C.S. Lewis’ “On Other Worlds: Essays and Stories”: A Review

While searching for an online version of C. S Lewis’ unfinished story about the Trojan War, “After Ten Years,” I stumbled upon this great blog and wonderful post on one of my favorite Lewis books. I’m going to mull this over and try to figure out how to include some of Lewis’ ideas as I wrap up my unit on mythology.

A Pilgrim in Narnia

My own journey in studying C.S. Lewis has led me to the consideration of the fictional universes he created—these are the “real worlds” that sit behind his stories, like the worlds of Narnia in his fantasy novels or the Field of Arbol in his science fiction. Unfortunately, what is true in Narnia isn’t always true in the world that most of us reading this live: the growl of the lion in a Narnian forest is a moment of great hope; in an American forest, it is a reason to rapidly evolve the necessary appendages for flight. Fantasy writers carefully construct these fictional universes, and a sophisticated world like Middle Earth or Discworld or Arbol or Cthulhu, with its own maps and languages and sentient races and tax offices, is worth studying.

Because C.S. Lewis was a literary critic as well as a fantasy writer, he thought critically and academically about…

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Dissecting the Frog

Found this wonderful reflection at the Circe Institute from another English teacher like me. I can really relate to Mr. Kern describes here:

I’m torn between opposing approaches: 1) to break the work down so that they see the structures and the devices and all the things that we English majors find so fascinating but most students find so mind-numbingly similar to biology, and 2) to simply let the stories be, to them do the work themselves and to simply be a facilitator. The first option is practical and concrete and I can quantify my student’s knowledge and assess his understanding. The second functions within the realm of mystery and is less easily quantified. On the one hand I can dissect the work, on the other I can observe.

My instincts tell me to go with the second option but the strangest thing has been happening when I do: the kids want the first option. My students don’t want to have to observe because observation demands patience and attention and time. Dissection, on the other hand, requires only a scalpel and something to clean up the mess later on. (Kern, “Flannery O’Connor On Teaching Literature,” The Circe Institute)

I found this to be true even more so of my kids in Louisiana than my kids here in Denver, though I am not quite sure why. The honors students, in particular, seemed to suffer from this empiricism-obsessed affliction (though not all of them). A lot of them hated reading “The Life You Save May Be Your Own,” yet they did not recognize that Mr. Shiftlet was really talking about them:

“‘Lady,” he said, and turned and gave her his full attention, “lemme tell you something. There’s one of these doctors in Atlanta that’s taken a knife and cut the human heart‑the human heart,” he repeated, leaning forward, “out of a man’s chest and held it in his hand,” and he held his hand out, palm up, as if it were slightly weighted with the human heart, “and studied it like it was a day‑old chicken, and lady,” he said, allowing a long significant pause in which his head slid forward and his clay‑colored eyes brightened, “he don’t know no more about it than you or me.” (O’Connor, “The Life You Save May Be Your Own”)

Mr. Shiftlet and Mrs. Crater observe Lucynell – rather like the doctor observes the human heart in his hand.
Source: oliviawhen.blogspot.com

Mr. Kirn, in his essay about this problem in teaching English, goes on to say that “literature isn’t science and I don’t believe it should be treated like it is.” Which I definitely agree with, and I could discourse at length about how our technology-obsessed culture is suffering from an appalling suffocation of our artistic and literary desires.

But then he says, “Literature is best learned through experience and experience is driven by observation and observation doesn’t cater to this instinct, this desire.” Notice his conflation of terms – and notice also his reversal of what one would normally expect. “Experience” and “observation” are associated with “literature” and “desire” — not science. I found that very interesting – especially in light of my own belief (discussed in this post) that reducing knowledge to experience is part of the very problem Mr. Kirn is describing.

He describes it very well here:

“For to examine only the parts of a thing is to examine only what that thing has, not what it is. If I want to know what a frog is I should go to the pond and watch it do, and be, and inhabit. If I want to know what a frog has I should dissect it.”

