Month: February 2015

A Sad Day

Charles Rice

I just learned that my professor, mentor in the faith, and friend Charles Rice died Wednesday. We lost touch over the years, last corresponding by email a few months ago, but he was often in my mind for some reason. He leaves behind ten children and 41 grandchildren. He was a great man, a man’s man of the faith, the kind of guy who could knock you down if he had to but would prefer to buy you a beer and ask about your day. It’s rare I say this, but I was privileged to know him. … Read the rest

Friday

Brews You Can Use

I read once that the average lifespan of a blog is six months. I actually would’ve guessed three months, but maybe they count the blogs that start off strong, then peter out to one or two posts a month, limping along like that for a long time before calling it quits.

That fact crossed my mind earlier this week when I ran across this 2006 column of mine from the National Catholic Register: What’s Red and White and Tasted All Over? In it, I mention a dozen Catholic bloggers who write at least occasionally about drinking. I checked on all twelve of them and discovered:

Two are going strong (congratulations, Laudator and Crowhill).

One moved or, rather, apparently folded his wine blog into his general blog (Bainbridge).

One has a few blog posts in 2015, but is not active overall.

One blog is no longer open to the public (by invitation only).

Seven no longer exist or haven’t been updated in over a year.

Based on that, I’m guessing the six-month lifespan estimate is pretty accurate. At 10+ years, TDE is an old, old man.

Incidentally, I went back and read that 2006 column. I really (if immodestly) enjoyed it. I had completely forgotten about this passage:

Read about the early 20th-century Catholic literary revival that biographer Joseph Pearce has chronicled so well. The wine flowed freely — so freely that you might think it was the fuel of the revival. G.K. Chesterton drank it, Maurice Baring balanced glasses of it on his bald head, Hilaire Belloc practically drank a barrel of it during a walking pilgrimage that he recounts in The Path to Rome.

Chesterton and Belloc loved the stuff so much that contemporaries claimed that they had misheard

Read the rest

Humorous

H.I.F.

There’s a race war going on, but it’s black on black. This from talk show host Byron Allen, criticizing Al Sharpton for selling out to big media interests: “Why is Sharpton on TV every night on MSNBC? Because he endorsed Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal. He signed the memorandum of understanding back in 2010. He endorsed the merger. Next thing you know we’re watching him on television trying to form a sentence. Every night we have the privilege of watching adult illiteracy.” Link. … Read the rest

Thursday

I recently re-ran across this passage from John C. h. Wu’s (the Chinese Chesterton’s) The Golden Age of Zen: “The first and second chapters of the Tao Teh Ching constitute the metaphysical background of Zen.”

I’m not exactly sure what to think about that statement, since I thought Mahayana Buddhism constitutes the metaphysical backbone of Zen. Perhaps Mahayana is the metaphysical background of Zen? Is there a difference? “Backbone” is a metaphor; I don’t think “background” is. But are they substantively different?

Oh well, I doubt it makes much of a difference. For me, the important thing is that it’s the playful element of Taoism that transformed Buddhism into Zen, and it’s why, of Zen’s parents (Taoism and Mahayana Buddhism), I’ve always found Taoism far more appealing, almost like Taoism is the beautiful nymph that married the ugly man (M.B.), producing a splendid, if flawed, child (Zen).

All that prompted me to revisit the Tao Teh Ching and post these passages. Each deserve some cogitation time . . . or not. You’re better off with St. John of the Cross or Avila, but on the lofty mundane level, this stuff is great, right up there with some of the highest Stoic insights (Stoicism being the highest accomplishment of western philosophy before Christ came and gave it all meaning).

Enjoy.

Therefore the sage puts his own person last, and yet it is found in the foremost place; he treats his person as if it were foreign to him, and yet that person is preserved.

The highest excellence is like water. The excellence of water appears in its benefiting all things, and in its occupying, without striving (to the contrary), the low place which all men dislike. Hence is near to the Tao.

It is better to leave a vessel … Read the rest