Monday, 30 July 2007

For those like me who have slaved over a manual 'gestetner', getting black from head to toe in inky goo, just to print copies of a parish newsletter


1) Don’t let worry kill you. Let the Church help.

2) Thursday night—Potluck Supper. Prayer and medication to follow.

3) Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.

4) For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

5) The rosebud on the altar this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Belzer, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer.

6) This afternoon there will be a meeting in the south and north ends of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.

7) Tuesday at 4:00 PM there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk will please come early.

8) Wednesday, the Ladies Liturgy Society will meet. Mrs. Jones will sing “Put Me In My Little Bed” accompanied by the pastor.

9) Thursday at 5:00 PM there will be a meeting of the Little Mothers Club. All wishing to become Little Mothers, please see the minister in his private study.

10) This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.

11) The service will close with “Little Drops of Water”. One of the ladies will start (quietly) and the rest of the congregation will join in.

12) Next Sunday, a special collection will be taken to defray the cost of the new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the new carpet will come forward and get a piece of paper.

13) The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind and they may be seen in the church basement Friday.

14) At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be “What is Hell?” Come early and listen to our choir practice.

15) Weight Watchers will meet at 7:00 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

16) The 1991 Spring Council Retreat will be hell May 10 and 11.

17) Pastor is on vacation. Massages can be given to church secretary.

18) 8 new choir robes are currently needed, due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

19) Mrs. Johnson will be entering the hospital this week for testes.

20) The Senior Choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.

21) Please join us as we show our support for Amy and Alan who is preparing for the girth of their first child.

22) Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles, and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

23) The Lutheran Men’s group will meet at 6:00 PM. Steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, bread and dessert will be served for a nominal feel.

24) The Associate Minister unveiled the church’s new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday: “I Upped My Pledge—Up Yours

Onward to where his dreams become reality...

Ingmar Bergman [July 14 1918 - July 30 2007]

...Never forgotten.

The Quilt [author unknown]


As I faced my Maker at the last judgment, I knelt before the Lord
along with all the other souls.

Before each of us laid our lives like the
squares of a quilt in many piles.

An Angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares together into
a tapestry that is our life.

But as my angel took each piece of cloth
offthe pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was. They
were filled with giant holes.

Each square was labeled with a part of my
life that had been difficult, the challenges and temptations I was
faced with in everyday life.

I saw hardships that I endured, which were the largest holes of all.

I glanced around me.

Nobody else had such squares.

Other than a tiny hole here and there, the other tapestries were filled with rich color
and the bright hues of worldly fortune.

I gazed upon my own life and was

My angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth
together, threadbare and empty, like binding air.

Finally the time came when each life was to be displayed, held up to
the light, the scrutiny of truth.

The others rose, each in turn, holding up their tapestries.

So filled their lives had been.

My angel looked upon me, and nodded for me to rise.

My gaze dropped to the ground in shame.

I hadn't had all the earthly fortunes.

I had love in my life, and laughter.

But there had also been trials of illness, and
death, and false accusations that took from me my world as I knew it.

I had to start over many times.

I often struggled with the temptation to
quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again.
I spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance
in my life.

I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured
painfully, each time offering it up to the Father in hopes that I
would not melt within my skin beneath the judgmental gaze of those who
unfairly judged me.

And now, I had to face the truth. My life was what
it was, and I had to accept it for what it was.

I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life to the
An awe-filled gasp filled the air.

I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes.

Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded the many holes,
creating an image, the face of Christ.

Then our Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His eyes.

He said,

"Every time you gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My
hardships, and My struggles. Each point of light in your life is when
you stepped aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of
Me than there was of you."

My prayer is that all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing
to shine through.

His Holiness on what was, what is , and what we must Hope for...

"We had such great hopes, but things proved to be more difficult... "
by Benedict XVI p.p.

I, too, lived through Vatican Council II, coming to Saint Peter's Basilica with great enthusiasm and seeing how new doors were opening.

It really seemed to be the new Pentecost, in which the Church would once again be able to convince humanity.

After the Church's withdrawal from the world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it seemed that the Church and the world were coming together again, and that there was a rebirth of a Christian world and of a Church of the world and truly open to the world.

We had such great hopes, but in reality things proved to be more difficult.

Nonetheless, it is still true that the great legacy of the Council, which opened a new road, is a "magna carta" of the Church's path, very essential and fundamental.
But why did this happen?

I would like to begin with an historical observation.
The periods following a council are almost always very difficult.
After the great Council of Nicaea – which is, for us, truly the foundation of our faith, in fact we confess the faith as formulated at Nicaea – there was not the birth of a situation of reconciliation and unity, as hoped by Constantine, the promoter of the great Council, but a genuinely chaotic situation of a battle of all against all.

In his book on the Holy Spirit, saint Basil compares the Church's situation after the Council of Nicaea to a nighttime naval battle, in which no one recognizes another, but everyone is pitted against everyone else. It really was a situation of total chaos: this is how saint Basil paints in vivid colors the drama of the period following the Council of Nicaea.

50 years later, for the first Council of Constantinople, the emperor invited saint Gregory Nazianzen to participate in the council, and saint Gregory responded:

"No, I will not come, because I understand these things, I know that all of the Councils give rise to nothing but confusion and fighting, so I will not come."

And he didn't go.

So it is not now, in retrospect, such a great surprise how difficult it was at first for all of us to digest the Council, this great message.

To imbue this into the life of the Church, to receive it, such that it becomes the Church's life, to assimilate it into the various realities of the Church is a form of suffering, and it is only in suffering that growth is realized.
To grow is always to suffer as well, because it means leaving one condition and passing to another. And we must note that there were two great historic upheavals in the concrete context of the postconciliar period.

The first is the convulsion of 1968, the beginning – or explosion, I dare say – of the great cultural crisis of the West.
The postwar generation had ended, a generation that, after seeing all the destruction and horror of war, of combat, and witnessing the drama of the great ideologies that had actually led people toward the precipice of war, had discovered the Christian roots of Europe and had begun to rebuild Europe with these great inspirations.
But with the end of this generation there were also seen all of the failures, the gaps in this reconstruction, the great misery in the world, and so began the explosion of the crisis of Western culture, what I would call a cultural revolution that wants to change everything radically.

It says: "In two thousand years of Christianity, we have not created a better world; we must begin again from nothing, in an absolutely new way.Marxism seems to be the scientific formula for creating, at last, the new world."

In this – let us say – serious, great clash between the new, healthy modernity desired by the Council and the crisis of modernity, everything becomes difficult, like after the first Council of Nicaea. One side was of the opinion that this cultural revolution was what the Council had wanted. It identified this new Marxist cultural revolution with the will of the Council.

It said: "This is the Council; in the letter the texts are still a bit antiquated, but behind the written words is this "spirit," this is the will of the Council, this is what we must do."

And on the other side, naturally, was the reaction: "you are destroying the Church."

The – let us say – absolute reaction against the Council, anticonciliarity, and – let us say – the timid, humble search to realize the true spirit of the Council.

And as a proverb says: "If a tree falls it makes a lot of noise, but if a forest grows no one hears a thing,"
during these great noises of mistaken progressivism and absolute anticonciliarism, there grew very quietly, with much suffering and with many losses in its construction, a new cultural passageway, the way of the Church.

And then came the second upheaval in 1989, the fall of the communist regimes. But the response was not a return to the faith, as one perhaps might have expected; it was not the rediscovery that the Church, with the authentic Council, had provided the response.

The response was, instead, total skepticism, so-called post-modernity. Nothing is true; everyone must decide on his own how to live. There was the affirmation of materialism, of a blind pseudo-rationalisti c skepticism that ends in drugs, that ends in all these problems that we know, and the pathways to faith are again closed, because the faith is so simple, so evident: no, nothing is true; truth is intolerant, we cannot take that road.

So: in these contexts of two cultural ruptures, the first being the cultural revolution of 1968 and the second the fall into nihilism after 1989, the Church sets out with humility upon its path, between the passions of the world and the glory of the Lord.
Along this road, we must grow with patience and we must now, in a new way, learn what it means to renounce triumphalism.
The Council had said that triumphalism must be renounced – thinking of the Baroque, of all these great cultures of the Church.
It was said: "Let's begin in a new, modern way."

But another triumphalism had grown, that of thinking: We will do things now, we have found the way, and on it we find the new world.
But the humility of the Cross, of the Crucified One, excludes precisely this triumphalism as well. We must renounce the triumphalism according to which the great Church of the future is truly being born now. The Church of Christ is always humble, and for this very reason it is great and joyful.

It seems very important to me that we can now see with open eyes how much that was positive also grew following the Council: in the renewal of the liturgy, in the synods – Roman synods, universal synods, diocesan synods – in the parish structures, in collaboration, in the new responsibility of laypeople, in intercultural and intercontinental shared responsibility, in a new experience of the Church's catholicity, of the unanimity that grows in humility, and nonetheless is the true hope of the world.

And thus it seems to me that we must rediscover the great heritage of the Council, which is not a "spirit" reconstructed behind the texts, but the great conciliar texts themselves, reread today with the experiences that we have had and that have born fruit in so many movements, in so many new religious communities.

