Saturday, June 15, 2024

Music on My Mind


Kyu Sakamoto, "Ue o muite arukou". As the translation in the video notes, Ue o muite arukou means 'I look up as I walk', but the song is almost universally known by its second title, "Sukiyaki". It was  chosen just to make it more recognizable to Americans when the song was released  in the U.S. -- sukiyaki was the best known Japanese dish in the U.S. prior to about the 1980s. Nonetheless, despite what the video says, the title is actually well chosen. In the song, the singer is looking up at the stars, alone, trying not to cry, thinking back on happier days in spring, summer, and autumn; sukiyaki is a traditionally a winter dish, and often associated with meals at the end of the year. In any case, the original song, a rather melancholy version, came out in 1961. A slightly more upbeat version with lyrics changed to make them more bittersweet than sad was made for the American market, and became the one everyone knows. It hit the American charts in 1963 and skyrocketed, became the first East Asian song to make it into the Billboard 100, overflowed onto the music charts of several other countries, and became one of the top 20 best-selling singles of all time, a position it still holds. It's not just the most famous Japanese song in the world, it is one of the most famous songs, period. And it's easy to see why; it's instantly recognizable but it never gets old. Simple, sincere expressions of the most basic things in human life never do.

Two Poem Drafts

In the second poem, Zaum (literally, 'beyond-mind') is the name for a style of Russian nonsense-poetry, and bezumiye is Russian for 'insanity, madness'. The poem is not a Zaum poem; there is only one line that might plausibly ever be found in Zaum; rather, Zaum's taken as a symbol for the inarticulate moment of poetic creation that is like, but directly opposed to, madness; between zaum and bezumiye, poems are born.

In Shadows Walk the Gentle Dead

 In shadows walk the gentle dead
along the paths of stone and star
and whisper words inside my head
of realms of dimlit forest far.
The ships may sail on moon-bright seas
where phantoms walk in waving foam;
in dreams I sail, and walk on leas
where quiet wraiths in sorrow roam.
An ache of temple, weary brow,
and mists that curl in haunted brain,
and heavy head may nod and bow
to walk on strange, enchanted plain.

Between Zaum and Bezumiye

Somewhere between zaum and bezumiye,
where some dark Enochian stream
is mashed into clay and Anglicized form,
the Spirit broods on dark waters,
preparing the poetic word
in a breath not yet informed.
Whooshing is the condition for meaning,
wind for high sails.
Here in dark silence anticipating,
word unknown,
way unseen,
the agent intellect contemplates,
then speaks and shines.
Runs forth the red;
evening and morning
are born only in word,
a flutterby from a feline pillar
that stands at the gates of the dead
where the pyramids rise by river's flood
as new lands bloom with gold grain.
The angels perhaps are singing:
azel, azel, azel, menar abazim;
the morning stars proclaim in joy
the proto-words descending
from seraph to throne.
And round goes the cycle,
sealed with a selah,
returned to the quest
of the formless unformed,
the leviathan of madness
by divine spear slain
in a cyanocholic sea.
Swishing with wishes,
the waves of that sea shy from all shores;
yet by division lands will soon show
when word is born again.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Dashed Off XIV

 Attitude coordination is a major aspect of spoken language, regardless of other aspects of meaning.

All social animals can be taught simple patterns of exchange.

Much of how any market works is done by the visible hand.

probability axioms and the structure of conservation laws?

In every field, skeptics can be deliberately stupid faster than dogmatists can form arguments; this is part of their lack of paideia.

The purpose of human law is the temporal tranquillity of civil society, and thus the pacific order of civilized life.

In Christ, the human race is given a new vocation, but it is given this vocation explicitly through the Church.

Beattie's traditionary argument: Theory of Language, Part II, ch 3, pp. 315-316

The liturgical year is a theology of the Eucharist and nothing less than the whole liturgical year is adequate even to a sketch of such a theology.

virtue as that which maintains the peace appropriate to common good

the Aristotelian primum mobile as boundary-cycle, the point of convergence between place & time

the internal morality of having a common good

Maritain's four characteristics of a free society: personalist, communal, pluralist, theist

"...the development of the human person normally requires a plurality of autonomous communities which have their own rights, liberties, and authority...." Maritain

incipit : generables :: desinit : perishables

Organizations don't use diversity programs to increase diversity, in the main; they use them as symbolic substitutes for diversity.

sacrilege against the human image

The fullness of happiness can only lie in common good. We cannot be fully happy in a hell of solitude.

Operations lead to ends by being contributors to them, or by being makers of them, or by being meritorious of them where the end is in the gift of another.

subsidiarity as "a normative structure of plural social forms" (Hittinger)

"Nature gives speech to human beings, and speech is directed to human beings communicating with one another regarding the useful and harmful, the just and unjust, and the like." Aquinas

The source of contingency in the effect is nondetermination in the cause.

The divine intellect, like the human intellect, is a free power, and therefore like and with the divine will is the source of contingency in creatures.

The human person is in destination the representation of God.

Every proof may be interpreted either as a proof, or as a procedure, or as an exposition of relations.

"For if essences, or possible terms of thought, are infinite in number and variety, it follows that every particular fact is contingent, arbitrary, and logically unnecessary, since infinite alternatives were open to existence, if existence had chosen to take a different form." Santayana
-- this is so fallacious as to be astounding; the conclusion does not follow, and, worse, it implies that there are necessarily particular possiblities (by introducing terms like possibility and contingency) and, worse still, the whole reasoning seems to imply that "There are no necessary truths" is a necessary truth.

We have a remarkable amount of knowledge of the immediate future. Almost everyone in almost every circumstance can predict exactly what will happen in the next fraction of a second.

We dramatize truth poetically because drama and poetry are imitations of truth.

"...allowing every man to pursue his own interest in his own way, upon the liberal plan of equality, liberty, and justice" Adam Smith, Wealth 4.9.3

symmetry as the sameness of the different
the different that makes no difference
symmetry as being relative to a change

Weaker modalities anywhere are explained by stronger modalities somewhere.

the link between symmetries and fields (fields as what makes it possible to do the comparison to identify a symmetry of a certain kind)
force as changing of a field

"The divine intellect is actual by its essence as the basis for understanding, and by this fact it has first act sufficient to produce everything else in esse cognitum, and by producing it in esse cognitum produces it as something that as dependence on it as intelligence (and the intellection is of that thing because the other thing depends on this intellection as on an absolute), just as in other things it is said that a cause considered as merely absolute as a first act, from which an effect proceeds, and the effect produced has a relation to the cause." Scotus (Ord. 1.35.1n47)
--This is a remarkable set of claims that deserves some thinking.

Scotus seems to take all modalities to be based on (principiated by) concepts (ultimately, but not exclusively, divine concepts).

The scientific study is exactly that, a study; it is a looking-into and only can become evidence in the context of a larger inquiry.

Historical knowledge is gained by perpetually circulating, continually thinking through the same acts.

"If the blessing of a man had so great power that he could change nature, what are we to say of that consceration to God wherein the very words of our God and Savior are instrumental? For that Sacrametn which you receive is made by the word of Christ. If the word of Elijah had so great power that it brought down fire from heaven, shall not the word of Christ have the power to change the species of the elements?" Ambrose

One does not 'choose a tradition'; one accepts what is handed down or one rejects it.

There is a tendency in bad attempts at phenomenology to assume a unitary phenomenon rather than to discover unities in the phenomena.

Reading Scripture as Scripture is training in understanding the things of the world in terms of their meaning, although it is not only this.

Theological doctrines of infallibility are not about cognition but about magisterial authority.

When you try to administer by statistics, you don't get administration according to rigorous inference, you get administration by the Circle-Is-Line school of statistics. That is, you don't get policies that are based on the best approach to analysis. You get policies based on the approach that always easily gives an analysis, whether good or bad.

People confuse improving themselves and giving themselves beneficial things.

"Every science and langauge and religion is big with unsuspected harmonies; it is for the genuine poet or philosopher to feel and to express them." Santayana

"A tradition, however firmly rooted, if it is never watered, though it dies hard, yet in the end it dies." Dorothy Sayers

One of Dickens's strengths is the ability to march the novel right up to the edge of allegory without ever actually tipping over.

-- Dickens on 'telescopic philanthropy' (Bleak House)
the foggy conscience as the root of the parallel between telescopic philanthropy and the interminable cases at chancery (confusion of ends and means, depreciation of present people)
-- rapacious benevolence, doing charity wholesale

"A development, to be truthful, must retain both the doctrine and the principle with which it started." Newman

the problem of ingratitude to saints

Resurrection : New Life :: Ascension : New Presence

the whole of Scripture as a divine-ecclesial speech act
-- much Biblical scholarship seems to confuse locutionary act and illocutionary force at this level

(1) Whatever is received is received according to some mode.
(2) transcendental disjunctions (e.g., infinite-or-finite)
(3) What is had in the lesser mode can be had from something having in the greater mode, but not vice versa.
(4) Therefore lesser mode is from greater mode.
(5) But there cannot be infinite regress in mode of reception.
(6) Therefore there is something having in greater mode that has in that mode without having received.

One: Christ as Head
Holy: Christ as Savior
Catholic: Christ as Lord (having authority in heaven and on earth)
Apostolic: Christ as Son (from God, mission)

The sun is clear here,
never hidden;
it shines with halo,
hale and holy.

By their very construction, possible worlds require truthmakers. However, different interpretations may require different truthmakers.

nonbinding standards & the 'reasonable person' in law

Our true reawakening is on the other side of death and judgment; but in this life we can have many small anticipations of it.

inner morality of legislation, of law enforcement, of adjudication, of citizenship

No legal system can exist without a pre-legal moral background

inner morality of liturgy, of pastoral direction, of parochial administration, etc.

the politics of redefinition

Mt 25:14 and the Ascension

Feynman diagrams as a diagrammatic classification system for interactions

Real & unreal Feynman diagrams -- for real:
(1) Conserved quantities are conserved at vertices.
(2) Processes have a minimum energy, which depends on context. (e.g., energy must be conserved from all perspectives) ---> Important for understanding 'virtual particles' (inside diagram, particles can have any mass at all; but the contribution of an interactions is related to how close such numbers are to real) --> These are basis of sum-over-histories approach.
(3) Fermions always interact with bosons, not fermions, but bosons can interact with both. 
--> photons (interact with particles that have electric charge); gluons (with colored particles, i.e., quarks and gluons); Z bosons (particles affected by weak interactions: fermions, Higgs bosons, W & Z bosons); W bosons (p-type quark <-> down-type quark; electrons and neutrino forms); Higgs bosons (with massive particles); gravitons (with everything)

Different kinds of people have different problem-solving skills.

Careers are means, not ends.

The monk converts physical to spiritual labor.

Parents often suffer in the person of their children.

All mathematics of which we know presupposes a background of interacting with the world.

space as possibility of boundaries

Every divine name is a moral ground of authority.

liturgy as mediation of infinite intelligibility

Self-understanding is not constituted by beliefs about ourselves.

the modal logic of the declared
X counts as Y in context C (e.g., whales count as fish for the purposes of such-and-such fishing law)
Box (xy)c -> T (xy)c -> Diamond (xy)c

impressionistic vs principled conscience

Melodies arise because tones are not purely separate but have at least loose tendencies to other tones, and sequences of tones have extrapolations to other sequences of tones.

Rhythms in music help us to sort out what else is happening in the music; it is what therefore allows layering.

"Verse is to poetry, what colours are to painting." Beattie
"Good breeding is the art of pleasing those with whom we converse."
"Translations are like portraits. They may give some idea of the lineaments and colour, but the life and the motion they cannot copy; and too often, instead of exhibiting the air of the original, they present us with that only which is most agreeable to the taste of the painter."

