You who stand in the house of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord (Ps 134:2). Be grateful; you were once outside that house, and now you are inside it. You are standing there, and do you think it a little thing that you are standing where he is to be praised who raised you when you were prostrate and enabled you to stand in his house and to acknowledge him and to praise him? Is it a slight blessing that we are standing in the house of the Lord? Here in this meanwhile, in this journeying, in this house that is also a tent for strangers, must we not be very grateful that we are standing here? Shouldn’t we think about it–that we’re standing here? Shouldn’t we think about what we have been made? Shouldn’t we think about where we were lying and where now we have been gathered? Shouldn’t we think about this: that all the wicked did not seek the Lord, but he sought those who were not seeking him, and when he found them he awakened them, and when he had awakened them, he called them, and those he called he brought into his house and enabled them to stand there? Anyone who thinks about all this and is not ungrateful for it thinks slightly of himself in comparison with the love of his Lord by whom such great gifts have been given; and because he has nothing to return to God for such great blessings, what is he to do except to give thanks, and forget about some repayment? All he can do is give thanks and to take up the cup of salvation and call upon his name. For what is a servant to return to the Lord for all the things he has given him (Ps 115: 12-13). So then: You who stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God, praise the Lord. (Augustine, In Ps 134, 2; PL 37:1739)
Archive for April, 2011
There are a number of “Catholic” stories in this morning’s Times, but what caught my eye most was the photo accompanying this story about Ghanaian-American funerals. It’s a picture of a very little boy dancing, grinning, his eyes screwed shut with glee: an excellent capture by photographer Béatrice de Géa of a lovely moment. Almost makes me want to go to a funeral.
The whole slide show of images is worth a look — another colorful side of NYC.
This is how Augustine began his series of sermons on John 6, which begins with the multiplication of the loaves and moves on to the Bread of Life discourse. The paragraphs indicate in brief how he thought of miracles and also how he approached the deeds of Jesus as themselves words needing to be understood.
The wonders performed by our Lord Jesus Christ are, of course, divine works and incite the human mind to an understanding of God from visible realities. For, since he is not the sort of substance that can be seen with the eyes, and because those wonders of his by which he governs the whole world and administers all of creation have by their regularity come to be disregarded, to the point that hardly anyone deigns to give any attention to the wondrous and stupendous works of God in any grain of seed, God, in his great mercy, has reserved to himself certain works to be performed at appropriate times outside the usual course and order of nature, so that people who disregard his daily works might be moved to wonder by the sight of deeds that are not greater but rarer. The governance of the whole world is a greater wonder than satisfying five thousand people with five loaves, and yet no one wonders at the former while people wonder at the latter not because it is greater but because it is rare. For who is it who is now feeding the whole world but the one who creates a cornfield from a few grains? He therefore created as God creates. For the power by which he multiplies the produce of the fields from a few grains is the same power by which he multiplied in his hands the five loaves. There was power, indeed, in the hands of Christ; and those five loaves were like seeds, not, of course, sown in the earth, but multiplied by the one who made the earth. This wonder, therefore, was brought to the senses so that the mind should be raised, it was exhibited to the eyes so that the understanding should be exercised, and we might wonder at the invisible God because of his visible works and, raised to faith and purged by faith, we might desire to see him even invisibly whom we have come to know invisible by visible things.
Yet it is not enough to look upon such things in the wonders of Christ. Let us interrogate the wonders themselves for what they can tell us about Christ, for when understood, they have a language of their own. For since Christ is himself the Word of God, deeds of the Word are also words to us. As we have heard how great a wonder this is, let us also seek how profound it is: let’s not simply take delight in its surface, let’s also investigate its depth. What we wonder at externally also has something inward. We’ve seen, we’ve looked at, something great, something splendid, utterly divine, which could only be performed by God, and we have praised the doer for his deed. But it’s as when we inspect some beautiful lettering, it wouldn’t be enough for us to praise the writer’s hand, that he had shaped the letters so evenly, equally and elegantly, unless we were also to read what he had conveyed to us by those letters. So also here: someone who simply inspects the deed delights in the beauty of the deed and admires the doer, but the one who understands it goes on, as it were, to read it. For we look at a picture and at writing in different ways. When you look at a picture, seeing it and praising it is all there is to it; but that’s not the whole of it when you look at writing, because you’re invited also to read it. If you see writing but perhaps can’t read it, you say, “What’s written here?” You’ve already seen something and you ask what it is. The one whom you ask to inform you about what you’ve seen will show you something else. He has other eyes than you do. Yes, you both see the shapes of the letters in the same way, but you don’t understand the signs in the same way. You see and praise, but he sees, praises, reads and understands. So, because we have seen and praised this wonder of Christ, let us now also read it and understand it. (Augustine, Treatises on John, 24,1-2; PL 35, 1592-93)
…Or Smoke and Mirrors. The fraught relationship between Pakistan and the United States seems to have come acropper according to this story in the NYTimes. If the story is true than we should pack up in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan. But with the Pakistanis who knows what is true, what is spin, what is bubble, etc. about the CIA or the drone attacks or the two “intelligence” services.
Still, the key paragraph may be: “The Pakistani army firmly believes that Washington’s real aim in Pakistan is to neutralize the nation’s prized nuclear arsenal, which is now on a path to becoming the world’s fifth largest, said the Pakistani official closely involved in the decision on reducing the American presence.”
The gist of why capital should not be taxed, why capitalists should not be burdened by the costs of regulation, and why there should be no unions or minimum wages or medical benefit mandates to skew the market price of labor seems to be this. The more capital that is accumulated by capitalists, the more they have to invest. The more they have to invest, the more factories, shops, and businesses they can open or expand. The more that this happens, the more jobs that will be created. More jobs, of course, means more work. And of course, for all of their constant whining, what’s a Working Class without work?
Is there something to this?
For St. Augustine the miracles of Jesus point beyond themselves, that is, as for the Fourth Evangelist, they are “signs,” and that is why Augustine never dwells on their wondrous aspect–less wondrous, he thought, than the daily wonders of God’s works in nature–but looks for what they have to say about the Christian life. The three raisings of the dead in the Gospels thus become symbolic of the three ways in which souls can die and the three ways in which Christ has the power to restore those souls to life. Here is a portion of the symbolic significance he found in the resurrection of Lazarus:
People who do what is evil entangle themselves in an evil habit to the point that it does not allow them to see that it is evil, and they become defenders of their evil deeds and angry when criticized…. Weighed down by such wicked habits, it’s as if they were buried. What should I say, brothers and sisters? They’re so buried that one could say of them what was said of Lazarus, “He stinks by now.” That stone laid against Lazarus’ tomb is the hard power of habit by which a soul is crushed and can’t rise or breathe again.
But Martha said: “He is now four days.” And indeed a soul comes to that habit of which I am speaking in four stages. The first is a pleasurable tickling in the heart; the second is consent to it; the third is the act itself; and the fourth is the habit. There are some people who when they encounter unlawful things so dismiss them from their thoughts that they take no delight in them. There are some who experience the pleasure but do not consent to it; their death is not yet complete but in a way has begun. When consent is added to the pleasure, that is already damnation. Then from consent one goes to the act, the act becomes a habit, and one has reason to despair, as it is said: “He is four days. He stinks by now.” Then came the Lord, and although all things were easy to him, he displayed some difficulty for your sake. He groaned in his spirit, and his loud voice showed what rebuke is necessary for people whom habit has hardened. But at the voice of the shouting Lord, the chains of compulsion were broken. (Augustine, Sermon 98, 5; PL 38, 594)
A little note: a friend of mine told me yesterday that as a girl she loved this Gospel account because of Martha’s response when Jesus orders the stone removed from the tomb: “Lord, by this time he stinketh, for he is now of four days” (Jn 11:39). This was back in the days when you didn’t use the word “stink” in polite company, a prudishness one might think still exists. The NAB translation used in our churches yesterday has: “Lord, by now there will be a stench”…. I wonder how memorable that will prove to be.
“It doesn’t address in any serious or courageous way the issue of the near and medium-term deficit,” David Stockman told me in a Thursday phone interview. “I think the biggest problem is revenues. It is simply unrealistic to say that raising revenue isn’t part of the solution. It’s a measure of how far off the deep end Republicans have gone with this religious catechism about taxes.” Stockman, who directed Ronald Reagan’s Office of Management and Budget, approves of Ryan’s entitlement proposals, but breaks faith over taxes and the GOP’s unwillingness to slash defense spending. And he laughs off the notion that the plan will do anything about unemployment, let alone dramatically reduce it, which Ryan and his plan claim it will. “This isn’t 1980. It’s not morning again in America. it’s late afternoon, or possibly even sunset.”
On this score, Doug Holtz-Eakin — a former McCain and George W. Bush economic adviser — told Huffington Post Ryan’s plan is “implausibly optimistic.”
Did it really take a peer reviewed study for these researchers to figure this one out? My wife and I often marvel at the amount of spare time we had (and mostly wasted) before the kids arrived on the scene:
A study found that mothers of young children were heavier and ate more calories, sugary drinks and fatty foods than childless women. Dads and moms in the study were less active than their peers without kids. Sheri Lee Schearer, 34, says the results reflect her life with a 5-month-old son. Before, when she worked as a paralegal, she had time to make a spinach salad or go out for one. Now, as a stay-at-home mom in southern New Jersey, she grabs whatever is easiest and quickest. “I often find that his needs come before mine,” she said. “Do I get to the gym? No. Do I eat always healthy? No.”
“And I will banish evil beasts from the land, and they will dwell in the desert in hope’” (Ez 34:25). What does ‘in the desert’ mean? In solitude. And what does ‘in solitude’ mean? Inwardly, in one’s consciousness. It’s a great solitude: no one else crosses it, no one else is even seen. There let us dwell in hope, because we cannot yet dwell there in fact. For everything outside us wavers with the storms and trials of the world. It’s an inner desert, and there let us examine our faith; let us inquire whether there is charity inwardly; let us see if it is only our lips and not our hearts, too, that are saying, “Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.” If our hearts also say this, if we speak the truth there, where no one else can see, there is the desert where we rest in hope, because all this distress passes away, and what was hope becomes reality, and all we do is rest. Then we will be utterly open to one another, … and consciousness will not be a solitude because all will be known to one another, and they will not have any hidden thoughts when the Lord will come and will illumine hidden darkness and will reveal the heart’s thoughts, and then everyone will have praise from God (1 Cor 4:5). …
“And they will dwell in the desert in hope, and they will have sleep,” that is, they will have quiet: with their senses withdrawn from the world’s noise, they will rest there, inwardly, “by the streams” (Ez 34:25). It’s as if in that inner desert certain rills of memory flow and spread divine streams from the mind of one used to reflecting on the Scriptures. For what you have read, what you have heard, if you entrusted it pure and flowing and holy to your memory, when you begin to rest in that inner desert, that is, in a good conscience, it trickles from your inmost mind and the memory of the word of God flows, and you begin to rest with others in hope, and you say, “It is true, it is well with me, this is my hope; God promised me this, and he does not lie; I have nothing to worry about.” And this sense of security is sleep by the streams: “And they will have sleep by the streams.” (Sermon 47, 23; PL 38, 311-12)
Our intent here is to voice our serious concerns regarding three issues: 1) the fact that, in this matter, the bishops did not follow the procedures set forth in their own document, Doctrinal Responsibilities; 2) a misreading of Professor Johnson’s work in the statement; 3) the troubling implications the statement presents for the exercise of our vocation as theologians.
The CTSA board members are “greatly disturbed” by the bishops’ failure to engage Johnson in conversation about her work, as mandated by the “Doctrinal Responsibilities” document that was overwhelmingly approved by the bishops conference in 1989.
They also note that the Committee on Doctrine unfairly faults Johnson “repeatedly for holding the position that God is ‘unknowable’ on the grounds that she maintains that our human words cannot completely capture the divine reality.” They write:
This is a surprising leap in logic, not warranted by Professor Johnson’s modest, and quite traditionally Catholic, claim that our human words cannot completely capture the divine reality. It is difficult for us to imagine that Professor Johnson, who has written so elegantly and movingly about the divine mystery throughout her career, lacks a heartfelt intention to say something modestly truthful about God based on God’s revelation in Scripture and Tradition.
Finally, CTSA board members take issue with the Committee on Doctrine’s rather cramped view of theology. “To suggest that a theologian who engages in the difficult task of interpreting revelation for present times and cultures is denying the knowability of the very revelation—the Word of God—that theological reflection takes as its authoritative source, strikes us as a fundamental misunderstanding of the ecclesial vocation of the theologian.”
In response to requests on another thread, here is Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s Marquette Lecture from April 4. It’s been noted on that other thread, there’s no mention of consequences for cover-ups by bishops. But for many of us, it is the cover-up that is the moral core of the crisis.
Any organization that allows access to kids will draw pedophiles. Simple as that–they’re sick, not stupid. Boy Scouts, Little League, elementary schools, you name it. The problem with the Church’s response is the near-lockstep way in which leaders shuffled pedophiles and abusers of teens from place to place, and gave them unrestricted access to kids over and over, and responded to people raising questions about those abusers with lies, obfuscations and clever legal tactics again and again. Sure, there are also tales of cover-ups in cases of abuse in other churches, schools, etc., but most of those tales seem to be anecdotal, not reflecting an almost uniform culture of cover-up like we’ve seen in the church, diocese after diocese, nation after nation. For example, I’ve never heard a school board say, when a pedophile is discovered, “well, it’s not like we’re the only group with pedophiles.” (At the time of the first explosion of the crisis in Boston, I recall one leader of another denomination who, when asked if that church had a problem with pedophiles, answered simply, “Yes. Three. They’re in jail.”) Clearly the Dallas Charter (also without penalties for those who cover up for pedophiles,) doesn’t really do the trick, given the alacrity with which bishops have ignored its requirements, (viz. Chicago, Philly, and who knows where else.)
Martin calls for a restorative justice approach to the mess. While that’s a nifty idea, he suggests that bishops can be the mediators of such a process, and I think that’s naive at this point. So, I suppose, since the people of the Church (laity, clerics, leaders) seem unwilling to take any effective action against leaders who covered up for pedophiles, we must again wait for the secular government to do our work for us. Or is Martin’s lecture a good start for a larger conversation? How might we, the whole Church, proceed from here?
The Psalm (95/96) has this title: “When the house was being built after the captivity.” “What house?”, you ask. The Psalmist answers immediately: “Sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth!” That’s what house. When all the earth sings the new song, it is the house of God. It is built by singing; it is being founded on believing; it is being erected by hoping; it is being completed by loving. It’s being built now, and it will be dedicated at the end of the world. Let the living stones rush together, then, toward the new song; let them rush together and be fitted together and thus become the structure that is God’s temple. Let them acknowledge the Savior and receive him as the one who dwells there. (Augustine, Sermon 27, 1; PL 38, 178)
Pondering this Sunday’s Gospel of the Raising of Lazarus, I’ve been playing the “Credo” of Bach’s Mass in B Minor, perhaps the very summit of Bach’s genius “soli Deo gloria.”
I am always especially moved by the close of the “Credo.” The concluding words of the preceding section “in remissionem peccatorum” are drawn out in a solemn, almost foreboding fashion. Is it too much to imagine the gathering of those at the tomb of Lazarus — grief, uncertainty, hope all intermingled.
