Oh blessed perseverance of the donkey that turns the water-wheel! Always the same pace. Always the same circles. One day after another: everyday the same. Without that, there would be no ripeness in the fruit, nor blossom in the orchard, nor scent of flowers in the garden. Carry this thought to your interior life.–The Way, 998
Dear Sir, it seems you’ve taken what is mine And done exactly what I’d hope to do: You’ve trimmed the fat, added a stiffer spine, And made of him a better person who, Despite his countless shortcomings, reflects His Master’s good intentions and who can Both be and act himself. I pay respects To you who took a boy and made a man.
Annual Hayshers' Reunion Breakfast, 12-23-20For Kim (But not for Brian, who stood us up. Again.)
Old friends and eggs (and lox) --
Meaningful, meandering talks --
A year in the making,
is ever a pleasure for me.
Twenty-sevenish years ago, my friend Kim (a dude) watched idly from the sidelines as I debated a bevy of my mamby-pamby co-religionists in a heated debate that took place in the lobby of the Newman Center at the University of Arizona. Beleaguered by fools and appeasers who maintained that morality could not be legislated, I — like noble Aragorn fending off the Nazgûl on Weathertop– valiantly took on all comers. “Of course you can legislate morality! That’s what laws do! Or do you think murder is only illegal because it’s messy?” (For the record, I don’t think goodness can be legislated, but laws are always a reflection of a society’s morals.)
At the time, the Newman Center was located across the street from the Tri-Delta sorority house where Kim worked as a “hasher” (i.e. dishwasher / slop slinger). Kim was — and still is — a devout Evangelical, but he would frequently pop into the Newman Center to pray. (He’s cool like that.) Anyway, after I vanquished all those ninnies, he — like the mysterious Ranger Strider at the Prancing Pony in Bree — approached.
“I’m on your side,” he said.
“You have a funny way of showing it,” I didn’t.
“My name is Kim Brown. I’m impossibly cool. Wanna be friends? And, yeah, you heard right: I’m a dude named Kim.”
“Absolutely,” I said.
And that, more or less, is how Kim and I became friends. Eventually, he recruited me to work with him at the sorority and that’s where the picture above was taken. Most of the guys who signed up to work as hashers were undependable creeps / frat boys who just wanted to hit on the girls. They would inevitably bail, and when they did, Kim would propose one of his Christian friends as a replacement. The house mother always agreed to bring Kim’s friends on because we always (eventually) got our work done and never hit on the ladies. I forget where she was from, but she always called us “hayshers” instead of “hashers” and that’s what we’ve called ourselves ever since.
I don’t remember when we started meeting up for breakfast, but it’s been an annual tradition for a while now and it’s always a great time. Our hilarious friend and fellow haysher Brian joins us when he can, but he’s very responsible now that he’s no longer in a rock band with Kim. The cat’s in the cradle, Brian.
Many years and pounds ago, I kept a little blog called The Natalist Diaries. It was meant to be a field journal of my domestic safari. For some reason, I recently revisited it and found to my delight that I enjoyed what I had written. One of the things I used to do for fun on that site was compose short pieces of light verse for my own amusement (as a kind of adult recess) and post them. Reading them again, I found that some made me cringe and others were pretty charming. Anyway, that trip down memory lane (and Billy Collin’s MasterClass on poetry) has inspired me to resume my old habit of writing a Verse of the Day (V.O.T.D.) for my enjoyment and for any of my readers who have been waiting for me to post more stuff. (I’m working on it…)
I hope you enjoy. As I pointed out at my other site, these little poems are meant to be recess, not good poetry.
Please leave a comment, if only to say hello. I miss human interaction and I don’t spend much time on Facebook anymore. I will not miss this stupid pandemic when it’s over.
Verse of the Day for 12-21-20
Have long hair that'll
Impress you, if you've never seen it.
Still, I pity the ranch hand
In charge of their grooming --
It must be a hassle to clean it.
In today’s episode, I sit down with Ruth Baker, a new friend from Lancaster, England–all the way across the internet (and the Atlantic Ocean). Ruth is a writer, part-time lay chaplain at Lancaster University, and an admin worker for Aid to the Church in Need. I ask her, “How Did You Get Here?”
In the show notes for Episode 11, I included a link to an article about St. Therese and encouraged readers to petition its author to be on my show:
It worked! Today’s guest is Ruth Baker (soon to be Ruth Kennedy) and she was a delight to interview. Before the interview I got this text from my wife, who knows how much I like English culture and how excited I was to interview Ruth:
When I insisted that being overwhelmingly excited was part of my charm, she made it clear that I was incorrect: “No. It is not.”
Who has a better wife than I do? No one, that’s who.
The Father Brown series starring Kenneth More (I said “Baker” on the podcast) is closer to Chesterton’s stories. More is a delight. So is Kenny Baker, but in different things. [Aside: Ruth, any relation? You’re from the same Shire county.]
