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Rectify

I kept wanting to write about the television series Rectify last year, but I never did, did I? I meant to because I found the program fascinating, beautiful, and spiritually suggestive in a way that is absolutely unique to television – indeed American pop culture.

The program is about Daniel Holden a man released from 19 years on death row. He had been convicted for the rape and murder of his girlfriend, but finally released because of issues with DNA evidence.

The show’s first season had only six episodes, each covering a day or so in Daniel’s first week of freedom.  It’s a meticulous rectifyexamination of his reintroduction to life outside, his family’s reintroduction to him, as well as the small town that still holds him guilty (as he well might be – we don’t know at this point.)

The tone is a combination of meditative and the grotesque – and since it’s set in a small Georgia town and has spiritual undertones, we are obliged to term that grotesque “Flannery O’Connor-esque” aren’t we?  But it’s valid here.  And be warned – there are rough points, unpleasant to watch, but they always have a point.

Spirituality is taken very seriously – conversations happen, questions are raised, and differences explored. It’s refreshing.

Last night, the show returned, this time for a ten-episode run. I don’t think I’d recommend starting fresh with this season.  Even I, who’d watched the previous season twice through, was a little confused at some points and regretted not re-watching at least the last episode of season one.   But…let’s go on:

The episode picks up where the last ended: Daniel had visited the grave of the girl he was convicted of killing, and while there, was beaten almost to death.  We find him now in the hospital in an induced coma, his mother and his sister at his side.  The episode moves between the present moment and the reactions of Daniel’s family and the townspeople to his beating and the dreams deep within Daniel’s damaged self, all of which reflect his prison time – the dehumanizing moments and the life-giving ones.

Matt Seitz has a piece on Vulture today that calls Rectify “truly Christian art.”   This is startling, coming from a website and magazine that normally has no interest in religion except the sneering kind, but the piece is good and true and the description of the show isn’t even intended ironically:

Rectify is a straightforwardly spiritually minded drama in which Southerners weave talk of the presence or absence of God into everyday conversation, along with allusions to prayer and doubt, heaven and hell, sin and redemption. Daniel’s deeply devout sister-in-law, Tawney Talbot (Adelaide Clemens), has casual conversations about God, sin, and afterlife with Daniel, and much pricklier ones with his sister Amantha (Abigail Spencer), who isn’t too big on the whole “God has a plan” thing, given all that’s happened to Daniel and their extended family. Tawney knows her husband Ted Talbot Jr. (Clayne Crawford) is growing apart from her because “we don’t pray together anymore.” This is a world that a lot of Americans live in, and yet you rarely see it depicted on TV. Here it’s portrayed without hype, and with zero condescension. 

Old and New Testament imagery are built right into the story. The first season consisted of six episodes that unfolded over six consecutive days. The season ended with Young’s character, the former death row inmate and autodidact Daniel Holden, comatose after being attacked by vigilantes; somehow McKinnon has turned “He is risen” upside down (“He has fallen”) and fused it with “On the seventh day, He rested.” Add that to all the different variations of death/birth already depicted on the series (Daniel was reborn intellectually through his studies in prison, reborn again upon his release, and then reborn yet again when evangelicals baptized him; his presence in town forces many citizens to grapple with un-Christlike revenge fantasies) and you’ve got more Christ imagery than you’d think any TV show could handle. Somehow Rectify handles it. It’s all part of the texture. It’s there if you want to latch onto it, and if you don’t, no biggie. 

Well, I would disagree with that last point – given the centrality of these themes and images, if you don’t want to “latch onto it,” you’ll miss quite a bit – going back to O’Connor – if you don’t understand that her stories are about grace and our resistance to it, then yes, it’s a biggie.

Last’s nights conversation between the devout Tawney and the doubter Amantha (and yes, she is as annoying as her name – I sometimes wonder if McKinnon gave the character this irritating name that isn’t quite right to subtly guide our reaction to her character) brings out the best of Rectify’s treatment of spiritual matters – and a weakness.

In the waiting room, Tawney tearfully wonders how God could have let this happen – she fully believes in Daniel’s innocence and seems puzzled as to why the rest of the world doesn’t agree.  My quibble with this particular articulation of theodicy is that I really don’t think any devout Christian would ask that question – “How could God let this happen” about that incident – thugs beating up a guy they thought was guilty of a terrible crime.  She might ask different questions – why can’t we see the good in others? Why do we judge? How can help others reconcile?  But I think Tawney, given her understanding of her faith, wouldn’t be tempted to blame God for the actions of others in this case.

