In his last telephone call to me, Joe Feuerherd genially but deftly sought pertinent facts for my obituary for which he was better prepared than I. It was like him, of course, to anticipate things and to turn a potentially cold and unsettling inquiry into a warm and funny exchange.
Bulletins from the Human Side
Norman Mailer advised writers to "learn to kill your little darlings," and "how much you must leave out to get this little bit in."
George Weigel, the not inexperienced author of "The End of the Bernardin Era" amazes the reader with how much he has left out to get so little in and so much wrong.
"What the Twin Tower attacks were for the United States," Italian journalist Massimo Franco tells NCR’s John Allen, "the sex abuse scandals are for the Church."
Denver Auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley seems as pleased with himself as the boy chosen to be class monitor in his recent explanation of the liturgical changes that come into effect in Advent of this year.
“Let me say this,” he confesses, “I’m very excited about the changes that are coming and the opportunities we have for liturgical renewal.”
Folklore grinds out the grains of truth that are found in such notions like: “If an Irishman is given a choice of water or whisky, the water will go untouched.”
With Pope Benedict XVI’s latest plans for time traveling the church back to another era, we recall another claim: “If a German is offered a choice between justice and good order, he’ll take the good order any day.”
When the Church speaks of Ordinary Time, it is really talking about our time -- the season set aside for us ordinary people who have bit parts in the true Reality Show of the human condition.
By their nature, metaphors allow us “to make journeys,” “to go beyond” a point that we could not otherwise pass.
Metaphors enrich us by their connotations -- the rich allusions and meanings that they deliver as a cloud of witnesses to a broadened and deepened truth about a person or an event.
As Norman Mailer once suggested that ego was the word of the 20th century, so civility is fast becoming the word of at least this year of the 21st century.
That we all want to be civil should not make us less suspicious of any substance used in excess, and any word that politicians suddenly start using as if they practice it or believed in it. We have many reasons to be cautious about civility as the style of -- as well as the accustomed mask for -- cover-ups.
I started the year with a pseudo-noble promise to be more understanding and supportive of bishops, somewhat in the spirit of my father’s frequent advice about criticizing others: “Leave the poor fellows alone; they’re doing the best they can.” He, however, did not use the word “fellows.”
We can hear all creation groaning, Saint Paul tells us, but that plaintive signal of the spiritual longing of the cosmos -- and of us -- may be muffled by our own heavy breathing at having run the race and finished the course of the departing year. Don’t we get a medal or something for keeping the faith?