I am bemused by our pandemic--not the coronavirus, but by our pandemic of hysteria and fear in our reactions. I'll be posting a few articles here, but first a poem to remind us, as Shakespeare wrote, "By my troth, I care not; a man can die but once; we owe God a death and let it go which way it will he that dies this year is quit for the next."
The article below appeared at The Epoch Times on March 26: https://www.theepochtimes.com/glimpses-of-heaven-icons-paintings-prayer-and-meditation_3278704.html
In the spring, just before my homeschooling seminars closed for the summer, my Latin students and I would head to the Basilica of Saint Lawrence in Asheville, North Carolina. We would gather in the courtyard outside the church, and I would issue my usual admonitions: whisper, don’t disturb those praying in the side chapel, walk, don’t run, and be respectful.
I then divided the students into teams, equipped each team with a Latin dictionary, and turned them loose inside the Basilica, where they engaged in a scavenger hunt, copying down the Latin inscriptions they found there and then translating them. I roamed from team to team, giving a hand with the translations or pointing them to a site they had missed. Most were a little shocked when I pulled open a heavy metal door in the wall, showed them the tomb of Rafael Guastavino, the architect who had designed the Basilica and donated money for its construction, and had them translate the Latin on the coffin.
Some of my students were Roman Catholics, and some were unaffiliated with any religion, but the great majority were devout Protestants, many of them members of the traditional Presbyterian Church in America. On first entering that sanctuary with its statues and paintings, its bank of votive candles, and the handful of people kneeling in prayer in Eucharistic adoration, my Protestant students inevitably paused while they absorbed these strange sights.
If you live in Western North Carolina, or if you care about local newspapers, please read the article posted below, and if you have means, please contribute to the Smoky Mountain News. For 20 years, I have published book reviews there, but this is not about me. It's about the survival of a paper that helps make a community.
Below you will find both the link and the entire article.
All my best, dear readers,
No book review today.
But please read this column.
First, you need some pertinent facts.
I ran a bed-and-breakfast and a bookstore in Waynesville for 20 years, and with some overlap, taught literature, history, and Latin in Asheville for another 20 years. I am now a freelance writer.
For the last 20 years, I have written book reviews for The Smoky Mountain News, but I am not on staff at the paper.
In other words, I have only a small stake in what I am asking here.
Now to the subject literally at hand, namely the newspaper you are reading.
This one's just for those of you who come here. Not published elsewhere.
The good things in life...they're important to remember in tough times. Here's a reminder from deceased singer Israel K. of Hawaii. I love the way he blends these two songs. I'm listening again as I post the link here:
All my best to everyone on this warm and gray Virginia night!
Another poem from a good while back. I have written little poetry these last years, though poems for a time in my life meant the world to me. You can carry them in your head and heart, and work on them all day long, as opposed to any other sort of writing. No idea where most of these bits of verse once came from. Anyway, meet Miranda:
She calls herself Miranda,
A bayou Cajun queen,
Who haunts the street called Bourbon,
The heart of New Orleans.
Her black hair’s laced with ribbons,
Her eyes as blue as sky,
And when she sings at midnight,
She makes the sailors cry.
Tattoos of scarlet dragons
Curl down her shoulder blades:
Her ears are bright with gemstones
That glitter in the shade.
Her jeans are ripped and tattered,
Her blouse is made of sighs,
And when she sings at midnight,
She makes the hustlers cry.
She sings the songs of Verdi,
Puccini, Mozart, Bizet.
She sings of lovers dying
And steals our breath away.
She sings as well the Delta,
Twists blues to lullaby,
And when she sings at midnight,
She makes the pavements cry.
She never thanks her donors,
Who fill her bowl with bills.
But stares into the darkness
Her music seeks to fill.
Too soon the spell is ended,
Too soon the music dies,
But when Miranda sings at midnight,
She makes the angels cry.
Some advice aimed at our young people. This article recently appear in The Epoch Times. Please click and paste.
Nearly 30 years ago, I taught for a while in prison. The article below, which recently appeared at The Epoch Times, has a bit to say about that experience, and about our prison system. Please click and past.
A poem for a gray Monday night in Virginia when all is in flux and spin:
God is less God when men must mercy beg;
What father wants his children on their knees,
Hands mendicant in supplication, pegged
With nails of shame, souls dark as troubled seas?
What God wants piteous wails? Does God want eyes
Like anguished auditors of pain or tongue
That do in terror twist the air with cries
From maddened hearts heaped high with ash and dung?
What good father would manufacture doom
To bring his children to such mean estate?
Did God not seed with love our hearts to bloom,
Graft faith to hope to bear our worldly weights?
By our own lights do we diminish God.
He points to stars; we shrinking cling to sod.
Below are two articles on the coronavirus, both from Intellectual Takeout, one by me and one by a doctor. The article by the physician should quell some fear about this virus, the one by me reflects once again my ignorance, my confusion, and a view of death.
The older man with the Van Dyke beard often visits the coffee shop. Eventually, a mutual friend introduced us.
After my friend left, the older man, who had once taught philosophy and had served as president of a small Catholic college, began talking to me of Heidegger and Hegel, of various philosophical movements in the nineteenth century, and of capitalism and socialism. It was more a classroom lecture than a conversation, with me nodding my head and asking an occasional question. When he had finished, I told him in all seriousness that he should write down what he’d just said, that some magazine would surely be interested in publishing his thoughts. He just laughed and went on his way.
I retained little of the professor’s lecture, not because he wasn’t lucid but because of the sheer amount of information he delivered in those 25 minutes. On the subject of philosophy, he is an intellectual giant, while I am a pygmy.