Saturday, November 06, 2004 +

02004 11 06 +

Verdi's Requiem at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception . Despite the church setting, it was a concert. Liked the Lacrimosa best.

GS 000 Dedication


...and I, too, Theophilus


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“It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the God-given hope of being restored to life by him.”—2 Maccabees 7:13

See also Why Crosses?

Lucille D. Short

d. November 6, 1999 aged 96.

At eleven am today (Saturday, November 6) Lucille joined that "cloud of witnesses" Paul talks about in Heaven. She passed peacefully from here to there and I feel so very good she is relieved of the pain of it all. It has not been easy two weeks and these last days were bearable only because she was sedated. A hip replacement for a 96 year old is not a comfortable procedure.

We will have a private burial service (a scattering of her ashes) at the Episcopal Retreat Center here in Memphis. Good memories will follow after her, both of her and her friends. At the top of that list are the Wongs. She loved you three and I thank you for your constancy in supporting her with cards and letters.

-- Dudley Condron


Dear Gracious Friends in Christ -

This is to bring you the happy news that I have located and purchased with your gift a beautiful memorial to our dear departed friend Lucille.

It is a large Parish Record book for recording births, baptisms, marriages, confirmations, deaths, etc., and I will be carrying it with me when I return to Liberia to the Mission our Order of the Holy Cross founded in 1922. Its cost was exactly the amount of your gift.

St. Mary's Church is the largest parish in the Bolahun Mission [Lofa County, Liberia] and your gift will be a great blessing to them. I am sure Lucille will approve!

You are gracious to memorialize our dear friend. May God bless you for it.

Gratefully in the Risen Lord,
(Fr.) Lee A-G Stevens, OHC


Dear Olivia,

I had no Christmas card to send you or your Mother or Daddy, so I decided to write a note to you. When I went to school I had no pre-school as you have had. I just was put in first grade make it or not. I had 2 teachers before high school: 1-5 was one, 5-8 was the other. On my card once I had "she gives up too easily," and I was afraid to show it to my Dad who was a math teacher, later a cow-man. He sat me down and talked to me about not giving up but just going on and on. I always remembered it.

Love, Lucille

Friday, November 05, 2004 +

Notes 53

It is best to be a little hungry before Communion.

Dictionary of Accepted Ideas

What is sending people to Dictionary of Accepted Ideas?

Thursday, November 04, 2004 +

For Clare Goodwin


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A Java applet. Rub Once, Rub Twice

Applet in blog

Circles of Circles

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A Java applet.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004 +

Notes 52

"Resist not evil": resent not wrongs.

Everyone believes in God, even atheists.

Firstness, Secondness, Thirdness. [Peirce]

02004 11 03 +

O and her classmates spent the day with Father Joseph Girzone on his property above Altamont.

For Albert Gleizes

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See Gleizes 1934.

"What can be more modest and at the same time greater than the wall-paintings of Saint-Savin, of Montoire, of Berzé-la-Ville? Can we for a moment compare their objective spirituality with the subjective spectacles, marvelously arranged as they may be, of a Raphael, troubled soul whose short life was a failure to decide between Giotto and Michelangelo? Or with those of a Rembrandt, whose methods of chiaroscuro array his subjects in the most majestic effects of light, but cannot give birth to the light itself?"

"'Enter into them' is certainly the word. We cannot keep our distance from such works as we are obliged to do with pictures based on perspective space. We are compelled, by the action of our sight, reclaiming its prerogative of movement, to follow the different directions they offer to the mind. The individual soul finds in them its own recollections and out of these are born meditation and contemplation."

-- Albert Gleizes, "Spirituality, Rhythm, Form" (1943).

For more Gleizes, see Peter Brooke's Albert Gleizes and His School.

Peirce on the Concept of God

The chapter on "The Concept of God," in Justus Buchler, ed., Philosophical Writings of Peirce (Dover edition, 1955). Buchler's reference to Hartshorne and Weiss, eds., Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce (Harvard, 1931-35) precedes each of the three selections that form this chapter. For more Peirce, see Charles Sanders Peirce.

ms. c. 1906 (CP 6.494-6):

"Do you believe in the existence of a Supreme Being?" Hume, in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, justly points out that the phrase "Supreme Being" is not an equivalent of "God," since it neither implies infinity nor any of the other attributes of God, excepting only Being and Supremacy. This is important; and another distinction between the two designations is still more so. Namely, "God" is a vernacular word and, like all such words, but more than almost any, is vague. No words are so well understood as vernacular words, in one way; yet they are invariably vague; and of many of them it is true that, let the logician do his best to substitute precise equivalents in their places, still the vernacular words alone, for all their vagueness, answer the principal purposes. This is emphatically the case with the very vague word "God," which is not made less vague by saying that it imports "infinity," etc., since those attributes are at least as vague. I shall, therefore, if you please, substitute "God," for "Supreme Being" in the question.

I will also take the liberty of substituting "reality" for "existence." This is perhaps overscrupulosity; but I myself always use exist in its strict philosophical sense of "react with the other like things in the environment." Of course, in that sense, it would be fetichism to say that God "exists." The word "reality," on the contrary is used in ordinary parlance in its correct philosophical sense.... So, then, the question being whether I believe in the reality of God, I answer, Yes. I further opine that pretty nearly everybody more or less believes this, including many of the scientific men of my generation who are accustomed to think the belief is entirely unfounded. The reason they fall into this extraordinary error about their own belief is that they precide (or render precise) the conception, and, in doing so, inevitably change it; and such precise conception is easily shown not to be warranted, even if it cannot be quite refuted. Every concept that is vague is liable to be self-contradictory in those respects in which it is vague. No concept, not even those of mathematics, is absolutely precise; and some of the most important for everyday use are extremely vague. Nevertheless, our instinctive beliefs involving such concepts are far more trustworthy than the best established results of science, if these be precisely understood. For instance, we all think that there is an element of order in the universe. Could any laboratory experiments render that proposition more certain than instinct or common sense leaves it? It is ridiculous to broach such a question. But when anybody undertakes to say precisely what that order consists in, he will quickly find he outruns all logical warrant. Men who are given to defining too much inevitably run themselves into confusion in dealing with the vague concepts of common sense.

ms. c. 1906 (CP 6.502-3):

If a pragmaticist is asked what he means by the word "God," he can only say that just as long acquaintance with a man of great character may deeply influence one's whole manner of conduct, so that a glance at his portrait may make a difference, just as almost living with Dr. Johnson enabled poor Boswell to write an immortal book and a really sublime book, just as long study of the works of Aristotle may make him an acquaintance, so if contemplation and study of the physico-psychical universe can imbue a man with principles of conduct analogous to the influence of a great man's works or conversation, then that analogue of a mind -- for it is impossible to say that any human attribute be literally applicable -- is what he means by "God." Of course, various great theologians explain that one cannot attribute reason to God, nor perception (which always involves an element of surprise and of learning what one did not know), and, in short, that his "mind" is necessarily so unlike ours, that some -- though wrongly -- high in the church say that it is only negatively, as being entirely different from everything else, that we can attach any meaning to the Name. This is not so; because the discoveries of science, their enabling us to predict what will be the course of nature, is proof conclusive that, though we cannot think any thought of God's we can catch a fragment of His Thought, as it were.

Now such being the pragmaticist's answer to the question what he means by the word "God," the question whether there really is such a being is the question whether all physical science is merely the figment -- the arbitrary figment -- of the students of nature, and further whether the one lesson of Gautama Boodha, Confucius, Socrates, and all who from any point of view have had their ways of conduct determined by meditation upon the physico-psychical universe, be only their arbitrary notion or be the Truth behind the appearances which the frivolous man does not think of; and whether the superhuman courage which such contemplation as conferred upon priests who pass their lives with lepers and refuse all offers of rescue is mere silly fanaticsm, the passion of a baby, or whether it is strength derived from the power of truth. Now the only guide to the answer to this question lies in the power of the passion of love which more or less overmasters every agnostic scientist and everybody who seriously and deeply considers the universe. But whatever there may be of argument in all this is as nothing, the merest nothing, in comparison to its force as an appeal to one's own instinct, which is to argument what substance is to shadow, what bed-rock is to the built foundations of a cathedral.

ms. c. 1886 (CP 6.492-3):

By experience must be understood the entire mental product. Some psychologists whom I hold in respect will stop me here to say that, while they admit that experience is more than mere sensation, they cannot extend it to the whole mental product, since that would include hallucinations, delusions, superstitious imaginations and fallacies of all kinds; and that they would limit experience to sense-perceptions. But I reply that my statement is the logical one. Hallucinations, delusions, superstitious imaginations, and fallacies of all kinds are experiences, but experience misunderstood; while to say that all our knowledge relates merely to sense-perception is to say that we can know nothing -- not even mistakenly -- about higher matters, as honour, aspirations, and love.

Where would such an idea, say as that of God, come from, if not from direct experience? Would you make it a result of some kind of reasoning, good or bad? Why, reasoning can supply the mind with nothing in the world except an estimate of the value of a statistical ratio, that is, how often certain kinds of things are found in certain combinations in the ordinary course of experience. And scepticism, in the sense of doubt of the validity of elementary ideas -- which is really a proposal to turn an idea out of court and permit no inquiry into its applicability -- is doubly condemned by the fundamental principle of scientific method -- condemned first as obstructing inquiry, and condemned second because it is treating some other than a statistical ratio as a thing to be argued about. No: as to God, open your eyes -- and your heart, which is also a perceptive organ -- and you see him. But you may ask, Don't you admit there are any delusions? Yes: I may think a thing is black, and on close examination it may turn out to be bottle-green. But I cannot think a thing is black if there is no such thing to be seen as black. Neither can I think that a certain action is self-sacrificing, if no such thing as self-sacrifice exists, although it may be very rare. It is the nominalists, and the nominalists alone, who indulge in such scepticism, which the scientific method utterly condemns.


Saint Martin de Porres (3 November)

"...fear and helplessness have a way of dispelling sophistication. So...I swallowed the dust [from Martin de Porres' grave]." Lucile Hasley reporting her cure to Caryll Houselander, in Maisie Ward, ed., The Letters of Caryll Houselander: Her Spiritual Legacy (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1965).

Tuesday, November 02, 2004 +

Omnipotence in Bonds

This by Newman by way of Quenta Nârwenion corrects my Eucharist for a Carnival:

He took bread, and blessed, and made it His Body; He took wine, and gave thanks, and made it His Blood; and He gave His priests the power to do what He had done. Henceforth, He is in the hands of sinners once more. Frail, ignorant, sinful man, by the sacerdotal power given to him, compels the presence of the Highest; he lays Him up in a small tabernacle; he dispenses Him to a sinful people. Those who are only just now cleansed from mortal sin, open their lips for Him; those who are soon to return to mortal sin, receive Him into their breasts; those who are polluted with vanity and selfishness and ambition and pride, presume to make Him their guest; the frivolous, the tepid, the worldly-minded, fear not to welcome Him. Alas! alas! even those who wish to be more in earnest, entertain Him with cold and wandering thoughts, and quench that Love which would inflame them with Its own fire, did they but open to It. Such are the best of us; and then for the worst? O my Brethren, what shall we say of sacrilege? of His reception into hearts polluted with mortal, unforsaken sin? of those further nameless profanations, which from time to time occur, when unbelief dares to present itself at the Holy Altar, and blasphemously gains possession of Him?

The Daughter of Time

Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life: 1500 to the Present (2000):

[Sir Thomas] More either invented, or allowed himself to propagate in a work of his own, the "big lie" in favor of the Tudors he served -- the lie that Richard III, the king whom the Tudor Henry VII overthrew, was a deformed monster who murdered his nephews, the young princes in the Tower. Ever since Horace Walpole in the late 18C raised doubts, a number of scholars have come to believe that Richard was the very opposite of legend -- handsome, able, and innocent of blood. It is not remembered, either, that the phrase "a man for all seasons," now applied to More as a compliment, was used in the past to mean an opportunist.

Incidentally, Walpole's work created a great stir on the Continent and had the distinction of being translated into French, then the universal language, by no less a scribe than Louis XVI. [The book to read is Josephine Tey's fictional account, The Daughter of Time; and for the present state of the case, Richard III, by Charles Ross]. Of course, Shakespeare's great melodrama has made a reversal of common opinion impossible. And that too is cultural history.

Josephine Tey, The Daughter of Time, (1951):

He came to the surface [from reading More] an hour later, vaguely puzzled and ill at ease. It was not that the matter surprised him; the facts were very much what he had expected them to be. It was that this was not how he had expected Sir Thomas to write.

He took ill rest at nights, lay long waking and musing; sore wearied with care and watch, he slumbered rather than slept. So was his restless heart continually tossed and tumbled with the tedious impression and stormy remembrance of his most abominable deeds.

That was all right. But when he added that "this he had from such as were secret with his chamberers" one was suddenly repelled. An aroma of back-stair gossip and servants' spying came off the page. So that one's sympathy tilted before one was aware of it from the smug commentator to the tortured creature sleepless on his bed. The murderer seemed of greater stature than the man who was writing of him.

