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Archives for July 2005


I loves me some saucy.
I hate pious condemnations.
But I believe in piety.

Lancelot’s Last Word

Amy Welborn’s website, A Spirited Life, is worth having a look at. Her Catholic Writers section includes some perceptive Percy ponderings, including this:

One of Percy’s most difficult books is Lancelot. As I read it, I felt that I’d never hated a book (or simply a central character) more, and that this was truly the depths of whatever nihilistic side Percy harbored. Until the last word. I’m not kidding. Astonishing, and almost shocking – a novel in which the very last word of the novel gives shape and a profound moral dimension to the entire work. Now, don’t ruin it for yourself, and run ahead and peek at the end before you read the whole thing. But do read it.

Also check out Amy’s book: Here. Now. A Catholic Guide to the Good Life.

Adventures in Jesus-Buying

From Portnoy’s Complaint:

“Tacked up above the Girardi sink is a picture of Jesus Christ floating up to heaven in a pink nightgown… What kind of base and brainless schmucks are these people to worship somebody who, number one, never existed, and number two, if he did, looking as he does in that picture, was without a doubt The Pansy of Palestine. In a pageboy haircut, with a Palmolive complexion – and wearing a gown that I realize today must have come from Frederick’s of Hollywood!”

There was a time when that was hard to read. Then came experience. Then came wading through an endless morass of hideous religious art, wallowing in the swamp of Catholic aesthetic impoverishment – goofy hymns, barren prayer-barn/prayer-silo churches, tacky pictures, bum-ugly statuary, etc. etc. – wondering how we went from the producers of the best art Western Civ had to offer to this, this bad joke on beauty.

I was so happy to read this on People of the Book, from B16: “Images are also a preaching of the Gospel. Artists in every age have offered the principal facts of the mystery of salvation to the contemplation and wonder of believers by presenting them in the splendour of colour and in the perfection of beauty. It is an indication of how today more than ever, in a culture of images, a sacred image can express much more than what can be said in words, and be an extremely effective and dynamic way of communicating the Gospel message.” Heads up, art-people.

So yesterday, the wife was walking third son around the block while we waited for our most excellent scallop burritos and chicken rolled tacos at El Zarape, when she passed a Jesus picture (in a glorious and enormous frame) outside an antique shop. Very subdued colors, very Jewish Jesus. Big eyes, sunk deep. There was a whiff of piety about it, but by God, at least it offered something to contemplate. She rarely expresses an interest in art, so I encouraged her to buy it. As we left, we thanked the saleslady. “Yeah,” she replied. “It’s a beautiful frame.”

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Was born on this date in 1844 and died in 1889.

Thou mastering me
God! giver of breath and bread;
World’s strand, sway of the sea;
Lord of living and dead;
Thou hast bound bones and veins in me, fastened me flesh,
And after it almost unmade, what with dread,
Thy doing: and dost thou touch me afresh?
Over again I feel thy finger and find thee.

[from “The Wreck of the Deutschland”]

Mistakes Were Made

Meryl Zegarek of Meryl Zegarek Public Relations, bless her heart, has gone and very sweetly confused me with somebody important. It started with a review copy of Mark McGinnis’ The Wisdom of the Benedictine Elders (foreword by Joan Chittister (!)). Then, yesterday, I received The C.S. Lewis Chronicles, and a tearsheet from PW reviewing Pope Benedict XVI: A Personal Portrait by H.J. Fischer. (Apparently, a copy of that last one is in the mail.) “Dear Editor,” reads the note at the top of the tearsheet. “I’ve sent you a copy of this new book – hope you will consider a review.”

The books were sent to the San Diego Reader offices, where my title is Staff Writer, and on a good day, Wine Editor. “Poor Zegarek PR,” I thought. “They think I’m a books editor – ha! Our Books Editor has a best seller, a NYT Notable, two NEA grants and a Guggenheim! I’m just a punk with a first book! It’s not as if I have a forum to spout off about boo…”

Oh. Right. The blog.

Tell ya what, Meryl Zegarek: I’ll chalk it up to providence. Maybe I’m getting this stuff for a reason. Watch this space for a review of The C.S. Lewis Chronicles. We’ll see what happens.

Father-in-Law: Aphorisms

“Here’s to life and to hell with criticism.” – standard toast

“There was drinking and dancing and carrying on, and that was just in the parking lot outside.”

“Good children get rewards; bad children get criticism.”

Just a taste.

A Burnt-Out Case

Pardon the lack of bloggery. In-laws plus grandmother-in-law have been in town, and it has been busy. Haven’t been able to think of anything worth sharing, except maybe the image of carrying my youngest into the family room as he gnaws on the head of a baby doll (oh, he’s gonna *love* it when the little one arrives), and finding second son affixing handcuffs to the legs of first daughter’s giant stuffed dinosaur. Violence is near to the heart of children.

St. James’ Day

From Universalis:

He was the brother of St John and, like him, a fisherman. He was one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration and one of those who slept through most of the Agony in the Garden. He was the first of the apostles to be martyred, being beheaded by King Herod Agrippa I to please the Jewish opponents of Christianity. He was buried in Jerusalem, and nothing more is known about him until the ninth century.

At this time we learn of a tradition that the relics of St James were brought to Spain some time after his martyrdom, (perhaps early, perhaps as late as 830), and his shrine at Compostela in Galicia grew in importance until it became the greatest pilgrimage centre in western Europe. In every country there are churches of St James and known, well-trodden pilgrim routes. In Paris, the Tour St Jacques marks the start of the route and the Rue St Jacques points straight towards Compostela. In England, pilgrim routes lead from all parts of the country to the major ports that were used on the pilgrimage. This network of routes is a vital witness to the fact that the Middle Ages were not the static stay-at-home time that we often think them to be: everyone must have known someone, or known someone who knew someone, who had made the pilgrimage. The scallop-shell, the emblem of St James, has become the emblem of pilgrims generally.

In 1987 the pilgrimage routes to Compostela have been designated by the Council of Europe as historical cultural routes of international importance; and the Confraternity of St James is working to restore and upgrade the refuges on a route which is still in active pilgrim use today.

See also: The Patron Saints Index and New Advent.

You Be the Judge

UPI News Service, 07/25/2005

In an exclusive interview on Entertainment Tonight, President Bush disclosed plans for a new reality-based television show that will decide his next Supreme Court pick. You Be the Judge will air on CBS, going head to head against NBC’s corporate reality show, The Apprentice, on Thursday nights.

“I’ve been a big fan of reality TV ever since Survivor,” Bush said.

Kids’ Songs II

You get kids, you make up songs, revisited:

I once knew a boy
Who just liked to eat
He’d walk into the kitchen
And sit at his seat

Then he’d roar roar roar
For more more more

Bring more peanuts more popcorn
More candy more cake
More eggs and potatoes
More chicken and steak

I don’t know why it works to have him asking for dessert first; it just does.