Unfortunately, so many of my past and current students don’t really care about the frog. Nor they do not care what the frog is. The struggling students often do not care altogether, about the frog or its parts, and the strong students often only care insofar as they can gut the helpless animal for the correct organs they need to pin onto their test for an A.

Maybe I’m being a little harsh here. I’m not blaming my kids. I’m not even blaming their parents. Maybe I’m blaming bad English teachers – or, perhaps, the culture at large. Or the devil who has taught us not to care anymore about being, but only about doing and having.

Yet Flannery O’Connor–whom Kirn is following in his article–is not entirely “impractical.” I think Regina kept her on her toes too much for that. I think Flannery would agree that you can’t just sit gaping at a frog–or a story–all day. You need to find a way to train your eyes to see it properly, and that does involve skills, tools, and all the rest of it:

The student has to have tools to understand a story or a novel, and these are tools proper to the structure of the work, tools proper to the craft.  They are tools that operate inside the work and not outside it; they are concerned with how this story is made and with what makes it work as a story. (O’Connor, “On The Teaching of Literature.”)

My recent lesson plans on reading strategies are my own attempt at this. So is my (in)famous unit on essays and my “Writing Fridays” (formerly known as “In-Class Essay Fridays”).

And–oddly–most of my students, at least in retrospect, respond well to these parts of my teaching. And I am very happy about this. And yet… These skills I insist upon so forcefully with my kids are indeed essential, but they are only meant to move my students toward the Real Thing itself. I do not know if I have done so well in helping my kids to contemplate the mystery in literature. I do not know if I have really been able to help them simply observe the story as it is–and perhaps hear the Logos speaking through the logos of the particular poem or myth.

source: nytimes.com

Flannery says, in her characteristically incisive way:

English teachers come in Good, Bad, and Indifferent, but too frequently in high schools anyone who can speak English is allowed to teach it. Ours is the first age in history which has asked the child what he would tolerate learning. In other ages the attention of children was held by Homer and Virgil, among others, but, by the reverse evolutionary process, that is no longer possible; our children are too stupid now to enter the past imaginatively. (“On the Teaching of Literature,” Mystery and Manners)

Some of my kids would protest her harsh characterization of them here. I think they would mention Harry Potter and The Hunger Games in an effort to refute her– a response which, unfortunately, speaks for itself. For as much as I enjoy Harry, and as much as I appreciate the fleeting moments of true greatness in Rowling’s enterprise, I know that Harry and Katniss and these others cater to my students–not the other way around. If my students do read on their own, I am happy, but I am not satisfied. They usually read the kind of book that bends over backwards to please and entice them–and judging by the Reading Autobiographies I had them write recently, they actually believe that literature ought to do this. As if a story owed you something. When really you owe the story something – your attentiveness.

If you prefer a “tame” frog that hops around after you and abhors nasty places like swamps, well, you don’t really like frogs at all, but toy frogs.

If you prefer capturing real frogs yourself and cutting them up so you can “understand” them, you understand only a very little about the frog. You possess the frog, so you can figure out what it possessed while it was alive– but not much else.

Or, you could go out to the swamp and wait and see if you can catch a glimpse of a real live frog doing real live froggy things. You may see one, and you may not– but either way you’ll understand the frog far better. And maybe yourself as well.

Teaching High Schoolers How to Read

When I was studying to become a high school English teacher, I thought about how fun it would be to discuss great works of literature with thoughtful and curious adolescents. I looked forward to deep conversations and debates. I remembered the books I loved reading in my high school English classes- The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder, Julius Caesar by Shakespeare, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and many others.

I never thought that I would be responsible for teaching fifteen-to-eighteen year olds HOW to read in the first place.

So many high school teachers (regardless of subject) are like that. We assume that kids learned how to read in elementary school. We assume that they expanded these skills in middle school. We assume they know what to do when they get confused. We assume they know how to help themselves.

We assume, we assume, we assume.

And we are wrong.

