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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

For a long time, I’ve been searching for a really absorbing, can’t-put-it-down read, and several months ago, I finally found it, back in the 19th century:

No Name by Wilkie Collins.

I’d never read any Collins before, not even The Moonstone. I don’t remember the rabbit hole excursion that took me to this one, but the Amazon reviews were intriguing, so I splurged, spent $0.00, and was then occupied for weeks. 

I’m not sure how thick this book would be in dead tree edition, but it was long, and tedious only briefly, here and there. So I suppose since “brief” and “tedious” are antonyms..it wasn’t tedious at all?

For the most part, it was fascinating and quite absorbing, often contemporary in feel and entertaining.

"wilkie Collins"It’s also an interesting social commentary on social class, morays, inheritance laws, marriage and gender relations in 19th century England. 

In brief, No Name is the story of two young adult sisters whose parents die within days of each other, and because of a convoluted family situation only revealed at their deaths, lose what they thought would be their inheritance.  The story follows both sisters, in a way, although the center is really the younger sister, Magdalen, who goes to bizarre lengths to reclaim what she believes is rightfully hers, lengths which include a stint on the stage, many deceptions of various degrees, and interaction with a host of great characters, and of course, a few coincidences along the way. 

There are some fantastic characters in this book, figures that upon first introduction may seem sterotypical, but which acquire depth and verisimilitude along the way (with all those words describing them…they’d better…).  There is a bit of melodrama and moralism in the conclusion, but it’s really just a touch, and is almost earned.  

One of the most interesting elements of this book to me were chapters, interspersed between major sections, composed of only exchanges of letters or newspaper reports.  It’s a brisk, efficient way of moving the story along.  

Here is a good synopsis and discussion of the book at Book Snob. 

Next up:  Armandale. 

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"amy welborn"

For today:

The Feast of the Assumption is a day of joy. God has won. Love has won. It has won life. Love has shown that it is stronger than death, that God possesses the true strength and that his strength is goodness and love.

Mary was taken up body and soul into Heaven: there is even room in God for the body. Heaven is no longer a very remote sphere unknown to us.   (Source)

But there is also another aspect: in God not only is there room for man; in man there is room for God. This too we see in Mary, the Holy Ark who bears the presence of God. In us there is space for God and this presence of God in us, so important for bringing light to the world with all its sadness, with its problems. This presence is realized in the faith: in the faith we open the doors of our existence so that God may enter us, so that God can be the power that gives life and a path to our existence. In us there is room, let us open ourselves like Mary opened herself, saying: “Let your will be done, I am the servant of the Lord”. By opening ourselves to God, we lose nothing. On the contrary, our life becomes rich and great.

And so, faith and hope and love are combined. Today there is much discussion on a better world to be awaited: it would be our hope. If and when this better world comes, we do not know, I do not know. What is certain is that a world which distances itself from God does not become better but worse. Only God’s presence can guarantee a good world. Let us leave it at that.

One thing, one hope is certain: God expects us, waits for us, we do not go out into a void, we are expected. God is expecting us and on going to that other world we find the goodness of the Mother, we find our loved ones, we find eternal Love. God is waiting for us: this is our great joy and the great hope that is born from this Feast. (Source)

By looking at Mary’s Assumption into Heaven we understand better that even though our daily life may be marked by trials and difficulties, it flows like a river to the divine ocean, to the fullness of joy and peace. We understand that our death is not the end but rather the entrance into life that knows no death. Our setting on the horizon of this world is our rising at the dawn of the new world, the dawn of the eternal day.

“Mary, while you accompany us in the toil of our daily living and dying, keep us constantly oriented to the true homeland of bliss. Help us to do as you did”.

Dear brothers and sisters, dear friends who are taking part in this celebration this morning, let us pray this prayer to Mary together. In the face of the sad spectacle of all the false joy and at the same time of all the anguished suffering which is spreading through the world, we must learn from her to become ourselves signs of hope and comfort; we must proclaim with our own lives Christ’s Resurrection.

“Help us, Mother, bright Gate of Heaven, Mother of Mercy, source through whom came Jesus Christ, our life and our joy. Amen”. (Source)

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Would you like an exercise podcast update?  Of course you would.

This program (scroll down to 8/8) on the destruction of English religious art during the Reformation was really excellent. Presented by historian Diarmaid MacCulloch.

Great Lives has an interesting framework:  a well-known person in a certain field discusses a chosen “great life” along with a host and a scholar.

