Friday, January 21, 2011


After just putting down, The Ministry of Fear, This Gun For Hire, and The Confidential Agent, I am once again reminded of what a compelling character this Graham Greene fellow is. He objected to being called a Catholic novelist, preferring to be called a novelist who happened to be Catholic. Most of his works are not religious in character although four are considered his 'religious novels'- The Power and the Glory, The End of the Affair, Brighton Rock, and The Heart of the Matter. Several of his earlier works put me in mind of 'spy stories' or 'thrillers' (though he described them as 'entertainments'). These stories are often set with war looming in the background. His books also remind me of Russian novels in that he deals with the internal struggle, as well as the need for physical survival. With many of his characters you feel as if you've seen into their soul, and perhaps can see your own more clearly. After reading Graham Greene, expect to feel guilty, dirty, and pure. Depressed, saddened, elated- spiritual & earthy- a deep sense of joy and the need to pray.

Graham Greene is able to portray struggles quite convincingly, perhaps because of and in spite of his own. He suffered from bipolar disorder, and once told his wife that he had "a character profoundly antagonistic to ordinary domestic life", and that "unfortunately, the disease is also one's material". He later separated from his wife, though never divorcing her. His first really successful novel was Stamboul Train (1932), which was later adapted as the film Orient Express (1934). He had many other such successes. Other items of interest include his recruitment by MI6, and his friendship with his neighbor Charlie Chaplin.

Greene is noted for a criticism he made of E. M. Forster and Virginia Woolf for not depicting the religious sense in which characters struggle. He stated that the result were characters who "wandered about like cardboard symbols through a world that is paper-thin". Greene often portrayed his characters grappling with the struggles of the soul. Something which Jane Austen masterfully portrayed, which Henry James showed somewhat.

Greene had his own struggles in life, angering some Catholics, while making others proud. The religious themes of his novels may be said to have taken a more humanistic tone in the latter part of his career, and he had no qualms with stating his political views. Despite this, he enjoyed having a bit of humor in his life, so when the the New Statesman held a contest for parodies of Greene's writing style, he submitted an entry under the pen name "N. Wilkinson" and won second prize.

Graham Greene once wrote of his Chiapas travels when he had taken shelter in a hut- 'a storehouse for corn, but it contained what you seldom find in Mexico, the feel of human goodness'. The man living in the hut gave Greene his bed, which was a 'dias of earth covered with a straw mat set against the mound of corn where the rats were burrowing...All that was left was an old man on the verge of starvation living in a hut with the rats, welcoming the strangers without a word of payment, gossiping gently in the dark. I felt myself back with the population of heaven.' Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Three By Graham Green (The Ministry Of Fear, The Confidential Agent & This Gun For Hire)

Friday, January 14, 2011

a few of Don Colacho’s aphorisms

"Let us not give stupid opinions the pleasure of scandalizing us."

"Where there are no vestiges of old Christian charity, even the purest courtesy is somewhat cold, hypocritical, hard."

"It is customary to proclaim rights in order to be able to violate duties."

"The writer who does not insist on convincing us wastes less of our time, and sometimes even convinces us."

"The relativity of taste is an excuse adopted by ages that have bad taste."

"Modern man has no interior life: hardly even internal conflicts."

"When he is stripped of the Christian tunic and the classical toga, there is nothing left of the European but a pale-skinned barbarian."

just a great picture

'This also is Thou, neither is this Thou.'

C.S. Lewis writes in ‘Williams and the Arthuriad’, Taliessin Through Logres, The Region of the Summer Stars, and Arthurian Torso, by Charles Williams and C.S. Lewis (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974), p. 335:

Two spiritual maxims were constantly present to the mind of Charles Williams: ‘This also is Thou’ and ‘Neither is this Thou’. Holding the first we see that every created thing is, in its degree, an image of God, and the ordinate and faithful appreciation of that thing a clue which, truly followed, will lead back to Him. Holding the second we see that every created thing, the highest devotion to moral duty, the purest conjugal love, the saint and the seraph, is no more than an image, that every one of them, followed for its own sake and isolated from its source, becomes an idol whose service is damnation. The first maxim is the formula of the Romantic Way, the ‘affirmation of images’: the second is that of the Ascetic Way, the ‘rejection of images’. Every soul must in some sense follow both. The Ascetic must honour marriage and poetry and wine and the face of nature even while he rejects them; the Romantic must remember even in his Beatrician moment ‘Neither is this Thou’.

2 Timothy 2 :10-14

Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

This is a faithful saying:
For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.

Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The little prince and the fox

The Little Prince is one of those books that should be read yearly at least. Below, from chapter 21, is one of my favorite passages. (I have abridged it some where there are breaks.)

"Who are you?" asked the little prince, and added, "You are very pretty to look at."
"I am a fox," the fox said.
"Come and play with me," proposed the little prince. "I am so unhappy."
"I cannot play with you," the fox said. "I am not tamed."
"Ah! Please excuse me," said the little prince.
But, after some thought, he added:
"What does that mean--'tame'?"
"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. "It means to establish ties."
"To establish ties?"
"Just that," said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world..."
"I am beginning to understand," said the little prince. "There is a flower...I think she has tamed me..."
"It is possible," said the fox. "On earth one sees all sorts of things."
"Oh, but this is not on the earth!" said the little prince.
The fox seemed perplexed, and very curious. "On another planet?"
"Are there hunters on that planet?"
"Ah, that is interesting! Are there chickens?"
"Nothing is perfect," sighed the fox. But he came back to his idea."My life is monotonous," the fox said. "I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look; you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat..."
"One only understands the things that one tames," said the fox. Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things ready made in shops..."
"What must I do to tame you?" asked the little prince.
"You must be very patient," replied the fox. "First you will sit down at a little distance from me -like that- in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me everyday..."
The next day the little prince came back.
"It would have been better to come back at the same hour," said the fox. "If, for example, you came at four o'clock in the afternoon, then at three o'clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o'clock, I shall be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is ready to greet you . . . One must observe the proper rites . . . "
So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near--
"Ah," said the fox, "I shall cry."
"It is your own fault," said the little prince. "I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you..."
"Yes, that is so," said the fox.
"But now you are going to cry!" said the little prince.
"Yes, that is so," said the little fox.
"Then it has done you no good at all!"
"It has done me good," said the fox, "because of the color of the wheat fields." And then he added:
"Go and look again at the roses. You will understand now that yours is unique in all the world. Then come back to say goodbye to me, and I will make you a present of a secret."
The little prince went away, to look again at the roses.
"You are not at all like my rose," he said. "As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made a friend, and now he is unique in all the world." And the roses were very much embarrassed.
"You are beautiful, but you are empty," he went on. "One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you--the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose."
And he went back to meet the fox.
"Goodbye," he said.
"Goodbye," said the fox. "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
"What is essential is invisible to the eye," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.
"It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important."
"It is the time I have wasted for my rose--" said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.
"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose..."
"I am responsible for my rose," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.
The Little Prince

Sunday, January 2, 2011