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Archives for June 2011

Tali-who?!

“I got your prayer rug, right here, pal.”

Photo: Liturgist-in-Law

Eye candy for the soul

Taken by Liturgist Bro-in-Lo on the camping opportunity-rich family farm on June 25, Feast of St. Adalbert*, Irish missionary to Friesland (northern Netherlands).

*The Ol’ Adalbertster is no doubt responsible for bringing whisky to the Dutch, who proceeded to throw junipers and shit in it, leaving us with something called gin. I know, I know – history says the first gin-soaker in a wooden shoe took place at the residence of Dr. Franciscus Sylvius, a Dutch physician who, incidentally, first popularized for the Hollish William Harvey’s theory of the blood circulating through the body**. But who you going to believe – a people whose economy is based on tulip bulbs, windmills and dykes (both kinds!) or a nation which produces saints, poets and sometimes both at the same time? And besides, the Irish have their own version of everything.

**Good thing, too; he probably knew a thing or two about remedies to gin’s severe pollution damage.

On the other hand, words are only nominally important…

Writer Tom Piatak, one of the last of the true conservatives (although I doubt he’d be proud to bear this appositive at the present time), scores a direct hit on today’s conservativism – how it abetted sodomite marriage and how it’s slow but increasingly accelerated accretion of moral atrophy found its roots in the queering of its vision (pardon the pun).

This passage [of legalized sodomite marriage in New York State] helps explain why the conservative movement has been relatively successful in defending the economic interests of Wall Street billionaires, but an abject failure in conserving much of anything, including a definition of marriage that reflected not only the wisdom of millennia of human thought but what until only recently had been the overwhelming moral consensus of Americans.

Let your lower intestinal complaints begin their slow churn as you read the rest of the obit-in-progress here.

“The stark Manichean meridians…”

 

More bleeding from the pig pen.

Classic Godsbody

The Last Catholic Shout (including a typically incisive comment by our friend, Cubeland Mystic)

Want more Godsbody? (Click, and keep scrolling down.)

New Movie by the Guy Who Almost Made The Moviegoer into a Movie

Terrence Malick is a filmmaker like no other. If you’ve never seen The Thin Red Line, get it asap and carve out a few leisurely summer hours to savor it. Or don’t. But consider it.

Is Malick still holding an option on The Moviegoer? I hope so. Shoot, does he know about the New Orleans conference?

Anyway, he’s got a new movie out and I’d like to go see it.

McSweeney’s: “… in the style of Walker Percy’s Lost in the Cosmos

Bonus: Also mentions Thomas Merton.

We’re talking Snuggies!

The Seven Storey Mountain swept the country because, though we won’t admit it, all Americans have a deeply repressed desire to be a monk or a nun. Buying a Snuggie is easier than dealing with these feelings. Also, it doesn’t involve moving. Or obeying an abbot.

For Discussion at the Next Meeting of the Swimming With Scapulars NFP Club

Names are more than nominally important…

In the great tradition of the semiotician and diagnostician Dr. Walker Percy, Dr. Gerard Nadal drills down to the bedrock of today’s culture.

Put simply, words matter:

For all of the political drama in New York these past weeks, Friday night’s historic vote in favor of ay marriage by the NYS Senate was actually rather anti-climactic. It was a fight over political and philosophical nomenclature, not over new realities. As the losing side licks its wounds, we should realize that we didn’t lose as much as we think we did last night. We’ve been losing it for decades.

What we call the lived reality that is marriage is important. The name indicates the reality. Nomen est omen, as it is said in latin. “The name is the sign.” What really happened here in New York last night was a recognition that for thirty years we have given the lived reality of marriage to gays and lesbians, by systematically giving them all of the goods and privileges reserved to married people.

There was little, if any, protest as sodomy laws were struck down, when gay/lesbian adoptions were legalized, when partners were entitled to shared employment benefits hitherto reserved for spouses, etc. Society used to reserve these goods for those men and women willing to make a lifetime commitment to one another. What were once rights became entitlements in a nation increasingly debilitated by narcissism and a faux egalitarianism.

We have allowed what was once a brush fire to build to a forest fire that is now raging across the American landscape. Fueling that fire has been the same surrender of marital goods and privileges to cohabiting heterosexuals as well. Add to that no-fault divorce and the all-out war on the greatest of all the goods of marriage:

The abortion of over 53 million babies, because people have been enjoying the sex, but were not prepared mentally, emotionally, or economically to embrace the obvious outcome. Children are the greatest of all the blessings of marriage, yet have been treated as mere accessories by people aping marriage.

