Scribbles, &c.

Nothing where there was something

I regret not keeping a pencil alongside while reading Black Lamb and Grey Falcon; it’s chock full of great passages and now I have to scan for them. Last night I read the following bit and resolved to post it as soon as possible.

The West’s guide, Constantine, has been telling them the story of a church in Bosnia that contained the relics of Saint Luke. However there was another church, in Italy, which also possessed the relics of Saint Luke. Moreover, the Italian relic lacked a head, which was in the care of the Vatican, where the Bosnian Luke was still intact. Yet a third church in Italy claimed to have an arm of Saint Luke and had been using to effect miracles for some time. Constantine continues:

There is nobody today to whom that story would not seem absurd, except very simple people, too simple people, idiots. Those who believe in the power of relics and who are solemn will beg you not to talk of such things, not to recall how the stupidities of our ancestors made foolish a beautiful thing. But most people, whether they are believing or not, will only laugh. But the people of five hundred years ago did not see anything ridiculous in a dead man with two heads and three arms, all working miracles; and they did not feel suspicious because many monks made much money out of such dead men. They saw something else, which made them add a head and a head and make it one head, and two arms and one arm, and make it two arms, and we do not know what that something was. For me, I hate it when I read history and I see that now there is nothing where once there was something. It shows me that man has been eating food which has done him no good, which has passed out of him undigested.

I had laid aside Black Lamb to tackle The Conservative Sensibility by George Will, which has just been published. On the whole I thought it was pretty good, if a little repetitive in places. I liked his arguments about conservatism not necessarily being contingent on religious faith, but could have done without the cosmological rhapsodizing towards the end. Otherwise it was an interesting book and certainly he made quite a few points worth consideration. By design, it’s light on prescription. Much more of an extended think-piece/meditation. It’s nice to return to Yugoslavia.

Catechetical training continues apace. The garden’s growing in and the weather’s ramping into the usual summertime patterns. Things are, as usual, chaotic in our household but the chaos is at its usual level and so a little easier to live with.