Friday, August 18, 2006
You have been warned.
My oldest son, David, is not, shall we say, enamored of dogs. He has always liked them from a distance---preferably a long distance. When dogs come near, he goes far. He finds them intimidating. Things are getting better these days, but large dogs still leave him pretty nervous.
He has been quite impressed, however, with the idea of seeing-eye dogs. He really likes the fact that they can help blind people with various tasks in life. Encountering such dogs, in fact, has helped him to get over some of his fear of dogs in general.
He was also recently impressed with the guards at the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts. We were there, looking at paintings, and in just about every room there is a guard who kept a polite but very watchful eye on the many jewels of human creativity on display. Whenever someone (usually a child) started to get too close to a picture, the guard would quickly move into position and ask the patron to step away.
A child's mind is always processing the world, and David's found what I think to be a unique insight derived from these two recent impressions. After our museum visit he told me something to the effect, "Blind people would make good guards at the art museum because they have dogs that could chase people away from the pictures."
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Referring to how both Israel and Hezbollah try to highlight the damage each has received:
But this phenomenon of each side parading its pain and loss inverts the historic order, whereby each side wants to intimidate the enemy by appearing ferocious, relentless, and victorious. In World War II, for instance, the U.S. Office of War Information prohibited the publication of films or photographs showing dead American soldiers for the first two years of fighting, and then only slightly relented. Meanwhile, its Bureau of Motion Pictures produced movies like "Our Enemy Â? The Japanese," showing dead bodies of Japanese and scenes of Japanese deprivation.
Proclaiming one's prowess and denigrating the enemy's has been the norm through millennia of Egyptian wall paintings, Greek vases, Arabic poetry, Chinese drawings, English ballads, and Russian theater. Why have combatants (and their allies in the press) now reversed this age-old and universal pattern, downplaying their own prowess and promoting the enemy's?Because of the unprecedented power enjoyed by America and its allies. ...
Saturday, August 12, 2006
This bishop reveals in very simple language a stunningly powerful faith that survived amidst "reeducation" in the camps. The simplicity of it is remarkable given the sophistication of the mind that produced it.
He had been seeking a way to share Jesus with his guards, when he was approached with a request to help the guards understand ecclesial documents better. (The government was afraid of the Church and wanted to be able to monitor its teaching.) This is what followed:
[Speaking to a guard.] "...I propose writing a dictionary of religious terms, from A to Z. When you have a moment, I will explain it to you. I hope that in this way you can better understand the structure, the activities, the history and the developing of the Church..."Yet, for all of his tremendous learning, the message of this book is one of simple surrender, filling each moment with the love of Jesus.
The police gave me paper on which I wrote out my dictionary of 1,500 terms in French, English, Italian, Latin, Spanish, and Chinese, with the definitions in Vietnamese. Thus, with these definitions, my responses to their questions about the Church, as well as my acceptance of their criticism, this document gradually became a "practical catechism."
Saturday, August 05, 2006
FIRST THINGS: On the Square: "This claim that because religious believers hold a position, there are only irrational reasons to hold it?is just too useful to certain segments of the commentariat, for it invalidates in one fell swoop whole classes of public argument. ... I wonder if the people who push this line have ever actually considered how dangerous it would be to win it? Do they really want to convince the large majority of Americans who are religious believers that their faith is incompatible with democratic politics? Do they think that people will, as a result, give up on their faith, or give up on their democracy?"Do read the whole article. It is quite worthwhile.