Friday, January 24, 2020

Hannah & Rose discuss the 1999 Aamir Khan film Sarfarosh ...

... about a cop who has to uncover and stop a Pakistani gun running scheme. I was surprised at how much I loved this movie, especially Naseeruddin Shah's performance.

My review, plus a musical number from the film, is here.

St. Francis De Sales Memorial

Francis de Sales, CO OM OFM Cap. (French: François de Sales; 21 August 1567 – 28 December 1622) was a Bishop of Geneva and is honored as a saint in the Anglican and Catholic church. He became noted for his deep faith and his gentle approach to the religious divisions in his land resulting from the Protestant Reformation. He is known also for his writings on the topic of spiritual direction and spiritual formation, particularly the Introduction to the Devout Life and the Treatise on the Love of God.
This summary is from Wikipedia but I liked the emphasis on St. Francis De Sales' gentle approach because he changed a lot of people's minds and hearts about Calvinism.

I think he is a good patron for today where we encounter so much ill informed opposition to the faith, both from within and without the Church. For daily living, I can especially recommend Introduction to the Devout Life as a down-to-earth, surprisingly modern book.

Here's an example of St. Francis's good advice which spoke to me when I was reading today's reflection in In Conversation with God, vol. 6. They are brief but were good reminders to me.
Humility is not only charity. It is also sweetness. Charity is the humility which appears on the outside. Humility is the charity which is on the inside.


We have to be indignant towards evil while at the same time being as polite as possible toward our neighbor.
Here is one of my very favorite quotes from St Francis de Sales — perhaps I need to reread Introduction to the Devout Life. It's been a while.
Day is continually turning to night, spring to summer, summer to autumn, autumn to winter, winter to spring; no two days are ever exactly alike. Some are foggy, rainy, some dry or windy; and this endless variety greatly enhances the beauty of the universe. And even so precisely is it with man (who, as ancient writers have said, is a miniature of the world), for he is never long in any one condition, and his life on earth flows by like the mighty waters, heaving and tossing with an endless variety of motion; one while raising him on high with hope, another plunging him low in fear; now turning him to the right with rejoicing, then driving him to the left with sorrows; and no single day, no, not even one hour, is entirely the same as any other of his life.
St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life
For anyone interested in this book, Scott and I discussed Introduction to the Devout Life on A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast.

The Cat

Henriette Ronner-Knip, The Cat
via Arts Everyday Living

The children and Aunt Enid

I am sorry that the first thing you should hear about the children should be that they did not care about their Aunt Enid, but this was unfortunately the case. And if you think this was not nice of them I can only remind you that yu do not know their Aunt Enid.
E. Nesbit, Wet Magic
E. Nesbit is so funny and this sense of humor is strewn through all her children's stories.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Snack with Fried Egg

Snack with Fried Eggs, Georg Flegel

The fruits of the Holy Spirit and fruit as something to be enjoyed

The fruits of the Holy Spirit are the result of the virtues. To put it more poetically, the virtues are the blossoms on the tree of life, which we see in springtime, and the fruits are what come from these flowers at the time of ripeness. [...]

Interestingly enough for those who thought morality was all about gritting one's teeth and getting on with something unpleasant, tradition associates [the fruits] with the experience of delight. A "fruit" that we pluck from a tree, ripe and delicious, is something to be enjoyed, and the person who unselfconsciously possesses these fruits is a person who is able to take pleasure in life. His day-to-day existence is filled with happiness and pleasure. When we lack these characteristics we are resltless, discontented, morose and unhappy. That is a sign that something is wrong with us.

Stratford Caldecott,
Fruits of the Holy Spirit

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Gospel of Matthew: Each Temptation Building on the Previous One

Matthew 4:1-11

All of the devil's temptations are adapted based on Christ's answers. Each one is an attempt to divert Jesus from suffering and obedience.

I can't recall specifically where I learned that Jesus' refusals are all given in quotations from the Book of Deuteronomy. His tests resemble those of Israel when they were wandering in the desert. So his triumph over temptation is in direct contrast to the failures of the Jewish people in the wilderness. This is something that the Jews of Jesus' time would have picked up on right away.

Of course, for us the three lessons of the temptations are the basic ones we struggle with always. Who do we trust? And who do we worship? Do we put ourselves or God first?

As a side note, I especially like Jesus' expression in the engraving below. He is serene in his knowledge, in his power, in who he is.

Christ is tempted by Satan.
Engraved drawing by Jacob de Wit after Peter Paul Rubens.
The focus [of the first temptation] is on the identity and power of Jesus. ... The temptation is not really about food but about turning Jesus away from the difficult road that the Father wills for his Son (26:39). His mission is not to serve himself by exploiting his divine prerogatives but to serve others by a life of heroic sacrifice (20:28).

Jesus responds with the words of Deut. 8:3: "One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the word of God." The statement is a short lesson on God's priorities for our lives, teaching us that physical needs are not our greatest needs.


Immediately one notices how the tempter adjusts himself to the one being tempted. Jesus has quoted the Bible to express his commitment to live by God's word, and so the devil turns to the Bible to press his second attack. ...

The second temptation is essentially a challenge to the trustworthiness of God. Satan wants Jesus to subject his Father's promises to verification. ...

Jesus strikes back with words from Deut. 6:16: "You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test. The original context of this passage is the rebellion of the exodus generation in the wilderness [at Massah where] ... some demanded God give proof of his presence among them.


Jesus has refused the offer to serve himself rather than his mission from, the Father and has declined the challenge to test the Father's goodwill. Now he is asked to repudiate the Father altogether by surrendering himself to the lordship of Satan, the "ruler of this world" (John 12:31).

Still Jesus remains unmoved. He responds, "Get away, Satan!" and drives the devil off with the words of Deut. 6:13: "The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve." The context of the quotation is instructive, for it prohibits the worship of "other gods" (Deut. 6:14). Bowing before Satan would be an act of idolatry, and Jesus will have no part of it.
Quote is from Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture: The Gospel of Matthew by Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri. This series first ran in 2008. I'm refreshing it as I go.

Colorful Night in the Forest

Colorful Night in the Forest, Remo Savisaar

Human ecology is inseparable from environmental ecology

For both popes [John Paul II and Benedict XVI], in fact "human ecology" in inseparable from environmental ecology, because respect for ourselves, for our sexuality, and for human life in all its stages and manifestations, is the manifestation of a respect for nature as such, which has been created in divine Wisdom: The book of nature is one and indivisible. It takes in not ony the environment, but also life, sexuality, marriage, family, social relations: in a word, integral human development. Our duties toward the environment are linked to our duties toward the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other.

Stratford Caldecott,
Radiance of Being

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Christopher Tolkien: A Hobbit Amongst the Urukhai

Well, there you are a hobbit amongst the Urukhai. Keep up your hobbitry in your heart, and think that all stories feel like that when you are in them. You are inside a very great story!

J.R.R. Tolkien in a letter to his son Christopher
during the Second World War
Christopher Tolkien died last week after devoting much of his life to curating, editing, and writing about his father's work. What a service he has done for mankind over his lifetime. Eternal peace grant him, O Lord.

Young Italian Woman Praying

Young Italian Woman Praying by Moritz Calisch
via Books and Art

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Chiefs, the Super Bowl, and Me

The last time the Chiefs were in the Super Bowl I remember watching it with my family in our little red house near Kansas City. My dad called every play of the game just as they ran it.

Yesterday Mom and I watched the Chiefs win the playoffs, the day after what would have been Dad's 86th birthday. That victory unleashed our memories and turned the victory into something personal.

It is wonderfully unreal that she and I will be watching them in the Super Bowl together again.

A Movie You Might Have Missed #1: Mostly Martha

It's been 10 years since I began this series highlighting movies I wished more people knew about. I'm rerunning it from the beginning because I still think these are movies you might have missed.

Mostly Martha

Martha is a chef who has a great deal of discipline, an obsession with food although she never seems to eat, and little joy in her life. When her sister dies, Martha is forced into facing unknown situations after her orphaned niece comes to live with her. Then a new chef is added to the staff and Martha's loss of control seems complete. Suddenly Martha's life is no longer under control at all with the expected growth of character resulting.

This is a slow and deliberate movie but the acting and dialogue are great and a lot of the scenes are very funny. Naturally, as this is about a chef, it is a major "foodie" film. Mostly Martha is a German movie with subtitles but don't let that scare you. Actually we liked listening to the German and picking out words that were almost the same as in English ... but that's the kind of thing our family does for fun.

Do not be fooled by the American remake: No Reservations. It completely messes up the last third of the movie.

The ends and the means

We will never have peace in the world until men everywhere recognize that the ends are not cut off from the means, because the means represent the ideal in the making, and the end in process. Ultimately you can't reach good ends through evil means, because the means represent the seed and the end represents the tree.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
via The Radiance of Being by Stratford Caldecott

Music Lesson

Music Lesson by Shirataki Ikunosuke

Friday, January 17, 2020

Hannah & Rose discuss zombie crows, buried cities, the perfect outfit for fighting zombies ...

... and why you might want to think ahead before rushing to the helipad in the next apocalypse as they watch Resident Evil: Extinction (2007). Episode 53 of More is More, a bad movie podcast.

Why truth is stranger than fiction

"Do you believe that truth is stranger than fiction?"

"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction," said Basil placidly. "For fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it."
G.K. Chesterton, Club of Queer Trades
That absolutely never occurred to me. Brilliant.


Tea by Harrison Fisher, 1908
via Illustration History

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Gospel of Matthew: Being Tempted Through Our Gifts

Matthew 4:1-11

I'm always struck by the fact that after baptism, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested. Mark uses the word "drove" which is what always comes to my mind, but Matthew, interestingly, says led. I like the idea that Jesus is obediently following step-by-step the big plan of what God has in mind.

It only recently occurred to me that this story has to come to us from Jesus in the way that he told it to his apostles. Otherwise no one would have known about it.

One of the things I like best about this story is that Jesus faces his trials in a very human way. He is the Son of God — as his baptism just made clear — and yet he wins the battle as a man. So we can do it too.

William Barclay points this out while making some other good points about temptation which are good for our own reflection in times when we're struggling against making the wrong choices.

Christ in the Wilderness by Ivan Kramskoy, 1872
We must always remember that again and again we are tempted through our gifts. The person who is gifted with charm will be tempted to use that charm "to get away with anything." The person who is gifted with the power of words to produce glib excuses to justify his own conduct. The person with a vivid and sensitive imagination will undergo agonies of temptation that a more stolid person will never experience. The person with great gifts of mind will be tempted to use these gifts for himself and not for others, to become the master and not the servant of men. It is the grim fact of temptation that it is just where we are strongest that we must be forever on the watch.

(v) No one can ever read this story without remembering that its source must have been Jesus himself. In the wilderness he was alone. No one was with him when this struggle was being fought out. And we know about it only because Jesus himself must have told his men about it. It is Jesus telling us his own spiritual autobiography.

We must always approach this story with a unique and special reverence, for in it Jesus is laying bare his inmost heart and soul. He is telling men what he went through. It is the most sacred of all stories, for in it Jesus is saying to us that he can help others who are tempted because he himself was tempted. He draws the veil from his own struggles to help us in our struggle.
Quote is from Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Matthew by William Barclay. This series first ran in 2008. I'm refreshing it as I go.

Valuable truth revealed in a collar stud

The revolt of Matter against Man (which I believe to exist) has now been reduced to a singular condition. It is the small things rather than the large things which make war against us and, I may add, beat us. The bones of the last mammoth have long ago decayed, a mighty wreck; the tempests no longer devour our navies, nor the mountains with hearts of fire heap hell over our cities. But we are engaged in a bitter and eternal war with small things; chiefly with microbes and with collar studs. The stud with which I was engaged (on fierce and equal terms) as I made the above reflections, was one which I was trying to introduce into my shirt collar when a loud knock came at the door.


I had already subdued the stud, thereby proclaiming that the image of God has supremacy over all matters (a valuable truth), and throwing on my dress-coat and waistcoat, hurried into the drawing-room.
G.K. Chesterton, The Club of Queer Trades

Learned Advice

Learned Advice, Ludwig Deutsch
via Gandalf's Gallery, some rights reserved
Be sure to swing by the link for the fascinating commentary at Gandalf's Gallery.