Instead of possible worlds, we could just as easily interpret modalities in a framework of permissible complexes for worldmaking or comprehensible cognizable systems. Structurally it would work much the same way.

free and responsible agents, equal in dignity, united in common purpose

Liberty, equality, and fraternity are each something that requires extensive training and planning.

La Cote Male Taille has to be chronologically early.

Simplified Moorman Scheme
I. Arthur
IV. Gareth
II. Lucius
III. Launcelot
VI. Santegraal
VII. Guinevere
VIII. Arthur
(V. Tristram overlaps IV, II, and III)
-- however, Malory presents Lancelot as recently knighted in Book II and one of the three best knoghts in the world in IV; yet Tristram is apparently a knight of the Round Table in II and not yet in IV. -- It is possible, though that Tristram is at court but has not yet joined RD in II.

Malorian inconsistencies
Bk I. Arthur fights with Excalibur before having it; Griflet fights as a knight before being knighted; Merlin's prediction of the death of the eleven kings fails; knight belong to the Round Table before there is a Round Table; Arthur's sisters are wed, but Merlin says Arthur will give one to Pellinore; Gawain's damsel is present despite having deserted; Pellinor says only he or his next kin can achieve the Questing Beast, but the QB is chased by Palomides after his death; the maiden of Balin's sword is present after she leaves.
Bk VI. inconsistent names for the Maimed King
-- Most supposed inconsistencies are just numbers that don't add up (e.g., in Bk VII, Arthur takes nine knights, but ten names are given)

Hume T 1.2.6 as an account of cognitional/intentional being
(1) What is cognized is cognized as being.
(2) Either this being is (a) cognized distinctly from that to which it is attributed or (b) the same as what is cognized.
(3) Hume rejects (a) on the basis of the separability principle, so he accepts (b).
(4) Distinction of reason is rejected based on the univocity of being.

"The supposit is the individuated nature considered as subsistent." Joseph Owen
"If its nature is intellectual, the supposit is called a *person*."

symbebekes: what goes along with being per se
accidens: what falls on / happens to being per se

place (ubi) : posture (situs) :: continuous : discrete

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Doctor Evangelicus

 Today is the feast of St. Anthony of Padua, Doctor of the Church. From his Easter Cycle sermons, on the sacrament of reconciliation:

Note that "in every judicial proceeding six persons are required: a judge, an accuser, the accused, and three witnesses." The judge is the priest; the accuser and the accused are one and the same, namely, the sinner who must accuse himself; the three witnesses are contrition, confession, and satisfaction, which testify that the sinner is truly repentant. Augustine says: "Climb, O human, unto the tribunal of your own soul; let reason be the judge, conscience the accuser, sorrow the torturer, fear the executioner; and let your own deeds take the place of witnesses." Because the wordly do not wish to undergo now such a judgment, along with their prince, the devil, who has already been judged, they will be given the irrevocable sentence of eternal condemnation at the time of scrutiny in the final judgment.

[Anthony of Padua, Sermones for the Easter Cycle, McCarron, tr., The Franciscan Instiute (St. Bonaventure, NY: 1994) p. 177. The first quotation is from Isidore's Etymologies, and according to the footnote, the Augustine quotation may be a paraphrase of a passage in Sermones de diversis.]

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Links of Note

 * Ori Herstein & Ofer Malcai, The Procedure of Morality (PDF)

* Joel J. Miller, Protesting the Decline of Reading, at "Miller's Book Review"

* Jeff Ziegler, “A Child Is Not the Mere Creature of the State”, at AIER

* Victor Salas, John of St. Thomas (Poinsot) on the Science of Sacred Theology (PDF)

* Michael J. Raven, Physicalism and its Challenges in Social Ontology (PDF)

* Angela Alaimo O'Donnell has a nice article on Dion Dimucci, at "America"

* Philip Neri-Reese, O.P., Losing the Forest for the Tree: Why All Thomists Should (Not) Be River Forest Thomists (PDF)

