I mentioned last week that I am going through a difficult time, and several of you replied with thanks for the newsletter, prayers, and well-wishes. I am so grateful for the support!
In my Medieval Intellectual Tradition Class, we’ve been reading Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love, and what a gift that has been. Julian is the most homely and good-natured of the great mystics – the only one, perhaps, that you can imagine sitting down to a nice cup of tea with. Consider this passage, for instance:
But it seems to me that there can be no anger in God, for our good Lord is always thinking of his own glory and the good of all who shall be saved. With power and justice he stands up against the reprobates who out of wickedness and malignity work hard to plot and act against God’s will. I also saw our Lord scorn the Fiend’s wickedness and despise his lack of power, and he wants us to do the same. At this revelation I laughed heartily and that made those who were around me laugh too, and their laughter pleased me.
This is not the only time in the Revelations that Julian laughs heartily. But of all the wonderful passages in her book, this is the one that has done the most in recent days to console me:
And it will be very gentle and very easy if we will only be content with [God] and all his works; for the penance which people impose on themselves was not shown to me, that is to say, it was not shown especially; but it was shown especially and powerfully and most beautifully that we should humbly and patiently bear and suffer the penance which God himself gives us, remembering his blessed Passion. For when we remember his blessed Passion, with pity and love, then we suffer with him as his friends did who saw it, and this was shown in the thirteenth revelation [to me], near the beginning, where it speaks of pity; for he says, ‘Do not accuse yourself overmuch, claiming that your tribulation and woe is all your own fault. I do not want you to be unreasonably sad and sorrowful; for I tell you that you will suffer woe whatever you do. And therefore I want you to recognize clearly what your penance is, and then you will truly see that your whole life is a profitable penance.’
Thanks be to God for the wise and wonderful Julian!
In recent weeks the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement has been much in the news, and I suspect that many people wonder what, precisely, is in that agreement. If you are one of those people, The Economist is here for you: take a look at this carefully annotated complete text – a beautiful piece of web design and a service to all seeking actual knowledge.
That page is modeled on the style of genius.com, but relies on professional knowledge rather than crowd-sourced annotations. Genius is a wonderful site, but much of its commentary is … how do I put this? … I think le mot juste is wrong. I have been trying for some years to figure out the right HTML/CSS tricks for using my own blog to annotate poems and literary prose. Someday, maybe....
My son and I saw Dune over the weekend and enjoyed it very much. On the drive home we discussed possible titles for the forthcoming second part:
“People’s connection to the physical world — that is to say, working with one’s hands and understanding the materials with which one work — has fallen away, and with that loss of skilled craft is the loss of context for understanding well-made things,” says Nicholas Benson, owner of the John Stevens Shop in Rhode Island, one of the oldest continuously operating stone-carving business in the U.S. It first opened in 1705, and Benson’s grandfather took over in 1927, followed by his father and himself in 1993. Now, he worries the craft is dying, and that his daughter, Hope, may be fighting a losing battle if she decides to take on the family business.
In related news, Alicia Williams, the self-described “OG grave-cleaning lady,” has 2.4 million followers on TikTok.