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.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Five Quick Takes


I am sick as a dog right now; I've got one of those awful, blitzkrieg colds that abruptly sets up shop in your nasal passages and won't go away. My head feels like Keith Richards has been living in it: my throat is sore, my nose is running, my eyes are burning, and my sneezes have become that wretched hot-breath kind that build up beforehand and sort of linger afterward. On top of which, my roommate has already turned the heat off, but the cold snap Baltimore's gotten means my room feels like a broken fridge, so I'm slowly accumulating a sort of nest in my bed where the blanket is, with orange juice and bottled water beside me, as well as a rapidly increasing plateful of kleenex (stop judging me, I was having dinner and then when I finished the trash can was far away). I've also discovered that Safeway-brand generic Mucinex tastes like grape-flavored candy. Related: fuck you, twenty milliliters every four hours, I'm a grown-ass man, and I'm going to do what it takes to make this virus take a dirt nap.

I've also been marathoning Red vs Blue, which I never saw start to finish back in the Before time, and is now on Netflix. Watching Caboose and Donut and Grif kind of makes me feel smart, butch, and industrious.

"That guy Tex is really a robot ... and you're his boyfriend! So that makes you ... a gay robot."

Life is glorious.

Anyway, if you'd pray for me, I'd be grateful. Maybe give a shout out to St Blaise, if you're into that.

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You may already have seen in the news that a sizable earthquake struck Nepal near Kathmandu this morning. An avalanche also occurred, and the death toll currently stands at something like 1400 people, I understand. Prayers for them are earnestly solicited; UNICEF and Oxfam are already setting up relief efforts, as are Catholic Charities and a number of other humanitarian organizations.

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There have been some fairly good articles on the gay marriage controversy of late. Two that stand out, because of their fair-minded and courteous approach from one side to the other, are Frederica Mathewes-Green's post on why she hasn't been culture-warring against gay marriage (though she is an Orthodox Christian), and Damon Linker's piece at The Week in defense of Ryan T. Anderson and of respect for differing convictions generally (though he supports gay marriage). Reading thoughtful, even-handed essays like these makes me miss Andrew Sullivan being at The Dish again.

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Sufjan Stevens and Florence + the Machine both have new albums out -- Carrie & Lowell and How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, respectively -- and I've fallen in love with them both all over again.

Florence Welch's sound is as magnificent as it was on Lungs and Ceremonials, and has a new, rock-like energy infused into it, notably on "What Kind of Man," whose music video incorporates her characteristically enchanting religious imagery and gripping violence. She's one of the few artists I've ever heard do justice to the ferocity that erotic love can have; many are content to write and sing merely of the joys and sorrows it imparts, and God knows there are enough of those. But romance would, in the end, be insipid if there were no sense of danger in the beloved, and Florence + the Machine's music is full of danger, and of the quasi-mystical exaltation that is so often connected with both danger and romance (the music video for "No Light, No Light" is a splendid example of this).

Carrie & Lowell, meanwhile, features a return to the indie folk of Sufjan Stevens' work before the experimental electronica of The Age of Adz, sounding almost like a throwback to Seven Swans, but with a buoyancy of its own, faintly reminiscent of Illinoise. The sheer volume of music he has put out in so short a span of time -- his first studio album came out in 2000, and since then he has released six more, plus two Christmas albums, a multimedia album, and a B-side album -- would suffice another musician for an entire career, and his craftsmanship is incomparable. His complicatedly Christian themes (which always remind me a little of Flannery O'Connor for their combination of devout faith with honest, gritty grappling with the anguish and mysteries of living) persist here, particularly in "No Shade In the Shadow of the Cross," "Drawn to the Blood," and "John My Beloved." I'm swimming in it.

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... Bleh. I can't think of a fifth thing. I just thought of four things. Isn't there any end to the things? It's like -- ehrmagehrd, there is a "Donut: The Musical" video!

I said stop judging me!

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