Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Fragments and notes

Wow. Look at the weather back East. It was in the 70s here in So Cal today. (By the way, Jack, Laura is my model for learning to take self-portraits with a digital camera.)


A really classy sweater, knit by Bonne Marie.


Pleasant Valley by Louis Bromfield. Excerpt. The farm is now a state park. A documentary has been filmed. Bromfield is one of the authors on The New Agrarian's Reading List, although I didn't realize that when I came across Pleasant Valley in the library.

I was aware...of what it was that attracted me to Europe and most of all to France; it was the sense of continuity and the permanence of small but eternal things, of the incredible resistance and resiliancy of the small people.[...]

It occured to me that the high standard of living in America was an illusion, based upon credit and the installment plan, which threw a man and his family into the street and on public relief the moment his factory closed and he lost his job. It seemed to me that real continuity, real love of one's country, real permanence had to do not with mechanical inventions and high wages but with the earth and man's love of the soil upon which he lived. (p. 7. Illustration of Bosquet, 237-42.)


Found tucked away in Border's religion section: The Care of the Earth, by Joseph Sittler. A collection of sermons. One quote from "The View from Mount Nebo" about the experience of viewing the promised land from a distance, like Moses, but never actually arriving there. Sittler describes those whose experience of the Christian life is not necessarily "warm and fuzzy" or full of "blessed assurance":
The people of Mt. Nebo are the obedient children of both participation and detachment. They know and they do not know fully. They participate because they come from the tradition and tuition of the faith, and have been so deeply formed by it that they cannot escape its terms, its claims, its ethics. And they do not want to.[...] They want to be open to the renewing power of the Holy, but at the same time, while they participate, they do not fully enter.[...]

For many of us tormented by this precise perspective, this means that we must sometimes envision with the mind what the heart cannot yet confirm, must see and affirm with clear intellectual sight what we have not been given the grace to celebrate in actual life.[...]

Hunger, unabated, is a kind of testimony to the reality of the good. To want to have may become a strange kind of having. (pp. 45-46 and 48)


Finally, (for now), an interview with Eugene Peterson.
[Interviewer] Many people assume that spirituality is about becoming emotionally intimate with God.
[Peterson] That's a naïve view of spirituality. What we're talking about is the Christian life. It's following Jesus. Spirituality is no different from what we've been doing for two thousand years just by going to church and receiving the sacraments, being baptized, learning to pray, and reading Scriptures rightly. It's just ordinary stuff.

This promise of intimacy is both right and wrong. There is an intimacy with God, but it's like any other intimacy; it's part of the fabric of your life. In marriage you don't feel intimate most of the time. Nor with a friend. Intimacy isn't primarily a mystical emotion. It's a way of life, a life of openness, honesty, a certain transparency.

[Interviewer] Doesn't the mystical tradition suggest otherwise?
[Peterson] One of my favorite stories is of Teresa of Avila. She's sitting in the kitchen with a roasted chicken. And she's got it with both hands, and she's gnawing on it, just devouring this chicken. One of the nuns comes in shocked that she's doing this, behaving this way. She said, "When I eat chicken, I eat chicken; when I pray, I pray."

If you read the saints, they're pretty ordinary people. There are moments of rapture and ecstasy, but once every 10 years. And even then it's a surprise to them. They didn't do anything. We've got to disabuse people of these illusions of what the Christian life is. It's a wonderful life, but it's not wonderful in the way a lot of people want it to be.

No comments: