September 06, 2003

Still Some Work To Do

But my sincere thanks to all who have offered help. Transition is going smoothly. We'll see what happens with the archives and such, but I have no reason to expect anything untoward.

I am ecstatic because it appeals so much to my orderly mind to have all these Categories. Now if someone wants to read all the entries on poetry or the glorious seventeenth Century, or whatever, they will be able to do so. More importantly, for my own purposes it is far superior to the usual flatfile.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 09:17 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

A Blockquote Test

A little decadent, a little beautiful, a little memento mori.
Ah! my Beloved, fill the Cup that clears
To-day of past Regrets and future Fears
To-morrow?--Why, To-morrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday's Sev'n Thousand Years.
More, perhaps later. After the storm and after the Carmelite meeting.
Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:37 AM | Comments (1)

September 05, 2003

Packing Up and Saying Farewell

Packing Up and Saying Farewell to Blogger, at Least for a While

This will remain open until I figure out how to transfer the entries. When that is done, I don't know the fate of this place. Although likely it will remain open because it has so many comments I wish to preserve and Haloscan doesn't yet allow me to export them.

Anyway please visit the new under construction digs here.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 11:19 PM | Comments (0)

Okay, One Last Entry for the Sheer Joy of It

There is much to admire about this software, and much that is both infuriating and aggravating.

For one thing the code for the template is a nasty tangled mess. I can parse it, but just barely because of the way different lines are slammed together. I haven't yet gotten used to some of the style-sheet eccentricities. And I'm not certain that I've settled on a style. I'd really like a three column format, but I can't seem to find any templates with that--so I'll likely get someone to help parsing the mess and set up my own.

Oh, and color scheme is far from final.

One last horror--importing the archives. Not sure I'll be able to do it--but if I can get everything moved over, I probably shall do soonest.

Meanwhile, enjoy the vistas from my new home.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 11:11 PM | Comments (1)

So Now I Have So Many Choices

I can choose to add a category. You can click the categories and see all the wonderful possibilities. I don't have to index certain things the way I once did. Now, if I want to read any of my own maunderings about St. John of the Cross, I'll simply click that category. That is actually what I most wanted in my blog--that wonderful ability to create order from chaos. To order in whatsoever fashion enters my warped imagination. Oh, the lovely, wonderful, and most excellent freedom.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 09:01 PM | Comments (0)

Just Trying it Out To See What Happens

What will happen when I publish this?

Who knows?

Much Less

Who cares?

Except for me

I'd Guess no one.

No one at all.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 06:32 PM | Comments (1)

St. John of the Cross

St. John of the Cross IX--Dark Night of the Soul II

Ascent of Mount Carmel Study--Dark Night Digression part II

This month we end our brief digression into Dark Night of the Soul. Please read pages 367-375 (Book 1 Chapters 4-7).

Prepare a table consisting of three columns and eight rows. In the header row:

Spiritual Sin/ Signs and Symptoms/Actions to be Taken or Cure

In the Lead Column: Spiritual Pride, Spiritual Avarice, Spiritual Lust, Spiritual Anger, Spiritual Gluttony, Spiritual Envy, Spiritual Sloth.

Fill out the final five, and as a review go back to the first two. Make a list of three actions to take in the next month related to finding and rooting out signs of these sins.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:38 AM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2003

A Most Interesting Note from Thoreau

A Most Interesting Note from Thoreau

As ever I greatly lament the paucity and the weakness of my own writings when I compare them with even the hasty jottings of one like Thoreau. This excerpt had me completely spellbound and captive.

Journal of Thoreau excerpted in Ordinary Graces ed. Lorraine Kisly

In youth, before I lost any of my senses, I can remember that I was all alive, and inhabited my body with inexpressible satisfaction; both its weariness and its refreshment were sweet to me. This earth was the most glorious musical instrument, and I was audience to its strains.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 10:51 PM | Comments (0)

Back to the Gospel of

Back to the Gospel of Mark

Please forgive me as I try your patience with yet more of the Gospel of Mark. This time I've backed up to

Mark 1:3
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight--"

I love the beautiful ambiguity of this phrasing. Is it the voice that is crying in the wilderness or do we read across the line break to hear a different meaning? Read it this way, "It is the voice of one crying 'In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord. " I had read somewhere that much of punctuation is a fairly recent, modern innovation. Ancient markings are exceedingly vague, or so I understand. So what happens when we read across the lines? I think we hear another hidden strand of the Gospel. In the barren and inhospitable wilderness of the human heart, prepare a way for the Lord. Again in that same heart, make his paths straight. This is the announcement of the reign of God that is to bring us all out of the desert. I am reminded through the echoing resonance of this verse from Ezekiel 11:19

