Wednesday, November 20, 2013

On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside the catacombs,sufficiently sensible of the conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect,does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake some day and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.--Annie Dillard

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sweet Grandchild: "My favorite thing is playing on Grandma's suicide swing."
At each of life’s forkings a decision is made, and good fruit survives and grows only insofar as the buds of lesser fruit are deliberately clipped away. Happiness, the taste of good fruit, is therefore not the natural privilege of the uncultivated personality. It is, at least in part, an achievement.--CT Warner. I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. --Jesus
Haffner also speaks of the "automatic continuation of ordinary life that hindered any lively, forceful reaction against the horror" of Hitler. This may be true of many Americans as well, who see the erosion of freedom on a daily basis. Nevertheless — because they wake up in their own homes, eat the same cereal for breakfast, work at the same boring job to which they drive down familiar streets — they have a sense that everything is as it has always been. The fact that the legal structure, political protections, and other insitutions that guarded their freedoms are going, going, gone is nowhere near as real to them as are their daily routines. In a 2002 review of Defying Hitler, Steven Martinovich commented, "The process [of statism] was so slow that one could almost understand how one day Germans walked the street as members of a shaky democracy and the next were prisoners. … Between those two days, the Germany [Haffner] grew up in both figuratively and literally disappeared." --Review of Defying Hitler

Saturday, November 16, 2013

You may not be able to order a beer in Iceland, but misunderstand someone as they're describing the regional elf lore, and you’re in luck. The expression “huh?” is practically universal, according to a recent study published in the journal PLoS One by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Here’s why this is so unusual. Most languages sound dramatically different from each other because words aren’t tied to what they stand for—dog and chien both represent a four-legged canine, for example—and each language is basically limited to a finite number of possible sound combinations. “The likelihood that there are universal words is extremely small,” the authors write. “But in this study we present a striking exception to this otherwise robust rule.”

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

In every important way we are such secrets from one another, and I do believe that there is a separate language in each of us, also a separate aesthetics and a separate jurisprudence. Every single one of us is a little civilization built on the ruins of any number of preceding civilizations, but with our own variant notions of what is beautiful and what is acceptable - which, I hasten to add, we generally do not satisfy and by which we struggle to live. We take fortuitous resemblances among us to be actual likeness, because those around us have also fallen heir to the same customs, trade in the same coin, acknowledge, more or less, the same notions of decency and sanity. But all that really just allows us to coexist with the inviolable, intraversable, and utterly vast spaces between us.”
Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

The sun had come up brilliantly after a heavy rain, and the trees were glistening and very wet. On some impulse, plain exuberance, I suppose, the fellow jumped up and caught hold of a branch, and a storm of luminous water came pouring down on the two of them, and they laughed and took off running, the girl sweeping water off her hair and her dress as if she were a little bit disgusted, but she wasn’t. It was a beautiful thing to see, like something from a myth. I don’t know why I thought of that now, except perhaps because it is easy to believe in such moments that water was made primarily for blessing, and only secondarily for growing vegetables or doing the wash. I wish I had paid more attention to it. My list of regrets may seem unusual, but who can know that they are, really. This is an interesting planet. It deserves all the attention you can give it. 
--Gildead, Marilynn Robinson

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Vietnam Memorial Wall in D.C. contains the names of 58,272 Americans who died in the war. Its message is that the tragedy of that wretched war was that 58,000 Americans died. The wall is 146 feet long. Imagine a wall that also contained the names of all the Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, and others who died. Such a wall would be over 4 miles long.
According to James Agee, Evans allowed the mothers to clean up their children, if they desired, before he photographed them. Candid shots were not to be achieved at the cost of shaming the families beyond the shame they already felt