08 March 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. XLVIII)

--- 1 ---

The snow is nearly gone, and the first signs of spring are erupting out of the ground.  Even after the late winter storm of this week, winter's reign for this year is waning fast.

Winter and death may be tenacious, but spring and life are even more so.

I won't be as wordy this week as I have been the last several Fridays, with several things weighing on my mind at the moment. Perhaps you will enjoy the bit of quiet today, instead of my usual garrulousness.

--- 2 ---

The last few weeks of my life have involved a good deal of stress and storm.  The details as to why are not particularly interesting or edifying. What I will write is this: for some reason, this passage of Scripture kept coming to mind during and after every event of this time period, as indicative of my life in many ways:
Blind guides, who strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel. (Matthew 23:24, Douay-Rheims)
All these situations and events brought home to me how deeply obsessed with and worried about trivial matters and minutiae I have been at many points in my life, trying to control my life and its every moment, rather than trusting in God and His Providence.  I suspect it's a frame of mind and being with which many might be able to relate.

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee
I shan't commit the opposite error of passivity and Quietism.  Virtue lies somewhere in between, and I'm still figuring where that path lies.  Nonetheless, swallowing and not seeing the camel by avoiding the gnat no longer is a viable way to live.  As my boat returns out upon the waters every day, I shall remember to trust in the Lord and ask for His help when the seas turn rough and stormy... but I'll still probably be white-knuckled the whole time.

--- 3 ---

Sometimes you get in a deep funk.  And then you get a swift kick in the pants that gets you back up and moving. Kind of like Field Marshal von Blücher, aka "Marschall Vorwärts" ("Marshal Forwards"), driving his cavalry along.

Marshall Forwards
by Johann Emil Hünten (1863)
A good thing, too, that swift kick.  The late winter doldrums were beginning to weigh me down. 

--- 4 ---

A still flows in Brooklyn: a CNN piece about the first whiskey distillery to open in Brooklyn since the start of Prohibition.

--- 5 ---

The power of human interaction at the physical bookstore -- and not only just in bookstores but in libraries, too.  The digital world is wonderful, but the elimination of physical human contact and interaction is distrubing, I think, even quasi-Gnostic at times, with its fear of the body and the physical. 

Patrons who inquire about books, articles, and other media and information, I find, are never just asking about the objects, media, or artifacts themselves.  Often there is a story and context wrapped up in the reference request, a story to which is absolutely necessary that I stop, listen, and give my full attention to the person in front of me, if I am to understand and help the patron.  Complex, complicated stories, sometimes full of pain and suffering... but also ones of joy and excitement, as doors of the mind swing wide open and rooms in the heart open up in the discovery of a book, or an article, or even having someone listen to them for a few moments.

And here the old temptation to pride rises.  I have to remember: it's not about me.  It's about them, and their stories.  My part to play in the drama and the fashioning of the narrative of their lives is slight, at best a walk-on role.  Yet it has its place and purpose, and is honestly a good role to have.
Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.
-- St. Augustine of Hippo
Saint Augustine in His Study
Sandro Botticelli, 1480
Chiesa di Ognissanti, Florence, Italy
--- 6 ---

Needing a break from some heavy philosophical reading that I've been plowing through of late, I picked up Thomas McNamee's The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat: Craig Claiborne and the American Food Renaissance. I've seen this biography in many places of late, and this past week seemed as good as any time to buy it.

I bought it to learn more about Craig Claiborne, one of the driving forces in the rise of the food renaissance that began here in the United States in the 1960s.  I must confess that, before reading this book, I knew next to nothing about Claiborne, other than vague memories from childhood -- perhaps my foodie grandfather and grandmother had mentioned him?  Or had his cookbooks?  I don't remember -- and scattered references here and there in cookbooks and memoirs of that era read much later.

What I did not know about was his enormous importance in and influence on the American food scene from the late 1950s through the early 1990s.  Fascinating, really.  Some of the personal details are of interest, too, but my general view is De mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum estSome of the details of Claiborne's life are titillating, to be sure, but one also learns of the deep conflicts and wounds in the man, and I can only pray that he found some peace in death that eluded him in life.

And, as usual, no one is compensating me to read or write about this book.

--- 7 ---

Back to soup this weekend in the kitchen. I might do a simple Spanish potato and egg dish for supper tonight.  An impulse purchase of German curry ketchup has me thinking that currywurst will also be on the menu this weekend.  Nothing too fancy otherwise.

This weekend is also an early birthday lunch with some friends who likewise share March birthdays with me.  Next week, I turn the big 4-0, though I feel my spirit aging backwards, growing younger as God's grace penetrates deeper into me.

Have a great weekend, everyone! See you Monday!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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