Saturday, April 27, 2019

Sigrid Undset, Gunnar's Daughter


Opening Passage:

Verlide Glumsson was the name of a man from the East Fjords in Iceland. He saild often on trading voyages in summer.

His nephew's name was Ljot. He was the son of Gissur Hauksson of Skomedal, who was killed while Ljot was a child. Veterlide took up the suit for Gissur's laying and bore it with great honour; that is beside our story. Lyot's mother's name was Steinvor; she died young. Ljot was reared by Torbørn Haalegg of Eyre; afterwards he dwelt with Verlide, who loved him as his own son. (p. 1)

Summary: Love betrayed fuels the hottest hate.

Vigdis Gunnarsdatter and Ljot Gissursson fall in love with each other from almost the first moment they meet. But she is obstinate and proud, and he is impetuous and imprudent, and the combination of the two will spell ruin for their relationship. Ljot intends to marry Vigdis, but he quickly becomes jealous of Kaare of Grefsin, who also clearly intends to marry Vigdis, and may have more influence with her father. In jealousy he will do things that cannot be recalled, and the gravest of these will be when he rapes her before he is to head out on a long trip. She becomes pregnant, and when the child is born, she leaves it exposed in the forest. She will soon experience remorse over that, and fortunately for her the child was saved by others; she will eventually call him Ulvar. Of his father she will tell him very little except that, if he ever sought him out, he would have the responsibility to bring his father's head to her.

Undset is effectively writing a modern saga, and she has the tone and style down; it is very reminiscent of Njal's Saga, with its bland plainspokenness covering a dry, ironic sharpness. It is short and easy to read.

It is also very melancholy, of a love that could have been that yet spoiled in the bloom, in ways that neither Vigdis nor Ljot can ever overcome. As I noted in the Introduction, and as is suggested by the exposure of infants as a standard practice, it is a pagan world. Christianity is making slow inroads, but it is all very limited. Christianity is throughout almost like a rumor of a rumor. Even the Christian king, Olav Trygvesson, in many ways almost saintly, has a very loose interpretation of how Christian morals apply to some features of Scandinavian life. Vigdis is raised pagan; she converts to Christianity because King Olav is the first man to be truly good to her, and it's sincere enough, but beyond her supporting some churches it plays relatively little role in her life. Ljot was baptized a Christian from birth, but knows practically nothing about it, with the exception that, later in life when his child by another wife is born deformed, he refuses to expose the child on the bare ground that it is not what Christians do.

This latter, however, is not a minor thing; it shows, perhaps, how much Ljot has changed, but it also is sharp, bright line in the story. It is pagan mercy to kill a crippled infant, but it is Christian mercy to raise it. Between the two there is a very large gap. Undset published the book in 1909. Eugenics was increasingly the progressive thing. Norway's greatest literary hero, Knut Hamsun, a candidate for being the greatest novelist of his day, was insisting that there is no God, only gods, understood in a somewhat pantheistic way; that superior races must remain pure; that defective children should be killed. All for the greater good, of course. And he was, if anything, one of the mild ones, at this early period, at least. It is not, I think, accidental, that the exposure of infants, and the gap between pagan and Christian views of it, is a recurring theme in the work. Gunnar's Daughter comes from a period in which Undset had no commitment to Christianity, being an agnostic and skeptical cultural Lutheran in the way many Scandinavians are. But there's no doubt that even at this period she was unsettled by the return of some of the more savage aspects of paganism.

And for the same reason it perhaps continues to have something to say today to a society that prides itself on its great and extraordinary moral progress, no longer engaging in the barbarism of exposing infants on hilltops and in forests to be eaten by wolves and ants, having discovered instead, by great and benevolent efforts, the clean and clever legalistic nicety of ripping them apart while they are still in the womb.

Favorite Passage:

Uspak said after a pause:

"He is no longer in Iceland, Ljot; I have been told he left that country many years ago--his wife and children died."

"Was he a friend of yours?" asked Ulvar.

