Friday, November 20, 2015

A Tale of Two Cities Today

Dear Misfits,

Our meeting last Wednesday evening was "the best of times".  As mentioned in my last email, we decided to hold our meeting at the Maple Island Brewery in Stillwater, MN.  I have to say that the insights and comments made by the Misfits on Charles Dickens classic novel,  A Tale of Two Cities, were particularly insightful.  I can also say that the comments became more insightful and at times, even brilliant, as the evening progressed.  I can only conclude that the beer produced by the Maple Island Brewery is an elixir conducive to a great book discussion and certainly to male fellowship.  Or so it seemed.

As to the novel itself, what can I say that has not already been said a million times--it is a timeless novel and will remain timeless.  Two things do come to mind

1.  Is there any other novel that has more memorable, iconic, opening and closing lines?  The novel begins "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times....." and ends with "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have every known."  I can think of no other novel that has a more dramatic opening or a more moving conclusion than A Tale of Two Cities!  (Ok.  Someone out there prove me wrong.  Please cite author and title if you choose to engage!)

Dr Manette in Bastille

2.  Secondly, it is sadly topical that we have just read A Tale of Two Cities, a novel set in a city that has just experienced a barbaric act by men gripped by a hatred of the civilization that could produce a novel of such high literary regard.  The barbarism described by Dickens during the time of the "Terror" is mirrored by the men who struck Paris last Saturday.  The French aristocracy was the crucible that produced the "terror" of the French Revolution.  The twisted ideology of militant Islam has resulted in the terror of the modern jihad and the civilizational clash we are experiencing.

Now to the future: For December, we will read and discuss a short book and a short poem, both appropriate to the advent of our Blessed Savior.  Our book is Unless You Become Like This Child, by Hans Urs von Balthasar;  the poem is "The Journey of the Magi" by T. S. Eliot.

Unless You Become Like this Child is one of the last books written by van Balthasar before his death in 1988. The great theologian provides a moving and profound meditation on the theme of spiritual childhood. He argues that the central mystery of Christianity is our transformation from world-wise, self-sufficient "adults" into abiding children of the Father of Jesus by the grace of their Spirit. "This is an excellent book for those Christians who wish to gain a deeper understanding of Jesus's teaching "unless you become like this child...". This book also provides a helpful resource to Catholics who may be constantly challenged by fundamentalist Christians to be born again. Cardinal Von Balthazar very clearly explains what is involved in being like a child unto the Lord and gives his readers many insights into the mystery of life with God, the Father. It is a short book in terms of pages, but each page is packed with reflections."  The book is available on Amazon for $9.95 (Paperback)

[A copy of "The Journey of the Magi" is found here]

...  This is one of the first poems written by Eliot after his conversion to Anglicanism.  I look forward to discussing the poem with you as all of us will soon share in the quest of the Magi for the Christ child.


To remind:  our next meeting will be on Wednesday, December 9th, at 7:00 pm in the St. Thomas More Library, The Church of St. Michael, Stillwater, MN.

In the light of Christ,

Misfit Buzz

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