Rocks in the Stream

As I mentioned yesterday, I re-established contact with someone to whom I hadn’t spoken in twenty years (one of the nicer things about the Interwebz — the reconnection, not the not-speaking.) Over the years, like most of us, she has experienced her own spiritual journeys, finally returning to the faith tradition in which she lived when I knew her, rather like I have done in mine. But that’s her story, and I’ll leave it for her to share if and when she chooses. In any case, I’ve always thought of her as devout, and I’m not at all surprised to learn that she has discerned a religious vocation that she has combined with her secular career in the law.

Now, my friend is Catholic, and I’m not, but as I told her as part of our catching up,

I can’t imagine crossing the Tiber myself — I’m pretty sure there’s some John Knox in my spiritual DNA — but (at least in part as a result of my studies [back then, of course, y’all were the only game in town]) I find my affection for the RCC grows remarkably with the passage of time. Any faith that can give us Chaucer, Hopkins, Chesterton, and Tolkien — and The Anchoress and yes, [my friend] by whatever circuitous route — is better than all right by me.

In this weekend’s correspondence, I mentioned that she should probably check out my long-time blog supporter The Anchoress. That led me to drop in and have a look around the Anchoress’s place — I spent most of the weekend offline, and am getting caught up. In turn, she linked me to a piece by Jonah Goldberg, which I probably would have read eventually, but as one never gets entirely caught up, I might have missed it, and she deserves the hat tip.

In his article, Jonah mentions his Jewish father’s having had a fondness for some aspects of Catholicism — a fondness Jonah seems to share, and one I find I share as well.

“We need more rocks in the river,” my dad explained. What he meant was that change comes so fast, in such a relentless torrent, that we need people and things that stand up to it and offer respite from the current[…]

Dad was a conservative, properly understood. By that I mean he didn’t think conservatism was merely an act of passive and futile defiance against what Shakespeare called “devouring time.” My dad believed that conservatism was an affirmative act, a choice of prudence and will. In the cacophony of perpetual change, the conservative selects the notes worth savoring and repeats them for others to hear and, hopefully, appreciate[…]

The Church’s position is that the truest notes are those that not only celebrate life and love but cut through the whitewater din of devouring time. As those notes become harder to hear, the answer isn’t to stop playing them but to turn up the volume.

Although I have never put it that elegantly, that’s a thought that has run through my mind each time I hear condemnations of my side as being a “Party of No.” (Interestingly enough, I’m much less bothered by being called part of the “Stupid Party.” Could be because I know I’m not stupid.) If the question is, “Shall we proceed into the abyss?”, then “No” is the right answer. Not everything that can be done should be done. Sometimes the rock in the stream is all that keeps us from being swept away.

My friend’s church has been a rock for a very long time, and I’m glad to be on the same side.


About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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2 Responses to Rocks in the Stream

  1. Kate Marie says:

    This Catholic thanks you for this post, Professor.

    I’m happy to be on the same side with you and your friend.

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