Friday, September 28, 2018

WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND


THIS IS THE VERSION WE HAD AS KIDS,
NOW SELLING FOR HUNDREDS OF BUCKS ON EBAY!

Here's how this week's arts and culture piece begins:


Remembering the lessons of an old English children’s book on God, suffering, and love

One of my favorite books as a kid was “Whistle Down the Wind” (1958) by Mary Hayley Bell.

In it, three children from a working-class English village find an escaped criminal in the barn and think he’s Jesus.

Here’s how the story starts:

I am ten, and they call me Brat.

Of course, that isn’t my right name, nobody could be christened with a name like that.

All our lousy first names are birds’ names. Don’t ask me why. I imagine our mother was keen on birds and flying, though I don’t know much about her. She flew off some years ago with this character called Peregrine. She lives in South Africa on a different kind of farm, and once in a way we get a Christmas card — which is quite useful as we keep the stamp.

Brat (real name Brambling), her 12-year-old sister Swallow, and their 7-year-old brother Merlin (who answers to the name of Poor Baby) all live with their father, Slim, on a farm in the south of England. While affectionate and curious, the children don’t have a terribly high opinion of adults.

They don’t understand half of what the vicar says, for example, but they like him nonetheless (he lets their dogs sit in the pew with them at church). They also understand more than they know.

READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.


THE ALSO UNBELIEVABLY GREAT
FILM ADAPTATION STARS
THE AUTHOR'S DAUGHTER,
HAYLEY MILLS, AND ALAN BATES

Monday, September 24, 2018

"IF YOU CAN'T STAND YOUR PROBLEMS, TRY KNEELING"





Back from Pittsburgh--loved it, loved the people, loved the whole experiences. Just stellar. Possibly more later, after I get some sleep.

While there, I put in a request to be an honorary Yinz.

*****

The three best pieces I've read on the sexual abuse in the Church.

"Here Comes Everybody: On prayer, the lessons of history and a vulnerable Church tempted by blind rage in a time of crisis," by Msgr. Richard Antall in Angelus News.

"How to Respond" by Fr. Ron Rolheiser, syndicated columnist.

"Humility is the Only Weapon," by Junno Arocho Esteves on comments by Pope Francis, in Angelus News.


MY ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONIST PIX
OF THE PITTSBURGH SKYLINE AT NIGHT
FROM
MOUNT WASHINGTON



Tuesday, September 18, 2018

COME VISIT WITH ME IN PITTSBURGH!!


I am off to Pittsburgh, PA for the weekend! That's right. The good people of St. Louise de Marillac Parish and others are welcoming me.

If you can't read the flyer, the details are on my Events Page. 

I'm giving three talks, the first on Friday night, the second on Sat morn 10:30 and the third Sat. eve at 7. I'll be mingling, hobnobbing, and selling and signing several of my book titles. If you're in the area, please come by and say hi!

Friday, September 14, 2018

A THEOLOGY OF FACES: IN FOCUS: EXPRESSIONS AT THE GETTY

War Rally, 1942
Lisette Model (American, born Austria, 1901 - 1983) 
 Copyright: © Estate of Lisette Model, courtesy Baudoin Lebon/Keitelman
Object Credit: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

This week's arts and culture column begins:

The Getty’s new photography exhibit showcases the expressions of all mankind

Through October 7 at the Getty is a smallish photography exhibit with an intriguing theme: faces. Featuring 45 works from the museum’s permanent collection, it’s called “In Focus: Expressions.”

“The human face has been the subject of fascination for photographers since the medium’s inception. This exhibition includes posed portraits, physiognomic studies, anonymous snapshots and unsuspecting countenances caught by the camera’s eye, offering a close-up look at the range of human stories that facial expressions — and photographs — can tell.”

Some will be familiar.

There’s Edward Steichen’s “Greta Garbo” (1928), the one where she’s scrunched up in a luxe black sweater and appears to be holding her head together with her hands.

There’s Walker Evans’ iconic photo of Alabama sharecropper’s wife, Allie Mae Burroughs: the delicate neck, the furrow of worry between her young brows, the tiny scab on her lip, the thousand-yard stare.

READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.

  Demonstration, New York City, 1963 
Leonard Freed (American, 1929 - 2006)
Copyright: © Leonard Freed / Magnum Photos, Inc.
Object Credit: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Brigitte and Elke Susannah Freed 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

J'ACCUSE!


One of the effects of social media, it seems to me, is that the whole world has become like a giant courtroom with the combatants shrieking at each other, "J'accuse!!" I accuse, I accuse, I accuse. We are led to believe that the shrieking, the outrage, the often utter failure to take responsibility for our own actions equals strength. Mothers spy on and accuse other mothers, friends rat out friends, committers of egregiously poor sportsmanship, judgment, morality or taste blame the purported perpetrators of racial, sex, and/or gender discrimination. 

Whereas real strength, it seems to me, consists in going to the other, in private, in the trembling and awe of love, to present a grievance, or to say "You hurt me" or "I love you and can we talk?" or "I'm worried about you--is there anything I can do to help?" or perhaps most difficult: "I was wrong and I'm sorry."

Like lemmings, or indentured slaves, we willingly drag the most intimate matters of our bodies and hearts into this public forum. 

"Connecting" comes to be a public performance, not an intimate exchange. And this phenomenon has spilled over to all of culture, so that we are less and less in contact with...reality. 

No accident, of course, that one name for Satan is The Accuser. 

Yesterday I went to noon Mass at St. Philip's in Pasadena. Afterward a class of what looked like first-graders, were lined up in the parking lot in their dear school uniforms. Another parishioner, a guy about my age, both paused and cast our eyes over these frisky little kids the way you'd cast eyes over a garden.

Like the deer that yearns for running streams,
so my soul is yearning for you, my God.
--Psalm 42




OCTOBER IS PLANTING MONTH IN THE GARDEN! 




Friday, September 7, 2018

OUT OF EAST AFRICA: FINDING TRIUMPH IN THIS VALE OF TEARS



JOAN AND ALAN ROOT

This week's arts and culture column begins:

On my summer travels this year, I stopped to riffle through a sidewalk cart of used books.

There I unearthed a treasure by journalist Mark Seal: “Wildflower: An Extraordinary Life and Mysterious Death in Africa” (Random House, $14).

In it I learned a bit of the checkered history of East Africa, and of Kenyan wildlife photographers Joan and Alan Root. Their heyday was the 1960s and ’70s and their films include “Mysterious Castles of Clay” (termites), “The Year of the Wildebeest” and “Two in the Bush” (don't miss the last 10 minutes or so, when the two coax a spitting cobra to firehose venom directly onto Joan’s eyeglasses).

I finished “Wildflower” on the plane home. This was the passage that stuck:

“One of the last films Alan and Joan Root produced together was entitled ‘The Legend of the Lightning Bird.’ As always, she and Alan spent a year together in the bush, persistently filming the hammerkop — known as the lightning bird and regarded as the king of Africa’s birds — in its inexplicable annual ritual: building a massive and flamboyant nest, a stack of scavenged vegetation as big as a bathtub, complete with a thick thatched roof crowned by feathers, animal hooves, and sometimes even wildebeest tails, only to have the magnificent structure decimated by time and predators.


READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.

CRAZY RIVER: EXPLORATION AND FOLLYIN EAST AFRICA
BY RICHARD GRANT