Fallout from Retreat & Other Stuff

It has been a very interesting week since the online retreat; I’m still dwelling desert-side, but I’ve managed a peek at Drudge and a perusal of Instapundit.com. My interest in the political is still way diminished, but not totally lost.

I sense within myself not so much a broad change of perspective but rather the installation of a new window, to let in a bit more fresh air, so to speak. Whether that will blow me to pieces or simply refresh is anyone’s guess.

Strangest post-retreat observation so far: Observe Dick Meyer talking to Stephen Colbert about his book, Why We Hate Us.

Colbert seems unusually hyper to me, but where Meyer could get a word in, it struck me that he and Mother Angelica – coming from wildly different corners – are essentially saying much the same thing. Here is Angelica, from her “Life Lessons” book:

You can’t isolate yourself and say you want to “find yourself no matter what anyone else says of does.” You’ll never find yourself that way. You’ll find a grotesque creature that you are creating as you go along. God made you in his image. He redeemed you so that you could reflect that image to your neighbor.”

As I said, very different originations, but both convey the same notion, that ungrounded and uncentered me-ism tends to isolate and breed narcissism. They’re right.

Isn’t that interesting? And wouldn’t you just love imagining a conversation between Meyers, the Oxford scholar and media man, and Angelica, the religious media entrepreneur who headed to her cloister out of high school?

My email has been full of good advice
from people telling me which way they think the blog should go, and I know that the Holy Spirit speaks to us through others, sometimes, so I’m paying attention to all of what is being said, and particularly to those bits of advise that I find myself immediately throwing up a cynical and defensive blockade.

So far, I’ve been told to “quit” the blog, outright and get a real job; to “only write about religion” and ignore politics; to “stop writing about religion” and get back to the politics; to keep reminding people that everything is an illusion; to stop taking everything so seriously; to start taking things more seriously; to be the bridge between the two subjects, religion and politics; to face the fact that the NY Yankees stink this year; do more podcasts; never podcast again. Chant more. Please never chant again, never, never, never!

I’ll tell you what – I’ve got a couple more paying gigs to pay attention to, because the tuition’s got to be paid, and the kids’ gotta eat, so how about we take a turn about the blogosphere, for today – both political and religious – and you guys pick out what you like, leave the rest, and we’ll hold the decision about where the blog is going for another day?

(Quick aside – someone made a donation via the Amazon Honor System, but they did not tell me who. Thank you very much! Greatly appreciated!)

1) I did not even realize – because I was so wrapped up in the retreat when I first mentioned it – that the Jenifer Furlwiler chatting before me with Msgr Jim Lisante on this Sirius Radio broadcast is the same Jenifer from Conversion Diary (aka “the blog formerly known as Et-tu” – and I must update my blogroll!). Her conversion story – from lifelong atheist, to Catholic – is a particularly fascinating one that she tells very well. Jenifer is a great, thoughtful writer, and I hope you’ll give her a listen! You can hear part 1 of her interview here.

2) Mark Shea writes at Inside Catholic
on Atheists, Christianity and E.T.. You have to just go read it!

3) Quite a faith journey:
Rosalind Moss went from a Secular Jewish background, to Evangelical Christianity, to Roman Catholicism, and now, in her 60′s, she is about to establish a new order of nuns, the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel’s Hope. She and her first sisters will be invested with their habits soon, and they’ll begin their ministry on the streets of St. Louis, MO. Over 300 women, of all ages, have applied to become part of this new gang.

4) Gateway Pundit has Obama
being really okay with not bothering doctors with the task of treating those babies born alive during an abortion. Ugh. Gives me chills.

5) Juliette at Baldilocks
is looking to save a school the old-fashioned way; with prayers and donations. I just donated. Please consider sending a small gift. Juliette certainly seems to have found a calling! Here she is being interviewed by LA Weekly.

6) Bainbridge on why
he does not use the Socratic Method. Very interesting read.

7) From the Russian front (thereabouts),
Michael Totten writes the latest. Most interesting quote:

The Russian soldiers called [my husband] and asked where he was going, if he was going to the American side.”

“The Russians said this to him?” I said.

“My husband said he was going to see his family,” she said. “And the Russians said again, ‘Are you going to the American side?’”

“So the Russians view you as the American side, even though there are no Americans here.”

“Yes,” she said. “Because our way is for democracy.”

Senator John McCain may have overstated things a bit when, shortly after the war started, he said, “We are all Georgians now.” But apparently even rank-and-file Russian soldiers view the Georgians and Americans as allies.

’8) How not interesting or surprising
is this? And another super duper non-surprise. Yawn. Illusionists are so predictable, sometimes.

9) Scott at Election Projection
finds that predictable ain’t running away with the election. Or maybe it’s just the Chicago Way that’s not thrilling folks. Or the company that Sen Obama has kept and keeps. I’d write more about McCain, but really, aside from the question of who is Veep will be – and it’s pointless to speculate on it, but I hope he’s smart enough to choose Sarah Palin – all the news seems to be about Obama.

