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THE MARVELOUS COLLECTIVE
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DEAD FINGERS + PRESTON LOVINGGOOD

January 20th, 2012 by marv

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SHEARWATER + PERSONS

January 17th, 2012 by marv

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IN A BREAKER’S YARD

December 31st, 2011 by marv

Found during my reading today as I sat alone at the Garage, my own sort of breaker’s yard:

Mr. Nevil had worked all over the world doing this, from Bangkok to Barking.  Now he was sitting with me, remembering the harbors he had inhabited at one time or another, rolling a piece of blue chalk in his fingers, suddenly meditative.

It was, he murmured, a dangerous profession, of course.  And it was painful to realize that nothing was permanent, not even an ocean liner … He had been there to help dismantle the Normandie — “the most beautiful ship ever built” — as it lay charred and half drowned in the Hudson River in America.  “But somehow even that was beautiful … because in a breaker’s yard you discover anything can have a new life, be reborn as part of a car or railway carriage, or a shovel blade.  You take that older life and you link it to a stranger.”

- Michael Ondaatje, The Cat’s Table.

Happy New Year.

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MARIA TAYLOR / DEAD FINGERS / GRENADINES

November 10th, 2011 by marv

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YET UNTITLED

September 16th, 2011 by joe

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John Paul Keith

August 4th, 2011 by joe

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the street tom waits grew up on

July 10th, 2011 by joe

by Tom Gauld

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I THOUGHT OF HOME

June 27th, 2011 by marv

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First Epistle of Flannery

May 25th, 2011 by marv

5/30/62

To Alfred Corn

I think that this experience you are having of losing your faith, or as you think, of having lost it, is an experience that in the long run belongs to faith; or at least it can belong to faith if faith is still valuable to you, and it must be or you would not have written me about this.

I don’t know how the kind of faith required of a Christian living in the 20th century can be at all if it is not grounded on this experience that you are having right now of unbelief. This may be the case always and not just in the 20th century. Peter said, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” It is the most natural and most human and most agonizing prayer in the gospels, and I think it is the foundation prayer of faith.

As a freshman in college you are bombarded with new ideas, or rather pieces of ideas, new frames or reference, an activation of the intellectual life which is only beginning, but which is already running ahead of your lived experience. After a year of this, you think you cannot believe. You are just beginning to realize how difficult it is to have faith and the measure of a commitment to it, but you are too young to decide you don’t have faith just because you feel you can’t believe. About the only way we know whether we believe or not is by what we do, and I think from your letter that you will not take the path of least resistance in this matter and simply decide that you have lost your faith and that there is nothing you can do about it.

One result of the stimulation of your intellectual life that takes place in college is usually a shrinking of the imaginative life. This sounds like a paradox, but I have often found it to be true. Students get so bound up with difficulties such as reconciling the clashing of so many different faiths such as Buddhism, Mohammedanism, etc., that they cease to look for God in other ways. Bridges once wrote Gerard Manley Hopkins and asked him to tell him how he, Bridges, could believe. He must have expected from Hopkins a long philosophical answer. Hopkins wrote back, “Give alms.” He was trying to say to Bridges that God is to be experienced in Charity (in the sense of love for the divine image in human beings). Don’t get so entangled with intellectual difficulties that you fail to look for God in this way.

The intellectual difficulties have to be met, however, and you will be meeting them for the rest of your life. When you get a reasonable hold on one, another will come to take its place. At one time, the clash of the different world religions was a difficulty for me. Where you have absolute solutions, however, you have no need of faith. Faith is what you have in the absence of knowledge. The reason this clash doesn’t bother me any longer is because I have got, over the years, a sense of the immense sweep of creation, of the evolutionary process in everything, of how incomprehensible God must necessarily be to be the God of heaven and earth. You can’t fit the Almighty into your intellectual categories.

I might suggest that you look into some of the works of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (The Phenomenon of Man et al.). He was a paleontologist – helped to discover Peking man – and also a man of God. I don’t suggest that you go to him for answers but for different questions, for that stretching of the imagination that you need to make you a sceptic in the face of much that you are learning, much of which is new and shocking but which when boiled down becomes less so and takes place in the general scheme of things. What kept me a sceptic in college was precisely my Christian faith. It always said: wait, don’t bite on this, get a wider picture, continue to read.

If you want your faith, you have to work for it. It is a gift, but for very few is it a gift given without any demand for equal time devoted to its cultivation. For every book you read that is anti-Christian, make it your business to read one that presents the other side of the picture; if one isn’t satisfactory read others. Don’t think that you have to abandon reason to be a Christian.

A book that might help you is The Unity of Philosophical Experience by Etienne Gilson. Another is Newman’s The Grammar of Assent. To find out about faith, you have to go to the people who have it and you have to go to the most intelligent ones if you are going to stand up intellectually to agnostics and the general run of pagans that you are going to find in the majority of people around you. Much of the criticism of belief that you find today comes from people who are judging it from the standpoint of another and narrower discipline. The Biblical criticism of the 19th century, for instance, was the product of historical disciplines. It has been entirely revamped in the 20th century by applying broader criteria it, and those people who lost their faith in the 19th century because of it, could better have hung on in blind trust.

Even in the life of a Christian, faith rises and falls like the tides of an invisible sea. It’s there, even when he can’t see it or feel it, if he wants it to be there. You realize, I think, that it is more valuable, more mysterious, altogether more immense than anything you can learn or decide upon in college. Learn what you can, but cultivate Christian scepticsm. It will keep you free – not free to do anything you please, but free to be formed by something larger than your own intellect or the intellects of those around you.

I don’t know if this is the kind of answer that can help you, but any time you care to write me, I can try to do better.

Flannery

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CUTTERS

May 22nd, 2011 by marv

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