Friday Five (Vol. 43)

— 1 — 

Quote of the Week (for my children):

“To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others.” –  Blessed Pope John Paul II

Hear that kids? We’re all servants to each other. Remember that next time you’re negotiating your allowances.


— 2 —

Sign of the Week: this hangs on the wall where my daughter has swimming lessons.

Message received loud and clear.

— 3 —

My Darling Ava, 

Where are you? I am sinking, from worry into fear. When my phone stopped working at noon on Friday, I decided it was time to bring James out to the Abbey like we discussed…

I have honestly become pretty tired of zombies. There have been zombie warnings put out by the CDC. Also a decent book idea (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) that quickly devolved into a series of sequels in order to fill the money coffers. And finally a moderately decent AMC series (The Walking Dead) that left me feeling so desensitized towards the beauty of this life that after watching a season and a half I’d had enough.

But then I saw this:

While his wife, Ava, is out of town, Dr. Thomas Schutten is off for a week to take care of their eighteen month old son, James, and to enjoy the last few days of carnival, and then… something misunderstood and mysterious…  and his world changes, almost overnight, into a dangerous place. Information services stop, society begins to pull itself apart, and Dr. Tom does the only thing he knows to do; he follows his own emergency plan and flees with James to the nearby Benedictine monastery, where he and his wife serve as oblates. They have agreed upon the Abbey as their meeting place in emergency circumstances. Now, without word, without news, with only hope… he waits.

Ora et Labora et Zombies is an epistolary novel, told through letters. In this case they are Tom’s letters, written to Ava while he waits for her to join him and their son at the Abbey. All that stands between them is time and uncertainty… and zombies?

There is a genre in fiction and film generally labelled “post-apocalyptic,” which deals with the survival of characters in the aftermath of some globally destructive event, the word “apocalypse” in pop culture having become shorthand for the end of the world. Apolcalypse, however, from the Greek verb “to uncover, to reveal”, is the name of the final book of the Bible, which is not necessarily about the destruction of the world, but about the revealed nature of God’s relationship to man. In this regard, Ora et Labora et Zombies is not a post-apocalyptic book so much as it is an Apocalyptic book. This is a subtle but important distinction. OeLeZ is not about survival in the face of despair but rather about love, borne of community and beset by evil. It is, at its core, a book about Faith.

The author, Ryan Charles Trusell, calls his work an “experiment in Catholic old media.” Based upon his paragraph above I’m going to give the zombie genre one more try, because it appears that he is on to something missing from all the other current zombie projects. Or at least he’s going to try to go a little deeper. It’s not the mindless “us vs. them” killing that goes on between the un-zombie and zombie in other works. True, The Walking Dead has tried this with some moderate success as there have been some truly moving scenes in that series that are devastatingly poignant. But in all of it I keep asking myself: where’s God? Where does faith come in? Does it matter?

It does matter to me, and maybe that is why in the end I just have not been able to as fully connect with that otherwise good series like I’d hoped. Within the first fifteen minutes of the very first episode of The Walking Dead the main character, Rick, had just awakened from a coma after the virus had already turned most of the population into zombies. He was obviously confused and wandering around helplessly, arming himself with a weapon. As he wandered through the cars in a store parking lot he turned to see a little blonde girl my daughter Sophie’s age carrying her blanket and teddy bear, walking menacingly towards him with dark, dead eyes and what looked like blood around her mouth. He hesitated (as we all would) and then pulled out his gun and blew her brains out. I immediately sent a text to my friend John who was watching the show at home. “They just shot Sophie.” Despite this beginning I tried to continue to watch but in the end I found better things to do with my time on Sunday nights. John and I laugh about that now but I still wince every time I think of it. Probably because the show and production is so effective. Or because of my humanity. Or both.

What Trusell is doing however intrigues me greatly and I am seriously considering ordering this series. As Julie at Happy Catholic writes:

Seventy-two handwritten letters.

4-6 pages each.

On specially watermarked stationery with a hand-printed serigraph cover sheet.

Each Letter will be published individually, as a weekly serial, and distributed to readers through the mail.

Didja get that? Through the mail.

Shades of Jonathan Harker!

What a fantastic concept!

Obviously it is Catholic. Obviously it is a zombie apocalypse.

Obviously it is something I’ve got to get.

For more information and on how to order this series, check out his website here.
The Anchoress also has more information here.

By the way, Ora et Labora is the motto of the Benedictines and is Latin for “pray and work”. Contemplation and action.

— 4 —

“I despise Birth-Control because it is a weak and wobbly and cowardly thing. It is not even a step along the muddy road they call Eugenics; it is a flat refusal to take the first and most obvious step along the road of Eugenics. Once grant that their philosophy is right, and their course of action is obvious; and they dare not take it; they dare not even declare it… The obvious course for Eugenists is to act towards babies as they act towards kittens. Let all the babies be born; and then let us drown those we do not like.” — G.K. Chesterton

From his book The Well and the Shallows

— 5 —

After zombies, eugenics and all the grim news of the week it’s time for a palate cleanser:

I trust in God wherever I may be
On a mountain peak, on a stormy sea
Oh come what may from day to day
My heavenly Father watches over me
I trust in God; He cares for me
Over mountain peak or out on the stormy sea
Though billows may roll, He keeps my soul
My heavenly Father watches over me
He is my friend, always dear to me
Walks with me through the night and day
The billows may roll in my soul
My heavenly Father watches over me


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