Slowdive: Shine

Sunday Night Journal — Feb 5, 2012

Every Way We Ever Looked

It's been...let me check...four weeks now since one of my daughters, the only one of our children who lives nearby, gave birth to her second child. Though it's been a month now, and though this was not the first such experience, I still find myself thinking often of the strangeness of being the parent of a parent, the father of a mother. As I looked at her sitting up in bed and nursing her newborn son, I could--I can--see simultaneously the baby she was, the child she was, the adolescent she was. And as soon as she was no longer in my sight, all those images were equally present to me. Of course they're incomplete and represent only an infinitesimal fraction of the moments in that span of time. But they're all here, and they're all equally real to me.

Some time ago there was a discussion here on the question of what we would look like in heaven. I said I thought we might look every way we've ever looked, but I really had no idea what that could mean as an actual experience, or how it could be. I think that these images of my daughter, and of course my other children and other family members, and anyone I've known for an extended period of time, provide some insight into the possibility. Presumably God sees us all, and the entirety of our existence, in some way of which this is only a fragmented hint. And if we are to be like him, perhaps that vision will also be something of which we are capable. And which we will be for others.

Mercy and Mercy

I've always taken very much to heart the Gospel's admonitions that in order to receive mercy I must show it to others. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" is the most direct of these. The parable of the servant who begged for mercy from his master but refused it to his fellow servant is another and very powerful one, one which I think of whenever I'm faced with a choice of whether to show mercy to someone. In my circumstances these are usually small, if not trivial, matters, but that doesn't mean they aren't significant spiritually. 

On Wednesday, seven time zones from here, in Paris, my daughter-in-law gave birth to another grandchild. (Why Paris? It's a very long story, but suffice to say that my son and his wife move around a lot.) There were complications, and we didn't learn of the birth till early Friday morning. I usually try to pray during part of my morning commute, and of course I was praying for the baby. And so it seemed providential that there was a hitchhiker on the I-10 on-ramp.

There aren't that many hitchhikers on the road any more, and when I do see them I usually pick them up. I don't think at any time in the past twenty years or so any of them have been the sort of young wanderer who used to hitchhike a lot. Most of them are people who are, as the saying goes, down on their luck, and if they're at all forthcoming about what they're doing on the road it usually turns out that a good bit of the luck was of their own making. This fellow, for instance, said he couldn't drive because of a felony DUI conviction for which he had served 22 months in prison. I don't know whether the felony part was because an accident had been involved, or because his number of DUI arrests had passed a certain point. At any rate, his drunken driving hadn't killed anyone, and he thanked God that he had been sent to jail before that happened. 

He was on his way to Texas, and I was only going to Mobile, so I didn't take him that far. But he was glad to be getting anywhere at all, because he'd been stuck for two days about ten miles east of where I picked him up. I let him out at the interchange of I-10 and I-65, where 10 continues west to Louisiana and Texas but I take 65 north to my job.  He thanked me, but I think I was the more blessed.

I don't know whether my giving a guy a ride qualifies theologically as an act of mercy, but the opportunity to do it certainly felt like one to me.

Simcha Fisher Is Very Funny

And equally wise. I think I saw a note somewhere that she had been named Funniest Catholic Blogger; if so, it's well deserved. Here are a few of her recent posts, a couple recommended to me by Janet, one by my wife, and others I just happened across:

Bene, Bene, Bene. "I coo, and she rewards me with a smile of pure rejoicing, a gorgeous, ridiculous, blessedly naive smile of a creature who doesn’t know anything at all, but who can see that I love her. To receive the smiles of a baby who is just learning to smile—shut up, world. This is what is real."

To the Mother With Only One Child. "Dear mother, don’t worry about enjoying your life.  Your life is hard; your life will be hard.  That doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong—it means you’re doing it right."

Talk to Your Mother

Tired Pride.  The most memorable image I've come across recently: "I staggered around the kitchen like a washing machine with too many wet towels in it."

Ten Reasons There Are No Women in Hell. Numbers 2-10: other women. 

Still More on Downton Abbey

I'm beginning to think the reactions to this thing are as interesting as the thing itself. Here's one from an English conservative, and another from an American liberal. Interestingly, both seem to think that the treatment of class is the most important thing about the series: the former because Americans are fascinated by class but guilty about it, the latter because class is evil and the series makes us complicit in it. I disagree; I think by far its greatest appeal is that it's a good story.


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It is just a good story. If, during the story, one was constantly aware of class in a political way, I would not like it at all.

I think that Lady Mary has an absolutely wonderful face.

I just finished watching last night's episode, which very inconveniently, was on at the same time as the Super Bowl.