I arrived in Brazil knowing how the sects are expanding, and how the Catholic Church seems a bit sclerotic; but once I arrived, I saw that almost every day in Brazil a new religious community is born, a new movement is born, and it is not only the sects that are growing. The Church is growing with new realities full of vitality, which do not show up in the statistics – this is a false hope; statistics are not our divinity – but they grow within souls and create the joy of faith, they create the presence of the Gospel, and thus also create true development in the world and society.

Thus it seems to me that we must learn the great humility of the Crucified One, of a Church that is always humble and always opposed by the great economic powers, military powers, etc. But we must also learn, together with this humility, the true triumphalism of the Catholicism that grows in all ages.

There also grows today the presence of the Crucified One raised from the dead, who has and preserves his wounds.
He is wounded, but it is in just in this way that he renews the world, giving his breath which also renews the Church in spite of all of our poverty.
In this combination of the humility of the Cross and the joy of the risen Lord, who in the Council has given us a great road marker, we can go forward joyously and full of hope.

Daily Chesterton #7 ['Heretics' chapter 5]

V. Mr H.G. Wells & The Giants.
{ If there is any one of these DC's you read please make it this one }

We ought to see far enough into a hypocrite to see even his sincerity.

We ought to be interested in that darkest and most real part of a man in which dwell not the vices that he does not display,but the virtues that he cannot.

And the more we approach the problems of human history with this keen and piercing charity, the smaller and smaller space we shall allow to pure hypocrisy of any kind.

The hypocrites shall not deceive us into thinking them saints; but neither shall they deceive us into thinking them hypocrites.

And an increasing number of cases will crowd into our field of inquiry,cases in which there is really no question of hypocrisy at all, cases in which people were so ingenuous that they seemed absurd, and so absurd that they seemed disingenuous.

There is one striking instance of an unfair charge of hypocrisy.

It is always urged against the religious in the past,as a point of inconsistency and duplicity, that they combined a profession of almost crawling humility with a keen struggle for earthly success and considerable triumph in attaining it.

It is felt as a piece of humbug, that a man should be very punctilious in calling himself a miserable sinner, and also very punctilious in calling himself King of France.

But the truth isthat there is no more conscious inconsistency between the humilityof a Christian and the rapacity of a Christian than there is between the humility of a lover and the rapacity of a lover.

The truth is that there are no things for which men will make such herculean efforts as the things of which they know they are unworthy.

There never was a man in love who did not declare that, if he strained every nerve to breaking, he was going to have his desire.

And there never was a man in love who did not declare also that he ought not to have it.

The whole secret of the practical success of Christendom lies in the Christian humility, however imperfectly fulfilled.

For with the removal of all question of merit or payment, the soul is suddenly released for incredible voyages.

If we ask a sane man how much he merits, his mind shrinks instinctively and instantaneously.

It is doubtful whether he merits six feet of earth.

But if you ask him what he can conquer--he can conquer the stars.

Thus comes the thing called Romance, a purely Christian product.

A man cannot deserve adventures; he cannot earn dragons and hippogriffs.

The mediaeval Europe which asserted humility gained Romance; the civilization which gained Romance has gained the habitable globe.

How different the Pagan and Stoical feeling was from this has been admirably expressed in a famous quotation. Addison makes the great Stoic say--

"'Tis not in mortals to command success; But we'll do more, Sempronius, we'll deserve it."

But the spirit of Romance and Christendom, the spirit which is in every lover,the spirit which has bestridden the earth with European adventure, is quite opposite.

'Tis not in mortals to deserve success.But we'll do more, Sempronius; we'll obtain it."

And this gay humility, this holding of ourselves lightly and yet ready for an infinity of unmerited triumphs, this secret is so simple that everyone has supposed that it must be something quite sinister and mysterious.

Humility is so practical a virtue that men think it must be a vice.

Humility is so successful that it is mistaken for pride.

It is mistaken for it all the more easily because it generally goes

with a certain simple love of splendour which amounts to vanity.

Humility will always, by preference, go clad in scarlet and gold; pride is that which refuses to let gold and scarlet impress it or please it too much.

In a word, the failure of this virtue actually lies in its success; it is too successful as an investment to be believed in as a virtue.

Humility is not merely too good for this world; it is too practical for this world; I had almost said it is too worldly for this world.

The instance most quoted in our day is the thing called the humilityof the man of science; and certainly it is a good instance as well as a modern one.

Men find it extremely difficult to believe that a man who is obviously uprooting mountains and dividing seas, tearing down temples and stretching out hands to the stars, is really a quiet old gentleman who only asks to be allowed to indulge his harmless old hobby and follow his harmless old nose.

When a man splits a grain of sand and the universe is turned upside down in consequence, it is difficult to realize that to the man who did it, the splitting of the grain is the great affair,and the capsizing of the cosmos quite a small one.

It is hard to enter into the feelings of a man who regards a new heaven and a new earth in the light of a by-product.

But undoubtedly it was to this almost eerie innocence of the intellect that the great men of the great scientific period, which now appears to be closing, owed their enormous power and triumph.

If they had brought the heavens down like a house of cards their plea was not even that they had done it on principle; their quite unanswerable plea was that they had done it by accident.

Whenever there was in them the least touch of pride in what they had done, there was a good ground for attacking them; but so long as they were wholly humble, they were wholly victorious.

There were possible answers to Huxley; there was no answer possible to Darwin. He was convincing because of his unconsciousness; one might almost say because of his dulness.

This childlike and prosaic mind is beginning to wane in the world of science.

Men of science are beginning to see themselves, as the fine phrase is, in the part; they are beginning to be proud of their humility.

They are beginning to be aesthetic, like the rest of the world, beginning to spell truth with a capital T, beginning to talk of the creeds they imagine themselves to have destroyed, of the discoveries that their forbears made.

Like the modern English, they are beginning to be soft about their own hardness.

They are becoming conscious of their own strength--that is,they are growing weaker.

But one purely modern man has emerged in the strictly modern decades who does carry into our world the clear personal simplicity of the old world of science.

One man of genius we have who is an artist, but who was a man of science, and who seems to be marked above all things with this great scientific humility.

I mean Mr. H. G. Wells.

And in his case, as in the others above spoken of, there must be a great preliminary difficulty in convincing the ordinary person that such a virtue is predicable of such a man.

Mr. Wells began his literary work with violent visions--visions of the last pangs of this planet;can it be that a man who begins with violent visions is humble?

He went on to wilder and wilder stories about carving beastsinto men and shooting angels like birds.

Is the man who shoots angels and carves beasts into men humble?

Since then he has done something bolder than either of these blasphemies; he has prophesied the political future of all men; prophesied it with aggressive authority and a ringing decision of detail.

Is the prophet of the future of all men humble? It will indeed be difficult, in the present condition of current thought aboutsuch things as pride and humility, to answer the query of how a man can be humble who does such big things and such bold things.

For the only answer is the answer which I gave at the beginning of this essay.

It is the humble man who does the big things.

It is the humble man who does the bold things.

It is the humbleman who has the sensational sights vouchsafed to him, and this for three obvious reasons:

first, that he strains his eyes more than any other men to see them;

second, that he is more overwhelmed and uplifted with them when they come;

third, that he records them more exactly and sincerely and with less adulteration from his more commonplace and more conceited everyday self.

Adventures are to those to whom they are most unexpected--that is, most romantic. Adventures are to the shy: in this sense adventures are to the unadventurous.

Now, this arresting, mental humility in Mr. H. G. Wells may be, like a great many other things that are vital and vivid, difficult to illustrate by examples, but if I were asked for an example of it, I should have no difficulty about which example to begin with.

The most interesting thing about Mr. H. G. Wells is that he is the only one of his many brilliant contemporaries who has not stopped growing.

One can lie awake at night and hear him grow.

Of this growth the most evident manifestation is indeed a gradual change of opinions; but it is no mere change of opinions.

It is not a perpetual leaping from one position to another like that of Mr. George Moore.

It is a quite continuous advance along a quite solid road in a quite definable direction.

But the chief proof that it is not a piece of fickleness and vanity is the fact that it has been upon the whole in advance from more startling opinions to more humdrum opinions.

It has been even in some sense an advance from unconventional opinions to conventional opinions.

This fact fixes Mr. Wells's honesty and proves him to be no poseur.

Mr. Wells once held that the upper classes and the lower classes would be so much differentiated in the future that one class would eat the other.

Certainly no paradoxical charlatan who had once found arguments for so startling a view would ever have deserted it except for something yet more startling.

Mr. Wells has deserted it in favour of the blameless belief that both classes will be ultimately subordinated or assimilated to a sort of scientific middle class, a class of engineers.

He has abandoned the sensational theory with the same honourable gravity and simplicity with which he adopted it.

Then he thought it was true; now he thinks it is not true.

He has come to the most dreadful conclusion a literary man can come to, the conclusion that the ordinary view is the right one.

It is only the last and wildest kind of courage that can stand on a tower before ten thousand people and tell them that twice two is four.

