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Blog Appearance


I suppose I should make a brief comment about the new look at The 7 Habitus. St has implemented a new version of Movable Type -- MT4 and, as a result, all the blogs in this group were left with generic designs. I'm trying to learn a bit about the new format so as to regain some of the lost graphics, links, etc, but without much success as yet. To be honest, I'm getting used to the new look and may retain much of it.

Just thought you'd like to know.

Just (Don’t) Say No

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As you may have guessed, I’m ambivalent about posting here. Sometimes I’m simply stupefied by the sheer pride in thinking anyone would be at all interested in anything I might post here. My rants especially unnerve me. Who am I to dictate to the world? When these thoughts come on strong, I withdraw from posting and try to maintain silence.

Yet, the other day another thought hit me; somehow, for some reason, I’m drawn to make entries here. I got myself into this and can’t seem to get myself out. Then yet another thought hit me (thought comes to me infrequently and usually with some force): nothing goes very well during those times when I say “no” to posting. Work becomes difficult, I become restless, even traffic that previously flowed smoothly snarls as I approach. In short, everything turns to ca-ca. It seems, when I say “no” to things that I am drawn to in this way, life becomes a trial.

I thought that saying “no” is sometimes a self-righteous act. It’s a turning in on myself and away from all God’s good that's all around me. It’s a bit like the Pharisees who only see things through a narrow, self-constructed prism of right and wrong. It has nothing to do with reality or God’s intention for how I should live. Things seem “out of kilter” because they are. I’m relying on my own resources and thinking in my own terms, not God’s or anyone else’s. Even when I think I’m doing this for the best of reasons, I’m fooling myself. Maybe even a rant or two has a place in God’s plan.

And while I can’t think of one good reason I should continue here or of anything I’ve written that would be of any use to anyone, it has helped me. Writing here and getting the occasional response has helped me grow in understanding and respect for others. It’s taught me to examine the intentions of others who might disagree with me and try to understand that, even if I think they are wrong, they are still God’s children. Writing has changed my whole outlook on the world and my faith over the last three years.

For example, the other day, Karen at Some Have Hats, did a post decrying the apparent inaction of Pope Benedict, in the year or so since he’s been in office, against dissenters, (and drew some harsh, even rude, criticism for her comments). When I started here, I would have been right with her, bringing down anathemas on those who dare dissent. I admit, if I lived in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, I might feel a lot differently. Still, now I’m not so anxious to join the fray.

Over the last three years, I’ve learned to respect, as the Church does, that each person has a choice for good or evil. God has given us the capacity, created as we are in the imago Dei, to make that choice. He respects it, and leaves us to it. So must we. That’s not to say we shouldn’t do our part to help our brothers and sisters make an informed decision, but we have to recognize our limits in doing so. I’ve come to accept that the Church has managed to stumble through the last two thousand years without my assistance, and to hope that it will continue for the next millennium or two in the same way. After all, Jesus assures us, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt 16:18-19 RSV) He gave Peter the keys, not me. It’s really a great relief.

So I’ll continue to post here as the spirit moves. I may still have a few things to learn, as unlikely as that may sound. At least it may make the afternoon commute easier.

Comment Change


I have been overrun here with "comments" from people selling all kinds of things, most of a pornographic nature. In order to try to stem the tide, I have changed comment settings to require a commenter to register with a password. I hate to do that, but if this doesn't work, I will be forced to drop comments altogether.

The Permanent Things


I have posted to my other blog: The Permanent Things. (The Permanent Things is the blog I will use for posts of a purely political nature or if I just feel a good rant coming on.)

New to the Parish


It has been called to my attention that two young men have started a new blog, Sirach 40:20. It looks promising, and I hope you'll stop by and welcome them to the Parish.

My Little Black Book


I read the other day, I think at the First Things blog, that Ralph McInerny taught himself to write fiction, and it took him several years to do it. He started writing short stories, then progressed to longer fiction. The thing that really caught my attention is the time it took him to learn to write. It’s not surprising, though. Oh, it’s relatively easy to write short scenes, to sketch a character or two, or to describe a setting for a scene, but putting it all together into a longer work is no easy task, especially if you’re trying to develop an interesting plot at the same time. I know, I’m trying.

But I feel more like Hemingway must have felt after he showed his first attempt at a novel to Gertrude Stein – she shredded it. Hemingway didn’t give up, though. He decided he, like McInerny, would teach himself to write. He began writing sentences, only sentences, and kept that up for a few months, then, when he felt ready, he started writing paragraphs, then he tried putting a few paragraphs together. This process must have taken a good deal of time, but when he was done he had both a truly distinctive style, and the makings of a real novel.

I feel like I’m at the same point as Hemingway when he started writing sentences. I’m learning, but still have a long way to go. The process will take patience, something I’m not real strong on, but it must be faced.

Something I realized while thinking all this over – I have already learned a lot. I’ve had two or three rather extended periods of regular blogging here at the 7 Habitus and, looking back on it, I was surprised that I learned something valuable each time. The first lesson was the power of words; I voiced some very strong opinions here when I started, some not entirely appropriate, and those opinions drew strong responses. It was a very humbling experience, and a valuable lesson.

I started again here just a couple of days before Lent began this year. At that time, I wrote that I had picked up a package of three small, soft cover, Moleskine notebooks and that I planned to use one of them as a place to make daily notes of whatever caught my interest. I wasn’t really sure that I would be faithful to the practice but I have been. The result has been amazing. I learned that, most days, I notice very little of what is going on around me. It’s as if I was going about in a sort of fog, only seeing that which was right in front of me and, therefore, unavoidable. Being mindful of my little black book and my Lenten commitment to make use of it has opened my eyes, both literally and figuratively. A fiction writer needs to be attuned to his surroundings, and be able to provide fresh, vivid descriptions of the people and things he is writing about. The only way you can do that is to see, truly see, those things. You have to notice them, and notice the little insignificant details that make them special. The discipline of using the notebook has been a real wake up call and I think I am becoming much more observant of my surroundings. It’s also instilled me with a bit more gratitude for those little things. This is a Lenten discipline that I hope will continue for a long time to come.

So, I am going to keep writing, here and on the book, but now there is no time table. If I have to go back to writing sentences, one at a time, I will, but I think it may be worth the effort. I’ll likely enjoy it a great deal more, and I might just learn something about writing in the process. And who knows what else.

Amateur Catholic


It's Official! I'm an amateur!


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