instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Sunday, June 21, 2020

To You I have entrusted my cause

Today's first reading from Jeremiah includes this plea:

O LORD of hosts, you who test the just,
who probe mind and heart,
let me witness the vengeance you take on them,
for to you I have entrusted my cause.

That might seem inconsistent with the idea of taking up your cross and following the Lamb of God without resisting your enemies.

What I heard, though, is not about the suffering of Jeremiah's enemies, it's about the justice of God. Jeremiah doesn't know when his persecutors "will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion," but he knows it will certainly happen. He doesn't want to witness it for his personal triumph over all those who were his friends -- well, maybe a little, but the real point is, for Jeremiah to witness it means he's still alive when it happens, which means it happens relatively soon. When you're praying to a God for Whom a thousand years are like yesterday, no more than a watch in the night, it doesn't hurt to ask that He not wait a thousand years to effect His justice in the world.

Moreover, Jeremiah has entrusted his cause to the LORD Who tests the just. He's sure he's aced the test, but it's not official until the test results are posted. When the wicked lose their power, the poor will not only be rescued, they can be certain that they themselves are just before the LORD if they follow Jeremiah's example.


Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Where was I?

I was talking with God last night, and it seemed what I was looking for was the Broadway Prayer, about which I first wrote seventeen years ago (!) and haven't given a lot of thought to since.

In case the details have slipped your mind as well, let me quote myself:
Fr. Clement Burns, OP, preaches something he calls "the Broadway Prayer," for use when a person or situation in your life weighs heavily on your heart.

The steps of the Broadway Prayer are:
  1. Thank God for the person. Put his name up in lights (hence "Broadway") and celebrate the good that God has placed in him. It doesn't matter whether you feel particularly thankful. "Dear God, thank you for my neighbor. Thank you for the love she has for your creation [which she shows by keeping two dozen cats]. Thank you for her enthusiasm [which keeps her up till 2 a.m. on weekends] and her sense of humor [marked by that braying laugh]."
  2. Ask God to change the person in some observable way. Of course, the way you think the person should change may not be the way God thinks he should. You just pray for what you think is best, and leave the rest to God. The important point, for this prayer, is that the change be something you will be able to detect. "I pray that my mother may stop spitting tobacco juice on the rugs and shooting at squirrels from my porch."
  3. Thank God for changing the person. Take a moment to imagine the person changed in the way you have asked, then thank God for it. "Thank you, Lord, for helping him to stop insulting Norwegians in my presence."


Saturday, September 23, 2017

The handle of his wrong

I came across Epictetus a couple of times this week, which is unexpected since he's been dead for a while now. First was a link to an old Existential Comic that explains why there are so few First World Stoics these days. Second was a reference, in a Joseph Bottum Weekly Standard column, to Epictetus's "two handles" metaphor, which I quote from an online translation:
Everything has two handles, one by which you can carry it, the other by which you cannot. If your brother wrongs you, do not take it by that handle, the handle of his wrong, for you cannot carry it by that, but rather by the other handle—that he is a brother, brought up with you, and then you will take it by the handle that you can carry by.
Bottum was writing about American political discourse, but Catholic discourse is also rife with taking the handle of your brother's wrong. The fact that he is wrong is often treated as more relevant, more fundamental, even more certain than the fact that he is your brother.


Saturday, January 07, 2017

A word or two, if I may

One of the nice things about having a blog you never update that no one reads is you can post whatever you like. I like words, and I came across two in the last few months I'd like to remember.

Nondenotative means "not denotative." I'll go ahead and use it to mean "of or relating to words that do not denote anything," then distinguish different kinds of nondenotative speech:
  • gibberish (word-like sounds)
  • double-talk (speech that sounds like it denotes some meaning, but on reflection or review doesn't)
  • speech that objectively denotes some meaning but that is spoken in a particular instance without a subjective intent to denote anything...
    • ...and without a subjective intent to connote something
    • ...but with a subjective intent to connote something
There may be some cases in which you'd want to take that last kind of nondenotative speech seriously but not literally.
Obnubilate means "becloud, obscure." Clouds can obnubilate the sun, polite words can obnubilate true intent, awkward mannerisms can obnubilate intelligence. If William Strunk's dictum, "Omit needless words," were universally adopted, "obnubilate" would be omitted from the dictionary.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Hello I must be going

Dusts off Blogger password. Checks out the news in the Catholic blogosphere.


Saturday, October 08, 2016

Leaders of strong character

" women, we are disgusted by Mr. Trump's treatment of individuals, women, in particular... America will only be a great nation when we have leaders of strong character who will defend both unborn children and the dignity of women." - Marjorie Dannenfelser, President, Susan B. Anthony List, January 2016

"" - Marjorie Dannenfelser, Chairwoman, Trump Pro-Life Coalition, October 2016


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sign of the times