Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mere Semantics

A short story of mine got published in the Tower Light Lite (a literary supplement publication at Hillsdale before the actual Tower Light comes out in April) this week. Prof. S told me last night that both he and Mrs. S read it. When I asked him what he thought of it, he said "interesting," so je ne sais pas. If you have any specific comments or questions about it, feel free to ask. I've gotten a few of those too. For example, No, this did not happen to me. Hence the fictional aspect of the short story opposed the essay format. That is not to say particular feelings are not universal, which is why, perhaps people keep telling me they relate, which is semi-gratifying to hear. I do like knowing my words affect people, so feel free to share.

"Ever After, Happily" by Julie Robison

The house overflows with people, the smell of beer and cigarettes wafting outside as Fiona weaves through the throngs.

It was just one drunken night, he had told her. It only happened once, and I was really drunk, he added, for her benefit. She hadn’t cried, as he had expected her to, and she hadn’t gotten mad. She just sat there and said, What Now?

They had left it there, in the uncomfortable silence and uneasy feelings; the place where they sat next to each other, smiling only when friends came by, pretending things were just as they always were. They each secretly loathed the other for placing their relationship in this waiting room. After a few weeks, he decided to end it.

It’s not fair to you, he had told her.

But in the end, she heard otherwise. Her friends, trying to be a comfort, discussed his many infidelities while occasionally patting her knee.

You’re Too Good for him they told her, before turning away to whisper about things that made her stomach hurt.

She excused herself to the bathroom, where she sobbed on the toilet, hating herself for being that girl who cried over her ex-boyfriend and for believing him when he had told her they would have their own ‘happily ever after’ together. She cried until a knock on the door reminded her that other people needed to use the bathroom too, and what an impractical room she had chosen to cry in.

Now Fiona sees him at the party, and feels his stare and tries not to notice his arm around that girl, Amy. She feels lightheaded, and in need of a strong drink. She finds relief only when she reaches the kitchen, her fingertips gripping the counter top.

While they were dating, she had always found it a great source of comfort whenever he put his arm around her, as if to further emphasize that they were together. Then she would put her head on his shoulder, because she thought she ought. And if they ever sensed a void was growing between them, an empty space where neither had anything to say to the other, they would touch the other in a reassuring way, as if to say, I’m Still Here.

The kitchen linoleum needs to be cleaned. Fiona feels the soles of her shoes sticking. The kitchen spills over with people drinking cheap beer. There had been a football game that day, and they had won; all, football enthusiasts and otherwise, celebrate.

We beat their asses into the ground!, Dan says loudly. The cocky bastards; and they thought they were going to beat us. Harry agrees with an unwieldy grin, a victorious grunt, and thrusts his beer into the air. People follow suit, cheering. Then Tyler calls out for body shots and picks up Caroline, who giggles in protest as she is placed on the table. Fiona turns away.

Fiona remembers a night like this; the night she had worn her new strappy sandals and they had won at State, the game before he tore his ACL. She hadn’t meant for it to happen that way. She had dreamed of being somewhere exotic, anywhere besides his tiny upstairs bedroom, where the sheets were clean and the room was a mess. She had chastised herself afterwards and cried only a little bit. He had zipped up his pants and rubbed her arms up-and-down as he told her it’s okay, they’re in love. But even now, Fiona remembers his empty eyes and tries not to blush as he walks by.

Fiona wonders how to respond if he should approach her: her first response is to ignore him, and her second involves a slap to the face and plenty of yelling. She wonders if they will talk about it: what went through his head or why he did this to her, someone he claims to love—especially with someone like Amy, who looks like she never eats or sleeps.

The thought crosses her mind that perhaps it was her fault; perhaps she had pushed him away.
She suddenly feels trapped in the narrow hallway where she stands talking to people about the game (she hadn’t gone) and other topics that do not demand her full attention while speaking.

She excuses herself, and goes out back, where she watches her breath and talks to a few friends from freshman year, catching up on their lives and accepting their apologies for what had happened: they had heard, they say in low, sympathetic tones, and how horrible. She smiles appreciatively and keeps repeating, teeth chattering, Oh no, it’s Fine, really, I’m Fine.

