21 January, 2008

I Know What I Want, and I Want it Now

Tim over at Old World Swine hasa wonderful post on the artless nature of disposable crap. He makes some good points that many people ignore in our short-sighted culture. There is an effective, yet forgotten virtue known as generational building that is in danger of following the Dodo into oblivion.

Quality is expensive, which is exactly why quality should be attained over time, or even generations. Even if I can't afford to build an entire solid masonry house with a lifespan of hundreds of years for the grandchildren of my grandchildren, I could possibly build a good foundation now. Maybe throw up some cheap studs for a room or two. Next year I could replace a couple of walls with masonry. Maybe five or ten years down the road I can put a slate roof on it. Maybe after 50 years of this type of effort I could have a house that will easily stand for 500 years or more. Is it worth it? Probably not, I'll just go and buy the bargain basement starter home with the 20-30 year lifespan and move up the housing ladder as necessary. The grandkids will be fine...

16 January, 2008

Christendom, The Sequel: Insert Pithy Subtitle Here

Welcome to that purely American hell of superficiality that we, kind ranchers that we are, brand with the unassuming and altogether benign name of “Election Year”. Of course we all know what a gigantic pain in the backside that red-hot poker is as it labels us red or blue, commie or corporate whore. In honor of the big dance I want to throw out some purely philosophical questions and vague statements in the hopes of generating some sort of meaningful debate in the midst of the quintessential American Enema.

Here goes:

I. Is there a New Christendom out there to be obtained? What does it look like?

II. The American Popular Religion of personal belief sacrificed at the altar of public service is neither religious nor popular. Discuss…

III. What is a sensible theological endgame in the arena of public service and governance? Asked another way: What does a purely Christian method of governance divorced from Christianity look like?

IV. Is America the Greatest Force for Good the World has Ever Known? If not, turn in your GOP card to Sean Hannity and please defend your blatant blasphemy.

In all seriousness as I turn off the sarcasm – I want to know what my devoted handful of readers expects from Christianity in public and civic life. This will be a bit of a theme for the year that I hope to touch on from multiple angles in the hopes of coming to grips with my own little collision of Christianity with the wider world. Happy Election Year everyone…it’s going to hurt like you know what.

11 January, 2008

Bar Code Buildings

For your light, uplifting Friday reading I direct you to this article. Very sad, but unfortunately very true in my mind. And to add to the sadness I heard that Paris is considering removing its height limitations on new construction. I can't wait to see SOM's contribution to the new and improved Paris skyline of tomorrow...

10 January, 2008

Tolkien, Chesterton, Books, Beer...

First Things has a great little review of a book by Alison Milbank entitled Chesterton and Tolkien as Theologians: The Fantasy of the Real. I’ll include a short little excerpt from the review:

This final acclamation lies at the heart of Alison Milbank’s fine book. With clarity and wit and verve, she shows that the gift-quality of Tolkien’s and Chesterton’s art is premised on the gift-character of the universe itself. Their work, as she splendidly verifies, has profound moral implications. For in a gift-giving and gift-receiving world, we are not meant to seek our own advantage at the expense of others. Rather we are meant to create gifts—like those presents into which Galadriel has woven her own character before she gives them to the Company—that serve to free their recipients rather than putting them into our debt. Milbank has gifted us with what may well become our finest study of these Catholic artists in their unique relation not only to each other but also to our imagination-starved churches and culture.

As a huge fan and devourer of all things Tolkien and Chesterton, I’ll have to be adding this one to the wish list. My night table might collapse with all of the tomes sitting on deck.

Speaking of my night table, my current read is The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food. It has been a fantastic read, highlighting the history and qualities of just about every style of beer and how they work to enhance the foods you pair them with. Mr. Oliver is wonderful in his descriptions and I find myself constantly salivating as I read page after page of wonderful culinary combinations. Just the other night the wife and I cooked up a wonderful homemade soup and paired it with both freshly baked bread right out of the oven and an awesome Saison Dupont. This was my first experience with a Saison and I absolutely loved it. Each sip and bite was heaven. At only $7.00 for a large bottle (enough for 2), the Saison was a heck of a lot cheaper than a decent wine and the synergy between beer and food beats wine hands down in my book. By the way, the Saison goes with just about anything so pick up a bottle if you can find it in your neck of the woods and enjoy a great meal!

