February 22, 2003

Call for Prayers Ms. Hall

Call for Prayers

Ms. Hall asks for prayers for her Brother, an Air Force Chaplain who will be reassigned to the Middle East. Let us all pray for him and all of the brave men and women of the American Armed forces who do so much for us even as they wait. Remember especially Ms. Hall's brother and Eric Johnson of Catholic Light

My friends thank everyone for their prayers. After a great deal of pain and still hurting, things are on the mend. They thank everyone for the great outpouring of prayer that held them up during the flood and carried them to a new place in the Lord. They know that there is more work ahead, so continued prayers are requested, but they are profoundly grateful to all who have helped.

Please pray for two sets of friends who have upcoming interviews for job positions. One on Monday and one on Tuesday. Times are very difficult and between the two of them these men have responsibility for supporting 10 souls.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:34 PM | Comments (0)

Tolerance and Charity Ms. Hall

Tolerance and Charity

Ms. Hall asks a legitimate question on her blog that inspired a bit of thought: Was Jesus Tolerant?

The answer to that is very simple--no. Tolerance is not a virtue--it is a lowest common denominator--it is, "as long as you leave me alone I will leave you alone." Tolerance is soft and weak and vapid, containing nothing of import. It is merely the barest scratch on the surface of adamantine Charity.

Christ was Charitable, not tolerant. Charity is a rock to tolerance's sand. Charity is a command to tolerance's suggestion. Charity demands a great deal from us. We must love people we do not wish to love. That doesn't mean that we simply allow them to go their own way and God speed to them. Sometimes it means that we say, "Generation of Vipers," "Ye Whitewashed sepulchers." Sometimes we bind wounds, sometimes we use a hammer, but we use it when nothing else will do the job--when we must wake those ruined souls around us, and wake them we must, because THAT is the act of charity. The act of tolerance is to "let sleeping dogs lie." We do not confront the homosexual in the self-styled delusion that has become a lifestyle when we tolerate. When we are charitable, we confront the lie even as we welcome the person. Charity is about the cherishing of souls in the same way God cherishes them. This means that tolerance doesn't even come remotely close to starting to be enough. Tolerance is just a whisker away from the sin of sloth. It asks nothing, tells nothing, demands nothing of us. We can be tolerant simply by not commenting or noticing. We can walk obliviously through life and be tolerant. Charity demands observation and it sometimes demands confrontation. Jesus didn't coddle the money-changers in the temple, and yet I believe He acted both in righteous anger and in true charity both to the money changers and those who observed what happened. They could begin to understand what faith and love of God were really about--not about careful, meticulous observance of laws, but self-giving--self-giving unto death.

So to Ms. Hall's very legitimate, germane question the answer is undoubtedly NO. Jesus was not tolerant--He was not a divinely inspired wimp--He is God incarnate and hence has the attributes of God Himself--pure love--pure charity, pure care and desire for every human soul. He will leave the 99 and seek the lost one--an act of charity. An act of tolerance would allow the one to wander wherever he would choose and perhaps say, "I'm Okay, you're okay--everything's cool." Tolerance does not risk itself. Tolerance does not die crucified. Only Love did and does that. Only Charity and desire for the good of all.

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

Strombus gigas I mention this

Strombus gigas

I mention this "queen of shells" in a comment below, and this image is from the source two posts below. Glorious.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)

More Wonderful Resources from Project

More Wonderful Resources from Project Canterbury

The Doctrine of the Church of England on the Real Presence examined by the Writings of St. Thomas Aquinas

And on another subject:

Christian Marriage: An Instruction
an excerpt:

TURN, then, to the factors in the marriage relationship which make for happiness. The most important thing, as we stated before, is the sharing of the deepest ideals, kneeling in prayer together night by night, and at the altar rail on Sunday; encouraging each other in everything that is sensitive and fine; offering sympathy and understanding even before it is needed.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

Oh Praise the Lord for

Oh Praise the Lord for He Is Good

His love endures forever.

And you'll think the reason for my praise silly--but here it is. I've just discovered that the first 8 volumes of the Journal of the Academy of Natural Science of Philadelphia is available in electronic format. In addition such important scientific papers as Audobon's prospectus for Birds of America and Rafinesque's Ichthyologia Ohiensis ( a major work on Ichthylogy in Ohio, and Rafinesque gave his name to one of the most prominent fossils in southwestern Ohio Rafinesquina ponderosa.

Okay, so I have odd enthusiasms.

Oh, and the journal includes the work of the major Early Conchologist Thomas Say who gave Latin names to such items as the Olive Shell.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)

On Islam I just talked

On Islam

I just talked Ms. Hall's ear off over in the comment box for this post. I trust she can forgive me and that the disagreement comes off as respectful and not vituperative--although I always distrust the nuances that can be applied to words. Please accept my word for it, it is intended as a respectful disagreement.

I honestly do not know what to make of Islam. I suppose I would have to have the same feelings in approaching any religion I was unaware of. I recall Gandhi's possibly apocryphal remark that , "Christianity is a wonderful religion, too bad so few practice it." Is this also a possiblity with Islam? Culturally I have been persuaded otherwise, but is that a result of the blinders I have chosen to put on? After all, I suppose if one wished to, one could find enough incidents of Christian violence around the world to claim that Christianity was no religion of peace. I don't know that this is true, but then I come prepackaged with bias in that arena as well.

The Islamic Supreme Council of America seems to represent a voice of reason and solid support for both Islam and the United States. I could be a dupe.

However, as I pointed out, as Christians we do not have the luxury of being anti-anyone. We can opposed ideas, notions, dangerous actions, idiocy, and any number of other things, but we cannot be against the people holding those notions. That is not to say that when they threaten our existence we are to stand meekly by and let them wipe us out. Nor does it say that we should preemptively take care of them (pre-emption, in my mind does not refer to our present crisis). Jesus demands that we love one another. Charity is a virtue only in so far as it is practiced toward those who oppose us and hate us (reasonably or unreasonably).

So, I say let us focus instead on the beams in our own eyes, and not be so willing to swallow the foaming-at-the-mouth media image of Islam that we have been spoon-fed. It is ironic how the media so "tolerant," "liberal," and anti-Bush could also portray so strong a negative image of Islam, while telling us that it is a "religion of Peace." Were I a little more paranoid I would say that we have a remarkable instance of the Minitruth employing double-speak.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:24 AM | Comments (0)

Current Reading List I do

Current Reading List

I do this from time to time, I'm uncertain why. Perhaps it will spark some interest somewhere or perhaps it is a way of clearing out the cobwebs.

Edith Wharton--Ethan Frome AND The Buccaneers
Roger Zelazny-Lord of Light (Accidentally picked this up last night while prowling around looking for something to do and it netted me in very readily. Not as fine as some of the great short work--"He Who Shapes," "The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth," "A Rose for Ecclesiastes," but still a remarkably fine sustained accomplishment.
Nathaniel Hawthorne--House of the Seven Gables (yes, still--what's the rush?)
G.K. Chesterton--Heretics--ditto
Karen Hall--Dark Debts
Ronald Knox--Captive Flames
Greg Tobin--Council--A sequel to Conclave and nowhere near as good

I suspect that I shall finish them in the following order: Zelazny and Hall. I suspect that I shall drop Tobin, and that I will continue to linger over the extraordinary prose and imagery of House of the Seven Gables. Heretics will continue to be a time-to-time read. With Lent approaching I shall probably pick up Richard John Neuhaus's remarkable Death on a Friday Afternoon yet once again.

Fickle, I guess you would call it.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:45 AM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2003

True Equality Christianity is the

True Equality

Christianity is the religion of true equality. It can be nothing else from its very foundations. God is our Father. We are all His children. How can there be anything other than equality? Does an all-loving parent cherish one sibling above another? Does a Father who is worthy of the name prefer a child? He may assign one task to one, and a different task to another, but it is with the same deep and abiding love.

Stumbling through the blogworld I happened upon a comment that suggested that some feel less worthy than another. Some may feel that what they have to say is unworthy to be heard. Here, at least, that is not true. I don't demand that anyone comment or that anyone feel compelled to join the conversation. But I do invite everyone to feel free to do so. As brothers and sisters in Christ, every person is valued and cherished. Unless the commenter makes of him or herself a nuisance, every comment is worthy of respectful consideration. I strive to give this to each person who passes through, and I wish to assure everyone that the more voices heard from, the better. All are welcome, all are invited to speak. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, all equally worthy of joining the conversation whose final end is the edification of all.

So, please feel welcome, but not by any means required, to say whatever is on your mind. I will endeavor to treat all such comments with respect and consideration. You are brothers and sisters in Christ and I pray for each of you each day. After all, it is what we Carmelites are here for!

Our Lord's shalom to all.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)

Very Slow Day at St.

Very Slow Day at St. Blog's

So the perfect opportunity to announce that I am seriously, very seriously rethinking the direction of this blog. It seems that it has become too diffuse. All would be better served if I were to revert to the tighter focus and clear purpose of the goal of this blog--to encourage everyone to a life a deeper prayer.

I was thinking also about opening up a multi-blog--perhaps an online Carmelite chapter that would allow the resident Carmelites to deepen their commitment to vocation while exercising our vocation of evangelism in Prayer. I don't know yet what form this might take, but I can think of a great many potential participants, and I think it would prove beneficial to many. Blogs like "The Journey," and "Conversations that Matter," already take large steps toward this goal, but I would like to move even further along. So, Carmelites out there, don't be surprised if you get an e-mail from me in the near future. (Also don't be surprised if you don't--these things require a great deal of prayer.).

Posted by Steven Riddle at 04:37 PM | Comments (0)

Blessed Titus Brandsma Several days

Blessed Titus Brandsma

Several days ago I wrote of Blessed Titus, and I had been looking for this wonderful online source--Leopold Glueckert's Titus Brandsma: Friar Against Facism.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 03:21 PM | Comments (0)

Religion in Science Fiction Apropos

Religion in Science Fiction

Apropos of nothing here's an interesting list of Science Fiction writers and their religious affiliations.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 09:32 AM | Comments (0)

A New Writing Blog Ms.

A New Writing Blog

Ms. Hall has establish a new writing blog, Write this Way and immediately I can heartily recommend it. Go and see what's happening.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:56 AM | Comments (1)

Forthcoming In the near future


In the near future I plan to review a book by St. Blog's own Ms. Karen Hall. It was a Book-of-the-Month Club main selection, and the back cover touts that it is "Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture." I don't know if it ever made it under a different title, but I don't think so. Ms. Hall has already issued strong cautions about this "early" work and I will keep in mind what she has to say about it. However, early investigation shows the writing to be good, although not as riveting as the genre normally entails. However, I am coming in off Peace Like a River (not to mention a day of illness) and that may well taint my overall view. I'll let you know what I think, but I suspect that I will enjoy it tremendously despite some elements that may not please all St. Blog's Parishioners.

