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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Wednesday, March 28 2001

Other jobs, other personnas

Do you, like me, have “alter egos” who are living different lives? Part of me is living in Hollywood writing a daily entertainment column, another gets a good salary for doing an adult version of “Teen Events” for the San Francisco Chronicle or a national syndicate. I'm also working in a New York publishing house in a job just like Jackie Kennedy (or more appropriately, Malcolm Cowley) had for years. I'm a tenured professor at Stanford or Duke University (the most beautiful campus I've ever seen, unless it's Stanford's), teaching creative writing and turning out my own novels. Those are some of my “other lives” which I can't have because, as the New Testament cautions, “it is given to humankind to live once, and after that, the judgment” (my paraphrase).

Have you achieved your potential, or perhaps even exceeded it (if you started adult life with a negative self-image, that may well be the case, in your own and/or others' perception). How does the existence of your “other lives” affect your real life and your work ethic?

Turning to the mail—George Dilling writes: “Things have certainly changed since I was young. At that time firms in New Jersey were always happy to get workers from Pennsylvania, especially from our area, because they were all good workers.” It was very nice hearing again from George after a while. I'm assuming this is in response to my mentioning that I'd heard that some companies avoid operations in Western Pennsylvania because the expectations of workers (for benefits and such) may be too high. The statement is at least 35 years old, before my own departure from the area. I don't recall the specific source, but think it was from a “Johnstown business type,” and I didn't take it as his personal opinion but as an attempt to explain the fact that land for factories was being offered virtually free but almost no one was taking the offers. I don't doubt that in the same era you could get conflicting views on just about anything; I placed it in the discussion mix not in the hope of its explaining “everything,” or even as a great truth, but just as a possible factor. And though it may reflect on the area in a small negative way, it probably wouldn't be applied to area residents willing to relocate, especially if they're applying for work in unionized industries elsewhere.

Visiting Pittsburgh? Note in the margin: Even if you're not planning a visit to Pittsburgh for a weekend next month, you might enjoy reading about a package deal that's available and—especially—the attractions that might lure visitors. It was featured in Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel letter for Tuesday; that's the one, more than any other, that inspired the launch of this (much different) daily newsletter.

“Program note”: I'm well into my preparation for the next topic, but am not sure yet how soon we'll begin (probably later this week). It's going to be a revisit of “music”...I think I now have more to say about it than in the previous round! Meanwhile, I strongly suggest, if you're interested in the topic (any kind of music from gospel to pop to hard rock to hip hop and beyond) that you visit Napster and register to find out what that is all about. Napster is a “music community” where people share their favorite songs in digital file form. As I'm writing this, 7,394 users are sharing 736,359 files (songs, that is). I put off visiting the site for months after hearing of it and regret not experiencing it earlier. Register; you can use any pseudonym (Glotownboy or -girl may still be available!). Click “Search.” Enter the name of either an artist or group and/or the title of any song and in most cases you'll immediately see a list of 100 titles, any of which you can then download into your computer and play through the Windows media application that came with your operating system, or another media player. But even if you don't want to download music (if you're using a modem that connects at, say, 28.8kb, it may take a half hour to download a three-minute song...but I think it's worth it in some cases), just learning what's there in the music world of the past half century is worth the effort.

More later.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Very punny

4. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, but when they lit a fire in the craft, it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it, too.

5. A three-legged dog walks into a saloon in the Old West. He slides up to the bar and announces: "I'm looking for the man who shot my paw."

6. Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? He wanted to transcend dental medication.

Sent by John Sardell

Lenten thought, on evidence for the resurrection

There are good arguments for leaving the inexplicable unexplained, and just saying, "Come see for yourself." But in the Christian east, a formulation developed that might be helpful. Our five senses are the means by which we engage life; before we reflect intellectually or react emotionally, we have immediate sensory experience. There is a pool of awareness at the union of our five senses, called the "nous." Here God is able to communicate with us, but like a badly-tuned radio we can be too distracted or confused to tune in. Spiritual exercises, like fasting and attentive prayer, can help us focus on his voice (there's that sense language again).

While emotions or intellectual insights may follow on any interpersonal encounter, whether with God or a dentist, these are secondary reactions. The pure experience of contact comes first, and tears, joy, and the Summa Theologica are just outwardly observable responses.

Practice prepares, grace provides, and the nous can eventually descend into the heart where Christ abides, the "Kingdom of God within you." Diligent attention can make this state habitual. "Continue constantly in the name of the Lord Jesus, that the heart may swallow the Lord and the Lord the heart," says the 4th century preacher St. John Chrysostom.

Frederica Mathewes-Green

Lenten thoughts (i.e., pertaining to repentance and spiritual growth, from any faith-community perspective) are solicited from readers.

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