And then the trumpet-cry of Jesus: “Come forth!” And the “et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum” of Bach raises goose bumps at every listening.
Here is a performance by Karl Richter.
He will come openly, and he will not be silent (Ps 50:3). It says, “He will not be silent,” because he was silent when he was being judged. But as for the words we need to hear, when has he been silent? He wasn’t silent when there were patriarchs and prophets; he wasn’t silent when he spoke with a human mouth. And if he were silent now, the Scriptures would not speak. The reader goes up into the pulpit, and he is not silent. The preacher speaks, and if he speaks the truth, it is Christ who is speaking. And if Christ were not still speaking, I would not be saying these things. And with your voice, too, he was not silent–when you were singing, it was he who was speaking. He is not silent, and it’s up to us to listen, but to listen with the ear of the heart, since it’s easy to listen with these physical ears. We have to listen with the ears that the Master himself sought when he said: “Let those who have ears to hear listen” (Mt 13:9). Was there anyone there in front of him as he said this who did not have ears? They all had ears, and few of them had ears, for not all of them had ears to hear [audiendi], that is, to obey [obediendi]. (Augustine, Sermon 17, 1; PL 38, 124)
In New York, the resignation of magazine executive Cathie Black after serving 95 days as city schools chancellor is being viewed as further evidence that Mayor Bloomberg’s administration has lost its way in the mayor’s third term. That may be, but I think we may be seeing evidence of a larger story, too: the gradual discrediting of a supposed school reform movement that applies business management technique, with its focus on the bottom line, to education.
This is the approach, endorsed by major foundations, much of the news media and politicians from both major parties, that made annual scores on a single standardized reading test the only standard that mattered. The results have been too mixed to believe that corporate managers necessarily know more about educating children than professional educators do. Despite the public-relations apparatus behind the corporate approach to schooling – not to mention Mayor Bloomberg’s own personal advertising campaign for his school policies – the public is on to its downside. Cathie Black’s appointment was a disappointment because it promised more of the same, and the public never bought it.
Many parents are rebelling against the excessive emphasis schools have been forced to put on standardized test scores for English language arts and math. One of them is President Obama, who sends his daughters to a private school. According to the Times:
Mr. Obama agreed that “we have piled on a lot of standardized tests” under federal education law, meaning the annual proficiency tests in reading and math given to Grades 3 through 8 as well as once in high school.
“Now, there’s nothing wrong with a standardized test being given occasionally just to give a base line of where kids are at,” he continued. “Malia and Sasha, my two daughters, they just recently took a standardized test. But it wasn’t a high-stakes test. It wasn’t a test where they had to panic.”
Mr. Obama went on to denounce how standardized tests had narrowed the curriculum and led to teaching to the test.
“Too often,” he said, “what we’ve been doing is using these tests to punish students or to, in some cases, punish schools.”
The Education Department has denied that Obama is distancing himself from the policies of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, as some bloggers have argued. I would say the president is distancing himself from his own policy. His 2009 federal stimulus bill included $350 million for the “Race to the Top Assessment Program,” which challenged states to compete for federal money to develop the next generation of annual high-stakes standardized reading and math tests. The bidding document gives the true story. It calls for the contestants to design tests, given at least once a year, in reading and math to guide “determinations of school effectiveness for purposes of accountability” under the standards set by federal education law and “determinations of individual principal and teacher effectiveness for purposes of evaluation.” It also calls for the contestants to show how they would go about “building support for the system from the public” and stakeholders – public relations being one of the themes of the so-called school reform.
Race to the Top is looking for a lot more than a test “just to give a base line of where kids are at.” It’s all about high-stakes testing. It looks as if the president’s views on the subject are evolving, and he’s not the only one.
