A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Sunday, May 04, 2003 :::
Weekend Edition.

A Mind That Suits finds himself dragging a bit today, due to a particularly rough day at his second job yesterday. A few idle comments, then some highlights.


New Music. A Mind That Suits hangs out in a pool club near his house. It has a great juke box covering music from the last 15 years or so, which covers the childhood and young adulthood of most people who go there. The staff chooses CD's from their own collections, which makes it even better. A Mind That Suits has noticed that if he just lets other people choose the music, he saves money and he learns about new stuff. If he chooses it, he is out a buck and finds himself getting bored. It's worth remembering.

Both Sides Now. A Mind That Suits was there late last night nursing his nerves back to health after a particularly rough night in which he felt that much energy was expended on strictly side issues. As the night wound down, he walked into where his staff was resting for a minute and thanked them. One of the workers was a young man from New Jersey. Everything about him--the hooded eyelids, that distinctive swagger, the moused hair, the muscular build--all shout "Jersey Italian." But he is in fact one of the gentlest souls that A Mind That Suits has ever encountered. He moved down here to teach special ed, he is loyal to one young lady, and he seems to want nothing but peace and is willing to try and make it happen. So when A Mind That Suits mentioned how rough the night had been, the young man said, typically, "oh, it worked out all right." A Mind That Suits replied, "It's like the Garden State Parkway and I-95. On I-95, you got trucks, and on the Garden State Parkway you don't got trucks." The young man conceded the point with uncharacteristic bluntness,"And there's *******s on both sides." True, all to true.

As for "don't got." A Mind That Suits grew up down South, remember.


Another way San Francisco Has Changed. At the coffee house this morning, A Mind That Suits chatted briefly with an acquaintance who described his experience working in the City by the Bay for several weeks. "Talk about fast...they all have their ear-pieces, carrying on two conversations at once, maybe three, mulitasking like crazy." In the San Francisco of A Mind That Suits' youth, people famously came into work at 9:30 and left at 4:30. The only people who didn't were the stock brokers, who, in those low-tech days, had to be at work when the trading floor was open in New York, three hours ahead. And everyone complained about how fast East Coasters moved when they came out West. That is a real change, and A Mind That Suits is not sure that it is for the better.

Highlights. Below are selections from the previous week. A Mind That Suits is fond of his piece on Springtime in Washington, but it is too long to repost here, so please scroll down and enjoy it. It's called "Springtime, Still Glorious."


I Thought We Wanted to Liberate Iraq. In a brilliant analysis this morning, psychologist Sally Satel dsicusses the massive army of therapists being sent into Iraq by Western relief agencies. You read that right: the UN is sending them headshrinkers to help them "deal with" the elasticly defined Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Dr. Satel alludes to cultural resistance to such drivel, and anyone who has had even the briefest exposure to actual Arab culture will know exactly how this will be received. Face saving and racial solidarity is so important to them--remember the "Minister of Information"--that there is no way that the average Arab male is going to "open up" to a German woman. Why, even in therapy-addicted Manhattan, mental health agencies reported that the vast majority of people needing extra help after 9/11 were already in the mental health system. Particularly telling is Dr. Satel's observation that the P.T.S.D. industry fails to distinguish between psychological problems and ordinary (or even extraodinary) anguish. Iraqis will start building for the future, using whatever aid their religion, their professions, and their families can provide for them.


Speaking of the Rough Guides. A Mind That Suits has a beloved friend, a priest, who has taken full advantage of the ubiquity of the Franciscans to take super cheap vacations in some very obscure parts of the Western Hemisphere. He swears by the Lonely Planet guides, but A Mind That Suits believes the Rough Guides are equally reliable. But even here the two kinds of multiculturalism are on display. The Rough Guide to Rome, the favorite city of A Mind That Suits, is perceptive and dependable, but the MiniRough Guide to Rome for 2000 also exults that Rome "finally" has a good sushi place. Why would you go to Rome to eat sushi? Rome is surrounded by two provinces of farms that provide a nearly year-round supply of delicious fresh food, which the Romans cook thoroughly without destroying it. "Raw fish" is not on their diet, and they have one of the oldest, and most delicious, cuisines in the world.

Speaking of raw. It is a conceit of modern elite cooking that less cooked is better. It can be, but it is not always. And a real world traveler would not come away from Rome complaining that they overcook their food.


