Summary of the Law (said at every Sunday Mass)

Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Five Quick Takes


I think I may be getting lazy. I mean, more so. I only discovered quick takes two months ago, and this is already my third set of them, and my second in a month.

But otherwise I would have no pretext to share this bit from Douglas Adams' wonderful The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, because I can't figure out a way to make an actual post out of it.

     "'Now this produces a very interesting, not to say somewhat embarrassing situation for scientists because the means by which the information is reaching us seems to be completely contrary to the meaning of the information.'
     'It's like Uncle Henry,' said Kate, suddenly.
     Standish looked at her blankly.
     'Uncle Henry thinks he's a chicken,' Kate explained.
     Standish looked at her blankly again.
     'You must have heard it,' said Kate. '"We're terribly worried about Uncle Henry. He thinks he's a chicken." "Well, why don't you send him to the doctor?" "Well, we would only we need the eggs."'
     Standish stared at her as if a small but perfectly formed elderberry tree had suddenly sprung unbidden from the bridge of her nose.
     'Say that again,' he said in a small, shocked voice.
     'What, all of it?'
     'All of it.'
     Kate stuck her fist on her hip and said it again, doing the voices with a bit more dash and Southern accents this time.
     'That's brilliant,' Standish breathed when she had done.
     'You must have heard it before,' she said, a little surprised by this response. 'It's an old joke.'
     'No,' he said, 'I have not. We need the eggs. We need the eggs. We need the eggs. "We can't send him to the doctor because we need the eggs." An astounding insight into the central paradoxes of the human condition and of our indefatigable facility for constructing adaptive rationales to account for it. Good God.'
     Kate shrugged.
     'And you say this is a joke?' demanded Standish incredulously.
     'Yes. It's very old, really.'
     'And are they all like that? I never realized.'
     'Well --'
     'I'm astounded,' said Standish, 'utterly astounded. I thought that jokes were things that fat people said on television and I never listened to them. I feel that people have been keeping something from me.'"

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It's kind of interesting to me that introversion has become so fashionable. I'm born and bred that way, and I always kind of wished I could be the gregarious, life-of-the-party kind of person, because I wanted to be liked and likable. Everybody does, I guess. But ever since introverts became weirdly chic, I've been finding more and more that, even apart from the mere tiresomeness of the bandwagoneers (great name for a slightly-worse-than-mediocre indie rock band), the attention upon introverts becomes sort of -- not oppressive, that's the wrong word -- tiring. Being around people can be extremely fun, but it takes so much energy.

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I believe at least one of these quick takes is obliged, by law and custom, to be profound. This is not that one.

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Neither is this.

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I've been rereading Brideshead Revisited. It's not without its weak points, but the picture it paints of Catholicism is so remarkably authentic. One of the things that Waugh has a real talent for is exposing the failures even of his legitimately attractive characters (like Cordelia or Sebastian or Cara), and that kind of artistic honesty, which some people find cynical, is deeply attractive to me. (I have read very little Flannery O'Connor yet -- I read A Good Man Is Hard to Find in school and found it dismally depressing, and read Wise Blood a couple of years ago and am pretty sure I didn't get it -- but she seems to have the same quality.) It's kind of one of the things I like about being Catholic, this feeling of being mixed up with deeply flawed people who are intensely loved, and should be. It seems like a perfect portrait of God: you can just see the blood, earth, and sweat on His hands, and He wouldn't have it any other way.


  1. I re(?)read Brideshead Revisited last year in response to the suggestion of a German blogger, Morgenl√§nder. Two things I found remarkable were that the PBS series of 30+ years ago seems to have left nothing out and that it contains such a range of Catholics, all living in God's merciful love — a parable of God's patience.

  2. Wait. Introversion is now fashionable? Did anyone remember to tell us introverts? I mean hardly anyone has our phone numbers, so maybe they forgot. Sigh. One more party we didn't get invited to. (Not that we would have gone, but you understand...)