abou this - she said the world seems not to have changed, human nature is such as it always is (a different point!) and that the Post-Pentecost world is not much better than pre-Pentecost. I argued contra, and also sent this rather blunt query to EWTN's online guru for more. Here is his passionate reply, which I sent to mom:
Q: Why does the world post-Pentecost look just as bad as the world pre-Pentecost? The Bible said that the Holy Spirit would usher in a new age but it looks much the same.
Answer by Fr. John Echert: Do not Imagine for a moment that the world redeemed by Christ is no better than the world apart from Christ. We have inherited a world in which the Gospel spread rapidly from one end to the other, as is evident from the early writings which comprise the New Testament. In a matter of a couple decades the Good News of Jesus Christ and the knowledge of the one true God began at its center in Jerusalem and had reached the center of the Empire of the time at Rome. What would the world look like without Jesus Christ? Think for a moment the visible indications of the breaking in of God's Kingdom. Jesus cast out demons, restored sight to the blind, gave hearing to the deaf, raised the dead to life. The physical miracle were authentic and signs of a deeper reality: Jesus had power over sin and death. Imagine the difference had Jesus Christ not risen from the dead. You would have no hope for eternal life and would see only darkness in the world. By now the darkness may have overtaken any natural hope for life and destroyed any natural goodness. Given modern methods of warfare, the world might by now have destroyed itself or be barely habitable. Yes, Thomas doubted and Saul persecuted the Church. But they were won over by the grace of God experienced in a visible manifestation of the Risen Christ. For the rest of us, we depend upon faith and the witness of those who personally experienced the Lord in the Gospel period and the Apostolic Church.
What a blessing for us, undeserved by accepted in faith. Finally, let me give you an example of a difference between pre-Pentecost and post-Pentecost times: 14:66 And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the maids of the high priest came; 14:67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him, and said, "You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus." 14:68 But he denied it, saying, "I neither know nor understand what you mean." And he went out into the gateway. 14:69 And the maid saw him, and began again to say to the bystanders, "This man is one of them." 14:70 But again he denied it. And after a little while again the bystanders said to Peter, "Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean." 14:71 But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, "I do not know this man of whom you speak." 14:72 And immediately the cock crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, "Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times." And he broke down and wept. 5:26 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but without violence, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people. 5:27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 5:28 saying, "We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us." 5:29 But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men. 5:30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 5:31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 5:32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him." Believe me, you cannot imagine the darkness and hopelessness that would by now envelope the world, had not the Son of God taken upon Himself our humanity and redeemed us from sin and death. Yes, human freedom remains and so does sin, since each person has the ability to choose sin. But grace has made an incredible difference; a grace which does not compel but works to wear down our resistance and find a place in our hearts and minds.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 12:31 PM
I know I like to know what people are reading so I will share the earth-shaking news that verweile doch was very, very good to me last night. Enjoyed large, languid quantities of Walker Percy's "The Last Gentleman", read the latest issue of Crisis, which included an edifying article on Evelyn Waugh (which led me to pick up the old $2 Brideshead Revisited copy I had found at a library sale last year and plow into it). Also read Bud MacFarlane's "Conceived Without Sin", which I had bought at the Cathedral Shrine shop in Washington ostensibily for my sister, wondering if it were a bit too apologetic in nature. She enjoys mass market fiction and sometimes wavers in her commitment to the Church, so it seemed a kinda/sorta good fit but I don't want to come off as some sort of huckster since that can have an equal and opposite reaction...
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:10 AM
Memories of a Breakfast Drink
Tang, sprang plain-sung against the tongue
orange pistoles blasting orange twang.
accustom our arses to the
furniture of our minds;
live there awhile
eschew the outdoors
till numbness ensues;
till the summer sun seems sudden-garish;
like a drunk at the symphony.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:58 AM
Interesting item from dead tree National Review
[L.Brent] Bozell faulted the West for having accepted too thoroughly Aristotle's declaration that the intellect is what truly distinguishes man from other creatures: 'The most exquisitely equipped 'rational animal' could not, in virtue of that equipment, believe, or hope, or love supernaturally. Reason does none of this things, nor can it explain them.'
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:45 AM
January 11, 2003
Got this from Davey's mommy, who got it from others...
"Nothing gives one a more spuriously good conscience than keeping rules, even if there has been a total absence of all real charity and faith."
And from Thomas Merton, via Dylan:
The pleasure of a good act is something to be remembered -- not in order to feed our complacency but in order to remind us that virtuous actions are not only possible and valuable, but that they can become easier and more delightful and more fruitful than the acts of vice which oppose and frustrate them.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:32 AM
Cow's Heads in Formaldehyde ...Peggy Noonan's Latest
I have a theory that liberals and leftists prefer their leaders complicated, and conservatives prefer their leaders uncomplicated. I think the left expects a good leader to have an exotic or intricate personality or character. (A whole generation of liberal journalists grew up reading Jack Newfield and Pete Hamill on Bobby Kennedy's sense of tragedy, Murray Kempton on the bizarreness that was LBJ, and a host of books with names like "Nixon Agonistes" and "RFK at Forty," and went into journalism waiting for the complicated politicians of their era to emerge. They are, that is, pro-complication because their ambition to do great work like the great journalists of the 1960s seems to demand the presence of complicated political figures.)
Liberals like their leaders interesting. I always think this may be because some of them have not been able to fully engage the idea of a God, and tend to fill that hole in themselves with politics and its concerns. If the world of government and politics becomes your god, and yields a supergod called a president, you want that god to be interesting.
Conservatives, on the other hand, don't look for god in government, for part of being a conservative is holding the conviction that there is no god in government. They like complicated personalities in their TV shows and from actors and opera singers, but they want steadiness and a vision they can agree with from their presidents. Actually I think conservatives want their presidents the way they want their art: somewhere in the normal range. They don't like cow's heads suspended in formaldehyde and don't understand that as high art; by 1998 they thought Bill Clinton was the political version of a cow's head in formaldehyde, and they didn't like that either.
And so my liberal friends say: Why do people like Mr. Bush? And they want an interesting answer. But I do think part of the answer is: Because he's not complicated and perhaps not even especially interesting as a person. We just love that.
-- Peggy Noonan
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 4:46 PM
January 10, 2003
Mining for Gold in a Sea of Chaff *
Bruce Springsteen is out-of-date. His song, "Fifty-seven Channels But Nothin's On" should be "Two-hundred Channels But Nothin's On". But amid this tsunami of dross, this tornado of torpitude, I've found one show I like to watch - CBS's "The Guardian". And this season they have really cool theme song, Empire In My Mind by the Wallflowers.
One internet reviewer opined:
...But the song is another good one, with Jakob [the song writer] taking a long, hard look at himself, and finding good and bad, but sounding surprised by exactly how much bad there really is.
I cannot deny/There's a darkness that's inside/I am guilty by design/And now I realize that temptation's made me blind/To the empire in my mind.
I'm assuming that this empire represents all that he aspires to be, all that he's convinced himself he's already close to being. But upon closer inspection, he realizes where he thought there was order, there is chaos, and even crime, and his biggest fear is this: I'm afraid someday I'll find/There's no empire in my mind. No good at all inside him. And while this may not be autobiographical, it's certainly a theme we can all relate, including Jakob, obviously.
* - entrant for 2003 "Mixed Metaphor" in a Catlicker Blog Award (MMCBA)
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 2:25 PM
Kairos and Disputations have had good posts on the all-important but infrequently asked question: 'Is it true?'. It is understandable how few ask that question, because the answer simply may not, in their view, be "survivable". In other words, to take an example off the shelf, the gay person cannot really ask, 'is it true that God does not approve of homosexual acts?' because that would require a scenerio of life (i.e. one without sex) that is simply unsurvivable. (The obligatory disclaimer is of course that this "unsurvivability" is a perception, not reality). Christians are accused by atheists of this (see Gov. Ventura's "weakminded" comments). Many Protestants want the assurance of "once saved, always saved", because not having that is unsurvivable (Luther, for example, is said to have had a problem with scrupulosity). Thus we have to try to force God into our pre-conceived notions, mostly because the stakes are so high. I remember in my licentitious days thinking, "I can't believe God would send me to hell for this. I simply refuse to believe it, because then everyone I know is going to hell...". Now I think more along the lines of, "hey I better improve, before I 'get improved'" - i.e. if I don't develop the virtue of patience, it will perhaps be given to me by virtue of something catastrophic.
We see even scientific "truth" bent for our purposes. E. Michael Jones in "Degenerate Moderns" provided an eye-opening look at the hidden motivations of many of the leading figures of modernity. Most of those profiled were/are revered for their seeming objectivity, but Mr. Jones shows the faulty moral framework that caused them to have huge ulterior motives in bending truth to their own particular problem.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:39 PM
To share another's affliction is the pluperfect way to care about them. In other words, if I have a heart condition, I cannot help but be extremely sympathetic to those who have a heart condition. There is little merit in that, it being a purely human phenomenon, but it seems we should take advantage of whatever natural advantages we have. This is a preface to saying how moved I was by this post from the Kairos guy. Thank God for Confession, where hope is renewed. I was reading the second chapter of Acts the other day and it was marvelously consoling. Reading about Christ's power is something that gives one hope, in a world where oft times God whispers. To know that you are not alone is helpful, close to the point that 'to be understood is to be cured'.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:28 PM
I recall that one of the blogs suggested the practice of designating their daily rosary for someone. I've found it useful that if I was angry at someone that day, they automatically become the designatee for that day. This has the salutary effect of providing even more incentive not to become angry.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:20 PM
Interesting Tidbit from the Cath Convert Billboard
Q: Surely, as Catholics, we have access to much more grace than the average Israelite had under the Old Covenant, so why aren't we much better morally?
A: One guess would be that we live in an age that is much more conducive to sin. Think about it, it's just as easy to type "www.redhotporn.com" as to type "www.catholic-convert.com." The internet gives easy access to all kinds of sin. Indeed, seemingly everything about our popular culture encourages materialism and sin. The very idea of sin is down-played and laughed at. Those who try to practice self-denial are looked on as bizarre and fanatical.
Our modern technology might also play a part. The more climate-controlled and comfortable our lives become, the less we feel the need for God. I believe one of the saints said that weather was the best penance because it comes to us directly from the hand of God. But we live in an age where it's possible never to see the weather if we so choose. We are insulated and isolated from life itself to a much greater degree than an Israelite in a tent who lives or dies depending upon when God sends rain.
I would also guess - though I don't know - that where grace abounds, demonic attack and temptation abounds as well. When God steps up His activity, I suspect that Satan steps up his, too.
Finally, I don't think our free will is much different than that of the ancient Israelites. Indeed, the human condition never really changes, which is why the Bible is as relevant to us today as it was when it was written.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 2:31 PM
January 9, 2003
Truth & Hubris
I was struck by this comment on Amy's blog concerning Anne Lamott:
A sinner on a radiant trajectory toward Jesus is in better shape than a "solid on all the disputed questions" type who's come to a dead stop. Watch this girl.
I'm fascinated by the connection between knowledge of the truth and hubris. There is a tendency to feel smug or proud of the truth one believes, be it the Catholic who feels he/she is better because they have "the truth" or the Protestant who believes likewise, or Christians over Muslims and vice-versa. Perhaps the reason the truth at times seems muddled is intentional on God's part - to prevent us from becoming insufferable.
Matt 13: "He replied, 'The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: 'Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: "`You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.' But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear."
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 2:17 PM
The Sad Death of Jack Kerouac
In 1969, the last year of his life, Jack and Gabrielle, and Jack's third wife, Stella, lived in St. Petersburg, Florida. It was a retirement town, and Jack seemed retired, spending most of his time indoors, drinking Johnny Walker Red and reading National Review, the Bible, Pascal, and Voltaire. He was watching television the morning of October 20, eating tuna fish out of the can, sipping whiskey, and scribbling a note. There was a pain in his stomach. He made it to the bathroom in time to vomit a waterfall of blood. His liver, long cirrhotic, had finally hemorrhaged. The blood filled Jack's chest and welled up into his throat.
He was rushed to St. Anthony's hospital. He remained unconscious while doctors operated on him and pumped thirty pints of blood into his body. He died an alcoholic's death, drowning in his own blood, at 5:30 a.m. the next morning.
--E. Micheal Smith
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 2:12 PM
Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him. - Acts 2 38:39
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:30 AM
Then Lamott is back to what she does best: proclaiming the grace of God. "But there wasn't a single thing that I'd do that Jesus would say, 'Forget it, you're out, I've had it with you, try Buddha!' - Christianity Today article
Now, even if you have problems with Lamott for whatever reason you might, you really have to admit that this last statement is one to sort of stop you in your tracks and force you to re-evaluate your sense of what faith is all about and how tempting it is for religiously-minded folk to decree that other sinners (whose sins are, somehow, worse than the religious folks' sins) must be, have to be, cut off from God's grace. - Amy Welborn
I recall reading Flannery O'Connor's The Violent Bear it Away and, truth be told, not enjoying the ride too much. But the ending! Wow...what a powerful ending...
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:15 AM
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to My breast.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:09 AM
Cardinal Newman thoughts...
Another must-read post at Disputations here. Makes sense to look at history first in attempting to determine if something is true. Certainly, in the examples he gives, papal documents are not going to be convincing to outsiders...I googled for these interesting Cardinal Newman comments:
'The more one examines the Councils, the less satisfactory they are.....[but] the less satisfactory they, the more majestic and trust-winning, and the more imperatively necessary, is the action of the Holy See.'.......
Newman also wrote to the Guardian sharply denying the allegation of J.M. Capes that he did not really believe in papal infallibility, and citing a number of passages in his writings, beginning with the Essay on Development, for more or less explicit avowals of the doctrine...... "As regards the relation between history and theology, Newman is unequivocal in his criticism of Dollinger and his followers......'I think them utterly wrong in what they have done and are doing; and, moreover, I agree as little in their view of history as in their acts.' It is not a matter of questioning the accuracy of their historical knowledge, but 'their use of the facts they report' and 'that special stand-point from which they view the relations existing between the records of History and the communications of Popes and Councils.' Newman sums up the essence of the problem: 'They seem to me to expect from History more than History can furnish.' The opposite was true of the Ultramontanes, who simply found history an embarrassing inconvenience....
But he wondered why 'private judgment' should 'be unlawful in interpreting Scripture against the voice of authority, and yet be lawful in the interpretation of history?'....No Catholic doctrine could be fully proved (or, for that matter, disproved) by historical evidence - 'in all cases there is a margin left for the exercise of faith in the word of the Church.' Indeed, anyone 'who believes the dogmas of the Church only because he has reasoned them out of History, is scarcely a Catholic.'
--from Ian Ker's John Henry Newman: A Biography via Dave Armstrong's site.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 12:11 PM
January 8, 2003
At last...I understand why Bill Buckner missed that ground ball. Kudos to Dylan.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:12 AM
"You know what I love about the Irish? The way they don't seem to be after your money. Everyone else in the world is."
--P. McCarthy, McCarthy's Bar
Sadly, the Irish are merely behind the times. But one can hope they will not be assimilated too.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:12 AM
The appeal of young women was exceedingly strong; an elderly John Adams wrote that he was of an 'amorous disposition from as early as ten or 11' but kept himself in rein. 'No virgin or matron ever had cause to blush at the sight of me...My children may be assured that no illegitimate brother or sister exists or ever existed'.
--D. McCullough's John Adams
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:10 AM
The local pawn shop was having a President’s Day sale. All items 50% off, stolen items 75% off. I went because I had been recently retired, right-sized or otherwise been acted upon instead of acting on. My services would not be required. I lugged a sousaphone carefully through a door decorated with bars.
I’d had the tuba since high school but hadn’t played it since. My lips were out of shape and my lung power suspect, the result of a pack-a-day habit that had begun in my 20s until by 40 I was shivering outside my workplace, experiencing the odd sensation of feeling both good and bad simultaneously. Like when you cut yourself shaving in a nice, hot shower.
The tuba had been in cold storage for over 30 years, but with its sale imminent, nostalgia overcame me and I began making loud, flatulent notes. Soon I was playing the melody line of every John Phillip Sousa song I could recall. The next day I was at it again attempting Vivaldi's "Four Seasons”. It sounded like a German grocer on speed.
LaTonya Baumgartner was the proprietor. I’d expected someone seedier, like Adrian’s brother Pauli in Rocky. She grimaced when she saw the tuba.
“How much for this?” I said.
“You know, this shop is kinda small. That would take up a lot of room. Do you want to find something in trade, something equally big?”
I looked around numbly. The sad collection of misfit toys looked morosely back at me, like one large Evil Eye. Guns and jewelry filled the shop, much of it traded for drug or booze money. Trading the permanent for the temporary.
“Well, I could use some cash…”
“How about that foosball table?”
She eventually agreed to take the tuba for $20.
I spent the sundown on Mallory Square where the best entertainment was the sunset but where the people-watching was good too. There was the tight-rope walking dog named Mo, and his shaggier owner. Later at a karokee bar called “Two Friends” I discovered the etymology of the word "Karokee": it's the Japanese word meaning “those who lack the embarassment gene”.
There was the ice princess in the short skirt singing irenic, ironic songs like “Black Velvet” and “Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz”. She accepted applause as her birthright. There was Bunny, the scared little girl who gripped the microphone like a lifeline and your heart went out to her as she stood rigid as a statuette. There was the tall and angular-faced Ric Ricardo, still possessing boy-next-door-looks despite grazing the north pastures of the 40s. He sang standards so old they’re coming back in style, and he also sang “Song, Sung Blue” straight-up, irony-free.
The emcee for the evening was friendly and wore his poker face even during the worse song fractures, which apparently must be part of the job description.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:09 AM
Various & sundry
It seems to me that as notions of God become more specific and more loving, they become harder to believe but more consoling. It would seem to be an act of faith to believe that all this is an accident. To believe that a billion-billion stars exist and that we naturally perceive the beauty in those stars and the trees and seas purely by evolutionary means is hard to believe. To believe that the level of complexity in the earth started with an ameoba takes, well, an act of faith. Thus it is a miracle that God created the world, but it would also be a miracle if it happened by accident - either way is a leap. But to believe in a loving God is different from believing in a creating God, and it seems to me that believing in the Jewish notion of God is easier than believing in divinity of Jesus because it is harder to believe that God would take human form. An omnipotent God is more in line with our expectations. God went from being nameless ("I am who am") to taking human form to taking the form of bread, each requiring a greater seeming humility of God and each requiring greater faith on our part but offering the consolation of greater closeness.
We have things backwards - we want mysticism so as to love God more fully, whereas mysticism grows out of a love for God and the willingness to suffer. I wish I spent as much time exploring Christ's wounds as I do my own ("suffering and sorrow are proportional to love" wrote St. Catherine of Siena).
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 4:38 PM
January 7, 2003
George Herbert (1593-1633)
All may of Thee partake:
Nothing can be so mean,
Which with his tincture--"for Thy sake"--
Will not grow bright and clean.
A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine:
Who sweeps a room as for Thy laws,
Makes that and th' action fine.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 4:20 PM
Chuckled at this clever comment from Edward Trumbo on Mark Shea's blog concerning the "blame the Vatican first" mindset:
We must have married lesbian priestesses liturgically dancing down the aisle with their cloned babies on the feast day of St. Margaret Sanger, or the terrorists will have already won.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 2:48 PM
Pope Praised in Pravda
Who knew that Pravda is still extant? And is on the web in English? It includes this snippet:
Here is Pravda's interesting take on the Pope:
The spiritual leader of all Catholics, Pope John Paul II, is, of course, an extraordinary person. With the Pope, the Catholic church recovered its authority and power. Many articles and books have been written about the pope, and now even a film is being shot about the pontiff's childhood and youth. The pope is an anti-communist, and they say the socialist camp would not have been ruined without his assistance.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 2:32 PM
Disputations has had some excellent posts lately. He aims at quality, not quantity, whereas I employ the "broadcast" method. He speaks humorously of the viral theory of heresy, which I have been prone to (his dig at those avoiding Merton because of something he wrote in his journal in '67 especially hit home).
My (very) limited theological reading suggests to me that much of it is speculation, an issue perhaps peculiar to my cast of mind. For example, here is a quote from Hans Van Baltahasar:
"Consider the abysmal problem of the relation between God's Kingdom and earthly power (into the ultimate depths of which probably only Reinhold Schneider has the courage to descend today): whether, for example, a call to arms by the Church, a blessing of weapons, or taking up the sword of this world is an expression of the courage of the Christian faith or, on the contrary, the symptom of an unchristian and faithless anxiety; whether something that can be defended and justified in a hundred ways with penultimate reasons drawn from faith (quite apart from the lessons of Church history - but then what does Church history teach?) will collapse miserably before the throne of judgment of the ultimate reason - because what of course appeared to be God's weapon in the hands of God's warrior against God's enemies is now suddenly exposed as Peter's desperate sword-waving against the high priest's servant, whose side Jesus takes in order to expose such brandishing of weapons for what it was: anxious betrayal."
This was great, I loved reading it, thinking about it, but in the end it fell flat, too speculative. The short answer is that he doesn't know what the connection between God's Kingdom and earthly power should be. And that's fine and I appreciate the honesty, but so much of theological writing is like this - pure speculation on this side of life. Similarly, how many are saved - wither many or few - has been debated ad nauseum with no clearer picture. Theologians have been all over the map, and rightly so since it is only for God to know. These "criticisms" if you can even call it that, may be the by-product of my math-oriented mind, concerned with being able to look in the back of the book for the answer - i.e. that a = (b + c)/ d. But clarity is overrated. Neither Zechariah nor Mary were given much clarity by the angel Gabriel, but one chose the better path.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:06 AM
Speaking of movies...
Here are some aging emails I exchanged with a Christian movie reviewer concerning Speilberg's "A.I." - written when it first came out:
....I thought the movie not very friendly to Christianity. Surely it wasn't a coincidence that little Haley prayed 2,000 yrs (Christ's death to now) before getting a mechanistic, unsatisfying answer to his prayer in the form of his Mom-for-a-day. How reflective of our times to have his prayers answered by science and not by God! It seemed a mocking of religion to me, not something unusual for Hollywood but unusual from Spielberg.
excerpt of his reply:
"not something unusual for Hollywood but unusual from Spielberg."
Indeed. Still, all of those final events were in Kubrick's story treatment. Spielberg just changed them from being "chilling" to a rather forced sentimental warmth, which just didn't make any sense. So I wouldn't say Spielberg is suggesting science will be our savior...I think the only thing he cared about was giving the boy a merciful sendoff. And Kubrick, well, he would never say science will be our savior, unless he's suggesting it as a nightmare that we had better try and avoid... That's my current notion, anyway (it keeps changing with this movie.)
"And Kubrick, well, he would never say science will be our savior..."
Very true, but Haley's quest was that someone make him "real" - something other than mechanical parts. Today it is fashionable to believe that we are nothing more than moving parts, that there is no soul or free will (my stepson believes this). So I understood the movie as setting up the proposition that only God can make us real and that the ending was the moviemaker's statement that just as there was no Blue Ferry to make Haley real, there is no God that gives us a soul.
It's amazing to me to think that so many people can live day to day believing they have no freewill. Why would God bother to create us if we could not have relationship? If we could not surprise him? I've been reading First Samuel... and was fascinated to see that God "regretted" making Saul king. That implies disappointment, which implies surprise. (And there are so many other evidences in the Scripture.) But I guess you need to believe the Bible in the first place to find any convincing arguments about life there.
I was a little disappointed in his last reply, given that whether God is capable of being surprised is something debateable, given that his foreknowledge is perfect....
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:43 AM
We are all John Nash
Under the favorite movie category of a blog questionnaire I briefly considered A Beautiful Mind. The movie portrays the John Nash's recovery from paranoid schizophrenia, partially through pure force of will - the discipline of daily disregarding paranoidal thoughts. This could be seen as a metaphor for all of us. Certainly sin is a sickness, a form of insanity (Frank Sheed emphasizes this with the title of his book: Theology and Sanity). We see things in a false light, through colored glasses (see Matt 16:23). Thus we need to constantly discipline our thoughts with respect to what is real.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:38 AM
Old Journal Entries never die.....they just get posted:
Gruff, older middle-aged man, not completely assimilated, walks over to friend's cube (aka known by my stepson as a 'veal fattening pen'). He is of that exquisitely rare type, that hot-house flower, the never-been married 50ish man. He maintains a sort of razor-sharpness (perhaps due to having never had a poor night's sleep). He is rough edges all extant, eccentricities allowed to flourish, his world untrammelled by the paths oft taken, he lives eagle-eyed for trespass and finds in my friend the troubled youth he never had:
"What are you doing sending notes like that? I don't know anything about the LAD database project!".
My friend had sent a note out to the whole dep't, on orders from his boss & boss's boss, with a helpful EOM ('end of message') at the end. The note applied to the older man, whether he cared or not, albeit no action was required. He reminded me faintly of a drunken neighbor we once had when I was a kid, a man whose world view was such that anything out of the ordinary was eyed suspiciously: "What you readin' a book fer, son?" My buddy (aka "Bone") had sent out a note that smelled suspicious.
That this guy would take the time to walk over instead of call or write over a matter of such triviality left me awed. I put off going to the bathroom when I need to, just to avoid the inconvenience of rising, and here this guy rushes to my friend's desk like it's a 4-alarm fire. All over a no-line note.
My buddy, blindsided & unaware of his trespass on the other's Lotus kingdom, suppresses the instinct to lash or laugh.
"Just delete it....You know..."
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:14 PM
January 6, 2003
"Motion pictures can standardize the ideas and habits of a nation. Because they are made to meet market demands, they reflect popular tendencies, rather than stimulate new ideas and opinions. Film is a medium rife with ambivalence: to purvey is not to analyze. That means film is ripe for horror, because horror is the expression of ambivalence: we do not know the cause of what is going wrong, for we are the cause of what is going wrong. .....
Horror thrives only when the distinction between good and evil has been lost - indeed, the presence of horror is the sign that the distinction has been repressed and forgotten...."
--E. Michael Jones
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 12:58 PM
Via Amy's Blog
"What I think of as Christian novels are those that point out man's need for redemption. Crime and Punishment, Robinson Crusoe, Les Miserables, that wonderful one by Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory, all those books declare that man is incapable of saving himself, of delivering his own redemption. Yet we don't call those Christian novels, we call them classics."
--Leif Enger, author of Peace Like a River
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 12:48 PM
Oblique House led me to this bon mot from Catholic Light: Most blogs are self-indulgent, masturbatory junk, emanations from people who couldn't get published anywhere else.
And the point is? Most people are self-indulgent masturbators (uh, metaphorically-speaking of course) in their daily life; why should it be any more egregious written down rather than spoken or otherwise expressed? Especially given that reading a blog is optional, while in real life putting up with insufferable people (including ourselves) is often not.
The policy of this blog is, in the fine Jesuitical tradition, to come as close to the line of self-indulgent masturbation as possible without crossing over. Only you can judge if I am successful.
Walker Percy once said that Americans are newspaper readers and fornicators, and for many bloggers (not the Catlickers of course), the blog is the form of entertainment that combines their two loves - porn and news.
For me, one interesting part of the blogsperience is watching the "politics of linking", as well as dealing with the rejection of not being linked on blogs where your buddies are linked. That rejection is beneficial of course - no pain, no gain. As St. John of the Cross put it (I'm paraphrasing): "those who seek the praise of others are like the 5 foolish virgins who have no oil for their lamps and go in search of it".
Another fascinating part is watching the spiritual growth of others. The young are particularly fluid - Lord knows my stepson lurches from atheism to theism on a quarterly basis (prayers always thankfully received!). There's a 21-yr religion major whose blog I watch for similar reasons...
The Politics of Linking ....to tune of the "Politics of Dancing"
This is not as clear as one would imagine. There are many possible policies or combinations of policies:
1) Link to only those you read
2) Link to those who you wish you would read (i.e. I wish I would read "Daily Meds" more, but link to it as reparation for that)
3) Link to those who link you
4) Link to everyone (a daunting task in the Catlicker blog world)
5) Link to no one, giving only the "Praise & Glory" link
6) Link to the "big name bloggers" (i.e. Amy & Mark, et al)
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:44 AM
Mark Shea makes the good point by asking:
Am I the only one who thinks it's rather suicidal...
for Christians in a rapidly de-Christianizing and increasing anti-Christian culture to urge Caesar to kill as many citizen as he can? It's not my main reason for thinking the Pope is basically right to want to limit (not "abolish") capital punishment. But I think it deserves consideration.
Our learned Dominican associate pastor thinks it's conceivable that we again be outright persecuted for our faith...in this country...in our lifetime. I don't need that reason to oppose the death penalty since, well, I'm slavishly devoted to our Pope and I'm ok with whatever he says. If he told us to say a Rosary three times every day while hopping on one leg, I'd start exercising and grab a 15-decader.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:13 PM
January 5, 2003
Cardinal Ratzinger tackles a tough one
In his new book with Peter Seewald, the Cardinal is asked:
Q: The question is whether faith really makes us so much better, more merciful, more caring toward our neighbor...Let's take those people whom God has called to faith...Why is it that among monks and nuns we see so much bearing of grudges, so much envy and jealousy and such a lack of willingness to help?
A: This is indeed a most pressing question. There we can see once again that faith is not just there, but that it either withers or grows, that it either rises or falls on the graph. It is not just a ready-made guarantee, something one can regard as accumulated capital that can only grow. Faith is always given only in the context of a fragile freedom. We may wish it were otherwise. But just therein lies God's great gamble, which we find so hard to understand, that he has not given us stronger medicine.
Even if we are bound to notice inadequate patterns of behavior (behind which, of course, there is always a weakening of faith) within the world of those who believe, we cannot ignore the positive side of the account.
(He goes on to describe the many faith-filled people whose actions more closely follow their Christianity.)
--Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, God and the World
Makes sense to me. It's been said that God is a "just in time" God; he gives us our daily Bread, rather than a longer-term supply. A daily recommitment is necessary. I'd never heard faith compared to a graph but it comports to reality and would also help explain the "Situation" concerning wayward priests.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:52 PM
Buckeyes as Metaphor
With Ohio State, all is prologue till the final play. There is no assurance; one must persevere to the end. Watching them reminds me of a line from Rosanne Cash's "Seven Year Ache" - see how much your old heart can take.
There is the agonizing fact that a resurrection requires a death, and during the national championship game the Buckeyes would lose before they would win. Rigor mortis began after a failed 4th down play in overtime; there they lay, slumped on the field full of recriminations that they had taken it too far this time, that lady luck was on sabbatical. For an ebbing few heartbeats it was finito, until a yellow flag appeared, appropos of nothing, like a folded burial cloth in an empty tomb, and the jubilant, devilish Miami mascot was shooed off the field. Interference had been called against Miami, and the Buckeye body sprang to life, like the besotted whiskey drinker in the Irish drinking chune "Finnegan's Wake" (as they say on Thistle and Shamrock):
Tim Finnegan lived in Walkin Street
A gentleman Irish, mighty odd
He had a tongue both rich and sweet
And to rise in the world he carried a hod
Now Tim had a sort of a tippling way
With a love of the liquor poor Tim was born
And to help him on his way each day
He'd a drop of the cratur every morn
Whack fol de do now dance to your partner
Round the floor your trotters shake
Wasn't it the truth I told you
Lots of fun at Finnegan's wake
One morning Tim was rather full
His head felt heavy which made him shake
He fell from the ladder and broke his skull
So they carried him home, his corpse to wake
They wrapped him up in a nice clean sheet
And laid him out upon the bed
With a gallon of whiskey at his feet
And a barrel of porter at his head
His friends assembled at the wake
And Mrs. Finnegan called for lunch
First, the brought in tea and cakes
Then pipes with tabacco and whiskey punch
Miss Biddy O'Brien began to cry
'Such a neat clean corpse did you ever see
Yerrah Tim, avourneen, why did you die?'
'Ah hold your toungue,' says Paddy Magee
Then Biddy O'Connor took up the moan
'Biddy,' says she, 'you're wrong I'm sure,'
But Biddy gave her a belt in the gob
And left her sprawling on the floor.
Oh then a mighty war did rage
'Twas woman to woman and man to man
Shillelagh law did all engage
And a row and ruction soon began.
Then Mickey Maloney ducked his head
When a naggin of whiskey flew at him
It missed him, falling on the bed
The liquor splattered over Tim
Bedad, he revives and see how he rises
And Timothy rising from the bed
Says 'Fling your whiskey round like blazes
Thunderin' Jaysus, do you think I'm dead ?'
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 2:27 PM
Ode to the Weekend
A weekend besotted is grounds for a waylaid week, the weekend perches with careful synchronicities; one cannot not much fool with its perfect measure. Time, tradition and study has given a blueprint: the Friday night drink, music and healing writing. Friday night is the purgation of the week’s (perceived) trials and tribulations, though both be laughable. Saturday dawns with the promise of hope; the dragons slayed, the cart emptied, here is a time for celebration, renewal, nature, a lingering coffee at the breakfast table. Often there is a movie, preferably a Western, most preferably a Western filmed recently with all its glorious cinematology, the stark landscape of the West such that I can feel the plains beneath my feet. Always a hike in the forest, to incarnate the landscape just seen. Sunday a.m. be the defining moment, the foundational stone. The divine liturgy at our Byzantine parish, followed by the half a Mass at a Latin rite parish so that I can hear the readings and sermon. Later Sunday there is the "long Sunday read", aka verweile doch.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 8:19 AM
Nice meditation from Daily Meds on today's remarkable gospel. She points out that John the Baptist, monk (maybe an Essene?), holy one filled with the Holy Spirit while still in the womb, did not recognize Christ until gifted with that knowledge. What a nice reverse "tower of Babel".
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 4:57 PM
January 3, 2003
An apologia of Belloc.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:26 AM
Sang Solomon to Sheba,
And kissed her Arab eyes,
'There's not a man or woman
Born under the skies
Dare match in learning with us two,
And all day long we have found
There's not a thing but love can make
The world a narrow pound.'
Hope that you may understand!
What can books of men that wive
In a dragon-guarded land,
Paintings of the dolphin-drawn
Sea-nymphs in their pearly wagons
Do, but awake a hope to live
That had gone
With the dragons?
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:14 AM
Jesus, the Eucharist and Our Prayers
Prayer sometimes can become so internally directed and so self-affirming that we can legitimately ask if it really is directed toward someone else or if it might not really be talking to ourselves. How do we understand and practice an awareness of Jesus as a real "other person"? How do we come to an inter-personal relationship with him? He knew this would be a problem for us and so offered to remain among us in some sort of real personal presence. There is a material dimension to his presence; it is not only spiritual. He is with us at Mass and Eucharistic Devotion and there relates to our own physical qualities as well as our spiritual qualities. He is with us as the "other" so that our relationship with him can have a deper dimension of reality.
--our pastor, Msgr. Frank Lane
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 7:35 PM
January 2, 2003
Toast to the NY Times:
A drink or two a day provides the equivalent of a potent cholesterol medicine and a weak blood thinner, as well as a variety of other substances that may keep the body's metabolism tuned and its cells in good repair. Alcohol raises the blood levels of H.D.L., the "good" cholesterol, thought to scour blood vessels free of the fatty plaques that can cause heart attacks, strokes and other problems. Moderate drinking can raise the levels more than 10 percent. By comparison, running a few miles a week increases H.D.L. a fraction of that, while the B vitamin niacin, probably the most effective medication for raising H.D.L. levels, has to be taken at high doses that entail many side effects for similar results. --NY Times
Zee problem is dat 1 or 2 drinks, unless they be 40-ouncers, are not too appealing (like having one potato chip). Four would be a more appropriate number. But if one is drinking with a meal, it is quite easy and natural to have 1 or 2 drinks...whereas at 9pm I would be tempted to over-indulge, at 6pm, with food, it is easy to be temperate. Of course they need to prorate these drinks based on weight. For a healthy 210-lb'r like myself it would seem that 1.5 drinks is an anathemna.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:23 PM
January 1, 2003
St. John of the Cross
Given its subject matter, it feels a bit disconcerting to derive such pleasure and succor from a book entitled Dark Night of the Soul. Yet John of the Cross seems to understand human nature and the pitfalls of spiritual progress to a "T". One senses there are more spiritual pitfalls after conversion than before! (Is that why many folks like the unsaved more than the saved?).
Obligatory disclaimer: I have not read very far. This is based only on the very beginning, where he diagnoses sins of the self-righteous, the spiritually gluttonous, etc..
Many can never have enough of listening to counsels and learning spiritual precepts, and of possessing and reading many books which treat this matter, and they spend their time on all these things rather than on works of mortification. Guilty as charged.
Ever Elusive Moderation
"There are others who are vexed with themselves when they observe their own imperfectness, and display an impatience that is not humility; so impatient are they about this that they would fain be saints in a day...Some souls, on the other hand, are so patient as regards the progress which they desire that God would gladly see them less so."
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 12:29 AM
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Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor
I see the right way, approve it and do the opposite - Ovid
Blogging like it's 1399
02/01/2003 - 02/28/2003
03/01/2003 - 03/31/2003
current enchilada, whole
Other Blog O'Rhythms
the Mother Blog, from whose womb many blogs have sprung...
the inimitable Peter Kreeft
Theology of the Body
Arts & Lit
OED Word o' the Day
More Fine Young Blogs
All But Dissertations
Atheist to a Theist
Fotos Del Apolocalipsis
From the Anchor Hold
Gregg the Obscure
Praise & Glory List of Catlicker Blogs
Summa Minutiae (B. White)
Tenebrae et Lux
View from the Core
Faith & Reason I (Particulae)
Faith & Reason II (Particulae)
06/01/02 - 06/30/02
05/01/02 - 05/31/02
04/01/02 - 04/30/02
03/01/02 - 03/31/02 ***
an Andy Rooney Moment
I see the self-esteem movement has reached college football bowls. Give me a break - 28 bowls? It is easy to be a curmugeon on this topic but I remember a day when you didn't have bowls leaking out of New Year's Day. Now the two bowls I really want to watch are on Jan. 2nd and Jan. 3rd, workdays both. And remember when bowls were euphoniously named "Peach", "Cotton" and "Rose"? Now they have the discordantly-named "Motor City Bowl" and bowls named after potato chip brands.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 3:28 PM
December 31, 2002
Found this snippet on a hero of mine and yon Dylan's here. Mr. Will just strikes me as a plu-perfect Anglophillic Anglican!
Will is an Episcopalian who has written extensively in support of the Church and in opposition to decisions by the government and the courts to dilute the Christian influence in the public arena. He also has taken on religious institutions, including his own.
In a 1979 column, Will lamented his denomination’s revision of its 16th-century Book of Common Prayer, and prophetically suggested: “Perhaps Christianity’s many revisers are, as a matter of fact, bringing Christianity into conformity with the spirit of the age. But I thought it was supposed to work the other way.”
Will, whose theology is orthodox, is an avid reader and quoter of C.S. Lewis, also an Anglican.
* -shamelessly stolen, though attributed at least, from sir Dylan!
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 2:05 PM
"With vacations," he continued, "there are two strands of desire. On the one hand, there is the desire for relaxation, which is almost a Zen type of emptying your mind, a freedom from anxiety and stress, etc. And then there's the idea of stimulation. Most of the time, people run those two things together, and they're completely incompatible." For him everything seems better in anticipation and in memory.
At one point, the author suggests that the hunger for travel might be better served by staying home and reading about foreign places or by looking at paintings or photographs. In passing, he says that he began to appreciate Provence only after he had studied paintings by van Gogh.
--Mel Gussow on Alain de Botton's recent book in the NY Times
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:59 AM
Chesterton on Aquinas
He had from the first that full and final test of truly orthodox Catholicity; the impetuous, impatient, intolerant passion for the poor; and even that readiness to be rather a nuisance to the rich, out of a hunger to feed the hungry....a man's love of himself is Sincere and Constant and Indulgent; and this should be transferred intact (if possible) to his love of his neighbour. At this early age he did not understand all of this. He only did it.
He was very far from being a Puritan, in the true sense; he made a provision for a holiday and banquet for his young friends, which has quite a convival sound. The trend of his writing, especially for his time, is reasonable in its recognition of physical life; and he goes out of his way to say that men must vary their lives with jokes and even with pranks. But for all that, we cannot somehow see his personality as a sort of magnent for mobs..I think he rather disliked noise; there is a legend that he disliked thunderstorms; but it is contradicted by the fact that in an actual shipwreck he was supremely calm. However that may be, and it probably concerned his health, in some ways sensitive, he certainly was very calm.
Being himself resolved to argue, to argue honestly, to answer everybody, to deal with everything, he produced books enough to sink a ship or stock a library; though he died in comparatively early middle age. Probably he could not have done it at all, if he had not been thinking even when he was not writing; but above all thinking combatively. This, in his case, certainly did not mean bitterly or spitefully or uncharitably; but it did mean combatively. As a matter of fact, it is generally the man who is not read to argue, who is ready to sneer. That is why, in recent literature, there has been so little argument and so much sneering....He was interested in the souls of all his fellow creatures, but not in classifying the minds of any of them; in a sense it was too personal and in another sense too arrogant for his particular mind and temper.
--GK Chesterton's St. Thomas Aquinas
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:40 AM
From the "There's nothing new under the sun" dep't:
Google tells me that twelve other bloggers have referred to Abe Vigoda. Including this eyebrow-raising bon mot:
Kissinger, Abe Vigoda, Jennifer Connelly....who needs their eyebrows tweezed more?
--via Hairy Toes & Lemonade Rhino
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 5:04 PM
December 30, 2002
Last night's long Sunday read was a scattershot affair. Fiction....long live fiction! I've a surfeit of journalism and longed to lose myself in glorious prose.
John Updike's Seek My Face ...due back at the library this week and hence I had to make a stab. I read maybe the first 40 pages and I'm not sure it's his best.
Liam O'Flaherty's Famine: A Novel
Charles Dicken's Bleak House...my favorite novel of his is Great Expectations and I wonder if I shouldn't just re-read that one.
Also picked up some non-fiction - Jay Winik's April 1865: The Month That Saved America . It looks pretty interesting.
Saturday I spent some time with Chesterton's Saint Thomas Aquinas and Richard Drake's A History of Appalachia
Also spent some of Sunday researching the disappearance of my great-grandfather James Smith. Did he die in the 1913 flood or leave and start a family in St. Louis? I would post my speculations, but even I recognize the utter minutiae and self-indulgence that would represent to you small band of readers.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:38 AM
Beating this horse dead...
As a sort of postscript to the whole St. Thomas controversy, I should mention that the two writers of recent vintage I admire most were both great devotees of the Summa: Flannery O'Connor and Walker Percy. Flannery read St. Thomas every night before retiring. Walker read the complete Summa twice. (Certainly Walker cannot be accused of not having a scientific cast of mind since he studied medicine in school.)
This is not to say that they were saints or that they shouldn't/weren't reading more contemplative stuff, but it is intriguing that two modern Catholic artists would find such sustenance in Aquinas.
Minute Particulae has a good post on the subject with links to those discussing/recussing it.
Archbishop Sheen was an agnostic on the subject, recognizing that some are "Augustine" types and others "Aquinas" folk but that both are good. This complements Steven Riddle's comment about how Augustine is more "love, then know" while Aquinas, "know, then love". (I do admire Mr. Riddle's courage in making those comments in the first place; while he was careful to say that he was not denigrating Aquinas, it is not easy in the blogosphere to communicate that notion effectively.)
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 7:50 AM
tight-lipped, bloodless arguments
the mind (while)
Abe Vigoda visages wander
skies of unmade beds
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 8:15 PM
December 29, 2002
The Old Debate
I post this only that you smart folks might have some advice for a situation that I probably should avoid engaging in...
We slipped, almost by accident, onto those grounds where we profoundly disagree. My mother said that Catholicism should get back to the bible, the way it was in the beginning. Her salient point was questioning the notion that not eating meat on Friday could put you in hell. Or that a 2nd-grader who had drank water could not receive Communion if said water was drank within three hours of receiving. She says that I'm an orthodox Catholic because I did not live through "those days." (i.e. pre Vatican II). Perhaps, perhaps not. I replied that the fruits of the Church in the 50s were such that those rules did not do any harm and perhaps much good. She said she didn't buy that - Protestants were just as holy in the 50s without the "crazy rules". I said that some Protestants had crazy rules - like no dancing, no alcohol, no gambling...the argument held no sway, and I was left afterward remembering Bishop Sheen's words that to "win the argument is to lose the soul" or words to that effect.
I guess my pet peeve is the argument that the Church is not biblical, although it shouldn't because in my ignorance I once thought similarly. I should understand that sentiment instead of reacting to it in less than composed manner. How would you sound-byte such a question? Since she and many Protestants are simply allergic or otherwise resistant to Matt 16 I am avoiding Peter directly by thinking thusly:
The New Testament would seem to be a grand poem in a foreign language that has been translated, very broadly, in two different ways - one more Catholic and another more Fundamentalist. We cannot be sure in this world which is the more accurate translation, but it is unfair to call one more "biblical" than the other. They are both heartfelt interpretations of Scripture. (I obviously feel the Catholic interpretation is more accurate.)
First, I think it's important to notice who Jesus speaks to when he says things, rather than just to assume He is always speaking to everyone. Why would he speak in parables before the crowds while offering more to his apostles? And why would he tell things to Peter individually that he would not tell the rest of the apostles? Isn't this implicitly hierarchical?
Secondly, I have never understood salvation as being assured or that "faith alone" is necessary when reading the whole of the gospels or the whole of the bible. I get a sense that Christ is constantly telling us to, if not worry, then to be watchful concerning our salvation. The parables of the sower and the seed and the ten virgins and numerous others simply don't support the "once saved, always saved" interpretation in my view.
Have you noticed the Protestant view is often simply the easiest way? No need for sacraments or confessing your sins or good works? If I were making a "man-made" religion wouldn't that be what we would most want - give authority to self and strip out things in the bible that are inconvenient or incomprehensible?
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:56 PM
December 28, 2002
Can't help but take a deep breath at the end of the holidays (ours just ended today). Only around Christmastime is it possible to be blessed with tons of vacation time while at the same time coming to the almost metaphysically impossible conclusion that work would be preferable. I kept up as well as I could but to be honest I felt very empty going into the 25th. I gave what I could at Mass but was surprised at how ordinary it seemed - a sparse, sleepy crowd and weak musically. (I didn't go to midnight service at the Byzantine parish because of icy roads). I reminded myself that God is present at all Masses regardless of the pageantry or the other’s enthusiasm and that the manger itself was a very humble place. It's nice to have "smells & bells" on the birthday of birthdays though.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:02 PM
"Most people would not even cross the street to witness an unobtrusive act of patience being put into practice, but they will cross an ocean to visit the locale of an alleged apparaition." An authentic vision counts for less than a simple act of charity, says Thomas Dubay, S.M., Fire Within: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel -- on Prayer (Ignatius Press, 1989), p. 247. Both Teresa and John said so, and so did St. Paul (I Corintihans 12:30-13:3).
-- the reader
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:49 AM
The old talk of school as a preparation for life-what a bad joke. There was no relation at all. School made matters worse. The elegance and order of school had disarmed him for what came later.
--Walker Percy, "The Last Gentleman"
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:20 AM
One longs for the drawn arterial blood of life, the scarlet blood of richness; the deep oxygenated marrow of life that Thoreau wrote of...What is super about the superficial anyway? The trick is to impregnate the ordinary with meaning - or to realize that it's already so.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:48 AM
December 27, 2002
Watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory over the holiday. I remember that scaring the bleep out of me when I was a kid. The little girl inflating into blueberry fastness was an image I could scarce let go. Watching it now is more interesting because of its obvious Judeo-Christian parallels.
I also found this to be interesting:
The only catch: to be one of the five children you have to find a golden ticket inside the wrapper of a Wonka Bar. Eventually five children get their hands on these golden tickets – including Charlie. That storyline… that idea of having a golden ticket and a spirit of entitlement somehow has a familiar ring to it, doesn’t it? Don’t we tend to think that way about our faith and our religion? Haven’t you heard the language of entitlement in our midst at times? Its as if we think we’ve got some kind of golden ticket – and we’ve got a binding contract with God that states we get certain things, we’ve earned certain rights…
This isn’t a new problem among the religious; it’s a pretty old one. Old enough that Jesus addressed it himself. He does so in Luke 18:9-14...
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:19 PM
December 26, 2002
One feels a stab of pain at the notion that winter hath officially begun just 4 days ago. It is as if you were half-way thru a college course and the instructor says, "okay, that was all preliminary. Everything from here forward counts." I remind myself of what Jesse Ventura says about the Minnesotan winters: it keeps the riff-raff out.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:14 PM
Our dog is not a reader of Aquinas, and especially eschews the virtue of moderation. We found a couple stray pieces of paper that had once made up the cover of four (4) sticks of butter, one pound in all. Said doggie ate said butter. The proof came a few hours later, in an epic vomitalia that in sheer volume was something I had never witnessed by man or beast or the Minotaurus college student. A few hours and one steam-cleaning later, the carpet still stank. Carpet was summarily dismissed from service.
One pound of butter = lingering offensive smell to our guests = a new rug needed. The price of gluttony is steep indeed. Said dog was proffered butter a few hours later. He just said no.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:02 PM
Uh...gosh...I feel a little sheepish after reading Disputations' convincing post on the timelessness of Aquinas. I feel like a juror nodding my head 'yes, yes' after the last slick attorney has spoken - whether it be for the defense or the prosecution. Guess I should just shut up and read the posts and not comment, lest I prove to be a fool instead of just thought one.
As far as the Summa goes, I'm both wildly attracted to it and somewhat repelled by it. I echo Mr. Riddle's, "Myself, I cannot separate one intellectual error from another and I toss literary works aside for much less than is wrong in the cosmology of St. Thomas and I expect far, far less of them."
A sort of "time prejudice" can even be extended to the Old Testament, which can be seen as necessarily less precise vision of God given that divine revelation was still being in the process of being revealed and developed. My mother has tried to read it with much trouble, finding the myths ("there was not a worldwide flood!", she cries) side-by-side with truths an unpalatable mix. Tangentially related, I'll never forget Malcolm Muggeridge's rather amazing ability to separate historical fact from "truth", saying that it is necessary to the story that Jesus be born to a virgin, though it probably not be fact. He said the highest truths are artistic ones, though I suspect the Resurrection, and its implication for us, is one that interested him in more than just the artistic sense.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 8:24 PM
Bloggodocia will continue to be light and sporadic. A scattering of posts is expected, maybe 1-3 before weekend. A front is expected to move in this weekend, providing additional fodder for posts, but blog weathermen are wrong more often than right. The Old Blogger's Almanac says to expect posts in drifts this time of year.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 8:18 PM
Steven Riddle of flos carmeli wrote an interesting piece on the Summa. I commented that he hit the nail on the head - I thought I was the only one to think that about the great St. Thomas. I am often put off and somewhat disappointed that he was so of his time with respect to nature & the sciences, although asking otherwise is to seek infallibility & omniscence. (A small example - not really an example because it could still be true though I think it somehow less than satisfying - is his belief in a literal hellfire). John Updike made a comment that Christianity has been amazingly shrewd w/r to human nature, while having a faulty cosmology. In that sense, a spiritual guide who answers questions that depend on the natural world would seem to lock himself or herself into her time. I concur with Aquinas' greatness w/r to commentaries and hymns. There is rarely a time I don't pray after Communion his prayer: 'Soul of Christ, sanctify me, Body of Christ, be my salvation...'.
And of the Summa, I recognize the lack is in me since there are so many who see it differently. I also take some comfort in the mere fact that the questions I have asked have been asked before, and been addressed by so great an intellectual as St. Thomas.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 8:13 PM
You've probably seen this but...
...whether true or not I liked this 12 days of Christmas story.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 3:47 PM
December 23, 2002
Hilaire Belloc, You're No JFK
When running for office, Belloc had a slightly different view than JFK on the effect of his religion on his politics:
HB: My religion is of course of greater moment to me by far than my politics, or than any other interest could be, and if I had to choose between two policies, one of which would certainly injure my religion and the other as certainly advance it, I would not for a moment hesitate between the two.
JFK: Whatever issue may come before me as President--on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject--I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.
Ahhhhhh...Mister we could use a man like Herbert Hoover Hilaire Belloc again...
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 12:50 PM
Interesting NY Times article titled The Boy Who Saw the Virgin
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 3:07 PM
December 22, 2002
"We expected a judge, and it was a Savior who was born. We expected an executioner, and it was a Child who was born. We were preparing for a rendering of accounts, we were going to "put ourselves right with God", and a Baby was stretching out His arms to us, asking for our love, protection and tenderness. All the confidence we never dared to have in God, He had in us!"
-- from church bulliten of St. John Chrysostom
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 12:21 PM
In Mary’s day, to have a child outside wedlock was nearly a capital offense. At the very least she would be greatly shamed. I wonder if I would I have judged Mary. I’m sure I would’ve thought, “Hmm…I thought she was holy…and here she is pregnant.” How perfectly economical is it that God should brings us his Son this way? In one fell swoop he illustrates the folly of judging others while also displaying Mary’s lack of spiritual pride in becoming a scandal in the eyes of the world. How like the Cross! St. Francis said that we share in this Annuciation every day in determining, to the extent of our freedom, if we will care, comfort and love Him.
The grand theory of Everything is humility. Humility is the solution to all spiritual problems – both the “supernaturalists” who demand a sign and clarity (or else!) and the moralists, who think through grim determination they can do it all themselves. These extremes lurch from overreliance on self to an arrogant “come down off that Cross, let me see first”. Humility is the solvent for both.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 12:19 PM
Maybe it’s a lesson for all of us. Churchy types of all stripes spend their hours and spill their ink and waste their bytes arguing over semantics, the niceties of ritual and the precise interpretation of papal bulls, encyclicals and footnotes.
Meanwhile, the Hollywood Guy, who probably feels as strongly about those intricacies as any other who shares his ideology, has decided, instead of going inward, to bring the story of Jesus to a world that needs it, badly, instead.
Maybe Hollywood Guy has a lesson for the rest of us.
--Amy Welborn, concerning Mel Gibson & his Jesus project
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 4:30 PM
December 21, 2002
At Boolavogue, as the sun was setting
O'er the bright May meadows of Shelmalier,
A rebel hand set the heather blazing
And brought the neighbours from far and near.
Then Father Murphy, from old Kilcormack,
Spurred up the rocks with a warning cry;
"Arm! Arm!" he cried, "for I've come to lead you,
For Ireland's freedom we fight or die."
At Vinegar Hill, o'er the pleasant Slaney,
Our heroes vainly stood back to back,
And the Yeos at Tullow took Father Murphy
And burned his body upon the rack.
God grant you glory, brave Father Murphy
And open heaven to all your men;
The cause that called you may call tomorrow
In another fight for the Green again. --PJ McCall, 1861-1919
Father John Murphy of Bollavogue (in Wexford) led his parishioners in routing the Camolin Cavalry on May 26, 1798. The Wexford insurgents were eventually defeated at Vinegar Hill on June 21. Father Murphy and the other rebel leaders were hanged.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 12:45 AM
Wearin' of the Green
Elegiac songs of Eire
lay ‘neath sprigs of green
where the Fenians sleep
and sallow-hued descendents
sing of fair-haired boys,
lives to resolution swift-brought,
brigades of indiscretions
burnt on pyres of bravery!
Escape of the fire
of musket and fraught-peril
waxen faces waiting to be formed
far flung-souls of wildest repute
sing they the harpist’s bravest:
“with a pike upon your shoulder
by the risin’ of the moon!”
Weep to Kevin Barry while
full-throated they wonder if
war be invented for whiskey
or whiskey for war?
Sing-burn they with the energy of youth:
- “another martyr for ol’ Ireland
another murther for the Crown”
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 12:05 AM
Provocative and interesting post on Steven Ray's billboard:
"Christianity has always proclaimed itself superior to the state. When Christ said "render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar's, and to God that which is God's" He proclaimed an authority superior to government. (If He had not, then what right did the early Christians have to refuse sacrifices to pagan gods in violation of Roman law?). By creating a Church, he gave that authority visible form.
As civilization developed, men took their Christianity with them into the halls of state. If Christ and faith in Him is the highest reality, which penetrates into every action of men, would a state be foolish to proclaim itself independent of Him? No. Quite the contrary. So the Emperor Theodosius thought when he made Christianity the official religion of the Empire.
Throughout that time and in the millenia to follow, it was inconceivable to men that the state would have any basis of its authority that was not religious, and therefore Christian, and therefore linked with the Church. Charlemagne had himself crowned by the Pope for the same reason the French kings to follow were told by the bishops performing the coronation "By this crown you become a sharer in our ministry." This consciousness was called Christendom.
As a natural extension of these ideas, it was also natural to conclude that departure from the Christian faith was contrary to the common good of society. Fundamentalist preachers say as much, and maintain as much, whenever they hand out voter guides and 'demand' (since we're into pejorative terms) that good Christians should exercise their authority in government by voting for candidates who accept Christian teaching. As it is now, so it was then -- departure from Christianity was a blow struck at the health of the entire society, and therefore punishable. The Albigensians were seen, in this light, as being as great a threat to civil society as Shays rebellion or the Confederacy was seen to the United States. No one blames the United States for 'exterminating' confederates, or 'persecuting' farmers, or making the country 'explicitly' what Abraham Lincoln said it was. So do we, I wonder, consider religion and Christianity less important to our well being than our forebears in the first thousand years of Christian history?
I am about to greatly condense things. But with the Reformation, and the devastating wars between Catholics and Protestants that followed, it became clear that doctrinally-specific Christianity could no longer serve as the basis for a stable civil or international order. Men began to look for new theologies on which to found their states, culminating in the present Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment ideas of democratic consent and religious tolerance. But this was originally a grudging accomodation made in stages and over time by Catholics and Protestants. You may have heard, for example, of the "divine right of kings." This was not a Catholic idea, but a post-Reformation attempt to found the civil order on a direct grant of authority from God to whoever held power, trying to rest civil authority again on a stable footing. Kings being what they are, and the rising middle and merchant classes being what they were, the theory was bound to perish, as it did under Cromwell and again in the Glorious Revolution.
