Anniversary and Remembrance

September 11th, 2013 No comments

Twelve years ago, I was watching the live television feed from NYC from the burning North Tower of the World Trade Center. At the time, as far as I knew, this might still have been a horrible accident.

Then, I saw a second airliner enter the picture and bank in order to hit the South Tower.  And I knew:

That was no accident.  An enemy is doing this.  We are at war.

That was Realization #1.  Unfortunately, it was followed almost immediately by Realization #2:

Somebody is going to get bombed. I hope it’s the actual perpetrators.

I am sometimes told that I am cynical. Well, there you have it. The Twin Towers hadn’t fallen yet, and my second reaction is to wonder what bloody wars of Empire we would get dragged in to by our “leaders” in Washington who no doubt were salivating already over having a slam-dunk reason to pursue every crazy military action and nation-building scheme they’d already dreamed up.

Twelve years have not given me any reason to be more confident.

Do I despair? Of our political class, yes. “Put not your trust in princes.” Of life? Hardly. I fully expect hard times ahead as the consequences of national folly unfold. That only means there’s a lot of work to do.  It will be “interesting times” and no one should have an excuse to be bored.

I just need to remember in the middle of it all that “Living well is the best revenge.”

 

Categories: Decline and Fall, Iraq, Land That I Love Tags:

The Second Coming

September 9th, 2013 No comments

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

W. B. Yeats

Categories: Decline and Fall, Poetry Tags:

On the Anniversary of G. K. Chesterton’s Death

June 14th, 2013 No comments

Lines to a Don

By Hilaire Belloc

Remote and ineffectual Don
That dared attack my Chesterton,
With that poor weapon, half-impelled,
Unlearnt, unsteady, hardly held,
Unworthy for a tilt with men—
Your quavering and corroded pen;
Don poor at Bed and worse at Table,
Don pinched, Don starved, Don miserable;
Don stuttering, Don with roving eyes,
Don nervous, Don of crudities;
Don clerical, Don ordinary,
Don self-absorbed and solitary;
Don here-and-there, Don epileptic;
Don puffed and empty, Don dyspeptic;
Don middle-class, Don sycophantic,
Don dull, Don brutish, Don pedantic;
Don hypocritical, Don bad,
Don furtive, Don three-quarters mad;
Don (since a man must make an end),
Don that shall never be my friend.

 

*       *       *

 

Don different from those regal Dons!
With hearts of gold and lungs of bronze,
Who shout and bang and roar and bawl
The Absolute across the hall,
Or sail in amply billowing gown
Enormous through the Sacred Town,
Bearing from College to their homes
Deep cargoes of gigantic tomes;
Dons admirable! Dons of Might!
Uprising on my inward sight
Compact of ancient tales, and port
And sleep—and learning of a sort.
Dons English, worthy of the land;
Dons rooted; Dons that understand.
Good Dons perpetual that remain
A landmark, walling in the plain—
The horizon of my memories—
Like large and comfortable trees.

 

*       *       *

 

Don very much apart from these,
Thou scapegoat Don, thou Don devoted,
Don to thine own damnation quoted,
Perplexed to find thy trivial name
Reared in my verse to lasting shame.
Don dreadful, rasping Don and wearing,
Repulsive Don—Don past all bearing.
Don of the cold and doubtful breath,
Don despicable, Don of death;
Don nasty, skimpy, silent, level;
Don evil; Don that serves the devil.
Don ugly—that makes fifty lines.
There is a Canon which confines
A Rhymed Octosyllabic Curse
If written in Iambic Verse
To fifty lines. I never cut;
I far prefer to end it—but
Believe me I shall soon return.
My fires are banked, but still they burn
To write some more about the Don
That dared attack my Chesterton.

Categories: ChesterBelloc, Poetry Tags:

Trial Balloon

June 11th, 2013 No comments

 

I had been thinking to myself earlier this year that we could know America had not quite yet degenerated into a full-blown police state.  Why?  Because we hadn’t reached the point where people worry about being “disappeared” if they offend the government.

Right on cue, we have a trial balloon testing this concept.  Will Americans be outraged enough that someone is actually fired (and finds it a Career-Limiting Move™, not just a prelude to promotion)?* Or will this blow over, leaving the effect that “disappearing” troublesome Americans is now thinkable, and part of the national consciousness?

I hope I’m wrong about which way this is going to go.

* Prosecuted would be even more appropriate, but I’ve already lowered my expectations.

Despite My Faults and Despite My Growing Fears

March 20th, 2013 No comments
Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Habemus Papam

March 13th, 2013 No comments

Well, that didn’t take very long.

The new Pope Francis has some very big shoes to fill.  For the sake of my Catholic brothers and sisters, and really, for the sake of all of who bear the name of Christ, I hope and will pray that the Holy Spirit’s strength and guidance will be strong with him.  In that spiritual and political hot-seat, he’s going to need it.

I am amused that the Conclave found a way to finesse the question “Should it be a Latin American? Or is it time for an Italian again?”

Also: First Dominican joke about the new Pope (via Mark Shea):

“Conclave locates Jesuit faithful to the Pope.”

Categories: Catholic Tags:

Movie Night

March 12th, 2013 No comments

Between the Rand Paul filibuster and the conviction of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick for corruption and racketeering, it seemed a good night to (finally!) watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  It did not disappoint.

“Read Little”?

March 8th, 2013 No comments

Oh my.  It seems I’ve been doing it wrong:

We want to develop breadth of mind, to practice comparative study, to keep the horizon before us; these things cannot be done without much reading. But much and little are opposites only in the same domain. . . [M]uch is necessary in the absolute sense, because the work to be done is vast; but little, relatively to the deluge of writing that…floods our libraries and our minds nowadays. . . . What we are proscribing is the passion for reading, the uncontrolled habit, the poisoning of the mind by excess of mental food, the laziness in disguise which prefers easy familiarity with others’ thought to personal effort. . . . The passion for reading which many pride themselves on as a precious intellectual quality is in reality a defect; it differs in no wise from other passions that monopolize the soul , keep it in a state of disturbance, set it in uncertain currents and cross-currents, and exhaust its powers. . . . The mind is dulled, not fed, by inordinate reading, it is made gradually incapable of reflection and concentration, and therefore of production; it grows inwardly extroverted, if one can so express oneself, becomes the slave of its mental images, of the ebb and flow of ideas on which it has eagerly fastened its attention. This uncontrolled delight is an escape from self; it ousts the intelligence from its function and allows it merely to follow point for point the thoughts of others, to be carried along in the stream of words, developments, chapters, volumes. . . . [N]ever read when you can reflect; read only, except in moments of recreation, what concerns the purpose you are pursuing; and read little, so as not to eat up your interior silence.

– A. G. Sertillanges, The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods

Different Economies

March 2nd, 2013 No comments

I don’t know how they balance  checkbooks in Washington, but every time I increase spending and borrowing around our place the household economy goes straight to hell. Mind you, banks need our loan interest to thrive and grow, just as corporate manufacturers need us to buy their latest products, but a certain comfort and sense of independence comes with saving, not borrowing, for one’s needs. If these needs are simple and fail to bolster the national economy, then all we can do is hope the government will muddle through without our help a while longer.

– Peter V. Fossel, Organic Farming: Everything You Need to Know
(p. 18)

Relationship Advice and the Church

February 20th, 2013 1 comment

It isn’t the Church’s job to teach a man what does and doesn’t make a woman desperate to have his baby.

Zippy Catholic

Categories: Blogdom, Catholic Tags: