Scribbles, &c.

Church of Our Lady of Einsiedeln, Saint Meinrad Archabbey

For those about to smoke…

Enjoying a bit of liminal time between classes and coursework. Next week we’re hunkered down for a week of Homiletics and I’m going to use some of my time at St. Meinrad (hopefully) peeking at sources for my fall papers. A few thoughts came to me during a recent run and I think I’ve got a good approach for them. Grabbed onto another good angle last night, so the percolating phase of paper-writing is well underway. The rest of the month is shaping up to be busy with weekend trips here and there and August will be here before we know it. I already ordered the books for the upcoming Moral Theology class when our next (and final) year begins next month. Definitely looking forward to reading more for leisure when this is all done.

On the nightstand: a collection of Carson McCullers short stories which I picked up last year at the unclaimed baggage place in Scottsboro, AL for $5. I haven’t read any of her stuff since college and had forgotten how good her stuff is. On deck is Stendahl’s The Red and the Black.

Onscreen: Just finished up S3 of The Bear. Working through The Gentlemen, which is fun so far.

Currently reading: Collected Stories of Carson McCullers by Carson McCullers 📚

Same energy

Currently reading: Oedipus the King ; Oedipus at Colonus ; Antigone by Sophocles 📚

“Everywhere and always, when human beings either cannot or dare not take out their anger on the thing that has caused it, they unconsciously search for substitutes, and more often than not they find them.”

— René Girard

Deep in Girard again, and I’ve been thinking about ways the Internet accelerates or intensifies mimetic crises and their attendant scapegoating. First, groups obviously can (and do) form a hell of a lot faster, but without the “thickness” of embodied relationships, I suspect this means they’re more brittle. We can sort ourselves - or have ourselves sorted - much more easily, and the engagement models and algorithms of social media are going to guarantee an intensification of desire which means an acceleration towards crisis all the quicker. The release valve - scapegoat - will also be identified all the faster, but instead of relying on physical differences, the group has no choice to but seek performative aberrations or deviations from some tightly defined orthodoxy. The disembodied nature of online relationships has to give way to text and pictures, and at this point in time, most everyone has accumulated oodles of both.

At the same time, the anonymity, or perception of it removes one more obstacle to the scapegoat mechanism - the friction of “the first stone.” The cost to call out the scapegoat has dropped to near nothing, but the cost of an in-grouper to stand idly by has soared tremendously, so pile-ons happen faster and spread wider - past the in-group and into adjacent groups and clusters. It’s come up on at least one podcast I listen to (Blocked and Reported) that perhaps Twitter’s general decline has attenuated the pile-on tendencies a bit since many folks have migrated to other platforms. Getting data for something like that would be tough. It feels plausible, but it could also be that the cancel- and callout-culture zeitgeist has shifted. The mechanisms for them are still very much at work, though perhaps on a more diffuse scale. Neither desire nor the mimesis and conflict it causes will be going away any time soon

It’s the season for weird clouds, tall weeds, and blackberries.

Currently reading: All Desire Is a Desire for Being by René Girard 📚

Giant Leopard Moth

Was on a vocations panel for high-schoolers last night with our pastor, 2 Dominican sisters, and a pair of newlyweds.

Question: do you watch movies and what kind?

Father: there’s a TV in the rectory but we don’t watch it much. I might go to a friends to watch soccer.

Sisters: we don’t watch much TV, occasional movies

Couple: Only stuff like The Chosen

Me: We watch an absolute dogpile of movies and discuss/fight over them forever. There are factions.

Currently reading: An Introduction to Philosophy by Jacques Maritain 📚

Currently reading: Time for God by Jacques Philippe 📚

The rooster is the last survivor of our chicken-keeping days and since there are no more hens to watch, he just hangs out with the dog all day. She doesn’t seem to mind.

Today I repaired an appliance, got a haircut, and watched the grandsons. We grilled hot dogs and sweet corn and, having swam all day, they’ll leave here exhausted. We will also be exhausted, but the good kind. Tomorrow I’m slated to serve at two masses. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Pear, elderflower, and pawpaw

Today we were instituted as acolytes! Preparation continues - this weekend’s intro to homiletics was a tee-up for a week at St. Meinrad for more intensive study in July.

I was visiting my 96-year-old grandmother in the hospital yesterday. She’s not doing well; I was able to see her receive the Anointing of the Sick and receive communion. She’s said that she’s ready to go and I’m inclined to take her at her word.

Every so often, a little tune would play over the hospital PA system. I had a hunch and asked a nurse. Turns out I was right: a little lullaby plays whenever a baby is born in the maternity ward. I think I heard that song a half-dozen times or so. On the drive back to Nashville I was on the phone updating my wife. As I told her about this I just started bawling.

Served Mass this morning with our pastor. There have been a couple of boys serving on Wednesday mornings too, but today it was just me. Prayed for the grace to be attentive and to fittingly serve and everything went perfectly. Even had to readjust the missal before holding it up - the ribbons for the Collect and whatnot were in the wrong spot. Again, smooth. The usual small group remained after for Morning Prayer and the Office of Readings. Since this Saturday we’re to be instituted as acolytes, I asked Father what, if anything, would be changing.

Oh, he got the biggest smile. Everything, he said. After Saturday you will wear an alb, not that (pointing at the cassock and surplice). You will no longer be an altar server. Then he ran through the basic duties of the acolyte - purification of vessels, simple exposition, EM - and the need for a bit of catechesis with the others on the role and responsibility. Here I had been worried that maybe Saturday was going to pass unnoticed, but apparently not. I think this last Sunday may have been my last time sitting in a pew for a while.

Aurora borealis in TN!

Hello cicada!

Dcn. Bill Ditewig writes about re-thinking the idea of “permanent” and “transitional” as they pertain to the diaconate:

First, we must immediately retire the use of adjectives to describe a deacon as either a “permanent” deacon or a “transitional” deacon. For decades now, scholars and bishops have pointed out that there is only one Order of Deacons, just as there is only one Order of Presbyters and one Order of Bishops. All ordinations are permanent, so calling a deacon a “permanent” one is redundant, and calling a seminarian-deacon a “transitional” deacon is sacramentally wrong. All deacons are permanent. We do not refer to a presbyter who is later ordained a bishop as a “transitional” priest!

I’ve thought about this a fair bit, actually, and it makes a lot of sense. Dropping the terms would be easy enough. There’s only one diaconate, so qualifying it one way or the other seems kind of dumb. Disconnection from the cursus honorum also makes a tremendous amount of sense. Seminarians aren’t discerning the diaconate; they’re discerning the priesthood. The two are formed in different ways for the two very different vocations.

Feeling a little fried. Just wrapped our class on the Eucharist, for which a paper and oral exam are still pending. Beyond that, there’s the reading and prep for an upcoming weekend on Homiletics (which is a tee-up for a week-long intensive at St. Meinrad in July). Hovering over those are the reading and planning for the closure papers in the fall, but directly in front of me are the notes for tomorrow night’s OCIA mystagogical conference on the laity. And of course, family, household stuff, day job, &c.

St. Catherine of Siena, pray for me.