BUT – here’s the good part.  And it was only a few words, but it expressed so much.  Amantha is the free spirit, of course, with undefined spiritual views.  We might assume she’s an atheist or at the very least agnostic.  Tawney turns to her.

“Do you believe in God, Amantha?”

Amantha stumbles over her words, waves her off, shakes her head – and perhaps we think she is going to say straight out “no” – but instead she says in aggravated resignation, “Well, I believe in evil, so…..”

And off she goes, wondering.

How very interesting. Suggestive. Who else said something like that?

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing the universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too – for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist – in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless – I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality – namely my idea of justice – was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.

 

 

 

How to Catechize

Today’s antithetical moment was all about me going through Augustine’s First Catechetical Instruction while working on my tan.

Sorry, St. Augustine.

As a Catholic Writer, one of the things I think about a lot is Why be a Catholic Writer When It’s All Been Said Before? 

And from that, I don’t back down.

Because it has, and far more substantively than any of us are saying it today.  You can spend all the money you want on all the newest BE AN AWESOME CATECHIST GUYS resources, but really, St. Augustine says it better.

(Shocked Face)

I have a couple of print editions of the work, but of course it’s easily available on line. 

(Although that translation is older and less understandable than newer versions.)

The genesis of the work is simple and pastoral.  A deacon wrote to Augustine seeking help on catechesis – specifically, the stage of catechesis offered to potential catechumens. That is, if you assented to everything you were taught in this stage, you would then be admitted to the catechumenate. The deacon has apparently confessed that he needs  little shot in the arm. He wants to make sure that he’s teaching the right material and, frankly, he’s getting a little bored.

As per usual, I’m most interested in the framework here.  I’m interested in what the work reveals about church life in 4th century North Africa, about expectations and assumptions and complexity.  What interested me the most:

  • The work is divided into two parts: theory and practice.  Augustine answers questions about the pedagogical and issues the deacon has raised, and then he gives him a sample catechesis.
  • Augustine recognizes that people bring varying levels of learning to the moment and reminds the deacon to constantly tailor his words to the listener’s capabilities.
  • He constantly reminds the deacon to be sensitive to his listeners’ situations – if they’re tired, let them sit! Don’t make them stand!
  • There is nothing elaborate about this stage of formation: the catechist straight-up teaches the material – which is basically the story of salvation history pointing to and culminating in Christ – and the listeners say, “Yup. I believe it.” And then they move on.
  • Augustine takes time to describe the mixed bag the potential Christian will encounter when he observes the Church.  He will see saints, but he will also see a lot of sinners and even heretics.  He speaks of the challenge the catechist has to keep pointing to Christ from the midst of this mixture of grain and chaff.
  • I want to quote at length from the passage in which Augustine advises the deacon on what to do to keep his own spirits and interest up.  I just find the consistency of human experience fascinating – here we have a man writing ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED YEARS AGO to another fellow who’s getting a little bored repeating the same lessons over and over and who’s unsure whether or not he’s being heard and really understood.

Is there a teacher out there who doesn’t share that concern?  A teacher of any sort?  Anyone who has to work with other people, period? Augustine breaks these problems down into several components:

  • Our words are inadequate to the truths we’re trying to express.  When it’s in our head, it’s wonderful and luminous, but the minute we try to speak, we become keenly aware of the limitations of language, and it’s discouraging.
  • We get bored.
  • Our listeners seem apathetic.
  • We’re irritated that we’ve been called to go catechize while we’re doing something else.

 

Once more, however, we often feel it very wearisome to go over repeatedly matters which are thoroughly familiar, and adapted (rather) to children. If this is the case with us, then we should endeavor to meet them with a brother’s, a father’s, and a mother’s love; and, if we are once united with them thus in heart, to us no less than to them will these things seem new. … Is it not a common occurrence with us, that when we show topersons, who have never seen them, certain spacious and beautiful tracts, either in cities or in fields, which we have been in thehabit of passing by without any sense of pleasure, simply because we have become so accustomed to the sight of them, we find our own enjoyment renewed in their enjoyment of the novelty of the scene? And this is so much the more our experience in proportion to the intimacy of our friendship with them; because, just as we are in them in virtue of the bond of love, in the same degree do things become new to us which previously were old.

But if we ourselves have made any considerable progress in thecontemplative study of things, it is not our wish that those whom we love should simply be gratified and astonished as they gaze upon the works of men’s hands; but it becomes our wish to lift them to (the contemplation of) the very skill or wisdom of their author, and from this to (see them) rise to the admiration and praise of the all-creating God, with whom is the most fruitful end of love. How much more, then, ought we to be delighted when men come to us with the purpose already formed of obtaining theknowledge of God Himself, with a view to (the knowledge of) whom all things should be learned which are to be learned! And how ought we to feel ourselves renewed in their newness (of experience), so that if our ordinary preaching is somewhat frigid, it mayrise to fresh warmth under (the stimulus of) their extraordinary hearing! There is also this additional consideration to help us in the attainment of gladness, namely, that we ponder and bear in mind out of what death of error the man is passing over into the life of faith. And if we walk through streets which are most familiar to us, with a beneficent cheerfulness, when we happen to be pointing out the way to some individual who had been in distress in consequence of missing his direction, how much more should be the alacrity of spirit, and how much greater the joy with which, in the matter of saving doctrine, we ought to traverse again and again even those tracks which, so far as we are ourselves concerned, there is no need to open up any more; seeing that we are leading a miserable soul, and one worn out with the devious courses of this world, through the paths of peace, at the command of Him who made that peace good to us!

 

****Nevertheless, supposing that we have once begun in that manner, we ought at least, whenever we observe signs of weariness on the part of the hearer, to offer him the liberty of being seated; nay more, we should urge him by all means to sit down, and we ought to drop some remark calculated at once to refresh him and to banish from his mind any anxiety which may have chanced to break in upon him and draw off his attention. For inasmuch as the reasons why he remains silent and declines to listen cannot be certainly known to us, now that he is seated we may speak to some extent against the incidence of thoughts about worldly affairs, delivering ourselves either in the cheerful spirit to which I have already adverted, or in a serious vein; so that, if these are the particular anxieties which have occupied his mind, they may be made to give way as if indicted by name: while, on the other hand, supposing them not to be the special causes (of the loss of interest), and supposing him to be simply worn out with listening, his attention will be relieved of the pressure of weariness when we address to him some unexpected and extraordinary strain of remark on these subjects, in the mode of which I have spoken, as if they were the particular anxieties,— for indeed we are simply ignorant (of the true causes). But let the remark thus made be short, especially considering that it is thrown in out of order, lest the very medicine even increase the malady of weariness which we desire to relieve; and, at the same time, we should go on rapidly with what remains, and promise and present the prospect of a conclusion nearer than was looked for.  

 

What I appreciate is the typical Augustine frankness and compassion.  He is honest about human beings – about the catechist, about the listeners. But he never fails to remind the deacon that love is at the center of all that he does. The medicine may be different, he says, but the love is the same.  There is no condemnation, no finger-pointing, no easy categorization, not even any sense of “them” – simply an call to let God work through us, to share the Good News despite ourselves and our weakness, in love.

Today is his feastday!

First, a General Audience from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, from 2011:

 

 

It is only the prayerful soul that can progress in spiritual life: this is the privileged object of St Anthony’s preaching. He is thoroughly familiar with the shortcomings of human nature, with our tendency to lapse into sin, which is why he continuously urges us to fight the inclination to avidity, pride and impurity; instead of practising the virtues of poverty and generosity, of humility and obedience, of chastity and of purity. At the beginning of the 13th century, in the context of the rebirth of the city and the flourishing of trade, the number of people who were insensitive to the needs of the poor increased. This is why on various occasions Anthony invites the faithful to think of the true riches, those of the heart, which make people good and merciful and permit them to lay up treasure in Heaven. “O rich people”, he urged them, “befriend… the poor, welcome them into your homes: it will subsequently be they who receive you in the eternal tabernacles in which is the beauty of peace, the confidence of security and the opulent tranquillity of eternal satiety” (ibid., p. 29).

Is not this, dear friends, perhaps a very important teaching today too, when the financial crisis and serious economic inequalities impoverish many people and create conditions of poverty? In my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate I recall: “The economy needs ethics in order to function correctly not any ethics whatsoever, but an ethics which is people-centred” (n. 45).

Anthony, in the school of Francis, always put Christ at the centre of his life and thinking, of his action and of his preaching. This is another characteristic feature of Franciscan theology: Christocentrism. Franciscan theology willingly contemplates and invites others to contemplate the mysteries of the Lord’s humanity, the man Jesus, and in a special way the mystery of the Nativity: God who made himself a Child and gave himself into our hands, a mystery that gives rise to sentiments of love and gratitude for divine goodness.

Not only the Nativity, a central point of Christ’s love for humanity, but also the vision of the Crucified One inspired in Anthony thoughts of gratitude to God and esteem for the dignity of the human person, so that all believers and non-believers might find in the Crucified One and in his image a life-enriching meaning. St Anthony writes: “Christ who is your life is hanging before you, so that you may look at the Cross as in a mirror. There you will be able to know how mortal were your wounds, that no medicine other than the Blood of the Son of God could heal. If you look closely, you will be able to realize how great your human dignity and your value are…. Nowhere other than looking at himself in the mirror of the Cross can man better understand how much he is worth” (Sermones Dominicales et Festivi III, pp. 213-214).

In meditating on these words we are better able to understand the importance of the image of the Crucified One for our culture, for our humanity that is born from the Christian faith. Precisely by looking at the Crucified One we see, as St Anthony says, how great are the dignity and worth of the human being. At no other point can we understand how much the human person is worth, precisely because God makes us so important, considers us so important that, in his opinion, we are worthy of his suffering; thus all human dignity appears in the mirror of the Crucified One and our gazing upon him is ever a source of acknowledgement of human dignity.

Dear friends, may Anthony of Padua, so widely venerated by the faithful, intercede for the whole Church and especially for those who are dedicated to preaching; let us pray the Lord that he will help us learn a little of this art from St Anthony. May preachers, drawing inspiration from his example, be effective in their communication by taking pains to combine solid and sound doctrine with sincere and fervent devotion. In this Year for Priests, let us pray that priests and deacons will carry out with concern this ministry of the proclamation of the word of God, making it timely for the faithful, especially through liturgical homilies. May they effectively present the eternal beauty of Christ, just as Anthony recommended: “If you preach Jesus, he will melt hardened hearts; if you invoke him he will soften harsh temptations; if you think of him he will enlighten your mind; if you read of him he will satifsfy your intellect” (Sermones Dominicales et Festivi III, p. 59).

Next, some photos of the huge Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua from our trip in 2012.

(I’m guessing there were no photos allowed inside…since I don’t have any of the interior)

(Sigh. I loved Padua -it is one of those mid-sized Italian cities that I find tremendously appealing – a vibrant, sophisticated interesting buzz around the carefully, but not fussily maintained medieval core.)

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Anglican Use

Catching up….

A few weeks ago, during one of our now-periodic visits to Charleston, I took the opportunity to worship with the Corpus Christi Community at St. Mary of the Annunciation Church downtown.  

It’s part of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter – the former Anglicans now in union with Rome. 

What a revelation.

Long-time readers know that I have always had a keen interest in the authentic, traditional diversity of Catholicism, most vividly expressed in its religious orders with their varied charisms and in the different rites of the Church.  We don’t have an Anglican Use parish here in Birmingham, but for a mid-sized Southern city, it’s sort of amazing what we do have: a parish at which the Extraordinary Form is regularly celebrated and supported without controversy (and not the only one in the diocese of Birmingham, either – take that New York City!); Maronite Rite and Melkite. At least once a year, the Catholic school that my boys attended would celebrate a Maronite Rite Liturgy.

(Perhaps you’re wondering about that?  Well, there are a lot of Lebanese and Greeks in the South, and they’ve been here since the late 19th and early 20th centuries – folks who came to work for railroads and other industries. Birmingham’s food culture has a strong Middle Eastern and Greek streak running through it, and it’s earned.)

Anyway. 

I had been wanting to attend the Anglican Use (not Rite!) liturgy there in Charleston since my son and daughter-in-law moved there, and finally got my chance.

Sorry I don’t have better photos.  I wish I had the courage to take something besides surreptitious photos at Mass…but maybe I don’t, either.

Here’s my confession:

Long-time readers know that for a while, I followed the Episcopal/Anglican Wars fairly closely. I did, that is, until the acronyms spun out of control and I couldn’t muster the energy to untangle them yet again.  I was grateful for the establishment of the Ordinariate, but I confess (here we go) that  did think sometimes…um…really?  Why can’t they just become Roman and suffer lame liturgy with the rest of us? SACRIFICE, people!  If it’s true….you’ll jump no matter what, right?

Yes, I understand that there was more to it, and these conversions were fraught with complexity, tension, pain and joy.  But I admit, I really didn’t get the liturgy thing.  To my superficial eye, it was mostly about psalmody and Vespers. (Although I admit, I have followed Atonement Parish in San Antonio for years and long thought that if I were to ever move just for the sake of my children going to a particular school…it would be Atonement Academy….)

So…sorry?

