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
Susanna Black, in this mediation on the book of Ruth, notes the same social welfare and mandated economic inefficiencies in the Old Testament Law that I’ve noticed myself. This would be one of the reasons I don’t see strict laissez-faire economics as the self-evidently “Biblical” economic system.
Ruth, the Moabitess, the foreigner, supporting herself and her mother-in-law after the death of all the men in their family by gleaning: picking up the sheaves of wheat left behind by harvesters in someone else’s field. This was put into place under God’s law as one of three levels of provision for social welfare in Israel (the other two, per my brilliant friend Kristen Filipic, are tithing, where a tenth of everybody’s income ends up in a central fund used for, among other purposes, welfare payments to those who really can’t support themselves; and jubilee, where every fifty years everyone’s debts are cancelled, along with any land sales that have alienated a family’s home farm.)
Gleaning is cool as follows: basically, God tells farmers to build in deliberate inefficiencies to their operation in order to allow others to make a living. You’re not supposed to reap to the edges of the field, and you’re not supposed to pick up the grain that you might accidentally drop in the process of harvesting, so that there’ll be plenty of leftovers for the gleaners. It’s almost like a portion of all privately owned land is actually commons, but commons that exist in the same physical space as the private property.
When the Irish scholars
decided to lay the
of medieval Europe,
Centers of Thought
in all the cities of Europe
as far as Constantinople,
could look for thought
so they could have light.
Houses of Hospitality
where Christian charity
where they combined
that is to say Liturgy
(b) with Culture—
that is to say Literature
(c) with Cultivation—
that is to say Agriculture.
— Peter Maurin, Catholic Radicalism: Phrased Essays for the Green Revolution
Thought for the day:
If you cannot bear a little self-discipline, how will you embrace the Cross?
Before I reveal the four steps I want to reiterate that while the advice could transform your life, it likely will not. As with most life-altering advice, it is simple, easy to implement, and even easier to ignore. Statistically speaking, the odds are great that you’ll ignore this advice. But a handful of you will try it so for the one or two people who will find this useful, the four steps that will transform your worldview are:
1. Choose a book of the Bible.
2. Read it in its entirety.
3. Repeat step #2 twenty times.
4. Repeat this process for all books of the Bible.
Christians often talk about having a Biblical worldview yet most have only a rudimentary knowledge of the Bible. They attempt to build a framework without first gathering the lumber and cement needed to create a solid foundation. The benefits of following this process should therefore be obvious. By fully immersing yourself into the text you’ll come to truly know the text. You’ll deepen your understanding of each book and knowledge of the the Bible as a whole.
The entire article is worth reading.
For August 2011, my book will be 1 Peter.
“Dear friends, let us learn from the Lord Jesus not to judge and not to condemn our neighbor. Let us learn to be intransigent with sin — beginning with our own! — and indulgent with people.”
— Pope Benedict XVI
He was, in his own words, a “sick f**k” — but, behind the comedy, lurked a serious, insightful, and I think idealistic man.
On Ignorant Americans:
On Soft Language and Euphemisms (my favorite):
If you’re too tender to listen to it all, here is the key discourse:
I don’t like words that hide the truth. I don’t like words that conceal reality. I don’t like euphemisms, or euphemistic language. And American English is loaded with euphemisms. Cause Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans have trouble facing the truth, so they invent the kind of a soft language to protect themselves from it, and it gets worse with every generation. For some reason, it just keeps getting worse. I’ll give you an example of that.
There’s a condition in combat. Most people know about it. It’s when a fighting person’s nervous system has been stressed to it’s absolute peak and maximum. Can’t take anymore input. The nervous system has either (click) snapped or is about to snap.
In the first world war, that condition was called shell shock. Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables, shell shock. Almost sounds like the guns themselves.
That was seventy years ago. Then a whole generation went by and the second world war came along and very same combat condition was called battle fatigue. Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say. Doesn’t seem to hurt as much. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. Shell shock! Battle fatigue.
Then we had the war in Korea, 1950. Madison avenue was riding high by that time, and the very same combat condition was called operational exhaustion. Hey, we’re up to eight syllables now! And the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase. It’s totally sterile now. Operational exhaustion. Sounds like something that might happen to your car.
Then of course, came the war in Viet Nam, which has only been over for about sixteen or seventeen years, and thanks to the lies and deceits surrounding that war, I guess it’s no surprise that the very same condition was called post-traumatic stress disorder. Still eight syllables, but we’ve added a hyphen! And the pain is completely buried under jargon. Post-traumatic stress disorder.
I’ll bet you if we’d of still been calling it shell shock, some of those Viet Nam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time. I’ll betcha. I’ll betcha.
I don’t think we have his like anymore — with the possible exception of Stephen Colbert (who proves that it can be done without those seven words).
God’s mercy be upon your soul, George.
This is beautiful:
Be united but not closed off. Be humble, but not fearful. Be simple, but not naive. Be thoughtful, but not complicated. Enter into dialog with everyone, but remain yourselves.
— Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the youth of Genoa, May 18, 2008
(via Amy Welborn)