November 22, 2013

Clippings for St. Cecilia's Day

Today is the Feast of St. Cecelia! So, I've been listening to Handel all morning (above), and trying to hobble together the complete Ode to St. Cecilia by Purcell (part 1, part 2) to listen to next. I suppose I should also listen to Britten.

If you're in the DC area, check out this concert to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington. It's tonight!

See how he himself provides you with a way of singing. Do not search for words, as if you could find a lyric which would give God pleasure. Sing to him “with songs of joy.” This is singing well to God, just singing with songs of joy. But how is this done? You must first understand that words cannot express the things that are sung by the heart.
-- From St. Augustine's Meditations on the Psalms, in today's Office of Readings.

Nor do I hear any groundswell of support among the rich for Mr. Gates's rigidly utilitarian view of charity. Perhaps that's because the desire to partake of beauty is so deeply rooted in the human soul. Flip through a book of quotations and you'll see an abundance of testimony to its lasting importance throughout the whole of recorded history. I especially like what Somerset Maugham said in his novel "Cakes and Ale": "Beauty is an ecstasy; it is as simple as hunger." So it is, and sooner or later most of us will long for it as we do for food. What could be more honorable than for a rich person to help satisfy that hunger in the same way that he might underwrite the operation of a food bank?
-- Terry Teachout in Wall Street Journal Sightings Column contra Bill Gates
For many years I’ve been fascinated by the immensity and beauty of the universe, dabbled in astronomy, and often yearned to go “out there,” as impossible as that is. Over the years I’ve pondered these desires and have come to some conclusions about them. Science fiction offers a kind of psychological stepping outside our normal perceptions and categories of thought. We can look at human nature, I think, I hope, with a shade more objectivity. All true cultural works do this in a sense, but sci-fi offers a means to step very far indeed.
last week) in the newly launched Ignatius Press Novels, which, p.s., you should all be reading.

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the death of C. S. Lewis -- here is the lone surviving BBC radio address. May he rest in peace. (HT: Fr. James)
"The early moderns broke the tenacity of realism, and, with it, the ascendency of Velásquez. Impatient with naturalistic standards of depiction, the new movement went in search of an Old Master to call its own. Suddenly, El Greco’s distortions looked prophetically avant-garde. It is hard to pinpoint who were the first to re-evaluate his work as a needed cudgel against the authority of verisimilitude. ...El Greco was on the cusp of revival when that other Spaniard, Picasso, studied The Opening of the Fifth Seal of the Apocalypse while he was at work on Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.
-- Maureen Mularkey writes about El Greco, "Messiah of Modernism" in First Things. When I was first studying Art in a chronological way, I was shocked to find El Greco so early on this timeline.

"The Books We Preach By" -- Dominicana has been hitting it out of the park this month. Oh, and if you're in DC, mark your calendar for this series of Advent lectures at the Dominican House of Studies. I'm hoping Br. Gregory will sing.

The prayer book of St. Margaret of Scotland in the Bodelain Library in Oxford.

It is the religious sensibility reflected in this journal that makes it as eloquent on the subject of creativity as it is on the subject of prayer. O’Connor’s awareness of her gifts gives her a special kind of interest in them. Having concluded one early entry by asking the Lord to help her “with this life that seems so treacherous, so disappointing,” she begins the next entry: “Dear God, tonight it is not disappointing because you have given me a story. Don’t let me ever think, dear God, that I was anything but the instrument for Your story — just like the typewriter was mine.”
-- Marilynne Robinson on Flannery O'Connor's Prayer Journal in The New York Times

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