No, really, if you need anything, they insist. She tries not to look through the kitchen window where she knows he stands with Amy, laughing with his old football friends. She wonders if she still loves him. She wonders why she has even come.

Bill joins the semi-circle of conversation. Bill plays football, but had met Fiona in a Music Theory class. They break off into an affable side conversation, talking and laughing. Fiona is surprised how much she enjoys his company, and she almost forgets why she hates these kinds of parties. Almost. Her eye catches a glance of him walking through the door frame. Their eyes meet. Bill sees the glance, and tries to keep the conversation steady as each footstep becomes louder than the last, the leaves crunched underfoot with reckless abandon.

Fiona, he says, finally before her.

Fiona exhales. He’s so close, she thinks. I could touch him. But she doesn’t; she keeps her fists in her jacket.

Oh, hi, she says; and, after a pause, How are you?

I’m fine, he replies shortly, staring at Bill and Fiona standing next to each other. The air is tinged with smoke and unspoken explanations—Hey, Fiona, could I talk to you for a minute?, he says, his steadfast gaze fixing on her. She wishes he would look away.

She touches Bill’s arm to excuse herself, and he nods graciously. She walks a little ways off to the side yard with him, feeling nervous and wondering if she looks all right. But Fiona soon finds her mind wandering as she watches Bill, who stands with hands in his pockets, trying not to watch them from a distance. She casts glances toward Bill while half-listening to his reasoning and reckonings, his why Amy and why now. She entertains thoughts of Bill, their conversation, his smile.

Listen Fiona, he says, talking in a hurried, agitated manner. I know you’ve got hundreds of reasons to hate me but I want you back. I love you. You’re the only girl who understands me, the-only-girl-I’ve-never- regretted.

Fiona reflects on their relationship, what it used to be. She misses those days.
I’m a different guy now, you’ve got to believe me.

She flinches perceptibly at his touch, but begins to feel at ease as he soothingly strokes her arms.

Fiona? He gets closer.

She looks into those unblinking eyes; he doesn’t seem to be lying, she thinks. The corners of his eyes and mouth crinkle when he lies.

Fiona, what do you think? Can you ever forgive me? Can we give this another go?

She considers the offer before replying. They just stand there, not speaking, staring. She sees herself in his eyes, and she smiles.

No, Fiona says, shaking her head while gently pushing away his roving hands. I’m not interested. Amy’s inside, she adds; and I would find her if I were you.

With that, Fiona, taking one last look at her ever-after, happily walks away.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Yet another Yankee eccentricity

This is who greeted me this morning as I ran out of Kappa to get to my 8 a.m./ print off my midterm paper due today. Oh, hello Mr. Snowman. You used to be in the front yard.

What you see walking up to Kappa: Oh, hey!

The view of up the hill from Kappa's porch. :) and a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Rachel Phillips! Much Kappa and snow love to you on this blustery day.

One more paper down. Sometimes I think I am a glutton for prose.
The paper turned out really well and Dr. S gave tandem arguments to mine today in lecture, so that was reaffirming. The title was changed to "Fighting the Good Fight." I'm interested in seeing how Dr. W likes my paper; it will definitely give us things to talk about. Did I mention I love being an American Studies major?

I like this poem, especially the last two stanzas. No implications intended, just enjoy the poem:

"Failing and Flying" by Jack Gilbert

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.


Walker Percy, great Southern writer and Catholic, got the Laetare Medal at ND in 1989, and made a wonderful speech. I especially like the Flannery O'Connor quote at the beginning: "All literature must draw attention to meaning beyond the moment; to man's eternal destiny." (Isn't that so great?!)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

the Logos, the Word made Flesh

Dr. Birzer posted Wisdom 18:14-16 on his blog post entitled "The Coming of the Incarnate Word," and I must share the passage and my response to it:

For while all things were in quiet silence, and that night was in the midst of her swift course, 
Thine Almighty word leaped down from heaven out of thy royal throne, as a fierce man of war into the midst of a land of destruction, And brought thine unfeigned commandment as a sharp sword, and standing up filled all things with death; and it touched the heaven, but it stood upon the earth.”