Ms. Hall has been working with Mary Doria Russell whose work, The Sparrow was an incredibly fascinating, intricate, and ultimately horrifying and touching study of Jesuits in Space. (Yes, I know it sounds funny, but it is magnificent--perhaps the best such work since James Blish's A Case of Consience) Perhaps someday soon, I should make a list of Catholic and Christian Science Fiction. I invite contributions from the gallery.

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

Book Review: Leif Enger: Peace

Book Review: Leif Enger: Peace Like a River

Author: Leif Enger
Book: Peace Like a River
Recommendation: Lukewarm--great prose, poor story, sketchy, outrageous, and often unbelievable characters and motivations

Despite being beautifully written, Peace Like a River suffers from a great many problems, not the least of which is the fact that it is about five times longer than the story material supports. The story is episodic and not particularly insightful--it often strikes one as being a disjointed series of events connected only by being linked to the central characters. These characters, in turn, are largely caricatures in varying degrees of plausibility. Dad--a devout pentecostal Christian who is know to effect miracles and to walk on air; Swede, an astoundingly precocious young girl (perhaps nine years old) who writes the most astoundingly horrid Robert Service-like verse* about Mexican Outlaw Valdez and who seems to have an endless stream of anecdotes and information of dubious provenance about the Old West; Davey, eldest son and cold-blooded murderer with whom we are supposed to be sympathetic because his actions are taken in a supposedly just cause; Reuben, the narrator and the child who demonstrated one of his father's first miracles by breathing at all; Roxanna, a sketchily drawn woman who meets the family and immediately falls in love with them all inviting them into her house and her life, even though they are obviously refugees and escapees.

Perhaps some of my antipathy toward this novel is the rave reviews that come from the media about this "profound" novel of faith and miracles. Peace Like a River has been compared to Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird. It bears no resemblance to either of these. The only similarity is that the main portion of the book deals with the life of children during a crisis in the family. The writing, while reasonably adept and occasionally evocative, is not of the very finest. Perhaps the author's other limitations also cripple the prose to some degree.

The story concerns what happens when the eldest brother in the family murders two people (in a premeditated fashion) and then flees justice. It also concerns the power of faith and the effect of miracles. Unfortunately in this overblown structure much that is good gets completely lost. We have no real sense of the miraculous and no sense of the normal. The children are eighty-year olds hidden in the bodies of pre-adolescents. Father is a fountain of mercy, kindness, rightness, and miraculous healing powers and other mysterious powers that blind state-troopers to the fleeing group, but still allow the feds to ultimately find them.

Thematically, the book is repugnant, as we are asked to sympathize with Davey who murders two people in about as cold-blooded a fashion as possible. Were that not bad enough, other characters allow murders, injuries, and other mayhem to occur. We are supposed to sympathize and care whether or not these people are brought to justice. I found myself only wishing that they would be incarcerated and this labored story could wend to its rightful rest.

It took me several weeks to force myself through this book--had it not been for some truly sterling moments in the writing and two different book-groups reading it, I would have abandoned it long ago. I can recommend almost any other book reviewed in the last month or so before recommending this disappointing and laborious effort at narrative. I am absolutely convinced that this author can really write--I hope that next time he chooses to give us a story worthy of his abilities.

Now, to give another perspective--I read this for a book group consisting of about ten people, most of the rest of whom enjoyed it tremendously, siting their sympathy with Swede most particularly as a compelling aspect of the novel. Chacun á son goût.

*Here a sample of the dreadful "The Shooting of Dan McGrew"
A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute saloon;
The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a jag-time tune;
Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,
And watching his luck was his light-o'-love, the lady that's known as Lou.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:44 AM | Comments (0)

Fast and Pray Please remember

Fast and Pray

Please remember that today has been a kind of informal day of fast and prayer at St. Blog's for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Iraq. Those who can do so, please help with this effort. Thanks.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:31 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2003

A Quotation from a Guilty

A Quotation from a Guilty Pleasure

Yes, it's from one of my all-time favorite favorite films Pollyanna

"When you look for the bad in people, expecting to find it, you surely will."
Attributed to Abraham Lincoln, and even though I blogged it before, it is worth repeating. Because the opposite is also true.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:10 PM | Comments (0)

Another Quiz--For Some of

Another Quiz--For Some of our Less Frequent Visitors

Here are another few of my favorite things from a different category. Later, still another category. I found about four of these with google. I'm sure adepts will do better. Author, book, and "first or last line"

1. Stock cue SOUND: "Presenting SCANALYZER, Engrelay Satelserv's unique thrice-per-day study of the big big scene, the INdepth, INdependent INmediate INterface between you and your world."

2. For a week Mr. R. Childan had been anxiously watching the mail.

3. He left, and Mike pushed back his halo and got to work. He could see a lot of changes he wanted to make.

4. The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

5. The Deliverator belongs to an elite order, a hallowed subcategory.

6. Here I pause. If you wish to walk no farther with me, reader, I cannot blame you. It is no easy road.

Keep in mind this is rather a "specialty list." Google for answers prohibited, but if you want to google and show me it can be done, please e-mail me.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 06:01 PM | Comments (0)

Another from Mr. O'Rama Who

Another from Mr. O'Rama

Who nominates St. Augustine as "Most likely to be a blogger." I find this persuasive, but I've several other nominees, just based on sheer volume and the obvious need to communicate:

(1) St. Alphonsus di Liguori--that man not only could write, he did--reams and reams and reams and reams. I've never much cared for it except in excerpts, but he was out there informing the Catholic World.
(2)St. Francis de Sales--another inveterate writer--again so much you can't hold it on a flock of shelves.
(3)St. Robert Bellarmine--although obviously, he would be running a clog, not a pure blog.

I invite other nominees, either based on the degree of self-revelation, or on sheer volume of prose. This could be most interesting. St. Clare or St. Isidor (I've seen various arguments) will be/is the patron of the Internet. We need a partron for St. Blogs--someone big, someone charismatic, someone with umpf and someone NOT from any of the Major orders so we don't have a tertiary just war here. Let the nominations begin.

By the way, I have two nominees for the post--St. John Chrysostom, and St. Ephrem the Syrian.
[Later: Ms Huntley suggests the glorious G.K. Chesterton, a nominee, despite my own reservations, that I find persuasive.]

Posted by Steven Riddle at 02:52 PM | Comments (0)

Some Advice for those Struggling

Some Advice for those Struggling from Jean Pierre de Caussade

Jean Pierre de Caussade is another of those who for his work of spiritual direction alone, I would have canonized. I have no knowledge of his life, so I do not know if he comes anywhere close to the needed heroic sanctity--but if not, he has helped me many times:

Abandonment to Divine Providence--Section 2 Jean Pierre de Caussade

(available online here)

The duties of each moment are the shadows beneath which hides the divine operation.
"The power of the most High shall over-shadow thee " (Luke i, 35), said the angel to Mary. This shadow, beneath which is hidden the power of God for the purpose of bringing forth Jesus Christ in the soul, is the duty, the attraction, or the cross that is presented to us at each moment. These are, in fact, but shadows like those in the order of nature which, like a veil, cover sensible objects and hide them from us. Therefore in the moral and supernatural order the duties of each moment conceal, under the semblance of dark shadows, the truth of their divine character which alone should rivet the attention. It was in this light that Mary beheld them. Also these shadows diffused over her faculties, far from creating illusion, did but increase her faith in Him who is unchanging and unchangeable. The archangel may depart. He has delivered his message, and his moment has passed. Mary advances without ceasing, and is already far beyond him. The Holy Spirit, who comes to take possession of her under the shadow of the angel's words, will never abandon her.

There are remarkably few extraordinary characteristics in the outward events of the life of the most holy Virgin, at least there are none recorded in holy Scripture. Her exterior life is represented as very ordinary and simple. She did and suffered the same things that anyone in a similar state of life might do or suffer. She goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth as her other relatives did. She took shelter in a stable in consequence of her poverty. She returned to Nazareth from whence she had been driven by the persecution of Herod, and lived there with Jesus and Joseph, supporting themselves by the work of their hands. It was in this way that the holy family gained their daily bread. But what a divine nourishment Mary and Joseph received from this daily bread for the strengthening of their faith! It is like a sacrament to sanctify all their moments. What treasures of grace lie concealed in these moments filled, apparently, by the most ordinary events. That which is visible might happen to anyone, but the invisible, discerned by faith, is no less than God operating very great things. O Bread of Angels! heavenly manna! pearl of the Gospel! Sacrament of the present moment! thou givest God under as lowy a form as the manger, the hay, or the straw. And to whom dost thou give Him "Esurientes implevit bonis" (Luke i. 53). God reveals Himself to the humble under the most lowly forms, but the proud, attaching themselves entirely to that which is extrinsic, do not discover Him hidden beneath, and are sent empty away.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:10 AM | Comments (0)

No Matter How Wretched I

No Matter How Wretched I Am Feeling

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! (Psalm 118:24)

All things work to the good for those that love the Lord and are called according to His Name. (Rom 8:28)

For in HIm we live and move and have our being. . . (Acts 17:28)

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:00 AM | Comments (0)

Feeling Absolutely Wretched Today Well,

Feeling Absolutely Wretched Today

Well, I have no idea why I forced myself to go to work today. I feel dreadful. No dreadful doesn't even begin to hold a candle to how I feel. And yet at the same time, I begin to see this as a gift that the Lord has given me. I wouldn't mind at all if He decided to take it back or perhaps not send the same one again; however, a gift it is.

So, I will offer up this wretched endurance of a day, however it may turn out, for the intentions of all those who have written to me and for one special person in particular.

Given that this is a tranistory and minor discomfort in the scheme of things, it probably isn't the most efficacious offering--but the way I see it, a gift is ours to use as we choose, and if I use this one till the batteries run down, God can effect good works in the lives of others.

Praise the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever!

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

February 19, 2003

If This Doesn't Undermine All

If This Doesn't Undermine All the Others

Cynical Liberal
How Republican Are You?

brought to you by Quizilla

Most interesting. Cynical liberal yet? I hardly think I deserve the epithet "liberal" much less cynical. Although that's the view from inside.

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

Took All the Quizzes

Took All the Quizzes at And Then

And this was the only result I liked. But pauvre enfant--isn't Nachtmusik misspelled?

Take the test, by Emily.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 06:41 PM | Comments (0)

First and Last This quiz

First and Last

This quiz is simple. Identify the work, the author, and whether the line is the first or last of the work in question. No googling for answers, as they can all be readily found. This isn't a quiz to test use of internet, but to test native home-spun recognition.

1. Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.

2. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

3. [This one's a bit tricky]It is a little remarkable, that--though disinclined to talk overmuch of myself and my affairs at the fireside, and to my personal friends--an autobiographical impulse should twice in my life have taken possession of me, in addressing the public.

4. My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip.

5. I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.

6. It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan.

7.There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.

8.One summer evening in the year 1848, three Cardinals and a missionary Bishop from America were dining together in the gardens of a villa in the Sabine hills, overlooking Rome.

9. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.

10.So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

11. Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo.

12. Lily, the caretaker's daughter, was literally run off her feet.

13. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

14. For there she was.

Naturally, the last lines are somewhat more difficult that the first. Remember--no googling

Posted by Steven Riddle at 05:14 PM | Comments (0)

The Post I Killed I

The Post I Killed

I just killed a post, before it was even posted, because it seemed uncharitable. Make that two posts--my apologies to the people who may have seen the one that I actually did post.

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

A Reasonable Taxonomy Of blogdom

A Reasonable Taxonomy

Of blogdom may be found here.

A highly impactful (to borrow from the blogmaster above) instigative, I mean investigative report here L. A. Confidential it ain't, thanks be to God.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:33 AM | Comments (0)

Coming Soon Perhaps as early

Coming Soon

Perhaps as early as this evening--whenever I can gather up the resources--a quiz first and last.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:29 AM | Comments (0)

Chez Dylan, An Interesting Quiz

Chez Dylan, An Interesting Quiz
And being the wretched god-forsaken iconclast I must be:

1. Black or white? Yes--one is meaningless without the other.
2. Plaid or stripes? Paisley--preferably in brilliant psychedelic colors. If not, plaid, in Isle of Skye tartan.
3. Paperback or hardcover books? PDA--electronic formats of all sorts.
4. Color or B&W printer?Actually--PDFs, but if forced--Black and White--color sucks up ink like nobody's business.
5. Golden oldies or the newest tunes? Golden Oldies--real oldies like Vivaldi.
6. Ice cream: in a cone or a dish? In a Baked Alaska, definitely.
7. Bath or shower? Bath, preferably in the huge unenclosed salt-water tub called the ocean. The point is not to get clean, it is to be IN water.
8. Are you outgoing or shy? Believe it or not, extremely, well shy isn't the right word, but unobtrusive, blending with wallpaper and carpet.
9. Answer the phone when it rings, or screen calls? Let it ring--rarely anyone I wish to speak to.
10. VCR or TiVO? DVD, definitely. There's nothing on television I care to see at all anyway. And DVD I can watch Endless Summer endlessly and freeze a perfect crystal clear vision of the waves at Waimea bay.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:20 AM | Comments (0)

From the Magnificent Indictment of

From the Magnificent Indictment of Modern English

By George Orwell--

from "Politics and the English Language" George Orwell

Now that I have made this catalogue of swindles and perversions, let me give another example of the kind of writing that they lead to. This time it must of its nature be an imaginary one. I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth

Here it is in modern English:

Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.

This is a parody, but not a very gross one. Exhibit (3), above, for instance, contains several patches of the same kind of English. It will be seen that I have not made a full translation. The beginning and ending of the sentence follow the original meaning fairly closely, but in the middle the concrete illustrations--race, battle, bread--dissolve into the vague phrase "success or failure in competitive activities." This had to be so, because no modern writer of the kind I am discussing--no one capable of using phrases like "objective consideration of contemporary phenomena"--would ever tabulate his thoughts in that precise and detailed way. The whole tendency of modern prose is away from concreteness. Now analyze these two sentences a little more closely. The first contains 49 words but only 60 syllables, and all its words are those of everyday life. The second contains 38 words of 90 syllables: 18 of its words are from Latin roots, and one from Greek. The first sentence contains six vivid images, and only one phrase ("time and chance") that could be called vague. The second contains not a single fresh, arresting phrase, and in spite of its 90 syllables it gives only a shortened version of the meaning contained in the first. Yet without a doubt it is the second kind of sentence that is gaining ground in modern English. I do not want to exaggerate. This kind of writing is not yet universal, and outcrops of simplicity will occur here and there in the worst-written page. Still, if you or I were told to write a few lines on the uncertainty of human fortunes, we should probably come much nearer to my imaginary sentence than to the one from Ecclesiastes.

Much of what he discusses here was the groundwork for 1984. On a side issue, Peter Kreeft, a magnificent thinker and apologist, has said that Aldous Huxley--a sloppier writer--produced a more convincing image of the kind of "soft totalatarianism" into which the world would progressively degenerate. He felt that 1984 by contrast was somewhat more passé--not really a possibility in the new world into which we had entered. While I concur that the elements of Huxley's Brave New World abound in our society, creeping evidences of 1984 also linger and proliferate. Worse, it may be that Huxley's end is that of well-developed "first world" countries, but Orwell's that of less affluent nations. Does it matter? Not really, because whatever way society goes, we need not join the overall flow. We do not have to consent to what is being done or offered. And we are a "peculiar people, a race held apart." Our destiny is neither of these, even if we live in societies pervaded by them. Our destiny is Heaven, our occupation, prayer, our goal union with God. All incompatible with whichever vision of the world you find more likely.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:57 AM | Comments (0)

Wednesday Intentions It is Wednesday.

Wednesday Intentions

It is Wednesday. In addition to my friends listed below and a peaceful resolution to the present crisis, I'm willing to offer any other intentions that arrive to me by the time I go to Mass at about 11:30. Sign up now! Don't miss out!

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:40 AM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2003

Rejoice Oh Blogworld, It Seems

Rejoice Oh Blogworld, It Seems that Haloscan hath Returned

Our patience is rewarded.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:15 PM | Comments (0)

Exciting Electronic Publications Okay, you

Exciting Electronic Publications

Okay, you already know that I have very. . .uh. . . catholic, that's it, catholic interests. So, you won't be surprised by what follows. This is some of the most exciting stuff I've seen in a while.

First off, a a complete translation of the Babylonian Talmud, one of the major tractates in the Talmudic literature.

The Seidenstricker Translation of The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki (the answer to the guess what/who of the other day). Seidenstricker is a reknowned expert on Japanese History and Civilization, having written several books on the topic.

An online translation of La Vita Nuova

Fifty essays of George Orwell, that is officially inaccessible from the United States, so you'll have to go and look for it at Australia Gutenberg. This collection includes his famous defense of P.G. Wodehouse. (You'll find the inimitable essay "Politics and the English Language" as relevant today as it was in 1947.)

Tread delicately around this one--one of the most important books in the history of recent religion, edited by R.A. Torrey, the title The Fundamentals says it all.

Some true apocryphal New Testament works along with some Anti-Catholic diatribe and some early noncanonical espistles.

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

Something Many Will Not Care

Something Many Will Not Care For

A compilation of quotes from the Holy Father on War in Iraq.

I have said many times, very clearly where I stand. I stand on and in prayer for God's will in this matter. But my emotional stand is well reflected in this line from the Pope:"I say: NO TO WAR! War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity."

That said, I must also quite regretfully acknowledge that there are forces in the world that sometimes lead to a defeat for humanity. War is not inevitable; however, sometimes it may be necessary. Sometimes humanity must be defeated so that it is not annhilated. I should further remark that this is an extraordinary statement for a person who has beatified and canonized innumerable martyrs to the Nazi terror. That war may have been a defeat for humanity, but I find it impossible to contemplate the horrors of what a possible no-war "victory" for humanity might have been. Mind you, I'm not criticizing the Holy Father, but I must say that I do not understand completely the fullness of what he might mean.

My solution and recourse as always is to hope that war may be averted and pray that God's "will be done on Earth as in Heaven," which is to say, perfectly. So to extract another quote from the article, "WE must multiply our efforts for peace. One cannot stand idle in front of terrorist attacks, but equally one cannot stand idle in the face of the war now appearing on the horizon. " And so, I take the best action a private citizen may take in the face of this peril, an action I am absolutely certain the Holy Father would approve, I pray for God's will and hope that His will is peace, but accept whatever may come. We take action through our prayer and I've finally learned that prayer should not necessarily seek to persuade, but it should present our best hopes and offer our submission to God's will should it not coincide with what we would like.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)

More Insight from Fr. Ciszek

More Insight from Fr. Ciszek

My profound thanks to Jeanetta for the introduction to a book I would never voluntarily have picked up. The book is a blessing and a balm in a great many ways, and last night I read yet another passage that I found profoundly meaningful at this juncture in my life.

from He Leadeth Me Father Walter Ciszek, S. J.

The next time I saw him [his interrogator in Lubianka prison] , however, he had a new proposal. He told me that the people upstairs wanted me, instead to go to Rome and serve as an intermediary between the Kremlin and the Vatican. . . . I agreed as far-fetched and absurd as it all sounded. . . .Whether I went to Rome or not was for God to decide, for him to arrange. Discussions of this Roman business took up many sessions with the interrogator, yet through it all I remained totally detached and perfectly relaxed. . . .

Through all this, I remained at peace. Where before, the notion of such cooperation would have upset and tormented me, I felt no such distress any longer. If these things were to be, then they were to be --for a purpose God alone knew. If they were not to be, then they would never happen. My confidence in his will and his providence was absolute; I knew I had only to follow the promptings of his grace. I was sure, completely sure, that when a moment of decision came he would lead me on the right path. And so it happened. When at last the interrogator asked me to sign an agreement covering the Roman business, I just refused. I had not thought of doing so in advance; in fact, I had simply gone along with everything up to that point. But suddenly it seemed the only thing to do, and I did it. He became violently angry and threatened me with immediate execution. I felt no fear at all. I think I smiled. I knew then I had won. (p.. 80-81)

Sometimes in the course of events, when we have prepared with much prayer and fasting and when we have put ourselves in God's hands, we find exactly this. Something unexpected occurs--something we never planned for, perhaps never desired, and yet something entirely within God's perfect will. If we trust Him, He will lead us, gently but firmly. If we put ourselves into His hands, He will use us to His greater glory and it is possible that the world will see a new saint. But we must buckle down and not insist upon our own way. What looks like a terrible, tragic, hurtful, and deadly defeat is transformed by His mercy and grace into a grand and spectacular victory. We may not be able to see it all--but as we trust in His will and mercy, our lives are completely transformed, and the lives of those we touch as well.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:05 AM | Comments (0)

Continued Prayers Thank you all

Continued Prayers

Thank you all for praying for my friends, and I ask you all to continue your prayers. The crisis has reached a momentary resolution, but there is still a long way to go and much healing to occur. Pray that both spouses have a clear sense of God in their lives and that this sense leads them together to form a strong family.

For the people involved, you may want to check out the resources at Dave Reuter's Site Become What You Are. Look particularly in the left-hand column.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:48 AM | Comments (0)

Google Buying Blogger Given that

Google Buying Blogger

Given that Google has recently bought Blogger, I think I'll wait around a few weeks to see what transpires as a result (if anything). There's no rush to do anything and I tend to be very fond of the status quo. The unfortunate outage of the last few days with Haloscan is annoying. But these things do happen and as much as I miss the conversation, if anyone still needs to get hold of me, e-mail is available.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:43 AM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2003

Favorite Vegetables Alicia at Fructis

Favorite Vegetables

Alicia at Fructis Ventris had a list of favorite and least favorite vegetables. An interesting point of her list is that garbanzo beans are on her list of least favorite vegetables. They are usually on mine as well. But interestingly, properly treated they leap right to the top of the list. For me it isn't the flavor that is the problem, it's the texture. Whirl those things with a little tahini until they are unrecognizable and voila--Tabouleh--one of the favorite things in the whole world. Dry them out and grind them up and they make this fantastic spicy Indian bread.

However, no offense to their fans, there just isn't anything one can do with the lima bean that makes it anything other than utterly disgusting. You can whirl it all day long in a blender. . . on second thought that's also too nauseating for words.

Later Ms. Huntley noted, as I am certain many others did, that I mistakenly wrote "Tabouleh" when I meant hummus. She is correct--hummus it is--kalamata, roasted red pepper, plain--it just doesn't matter. She also makes oblique reference to another favorite babaganoush. From another vegetable I don't particularly care for whole and cooked (Eggplant). Two delicacies from the arguably inedible.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:21 PM | Comments (0)

A Question of Sinfulness I

A Question of Sinfulness

I found this excerpt at one of the sites noted below:

In Belgium, Dom Bruno (Henri Reynders), who died in 1981, was a Benedictine monk who helped to protect at least 300 Jewish children from the Holocaust by providing them with false identification papers.

I was disoriented, but gratified by this. I was told that it would be a sin to lie about the something even in order to accomplish a very good thing, such as saving several hundred people. Thus, I doubt that this man will ever be beatified, but I do rejoice, however wrongfully, that he saved the children he did.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 03:34 PM | Comments (0)

Other Good Sites for Saints

Other Good Sites for Saints and Blesseds

Here's a site I stumbled on with much good information regarding Holy Persons of the Catholic Church.

Here's another detailing the Martyrs of the Third Reich including Father Adam Sztark and companions whose cause was promoted 23 March 2000. Most of the links are broken, but the names are there to google.

[Later:] Better page, probably the same material here. This higher level link has a great wealth of information about Catholics and the Holocaust.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 02:41 PM | Comments (0)

A Short Excerpt from

A Short Excerpt from a Brief Life of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Not as well known as her near contemporary St. Thérèse of Lisieux, here is a bit about Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity. Some of her letters are available online via ICS (see left-hand column).

From reading St. Paul, Sister Elizabeth discovered her vocation or mission. She would be a "Praise of Glory" or "Laudem Gloria" praising God dwelling within her offering a ceaseless "Sanctus". She simply could not understand how a person could carelessly leave God Who dwells within the soul in order to turn to the world and earthly things. "God dwells within you, do not leave Him so often", she advised. Even as she worked the sisters noticed her recollected attitude. She once wrote, "It is wonderful to recall that, except for the vision of seeing God, we possess God as all the Saints in Heaven do. We can surely be with Him always and no one can take us away from Him. He dwells in our souls!" Sister Elizabeth devoutly referred to the Blessed Trinity as "my Three."
Posted by Steven Riddle at 09:57 AM | Comments (0)

Five Future Saints I really

Five Future Saints

I really liked this list of five future saints at And Then?

To this list there are so many I would like to add so I'll add my five favorites that are not already on the previous list.

1. Kateri Tekakwitha
2. Elizabeth Leseur
3. Titus Brandsma [Later: Sorry, it took me a while to find the link to this the most famous of his writings.
4. Elizabeth of the Trinity
5. I will not put his name as he is still living, but those who know this place well know who he is.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

Peter Singer--Should HE Be Benevolently

Peter Singer--Should HE Be Benevolently Euthanized?

I don't normally deal with subjects of controversy here, but reference to this piece of hideousness arrived in my email box courtesy of the Ratzinger Fan Club. Singer, who supports "euthanizing" the disabled, infanticide, and bestiality, among other equally abhorrent practices, is our "Ethicist Laureate," using as his soapbox a chair at Princeton University.

A caption on one of the photographs reads, "The author doesn't see Singer as a monster, though perhaps she wishes she did." I think of Hannah Arendt's comments regarding Adolf Eichmann at his trial--"The Banality of Evil." I think of C.S. Lewis's name for the instrument of darkness in That Hideous Strength--N.I.C.E. Whether the author sees it or not, Singer is the ethical equivalent of Goebbels, Goering, and other engineers of the final solution, " If people, for whatever reason, do not meet the appropriate standards, they should cease to be an inconvenience to me." To my mind that makes a monster.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)

Not as Calming as the

Not as Calming as the Real Thing. . . Nevertheless

Another poetry infliction--this one quite strongly imagistic from a poet that I've never much liked, but to whom I am gradually growing accustomed. Some day soon, perhaps I shall warm up to her.

