Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Particular Hearts, Universal Bones

Monday, April 15, 2019

Well Said

From Henri Nouwen:

Just as God cannot be “caught” or “comprehended” in any specific idea, concept, opinion, or conviction, he cannot be defined by any specific feeling or emotion either. God cannot be identified with a good affectionate feeling toward our neighbor, or with a sweet emotion of the heart or with ecstasies, movements of the body, or handling of snakes. God is not just our good inclinations, our fervor, our generosity, or our love. All these experiences of the heart may remind us of God’s presence, but their absence does not prove God’s absence. God is not only greater than our mind; he is also greater than our heart, and just as we have to avoid the temptation of adapting God to our small concepts we also have to avoid adapting him to our small feelings.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Cabin Fever Therapy

Flu is making its way through our household, disrupting our March Break plans and, after 6 days of being home with sick kids, inspiring heightened levels of when-will-spring-come cabin fever.
Yesterday was a sort of undifferentiated blur of chores, meals, and deep sighs from the most ill child, a sort of "groan[ing] too deep for words."
Today, I had to inform the kids that our planned trip to see dear friends was called off, which left everyone in the house out of sorts. Was sickness and sniping all we'd take away from our week off?
Fortunately, I have a three part formula for turning around blah, boring days. Screens are all turned off until every child has met three conditions:
1. Spend some time outdoors.
2. Do something helpful for the family.
3. Do something creative.
Since I also felt in need of reset, I dug through my arts and craft supplies and realized I still have a largeish canvas left over from a spate of family art projects several years ago. Why not get the kids involved helping me fill this one?
It took a little discussion to decide what to put in our painting, but fortunately, there is one topic we are all quite enamoured of--our puppy, Brynn.

While the kids painted smaller pictures of their own, I sketched out the proportions in a favourite photo of Brynn, then lightly blocked it out on canvas.

The kids helped me fill in the blocked out shapes with base colour. Then I added detail to the figure of Brynn while they added grass and dandelions to the background.

It needs a touchup here and there once it is dry, but I'm pretty happy with it. More importantly, this just became "the time we painted that picture of Brynn" instead of "that time we were all sick and didn't get to go on vacation."

Monday, March 11, 2019

Seven Quick Takes - Blogging Around

I've been enjoying reading everyone else's blogging so much, I've yet to finish any of the half dozen posts in my drafts folder. So instead, here's a taste of what I've been reading.


One of my favorite news pieces this week. Believe it or not, this headline is not from The Onion.

Man angry his photo was used to show all hipsters look alike--then learns it wasn't him
A man threatened to sue a technology magazine for using his image in a story about why all hipsters look the same, only to find out the picture was of a completely different guy.
The story in the MIT Technology Review detailed a study about the so-called hipster effect — "the counterintuitive phenomenon in which people who oppose mainstream culture all end up looking the same."
The inclusion of a version of a Getty Images photo of a bearded, flannel-wearing man, tinted with a blue and orange hue, prompted one reader to write to the magazine: "Your lack of basic journalistic ethics in both the manner in which you 'reported' this uncredited nonsense, and the slanderous, unnecessary use of my picture without permission demands a response, and I am, of course, pursuing legal action."
But it wasn't actually him. 


In all the fun of laughing at the hipster who couldn't tell that a generic picture wasn't actually him, I don't want to miss pointing you to the original piece the picture ran with, titled The hipster effect: Why anticonformists always end up looking the same, which concludes,

Cover of Bellwether by Connie WillisHipsters are an easy target for a bit of fun, but the results have much wider applicability. For example, they could be useful for understanding financial systems in which speculators attempt to make money by taking decisions that oppose the majority in a stock exchange. 
Indeed, there are many areas in which delays in the propagation of information play an important role: As Touboul puts it: “Beyond the choice of the best suit to wear this winter, this study may have important implications in understanding synchronization of nerve cells, investment strategies in finance, or emergent dynamics in social science.”

Go and read it, and then, if you find the topic at all interesting, go pick up this fun little novel by Connie Willis, which plays with chaos theory and group trend patterns in highly entertaining fashion, sweetened with a dollop of romantic comedy.


I don't even remember how I stumbled across the following blog, but every once in a while the pseudonymous Latin scholar/medievalist author of A Clerk of Oxford points to some weird and wonderful piece of the past that resonates across the centuries. For example, this piece on the demon Titivillus, who collected sinful words.

From a glance at the Middle English Dictionary's entries for jangler and janglen, you can see that this concern about harmful words was a very wide-ranging one. It covers all classes of people, from bishops to schoolboys, and all kinds of destructive speech: snide carping, drunken boasts, unnecessary arguments, ignorant gossip, and many forms of excessive, wasteful words. Since the onslaught of email and social media in the past few years, it has sometimes felt as if our culture is drowning in words - billions of words, most of them of no lasting good to anyone, and many of them actively doing harm. (Appropriately, you can see in the MED entry that one of the uses of jangle was to refer to birds' chatter, to which noisy human speech, then as now, was often compared, and so 'to twitter' is in fact one of the definitions of the word.) But perhaps it felt the same in the Middle Ages.

And a few pieces from my fellow bloggers:


From DarwinCatholic, some thoughts on Earth's "hopeful monsters": us.
We should see each person, not as another problem, but as another solution to the problems which face humanity.


This whole blog renewal thing had me catching up with some of the backlog on my feedreader, including this next piece that Erin from Bearing Blog wrote last month, pointing to St Francis de Sales as a guide to true self-care.
I love St. Francis de Sales's tender regard for the human self, not a kind of disappearance of the self in favor of the divine, but recognizing the value of the human person as a creature that can be taken up to participate in the divine.   


My friend Deirdre wrote on grief and grieving:
Burying the dead is a corporal work of mercy. Praying for the dead is a spiritual work of mercy.  Life is pain, and anyone who tells you anything different is trying to sell you something. (Hey, it’s  canonical work of scripture now, right?)   Instead, we live in a world that has rejected the rituals of mourning from ages past. The Victorian rules may have been elaborate, but they had a point. 


The last panel in this Wondermark strip sums up my productivity problems fairly well.

Happy blogging!


Saturday, March 9, 2019

Well Said: "we are addicted to contempt"

From Arthur Brooks, "A Culture of Contempt":

"As satisfying as it can feel to hear that your foes are irredeemable, stupid and deviant, remember: When you find yourself hating something, someone is making money or winning elections or getting more famous and powerful. Unless a leader is actually teaching you something you didn’t know or expanding your worldview and moral outlook, you are being used.

Next, each of us can make a commitment never to treat others with contempt, even if we believe they deserve it. This might sound like a call for magnanimity, but it is just as much an appeal to self-interest. Contempt makes persuasion impossible — no one has ever been hated into agreement, after all — so its expression is either petty self-indulgence or cheap virtue signaling, neither of which wins converts."

Wednesday, March 6, 2019


Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Getting the Band Back Together

A number of inter-connected bloggers, nostalgic for the old days of St. Blog's and somewhat fed up with the pace and furor of modern social media, have committed to renewing or restoring old blogs or beginning new ones to correspond with the beginning of the season of Lent.

If I'm missing someone, or if you're feeling inspired to join this lenten blog renewal, drop a link in the comments! I'll be including a link to this post in all my blog posts until Easter.

The Blues Brothers
We're getting the band back together.

At Home With the Momarch
bearing blog

Heart Speaks to Heart

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