I just love it. It inspires true awe in me, as if I was there the night the star shone out over a stable in Bethlehem, heard the angel say "Fear not!" and know that salvation had come in the form of a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. If that does not humble mankind and send chills down one's body, I am not sure what will, besides a death on Calvary and a rising on Easter Sunday. This is Lent, after all; the time to remember. The above passage seems to possess the entire meaning of the world in the last stanza-- "and it touched the heaven, but it stood upon the earth."

My mind immediately jumped to the beginning of the Gospel of John, whose interpretation as beautifully fulfilled the prophecy as the Lord Himself:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

Pax Christi, and blessings on your Wednesday. My paper is...almost done. :) Persevero!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Turning on the facet

I shan't be posting often, at least nothing too original. I have a paper due Thursday on legislating morality (see below), and my thesis is in dire need of attention. I'm also starting to research my Flannery O'Connor paper for Somerville (!!). March is going to be an extremely productive and mind-numbing experience. Don't mark this as complaining, please. I do love it. It's intellectually exciting and the journalist in me thrives on the deadlines. That being said, I'll be holed up in the Lane computer lab, ignoring the newly-falling snow, drinking cold coffee and typing away. Feel free to stop by.

Below is my current opening to my Con-Lib Debate class paper. Rach, I thought you'd particularly like to see it. This isn't the final, obviously, but it should give you an idea of where I'm going. I have about 2 pages thus far, plus about 12 pages of notes, my outlines and books, articles and essays piled about me. I don't look forward to packing this all up later tonight, but I am enjoying writing it.

My footnotes are not going to show up, but if you're interested in where I got something, I can point you in the right direction.

Morality is a force worth considering. Plutarch, in his discourse “On Bringing up A Boy,” says “To put it shortly, it is surely absurd to train little children to receive their food with the right hand, and to scold them if they put out the left, and yet to take no precautions that they shall be taught moral lessons of a sound and proper kind.” Aristotelian ethics concurs that one must be brought up the right way in order to know and therefore act in a virtuous way. What is the right way, however, has been the subject of much controversy, particularly in the 20th century. Moreover, as many alternative lifestyles and choices become more mainstream, the very question of what is right and what is wrong is being diminished. The question of whether or not the government can legislate morality therefore arises from where the powers of government stem from, whether morality can be lawfully legislated, and if the government has a right to control the private lives of its citizens. A further argument will be made: toleration, a chief good in America, is being exploited into coerced acceptance; religious institutions are being rendered helpless by an epistolary comment made by Thomas Jefferson eons ago, known widely in civic, religious and political circles are the separation of Church and State. There is, however, one religious institution that refuses to budge on issues of morality, faith and reason in the public sphere, and that is the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is not on the “right” side of politics; it is the “most intolerant of churches” wrote English economist John Stuart Mill, was “the whore of Babylon” to Founding Father John Adams, and is the “greatest force for evil in the world,” according to philosopher and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Yet there is something America can learn from the Holy See, and that is an adherence to founding principles.

There's a business class going on in the lab right now. I'm learning lots about markets, market prices, stocks and graphs. My ipod is on shuffle; it goes from Nico to The Who to Patricia Ahn to Bob Dylan to the Violent Femmes to Belle and Sebastian, and so forth. Good day.

Oh, and here's a song that is the direct opposite of Hillsdale at present, but still an excellent song:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

His name is Alfred. Yes, like Batman's butler.

A little Tennyson for these long library days...

"In Memorium" [excerpt] by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;

Thine are these orbs of light and shade;
Thou madest Life in man and brute;
Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot
Is on the skull which thou hast made.

Thou wilt not leave us in the dust:
Thou madest man, he knows not why,
He thinks he was not made to die;
And thou hast made him: thou art just.

Thou seemest human and divine,
The highest, holiest manhood, thou:
Our wills are ours, we know not how;
Our wills are ours, to make them thine.

Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be:
They are but broken lights of thee,
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.

We have but faith: we cannot know;
For knowledge is of things we see;
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness: let it grow.

Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,

But vaster. We are fools and slight;
We mock thee when we do not fear:
But help thy foolish ones to bear;
Help thy vain worlds to bear thy light.

Forgive what seem’d my sin in me;
What seem’d my worth since I began;
For merit lives from man to man,
And not from man, O Lord, to thee.

Forgive my grief for one removed,
Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.

Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
Confusions of a wasted youth;
Forgive them where they fail in truth,
And in thy wisdom make me wise.

