I’m composing this week’s Friday Five post using a new web browser called “Brave”. When former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich was forced out of his job rather unceremoniously and unfairly, I kept tabs on his work because Firefox was my favorite browser thanks largely due to his acumen, and I’d heard he was going to go back to work in creating a competitor. He recently released Brave and after reading about it I decided to download it for use. Not because Firefox is awful (that honor belongs to Microsoft Edge) but because of the totalitarian manner in which they dumped the guy who created their success. Some of the details are outlined in the article I linked to. Congratulations Mr. Eich. So far (admittedly just a few hours) I am really liking Brave. It’s fast, automatically blocks ads and trackers, and says it’s safer.
— 1 —
Two excerpted passages that got me to thinking about the great dearth of information we absorb every waking hour in this modern age, and yet are nowhere near as wise as we could be…should be.
The first is from a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay, in her collection Huntsman, What Quarry? (source)
Upon this gifted age, in its dark hour,
Rains from the sky a meteoric shower
Of facts . . . they lie unquestioned, uncombined.
Wisdom enough to leech us of our ill
Is daily spun, but there exists no loom
To weave it into fabric.
The second is from something I posted on this date in 2010 and was reminded of recently. It comes from Ecclesiastes, included in the Divine Office for the day.
Though I said to myself, “Behold, I have become great and stored up wisdom beyond all who were before me in Jerusalem, and my mind has broad experience of wisdom and knowledge”; yet when I applied my mind to know wisdom and knowledge, madness and folly, I learned that this also is a chase after wind. For in much wisdom there is much sorrow, and he who stores up knowledge stores up grief.
I can attest to the truth in that last line. Not necessarily because I’m all that wise, but the truth in the fact that the deeper you go into things, not just skimming the surface in a wide array of factoids and headlines but into the very roots and causes of our struggles, one will often find sorrow…and grief…because we just can’t seem to get out of our way, learn from our mistakes, let go of past wrongs, and move forward.
Therein lies the tragedy in my mind. And it has ever been so.
— 2 —
In what was the best article I read this week, Fr. George Rutler wrote the following:
Watching all of the post-election angst, protests and violence reminds me that T.S. Eliot was right when he wrote in “The Four Quartets”: “Humankind cannot bear very much reality.”
Perhaps the second best (in my eyes) was Sam Guzman’s blog a few days ago named “Love Your (Political) Enemies”. Sam begins with a litany of terms thrown about much too casually these days:
Fascist. Snowflake. Liberal weenie. Nazi. Racist, xenophobic, bigot. Idiot. Moron. Ignorant fool.
It’s getting worse because while those names used to be reserved for online rants, more and more people are saying it too each other, face-to-face, in what has become a titanic divide among us.
I invite you to read it all, and I’m including the final two paragraphs below because they refer to a man I use more and more as a guiding star through this darkness.
St. Maximilian Kolbe lived in dark times in the days before and during World War II. There was a great deal of hate and propaganda being disseminated on all sides. And yet this saint, holy as he was, did not participate in the evil being spread everywhere. He did not return hate for hate, bitterness for bitterness. I conclude with his words, which describe the true spirit of the children of God.
“Genuine love rises above creatures and soars up to God. In Him, by Him, and through Him it loves all men, both good and wicked, friends and enemies. To all it stretches out a hand filled with love; it prays for all, suffers for all, wishes what is best for all, desires happiness for all, because that is what God wants.”
— 3 —
This is a little story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.
There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.
Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.
Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job.
Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.
It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.
— 4 —
Jessica Chastain has been one of my favorite actresses ever since her role in The Tree of Life. I saw the trailer for The Zookeeper’s Wife yesterday and am looking forward to watching it. Apparently it’s based on the book of the same name, a bestseller published in 2008 written by Diane Ackerman. From the book’s page on Amazon:
A true story in which the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands. After their zoo was bombed, Polish zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski managed to save over three hundred people from the Nazis by hiding refugees in the empty animal cages. With animal names for these “guests,” and human names for the animals, it’s no wonder that the zoo’s code name became “The House Under a Crazy Star.” Best-selling naturalist and acclaimed storyteller Diane Ackerman combines extensive research and an exuberant writing style to re-create this fascinating, true-life story―sharing Antonina’s life as “the zookeeper’s wife,” while examining the disturbing obsessions at the core of Nazism.
When you add that movie to my wanting to see Hacksaw Ridge this weekend, and the new movie about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings called Patriots Day (link to trailer), there are still movies worth going to that don’t include Marvel or DC Comic superheroes. Movies that tell stories about the human condition. Thank God for that.
— 5 —
In the two hours I’ve had the Brave browser open it tells me that it has done the following:
(An hour later and those numbers are now 116, 24, 76 and 7.)
I like it.
I’ll end this week with a song about stories. And why it matters.
Sit with me and tell me once again
Of the story that’s been told us
Of the power that will hold us
Of the beauty, of the beauty
Why it matters
Speak to me until I understand
Why our thinking and creating
And our efforts of narrating
About the beauty, of the beauty
And why it matters
Like the statue in the park
Of this war torn town
And its protest of the darkness
And this chaos all around
With its beauty, how it matters
How it matters
Show me the love that never fails
Some compassion and attention
Amidst confusion and dissension
Like small ramparts for the soul
How it matters
Like a single cup of water
How it matters