This week, I listened to a program (4/1) on cellist Jacqueline Du Pre (perhaps you saw the film Hilary and Jackie? I did..a couple of times, and loved it, even though it’s apparently – like most biopics – completely inaccurate.) The well-known person was another intriguing person – deaf solo percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Great! More rabbit holes!

I also listened to Michael Palin talk about Hemingway – Palin did one of his travel programs on Hemingway some years ago.  Enjoyed this one, too.  Both gave me a lot to think about regarding creativity and the self.

 

— 3 —

Actually started and finished a couple of books.  The Confessions of Frances Godwin which, well, I gave two stars to. Sorry.  Next was non-fiction: How Paris Became Paris, which was interesting because of the very mild myth-busting that was going on.  People like to credit/blame Haussmann for moving Paris from medievalism to modernity, but as the author of this book shows, the transformation began centuries before, mostly under King Henry IV who oversaw the construction of revolutionary public spaces like the Pont Neuf and the Place Royale.  Reading texts from 17th century travel guides was illuminating, but the book was a bit overstuffed and the content could have fit in in a meaty Atlantic or New Yorker article.

— 4 —

Speaking of reading and public spaces – I tweeted this last week, but forgot to mention it here.  Our local alt weekly, called Weld ran an excellent, thorough treatment of the murder of Father James Coyle on the steps of the Cathedral rectory almost a hundred years ago.  If you’ve never heard of this case – go read the article.  It’s an important part of our history, featuring anti-Catholicism, the Klan and future Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black.

Coyle could not have imagined that his most imminent threat was from a fellow clergyman. Edwin Stephenson was an ordained Methodist deacon who presented himself as a full-fledged minister for his primary occupation of marrying couples at the Jefferson County Courthouse (which in 1921 was on the same Third Avenue North block as St. Paul’s). He was also a member of Robert E. Lee Klavern No. 1, the first Alabama chapter of the new Ku Klux Klan.

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Back to the Assumption – as I mentioned yesterday, don’t forget that my book Mary and the Christian Life is available for a free download.  Not for a limited time, either.  Today and probably always!

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I know I mentioned that I sold my other house, but even now, the relief hasn’t worn off.  Once a day, I pause, and think, “Aaaaah!” – amazed at the freedom and resolved that this – the house I’m in – will be the last home I own.  No, I don’t plan on living here until I die (unless I die in the next ten years), but really and truly – when we’re done here, I’m done owning, and will be perfectly fine with renting.  It’s not ownership that gets me – it’s the burden of knowing you are going to have to sell the thing someday, and all that entails.  Plus (again, I hope we are talking far into the future), after dealing with my father’s estate, I’m determined to leave my own children with as few complications as possible, and that includes a house that has to be sold.  What we leave behind is a continual object of meditation for me.  It’s a metaphor, you know.

— 7 —

Rectify is tearing me up,but I won’t write about it until next week – the final episode.  Except to say that in a program filled with fine actors and juicy roles, Clayne Crawford as Ted, Jr is really emerging as a standout.  If you live in the South, you know Ted, Jr – the good ol’ boy/prep/poseur – he’s instantly recognizable…but then as the show has progressed, he’s become recognizable in a different way – as a confused, angry, self-doubting guy who really doesn’t know what’s hit him or his family.   So imagine my amazement just five minutes ago when I looked him to find you a good link and discovered that he’s from these parts – not that far from Birmingham.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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I had a deadline for March 1. Since March 1 was a Saturday, I declared my deadline to be Monday, March 3.  Then the editor said he wasn’t going to be in the office Monday anyway, so March 4 it is.  Was.  Whew!

It’s a good feeling.  Not only moving your deadline a few days later (too many wouldn’t be good – it would just extend the agony.  A 3 day-extension is just about right.) but completing a project.   Now my brain is free to do what I hadn’t allowed myself to do as the deadline loomed:  plan a couple of trips and watch True Detective.  

So, some schoolish stuff. It’s been a little scattered because I have been scattered, but we have soldiered on.

