Tuesday, January 27, 2015

From "One Man's Meat"

I don't know whether I came to the country to live the simple life; but I am now engaged in a life vastly more complex than anything the city has to offer. -E.B. White

Monday, January 26, 2015


Took some time Saturday afternoon to break out the horseshoes we got for Christmas. After a couple days of rain, it was a welcome sunny afternoon.

Many of our kids had never tossed horseshoes, or had tossed rarely. It was interesting to see the amazing progress in an hour of tossing them. Only three ringers in the hour, but I think we all had fun.

Finally, for supper Saturday we had one of my favorites: slow-cooked (albeit not on the grill) pork shoulder with Boston baked beans and hot brown bread-smothered in butter (and milk.) It doesn't get much better. Mrs. Curley was out of town (she doesn't like the beans or bread-the more for the rest of us!)
Oremus pro invicem!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

All the stuff I have been reading

I mentioned I have been reading Anthony Esolen's excellent book: Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching. What I didn't know is that Mr. Esolen relies almost exclusively on many of Pope Leo XIII's writings-not just Rerum Novarum. Although I haven't finished yet (I got sidetracked on some other books), I have read 2 reviews of the book. One positive: at Front Porch Republic. This one in fact mentions one of my other all-time favorites: John Senior's Restoration of Christian Culture.

The second: at Solidarity Hall is critical saying:
Unfortunately, Esolen’s reclaiming of what we call now the life issues, including marriage, under the heading of CST includes practically no discussion of the issues of justice, equity and the guidelines for a political economy. In the somewhat maddening fashion of many culture warriors on the right, Esolen recuses himself from these “technical” issues, as though an ignorance of credit default swaps meant we laypeople simply could not comment on structural inequality or its role in creating a permanent underclass. As a result, this book on CST contains almost no consideration of the very issues on which most readers turn to CST for guidance—for example, human solidarity, the nature of work, the living wage or the common good.
I am about 80% through the book and don't agree with the critical assessment. Certainly Mr. Esolen does not present a comprehensive economic plan or so-called "Third Way", but a careful reading will reveal why. Mr. Esolen does (as the reviewer states) claim ignorance of detailed economics, but more importantly Mr. Esolen defines economy in terms of the family, not in terms of capitalism, socialism, distributism or the like.

I was also given the novel Christopher by David Athley (Sophia Institute Press) for Christmas. After reading some many chapters I looked up some reviews of the book. It is either loved (enthusiastically) or hated. (4-5 stars or 1 stars.) Unfortunately I am of the latter and don't know if I will finish it. Perhaps I am unsophisticated. I could never understand Flannery O'Connor, but liked Edwin O'Connor (The Last Hurrah). I also  usually tend toward thrillers or mysteries in my fiction likes. Coming of age stories and the like usually can't hold my interest.
Finally, my sister just sent me a used copy of E.B. White's One Man's Meat, which is a collection of magazine articles he wrote over a three to four year period. This is just after he quit the New Yorker and moved to a seaside farm in Maine. I have never read anything by White (although I have seen a movie rendition of Charlotte's Web.) It is interesting in that it gives one a glimpse of life during the pre-war years (I am at 1939 now, only 25% in.)
Finally, (and having nothing to do with books-well may be the Great Books), have you heard of the new Catholic college: Northeast Catholic College in New Hampshire. It is an outgrowth of the College of St. Mary Magdalen. My son is there and is happy with the changes. Check it out!
Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Some thoughts on marriage and culture which need more editting

An avid hiker and adventurer decides to hike the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain, GA to Mount Katahdin, ME. This is not a journey for the faint of heart. There are many days of fatigue, sore muscles, blisters, rain, and cold. There are also moments and days of breathtaking beauty, accomplishment, excitement and ultimately triumph at the end of the trail. The excitement is sustained because of the goal and the commitment to the goal. This excitement is sustained through the fatigue and the rain and the cold. And note, the excitement comes not just at the triumph at the end, but also before and during the journey.

There are certain things you can’t measure based on any given instant in time. Happiness (or excitement) in marriage is such a thing. Yet present culture only measures the instant, as in, instant gratification. (You can't compare marriage to a long hike, but the analogy has some merit.)