Don't say nuthin about last night's episode! I recorded it but probably won't watch it till Tuesday night.

I agree about Mary's looks. Sybil might be a little prettier, considered with detachment, but Mary looks more interesting. And most definitely agree about political treatment.

Well, it wouldn't do for Mary to be pretty in that soft way that Sybil is pretty, or vice versa. Mary definitely looks more interesting. I'm sure I'd rather talk to her.


So many times I've fallen into the trap of thinking the person on the screen is the actress. I still find it depressing to have this kind of reaction to a character in a movie and then read something completely vacuous or pernicious the actor has said.

I was taken aback when I first saw the name of the actress who plays Isobel. I had unconsciously been expecting to read "Harriet Jones."

My vote for Simcha's best line in recent weeks:
"Mitt Romney is that $30 space heater."

I guess that’s why Hollywood in its “golden age” kept the acting types on a very tight leash. Wish it were still the case because once a bad comment gets into my head, I have a hard time watching them in anything.

Yes, they were smart to do that. Preserved the mystery. I read a salacious anecdote about Grace Kelly some time ago that I was rather sorry to have read.

I haven't seen that Simcha piece yet. Must go read all of the recent ones.

"Harriet Jones"?

Prayers for the baby.

Dr. Who.


Thank you, dhoff.

Ah, I see I could have answered the Harriet Jones question easily with Google. I haven't seen those episodes of Dr. Who.

Where have all the hitchhikers gone? (Long time pa-assing....) I'm not old enough to have met very many of them, but my impression is that they were mostly college-age kids looking for a bit of fun and adventure. Maybe they all own cars now, or they're too busy preparing for a career to bum around the country. Or maybe I spend too much time on interstates where they aren't allowed and they're all still there on the lesser roads.

Prayers for the baby, and apologies for not thinking of that first.

My guess is that the biggest factor is fear, on both sides. Though I suppose it may be true that more young people have their own cars now...hadn't really thought of that--it would be a nicer explanation. They're not on the byroads, either, though.

Thank you, and no need to apologize. And he's doing *much* better.

Glad to hear baby is doing better. Prayers for a full recovery.

Thanks for those links to Simcha Fisher - very enjoyable!

Especially #2-10 "other women" - HA!

(Reminds me of the comedienne who believes that men are simple and delusional and women are crazy and complex).

I've been "defriended" on FB (seems like the worst thing that can happen socially these days!) by two women in recent times b/c they were offended by something I said/wrote.

I worked out that if I "defriended" every friend who'd ever offended me I'd have no friends left. Ah well... looks like I'm not going to Hell at least!

Thank you. He is doing *much* better.

What was so funny to me about the #2-10 was the way she had Mary put a stop to it. The really virtuous thing would have been to say nothing, but she couldn't quite go that far.

I don't know that men are any more likely to be delusional than women. I'm an habitual reader of Dear Abby, and it's really sad to read the number of letters that go something like "I've been seeing this guy for a year. He only comes over late at night and we've never been out anywhere and he doesn't like for me to call him and I've never met any of his friends and he leaves after we have sex...I'm beginning to wonder whether he really loves me."

I've considered defriending a few raving (I mean raving) leftist "friends" on Fb. They would probably do it first if I were in the habit of talking about politics there. It's funny, it never seems to cross their minds that anyone would be offended by the nasty things they say about conservatives.

Dear Louise, Please forgive me for all the things I've said that offended you. Was it saying that you had 7 children? Did I say something offensive about pyjamas? Well, whatever, I'm weighed down with sorrow over my callousness.;-)


Pyjamas are wrong.


Normal people wear pajamas. People in Noel Coward plays wear pyjamas.

I would pajamas if I wore them, but Louise wears pyjamas.


That doesn't sound quite right. I wear gowns. I don't like pajamas because they are tight around the place where I should have a waist.


Lol! Janet I want to "like" your comment! I do indeed wear pyjamas. Yes, I loved the way that Simcha post ended too. I wished Our Lady had "wunk" at me! No Maclin, those women you are writing about there are illustrating their craziness. Which I think must surely *include* delusion. although I think those women are batsh*t crazy. I hope none of them is my friend on FB and reading this! Heh. I don't think my raving lefty friends are quite as obnoxious as the ones you have Maclin. There were some people who consistently posted filthy/porno stuff whose posts I simply removed from my newsfeed.

Well, Louise on the iPod, I wunk at you up there. Isn't that good enough? Wellll, no I guess not.

The first time I posted here from my kindle, I put my email address in the space for my URL by mistake and now I have to take it out every time. Sigh. Life is full of challenges.


