Tag: Love

Basia and the Squirrel: Scruton’s Tale of Eros Transubstantiated


“The apostolic church is a church of the heart. When you steal from it you steal the heart. Hence the theft is easy, and amends are long and hard.” A strange way to sum up a story of erotic love. Nonetheless, it was Scruton’s way, as he described, in the second half of his essay, Stealing from Churches, the thwarted love affair that taught him a “narrative of transubstantiation” transmuting body into soul. In truth, the love affair wasn’t thwarted at all, but one that fulfilled its purpose, a purpose his stubborn young beloved, Basia (pronounced “Basha”), saw more clearly than he did.

Scruton had organized a subversive summer school for the Catholic University in Poland, bringing together Polish and English philosophy students to resist communism. Under the codename “Squirrel” (in Polish “Wiewiorka”, for his red hair) and tailed by at least one jug-eared agent, Scruton had stumbled into more James-Bond mystique than most ginger-haired philosophy dons could hope for. It would be almost cliche, then, for an exotic young thing to throw herself at him. Wry-smiling, stunning Basia was no cliche, though. Or rather, if she were, it would be the cliche in a kind of story too little told these days to count as cliche anymore.

Basia, at 26, the oldest, most academically-advanced of the bright young things attending Scruton’s summer lectures and their unofficial leader, was an uppity young woman with a checkered past. She wasted little time with Scruton: after his second day in Kazimierz, she waylaid him in the woods to announce she noticed no ring on his finger. Such a frank admission of desire seems likely to end in embarrassment all round whether the desire is reciprocated or not, and perhaps it would have if it weren’t accompanied by her equally frank admission that consummating desire was not her aim:

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Prince Harry and his new wife, Meghan announced they want to step back from royal duties, move abroad and make their own money. The world loves a love story, especially a successful one. I do. I watched their wedding, his mother, Princess Diana’s wedding, her divorce, and sadly the funeral. I hoped as I watched […]

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Can I Tell You a (Holiday) Story?


I just got a text from my childhood best friend. She texted three pictures from our other childhood best friend. This time of year, people reconnect, share stories, and think of their lives in context — as in the past, present, and future. Let me tell you a story:

I recognized the older sister, the lovely Mary Beth. She was beautiful, blonde, and so talented. Growing up, I was constantly at my friend Kitty’s house. They lived on the next street over, easily accessible through the alley. I asked Mary Beth to make me a dress. I coveted Mary Beth’s navy and black velvet dresses with lace collars. She could sew anything. I found a pink paisley material and she whipped up a gorgeous mini-dress with bell sleeves. I strutted into grade school and got sent home because it was too short. My best friend Kitty lent me her Maxi-coat; so cool that I’d throw off my plain nothing, kick off my ugly snow boots, and put on that beautiful wool coat that dragged the ground. I slipped and struggled over the ice and snow to school because the coat had to have pretty shoes under it. So vain … Wait – did I tell you Mary Beth was deaf? She taught me sign language. Kitty and her baby sister could hear.

The three texted pictures included Mrs. Kitty and my friend Kitty. I was told Mrs. Kitty passed away last year at 91. Both were named Kathryn. This family burns deep into my past memory. Both parents could hear, but five out of seven kids were deaf. Their doors were never locked. You could pop in for lunch or dinner, shoes off. One child, Barry, used to strut around and put on shows for us and make us laugh. He turned out to be gay – no one cared. Through their church, I met Godsen, a guest from Africa. I saw him in the backyard in a white robe and tall red hat, as black as night. I was curious and introduced myself. He told me about his country.

We’re Losing Our Boys


The latest tragedies, raw and painful, seem to be reflecting a similar thread: young men. Look at the age of the recent shooter at a Walmart in Texas (21 years old,) the killer in Dayton (24), the age of the boy being accused of the murder of the young co-ed at Ole Miss. Look at the ages of the boys on a murderous rampage across Canada, the Florida school shooting, the recent California shooting at the Garlic Festival, the Synagogue in Pittsburgh. They are all young men consumed with hate and vengeance, and armed to do as much damage as possible. They leave “manifestos,” they shout, “I’m angry!”, they cease to think and feel, or see their fellow human beings as part of their world.

The struggle to find blame is next. Social media, politics, violent video games, rampant porn and the new virile push of social engineering are playing a role. Young men begin as young boys, innocent, but are being influenced by all of these things, and their core personalities, their sense of self, is being corrupted, at younger and younger ages. I am not sympathizing with the killers, these acts are beyond despicable, but the patterns are showing these similarities.

The radical group Antifa, whose network now stretches across the continent to Europe, is composed of young men mostly, very angry, courting physical confrontation, and at the very least, intimidation and control.  Young women have become more fearful and maybe rightly so.  I have to think that the removal of boundaries, lack of consequences for actions, monitoring what is being taught in schools, what is accessible on the Internet, the decline of the family and faith, are now all bearing rotten fruit.  The family and the Church have always been the armor before sending young people into the world to live their dream and find their purpose, and to sustain them going forward.

45 Years, or a 12-Step Program for a Successful Marriage


I would never have imagined that I would be married so many years. In fact, when I first met my husband-to-be, I told him that I didn’t know if I would ever get married. It just seemed like such a traumatic, demanding step; besides, who would have me?

But I was wrong—and I’m so glad I was. In meeting my husband, I found a man who is generous, smart, funny, helpful, and kind. He can also be stubborn, determined, and obsessive about detail. But I digress . . .

Today we will be married 45 years, and I thought I would write about the reasons we’ve had a successful marriage. Yes, there are things I could complain about, but I’d have to confess to my own shortcomings and I wouldn’t want to ruin my image. I’m even going to ask my husband to critique this post, and if I’ve distorted anything or left out anything crucial, I’m absolutely certain he will let me know—in a kind way, of course. (Right, dear?) So here are my twelve steps to our successful marriage, in no particular order:

For the Love of God!


I have to write this while it’s fresh in my mind. Where do you stand in this world, in your life? As a property manager, I am responsible for checking on second homes (three and four story luxury beach homes) in a tourist area. My clients are mostly wealthy, very wealthy, and some are average. I love my job. I’m self-employed and I make my own hours. The idea for the job was my husband’s, a landscape designer and manager. I created this job because I have scoliosis and needed to bow out of my 35-40+ hour admin life because sitting and standing for long periods became intolerable. It was a great idea and I love my clients – but not for the reasons you think. While I treat each property as if it were my own, I have come to know very successful people on a different level.

So here we are during the week of the July 4th holiday – roads busy with cyclists, golf carts, beachgoers, and kids everywhere, I get a voicemail from an alarm company that an alarm has lost power. I hop in my car and head to the property. All ok, I unlocked the door and the husband pops out. The alarm failed because there was a breaker issue, my second one today. But the husband, a very successful, wealthy 66 year old man follows me out to my car in his bare feet and keeps talking… Tomorrow is his wife’s birthday, and he winks. He bought her a wine cooler and stocked it, I’ll shoot her a happy birthday text. She told me about his appendix attack and emergency surgery at 2:00 AM last year, but as he walks me to my car, he tells me more, that he’s had multiple strokes in the last year. What??

Book Review: I Want To Live


“The absolute raw truth of the matter is this: I have no idea what I am doing now, much less what I will be doing a year from now. Years of living my life for another person has left me without a clue as to how to live for myself.” from the book,

“I Want to Live – Confessions of a Grieving Caretaker by Susan D. McDaniel.

I Just Read ‘The Great Good Thing’


When Ricochet member @andrewklavan posted about his new book called The Great Good Thing – A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ, I was curious. I was curious why he took a little flack from a few Jewish members of Ricochet when he posted about his new book, who didn’t feel he gave Judaism a fair shake. But that’s not why I ordered the book.  As a Christian, I was born into the faith, but came to a more personal faith backward and sideways, sometimes kicking and screaming. I was curious to hear about another person’s journey of faith – was it worse than mine?