I discovered this pretty quickly during my first year of teaching in Louisiana. I confess, I was rather horrified. How could you possibly get to high school and not know how to read? I mean, what have you been doing all this time? I knew that some students had learning disabilities that made reading really difficult – but I did not expect that MOST high school students don’t really know how to read well.

I did my best stumbling through my first few months, frustrated and increasingly disillusioned. I, of course, could not remember HOW I learned to read. I just always knew, it seemed. Why couldn’t these guys figure it out like I did?

Source: roanokecountyva.gov

And then I realized what a big mistake I was making.

What was I doing?? I was their English teacher! It was (and is) MY job to help them, wherever they are. For a myriad of cultural, historical, and psychological reasons, my kid did not know how to read well (and, in some cases, maybe not  at all). And I needed to do something about it.

So during Christmas break of my first year, I began researching how to teach reading. I had no idea what to do, at first. But then I began asking questions: What do ESL teachers do? What do first and second grade teachers do?

And, by God’s grace, I found this book by Cris Tovani in Barnes and Noble:


This book has helped me more than any other in understanding where struggling readers are coming from, how they think, why they think the way they do — and, most importantly, how to help them become better readers.

Source: shannonigans.com

Tovani’s description sounded exactly like my students:

Sadly, many of my students don’t expect to understand what they read. They accept their confusion and figure that at this point in their lives, it’s too late for them to become better readers. They wait to be told what it is they have read. If no one does that, they just don’t get it.

She has a lot of insight into the experience of struggling readers:

People who read well often take for granted the real-world payoffs. Struggling readers seldom get to experience how great it feels to finish a book. Or how helpful it is to read and understand a chapter in a textbook. They don’t know how much fun it can be to escape day-to-day life by jumping into a good read. By ninth grade, many students have been defeated by test scores, letter grades, and special groupings. Struggling readers are embarrassed by their labels and often perceive reading as drudgery. They avoid it at all costs. Reading has lost its purpose and pleasure. (Tovani 9)

The great thing about this book is that it is NOT just for English teachers. In fact, it is designed for ALL secondary school teachers- math teachers, science teachers, social studies teachers, religion teachers. And Tovani does a great job helping teachers sort out their priorities. We may not always realize this, but it it is OUR responsibility to teach our kids HOW to read the material we assign them. If we don’t do that, we shouldn’t be surprised when they don’t do their homework or fumble miserably through our reading assignments. We have to give them the tools they need so that they can become responsible readers who can monitor and manage their own comprehension.

Middle and high school teachers can and must teacher students to be better readers of their course material. Critics argue, “If middle and high school students could read better, then more content could be covered. They could read at home and understand the information, and teachers could move through material faster.” Right! Teachers would love this to be the case, but it isn’t. Many students aren’t reading at home, and they aren’t understanding what they read in school. […] It requires a variety of thinking processes, many of which need to be taught. Middle and high school students don’t automatically know how to cope with rigorous reading material just because they’ve left elementary school. (Tovani 14)

So, if you’re a teacher, ask yourself:

Am I teaching my kids how to read the material I assign them?

Am I valuing the AMOUNT of content I cover over my student’s ability to UNDERSTAND it?

Tovani’s book gives practical, concrete advice how to teach adolescents to become better readers. She offers lots of lesson plan ideas, activities, homework assignments that you can integrate into whatever content you are trying to teach.

I was in the middle of a mythology unit this year when I realized I needed to stop and teach my kids some reading strategies. Yes, it can be frustrating to interrupt your plans, but what’s the point of plowing through Homer if kids give up the moment they encounter a tough assignment?

We need to teach them how not to give up on reading.

One thing I have been having them learn to do is to “listen to their inner voices.”  They love this– especially when I talk to them about “all the voices in my head” that I hear as I read. I model this for them out loud and then have them read pieces of challenging text, which they mark up with whatever pops into their heads. They learn to distinguish two main voices:

1. Reciting Voice – the voice that merely repeats the words on the page. If this is the ONLY voice in their heads, chances are they will remember very little of what they read.

2. Conversation Voice – the voice that actually interacts with the text. This is the voice that says things like “ew! I can’t believe he just did that!” or “Hector is such a great guy. I want to marry a guy like him someday!” or even “Uh… I’m getting really confused. Is Priam a Greek or a Trojan?”

After they learn to monitor their own comprehension by listening the voices in their head, and training their Conversation voice to stay on track, then we learn about Fix-Up Strategies.

When I notice that I am getting distracted or confused, what can I do to help myself?

All of this is just a taste of the great things Tovani shows you how to do.

As you read this book, rethink your instructional role. Examine your current teaching methods and avoid pressures to cover content. Try to sidestep the temptation to feed your students information. Don’t reduce the opportunities your students have to read because they are having difficulty. Teach them the strategies that will help them read the assigned material, and assign interesting, accessible text. Be confident that, yes, you do know something about teaching reading. The very fact that you can read makes you something of an expert. (Tovani 21)

Source: onlyhdwallpapers.com

On Introversion

“Hey, Ms. Shea?”


“Were you ever an actress? I mean, I feel like you would have been a good one.”

This interaction has occurred multiple times in a few of my classes, and I am always amazed by it.

Me, an actress?

Me, the enthusiastic but woefully unqualified seven year old who landed the role of Toto (yes – the dog) in a club production of The Wizard of Oz one summer? (I remember learning EVERYONE else’s lines by heart and whispering them to the other little actors whenever they hesitated with panic-stricken faces.)

Me, the shy and painfully awkward high school student whose only roles in high school productions were a minor “Penelope Ann” in “Bye Bye Birdie” and one of those green-faced scary guards in “The Wizard of Oz” (well at least that’s better than being Toto…?)

But for some reason, a lot of my students seem to think that, judging by my antics in the classroom, I would make a great zany and (probably) nerdy actress – maybe like a (WAY) less cool version of Zooey Deschanel.

Source: sheknows.com

Knowing myself, I find this description of me really hard to believe. All the actors and actresses I knew in high school were pretty darn extroverted, and even the more demure ones I met in college always seemed to have a zaniness about them that could explode now and again into performance.

In fact, the whole idea of really inhabiting another person – even if it were just a character – has always seemed very foreign to me. I have always been so inwardly focused – and have thought of myself has a devout Introvert, with a capital “I”. The Introvert dedicated to reading incessantly and writing copiously, thinking far too deeply and observing life with a rather critical (hypocritical?) eye, a sort of a pre-Book 4 Ginny Weasley.

ohmygod it’s Harry and I’m in my pajamas!
Source: harrypotter.wikia.com

In college, one of my very best friends introduced me to the Myers-Briggs type indicator, and I was thrilled with learning about my particular brand of introversion – INFJ. So many things seem to make more sense to me. I no longer felt guilty about requiring alone time and feeling out of place at typical parities. I became proud of my Introversion.

Lately, I have noticed that Introversion is becoming rather popular in the world at large – at least the online world. Last year I stumbled upon this TED Talk about how underestimated introverts our in our extrovert-dominated culture, which you should really take the time to watch if you have not seen it already:

Verily Magazine also had an article the other day about introverts:

In fact, the only thing all introverts have in common is the very thing that defines them as introverts—the ability to draw energy from quiet and solitude, rather than association with others. For example, an introvert might have a wonderful time at a party, but afterward feel drained and long for some downtime alone. I like to say that an introvert is a lot like a cell phone; spend too much time talking and it will lose power—until you plug it in to recharge. (See Embracing Your Inner Introvert by Clare Behe)

And then, last night, I discovered this fascinating video by PBS Idea Channel on Youtube – which challenges the new Introvert craze and attempts to explain why this “fad” is occurring in terms of technology:

In response to this video, an Extroverted friend of mine (an ENFP, if I am not mistaken?) had the following insightful comments to make:

I think he’s totally right about the introvert fetish, but I think part of it is because in the sort of memes he was referring to are generally focused on traits which are common to people in general. It’s just that these traits are the sort that aren’t necessarily displayed as clearly as they are felt by people. For example, no one who has spent ten minutes with me would call me an introvert, and yet I identify with a large number of these memes.

I forget if it was Aristotle or some later critic who said that the protagonist of a good tragedy is more virtuous than the average man but not preeminently good, and that that’s how most people see themselves. In the same way, I think everyone feels as though he is introspective and rejected on some level.

As for the depth of conversation, as an extrovert there is some accuracy in the characterization as having more shallow interactions, but I think that’s largely because we initiate so many more interactions in the first place. I have a lot of meaningful conversations, but I also have a lot of small and mostly meaningless interactions, but they are out of a thirst for the former.

Anyway, I thought all of this might give you food for thought.

To conclude:

Maybe my kids are onto something. I DO act like an “Extrovert” when I am teaching. I even make jokes! In “real” life, I don’t think I come across as a very funny person except to those who know me very well, but as a teacher I crack jokes all the time. I even talk about myself.

But by the end of the day (sometimes sooner than that) I am EXHAUSTED beyond belief. In fact, I sometimes find it really hard to do anything after school besides take a nap and hide for a few hours so I can process my day. Even phone calls seem really daunting to me after a day of teaching.

Maybe that’s also why I struggle with grading more efficiently – I just cannot bear to look at essays and such things after a full day of teaching, because to me those essays CONTINUE the conversation I was having with my kids during the day. If I grade an essay, I am still, in essence, talking to them! It never ends!

And as much as I love them, I often feel as though I have very little left to give by that time.

All ye introverts: what do you think? Can you relate to this? How do you reconcile jobs, occupations, or daily routines that involve a LOT of (sometimes superficial) human interaction with your need for privacy and peace?

All ye extroverts: I KNOW you MUST have something to say. Ha ha ha. But really! What do you think of this recent “Introvert” craze? How would you respond to the increasingly common tendency to stereotype Extroverts as being content with “shallow” conversations and a myriad of superficial friendships?

And, for the curious among you:

Check out this website that thoroughly explains the Myers-Briggs Type indicator and theory. I find it a limited (but useful) tool you can use to understand yourself and the people around you better, as long as you don’t reduce any human person to a mere series of four letters.

“A Conversation that Matters”

Source: Verilymag.com

For years now, I have noticed that one of my greatest pet peeves, one of the things that ALWAYS makes me frustrated, are “the conversation police.”

I think you might know them.

Whenever a conversation (usually among at least 3 people) starts to become serious — or someone mentions something sad on the news, or someone else mentions politics or (worse) religion, or the general tenor of the talk shifts from superficial to profound — the conversation police intervene. And they say something like,

“Wow, Anne, way to be a downer.”


“Well… this is awkward. ANYWAY – I was shopping the other day and…”


“Man, this conversation got really SERIOUS all of a sudden!”


“Okay… MOVING ON!”

Or, sometimes, they even police themselves, and say,

“Ah, sorry to ruin the conversation guys. We can talk about something else.”

“Ruin” the conversation?? When you actually said something significant, and everyone was listening to you??

That’s when the frustration starts to boil up inside of me and I encounter (the increasingly frequent) temptation to despair of humanity’s ability to communicate at all.

Have you experienced this phenomena too?

Why is it that when people start talking about something that really MATTERS, a lot of people feel awkward enough to change the topic to something that DOESN’T matter? Why are we so afraid to really speak to one another? Why do our conversation topics always have to be “happy” (but not truly happy)? Why do we shy away from what is serious… from what is true?

Okay – a caveat is in order:

I do understand that there are times when certain types of conversations are appropriate, and there are other times when they just aren’t. Setting matters, context matters, timing matters – the people involved also matter. You can’t talk about gay marriage or abortion or God or death or the poor just any time you want, without considering the situation you are in. Yes, I get that.

Another caveat:

I also understand that some people don’t like talking about controversial issues in public–although I vehemently wish they would try to get over this, because I think the public square (whether that’s in a high school hallway, on the street, or in the news)  NEEDS people who have the courage to talk about what matters. I am (according to Myers-Briggs) an INFJ, and therefore a very private person. But as an INFJ I also get really sick of superficial conversation that starts nowhere and ends nowhere, just because it is “safe” and “easy.”