Mr. H. G. Wells exists at present in a gay and exhilarating progress of conservativism.

He is finding out more and more that conventions, though silent, are alive.

As good an example as any of this humility and sanity of his may be found in his change of view on the subject of science and marriage.

He once held, I believe, the opinion which some singular sociologists still hold, that human creatures could successfully be paired and bred after the manner of dogs or horses.

He no longer holds that view.

Not only does he no longer hold that view, but he has written about it in "Mankind in the Making" with such smashing sense and humour, that I find it difficult to believe that anybody else can hold it either.

It is true that his chief objection to the proposal is that itis physically impossible,

which seems to me a very slight objection, and almost negligible compared with the others.

The one objection to scientific marriage which is worthy of final attention is simply that such a thing could only be imposed on unthinkable slaves and cowards.

I do not know whether the scientific marriage-mongers are right(as they say) or wrong (as Mr. Wells says) in saying that medical supervision would produce strong and healthy men.

I am only certain that if it did, the first act of the strong and healthy men would be to smash the medical supervision.

The mistake of all that medical talk lies in the very fact

that it connects the idea of health with the idea of care.

What has health to do with care?

Health has to do with carelessness.

In special and abnormal cases it is necessary to have care.

When we are peculiarly unhealthy it may be necessary to be careful in order to be healthy.

But even then weare only trying to be healthy in order to be careless.

If we are doctors we are speaking to exceptionally sick men, and they ought to be told to be careful.

But when we are sociologistswe are addressing the normal man, we are addressing humanity.

And humanity ought to be told to be recklessness itself.

For all the fundamental functions of a healthy man ought emphatically to be performed with pleasure and for pleasure; they emphatically ought not to be performed with precaution or for precaution.

A man ought to eat because he has a good appetite to satisfy,and emphatically not because he has a body to sustain.

A man ought to take exercise not because he is too fat, but because he loves foils or horses or high mountains,and loves them for their own sake.

And a man ought to marry because he has fallen in love, and emphatically not becausethe world requires to be populated.

The food will really renovate his tissues as long as he is not thinking about his tissues.

The exercise will really get him into training so long as he is thinking about something else.

And the marriage will really stand some chance of producing a generous-blooded generation if it had its origin in its own natural and generous excitement.

It is the first law of health that our necessities should not be accepted as necessities;

they should be accepted as luxuries.

Let us, then, be careful about the small things, such as a scratch or a slight illness, or anything that can be managed with care.

But in the name of all sanity, let us be careless about the important things, such as marriage, or the fountain of our very life will fail.

Mr. Wells, however, is not quite clear enough of the narrower scientific outlook to see that there are some things which actually ought not to be scientific.

He is still slightly affected with the great scientific fallacy; I mean the habit of beginning not with the human soul, which is the first thing a man learns about, but with some such thing as protoplasm, which is about the last.

The one defect in his splendid mental equipment is that he does not sufficiently allow for the stuff or material of men.

In his new Utopia he says, for instance, that a chief point ofthe Utopia will be a disbelief in original sin.

If he had begun with the human soul--that is, if he had begun on himself--he would have found original sin almost the first thing to be believed in.

He would have found, to put the matter shortly, that a permanent possibility of selfishness arises from the mere fact of having a self, and not from any accidents of education or ill-treatment.

And the weakness of all Utopias is this, that they take the greatest difficulty of man and assume it to be overcome, and then givean elaborate account of the overcoming of the smaller ones.

They first assume that no man will want more than his share, and then are very ingenious in explaining whether his share will be delivered by motor-car or balloon.

And an even stronger example of Mr. Wells's indifference to the human psychology can be found in his cosmopolitanism, the abolition in his Utopia of all patriotic boundaries.

He says in his innocent way that Utopiamust be a world-state, or else people might make war on it. It does not seem to occur to him that, for a good many of us, if it were a world-state we should still make war on it to the end of the world.

For if we admit that there must be varieties in art or opinion what sense is there in thinking there will not be varieties in government?

The fact is very simple. Unless you are going deliberately to prevent a thing being good, you cannot prevent it being worth fighting for.

It is impossible to prevent a possible conflict of civilizations,because it is impossible to prevent a possible conflict between ideals.

If there were no longer our modern strife between nations, there would only be a strife between Utopias.

For the highest thing does not tend to union only; the highest thing tends also to differentiation.

You can often get men to fight for the union; but you cannever prevent them from fighting also for the differentiation.

This variety in the highest thing is the meaning of the fierce patriotism, the fierce nationalism of the great European civilization.

It is also, incidentally, the meaning of the doctrine of the Trinity.

But I think the main mistake of Mr. Wells's philosophy is a somewhat deeper one, one that he expresses in a very entertaining manner in the introductory part of the new Utopia.

His philosophy in some sense amounts to a denial of the possibility of philosophy itself.

At least, he maintains that there are no secure and reliable ideas upon which we can rest with a final mental satisfaction.

It will be both clearer, however, and more amusing to quote Mr. Wells himself.He says,

"Nothing endures, nothing is precise and certain(except the mind of a pedant). . . . Being indeed!--there is no being,but a universal becoming of individualities, and Plato turned his back on truth when he turned towards his museum of specific ideals."

Mr. Wells says, again,

"There is no abiding thing in what we know.We change from weaker to stronger lights, and each more powerfullight pierces our hitherto opaque foundations and revealsfresh and different opacities below."

Now, when Mr. Wells says things like this, I speak with all respect when I saythat he does not observe an evident mental distinction.

It CANNOT be true that there is nothing abiding in what we know.

For if that were so we should not know it all and should not call it knowledge.

Our mental state may be very different from that of somebody else some thousands of years back; but it cannot be entirely different, or else we should not be conscious of a difference.

Mr. Wells must surely realize the first and simplest of the paradoxes that sit by the springs of truth.

He must surely see that the fact of two things being different implies that they are similar.

The hare and the tortoise may differ in the quality of swiftness, but they must agree in the quality of motion.

The swiftest hare cannot be swifter than an isosceles triangle or the idea of pinkness.

When we say the hare moves faster, we say that the tortoise moves.

And when we say of a thing that it moves, we say, without need of other words, that there are things that do not move.

And even in the act of saying that things change, we say that there is something unchangeable.

But certainly the best example of Mr. Wells's fallacy can befound in the example which he himself chooses.

It is quite true that we see a dim light which, compared with a darker thing,is light, but which, compared with a stronger light, is darkness.

But the quality of light remains the same thing, or else we should not call it a stronger light or recognize it as such.

If the character of light were not fixed in the mind, we should be quite as likely to call a denser shadow a stronger light, or vice versa.

If the character of light became even for an instant unfixed, if it became even by a hair's-breadth doubtful, if, for example, there crept into our idea of light some vague idea of blueness, then in that flash we have become doubtful whether the new light has more light or less.

In brief, the progress may be as varyingas a cloud, but the direction must be as rigid as a French road.

North and South are relative in the sense that I am North of Bournemouth and South of Spitzbergen.

But if there be any doubt of the position of the North Pole, there is in equal degree a doubt of whether I am South of Spitzbergen at all.

The absolute idea of light may be practically unattainable.

We may not be able to procure pure light. We may not be able to get to the North Pole. But because the North Pole is unattainable, it does not follow that it is indefinable.

And it is only because the North Pole is not indefinable that we can make a satisfactory map of Brighton and Worthing.

In other words, Plato turned his face to truth but his back on Mr. H. G. Wells, when he turned to his museum of specified ideals.

It is precisely here that Plato shows his sense. It is not true that everything changes; the things that change are all the manifest and material things.

There is something that does not change; and that is precisely the abstract quality, the invisible idea.

Mr. Wells says truly enough, that a thing which we have seen in one connection as dark we may see in another connection as light.

But the thing common to both incidents is the mere idea of light--which we have not seen at all. Mr. Wells might grow taller and taller for unending aeons till his head was higher than the loneliest star.

I can imagine his writing a good novel about it.

In that case he would see the trees first as tall things and then as short things; he would see the clouds first as high and then as low.

But there would remain with him through the ages in that starry loneliness the idea of tallness; he would have in the awful spaces for companion and comfort the definite conception that he was growing taller and not (for instance) growing fatter.

And now it comes to my mind that Mr. H. G. Wells actually has written a very delightful romance about men growing as tall as trees; and that here, again, he seems to me to have been a victim of this vague relativism.

"The Food of the Gods" is, like Mr. Bernard Shaw's play, in essence a study of the Superman idea. And it lies, I think, even through the veil of a half-pantomimic allegory, open to the same intellectual attack.

We cannot be expected to have any regard for a great creature if he does not in any manner conform to our standards.

For unless he passes our standard of greatness we cannot even call him great.

Nietszche summed up all that is interesting in the Superman idea when he said,

"Man is a thing which has to be surpassed."

But the very word "surpass" implies the existence of a standard common to us and the thing surpassing us.

If the Superman is more manly than men are, of course they will ultimately deify him, even if they happen to kill him first.

But if he is simply more supermanly, they may be quite indifferent to him as they would be to another seemingly aimless monstrosity.

