Saturday, June 25, 2005

I have a new favorite saint

St. Vladimir Pryjma

Today is his feast in our church. He was a cantor, and while out on a sick call with his pastor, was tortured and killed by the Soviets in 1941 along with St. Nicholas Konrad, his priest.

There are two neat things about St. Vladimir: 1) he's a cantor saint, which is good, since I am also a cantor. 2) Cantors used to go on sick-calls with the pastor! That's very neat. It would be great for the priest in the nursing home to be able to chant "Let us pray to the Lord" and have someone respond in song with "Lord have mercy."

So, Father, I'll come on sick calls if you want me to.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Book Meme, Book Shmeme

Kevin Miller over at HMS Blog tagged me on the book thingy. Here goes.

1. Total number of books I own/have owned. Doing a rough calculation, a typical bookshelf in my basement lair holds 27 books. I have 46 shelves, which makes 1,242 books, give or take a few. I've owned more and sold more in the past, which probably puts me around 2000.

2. Last book I bought. A set of The Great Books of the Western World, a 54 volume set from Homer to Freud for $250. It's the set put together by Hutchins and Adler.

3. Last book I read. The introductory volume of the Great Books set, giving Hutchins' apologia for the project and for liberal education in general. Before that it was David Bentley Hart's "The Beauty of the Infinite", which you'd know if you've been reading this blog.

4. Books I'm reading now. Mostly rereads and class prep. The Bible--I read the whole thing every few years. I'm up to Ecclesiastes. Lord of the Rings (every few years), Love and Responsibility, a book on the Crusades (I forget the title), Basil's letters, Athanasius' "Life of Anthony", and Cardinal Ratzingers "God and the World." I probably have other bookmarks scattered around.

5. Five books that mean a lot to me:
1. The Bible.
2. Lord of the Rings.
3. The Brothers Karamazov.
4. Summa Theologiae.
5. Nichomachean Ethics.

6. Tag five bloggers to do this. I have no idea who's done this already, and so I tag all of my friends at NDNation.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Is God practical?

Have you ever wondered why God made mosquitoes? Or garden slugs? If you were God, would you have done things differently? Do you ever think that the universe is too big? After all, why do we need all those galaxies and stars?

If you think this way, may I suggest that you don't understand what creation is all about. Think back to the the scriptural accounts of God's creative activity. Is it ever described in terms of praxis? Is God ever creating for some purpose? Humans make things for a purpose, and so we only put things in whatever we make that serve the purpose. Form follows function, after all. But God doesn't create for a purpose. There isn't any function to creation. Think back to Genesis. Does it give any reason for God to create? The only motive is the goodness of creation (and the "very goodness" of humans). Or consider Revelation 4:11: "Worthy art thou, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for thou didst create all things, and by thy will they existed and were created." The phrase "by thy will" has the sense in Greek of "for thy pleasure", as indeed the King James version translates it. God creates for his own will, his own delight. Or Psalm 104:26: "There go the ships, and Leviathan which thou didst form to sport in it." Creation is play.

If it is in fact divine play, that means that God didn't create for some purpose. This means that there aren't an impractical bits to it. There doesn't need to be a reason for mosquitoes, or garden slugs, or vast expanses of stars, any more than there needs to be a reason for four downs in football. Or compare it to musical composition, which is another species of play. One doesn't say of Mozart that there are "too many notes." The music doesn't have a purpose beyond the delight that it provides, and so there isn't any measure of the right amount of notes. Music gives delight. Creation gives delight.