The entire heated shaft of steel spiraling into the flinted face of culture’s death-ride can be found here.

Knee: Commence Asskicking Protocol…

Initiate jerking sequence in Three. Two. One.

Birthday Limerick

A fellow named Matthew there was
Who was long past the days of peach fuzz.
His cake it was large
And wine on a barge
Arrived just in time for the buzz.

“This day unseals the door to a hidden path…”

Being the 100th posting upon the cliffs of disaster.

(Feel free to leave a comment congratulating the swineherds for their unanticipated and continuing survival…)

Exchange.

The Wife:  Hey, why not wear this short-sleeve button-down shirt I got you at the thrift store.  It’s nice!  It’s Calvin Klein!

Me:  Hey, it IS nice.  Thanks much.

Me, putting on shirt:  What the…must be tangled in back…why are these buttons…oh no.

Me:  I see how it is.  Give me a fancy shirt that’s too tailored for my…generous midsection.  Very subtle.

The Wife:  Oh, dear.  What size is it?

Me:  It’s size FAT is what it is.

Flip

My parents were black belts in banter. One-liners exchanged at the dinner table with perfect timing, spot-on but never hurtful – at least, not as far as I could tell. I loved it, loved being in on the joke.

Phone calls home from college with both parents on the line inevitably declined into back-and-forth interruptions between the two of them, frustrated with the other’s “interruptions,” occasionally joined by made-up members of the household like the cat, a fully sentient creature with a richly imagined fantasy life living abroad in Europe. I kind of thought this was normal.

I bonded with one of my closest high school friends trading stories of our parents’ arguments, and she can still reduce me to tears with her imitation of them. I remember trying to describe my parents’ conversations to other friends and encountering wary looks – did they always talk to each other like that? Was my sharing these stories a cry for help?

And I’d clarify – no, no, it’s not like that. Don’t you get it? My parents are hilarious.

But my relationship with my husband is different – his parents didn’t spar with one another in that way, and although he does have a great sense of humor, I know it hurts his feelings when I make a smart remark about him. And same for me – I know he avoids making quips at my expense because of his love for me. The context would be different.

It’s about reverence, for him – it’s out of respect for me that he doesn’t make fun of, say, my perpetual fitness journey. And, at the same time, I can remember my dad ribbing my mom about the same topic and – I don’t know, I can’t put my finger on it, it was just different.

This juxtaposition of humor and reverence – well, I guess you don’t have to worry about it if you don’t give a crap about anything, right?

I’m just thinking about this in terms of the Stephen Colbert/Jack White video clip; I see what people are saying about the profanity, and Colbert’s whole faux-conservative shtick, but with the video, I don’t know – it just seems different to me. It doesn’t scream “irreverent.” But, of course, it is. Colbert’s profanity in particular feels like “I can hang with the tough kids,” and I think he could have pulled off a “hey, watch your mouth, this is Sunday school we’re talking about” and the clip would still have been funny.

Just – toothless humor is not funny at all, to me. I think everyone fundamentally believes there’s a line you don’t cross when you’re making jokes – we just all disagree about where the line is.

“Comedy in a handful of dust”

Nowadays you get a lame quiz from a smart ass with some f-bombs and that is what? Comedy? I’ll show you comedy in a handful of dust. There is no spirit there. How do you send terror into a legion of demons with this? – Cubeland Mystic.

All gifts are freighted with a certain terror for those mundane devils of the world, infected as they are by the metastasis of self-interest.  And this is so with the gift of beauty foremost. So the point, of course, is not simply to send terror into legion, but once terrorized to cast legion over the edge.

Among writers, some of us practice these gifts with the sturdy tissue of words girding an edifice of lines and rhymes; others with a rail-splitting sense of dialogue firmly planted in the trackbed and soil of place; still others with flesh-and-grass insights into the human condition as sharp as a scythe’s edge; some with a mother-wit as profound as Jacob’s Well; others with the beautiful sense of comic crises – comic because Christian, critical because human – informing the landscape of the memory punctuated by pools of grace and streams of desire.

In short, the demons run from beauty because beauty is pure – and as filthy as our loins are and as scrofulous our flesh – that same intricate knit of body and soul is human and lovable and worthy of redemption, worthy of that purity because beauty itself, truth itself, love itself embodied such purity, and once known, exhibited that purity to all the world at high noon in a dry dusty place. Withering yet triumphant at the precise moment of death, humanity, body and soul, was transformed forever.

But even before God condescended to serve as the human billboard for redemption – he knew that the demons were attempting to make an end run around the mystery.  But God, of course, always has the last laugh.