* Francesca Peacocke, Her Blazing World, at "Aeon", on Margeret Cavendish

* Leonardo Bich, Organisational teleology 2.0: Grounding biological purposiveness in regulatory control (PDF)

* Shannon Vallor, The Danger Of Superhuman AI Is Not What You Think, at "NOEMA"

* P. Edmund Wallstein, Christendom Standing Still, at "The European Conservative"

* Scott Harkema, Berkeley on true motion (PDF)

* Vikram Kumar,  _Disciplina et veritas_: Augustine on Truth and the Liberal Arts (PDF)

* Reece Edmends, Cicero’s Appeal to Natural Law in 43 BC, at "JHI Blog"

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

The Moral Sense as an Aesthetic Sense

 Brad Skow has a very interesting post at "Mostly Aesthetics", Adult Encounters with Children's Stories, about re-reading Jean George's classic, My Side of the Mountain, as a parent. Skow notes:

It was different when I read the story to my children. I thought much more about Sam's father. What was the matter with him? Even in the 1950s (the book was published in 1959), when your son ran away from home it was not considered good parenting to regard this as no big deal, to wait seven months before looking for him, or, when you did find him, to act as if everything was fine. If Sam's father gets a few stars for toleration and indulgence, and if the more extreme wing of the free-range parenting movement might approve his choices, still, I wrinkle my brow at him a little. 

 In this, I take myself to be going against the book’s own attitude towards Sam’s father’s actions, and inactions. The judgment “in” the book is that those are okay ways for a parent to react.

My Side of the Mountain is an interesting case here. While the book was published in 1959, most children's books mix the contemporary state of children with a romanticized view of how childhood was like about twenty or thirty or forty years before -- for the obvious reason that authors writing specifically for children draw on their own childhood, which was usually twenty or thirty or forty years before. In Jean George's case, she was born in 1919, so many of the elemtns in the book are less 1950s-ish than around 1930ish. And Jean George certainly regarded running away from home -- in a broad sense of children trying to exercise their slowly growing sense of independence by trying to live off on their own in some way -- as a standard part of childhood. In the Author's Note to the omnibus edition of the trilogy she discusses this; children at some point packing their bags and informing their parents that they were going off on their own was something of a family tradition. She herself did it, and her mother wisely (she says) let her do so. Of course, she, and every other child in her family who did it, came back after a few days. But this is where the idea for the book comes in: What if the child actually succeeded?  George thought that she herself, knowing from an early age a lot about camping and living in the country, probably could have done so, in principle. So this is the whole premise of the book -- a boy heads out to live on his own and succeeds.

In the late 1950s things were perhaps beginning to change, since the book almost didn't get published because the publisher was worried about encouraging children to run away. But George herself doesn't have a problem with parents allowing their children to try their hand at independence, and thinks it quite natural. The story, however, is based on an unlikely 'what if' -- what if a child could actually do it for more than a few days? Thus it's possible George would herself would not have encouraged a parent just to wait several months on a matter; the story is deliberately based on an exaggeration and extreme example of the idea.

Chesterton famously argued, in "The Ethics of Elfland", that while you could have coherent stories in which physical laws were arbitrarily changed, you could not have coherent stories in which ethical laws were fundamentally different. This is widely accepted, and I think for good reason. Part of our sense of stories is a general moral orientation that is at least adequate enough to classify characters ('hero', 'villain', 'victim', 'flawed', 'innocent') and identify the status of various plot happenings ('deserved', 'unfair', 'absurd', 'shocking', 'chilling'). Trying to tell a story that makes much sense in which it is a good thing for ordinary human beings to torture innocents as a matter of course is not going to work; you can try to force a narrative in this direction, insisting that in reality this is a good thing, but you can't make it make sense as a narrative, and readers are going to be baffled at this story in which you are trying to tell them that apparent villains are heroes and apparent atrocities are perfectly fine. The moral sense, whatever its limitations or defects, is one of our aesthetic senses, and at the very least trying to overturn it in a story is like trying to get people to enjoy music that consists entirely of discordant disharmonies.

But Chesterton's argument really only applies to the general framework. The 'ethical laws' have to be applied to particular situations. And we all know you can have particular situations where what would usually be obviously wrong is actually the right thing, or at least less obviously wrong, for the particular situation, not because the general principle has changed but because the particular circumstances add some kind of twist to the overall reasoning. For instance, someone trying to hunt someone down and kill them is usually a sign of a bad person doing bad things; but someone doing so to prevent harm to their own family is, if not exactly morally pure, morally intelligible. This is not necessarily a matter of strict ethics -- the moral sense as an aesthetic sense is not rigorously rational and instead goes on appearances. The original Ocean's Eleven movie was marketed with a tagline that was something like, "In any other city these would be the bad guys." We all know it's bad to steal; but stealing from corrupt casinos in Las Vegas seems less bad than ordinary stealing, and we accept it much more easily. (There is a potentially confounding issue, in that the moral sense is not our only aesthetic sense; we also have something like a sense of skill, and we can admire obviously great skill put to bad use. Thus we get picaresque heroes. Cleverness doesn't justify anything, but it does impress us. However, it's easier to admire the skill of a villain if the villain has at least some excuse for being a villain, and even things like picaresque work by playing off the relative stability of our moral sense.)

What this means is that the particular ethics 'in' a story is based on a condition posited by the story, as it interacts with the sort of loose, general framework of morals we use to interpret narratives. In the case of My Side of the Mountain, the story proceeds on the premise that a young boy can, with sufficient gumption and intelligence and love of nature, be independent. All the ethics 'in' the story presupposes this condition. It's irrelevant to the story as a story whether this is realistic or not. The story just takes it as true, and the ethics in the story is in a sense just how the ethics of parenting and supporting children works if this is true, even if this is just a fantasy premise, a 'what if'. As moral sense as an aesthetic sense is not rigorous, there is still of course some room for judgment call -- the conditional ethics in the story just might not be plausible enough for particular readers, while perfectly fine for others.

Skow also discusses The Lion King and its politics, but notes that such comments seem more "jokey" for The Lion King than My Side of the Mountain, but I think this arises because the comments completely ignore the conditions of the story. The Lion King is not about general issues with monarchies, but about the lion, Simba, who is son of the King of the Beasts. The story it is telling is his story, and in Simba's story the key issues are not general political problems but being the son of his father, taking responsibility for others, and getting justice for his father's murder against the usurper who is destroying the kingdom for which he has inherited the responsibility. Your personal opinion about the value of monarchy is irrelevant to this; the particular ethics of the story itself unfolds on the posited condition that the Lion is the King of the Beasts, and that the Kingdom of Beasts only works when the Lion exercises this role properly. Anything that ignores this condition is just not ethically relevant to what happens in the story. (There is also a bit of cheating in Skow's description; the story makes very clear that while Scar is a dictator, Mufasa and Simba are not, because the latter two recognize 'the circle of life', and thus that their rule is not unrestricted but is sharply limited by nature and custom. And he does not recognize the fact that the contrasting case he gives has its own obvious problems; it's not surprising that his posited condition, carnivores and herbivores regulating the food chain by parliamentary vote, sounds more like a satirical joke than a serious story.) 

Skow seems to think that the assumed condition is primarily ethical, but the primary condition governing the story is surely instead that we are not dealing with human beings but with beasts who have some human characteristics. It is not claiming that good politics is based on 'the circle of life' but that the order imposed by 'the circle of life' on beasts has some symbolic affinities to the order of justice in human politics. Thus not all of the general principles apply in the exact same way, even if you assume that monarchy in the human case is a particularly bad thing in itself  (which, I think, is not as easy to show as Skow seems to believe, given the ease with which human beings do monarchy and the immensely resource-intensive nature of parliamentary republics; and at the very least not so obvious as to be taken for granted by the moral sense as an aesthetic sense). You could, with some care, have a perfectly excellent story about a heroic dragon who eats horrible human beings; that's not because the story is positing that eating horrible human beings is okay, but because it's positing that it is a dragon that is doing it, in circumstances in which it makes sense for a dragon to do it. 