I'm sorry if I offended you Janet, I honestly didn't see that you wunk at me. Honest.

But as you say, life is full of challenges!

That's okay, Louise. Just don't unfriendly me.


Ugh! Auto-corrupted again--unfriend, not unfriendly.


I like "don't unfriendly me" better than "don't unfriend me."


Well, it's like two different things, neither of which I would like very much.


"It's funny, it never seems to cross their minds that anyone would be offended by the nasty things they say about conservatives."

Here's my husband's take on that: lefties think everyone who's fully human is also a lefty, so being nasty about conservatives doesn't really count as being nasty to another person. When they do this in front of you, they're paying you the compliment of assuming that you're a fellow real human being and not some subhuman Neanderthal.

I will endeavor to look at it that way. It doesn't especially offend me personally, but it does grate. It offends me sort of abstractly, because of the huge gulf between their self-conception as the intelligent and tolerant ones vs. the reality.

Well I am with you on that, Maclin.

Re delusion: Who was it that said women are crazy because they believe they can change a man, and men are crazy because they believe a woman will never change.

I've heard a variant: a woman marries a man thinking he'll change, but he doesn't, while a man marries a woman thinking she won't change, but she does.

Well, whatever else one says about Downton Abbey, I cannot believe that the patients in those iron beds rested their heads on that miserable bar at the head of the bed. I'm hoping that after Episode 6, I won't ever have to see that again. I've only seen about 20 minutes of this week's program--enough to see what I didn't want to see.


Heh, I didn't even notice that. Not even a pillow?! A Facebook acquaintance of my wife posted "Worst Downton Abbey episode ever" immediately after last night's. Personally I didn't think it was especially worse than the last one, but there was more of it.

I don't want to use the Deplorable Phrase but I am wondering if the show isn't going to finally go out in gales of laughter from the audience.

I think that the people who just decided officially that there would be a third season are probably a bit worried.


And whatever you do, don't ever, under any circumstances, buy rat poison.


Or at least don't deliver it to the home of someone who longs to destroy you, especially if the feeling is mutual.

Gretna Green! Save us.


I didn't get that.

Well, in all the Jane Austen area novels, people elope to Gretna Green, but I was surprised to see that people were still doing that (Sibyl and the chauffeur) in the mid-20th century.

I just had a severe shock. I realized that DA takes place at a time that is much closer to when I was born than we are now.


I see, I haven't read enough Austen to recognize that.

I hadn't thought about that one, but I've had similar shocks. Like realizing that WWII, which seemed very distant, a whole different era, as seen by a teenager in the 1960s, was about as far in the past then as the early 1990s are now.

Congrats on the new grandkids, Mac. I've been praying for others with lots of sadness and worry lately. It'll be nice to include something truly joyful in my prayers today.

Thank you very much. The little one is home now and doing fine, thanks be to God. I hope the people you're praying for will be aided.

Even though Sunday's Downton Abbey was 2 hours long, I still think there was way too much going on. Think about how many major things happened in that two hour period. It was like throwing a ping pong ball against the wall in a closet and trying to keep track of it bouncing around.


I find myself at this point thinking of how it could be parodied rather than taking it very seriously. "Throwing" is applicable in another sense as well--throwing stuff in for no really good dramatic reason, just to keep things stirred up. The worst example of that is Lord G's near-affair with the maid. I'm just glad it didn't get any further. Maybe it was intended to at one point and some sensible person said "no, that stinks."

I suppose that was actually written as two episodes. I thought I detected a break somewhere around the 1-hour mark. Not that that changes anything.

There is a parody I think. Maybe, "upstairs downtown abbey"?

Too funny, Louise!

I think maybe it was the Gretna Green thing that I thought was anachronistic, but maybe I'm wrong.


Found it! it's actually Uptown Downstairs Abbey:

That's hilarious! "Thomas the evil footman"...heh

Yes very amusing. And I rather like the Dowager. And the chaos downstairs. And the butler telling the staff to have a sense of pride and prejudice. Might have to pop it onto FB.

I think I just like the title best :)

commenting on two SNJs at the same time is getting to be really confusing.

Good for these old brains, maybe.:-)

Maybe it will kept us from getting Alzheimer's.


That's what I'm hoping.

Gretna Green was the first village over the border on one of the main roads into Scotland, where marriage laws were somewhat laxer than in England (under-21s didn't need parental permission). Popular destination for teenage elopers (not just in literature, also in real life). I think it's only post-WWII that that changed.

But of course, that being the case, eloping to Gretna Green is one of the standard clichés of English romantic fiction.

Well, I knew all of that, but I didn't know it persisted that long.


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