At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Monday, January 27, 2003

I applied to Choice and Library Journal for review work. I thought this would be an excellent way to keep up with my academic interests while contributing to librarianship and adding points to my resumé, not to mention getting advanced copies of books. But their guidelines state that, except for reference work reviewing, active subject specialists are preferred, so I may not have much of a chance.

I guess where there's money being spent, there are salespeople. (Insert parasite metaphor here.) I've been getting calls from publishers urging me to buy or view on trial their latest reference books, and today I was visited in person by a children's literature vendor who wanted to show me his wares. I said I would consult the education faculty and get back to him, but this was a dodge; I didn't want to waste the time. Now, if he were to take me out to lunch in Lubbock...

Insight Media wrote back and confirmed that their "Voyage Through the Bible" is the same item we already have. Savings: $260!

Y'all gotta try some of this beer if you can find it. I really enjoyed their "1554 Brussels Black Ale," the recipe for which the brewers discovered in a musty old manual in Europe, they say.

Martinis are nice, but I'm starting to wonder why I water down perfectly good gin with vermouth.

After having attended Mass on Sunday, I thought I would try to analyze the recurring attraction I have for Roman Catholicism. I think part of it is the "not just" factor, which adds the thrill of the supernatural to aspects of religion which in Protestantism are more mundane. In Roman Catholicism the priest is not just a preacher and administrator, but is ontologically distinct from the laity and has unique powers; the Eucharist is not just a symbol of union but the actual presence of Christ; the other sacraments are not just ceremonies but quasi-magical actions conveying grace; the church is not just a gathering of believers but is the one Body of Christ gifted with doctrinal infallibility; etc. Then there are more extraneous attractions, such as the artistic achievements of Catholics or the winsome lives of some Catholic saints.

What I don't like about Catholicism is the legalism: the holy days of obligation and the mandatory fasts and the indexes of forbidden books and the nitpicky obstacles to marriage and so on, the sort of thing St. Paul says Christians have outgrown. Anglicanism is nice in that it has some of the Catholic sacramental cast without the legalism, but it is also in decline right now.


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