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Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Theological Notebook/Personal: Finishing the Theosis Essay; Dinner with the Lloyds; Movies 
19th-Nov-2007 10:13 pm
Thomas Merton OCSO
Oi! I feel like I've been sitting in this chair for days. I finally finished the book chapter for seraphimsigrist early this evening, and I sent out the draft to a few friends for some quick criticism. As I explained to them, this essay is for a book of essays, poems and perhaps other forms, all on the subject of theosis. Theosis is the Greek word, still used especially in Eastern Christianity, for the idea of our transformation into union with God. It might be best translated in English as "divinization," which is kind of a strong word for us Christians in the West, but that's really how the ancient Christians would speak of it: becoming "god." That is, we would become, in grace, as divine -- as much like God -- as we could be made to be. In my essay, I'm trying to describe both how that idea isn't really foreign to Western Christianity and how Western language can add to our understanding of the idea, particularly in our present day, with our particular attention to social and environmental concerns. The essay is supposed to be written for a popular, if educated, audience, and so I'll have to see if I pulled off that trick successfully or not.

Had a good, quiet evening (except for Anna refusing to go to bed for some hours) with Dan and Amy Saturday night, after their party plans sort of fell through between the Harrises being sick and the Briggmans being too pregnant to move. Amy looked up an Italian recipe that she'd heard me describe admiringly in the past _– a sort of variation on penne carbonara that I'd had in South Bend – and made it to surprise me, which was indescribably cool of her. So, other than Anna having a fussy night, we just settled in for quiet talk. Dan was hoping we would get to go out to go comet-watching and also to check out the Leonid meteor shower, but naturally this weekend turned out to be overcast across the entire state. Sunday as a back-up option was no better. And by that time, I was lost in trying to put together this essay.

I only took breaks for meals, over which I continued my watching of Richard Linklater's films, with Saturday's being Dazed and Confused, which I think I enjoyed more than Slacker, but which I found actually difficult to take seriously as a portrait of the mid-70s. Maybe I hung out with the wrong crowd in high school, but even in the trippy 70s, I have to figure there was more to do than smoke pot as an entertainment option. I guess I just really found the characters hampered by an underlying uniformity that seemed still more based on what I feared was a Hollywood formula than I'd have expected of Linklater, although I will say that I enjoyed many of the performances. When I was wiped out late after much reading and typing, I let myself get sucked into a showing of North By Northwest on TMC, which is always fun, and even more was the chance afterward to see a "making-of" documentary hosted by Eva St. Marie, which answered many of the questions I'd formed over the years of enjoying that film. As always, I was reminded of the one withering review I've ever read of the film: that of Thomas Merton in one of his journal entries from the year, when he happened to be out of the monastery and saw the film with a friend, which was the first movie he had seen in 19 years. He was particularly critical of the sex scenes, and I can think of no more damning criticism than a cloistered monk finding your sex scenes to be unaccountably lame....
20th-Nov-2007 07:23 am (UTC)
Maybe I'm not remembering correctly, but I thought the sex scenes in North by Northwest were pretty restrained. A bit silly, maybe, but more interesting than the full-nudity, tell-everything kind of sex scenes in modern movies. I remember there not being a lot of room, though. (Weren't they on a train? on a bunk? Maybe that was part of the silliness.)
21st-Nov-2007 04:13 am (UTC)
Oh, they were, and Hitchcock was creative with the actors' movement in the confined space of the train compartment. Maybe I'll post Merton's comments later, though: he just thought it was all so stony- or blank-faced to think of it as acting. He's in one of his testy moods, though, so it's a bit of a funny rant....
21st-Nov-2007 12:55 am (UTC)
Send this new creation hither!
21st-Nov-2007 04:27 am (UTC)
I'll look forward to your contribution to +Seraphim's book. Your overview of it sounds both interesting and helpful and will complement the other pieces.

The idea of Merton critiquing the sex scenes of a film has a certain cool irony.
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