Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Blogging Around: The Brilliant Edition

So many brilliant things to share. So little time.

So here's the cream of the crop.

Catholics Acting Catholic: It shouldn’t make the news — except that yes, it is news.

The US Bishop’s campaign for religious freedom, and the Vatican’s pending reform of the LCWR, have been met with skepticism by much of the mainstream media, and by a good chunk of the Catholic population as well. Why? Would we hear this same outcry against another religious group, however weird and wacky, that sought to assert its beliefs and practices?

We could guess at any number of nefarious reasons for all this alarm at Catholics acting Catholic, but I propose one common thread: No one thinks Catholics really believe this stuff.

(For the record: Yes, we do.)

The American church has spent I’m not sure how many decades wallowing in a lukewarm faith — my entire life, at the very least. Do an exit poll after Mass this Sunday: How many parishioners really believe all that the Church holds to be true? In many quarters, the simple act of asserting that the Church holds some things to be true incites an outcry of protest about rights of conscience, and personal discernment, and accusations of judging other souls*.

And we’re still wallowing.
I could just put her whole column here because it is ... you guessed it ... brilliant. Go read it all at Riparians at the Gate.

Don't Feed the Trolls?

There are many that say “Don’t feed the Troll”, now I would say “Pray for the Troll” –except I am not really that fond of the world Troll as it is another word that dehumanizes people so you can ignore them. Sure fervent commenters can be quite annoying, but most of us can be quite annoying and we are called to even love our comment box enemies by willing them good.
I read The Curt Jester every day but this piece about trolls was so good it has been bugging me to call it to your attention. Because it's ... brilliant. And also charitable. And Catholic in the best ways. I gave you the finale but go read it all.

Can't Have the Sweet Without the Bitter

It is often argued that a loving God would not allow His children to suffer. But, if you subscribe to Seneca’s position that without hardships man can be neither happy nor virtuous, and if you believe that God desires his children to be both righteous and joyful, the question then becomes, “How could a loving God not allow suffering in the world?”

And yet an embrace of the bitter-sweet concept does not only bring meaning to theists, but also imparts purpose to the atheist who has made self-actualization his life’s goal. Through it he can come to see hardships as the classrooms of self-knowledge, opportunities to prove himself and grow as a man, vital training on the path to becoming superhuman.
The Art of Manliness is one of my favorite stops. True, I skip the "build a manly campfire" pieces, but you can't beat their historical and philosophical columns for perspective and character building tips. This is one such (brilliant) piece. Be sure to read it all because you really don't want to miss the Seneca excerpt that lead to this.

Also, don't miss their History of the Bachelor in three parts: colonial and revolutionary times, post-Civil War, and 20th and 21st Century.

Some Things You May Not Know About Antonio Vivaldi

1. Vivaldi was a Catholic priest. He was ordained in 1703 at the age of 25, in Venice. However, it would seem the active priesthood did not suit Vivaldi. Within a year he asked to be excused form the daily celebration of Mass, due to a “tightness of the chest,” which he complained of his whole life. Most scholars think this is a reference to asthma, though there may have been other causes including heart related matters. But a deeper reason may lie in the fact the he was pressured to become a priest. In those days, going to a seminary was often the only way a poor family had to ensure free schooling for a son. Music seems to have been his passion. While it is hard to gauge the accuracy of the story, it is noted in some of his biographies that he would sometimes leave the altar to go into the sacristy and write down a musical idea that had come to him!
Well, whaddya know. That is interesting. And I didn't know it. Since I just finished listening to the BBC's Discovering Music about Vivaldi's Four Seasons, it is even more interesting. Go see what else you don't know about this brilliant Catholic composer, courtesy of Msgr. Charles Pope.

An American In Paris at Holy Week

My trip started off as expected: Fortified by a lovely luncheon in Montparnasse of a chicken fricassee with spring vegetables and a delicious white wine, I wandered down to my favorite neighborhood, Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Entering the dark medieval church that gives the district its name, I lighted some candles, offered a few prayers and reveled in the quiet. The emptied church suited my need to escape, and I figured it foreshadowed a quiet, low-key holiday spent in dark, empty churches.

I was to be proven wrong. Religion in France is far from dead. Yes, Islam is growing more confident among France's North African and Middle East immigrants, but Catholicism is alive and well.
He went for the food. He was captured by the faith. I'm late bringing you this but it is good no matter when it is served up: An American in Paris at Holy Week.

Gulliver's Travels at CraftLit/Just the Books
Heather Ordover cleverly chose a book that is very timely, considering the upcoming elections and the assortment of Yahoos all around. Not only does Heather provide insightful commentary to place the book in context as we go, but she recruited Ehren Ziegler from Chop Bard to read it. Brilliant. I might have to say it twice so you understand what an opportunity we are all being given. Brilliant. (Also, if you like Shakespeare, or wish you did, Ehren's podcast at Chop Bard will do it for you. Oh yeah. A third brilliant is clearly called for.) Go. Listen. CraftLit, Just the Books (all the books with none of the craft talk), Chop Bard.

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