Wednesday, August 13, 2008

When a group of kids who love photography and film, love to dress up, love to act, and love to share their creative skills get together, what happens?

In our case, we do photo shoots. A couple weeks ago I got together with my 'adopted sisters' for a lovely visit of singing, dancing, hiking, and dress-up.

We're all devoted fans of Jane Austen, as this picture evidences.

We can pretend to swoon over Byron, if necessary. The sweet little Miss M, however, seems to be just a wee bit amused and bemused.

Miss S not only makes a lovely Regency maiden, but a perfectly glamorous vintage gal as well.

Miss M was the one who initiated my adoption into their family. I met her when she was five years old, and seeing that I sadly lacked sisters decided to fix matters up. We're bound not only by the ties of adopted sisterhood, but also through the sacrament of Confirmation. When she was confirmed several years ago, she asked me to be her sponsor. Isn't she the sweetest, cutest little thing?

But if she has the right outfit and a mind to it, she can be the very definition of elegant. We'd never seen anything as elegant as that girl in her dress and hat. As the one who took the above picture, I speak from experience when I say that she is the easiest subject to work with. She's extremely photogenic, and always knows just the right attitude and pose to strike.

My brother Sean proves that the women-folk aren't the only ones who know how to dress snazzy. He can also be very photogenic, if he tries...

...but he has a dreadful time keeping a straight face. And when he laughs, he can't keep still. Most of the time he's a blur.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Isn't homeschooling fun? I came downstairs to find Paddy browsing through this book with great interest.

He does say that he wants to go to TAC...

The Flying-Ins

I don't believe I've yet mentioned the fact that I recently joined The Flying-Ins, previously known as the Chesterteens. I've been a reader for quite some time, but it wasn't until this past spring when Ria and I met at the TAC graduation that she and her mother convinced me to join them.

And I must say, I'm so glad I did! I've been having such a blast over there. I don't often have the opportunity to hang out with other young people who are conscious of the fact that they have minds, let alone young people that use them. Even rarer are the young people who know they have minds, use them, and know who our beloved G.K. is.

The next step is to actually make it out for the conference one day.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

When you see Dean Martin in the typical Martin & Lewis movie, you aren't seeing him as he really and extraordinarily is. His characters are generally obnoxious and arrogant, and whenever he sings a song he strikes one as a bit stiff and put-on.

In reality, he's one amazing singer. When he's up on stage he's natural, he has fun, and in short, he really and truly belongs to that practically extinct group: the performers.

This is one of my favorite videos. He makes it look so very easy. He's positively dazzling. (And is that Frank Sinatra teasing him in the background?)

About a week ago I curled up in front of the TV to watch some show.

It was fascinating.

People dressed in strange and bright garb...

Girls in long flowing dresses dancing here and there...

Sappy songs about dreams and community...

Lots of talk about dreams and community...

More talk about community, particularly focusing on 'gathering for the meal...'

Even more talk about community, and 'oneness,' and other mystical things like that...

Guitars strumming and people here and there hitting tambourines...

Tears, laughter, and even more community...

"Oh!" thought I. "I see what it is. A show on 'The Catholic Liturgy in America.'"

The show ended, and as I stood up and stretched out I realized I had been mistaken as it was announced:

"You have been watching 'The American Experience: Summer of Love.'"

Friday, June 27, 2008

I love Chesterton's poem Lepanto.

For the majority of my life, I couldn't connect with poetry. Generally I had a natural love and capability in the arts: writing, music, and such simply came to me. I loved them, and they were easy for me to pick up. Not so poetry, and not so drawing. I tried very hard to be a poet, and I tried very hard to be an artist, but while I could in the course of twenty-four hours go from the first tentative playing of a violin piece to have it fairly well down, poetry and drawing just would not come.

Maybe it was partly because I couldn't write poetry myself that I had a hard time reading and appreciating the poetry of others. I don't know exactly what the reason was, but though I was a very poetic person, poetry in itself was lost to me.

Until I read Lepanto! Chesterton always seem to be the one who makes me understand something that was previously a mystery to me, and poetry was no exception. I'm somewhat poetry-obsessive now (and I should add that Chesterton is undoubtedly my favorite of all the poets).

I decided that I'd start memorizing some of my favorite poems: on the blogging 'Poetry Friday' I'd choose a favorite poem and have it memorized by the next Friday. For this week I chose Chesterton's By the Babe Unborn, and I've run into an unexpected problem.

Whether the memorization of poems isn't as difficult as I thought it would be, or whether I've been aided by the experience I have in memorizing my parts in our family plays, it took me only half-an-hour to learn the poem by heart. I find myself with a blank week.

So I'm going to aim for Lepanto instead. By next Friday I hope to have that glorious poem memorized, so I can always treasure those lines, whether or not I have a hard copy with me.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

If I were to name one fault that I undoubtedly possess and wholeheartedly hate, it would be meanness, specifically that sort of meanness which takes the form of a nasty if cleverly-phrased joke at another's expense. Some people weep away their troubles, some people drive them off with anger, and others forget them in music. My tendency is to laugh at my troubles, and unfortunately my tendency is also to laugh at the people who are causing them.

I'm not talking about good-natured joking and teasing. I'm talking about those times when your mind suddenly flares up passionately and supplies your tongue with a witty remark calculated to sting. It makes you appear extraordinarily clever, and your opponent appear extraordinarily small. It makes all your friends laugh and clap you on the back while pitying the poor fool who was the subject of your attack... the poor fool, who, I might add, is rarely actually present, because this meanness is very cowardly at the same time.

This one particular fault, this lack of charity, is something I'm very intolerant of in other people, and I'm also very intolerant of it in myself. I don't know whether the intolerance of it in others came first, and so I realize that I have to hate in myself or be a hypocrite, or if I hated it in myself first and being young and idealistic insist on others living up to my standards. Either way, I can't stand it.

I don't like arrogance, stupidity, selfishness, and a multitude of other vices, but I can tolerate them. Not in myself, perhaps, but I'll put up with them in others. But lack of charity? It's been said that charity is the foundation of all other virtues, and I think that perhaps it's equally true that lack of charity is the foundation of all other vices. In a cruel comment constructed to hurt and pain another person, arrogance, stupidity, selfishness, and the multitude of other vices are all present.

Chesterton was also very intolerant of uncharitableness. However he didn't practice it regardless, the way I do. A sweeter, kinder, more compassionate man there never was. Definitely he loved to tease his friends, and to fake malice in good fun, but he was never mean.

I was pondering on why Chesterton so passionately hated this meanness in speech. And I think it's because it's a crime against what he held most precious: life.

For the same reason, I think, the Church despises these sins of speech. Reading the section on calumny, slander, detraction, and so forth in the Catechism, I was struck by how strongly-worded it was.

What do the mass murderers and abortionists have in common with the mean-tongued such as myself? We both display a disturbing lack of respect for the dignity of human beings, created in the image and likeness of God. These barbed jokes are not amusing; they are the first step on the road to destroying another man's body and one's own soul.

Didn't Father Brown once say something such as that grave sin was so horrifying and dreadful to him not so much because others had committed them, but because he knew how capable he was of committing them himself?

I agree with him entirely. When I look at those mass murderers and abortionists, and the horror of their sins, my abhorrence lies not in the fact that they did them so much as in my knowledge that I could do them. And I know that I'm capable of it, because I have committed all those dreadful sins in their lesser forms.