Layover lounging

I am presently ensconced in the veep lounge in Amsterdam for a fairly lengthy layover before continuing on to Rome.

My Slingbox is functioning perfectly and I am watching a Univ. of MN v. Minnesota State Hockey game on a very smooth stream. The speed increase I wrote about a few days ago makes a difference. I will probably be able to watch the Sunday talking heads shows, also (Chris Wallace and Russert).

On the uneventful flight (who wants an eventful flight over the North Atlantic?) I watched a spectacular movie called in Chinese Huo Yuanjia or in English Fearless with Jet Li. I was delighted by this movie for many reasons. Not only were the martial arts sequences wonderful, but the film told a story of intercession and redemption. The main character, Huo Yuanjia, based on a real person, falls in several ways, even in being victorious in fighting. Important people in his life serve to bring him back from the edge of despair. While the film has some strong Confucian elements, as one would expect, you could interpret it in light of Catholic themes. For example, there is a lovely scene when Huo Yuanjia is in serious trouble with his father and is about to be whipped. His mother intercedes with his father and smoothly obtains mercy. In any event, I think I will add this to my grown collection of Chinese films.

I also spent some time reading G.K. Chesterton’s The Ball and the Cross, which so far is a wonderful parable about the relationship of faith and reason, as well as the place of both reason and religion in the public square. It is a decidedly appropriate book to read these days, I think. Though written about a century ago, you would think it was contemporary.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Geoffrey says:

    I envy your technical abilities, Father! Oh wait… that’s one of the seven deadly sins… nevermind!
    Enjoy the second part of your trip to the Eternal City!

  2. Lucian Gregory says:

    Father, did you ever read Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday?

    I read it this past summer and was really thrilled by it — it’s from Chesterton’s pre-Catholic period; in fact if I recall correctly, when Chesterton wrote it he had more or less recently returned to an active practice of the Christian Faith in the Anglican tradition and was still “working some things out,” so to speak. It is, by the way, a most unusual story and will require much patience on the part of those who are not used to such strangely-crafted allegories. Ignatius Press’s “Annotated Thursday” is a particularly helpful edition for those who would like to more carefully explore just what G.K. was trying to get at in his literary “nightmare.”

  3. Lucian Gregory says:

    I meant to include this in my last post, but forgot to do so: Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday can be freely read on-line, as is the case with many of his other works, including The Ball and the Cross.

    [Now I’m in a Chestertonian mood]

    I particularly recommend his The Everlasting Man.

    And I have a framed copy of his “A Little Litany” poem hanging about (very appropriate at this time, the close of Christmastide):


    When God turned back eternity and was young,
    Ancient of Days, grown little for your mirth
    (As under the low arch the land is bright)
    Peered through you, gate of heaven–and saw the earth.

    Or shutting out his shining skies awhile
    Built you about him for a house of gold
    To see in pictured walls his storied world
    Return upon him as a tale is told.

    Or found his mirror there; the only glass
    That would not break with that unbearable light
    Till in a corner of the high dark house
    God looked on God, as ghosts meet in the night.

    Star of his morning; that unfallen star
    In that strange starry overturn of space
    When earth and sky changed places for an hour
    And heaven looked upwards in a human face.

    Or young on your strong knees and lifted up
    Wisdom cried out, whose voice is in the street,
    And more than twilight of twiformed cherubim
    Made of his throne indeed a mercy-seat.

    Or risen from play at your pale raiment’s hem
    God, grown adventurous from all time’s repose,
    Of your tall body climbed the ivory tower
    And kissed upon your mouth the mystic rose.

    If you’re clever, you’ll understand immediately his line, “God looked on God, as ghosts meet in the night.”

  4. Jon says:


    Great minds fly alike!

    I spent yesterday flying from Phoenix to Pennsylvania reading Joseph Pearce’s wonderful biography of GK entitled “Wisdom and Innocence, a Biography of GK Chesterton.”

    I highly recommend it.

  5. Peter says:

    Father, which Slingbox do you use? There are several models out there and I’d like to make sure I get the right one. As for Chesterton, I’m just now getting around to Orthodoxy, so I’m way behind…

  6. I use the classic box, the first one they released. I was going to get the new big one, but didn’t have time to get it set up.

  7. Jeffrey Stuart says:

    Got The Ball and the Cross for Christmas myself. I must concur that it is incredibly “fresh” considering how long ago it was written. I guess we continue to learn the same lessons over and over.


  8. RBrown says:

    I read it this past summer and was really thrilled by it—it’s from Chesterton’s pre-Catholic period;

    Orthodoxy and Heretics were also written in his pre-Catholic period. It would seem that he was catholic long before he was Catholic, a indication that if you want to think like a Catholic, first learn to think like a catholic.

    BTW, I found this typically clever quote in the Wikipedia article on GKC:

    The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.

  9. Martha says:

    “The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.”

    Ha ha! And thus, it’s best to not be of the modern world – by being a traditionalists!

  10. The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives.

    A November article by Ginger Hutton on active participation and liturgical abuse loosed a deluge of letters to the editor in our diocesan newspaper demonstrating a remarkably clear cut contrast between (liberal) progressives and (orthodox) conservatives. Reading these letters (for instance, here and here) brought home to me the precise distinction: Conservatives typically argue ad factum, whereas progressives typically argue ad hominem. And I observe this to be equally true in religious and secular politics.

  11. RBrown says:

    JRatzinger wrote that mass facing the people undermines active participation.

  12. tony c says:

    Nice to see a plug for Jet Li.

    The Chinese movies are my faves. The somewhat recent “gangsta” flicks w/ rapper DMX, not so good.

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