Ghost Ranch, a Presbyterian haven in New Mexico, in 1968 welcomed its first Catholic speaker, Father Anthony Wilhelm, with whom I was to hold a public conversation. Tony began his days by saying mass in an upper room, before a congregation of Hispanic employees. Couldn’t some of the Protestant Ranch-folk drop in some day? he asked.
CREDO: I am a Christian for the reasons stated in the Letter to the Ephesians, especially wherein “Christ is our peace.” I believe that the Bible as a whole (see Second Isaiah) and the New Testament especially culminate in a vision of reconciliation.
Having read Selwa Roosevelt’s review in the Washington Post weekly edition (June 20-26), I intend to read Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral (Miramax, $19.95). It’s a spoof on various denominational approaches to funerals.
Theodore A. Gill, onetime managing editor of this magazine, died last month. Mine is the only name remaining on the masthead from his time at the magazine 47 years ago. Priscilla Noble Grundy, then an editorial assistant, and Tom F. Driver, then a contributing editor, are the only other survivors. Big-name folk like Martin Luther King Jr., James A. Pike and the rest have died.
Stephen Mitchell sent his 1993 book The Gospel According to Jesus to Nobel Prize–winning novelist Saul Bellow, and to his surprise received a passionate response. Mitchell passed the correspondence on to me a dozen years ago, and I will forward it to the Bellow archives. But first some excerpts from Bellow’s reply:
Here is a recommended summer reading list: Robert’s Rules of Disorder, Extreme Boxing, No-Rules Gladiatorial Games, Cockfighting, The Laws of Rugby Football, Professional Wrestling: Anything Goes, and Taking My Bat and Ball and Going Home.
Pity Bible translators who try to keep up with changes in language. For example, Today’s New International Version Bible has changed “stoned” to “stoned to death” because otherwise readers might think the text is about smoking dope. The New Revised Standard Version made that change a few years ago.
Trapped on a plane on a runway in Atlanta the other evening, I had three hours to catch up on back issues of the Times Literary Supplement. Instinctively, I looked for M.E.M.O material. There on the runway I encountered some memorable aspects of some memorable characters, each of which would be worthy of comment. I offer here some highlights.
Two portraits graced my study walls for many years: Holbein’s Erasmus and Cranach’s Luther. Already in high school I was enjoying Erasmus’s Julius Exclusus and other satires critical of the pope; even earlier I was reading Luther’s catechisms.
The dictionaries of saints leap alphabetically from St. Frances of Rome to St. Fremund, with stops along the way to a half dozen St. Francises. The saint I was looking for, however, was unlisted: “St. Franchise.” I learned about him from Omega Services and Consultants.
Speak of nightmares! I dreamed that on a below-zero day my garage-door opener failed. Bundling myself in down until I looked like a Green Bay Packer fan, I braved the wind and went in through a side door. I had to remember how to pull the rope for manual lifting, all the while practicing new imprecations for the garage-door makers.
Observers of the Christian calendar celebrate Christmas for 12 days after December 25. Secularists and pagans who do not follow the church year hang their lights in the penitential season of Advent. Evidently some Christians have joined the secularists and pagans.
That the phrase “Minnesota nice” is considered an insult by many says a lot about contemporary culture. I’m sure Minnesotans are as capable of acting on their original sin as are citizens of other states. But just often enough numbers of them behave in ways that startle non-nice Americans.