Friday, January 29, 2010

Requiescat in pace -- Ralph McInerny

I just saw this --Ralph McInerny -- Requiescat in pace.

More here.

ETA: more here, too.

Thomist scholar
and Catholic commentator and novelist and poet.

From an autobiographical article on The Writing Life:

The believer has catechetical answers to the great questions. “What does it all mean?” becomes “Why did God make me?”—and the answer: “To know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this life and be happy with Him forever in the next.” Christians are supposed to imitate Christ. If that meant that their lives must be uniform and indistinguishable from one another, the question would arise as to why God created so many humans. The answer may be a variation on Tolstoy's comparison of happy and unhappy families. The calendar of the saints tells us that the more fervently and perfectly men and women imitate Christ, the more differentiated they become. It is we mediocrities or worse who seem to blend into one another, as predictable as our bad habits.

Well, the influence of one's religious belief on one's imagination is like that. All the great artists of western civilization were influenced one way or another by Christian revelation, but who would confuse Dante and Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, Hawthorne and Emily Dickinson? All this may seem to be a presumptuous way for a minor writer like myself to view what he does. But one need not delude oneself in order to take seriously the task of writing. It is not the goal of writing to express oneself. The goal is the well-made story, something with a beginning, middle, and end, a portrayal of human agents.
A poem:

Ralph McInerny


Where are words when not yet spoken:
on the tongue,
in the mind,
perhaps in air,
Their meanings, more elusive
still, unbreathed await
though I have heard
in the beginning was the word.


Mutes and dentals shape the air
that tongue addresses to the ear:
speech is the mystery we hear.
Animals are dumb,
their braying, chirp, and bark
a mere semblance of speech,
lacking that shared spark
when speaker and hearer commune
like hands that meet at noon.

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