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Suffering and Waste (A Buffet of Pain)

March 11, 2009
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More light reading

I’ve much reduced my current-event intake for Lent, limiting my blog reading to American Digest, The Anchoress and The Belmont Club. And of course, old posts here. Take a walk with me through the last few days:

Am I too judgemental? Is it OK to judge the judgers? Judge the judgers of the judges… etc. I just went back and re-read my Ash Wednesday reflection from 2006 “We Must Not Waste Suffering“. I have to admit, my struggles are still the same.

You think I’m a glutton for pain? Try the Anchoress:

But I realized that just laying about in pain was silly and wasteful;it went against everything the good nuns and my own mother and granny had ever taught me about pain and suffering. In my head I heard Sr. Mary Gemma telling us children, “when you are in pain, when you are disappointed, when your feelings have been hurt, offer these things up to the Lord and ask him to use your pain – that He join it to His own pain on the cross, for the good of others. Offer it as penance for your own sins, or the sins of those who cannot or will not do penance for themselves.”

It’s good to have a friend a little farther along the path. She prays her pain.

The blessed curmudgeon, Poretto:

Americans have grown unaccustomed to suffering. We’ve succeeded in erecting a “bubble of comfort” (Peter Kreeft) around ourselves that’s nearly impenetrable by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Our material success has been so great that even our poor people would qualify as rich virtually anywhere else in the world. For the majority of us, “pain” is something to be treated with analgesics; “loss” is missing out on some item on eBay; “sorrow” is what we feel at the Giants not making it to the Super Bowl; and “regret” arises from not being able to afford the latest iPhone.

Do not buy the Afghanistan lie. The road to defeat goes through Afghanistan:

it would will prove difficult to extricate American power from Iraq. Unless… unless… Unless the argument is made that we need to reinforce Afghanistan and we are, frankly, fresh out of army. In that case, you might be able to withdraw a lot of our forces from Iraq and send them, not home, but to Afghanistan.For a little while.

Once there under the umbrella of “hunting down Bin Laden,” it would be only a matter of time before that “mission” was declared either a success or “impossible.”

So far, no one’s stepped up to the plate to help the “good war”. The perfect excuse to leave.

Finding the connections: between Lauridsen’s choral piece”O Magnum Mysterium” and a Zurbaráns “Still Life With Lemons, Oranges and a Rose”.

The same mind wrote the last two links. Don’t write either one off.

THE ROOTS OF LIBERAL CONDESCENSION: “if patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, snobbery is the last refuge of the liberal-arts major“. The story of my life in the last 7+years is the rejection of snobbery and elitism. Work in progress.

The war is over:
Our peerless armed forces took Tora Bora and, when we finally let them, Fallujah. But al-Qaeda won in Washington, and that has made all the difference.

The War on Terror has radically altered the compact between the American people and their government by dramatically changing the nature of the U.S. courts. Until this new, unaccountable monster is caged, it will continue to devour our political community’s capacity to wage war and to defend itself.

Cowardly politicians have turned over a great deal of responsibility to judges who have no expertise or mandate to guide national security. We are now giving enemy combatants in foreign theaters of war the same rights as American citizens. This is clearly insanity. Read it and weep. Just try to defend this line of thinking.

The Problem of Machiavelli: for a Christian, especially.

From the vantage point of the great social objectives in the name of which these (prima facie wicked) acts are to be performed, they will be seen (so the argument goes) as no longer wicked, but as rational—demanded by the very nature of things, by the common good, or man’s true ends, or the dialectic of history—condemned only by those who cannot or will not see a large enough segment of the logical or theological or metaphysical or historical pattern; misjudged, denounced only by the spiritually blind or short-sighted. At worst, these “crimes” are discords demanded by the larger harmony, and therefore, to those who hear this harmony, no longer discordant.

Machiavelli is not a defender of any such abstract theory. It does not occur to him to employ such casuistry. He is transparently honest and clear. In choosing the life of a statesman, or even the life of a citizen with enough civic sense to want his state to be as successful and splendid as possible, a man commits himself to rejection of Christian behavior

Usually, people think of war and terror when they read Machiavelli. Yet I just heard Robert Reich on NPR saying how what may be good and noble on a personal basis- saving, thrift (prudence?)- is not desirable on a national level. We must spend. George Bush was mocked for telling us to go the mall, yet now we are told to mortgage our future “for the social good” (now labeled as “investment”) and it’s pure genius Ghandi-like moral wisdom. You’d think after the last mortgage mess we’d have learned our lesson.

UPDATE: Thanks for the link Anchoress! I “kinda” like you too, if you haven’t noticed!

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