15 April 2014

Two Poems by Maureen N. McLane


Why the low mood,
the picking at food?
Maybe it's the weather.

Maybe it's hormones.
Explanation's cheap
but sometimes hits the mark.

I am the target
of mysterious arrows
I myself let sling.

O that's your fantasy
of omnipotence.
You make everything
your thing.

All day I stayed in bed.
It seemed someone else
must have been alive

have done what I did.
Failed to do
what I failed to.

It's still in my head
those things I did
and said and cared for

doing but it's all gone
white like green hills
in certain light

as Dante says the hillsides
can go white
in the middle of a new life.


Even the places
the sun doesn't reach
in the deepest woods
are hot. Even the places

that never dry—the mosses
creeping everywhere
a damp carpet underfoot—
are dry. Even the quietest

places you've never been
are disquieted by your cry.
Even those places.

10 August 2013

The most dogmatic and at the same time the least doctrinal

Daniel McCarthy writes:

I happened to be browsing Will Herberg’s classic Protestant, Catholic, Jew the other week, and this passage caught my attention:
The remarkable combination of discipline and diversity with which the Catholic Church conducts its work has always been a source of bafflement to the outsider. “Rome remains an enigma in theology and in politics,” confesses the Protestant church historian F.E. Mayer. “The Roman Church is the most dogmatic and at the same time the least doctrinal church. There is a fixed dogmatic limit, but within this limit there is room for divergent and often contradictory opinions. … There is probably no church which has the capacity for harboring so many widely divergent points of view as the Roman Church.”

04 November 2012

The promotion of peace

From the Second Vatican Council's pastoral constitution "Gaudium et spes" on the Church in the modern world.

Peace is not the mere absence of war or the simple maintenance of a balance of power between forces, nor can it be imposed at the dictate of absolute power. It is called, rightly and properly, a work of justice. It is the product of order, the order implanted in human society by its divine founder, to be realised in practice as men hunger and thirst for ever more perfect justice.
  The common good of the human race is subject to the eternal law as its primary principle, but its requirements in practice keep changing with the passage of time. The result is that peace is never established finally and for ever; the building up of peace has to go on all the time. Again, the human will is weak and wounded by sin; the search for peace therefore demands from each individual constant control of the passions, and from legitimate authority untiring vigilance.
  Even this is not enough. Peace here on earth cannot be maintained unless the good of the human person is safeguarded, and men are willing to trust each other and share their riches of spirit and talent. If peace is to be established it is absolutely necessary to have a firm determination to respect other persons and peoples and their dignity, and to be zealous in the practice of brotherhood. Peace is therefore the fruit also of love; love goes beyond what justice can achieve. Peace on earth, born of love for one’s neighbour, is the sign and the effect of the peace of Christ that flows from God the Father. In his own person the incarnate Son, the Prince of Peace, reconciled all men to God through his death on the cross. In his human nature he destroyed hatred and restored unity to all mankind in one people and one body. Raised on high by the resurrection, he sent the Spirit of love into the hearts of men.
  All Christians are thus urgently summoned to live the truth in love, and to join all true peacemakers in prayer and work for peace. Moved by the same spirit, we cannot but praise those who renounce violence in defence of rights, and have recourse to means of defence otherwise available to the less powerful as well, provided that this can be done without injury to the rights and obligations of others or of the community.

08 September 2012

The relationship between the obediance of God's people and the triumph of God's cause

"Thus John Howard Yoder argues that 'the triumph of the right is assured not by the might that comes to the aid of the right, which is of course the justification of the use of violence and other kinds of power in every human conflict; the triumph of the right, although it is assured, is sure because of the power of the resurrection and not because of the inherently greater strength of the good guys. The relationship between the obedience of God's people and the truiumph of God's cause is not a relationship of cause and effect but one of cross and resurrection'".  From The Hauerwas Reader, 113 n. 7

03 March 2011

Billy Collins on poetry

I heard Billy Collins read the other night. The professor I went with took this note on something he said.

"One statement he made rings true: poets write for other poets and do so by displaying their love of poetry--the sculpted word--because no one is so foolish as to think another person (other than, perhaps, Mom) cares about his inner life. Readers are too wrapped up in their own to care about another unless that other comes bearing gifts of beautiful craft."

I'm not sure if Billy said that poets write only for other poets, but that when they write they show respect for their reader and worthiness to be read by writing in a beautiful way. It's the beauty, not the poet's inner life, that is the draw to any reader.

19 January 2011

Abraham Heschel

"There are no proofs for the existence of the God of Abraham. There are only witnesses."
The Prophets, 27

17 January 2011

Robert Alter, A Peculiar Literature

The Bible has invited endless exegesis not only because of the drastic economy of its means of expressions but also because it conceives of the world as a place full of things to understand in which the things of ultimate importance defy human understanding.

The World of Biblical Literature, 22