Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In Defense of Baby Worship

For those of us with kids (and those without), here is a very short, but great piece by G.K. Chesterton.

The two facts which attract almost every normal person to children are, first, that they are very serious, and, secondly, that they are in consequence very happy. They are jolly with the completeness which is possible only in the absence of humour. The most unfathomable schools and sages have never attained to the gravity which dwells in the eyes of a baby of three months old. It is the gravity of astonishment at the universe, and astonishment at the universe is not mysticism, but a transcendent common-sense. The fascination of children lies in this: that with each of them all things are remade, and the universe is put again upon its trial. As we walk the streets and see below us those delightful bulbous heads, three times too big for the body, which mark these human mushrooms, we ought always primarily to remember that within every one of these heads there is a new universe, as new as it was on the seventh day of creation. In each of those orbs there is a new system of stars, new grass, new cities, a new sea.

Baseball, the great American achievement!!!!!!!

Check out what David B. Hart has to say about Baseball at

Here's an excerpt:
What, after all, will the final tally of America’s contribution to civilization be, once the nation has passed away (as, of course, it must)? Which of ourinventions will truly endure? We have made substantial contributions to political philosophy, technology, literature, music, the plastic and performing arts, cuisine, and so on. But how much of these can we claim as our native inventions, rather than merely our peculiar variations on older traditions? And how many will persist in a pure form, rather than being subsumed into future developments? Jazz, perhaps, but will it continue on as a living tradition in its own right or simply be remembered as a particular period or phase in the history of Western music, like the Baroque or Romantic?

My hope, when all is said and done, is that we will be remembered chiefly as the people who invented—who devised and thereby also, for the first time, discovered—the perfect game, the very Platonic ideal of organized sport, the “moving image of eternity” in athleticis. I think that would be a grand posterity.

I know there are those who will accuse me of exaggeration when I say this, but, until baseball appeared, humans were a sad and benighted lot, lost in the labyrinth of matter, dimly and achingly aware of something incandescently beautiful and unattainable, something infinitely desirable shining up above in the empyrean of the ideas; but, throughout most of the history of the race, no culture was able to produce more than a shadowy sketch of whatever glorious mystery prompted those nameless longings.

For any one interested in a theologically informed politics check out the ResPublica site:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Narrowing (or throwing Jason a bone)

It's no secret that one of the hardest things about writing and preaching and teaching is the work of narrowing - bringing one thing into focus. Read one Faulkner sentence or listen to one of Bernard's homilies and witness this work at its best.

Plowing through this week's passage or creating a new world via a short story, the author makes decisions about what stays and what goes. The sharpening process tends to be painful, for it usually means rejecting various good ideas/themes in order to focus on one matter. Hence, a shovel is no good for digging a post-hole. To achieve proper depth without disturbing a large area of soil/rock around the post, post-hole diggers fit the bill (or tractor borne augers if you're lucky).

I hope to preach the gospel clearly and well, which requires sound and thorough learning - a willingness to contently dig in one place for a while. I have to remember that there's always next week or next time (next article for you scholars), so it's ok and even necessary to reject a handful of good things in preparation. After all, when it comes to writing and teaching in the Church, in the words of Robert Earl Keen, "the road goes on forever and the party never ends."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Apologia for My Dirty Mouth

The other day, Margot, aged 4, wanted to hold the refrigerator door open for me. She said, “Let me, you fuck.”

This was followed a day later by her chuckling admission to Hannah that Eloise is indeed a “butt fuck.”

We do not make it a habit of using the mother of all curses around our children. Neither do we pair it with “butt.” But she has been rhyming with “puck” lately for whatever reason, so it was bound to happen.

In telling others about this, I began to think about what I will say when the inevitable question arises, “Well, what are you going to do about it if it becomes a problem?” And I’ve started to wonder what we’ll do when she’s 13 and stubs her toe or whatever.

This got me thinking about my own dirty mouth, my friendship with all you bastards, Hauerwas’s patrimony among most of us, my departure from the evangelical church, and the like.

I haven’t chased it down too far, but I think our response to any questions about our filthy mouths will have to include something about witnessing to the world that Christian morality amounts to more than politeness. Margot might drop the F-bomb in the strangest settings. During the fridge incident, we were meeting with James’s future godmother. She would have been scandalized, I think, had she heard Margot. But perhaps the greatest scandal is a life called moral as a result of poor manners avoided.

The Christian moral life had better find a deeper purchase than a lack of card playing, dancing, drinking, smoking, and swearing.

For most of us on this blog, I think this goes without saying. But I wonder if our filthy mouths might be something of a flag to wave: a way of saying to the world that we are not Christian because we want to be polite or well mannered or agreeable (and so, in the end, milk-toast when the moral truly matters). In a world where people are still bought and sold, children murdered, the elderly abandoned, and all the rest, I take my laissez-faire attitude about my potty mouth to mean that, morally, I’m to be busy about other things.

ON THE OTHER HAND, there is no upper limit to virtue. So perhaps my argument will come to naught when I finally accept this idea.