Loving to the Point of Folly

Here is a letter we received today: “I took a gentleman seemingly in need of spiritual and temporal guidance into my home on a Sunday afternoon. I let him have a nap on my bed, went through the want ads with him, made coffee and sandwiches for him, and when he left, I found my wallet had gone also.” I can only say that the saints would only bow their heads, and not try to understand or judge.…These things happened for our testing. We are sowing the seed of love, and we are not living in the harvest time. We must love to the point of folly, and we are indeed fools, as our Lord himself was who died for such a one as this.

Dorothy Day, Called to Community

May & June Reading

  1. The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: Volume 1: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn*****
  2. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe***
  3. Bread & Wine: Readings for Lent & Easter, Eberhard Arnold, St. Augustine, Wendell Berry, et. al.****
  4. Paul: A Biography, N.T. Wright (Audio)*****
  5. Gardens of the World, Radcliffe Squires**
  6. Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu, Tr. D.C. Lau***
  7. The Road to Wigan Pier, George Orwell (Audio)*****
  8. The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious, Carl Jung, Tr. R. F. C. Hull***
  9. Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather (Audio)****
  10. The Trial, Franz Kafka, Tr. Breon Mitchell (Audio)****
  11. On Becoming a Person, Carl Rogers***
  12. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business, Charles Duhigg (Audio)***
  13. God, Dreams, and Revelation, Morton T. Kelsey****
  14. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad****
  15. Catholic Social Teaching: A Way In, Stratford Caldecott***
  16. Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger****
  17. The Portal of the Mystery of Hope, Charles Peguy****
  18. Notes from Underground, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Tr. Constance Garnett*****
  19. Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation, Miorslav Volf****
  20. Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen

Mother Teresa on Doing and Being

If you really belong to the work that has been entrusted to you, then you must do it with your whole heart. You can bring salvation only by being honest and by really working with God. It is not how much we are doing but how much love, how much honesty, how much faith is put into doing it. It makes no difference what we are doing. What you are doing, I cannot do, and what I am doing, you cannot do. Only sometimes we forget and we spend more time looking at somebody else and wishing we were doing something else. We waste our time thinking of tomorrow, and today we let the day pass, and yesterday is gone.

–Mother Teresa

The True Individual

True individuality is measured by this: how long or how far one can endure being alone without the understanding of others. The person who can endure being alone is poles apart from the social mixer. This person is miles apart from the one who manages successfully with everyone – the one who possesses no sharp edges. God never uses such people. The true individual, anyone who is going to be directly involved with God, will not and cannot avoid the human bite. The true individual will be thoroughly misunderstood. God is no friend of cozy human gathering.

Søren Kierkegaard, Provocations

From Another Other Within, Without

Say your body’s
life-size trip clock
starts in schlep

on the down slope.
Then the long hand
slaloms you steep

as your face tocks
the take of nine-to-five.
It’s just your timing

and mindset that’s semi-
rattled, and everyone
comes to the skit a little

pusillanimous to begin.
What is a kind of
smudgy justice:

the ancestors’ DNA
in full wig effect,
frizzy edges crimped,

oblivious to wind.
Are you really inside
that mirror slice?

Pacing over past
junkets still, a hybrid
hallucination got

stock-carded into
a being strange to be,
like that griffen

who slips so casual
onto someone else’s
map of laughing tropic

locales. Friend, look hard.
Mix. Step out. The center
bit by bit gets beiged.

You are one hundred
percent half-and-half.
In the hemi is the how.

–Pimone Triplett

On Exclusion and The Other

…the power of evil imposes itself so irresistibly through the operations of a transpersonal “system” that is both “institutional” and “spiritual.” Caught in the system of exclusion as if in some invisible snare, people behave according to its perverted logic.

How does the system work? Consider first what might be considered the “background cacophony of evil.” It permeates institutions, communities, nations, whole epochs… This is the low-intensity evil of the way “things work” or the way “things simply are,” the exclusionary vapors of institutional or communal cultures under which many suffer but for which no one is responsible and about which all complain but no one can target. This all-pervasive low-intensity evil rejuvenates itself by engendering belief in its own immortality and imposes itself bu generating a sense of its own ineluctability.

In extraordinary situations and under extraordinary directors certain themes from the “background cacophony” are picked up, orchestrated into a bellicose musical, and played up. “Historians”—national, communal, or personal interpreters of the past—trumpet the double theme of the former glory and past victimization; “economists: join in with the accounts of present exploitation and great economic potentials; ”political scientists“ add the theme of the growing imbalance of power, of steadily giving ground, of losing control over what is rightfully ours; ”cultural anthropologists“ bring in the dangers of the loss of identity and extol the singular value of our personal or cultural gifts, capable of genuinely enriching the outside world; ”politicians“ pick up all four themes and weave them into a high-pitched aria about the threats to vital interests posed by the other who is therefore the very incarnation of evil; finally the ”priests” enter into a solemn procession and accompany all this with a soothing background chant that offers to any whose consciences may have been bothered the assurance that God is on our side and that our enemy is the enemy of God and therefore an adversary of everything that is true, good, and beautiful.

As this bellicose musical with reinforcing themes is broadcast through the media, resonances are created with the background cacophony of evil that permeates the culture of a community, and the community finds itself singing the music and marching to its tune. To refuse to sing and march, to protest the madness of the spectacle, appears irrational and irresponsible, naive and cowardly, treacherous toward one’s own and dangerously sentimental toward the evil enemy. The stage for “ethnic cleansing” and similar “eruptions” of evil—personal as well as communal—is set. The first shot only needs to be fired and the chain reaction will start.

–Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace, pg 87-88

“First- illegal entry into the United States is a crime—as it should be. Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”
–Jeff Sessions, defending forcibly taking children from immigrants

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they’re telling us what we’re getting.”
–Donald Trump

“We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in, we’re stopping a lot of them, but we’re taking people out of the country, you wouldn’t believe how bad these people are… These aren’t people. These are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country at a rate that’s never happened before.”
–Donald Trump

It is a fact that cannot be denied: the wickedness of others becomes our own wickedness because it kindles something evil in our own hearts.
–C.G. Jung, “After the Catastrophe”

The Second Coming 

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


William Butler Yeats, 1919