Saturday, January 25, 2003

(the sitcom)

Charles [To Col. Potter] : You can cut me off from the civilized world -- you can incarcerate me with two moronic cellmates -- you can torture me with your thrice-daily swill -- but you cannot break the spirit of a Winchester! My voice shall arise from this fetid and festering sewer, and I shall be heard! [Spins around and storms out, triumphantly]

Col. Potter [Smiling] : I think he's beginning to get the hang of this place!
Joe Fitzgerald, you're wrong

And I don't often say that. But here, the Boston Herald columnist upbraids Newark's Archbishop Myers for taking the life out of funerals with the eulogy ban.

If I'm ever a mourner at a funeral Mass in a Catholic church and someone plays Tony Bennett, I will walk out, or begin to strangle myself with my necktie.

Perry Como singing Ave Maria, that's fine. The Miserable Offenders singing There's a wideness in God's mercy -- even better.

I've already related a eulogy horror-story at another weblog's comment-box. I may repost it here, or send it along to Mr Fitzgerald, who ostensibly knows better than any Catholic how the Ecclesia should conduct itself at what is rumored to be a divine liturgy.
Memorandum to self

Begin a thorough investigation of this poet's work! Which looks to be consistently first-rate.
Twain redux

Other reasons I might not be a Twain enthusiast :

1) Nineteenth-century Middle America doesn't entice me. Give me 20th and 21st century New England any journée of the semaine.

2) I can't imagine myself as, or appreciably "identify with," any character in his books. Sometimes one needs to be able to do that.

3) I've heard he was rather anti-ecclesial. The noted Redemptorist, Fr Joseph Manton once quoted Twain as having said, "If you gathered all the 'relics of the True Cross' together, you could build a fleet of battleships." Manton's retort : The only thing funny about that blasphemous remark to the 20th century ear is the idea of wooden battleships.

4) As said before, I've heard him proferred as the saint of plain speech, and in literature there is no mannerism more vexing than the mannerism of plainness.

5) He is very much homework. I have zero reason to look at his work, outside of classroom compulsion.
And vindictiveness for all
Mediocracy redux

Fred Reed on anti-gun hysteria (extending to fake, and therefore harmless, unweapons), on the "persecution" of smokers, on homeland insecurity (correctness hampering efficiency), on racial tensions, on sexual tensions, on "the Stalinism of the inadequate." (Somehow, the phrase Stalinism of the adequate would have seemed more damning. The tyranny of the OK. The oppression of the ordinary.)

Somehow, Mr. Reed manages to stay ebullient and of good cheer. Maybe because, if I've read his other columns aright, he's now living in Mexico.
"I think the Church is top-heavy papal"

says a dear friend of mine, more than halfway through his eighth decade. Something about episcopal appointments. A matter of such importance shouldn't be left to the Universal Pontiff; the editorial board of Commonweal (or, as he calls it, remembering its quondam title, The Commonweal) should have a say!

And of course, there are those who see "oppression" in papal authority, whether in the gentlest of gentle pronouncements that certain writers are not consistently orthodox; whether it be in the attempted reintroduction of some dignified liturgical norms, etc.

But let the Holy Father say something about, oh, the death penalty, and it's amazing how quickly the disciples of plebiscite, the apostles of referendum, the evangelists of collegiality, the prophets of pick-and-choose ... become ultramontane in their insistence that the Holy See, like Glenn Close, is not to be ignored.
A prayerful anamnesis

for all those whose lives have been cut short by violence, whether in the womb, in youth, in young adulthood. With remembrance of the lost and the missing. William Luse at Apologia, and at his best.
What's in a name?

John Derbyshire, with a felicitous examination of diversity in onomastics.

As he examines the more baroque sobriquets, the more eccentric handles, take especial note of that tenpin bowling champion from Hong Kong, circa 1972.
as this observer sees it

[revised version of this post can be found here]

Friday, January 24, 2003

Nouwen : my view
on what would have been his 71st birthday

(see also comment-box to Nouwen post below)

I should add that I like the journals, even the ones that aren't precisely evidence of orthodoxy. I have a fond attachment to Sabbatical Journey in part because of the circumstances of its purchase (where, when, who with) ... also read The Road to Daybreak with unflagging interest. The thin volume on the Sacred Heart was tolerable. I didn't like an early book called The Way of the Heart.

Did like the 1970s timepiece With Open Hands, with the black-and-white photographs & semi-poetic texts. Copies of the old version are still floating about! I have a weakness for such things.

His daybook, Bread for the Journey is good enough, with some vexingly "soft" passages -- so I'd recommend trying to find it used, rather than buying it new. Worth about six dollars -- not 20!

I've read The Inner Voice of Love about four times, hoping to see what others see in it, or even a glimmer, but ... (I'd like to try to write a book like that, even though I didn't quite admire it. Does that make any sense whatsoever?)

I admire Nouwen especially for his unswerving dedication to the discipline of writing. I don't think he was a great (and sometimes not exactly a helpful) theologian, but we might read Nouwen as we read Samuel Pepys or Thomas Merton or any other great/prolific diarist.

As Arthur said to Hobson discussing fish and their monotonous diet of seafood : "What are your thoughts?"
Am removing

the link that was here. Because I'm wagering that I'm not the only person in the world who is driven to the point of madness by fatuity, by obscenity, by criminal affronts to right reason, by a perversion of American ideals, or by a priest of the Ecclesia endorsing unjust discrimination as a cure for unjust discrimination, in ostensible ignorance of Mark 3:23.
Bishop Weigand's homily

in which Gov. Davis of California is taken to task for his un-Catholic views on the sanctity of life. Via Exceptional Marriages, alias Heart, Mind & Strength.

I'm also linking to Lane Core's excellent post on this subject.

Is it premature to shout our bravissimi over what at this point is merely a recommended voluntary self-excommunication?

Pro or con?

Mixed bag? Neutral shrug?

Some books, yes; some books, no?

Intolerably heterodox? Or Catholicism at its finest?

An engaging diarist? A compassionate spiritual teacher? Or a purveyor of softsoap?

All of the above?

If "some books, yes; some books, no" -- which books?

When I grow up

I want to be as rational, as sober, as thoughtful, as mature, as clear-headed, as sound-minded, as unprejudiced, as unfrantic, as unstupid, as fair, as just, as noble, as subtle, as incisive, as intellectual, as reflective, as keen, as averse from invective, as non-juvenile, as generous of heart, as pure of soul, as honest, as decent, as incontrovertibly right as this particular commentator, who calls Condoleezza Rice the devil's handmaiden.
Love that dirty water ... oh, Boston, you're my home!

And Boston is truly blessed to have as its soi-disant "paper of record" the Boston Globe, which recently published some eye-popping jaw-dropping WTF?-inspiring praise of our senior US Senator. Infelicitous? Insensitive? Or just typically progressive? Here's Mark Steyn's take.

Via everybody who linked to it before I did!

Am I the only heretic? Is there anyone else who can go for, oh, decades without looking at Mark Twain and not miss him?

Even accounting for my more-than-slight bias against the genre of fiction, I don't react in a ... reactionary ... fashion when I hear Hawthorne or Melville or O. Henry praised. Praise Thomas Hardy and Henry James, and I might not be as enthusiastic, but I'll accede to the feasibility of the praise, and note that there is considerable merit there. Praise Dostoyevsky. Praise Robert B. Parker. Better yet, praise Dorothy Sayers.

Why don't I like Twain all that much? Is it because he was once homework? But authors I venerate were once homework!

Is it because Twain's world (Twain's world! Twain's world! Party time! Excellent!) isn't mine? But Hamlet's world, Lear's world, Macbeth's world isn't mine!

Do I find Twain to be void of poetry? Am I recalling the aggressive championing of Twain by a quondam chum, who said his great love arose from the writer's plainspokenness? And don't I prefer the occasional display of verbal panache?

What's the deal with me and Twain?

And does anyone else share the unenthusiasm?
You know what my problem is?

I'm just too sub-neopathically preter-paleo post-avant-averse. Not to obsessify over it.

Are you a hardy soul? Are you just plain crazy? Do you want to read some really, really, REALLY bad prose? I mean, painfully (nay : infernally) bad?

One of the "language poets" has a weblog, and in referring us to other weblogs he likes, gives us the most algogenic, the most dolorific, the most blindingly hurtful-like-a-migraine superjargonized prose ... you can't even describe it without ... [shudder] ...

It's my "fear of the Other," that's what it is.

Via Sainteros, who had a quieter reaction of perplexity at the "post-avant."
turn and face the strange

Added to template margin : The Boston Herald and NRO.

Also cleft the "Poetry, culture, politics" catch-all in twain : Politics, papers, periodicals and Poetry & culture.
Cold enough for ya?

Longest and strongest cold spell, certainly, in my adult life. Something like twelve consecutive days we haven't seen 32. The record is seventeen.
James Lileks
via Andrew Sullivan, again!

On the "personality" of actor Ed Harris. The anti-W remarks are quoted in full, and decisively (but amusingly) refuted.

Start reading at "Let's say I'm the casting director for a movie." And continue reading for several long (well-written sharp-thinking clear-seeing entertaining) paragraphs.
My surgeon likes to drink

... in the morning
... at a tavern called The Axe
... is that a bad thing?

Read that, and other amusing moments, in the most recent Pepys.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Larry Elder

criticizes filmmaker Michael Moore for bigoted stereotypes in this article for the Jewish World Review.

But do take note of the statistics that Elder proffers midway through the article ...
The Breakfast Club

I think I saw this film 16 times before it left the cinema, in the early months of 1985. I absolutely loved it.

But the blogger at Classic Catholic (see Places Oft Visited) expresses qualms, here and here -- reservations about the film that seem quite wise.

I seem to remember, though, that no one really crashed through the plate-glass window; merely, that it was screamed to smithereens!

Eccentric addendum : I wonder, sometimes, if the main point of the John Hughes films wasn't or was to get us ready for the Clinton era. Think about Ferris Bueller's Day Off. A cute pathological liar, with his stiff sidekick ("so tight if you took a lump of coal," etc.) ...

And then there were various sitcoms that helped prepare us : Night Court (John Larroquette and Markie Post); Cheers (Ted Danson and Shelley Long) ...

It's the vast left-wing conspiracy, that's what it is!

And Johnny Bender's revolution against the uptight authority-figures was part of it ...
Wendy Leach

"My father worked in the Secret Service, Mr Manfrensinjinsen, and I know perfectly well that you don't keep the general public informed when you are debriefing a KGB agent in a safe house."

-- Maria Aitken in A Fish Called Wanda

Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment -- John 7.24

Sarah, the church gossip and self-appointed supervisor of the church's morals, kept sticking her nose into other people's business. Several members were unappreciative of her activities, but feared her enough to maintain their silence.

She made a mistake, however, when she accused George, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his pickup truck parked in front of the town's only bar one afternoon. She commented to George and others that everyone seeing it there would know that he was an alcoholic. George, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and just walked away. He said nothing.

Later that evening, George quietly parked his pickup in front of Sarah's house, and left it there all night.
Feisty rabbi 'excommunicates' Lieberman
at yesterday's March for Life in Washington

... a smallish portion of which I saw via C-Span ...

"If your 'orthodoxy' permits you to promote deviancy and abortion, the only 'orthodox' you are is an orthodox liberal!" And "excommunicate" was the word the rabbi used to declare that Joe Lieberman's Orthodoxy was, well, spurious.

Wish I remembered the rabbi's name (update, via Mighty Barrister : Rabbi Yehuda Levin).

He said he began marching for life as a young unmarried man, "and now, 24 years and 150 pounds later, I'm a grandfather!"

Everyone looked really happy to be there, even though the weather was a tad Siberian (but not nearly as Siberian as in these parts!). You had Congressman Ryun (former world-record mile-runner), former Congressman Dornan (soft-spoken and reticent, as always) and scores of schoolkids and oldsters from the "grass roots." Marvelous and moving sight.

A less than perfectly canonical thought : Wouldn't Bob Dornan make an interesting bishop?

And is it possible that the feisty rabbi was -- in addition to telling Sen. Lieberman to go chase himself -- tweaking the Catholic episcopate for its insouciance about soi-disant Catholic politicians militating against the laws of God as they pertain to incipient life?

"Such a quaint old city. Filled with relics! And how old are you, Mr. Connor?"

-- Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story

:: :: :: :: ::

"Dost thou have a washroom?"

-- James Stewart, ibid.
Psalm 28. Ad te, Domine.

UNTO thee will I cry, O LORD, my strength: * think no scorn of me; lest, if thou make as though thou hearest not, I become like them that go down into the pit.

2 Hear the voice of my humble petitions, when I cry unto thee; * when I hold up my hands towards the mercyseat of thy holy temple.

3 O pluck me not away, neither destroy me with the ungodly and wicked doers, * which speak friendly to their neighbours, but imagine mischief in their hearts.

4 Reward them according to their deeds, * and according to the wickedness of their own inventions.

5 Recompense them after the work of their hands; * pay them that they have deserved.

6 For they regard not in their mind the works of the LORD, nor the operation of his hands; * therefore shall he break them down, and not build them up.

7 Praised be the LORD; * for he hath heard the voice of my humble petitions.

8 The LORD is my strength, and my shield; my heart hath trusted in him, and I am helped; * therefore my heart danceth for joy, and in my song will I praise him.

9 The LORD is my strength, * and he is the wholesome defence of his anointed.

10 O save thy people, and give thy blessing unto thine inheritance: * feed them, and set them up for ever.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Book 'em, Danno!

I have heard of persons who watch Hawaii Five-O in reruns, & place bets at the beginning of the episode as to whether McGarrett will say the immortal phrase above, or some variation. "Okay, Danno, book him."

Perhaps something similar could be done with the installments of Pepys' Diary that are appearing here. Should we make polite wagers as to whether the diarist will, on a given day, employ the phrase : "And so to bed" ???

Then again, how could we obviate cheating from those who own "dead tree" editions of the Diary?

Oh, well. Just a thought.
James Lileks
via Andrew Sullivan

with some trenchant and necessarily corrective thoughts on the subject of Communism. Much romanticized in certain precincts of our politics.

Scroll down a ways to the section beginning "I spent the morning retweaking a column on the weekend antiwar rallies."
Dom Bede Griffiths, OSB and Miles Coverdale

Two days ago, the Catholic Blog for Lovers noted the 434th anniversary of the death of Miles Coverdale, an Augustinian friar turned vigorous Protestant, a translator of Scripture whose version of the Psalms was used in every Book of Common Prayer up to and including the 1928 American edition.

I've often said that the 1928 BCP Psalter, virtually identical to the 1662 BCP Psalter, is my favorite translation of the Psalms of David. It is Coverdale's handiwork. I find in it a felicity of phrasing like none other. Perhaps two moments where the glory is somewhat dimmed, but not appreciably more than that.

We find confirmation of our preference in the autobiography of the British-born Benedictine, Bede Griffiths, a man intensely concerned with Eastern religion and interfaith dialogue, who founded a monastery (I think he preferred the term, Christian ashram) in India.

Bede Griffiths was a very good friend and correspondent of ... C S Lewis! And he wrote, Griffiths did, an autobiography called The Golden String. From that book, this passage (describing his reversion, after youthful wanderings, to Christianity, initially as a high-Church Anglican) :

I had not prayed since I had been at school, but the change which had now taken place in my mind made it seem natural to do so, and the Book of Common Prayer offered a perfect method of prayer. The Psalms and the Canticles of the Gospel in Coverdale's version came to me as poetry in a way that made the transition to prayer almost imperceptible. I had gone to the poetry of Wordsworth, Shelley and Keats in my early days at school in order to find my experience of the mystery and beauty of nature renewed and enlarged; for poetry is the means by which the feelings and the imagination are educated and their powers developed. Then my vision of human life and especially of its underlying tragedy had been extended by Shakespeare and Sophocles and by the great novelists. Now my horizon was being enlarged and the mystery of God's dealings with humanity and with the individual soul became apparent to me through my reading of the Bible. But it was the same path of imaginative experience which I had been following all the time; and now I found that the words of the Psalms came to me like pure poetry awaking the sense of God's power over nature and His providence over the human soul, and I prayed the Psalms almost without realising it.

:: :: :: :: ::

Bede Griffiths, The Golden String : An Autobiography (Springfield, Ill.: Templegate Publishers, 1980), pp. 90-1.
We hear yet again
in certain quarters

a reiteration of the immitigably rancid, intellectually bankrupt, emetic absurdity that persons who oppose race quotas are racist.

Well. So be it. The word is now void of any meaning it used to possess.

An intolerant ethnochauvinism is a virtue. Or a vice. It all depends on who's being chauvinistic.

A blogger has mocked the President for his less-than-earthshattering insight that prejudice still exists in America. Perhaps we can add the needed acuity to the President's remarks by noting : And some of yesterday's victims are today's villains.

"Our bodies are blessed, but we don't know how to live harmoniously in them. We drive them like vehicles, use them like tools to dig pleasure, and in the process damage them and distort our capacity to understand them. Fasting disciplines help us quiet these impulsive demands, so that we can better hear what they need and how they are meant to work. It is a turning toward health, a way of honoring creation and preparing for eternity.

"Fasting is a good way to begin to corral the impulses of the body. But what about the wandering mind?"

:: :: :: :: ::

Frederica Mathewes-Green, The Illumined Heart : The Ancient Christian Path of Transformation (Paraclete Press, 2001), p. 58
The Philadelphia Story

Jimmy : Doggone it, C. K. Dexter Haven, either I'm going to sock you, or you're going to sock me!

Cary : Shall we toss a coin?
O'Reilly 1, Sullivan 0

Bill O'Reilly at Jewish World Review on Eminem.

Andrew disagrees, & in disagreeing, uses another journalist's name as an epithet of derision. I can't see what Mr Sullivan sees in Mr Mathers, but ... no matter.

Mr Sullivan may have a ghost of a point in that Mr O'Reilly perpetrated hyperbole in comparing Eminem's "free speech" to al-Qaeda terrorism. But surely, O'Reilly's hyperbole also falls under the rubric of free speech, no?
Psalm 3. Domine, quid multiplicati?

LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! * many are they that rise against me.

2 Many one there be that say of my soul, * There is no help for him in his God.

3 But thou, O LORD, art my defender; * thou art my worship, and the lifter up of my head.

4 I did call upon the LORD with my voice, * and he heard me out of his holy hill.

5 I laid me down and slept, and rose up again; * for the LORD sustained me.

6 I will not be afraid for ten thousands of the people, * that have set themselves against me round about.

7 Up, LORD, and help me, O my God, * for thou smitest all mine enemies upon the cheek-bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.

8 Salvation belongeth unto the LORD; * and thy blessing is upon thy people.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

We swim the deep

We swim the deep
to be sung to the tune of "Gather us in ..."

Here, in the ocean, big squid are swimming,
Dodging the sharks and eating small fish;
Undersea depths with creatures are brimming:
Lobsters and crabs that you find on your dish.
We swim the deep, the whale and the dolphin;
Divers descend, are heard from no more.
Submarine snares that you could get caught in!
Best to stay dry and be safe on the shore.

:: :: :: :: ::

Inspired by another blogger's expression of elate enthusiasm (ha! not quite!) for this particular specimen of hymnody!
Edmund Waller (1606-1687)

      Go, lovely Rose—
Tell her that wastes her time and me,
      That now she knows,
When I resemble her to thee,
How sweet and fair she seems to be.

      Tell her that 's young,
And shuns to have her graces spied,
      That hadst thou sprung
In deserts where no men abide,
Thou must have uncommended died.

      Small is the worth
Of beauty from the light retired:
      Bid her come forth,
Suffer herself to be desired,
And not blush so to be admired.

      Then die—that she
The common fate of all things rare
      May read in thee;
How small a part of time they share
That are so wondrous sweet and fair!
Recently in Albany
Hillary fails to make the 'connection'

Chris Matthews : So what does it mean if you pick your nose in Poughkeepsie?

Sen. Clinton [Smiling an almost endearing beats-me smile & shrugging] : I don't know!

:: :: :: :: ::

Matthews didn't press the question. Nor did he explain.

Was this a question designed to call into question the authenticity of Senator Clinton's New Yorkerhood? (Uhm, you think?)

Or did we simply learn that the former First Lady has never attended a Gene Hackman film festival?

Rudy woulda knew!

"Actually, Chris, it's 'pick your feet' ... and you'd have to ask Popeye Doyle, who's no longer with us."

I saw this film for the very first time about a week before the Hardball interview of the Empire State's junior senator.
Serious philosophical contributions
to the beauty discussion

Seen on two different magazine-covers :

Catherine Zeta-Jones : The Most Beautiful Woman in the World

J. Lo : More Proof that God is a Man
Expectations dashed

Well, I was looking forward to the gig; but as luck would have it, I am not a Gap Casting Call Finalist.


They said I was 40 pounds too heavy. That's not true!

I'm five inches too short. I'm a great weight ... for somebody six-foot-four!

:: :: :: :: ::

An attempt at a joke. As Stephen Fry said in a different context, forgive these freakish humors.
Possibly upcoming

more from the Coverdale Psalter

tracy photo (chapman, not spencer)

confessional surrealism (the subversively personal lyrics of Merton's Cables)

Saint Agnes Eve ah bitter chill it was; or, How's that brass monkey holding up?

new york school haiku?
Possible autobiography titles

me get chubby one day

One More Wild Hope Dies of Affliction

November Spawned a Monster

"There is too much pepper on my paprikash. But I would be proud to partake of your pecan pie!"

-- Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally
Yes, to reiterate ...

Please tell me, readers, at once if you can't see a picture. Because sometimes I can see the picture just fine.

As with the Tracy Chapman photograph I posted here a while back (just now am I understanding Mr Luse's cryptic comment, "Is it X-rated?" Well, no -- but all he was seeing was the red X).

As with the JP2 photograph.

So do let me know if something ain't showing up as it should. In language that admits of no ambiguity!
by Caryll Houselander (1901-54)

All the young men
and all the young women
hope for serenity,
a mild prosperity,
and a dull old-age.

They want the Sunday smell --
beef in a dead street --
six days to be bored
and one to overeat.

Poor little birds in a cage,
sitting behind the bars!
It isn't life :
it's the living wage
and the night without the stars.

:: :: :: :: ::

Kilmer-Tobin Anthology (Liveright, 1955), p. 292
A Thought from Cardinal Newman
by Matthew Russell, SJ

The world shines bright for inexperienced eyes,
And death seems distant to the gay and strong,
And in the youthful heart proud fancies throng,
And only present good can nature prize.
How then shall youth o'er these low vapours rise,
And climb the upward path so steep and long?
And how, amid earth's sights and sounds of wrong,
Walk with pure heart and face raised to the skies?

By gazing on the infinitely Good,
Whose love must quell, or hallow every other --
By living in the shadow of the Rood,
For He that hangs there is our Elder Brother,
Who dying gave to us Himself as food,
And His own Mother as our nursing Mother.

:: :: :: :: ::

From the Kilmer-Tobin Anthology of Catholic Poets (Liveright, 1955), p. 192
8.44 am : All righty then

A few adjustments have been made to template (do I need the definite article? -- to market, to bed, to school, to template) in the hopes of making visible the candlelight-at-Taizé picture, and the Greek cross (now placed, more fittingly, directly above "Orthodox Sites").

So :

Said the little blogger to his readership,
Do you see what I see?

Or are you still getting the "broken icon" thingie? Please let me know. I'd hate for anyone to think I'm an iconoclast!

a) Is Taizé visible?
b) Is the Greek cross visible?
Oh, yes, one more thing ...

... at the doorway about to leave, Lt. Columbo turns back to ask

The small photograph of the Greek cross that I've placed in the left margin just below "Some Catholic Blogs" and just above "Catholic Sites (votive, not VOTF)" -- is it visible to one and all?

For whatever reason, no one but I could see the JP2 photograph that I posted on the evening of the 19th, and now I'm worried that other photos might not be visible.

Please do let me know if any photograph placed here consistently refuses to appear.

But the cross is visible, right?
That questionnaire that's been going around  


Monday, January 20, 2003

The 4 Beauties, Redux
Refining, if not re-defining, a category

A few days ago in this space we spoke of the four major varieties of beauty; since then, other categories have been suggested, or have suggested themselves. But I believe that these "new" categories can be considered subsets or facets of the first.

The four beauties, as proposed here, were (and are) :

1. The Truly Beautiful
2. The Pretty, or the Conventionally Beautiful
3. The Gorgeous, or the Seductively Beautiful
4. The Cute, or the Comically Beautiful

But it may be that the first type of beauty can be divided into at least five subsets, for each of which we shall provide a pair of adjectives. These categories are by no means exhaustive, and there is a possibility that they may overlap each other. But they seem to be interesting areas of exploration :

a. The Awesome/Sublime
b. The Lovely/Radiant
c. The Happy/Wholesome
d. The Poignant/Sad
e. The Logical/True

:: :: :: :: ::

a. The Awesome/Sublime

That which is holy or godly. That which points to Transcendence in an obvious or a subtle manner. Gregorian chant. A beautiful sunset. The music of an Orthodox Divine Liturgy.

b. The Lovely/Radiant

Human beauty, most often. Or any beauty that inspires poetry of praise. Shakespeare's 18th sonnet was inspired by this type of beauty. If we speak of a person having a "glow," the Radiant is certainly present.

c. The Happy/Wholesome

The beauty of a life well lived. The beauty of health. The beauty of, well, happiness. Athletes can have this beauty; nuns can have this beauty (and sometimes nuns can have "the glow"!) .

d. The Poignant/Sad

The poignant is an example of true beauty that summons something akin to sorrow. It's the beauty that, while making us cry, is nonetheless wholly beautiful. The sadness might not inhere in the beautiful thing itself, but with an association closely connected to the thing. We listen to a singer with a beautiful voice, let us say, singing of new beginnings; and then we recall that the singer died young. Or we think of the beauty of a much-beloved from the distant past, and recall the circumstances that led to the estrangement. The poignant can lead to the gorgeousness of melancholy.

e. The Logical/True

Mathematicians might find beauty in their work. Poets might find beauty in a difficult bit of prosody, beautifully achieved. Political philosophers, or philosophers of any kind, might find beauty in a sound idea, beautifully expressed. A proverb (either biblical or secular) can possess the beauty of the Logical.

Of course, a "logic" that is at odds with the true cannot be beautiful, can it? Can we divorce the rational from the moral, and still create a thing of beauty?

:: :: :: :: ::

While promising a refinement of definition, perhaps we've just inspired more questions. But perhaps that's not so bad. Perhaps we've even stumbled into a helpful way of looking at things.

What are your thoughts?
Jeff Jacoby has a dream

that one day the PMS Media (PMS = Polluted Main Stream) will give just and fitting scrutiny to the hateful utterances, bizarre actions, unwholesome eccentricities and graver-than-venial sins of the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Other types of beauty

that I'm considering adding to the Four Beauties to make, it would seem, Seven.

The Sublime (suggested at another weblog's comment-boxes)

The Radiant

and The Poignant.
I've taken away

the spectacular photograph of His Holiness John Paul II, from several years ago. I could see it just fine, but apparently few others, if any others, could.

That's because I have the special eyeglasses! Ha, ha.
Dreamed, the other morning

just before waking up, of this song.
25 years ago today

A winter storm brought 21 inches of snow to Boston. This storm was known as the Blizzard of '78 ... for a little more than two weeks, when the real Blizzard of '78 (6th-8th February) arrived!
Marianne Moore
not unrelated to an earlier post

"To profess neutrality between a noble cause and a base cause is to express sympathy with the baser cause."

:: :: :: :: ::

I apologize for the lack of bibliographic citation. I'm almost certain it's from her collected letters, a book which I do not own. I'm fairly sure it was in reference to Indian leader Jawaharlal Nehru, in whom Miss Moore perceived a shoulder-shrugging ça m'est égal attitude of indifference between democracy and communism.
The venerable Noonan

on the rigid pro-aborthodoxy of the Demmies, and on the social consequences of the 40 million lives destroyed at their incipience.
He should change his first name to "must"

Well, there's this :

My last night in Arlington, chilly, portending rain, traffic heavy on Wilson Boulevard. I was doing ribs at Red, Hot, and Blue on the theory that a coronary occlusion was better than saving myself for the tumor. A benefit of life is that you have choices.

And this :

He was the squishily pretty kind of psychologist with the bikini-line beard and the condescension that comes of infinite understanding.

And this! :

Washington is the left ventricle of the heart of darkness ...

:: :: :: :: ::

From Fred Reed's latest. "This week's diseased ranting! Guaranteed reprehensible!"

Go see why it's called Watering Jane Fonda.

One day someone should remind us that, even though there may be political and ideological differences between us, the Vietnamese are our brothers, the Russians are our brothers, the Chinese are our brothers; and one day we've got to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. But in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile. In Christ there is neither male nor female. In Christ there is neither communist nor capitalist. In Christ, somehow, there is neither bound nor free. We are all one in Christ Jesus.

-- from "A Christmas Sermon on Peace"

:: :: :: :: ::

Two questions :

1. What's right with this passage?

2. What's wrong with this passage?

My problem exactly. Especially the last paragraph.

At Video meliora : Hilaire Belloc describes the effects of abstaining from drink, to which one can so easily become accustomed.
from Psalm 119

XIV. Lucerna pedibus meis.

THY word is a lantern unto my feet, * and a light unto my paths.