PPP has an interesting poll of Mississippi Republicans. Here’s a taste:
We asked voters on this poll whether they think interracial marriage should be legal or illegal- 46% of Mississippi Republicans said it should be illegal to just 40% who think it should be legal. For the most part there aren’t any huge divides in how voters view the candidates or who they support for the nomination based on their attitudes about interracial marriage but there are a few exceptions. Palin’s net favorability with folks who think interracial marriage should be illegal (+55 at 74/19) is 17 points higher than it is with folks who think interracial marriage should be legal (+38 at 64/26.)
No. This is not from the 1967 archives.
Paul Ryan’s budget document is a propaganda piece for the right-wing.
Read it; pay attention to the biased language, to the warmed over Bush proposals, and to the usual promisese of trickle down.
Look at E. J. Dionne’s “War on Moderation”.
And read Joseph Steiglitz, “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%” in Vanity Fair…Vanity Fair
UPDATE: In Friday’s Times, David Brooks applauds Paul Ryan’s courage. But when he gets down to brass tacks, Brooks seems to understand it is foolhardy.
“Because he had the courage to take the initiative, Paul Ryan’s budget plan will be the starting point for future discussions, at least as long as Republicans control at least one house of Congress. But it should be acknowledged that the Ryan plan has several grave weaknesses.
“As presently configured, it is unacceptable to moderate voters and stands no chance of passage. Substantively, it does not address the structural problems plaguing the American economy: wage stagnation, inequality, declining growth rates. It doesn’t have an answer to rising health care costs. Nor does it leave room for future policy creativity; there’s no money to allow future generations to rise to unforeseen challenges. So, while acknowledging that Ryan has done the nation a great service by providing a starting point, we should expect his budget to evolve as the debate goes forward.” Here
On the shutdown: We keeping hearing that riders removing funding from Planned Parenthood and the EPA are part of the hold up on a deal, but the OMB Watch (sorry can’t get the link to work. The chart was four pages long and contains a good deal more than the media has highlighted.
Here is a link to a BBC broadcast that features two people actively involved in dealing with horrors in contemporary Africa, a priest in the Ivory Coast who is trying to defend tens of thousands of refugees, and Jenni Williams, one of the founders of Women of Zimbabwe Arising, who is under persistent threat of arrest for her and her group’s activities. Here is their home-page.
What courage and what love!
Now another disciple presents himself (Lk 9: 57-62): “I will follow you, Lord,” he says, “but first I’m going to say good-bye to my family.” I think this is the meaning: “Let me tell my relatives so they won’t go looking for me.” And the Lord says: “No one who puts his hand to the plow, and then looks back, is ready for the kingdom of heaven.” The East is calling you, and you’re looking West (Vocat te Oriens, et tu attendis Occidentem.). (Augustine, Sermon 100, 3; PL 38, 604)
I suppose the last sentence could also be translated: “The sunrise is calling you, and you’re looking at the sunset.” The Latin of the Benedictus (Lk 1:78) refers to the Oriens ex alto–”the dayspring [or dawn] from on high,” which Joseph Fitzmyer sees as a messianic reference, derived from the LXX translation of Zech 3:8 and 6:12-13. But Augustine seems never to have referred to the phrase in any of his sermons, where oriens means simply “the East,” although in one of them he does a nice riff on Paul’s conversion’s having been his moving from the West of his sins to the East of grace.
As I mentioned last week, I’ve been working through Elizabeth A. Johnson’s Quest for the Living God, recently criticized [PDF] by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine. In a terrific follow-up post, Mollie expanded on a question I raised about the degree to which Johnson’s feminism motivated the committee’s critique. The document accuses Johnson of wanting to “replace” masculine names for God with feminine ones. Johnson never says any such thing. “Are they [the bishops on the committee] doing so much reading between the lines they’re overlooking what the lines themselves say?” Mollie asked. That’s certainly possible. But I wonder whether they’ve read the book at all.
