Whew, I've nearly survived the basketball season: four kids, four leagues, including two in high school competition (JV-varsity). It felt like a part-time job occasionally. Marie and I got back from our last six-hour trip Friday evening and sighed relief. We have a couple of home games left and then the playoffs start. I'm looking forward to it, but I'm more pleased that the blitz of double-header away games is over. * * * * * * * One thing that helped me keep my equilibrium during the season: walking. I strapped on a pedometer and walked all around the school during intermissions. I probably averaged over a mile of extra walking every game this year and averaged over two miles on days with JV and Varsity games (since those days provide for, at a minimum, 20 minutes between games). One night, I logged in three miles. * * * * * * * One thing that struck me this year: The high schools' different policies regarding locking down their schools. Some schools pulled gates to cut off the main part of the school from the gym area, with the result that I had to pretty much just walk up and down the same hallway, which really sucked (and provoked stares and, on one occasion, an accusatory smartphone videotaping by a high school kid who perhaps thought I was casing the joint to jihad it). But other schools left all the hallways open, which was really cool, especially in the larger schools where you could wander and wander and wander. There was no rhyme or reason to which schools did which. Two of the more urban schools were highly locked down (which makes sense, because of more crime), but then a third one (all three stories of it) was wide open to wandering. A highly-white school was so locked down, you'd think they were hosting prison tournaments, but then its white neighbor nine miles down the road ranked first on my list of walkable schools. Oh well, if you find yourself similarly situated and need exercise, consider such an approach. * * * * * * * Especially if you have a cholesterol problem, like I do (mine is minor). I'm reading more and more health experts advise frequent walking, and not just knee-numbing marathon walks, but the incremental, constant-moving, type: "Peeke tells WebMD, "I ask people to get a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps a day. If you work at a desk, get up and walk around for five minutes every hour." 11 Tips to Cut Your Cholesterol Fast.
I planted five pots of spinach and one of lettuce over the past ten days to grow in our living room until they can be moved outside, but my anti-Zen wife has told me I'm not allowed to plant any more until mid-March. The trials of married life!
I just learned that my professor, mentor in the faith, and friend Charles Rice died Wednesday. We lost touch over the years, last corresponding by email a few months ago, but he was often in my mind for some reason. He leaves behind ten children and 41 grandchildren. He was a great man, a man's man of the faith, the kind of guy who could knock you down if he had to but would prefer to buy you a beer and ask about your day. It's rare I say this, but I was privileged to know him.
Brews You Can Use
I read once that the average lifespan of a blog is six months. I actually would've guessed three months, but maybe they count the blogs that start off strong, then peter out to one or two posts a month, limping along like that for a long time before calling it quits.
That fact crossed my mind earlier this week when I ran across this 2006 column of mine from the National Catholic Register: What’s Red and White and Tasted All Over? In it, I mention a dozen Catholic bloggers who write at least occasionally about drinking. I checked on all twelve of them and discovered:
Two are going strong (congratulations, Laudator and Crowhill).
One moved or, rather, apparently folded his wine blog into his general blog (Bainbridge).
One has a few blog posts in 2015, but is not active overall.
One blog is no longer open to the public (by invitation only).
Seven no longer exist or haven't been updated in over a year.
Based on that, I'm guessing the six-month lifespan estimate is pretty accurate. At 10+ years, TDE is an old, old man.
Incidentally, I went back and read that 2006 column. I really (if immodestly) enjoyed it. I had completely forgotten about this passage:
Read about the early 20th-century Catholic literary revival that biographer Joseph Pearce has chronicled so well. The wine flowed freely — so freely that you might think it was the fuel of the revival. G.K. Chesterton drank it, Maurice Baring balanced glasses of it on his bald head, Hilaire Belloc practically drank a barrel of it during a walking pilgrimage that he recounts in The Path to Rome.
Chesterton and Belloc loved the stuff so much that contemporaries claimed that they had misheard the Creed and thought it demanded belief in “One, Holy, Catholic, and Alcoholic Church.”
This line also cracked me up, though it's too clever for me, so I'm guessing it came from the pen of my ever-vigilant editor: "Drinking wine for the health of it strikes me as similar to living out the marital union for the exercise." Maybe I penned the concept in crass terms and he crafted it more subtly (and, therefore, more cleverly).
There's a race war going on, but it's black on black. This from talk show host Byron Allen, criticizing Al Sharpton for selling out to big media interests: “Why is Sharpton on TV every night on MSNBC? Because he endorsed Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal. He signed the memorandum of understanding back in 2010. He endorsed the merger. Next thing you know we’re watching him on television trying to form a sentence. Every night we have the privilege of watching adult illiteracy.” Link.
I recently re-ran across this passage from John C. h. Wu's (the Chinese Chesterton's) The Golden Age of Zen: "The first and second chapters of the Tao Teh Ching constitute the metaphysical background of Zen."
