Saturday, April 16, 2011

Gospel Scenes and Meditations

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Love God x 6

Feast of the Assumption
of the Blessed Virgin Mary
into Heaven

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Circles for Pentecost

Life is a gift. The Giver is greater than the gift. It is all right to die. So ends this blog.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Paul Stern

Paul Stern did not manage to emigrate. Perhaps he did not even try. In the summer of 1942 I was in Leipzig for a few days, and one evening I again visited my friends at the Oratory. They asked me if I would object to meeting Paul Stern. People used to ask such questions in those days, by way of precaution. Then I was told that for some time Paul Stern had been living in the Ghetto; but because he married a non-Jewess he did not have to wear the yellow star. This meant that he could go freely about the town, at least when his work was over. However, he had to report back at ten o’clock at night; prior to this he would often come to the Oratory, mostly to play the organ. I also learned that some time before, in the wake of a more intensive study of Saint Thomas, he had become a Catholic. His present work, eight hours a day, and under supervision, was picking out bits of metal from the refuse dumps of Leipzig. On my way to his remote room I wondered what words to use, meeting him again under these circumstances. But straight away it was obvious that, if anyone needed words of comfort, he, at least, did not. The man who sat opposite me was calm and cheerful; he knew no bitterness, not even, it seemed, sadness. Then I understood what my friends had told me: if they had ever met a saint, it was Paul Stern. We spoke about Thomas Aquinas and about that evening in Hegner’s house [when there was a discussion — “disputation” — about Stern and Hans Nachod’s manner of translating Summa contra gentiles into German]. He complimented me on my output since then. He was a little sorry to be without my small book on hope, which he had somehow mislaid. But when, somewhat ashamed, I promised to send him a new copy here, to the Oratory, he made a friendly gesture of refusal, as if something had suddenly occurred to him: I don’t need it any more—. In a 1959 posthumous edition of John Henry Newman’s Dream of Gerontius [Traum des Gerontius] the last translation, apparently, on which the two friends [Stern and Nachod] collaborated, one reads that Paul Stern was deported to Theresienstadt in 1943 and probably died in Auschwitz in 1944 at the age of fifty-four.

— Josef Pieper, No One Could Have Known



Since Turing, a scientific genius, was not speaking ex tempore but presenting, in [Computing machinery and intelligence], a well-considered opinion, something more specific than general human fallibility seems called for as an explanation for his adoption of a view [that he had come up with a test to determine if a computer may be said to think] that seems nothing less than absurd. My explanation is that Turing was lonely; first because it is in the nature of things that a genius must be lonely, but also and more particularly because he was a homosexual in a society that strongly rejected homosexuality. In seeing the computer as a potential friend he was by no means alone — many of the strange beliefs I will be discussing are at bottom searches for a buddy — and the computer is not the most unlikely entity in which lonely man has attempted to find a friend. But whatever the cause that led a genius of Turing’s caliber to suppose a computer capable of thought, I see in it a failure of confidence in their own experience on the part of modern cultivated people. It is a failure that shows itself again in our increasing preoccupation, sometimes even obsession, with the world of the Virtual — that is, of things that do such a good job of seeming that mere being cannot compete.

— Mark Halpern, Paradox Lost: the Cost of a Virtual World

Read also, Mark Halpern, The Trouble with the Turing Test, The New Atlantis, Number 11, Winter 2006.

Mark Halpern initiated The Jacques Barzun Centennial.


3 και υστερησαντος οινου λεγει η μητηρ τον Ιησου προς αυτον, Οινον ουκ εχουστν.
4 και λεγει αυτη ο Ιησους, Τι εμοι και σοι, γυναι; ουπω ηκει η ωρα μου.
John 2

3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.
4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

Usteresantos, meaning “they were wanting, they were lacking in,” (as in ‘they were wanting wine’) is related to the word usteron, meaning the womb – from whence we get the words ‘hysterectomy,’ ‘hysterical,’ etc. . . .

Beings who have no ‘metaphysical’ inquietude cannot have history. The animals are ‘fulfilled’ in a way that we are not; it is our very ‘lacking’ that gives us the historical impulse. In this sense history is so ‘womb-driven’; it is the feminine of mankind (i.e., of all men and women) expressed, drawn out, lived out, upon the plane of temporalization. . . .

Never has it happened that so many people have been so ‘lacking’ . . . . in the feeling of ‘lacking.’ That is to say, history now unfolds on the plane of self-sufficiency, amidst the hordes of the self-sufficient, those who are barren in the womb.

And never before has there been such a period of prolonged stagnation as the Modern Age. Things haven’t changed in essentials in decades, half a century, a century, a century and a half. . . . Western mankind, stunting its growth with materialism, is paralyzing its capacity for creative development. . . .

— Caryl Johnston, Metaphysics and ‘Lacking in Something’

Read also Caryl Johnston, Holy Mother, and, perhaps, A Wedding.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Useful Ignorance

From Romano Amerio, Iota Unum, Paragraph 153:

The present idea of dialogue obscures the way of useful ignorance that is appropriate for minds that are incapable of adopting the way of examination, and that adhere firmly to their fundamental assent and do not devote much attention to opposing views, to find out where their error lies. Being afraid of ideas opposed to what they know is certainly true, they keep themselves in ignorance to preserve the truths they already possess, and shut out false ideas and also any true ones that happen to be mixed in with them, without separating the one from the other.

This way of useful ignorance is legitimate in Catholicism, is based on the theoretical principle explained earlier [Having established even by one convincing consideration that religion is true, the latter is to be held on to even if particular difficulties remain unresolved.], and is moreover the condition in which the great majority of all religious believers find themselves.11

11 The theory of useful ignorance is developed by Manzoni in his Morale Cattolica, ed. cit., Vol. II, pp.422–3 and Vol. III, p.131.


Gospel Scenes

Gospel Scenes can now be read and (to Scene 30) heard together.

Albany Assessment 13

Albany reassessment has many hitting roof, Albany Times Union article by Tim O’Brien, May 23, 2007. Note: Rezsin Adams.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Albany Assessment 12

Ted and Rezsin treated Mary and me to dinner at Ocean Palace last night. Rezsin mentioned that she spoke with Tim O’Brien of the Times Union about her assessment. An article may appear in the paper tomorrow.

Went to Mass with Dot at the PH. Saw Dot’s new room on the 3rd, then after picking up Olivia at Erin’s, the four of us had lunch at Emma Cleary’s before coming home to see, with Ted and Rezsin, the DVD of The Queen.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Worst Case Scenario

That we live, and move, and have our being in a lie.