Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Busyness and What Is

I feel guilty for not posting much except quotes from other sources this summer, adding nothing of a personal touch.  So, this is a brief attempt to correct that situation, since I think a blog should reflect personal reflections from its purveyor from time to time.  (Let me know if you don't agree!)

The problem has been that I’ve had a busy summer, not a good busy but so busy I hardly feel like I have time to think busy.  I can’t put my finger on any particular reason for this, nothing has greatly changed for us over the last 12 – 18 months, except that we’re another 12-18 months older.  That may slow down our response to all that is going on.

If I haven 't been productive, the Spirit has.  There are times when I believe the Spirit leads us in directions we would never think of ourselves to go.  This has happened to me this summer, beginning with the accidental ordering of a book by Fr James Schall, S.J. briefly titled, Another Sort of Learning.  I was browsing on my Kindle for something concerning the Jesuits and this book popped up.  I was going to navigate away to something else, but instead navigated the “Buy” button.  I figured, since I’d bought the thing, I might as well read it, so I did.

Fr Schall is a philosophy professor at Georgetown (political philosophy) and this book is, I think, about the philosophy of learning and what it is we should learn.  Heavy stuff, yet he has a light touch.  The book starts out this way:

“Several years ago, almost thirty now, I ran across the following passage in a book called Self-Made Mad, which, of course, is nothing less than the famous Mad Magazine. Let me cite it here: ‘Did you ever stop to wonder about how recent historical events will be reported in elementary school history books 100 years from now? We hate to think so, but in the year 2060, say, elementary school history books will probably be exactly the way they are now. Which means they will be simply written so that children who study them can find easy answers to everything, even things that college professors and historians won’t fully understand. For instance, every historical figure will be either good or bad, with nobody a little good and a little bad, the way most people really are.’”

Schall, James (2011-05-12). Another Sort of Learning (p. 9). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.

While I have my doubts that history books in the year 2060 will be the same as they were in 1960, that is with at least a modest attempt to objectively present the historical facts under consideration, I believe that any book of philosophy that begins with a quote from Mad Magazine, perhaps the greatest philosophical endeavor of all time, can’t be all bad.  So, I continued reading.  This was over a month ago, and I’m still at it, an indication of both my “busyness” and the wonderful things presented in this book, things I’d felt and wanted to articulate, but didn’t have the words for.  Fr Schall is giving me the words. 

Anyway, this book is one of the few pure re-creational activities I’ve been able to pursue this summer and I'm grateful for it.  I can truly say that I believe my finding it was the work of the Spirit, so the summer hasn’t been a total waste after all.

More to follow, if I don’t get too busy.

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