All posts filed under “Culture

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Right Place, Right Time

“When I lived in Paris, I wished I were there in the 1860s, as the city was undergoing dramatic social and urban transformations that marked its destiny. When I lived in New York, I wished I had been there in the 1910s, when massive migration and city-building were forming its inimitable character. And when I lived in Los Angeles, I wished I had been there in the 1950s, when it gained prominence as a hub for postwar innovation. Living in Phoenix over the last eight years, I have felt that I am finally in the right place at the right time.”

– Nan Ellin, Phoenix: 21st Century City

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Divine Love Made Food

“All that exists is God’s gift to man, and it all exists to make God known to man, to make man’s life communion with God. It is divine love made food, made life for man. God blesses everything He creates, and, in biblical language, this means that He makes all creation the sign and means of His presence and wisdom, love and revelation: “O taste and see that the Lord is good.” Man is a hungry being. But he is hungry for God. Behind all the hunger of our life is God. All desire is finally a desire for Him.”

– Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World

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In Defense of Books

“What does it mean when what you own is essential to who you are? In our everyday grasp of owning things, we tag it materialism, consumerism, consumption. But I trust you’ll agree that the possession of books is not identical to the possession of shoes: Someone with a thousand books is someone you want to talk to; someone with a thousand shoes is someone you suspect of belonging to the Kardashian clan. Books are not objects in the same way that shoes are objects. This is what Milton means in his sublime ‘Areopagitica,’ as necessary now as it was in 1644, when he asserted that ‘books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.’ Potency of life, purest efficacy, living intellect: These are the world-enhancing elements you have in any well-made book worth reading.”

– William Giraldi, “A Bibliophile’s Defense of Physical Books

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Guaranteeing a Respect for Mystery

“I have heard it said that belief in Christian dogma is a hindrance to the writer, but I myself have found nothing further from the truth. Actually, it frees the storyteller to observe. It is not a set of rules which fixes what he sees in the world. It affects his writing primarily by guaranteeing his respect for mystery.”

— Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose

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Tradition vs. Traditionalism

“The essential thing about tradition is that it creates social continuity. It binds the communal action of the present moment to the communal actions of past moments. What we often call ‘traditionalism,’ the revival of lapsed traditions, is, properly speaking, a kind of innovation, making a new beginning out of an old model. This may or may not be sensible in any given instance, but it is not tradition. The claim of tradition is not the claim of the past over the present, but the claim of the present to that continuity with the past which enables common action to be conceived and executed.”

– Oliver O’Donovan, Common Objects of Love: Moral Reflection and the Shaping of Community

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