And when I say a little, I mean there are lots more cantos to read of this poem if you are so interested or inclined.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dust Thou Art, and Unto Dust Shalt Thou Return

Ash Wednesday is one of my favorite days of the entire year. Yes, so it's a day of fasting, but I look forward to the service and the mass. It's a wonderful way to start the Lenten season. I love getting the little black cross on my forehead.

Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation, but it is highly encouraged to go. During the service, the priest puts ashes on the foreheads of the congregation in the sign of the cross as a visible sign of repentance, saying "Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return." The ashes come from the previous year's palms from Palm Sunday, which I think is neat. It is like completing the cycle. It's always interesting gauging the reactions from non-Catholics and witnessing for the faith on campus and off (like last year, when I was traveling to DC; very interesting having my bold, black ashes in the airport).

"Repent, and believe in the Gospel." -Mark 1:15

T.S. Eliot's Ash Wednesday is a wonderful read.

"This Time of Forty Days" is pretty funny, Catholic humor-wise...

Blessings on your day, and peace on your mind.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

And the fattest Tuesday to you as well

My Fat Tuesday has not been particularly fattening, but it has been good.

I've decided on title for my C/L Debate class midterm paper (regarding whether or not morality can be legislated): "The Problem with Papists." Isn't that great? The best part is that I won't be putting my name on the paper, just my assigned number, so the teacher's won't be biased since they both know I am, in fact, quite Roman Catholic. I like playing Devil's Advocate, though. I think it helps me strengthen my own arguments.

I just finished editing the Forum, lay-out should be completed within the day, and we'll be going to press! This is going to be a really stellar issue.

I turned in an essay for a school contest (we had to enter under a pseudonym; I picked Adam Fenwick-Symes, the main character of Waugh's Vile Bodies) and a paper for my Issues and Themes journalism class this morning. I am now starting the aforementioned midterm paper since I am no longer meeting with my thesis director till next week, upon which I should start producing pages.

Library till dinner, then back to the library, then Dr. Lasseter's house before class at 9, then more library...the current sentiment is as follows:

Matt: I hope Siegel gives us beer tonight for Fat Tuesday
Julie: Me too. That would be bueno


Monday, February 15, 2010

Say What?

This is an excerpt from an interview with the great Southern writer Eudora Welty:


Where does the dialogue come from?

Familiarity. Memory of the way things get said. Once you have heard certain expressions, sentences, you almost never forget them. It’s like sending a bucket down the well and it always comes up full. You don’t know you’ve remembered, but you have. And you listen for the right word, in the present, and you hear it. Once you’re into a story everything seems to apply–what you overhear on a city bus is exactly what your character would say on the page you’re writing.

Wherever you go, you meet part of your story. I guess you’re tuned in for it, and the right things are sort of magnetized–if you can think of your ears as magnets. I could hear someone saying–and I had to cut this out–“What, you never ate goat?” And someone answering, “Goat! Please don’t say you serve goat at this reunion. I wasn’t told it was goat I was served. I thought–” and so on, and then the recipe, and then it ended up with–I can’t remember exactly now–it ended with, “You can do a whole lot of things with vinegar.”

Well, all these things I would just laugh about and think about for so long and put them in. And then I’d think, that’s just plain indulgence. Take it out! And I’d take it out.

Interview with Linda Kuehl, Conversations with Eudora Welty, pg. 86-87. H/T from Dr. Somerville (he teaches my Faulkner and 20th century Southern Lit class). I recommend the short story "June Recital," or just the collection ('Golden Apples') in general. She uses a lot of Greek mythical allusions and she writes the absolute best similes and metaphors, which is good, because she writes a lot of them. I had never heard of Welty before this class and now I am absolutely enthralled.

Also, a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Miss Vivian Jago, one of the best reasons I can think of for giving up sweets for Lent. She was just accepted to the Culinary Institute of America, into their baking and pastry program! Much to the chagrin and supreme happiness of the Kappa house, she bakes often. Last night we celebrated with a German chocolate cake she baked for herself (it sounds sad, I know, but she is the best and she wanted to do it; also, fun fact: it's called a German chocolate cake because the man who invented it had the last name 'German,' not the ancestry). It was divine. Tonight we'll (partly) celebrate while working crew together and singing loudly to the radio as we clean up from dinner.