"And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will take the stony heart out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh"

So as we prepare a way in the desert for the Lord, he prepares for us a way out of the desert and toward home. We give Him stones and He hands back living hearts. I never fail to be amazed by the richness of God's word in a heart even only barely awake--a heart more stone than flesh, but yearning for His deliverance.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 10:50 PM | Comments (0)

Calvinist and Nevertheless Lovely

Calvinist and Nevertheless Lovely

A sonnet cycle by Anne Locke based on Psalm

from A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner
"On the Verse:
For I knowledge my wickednes, and my sinne is euer before me. "
Anne Locke, 1560

Haue mercie, Lord, haue mercie: for I know
How muche I nede thy mercie in this case.
The horror of my gilt doth dayly growe,
And growing weares my feble hope of grace.
I fele and suffer in my thralled brest
Secret remorse and gnawing of my hart.
I fele my sinne, my sinne that hath opprest
My soule with sorrow and surmounting smart.
Drawe me to mercie: for so oft as I
Presume to mercy to direct my sight,
My Chaos and my heape of sinne doth lie,
Betwene me and thy mercies shining light.
What euer way I gaze about for grace,
My filth and fault are euer in my face.

The sinner trapped by his own sin cannot see beyond. Grace only gives the light, and yet the sinner must seek grace. In the grand mystery of God's grace, He must supply even this grace and strength to seek grace. Of ourselves, we can do nothing, and yet the very slight bending of will is all that God asks for or requires. We are so blessed.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 09:27 PM | Comments (0)

Moving Soon

Moving Soon

In a couple of days I hope to be moving this blog. I want to move to movable type largely because of the ability to categorize posts. It would offer me the opportunity to be able to easily look back over previous materials and revise and refine them for other purposes. In addition, it gives me something to play with. I look forward to
the opportunity to play with a new template and perhaps post of few pictures of things (fossils and other amusing things). So this is just fair warning. When it happens I shall post the new address. In the meantime, I'll be lingering around these corners with posts. (Not much today because usual posting time was consumed at the car repair place. Which reminds me--please pray for us as we contemplate the purchase of a new "family-friendly" vehicle--to accommodate our extended family)

Posted by Steven Riddle at 01:26 PM | Comments (0)

September 03, 2003

A Key to the Gospel of Mark

A Key to the Gospel of Mark

In reviewing the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark, I made a rediscovery that seems one key to the Gospel of Mark. Undoubtedly you have noticed in reading the Gospel the sense of urgency that seems to emerge very early on. In the first chapter alone the word immediately is used 9 times.

The key may lie within the second verse of Mark, which is not repeated in either Matthew's or Luke's Gospel. The second verse:

"As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way;"

Well, this portion of it is not written in Isaiah but in Malachi (the remainder of the quotation, however, does come from Isaiah). Malachi 3:1a (a refers to the first part of the verse:

"Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts." (RSV)

This verse seems to set the tone for Mark. We read that "the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple." Like a lightning stroke from blue sky, the Lord will come and be revealed.

Mark follows his quotes from Malachi and Isaiah with

"John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. " (Mark 1:4 - RSV)

Is it any wonder that many thought he was the one predicted? He came as Malachi said--he "appeared" in the desert after how many years of prayer and service to God, he suddenly shows up at the Jordan announcing that the time had come and everything was to change. No wonder his first recorded words included that admonition that he is not the one predicted.

And then along comes Jesus, indistinguishable in any ordinary way from the crowd--one of the multitude but oh, His baptism told a tale:

"And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; " (Mark 1:10 - RSV)

I suspect there were very few other Galileans for whom this happened. In fact, I suspect there were no others. So, Jesus suddenly appears--God revealed--in His temple, which is every place and every time because He is Lord of Eternity, of time and space.

Thus Mark is pressing upon us the necessity of Jesus and the urgency of His revelation to the world. He appears suddenly to fulfill the prophecy of the third chapter of Malachi, which in its entirety reads:

1 "Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? "For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap; 3 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the LORD. 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years. 5 "Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts. 6 "For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.

"He will sit as refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the LORD."

Would that it would be true in my case and in the case of so many Christians around me. I would be refined by God, I would present Him all that He deserves. And all that He deserves is nothing less than all of me all of the time--my complete service to Him and to His people. This was the reason for the baptism of repentance--the days of trial and fire were coming, and have come since, and remain with us. Each of us must be tested in fire and the fire will be one of God's choosing, not everyone requires the same refinement, the same purification. He will use the fire that will burn out the sin and turn dross into silver, electrum, and gold, each to his capacity as God himself has seen and refined it.

