I’ve been watching the classic British mini-series of Brideshead Revisted on DVD. It’s so so so good! It truly brings the book to life! The casting, the acting, the settings, the faithfulness to the novel–simply excellent! I finished the first two discs, and need to exchange them for the next two!
I’ve begun reading St. Francis of Assisi by G.K. Chesterton. I’m enjoying it immensely! This little book wonderfully brings St. Francis and his world to life in a very realistic way. I admit I’ve always found it a bit difficult to really appreciate St. Francis because there is so much sentimentality about him and so much exaltation that he hardly seems like a real person. Chesterton captures all of his very unique, and indeed often very remarkable, characteristics, but grounds them in the real world and real humanity–in a real context. I especially enjoyed the second chapter where Chesterton examines the way in which we moderns study–or rather, don’t study–history, and the meaning and purpose of The Dark Ages as a period of penance and purification to recover from the excesses and disorders of the pre-Christian world.
I’ve been feeling inspired to write something about my dear Father, St. Dominic. He has sort of suffered the opposite fate as St. Francis in the popular imagination–he has been made a dark, cold, even malevolent figure, devoid of light, love, and joy. Not very much a figure one can admire, much less love. That’s not at all the St. Dominic I know… a very brilliant and learned man, very ascetic, very firm in standing against heresy… but very loving and compassionate toward mankind, perhaps especially so toward heretics. He gave his all in every circumstance, emptying himself just as Christ did. He was also extremely just and democratic, in an age when democracy was scarcely known. Courageous and thoroughly trusting in God’s providence, he has many traits that all Christians would do well to imitate. He promised on his death bed to be an even greater helper to mankind than he was when he was alive here… and I have found this to be very true. So, I feel like creating a great tribute of some kind to him. I’m not sure what form it might take… but I am thinking about it.
In the meantime, I’ve been doing a bit of work on my existing writing projects.
I just finished reading Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. I read it for a book club. It’s a true story about two very different men and a very special lady who brings them and many other people together. Ron is a white man who has found his fortune as an art dealer. Denver is a black homeless man, formerly a Louisiana sharecropper (essentially a modern-day slave). Deborah is Ron’s wife who feels called by God to volunteer at a mission serving the homeless and especially to reach out to Denver. This was a very interesting, moving, entertaining, heartbreaking, and ultimately very inspiring and uplifting book. I was especially fascinated by Denver’s account of what his life was like, first as a sharecropper, then as a homeless person. It truly helped me to see the world from a very different and very uncomfortable point of view, and I feel I am a better person for it. I think the main theme of the book is God’s Providence and God’s wisdom–the way He always brings goodness and meaning out of even the worst, most meaningless tragedy and evil, and the way He always brings us to the right place at the right time, if we only believe in Him, trust Him, and follow Him. The one thing that happened to me over and over again was that I kept forgetting it was non-fiction! It was such an enjoyable read, and the story was so incredible. Sometimes I felt it was almost too amazing to be true… but then, I can look over my own life and say the same thing. Miracles abound if only we have the eyes to see them.
I got my first issue of First Things in the mail today. I haven’t broken into it yet, but am very much looking forward to it!