My friend Andy came back to Hillsdale from Georgia (where he's stationed) this weekend! It was so wonderful seeing him. He's married Marisa, one of my closest friends at school, this past summer. (He graduated two years ago; she's a senior with me.) Andy and I (and Zach) met in our Great Books and Rhetoric class. We've all been friends ever since. Time goes so fast. Last night I finished my paper due Tuesday quarter before 10, so I thought I'd go over to Marisa and Melissa's for a little bit to hang out since Andy would be going flying the following morning. Zach got there soon after, and we ended up baking cookies, drinking, laughing and playing euchre till 2:30. Morning classes are hard enough to get up for, but it was good to have the old gang back together again, although it is strange to think a good friend is going back to Afghanistan.

Saturday night we went to Cascerelli's for dinner and may I just say? Dark Horse Raspberry Ale ("beer first, fruit second") is delicious. It's made in Marshall, Michigan. Neither Andy or I could taste the raspberry, but it was not a bitter beer, which is most likely where the raspberriness comes into play. BeerAdvocate gave it a B/B-, but I like it. I would give it at least a B+.
I mentioned the rating to Zach, and he thinks it's because "most people aren't surrounded by awesomeness while they drink it." (Here, here!)

Goal of the week: start and finish my midterm paper for my conservative/ libertarian debate class (I'm writing on legislating morality, pros and cons).

Read of today: John Stuart Mill, On Liberty.

quote of the week: "Dogs are my favorite animals. Except for dinosaurs." -Andy

First reading today comes from James 1:1-11 and reminds us to consider it a joy when we encounter our struggles, and that the testing of our faith is to produce perseverance. God never gives us anything we can't handle.

The commentary of the day comes from Saint Padre Pio de Pietrelcina (1887-1968; the first priest to receive the stigmatas, one of 62 total in the history of the Church): “Why does this age seek a sign?” - Believing even in darkness (reflection from today's Gospel, Mark 8:11-13)

The Holy Spirit tells us: Don’t let your mind succumb to temptation and sorrow, for joy of the heart is life for the soul. Sorrow is no good for anything and causes our spiritual death.

It happens sometimes that the darkness of trial overwhelms your soul’s heaven; but this darkness is light! Thanks to it, you believe even in darkness; the mind feels lost, it fears no longer being able to see, no longer understanding anything. But this is the moment when the Lord speaks and makes himself present to the soul; and the soul listens, understands and loves in the fear of God. So don’t wait for Tabor to “see” God when you are already contemplating him on Sinai.

Progress in the joy of a sincere heart that is wide open. And if it is impossible for you to keep that happiness, at least don’t lose courage and keep all your trust in God.

Happy Monday, my friends!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Oh Brooklyn, Brooklyn, take me in

Lizzy Shell, song bird and sister of my dear roomie, sang this at coffeehouse tonight. It's by The Avett Brothers. It's beautiful.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ready to Run

Yesterday I got back from my run and felt sick. It was my own fault. I hadn't eaten anything that day besides an apple for breakfast and when Vivy stopped by KKG 11 right before lunch and asked me if I wanted to go for a lunch-time run, I pushed up my run by 3 hours and set off in the snow towards the gym, even though my stomach was gurgling for food.

I pushed myself hard. I hadn't been entirely consistent with my workout this week, so I have a tendency to go harder because I know I can. My competitiveness manifests itself in many different forms, and running is one them. I race people even without them knowing sometimes, and this includes in the gym, when I'm running on the treadmill like a hamster. Like a karma cleansing exercise, I ran until I knew I had emptied my body. Afterwards, I stretched my legs and arms, twisting my torso, ignoring the bad feelings bubbling in my stomach, keeping my body moving as Vivy finished up too and then we headed back.

Back at Kappa, I rinsed, ate the best, most delicious post-run meal (salmon, pasta, tomatoes), drank cups upon cups of water, and popped two aspirins. I was going to read but still felt sick and did something I haven't done since Christmas break: I watched a movie. I got into my bed and watched Without Limits, a movie about Steve Prefontaine (thus, quite appropriate to watch after running). It's definitely in my top 10 favorite movies.

I mention it not only because it's a great movie, but because there is a scene where Steve asks Mary, his future girlfriend, if she is Catholic. She says she is, plenty of people are. No, Steve says, lots of people say they are. But you actually are, I can tell. Mary doesn't know how to take this, but Steve clarifies by saying it's a good thing. He says, "It's the hardest thing in the world to believe in something, if you do it's a miracle."

Going to a school like Hillsdale, where most of the people here are some sect of Christianity and one of the biggest student organizations is Students for Life, I think it is sometimes easy to believe in God. The fellowship here is amazing and very supportive. I know how much my faith in God has been strengthened and my Catholic faith reaffirmed. This is a cloistered environment, though. God is a priority here. Religious beliefs matter. Elsewhere? Eh. Even at religiously-affiliated high schools and colleges, I know too many people leaving and not knowing basic tenets of their faith, let alone acting as a witness.

When I was in NYC, I met three CN girls who were also Catholic. We had really great conversations, many of which discussed our faith and how it affects our lives. Another girl came into our conversation and, though she was also cradle Catholic, she clearly had no clue what she was talking about, although she had many opinions. She thought the Church was stagnant and not creative enough. She didn't understand why we said the Nicene Creed at every mass, why it was necessary to publicly reaffirm what we believe. She was a Libertarian; she therefore equated the Church to the State. She didn't agree with me that it's good that people go to mass every week, even if they don't feel like it, that faith isn't a feeling, the possibility of final grace, et cetera.

I enjoyed talking to her, I really did. I enjoy witnessing for the faith, because it pushes me to know the Church even better and, ergo, know Jesus better. Every person we meet is a different facet of God. Everyone we meet is somehow searching for Him. The important thing to remember in these discussions that the ultimate focus is to discover Truth, not prove our own point. As a Catholic, we are especially humbled by the fact that we accept the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and therefore, our personal opinion does not trump the teachings of the Church.

Oprah just had Dominican nuns from Mary, Mother of the Eucharist convent in Ann Arbor on her show. I went on a retreat there almost a year ago, and it was an amazing experience. They are so on fire for the Lord. It was funny hearing the way Oprah and Lisa Ling asked them questions and described what they did. It's important to remember that religious people are fallen too, but have chosen to dedicate themselves to God. When Lisa asked the postulates about sex, I thought it was hilarious because that's such a minuscule part of one's decision to become a nun. When you're that in love with God, you want to give yourself to Him wholly, which means no sex with anyone. It's part of one's self-sacrifice to God when one is not married, even though American culture may not see it as such.

Then again, not all religious are as faithful. I follow a blog of a priest who has many good things to say, but recently baffled me with his public admission that he is pro-choice (discussion was on the Tim Tebow ad controversy, not the amazing witnessing). I do not think a person can be pro-choice and Catholic because God's law says 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' quite clearly. I am fully on board that the State should not be dictating a lot of things, but we as Americans are guaranteed life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Besides, if the State isn't allowed to tell a woman what she can do with her body, we should start opening up discussions for the legalization of prostitution. (St. Thomas Aquinas was for it, actually! See his 'Summa Theologica' for his reasons why. Absolutely fascinating argument.)

I find it so incredibly wimpy for people in positions of influence to espouse the laws of God and then saying they are personally against it. I had an ethics teacher in high school who was like this. She said the Church is against abortion and birth control, but she is not. How is that proper witnesses for the faith? How is that leading by example?

CCC: "In the moral order, [the Church] bears a mission distinct from that of political authorities: the Church is concerned with the temporal aspects of the common good because they are ordered to the sovereign good, our ultimate end. She strives to inspire right attitudes with respect to earthly goods and in socio-economic relationships."

Maybe Prefontaine had a point. Maybe it is a miracle people believe in anything. This world is horrible and depraved and fallen. People are losing their faith in God because men do acts of evil, and then people wonder why God didn't intercede. I see God as the ultimate Libertarian: he lets people have free will. They may voluntarily associate with Him if they want. He continues to play a role in their life, but he doesn't dictate so. He does have rules, though, if you do voluntarily associate: you have to follow His laws, His 10 commandments. If you don't follow it, that's your choice, but if you do, salvation in Heaven is waiting.

When I run, I find joy in each stride. When I hurt, I remember He suffered more than I could possibly imagine. People, even people at Hillsdale, have tried to belittle my beliefs and weaken my Catholicism, but they miss the point. I'm not defending something I created in my head but passed down to me, something universal and oftentimes bigger than human understanding. There is a mystery to God's glory and love only He knows and can perceive. I am merely one leading others to the steam.

This semester has already shown me so many things about people, about my future vocation(s), about God, and it's only February. Less than a month till my 22nd birthday! I can only imagine what else will be known, be it possible jobs or otherwise. My friend Tom came back to campus two days ago and we briefly discussed the difficulties of being Catholic and American. I do think it is possible, despite Tom's misgivings (he is living in D.C. right now, that could have something to do with it). I think it's a challenge worth honoring and worth pursuing. I am not ready to graduate, but I am ready to start contributing more to American social thought. I think this country needs more of a Christian conscience, and I'm ready to run with it, with a smile on my face and giving the glory to Him most deserving.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tell Me a Story

"Tell Me a Story" by Robert Penn Warren

Long ago, in Kentucky, I, a boy, stood
By a dirt road, in first dark, and heard
The great geese goose northward.

I could not see them, there being no moon
And the stars sparse. I heard them.

I did not know what happening in my heart.

It was the season before the elderberry blooms,
Therefore they were going north.

The sound was passing northward.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Art of Fiction No. 202

"I wanted to write in English, but it took me about a year to decide to do it wholeheartedly. I was intimidated. To be a literary writer does not mean just to write books—you need to look for some space in a language and find your niche in it. That was what intimidated me. Beyond the practical reason of earning a livelihood, there was the desire for a meaningful existence despite the forces that mean to reduce and silence you. In this sense, for me, to write is to suffer, but there is so much meaning in it that I must fight my battles on the page."

--Ha Jin, from an interview with The Paris Review

Friday, February 5, 2010

Running in Heels to NYC

"Running in Heels" was the theme of KKG Leadership Academy this year. Max and the new members did such a great job decorating the board upstairs! She used really neat retro pictures and colors. I especially like the lights. The house held mock elections and everyone was nominated for something. My little got best sense of humor, Heather got most likely to be a professor at Hillsdale (the next Dr. Barbara Bushey, red glasses, wicked sense of humor and all, I'm calling it now!) and I got most likely to...

Maxine says she could see me speeding down the freeway in my little Ferrari. How fun! I sometimes dream I'm allowed to take my dad's little Lexus out for a spin. I drove it down the driveway once and it was magical. Dad tells me to keep dreaming about driving his car (only Mom has been allowed to drive it thus far) and so the thought of driving a Ferrari absolutely tickles me. I'd like a forest green one, s'il vous plait! Or plum would be a bold color choice too.

From his book "A Program for Conservatives," Dr. Kirk answers that question you've all been pondering lately: what is the object of human life?

Men are put into this world, he realizes, to struggle, to suffer, to contend against the evil that is in their neighbors and in themselves, and to aspire toward the triumph of Love. They are put into this world to live like men, and to die like men. He seeks to preserve a society which allows men to attain manhood, rather than keeping them within bonds of perpetual childhood. With Dante, he looks upward from this place of slime, this world of gorgons and chimeras, toward the light which gives Love to this poor earth and all the stars. And, with Burke, he knows that "they will never love where they ought to love, who do not hate where they ought to hate."

Flying to NYC in 0300 hours... I've got my heels packed. :)

Friday song: "Rhythm and Soul" by Spoon (the Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga album)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My three favorite areas of KKG 11

#3: Return from Abydos (a wall painting on plaster done in 1410 B.C.; artist unknown; located in Thebes, Egypt, in the tomb of Sennufer, a mayor of Thebes in the 18th Dynasty).

I have the feeling you, dear reader, might not be very impressed with this picture, but this is the reproduction I did for Art History last semester. Medium mostly colored pencils, although crayons were used sparsely. It took hours and was very hard (do you see those hieroglyphics?!). My Art History minor roommate mocks me for how long it took me (no, I shan't tell you, don't ask), but I got a 95% on it and thus hang it with pride next to the various pictures drawn for me (not by me). My favorite is one of Albert the Caterpillar. If you draw me a picture, I will put it on my wall.

