A pleasant, spring-like weekend gave way to rain, which has given way to winter reasserting itself with gusto. It is snowing outside my window–big, fat, wet flakes, though I doubt any chance of accumulation. It’s just been too warm the last several days. Nevertheless, I probably jumped the gun by doing some spring planting on Saturday, but we shall see.
I’ve been thinking a lot here lately about a lot of things–about education, what kind of education to give a child, what kind of education I was given as a child, about rights and duties, about firearms, about what I think about the world, and my inability to articulate it well. I’m thinking about writers whose work I encountered and was absolutely gobsmacked by, writers like Richard Weaver. And while I’ve borrowed several of Weaver’s ideas for my doctoral dissertation, I feel like they’re only so lightly used, and that I’ve yet to really engage their ideas with any vigor. So many ideas to be engaged, so many things to think through. I often think about myself, and think I am the most well-read ignorant person to ever live. And then I think, well, I don’t really read all that much at all. Am I really a person of books, of ideas, of learning? I doubt I will ever be, in any seriously robust professional capacity, and I’m okay with that. I must come to terms with being a true amateur. But to do so, I need to show greater love for things, I need to engage those things more vigorously. Today, then–today is a day for engaging on a new love affair with words. But first, the more significant business at hand:
Today, we celebrate Saint Matthias, a man of whom little is concretely known, but who was nevertheless a significant follower of our Lord. He was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot, to once again round out the Twelve. His importance in the early Church, and the esteem in which the brethren held him, and the devotion to the faith he must have shown–the fact of his being chosen makes these things undeniable. Yet, past that, all accounts and evidence are spotty and inconsistent. But to me, this is not indicative of a failed apostle; it is rather exemplary of the proper Apostle to remember here in the early days of Lent.
Here in the early days of Lent, as we work toward greater humility, towards deemphasizing our own self-importance and only worrying about praising God, let us remember the example of the man who was chosen to be of the utmost importance, but who faded from memory. Let us be willing to fade as well, to fade so that our Lord may shine brighter.
O Almighty God, who into the place of Judas didst choose thy Faithful servant Matthias to be of the number of the Twelve: Grant that thy Church, being delivered from false apostles, may always be ordered and guided by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
- An interview with the great Wendell Berry that made the rounds last week. Berry says a lot of great things, as expected, and continues to defy easy categorization; all the more reason for me to find him admirable and a thinker to be emulated. I am, however, continually perplexed by his statements of faith. Of course, many of his criticisms of the church and of Christians are very, very, very spot-on and necessary and I am so glad he is saying these things. But the Trascendentalist-tinged “church in the woods” also seems to be at odds with the same faith whose teachings he understands so well, the words of Scripture he claims to believe as “literal,” and even seems to reject the focus on community that is a hallmark of his thought, in favor of a Thoreauvian conception of self. I wonder what Brother Peters, over at Front Porch Republic, would say to this? He’s given us some hint in these two essays, both of which give us a decent place from which to criticize this somewhat erratic aspect of Berry’s though.
- We fear and loathe ISIS and North Korea. But do we understand them? Essays to help us with this–ISIS as an apocalyptic cult, and how our policies actually feed into their myth-making. Meanwhile, Kim Jong Un is a pathetic figure, trapped by arrested development, and perhaps even an odd type of reformer.
- Bourbon as an (existentially sacramental) sign of grace.
- I recently came across a little line somewhere, stating that Lent is a time to learn to die. Powerful stuff. Consider these Lenten meditations, then–Remembering Death from Bacon From Acorns, and a poetic consideration of Daffodils from First Known When Lost.
- Finally, a book on the pleasures of non-academic, amateur reading, something we–and by we, I mean “I”–need to work on recovering and codifying.
And from my series of images of rural churches:
A graveyard outside of Muscoda, Wisconsin.