He must submit to our test even in order to overawe us.

Mere force or size even is a standard; but that alone will never make men think a man their superior.

Giants, as in the wise old fairy-tales, are vermin.

Supermen, if not good men, are vermin.

"The Food of the Gods" is the tale of "Jack the Giant-Killer" told from the point of view of the giant.

This has not, I think, been done before in literature; but I have little doubt that the psychological substance of it existed in fact.

I have little doubt that the giant whom Jack killed did regard himself as the Superman.

It is likely enough that he considered Jack a narrow and parochial person who wished to frustrate a great forward movement of the life-force.

If(as not unfrequently was the case) he happened to have two heads,he would point out the elementary maxim which declares them to be better than one.

He would enlarge on the subtle modernity of such an equipment, enabling a giant to look at a subject from two points of view, or to correct himself with promptitude.

But Jack was the champion of the enduring human standards, of the principle of one man one head and one man one conscience, of the single head and the single heart and the single eye.

Jack was quite unimpressed by the question of whether the giant was a particularly gigantic giant.

All he wished to know was whether he was a good giant--that is, a giant who was any good to us.

What were the giant's religious views; what his views on politics and the duties of the citizen? Was he fond of children--or fond of them only in a dark and sinister sense?

To use a fine phrase for emotional sanity, was his heart in the right place?

Jack had sometimes to cut him up with a sword in order to find out.

The old and correct story of Jack the Giant-Killer is simply the whole story of man; if it were understood we should need no Bibles or histories. But the modern world in particular does not seem to understand it at all.

The modern world, like Mr. Wells, is on the side of the giants; the safest place, and therefore the meanest and the most prosaic.

The modern world, when it praises its little Caesars, talks of being strong and brave: but it does not seem to see the eternal paradox involved inthe conjunction of these ideas.

The strong cannot be brave.

Only the weak can be brave; and yet again, in practice,only those who can be brave can be trusted, in time of doubt, to be strong.

The only way in which a giant could really keep himself in training against the inevitable Jack would be by continually fighting other giants ten times as big as himself.

That is, by ceasing to be a giant and becoming a Jack.

Thus that sympathy with the small or the defeated as such, with which we Liberals and Nationalists have been often reproached, is not a useless sentimentalism at all, as Mr. Wells and his friends fancy.

It is the first law of practical courage.

To be in the weakest camp is to be in the strongest school.

Nor can I imagine anything that would do humanity more good than the advent of a race of Supermen, for them to fight like dragons.

If the Superman is better than we, of course we need not fight him; but in that case, why not call him the Saint?

But if he is merely stronger (whether physically, mentally, or morally stronger,I do not care a farthing), then he ought to have to reckon with us at least for all the strength we have.

It we are weaker than he, that is no reason why we should be weaker than ourselves.

If we are not tall enough to touch the giant's knees, that is no reason why we should become shorter by falling on our own.

But that is at bottom the meaning of all modern hero-worship and celebration of the Strong Man, the Caesar, the Superman.

That he may be something more than man, WE must be something less.

Doubtless there is an older and better hero-worship than this.

But the old hero was a being who, like Achilles, was more human than humanity itself.

Nietzsche's Superman is cold and friendless.

Achilles is so foolishly fond of his friend that he slaughters armies in the agony of his bereavement.

Mr. Shaw's sad Caesar says in his desolate pride,

"He who has never hoped can never despair."

The Man-God of old answers from his awful hill,

"Was ever sorrow like unto my sorrow?"

A great man is not a man so strong that he feels less than other men;

he is a man so strong that he feels more.

And when Nietszche says, "A new commandment I give to you, `be hard,'"

he is really saying, "A new commandment I give to you, `be dead.'"

Sensibility is the definition of life.

I recur for a last word to Jack the Giant-Killer.

I have dwelt on this matter of Mr. Wells and the giants, not because it is specially prominent in his mind; I know that the Superman does not bulk so large in his cosmos as in that of Mr. Bernard Shaw.

I have dwelt on it for the opposite reason; because this heresy of immoral hero-worship has taken, I think, a slighter hold of him, and may perhaps still be prevented from perverting one of the best thinkers of the day.

In the course of "The New Utopia" Mr. Wells makes more than one admiring allusion to Mr. W. E. Henley.

That clever and unhappy man lived in admiration of a vague violence, and was always going back to rude old tales and rude old ballads, to strong and primitive literatures,to find the praise of strength and the justification of tyranny.

But he could not find it.

It is not there.

The primitive literature is shown in the tale of Jack the Giant-Killer.

The strong old literature is all in praise of the weak.

The rude old tales are as tender to minorities as any modern political idealist.

The rude old ballads are as sentimentally concerned for the under-dog as the Aborigines Protection Society.

When men were tough and raw, when they lived amid hard knocks and hard laws,

when they knew what fighting really was, they had only two kinds of songs.

The first was a rejoicing that the weak had conquered the strong,

the second a lamentation that the strong had, for once in a way, conquered the weak.

For this defiance of the statu quo, this constant effort to alter the existing balance, this premature challenge to the powerful, is the whole nature and inmost secret of the psychological adventure which is called man. It is his strength to disdain strength. The forlorn hope is not only a real hope, it is the only real hope of mankind. In the coarsest ballads of the greenwood men are admired most when they defy, not only the king, but what is more to the point, the hero.

The moment Robin Hood becomes a sort of Superman, that moment the chivalrous chronicler shows us Robin thrashed by a poor tinker whom he thought to thrust aside.

And the chivalrous chroniclermakes Robin Hood receive the thrashing in a glow of admiration.

This magnanimity is not a product of modern humanitarianism;

it is not a product of anything to do with peace.

This magnanimity is merely one of the lost arts of war.

The Henleyites call for a sturdy and fighting England, and they go back to the fierce old stories of the sturdy and fighting English.

And the thing that they find written across that fierce old literature everywhere, is "the policy of Majuba."

Fable for Contemporary Catholics #2

THE WOLVES thus addressed the Sheepdogs: "Why should you, who are like us in so many things, not be entirely of one mind with us, and live with us as brothers should?

We differ from you in one point only.

We live in freedom, but you bow down to and slave for men, who in return for your services flog you with whips and put collars on your necks. They make you also guard their sheep, and while they eat the mutton throw only the bones to you.

If you will be persuaded by us, you will give us the sheep, and we will enjoy them in common, till we all are surfeited."

The Dogs listened favorably to these proposals, and, entering the den of the Wolves, the wolves sealed the entrance and circled the sheepdogs.

"Fools! If you were so willing to betray the human who has fed you, and the sheep you protect, what makes you think we could ever trust you ? Because of your treachery we will eat the sheep, we will eat the humans, but first we will eat you !"

Too late to change their fate ; the sheepdogs were set upon and torn to pieces.

Fable for Contemporary Catholics #1

A man went into the wood and asked the trees for a piece of wood;

The trees had been congenial enough with humankind for thousands of years,

but recently ?

they had begun to fear them...

The trees held conference.

"If we do not give him what he wants ; he may come back and take more than he has asked for ! - we should do what he wants !"

"What shall we do then ?"

"Give him the youngest and weakest sapling ; the human will go away content ; and we shall be left in peace..."

So the trees moved apart, swaying their threatening branches aside and allowed the man to take the single sapling.

The man stripped the bark from the sapling, broke it to a manageable size and attached his axe head to the newly made handle....

Soon he would return to take all the trees....

More of the same story....sadly

{This report is from 2004 , but little else has appeared recently on the issue ; and yet again , well ? I think I'll reserve my opinion and allow others to comment first} :

Celibacy formation a major part of seminary programs today

By Jerry Filteau
Catholic News Service

-- In recent years there has been significant improvement in celibacy formation throughout U.S. Catholic seminaries, said Franciscan Sister Katarina Schuth, one of the country's leading experts in seminary research.

In telephone interviews with Catholic News Service, she and others said celibacy formation programs are more comprehensive and thoroughgoing today than in the past.

One of the major recent influences on those programs was Pope John Paul II's 1992 document on priestly formation, "Pastores Dabo Vobis" ("I Will Give You Shepherds").

The pope called for much more attention to the role of human formation, a factor integrating the intellectual, spiritual and pastoral formation that formed the core focus of seminary formation efforts before 1992.
Human formation includes development of emotional, psychosexual and social maturity.CNS spoke with several seminary experts in the days before and after the Feb. 27 issuance of a major report on the causes and context of the U.S. crisis in clergy sexual abuse of minors.

The report was prepared by the bishops' all-lay National Review Board, formed in 2002 to monitor the bishops' compliance with their new "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" and to help the bishops with independent assessments of the nature and scope and causes and context of the crisis.

The board sharply criticized seminary formation of the 1940s and '50s as too rigid and closed, with celibacy formation largely limited to spiritual and intellectual instruction and little attention given to the human dimensions of psychosexual development.

It said as seminaries changed in the '60s and '70s, "psychological and sexual issues were more freely aired," but "the rigid moral absolutism that had guided clergy and laity alike was giving way to moral relativism." A pendulum swing from rigidity to permissiveness about moral and spiritual discipline in those years "contributed to the current crisis," it said.