And he asked him: What is thy name? And he saith to him: My name is Legion, for we are many. And he besought him much, that he would not drive him away out of the country. And there was there near the mountain a great herd of swine, feeding.  And the spirits besought him, saying: Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And Jesus immediately gave them leave. And the unclean spirits going out, entered into the swine: and the herd with great violence was carried headlong into the sea, being about two thousand, and were stifled in the sea. 

In the transformation of the flesh, we are drawn not toward Gerasene, but it seems in an opposite but equally fitting way. St. Bernard says this of the faithful – represented by the Bride, the Church, in his 21st sermon on the Song of Songs: “[The Bride] requests…to be drawn, because ‘your righteousness is like the mountains of God,” and she cannot attain to it of her own strength. She requests to be drawn because she knows that no one comes to you unless your Father draws him.”

In our acts of making, then, we do not celebrate our flesh in its natural gravity, to be “stifled in the sea,”  a natural gravity which in any case must be overcome by the comic lightness of Christ; but it is the very comedy of our flesh – struggling to gain God’s mountain through the arc that sources in Homer as in Hopkins, and which Dante rendered explicit – that we get to work with our tools and talents.

We chronicle the hours and seasons that our Christ delivers us daily from our demons.  That’s the unique perspective, it seems, of the Christian writer. Every moment an opportunity for grace; every season an opportunity to represent, imitate, and in other ways render that grace palpable to the senses – and our sense of humour.

It was not for nothing that Christ cast legion into a semblance of human flesh, a perverse verisimilitude of man’s ingrained image of God, an exaggerated facsimile of the elements, proportions and features with which the Lord crafted the human face. It was Christ’s way of saying, “Now that’s funny!” Why funny? Because all in all, Legion sought shelter from grace in flesh, an image, a face, destined for destruction, abject and brute, unclean and committed to death. It could not, it seems, distinguishe one creature from another, one shape from another, one form from another. It was ugly and it knew no beauty and its very ugliness became incarnate in the swine. 

But with countervailing instincts our talents still obtain and maintain the power of beauty.  Even amid the ugly. Even amid the swine. Man and woman were conjoined to participate in the act of creation through marriage. In a similar way, the writer is conjoined with the comic stuff of the world. Even Shakespeare’s darkest comedy retained a comic lightness – perhaps to keep bawdy humanity grounded in the body that was God’s body too. Indeed, the writer’s castigations and exorcisms can be dramatic and – as the swine’s fate at Gerasene was meant at once to be terrible and hilarious – as risibly crude or visibly glorious as our human conditions can dream up. One of the consolations outside of Eden’s eastern gates  is our ability to retain  he gift of laughter. We learn from Christ to send our own demons headlong over the desperate cliffs from which they syllogize and declaim their solopsistic squeals of self-slaughter. We learn, also, to laugh, even if sometimes that laughter is low and guarded, grim and self-effacing. It is never a laughter that refuses to serve; it is always a laughter that understands.

The world marvels or hides behind its temple curtains because it does not know how to laugh in the face of death; but because the Christian does know, he fears nothing but God and boldly proclaims beauty in the face of the monstrous and grotesque. There’s nothing new to all this, of course. And these musings are a long winded way – uphill or down mountain, who knows? – to gain a foothold among the seven storeys. If nothing else.

And perhaps even as we look at today’s dithyrambic poets and satirical rhetoricians, even in their temeritous, middle-finger-wagging flight from the heaping shadow of God’s grandeur, headlong for the sea, these bunches and scads – I don’t say herds –  must recognize God’s grandeur for what it is. And it is for this reason that even so, Christians can afford to laugh.

“See, This is some 1960s Catholic stuff”

Some of these answers are wrong.

I say we reconvene them in New Orleans, mid-October. I’ll bring the Catechism.

(Disclaimer: Bad wordage.)

(At 8:20, the correct clue would have been “you swim with this.”)

Today in Marketing

Update: The ad wasn’t commissioned by Kia, just dreamed up by a Brazilian ad agency.


Via the OSV Daily take blog, Kia’s award-winning ad, as described by the Huffington Post:

The ad features a teacher lusting after his elementary school-aged student. On one side of the page, she appears as a young girl. On the other side, though, she becomes a scantily clad, buxom teen, seemingly as a product of the teacher’s imagination.

What I’m wondering is what the reaction would be without the left side of the ad.

(Related post.)

Convergences II

What do the ex-drummer for The Police and Walker Percy have in common?

More than you think.