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It’s Walker Percy’s Hundredth Birthday and We Suck

… but here’s the beginning of an epic poem about the time a young man met the man himself:

November 22, 1989

The day I met Walker, the rain had fallen
in Louisiana sheets, and I’d left
my tent illicitly pitched in the Bogue Falaya
State Park, along with a bookish bottle
of Early Times I’d taken a few swigs off of
in the dark the night before as pine cones pitched
and fell outside as if in triadic morse code
from Flannery in heaven telling me grace was in
the river. And alligators, too, I reckoned.
I walked the cracked sidewalks of Covington, aimlessly,
dazed by the wonder of seeing vines sprouting
through the cracks in a sacramental vision,
a concelebration of the namer and the named,
and lept across the flashflood puddles
as I made my way towards no destination
but found myself in The Kumquat bookstore
to oggle shelves bursting with signed copies
of The Moviegoer, The Last Gentleman, Love in the Ruins, Lancelot,
The Second Coming, The Thanatos Syndrome, Lost
in the Cosmos, The Message in the Bottle, books
that had changed (and continue to change) my life.
Oh Walker (Oh Rory) I was twenty-four
and pining for a woman I was also
on the run from in triangular
despair (yet thanks in part to you I also
was aware, at least a little — a foothold —
of the despair, contrary to that Kierkegaardian
epigraph, precisely pitched though it is).
Oh Walker: so I bought a stack of books,
some for me and some for those I loved,
and left instructions with the keeper of
the store to have you encode, in your
physician’s scrawl, your cracked prescriptions
where the vines of love and truth might grow from bourbon
and ink, the cumulative bliss of limitation,
where you and I might clear a space for being.

I Don’t Wanna Go to Mass

Something Potter came up with after his daughter said she didn’t want to go to mass. Apparently he was trying to one-up her in the anti-mass department.

San Diego in the news.

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Not my town, but the original San Diego – San Diego de Alcala. Or rather, his corpse. And a praying robot made in his image. A little something for anyone who has ever felt the least bit automatic during recitation of the rosary.

Sext

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Catholic Celebrities in Need of Prayers

Of course all celebrites need your prayers, but since I was about to title this Catholics Behaving Badly or something similar, perhaps we could focus some of our spiritual efforts on behalf of coreligionist Brian Williams, who seems to be having an especially hard time of it these last few weeks. Right now it’s a somewhat embellished story about getting shot down in a Chinook helicopter, last month it was having to defend his daughter’s acting abilities, or maybe career choices (actually, no, don’t follow that second link, especially if you’re in a public place), as one of the stars on HBO’s Girls

“She’s always been an actress. For us, watching her is the family occupation and everybody has to remember it’s acting, no animals were harmed during the filming, and ideally nobody gets hurt.“

Think your life is rough? I don’t care how wealthy or insulated or just plain spoiled rotten he or they or you are—that is rough.

God help us all.

Pious Editions and Other Accretions…

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Regarding Ms. O’Connor and her struggle with the ultimate tension of any fictionist – nature and grace – Paul Elie has a new shot soaring across the secular bow here.

 

 

 

Practice What You Preach Department

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We shall still more thoroughly ground the young man, if, on introducing him to poetry, we explain to him that it is an imitative art and agent, analogous to painting. Not only must he be made acquainted with the common saying that poetry is vocal painting, and painting, silent poetry, but he must also teach him that when we see a painting of a lizard, an ape, or the face of Thersites, our pleasure and surprise are occasioned, not by the beauty of the object, but by the likeness of the painting to it. For it is naturally impossible for the ugly to be beautiful, but it is the imitation which is praised, if it reproduce to the life either an ugly or beautiful object. On the contrary, if an ugly object is represented as beautiful, we deny the truthfulness or the consistency of the picture.

How to Study Poetry by Plutarch.

 

 

Hot Prayer Tips

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In the waiting room while my dad gets his ticker worked on.

Anecdote of the Storage Cubby

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Keeping the Dog Far Hence: A Lenten Reflection

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By Cecilia O’Brien

That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men,
Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!

-Eliot

Waiting, waiting, waiting…

Lent arrives during the most appropriate season in our little patch of the world. Southwest Wisconsin at this time of year is a season of mud, dirty snow, patchy ice, fleeting sun and winds whispering promises of things to come. The days grow longer and the hours a bit slower as we wait, and wait, and wait for signs of spring.

The frozen ground begins to reveal the hidden sins of winter; animal waste, a plethora of bones dragged in by the dog, long lost mittens, buckets and plastic bags, and other sundry items that have fallen from our pockets or have been swept from our cars. It is ugly, the dirty snow, the brown earth, the garbage.

As is the season, so too is the state of our souls. Lent pulls back the blanket of complacency, revealing our imperfections, inconsistencies, and inadequacies. It lays bare the detritus from seasons past. Our souls are scarred with sins of gluttony, pride, selfishness, lust, anger…. The list goes on and on. It too is ugly, the blanket of complacency, the scars, the sins.

And yet hope lies in those winds of promise. Hope for new life, green pastures, gurgling streams, and the warming rays of the sun. Work must be done. The plastic and paper garbage must be secured lest the wind blows them in all directions once again.

The dog does not like to lose her many bones littering the lawn and field. We have tried burying them or tossing them over a distant ravine but she always manages to retrieve them, scattering them about, scars on our landscapes, obstacles in our paths. So the bones and garbage are collected, placed in garbage bags and sent to the county dump and recycling center to be crushed, incinerated, or reformed.

Our sins also have the tendency to make their way back to our soul’s landscape, blocking the way, obscuring the warming rays of the Son. They too must be collected and disposed, leaving our soul exposed to the light of grace.

The confessional is our soul’s county dump. We acknowledge our sins, gather them in a heap, and one by one feed them into the great incinerator of God’s mercy. Our soul’s soil lies exposed, to soak up the gift of grace through the sacraments.

So this Lent, as we wait and wait and wait, for the green of spring and the promise of resurrection, let’s gather up the garbage, the old bones, and dispense ourselves of them in the sacrament of penance and reconciliation.