The board said that according to many of the bishops, priests and experts they interviewed, "these historical problems largely have been dealt with (in recent years) but much room for improvement remains."Sister Schuth, who is a professor of the social scientific study of religion at St. Paul Seminary/St. Thomas University in St. Paul, Minn., completed a comprehensive study of U.S. Catholic theological seminaries in 1989 and a follow-up study 10 years later.

She told CNS, "Between the time I did the first study and the second study, the emphasis on education for celibacy really increased greatly."
"Toward the end of the '80s, into the '90s, some of the allegations (of clergy sexual abuse) began to appear, and I think out of that seminaries really took seriously their responsibility to form men appropriately -- all kinds of issues around boundaries and behaviors, as well as the interior spiritual disposition," she said.

"Most seminaries had very decent, substantial programs in place by the end of the '90s."
She said that when the abuse scandal broke out in Boston in January 2002, she wrote to the country's theological seminaries asking for descriptions of their current celibacy formation programs.
She said most responses were several pages long and a number of seminaries have extensive treatment of celibacy formation as a section of their published student handbook.

"Several seminaries sent a single page back, rather than a booklet or 10 pages of 'here's what we do.'
A number of those seminaries subsequently invited me to give workshops on how to develop their programs," she said.
"I think almost all now have a fairly decent program in place."

She said the articulation of what goes into demonstrating a seminarian's preparation to live a mature celibate commitment is much deeper than it used to be.
She said it addresses such issues as "generosity toward others, a willingness to talk with adults, with peers, attitude toward children."

At St. Paul Seminary where she teaches, she said, besides their individual spiritual formation the students participate in a two-hour program every Wednesday devoted to formation issues, where "celibacy probably takes close to half" the program, including discussion of boundary issues, openness to others, healthy friendships, sexuality and human intimacy needs.

At the academic level, sexuality and celibacy are addressed in moral theology and pastoral courses, she said.
She added that another major component is pastoral practice, where field supervisors observe how seminarians behave and interact with pastors, co-workers, parishioners, children and women.
More rigorous psychological screening of candidates is another big factor in the approach seminaries take today, she said.Msgr. Jeremiah McCarthy, former rector of St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, Calif., and now director of accreditation and institutional evaluation of the Association of Theological Schools, said seminary training before the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s took place in "practically a monastic environment" with "little or no pastoral training or field education."

He said the U.S. bishops' current Program of Priestly Formation, setting the framework all seminaries must follow, was completed in the fall of 1992 and incorporated the pope's document on the subject issued earlier that year.
"One of the key themes that the pope emphasized was the importance of human formation ... the relational, interpersonal capacities that a candidate needs to have in order to be an effective priest," he said.
"That's an important emphasis because it supports the integral, holistic vision of training for priesthood that is in the Program of Priestly Formation.

"He said that program since 1992 has called on seminaries to integrate the development and ongoing evaluation of human formation in relation to each of the other main areas of formation -- the academic or intellectual, the spiritual and the pastoral.

In evaluating a seminarian's "readiness to embrace celibate lifelong chastity," he said, faculty members will review such things as his ability "to relate celibacy to issues such as prayer, exercise, simplicity of life, friendship, obedience, an ability to maintain respect for personal and social boundaries.
... Those are important external indicators that someone is integrating and putting things together in the right way in order to be an effective, happy and healthy celibate."
"Most of the seminaries have handbooks that lay out these expectations for students," he added.
"The spiritual direction and formation program has been enhanced with these emphases on human formation, so that all of the responsibility does not lie on the spiritual director.
It's an activity of the entire faculty as a formation team.
"Efforts to help seminarians develop a capacity for chaste celibate living were not absent in seminaries before, but they
"have become more intentional, more clear, with clearer outcomes and expectations" in recent years, Msgr. McCarthy said.
Father Edward J. Burns, a former seminary rector and now director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Priestly Formation, said another sign of the heightened attention to celibacy formation in recent years has been the growth of professional development programs for seminary formation personnel in that area.
He cited three such programs for formation personnel as examples -- those run by St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, St. Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Md., and the Creighton Institute for Spiritual Formation at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.
From his own experiences as part of teams visiting seminaries to review their performance, he said, he believes the U.S. seminaries today "are really great places of formation."
When the U.S. bishops adopted their child protection charter in 2002, one of the charter's elements was a commitment to collaborate in a visitation of each seminary, under Vatican oversight, focusing on the quality of its program of "human formation for celibate chastity.

"Father Burns said the bishops are currently awaiting Rome's decision on the content and conduct of those visitations, but he believes they will be modeled after the apostolic visitations of U.S. seminaries conducted in the 1980s and the voluntary visitations that have continued since then.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Oh No !! This is too embarassing !

I can't really believe this, but for decades I have been using a word that doesn't actually exist !!!
Whenever I wanted to describe selfish narcissism I used the word :
...thinking that it was a perfectly valid word and in the dictionary.
Not only am I very, very wrong; I just googled the world and the only person who has ever used it is ME!!!
If only there was a blanket big enough for me to hide under in my shame....

Daily Chesterton #6 ['Heretics' Chapter 4]

