Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Chesterton on Marriage and a delightful bit from Berry

The revolt against vows has been carried in our day even to the extent of a revolt against the typical vow of marriage. It is most amusing to listen to the opponents of marriage on this subject. They appear to imagine that the ideal of constancy was a joke mysteriously imposed on mankind by the devil, instead of being as it is a yoke consistently imposed on all lovers by themselves. They have invented a phrase, a phrase that is a black v. white contradiction in two words -- 'free love' -- as if a lover ever had been or ever could be free. It is the nature of love to bind itself, and the institution of marriage merely paid the average man the compliment of taking him at his word. Modern sages offer to the lover with an ill-favoured grin the largest liberties and the fullest irresponsibility; but they do not respect him as the old Church respected him; they do not write his oath upon the heavens as the record of his highest moment. They give him every liberty except the liberty to sell his liberty, which is the only one that he wants. - 'The Defendant.'

"When despair for the world grows in me, and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be -- I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought or grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free." - Wendell Berry

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Mmm... it is so nice to be able to read again! It makes me want to pursue a degree in English Literature so that I might read just as much during the school year. But then, "forced" reading is never as much fun. :-) Alas.

I've been working my way through a variety of different books in different subject areas:
the Collected Poems of Czeslaw Milosz and of Zbigniew Herbert, This Tremendous Lover by Boylan, The Path to Rome by Belloc, Getting Things Done by David Allen, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Carnegie (about time for a reread), The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor, The Children of Hurin by Tolkien, and smatterings of Ovid's Erotic Poetry.

That the two books of poetry are intense and phenomenal goes without saying. Milosz and Herbert were both Polish poets who grew up under the shadow of the Nazis and the Soviets, such gardens breed tough literature. As Chesterton says, "There are twenty minor poets who can describe fairly impressively an eternity of agony; there are very few even of the eternal poets who can describe ten minutes of satisfaction." Both Milosz and Herbert are of the latter ilk. It is as if the petty, the mundane, the hackneyed has been stripped away and only the best of humanity, or its lack remains. There is an abiding sense of loss and tragedy throughout as well, which bespeaks greatness; there are few great authors who have happy stories.

This Tremendous Lover is my father's favorite book of all time. It is somewhat embarrassing to admit that this is the first time that I have read it, but maybe that is for the best. It is a dense book that I might have skimmed over without much comprehension even very recently. It tells the story of Catholicism from the point of view of a... well... Hobbit, if you get my meaning.

The Path to Rome is a journey I have been meaning to take for a long while. Belloc is one of my perennial favorites and this is considered by many to be his master work. It tells the story, albeit with many brief side ramblings, of his foot journey from France to Rome. His gift for visual description is remarkable: "In St. Pierre it was just that passing of daylight when a man thinks he can still read; when the buildings and the bridges are great masses of purple that deceive one, recalling the details of daylight, but when the night birds, surer than men and less troubled by this illusion of memory, have discovered that their darkness has conquered." What a fellow!

More on the others later... Here's to Yerba Mate, Brie, Clouds, Literature, and a beautiful wife with which to share them all!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Reflections on Undergrad, Part I

I had a dream last night in which I was talking to a good friend from high school about the collegiate environment. There were two reflections on my time at Gonzaga that were rather interesting, at least, in my view.

1.) College is an artifical, man-made world. Nowhere else will you interact with just your peer for four years, nowhere else are you so obscenely free of responsibility, nowhere else can you spend most of your time paying money rather than earning it. I grant that it is a useful environment to achieve education and have the leisure time necessary to learn but it seems that it could use a serious makeover in order to provide a more real environment.

2.) The college learning experience is invaluable, if it is done properly. I am finishing my college experience with a great desire to continue in the flow of semesters as I learn more and more about everything. High school and college reinforced this lifelong pursuit for me. Many of my friends, and this is not a bad thing, just an interesting one to me, are so ready to be completely done with school. They love learning as well but the college experience had the effect of "burning" them out. I can see that as well, especially since they didn't have the opportunity to study with some really passionate professors about subjects that set your heart on fire. They didn't get to experience Fr. Slatter at 8am unfolding the ancient Roman world through the beautiful works of Ovid and Horace. They didn't get to experience a rich, vibrant sense of achieving insight into insight and tapping one's unlimited desire to know with Dr. Mike Stebbins. They didn't get to experience Dr. McClelland explaining our emotionality and the varied patterns of the human mind.

I'm glad for all of my friends in what they are going out to do, traveling, jobs, further study. Indeed, I hope to live vicariously through many of them through their correspondence, but I am ecstatic about the future and the route that I am to follow. I love you all! Pax vobiscum et amor semper.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Plans for Next Year

Greetings all!

I heard back from the Lonergan Institute at Boston College last week and they have given me full tuition for a Masters in Philosophy at Boston College! Because it is a two-year program, because the scholarship is competitive, and because there are several professors whom I hold in high regard teaching there, (among other reasons) Annie and I have decided that we will be going there this Fall. Peter Kreeft, Patrick Byrne, Father Flanagan, and Father Tacelli are all amazing men from whom I hope to learn. I also am given to understand that Yo-yo Ma lives and performs in Boston, which bodes well for my continuing with the cello. :-)

After the two year program I plan on applying to a select few philosophy and classics graduate schools, as well as a few law schools. While this round of applications turned out well, I hope that the Masters gives me a competitive edge for some of the more demanding schools.

Meanwhile, this summer we're planning on kicking back and relaxing for a month and a half or so in Spokane after graduation. We're planning on attending the Peterson Family Reunion and our good friends Mel and Everett's wedding.

We're driving down to Ridgecrest, CA where Annie's family resides the first week of July, staying a week or so and driving down to San Diego. Then we'll drive up from San Diego along the Pacific Coast Highway all the way to Seattle.

We'll probably leave Spokane on July 30th for Boston, MA stopping in Chicago for another family reunion the weekend of August 2nd-5th. Classes start on September 4th.