An Aquarium Amy Lowell

Streaks of green and yellow iridescence,
Silver shiftings,
Rings veering out of rings,
Silver -- gold --
Grey-green opaqueness sliding down,
With sharp white bubbles
Shooting and dancing,
Flinging quickly outward.
Nosing the bubbles,
Swallowing them,
Blue shadows against silver-saffron water,
The light rippling over them
In steel-bright tremors.
Outspread translucent fins
Flute, fold, and relapse;
The threaded light prints through them on the pebbles
In scarcely tarnished twinklings.
Curving of spotted spines,
Slow up-shifts,
Lazy convolutions:
Then a sudden swift straightening
And darting below:
Oblique grey shadows
Athwart a pale casement.
Roped and curled,
Green man-eating eels
Slumber in undulate rhythms,
With crests laid horizontal on their backs.
Barred fish,
Striped fish,
Uneven disks of fish,
Slip, slide, whirl, turn,
And never touch.
Metallic blue fish,
With fins wide and yellow and swaying
Like Oriental fans,
Hold the sun in their bellies
And glow with light:
Blue brilliance cut by black bars.
An oblong pane of straw-coloured shimmer,
Across it, in a tangent,
A smear of rose, black, silver.
Short twists and upstartings,
Rose-black, in a setting of bubbles:
Sunshine playing between red and black flowers
On a blue and gold lawn.
Shadows and polished surfaces,
Facets of mauve and purple,
A constant modulation of values.
With green bead eyes;
Swift spots of chrysolite and coral;
In the midst of green, pearl, amethyst irradiations.

A willow-tree flickers
With little white jerks,
And long blue waves
Rise steadily beyond the outer islands.

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

An Infliction of Poetry My

An Infliction of Poetry

My sincerest apologies, but the second line of this poem, featured prominently in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory forced me to seek it out and present it to you all. I remember this as a favorite from childhood--which will, in turn, give you some notion of my childhood.

Sea Fever John Masefield   I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by; And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking, And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking,

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:09 AM | Comments (0)

How Francis Parkman Views Them

How Francis Parkman Views Them

Here's a small sample from the work mentioned yesterday that gives you a notion of the strength and the beauty of the writing:

from The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century Francis Parkman

It was an evil day for new-born Protestantism, when a French artilleryman fired the shot that struck down Ignatius Loyola in the breach of Pampeluna. A proud noble, an aspiring soldier, a graceful courtier, an ardent and daring gallant was metamorphosed by that stroke into the zealot whose brain engendered and brought forth the mighty Society of Jesus. His story is a familiar one: how, in the solitude of his sick-room, a change came over him, upheaving, like an earthquake, all the forces of his nature; how, in the cave of Manresa, the mysteries of Heaven were revealed to him; how he passed from agonies to transports, from transports to the calm of a determined purpose. The soldier gave himself to a new warfare. In the forge of his great intellect, heated, but not disturbed by the intense fires of his zeal, was wrought the prodigious enginery whose power has been felt to the uttermost confines of the world.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:43 AM | Comments (0)

Guessing Game of a Beautiful

Guessing Game of a Beautiful Passage

From a most famous novel:

In a certain reign there was a lady not of the first rank whom the emperor loved more than any of the others. The grand ladies with high ambitions thought her a presumptuous upstart, and lesser ladies were still more resentful. Everything she did offended someone. Probably aware of what was happening, she fell seriously ill and came to spend more time at home than at court. The emperor's pity and affection quite passed bounds. No longer caring what his ladies and courtiers might say, he behaved as if intent upon stirring gossip.

Can you name the novel and the author? Bonus if you can name the time period/genre. This is yet another work that has recently become available in electronic format.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:32 AM | Comments (0)

Prayers Redux My thanks to

Prayers Redux

My thanks to the many who have offered their prayers for my friends, and I ask once again--today is an important day, for prayers for discernment, for compassion, for love, and for self-sacrifice on the part of these two who are struggling so hard against the forces of the enemy. There is nothing that delights the enemy more than breaking up a family unit--in this he can cause the very foundations of society to erode and the structures built on top of this are so much easier to bring down. If we pray family by family, person by person for those in crisis, we fight the "war in heaven." If you attend Mass today and can afford to linger a bit, please pray for my friends and offer for them the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel--for if there is a battle raging, it rages at the heart of the family and the heart of our society.


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

February 16, 2003

Jesuit Alert For those interested

Jesuit Alert

For those interested both in the Jesuits and in historiography and some of the finest writing in history, you might want to visit Blackmask to find Francis Parkman's magnificent The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century. If you don't want HTML, you can go to the main site, search the title and find PDF, files for PDAs, and several other formats. What a wonderful gift e-publishing grants us--to keep an entire library of the world's most important resources in the space of a letter.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:51 PM | Comments (0)

More Thoughts on MT It

More Thoughts on MT

It seems that MT comes with its own built-in commenting system that will only dissolve if you're unable to access the site anyway because of server self-immolation. This is a distinct advantage, as glancing at Haloscan as it comes back up, it appears that all comments from yesterday have entered the furnace of Moloch. This is the second time in a very short period--one wonders.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)

Blogging Advice I'm seriously considering

Blogging Advice

I'm seriously considering either upgrading the blogger account so I can store and post images or moving to another server. I've already heard from one person on moving to another server, I'd love to hear from others out there about your experience. I just read the documentation that comes with Movable Type, and I'm absolutely convinced that this is not as difficult as they make it sound, but it sounds quite daunting--like I'll be spending the rest of my life trying to configure Movable Type. Frankly, I just don't want the fuss. So those who use movable type, or who have a suggestion about different blogging software, I'd love to hear from you and hear about your experience. If you use MT was it easy? How is the CSS in the template? Does DHTML work? I'm moderately comfortable in the HTML world, but I am not a programmer and when you start throwing perlscripts and sql commands and databases, I back off quickly. Also, were you able to transfer Archives. (I suppose that is of little important, as I've saved all of mine as straight HTML so I should be able to merely have a static direct link page.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 10:02 AM | Comments (0)