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The Diocese of Dappled Things

Our-Lady-of-Guadalupe-shrine2

Came and went and I never even knew…

 

By the by…

horse-tack

…I figger it’s high time the rest of us started in blogging again. Otherwise, people might start to get suspicious. They might think we were doing meaningful work behind the scenes. Can you imagine?

Anyway, we had our parish priest over for dinner last night. He gave a fine homily for Trinity Sunday about the necessity for experiencing the dynamic of love within the Trinity as being rather more important than understanding its workings, and he closed with a bit from a book written by a father raising a severely autistic boy. On a day when the readings made explicit reference to believers as children of God, it was easy to substitute myself (and all of fallen humanity) for the afflicted son. I recast it thusly:

The Horse and the Boy

The child is simple – anyone can see it
The way he blindly flails about the barn
– in here, where blade and beast might do him harm
and him without the beastly sense to flee it

It’s not his fault – the flaw’s been there since birth
or further back; it’s left him largely with himself
for company, untroubled by the wealth
of words and rules that circumscribe the earth

Thank God, old Betsy has the patience of a saint
Another horse, with some less gentle spirit
Might kick, and stop his cry before I’d even hear it
(If his mother knew I brought him here, she’d faint)

But once I’ve helped him up upon her back
He flashes forth the longing to be known and know
the world beyond himself in just two words: first “up” then “go”
to seek and find what he and I and you still lack

from Dom Casmurro by Machado de Assis

I’ve been rereading this 1899 novel by Machado de Assis, and came across this passage, which seems somewhat related to the conversation JOB and I have been having over the last month or so.

God is the poet. The music is by Satan, a young and very promising composer, who was trained in the heavenly conservatory. A rival of Michael, Raphael and Gabriel, he resented the preference they enjoyed in the distribution of the prizes. It could also be that the over-sweet and mystical style of these other pupils was abhorrent to his essentially tragic genius. He plotted a rebellion which was discovered in time, and he was expelled from the conservatory. And that would have been that, if God had not written an opera libretto, which he had given up, being of the opinion that this type of recreation was inappropriate to His eternity. Satan took the manuscript with him to hell. With the aim of showing that he was better than the others—and perhaps of seeking a reconciliation with heaven—he composed the score, and as soon as he had finished it, took it to the Heavenly Father.

“Lord, I have not forgotten the lessons I have learned,” he said. “Here is the score, listen to it, have it played, and if you think it worthy of the heavenly heights, admit me with it to sit at your feet …”

“No,” replied the Lord, “I don’t want to hear a thing.”

“But, Lord …”

“Not a thing, not a thing!”

Satan went on pleading, with no greater success, until God, tired and full of mercy, gave His consent for the opera to be performed, but outside heaven. He created a special theater, this planet, and invented a whole company, with all the principal and minor roles, the choruses and the dancers.

“Come and listen to some of the rehearsals!”

“No, I don’t want to know about it. I’ve done enough, composing the libretto …”

If we imagine that the score is by Schoenberg, maybe the passage will make even more sense!

Tagged: Death

A fun little jaunt through the last 700 1,400 years of death.

‘… On the Wings of the Wind …’

From the Armadio degli Argenti of Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), c. 1450

From the Armadio degli Argenti of Blessed John of Fiesole, OP (Fra Angelico), c. 1450

… he came, cherub-mounted, borne up on the wings of the wind….

Pslam 18:11

Field Notes

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 10.27.14 AM1.
The desire to go off the grid —
Take the family to an island like I said.
The ink sinks into the very fibers of the pages.
Give me the eyes to see into the murk
And the will to act on what I see and know.
To go off the grid while staying put,
That’s the trick.

2.
What it comes down to is either
Material existence is the
Ultimate mystery or God is —
Or the infinity of permutations thereof.
But there is no escaping that it comes
Down to an ultimate mystery.
There’s no either/or about that.

3.
Love. There’s the rub.

4.
Another way to put it.
Either matter is the ultimate mystery
Or spirit is. But there’s
No getting round that the mystery
Is ultimate in either case.
Why is there something
Rather than nothing?
And if God (Spirit) is responsible,
Then how does one account for God?
Answer: one doesn’t.
But the same answer applies
To a strictly material universe.
So place your bets, brothers and sisters.

5.
Tipping the scales.
Human intelligence would seem to point to
An ultimate intelligence.
Human love would seem to point
To an ultimate Love.
Human creativity would seem to
Point to an ultimate creator.
Human power would seem
To point to an ultimate power.
Human mystery would
Seem to point to an ultimate mystery,
Who is intelligent, loving, powerful —
And personal. And yet:
Human depravity would seem to point to
A fall from the grace of that mystery.
There’s the other rub.

Best Interview You’ll Read All Day

Maybe all week, all year … maybe your whole life.

In keeping to the old prisoner/work relief thread running through this blog, I refer you to theThe Marshall Project’s interview with Anthony Ray Hinton, convicted of murdering two fast food managers in Birmingham in 1985. 29 years old at the time, Hinton was sent to death row. He was released last week after spending 30 years there, much of it in solitary confinement.

In solitary confinement, a lot of people break up. They lose their mind, they give up, they commit suicide. Tell me about your experience. How you were able to hold onto yourself?

I come from a Christian background. My mom was strict. She always would instill in us that we don’t need anybody to actually play with. Get outside and play by yourself. She taught me to lean on Jesus and no one else. And when I got to death row, believe it or not, I witnessed people hanging. I seen people cut their wrist. I seen blood leaking from under the cell. I seen men who hung themselves. And so I became a person that got wrapped up in my sense of humor, and I tried to make everybody that I came in contact with — from prison guard to the wardens to the inmates — I tried to make everybody laugh. I would see a guard come by and I would say, “Hey officer.” He’d say, “Yeah Anthony, what can I do for you?” I’d say, “I need to run to the house for about an hour, and I’m gonna need to use your car. I’ll bring it right back, but I need to go.” And they would laugh.

You have to understand something: These crooked D.A.s and police officers and racist people had lied on me and convicted me of a horrible crime for something I didn’t do. They stole my 30s, they stole my 40s, they stole my 50s. I could not afford to give them my soul. I couldn’t give them me. I had to hold onto that, and the only thing that kept me from losing my mind was my sense of humor. There’s no man who’s able to go in a cell by yourself, and you’re there for 23, sometimes 24 hours a day, and you don’t come out. There’s not a human being that can withstand that pressure unless there’s something greater inside of him. And the spirit was in me where I didn’t have to worry about killing myself.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that Satan didn’t come up on me and tell me, Well you ain’t never gonna get out of here. When I saw people going to be executed, every man in there would tell you he questions himself — is that ever going to happen to me? And when that little voice comes and says, Well they’re going to get you the next time, I would immediately tell him to get thee behind me, and I would turn on that switch of laughter. And I didn’t ever turn it off. To this day, even though I’m free, I still haven’t turned that sense of humor off. If you could have seen me in those 30 years, you would have said this guy can’t be human. This guy is crazy. This guy laughs and plays like he ain’t on death row. I didn’t accept the death penalty. You can’t make me take the death penalty. You can give it to me, but you can’t make me take it in my heart.

There’s a whole lot more—about the day his mom died, about what it was like to use a fork for the first time in three decades, and the importance of Mark 11:24. Which you don’t have to be in prison to appreciate. It’s there for everybody, and it’s there for you, too.

ht:klo

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Tractatus at a Benedictine Monastery Near Huttledorf: A Propositional Sonnet with Phenomenal Lemma

brother rabbit duck

         But primordial life, wild life striving to erupt into the open – that is lacking.

The world is everything that is the case.
    So garden shears will comprehend the axe.
    I bend at first, then kneel to ask this rose
What case exists as mere atomic facts.
    I feel the soil. The sun is kind to beat
    Upon my backside – meaning what it meant:
The logical picture of facts is thought,
And thought’s proposition, significant.
    Do roots thus know the bloom? Does eye thus see
    Itself? Does work thus play like rose with worm ?
All basic functions of veracity
Can pattern truth to serve the general form:
        Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must
        Be silent: worm to rose and light from dust.

Sext

Dominica_in_Sexagesima

ἀναζωπυρεῖν

is perhaps my favorite Greek verb, meaning as it does “kindle anew”. This has not so much to do with newfangled reading devices as it does the second letter of Paul to Timothy, in one of my favorite passages from scripture:

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

That’s 2 Timothy 1:6-7 in the New International Version, which I have here because that’s the way I first memorably read it on a readerboard outside Seattle’s First Presbyterian Church on the corner of 8th and Madison. That’s where I was walking one fine day in 1987 on my way to meet my mom for lunch, when she was working at the Federal Courthouse on Sixth and Madison, across from the Seattle Public Library. If the passage seems somewhat self-serving (as it does to me—now, anyway, which I realize is a perverse way of reading scripture) say a prayer for the twenty-two year old who was trying to find his way even as he would soon so very badly lose it. Even after reading those very words.

I mention all this because it is the festival day for Saints Timothy and Titus. Timothy happens to be the name of my brother, which is another reason that passage stood out for me way back when.

Say a prayer for him as well, while you are at it. And for the fifty year old, too. Happy Feast Day, and God bless!