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Thoughtful men, with hearts craving the truth, have come to seek in the Catholic Church the road which leads with surety to eternal life. They have understood that they could not cleave to Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church if they did not belong to the Body of Jesus Christ which is the Church. Nor could they ever hope to possess in all its purity the faith of Jesus Christ if they were to reject its legitimate teaching authority entrusted to Peter and his successors.
John Colman Wood’s The Names of Things is a thoughtful, patient, and ultimately rewarding book. It’s about, among many other things, the connections human beings make, that in spite of everything, we will always make. To quote from the book, ‘What he saw in the people was what the old anthropologists called communitas. It wasn’t that the people sang and moved. It was their singing and moving together’ Singing and moving together, Wood has found a way to express this profound and beautiful idea through fiction.
There are celestial sights more dazzling, spectacles that inspire more awe, but to the thoughtful observer who is privileged to see them well, there is nothing in the sky so profoundly impressive as the canals of Mars. Fine lines and little gossamer filaments only, cobwebbing the face of the Martian disk, but threads to draw one’s mind after them across the millions of miles of intervening void.
In an ideal world, social responsibility would be a prerequisite for design, and designers would vow to produce beautiful, useful, positive, responsible, functional, and economical things and concepts that are meaningful additions to—or sometimes subtractions from—the world we live in. Indeed, design deserves such thoughtful consideration.
Majority decisions tend to be made without engaging the systematic thought and critical thinking skills of the individuals in the group. Given the force of the group’s normative power to shape the opinions of the followers who conform without thinking things through, they are often taken at face value. The persistent minority forces the others to process the relevant information more mindfully. Research shows that the deciscions of a group as a whole are more thoughtful and creative when there is minority dissent than when it is absent.
We have no participation in Being, because all human nature is ever midway between being born and dying, giving off only a vague image and shadow of itself, and a weak and uncertain opinion. And if you chance to fix your thoughts on trying to grasp its essence, it would be neither more nor less than if your tried to clutch water.
Our thoughts are always elsewhere; we are stayed and supported by the hope for a better life, or by the hope that our children will turn out well, or that our name will be famous in the future, or that we shall escape the evils of this life, or that vengeance threatens those who are the cause of our death.
A beloved student of mine told me she believed the earth was approximately 6,000 years old. She was smart, she was thoughtful, and she was wrong. But I couldn’t discount her – I respected her too much. So I debated with her, using every bit of science and logic I had, but I still failed to convince her that the earth was billions of years old.
Far too often, we fathers avoid the subject because it’s so awkward. The subject I am referring to is: buying gifts for women. This is an area where many men do not have a clue. Exhibit A was my father, who was a very thoughtful man, but who once gave my mother, on their anniversary, the following token of his love, his commitment, and-yes-his passion for her: an electric blanket.
And there you are on the shore, fitful and thoughtful, trying to attach them to an idea — some news of your own life. But the lilies are slippery and wild—they are devoid of meaning, they are simply doing, from the deepest spurs of their being, what they are impelled to do every summer. And so, dear sorrow, are you.