As a high school English teacher, I am surrounded by young people who are either 1) scared to talk about stuff that matters or 2) ignorant of how to do this charitably and reasonably. I think they see older people who are unwilling to talk about what matters, or who talk about it in a very unkind way, and so they are turned off and never really learn how.

In my honors class the other day (we’re still studying mythology), I was so proud of my kids because we actually DID have a good conversation. They handled it really well. Having read Dr. Mark Lowery’s article on C. S. Lewis’ idea “Myth Become Fact,” one of my students asked a really good question about whether or not we were dishonoring other religions by claiming that Christianity fulfills all of them and is the ONE “myth” that actually became a historical fact.

A plethora of hands shot up in the air (I could see the “oh no! moral relativism!” gleam in their eyes) as they tried (rather unsuccessfully) to communicate to this student their versions of an answer.

So I had them write down their answers for homework and we talked about it again the next day, with more success I think.

I tried to bring in Pope Benedict’s Caritatis in Veritate a little bit: people tend often to either value truth without love (the uberconservatives, for lack of a better term), or love without truth (the uberliberals, for lack of a better term). When really, truth without love isn’t truth at all – it’s a lie. And love without truth isn’t love at all – it’s a well-disguised cruelty.

Benedict says, “To defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it in life are therefore exacting and indispensable forms of charity” (CIV 1).

And I think herein lies the real point:

If you want to have a real conversation, you have to strive for the marriage of truth and love in whatever you say. And that takes courage.

So, as the wonderful Daily Dose from Verily Magazine suggests:

“Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.”

Memory and Faith Part III

source: bbc.co.uk

See Part I here. This was inspired by the Disciples at Emmaus story, and our tendency to be afraid to really remember.

See Part II here. This was inspired by thinking about sin – and sin itself as forgetfulness, a lack of remembering.

Today, October 3rd, the Pope’s homily was all about the relationship between memory and faith – an idea that seems very important to his papacy, as he introduced it in his encyclical Lumen Fidei.

He says:

When the memory [of faith] is distant, when we don’t have the closeness of memory, it enters into a process of transformation, and the memory becomes a mere recollection. (via Romereports.com)

The Mass itself, he goes on to say, is very much an act of remembering. It is not a mere “social event.” Rather, it is an act of remembering and re-presenting Christ. “Do this in memory of Me.” Therefore the Mass should not be subject to our own personal tastes and whims, but to the living memory of the Church guided by the Holy Spirit.

source: cartoonstock.com

Interestingly, my classes and I have begun reading Edith Hamilton’s version of Homer’s Iliad, and one of the things we have been talking about a lot recently is Homer’s memory. How is it possible that 500 years after the Trojan War took place, Homer is able to recount in such incredible detail the battles and heroes? What kind of oral tradition could possibly transmit history in such a way?

One explanation, of course, is that he (or others before him) are making it all up.

Similarly, it’s popular in theological circles to assume that the Gospels make a lot of stuff up too (even though they were written MUCH more recently after the death of Christ than Homer was “writing” after the death of Hector and Achilles). The earliest most scholars are willing to admit Mark was written is around AD 65-70.

One of my professors at UD, who is also on the Pontifical Biblical Council, Denis Farkasfalvy, wrote a book on how the Gospels were created within the cradle of the Eucharst, in the context of oral traditions at the earliest Eucharistic gatherings. (Check it out if you are at all interested in early Church history!)

Opening lines of The Iliad
source: tikalon.com

As researchers have shown, the human ability to remember is far vaster and more wonderful than we think. In 1930s Serbia, for instance, Albert Lord discovered that Serbian oral poets had been passing on remarkably accurate poetic accounts of battles fought hundreds of years before (see this wikipedia article too). The Iliad is far older than Greek writing itself, and was passed down for hundreds of years before it was ever written down. In our fast-paced culture, which suffers from a severe lack of attention, it’s difficult to imagine anyone being able to memorize a 16,000 line poem. But it is possible.

