Friday, January 30, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday

Once again I borrow Jen's meme, this time on the right day!

1) We're told to pray for our enemies and we're also told that it is not God's will for anyone to perish, and the worst person in the world can go to Heaven if he'll repent. But it sticks in my craw to pray for someone evil-- I mean really evil, like a child rapist. It seems an offense against the victim to pray for the guilty party.

St. Faustina's Diary has been helping me on that one. I can't remember her exact words, but she writes of how Satan hates the mercy of God, how it's such an awful defeat for him if a great sinner turns in trust to God. The devil isn't saying, "Haha, now Heaven has to accept that jerk!" It's never good for a wicked man to die in his wickedness; God created him for glory and is capable of cleansing him from evil and making him what he was meant to be. Nor would that be hurtful to the victim, for in Heaven where all love perfectly he would rejoice, like Stephen who by his prayers won his persecutor on Earth as his companion in Heaven.

It still bothers me to pray for my enemies, as my feelings haven't been dragged quite in line with my reason yet, but it helps to think, "Well, at least this'll stick it to the devil!"

2) Speaking of Satan, I loved The Black Stallion series when I was a girl, and one of the early ones is called "The Black Stallion and Satan". Satan is the Black's colt, a really vicious horse who causes all kinds of problems before reforming.

Quite a name for a horse in a children's book, right? Here's the funny thing: when I first saw the title I read it as "The Black Stallion and Satin". Yup, I thought the colt was named for a nice smooth shiny fabric. It didn't make a lot of sense to me, especially not when Henry Dailey told Alec "I like the name you picked, Alec. Satin. Plenty of fire there." But I just let it slide. And then one day my dad wandered into my room, picked up the book, and read out the title in a theatrical voice: "The Black Stallion and Satan!" And only then, after having read entire books featuring this horse, did I realize his real name and how I'd been misreading it. I guess I was innocent...

3) Definitely innocent. In elementary school once, I was holding hands with my best friend and another girl asked us, "Are you guys gay?" "Why yes," I said cheerfully, "we are quite happy!" I was proud of myself for knowing the meaning of the word.

We girls would play the game of slapping our hands together while chanting some poem or other. I am feeling nostalgic and I just typed out one of the chants, but I can't publish it. It's too inappropriate! The beautiful thing is that when I was young, I didn't know this. Most of the chants were full of innuendo but I had no clue what I was saying. I was really shocked twenty years or so later when I overheard two little girls doing one of the same chants, and it sounded so, so bad coming from their little mouths.

4) I just left some dishes with peanut butter soaking in water, and after half an hour the nice golden tan color had turned grayish. What on earth?

I read that peanut butter is gross to people from other countries who didn't grow up on it. Also, cinnamon has a weird chemical taste to those who aren't acclimated to its use in desserts. I don't blame them; when I was at the dim sum restaurant last week I refrained from trying the duck tongue.

Speaking of ugly food, the tangerine tree at my parents' house is very heavily laden with fruit this year. Some of the tangerines have smooth, pretty skins, but most have overblown, oddly wrinkled skins, and are full of seeds. They'd never be sold in a grocery store, but they're easier to peel and much tastier.

5) More on misreading: Once when I was about seven I picked up a new insult from a book and filed it away for an opportune moment. The opportunity came when my older brother acted stupidly one day. I adopted my best scornful tone and said "Benjamin, you eyedot."

But my setdown did not have the intended effect. Benjamin only looked mystified, as did my mom who unfortunately was there as well. "What did you call him?"

"An eyedot!" I fetched the book and showed her the word.

There was a short silence and then she burst out laughing. "Idiot, Rachel, that word is idiot!"

I'd missed the second "i". What an eyedot.

6) The Da Vinci Code movie. I know it's bad, but is it unintentionally amusing or just plain irritating? I've heard, for example, that Elizabeth: The Golden Age is very anti-Catholic but in such an overblown and stupid way that many Catholics enjoyed it (there was a monk crossing himself in slow motion right before assassinating someone, and that sort of thing). Is Da Vinci Code like that or will I just be angry if I see it?

7) I was talking to an atheist co-worker the other day, an intelligent, knowledgeable, and courteous man, who told me the following things.

• He sees no conflict between science and religion. If you believe the world was created in six 24-hour periods then yeah, that's a conflict, but we agreed it's completely unnecessary to interpret the word "day" in that way, since in ancient Hebrew (as in English) "day" can stand for an undefined period of time, and obviously does in many other passages of the Old Testament.

• He and his wife chose not to have prenatal testing when they were expecting their daughter, since they'd decided they wouldn't abort the baby even if they did find something wrong with her.

• Since the vast majority of the world does believe in God, he thinks it's important for atheists to be humble. He spoke of how modern science and universities and other things he loves in our culture were founded by religiously motivated Christians. He gave a much more positive speech about Christians than I would myself in mixed company; from me it would just be boasting.

• He went to the funeral Mass of the family killed in that Christmas massacre in Covina, and the priest spoke very strongly about the devil (him again!), and fit in a knock against atheists. My co-worker was surprised that the homily was so dogmatic, but he sort of liked the priest; he felt that this was someone with whom he could have a discussion.

I have no point; he was just an interesting person who made an impression on me. I know what he means about liking someone who seriously disagrees with you if it's someone you can converse with.


adonela said...

sweet and innocent Rachel -- I think I shall borrow the "eyedot" bit. Also, maybe the atheist friend would like to come and befriend some of our Oblate priests.

Rachel Gray said...

Adonela, I'm glad I can count on you to help me gain humility. :)