  • This week, the 12-year old will have his science class, the 9-year old will have a zoo class, and then in a week, it will be time for a science class for the 9-year old.  Plus art and music for the 9-year old.
  • Did I tell you that I told the 9-year old that I wanted him to take up another instrument in the fall in addition to piano, and that he thought about it and decided that he picked the pipe organ?  Well.
  • Math chugs along.   The 12-year old has been doing basic statistics, which is familiar to him, of course, but even the deeper level to which AOPS takes it is easy for him.  It’s very strange when you’re looking at  problem with your 12-year old, you’re sort of struggling with it, and he snaps up and says, “Oh, I get it.” And then he’s all blahblahblahmathmathmathnumbersblahblah.  It’s strange in a good way.
  • (And if you or someone you know need to be introduced to the differences between bar and pie graphs in a very entertaining way….take a look.)
  • 9-year old has been doing battle with equivalent fractions this week.  The amazing thing to me is how at the beginning of a new topic, he looks at the material all wide eyed and wonders if he can ever master it, but the way the material is presented is just right and the number and type of exercises are just right, so by the end, in just a few days, he has mastered it.
  • This game helped a bit at the beginning. 
  • 12-year old has gotten more intentional about keyboarding, using this program.
  • Still doing the Latin thing in a casual way, using this, as well as Mass propers.   I don’t know if I’d recommend it as a core Latin program – in fact, I don’t think I would.  But it’s a low-key introduction.
  • We finally got through What country, friends, is this? and have moved on to the super short and super simple, Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale??  A relief to tackle something so easy. 
  • FINALLY watched the Burton/Taylor Taming of the Shrew.  It was entertaining, but honestly, so much was cut from the play (most of the subplots), I found it a challenge to follow along with the text.  It’s okay.  They’re familiar enough with it now, and we’ll go over some of the important speeches, so that they’ll be well prepared to see it at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival later this month. I’m excited.  Never seen a show there.   I will say that I thought Elizabeth Taylor was magnificent in the film.   Those eyes were so subtly expressive – you could really follow Katherina’s transformation simply by focusing on Taylor’s eyes.
  • Switching to another Katharine: Watched a couple of short videos for the feast of St. Katharine Drexel. 
  • Attempted this project.  The pieces are drying now.  We’ll see. 
  • Cursive is being practiced, using this book.
  • Today we went to see the very nice (but small) Delacroix exhibit at the Birmingham Museum of Art.  We did some prep with books and videos before hand, and then had a fruitful hour at the exhibit.
  • Plus, a visit to one of our best museum friends.

"amy welborn"

  • Now that March has commenced and basketball and my project are done, the energy will shift to roadschooling……hmmmmm……Two weeks from today….three weeks from today…..

 

"amy welborn"

Before the museum…a stop at Reed Books….

 

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Well, shoot.  I had this local speaking engagement last night…but then Southeast Snowmaggedon 2 happened at just about the same scheduled time, so we cancelled…at since it was part of a series of speakers, I don’t know if and when it will be rescheduled.

So I have books!

"Amy Welborn"Here’s the link to the bookstore.  As I say on the page, all prices include Media Mail shipping.  If you would like them more quickly, let me know, and we can arrange it.  I really would prefer to ship only to the United States, but if you are outside the US, and have a burning desire for a book, again, email me and we can figure it out.

The only books I don’t presently have on hand are the three children’s picture books, but I’ll get some more of them presently.

So yes…books for your RCIA candidates, your confirmation candidates, your graduating seniors, your moms, dads, First Communicants…..etc.  

 

 

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The Power of the Cross

"amy welborn"

Download free here.

Or here. 

 

 

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…then you are blessed!

Seriously – thank you to all those who volunteer as catechists.

"Amy welborn"

And If you are teaching 2nd grade – the traditional age for First Communion formation – you might be interested in the page  describing the books I have that might be good First Communion choices – for gifts (too early, I know!) or supplements to instruction.

These books include Friendship With Jesus – a picture book with excerpts from a question-and-answer session Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had with children; Be Saints! another picture book with excerpts from a catechesis Benedict had with British schoolchildren; as well as the Loyola Saints books.

(Which are good for all ages – not just 2nd grade, of course!)

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These are the only books I have in stock right now, and you might as well buy some of them to save us from moving this, er, one box.

Go here to order. The following are available.

Wish You Were Here

Book of Saints

Book of Heroes

Church’s Most Powerful Novenas  –  1 copy remaining

How to Get the Most Out of the Eucharist

Catholic Woman’s Book of Days

Plus a couple of Pocket Guides by other authors (Hahn,Kreeft).

Go here to order.  Shipping is included in prices, shipping to US only, please.  

And don’t forget the free!  Free ebook downloads of 

The Power of the Cross 

"amy welborn"Come Meet Jesus 

Mary and the Christian Life

Those links will take to individual pages at my site where you can download pdfs.  You can also read all three via Scribd here. 

Also, I was honored to hear that a local parish woman’s group is using The Words We Pray as a discussion book this fall.

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