To a great extent, the ideas of Vatican II (and earlier Church teaching, reaching back more than a century) are an understanding of the position of Christ's Church in a world devoid of Christendom, learning as well from the instructive errors of the past which proved that heresy and division may not always be eradicated by force, but in a way that is startlingly consistent with the Church's understanding of the origin and role of the civil power from medieval days."
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 2:47 PM
December 20, 2002
Interesting Snippet on traditional naming patterns
Irish Naming Patterns for Children:
The 1st son was usually named after the father's father
The 2nd son was usually named after the mother's father
The 3rd son was usually named after the father
The 4th son was usually named after the father's eldest brother
The 5th son was usually named after the mother's eldest brother
The 1st daughter was usually named after the mother's mother
The 2nd daughter was usually named after the father's mother
The 3rd daughter was usually named after the mother
The 4th daughter was usually named after the mother's eldest sister The 5th daughter
was usually named after the father's eldest sister
The 11th son was named after the father's mother's uncle's cousin, twice-removed.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 2:45 PM
Oh, man! admire and model thyself after the whale! Do thou, too, remain warm among ice. Do thou, too, live in this world without being of it. Be cool at the equator; keep thy blood fluid at the Pole. Like the great dome of St. Peter's, and like the great whale, retain, O man! in all seasons a temperature of thine own. --Herman Melville Moby-Dick
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 2:37 PM
More journal entries from long ago....aka Stories from the Land of Broken Toys...
It was early '63 and I was traveling the 'government approved' road about 20 miles outside Moscow. Party officials stressed ad nauseum that I was not to stop, that I was to average 50 miles per hour, and under no circumstances was I to talk to anybody. My knowledge of Russian was only passing anyway; I was much more fluent in Moldovian. I felt for the huge pack of rubles in my pocket, and examined the pale and wan visages of the evil empire, the red sycthe against a blood-red field which signified the determination of the Russian empire to harvest her own people. The long road to Siberia was not paved with many good intentions - the struggling peasants looked bovine and desperate, a combination I'd scarce imagined. Every cow I'd ever seen looked satisfied and not in the least desperate.
My assignment was simple, albeit fraught with complications. I was to marry a young Russian woman, an 18-year old with hairy armpits and vodka-spiked breath. She was a vocal critic of Kruschev, even to the point of organizing rallys at the local grocery mart complaining about the fact that they only had one choice of peanut butter. She said she would die to choose Jif, but officials chose a third option - Siberia. However, before her re-education could begin at the gulag, a defense minister was passed a note in between saunas that explained he had a illegitimate daughter from an indiscretion many years ago...just over eighteen to be exact..
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 2:24 PM
Thoughts on hearing the Columbus Holiday Strings*
It seems somehow odd to see grown men and women in suits playing instruments, working so hard towards the questionable utility of pleasing us - we twenty or thirty in the small auditorium. But what a treat - an audio massage! I felt similarly when I received a "therapeutic" massage, via a gift certificate. Here was someone whose job it was to provide something of no greater utility than pleasure. Ditto about baseball players - all that time, effort and energy rolled into doing something no more important than hitting a round object with a 30-odd ounce stick. Amazing. And yet these are good things. The constant temptation is to imagine that everything must be for utility - even books! Some will not read fiction or poetry unless there be something self-improving in it; some fact or knowledge imparted. Jansenism be dead!
* - a free concert provided yearly; an audio Christmas card for us.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:35 PM
I was an impressionable youngster, a mere child of 13 or so when I first saw Natalie Wood in "West Side Story". The story held me in thrall all the way to its "Somewhere" climax - no surprise given that the 'Romeo & Juliet' formula does that to nearly everyone. But the scene in "West Side Story" that first stung my heart was when Maria fell to her knees to pray to Mary before a lit blue candle after she heard Tony had killed her cousin. There was nothing more appealing to my early teenishness than a holy girl, for they seemed so rare. The girls I knew were unctious and supercillious. (Not that we boys were any prize).
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 12:59 PM
Unbidden, my stepson expressed the sentiment that a strong marital relationship is "impossible without religion". He has also started going to church with my wife to the evangelical service (the Vineyard). Thanks to those who've said a prayer for him.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:59 AM
I never liked O Come, O Come Emmanuel as a kid; I didn't understand the discordance between the lyrics, "Rejoice, rejoice!" and the somber, plaintive music. Now I can't imagine Advent without it.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 5:52 PM
December 18, 2002
Saw this interesting flick. Here's the USCCB review.
"I had no intention of making love to her: I had no particular intention of even looking her up again. She was too beautiful to excite me with the idea of accessibility."
--Graham Greene's End of the Affair
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 3:04 PM
Minute Particulae has a nice essay here. The following short excerpt can't do it justice, so read the whole thing.
"The shortcuts require writers to take long strides to get to their point quickly, strides that lurch over subtleties and shades of meaning, oversimplifying or even obscuring the argument. The result is that issues get watered down and you end up with lukewarm, left-handed swashbuckling.
Or perhaps, more interestingly, these same smart, passionate, informed people simply won't bring out their finest points or most compelling arguments. It's a rather strange thing to claim, but I think it's true and I'm not sure why this happens. I don't mean some subsurface bias or prejudice that will undermine a person's credibility if it surfaces (e.g. Lott?). I mean hesitating to bring to bear the aspects of an issue that touch you most deeply and compel you privately."
Two things come to mind: first, many Catlicker bloggers are writing, basically, to other Catlicker bloggers. Thus they can take shortcuts, because they are "preaching to the converted"; they don't have to fully flesh out arguments because a serious Catholic is imbued with Catholic sensibilities. If I am in favor of something unusual in the Catholic blogging community, I realize I must defend it much more vigorously and completely. That said, in a multicultural land we live in, one can fully understand the splintering into groups and the increasing "huh?" that folks greet each other with. The dropping of the classics in college and the growth of the elective system, for example, has given everyone educations that vary wildly. So how can anyone really write to a large audience about anything other than base subjects? Even history is written no longer not by the victor, but by the aggrieved. If I believed everything in the black history curriculum, I might long for reparations too, despite their blatant unfairness. (This is not to suggest that history is unknowable, but that one should scrupulously attempt to remove slant from the writing of it - that we cannot achieve perfection in this area is no reason to give up. Fatalism seems rampant - biographers give in to their bias because they believe the subject and biographer to be wearers of masks, and thus the two-fold error means nothing can be known. So they add fictional characters, ala Edmund Morris's weak Dutch. But perhaps I digress...)
How interesting that Particulae's author detects a hesitancy in "bringing to bear the aspects of an issue that touch you most deeply and compel you privately."
Very true. We all like that ace up the sleeve. Break in case of emergency. I think that hesitancy might have two fathers. One is the fear that that part of the issue that touches you most deeply and with which you identify so deeply that it is you in some way, will be opened up to criticism or abuse that is tantamount to abuse of, well, you. A second father might be the fear that what you feel passionately about could be refuted, which begs a lack of faith.
Finally, as Particulae points out, there is that enigmatic scriptural warning about the casting of pearls before swine, which I assume can only be discerned under the guidance of the Spirit since there is also a call to "go out into the world and tell all nations" of the gospel. Perhaps it is mostly a warning in the tradition of St. Paul, in not giving those meat who still are drinking the breast milk.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:20 PM
On a Collision Course
The third rail, in subway-ese, is the rail that is electrified; you touch it, you die. In the political sphere it is often considered to be the social security. Cut benefits and senior citizens, nearly all practicing voters, will swiftly effect your transition to the private sector. But the real third rail seems to be children. The desire of parents to ferociously attack anybody who causes them pain is inbred, like a mother bear protecting their cubs.
On the other side, we have a childless hierarchy, composed of bishops who consider their priests to be their charges, their children as it were.
So what do you get when an irresistable force meets an immoveable object? The "Situation". The right outcome occurred - i.e. the new sexual abuse policy. Now we can say:
Mercy on both their houses!
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:30 AM
...a miscellaneous hodge-podge of saved quotes
"In the essay Christian Reunion C.S. Lewis states that the real disagreement between Catholics and Protestants is not about any particular belief, but about the source and nature of doctrine and authority:
"The real reason I cannot be in communion with you is ... that to accept your Church means not to accept a given body of doctrine but to accept in advance any doctrine that your Church hereafter produces."
I've heard this interpreted as Lewis saying that he could assent to all Catholic doctrine, but not sign on to the belief that all future doctrine would be free from error. And yet - to have survived 2,000 years of heresies with intact doctrine would seem to suggest a pattern. Past performance might not guarantee future results, but it would surprise me that Lewis would not think the protection of that doctrine for that many years not to be in some way miraculous.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:16 AM
"He said 'One of the Fathers has told us that joy always depends on pain. Pain is part of joy. We are hungry and then think how we enjoy our food at last. We are thirsty ... ' He stopped suddenly, with his eyes glancing away into the shadows, expecting the cruel laugh that did not come. He said, 'We deny ourselves so that we can enjoy. You have heard of rich men in the north who eat salted foods, so that they can be thirsty -- for what they call the cocktail. Before the marriage, too, there is the long betrothal ...' Again he stopped. He felt his own unworthiness like a weight at the back of the tongue. There was a smell of hot wax from where a candle drooped in the nocturnal heat; people shifted on the hard floor in the shadows....That is all part of heaven -- the preparation. Perhaps without them, who can tell, you wouldn't enjoy heaven so much. Heaven would not be complete."
--Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 11:01 AM
"Very often do the captains of ships take absent-minded young philosophers to task, upbraiding them with not feeling sufficient 'interest' in the voyage; half-hinting that they are so hopelessly lost to all honorable ambition.
Lulled in such an opium-like listlessness of vacate, unconscious reverie is the absent-minded youth by the blending cadence of waves with thoughts, that at last he loses his identity; takes the mystic ocean at his feet for the visible image of that deep, blue, bottomless soul, pervading mankind and nature...In this enchanted mood, thy spirit ebbs away to whence it came, like Wickliff's sprinkled Pantheistic ashes.
There is no life in thee, now, except that rocking life imparted by a gently rolling ship; by her, borrowed from the sea; by the sea, from the inscrutable tides of God. But while this sleep, this dream is on ye, move your foot or hand an inch, slip your hold at all; and your identity comes back in horror. Over Descartian vortices you hover. Heed it well, ye Pantheists!" --H. Melville, Moby Dick
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:55 AM
Likewise the Eucharist
"In our world, a star is huge ball of flaming gas," said Eustace. "Even in your world," said Ramandu, "that is not what a star is, but only what it is made of."
-- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:52 AM
"True spirituality MUST have some organizing principal. It's like any other language -- this one being the language we use to communicate with God (two way, we hope). Language needs organization. It is essential to its use. Good poetry, for example, comes from a clear understanding of the function of language, including grammar and rhetoric. Good poetry 'violates' the rule with intent - not by accident or ignorance."
--quote saw on billboard
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:43 AM
He could always try blogging
Daniel Patrick Moynihan once mentioned how grateful he was for the Congressional Record, calling it the "publisher of last resort".
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 6:24 PM
December 17, 2002
Oy vey...he married her for her BCS bowl game ticket. Another sign of the Apocalpyse.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 5:14 PM
Ye Olde Medicine Shoppe
Marvelous link via flos carmeli's medicine shop. Aquinas has told me constantly about the will but it sinks in with difficulty.
First, let me say, as I said about frequent confession, it is a law of nature that use and wont should make us feel things less keenly. We need not be surprised at this, nor distressed at it. We must not measure the value of our Communions, any more than the value of our Confessions and Absolutions, by the feelings that we have. We may be making our Communions just as fervently and as profitably without the feeling of sensible devotion as with it. Fervour does not reside in the feelings, but in the will--· in the will moved and strengthened by grace. Sensible devotion may be a gift of God, and when it is we ought to be very thankful for it. If it comes from God and is His gift, it is a very great help on our way. And so, no doubt, God gives it from time to time to those who are earnestly trying to give themselves to Him. But the times of dryness, are as needful for our spiritual growth. It is then that there is room for a truer exercise of faith, and a more generous devotion of ourselves to God.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 4:47 PM
Our Ultimate Feebleness
Our spectacular physical denouement - the collapse of death with its rank dissolution of blood, tissue and eventually bone - should remind us of our utter dependence on God. From belief that he will be active then, it is an infintesimally small jump to imagine Him active now, just as He was active at our ensoulment. Similarly, if Jesus rose, what small matter are the other miracle stories? To admit one is to admit all.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:41 AM
Been pondering the infinitesimal increment in effectiveness between apology number five and apology number four for Lott. One senses the law of diminishing returns at work. The senator must too, because now he's a full convert to reverse racism. Actions do speak louder than words, but...
A rough SWAG:
Apology 1 = +20%*, apology 2 = +5%, apology 3 = +1%, apology 4 = .0035%, apology 5 = -3% (just as the Clinton apology tour eventually began to weary, so might there be a backlash from too many Lottian apologies).
*-percent of people positively influenced (i.e. in favor of the perpetrator) by the apology.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:46 AM
Belloc on Academics
All of this began, recall, when Belloc met the lady with the clear gaze in the Great Bear Inn. Suddenly, we are confronted in this unlikely spot with intellectual pride, surely the sin of the fallen angels. Who are these prideful ones? They are the ones who do not notice all the wonder to be found about them. A human being is more than a mind. Unless he is more, his mind is quite a dangerous thing. The angels are pure spirits; we are the rational animals, body and soul.
Belloc describes the situation of the mind-only-gentleman in this fashion:
What! here are we with the jolly world of God all round us, able to sing, to draw, to paint, to hammer and build, to sail, to ride horses, to run, to leap; having for our splendid inheritance love in youth and memory in old age, and we are to take one miserable little faculty, our one-legged, knock-kneed, gimcrack, grumpy intellect, or analytical curiosity rather (a diseased appetite), and let it swell till it eats up every other function?
What does the sane man do when this happens? He yells, "Away with such foolery."
Who is it, we might ask, that thinks the world of God to be jolly, who sings, draws, paints, hammers, sails, rides horses, runs, leaps? Who has love in youth and memory in old age? Who tells us it is a "splendid inheritance"? Why, it is Belloc himself, of course, perhaps still a bit annoyed that he did not himself end up as a very pedant, though this is hard to imagine. He knew the dangers of his own "grumpy intellect," for it could lead him to this very pride from which he was perhaps saved when he could not stay at Oxford.
The "Lector" wants to get on with the walk and quit these dreary philosophical musings. But the "Auctor" has a few more things to say. He repeats, "Away with such foolery." He decides to explain the problems we have with the pedants. They "lose all proportion." Worse, "they can never keep sane in a discussion." Belloc gives us an amusing example. The pedants "go wild on matters they are wholly unable to judge, such as Armenian Religion or the Politics of Paris or what not."
A man with a steady and balanced mind, with a clear gaze, on the other hand, has three questions to ask that keep him sane. These are 1) "After all it is not my business." 2) "Tut! tut! You don't say so!". And 3) "Credo in Unum Deum Patrem Omnipotentem Factorem omnium visibilium et invisibilium." In these last lines from the Creed, Belloc thinks, all the analytical powers of the pedants, the professors, are jammed "into dustheaps," by comparison.
-James V. Schall, S.J.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 1:29 PM
December 16, 2002
Difference btwn NYC & D.C.
ED Crandall, the former president of American Airlines, once told me the difference between New York and Washington. He said that New York was "tough but not mean" and that Washington was "mean but not tough."
"In New York," he elaborated, "they'll fight you for every last dime and then, afterwards, you'll go to dinner together and become friends." But in Washington, "They'll give you everything you want to your face - and then, as you walk away, they'll shoot you in the back because it's fun to watch you die."
- Dick Morris in the New York Post
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 12:21 PM
Inspired by a post on Obhouse, Dylan asks is it coming to this?
I received the following work email:
Young Asian American Professional Network Winter Celebration
The Young Asian American Professional Network is hosting a Winter Celebration - a family gathering to celebrate Asian culture with food, fun and entertainment on Sunday, December 15.
I'm looking forward to, but not holding my breath for, the complementary:
Young Irish American Drunkard Network Unabashedly Christmas Celebration
The Young Irish American Drunkard Network is hosting a Christmas (with a nod to our Druidic past) celebration that will celebrate Irish culture with Guinness, Jameson, and Harp. On Friday, Dec. 13 extending to Saturday Dec. 14.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:39 AM
Thursdays with Belloc. Nice ring to it. Like Breakfast at Tiffany's or Tuesdays with Morrie. I'll keep an eye on this one.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:27 AM
My Blouzelinda is the blithest lass,
Than primrose sweeter, or the clover-grass.
Fair is the king-cup that in meadow blows,
Fair is the daisy that beside her grows,
Fair is the gillyflow'r, of gardens sweet,
Fair is the marigold, for pottage meet.
But Blouzelind's than gillyflow'r more fair,
Than daisy, marigold, or king-cup rare. -John Gay, The Shepherd's Week
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 10:02 AM
Thinking about the TSCs
I asked Bill White in what sense the traditional spiritual classics (TSC for brevity's sake) are opaque for him. He says that the TSCs, "talk past me; we seem to speak different languages....Some writing allows me to enter into it, carries me with it and teaches me to understand everything in it; then there is other language that keeps me outside...think it's as much a matter of God-given taste and aptitude. Some are Carmelites, some are Dominicans, and some (God help their souls) are Jesuits."
As an aside, his conversion shows a sobering side of Protestantism I was not familiar with - neglect of the gospels:
Sermons, such as they were, were mere exercises in concordance-jumping, and usually focused on some obscure passage in one of Saint Paul's letters, with lots of concordance-based jumping from one word in an isolated verse to another throughout the bible. A "word study". I don't remember *ever* hearing extended passages read from the gospels, nor a single sermon on the gospels. (The obligatory disclaimer applies - I realize Protestant churches vary greatly.)
It seems the TSCs are good as eating spinach is; rather than subsist on the sugary diet of works that allow my eyes to be widened in a way such as Belloc or Chesterton wrote, books that build faith - rather one should also read books that provoke the desire to, say, start fasting. We see these differences in the bible - the thrill of historical connection when reading Isaiah, for instance, compared to reading the self-improvement of the Book of Proverbs. Bill mentioned Isaiah, pointing out some of his favorite books in the bible:
For me it's the stories of the gospels. Peter's letters are favorites, too; perhaps for me it's the historical connection again. And Isaiah! A passage from him can be like a mystery of the Rosary - I stop and wander up and down through all of salvation history making connections, seeing prophecies fulfilled, the Passion foreshadowed, Christ and the Church all through it.
Started reading St. John of the Cross (who knew his feast day was Saturday!?):
Often [beginners] will beseech God, with great yearnings, that He will take from them their imperfections and faults, but they do this that they may find themselves at peace, and may not be troubled by them, rather than for God's sake; not realizing that, if He should take their imperfections from them, they would probably become prouder still.
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:51 AM
Selections from Verweile Doch:
Bartender says: 'I don't like to judge people from what I see of them from back here. They're either better or worse than normal when they have a drink.'
- R. McInerny, "Lack of the Irish"
So if they're better than normal does that mean they should drink up?
posted by T.S. O'Rama @ 9:30 AM
He agreed with C.S. Lewis that Christians got along best when each expressed undiluted what he or she believed. The search for a least common denominator to bind the Christian sects together led to blandness at best.
'Is baptism a least common denominator?' Roger asked.
A Baptist was unlikely to think of baptism as optional so far as Christianity was concerned. The difficulty was to think of it as a sacrament.