Month: November 2006

Last Day of Freedom Eudemon

Tonight, I have nothing to do. After tonight? Social, service, or family obligations nine out of the next ten days. One is very pleasant (tree decorating with the family), but the rest are simple time consumers (committee meetings, take care of house and children while Marie is out, a perfectly painful Christmas party for children, etc.). But I will prevail! By the power of Norman Vincent Peale positive thinking, a few pale ales, and–in a pinch–a chemical lobotomy, I will make it through.

Al Qaeda has denounced Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Turkey, calling it part of a “crusader campaign” against Islam. Is anyone surprised? To someone who lives in jihad, everything is war. You couldn’t offer to take these guys out for a beer (oh wait, they don’t drink) without them thinking it’s a crusade.

Were you a little young to remember the Polish Solidarity movement? The forthcoming issue of Touchstone has a good commemoration in it. Highly recommended. Excerpt:

In 1980, workers did not take to the streets carrying signs and banners of protest and images of the Black Madonna, the patroness of Poland. They stayed in their workplaces. With enormous courage and discipline, they passively dared the government’s troops to attack them there, where all they were doing was issuing written demands, praying, singing patriotic songs, confessing to the priests who came to minister to them, and receiving Holy Communion.

And of course this tactic of massively organized Christian nonviolence had a radically different result. On August 31, 1980, two weeks after the general strike began, several of Solidarity’s most important demands, including a forty-hour workweek and recognition of Solidarity

Read the rest

The Wednesday Eudemon

I saved the best for second: Mark Steyn’s obituary in The Atlantic Monthly. It’s the best regular feature in the magazine, and in the December issue he has cranked out his best one: funny, anecdote-filled, disconcerting, with a Catholic kicker at the end. It’s about journalist, secularist, leftist, Muslim hater Orianna Fallaci, who said shortly before she died, “Go f*** yourself. I say what I want.” The whole piece is good, but I’m just going to cut-and-paste four parts:

First, one from the funny category:

Oriana Fallaci was, on the one hand, an unlikely crusader. Petite physically if in no other sense, she was a feminist, a secularist, a leftist. On the other hand, who has most to lose? At a time when uncovered women are jeered at and intimidated when they walk through certain suburbs of Continental cities, La Fallaci might have expected the other divas to rally to the cause. Instead, such feminist warhorses as Germaine Greer managed to give the impression that they found Islam a bit of a turn-on: here’s the patriarchal society they’ve been pining for all along.

One of the anecdotes:

After traveling to Qom and cooling her heels for ten days waiting for [Ayatollah Khomeini] to agree to see her, she was ushered—barefoot and wearing a chador—into his presence—and found what she subsequently described as the most handsome old man she’d ever met. In his own way, Khomeini must have dug the crazy Italian chick. The meeting was terminated when she tore off “this stupid medieval rag” and hurled her chador to the floor, but he agreed to finish the interview a day or two later.

Read the rest

The Tuesday Eudemon

The Atlantic Monthly came yesterday. All sorts of good stuff. The issue revolves around the most influential Americans of all time. There’s the top 100, plus a bunch of sidebar articles on the most influential poets, filmmakers, etc. A few great blurbs:

Hitchcock eventually edged over into horror—see the move from Vertigo to Psycho—and introduced the challenge that led to film’s decline: Can you keep your eyes open if I show you this?

Though he degenerated over time into the drug-sodden, chronically obese “fat Elvis” of countless cruel jokes, his sex-charged TV appearances and films of the ’50s made him the No. 1 teen idol of the buttoned-down Eisenhower era, and he set a benchmark for renown that today’s rock stars still strive to surpass.

Eliot can’t vanish; his work, like Whitman’s, has entered the culture. We read him even when we don’t.

Significantly, three of the top ten influential Americans are three of the four presidents most responsible for expanding the federal government: Lincoln, Wilson, and FDR (LBJ being the fourth, and he’s ranked 44). I also find it interesting that Jakes K. Polk ranks in the Top 50 (he grabbed California, Texas, and the Southwest for us).

The approach isn’t scientific. They polled ten historians and asked them to provide their Top 100 lists, then took the numerical favorites. Such an approach isn’t precise, but it’s fun reading, and the article is written by Ross Douthat, one of their best writers (and my favorite over there).

I’ll post more stuff from this issue later, but in the meantime: You wanna kill your kid? Go here and check out the ten most dangerous … Read the rest

The Moanin’ Eudemon

Ah, my favorite weekend of the year has ended. Most sad indeed.

But I have Cyber Monday to perk me up. Today is the one of the biggest online shopping days of the year. People go to their offices and shop online. I think I’ll pass. I have my wife to cover my shopping back, thank goodness. I don’t mind a little Christmas shopping, but once it hits mega-levels (more than ten gifts), I prefer to go catatonic (which is, of course, pretty much the same thing as mega-shopping; the facial expressions are the same, but the monetary outlay is different).

Great story: A man “has been jailed after an outraged burglar spotted massive amounts of child pornography on his computer and called police.” It kind of reminds me of hard-core inmates who beat up child abusers in prison. Even monsters like children.

Funny observation from Leno last week about Kramer’s outburst:

[Michael] Richards has called Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton over the situation. Here’s my question. Who do you call if you offend white people? Who’s the head white guy? Is that Ron Howard? Do you call Opie?