If you have the opportunity, I’d encourage you to worship with an Anglican Use community.  Here’s what struck me about the liturgy:

(Note:  I should have written this post immediately after attending…it was a month ago, and I can’t be as specific as I would like.)

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  • The differences between this and the Roman Rite Mass were clear.  I’m sure you can find discussions and comparisons online, perhaps even contentious ones.  The structure is, of course, the same, but the differences are intriguing and expressive of a more explicit sense of humility as well as greater formality than your typical, contemporary Roman Rite Mass.
  • I suppose to the superficial observer, the use of ad orientem is worth remarking on, but to me at this point, it’s not really. Except I just did. Well, then. The very next Mass I attended in Charleston, at a Roman Rite parish, was celebrated ad orientem and it is not a big deal to me at all..except for the fact that I wish it would be reinstated now, everywhere that it’s possible.  (Also…this is an old discussion for me.  I’ve run several blog posts on it over the years, including those in which we talked about Lutheran, Anglican and Eastern Christian use of ad orientem. Do an image search for “Lutheran altar” and see how many of them are slam up against the back wall….)
  • What struck me most about the Anglican Use liturgy was the same thing that struck me about Eastern Rite liturgies – not the external postures so much as the internal posture of humility which it assumes and fosters.  The emphasis is on supplication and humility.  You don’t pray “have mercy on us” a zillion times as you do in an Eastern liturgy, but you do say it – or something like it - a lot more than you do in the Roman Rite.
  • You will say a lot more of everything in the Anglican Use liturgy.  The post-Vatican II Roman Rite is quite stripped down and streamlined, that being, of course, one of the intentions of those who constructed it.  There is a verbal richness about the Anglican Use that I found comforting and akin to a richly adorned physical space.

 

So, it was a great experience, and I finally get it.”  I get the reluctance to leave it behind – it preserves much – not just in the Mass itself, but in the other traditions that the Anglican Use brings with it – that were lost in the Roman Rite after the Second Vatican Council.

It was great to see Fr. Patrick Allen again that day – I had met him before at the Cathedral last fall, and he’d brought his children to my book-signing in Charleston in December.  And added bonus?  I finally got to meet Dawn Eden!  As it happens, she was giving a talk in Charleston that very day and was at Mass.  It was a delight to finally meet!

 

 

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

That kind of week….

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— 2 —

Yes, we’ve been in the Charleston area all week.  Isle of Palms, to be exact.

I had never spent time here before my son and daughter-in-law relocated a couple of years ago.  (Well..not exactly true.  I did speak at The Citadel maybe 8 years ago or so….my primary memory, though, is being continually on edge while we were spending time in the Bishop’s residence, full of Old South Antiques as it was, and we having two under-6 year old boys as we did….)

I like it.

"amy welborn"

— 3 —

This past Sunday, we went to Mass at Stella Maris on Sullivan’s Island.  It’s a tiny 19th century Gothic church, located right across from Fort Moultrie.  They have scads of Masses on the weekends – the area is so heavily touristed and the church is so small, including two concurrent Masses at 9:30.

Now, please note, if you can – the church seems to be mostly in its original state, which means that this is the original altar, with no extra altar stuck in the sanctuary.

"amy welborn"

Yes, Mass was celebrated ad orientem.  It was mostly in English (except for the Gloria in Latin), and no Propers, but with decent hymnody and some Bach from the hard-working choir and organist.  The homily was quite good, centered on the concepts of exitus and reditus as an way of talking about the Ascension and mission.

And can I repeat?  Mass was celebrated ad orientem.  The Leonine Prayers were recited after Mass.  The homily was theologically substantive and evangelical. There were no self-referential extemporaneous goings-on. The place was packed.  The congregation was attentive, reverent and vocal.

Everyone survived and the earth continued to revolve (I think).

"amy welborn"

From Fort Moultrie, Fort Sumter across the way.

 

 

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Fort Moultrie, on Sullivan’s Island

 

— 4 —

The major finds of the week have been a foot-long horseshoe crab tail, and this:

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Joseph found it on the beach, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what it was.  It (the striped thing) was alive, firmly attached to the shell, but a puzzle.

So we put it in water – planted it shell side down –  and waited to see what would happen.

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Of course – a sea anemone.

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Not as gorgeous as those you find in Pacific tide pools, but exciting because It Had Been Found.  A cute pet for a few minutes, until we threw it back into the sea, hoping for the best.

(Sorry for the lousy photos.  All I had was my phone, and of course I couldn’t see anything on the screen, so I was just pointing, pressing where I thought the button was, and, once again, hoping for the best.)