The Next Step Down the Slope. This morning's Post brings an account of a chilling development in the world of cloning. Scientists have taken an embryonic cell from a mouse and converted it into an egg, and they were able to do this with the cells of males as well as females. When Dolly the Sheep was introduced into the world, many commentators lept to the conclusion that it spelled an end to the usefullness of men. This was silly. Who finds rearing children distracting? Is there going to be some shortage of poor women who cannot be enticed or forced into the service of rich, ambitious, self-centered men? It bears repeating ad infinitum: every step of the sexual revolution has meant degradation for women. Remember the "feminization of poverty?" We are about to reach the logical conclusion of our journey. That family ties have always been seen as a restraint on men--in particular, their roving, violent tendencies--is an observation lost on our cultural elites, but it remains true. Most scientists seem to think human cloning is possible and inevitable, and apparently the ones familiar with this newest process think it is also transferrable to humans. This is not a great day for humanity, and it may be remembered as a truly horrible one for women.

In sharp contrast... A Mind That Suits ran across this bracing comment from his main man, and it is a fitting contrast to that last item: "Although human beings live through a network of relationships and communities, the uniqueness of each person can never be lost in a shapeless mass. This explains the deep echo in our souls when we hear ourselves called by our own name." (Emphasis in the original. See Section 9.) So said John Paul II, and it also remains true today, despite the fact that our elites have forgotten it.


JPII, Misunderstood Once Again A Mind That Suits has a reporter friend, who is not Catholic but covers religion, and in this sad year, that has meant the Catholic Church more often than not. A Mind That Suits has asked him several times why it is that both conservative and liberal Catholics seem to conceive of John Paul II as secretly desiring to be an autocrat who restores the Church to its pre-Vatican II glory? Liberals hate him for his "agenda," conservatives are always disappointed that he doesn't just chop off a bunch of liberal heads and be done with it. There is no way to match the image with the reality, which has led A Mind That Suits, an avid fan of JPII's for all 25 of his years on the Chair of St. Peter, to believe that most of the older generation of Catholics has not been listening.

This general feeling is only confirmed by American reactions to his few comments on architecture. Several years ago, Jaoquin Navarro-Valls, the Pope's spectacularly competent press spokesman, told everyone that the Pope had had the opportunity to see a whole variety of Church architecture, and the one thing that bothered him was that many modern churches lacked a sense of mystery. There was--to use his exact words--no "space for the spiritual." Here, this was taken to mean that he wanted all churches to be Gothic. A conservative group of architects even formed to help parishes design new Gothic churches.

What no one seems to have noticed is that the churches whose construction JPII himself has supervised have all been notable for their thorough modernity. That starts with the famous "Ark Church" in Nowa Huta, a town the communists of Poland had planned to be churchless. The Poles themselves disagreed, and then-Archbishop Karol Wojtyla led Christmas vigils in an open field in the snow for years until the Communists relented. The exterior of that church has always left A Mind That Suits a little cold, but the interior (at least as portrayed in photographs) is deeply moving, and very modern. So too with a new church for the Roman suburbs planned during the Millenium.

And the "Papal style" for outdoor events, as it has evolved over 25 years, has been exactly a combination of elements from the Church's great heritage and from modern art.

In his new encyclical , JPII expands on his views as reported by Navarro-Valls. They are now a whopping 253 words long, in English. And the reaction has been the same. No less an authority than Avery Cardinal Dulles, in an interview with the Washington Post, said the section on architecture was "fairly vague," but "it will give support to people who want a Gothic-style church as opposed to having everyone sit around in a circle or something."

While his admiration for Cardinal Dulles is undimmed, and while he would certainly never suggest that His Eminence has been inattentive to His Holiness, A Mind That Suits would, however humbly, like to differ: the comments are not vague, and they do not favor an architectural style. "Space for the spiritual." That's what he favors, it's quite clear, and it's a lot.

See you tomorrow morning.


::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 12:43 PM



Post a Comment


A Related Website on Christian Spirituality
The Fullness of Him
The Easiest Way to Keep Up With the News:
Best of the Web
Links to Web Friends
One Good Turn
A Dog's Life
Power Line
Rambles and By-ways

What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Powered by Blogger