Featuring our own David Gibson:
For a few years now I have from time to time recommended John Eliot Gardiner’s recordings of the complete Bach cantatas on the “Soli Deo Gloria” label. Besides the fact that these are superb recordings, they are further enhanced by Gardiner’s insightful notes, and helpfully grouped according to the liturgical seasons and feasts.
I consider Alex Ross the best music critic writing today; and in the current New Yorker he celebrates Gardiner’s achievement. He writes:
More than half of the sacred cantatas were written between 1723 and 1726, when Bach was in the early years of his long, and often unrewarding, appointment as the cantor of the Thomaskirche, in Leipzig. For extended stretches of the liturgical year, he produced one cantata a week, and for the most part he refused to take the easy path of reworking older pieces, whether his own or others’. Instead, in what seems a kind of creative rage, he experimented with every aspect of the cantata form, which traditionally served as a musical meditation on the Scriptural readings of the week. There are intimidating fugal choruses, sublimely extended operatic arias, frenzied instrumental interludes, weird chords galore, episodes of almost irreverent dancing merriment. To hear the entire corpus is to be buffeted by the restless energy of Bach’s imagination. Recently, I listened to around fifty of the cantatas during a thousand-mile drive in inland Australia, and, far from getting too much of a good thing, I found myself regularly hitting the repeat button. Once or twice, I stopped on the side of the road in tears.
The almost operatic quality of these narratives is heightened by the changing moods of the liturgical year. The pivotal moment comes at Eastertime (Volume 22), where the sepulchral chants of “Christ lag in Todesbanden” (“Christ lay in the bonds of death”) give way to the brassy shouts of “Der Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubilieret” (“The heavens laugh! The earth rejoices”). Among many brilliant efforts by the Monteverdi Choir, the rendition of “Christ lag” stands out: Gardiner has his singers intone the solo lines in unison, each syllable chillingly precise. This release and the preceding one, Volume 21, make for an excellent introduction to the series.
I’ve been playing and re-playing volume 21 (Cantatas for Quinquagesima and for the Annunciation) — since there was no music performed during Lent in Leipzig. But I’m already anticipating “Christ lag” which I traditionally play on Holy Saturday before the Vigil Mass.
The rest of Ross’s article, “The Book of Bach,” is here.
Amnesty International on the Goldstone fracas: “Recent Israeli government calls for the United Nations to retract the 2009 report of its Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict are a cynical attempt to avoid accountability for war crimes and deny both Palestinian and Israeli victims of the 2008-2009 conflict the justice and reparations they deserve, Amnesty International said today.
“Statements by leading Israeli politicians that Israel’s conduct in the 22-day conflict in Gaza and southern Israel has been vindicated, following the publication of a Washington Post opinion piece by Justice Richard Goldstone on April 1, 2011, are based on a deliberate misinterpretation of Justice Goldstone’s comments. The international community must firmly reject these attempts to escape accountability and act decisively for international justice, as it has done on Libya, Sudan and other situations where war crimes and possible crimes against humanity have been committed.” The whole Amnesty International comment here.
Justice Goldstone’s comments on WashPost.
Comments from the report’s other authors in NYTimes (scroll down).
This paragraph may appeal only to those “of a certain age,” and perhaps not even to them….
