Around St. Blog's: August 2002 Archives

Return to Medieval England

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Return to Medieval England
But not courtesy of me, this time, I'm sure you're thankful. Ms. Knapp of From the Anchor Hold has posted a wonderful excerpt of that great blossom of Medieval English Poetry--Geoffrey Chaucer. Said excerpt highlights the qualties of a good shepherd. Hie thee there and partake of it!

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Dylan's Poetry Review

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Dylan's Poetry Review
Yes, once again La Vita Nuova hosts a lovely couplet. In this case a pair of poems. One by 16th century poet Thomas Campion, the other by Countee Culllen. These kinds of reasonable comparison completely defy those who wish for a rigid and largely exclusive canon. (Although, are there really any such unreasonable beasts, or are they straw men? I don't know sufficiently the shape of the academic terrain to say. But considering that in all books about the Western Canon I hear not a single word about the poets of the Harlem Renaissance, Vachel Lindsay, or Paul Lawrence Dunbar, one must begin to wonder.) The Canon can take in an enormous amount and never bloat, and I would guess that Countee Cullen is more likely to speak to modern young people than Leo Tolstoy, Henry James, or several others commonly in the canon (although, in reality, given our current trends in education, most modern young people may emerge from school unable to read or apprehend any of them).

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Food for Thought

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This Post over at Video M... provided some fodder for rumination. I join the ruminants. It says in part:

If one uses a journal to vent or complain, perhaps that only serves to reinforce the sense of injustice that you feel in being wronged, rather than in forgiving that person and "moving on".

I have kept a journal for 30 or more years and I discover that in keeping the journal I pray more often and more deeply. I pray with pen in hand, waiting to hear what may be spoken.

Yes, I have used the same journals to rake people over the coals, but what I have discovered is that writing out my "complaint" gives me the ability to let go of it. I remember of one particularly unfortunate victim of my pique I wrote,

When you die no worms
will open the windows of your corpse.
You would melt the plastic violets
in an old lady's hat.

It went on from there, but vitriol is best contained in small vials and the continuation was simply bleeding out the rest of the wound. As a result of writing that poem I was able to forgive the person whatever unimaginable harm they had done me.

I use the journal to write "unsent letters" that spell out my grievances in atrocious detail. When I am finished, there is no need to send the letters and all has been forgiven.

But the plus side of a journal far outweighs the minus side. When I reflect on the Bible I can find truths that sometimes I am surprised to stumble over in later years, providentially at a time when I need to remember that aspect of God's Mercy.

However, I can see that a journal can be used to work yourself up from merely made into violent fury--to concentrate venom from a very minor infraction into virulent poison--to turn a mosquito bite into dengue fever. If you do not write as a normal thing, then a journal may serve as a repository of cherished feelings, and among the most cherished are the nursing of some grievous wound dealt you by some callous fraud. I'll be most interested in seeing how Mr. O'Rama plays this out.

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Fascinating Discussion involving Rites

I am no expert, and I have little or no opinion on these matters, but I find the discussion fascinating. This excerpt from Disputations, but the conversation is continuing at many different sites.

A third difference between then and now is that the multiplicity of rites originally arose more or less naturally. The Gallican Mass differed from the Roman Mass just because they did things differently in Lyons than they did in Rome. Nowadays, the motivations for multiple rites are theological and emotional. This rite is objectively better than that rite, or this rite makes me feel better. Neither type of motivation, in my opinion, suffices for manufacturing a multiplicity of rites where none now exists. A rite that is objectively worse, theologically, should not be used; and resurrecting a rite to make people feel good is to subjectivize the one thing in this world that is most objective.

I may be speaking of a completely different issue, but I find that an occasional attendance at a Byzantine Rite, helps me to truly appreciate the diversity and beauty of "what God hath wrought." I have not followed the complexity of the discussion of missals, rites, hymnals, and other details, but on the gross scale, attendance at a Maronite Rite or a Byzantine Rite church would, I think, prove to be illuminating for most people. It shows the richness of the treasures of the One, Holy, Catholic Church. And we do have a great many treasures. But this is a mere footnote to a wide-ranging and complex discussion I do not pretend to have the expertise to understand. Enjoy it!

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More about Morality and Literature

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T. S. O'rama is back (thank goodness for those of us who are loyal readers) with some insightful comments about the conversation regarding what constitutes "good" in literature. Take a look.