106 I have sworn, and am stedfastly purposed, * to keep thy righteous judgments.

107 I am troubled above measure: * quicken me, O LORD, according to thy word.

108 Let the free-will offerings of my mouth please thee, O LORD; * and teach me thy judgments.

109 My soul is alway in my hand; * yet do I not forget thy law.

110 The ungodly have laid a snare for me; * but yet I swerved not from thy commandments.

111 Thy testimonies have I claimed as mine heritage for ever; * and why? they are the very joy of my heart.

112 I have applied my heart to fulfil thy statutes alway, * even unto the end.

XV. Iniquos odio habui.

I HATE them that imagine evil things; * but thy law do I love.

114 Thou art my defence and shield; * and my trust is in thy word.

115 Away from me, ye wicked; * I will keep the commandments of my God.

116 O stablish me according to thy word, that I may live; * and let me not be disappointed of my hope.

117 Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe; * yea, my delight shall be ever in thy statutes.

118 Thou hast trodden down all them that depart from thy statutes; * for they imagine but deceit.

119 Thou puttest away all the ungodly of the earth like dross; * therefore I love thy testimonies.

120 My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; * and I am afraid of thy judgments.
The only things we have to do

are pay taxes and die. But if you like, you can read some ecclesial Q & A via the Orthodox Christian Fellowship of MIT.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

The post that was here

has been expunged.
Anne Lamott

In Bird by Bird, is she :

a) giving us valuable advice about writing, esp. the writing of fiction?
b) making stale, dated jokes about Republican figures of bygone decades (e.g., Tricia Nixon, Georgette Mosbacher)?
c) annoying the crunch out of us with the relentless attempts at coolness & cuteness?
d) causing us to put down the book faster than a hot potato?
e) providing us with yet another tome we can lug over to Harvard Book Store to sell?
f) all the above?
g) all of the above except "a"?

I'll read the KFKD chapter. Then I'll probably give it to the goodly folk at HBS.
Three days in review

Friday : Confession. And spent the evening dry as a desert. No dram or drop of grape or other spirit. It assisted sleep! More than seven hours, I think. Might I preposthumously nominate my confessor as a doctor of the church? As cautious, as charitable, as sharp a "spiritual surgeon" as one is likely to find anywhere in the Ecclesia. Of a creative mind, patient with the penitent, and unafraid to "direct."

Saturday : Rage, wrath, depression, and every demon in the pandaemonium. Advice to all Christian webloggers : Never go online "first thing in the morning"; a minimum of five minutes of preferably vocal oratio, perhaps closer to twenty if time permits. Oratio and/or lectio. To jump right into the news of the world after a pleasant night's sleep can disconcert. At least, just sit quietly and sip a cup of coffee until the brain wakes up enough to pray. Add to that this personal peculiarity : Saturdays always put me in a bad mood. Like Mudville after Casey's third strike. And Saturday was not desert-dry. Nonetheless, a sleep last night close to eight hours!

Sunday : Unsplendid to this point. Call it tolerably dreary. Don't have much more to say than that.
The Lady in the Pew

with some sharp remarks and keen thoughts about Catholic politicians, the recent reminder from the Holy See, and looking for Our Lord's tabernacle in all the wrong places. Oh, yes, and the legacy of President Kennedy.
Psalm 30. Exaltabo te, Domine.

I WILL magnify thee, O LORD; for thou hast set me up, * and not made my foes to triumph over me.

2 O LORD my God, I cried unto thee; * and thou hast healed me.

3 Thou, LORD, hast brought my soul out of hell: * thou hast kept my life, that I should not go down into the pit.

4 Sing praises unto the LORD, O ye saints of his; * and give thanks unto him, for a remembrance of his holiness.

5 For his wrath endureth but the twinkling of an eye, and in his pleasure is life; * heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

6 And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be removed: * thou, LORD, of thy goodness, hast made my hill so strong.

7 Thou didst turn thy face from me, * and I was troubled.

8 Then cried I unto thee, O LORD; * and gat me to my LORD right humbly.

9 What profit is there in my blood, * when I go down into the pit?

10 Shall the dust give thanks unto thee? * or shall it declare thy truth?

11 Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me; * LORD, be thou my helper.

12 Thou hast turned my heaviness into joy; * thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness:

13 Therefore shall every good man sing of thy praise without ceasing. * O my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.