I mentioned a song called “Let Them In.” That link includes this (evidently erroneous) backstory on the song: Let Them In was made into song by John Gorka from a poem found in a hospital in the Philippines during World War II. The nurse that found the poem kept it all these years until the recent war brought out all the memorabilia. Luckily, her daughter sent a copy to John.
The truth is–and I just learned this today–that the original poem was a sonnet penned by a woman named Elma Dean. The poem was read into the Congressional Record of the Senate on June 12, 1944.
Here is the cover version of Gorka’s song by David Wilcox that I like. Loads of hiraeth in this song.
In today’s episode, I sit down with my friend Liz Perry, a teacher and writer who currently works at Saint Mary’s High School, but will one day be known far and wide as a comedy writer on a famous TV show.
Show Notes (in order of appearance)
Heads up: Links to books theoretically earn me money at Amazon. This has never actually happened.
Windsor, Ontario vs. Detroit, Michigan. This blog post supports what I heard, but, based on all the other results I found online, it is entirely possible that, a) I have no idea what I’m talking about and/or b) both towns suck.
Our Lady of Częstochowa. Click here to learn how to pronounce it properly, as Liz did and not like some rube, as I did.
I learned something cool about this image on Wikipedia: “The Virgin Mary is shown as the “Hodegetria” (“One Who Shows the Way”). In it the Virgin directs attention away from herself, gesturing with her right hand toward Jesus as the source of salvation. In turn, the child extends his right hand toward the viewer in blessing while holding a book of gospels in his left hand.”
Hodegetria is a fitting title for Mama Mary (see here) and a great Scrabble word.
Wikipedia also confirmed something truly weird that I knew, but that, you, dear reader/listener, may not have known.
Rev. Jesus Urteaga is an incredible author who will kick your lukewarm a$$. He wrote two excellent books. An English copy of his book Los defectos de los santos (The Defects of the Saints) is harder to find than the Holy Grail* (and more expensive). I got my copy from the Philippines via my ex-sister-in-law’s visiting aunt who saved me the $40 shipping fee. His book El valor divino de lo humano was originally published in English as Man, the Saint and was a bare-knuckled tune-up for your pathetic excuse for a spiritual life. It was later renamed Saints in the World, toned down a bit, and given an incongruously milquetoast cover. It’s still totally worth reading, especially if you’re in a men’s group. Here’s Chapter 1. You’re welcome. * Every chalice at every validly celebrated Mass is a Holy Grail. [drops mike]
I was pretty sure St. Josemaría had this to say about praying the Rosary, but I only found it in one place–with no citation–on the internet. The INTERNET. Weird, right? I think it means he probably didn’t say it, but it sounds like him, so here:
“If you get distracted in spite of your good will, don’t worry. Keep praying, for that prayer is like the strumming on the guitar by a lover singing to his beloved. Even though the thoughts might be elsewhere, your good desires and your vocal prayer will be there as a present to the Lord and his Mother, in a song of love.”
The unaltered version of St. Thérèse’s autobiography reveals a more relatable Little Flower.
“One evening, not knowing in what words to tell Our Lord how much I loved him, and how much I wished that He was served and honoured everywhere, I thought sorrowfully that from the depths of hell there does not go up to Him one single act of love. Then, from my inmost heart, I cried out that I would gladly be cast into that place of torment and blasphemy so that He might be eternally loved even there.”
Saint Genesius. He’s the patron saint of actors, comedians, clowns, and lawyers, among others.
Missed opportunity. I should have shared this Chesterton quote from his book Heretics with Liz. But I didn’t. D’oh! “Mr. McCabe thinks that I am not serious but only funny, because Mr. McCabe thinks that funny is the opposite of serious. Funny is the opposite of not funny, and of nothing else.”
Stephen Colbert gave a great interview that goes nicely with Chesterton’s quote.
“The times are never so bad but that a good man can live in them.”
Saint Thomas More
Saint Thomas More was also funny. On his way up to the scaffold where he was to be beheaded, he asked for assistance. “I pray you, master Lieutenant, see me safe up and [for] my coming down, let me shift for myself.” As he placed his head on the chopping block, he carefully positioned his beard so that is would not be cut. “This hath not offended the king,” he said.
I’m quite sure Hilaire Belloc would’ve thought my Lorenzo story was hilarious (no pun intended). He wrote these quarantine-must-read classics.
Jim: Who Ran Away from His Nurse and Was Eaten by a Lion is a delightful pop-up book based on Belloc’s Cautionary Tales for Children. It is one of my soon-to-be-six-year-old daughter’s favorite books. Delightful.
Watch The Chosen. Low budget. High impact. Here’s an article about how it’s the largest crowdfunded amount ever raised for a movie.
Speaking of booze and Catholicism… Pints with Aquinas is a great podcast. Matt, if you trackback links to your page, hi. Please be on my show. Not to brag, but Trent Horn could pick me out of a lineup and not for the usual reasons people pick other people out of lineups.