Two Thoughts on Today's Readings

Why, hello, long-neglected blog. Not sure precisely why the impulse to place this here, but what the heck: going with it. Two disconnected thoughts that popped out while meditating on the scripture readings for today's Mass.

The first is from 1 Corinthians 4:1-5, where Paul is talking about God being the only true judge and everyone's hearts being manifest on judgment day. Since Paul says he has nothing on his conscience, but he doesn't even judge himself but leaves it to God, I've always understood the passage in the negative, the emphasis being on judgment: in the end, evil will be exposed, so a) be on guard that your own heart be pure and b) have fortitude; all will be made right in the end.

No doubt that meaning is there, but for some reason this morning the last line of the passage is what jumped out at me: "he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts, and then everyone will receive praise from God." The praise that is due, no doubt (thus the warning element is maintained), but praise. That got me thinking about how awful it is to be misjudged. I can think of several instances, still painful in memory, when in all sincerity I wanted to do a person a good turn or was acting out of entirely pure motives and the action went badly awry and I was completely shocked and hurt by the bad reaction. It's easier to accept having made a mistake than it is to have one's motives misapprehended and rebuked. I think about that in particular with respect to my kids. I cannot express how much I love them, and often enough my "love" goes awry and wounds where it intended to tease or praise. How marvelous to think that all those agonizing wounds of misunderstanding will one day be healed. Some day that one person will know not only that I wasn't mean, but that she was loved....What a miracle of joy and mercy and healing to one day understand how much we have been served, been loved, been thought well of, been appreciated, been seen, been prayed for --not only by God, but by others, all our lives!  Everyone's goodness, including our own, will be revealed. 

My mom used to claim (not that she's wrong, I've just never encountered the passage) that C.S. Lewis says that more people than we understand are "on their way up" as it were, and it will be one of the joys of heaven to see people we never expected there. (And I suppose they'll have the surprise of seeing us!) That's a happy thought in this run-up to an election that has divided friends and brought out the rash judgment in everyone. Some day we will all see how much good was intended. 

The second thought comes from the Gospel passage, Luke 5:33-39, when the Pharisees ask Jesus why his disciples don't fast. Jesus says they'll fast when the time comes and then makes these two analogies: people don't ruin a new garment to patch an old one, and people don't put new wine into old wineskins, because they'll burst.  I've never understood these analogies to be frank. Jesus seems to be saying that old and new don't mix, somehow, but since that doesn't in any way jibe with the message of repentance and salvation for all, that passage has always been opaque to me. This morning suddenly it seems obvious: Christ is saying things need time to ripen.  If you tear up a new garment to patch an old, you just ruin both and have nothing. If you put new wine into old wineskins, the skins will burst and you'll have neither wine nor the old weathered skins you waited so long to have. 

The key, I think, is again the last line: "new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins. And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’” I couldn't understand the passage previously because I was trying to read Christ's words as a defense of the disciples and a rebuke to the Pharisees. It *is* a defense of the disciples, but one of a different nature than the one I'd been searching for.  Here I think his defense is along the lines not of, "You're wrong, they're right,"  but more along the lines of, "Patience, give them time." You know how fresh converts are delightful in their love for the faith and their excitement about each new discovery -- but they're also obnoxious and very green?  I imagine that's what Christ is acknowledging to the Pharisees. Yes, they're green. But they're also full of fresh zeal and love, in the first throws of getting to know the Lord and his love. Their faith needs maturation, and that will come soon enough with the Cross. But you can't rush these things. And when their faith has matured? That will be like the best old wine: very good.  

Annals of Self-Awareness, Infinite Jest Version

I thought we had reached the un-toppable peak of lack of self-awareness when Planned Parenthood tweeted about babies being unwelcome at Trump rallies.

But now Joe Biden has pointed out to a crowd his aide carrying the nuclear football in an effort to make a point about Trump's lack of judgment about the nuclear football.

Sigh. Have we reached peak preposterous yet?

P.S. I think some folks are making a little too much of Biden's "breach." It's not as if we make all that much effort to hide the nuclear football guy or what he does -- you always see pictures of the football being loaded onto planes and helicopters. But you're supposed to be a bit discreet about it. Sheesh.

Two Points in Trump's Favor

I've been joking on Twitter that maybe Trump is a genius after all, because I don't know who else could have gotten Bill Clinton to wax eloquent for an hour about how sexy his wife is and how important the institution of marriage is; could have gotten the President to give shout-outs to Ted Cruz, coal miners, and the forgotten factory worker; and could have gotten the party as a whole --embodied by Booker, Michele, Biden & Obama-- to be full-throatedly patriotic and demand that no one run the country down.

As Pat Buchanan once said, this week has been the greatest show of cross-dressing I've ever seen. Tho' I guess we have to say the Democratic Party has identified as patriotic this week.