I'm not exactly sure what to think about that statement, since I thought Mahayana Buddhism constitutes the metaphysical backbone of Zen. Perhaps Mahayana is the metaphysical background of Zen? Is there a difference? "Backbone" is a metaphor; I don't think "background" is. But are they substantively different?
Oh well, I doubt it makes much of a difference. For me, the important thing is that it's the playful element of Taoism that transformed Buddhism into Zen, and it's why, of Zen's parents (Taoism and Mahayana Buddhism), I've always found Taoism far more appealing, almost like Taoism is the beautiful nymph that married the ugly man (M.B.), producing a splendid, if flawed, child (Zen).
All that prompted me to revisit the Tao Teh Ching and post these passages. Each deserve some cogitation time . . . or not. You're better off with St. John of the Cross or Avila, but on the lofty mundane level, this stuff is great, right up there with some of the highest Stoic insights (Stoicism being the highest accomplishment of western philosophy before Christ came and gave it all meaning).
Therefore the sage puts his own person last, and yet it is found in the foremost place; he treats his person as if it were foreign to him, and yet that person is preserved.
The highest excellence is like water. The excellence of water appears in its benefiting all things, and in its occupying, without striving (to the contrary), the low place which all men dislike. Hence is near to the Tao.
It is better to leave a vessel unfilled, than to attempt to carry it when it is full.
If you keep feeling a point that has been sharpened, the point cannot long preserve its sharpness.
Who can make the muddy water clear? Let it be still, and it will gradually become clear.
Who can secure the condition of rest? Let movement go on, and the condition of rest will gradually arise.
The sage is free from self-display, and therefore he shines; from self-assertion, and therefore he is distinguished; from self-boasting, and therefore his merit is acknowledged; from self-complacency, and therefore he acquires superiority. It is because he is thus free from striving that therefore no one in the world is able to strive with him.
Gravity is the root of lightness; stillness, the ruler of movement.
The kingdom is a spirit-like thing, and cannot be got by active doing. He who would so win it destroys it; he who would hold it in his grasp loses it.
The sage puts away excessive effort, extravagance, and easy indulgence.
He who is satisfied with his lot is rich.
He who knows other men is discerning; he who knows himself is intelligent. He who overcomes others is strong; he who overcomes himself is mighty.
The sage is able to accomplish his great achievements. It is through his not making himself great that he can accomplish them.
Who is content needs fear no shame.
Purity and stillness give the correct law to all under heaven.
There is no guilt greater than to sanction ambition; no calamity greater than to be discontented with one's lot; no fault greater than the wish to be getting. Therefore the sufficiency of contentment is an enduring and unchanging sufficiency.
The farther that one goes out, the less he knows. Therefore the sages got their knowledge without traveling; gave their names to things without seeing them; and accomplished their ends without any purpose of doing so.
He who gets as his own all under heaven does so by giving himself no trouble.
The sage has in the world an appearance of indecision, and keeps his mind in a state of indifference to all.
He who knows does not speak; he who speaks about it does not know it.
For regulating the human and rendering the service to the heavenly, there is nothing like moderation.
The sage, while he never does what is great, is able on that account to accomplish the greatest things.
The sage desires what (other men) do not desire, and does not prize things difficult to get; he learns what (other men) do not learn, and turns back to what the multitude of men have passed by. Thus he helps the natural development of all things, and does not dare to act (with an ulterior purpose of his own).
But I have three precious things which I prize and hold fast. The first is gentleness; the second is economy; and the third is shrinking from taking precedence of others. With that gentleness I can be bold; with that economy I can be liberal; shrinking from taking precedence of others, I can become a vessel of the highest honor.
Sincere words are not fine; fine words are not sincere. Those who are skilled do not dispute; the disputatious are not skilled in it. Those who know are not extensively learned; the extensively learned do not know it.
The sage does not accumulate. The more that he expends for others, the more does he possess of his own; the more that he gives to others, the more does he have himself.
Background: When I was the editor of Gilbert Magazine, I was responsible for the "Tremendous Trifles" column. It was occasionally hard to find a sufficient amount of interesting GKC material to fill the page, so John Peterson sent me a file full of Chesterton ancedotes. They were idiosyncratic, historical, and Chestertonian. He gave me permission to use them here. I hope y'all find them as interesting as I have over the years. Most of them have never been published.
Regarding a minor coincidence, consider that the mystery-novelist Agatha Christie once lived at No. 58 Sheffield Terrace in the Campden Hill area in Kensington. Chesterton admirers will recall that his parents lived very near that address at No. 32—the house no longer stands—when Gilbert was born in 1874. In 1880, the family moved to No. 11 Warwick Gardens. The first home for Gilbert and Frances, following their marriage on June 28, 1901, was the house at No. 1 Edwardes Square in Kensington, located on the north side of the square. [George Wil1liams, Guide to Literary London, Batsford, 1973, p. 201 and 328; The London Encyclopedia, Bethesda: Adler, 1986, p. 926]
Catholic Men's Quarterly, a one-of-a-kind general interest men's magazine written by Catholic men for Catholic men. Makes a great Father's Day gift.
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