The fifteenth century was more actual to him this morning than any ongoings in Shaftesbury Avenue.

"Poor Richard. Poor Richard. It didn't work."
"What didn't?"

He listened to the twentieth century sparrows on his window-sill and marvelled that he should be reading phrases that formed in a man's mind more than four hundred years ago.

"There's always the odd chance that he believed it, of course," Grant said, his habit of weighing evidence overcoming even his dislike of Morton.

"But honestly, Mr. Grant, this is the first time in my life that anything exciting has happened to me. Important, I mean. Not exciting meaning exciting. Atlanta's exciting. She's all the excitement I ever want. But neither of us is important, the way I mean important -- if you can understand what I mean."
"Yes, I understand. You've found something worth doing."

This placid acceptance of wholesale murder.

02004 11 02 +

7A 2C 7E 1E 24 5C 1D 64 0E 1A 35 79 1E 36 7E 1C
0B 29 20 1B 48 68 03 72

The Second Catholic Carnival

Monday, November 01, 2004 +

Notes 51

Accept for oneself the condition of Man. Voluntary poverty. Reserve nothing.

Charles Sanders Peirce

Quoted in Edward T. Oakes, "Discovering the American Aristotle", First Things (38, December 1993):

A man looks upon nature, sees its sublimity and beauty, and his spirit gradually rises to the idea of God. He does not see the Divinity, nor does nature prove to him the existence of that Being, but it does excite his mind and imagination until the idea becomes rooted in his heart.

As a matter of opinion, I believe that Glory shines out in everything, and that any esthetic odiousness is merely our Unfeelingness resulting from obscurations due to our own moral and intellectual aberrations.

[To William James in July 1905] It would indeed be most ridiculous for me to think I could say anything to make you better, but living in the beautiful country, I cannot but be overwhelmed with the lovableness of the universe, as everybody is. Every mortal who stops to consider it is penetrated with love. It is irresistible.

Lately, when I was suffering at every mouth through which a man can drink suffering, I tried to beguile it by reading three books that I hadn't read for a long time, three religious books: Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Boethius' Consolations of Philosophy, and Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. The last one did one most good owing to the utter blindness of the man. Man can naturally get but a vague idea of the all of things; and a vague idea is always open to being driven into contradictions. But man will never find a doctrine of the all nearer than theism.

"I am altogether myself, and not at all you." If you embrace [my philosophy], you must abjure this metaphysics of wickedness. In the first place, your neighbors are, in a measure, yourself, and in far greater measure than, without deep studies in psychology, you would believe. Really, the selfhood you like to attribute to yourself is, for the most part, the vulgarest delusion of vanity. In the second place, all men who resemble you and are in analogous circumstances are, in a measure, yourself, though not quite in the same way in which your neighbors are you.

"God" is a vernacular word, and, like all such words, but more than almost any, is vague. No words are so well understood as vernacular words, in one way; yet they are invariably vague; and of many of them it is true that, let the logician do his best to substitute precise equivalents in their places, still the vernacular words alone, for all their vagueness, answer the principal purposes. This is emphatically the case with the very vague word "God," which is not made less vague by saying that it imports "infinity," etc., since those attributes are at least as vague.

The question arises how it is possible that the existence of [God] should ever have been doubted by anybody. The only answer that I can at present make is that facts that stand before our face and eyes and stare us in the face are far from being, in all cases, the ones most easily discerned. That has been remarked from time immemorial.

The idea of God's reality will be sure sooner or later to be found an attractive fancy, which the Muser will develop in various ways. The more he ponders it, the more it will find repose in every part of his mind, for its beauty, for its supplying an ideal of life, and for its thoroughly satisfactory explanation of his whole...environment.... [In time he] will come to be stirred to the depths of his nature by the beauty of the idea and its august practicality, even to the point of earnestly loving and adoring his strictly hypothetical God, and to that of desiring above all things to shape the whole conduct of life and all the springs of action into conformity with that hypothesis.

All Saints

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See Communio 1.

Sunday, October 31, 2004 +

M. D. Aeschliman

From The Restitution of Man: C. S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism (1989):

If the maximization of pleasure and the minimization of pain is the only norm of obligation that needs be attended to, then how one defines and pursues pleasure is his own business, and no general obligation to work for a theoretical "greatest good of the greatest number" can be pressed on anyone.

Hidden Jesus for Halloween

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See Hidden Jesus.