"No," said Uspak. "He was no better a friend to me than to your mother." (p. 135)

Recommendation: Recommended, but you have to be in the mood for Nordic melancholy.


Sigrid Undset, Gunnar's Daughter, Chater, tr., Penguin Books (New York: 1998).

Friday, April 26, 2019

I Got a Fever!

On Twitter, the film critic William Bibbiani had to explain the joke of the famous SNL Cowbell skit, and the result, although brief and tweeted, was an excellent example of the analysis of humor. You can read the full analysis by means of Threadapp, but the money tweet, which of itself was worth it all, is this:

As he himself notes, he is only looking at the basics. There are lots of other facets you could look at. For instance, SNL is notorious for flabby sketches -- its sketches tend to drag on a bit, longer than the humor requires -- but the Cowbell skit is one of the few examples where this comedic drawling doesn't hurt the humor, because it's not just one joke after another, but has the layering that Bibbiani notes, which means that people want to see where it's going.

In any case, the skit itself, which never grows old:

A Mark of a Good Soul

Now I admit at once that the interest in the Beautiful of Art (under which I include the artificial use of natural beauties for adornment and so for vanity) furnishes no proof whatever of a disposition attached to the morally good or even inclined thereto. But on the other hand, I maintain that to take an immediate interest in the Beauty of Nature (not merely to have taste in judging it) is always a mark of a good soul; and that when this interest is habitual it at least indicates a frame of mind favourable to the moral feeling, if it is voluntarily bound up with the contemplation of nature. It is to be remembered, however, that I here speak strictly of the beautiful forms of Nature, and I set aside the charms, that she is wont to combine so abundantly with them; because, though the interest in the latter is indeed immediate, it is only empirical.

He who by himself (and without any design of communicating his observations to others) regards the beautiful figure of a wild flower, a bird, an insect, etc., with admiration and love—who would not willingly miss it in Nature, although it may bring him some hurt, who still less wants any advantage from it—he takes an immediate and also an intellectual interest in the beauty of Nature. I.e. it is not merely the form of the product of nature which pleases him, but its very presence pleases him, the charms of sense having no share in this pleasure and no purpose whatever being combined with it.

Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment.

As usual, Kant has too sharp a division between the empirical and the nonempirical, and I think you can definitely argue that he is confusing artificial use of beauty with contemplation of artificial beauty, and natural regard for beauty with regard for natural beauty. But the essential point seems essentially right: an unaffected love of beauty, while not the same as being moral, is a mark of nobility of mind, a nobility that naturally has a connection to moral living.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

On Time

There's been some discussion about philosophy of time recently; Ed Feser has been arguing for presentism (e.g., here), while Bill Vallicella (e.g., here) and Alex Pruss (e.g., here) have been raising objections. I'd say something, but actually most of what I would say I said thirteen years ago here on the blog, and I think it's all still true, so I'll just quote with an additional comment:

What, then, is the real difference between A-theory and B-theory? My suggestion is that there is no clear difference, has never been a clear difference, and that the distinction is just not a useful one to make because it can only be made in superficial, purely verbal, ways that have nothing to do with the price of potatoes. That's a highly controversial claim to make; but I've never seen any reason to think otherwise. The original distinction was made in terms of translation, which made sense: it was just a distinction between two views about whether 'past-present-future' (PPF) or 'earlier-later' (EL) were superior ways of talking about time. The A-theorists were ones who claimed that some facts characterizable in PPF format were not characterizable at all in EL format; and the B-theorists held the reverse. These were, it should be noted, not the only possible positions; it is also possible to hold to the position that PPF and EL are, given reasonable suppositions, perfectly intertranslatable, and the only translation difference between them is the commonplace one that for identifying some facts PPF is simpler and for identifying others EL is simpler; likewise, it is possible to hold that each is able to characterize facts that the other is not, and thus that neither was superior. But one can see how the distinction makes a certain amount of sense. If PPF is able to characterize facts EL is not, or vice versa, then those facts in contention could serve to distinguish the two theories. If people privilege PPF over EL in characterization, they are A-theorists; if the reverse, they are B-theorists.