We have listened to the Gospel and in it heard the Lord criticizing people who know how to examine the sky but don’t know how to discern the time of faith and the approaching kingdom of heaven. The Lord Jesus Christ himself began the preaching of his Gospel thus: “Repent: the kingdom of heaven has drawn near” (Mt 4:17), and his precursor John the Baptist began in a similar way: “Do penance, the kingdom of heaven has drawn near” (Mt 3:2). And now the Lord reproves people who refuse to do penance at the approach of the kingdom of heaven. “The kingdom of heaven,” he himself said, “does not come with observation,” and also, “the kingdom of heaven is among you” (Lk 17:20-21). It would be prudent, then, for everyone to take to heart the warnings of the teacher so that he does not waste the time of the Savior’s mercy, which is now being dispensed as long as the human race is being spared. For a person is spared so that he might be converted and not be damned. It is up to God when the end of the world comes, now is the time for faith. Whether the end of the world will find anyone of us here I don’t know, and it may be that it will not find any of us. But for each of us the time is near because we are mortal. We make our way between falls. We would have less cause to fear if we were made of glass. What is more fragile than a glass vessel? And yet it may be saved and last for centuries. And even if glass vessels were afraid of failling, they wouldn’t have to be afraid of old age and fever. We, then, are more fragile and weaker, because in our fragileness we not only fear all the falls that never cease in human affairs, but, even if falls don’t occur, time moves on. A person avoids a blow, but can he avoid death? He avoids things coming at him from outside, but can something born inside him be driven off? Now it’s intestinal worms, now some sudden illness, and later, however long a person is spared, old age will come and there is no way to delay it. (Augustine, Sermon 109, 1; PL 38, 636)
Stretch your love, then, beyond your spouses and children–that love is found also in beasts and sparrows. You know all about sparrows and swallows, how they love their mates, how they hatch their eggs together, how they feed their chicks, all with a kind of natural goodness, with no thought of reward. The swallow doesn’t say, “I’ll feed my children so that they’ll take care of me when I’m old.” No such thoughts: she loves and feeds them unselfishly, showing a parent’s affection, not requiring reward. And I know that you, too, love your children in this way. “Children ought not lay up for their parents, but parents for their children” (2 Cor 12:14). That’s also how many of you excuse your greed: you’re acquiring things, and saving them, for your children. But stretch that love, let it grow. Loving your children and spouses is not yet that wedding garment. Have faith Godward. First love God. Stretch your love Godward, and carry as many as you can Godward. There’s an enemy? Carry him Godward. It’s a child, a wife, a servant? Carry them Godward. A stranger? Carry him Godward. An enemy? Carry him Godward. Carry him on, carry the enemy: if he’s carried Godward, he won’t be an enemy any more.
May your love advance so far, may your love be nourished so much, that it is brought to perfection, and thus may you don your wedding garment, thus by your progress may the image of God, for which we have been created, be re-engraved. That image has been sullied by your sin, worn away. How? By being rubbed against the earth. How so? When it is rubbed by earthly desires. For “although a man walks in the image, vainly is he disturbed” (Ps 38:7). Truth is sought in an image, not vanity. For it is by loving the truth that that image, for which we were created, is re-engraved, and his coin is returned to our Caesar. That’s what you heard when the Lord replied to those Jews who were testing him: “Hypocrites,” he said, “why do you test me? Show me the census coin, that is, the image engraved and the inscription. Show me what you pay, what you get ready, what is demanded of you.” They showed him a denarius, and he asked him whose was the image and inscription. “Caesar’s,” they replied (Mt 22:18-21). That Caesar was also looking for his image. Caesar did not want to lose what he had ordered made, and God does not want to lose what he made. … Christ’s coin is the human being. There is Christ’s image, there Christ’s name, there Christ’s gifts, and Christ’s duties. (Augustine, Sermon 90, 10; PL 38, 566)
No keeping down the free market of loose cigarettes as demonstrated by one Lonnie Warner. His thriving enterprise on Eighth Avenue, though small, seems to mirror much that goes on further downtown on Wall Street as well as in DC. The NYTimes has the story.
And Joe Nocerra, now an op-ed columnist, explains how GE eludes U.S. taxes, thanks to our very own U.S. Congress. “Who Could Blame Them”; here.
Dahlia Lithwick on Connick v. Thompson–and Justice Scalia’s and Justice Thomas’s tone in discussing the plight of a wrongly convicted–and nearly executed–man. There is no distinctively Catholic constitutional law. But surely there is a broadly Catholic –and broadly humane — way of responding to the misfortunes of other human beings, particularly those who have been done a serious injustice by the legal system.
Today is the anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride
In the name of love
One more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love?”