IV. Mr. Bernard Shaw
In the glad old days, before the rise of modern morbidities,when genial old Ibsen filled the world with wholesome joy, and the kindly tales of the forgotten Emile Zola kept our firesides merry and pure, it used to be thought a disadvantage to be misunderstood.
It may be doubted whether it is always or even generally a disadvantage.The man who is misunderstood has always this advantage over his enemies,that they do not know his weak point or his plan of campaign.
They go out against a bird with nets and against a fish with arrows.
There are several modern examples of this situation. Mr. Chamberlain,for instance, is a very good one. He constantly eludes or vanquishes his opponents because his real powers and deficiencies are quite different to those with which he is credited, both by friends and foes.
His friends depict him as a strenuous man of action; his opponents depict him as a coarse man of business; when, as a fact, he is neither one nor the other, but an admirable romantic orator and romantic actor.
He has one power which is the soul of melodrama--the power of pretending,even when backed by a huge majority, that he has his back to the wall.
For all mobs are so far chivalrous that their heroes must make some show of misfortune--that sort of hypocrisy is the homage that strength pays to weakness. He talks foolishly and yetvery finely about his own city that has never deserted him.He wears a flaming and fantastic flower, like a decadent minor poet.
As for his bluffness and toughness and appeals to common sense,all that is, of course, simply the first trick of rhetoric. He fronts his audiences with the venerable affectation of Mark Antony-- "I am no orator, as Brutus is; But as you know me all, a plain blunt man."It is the whole difference between the aim of the orator andthe aim of any other artist, such as the poet or the sculptor.
The aim of the sculptor is to convince us that he is a sculptor;the aim of the orator, is to convince us that he is not an orator.
Once let Mr. Chamberlain be mistaken for a practical man, and his game is won. He has only to compose a theme on empire, and people will say that these plain men say great things on great occasions.
He has only to drift in the large loose notions common to all artists of the second rank, and people will say that business men havethe biggest ideals after all. All his schemes have ended in smoke;he has touched nothing that he did not confuse.
About his figure there is a Celtic pathos; like the Gaels in Matthew Arnold's quotation,
"he went forth to battle, but he always fell."
He is a mountain of proposals, a mountain of failures; but still a mountain. And a mountain is always romantic. There is another man in the modern world who might be calledthe antithesis of Mr. Chamberlain in every point, who is also a standing monument of the advantage of being misunderstood.
Mr. Bernard Shaw is always represented by those who disagree with him, and, I fear, also (if such exist) by those who agree with him, as a capering humorist, a dazzling acrobat,a quick-change artist.
It is said that he cannot be taken seriously,that he will defend anything or attack anything, that he will do anything to startle and amuse.
All this is not only untrue,but it is, glaringly, the opposite of the truth; it is as wild as to say that Dickens had not the boisterous masculinityof Jane Austen.
The whole force and triumph of Mr. Bernard Shawlie in the fact that he is a thoroughly consistent man. So far from his power consisting in jumping through hoops or standing on his head, his power consists in holding his own fortress night and day.
He puts the Shaw test rapidlyand rigorously to everything that happens in heaven or earth.His standard never varies. The thing which weak-minded revolutionists and weak-minded Conservatives really hate (and fear)in him, is exactly this, that his scales, such as they are,are held even, and that his law, such as it is, is justly enforced.
You may attack his principles, as I do; but I do not knowof any instance in which you can attack their application. If he dislikes lawlessness, he dislikes the lawlessness of Socialists as much as that of Individualists. If he dislikesthe fever of patriotism, he dislikes it in Boers and Irishmen as well as in Englishmen. If he dislikes the vows and bonds of marriage, he dislikes still more the fiercer bonds and wildervows that are made by lawless love.
If he laughs at the authorityof priests, he laughs louder at the pomposity of men of science.
If he condemns the irresponsibility of faith, he condemnswith a sane consistency the equal irresponsibility of art.
He has pleased all the bohemians by saying that women are equal to men; but he has infuriated them by suggesting that men are equal to women.
He is almost mechanically just;he has something of the terrible quality of a machine.
The man who is really wild and whirling, the man who is really fantastic and incalculable, is not Mr. Shaw, but the average Cabinet Minister. It is Sir Michael Hicks-Beach who jumps through hoops. It is Sir Henry Fowler who stands on his head.
The solid and respectable statesman of that type does reallyl eap from position to position; he is really ready to defend anything or nothing; he is really not to be taken seriously.
I know perfectly well what Mr. Bernard Shaw will be saying thirty years hence; he will be saying what he has always said. If thirty years hence I meet Mr. Shaw, a reverent being with a silver beard sweeping the earth, and say to him,
"One can never, of course, make a verbal attack upon a lady,"
the patriarch will lift his aged hand and fell me to the earth.
We know, I say, what Mr. Shaw will be, saying thirty years hence.But is there any one so darkly read in stars and oracles that he will dare to predict what Mr. Asquith will be saying thirty years hence?
The truth is, that it is quite an error to suppose that absence of definite convictions gives the mind freedom and agility. A man who believes something is ready and witty, because he has all his weapons about him.
He can apply his test in an instant.The man engaged in conflict with a man like Mr. Bernard Shaw may fancy he has ten faces; similarly a man engaged against a brilliant duellist may fancy that the sword of his foe has turned to ten swords in his hand.
But this is not really because the man is playingwith ten swords, it is because he is aiming very straight with one.
Moreover, a man with a definite belief always appears bizarre,because he does not change with the world; he has climbed into a fixed star, and the earth whizzes below him like a zoetrope.
Millions of mild black-coated men call themselves sane and sensible merely because they always catch the fashionable insanity,because they are hurried into madness after madness by the maelstrom of the world.
People accuse Mr. Shaw and many much sillier persons of "proving that black is white." But they never ask whether the current colour-language is always correct.
Ordinary sensible phraseology sometimes calls black white,it certainly calls yellow white and green white and reddish-brown white.We call wine "white wine" which is as yellow as a Blue-coat boy's legs.
We call grapes "white grapes" which are manifestly pale green.
We give to the European, whose complexion is a sort of pink drab,the horrible title of a "white man"--a picture more blood-curdling than any spectre in Poe.
Now, it is undoubtedly true that if a man asked a waiter in a restaurant for a bottle of yellow wine and some greenish-yellow grapes, the waiter would think him mad.
It is undoubtedly true that if a Government official,reporting on the Europeans in Burma, said, "There are only two thousand pinkish men here" he would be accused of cracking jokes,and kicked out of his post.
But it is equally obvious that both men would have come to grief through telling the strict truth.
That too truthful man in the restaurant; that too truthful man in Burma, is Mr. Bernard Shaw.
He appears eccentric and grotesque because he will not accept the general belief that white is yellow.
He has based all his brilliancy and solidity upon the hackneyed,but yet forgotten, fact that truth is stranger than fiction.
Truth, of course, must of necessity be stranger than fiction,for we have made fiction to suit ourselves.
So much then a reasonable appreciation will find in Mr. Shawto be bracing and excellent. He claims to see things as they are; and some things, at any rate, he does see as they are,which the whole of our civilization does not see at all.
But in Mr. Shaw's realism there is something lacking,and that thing which is lacking is serious.
Mr. Shaw's old and recognized philosophy was that powerfully presented in "The Quintessence of Ibsenism."
It was, in brief,that conservative ideals were bad, not because they were conservative,but because they were ideals.
Every ideal prevented men from judging justly the particular case; every moral generalization oppressedthe individual; the golden rule was there was no golden rule.
And the objection to this is simply that it pretends to free men,but really restrains them from doing the only thing that men want to do.
What is the good of telling a communitythat it has every liberty except the liberty to make laws?
The liberty to make laws is what constitutes a free people. And what is the good of telling a man (or a philosopher)that he has every liberty except the liberty to make generalizations.
Making generalizations is what makes him a man.
In short,when Mr. Shaw forbids men to have strict moral ideals,he is acting like one who should forbid them to have children.
The saying that "the golden rule is that there is no golden rule,"can, indeed, be simply answered by being turned round.
That there is no golden rule is itself a golden rule, or ratherit is much worse than a golden rule. It is an iron rule; a fetter on the first movement of a man. But the sensation connected with Mr. Shaw in recent years has been his sudden development of the religion of the Superman.
He who had to all appearance mocked at the faiths in the forgottenpast discovered a new god in the unimaginable future.
He who had laid all the blame on ideals set up the most impossible of all ideals, the ideal of a new creature.
But the truth, nevertheless, is that any one who knows Mr. Shaw's mind adequately, and admires it properly, must have guessed all this long ago.
For the truth is that Mr. Shaw has never seen things as they really are.
If he had he would have fallen on his knees before them.
He has always had a secret ideal that has withered all the things of this world.
He has all the time been silently comparing humanity with something that was not human, with a monster from Mars, with the Wise Man ofthe Stoics, with the Economic Man of the Fabians, with Julius Caesar,with Siegfried, with the Superman.
Now, to have this inner and merciless standard may be a very good thing, or a very bad one, it may be excellent or unfortunate, but it is not seeing things as they are.
It is not seeing things as they are to think first of a Briareus with a hundred hands, and then call every man a cripple for only having two.
It is not seeing things as they are to start with a vision of Arguswith his hundred eyes, and then jeer at every man with two eyes as if he had only one.
And it is not seeing things as they are to imagine a demigod of infinite mental clarity, who may or may not appear in the latter days of the earth, and then to see all men as idiots.
And this is what Mr. Shaw has always in some degree done.
When we really see men as they are, we do not criticise, but worship;and very rightly. For a monster with mysterious eyes and miraculous thumbs,with strange dreams in his skull, and a queer tenderness for this place or that baby, is truly a wonderful and unnerving matter.
It is only the quite arbitrary and priggish habit of comparison with something else which makes it possible to be at our ease in front of him.
A sentiment of superiority keeps us cool and practical; the mere facts would make our knees knock under as with religious fear.
It is the fact that every instant of conscious life is an unimaginable prodigy.
It is the fact that every face in the street has the incredible unexpectedness of a fairy-tale.
The thing which prevents a man from realizing this is not any clear-sightedness or experience,it is simply a habit of pedantic and fastidious comparisonsbetween one thing and another.
Mr. Shaw, on the practical side perhaps the most humane man alive, is in this sense inhumane.He has even been infected to some extent with the primary intellectual weakness of his new master, Nietzsche, the strange notion that the greaterand stronger a man was the more he would despise other things.
The greater and stronger a man is the more he would be inclined to prostrate himself before a periwinkle. 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 Iwas born? What god of the borderland, what barbaric god of legs,must I propitiate with fire and wine, lest they run away with me?"
The truth is, that all genuine appreciation rests on a certain mystery of humility and almost of darkness.
The man who said,
"Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall not be disappointed,"
put the eulogy quite inadequately and even falsely. The truth
"Blessedis he that expecteth nothing, for he shall be gloriously surprised."
The man who expects nothing sees redder roses than common men can see,and greener grass, and a more startling sun.
Blessed is he that expecteth nothing, for he shall possess the cities and the mountains; blessed is the meek, for he shall inherit the earth.
Until we realize that things might not be we cannot realize that things are.
Until we see the background of darkness we cannot admire the light as a single and created thing. As soon as we have seen that darkness,all light is lightning, sudden, blinding, and divine.
Until we picture nonentity we underrate the victory of God, and can realize none of the trophies of His ancient war.
It is one of the million wild jests of truth that we know nothing until we know nothing.
Now this is, I say deliberately, the only defect in the greatness of Mr. Shaw, the only answer to his claim to be a great man, that he is not easily pleased.
He is an almost solitary exception to the general and essential maxim, that little things please great minds.
And from this absence of that most uproarious of all things, humility, comes incidentally the peculiar insistence on the Superman.
After belabouring a great many people for a great many years for being unprogressive, Mr. Shaw has discovered,with characteristic sense, that it is very doubtful whether any existing human being with two legs can be progressive at all.
Having come to doubt whether humanity can be combined with progress,most people, easily pleased, would have elected to abandon progress and remain with humanity.
Mr. Shaw, not being easily pleased,decides to throw over humanity with all its limitations and goin for progress for its own sake.
If man, as we know him, is incapable of the philosophy of progress, Mr. Shaw asks, not for a new kind of philosophy, but for a new kind of man.
It is rather as if a nurse had tried a rather bitter food for someyears on a baby, and on discovering that it was not suitable,should not throw away the food and ask for a new food, but throw the baby out of window, and ask for a new baby.
Mr. Shaw cannot understand that the thing which is valuableand lovable in our eyes is man--the old beer-drinking, creed-making, fighting, failing, sensual, respectable man.
And the things that have been founded on this creature immortally remain;the things that have been founded on the fancy of the Superman have died with the dying civilizations which alone have given them birth.
When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its comer-stone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward--in a word, a man.
And upon this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have not prevailed against it. All the empires and the kingdoms have failed, because of this inherent and continual weakness,that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men.
But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible.For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.


Whispered to me across the dining table by an American Bishop

[One of the brilliant,devout and orthodox ones so that reduces your guesses to a handful]

"What's the difference between a liturgist and God ?"

"God doesn't think He's a liturgist !"

"How many Liturgists does it take to Screw in a lightbulb ?"

"Just One, They hold the lightbulb and the Universe revolves round them...."

"What's the difference between a liturgist and a broken clock ?"

"A broken clock is sometimes right"

a few more from other sources :

"What's the difference between a terrorist and a Liturgist ?"

"You can negotiate with a terrorist!"

"The difference between an Atheist and a Liturgist?"

"Atheists admit they don't believe in God and some of them know Latin"

Fable for Contemporary Catholics #3

n old couple were admired by everyone in the village for the happiness of their marriage. They never quarreled, and were always loving and affectionate toward each other. Eventually the husband died, and the wife was overcome with grief. Her children and her neighbors tried to console her, but to no avail. Weeks and months passed, and still the old woman was grieving and inconsolable; tears of grief rolled down her cheeks from morning till night.

Comgan heard about her. He asked one of his wealthy friends to lend him a ring with a precious jewel set in it. He took it to the old woman, and said to her, "I want you to find a family which has no sorrows, and give that family this ring."

The woman set off in search of a family with no sorrows. She visited every home in the region and talked to every family. Finally she returned home, and gave the ring back to Comgan. Her grief had gone.The story doubtless overstates the case as real grief would not be "gone." What happens is that the seemingly unendurable grief can be transformed into a sorrow that you can bear.

Found in my e-mail

Ducking into confession with a turkey in his arms, Brian said, "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. I stole this turkey to feed my family. Would you take it and settle my guilt?"
"Certainly not," said the Priest. "As penance, you must return it to the one from whom you stole it."
"I tried," Brian sobbed, "but he refused. Oh, Father, what should I do?"
"If what you say is true, then it is all right for you to keep it for your family."
Thanking the Priest, Brian hurried off.
When confession was over, the Priest returned to his residence. When he walked into the kitchen, he found that someone had stolen his turkey.

Oh No !! What have we done!!! A monster !!

I have to confess I'm guilty of letting the side down.

A couple of months ago Richard Dawkins [turn round ,spit and bless yourself three times] was being his usual 'rational,amenable,cordial,coherent' [sic!] self on radio 4's 'Today' programme.

I and a few others started debating the issue, and it became very fervid , intense and frankly quite engrossing - but about four weeks ago it looked like it was fading off , and as I had contracted blood poisoning, developed eye infections and pilonidal cysts - I thought I'd move on to reading my increasing pile of unread von Balthasars and checking out the catholic blog world .

I had a quick return glimpse today at the message board and it's grown like topsy !!! 3584 messages!!! This has to be the biggest thread the BBC have ever had on a non-news issue. It's incredible. I haven't even interacted with it for a month now and for that I apologise to my fellow Theists - am about to dive back in so wish me luck !

Daily Chesterton #5 Saturday 28th July "Heretics" Chapter 3

III. On Mr. Rudyard Kipling and Making the World Small
There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject;the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.Nothing is more keenly required than a defence of bores.When Byron divided humanity into the bores and bored, he omittedto notice that the higher qualities exist entirely in the bores,the lower qualities in the bored, among whom he counted himself.The bore, by his starry enthusiasm, his solemn happiness,may, in some sense, have proved himself poetical.The bored has certainly proved himself prosaic.We might, no doubt, find it a nuisance to count all the blades of grassor all the leaves of the trees; but this would not be because of ourboldness or gaiety, but because of our lack of boldness and gaiety.The bore would go onward, bold and gay, and find the blades ofgrass as splendid as the swords of an army. The bore is strongerand more joyous than we are; he is a demigod--nay, he is a god.For it is the gods who do not tire of the iteration of things;to them the nightfall is always new, and the last rose as redas the first.The sense that everything is poetical is a thing solid and absolute;it is not a mere matter of phraseology or persuasion. It is notmerely true, it is ascertainable. Men may be challenged to deny it;men may be challenged to mention anything that is not a matter of poetry.I remember a long time ago a sensible sub-editor coming up to mewith a book in his hand, called "Mr. Smith," or "The Smith Family,"or some such thing. He said, "Well, you won't get any of your damnedmysticism out of this," or words to that effect. I am happy to saythat I undeceived him; but the victory was too obvious and easy.In most cases the name is unpoetical, although the fact is poetical.In the case of Smith, the name is so poetical that it must be an arduousand heroic matter for the man to live up to it. The name of Smithis the name of the one trade that even kings respected, it could claimhalf the glory of that arma virumque which all epics acclaimed.The spirit of the smithy is so close to the spirit of song that it hasmixed in a million poems, and every blacksmith is a harmonious blacksmith.Even the village children feel that in some dim way the smithis poetic, as the grocer and the cobbler are not poetic,when they feast on the dancing sparks and deafening blows inthe cavern of that creative violence. The brute repose of Nature,the passionate cunning of man, the strongest of earthly metals,the wierdest of earthly elements, the unconquerable iron subduedby its only conqueror, the wheel and the ploughshare, the sword andthe steam-hammer, the arraying of armies and the whole legend of arms,all these things are written, briefly indeed, but quite legibly,on the visiting-card of Mr. Smith. Yet our novelists call theirhero "Aylmer Valence," which means nothing, or "Vernon Raymond,"which means nothing, when it is in their power to give himthis sacred name of Smith--this name made of iron and flame.It would be very natural if a certain hauteur, a certain carriageof the head, a certain curl of the lip, distinguished everyone whose name is Smith. Perhaps it does; I trust so.Whoever else are parvenus, the Smiths are not parvenus.From the darkest dawn of history this clan has gone forth to battle;its trophies are on every hand; its name is everywhere;it is older than the nations, and its sign is the Hammerof Thor. But as I also remarked, it is not quite the usual case.It is common enough that common things should be poetical;it is not so common that common names should be poetical.In most cases it is the name that is the obstacle.A great many people talk as if this claim of ours, that all thingsare poetical, were a mere literary ingenuity, a play on words.Precisely the contrary is true. It is the idea that some things arenot poetical which is literary, which is a mere product of words.The word "signal-box" is unpoetical. But the thing signal-box isnot unpoetical; it is a place where men, in an agony of vigilance,light blood-red and sea-green fires to keep other men from death.That is the plain, genuine description of what it is; the proseonly comes in with what it is called. The word "pillar-box"is unpoetical. But the thing pillar-box is not unpoetical;it is the place to which friends and lovers commit their messages,conscious that when they have done so they are sacred,and not to be touched, not only by others, but even(religious touch!) by themselves. That red turret is one ofthe last of the temples. Posting a letter and getting marriedare among the few things left that are entirely romantic;for to be entirely romantic a thing must be irrevocable.We think a pillar-box prosaic, because there is no rhyme to it.We think a pillar-box unpoetical, because we have never seen itin a poem. But the bold fact is entirely on the side of poetry.A signal-box is only called a signal-box; it is a houseof life and death. A pillar-box is only called a pillar-box;it is a sanctuary of human words. If you think the name of"Smith" prosaic, it is not because you are practical and sensible;it is because you are too much affected with literary refinements.The name shouts poetry at you. If you think of it otherwise,it is because you are steeped and sodden with verbal reminiscences,because you remember everything in Punch or Comic Cutsabout Mr. Smith being drunk or Mr. Smith being henpecked.All these things were given to you poetical. It is onlyby a long and elaborate process of literary effort that youhave made them prosaic.Now, the first and fairest thing to say about Rudyard Kipling is that he hasborne a brilliant part in thus recovering the lost provinces of poetry.He has not been frightened by that brutal materialistic air which clingsonly to words; he has pierced through to the romantic, imaginative matterof the things themselves. He has perceived the significance and philosophyof steam and of slang. Steam may be, if you like, a dirty by-productof science. Slang may be, if you like, a dirty by-product of language.But at least he has been among the few who saw the divine parentage ofthese things, and knew that where there is smoke there is fire--that is,that wherever there is the foulest of things, there also is the purest.Above all, he has had something to say, a definite view of things to utter,and that always means that a man is fearless and faces everything.For the moment we have a view of the universe, we possess it.Now, the message of Rudyard Kipling, that upon which he hasreally concentrated, is the only thing worth worryingabout in him or in any other man. He has often writtenbad poetry, like Wordsworth. He has often said silly things,like Plato. He has often given way to mere political hysteria,like Gladstone. But no one can reasonably doubt that he meanssteadily and sincerely to say something, and the only seriousquestion is, What is that which he has tried to say?Perhaps the best way of stating this fairly will be to beginwith that element which has been most insisted by himselfand by his opponents--I mean his interest in militarism.But when we are seeking for the real merits of a man it is unwiseto go to his enemies, and much more foolish to go to himself.Now, Mr. Kipling is certainly wrong in his worship of militarism,but his opponents are, generally speaking, quite as wrong as he.The evil of militarism is not that it shows certain men to be fierceand haughty and excessively warlike. The evil of militarism is that itshows most men to be tame and timid and excessively peaceable.The professional soldier gains more and more power as the general courageof a community declines. Thus the Pretorian guard became more and moreimportant in Rome as Rome became more and more luxurious and feeble.The military man gains the civil power in proportion as the civilianloses the military virtues. And as it was in ancient Rome so itis in contemporary Europe. There never was a time when nations weremore militarist. There never was a time when men were less brave.All ages and all epics have sung of arms and the man; but we haveeffected simultaneously the deterioration of the man and the fantasticperfection of the arms. Militarism demonstrated the decadence of Rome,and it demonstrates the decadence of Prussia.And unconsciously Mr. Kipling has proved this, and proved it admirably.For in so far as his work is earnestly understood the military trade doesnot by any means emerge as the most important or attractive. He has notwritten so well about soldiers as he has about railway men or bridge builders,or even journalists. The fact is that what attracts Mr. Kiplingto militarism is not the idea of courage, but the idea of discipline.There was far more courage to the square mile in the Middle Ages,when no king had a standing army, but every man had a bow or sword.But the fascination of the standing army upon Mr. Kipling is not courage,which scarcely interests him, but discipline, which is, when all is saidand done, his primary theme. The modern army is not a miracle of courage;it has not enough opportunities, owing to the cowardice of everybody else.But it is really a miracle of organization, and that is the trulyKiplingite ideal. Kipling's subject is not that valour which properlybelongs to war, but that interdependence and efficiency which belongsquite as much to engineers, or sailors, or mules, or railway engines.And thus it is that when he writes of engineers, or sailors,or mules, or steam-engines, he writes at his best. The real poetry,the "true romance" which Mr. Kipling has taught, is the romanceof the division of labour and the discipline of all the trades.He sings the arts of peace much more accurately than the arts of war.And his main contention is vital and valuable. Every thing is militaryin the sense that everything depends upon obedience. There is noperfectly epicurean corner; there is no perfectly irresponsible place.Everywhere men have made the way for us with sweat and submission.We may fling ourselves into a hammock in a fit of divine carelessness.But we are glad that the net-maker did not make the hammock in a fit ofdivine carelessness. We may jump upon a child's rocking-horse for a joke.But we are glad that the carpenter did not leave the legs of it ungluedfor a joke. So far from having merely preached that a soldier cleaninghis side-arm is to be adored because he is military, Kipling at his bestand clearest has preached that the baker baking loaves and the tailorcutting coats is as military as anybody.Being devoted to this multitudinous vision of duty, Mr. Kiplingis naturally a cosmopolitan. He happens to find his examplesin the British Empire, but almost any other empire woulddo as well, or, indeed, any other highly civilized country.That which he admires in the British army he would find evenmore apparent in the German army; that which he desires in theBritish police he would find flourishing in the French police.The ideal of discipline is not the whole of life, but it isspread over the whole of the world. And the worship of it tendsto confirm in Mr. Kipling a certain note of worldly wisdom,of the experience of the wanderer, which is one of the genuinecharms of his best work.The great gap in his mind is what may be roughly calledthe lack of patriotism--that is to say, he lacks altogetherthe faculty of attaching himself to any cause or communityfinally and tragically; for all finality must be tragic.He admires England, but he does not love her; for we admirethings with reasons, but love them without reasons.He admires England because she is strong, not because sheis English. There is no harshness in saying this, for, to dohim justice, he avows it with his usual picturesque candour.In a very interesting poem, he says that-- "If England was what England seems"--that is, weak and inefficient; if England were not what (as he believes)she is--that is, powerful and practical-- "How quick we'd chuck 'er! But she ain't!"He admits, that is, that his devotion is the result of a criticism,and this is quite enough to put it in another category altogether fromthe patriotism of the Boers, whom he hounded down in South Africa.In speaking of the really patriotic peoples, such as the Irish, he hassome difficulty in keeping a shrill irritation out of his language.The frame of mind which he really describes with beauty and nobility isthe frame of mind of the cosmopolitan man who has seen men and cities. "For to admire and for to see, For to be'old this world so wide."He is a perfect master of that light melancholy with which a manlooks back on having been the citizen of many communities,of that light melancholy with which a man looks back on having beenthe lover of many women. He is the philanderer of the nations.But a man may have learnt much about women in flirtations,and still be ignorant of first love; a man may have known as manylands as Ulysses, and still be ignorant of patriotism.Mr. Rudyard Kipling has asked in a celebrated epigram what they canknow of England who know England only. It is a far deeper and sharperquestion to ask, "What can they know of England who know only the world?"for the world does not include England any more than it includesthe Church. The moment we care for anything deeply, the world--that is,all the other miscellaneous interests--becomes our enemy. Christians showedit when they talked of keeping one's self "unspotted from the world;"but lovers talk of it just as much when they talk of the "world well lost."Astronomically speaking, I understand that England is situated on the world;similarly, I suppose that the Church was a part of the world, and eventhe lovers inhabitants of that orb. But they all felt a certain truth--the truth that the moment you love anything the world becomes your foe.Thus Mr. Kipling does certainly know the world; he is a man of the world,with all the narrowness that belongs to those imprisoned in that planet.He knows England as an intelligent English gentleman knows Venice. He hasbeen to England a great many times; he has stopped there for long visits.But he does not belong to it, or to any place; and the proof of it is this,that he thinks of England as a place. The moment we are rooted in a place,the place vanishes. We live like a tree with the whole strengthof the universe.The globe-trotter lives in a smaller world than the peasant.He is always breathing an air of locality. London is a place,to be compared to Chicago; Chicago is a place, to be comparedto Timbuctoo. But Timbuctoo is not a place, since there, at least,live men who regard it as the universe, and breathe, not an airof locality, but the winds of the world. The man in the saloon steamerhas seen all the races of men, and he is thinking of the thingsthat divide men--diet, dress, decorum, rings in the nose as in Africa,or in the ears as in Europe, blue paint among the ancients, or redpaint among the modern Britons. The man in the cabbage field hasseen nothing at all; but he is thinking of the things that unite men--hunger and babies, and the beauty of women, and the promise or menaceof the sky. Mr. Kipling, with all his merits, is the globe-trotter;he has not the patience to become part of anything.So great and genuine a man is not to be accused of a merelycynical cosmopolitanism; still, his cosmopolitanism is his weakness.That weakness is splendidly expressed in one of his finest poems,"The Sestina of the Tramp Royal," in which a man declares that he canendure anything in the way of hunger or horror, but not permanentpresence in one place. In this there is certainly danger.The more dead and dry and dusty a thing is the more it travels about;dust is like this and the thistle-down and the High Commissionerin South Africa. Fertile things are somewhat heavier, like the heavyfruit trees on the pregnant mud of the Nile. In the heated idlenessof youth we were all rather inclined to quarrel with the implicationof that proverb which says that a rolling stone gathers no moss. We wereinclined to ask, "Who wants to gather moss, except silly old ladies?"But for all that we begin to perceive that the proverb is right.The rolling stone rolls echoing from rock to rock; but the rollingstone is dead. The moss is silent because the moss is alive.The truth is that exploration and enlargement make the world smaller.The telegraph and the steamboat make the world smaller.The telescope makes the world smaller; it is only the microscopethat makes it larger. Before long the world will be clovenwith a war between the telescopists and the microscopists.The first study large things and live in a small world;the second study small things and live in a large world.It is inspiriting without doubt to whizz in a motor-carround the earth, to feel Arabia as a whirl of sand or Chinaas a flash of rice-fields. But Arabia is not a whirl of sandand China is not a flash of rice-fields. They are ancientcivilizations with strange virtues buried like treasures.If we wish to understand them it must not be as touristsor inquirers, it must be with the loyalty of children and the greatpatience of poets. To conquer these places is to lose them.The man standing in his own kitchen-garden, with fairylandopening at the gate, is the man with large ideas.His mind creates distance; the motor-car stupidly destroys it.Moderns think of the earth as a globe, as something one caneasily get round, the spirit of a schoolmistress. This is shownin the odd mistake perpetually made about Cecil Rhodes. His enemiessay that he may have had large ideas, but he was a bad man.His friends say that he may have been a bad man, but he certainlyhad large ideas. The truth is that he was not a man essentially bad,he was a man of much geniality and many good intentions,but a man with singularly small views. There is nothing largeabout painting the map red; it is an innocent game for children.It is just as easy to think in continents as to think incobble-stones. The difficulty comes in when we seek to knowthe substance of either of them. Rhodes' prophecies aboutthe Boer resistance are an admirable comment on how the"large ideas" prosper when it is not a question of thinkingin continents but of understanding a few two-legged men.And under all this vast illusion of the cosmopolitan planet,with its empires and its Reuter's agency, the real life of mangoes on concerned with this tree or that temple, with this harvestor that drinking-song, totally uncomprehended, totally untouched.And it watches from its splendid parochialism, possibly with a smileof amusement, motor-car civilization going its triumphant way,outstripping time, consuming space, seeing all and seeing nothing,roaring on at last to the capture of the solar system,only to find the sun cockney and the stars suburban.