Friday, February 18, 2005



"Christianity has all too often meant withdrawal and the unwillingness to share the common suffering of humankind. But the world has rightly risen in protest against such piety. ... The care of another -- even material, bodily care -- is spiritual in essence. Bread for myself is a material question; bread for my neighbor is a spiritual one." -- Jacques Maritain

* * *

"We drifted along lazily, very happily, through the magical light of the late afternoon.

All those fall afternoons were the same, but I never got used to them. ... That hour always had the exultation of victory, of triumphant ending, like a hero's death -- heroes who died young and gloriously. It was a sudden transfiguration, a lifting-up of day."

-- From My Antonia by Willa Cather

* * *

However carefully we work, however devotedly we put our efforts into faithfulness and consistency and achievement and all the rest of it, there’s always something that escapes us. There’s a phrase in a poem by a Welsh Quaker poet I think you could only really translate as ‘the one who escapes the recruiting sergeants’. Jesus doesn’t let himself be recruited, and when you think you’ve got him he’s slipped round somewhere else.

So, there is that dimension of, I don’t know about divine laughter but… the irony of Christ’s presence and absence. The moment we think ‘This is it!’, that is my definition of the moment when it isn’t. In that sense, I suppose, God is always laughing. He’s always round that ironic corner for me.

And that’s rather liberating, because if I thought, ‘Right, I’ve got it now, God,’ it’s a terribly vulnerable place to be. You think it’s secure, but actually it is frightfully vulnerable, because if anything goes wrong, then God goes, too. Whereas if you think, ‘All right, I’ll do my best. I really think this is right,’ but round the corner is God who alone knows, it means that when things unravel there’s a spar to cling to in the ocean, which is the mystery that I’ve never yet got hold of.

-- Rowan Williams, in an interview in Third Way (thanks to Dave Rattigan for the link in a comment at The Parish)

* * *

"Political parties in America have been traditionally defined as competing organizations that 'put forward candidates for office, advovate particular courses of government action, and if their candidates win, create enough of a sense of joint responsibility for the direction of government.' However, political parties have increasingly become accepted by historians as reference groups through which voters 'define themselves.' Politics, then, 'acts as a sounding board for identities, values, fears, and aspirations.' And each political party's character is respectively shaped by the character of those groups whose concerns that party embodies. These conceptualizations suggest that much may be learned about a party by examining the social composition of its constituency."

-- Alan M. Kraut, "The Forgotten Reformers: A Profile of Third Party Abolitionists in Antebellum New York," in Antislavery Reconsidered (derived from this book meme that's been making the rounds for a while; I've waited to post on it until I had a book nearby that produced something interesting enough, which I guess is cheating)

Collective Improvisation:

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