Sunday 30 October 2011

Atlas Shrugged ... but Frodo Didn't

There is a new movie of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and I was watching Charles Adler waxing eloquent about it and Ayn Rand in general. I think it was his comments on the virtue of selfishness and the falsehood of any sense of altruism that stuck in my craw. There is something profoundly disturbing about it that gets under my skin in a way that the most doctrinaire Marxist cannot. After all someone once remarked that anyone who is not a socialist in their twenties has no heart but anyone who is still a socialist in their thirties has no mind. So perhaps such misguided altruism is at least comprehensible to a Catholic who also understands the error of the dialectical materialism that underlies the sentiment. The total negation of altruism that underlies Ayn Rand's work is something else again. I was pondering these things when I ran across this delightful quote on the net.

-- There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs. Kung Fu Monkey

I smiled. I was one of those caught up in Tolkien's profoundly Catholic vision though if any had pointed out his faith at the time I would have scoffed. Many still do today. I give thanks for the seeds that were planted in my teens in a heart that was in open rebellion as well as for the smile it brings to my face some 45 years later. Deo gratias.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Impressions of Notre Dame

I recently had the opportunity to attend mass at Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal. That in itself is a bit of a story. My son wanted to take the tour but I insisted that I would see the basilica used for its intended purpose. Only barbarians turn churches into museums and I was having none of that! My French is nonexistent so you will hear no comments about the homily here but I was impressed nevertheless. As I walked through the doors I saw a large sign proclaiming Silence. I wanted to take it home and post it over the doors to my own parish. When I settled myself in a pew I noticed some ushers walking about asking people if they were there for mass. The basilica charges admission except for prayer and mass. Several people were asked to put away their cameras. Again my thoughts turned to my own parish where I could only wish someone would walk up to people having loud conversations in the pew and gently remind them where they were. The other thing that impressed me was the organ and choir. Both were simply magnificent. I heard more Latin than I am accustomed to at home. You can tell I was impressed because I did not leave until the organ was silent. My usual rule is that while it is rude to leave before the priest, it is sometimes expedient to leave before the choir is finished. Well, not this Sunday...