Diffuse Undertakings

Apologies again. There seems to be some sort of natural pattern where I’ll very much want to write for a few weeks or even a month, and then for several more weeks I’ll feel like I have nothing to say that’s worth reading. Specifically, I’ve been indulging in the annual Spring semester blues of “what am I doing with my life!?” “What do I want to do with my life!?” “Will anybody hire me for next year?” “How about I plant a garden?” (I was suffering from Alaskan sun-withdrawal when I came up with that one), and so on. I think it’s the Molly version of cabin fever. I can’t just write this off as a waste of time, because it partially isn’t. If it weren’t for last year’s Spring blues I never would’ve gotten around to applying for St John’s; if it weren’t for the same thing the year before I wouldn’t have applied with Alaska Teacher Placement and gotten a last minute (quite interesting) job at TLT; the spring before that I had to decide where to be placed as a student teacher; and my first year of college was also my first Lent, and somewhat crazy as a result. So I can’t just neglect or ignore what has become a regular though always unanticipated part of the spring semester. But all the same the result is that I’m too self-absorbed and don’t write so well as I otherwise might.

So in case you’re interested: I’m going to Tucson and San Diego for Spring break; I’ve asked for Relativity for my second quarter preceptorial, but am as yet unsure if I’m in or no. Otherwise I’ll probably take Xenophon, an ancient Greek mercenary and philosopher. Then, the day after Pentecost I’m going to Syria for two weeks for Summer break, and then back to St John’s for a final semester, whence I hope to graduate August 6th. By then I hope to have a teaching job, preferably in southern Arizona, but if not I’ll likely move back to Tucson anyway.

Should I have subjected you to my former opinions concerning short term missions, someone is probably wondering: “You’re going on a two week mission to Syria? Don’t you scoff at that kind of thing?” Well, yes, I’m inconsistent. But not so inconsistent as I first appear. What I object to is not the short term mission as such so much as the seriousness with which it customarily treated. My objection is not so much that people should, for instance, go on a two week mission to Ireland wherein they stay at Bed & Breakfasts and evangelize the youth at the nearby pub, or even that they should do so and find their horizons to have been opened as a result. It’s no more objectionable that a person should go to Ireland to evangelize the youth than that he should go and tour the castles. My objection is that he should do so while maintaining that he is doing a valuable public service, has stepped precariously outside his comfort zone, and should be applauded for his faith and courage. That’s a bit much.

The difference in this respect between 19 year old Molly and 23 year old Molly is that I’ve become way less stringent about “every religious outing must have an obvious and important end for me to be able to justify participating therein.” As to the reason for this difference, it’s hard to say. As much as anything I suspect it’s that I’m paying for the trip myself, and thus don’t need to write a compelling account of why I need to go. Of course I don’t need to go, any more than I needed to get a MA in liberal arts, or need to go to San Diego, or need to watch a gospel choir perform next Sunday. And the Syrians certainly don’t need my help, either. But since it looks like I can, why not? I also suspect that I’ve gotten used to the experience of doing something “life changing,” and not having the foggiest idea in what way my life was changed. Like being at St. John’s. Or living in Alaska. Did those things do something to me? No doubt. What was it? Only God knows for sure.

*   *   *

In seminar we’ve been reading Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, which is quite good; G. is a lively and interesting writer. I found it to be especially interesting that while G. has a reputation primarily for upsetting the Church, the main target of his arguments are the Peripatetic Aristotelians, and especially Aristotelian cosmology concerning the relative qualities of terrestrial corruptibility and celestial eternal, immutable, perfection. Leading to the question: why was the papacy so invested in the truthfulness of a philosopher who, if Christianity is held to be true, was obviously wrong in a number of extraordinarily important areas? I don’t know the history of the matter well enough to say, but I suspect Thomas Aquinas to have been at least partially to blame.

Geometry is… geometric. That is, it’s fine, but not especially exciting. Mostly it’s just angular, triangular, circular, and recently parallelogramic.


One thought on “Diffuse Undertakings

  1. I am having that Spring blues too–leading I hope to doing something significant in the way of writing, starting today.
    Yesterday Mom and I went to Vespers, saw Janine and Jimmy there.
    Father Phillip’s oldest son’s vehicle was hit by an IED in Aphghanistan but he was OK-two of his friends were killed though. And he was ready to go right back out there, after saying, when he woke up in the hospital: “Cool. We were hit.” He is a soldier indeed, though he didn’t know about the casualities yet.
    Nana is doing mostly OK–will be going to a rehab place for at least a week starting today. Her personality and mind are OK but memory comes and goes. The following comes from K. in Purity of Heart: I thought you might like getting a good small bit from one of my favorite writers instead of my merely referring to someone in passing as I did a few weeks ago, which maybe left you wondering why I don’t explain myself.

    “The immediate feeling is indeed—primary. It is the élan vital out of which life flows, just as it is said that the heart is the source of life. But then this feeling must be “kept,” understood in the sense that one says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” It must be cleansed of selfishness, kept from selfishness. It must not be delivered up to its own devices. On the other hand, that which will be kept must always put its trust in a higher power who will keep it; hence, even the loving mother begs God to keep her child.”

    And I take it–indeed, I know it all too well from personal experience–that I cannot just clean my heart from selfishness through the will. I cannot turn on that switch.

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