The Iliad does record a profound memory etched into the Greek consciousness, and taken for granted by the ancient world as history. But modern man has difficulty believing that such a thing could have happened. Personally, I think we moderns suffer from short-term memory loss.

The Pope  emphasizes the sacred character of human memory – and its fragility:

This is important not only in the great moments in history, but also in the moments of our life: we all have the memory of salvation, everyone. I wonder, though: is this memory close to us, or is it a memory a bit far away, spread a little thin, a bit archaic, a little like a museum [piece]… it can get far away [from us]… and when the memory is not close, when we do not experience the closeness of memory, it enters into a process of transformation, and the memory becomes a mere recollection. (Romereports.com)

“A mere recollection,” he says.

But even just remembering God briefly during the day is a feat in itself!

I was going to say more, but I’ve realized that the Pope already said everything:

This joy is our strength. The joy of the nearness of memory. Domesticated memory, on the other hand, which moves away and becomes a mere recollection, does not warm the heart. It gives us neither joy nor strength. This encounter with memory is an event of salvation, it is an encounter with the love of God that has made history with us and saved us. It is a meeting of salvation – and it is so wonderful to be saved, that we need to make feast.

When God is near, there is feasting. And sometimes, us cristians, are afraid of that feast: that simple and fraternal feast that is a gift from God’s closeness. Life makes us push that vicinity from God away, to keep the reminder of salvation but not a live memory of it. The Church has a memory: the memory of Our Lords Passion. Sometimes we push that memory away and we transform it into a reminder, just a frequent event.”

Every week we go to church, or rather when someone dies, we go to the funeral … and this memory often times bores us, because it is not near. It is sad, but the Mass is often turned into a social event and we are not close to the memory of the Church, which is the presence of the Lord before us. Imagine this beautiful scene in the Book of Nehemiah: Ezra who carries the Book of Israel’s memory and the people once again grow near to their memory and weep, the heart is warmed, is joyful, it feels that the joy of the Lord is its strength – and the people makes a feast, without fear, simply. (Romereports.com)

The text, including a video excerpt:



One more thing.

In trying to describe oral tradition to my kids, I gave them the example of the game “telephone.” You know, when somebody says something, who whispers it to someone else, who whispers it to the next person, and on and on until you reach the last person, who says the word or phrase out loud, and everyone realizes a LOT of mishearing or mistranslating was going on. It’s usually pretty funny.

Anyway – I was trying to explain that oral tradition is NOT like the game telephone. Especially if we’re talking the oral tradition of Homer, which is pretty darn accurate .

Unlike the modern news, which is not:

(Click here)


Mary – by Patty Griffin

One of my favorite songs of all time, by one of my favorite artists of all time.

The lyrics haunt me.




Mary you’re covered in roses, you’re covered in ashes
You’re covered in rain
You’re covered in babies, you’re covered in slashes
You’re covered in wilderness, you’re covered in stains
You cast aside the sheet, you cast aside the shroud
Of another man, who served the world proud
You greet another son, you lose another one
On some sunny day and always stay, Mary

Jesus says Mother I couldn’t stay another day longer
Flys right by me and leaves a kiss upon her face
While the angels are singin’ his praises in a blaze of glory
Mary stays behind and starts cleaning up the place

Mary she moves behind me
She leaves her fingerprints everywhere
Everytime the snow drifts, everytime the sand shifts
Even when the night lifts, she’s always there

Jesus said Mother I couldn’t stay another day longer
Flys right by me and leaves a kiss upon her face
While the angels are singin’ his praises in a blaze of glory
Mary stays behind and starts cleaning up the place

Mary you’re covered in roses, you’re covered in ruin
you’re covered in secrets
Your’e covered in treetops, you’re covered in birds
who can sing a million songs without any words
You cast aside the sheets, you cast aside the shroud
of another man, who served the world proud
You greet another son, you lose another one
on some sunny day and always stay
Mary, Mary, Mary