Dispatches from Outland
A little song. A little dance. A little seltzer down your pants. Copyright © 2003 Roy M. Jacobsen.


Tuesday, January 20, 2004  

Noteable Quotes Department:

“We no longer dare to believe in beauty and we make of it a mere appearance in order the more easily to dispose of it. Our situation today shows that beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness, and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking them along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance. We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past — whether he admits it or not — can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love.” -- Hans Urs Von Balthasar

(This quote was found in an article on the apparent triumph of style over aesthetics in our culture, by the inimitable Roberto Rivera y Carlo. Go. Read. Ponder.)

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 2:00 PM
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Parables and Stories Department: A certain man was the master of a large household, with many fields, a large vineyard, and large flocks of sheep. One day, he gathered his servants and told them he was leaving to go on a long journey. He gave them clear and detailed instructions about what they were to occupy themselves with while he was away: ''Till the fields and scatter good seed. When the time is right, bring the harvest into my granaries. Watch over my vineyard, keep the watchtower and wall in good repair, and get ready to gather the grapes. Tend my flocks, protecting my sheep from wolves and leading them to good pasture and still, clear water. Take care of each other, and teach your children to work with you, following everything I have instructed you to do. When I return, I will reward you for your faithful labor."

And then he left.

For some time, things went well for the servants, even though the work was hard, and their master had enemies who tried to thwart their efforts (even to the extent of killing some of the servants). In spite of the difficulties, they pressed on, keeping true to their master's commands, and looking with great anticipation to his return. But the weeks passed and turned to months, and the months turned to years, and still the master did not return.

And things slowly began to unravel.

Some of the servants began tarrying at the gate, looking up and down the road. "Our master has been gone so long, surely today is the day he'll come back." They spent more and more time watching and waiting, while their tools became rusty and their muscles weak.

Some servants began to argue amongst themselves about just exactly what the master's commands meant. They argued so much and with so much heat that they would often drop their hoes, shepherd's rods and pruning shears to carry on the arguments, standing nose to nose, shouting and gesticulating at each other, while the weeds grew up in the fields, the vineyard wall began to crumble, and the sheep wandered aimlessly.

Some went out to the fields as if to work, but then slipped off to the nearby town to visit the markets and taverns. After a time, many of these no longer even pretended to go out to work. They went out the gate and headed directly to the town, and some even took up residence there.

A few remained faithful to their master's instructions. They tried to persuade their fellow servants to come with them to the fields and the vineyard as they went out the door. But they devoted their hearts to sowing the seed and gathering the crops, taking care of the vineyard, and tending the flocks with the same care they saw their master lavish on his sheep.

When the man returned, to which group of servants to you think he said "Well done."?

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 1:31 PM
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Vivid Imagery Department: I had to laugh out loud when I read Jonah Goldberg's description of Howard Dean's now infamous "YEEEAAARRRGGGHHHH!"

...whatever it was, he sounded like he meant to go to a proctologist but accidentally visited a chimney sweep instead.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 11:04 AM
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Monday, January 19, 2004  

Just Asking Department: Bene Diction is a Canadian blogger who should be one of your regular reads. Bene (a pseudonym) has been wrestling with the mills of government bureaucracy for a while now and getting nowhere at blazing speeds. For a sample, read this and this. Then, somebody please answer me this: How is it even remotely conceivable that we can fix what's wrong with the US medical system by putting the government in control?

I think we'd be far better of by putting the nuns back in charge.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 1:37 PM
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Noteable Quotes Department: “Push back against the age as hard as it pushes against you. What people don't realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross.” -- Flannery O'Connor (via The Corner)

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 9:11 AM
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