More seriously, in fairness to Trump, I want to throw two things out for consideration.

First, his press conference, the one where he allegedly called for Russia to hack us.  He didn't. What he did do was set a trap for the Hillary people to admit that her lost emails contain classified information -- and they utterly fell for it, in an unforced error.

More importantly, just watch it (Curtsy: Ann Althouse). Not saying I agree with every word of it, but I think I could feel comfortable if this version of Donald Trump showed up more often.  Not going to say more...just watch and see what you think.

 Secondly,  here's a pretty robust defense of Trump against the charge that he mocked the handicapped. That accusation has never sat well with me, because I watched Trump defend himself contemporaneously, and I judged him to be sincere, though because I don't trust him, I wasn't sure.  Read this.  The piece probably makes too much of the fact that the reporter in question does not have cerebral palsy and isn't handicapped in the way Trump gesticulated.  What I find persuasive is the 2nd video at the link, where he mocks Ted Cruz with the exact same gesture. It's Trump's way of indicating falling apart or discombobulation, and seeing that cinched for me what I already believed -- that in this one instance, Trump has been maligned, and didn't do the horrible thing we all readily believed of him.

I'm not a convert. I'm not going to pretend Trump is Reagan. But fair is fair.

Two Press Conferences


And Yet, Somehow the Marxists Aren't Pleased

Via My Spy in New York: this guy has the best line yet on #Brexit

The left has claimed for generations that it wants a working class revolution. Now they've got one.

Orange Really Is the New Black

Coming soon to #10 Downing/ 1600 Pennsylvania Ave? 


I didn't really believe they'd do it, so didn't think much about the implications, but to the extent that this represents a sovereign people re-asserting its sovereignty over detached and imperious bureaucrats, Hurrah! Still...

And then again, here's a very sound counter-argument:


Trump Among the Weeds

Eldest Weed is an emphatic #NeverTrumper (thinks Trump is a Mussolini) while Mr. Weed, originally moderately anti-Trump, has become doggedly pro-Trump simply because of the insulting things his erstwhile friends say about Trump supporters. He's so ticked off, he's dug in and sounds more pro-Trump than he actually is.

I'm not a #nevertrumper, but I'm on the fence. If the election were held today, I'd probably vote for him. I'm hopeful he might not be that bad and that his inarticulate patriotism would be better than the Progressive anti-Americanism under which we now labor. As an internet friend put it:
In a choice between crap and a crapshoot, take the crapshoot. Duh. 
But his character (or lack thereof) concerns me and I don't have the heart to make an emphatic argument for him. Plus, I am watching to see how things develop before making a firm commitment.

Since Eldest Weed is home for the summer, our dinner conversations have become nightly debates between him and Mr. Weed over Trump in which no one else gets a word in edgewise (or, frankly, tries to, since there is nothing new to say). Therefore, out of curiosity, I asked the other folks in the household what they would do if they could vote and why.

Plus...I have this bee in my bonnet lately about how out of touch people who make natural law arguments are these days with actual natural law. I've decided that most conservatives --whether in the field of politics or the field of faith-- can't recognize an argument from nature if it smacks them upside the head. This applies to what they say about Trump and also, curiously, to their response to Pope Francis. Someday soon I'll explain what I mean but meanwhile I've become interested in what folks who are not yet spoiled by saturation in politics think. So I asked my kids.

  • Girl Weed (17): Honestly don't know. He might not be that bad, but there's potential for him to be horrible. I think it's pointless to vote third party and I believe there's a moral obligation to vote for and support the person you think will do less harm. But I am waiting to see which one that is. 
  • Middle Weed (15): Trump.  They're both pretty liberal and you don't really know what they'll do in foreign policy. But Hillary is so pro-abortion and Trump, whatever he actually believes, at least is publicly on the right side on the most telling issue. That's important. 
  • Youngest Weed (12): Trump, for two reasons. 1) Hillary's Supreme Court picks will be so horrible that his will have to be better;  2) If he wants to get re-elected, he will have to make Republicans happy, so it is likely that he will keep at least some of his promises, even if he doesn't really care about them so much.
Make of it what you will, but it's of interest to me for my purposes that the more unspoiled (by "news") they are, the more they support Trump. 

Muhammad Ali

I hadn't thought much about Muhammad Ali in decades, but at his passing someone I love wrote a remembrance of him that brought childhood memories flooding back. Washington, DC in the '70s was a "fight city" -- where boxing was huge and everyone followed it.  When an important fight was about to take place, there would be buzz all over the city for weeks. My dad was a great fan of Ali as an athlete and taught us kids to enjoy his verbal hijinks and overlook some of his politics. 

I think this is lovely: touching and funny, and giving a nice window into what seems to have been a genuine friendship. It's interesting to me that Crystal here says something my family member did in her reflection as well --about being glad to have lived in Ali's time.