Friday, May 27, 2011


A sampling of the gifts, high art, and marvels that came within my purview this week:

1. Au Hasard Balthazar, sublime 1966 film by Robert Bresson about a farm girl and her saint-like donkey.

"Everyone who sees this film will be absolutely astonished, because this film is really the world in an hour and a half."
--Jean-Luc Godard

2. Swiss Trio: Swissmar Classic Peelers, gift from Marjorie S'addah, writer extraordinaire, dear friend, and recent visitor from upstate New York:

3. God's Word: Blues Musician J. B. Lenoir:

4. Sacred Heart prayer card (...or...what is this, cradle Catholics? Is it a scapular or what? approx. 1" x 2," tucks nicely into back jeans pocket) (breaking news: it's a BADGE, see comment below) in laminated plastic case, given to me by my beloved Jewish friend, Lisa G.:

5. Windom (Minnesota) Peewees:

Timmy J. Smith, lately of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, hails from the small town of Windom, Minnesota, and for years has been putting out a zine called The Fellowship of Tim. I am the proud owner of many back copies, which features such subjects as the groddy sink in the restroom of the garage where he worked as a third-generation gas station attendant, dwarf wrestlers,  and his stint as a clerk at a record/porn movie shop.

This week he sent me two more Fellowships of Tim: one about his foray into the world of stand-up comedy, and one about his career as a Windom PeeWee tee-baller.

An excerpt:

I am going to pick one defining moment in PeeWee's History that until right now has remained a secret for over 25 years. And here it is; I told Heath Raverty to pick my little sister for his 2nd pick to be on our team, which he then did. Then when everyone started making fun of our pick I lied and said that what I really said was "don't pick my sister." My best intentions on taking care of my scared little sister had now turned to the exact opposite of making my friend look stupid and leaving my sister's feelings hurt. I couldn't let Mr. Jaacks and all the other Peewees think that I would actually want my little sister on my team. Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm a horrible brother and I wasn't, I was 8 and a PeeWee. My intentions were good and pure, but in that ten seconds, ten quick seconds, I got a harsh lesson in PeeWees baseball. A lesson that after 25 years I just might understand....

Timmy writes from Sioux Falls: "Here is a link if anyone is interested on how to get a copy [of the newest issue of Fellowship of Tim]: A lot of it is inspired from my Lectio reading of Matthew 6:26, although its written subtly to touch the hearts and minds of my secular friends who are trying to make sense of my conversion and way of life with Christ today, which many of my old friends see as some sort of psychological disorder. HA! Know of my prayers. I am hitting the road." *

7.  If we look at the history of the world and its civilisations, imaginative sympathy for the victim is in fact a very rare quality. In most cultures, the exact opposite applies, because the weak and vanquished have no rights at all. If and when this sympathy comes a out, it does so as the result of a titanic struggle within a person and within a society. The struggle is nothing less than what de Stogumber describes as a kind of 'conversion.' And it is not just for the dull and unimaginative; it is a conversion which even some of the most sensitive and creative spirits known to humanity have had to undergo.

--Michael Kirwan, Discovering [René] Girard [a gift from faithful and generous correspondent-photographer Bill MacIver]

* Tim J. Smith is currently studying to become a Catholic priest.


  1. I love questions because they shake my know-it-all complacency and make me learn something new. I had no idea, but this thing is a Sacred Heart Badge. Here's some background...

  2. Oh a BADGE!!! Perfect! That is so what I need to be wearing at ALL TIMES. Thanks, Fred. It's a blast to gather together just a small part of the gold of every week...

  3. Are those faux carrot nub peelings in the photo?


  4. About this film the director Bresson remarked in an interview: "It is the life of a donkey going through the same steps that you find in a human life -- infancy with its caresses, maturity, work, talent, the donkey who is put in a circus and then some time before dying has a dreamy period, and then he does die from the weight of human sins, having transported the gold all the way to the final frontier."

    ... Mouchette is like a second image of Balthasar. The beast doesn't know despair but has nobility of spirit. He consents to his mechanism, because he has no choice. However, the child knows her own despair and therefore has a choice to make. Her freedom leads to suicide.
    Each of them receives the same battering from people.
    Each of them has had very pale and swift encounters with love -- a touch here, a slap there. Grace is what? An unintended good.

    ~ Fanny Howe, Introduction to Mouchette by Georges Bernanos

  5. Windom! Whoohoo...that's only an hour from us. :-) BTW, your blog. And your books. Thanks for sharing your voice with us.

  6. Heather,
    While I look forward to reading new posts of yours, today as I was reading this latest I found myself wincing and then scratching my head. "Why, why would Heather King find the need to use the word *retarded* in her post? Even if it was her friend's usage of it that she quoted, doesn't she know that that term is right there alongside the "n" word and similar racial slurs, as well as the nasty usage some people have taken with "gay", as in derisively putting someone's actions down by saying, "OMG! That's SO gay!". Only using the word retard/retarded is worse.

    Heather, surely you have met people with intellectual disabilities in your life. Surely you have friends or know people who have children with disabilities. Surely, if you have read Henri Nouwen, then you are acquainted with the writings and work of Jean Vanier. And then, the irony, that you include this quote from the gift of another friend of yours at the end of your post:
    "If we look at the history of the world and its civilisations, imaginative sympathy for the victim is in fact a very rare quality. In most cultures, the exact opposite applies, because the weak and vanquished have no rights at all."

    I am the mother of a young man with significant, lifelong disabilities. He cannot speak up for himself. So on his behalf I write this to remind you that what is now referred to as the "r word" is as verboten as the "n word". It's painful, it's not loving, and it strikes another lance through the hearts of those living with or loving someone with a disability, especially an intellectual disability.

    It was especially painful to read that word here in a blog that I have come to look to for gaining wisdom, insight, and inspiration.

    If you think perhaps I am in my own little world on this one, you can google "lose the "r" word" and see the campaign that has been going on for quite a while now.

    Thank you for taking this to heart. If I didn't love you and your writing so durn much, I would have probably just gotten ticked off and decided to write you off.

    So instead, I'll concentrate on that last quote, under #7, in your post. Thank you for *that*, and God bless you.

  7. I hate to break it to you, Mary Beth, but I've been known to say "That's so gay," too. I am very very resistant to all forms of political correctness and very, very in favor of a sense of humor and affection for all human failings and foibles, especially my own.

    At the same time, I'm dreadfully sorry that you were offended. Your son is obviously graced to have you for a mother. Thank you for mentioning Jean Vanier, who I revere. And if it will make you feel better, I have taken the passage you found painful out.

  8. And damn, no, those are no faux carrot peelings in that picture! Those were from a bag of real carrots, which I bought at the 99-cent store. And don't think I didn't eat them after either!

    I have got Mouchette in my netflix queue. And Fanny Howe I'm pretty sure wrote an unbelievably great essay called "Branches" that I read several years ago...

  9. Also, a mere hour from Windom! Minnesota fans! Yeah...I got sober in Minnesota!...

  10. My husband got sober in Minnesota too. It's a sobering place. :-)

    We both hail from California and Arizona, but I think we're Minnesota lifers now. After 20 years "Ya, you betcha'" just flows too naturally from our lips for us to ever be successful anywhere else.

    Blessings on your weekend.

  11. Heather, I am not surprised that you flee from PC anything- I have read your posts long enough to glean that. But I do feel better for your caring response. THANK YOU and God bless you.

  12. Mary Beth, bless you and your son, and for being willing to accommodate. Please know I am very very appreciative of your continuing thoughtfulness, insight, and support.


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