Friday, July 29, 2016

Interstate Tesseract

And I was just getting up,
hit the road before it's light
Trying to catch an hour on the sun...
(Neil Young)

On Monday, my oldest sons and I drove up the interstate  towards their Oregon habitations, and yesterday I drove back to our California mountain home.  Interstate 5 has become archetypical in our family's life, like Mark Twain's Mississippi.   It has paragraphed major life changes -- the first time I drove down with my future husband to meet his family, which of course was not the first time he had travelled that road; the trips with small children, embarked upon late in the afternoon so they would sleep through the bulk of the 11 hour trip; the first time stopping to meet the Bryan family; the trips laden with spare houswares to set up my oldest's first apartment.

How odd to think about -- all those past selves, "lines in the field of time".     Still there, because how could things that once existed go away completely?

I picture a tesseract, as in Interstellar. ... a hyper-geometric figure of that long, slender, straw-colored corridor of traffic, unfolding to glimpses of those past moments.   I can't communicate with those former versions of family, driving along to their destinations in a Ford Pinto, or a Toyota Corona, or a Chevy Suburban, or a Nissan Quest, or a Dodge Durango, but they can communicate with me, in a way.   At least, they were present to me on this trip.

Maybe it was because we had recently had an extended family reunion, and it was like a time warp to see so many nieces and nephews grown and carrying on their adult lives.  It could have been because this particular family gathering went viral, literally, as one by one we came down with the norovirus.    Being sick for several days has a way of making time eddy strangely, as does travelling.   As do family reunions.

Anyway, for some reason, maybe because I was driving with only my two oldest sons and thus not as distracted as usual, I started blogging in my head, for the first time in forever.    I used to blog in my head often, but I rarely have done in the past couple of years.  Not sure why.  It wasn't a conscious decision.    It would go like this, at intervals of every few months:

--Self, do you have anything to blog about?
--Not really.
--Okay, then.
 But on this trip, the posts kept composing themselves.    I don't want to ignore them.



Sunday, April 29, 2012

New Physics and Old Metaphysics, reprise

I tried to discuss Stephen Hawkings' book The Grand Design back here. I wasn't that thrilled with my post but wanted to get my thoughts out in writing.  I wrote

I do not know if the authors are making this assumption, but I have seen some scientistis and even some theologians assume that the word "God" is a way for people to explain physical mysteries.   So when there are no more physical mysteries, there is no more need for God. 

I have never quite understood that line of thinking, but apparently it came about in the Enlightenment, when philosophy took a post-Cartesian credibility hit and physical science came to the fore as a presumably more realistic substitute given the terms of the Cartesian approach.   Most of the scientists of the time were still Deists, though many of them weren't orthodox.   And the same was true of many theologians.  So God did begin to become for them a way to explain what couldn't be explained by empirical methods of the time.   In that approach, God became a component of our thinking, a kind of placeholder, so as our thinking became more scientific, the place for God  in our heads got smaller and smaller.  
 Well, over here is a lecture called The New Physics and the Old Metaphysics by Br. Guy Consolmagno, S.J., Ph.D.   He says it much more elegantly and Chestertonianly (: )) by saying that Hawkings was absolutely right, he did eliminate the need for God to explain the universe, and rightly so, because that kind of deist God, designed as an explanation for what can't be explained otherwise, needs to be done away with.

The real God, Consolmagno says (I can't past his words directly because of the format of the lecture text), the God of Abraham, is not bound within the cosmos.   Quoting Wittgenstein, he says, "the sense of the world must lie outside the world." 

This may sound a bit Kantian, but it does not have to be that way.  While Kant would say that God can't be known, Consolmagno says that God indeed can be known experientially.    We cannot "derive" God from analysis, but we CAN know Him; in fact, we know all things BY Him, whether we happen to know that or not. 

I'm not updating this blog regularly anymore but this doesn't quite seem to belong to Take Up and Read so I'm putting it here!

HT for the link to the talk:  Michael Baruzzini in the CatholicScience.com newsletter.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Where the Moose Go



The moose have been hungry in Alaska this winter.  This doesn't have much to do with anything that follows in this post, but it does give me a chance to post this photo of my Mom's cute window hanger (and the moose-hungry-making winter landscape behind it) and also, when else am I ever going to get a chance to write a line like that with credibility?

 I am thinking of opening a novel with the line, though, "The moose were hungry that winter...."   Now I have a head start for next November's novel writing! 

Ever since the New Year I have been trying to figure out my plans for this blog.   In November I started a new blog and though that one hasn't quite hit its natural stride yet, it overlaps so much with this one that I don't really need to keep this one going.   In the past I have managed to keep two or more blogs alive at the same time, but recently I just haven't been keeping up that pace.   I used to think I was addicted, and maybe I was, but nowadays I almost have to make "blog every day" a Lenten resolution! (not quite a penance, because it IS after all something I enjoy and am by no means obligated to do).   Anyway, most of the posts I write on here can just as easily go on the other one. 

So I am thinking that  default posting will be on Take Up and Read.    We have lots of plans for that blog.  It is Catholic in emphasis as a quick look will show, but it is also about literary homeschooling and large family logistics and that sort of thing, and non-Catholics are very welcome.    Chari and I are both converts with many non-Catholic friends and family members.

As for the moose, I feel sort of sorry for them.   I see them lope past outside quite often.   I heard from Mom's neighbor that the deep snow really tires them out and also makes it hard for them to find food, so they have been gravitating towards roads and railroad tracks because it is easier to walk there.  But of course, that isn't a great survival strategy.    Come to think of it, that is a good Lenten parable.... I too often gravitate towards the wide easy road where engines of destruction can easily sweep me into their path and toss me aside.   

I am not planning to close down this blog -- I like to leave my old posts up so I can link to them in future -- and I may still post randomly when I want to draw attention to something -- but I just wanted you all to know where I had gone and what is going on.

A MOST BLESSED LENT AND EASTER TO YOU ALL!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Index of Planning Posts

I'm importing these from my older blog.

I'm trying to predate them so they don't show up on readers but if it doesn't work, sorry about that.  Blogger used to let me predate but apparently not so easily nowadays.  So this is just housekeeping!

2007 Planning Posts


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Kindle Book: The Life and Writings of Saint Augustine

I know I haven't blogged here for a while!  The little blogging I have been doing is over at Take Up and Read.

I am up at Wasilla visiting my mom and though I probably have more time in the day than I do at home, it somehow doesn't feel that way, so I have sort of gotten out of the blogging rhythm.

But I wanted to mention....

I found a good book for free for the Amazon Kindle (I'm guessing you can find it for the Nook, too).

It is The Life and Writings of Saint Augustine. 

It is a collection of some of his major works like Confessions, City of God, and On Christian Doctrine (and more as well, those are just the ones I can remember offhand) and there is also a section with some quotes of his.

Though the works are in public domain, this is an actual collection made by someone Wyatt North Publishing so there is a hyperlinked table of contents, and Kindle-specific formatting, which makes collections like this way more useable.  I don't know how long it will stay free, so I wanted to mention it!  


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Keeping House Book Study: Wrap-Up


(vintage kitchen by janet hill)

I've very much enjoyed this study!  (follow the link for the index to all the posts, or else look at my sidebar)  I think the main take-away theme, that housekeeping is daily and both personal and social, but not for those reasons drudging, isolating or menial, was the main thing I want to remember.  Since reading this book, I've tried to look more carefully at the way I, and other people I visit, keep house and what that reflects about their lives and how they think of their responsibilities.

Just in case I have visited you or I ever do visit your house please don't worry that I am looking around with a gimlet eye at stains and clutter and dust bunnies or other possible "frays".   As Mrs Peterson says, we are all a little frayed.  That is why we need each other.

When I visit someone else's house I usually see that way more clearly than I do in my own house -- the love, care and bits of beauty that come out in ordinary flawed homes with ordinary traces of clutter and spills.    This helps me realize how the same things are shown in my home even though I'm often mildly discontented and frustrated with my own surroundings and my own limitations.

This book has helped me detach "care and love and work" from "immaculate perfection and constant striving for the unattainable."    Perhaps in that way it helps that the author is someone who genuinely loves keeping her house, even though she is a well educated  person who could probably have a very successful career.    Her love for the work involved in keeping the house, even while admitting it is repetitious and continual, helps me to see past my occasional "hamster in a wheel" feeling to how keeping house echoes the loving providence of our Father.

The Scripture references especially brought home to me how much God's providence is expressed in terms of nurturing, feeding, providing and preparing food, shelter, and clothing.  

I thought I would go into a part of the last chapter that I didn't really get to last week, and also tie into the subtitle of the book "Litany of Everyday Life". 

Ways that keeping house is like the sacred liturgy:

It is continuing and ongoing:

The routine never ends, though it is not like a wheel where you end up just where you began.   If it is like a wheel it is in the sense of the same elements constantly changing and moving you in the direction you want to go in. 

There are daily, weekly and seasonal changes in emphasis and practice.  

You do different things in the morning in your house than you do in the evening, and different things on Sunday than you do on Friday.  

Some seasons are busier than others.

You can't do everything all the time.   It seems best to focus on different things in different sections of the day, week, season or life.

It can seem overwhelming at first experience, but you move into it by participating.


The book uses the example of someone from a non-liturgical church visiting a more ritualized church for the first time.    I have had this experience since I grew up as an Evangelical and sometimes attended some Lutheran and Episcopalian services before becoming a Catholic.   Getting used to the rubrics took some time.  And certainly it was somewhat the same when I first had a baby, then several young children, then teenagers and babies both, then entered the world of special needs and medical fragility.   I have to say I often wished there was a missal to help me learn the new routines for every new phase of life.    But indeed, the main way to get used to the routine is to jump in and start following along responding to situations as they come up.  That is how a small child learns language and manners, and how to participate in Christian religious life.   Though there are no missals telling us how to be the keepers of our homes, there are certainly lots of books available to guide us and help us think more deeply and effectively about what we are doing.

Wrap-Up

Thanks everyone who got to the end of this study with me!  I enjoyed reading your thoughtful posts and comments.   If anyone stumbles across this in future and wants to comment, or if anyone is still finishing the book and wants to post or leave a link when you get to the relevant chapters,  please feel free.  

If you don't have your own thoughts to go into this week, I would love to hear where you are planning to go in your house-home related reading after this.    I know many of you try to keep going with a house-related improvement project almost all year around.

From PaperbackSwap  I got a book called The Family Manager Takes Charge which is completely different in tone and emphasis than Keeping House.    It takes the idea of the homemaker as manager of a small business concern and goes from there, including many, many practical ideas on how to make house management easier, more effective and more shared with other family members.   I usually don't get as much from the practical books as I do from the more musing sort, but I think it's a good time to try to upgrade my house management so I thought this one would work for a change of pace.