07 January, 2008

Workday Blues

Unfortunately a very hectic work schedule is keeping me pinned down at the moment. I’ll spare a few minutes to vent off some accumulated hot air regarding my current workload in the hopes of introducing you to the joys of everyday architecture:

1.) Why is it a valid excuse that the maintenance department of a certain school district refuses to entertain the possibility of any lighting other than 2x4 fluorescent fixtures because they don’t want the hassle of dealing with more than one type of bulb?
2.) Related to #1 – Why is the maintenance department even allowed to have the final say on which type of lighting is or is not appropriate for a school clinic? Apparently maintenance concerns over the horrors of dealing with two bulbs overshadow clinical needs.
3.) It has been revealed to me that vinyl coated chain link fence is a wasteful extravagance, even if it is mere pennies more than normal old chain link. And you certainly can’t propose to use vinyl coated fencing right next to a school that has the normal version – that would make the poor rusting normal fence people jealous of the breathtakingly gorgeous vinyl coated version next door. Heavens, we can’t have that…
4.) Cheapness is a virtue never to be questioned, regardless of the utterly depressing environment that cheapness forces onto our kids.

Opening a brewery sounds more and more enticing each day. Anybody have half a million floating around they want to get rid of?

03 January, 2008

The Honor of Darlings

Bethlehem is emphatically a place where extremes meet. Here begins, it is needless to say, another mighty influence for the humanization of Christendom. If the world wanted what is called a non-controversial aspect of Christianity, it would probably select Christmas. Yet it is obviously bound up with what is supposed to be a controversial aspect (I could never at any stage of my opinions imagine why); the respect paid to the Blessed Virgin. When I was a boy a more Puritan generation objected to a statue upon my parish church representing the Virgin and Child. After much controversy, they compromised by taking away the Child. One would think that this was even more corrupted with Mariolatry, unless the mother was counted less dangerous when deprived of a sort of weapon. But the practical difficulty is also a parable. You cannot chip away the statue of a mother from all round that of a newborn child. You cannot suspend the new-born child in mid-air; indeed you cannot really have a statue of a newborn child at all. Similarly, you cannot suspend the idea of a newborn child in the void or think of him without thinking of his mother. You cannot visit the child without visiting the mother, you cannot in common human life approach the child except through the mother. If we are to think of Christ in this aspect at all, the other idea follows as it is followed in history. We must either leave Christ out of Christmas, or Christmas out of Christ, or we must admit, if only as we admit it in an old picture, that those holy heads are too near together for the haloes not to mingle and cross.

- From "The Everlasting Man" by G.K. Chesterton

I came across this fine quote in the comment box of another blog. I struggled a bit with Marian doctrine through college in the midst of my migration from Methodism to non-denominational evangelicalism. It was the typical knee-jerk reaction to the perceived Mariolatry in the Catholic Church, a deep fear of conflating creation with creator. When I began my journey towards Catholicism, I found that my previous struggles had mysteriously vanished, leaving only a deep respect for and honor towards the Mother of God. I can only conclude that this vanishing coincided with the mysterious revelation of family experienced by most new fathers at the birth of their children. Having been blessed by two beautiful daughters I have obtained a privileged glimpse of the profoundly beautiful bond shared by mother and child. While my joy was properly and necessarily saddled with the husbandly burdens of provision and protection, I have seen the sole burden of love pass between the eyes of my daughters and their mother. To reduce that ethereal connection to the simple act of a tool to bear the required earthly burden is to blaspheme the very nature of holy familial bonds. To cut Mary out of the Holy Family immediately after the birth of Christ is a grave occasion of the sin of dishonoring Motherhood.

If Christ reigns as the fulfillment of the Davidic Kings, what then are we to make of the role of the Davidic Queen? Are we to deny the role of the Queen, Mother of the King and advocate for the people, as an unnecessary expansion of the prophetic fulfillment achieved by Christ? Are we to deny that the New Adam came through the assent and obedience of the New Eve, crushing the serpent under her heel with that amazing look of love I now know so well? Are we so afraid of confusing honor with idolatry that we would conveniently remove the Mother of God from a now crippled image of the Holy Family?

I would hope, as in my own case, that this rift in those baptized in Christ would be healed not by intellectual or rational assent, but by a revelation of the iron-clad ties of motherhood to the life of a cherished child. I can’t in good conscience conveniently sideline Mary after seeing my darling girls in the arms of Mom. Maybe we don’t need more arguments, only more darling boys and girls honoring their Mother.

02 January, 2008

Welcome to '08

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas season and put on some well-deserved pounds for the winter. Being in Florida I have no excuse for my extra pounds...crap. I'll be blogging more often to ring in the new year, stay tuned and I wish everyone and their families a spectacular 2008.