For example, I heard a promo for a radio show a few months ago which promised to discuss why the rate of infidelity in marriage increases the longer couples are together. The stated premise of the radio guest was that a marriage cannot sustain excitement as the marriage progresses in time.

Mostly what we read about infidelity concentrates on the means and opportunity. Unfortunately, the means and opportunities have become more frequent and advanced with technology and culture.

But regardless of the means and opportunity, this doesn’t address the question of marriage. We can’t sustain happiness or excitement in marriage if we don’t understand what marriage is and what the purpose and ends of marriage are.  Of course these things are exactly what our present culture is confused about and struggling with.

Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical Casti Connubii wrote about marriage: Thus amongst the blessings of marriage, the child holds the first place. And: The second blessing of matrimony which We said was mentioned by St. Augustine, is the blessing of conjugal honor which consists in the mutual fidelity of the spouses in fulfilling the marriage contract, so that what belongs to one of the parties by reason of this contract sanctioned by divine law, may not be denied to him or permitted to any third person
The Church teaches marriage has a procreative and unitive purpose as described as blessings by Pope Pius XI above.

Our present culture believes that everything boils down to sex. And I guess if that were true (or held to be true), most marriages would be doomed. The fact is, that marriage has a unitive purpose which is not all about sex, and a procreative purpose, which is also not all about sex.

One of Dietrich Von Hildebrand's theses in his book on marriage (Marriage - the mystery of Faithful Love [Sophia Institute Press]) is that the primary end of marriage is procreation, but the primary meaning of is love. But what is love?

Love is an act of the will-desiring the good for the object of our love. It is obvious from this definition that love does not have a time period. For if one desires the good for another, does one desire this good only for two years, or fifteen years? When you fall in love, do you put this time limit on how long you will love? Do our marriage vows have a time limit? What do the vows mean if they have a time limit? The answers to these questions, whether they concern love for a spouse, a child, or a friend demonstrate the willful aspect of love and the nonsense of the phrase “I have fallen out of love.”

Marital love has a special character in that it imitates God’s creative love. God’s love is so great He wants to share His life, so He creates Man. Man and woman love each other so much that they want to share their lives, so they procreate. But just as God’s love doesn’t end in the act of creating man, man and wife’s love can’t end in the marital act. God nurtures and cares for his creation. Man and wife must nurture and care for their creation. Caring for their creation involves both nurturing their offspring and, importantly, each other. Note that love again does not have limits and is not stingy, something to be kept between one or two people. By nature love shares and multiplies.

So what about this excitement! If the goal of the family is to journey together to Heaven, than the journey is one of both fatigue in daily tasks and tribulations, but also excitement at the daily fatigue and tribulations. The journey also has moments of intense beauty and enjoyment. There are always new challenges, some of them painful, but with perseverance for the goal, God helps us melt these challenges. Gold is purified by fire, the gold we seek with excitement

So what of the spouse seeks excitement elsewhere? He or she is doomed to failure because the excitement they really seek is not momentary-but that is all they get, a moment. Thus they will go on seeking, but never finding. Our hearts are truly restless until they rest in our Lord.

I end with words from Humanae Vitae:

Then, this love is total, that is to say, it is a very special form of personal friendship, in which husband and wife generously share everything, without undue reservations or selfish calculations. Whoever truly loves his marriage partner loves not only for what he receives, but for the partner's self, rejoicing that he can enrich his partner with the gift of himself.

Again, this love is faithful and exclusive until death. Thus in fact do bride and groom conceive it to be on the day when they freely and in full awareness assume the duty of the marriage bond. A fidelity, this, which can sometimes be difficult, but is always possible, always noble and meritorious, as no one can deny. The example of so many married persons down through the centuries shows, not only that fidelity is according to the nature of marriage, but also that it is a source of profound and lasting happiness.


Oremus pro invicem!


Saturday, January 03, 2015

Received and Reading ...

Anthony Esolen seems to be everywhere. I read him at Crisis, see him in the Magnificat, and now am reading this wonderful book Mrs. Curley got me for Christmas. I will write more about is once I am further in. (I am still reading the Thomas More book, but I can handle both!)

Merry Christmas!

Oremus pro invicem!