Thanksgiving 2017

  1. Reputation, character, integrity
  2. A 54th Anniversary
  3. Why I felt kindly toward David Cassidy
  4. A spiritual to-do list?
  5. Far-seeing, but blinded by evil
  6. Thanksgiving versus Christmas


I seem to have read a lot about the importance of keeping a good reputation, in at least one case seeing a parallelism that implied the equivalence of reputation, integrity and character.

I don’t think that’s correct. Many of the Saints got bad reputations, but with character and integrity in abundance:

Many of the saints were those who suffered ill treatment, even at the hands of fellow Christians. Saint Nektarios, perhaps the most popular saint in all of Greece, was falsely accused of grievous sins, removed from his diocese, and died in exile, yet is now glorified as one of the most important saints of our age. Saint John of San Francisco was taken to court by members of his own cathedral, yet this humble man is now venerated as a saint of the Universal Church.

Saint John Chrysostom was forcibly removed as Patriarch of Constantinople, and died in exile, yet is considered one of the greatest saints of the Church, and remembered as one of the greatest preachers in Church history. Many monastic saints, founders of holy monasteries, were persecuted by their own bishops, yet, receiving the persecution as allowed by God, they readily embraced their suffering and humiliation as salvific.

These saints knew that complaining disturbs the heart and distracts us from the Path. Complaining weakens our resolve and interferes with the acquisition of peace and holiness. When we complain we are rejecting the role of suffering as a means towards union with God. Complaining keeps our heart from soaring to the heavens and experiencing the joy that can be had when we surrender ourselves into the protective arms of Jesus.

The Evil One would have us fight off the attacks of our fellow Christians, for he knows that division and slander within the Church bring about the destruction of the unity that is the Body of Christ.

(Abbott Tryphon, who looks like Gandalf and has a name like an Ent, by the way)

In short, our reputations are entirely out of our hands. Be of good character, a person of integrity (I’m not sure those two are identical, either) and let God sort out the rest of it.


Wednesday was the 54th anniversary of three notable deaths: C.S. Lewis, Aldous Huxley and John F. Kennedy. That list is ranked in descending order of personal importance. Huxley tops JFK probably because I wasn’t yet of age when Kennedy was assassinated, but Brave New World, in my opinion, is such a powerful and plausible dystopia.

Peter Kreeft used the coincidence of the three deaths to good apologetic effect in Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis & Aldous Huxley:

With Kennedy taking the role of a modern humanist, Lewis representing Christian theism and Huxley advocating Eastern pantheism, the dialogue is lively and informative.

(Amazon book note)

Anyhow, Malcolm Guite has written a sonnet for Lewis, who shaped and shapes my Christian life deeply.


So I see that David Cassidy has died, less than a year after disclosing that he had dementia.

I was never a fan. I couldn’t tell you a single song he did. But I was a fan of a fan.

For two years in the early 1970s, I worked as a hospital “orderly,” a term that has fallen out of usage, I’m told. Essentially, I was a male nurse aide. Except when summoned to help subdue someone violent elsewhere or a few other odd jobs (let’s just say that when a physician became a patient, he proved pretty reticent to being prepped by a female), I worked on the same neurology and neurosurgery unit for the whole time.

We had a long-term patient, Rhonda, in her late 30s who had Down Syndrome and was in one of our two four-bed wards. So long did she stay, and so dear did she become to the staff, that she was allowed to decorate her immediate environment.

Up went the David Cassidy poster. She adored him.

When Rhonda died, I saw nurses cry for the first and only time.

Rhonda is all I can remember about David Cassidy, and is why I’ve always thought kindly of him despite otherwise being 100% ignorant of his oeuvre.


[T]he prophetic writings remain a strange land for many Christian readers. But not Micah 6:8. This verse is the stuff of political speeches, Christian kitsch, and bumper stickers. “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Mark Gignilliat, whose piece in Christianity Today I frankly haven’t read through. But the subtitle caught my attention: What Does the Lord Require of You? Micah’s most beloved verse is more than a spiritual to-do list.


It is wisdom to recognize necessity, when all other courses have been weighed, though as folly it may appear to those who cling to false hope. Well, let folly be our cloak, a veil before the eyes of the Enemy! For he is very wise, and weighs all things to a nicety in the scales of his malice. But the only measure that he knows is desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts. Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse it, that having the Ring we may seek to destroy it. If we seek this, we shall put him out of reckoning.

[H]e does not yet perceive our purpose clearly. He supposes that we were all going to Minas Tirith; for that is what he would himself have done in our place.

[H]e is in great fear, not knowing what mighty one may suddenly appear, wielding the Ring, and assailing him with war, seeking to cast him down and take his place. That we should wish to cast him down and have no one in his place is not a thought that occurs to his mind. That we should try to destroy the Ring itself has not yet entered into his darkest dream.

One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters.

This, then, is my counsel. We have not the Ring. In wisdom or great folly it has been sent away to be destroyed, lest it destroy us. Without it we cannot by force defeat his force. But we must at all costs keep his Eye from his true peril. We cannot achieve victory by arms, but by arms we can give the Ring-bearer his only chance, frail though it be.

(J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings)


* * * * *

“Liberal education is concerned with the souls of men, and therefore has little or no use for machines … [it] consists in learning to listen to still and small voices and therefore in becoming deaf to loudspeakers.” (Leo Strauss)

There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.