February 07, 2003

Non-Guilty Pleasures Basho, Li Po

Non-Guilty Pleasures

Basho,
Li Po and Tu Fu and the fact that I still use Wade-Giles rather than the cumbersome and no more accurate Pinyin
Robert Herrick and the entire metaphysical crew
Christina Rossetti
Claude Debussy
Ralph Vaughn-Williams
Les Sept
Scarlatti
Couperin
Rene Magritte and Yves Tanguy
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
tropical temperatures, sights, and foods
salsa, rhumba, conga, meringue, and cubano-latino jazz
Bachianas Brasilieras (particularly # 5, which, with its wonderful vocalise I always think of as Rima's theme)
Yma Sumac
(Since I mentioned these two I should add Green Mansions)
Lounge Music--Most particularly Les Baxter
The Stray Cats and sucessors
Thorne Smith (especially Night Life of the Gods and I Married a Witch
P.G. Wodehouse
All of H. Rider Haggard (this should be a guilty pleasure, but I can't muster up much in the way of feeling bad about it--unlike my sneaking enjoyment of much of Ken Russell's oeuvre--apropos of nothing)
St Blog's
and countless others, but I start here.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 06:44 PM | Comments (0)

To Explain My Guilty Pleasure

To Explain My Guilty Pleasure

Visit this website. Can't vouch for anything else on the site, but she's generated some incredible images. See the "Ultrafractals" for some Mandelbrot manipulations and magnifications. Xenodreams is not strictly speaking a fractal rendering, but it does use fractals for some of the images, and these are lovely. My work is much more mundance, but if you're interested in the stuff, it is all mesmerizing. And here you will find the Internet Fractal Database.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 06:00 PM | Comments (0)

Yikes! No wonder no

Yikes!

No wonder no one can get question 2, the date is October 6. Sorry.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 05:36 PM | Comments (0)

The Spectre of the Second

The Spectre of the Second Horseman

A recent letter from the Dominican Superior has John at Disputations thinking hard about war. And I know a great many others are as well.

Here's my take. Whether we go to war or not is not my decision. No one is going to ask me, they probably won't even include me in a poll. Thus it is completely out of my hands. I suppose were I moved to do so I could stir up some public opinion and perhaps persuade a senator or a congressman who was already inclined that way to resist the tidal surge. But the fact is, I am not so moved. I can do nothing. . . or can I?

In fact, I can do the most influential, most powerful thing there is to do--I can pray for God's will to be done. I need not worry about the relative justice or injustice of this war. I do not have to heed any number of letters, protesters or provocations. I do not have to figure out whether the war is just or not, because like it or not, if there is one, I am involved. Mind you, I do not criticize those who are thinking and questioning, because that is their role--my role is to encourage everyone to pray, not for what we want, but for God's will to be discerned and done by those who will make the decision. Hard and earnest, heartfelt, and self-sacrificing prayer is my advice to all. Hold your opinions, analyze the information, trust Bush, trust Daschle or whomever, but above all these, trust God first and foremost. If His Will is done, and it will only be so through the constant and complete sacrifice of prayer, then it is right. We believe this, trust this, and act on this. So, for those with a vocation and calling to prayer (this includes everyone) and those with a special charism for prayer, consider making an hour sacrifice of prayer each week, or if you can each day. Let God's will be done on Earth.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 05:29 PM | Comments (0)

Another Guilty Pleasure Constructing, deconstructing,

Another Guilty Pleasure

Constructing, deconstructing, and navigating sucessively smaller iterations on fractal orbital diagrams. Generating pictures of the Mandelbrot set at ten-million magnification, and then setting the colors to flow (incredible--like Peter Max or something). Generating julia sets and cantor sets. I don't know that I learn a thing from all of this--but the pictures are incredibly beautiful and wonderful. Doesn't seem like much guilt would accrue--but let me tell you--you can spend some time with some of these--particularly if you're using hyperbolic functions.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 05:07 PM | Comments (0)

Virtual Perpetual Adoration You can't

Virtual Perpetual Adoration

You can't confess over the internet, but apparently you can adore. Don't know how I feel about this. I'll have to try it at work someday soon.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 04:52 PM | Comments (0)