But all this is quite rough; despite its importance, serious consideration of how our moral sense works as an aesthetic sense is surprisingly rare.

Monday, June 10, 2024

The Study

 James Chastek has a nice post on Thomas Aquinas's answer to the question of why Christ wrote nothing, and it ties in to something that I have often thought about in recent times. Theological and religious terms are sometimes associated so strongly with solemn contexts that the very solemnity can start interfering with our understanding of them, and this is very much the case with the word 'disciple'. The Greek word, mathetes, just means 'student'; the same is true for the Latin translation that gives us the English word, discipulus. Jesus gathered a bunch of students. In the Great Commission, he laid upon them the charge to go to all the peoples and make them students, immersing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey what Christ commanded. Why did Christ not write anything? To reduce that perpetual danger of pedagogy, the one who parrots rather than thinks and studies.

One occasionally finds various programs and the like devoted to "discipleship"; some of these are quite salutary, but there's not actually any great secret to being a disciple. It all amounts to this: Always be learning. That's fundamentally the standard for any Christian life: Is it a study of Christ? The Pharisee in the parable was by almost every standard a better person, but his attitude made him unable to be a genuine student, as he thought himself already dikaios, just or right, whereas this was still open to the publican, who had the humility to know that he wasn't getting things right, and because of that he, and only he, went away dedikaiomenos, having been deemed just or right. We are not expected to be angels; we are expected to be learners. To be sure, there is a significant practical component to this (the same word can also mean 'apprentice', i.e., a practical student); one of Christ's explicit clarifications of what is involved in making students of the nations is that it involves teaching to do what Christ has required, so naturally being a disciple involves not just learning about Christ but learning actually to do what Christ has required. But the standard to which we are held is the standard to which one holds a student, because the lives we are to lead are the lives of students. As Christ says in John 15:8, "My Father is glorified in this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My students."


by Edgar Guest 

He was going to be all that a mortal should be
 No one should be kinder or braver than he
 A friend who was troubled and weary he knew,
Who'd be glad of a lift and who needed it, too;
On him he would call and see what he could do

 Each morning he stacked up the letters he'd write
 And thought of the folks he would fill with delight
 It was too bad, indeed, he was busy to-day,
 And hadn't a minute to stop on his way;
 More time he would have to give others, he'd say,

 The greatest of workers this man would have been
 The world would have known him, had he ever seen
But the fact is he died and he faded from view,
And all that he left here when living was through
 Was a mountain of things he intended to do

Sunday, June 09, 2024

Fortnightly Book, June 9

 Peter S. Beagle published The Last Unicorn in 1968 and it has ever since been one of the most popular and widely read fantasy novels in the world. Beagle afterward would say that while the idea for it came to him very suddenly, actually writing it was immensely difficult; it took two years to work out to his satisfaction -- non-consecutive years, since he gave up on the project for a couple of years in the middle -- and the final result was very different in setting than the one he had first attempted. It has been more than a few years since I last read it, so it seems a good fortnightly book to use after some of the relatively heavy works I've done recently.

The book was adapted into an animated film version in 1982; it was a commercial flop at the time, but there have always been those who have liked its rougher, less packaged approach to animated storytelling. I am one, so reading the book gives me a reason to re-watch that as well.

Sun of the Syrians

 Today is the feast of St. Ephrem of Syria, Doctor of the Church. From his Homily on Our Lord:

Glory be to Him Who received from us that He might give to us; that through that which is ours we might more abundantly receive of that which is His! Yea through that Mediator, mankind was able to receive life from its helper, as through a Mediator it had received in the beginning death from its slayer. You are He Who made for Yourself the body as a servant, that through it You might give to them that desire You, all that they desire. Moreover in You were made visible the hidden wishes of them that slew [You] and buried [You]; through this, that You clothed Yourself in a body. For taking occasion by that body of Yours, Your slayers slew You, and were slain by You; and taking occasion by Your body, Your buriers buried You, and were raised up with You.