— 1 —
It’s been a particularly brutal week on the old emotional psyche so I’m going to use this week’s F5 to lift the collective spirit. Between the mental wirebrush I’ve had to apply to my brain to scour the images from the grand jury report regarding the horrific goings on at Penn State. I also paid a visit with my brother last night while in Omaha where he told me of a popular high school freshman who put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger, and about a neighbor of his and father of four girls who drove to an isolated cabin and did the same. The freshman somehow has survived. The man did not.
“These are the times that try men’s souls” as Thomas Paine famously said. It’s as true today as it was when he wrote The Crisis in 1776. People ask me sometimes, usually around Halloween, why I don’t enjoy watching popular movies (that I dub torture porn) or television crime dramas, etc. My response is always the same: I go to the theater or turn on the television to be entertained in edifying ways. Real life can be sad, dark and awful. Why on earth would I wallow in it? I’m not oblivious to it. I see it all around. I’m called to be in the world but not of the world, a call I take quite seriously. I am very aware of the evil that pervades this life.
On a regular basis friends of mine will write to me or tell me that they could “tell you or write to you things that would shock you or make you shake your head.” It’s as if they think me a quaint little Christian boy who lives in a bubble and ignores all the icky bad things in this world. I don’t know whether they are being extremely patronizing or puffing out their chests as if to say “Look at me and my bad self.” The truth is we all are capable of shocking things. History has borne that out time and time again going all the way back to Adam throwing his wife under the bus when God asked him why he ate of the fruit. To be Catholic is to be acutely aware of these things. To meet at the crossroads of Faith and Reason. Of science and philosophy. Of saints and sinners. To seek and find ways to unite it all, because all of it is universal. We’re all called to be saints. Some of us just take longer to get there.
As someone who is engaged in human rights, reads and watches admittedly too much of the news thanks to technology, and who on a nightly basis does an examination of his conscience, I’m too aware of things that would “shock” me. I shock myself. Maybe I’d shock my friends, too.
Life is messy. And shocking.
— 2 —
Oy. How about that palate cleanser/mental wirebrush I was talkin’ about? Check out Kina Grannis and more jellybeans than you can shake a stick at (288,000!). I also love her song The One You Say Goodnight To. Just try not to clap along to that one. I dare you.
— 3 —
A meditation by Anthony de Mello, SJ
The Master maintained that what the whole world held to be true is false; so the pioneer is always in a minority of one. He said:
“You think of Truth as if it were a formula you can pick up from a book. If you wish to follow Truth you must learn to walk alone.”
— 4 —
What is that, you ask? It’s the very first Christmas card. Yes, it’s that time of year. It’s time to start picking them out if you haven’t already. While I’ve been guilty of sending the occasional “Christmas Newsletter” or the solitary “Family or Children’s portrait” card-with-no-other-writing-or-correspondence (gag), I’m at heart a traditionalist when it comes to cards. I fall down and fail, but I try anyhow. And e-cards? Puh-leeeeze…
— 5 —
It’s 11/11/11. It’s also Veteran’s Day. To help me express my sentiments I turn to one of my favorite fictional soldiers, Capt. Nathan Brittles of C Troop.
Lest we forget.