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Philip Pullman

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The ever-delightful Amy Welborn advises us that Philip Pullman has pulled out yet another stop.

Pullman, 55, won this year's Whitbread book award for the final instalment of the His Dark Materials trilogy, in which he created a parallel universe ruled by a senile, viciously sadistic deity who has to be deposed in battle so the inhabitants can join with angels in creating a "republic of heaven". The Catholic Herald called his books "the stuff of nightmares" and "worthy of the bonfire". Another critic cautioned: "Christian parents beware." Pullman, who writes for children but shuns the category, "children's author", is only outsold by JK Rowling's Harry Potter series and has a vast adult readership. Keen to tackle received ideas on religion, he recently called CS Lewis's highly Christian Narnia books "blatantly racist" and "monumentally disparaging of children". Such is his hatred of domineering, organised religion, he has become something of an evangelical atheist. During a debate on morality in fiction at the Edinburgh international books festival at the weekend, Pullman warned that in the climate of threatened attacks on Iraq and the crisis in the Middle East, we live in a Godless and uncertain age, and unless writers wrestled with the larger questions of moral conduct, they would become useless and irrelevant.

It's a real shame that the enormously talented Pullman has not read (or perhaps refuses to internalize) what Dostoyevski observed ages ago and what James Hynes reiterated more recently, "A man who believes in nothing is capable of anything." Atheism has certainly proven a beacon of light to all nations. Think how well we would all be served if every world leader were of the caliber of a Stalin, a Mao, or a Pol Pot!

I know, I'm preaching to the choir here, but Pullman annoys me because he wastes a prodigious talent in work unworthy of him. I think about the parable of the three talents, and if ever a talent were buried. However, always when I consider these things, I am led to cast my mind upward toward God, and I offer a prayer for Philip that his obviously damaged heart might be healed.

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Introduction to the Fathers

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This site via Xavier+ blogspot gives a very brief introduction and then a quotation to give a sample of the writing of a given father. The purpose of the site in the webmaster's own words:

Those who are interested in studying the writings of the Fathers of the Christian Church are often overwhelmed by the sheer vastness of the volumes they find before them. In order to introduce the curious reader in a very simple way to the writings of these beloved Fathers, this website contains excerpts on various subjects from their writings in the hope that the reader may be spurred on to further and deeper study of our forebears in the faith.


The webmaster appears (if the links are indicative) to be an Orthodox Christian of some variety. The comments and selections are additionally categorized by a topic. For those who have been interested, but have shied away for one reason or another, a most worthwhile site. Go and enjoy!

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Must See and Read

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John Betts over at Just Your Average Catholic Guy is producing a decidedly non-average series on the noncanonical works of the New Testament. A small excerpt to whet your appetite (in reference to the texts of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas):

I find that one cannot read these texts without being highly amused, for the Jesus in these apocryphal gospels is a Divine Dennis the Menace or Squire of Gothos (sans the obsession for fencing). He not only knows Who He Is, but he certainly isn't afraid to show it. Indeed, poor Joseph finds that the boy Jesus is quite the handful and, like many parents of willful children, is a number of times at wits end about what to do with the boy. This boy Jesus smites those who offend him (though those who were struck down are restored in the end), and is very much the terror to any teacher brave enough (or more aptly perhaps foolish enough) to try and teach him his letters. Joseph becomes so vexed at what to do with the boy Jesus that he scolds him and tries corporal punishment of a sort: pinching the boy's ear until it was very sore. Yet to his consternation, the boy Jesus, of course annoyed because of this, looks up at him and says, "It sufficeth thee (or them) to seek and not to find, and verily thou hast done unwisely: knowest thou not that I am thine? vex me not." Imagine having God as your child and trying to punish him!
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Happenings in Blog World

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I've added several sites to my list of those visited frequently. A Catholic Point of View presents images and icons from the world of Catholic and (presumably) Orthodox art with commentary. My Daily Crumbs provides reflections of a young Catholic musician along with access to some of his music--including a FREE CD and some compressed real player files to sample. Enjoy

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At Error 503:La Vita Nuova Dylan offers us this remarkable poem by Thomas Campion as well as a tribute to Chicago area poet Kenneth Koch, recently deceased. Check it out!