At some point, however, probably with Mellor, it was recognized that, while the translation approach made sense, it couldn't do what it was supposed to do without begging the question. As Mellor noted, suppose we have a statement in PPF format that can't be translated into EL. What difference does it make? A statement that can't be translated into EL could still be made true by a fact that is more adequately characterized in EL format. In the same way, a materialist might hold that while first-person talk can't be adequately fleshed out by any translation into third-person talk of which we are aware, we nevertheless have good reasons to think that all first-person talk is made true by facts most adequately characterizable in a third-person way. In other words, an inability to translate everything sayable in PPF into EL could be due to a defect or limitation in the PPF format (vagueness, or simplification, or whatever). So the translation approach fails to give us an interesting distinction. However, what are we left with? Not much. For we need some non-question-begging way to identify whether a given fact that makes a statement true is more adequately characterized in PPF or EL, regardless of whether the statement (if in PPF format) is translatable into EL format, or vice versa. We have (let us face it) no way of doing this.

I am, I think, much more convinced of this now than I was even then. When you try to look at the details of different theories of time, you find that there are only two things the distinctions among them are made of -- claims about language (which, as noted above, have been central in analytic discussion of time from the beginning but have already been shown to be inadequate) and a sort of picture-thinking, with each major position being constituted by a kind of metaphor or analogy -- the line, the growing block, the moving spotlight, or what have you. And when you try to get more sense of the metaphor, you either get nothing or you just get back to language claims (which, again, have already been shown to be inadequate). So the whole thing seems to be about the best vocabulary to use, combined with arguments that are, frankly, a lot like arguing about whether time is like a river or like a highway or like an arrow, and the more I have read in philosophy of time over the years, the more it seems that way. I'm very much a champion of metaphor in rational discourse, but when you're talking about the real world, you have to have some way of linking your metaphors to the real world, not just to language about it, and disagreement based entirely on metaphors is tricky business.

Since I think presentism, as one form of A-theory, is ill-formed, I disagree with Ed that Aristotle and St. Thomas are presentists. They can be read that way, but that's because in a field of ill-formed positions they can be read any which way you please. But I also think the arguments against it all fail, for exactly the same reason. After all this time, the only position on time that still stands is perhaps that of St. Augustine (which I discussed even earlier here at Siris).

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Evening Note for Tuesday, April 23

Thought for the Evening: Quasi-Arts

One of the most important twentieth-century essays in aesthetics is Clement Greenberg's "Avant-Garde and Kitsch". It is easily one of the best discussions of both concepts, in part because Greenberg, by looking at the basic elements of the development of both, is able to give a plausible account of each. Avant-garde, he argues, is an attempt to boil down art to pure creation. Since, strictly speaking, human beings are not capable of pure creation, not being God, in practice what this means is that avant-garde is imitation not of creation but of "the disciplines and processes of art and literature themselves." If art is mimesis, avant-garde is mimesis of mimesis. No longer focused on common experience as his subject, the artist takes as his material his own craft. This is immensely explanatory, well beyond what Greenberg himself shows in the essay; it explains, for instance, why so much abstract and modern art is associated with manifestos, special artistic communities, and an almost breathtakingly combinatorial approach to trying out every possible variation of technique. Avant-garde is not about the product; it's about the producing. This is also why avant-garde sometimes comes across to people as extremely snobbish, especially given the end-results; it's really not about the end-result but about something more like cleverness. Were art chess, the avant-garde player would not play to get checkmate but to play a game with chess moves that had never been seen before.

Kitsch is the other side of that. Being an ersatz culture for the masses, it doesn't care what technique is used. It is focused not on the making of art but the experiencing of it, not on mimesis of mimesis but on mimesis of aesthetic experience -- "vicarious experiences and faked sensations", Greenberg says. Thus, in Greenberg's famous conclusion, "If avant-garde imitates the processes of art, kitsch, we now see, imitates its effects." And when kitsch meets industry, it can fit in perfectly -- mass-produced kitsch is not a contradiction. Kitsch does not present you something to which you can respond so much as it presents you with something that already tells you how you are supposed to respond.

There are weaknesses to Greenberg's argument. An obvious one, from which Greenberg was forced to retreat, was his claim that academism (like the paintings of William-Adolphe Bouguereau) was kitsch; while this captured an avant-garde prejudice, there was simply no way to make this consistent with Greenberg's own analysis of kitsch. It really was not much more than an expression of Greenberg's avant-garde sympathies. One of Greenberg's points, which is heavily due to the particular variety of leftism that he espoused, was that avant-garde is resistant to being used for propaganda, while kitsch is very suitable for it. A close look at the evidence, I think, shows that this is not particularly true. Greenberg is largely thinking of the preferred art of Communist regimes -- socialist realism in the Soviet Union -- and the outlawing of abstract art in both Communist and Fascist regimes. But it's been pointed out that the avant-garde of which Greenberg was speaking was essentially the edgier forms of Modernism, and more than a few of those artists and poets were literally Fascists; likewise, Greenberg because of his socialism might not be inclined to admit it, but the leftism associated with the avant-garde has often had a clear propagandistic purpose. And on the other side, it's also the case that his lack of sympathy and disgust for capitalist kitsch leads him to overestimate how susceptible kitsch is to being used as propaganda. It is true that avant-garde used for propagandistic purposes is necessarily propagandistic in a different way than kitsch; kitsch propagandizes by appeal to the experiences with which we are all familiar, avant-garde propagandizes by creating an inner circle, an artistic scene, of the clever people who know how things are done and are an eternal source of novelty. But neither seems more susceptible or more resistant to propagandizing than the other, once one takes into account the differences.

In any case, we can see avant-garde and kitsch as being what we might call forms of quasi-art -- they are undeniably art in a broad sense, but you can reasonably say (and you find people who do say) that they are not art in a proper sense of the term. This is entirely true: abstract art is in a very real sense not art, properly speaking; kitsch is in a very real sense not art, properly speaking. Art proper is an activity devoted directly and primarily to a product, the work of art, and to be judged by the standard of making a work good in its kind. To get this work of art requires processes and techniques; the work of art itself is made to fulfill certain ends. In fine art, the end is to be in some way beautiful, which, in the classical sense, is to please on being perceived. This can be considered the whole life of the art-work, which starts in the artist and proceeds to those who experience the work. Avant-garde and kitsch clearly have to do with this 'life of the art-work', but they subordinate the art-work itself to something else -- to the beginning in the case of avant-garde, and to the end in the case of kitsch. They are art-like, and art in a broad sense of the term, but we can also make sense of saying that they are not art. Thus 'quasi-art'.

It raises the question of whether there are other forms of quasi-art. Given that Greenberg's essay was written in 1939, I am surprised that I've never come across anyone raising a question like it, but perhaps this is due to not going the further step and asking about the genus to which avant-garde and kitsch belong; avant-garde and kitsch oppose each other in some ways, but it's not an absolute inconsistency, and they both can be said to oppose art proper in some way, as well.

If we take avant-garde to be associated with the efficient cause of the art-work, and kitsch to be associated with the final cause of art-work, we can start to see the possibility of other quasi-arts, because we can ask whether anything is associated with the formal cause and the material cause. And I think we can find things that are at least candidates for this, although they are usually associated with the avant-garde, as well. (But it wouldn't be surprising that avant-garde artists stumbled on something like them, since avant-garde artists try out all sorts of things.) Avant-garde reaches for the bare making of an art-work (and in some ways succeeds, but mostly fails); kitsch reaches for the bare effect of an art-work (and in some ways succeeds, but mostly fails). So is there anything that reaches for the bare form of an art-work (and, inevitably, in some ways succeeds, but mostly fails)?