Is it any wonder that Mark speaks with urgency? Isn't this what we all desire? Isn't this the promise of ages? To become a new person, to be fulfilled not in ourselves but in our place in the body of Christ, is the promise of salvation. We can assume our place in the throne-room rather than presuming it. We may enter as the wedding guests called in off the streets--and like the wedding guests we should pay some honor in our dress and refinement.

What starts as a certain puzzlement at the pace of the gospel resolves into the vision of the promise of God. God is with Us now and forever, we have seen His face unveiled and know the truth of His revelation. This is what the gospel reveals to us and this is what God promises us.

To Him all praise and glory.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:59 AM | Comments (0)

September 02, 2003

For Fans of C.S. Lewis

For Fans of C.S. Lewis

His mentor's book Unspoken Sermons. George D. MacDonald, despite his excesses in the novel-world is one of the writers C.S. Lewis most admired. I would like to discover why. Perhaps these short sermons will help.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 05:57 PM | Comments (0)

On Writing for Any Audience

On Writing for Any Audience

Sometimes I would like my blog to be other than what it is. But I understand that would require me to be other than what I am.

I would like to have incisive and perceptive things to say about current events, as a great many blogs do. But that would require me to be able to discern as perceptively which side is in the right and which side is in the wrong. It is not always so clear cut with me.

I would like to be able to post perceptive analyses and explanations of plain Catholicism, like those I read at Disputations. But while I might take exception to some small part of what is said there, I haven't the right kind of mind to generate the wonderful materials I read there.

I would like to produce with consistency the vibrantly spiritual, quintessentially posts of Ms. Karen Marie Knapp, who never fails to stun me.

Each blogger I read consistently has some aspect that I would dearly love to have here. Kathy at Gospel Minefield has a wonderful ability to cut through the fog and obfuscation to get to the heart of the matter. Mr. Seraphin at A Catholic Blog for Lovers always produces beautiful, vibrant and meaningful work.

But I am what I am, and what I am is expressed through what appears here. I do not have a terribly incisive mind (God did not give me bleeding edge technology). What I know was hard-learned, often in the dreadful school of experience, and often very, very slowly. I have no insights that others would profit from or cherish--I can tell you nothing new, or even anything old (and accurate) about the human condition. I cannot plumb the depths of spirituality or soar to the heights of intellect. Let's face it--at times I just feel downright deficient--ineffective, ineffectual, with endless vacillation and a million different caveats all leading nowhere.

But I am what I am, masses of indecision and all. And because of that, this blog is what it is--neither the forerunner of understanding the news, nor the leading voice in understanding the teaching of the Church, nor particularly gifted at spelling out spiritual truths and helping everyone to a deeper understanding of our Lord and God.

What I do hope I am is a person whose love of God occasionally breaks through his love of self. What I hope shines forth for some is my real attraction to the Holy Church and the blessed Magisterium that so helps us all in understanding. You will hear much wrong here--not deliberately, but through ignorance. You do not stand to learn much from me. But I do appreciate your patience and the kindness of your readership as you visit day after day. I am blessed with blogfriends and regulars who visit and sometimes comment, and I am thankful.

I had originally intended to publish something like Erik's Manifesto on Art and Music--but I realize that I have nothing to say that would have nearly the same meaning. Perhaps the only things of worth I can offer is my sincere love of the language, which, due to the haste with which these entries are composed might be belied by what you see here. But trust me, I do cherish the language, its magnificence, its simplicity, and its beauty and I have no patience for those who abuse it, misuse it, or warp it. Perhaps someday I'll produce a manifesto on good and decent writing that will stab straight at the heart of the postmodern world of criticism.

Enough maundering for now--presently I'm off to try to write an explanation of why the Bernouilli Principle IS NOT the right explanation for the marvels of aeronautics. It will be particularly difficult because common knowledge holds the Bernoilli Principle explanation for induced lift. It's always hard to go against common knowledge--most particularly people seem to cling to it ardently when it is at its most incorrect.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 05:50 PM | Comments (0)

For Those Following the Trials of Our Episcopalian Brethren

For Those Following the Trials of Our Episcopalian Brethren

(Obviously not intended for Erik :-)

This note by a gentleman of some prominence in the Episcopal Church, Mr. David Warren, announcing his intention to "swim the Tiber."