10) Richard Miniter has some thoughts
on why Obama is slipping. I suspect one reason is because you don’t win votes by telling Americans that they’re ungenerous cheapskates, especially when the truth is quite the opposite.

11) I think going after McCain’s Multiple Houses
is a tremendous mistake for the Democrats. It is insubstantial, jealous-sounding, and worse, it opens the door to talking about “rich Democrats” like Pelosi, Kerry, Edwards, Kennedy, Corzine, Clinton and so forth. Best to just stay away from that. Also, Obama sounds shrill and panicked when he talks about it. It’s way too early to sound so desperate. There are plenty of substantial ways to go after McCain; this is lame.

12) Memory holes
in the press.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • roylofquist

    Dear Anchoress,

    Don’t you dare change a thing. Visiting with you is a guaranteed bright spot in my day. I never know what to expect but whatever I find it is always interesting. Just like my dearest friends.


  • ABracker

    Only God can tell you what to do with the blog, but I would submit to you that you don’t have to have it all decided. You can just go day by day and see what emerges.

    As for me, what I have enjoyed most is the way you remind me to be civil and loving toward those I disagree with politically. Your posts always humanize people for me when I’m in danger of forgetting. I especially appreciate your “One Thing” post where you challenged us to find one good thing we could say about our so-called enemies. That helped me enormously. I spent the day trying thinking of people I tend to demonize and I actively sought out good information about them. It was wonderful!

    So much of what’s on the political web is so negative that I find myself falling into an us vs. them mentality if I’m not very careful. Your attempts to see things from a Christian point-of-view has been a real blessing for me. I usually read your blog last to “cleanse my palate” and step back from the animosity I find elsewhere. Thank you. No matter who wins this next election, I want to be able to see them as humans, as fallible as myself; and I want to pray for them willingly as God commands. I hope that God will lead you to continue humanizing the politicians and celebrities that come under such vicious attacks. I believe it is a special gift you possess that is a blessing to everyone involved. Thanks for all you do…

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com/ Bender B. Rodriguez

    It might be too late to help Georgia directly, but it is essential to confront the neo-Soviets now or else they will only be emboldened further. Things like helping Poland, and making clear that never again will we abandon the Poles to suffering and oppression, as we did in the past. If we call Putin’s bluff, the world will be a safer place. If we hide under our beds and look away while another one of our friends is beaten up, then it becomes a much more dangerous world.

    Meanwhile, Obama et al. starting down the road of blatent class warfare, appealing to the baser natures of people, inviting people to jump on the envy-jealousy bandwagon, is a fatal mistake for a “hope-based” campaign. Inviting people to think bad thoughts about others, trying to build yourself up by tearing the other side down, is always a bad tactic (which is why I have been so vehemently opposed when McCain’s people and idiots like Sean Hannity have engaged in such tactics). Bile and resentment do not lead to anything other than more bile and resentment. It is like poison gas blowing back upon yourself.

  • Klaire

    I agree too that, IMO, there is no need to “decide”, unless of course you can still get that spot on the View that many of us thought you should have applied for a while back.

    To be honest Anchoress, it wouldn’t matter WHAT you wrote about. It’s not the subject matter that keeps us coming back, it’s the way you see the world through God’s eyes. Ok, maybe you don’t have the Wisdom of Solomon, but few would argue that you have an over abundance of the gift of Wisdom (and the additional gift of expressing it) far beyond the average blogger.

    I suggest you just take each day as it comes, and as always, you will know what’s worth blogging about, never underestimating that on the days that you are in a bad mood, feel a bit “off”, or not feeling well, are all the more reasons you are so believable.

  • MamaTod

    I agree with the commentators above. I read you last to “cleanse my palate” (exactly!!) and it doesn’t matter what you write. You’ve broadened my horizons regarding faith, Catholicism, opera, and books. I like your honesty and openness. So please, don’t change too much and please, don’t stop.

  • http://www.deacbench.blogspot.com Deacon Greg

    In the immortal words of Billy Joel: “I want you just the way you are.” :-)

  • http://faustasblog.com Fausta

    Take your blog in whatever direction you find best.
    And then come to my podcast and tell us about it! :-)

  • Piano Girl

    I love your blog, just the way it is, or in whatever direction you are led to take it. I love the variety of subject matter…one post might not resonate with me today, but tomorrow it might, or another post might grab me squarely by the shoulders and shout, “sit down, listen up, take note, because YOU need to hear this NOW, not next week, but today!” BTW, I loved hearing you sing…I’m going to send you a setting of The Lord’s Prayer that I wrote about 20 years ago ~ I think you might like it!

  • dellbabe68

    I love this blog. I don’t get to truly partake in it the way I’d like but I try. Life is busy these days.

    On top of all the random commentary, delivered with humor and clear thinking, I particularly appreciate two things the most: the links to the new religious (as well as the general subject links like today) but also the commentary on where religion and politics intersect. I find that as I deepen my own faith I look for more and more ways to live thoughtfully — beyond Sundays (as I think most if not all of your readers do). I love the inspirational stories (Tom Girard and his dad still are on my mind), the coffee brewing monks, and just generally, all the CONNECTIONS to things Catholic (or just generally good).

    Do what you want with it, but I love it the way it is.
    I second Deacon Greg.

    I will tell you something, now that I think of it. I would love to see a good fisk of a book I read about Mary, which I bought at the Vatican gift shop in Tampa, when they had the absolutely wonderful (except for this book) Vatican exhibit. It’s called Mary: A Flesh and Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother, by Leslie Hazelton. Never heard of her but I enjoy my obsession with Mary, though Curt Jester would disaprove, I think, and I figured, why not.

    In it, she really goes off and imagines all sorts of completely out-there conclusions about what Mary must’ve been like. It begins innocently enough, and I mean, hey, what do any of us really know, but she draws some hard and fast conclusions that would stand your hair on end.

    I would love to see this group, and any readers we’d attract with a good book discussion, read it chapter by chapter, together, and discuss it in the comments. The thing will light you all on fire. I haven’t seen a good fisk of it but let me tell you, it deserves it.

    That I bought it at what I thought was a relatively safe gift/book shop still kind of irks me. And I’ve read all sorts of authors on early Catholicism, including some that push gnotisim and would probably irritate the Vatican (hey, I make my own decisions). I’m fairly open but this one was a DIFFICULT book to read. She purports, in one example of what I’m saying, that since she was probably a mid-wife, she must’ve helped mothers self abort their children. Anchoress, I almost wrote to you about it then but I figured you had enough to do.

    Well, just a thought. Sorry to highjack the thread.

  • dellbabe68

    Oh, I have a feeling my long comment put up an hour or so ago is not “awaiting moderation.” Anchoress, did you get it? Darn, I’ve got to learn to copy them before I click submit. It’s only when they are long.

    Anyhow, here is an interesting link to a Catholic family that prints inexpensive prayer cards for the genral public, and I expect some religious stores. I like leaving them at the back of the church and I know some person will be glad to leave church with a new card. So I’m grateful to find a cheap place. Seem like nice people. I am placing my first order tonight.


  • dellbabe68

    Okay, I basically said I love the blog but cannot partake as much as I’d like.
    I also said I appreciate the general info links, like today’s post, as well as the posts about new religious and the goings-on of any religious.
    I mentioned Thomas Girard and his dad, two people that I think will be saints someday.
    I also mentioned that I like seeing posts that discuss the intersection of politics and daily living and things Catholic.
    And I suggested we read a book together, chapter by chapter, and discuss it in commments. I also suggested a book I got at the Vatican exhibit in Tampa, which I think needs to be fisked. Mary: A Flesh and Blood Biography of The Virgin Mother. I was truly outraged by this book and my outrage threshold is fairly low for books. Leslie Hazelton wrote it. Don’t know her but I honestly was outraged by her book, and I have thought of suggesting to you, Anchoress, fisking it properly. I think I just figured you had your own stuff to do. But a book discussion for your readers would be a nice direction. Other than that, the blog is great as is!

    As always, thank you for the time you put into it.

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  • Joseph

    I don’t think I have to reiterate how much I like your blog as is, and like you as is. And one of the things I like about both is that I’m certain that both will go their own way regardless of what e-mail you get.

    As to John McCain’s houses, the relevant question is not how many he owns, but how many he has been foreclosed out of. All I can do is stare in wonder at a candidate who insists on constantly creating negative advertising against himself.

    How many have we had now? The Iraq war that might last 100 years, the American public who will cease to care about the war if the casualties diminish, the American economy that has been doing pretty good over the last eight years [this with one full recession accomplished and another on the way, a major housing market and banking meltdown, skyrocketing fuel prices, and now the worst inflation in decades!], and now all the houses he can’t keep track of.

    For those of you who are afraid of “class war”, it’s the “can’t keep track” that’s really devastating.

    Whatever his credentials in foreign affairs may be, certainly McCain’s “experience” in national political campaigns hasn’t done him much good.

  • layla

    Since abortion is, for the first time in a long time, in the forefront again, we ought to join forces to publicize as much information as we can about it. Found a chilling portrait of planned parenthood, not to mention the diabolical philosophy of margaret sanger–

    The catholic husband and wife team over at the Maritime Sentry blog have been working overtime to help keep everyone abreast of the latest, so please stop by their very worthwhile blog to offer encouragement.

    Here’s a shortcut to the sanger article: