Is it my imagination, or has the internet been on fire with smart ideas and good writing lately? Maybe it’s just that everything that’s not about the Hillary Trump Dumpster Fire looks smart and worthwhile. But I don’t think so – I think the world is just bigger than All That. Here are some great reads you may have missed:
1.One of Us: Superman and the Incarnation by my sister, Abigail Tardiff, at Catholic Exchange:
In the recent flop Batman v Superman, Superman has the same problem as God: America has taken its democracy so much to heart that we see any kind of hierarchy as a sin. It’s not just King George who offends us, by making laws for us to live by that we don’t have a voice in. It’s the whole idea of a king. It’s God Himself, now, Who offends us not only by the things He does, but simply by Who He is. We object to the idea that Someone exists Who can make decisions about us without our say.
2.Policing with Velvet Gloves from The Atlantic, on police officers who want to learn how to serve people with mental illness:
“‘One day, one of you officers will have to come to my house and you might have to shoot and kill my son,’” Ernie[San Antonio police officer Ernie Stevens] recalls her saying, still shaking his head at her resignation. “‘And I want you to know that if that happens, that’s OK. Because I want you to go home safe to your families. You don’t know what it’s like to live with this.’
“At that moment, everything changed for me,” Ernie remembers. “To see her resolved to the fact that her son would eventually be killed by a police officer, and to know she couldn’t possibly be alone … I just thought, there’s no way that this can be.”
3. 6 reasons to request prayers on social media A good little synopsis by Elizabeth Dye. I definitely need to reel in my social media activity, but at least it makes me pray for people all day long.
4. Jennifer Fitz on Active Participation and the Things We Do with our Bodies at Mass:
I remember this night at Mass when active participation ceased to be about marching around or singing along. I was at OLCC, sitting in the pew because standing was not on my to-do list (decrepitude), it was some feast or another, and the Gloria was going on forever, and ever, and ever. The choir would sing some line of the Latin, and then sing it again and again in fifty different variations of hauntingly beautiful soaring tunes. Then on to the next line.
Not a Sing Along.
It was a Pray Along.
I finally got, for the first time in my life, a chance to pray the Gloria with something that felt like justice. No more wincing at the splendor of tu solus sanctus then quick keep moving, time for the next big idea. Each idea, one at a time, washing over the congregation, swirling around in a whirpool of words, seeping into our thoughts and wetting the soul’s appetite for the next line of the prayer.
5. Begotten Not Made: a short piece by Glenn Arbery, my college professor and now president of Wyoming Catholic College, on a revelation via the gift of one of his daughters, who has Down Syndrome:
[21st-century neo gnostics] don’t feel free unless they can will whatever they do, including making themselves.
But it seems to me that the phrase in the Creed is wonderfully liberating. We are not responsible for making our children—educating them, to be sure, but not turning them into products. They arrive with their own natures, and we accept them and work with those natures, as we accept and work with our own. What a relief to be given what one is: begotten, not made.
6. From the Register‘s Joan Desmond: NY Times Tells Liberal Parents It’s Okay to Freak Out About Porn:
[NYT’s Op-Ed columnist Judith Shulevitz] writes:
Parents don’t have to believe that such material is a direct cause of sexual violence to be driven a little crazy by it. It’s bad enough that it’s giving our sons and daughters some very creepy ideas about how they’re supposed to look and act.
Anticipating a hostile response from liberal readers, who generally oppose restrictions on sexual content as a form of neo-Puritanism, Shulevitz holds up her own progressive credentials:
I’m not against the proliferation of internet sexualities …. I just don’t want my preteens watching actors having sex with corpses, even fake corpses, before they’ve begun to date.
Well, you gotta start some place.
7. From another of my talented sisters (I have four talented sisters!): Devra Torres at The Personalist Project with the encouraging thought that Maybe Everything We Know Is Wrong:
How do you assess, for example, the suffering of a 40-year-old man living when the average lifespan was 30, but the aged were revered? How to compare it to, say, the suffering of a woman who dies at 75 in a nursing home where the aged are despised and hidden away? Or how to measure the physical pain of a 12th-century peasant without ibuprofen or antibiotics, against the spiritual agonies of a 21st-century atheist who, as far as he knows, has no reason to live?
8.And have I mentioned lately that I’m on the radio every week with my friend Mark Shea? We’re live on Mondays at 5 Eastern (Breadbox Media live stream here). You can listen to podcasts of previous shows here (Mark is on every weekday, and has a different regular co-host for each day). Here’s a recent show where Mark and I talked about poetry and how to read it, and we read some of our favorite poems, including some by Hopkins, Richard Wilbur, Theodore Roethke, and Edward Lear, and two by Mark himself!
9.And finally, the dumbest thing I’ve read lately: Some doofus at the Huffington Post has decided she’s offended at one of the best parts of the Mass, the part where we tell God, “Look, you know and I know that I’m a mess, but thanks to you, it doesn’t matter, because you love me.” Yeah, let’s do away with that, doofus. (This dovetails pretty well with Abby’s “Superman” post above, actually.)
Aleteia’s David Mills responds handily and gently with You can’t be having too much grace:
It’s a gift, meeting people who are so good. The good man and woman is a beacon, is the light of an open door at the end of a dark hard journey. It’s a gift to feel unworthy in the presence of goodness, because that goodness comes from a God who wills us to become worthy and has provided the means at great cost to himself.
10. Hold everything. Finally finally, here is a dessert which I insist someone rush over and make for me: Grilled peach splits from Smitten Kitchen. Check it out: Grilled peach halves drizzled with maple syrup and cinnamon, filled with vanilla ice cream, with a crumb topping of pecans, coarse sugar, and bourbon, and of course vanilla whipped cream. I would trade my left foot for one of these and laugh all the way to the hospital. Ew. I’m sorry, I only wanted to talk about peaches, but that went bad.