An Oblique Hint To one

An Oblique Hint

To one of the questions no one has guessed--Sir John Tenniel--now you have to tell me why as well.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 04:48 PM | Comments (0)

Literary Trivia (1)When and What

Literary Trivia

(1)When and What is "Bloomsday?"
(2)What is the Literary significance of October 6 [modified note originally incorrectly:10]?
(3)(an easy one) Who were Acton, Currer, and Ellis Bell and what is their claim to fame?
(4)What is an "Appointment in Samarra?"
(5)How are Shakesperean and Petrarchean sonnets different?
(6)What claim to fame had Virginia Woolf's Father?
(7)Jonathan Swift's wife was related to what other famous literary figure?
(8)Author of "Absalom and Achitophel" this poet became catholic late in life. Who was it?


That's enough for now. E-mail or comment your answers. I shall withhold comment for a day or say while waiting.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:12 AM | Comments (0)

Coming Soon I hope--poems with

Coming Soon

I hope--poems with titles like "The Big Drop," "In the Barrel," "Cape St. Francis," "Surfing Biarritz," and "Tuavara."

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:52 AM | Comments (0)

Guilty Pleasures I am inspired

Guilty Pleasures

I am inspired today by Ms. Hall to list five guilty pleasures, having indulged in the top one last night:

(1) Surf Movies and Beach Movies (especially ANYTHING by Bruce Brown)--Last night's festival--Samuel and I watched Endless Summer and then, hey, whuddayaknow--there appears, as if by magic upon the glowing tube fed by the glassine cable Endless Summer II
(2)Truly bad cinema--usually in groups--Billy the Kid v. Dracula (by William "One-Shot"Beaudine, one of the true artistes of bad cinema) Plan Nine from Outer Space, and The Horror at Party Beach. Truly delectable.
(3) Taking mindless internet quizzes.
(4) Eating all the toppings you might find on a turtle sundae with no ice cream (usually on crushed graham crackers).
(5) Olives--kalamata, sicilian, Roma, green, black, Manzanilla, Manzeras, Egyptian--you name 'em, I've never met an olive that wasn't immediately and delectably consumable.


Oh and add to the list
Agatha Christie novels, or any golden age detective fiction
Xanth novels (no, I won't explain for those who do not already know--you'll just have to find out elsewhere--this is too guilty)
My many pairs of baggies and my huarchi (I know I'm not spelling it right) sandals
Pseudo surfing with boy (sense a theme here)
Very small dogs--yorkies, chihuahuas, teacup poodles, maltese--these canines in miniature just wipe me out.
Early Stephen King novels (forget the recent overblown drivel)
H.P. Lovecraft
Varney the Vampire and the entire stock of Late 18th and Early 19th century Gothics, including The Monk
REAL cherry coke--cloyingly sweet


I shall desist--my stock of guilty pleasures is the only remaining evidence that I was once a Baptist. I shouldn't parade it too boldly. (Actually attending a good Baptist sermon/prayer meeting/revival also is a guilty pleasure--the Baptists know how to preach like nobody's business, and they are intent, serious, and driven by the Lord--however, I always feel a little qualm)

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:50 AM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2003

Category: Could Have Cared Less,

Category: Could Have Cared Less, The Winner Is. . .

Yes another quiz result. This one via Summa Minutiae.

You are Irish
You are a Dubliner.


What's your Inner European?
brought to you by Quizilla

And this result with answers like Latino, and Ay Carumba.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 06:32 PM | Comments (0)

The World of Star Trek,

The World of Star Trek, Today--Conspiracy Theory

Mr. O'Rama is dubious, but I don't know, perhaps it was the warp drive that caused the problem. Go here and look for the entry for about 3:15 today (February 6, 2003). Then drop Mr. O'Rama a line correcting his obvious misapprehensions considering the world of FTL travel. I knew this was true all along, and don't we still wonder what's with Area 51 and Hangar 17?

Posted by Steven Riddle at 06:23 PM | Comments (0)

Another Blog--Not St. Blog's But

Another Blog--Not St. Blog's But Interesting

Mr. Craig Biggerstaff has stopped by here on occasion and made some insightful and interesting comments. You might be interested in his blog, which is, in small part, the chronicle of a man searching for the right place in faith. Enjoy Page Fault Interrupt.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 01:16 PM | Comments (0)

S.I.C.L.E. From a mother who

S.I.C.L.E.

From a mother who could do with all of our prayers and support. I don't usually post this kind of thing, but I saw it yesterday somewhere and thought about it, and then saw it again at The Might Barrister and decided that as much as I had been moved and informed, it would be good to make this blog available to the greatest number of visitors possible. It is the chronicle of a woman who was convinced against her better judgment to have an abortion because of an extremely debilitating and sometimes life-threatening condition she suffered from.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 12:54 PM | Comments (0)

Christianity and the New Age

Christianity and the New Age

My thanks to Mr. Nixon of Sursum Corda who directed me to this wonderful Vatican Document on the New Age. Go and read it yourself, it is most interesting for those acquainted with the movement, its notions and practices. I swooped down upon it with my wonderful PDA conversion utility and now will carry it with me until I have a chance to absorb the entire thing. (It is somewhat lengthy).

Posted by Steven Riddle at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

Father Rahner, Redux In many

Father Rahner, Redux

In many places throughout St. Blogs, Fr. Karl Rahner, S. J. has been the subject of much conversation. Now, even if some of his thought is suspect, that does not damage the entirety of his opus. Just as Origen is still read for his vast body of orthodox work, even though his universalist tendencies were heretical, so with Fr. Rahner who coming from a later time, made no divergence of the magnitude of Origen's. (And let's face it, universalism is very appealing when one wishes for an all-loving God. I tend to give Origen the benefit of the doubt in this matter, as it was early on in the formulation of doctrine and his error seems one of charity). Okay, now that I've riled half of the world with those comments, my point is that even one who is in error on some things (as who is not?) can have a truly close, truly deep walk with God. Fr. Rahner saw fit to share that with us:

from Encounters with Silence Chapter 1 "The God of My Life" Fr. Karl Rahner, S. J.

But when I love You, when I manage to break out of the narrow circle of self and leave behind the restless agony of unanswered questions, when my blinded eyes no longer look merely from afar and from the outside upon Your unapproachable brightness, and much more when You Yourself, O Incomprehensible One, have become through love the inmost center of my life, then I can bury myself entirely in You, O mysterious God, and with myself all my questions.

Love such as this wills to possess You as You are--how could it desire otherwise? It wants You Yourself, not Your reflection in the mirror of its own spirit. It wants to be united with You alone, so that in the very instant in which it gives up possession of itself, it will have not just Your image, but Your very self.

Dissenter or not, and I leave that between Rahner and his Judge, there is no doubt in my mind that Fr. Rahner longed for and described a powerful, beautiful, and fulfilling union with God. Again, I cannot say whether he lived to see fulfillment of this desire, but it is my ardent prayer that he experiences it now in the bosom of His Majesty.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:17 AM | Comments (0)

Haloscan Okay, you all may

Haloscan

Okay, you all may have noted that Haloscan is warping in an out as they do some server work. Initially we lost all posts prior to yesterday. Presently, I have lost all posts from yesterday, but have recovered many of those prior to yesterday. This is all in the scheme of things, and while disconcerting, certainly no cause for rethinking the strategy already adopted here. I thank God for the ability to hold these conversations at all, and I thank all the kind people out there who take the time and energy to comment. Eventually these warping shifts will settle down until the next dust-up; until then, I encourage patience and charity. After all, the people who run Haloscan are providing a free service, and I've yet to see any indication of how they are supporting this endeavor.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:41 AM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2003

Simony Don't suppose you thought

Simony

Don't suppose you thought you'd hear that term outside of a class on Medieval History. But here's an essay stemming from the Blessed Miguel Pro page on modern day simony.


Both this and the previous site are courtesy of Fr. Ray Bucko. The Miguel Pro site is also maintained by Ann Ball.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:26 PM | Comments (0)

Jesuit Documents Online Here you

Jesuit Documents Online

Here you will find The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France 16101791. Discovery occasioned by dipping into Brian Moore's Black Robe.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:16 PM | Comments (0)

Another Interesting Excerpt from

Another Interesting Excerpt from the Writer in Question

On learning from writing how to read:

I wrote this book and learned to read. I had learned a little about writing from [the previous work]--how to approach language, words: not with seriousness so much, as an essayist does, but with a kind of alert respect, as you approach dynamite; even with joy, as you approach women: perhaps with the same secretly unscrupulous intentions. But when I finished [this book] I discovered that there is actually something to which the shabby term Art not only can, but must, be applied. I discovered then that I had gone through all that I had ever read, from Henry James through Henty to newspaper murders, without making any distinction or digesting any of it, as a moth or a goat might. After [this book] and without heeding to open another book and in a series of delayed repercussions like summer thunder, I discovered the Flauberts and Dostoievskys and Conrads whose books I had read ten years ago. With [this book] I learned to read and quit reading, since I have read nothing since.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 06:47 PM | Comments (0)

Joining the Guessing Game I

Joining the Guessing Game

I thought I would join the guessing game business with a passage from a book that exemlifies why I prefer fiction to nonfiction. So the guessing here, because this is so easy--the author, the title, the character "speaking," what is going on, and who is being referred to. Bonus points for the derivation of the title.

Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting. They were coming toward where the flag was and I went along the fence. Luster was hunting in the grass by the flower tree. They took the flag out, and they were hitting. Then they put the flag back and they went to the table, and he hit and the other hit. Then they went on, and I went along the fence. Luster came away from the flower tree and we went along the fence and they stopped and we stopped and I looked through the fence while Luster was hunting in the grass.

"Here, caddie." He hit. They went away across the pasture. I held to the fence and watched them going away.

"Listen at you, now." Luster said. "Aint you something, thirty three years old, going on that way. After I done went all the way to town to buy you that cake. Hush up that moaning. Aint you going to help me find that quarter so I can go to the show tonight."

Posted by Steven Riddle at 06:44 PM | Comments (0)

At Disputations--What You Can Do

At Disputations--What You Can Do

As always, marvelous and incisive analysis at Disputations addressing the serious question of what you can do when your Bishop appears to be acting up. (To start with, one should carefully consider what one is thinking if that question even occurs, but assume that there is just blatant injustice and disregard for the spiritual welfare of his diocese). Mr. da Fiesole, very kindly points out that the real redress doesn't have to do with money, but has to do with battle where battle really matters--in the spiritual realm. If the demons deluge the Church, one doesn't fight them by depriving abandoned mothers of help or taking food out of people's mouths by withholding money. One battles them through prayer, fasting, and if anything, greater alms. If your Bishop is beleaguered--perhaps rather than not tithing, one would do well to consider and extra hour or two a week of prayer to assist him in his necessities. I paraphrase, Mr. da Fiesole says it far better and more succinctly, and you can read his indictment of the pseudo-scientism of the atheist/agnostic contingent as well.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 11:21 AM | Comments (0)

More Prayer Requests For continued

More Prayer Requests

For continued healing and growth for friends in California.

For Franklin as he goes for a job interview on Friday.

For Gordon as he continues looking for employment.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers in these matters.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)

Book Review: Mark Salzman Lying Awake

Title: Lying Awake
Author: Mark Salzman
Recommendation: Yes, recommended for all, with small qualifications

Kathy the Carmelite mentioned this book in a comment about literature. She likened it to Mariette in Ecstasy, which I enjoyed very much. And indeed the two share some similarities. Both are divided into chapters whose titles are based on the liturgical calendar. Both are about nuns in contemplative orders undergoing some manner of crisis. Both are short, dense, and beautifully written. I prefer Hansen's book to Salzman's in terms of both style and content.

Salzman's novel chronicles the tale of Sister John of the Cross who has become a poet of some talent. Sales of her work have allowed the small Carmelite congregation in the heart of downtown Los Angeles to restore their convent buildings. Many people appear to be coming to the Lord, and her work has attracted at least two new postulants to the convent. Sister John seems also to have intense mystical visions and experiences.