At least one good review has been written about The Nativity Story. (Courtesy of the Jester)

Another reason I’m happy I never watched soap operas: “All My Children” this week will introduce a transgender character who is beginning to make the transition from a man into a woman. The article says actor “Jeffrey Carlson portrays Zarf, an American who nonetheless speaks in an exaggerated British accent.” Is that what that accent is called? The article also says that a gay … Read the rest

Something for Sunday Morning

Marriage implies the negation of self, and the negation of self is an invitation to God. When married, the individuals are no longer two, but are one flesh. Mt. 19:6. The self-centeredness that is the essence of the flesh is, by the very act of marriage, crippled. The self-interest that drives the individual receives a serious blow, a blow that leaves a person disposed towards some amount of selflessness. The resulting soul is turned outward, ready to accept others. And better disposed to accepting the ultimate other, God.

This truth about love and marriage is not limited to the Christian religion. It is a truth rooted in the cosmos. Socrates recognized the same truth. In Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates spoke of a form of eros that is “true loving yearning, enchantment, self-giving, and non-calculating rapture” with another person. Those who possess this kind of love, this mania, rise above their own selfishness and are ready for the divine. “When they die, the soul will leave the body not with perfect wings but, at least, with sprouting ones. Because the soul had already set foot on the path of the heavens, it will not get lost in darkness.” Josef Pieper (discussing the Phaedrus).… Read the rest

The Weekend Eudemon

Ah, peaceful Saturday morning. It is the Saturday of Eric (not to be confused with the Summer of George, but dang close to the same thing).

What’s on my schedule today? Blog, buy a CD organizer, read, clean the kitchen floor, study, nap, research, exercise, write, decorate my study for Christmas, read, and watch the USC/ND game while I clean the house. I have only 15 hours to get it all in. It’s 4:34 a.m. as I type this. I was so excited, I couldn’t sleep.

Great opening story line: “Turkey’s religious-affairs minister has announced that during his visit next week, Pope Benedict XVI should declare that Islam is a religion of peace. Ali Bardakoglu told the Reuters news agency that the Pope should make it clear that violence is caused by ‘fallible and misguided humans,’ not religious beliefs.”

I look forward to seeing B16 finesse this. A religion of peace? I know a lot of people buy into it, but I don’t. Violence is advocated in its holy book, it initially spread by violence, and currently it makes its biggest splash by violence. Granted, it has had peaceful components, but primarily a religion of peace? I find that hard to accept. Christianity, on the other hand, seems to be the mirror opposite. Its holy book does not advocate violence, it initially spread by peace and love and the persecution such things bring, and it currently makes its biggest splash by love (the neocons aren’t Christians, but the Pope is). Granted, it has had violence components, but it is primarily a religion of peace.

The Russian spy “poisoning” fascinates me, but only … Read the rest

The Black Eudemon

Yes, a black eudemon. It’s not my effort at multi-culturalism. It’s a simple recognition of a day that has grabbed America and continues to puzzle me: Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, the biggest shopping day of the year, shin-bleeding day.

I understand a little better now: stores put out great bargains to lure the shoppers (though it seems to me that they were luring shoppers just fine on the day after Thanksgiving back in the 1970s, before the Black Friday hysteria started). With all the great bargains, I can see why people feel beckoned. Still, is the immense investment of time, the anxiety (“Will I be first?”), and the surly feelings of competition with your fellow man worth saving money on a big screen TV? There must be more honorable ways of saving/making $200. Like homosexual prostitution and passing off tobacco as marijuana to gullible sixth graders.

As for me, I’m staying home . . . by myself. My wife took the Seven to Detroit this weekend. It’s our annual divorce, though we keep in touch by cell phone. I sometimes go with her, but not this year. This year, I’m hanging out with out-of-town family. I’m also going to Mass, reading, writing, and enjoying the quiet. I feel like the boss came in and told me to knock off early . . . at 9:30 in the morning.

I don’t have much to post today, but I’m suggesting two Neuhuasian items. The first: Fr. Neuhaus’s blog post today. It’s excellent, top to bottom. Excerpt:

I still have occasion to visit psychiatric wards from time to time. They are generally much smaller and

Read the rest

A Thankful Eudemon

It’s been a very good year. For that matter, it’s been a very good life, and I think it’s because things didn’t go as planned. I live in a small town: not NYC, where I had planned on living (my girlfriend turned fiance turned wife slowly weened me from the idea, though, if I were single, I’d still be tempted by Manhattan). I have seven children: not zero or three or four (all numbers I seriously entertained, back when I thought I had a meaningful choice in such matters). I’m middle class: not rich, which I always assumed I would be, but I gave up that idea after reading thirstily from the lives of great men who never cared about money (I can’t say I’ve reached a healthy level of detachment, but I’m not crazed about money–either lust for it or fear of losing it–like I was).

Thankful, I am. So thankful, in fact, that I figure something horrible is going to happen to me soon. That may be, but as long as it’s not brought about by my own hubris, I can (hopefully) accept it.

What’s on tap around the web? Not much, but a few things:

*The Macy’s parade starts at 9:00, but the weather might eliminate the balloons. Boy, I hope not. I was looking forward to smiles and squeals from my little ones.

*Public schools might start using single-sex education. It’s not the first time public schools have backed off their experimenting ways and thought, “Maybe the Catholics aren’t all wet after all.” Many public schools have also been re-discovering the virtue of K-8 arrangements.

*Jon Voight Read the rest