So I ordered it and threw it up on my bookshelf for another day.  Published in 2016, I am three years late in picking it up, but not really. I read it at the perfect time. There are times in a person’s life when a book like this is profound and quite frankly, more appreciated, than other times. The recent deaths of people I love and thoughts about mortality and immortality flowing through my mind, rapidly changing world events, including challenges to people of faith, especially Christians and Jews, with the dramatic rise in antisemitism, religious persecution across the world, and the upcoming peace talks in Israel made it the right time.

This book is a story of a soul – we’re all born with one, and Andrew Klavan, an atheist at one time, then an agnostic, could not shake this truth. His awareness seemed to start at around eight years old. Then there was the abusive father, along with the distant mother. In the midst of great suffering, somehow his spirit was never extinguished. I am amazed at how some people can put in words what cannot be put in words. It’s like he turned himself inside out. Andrew Klavan found the words to hold his heart and soul out to the world, that others might find comfort. This book teaches how fragile children are, how innocent, and how parents especially, form their mental and emotional health and well-being.

Men and Women: The Purgatory of Marriage


“Marriage is neither heaven nor hell, it is simply purgatory.” — Abraham Lincoln

I don’t think President Lincoln made this comment about marriage in jest; his own marriage was challenging, to say the least. His wife, Mary, had exorbitant spending habits, extreme moodiness, and went into deep depression on the loss of her children. In some ways, Lincoln was no prize husband, either. He was also moody, moving from playful moments with his children to periods where he was distant and withdrawn.

I think, though, there is a deep wisdom to his statement about marriage and purgatory. I was amused by this definition of purgatory:

Unrealized Dreams


I walk slowly, leaning forward, as I approach the cabin. It sits in a clearing, where there are just enough trees to frame it, and few enough to allow the sun to regularly touch its natural beauty. As I get to the front door, I pause, unlock it and push the door open.

As I step inside, the smell of wood greets me. I look around to admire its simplicity and intimacy. On the left is a settee adjacent to one comfortable chair, my favorite, where I curl up to read. Farther back in the room is a doorway that leads to my small bedroom with enough room for a bed, a side table piled with books and a shelf with trinkets from my travels. I glance against the back wall, and there is a basic bathroom, and then to the right, a kitchen with a miniature refrigerator. A wood-burning stove rests on a platform near the south wall, with a stack of wood ready to be consumed. Colorful curtains of an olden style grace the windows; they are usually open, but closed at night to keep out the cold winter nights. And a large woven rug rests in the center of the room.

Happy Saynt Valentyn’s Day!


. . . from Geoffrey Chaucer, who, as with so many other things, is often credited with starting it all.

His dream vision poem, The Parliament of Fowls, was written about 1380 and begins with the narrator (who seems not to know how to love, has perhaps never been in love, and will very likely never find love, in fact, he’s just pretty crotchety in general) falling asleep while reading Cicero’s Dream of Scipio. He’s transported, first to the erotic but soulless Temple of Love, and then to a lively Arcadian world presided over by the goddess Nature, in which huge flocks of birds are debating (arguing) about how, and who, to choose their mates. The dramatic tension is provided by the eagles, representing the highest courtly ranks. (Chaucer uses various bird species to represent different levels of society, and their dialog varies wildly, from those representing common, ordinary man, up through the eagles, representing the top of the heap. The poem is, in many respects a gentle satire on the emerging courtly love tradition and a commentary on contemporaneous royal marriages, as the birds mimic the behavior of commoners (whose behavior and language provides the comic relief in the poem), knights and ladies, kings and queens.)

Three young male tercel eagles are vying for the hand of the equally-young female tercelet. As guys do, each struts his stuff before her and tells her why she should choose him over the others. The first eagle is the highest ranking. Surely, the young tercelet will choose him, because he can give her status, and power, and anything she wants, and she will be the highest-ranking bird. The second eagle claims to have loved the lady longer than the other two. She should be his because he’s been faithful for the past. The third eagle says he’ll love the little tercelet unto death, so she should choose him because he’ll be faithful in the future.

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I am asking for prayers for my mother-in law.  She is our last remaining parent.  She has multiple serious health issues – she has been on multiple meds for some time.  She is 83 years old  and my husband’s family is complicated.  There are ACOA issues, and a lot of stress.  She has been admitted […]

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Pope Francis marked World Day of the Sick this week by meditating on Matthew 10:8: “Freely you have received, freely give.”  Some of his thoughts: Volunteer work passes on values, behaviours and ways of living born of a deep desire to be generous. It is also a means of making health care more humane. A […]

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“As soon as a man comes to life,” wrote Martin Heidegger, “he is at once old enough to die.” That’s not exactly a new insight, but it does have the virtue of clarity, which wasn’t Heidegger’s long suit. Being and Time is so incoherent that it makes Hegel look breezy in comparison. Still, statements like Heidegger’s do […]

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Welcome to the Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast for the ides of November, the 15th this is (do you believe it?!?) episode number 2-0-0 of the podcast with your bicentennial hosts radio guy Todd Feinburg and AI guy Mike Stopa. We call it Sex, Trump, and Videotape. In this edition of the show we get to the important issue of the age of Trump, namely, is it okay for an ordinary liberal person to (a) sleep with, (b) date, or (c) marry a Trump supporter? Is there a litmus test that means that no such relationships should be permitted to happen? If so, what do you do with those people you started to get involved with in the first place?

And for our second topic (are you ready for this) we do *food*. Yes, the new style of the show (for this week anyway) is one political topic and one food topic. And as long as we are doing a food topic, we may as well hit the most important food topic, namely, what’s the best pizza in America? (Answer: Chicago pizza).

I Will!


I must admit that I was, rather uncharacteristically, at a loss as to what to write about today, so I noodled around on Google (goodled around on Noogle?) for a bit, looking up various iterations, in various forms, of the subject of Will, and it occurred to me at one point that the most recent Royal Wedding has ignited a rather unexpected debate on various “mommy blog” and social networking sites. A debate on a topic I last thought seriously about myself exactly 37 years, one week, and six days ago.

To put it plainly: People are talking about the proper way to celebrate and bless a marriage, and why Harry and Meghan said “I will” at a crucial time, rather than “I do.”

Now, you may rate the importance of this topic, in your own mind, somewhere down there with Liliput’s Big-Endian/Little-Endian controversy, but I’m a bit of a language nut aficionado, so it caught my interest.

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@bethanymandel did a post on her friend’s new book called, ”Leaving Cloud 9”, By Erica Anderson. http://ricochet.com/532746/when-you-leave-cloud-9/ I ordered a copy and just finished it. The story is about Erica’s husband Rick, who grows up in a broken home, broken in every way. The trailer, the parent, the poverty, the terrible abuse, a story repeated in […]

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Sustaining Love


In a recent essay by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, he quoted David Brooks (yes, that David Brooks as far as I can tell) on the way a person maintains his or her love for another. Brooks said:

My favourite definition of commitment is falling in love with something and then building a structure of behavior around it for the moment when love falters. [Italics by R. Sacks]

I was moved by this practical and profound observation. It reminds me of those times when young people ask me when they’ll be able to stop working so hard at the relationship with a significant other, and I answer, “Never.” Personally, I would not use the word “work,” because that commitment comes out of devotion and dedication, not out of obligation. But in life, love can falter or be challenged, and we must decide whether or not we are in for the long haul.

To My Father, the Farmer, with Love


(I wrote this as a gift for Father’s Day when I was about 30. My dad had been diagnosed with lymphocytic leukemia several years earlier, and he was doing poorly at the time. He died a year and a half later. I didn’t edit or revise it, so just take it as it was written by a young woman who needed her dad to know how much she loved him, but couldn’t talk about that stuff in person.)

He always wore irrigating boots. The kind that go clear up, right to your belt and snap on—rubber legs. Essential for slogging through wet barley, dragging canvas dams behind, and a shovel balanced casually on his shoulder with the practiced air of a real pro. When it’s your water turn, you push that stream. Day and night and night and day. Even if it is Sunday. The Lord knows how quickly alfalfa can wither with that sickly, yellow pale.