As the story continues we discover that these experiences are, in fact, symptoms of TLE (temporal lobe epilepsy) which carries with it a phenomenon called "hypergraphia." The author of this book advances the theory that Dostoevsky may have suffered from this disease and Teresa of Avila as well (she is, after all, the patron of those with headaches--another symptom). The crisis of the novel revolves around Sister John's need to make a decision about what to do with regard to this problem. Simple surgery to remove a benign tumor will stop the TLE and presumably both the visions and the writing.

Without going further into the story, I can stop here to give my strongest reservation about the book. Salzman seems to describe the routine of contemplative life fairly well, but I do not know that he has capture the interior life of the true contemplative. What is more, one could read the book as suggesting that religious experience is largely the result of a diseased brain or mind. Unlike Hansen's book, in which, while ambiguous, it seems fairly obvious that Mariette is genuinely a contemplative of some degree, Salzman's book is the testimony of an agnostic or atheist who seems to be trying to be sympathetic to faith, but in actuality presents a fairly dismal picture.

All that said, it really is a minor point, because one can ignore authorial intent and purpose and make up one's own mind about what is going on in the course of this novel. The character of sister John is intensely sympathetic and well drawn. The crushing agony of decision is well done, and the routine of life well described. The writing is without flaw and the author is obviously sympathetic toward his character if somewhat dubious of the reality of her experience.

It is a beautifully rendered work, and with the small caveat noted, well worth the reader's time and attention.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:52 AM | Comments (0)

Announcements and Apologies First, my

Announcements and Apologies

First, my apologies to everyone, both visitors here and people on whose blogs I commented yesterday. I did not realize the state of exhaustion I was suffering until I practically fell asleep in my dinner plate. If what I said was curt, dull, or just plain incomprehensible, chalk it up to talk while sleeping.

Second, for those for whom it matters--this is the first Wednesday of the month.

Finally, I have no intention of either stopping nor even of slowing down what transpires at this blog. I learn a tremendous amount and I am deeply rewarded for the effort in any number of intangible ways. Further, it gives me a much larger extended family to pray for, and thus I can make myself useful in addition to being such a nuisance.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:34 AM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2003

As Threatened--Greg Tobin, Conclave a

As Threatened--Greg Tobin, Conclave a Review

Title: Conclave
Author: Greg Tobin
Recommendation: If you don't have anything else to do and need some light, moderate-to-liberal Catholic Fiction.

Ok, so first off--it's hard to say for certain where this author stands on many Catholic Issues, until one gets to the end of the book. That said, he's no Andrew Greeley, and that is much to the good. We do get a "married priest" and a priest who is involved with a married woman, and a priest who contemplates breaking his vows, and then through the courage of a woman friend ends up not doing so. However, all of these things are tastefully (unlike the tabloid trash-writing of the unsurpassably lurid Fr. Greeley) and they are all germane. In fact, they provide a nice backdrop for thinking about the comments that we make about others.

The conclave of the title is the gathering after the death of the present Holy Father (May the Good Lord protect and preserve him). In the course of the conclave, we learn much about the life of a papabile American Cardinal of moderate to liberal sympathies. There are a couple of twists and turns. And the author seems to not much care for the work of certain conservative groups, and Opus Dei comes under particular attack, although that is not the name given.

Your life will not be noticeably enriched by reading this book, but I also suspect that it sha'n't introduce moral error. So in the scale of things, this is a good thing to read when your brain is too tired for anything serious, and yet you don't want to fill your mind the with vast wasteland that is much of modern television.

Mr. Tobin has a second book in the series--Council which I anticipate is likely to be a good deal more irritating that I found this little volume.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 05:10 PM | Comments (0)

I'm Back and Have My

I'm Back and Have My First from Fr. Ciszek

Okay, something nice and short to ease me back into the world of blogging.

He Leadeth Me Walter J. Ciszek, S. J., I knew then what I must do. I experienced then what I had heard before from spiritual directors or read in spiritual books but never fully understood: that God's will can be discerned by the fruits of the spirit it brings, that peace of soul and joy of heart are two such signs, provided they follow upon total commitment and openness to God alone and are not founded upon the self's desires. That the validity of a call can be tested--whether it be the call of a vocation or of some new departure within that vocation--by the movements of the soul that accompany it. That the movements of God's grace must always be accepted and understood in virtue of the life of faith, because ultimately the truth of every mysterious action of his grace is discerned in the light of faith rather than by powers of reason or of intellect. (p. 30)

Led to this saintly man by either the blogmaster at De Fidei or Disordered affection, or perhaps both, I'm glad I picked this up.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 04:15 PM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2003

Things to Look Forward To

In the near future I shall post reviews of two books: Conclave by Greg Tobin, a potboiler, but fun, and Lying Awake by Mark Salzman, read at the suggestion of Kathy the Carmelite (mixed reviews, mostly good). Continued commentary on St. John of the Cross and a studied disregard of nearly everything of moment happening in the world today. Queries to the world about Walter Ciszek (most particularly to his noted Partisan at De Fidei Oboedientia). And other things too trivial to contemplate at the moment.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 12:53 PM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2003

A Sinner's Meditation Please forgive

A Sinner's Meditation

Please forgive the very personal nature of the next piece. If you do not care to meet a sinner, do not read it. If you will pay the admission price (one prayer, brief or long, for strength and salvation for this broken one), then I invite you in and hope that it will in some way edify.

I sit in the quietness of the Church reflecting on the horror of the day, my sinfulness, my selfishness, my lack of direction, my lack of will. I surrender to every base impulse, I give myself over to the things that will destroy me--things that will eat away at me until there is nothing of me left. I do not have to serve these urges--my life is not slavery to sin. But I stray, even slightly, in the routine of prayer and I am utterly lost and swept away on tides of passion. I must mortify the flesh and seek wholeness through union. I must worship the Lord and seek diligently not to vex Him. My love is an empty and rotten shell of what human love can and should be. It is the roasted husk of lust, charred and brittle, unable to hold the life-giving water that flows from the Lord.

I fail Him and choose to press the crown of thorns down upon His brow. My passion washes away the efficacy of His own as I choose the jeering of the crowd even over the relatively light task of Simon the Cyrene. And I say in essence, "What a fool You were to die for the likes of me. I certainly would not return the favor."

Can this unregenerate man ever see with heaven's eyes, or is he utterly lost in the labyrinth of self and lies? I cannot know Him if I do not try, if I will not face the blood I have drawn, and which marks the price paid for me. That face, the open door to God, is framed now, doorposts and lintel with the precious blood of the lamb who was slain because of me, and by the power of that blood, the Angel of Death is warned away, and Satan and all of his minions cannot enter through the door. When that curtain was drawn over the sacred face, the thought in His mind and the words on His lips were for me, personally, substantially, intimately. He offered me a clean heart and pure blood that would move the way He moves, and sing in the music of life the mystery He has seen fit to share with me. Thank you O Lord.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)

On Complaints and Criticism Because

On Complaints and Criticism

Because I will be off to a business meeting tomorrow, I have no idea how much time I may have to blog--usually giving over some time at lunch and before work (the meeting will encompass these times). So I offer this entry and the next in the spirit of providing some food for thought for the day.

from Prayers of Hope, Words of Courage Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan

Complaints and Criticisms
Criticism is easy; it is within everyone's reach. A pessimistic nature easily finds the defects and shortcomings in others. But everyone, without exception, has defects. Even the saints needed a lifetime to become Christ-like, to become perfect "as our heavenly father is perfect"

Keeping an account of people's faults is a fruitless task. Not only are you showing your pride and ill will, but you are also wasting your time.

To remember a person's defects is to hold onto the past and to concentrate on that person's worst side, as if no other existed! No one's life is frozen,; everyone is constantly evolving, changing, growing. You must concentrate your entire attention on the present and the future rather than the past. One who has sinned, but who bears his or her past with sorrow may be a saint today or will become one tomorrow. Such a person may make swifter progress on the road toward holiness than me. While I waste my time and strength criticizing and complaining about others, those who seemed to me to be further behind on the road are setting out and moving forward quickly and soon will have gone far beyond me.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:34 PM | Comments (0)

The Innumerable Advantages of Copyright

The Innumerable Advantages of Copyright in Perpetuity

Yes, I know, but it's my hobby-horse and I've ridden it for a while now.