Posted by Steven Riddle at 01:37 PM | Comments (0)



May as well add my two-cents worth. Mr. Bowden of Adjutorium Nostrum + In Nomine Domini is encouraging all St. Blogsters to add a feed to their sites. Having examined the possibilities, I can see why he might suggest this. At the very bottom of the left-hand column of this page is the location I have chosen to add such a feed. Unless you're on ultra-blogger or somesuch, I don't think it is possible to add a feed directly, so Blogmatrix seems to be a good place to add through. The advantage is that those who run a certain kind of reader/browser will know almost as soon as you have updated your site. You can read all updates in one place--like a St. Blog's newspaper. (I don't know if a program is yet available for Mac to do this). The disadvantage, so far as I can tell at this time, is nil. So, please consider this service to and for others who enjoy your site.

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

A Note upon Possible Future Changes

A Note upon Possible Future Change

I am carefully considering at this point the change to movable type or another such blogging program. I do so not from any real discontent with blogger, which despite its occasional problems and flare-ups has served me well and faithfully for over a year, but because I wish to impose additional structure upon the blog, to categorize so that it might be more easily searched and organized for the reader and for myself. I will shortly consult several who use this program and ask after its efficacy and the difficulty of transfer. Never fear, nothing will change in the manner of doing things; however, if I choose to make this leap at this time, I think everyone who enjoys what is here will be better able to do so.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 08:03 AM | Comments (0)

Witnessing Christ in Creation

Witnessing Christ in Creation

A superb slender book of excerpts regarding facets of the Christian Life, Ordinary Graces compiled by Lorraine Kisly presents a number of quotations regarding the Christian encounter with the natural world. I'll excerpt two.

from Ordinary Graces compiled by Lorraine Kisly

from the work of Poet Christopher Smart

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God, duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For this is done by wreathing his body seven time round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For first he looks upon his fore-paws to see if they are clean.
For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the fore-paws extended.
For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For fifthly he washes himself.
For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
For tenthly he goes in quest of food.
For having considered God and himself he will consider his neighbor.
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying. . .

from The Grain of Wheat: Aphorisms
Hans Urs von Balthasar

Christ as recapitulation of creation: as new Adam he encompasses everything human, but he also incorporates the animal realm in himself, since he is lamb, scapegoat, sacrificial ox, ram, and lion of Judah. As bread and as vine he incorporates the vegetative. Finally, in the Passion, he became a mere thing and thus reached the very bottom of the world's structure. This reification is most evidenced in the sacraments and especially in Christ's quantification in Communion wafers and in his multilocation Christ as printing matrix, as generic article. Such reification has its cause not at all in a subsequent desacralization of the holy by the Church, but in an intensely profound personal decision of the Redeemer, and in the strongest possible effects of the redemption itself, whereby the Lord makes himself irrevocably a thing at the disposal of anyone who requests it.

One quick note--even in his aphorisms von Balthasar is incredibly long-winded.

I loved both of these excerpts because they gave points to ponder--a direction to look in order to see the sacred in the ordinary. To look at one's cat and see the mind of the maker is a cause for great joy--to see how perfectly attuned and constructed such an animal might be to the will of God is indeed an insight.

The second insight probes our understanding of Jesus. Again the notion of Jesus recapitulating all of creation is profound and thrilling. Paul hints around at it in Romans when he says that all creations groans awaiting the redemption--but this direct statement is gorgeous and a new way of thinking about the efficacy and sufficiency of God alone.

I hope the book continues to provide readings of such caliber. There will be much to be learned from it.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:59 AM | Comments (0)



No profound insights into Neil Gaiman's novel for children, but a few pointers. I never fail to be amazed at the cleanness and beauty of the prose. There are points throughout the novel that hint at deeper riches. Don, who initially recommended the piece with some reservations, had noted the use of Bible verses in the mouth of a very unsavory character and wondered what Gaiman might be saying. The wonderful thing about this, is that it little matters what his intent, again, as Don points out, it may leave a funny aftertaste in adult mouths, but the story is ultimately about good and evil. The use of the Bible verse very readily explained by the fact that not everyone who quotes scripture is worthy to do so. (A digression: how many of us are?)

The story and prose are simply enough--probably easy enough for a homeschooled child of seven or eight, or a public-schooled child of ten to read. The novel provides plenty of goosebumps with very little in the way of anything objectionable. I don't know that I would share this with youngsters, but I do recommend it to the attention of adults both because it is short and because the control in the writing is absolutely perfect. The pitch and the ear for dialogue and description superb. Quiet, menacing, and thrilling without ever going over the top. In some ways this small book reminded me of the splendid movie The Others. The chill is similar, the end result quite different. And, as usual with Gaiman, there are moments that are quite amusing even amid the creepiness. As we approach October, but this on your fall reading list.

Posted by Steven Riddle at 07:36 AM | Comments (0)