There is an 'approach to art' that is known as conceptualism or conceptual art which seems to be in the vicinity. Described by Sol LeWitt, conceptual art takes the concept of the art-work to be the most important aspect of art, and to such an extent that the actual material product, whatever it may be, shrinks to relative insignificance. Isidore Isou famously argued for an art of infinitesimals. The art of the infinitely small cannot be physically realized; it can only be thought. Likewise with an art of the infinitely large. In actuality no artist can make such things, which we can only have in idea; so what conceptual artists really do is make things that are supposed to suggest to us what ideas we should form in our own minds. This looks very much like something art-like that is nonetheless not properly art; and it also looks like a straining after pure form that subordinates the actual art-work to its formal cause.

Quasi-art associated with material cause is a somewhat trickier question, but I think we can still identify something like it. What art-like thing reaches for the bare material of the art-work? I think found art (in a broad sense of the term) is a good candidate for this. Found art is often associated with conceptualism -- so, for instance, Duchamp's ready-mades are often treated as the start of conceptualism. But I think this is largely because ready-mades clearly have something to do with the actual art product itself, putting it into 'question', which is also true of conceptual art. That is, the link is not that ready-mades are conceptual art but that they are, like conceptual art, trying to isolate an intrinsic cause of the work of art. But there is a vast gap between an art of pure idea -- painting, so to speak, in invisibles -- and designating as art an every-day material object that you have not altered in any way. In reality, you can no more have unaltered-everyday-material-object art-works any more than you can have pure-idea art-works, so just as the attempt at the latter has to use physical objects to suggest the ideas, so the attempt at the former has to use ideas to re-classify everyday objects as art-works. But in doing the latter we are coming as close as possible to capturing the pure material of art-work.

In practice, of course, we always have to keep in mind that the terms, not made for this scheme, often overflow it in practice (like the avant-gardist attempt to denigrate academism as kitsch). But the scheme actually works quite well. We have:

avant-garde, which treats the making of art as the end of making art, and so reduces artistic activity to efficient causation of the art-work (but, of course, cannot do this completely, because efficient causation of the art-work requires the art-work);

kitsch, which treats the end of the work of art as the end of making art, and so reduces artistic activity to capturing the final cause of the art-work (but, of course, cannot do this completely, because the final cause of the art-work presupposes the art-work);

conceptualism, which treats the inherent idea of the art-work as the end of making art, and so reduces artistic activity to the pure form of the art-work (but, of course, cannot do this completely, because for it to be completely the form of the art-work there must be an art-work with formed material);

trouvism (if I may coin a term, based on the idea of l'objet trouvé), which treats the material of the art-work as the end of making art, and so reduces artistic activity to the pure material of the art-work (but, of course, cannot do this completely, because to be identifiable as art-work there must be an idea working liking a form for the material).

And all of these quasi-arts are accessories, satellites, to

art (in the sense of the act), which treats art (in the sense of what is made) as the end of making art, and so is the only one of the productive activities that can fully attain its end.

Confusion of art and quasi-art leads to bad philosophy of art, as does treating quasi-art as more important than art, but I think we should allow room for the idea that there is a real and important place for every quasi-art. Some things on the border of what can be an art-work are interesting in themselves, and they show the extraordinary power of the human mind. And, of course, since quasi-art in a sense deals with limit cases, you can have art-works that go very far in a quasi-art direction and still be excellent as works of art. The writings of Borges go far in a conceptualist direction, but work very well as literature nonetheless; Picasso's Guernica is very avant-gardish, but everything it does in this direction nonetheless contributes to the art-work itself; dadaism is very trouvist in tendency but has produced things of genuine value as art-works (like Hugo Ball's "Karawane"); Thomas Kinkade's middle period (i.e., as he was starting to get famous) begins to head in a kitsch direction but still is good in its own right. And so forth.

I think, moreover, that there are analogies to every productive activity that involves skill; that is, you can have the art itself that concerns the product, but also quasi-arts that push towards a limit, even if we are not talking fine arts that produce beautiful works of art, but only skills that produce some other kind of product. Production focused on use rather than beauty tends to be more resistant to pushing in a quasi-art direction, I think, but is not immune to it. One thinks of Apple products, which are the computer-making version of kitsch, trying to make not a computer but a computing experience. Liberal arts (in the old-fashioned sense of the productive arts of the mind) also have liberal quasi-arts, in which you focus not on making the actual product of the liberal art (discourses or arguments or mathematical models) but on one of the causal contributors to such a product. A person constructing an argument, for instance, may be more concerned with the posture of constructing an argument (thus being 'avant-garde', like some kinds of argument in postmodernism), or with the sense of having a constructed argument (thus being 'kitsch', like the famous analytic philosophy tic of converting everything to letters even if doing so is not helpful), than with the argument itself; some things in formal, symbolic logic are so far removed from ordinary reasoning that they can be regarded as 'conceptualist' in tendency; and so forth. It's worth some exploration.

(I doubt most analytic philosophers would be thrilled at the conclusion that much, even if not all, of what is done in analytic philosophy is philosophy-kitsch, but the case can very much be made. For instance, as I've noted, 'clarity' in analytic philosophy, despite being much praised and sought, is not well defined, but this makes sense if in fact what analytic philosophers are really pursuing is not a feature of arguments but a feature of experience of arguments; indeed, this fits most of what analytic philosophers say about the subject.)

Various Links of Interest

* Mark K. Spencer, The Category of Habitus: Accidents, Artifacts, and Human Nature (PDF). This is an excellent paper on an oft-overlooked member of the Aristotelian ten categories.

* David Torrijos-Castrillejo, Albert the Great on the Eucharist as True Food. This is a fairly nice summary of a topic that is very important for St. Albert's theology, but which is scattered a bit through his writings.

* Tim Grierson looks back at the movie, Election. It's a good article, but Grierson is far, far too sympathetic to Tracy Flick, who is shown throughout as someone who doesn't really see people as people. Conflict between Tracy and Mr. McAllister is inevitable because it arises from the fact that they are the same kind of person, ostensibly community-minded but in reality all about themselves, treating centrality to their little universe as the role to which they are destined and entitled, and everybody else as subserving that role. This makes using the movie for political allegory largely useless; anyone who can be identified with Tracy can be identified with Mr. McAllister, and vice versa, because the only difference is that, because Tracy still has her future in front of her and Mr. McAllister missteps in trying to stop her, Tracy wins.

* Scott Aikin and Robert Talisse, Epictetus and the Problem of Philosophical Progress

* Michael Friedman, Henry Allison and the B-Deduction

* Fr. James V. Schall recently died. The Kirk Center has a number of his essays online; fittingly, the last one he wrote for them is entitled, "The Endlessness of the World Story".

* Brian Kemple, C. S. Peirce on Science and Belief

* Kenny Pearce, Browne and Berkeley on the Influence of Words

* Edith Hall discusses Aristotle as an example of how to do public philosophy.

* Polish philosopher Ryszard Legutko recently had a talk canceled at Middlebury College, allegedly because the college administration could not guarantee his safety due to student protests. Whether that's really the case or not is very hard to say, but he did end up doing a different kind of talk through a different kind of group at the college. In any case, the cancellation was a bit ironic because Legutko's most controversial political idea is that modern liberalism, despite being nominally anti-totalitarian, is in fact recapitulating the features of early totalitarianism, in particular by the way in which it attempts to silence dissent. In any case, Rod Dreher interviews him on his view of the matter.

* Sam Baron, A Formal Apology for Metaphysics

* Tom Holland on the Christian past of the West.

* Adam Harris discusses the adjunct problem in modern American academia.

* Eugene Volokh, The Freedom...of the Press, from 1791 to 1868 to Now - Freedom for the Press as an Industry, or the Press as a Technology?, notes the large amount of evidence that freedom of the press in the First Amendment was intended to protect every citizen's right to write and publish, and was not specifically a right of a professional press, which didn't really exist at the time.