Then there's the ebook community. Dr. Michael Hart, who as founder of Project Gutenberg was there to protest the '76 extension along with the '96 one, might not be seen to gain much from this ruling, what with his being a staunch advocate of global literacy, education for a healthy democracy and all that stuff. However the man's volunteer organization would have just gotten bogged down and confused at the chance to legally add Harlem Renaissance writers or dumb old Scott Fitzgerald to their oft-mirrored, instantly accesible free book collection.

With the Bono Act upheld, Gutenbergers know that they can only work on materials printed before 1923, keeping things from lapsing into total chaos and sparing Dr. Hart from having to answer a bunch of questions about whether Hemingway's Sun Also Rises could be added this year or next. Sigh of relief I hear, Michael?

OK, you're asking: what's in it for schools? . . .

Get the rest here.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 01:39 PM | Comments (0)

St. John of the Cross

St. John of the Cross

I have no profound and beautiful insights. I can share with you nothing of wisdom or kindness. And being in such a dragged out state (for whatever reason), it is perhaps better to let St. John of the Cross speak my mind.

from The Ascent of Mount Carmel--Book 1, Chapter 6 St. John of the Cross

4. Wherefore, if the soul rejects and denies that which it can receive through the senses, we can quite well say that it remains, as it were, in darkness and empty; since, as appears from what has been said, no light can enter it, in the course of nature, by any other means of illumination than those aforementioned. For, although it is true that the soul cannot help hearing and seeing and smelling and tasting and touching, this is of no greater import, nor, if the soul denies and rejects the object, is it hindered more than if it saw it not, heard it not, etc. Just so a man who desires to shut his eyes will remain in darkness, like the blind man who has not the faculty of sight. And to this purpose David says these words: Pauper sum ego, et in laboribus a indenture mea. Which signifies: I am poor and in labours from my youth. He calls himself poor, although it is clear that he was rich, because his will was not set upon riches, and thus it was as though he were really poor. But if he had not been really poor and had not been so in his will, he would not have been truly poor, for his soul, as far as its desire was concerned, would have been rich and replete. For that reason we call this detachment night to the soul, for we are not treating here of the lack of things, since this implies no detachment on the part of the soul if it has a desire for them; but we are treating of the detachment from them of the taste and desire, for it is this that leaves the soul free and void of them, although it may have them; for it is not the things of this world that either occupy the soul or cause it harm, since they enter it not, but rather the will and desire for them, for it is these that dwell within it.

These seem very difficult words indeed. And yet, I do not think they are as hard as we make them. John's way is a way of denial to obtain all. We do not latch onto the smaller pleasures of the senses and appetites, but we release them, deny them, and in so doing move forward to the greater pleasure of walking more closely with God, and then to the ultimate pleasure of union with God.

Now, of what does this denial consist? I do not think that it means that you do not see or hear things, but rather that you exercise a strict custody of what you do see and hear. A thing once seen cannot be unseen, a thing once heard cannot be unheard. Denial is first, denial of entry, and second, denail of a place in our heart. There are some things we should just forego. We know it and sometimes choose to indulge in those things anyhow. Other things are good a meritorious to have seen and heard, but they are not meritorious to linger over and to practice to the point of distraction from God. It is good to have seen the Leonides, it is not so good to spend six or seven hours a day recreating the Leonides in our own minds.

So denial is both about keeping some sensation out and about letting those things that do enter leave no trace upon us. Denial is, in some small part, an exercise of will. But as with all such exercises, they are ineffective without the participation of Divine Grace. (If the Lord does not build the house, then in vain do the builders labor). So we may start by exercising a kind of custody, but we must do this for the right reason--love of God. If we are practicing these things for our own sakes, then we are becoming attached to the very notion of denial. Detachment seems quite a tricky business until we realize that though it is entirely necessary, it is merely a means, not an end in itself. All is Grace and all is gift--if we lean upon the Lord, He will find a way.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)