— 5 —

Today, we took a journey here:

"amy welborn"

"amy welborn"

 

It is Capers Island, a barrier island.  We went on one of these tours, and it was fun - we saw lots of dolphins, learned about crab traps and oyster beds,

 

 

it was fun - we saw lots of dolphins, learned about crab traps and oyster beds, saw a huge dead horseshoe crab on the beach, and played amid this landscape. 

 

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Oysters

 

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saw a huge dead horseshoe crab on the beach, and played amid this landscape.

"amy welborn"

(Seeing the dead horseshoe can never beat the time – two years ago, I believe – when down on the gulf, a live one scuttled past us in the water – that event made that vacation THE BEST VACATION EVER for then 7-year old Michael, to be sure. )

— 6 —

I threatened to make us all get white shirts and have our photograph taken jumping on the beach, but no one took me seriously because, of course they know me, so there was no reason to even fake horror at the thought….

 

beachport

— 7 —

Beach reading?  Well, with two boys in the ocean, my eyes are pretty much glued to their bounding figures and bobbing heads, but when I can, I’ve been trying to read No Name by Wilkie Collins.  An odd thing, but it was free on Kindle, the plot sounded intriguing, the reviews were good, so 19th century beach read, here we go!

 

"amy welborn"

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Last man standing

"amy welborn"

 

 

Or sitting.  In the hole he’d dug, surrounded by the sand walls was steadily let drizzle from his cupped hand.  Lost in thoughts of who knows what, content.

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Quick, quick, quick.

So quick because Birmingham is getting so hot that New York magazine has us all rocking out. 

I know the theme of the thing was music (I guess), but it was still odd to see an article about visiting this city that doesn’t mention the Civil Rights Institute…

But anyway. Good things are happening here, and it’s fun to see people noticing.

 

— 2 —

My daughter is home for a bit, which means that there is a lot of old-movie watching going on.  She & the boys have watched An American in Paris, Singin’ in the Rain, and several Marx Brothers movies.  My 9-year old is developing a great Harpo impression.  Purely visual, of course.

— 3 —

Earlier this week, we headed to the Cahaba River Natural Preserve, where, for a couple of months a year, the Cahaba Lily blooms. "amy welborn" It needs the rocks and flowing water to grow, and so they stand out there in the river, amidst snails and mussels.  It was a little tricky getting out into the shoals, and thanks my banged knee is feeling much better now, two days later, but that was the only injury.  I had no idea that there was a swimming area right there, so we weren’t prepared for that, except for having a couple of towels in the back and Michael had an extra pair of shorts.  That didn’t stop anyone for long, though.  We’ll return, and prepared this time.

"amy welborn"

 

— 4 —

The book club of which I am not the most faithful member met last night to discuss Heather King’s Redeemed.  I’d read it years ago, along with her other memoirs, but coincidentally (because I had no idea they were reading Redeemed until I saw one of the members at Pepper Place on Saturday and she told me) was in the midst of her latest, Stripped.   In a way, I find this latest, the most compelling of all of Heather’s books, perhaps because, although I don’t have cancer myself, I’ve known enough people who have taken enough different paths after diagnosis to have spent some time considering that question…what would I do? 

— 5 —

A few of my favorite quotes from Stripped:

Mass was so non-spectacular, so non-cataclysmic, seemingly, so not geared toward having an “experience.” I wasn’t interested "heather king"in having an “experience.” I was interested in connecting with the rest of the world, and I was convinced that participating with people I had not personally hand-picked – the people at church being one prime example, and the people with whom I stayed sober another – was the way. 

*******

Now I know that what matters is not whether I suffer, but that I offer my suffering to the world. 

****

….in that sterile chapel, I experienced a moment of peacce such as I never had known before and never have quite known since: a feeling that I might be in for who knew how long a session of sheer, unadulterated hell but that somehow, in the end, things would be all right. I’d had moments of peace before, but this moment had a new dimension: this time I knew things would be all right even if I died. 

********

Who can parse out which part of our wound is killing us and which part of our wound is keeping us alive? 

— 6 —

I ran across this photograph in the recently published collection of newly-found photographs from World War I. It’s quite a powerful expression of the point of ad orientem, I think.  This doesn’t say, “priest with his back to the people.”  It says, “Everyone journeying in the same direction.”

 

Source.

— 7 —

The Pentecost Novena begins today – the Original Novena, right? Well…here’s a book of novenas you might like!

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