Collect


Prayer over the Offerings for the Assumption

Let this oblation of our devotion ascend unto thee, O Lord: and, at the intercession of the most Blessed Virgin Mary assumed into heaven, may our hearts, enkindled with the fire of thy love, continually yearn after thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Five Quick Takes

I.

I'm still coming out of my hibernation over the last week, and I've concluded that I need to hibernate a lot more often. The jittery energy of social media is at once disrupting and addictive. I never did make the Lenten retreat that I kept telling myself I was going to; my hope is that I will make some time over the summer. I am expecting to go hiking in the Adirondacks for a bit shy of a week late in June, which will be a beautiful rest, but I have not been setting aside the time I need to be in touch with God properly.

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II.

I can't remember when I came across it, but Sufjan Stevens' album The Age of Adz (pronounced odds) has captivated me this year. I've been specially entranced by three of its tracks: "I Walked," "Vesuvius," and this one here, "Get Real Get Right":


Sufjan Stevens is one of the few explicitly Christian musicians that I really enjoy, mewithoutYou and Psalters being some of the others: all three completely avoid the St. Stepford quality that afflicts a huge swath of Christian music, both artistically and lyrically, and their songs are far more authentic -- and, correspondingly, more enriching to listen to -- in consequence, as well as just flat out being more inventive.

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III.

Pope Francis is in the Holy Land now, and has been making noises about calling for a sovereign Palestinian state. Today, after a Mass in Bethlehem, he invited President Shimon Peres of Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority to pray together for peace, offering his residence in the Vatican for the event. (CNN has described this as an invitation to "peace talks," perhaps not wholly grasping the distinction between prayer and international diplomacy.)


I have a deep love for the Jewish people and culture, and take delight in everything that I learn about them; and, given how surrounded the state of Israel is by enemies, I'm glad it has America as an ally; but I have to say that the Israeli resistance to the sovereignty of Palestine is saddening to me, and from a people who ought to understand what it means to be dispossessed and disfranchised, it doesn't exactly look good. Admittedly I am in the comfortable position of not having to pay for my opinion on the subject, which Israel is not. Then again, Israel is also in the unenviable position of having to pay for its own resistance to a Palestinian state. Regardless, I hope that the Holy Father's example of generosity and pleas for mutual reconciliation will be heard, and that the bitter conflict will approach some degree of resolution.

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IV.

I was disappointed and really a bit angry to encounter this article the other day: apparently Amazon.com is engaged in some sort of fight with Hachette, a publishing company, and is (among other things) raising prices and delaying delivery -- sometimes for weeks -- on Hachette materials. I don't know the precise nature of the quarrel, but, being instinctively distrustful of large corporations, and indeed of most things that are large, I'm suspicious. That Amazon is in effect punishing authors and customers in the course of a fight with a publisher and supplier appears to be beyond dispute; I'm contemplating boycotting them, which I've done before (when, for a while, they defended their sale of a self-published guide for pedophiles, because apparently Amazon's profits go mostly to meth). I'd like to get to the bottom of things as far as their dispute with Hachette goes first. It's particularly annoying because I wanted to buy The Thief and the Cobbler: The Recobbled Cut and I'm not sure where else to get it.


If you haven't seen this yet, watch it; it's as good as a Miyazaki. But not
the Miramax version. The changes they made are stupid and terrible.

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V.

On finally giving it a try, I have to admit that the US version of Queer As Folk is, in fact, really pretty good, though I still think the UK version is better. The US version of Being Human still sucks, though. (If for some reason you're inspired by this to watch Queer As Folk, however, do be informed that places like Babylon are mostly just fantasies, and that the social drama represented in the show bears about the same relationship to the actual lives of gay people as the drama on Friends did to straight people.)

UPDATE: I've watched several episodes of the US' Queer As Folk now, and wow it's a lot pornier than I had realized, even for Showtime. Maybe think twice before turning it on.

9 comments:

  1. "I wanted to buy The Thief and the Cobbler: The Recobbled Cut and I'm not sure where else to get it."

    Try your local independent bookseller — special order it. That's where you should always go for books if possible. Failing that, a national chain (e.g. Barnes & Noble).

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    1. I was worried it might be too obscure even for them. On the other hand, cult classic, so I guess most likely not.

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  2. Since you mentioned music, I'll also recommend The Innocence Mission, who are quite simply one of the greatest things ever. Their last album is as good a place to start as any (though my personal favorite is "Glow" from the mid-90's). Sufjan covered their tune "Lakes of Canada" at one point.

    And since you spoke about a profound appreciation for Judaism, I'll also recommend the latest from Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City. I wasn't too sure about it at first, but it has really grown on me. It deals primarily with Jewish religious themes from the perspective of a secular Jew, and it's a beautiful thing.

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    1. I had no idea anybody in Vampire Weekend were Jewish. I'll have to take a look. Thank you!

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  3. The Amazon thing is really bothering me. I think a boycott might in order (might even be a moral imperative), but where else will I get second-hand copies of heroic fantasy fiction and medieval Welsh history for low, low prices? Maybe Ebay?

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    1. I know, right? As for ebay, I've no idea. Auctions always make me feel vaguely scuzzy for some reason, so I've never been there. There are other web-based suppliers, I believe, though a lot of them are Amazon affiliates (I think).

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  4. Also regarding music, I think you'd like Royal City. They were a Canadian band (Guelph, ON) from about 1999-2004. Their last album was on Asthmatic Kitty, so I think there's a connection with Sufjan Stevens.
    Under a Hollow Tree
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHOu5tFfe7o&list=AL94UKMTqg-9C7RylmYwHtEtJDXn0925Ia
    Jerusalem (relevant re. Pope Francis' trip)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rv_Kt5j7qeQ

    Peace!

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  5. You're distrustful of large organizations? How skeptical were you of the Catholic Church? ;)

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    1. Fairly; and I still am. The Church is certainly infallible, but she is certainly not trustworthy. That is, she is (supernaturally) protected from doctrinal error, when she invokes her full authority, but she is not naturally or necessarily better than anyone or anything else on that account. She has the opportunity, in the persons of her individual members, to be better -- or worse -- or the same.

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