Currently Reading

Sigrid Undset, Gunnar's Daughter
Edward Feser, Aristotle's Revenge
Hugh of St. Victor, On the Sacraments
Plotinus, The Enneads
Jules Verne, L'Archipel en feu

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Sri Lanka Bombings

As you've no doubt heard, there were bombings of a number of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. Reasonably accurate news has been a bit slow coming out, in part because the Sri Lankan government imposed a social media ban early on, but nearly 300 people were killed, and even more injured. It's still unclear what happened; Sri Lanka hasn't had much in the way of anti-Christian terrorism since the end of its civil war, and while tensions between Muslims and Buddhists having been getting quite serious, the attack doesn't make much sense as a part of that quarrel; the group now thought to have done it, the National Thowheeth Jama'ath, is an Islamic group that has in the past focused almost entirely on terrorist actions against Buddhists. It does seem to be the case that anti-Christian harassment has been increasing, but it has mostly been relatively minor.

The origins of the Catholic population of Sri Lanka are a little obscure; legends hold that Christianity was introduced in Sri Lanka shortly after St. Thomas the Apostle introduced it in Kerala in India. Portuguese Catholicism seems to have been introduced in the sixteenth century, and the formal Catholic organization of the island dates from St. Joseph Vaz in the seventeenth century. One of the Catholic churches that was bombed (two Catholic and one Protestant church were bombed), St. Anthony's Shrine, is actually quite a famous church, founded by one of St. Joseph Vaz's disciples; dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua, it is widely loved by Sri Lankans, Catholic or not. It's apparently not uncommon in Sri Lanka to find even Buddhists who are enthusiastic devotees of St. Anthony, who has a reputation as a miracle-worker, and the building is perhaps the most important church on the island dedicated to him.

The church that seems to have had the worst casualties was St. Sebastian's in Negombo, because it was heavily packed; nearly a hundred people died.

I'll put more up if I come across anything more; a lot of this information is scattered across a lot of different sources.

[ADDED LATER (4/24): The death toll from all of the bombings is now at 359.]
[ADDED LATER (4/26): The death toll has been revised down to 253. The reason for the discrepancy was the rather gruesome one that it was difficult to count the bodies because they were not intact.]

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Doctor Magnificus

Obviously Easter takes precedence, but April 21 is the memorial for St. Anselm of Bec and Canterbury, Doctor of the Church. From the Meditatio Redemptionis Humanae, Hopkins, tr.:

Behold, O Lord, my heart is before You. It strains, but can do nothing of itself; do, O Lord, what it cannot do. Receive me into the inner chamber of Your love. I ask, I seek, I knock. You who cause me to ask, cause me also to receive. You grant that I seek; grant that I also may find. You teach me to knock; open to me when I knock. If You deny to him who asks, to whom do You then give? If he who seeks seeks in vain, who then finds? If You keep [the chamber door] closed for one who knocks, for whom do You open? If You withhold Your love from one who implores, what do You give to one who does not implore? You cause me to desire; cause me also to obtain. O my soul, cling to Him, cling tenaciously. Good Lord, O good Lord, do not scorn my soul, which faints out of hunger for Your love. Revive my soul; let Your tender kindness satisfy it, let Your affection make it fat, let Your love fill it. Let Your love seize my whole being; let it possess me completely, because together with the Father and the Holy Spirit You are the only God, blessed forever. Amen.

Christ Is Risen!

From the Easter Pastoral Letter of His Beatitude Sviatoslav:

Today heaven and earth, angels and men proclaim to the whole universe the most profound of all truths: Christ is risen! The power of this salutation is felt by all of us, from the youngest to the oldest, as we respond: Truly, really, indeed Christ is risen! In all languages, we solemnly proclaim this truth using the words of the Gospel for Pascha: “and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14). We are all lifted up with unspeakable joy and are given new life through Christ’s Resurrection—for He rises and lives in order that we too might live and rise in Him and with Him.