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Another Gem from Blog Land

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I never fail to be amused, or at least perplexed (a rather enjoyable state overall) by the remarkable comments at Disputations.

I quote the excerpt below because it is a remarkable summary of much of the way I feel as well.

I don't have any insightful or non-negotiable opinions about liturgy, translations, enneagrams, EWTN, or Cardinal Law. What I will object to strenuously, though, are Catholics who demonstrate no faith in the Catholic faith.

(Add "worthwhile" to "insightful or nonnegotiable" to get a clearer idea of my stand.)

Although, contra John (elsewhere in the same blog), I do identify myself quite clearly as an Orthodox Catholic. (I just am uncertain about orthopraxis--out of ignorance, not defiance.) I insist that I am a true son of the Holy Catholic Church and any opinions I may hold contrary to its teaching are to be considered subject thereto (being a convert from the Baptist faith, I plead mostly ignorance).

That's not to say that I don't struggle with some of these same teachings. But when asked about them, I might advance my opinion, with the clear admonition that it is merely my opinion and not the teaching of the church and that I am presently struggling with and attempting to enter into the church teaching. I am pleased to say that on every point of importance on which I have disagreed with the Church, I have subsequently been proven wrong, by reason and the Holy Spirit. Praise God!

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Another must-read! Chez Dylan

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Chez Dylan you will find a wonderful response to the letter by a priest defending "choice" that has been making the blog-rounds. Beautifully stated and entirely self-consistent and logical.

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"This is the saddest story.

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This post may be one of the saddest things I have read in recent days. And it is such an appropriate characterization.

An excerpt:


There can be nothing new in her particular vision because the new is simply a metaphor for what she already understands. She has the tiniest god I've ever seen. He fits inside her head.

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Spirit Detector But this time

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But this time not to critique. Hop right over. Now. No, sooner--quick. Read the wonderful post on the Catholic Church's built-in spirit detector and see what you think!

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Catechism Internet Study Group

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Many are probably already aware of this (I seem always to be the last to know. But below is a description for those, who like me, have to sneak up on such things by yourself.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church Internet Study Group

[Our study group program will begin on Monday, August 19th, 2002. In the meantime, please read below, and explore the site. We recommend starting with this page and our "Full Description of the Program." You may visit the forum and register at any time. We'll remind you by email 2 weeks before the course starts. Please see "Getting Started" for how to do this]

More info

Our Schedule

Our full program of reading, reflection, and discussion described below - is scheduled to begin on Monday, August 19th, 2002. Until then, we will be trying to let as many people as possible know about our site and our program. You can help by sharing our site (CCCISG.ORG) with people who you think might be interested.

Whom is this for?

To put it simply, this site is for anyone who would like to learn more about the contents of the CCC, which present the Church's best, most recent expression of its full and authoritative teaching. Some specific ideas about who those people might be are:

1. Ordinary, lay Catholics (like the members of our Steering Committee) who want to learn more about the doctrinal teachings of the Catholic Church. "(The CCC) is also offered to all the faithful who wish to deepen their knowledge of the unfathomable riches of salvation." [FD]

2. People who are or want to be involved as volunteer catechists in parish activities who want to deepen their knowledge of the CCC as a foundation for this work.

3. People who have an ecclesiastical or professional need to become familiar with the contents of the CCC, and who find the methodology of our program convenient and helpful.

4. Non-Catholics who are curious about what the Church teaches. The CCC is "...offered to everyone who asks us to give an account of the hope that is in us, and who wants to know what the Catholic Church believes." [FD]

Perhaps I will see you there!

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Flannery O'Connor Tribute

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Flannery O'Connor Tribute

Chez Gerard Serafin,you will find a wonderful tribute to Flannery O'Connor, including:

Hers is a vision rooted in the Mysteries of Creation, the Fall, the Incarnation, the Redemption. But she speaks of these in stories that can both stun and shine! This edition of her works is the best I know and the most beautiful to behold and touch. A treasure-house - and it has most of her letters too! These letters have had me both crying and laughing - what a noble soul radiates in these stories and letters! She once called herself a "hillbilly Thomist" and you will find in Flannery O'Connor - A GREAT ARTIST AND GREAT CATHOLIC!

Enjoy!

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Around St. Blog's category from August 2002.

Around St. Blog's: July 2002 is the previous archive.

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