#2: my desk area.

I thought about cleaning it up before I took a picture, but that would defeat the purpose of it being my desk. As you can see, there are two lovely stacks of books, a box of stationary, various post-it notes to myself, family pictures, my water bottle and notes from friends on the wall. You can even see Heatho's art fashionista pictures reflected in the mirror! How fun. My hard drive sits on a stool besides the desk and I have a little side table close by, where I stack even more books and papers. I spend too much time here, which is why I oftentimes abandon this comfortable little nook for the library.

#1: dresser top.

This is my most favorite area of the room because I think it encompasses the most. First off, this area is squeezed between two 3-drawer containers, which appeals to my ever-need to be organized (or at least have the illusion of being organized). But the most important elements of this picture are the crayons my cousin Sarah gave me when I went to college, the coffee cup Heatho wrote on (she writes on lots of cups; I just haven't thrown this one away yet), the little Kay Kay Gamma badge box, and the picture of the roommates and our parents from sophomore year, when both sides of the family happened to visit Hillsdale the same weekend.

Honorable mention to my bed, but I hardly sleep in it.

This will be my formal way of introducing my favorite things series, where I shall periodically take pictures of my favorites places/ people/ things around Hillsdale throughout my final semester in the Hillsdale I know and like best. I had a
blog post which showed the house and the campus after a legit blizzard, which I've now decided was the unofficial first post about favorite things. Then another blog post recently, which actually listed favorites (as well as non-favorites). A lot of people who read this aren't physically here, but they still know the campus, so I thought I'd share little parts of my life, if only in pictures. Think of it as peeking through a looking-glass.

Thursday poem comes from the motherland.

"Digging" by Seamus Heaney

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pin rest; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.

It's the witching hour, but must press on. Back to Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and Rothbard...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Reading Hayek every day keeps the Government at bay

A little love from chapter 2 of The Constitution of Liberty by F.A. Hayek, my current read:

"Humiliating to human pride as it may be, we must recognize that the advance and even the preservation of civilization are dependent upon a maximum of opportunity for accidents to happen."

"Man learns by the disappointment of expectations. Needless to say, we ought not to increase the unpredictability of events by foolish human institutions. So far as possible, our aim should be to improve human institutions as to increase the chances of correct foresight. Above all, however, we should provide the maximum opportunity for unknown individuals to learn of facts that we ourselves as yet unaware and to make use of this knowledge in their actions."

"From this foundation of the argument for liberty it follows that we shall not achieve its ends if we confine liberty to the particular instances where we know it will do good. Freedom granted only when it is known beforehand that its effects will be beneficial is not freedom."

Back from working CCA III. The topic this week is The New Deal. Dr. Folsom is talking on Keynesian economics tonight in relation to the New Deal's economics, so sharing the video below is timely.

Rach, the "Fear the Boom and Bust: a Hayek vs. Keynes Rap Anthem" video has gone viral around campus. I ran into Dr. Wenzel tonight (Econ prof who is co-teaching my poli sci class; he reads Hayek for breakfast!). He says he might show it before class tomorrow. Ha! It is quite good, so I am not complaining. I might even get to class before 5 till 8 (a.m., way too early) tomorrow!

"Prepare to get schooled in my Austrian perspective!" (and check out the name tags on the bartenders--Ben and Tim. Clever!)

The intellectual I like the best thus far is Frank S. Meyer. We haven't read him in class yet (though I think I saw one of his essays on the syllabus), but I read "The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945" by George Nash over Christmas break and his ideas are solid and substantial. I really like what I've read thus far, like this:

"...freedom can exist at no lesser price than damnation; and if freedom is indeed the essence of man's being, that which distinguishes him from the beasts, he must be free to choose his worst as well as his best end. Unless he can choose his worst, he cannot choose his best."

I've been assigned my two major research papers of the semester today (outside thesis and shorter papers). I'm thinking about topics, so I'll discuss those soon. I have a few ideas.

Happy February 1st! I can't believe we're in the second month of the year already. Today is Anna D.'s 21st birthday, so we're taking her out to the Hunt Club tonight. I'm interested in seeing how I balance this with the work that must be complete by 8 a.m. tomorrow.