Monthly Archives: August 2014

Perambulation

That Mr. Shaw keeps a lifted head and a contemptuous face before the colossal panorama of empires and civilizations, this does not in itself convince one that he sees things as they are. I should be most effectively convinced that he did if I found him staring with religious astonishment at his own feet. “What are those two beautiful and industrious beings,” I can imagine him murmuring to himself, “whom I see everywhere, serving me I know not why? What fairy godmother bade them come trotting out of elfland when I was born? What god of the borderland, what barbaric god of legs, must I propitiate with fire and wine, lest they run away with me?”

–G.K. Chesterton, “Mr. Bernard Shaw,” Heretics.

I thought about this quote several times last week, which I spent helping take care of my paternal grandparents in little ol’ Thomasville, North Carolina. My grandma is still (much to her chagrin) recovering from a triple-whammy of triple bypass surgery, a heart attack, and stents, and she came down with pneumonia while I was there (much to her disgust). Grandpa has late-onset Parkinson’s (he’s been diagnosed for…gosh, three years now? maybe a couple more?), and his symptoms are the classic ones: constantly running nose, tremors/shakes, and overall motor difficulty.
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I was thinking…about today’s readings

in which I abuse bullet points beyond redemption.

  • This time last year might not’ve been the first time I recognized it, but it’s the first time it’s made enough of an impression that I remember it all the way to this time this year. “It” being the pattern of Gospels during Ordinary Time. I’ll have to wait till next year to know if it’s the same every cycle, but I’m guessing it is. That would be a very Church thing to do.
  • Anyway, after Easter, the Gospels are grouchy, one might say–heavily focused on the nature of sin, and what constitutes sin, and wailing and gnashing of teeth. We’ve been revitalized by Easter and confirmed by Pentecost and now we’re back to the grind of daily life, nothing special, and in the U.S. it’s the hot days of summer, which are at once busy and dangerously lazy. So, a good time to remember sin, but also a bit of a downer after that fifty-day party we’ve been having. On the other hand, a sobering reminder of the struggles that we face on the way to that Easter joy.
  • Those weeks are a downer. They’re hard, and they don’t let up. Jesus is constantly hitting us with the requirements: love God, love neighbor, no really, every neighbor, no, even if you’re just thinking you’re still guilty, you gotta love, you gotta follow the commandments, no, really, you gotta give everything and then some, no, give everything, I am going to die on a cross for you okay kids look there’s gonna be wheat and there’s gonna be chaff so listen up because nobody wants to be chaff.
  • I don’t like those weeks. They make me anxious about my every action.
  • But I like these weeks that come next! Last week’s first reading was one of my absolute favorites, and this week’s–well, read them.
  • And then after these next few weeks we’ll start heading into the eschatological readings that lead into Christ the King–you know, the end-of-the-world, final-judgment, remember-what-I-said-about-the-wheat-and-the-chaff, I-was-serious readings. Also not much fun.
  • But sandwiched between the sin and the end we are given the beautiful respite of God’s love and God’s support and God’s goodness, how God nourishes and feeds us, how God will call us to him and catch us when we stumble along the way. It’s the model of the love that Jesus was telling us we had to live, the love that we must be if we are to be wheat; it’s not only the model, it’s the reality of what is already ours. It’s the outline for how to hear God, how to know when he is calling, how to listen to his voice. It’s a picture of what is to come, a reminder that no matter how scary and uncertain life or the devil or the end times might be, God is constant, and constantly for us (and so, we smile, who can be against us?).
  • Come to the water, and when (because it’s always when, not if) the river turns into a tempestuous ocean, do not be afraid.
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Friday Link Spam

I apologize for the age of some of these links–they’ve been languishing, waiting for a post. Next week’s should be more up-to-date. And probably longer.

INTERNATIONAL CULTURE
A discussion of Marine Le Pen and French xenophobia

A look at Communist communal kitchens, with a bonus link to a conversation about the differences between Soviet and American thought between none other than Nixon and Krushchev.

EDUCATION
You can always count on me to give you reports on the woe that is standardized testing.

A heads-up for students: don’t take notes with a laptop. (I never understood how people could do that anyway; how are you supposed to draw squiggly lines to connect your points?)
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Upset is Not an Emotion

One of my best friends from college majored in psychology, and while in undergrad she worked in one of the professor’s labs studying the interaction between families and schools and education. You know, totally not depressing stuff at all. Anyway, she spent a lot of time “coding,” which I’m still not 100% sure is what it sounds likes, but senior year she also got to participate in family interviews. Before she did this, she had to practice, and since I was right across the hall I was one of the lucky few selected to pretend to be a six-year-old while she asked me questions about my family life.

I’m sure you’re all shocked to learn that I make an excellent squirmy six-year-old.
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