Miracles (mild humor)
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 630
    Having discovered today that I was not wrong back a couple years ago when I became convinced my spiritual director was nuts, I'd like to give thanks for having survived that and many other nutso moments with my faith not only intact, but stronger than ever.

    Thank you for keeping this convert's faith strong, Lord, despite:

    -confessors of dubious commitment to the Catholic faith
    -weird "Catholic" retreats featuring Buddhist, Hindu and Jewish spiritual activity
    -music directors who enjoyed a good round of nasty gossip during "breaks"
    -PIPs having physical fights in the pews
    -confessors who were convinced every life problem was due to witches or demons
    -PIPs who were convinced something akin to prostitute's clothing was appropriate for Mass
    -pervy old men taking advantage of the after-Mass crowds to cop a feel
    -too many radical young men in suits arguing about politics
    -repulsively ugly post-60s church architecture
    -gunfire and robbery on the way to church
    -those really special mosquitos that live under the pews and bite hands and ankles
    -rock Mass in a 16th century church at 8am
    -Rome (somebody stop them! lol)
    -the news media (somebody stop them!! lol)

    And thank you, thank you, thank you for:

    -Our Lady, St. Joseph and all the holy angels and saints
    -the beauty of Creation
    -the miracle of my own existence
    -the miracle of my own faith
    -my family and friends, even when they are nuts (nice nuts, not crazy nuts)
    -the kindness of gentle old ladies
    -the heartfelt prayers of young people at the Youth Mass (despite the rock and roll!)
    -the innocent prayer of young children
    -the many excellent confessors who have appeared at just the right time with just the right words
    -the many sincere priests who patiently bear a lot of crap
    -the sincerely good cardinals and bishops who've crossed my path in books or in person
    -the conversion of friends and family
    -the persistent faith of the people, however trampled it may be

    I'm sure I'm forgetting many things, but the very first was enough to prompt the post.

  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,366
    too many radical young men in suits arguing about politics
    Oh, that old Goldilocks problem. How many are too few?
  • Carol
    Posts: 690
    Catherine, glad you can see the humor in life. I think taking ourselves less seriously is often a very good thing. Gratitude is also always a good thing. I have been to some of those new age-y, alternative tinged "retreat days" and always go away shaking my head. The worst thing was that they were offered for spiritual development of Catholic school teachers. Some of the young ones needed good old Baltimore catechism style teaching of the Faith.
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 630
    Yeah, I got caught off guard by the new age retreats when I first converted. They were listed in the diocesan newspaper, led by Catholic religious (monks of various orders), and held at Catholic retreat centers. What could go wrong? No confession? check. A guy chanting Hindu chants before the Blessed Sacrament? check. Relaxing music after Communion to encourage deep meditation? check. sigh.

    (I had done other religions before! I converted in order to do something completely different!!)
    Thanked by 2ServiamScores Carol
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,699
    The author of the Cloud of Unknowing starts his prologue with a warning that his teaching is dangerous to any that are not already well grounded. And specifically warns you, the person reading the book, that you would imperil your soul by letting anybody read or hear it unless you think they already have sufficient spiritual maturity.
    cf Matt. 12:43-45
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 950
    Is it good? I started it several times but never got past that line in the prologue.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,699
    Wrong question, sorry. Is it good for you - Who am I to judge?
    It was good for me, but so was Anthony de Mello, at that time, and not on my own. And always be aware that if you find a guide, they may turn out to be nuts, as CatherineS found.
    I am currently trying to get back to the use of the Jesus Prayer. I have let the World, the Flesh, and the Devil, distract me, probably the Internet too!.
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 630
    I make a policy of not reading prologues, introductions, translator's notes or other front matter. Too many spoilers! Give me chapter one and let's get to the meat of things.
  • That's too bad, CatherineS -
    Depending entirely on the status of both the literature and the commenters of a given book there is much to be learned from scholarly introductions. Ditto the footnotes of scholarly tomes, which on occasion are more interesting than the book itself. One of the greatest and most irksome developments of modern times is the relegation of footnotes to the back of the book, where it is really annoying to look them up.

    I am currently reading Ibsen's Emperor and Galilean (which he regarded as his masterpiece), about Julian the Apostate, whose reign was a crucial nexus between the before and after of his life. Though I am quite familiar with Julian's unfortunate role in the life of the Church, reading the intro has given me much insight to Ibsen's thought, its influence on western literature, and the unexplored nuances of this episode of history. This applies to most any book, regardless of subject, that is worth reading. Ditto the introductions to nearly every book of scripture in translations of our time - such as The New Jerusalem Bible (a 1986 Christmas gift from my parents) which, next to the KJV, I particularly enjoy just to see the scriptures in a language that I don't delight in in and of itself.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,366
    Endnotes and separately bound critical notes with non-circulating call numbers are truly of the enemy.
    At a relatively early age though I came across Bernard Shaw's advice to always read the preface last, like any intelligent person; this has also often helped me to avoid being prejudiced by poor program notes, a genre not every young composer has mastered.
  • m_r_taylor
    Posts: 225
    Program notes?

    I took these down from one of my favourite examples of CD liner notes. I forget the CD, but the music wasn't entirely memorable. Then again, I was highly prejudiced by the notes...

    "The violin soloist is an adventurer who sets out on a journey of discovery that is filled with challenges and surprises."

    "synthesised in a propulsive, rhythmic music that continually bursts forth in unbounded joy"

    "The music intensifies to a point where it literally bursts open."

    "...finally, they resound with a new spirit of bright energy, the outcome of a music reconciliation process."
  • Interesting, Taylor -
    Unfortunately, a lot of such notes, even, I might add, of Gregorian chant, are impossibly subjective and have nothing to offer by way of genuine intellectual perception or of objective reality. They are full of the most far fetched flowery superlatives which say absolutely nothing about the presence or absence of objective artistic or literary worth. The quotes you give are good examples of this. If all one can say of a book, music, art, or any other medium is that it is 'beautiful', or 'ugly', or 'interesting', or 'groundbreaking', etc., one has really said nothing at all. Your examples are hilarious.

    By the way, an excellent and highly literate book on literary and musical criticism is Write All These Down, by the American scholar Joseph Kerman, former professor of musicology at the University California and author of a number of books about musical analysis, performance, criticism, and musicology. The book is very well worth having and reading. I see that it is currently available from Amazon. (The publisher is California Univ. Press, 1998.)
  • m_r_taylor
    Posts: 225
    It was written by the composer himself, which made me doubly prejudiced. If one can help it, perhaps it might help to for a composer to only write program notes on his or her pieces ten years after writing it to be more objective about its merits.

    (Perhaps in the intervening time, the composer might learn to write in good English too...)

    I'll look it up! Writing about music has never been a great strength of mine, but over time it becomes more helpful as one moves from learning to teaching.

    With that said, one of my favourite old secondhand books is Edward Baxter Perry's Descriptive Analyses of Piano Works - he was a writer with a gift for telling stories about music! Google books version here:

    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn