Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ash Wednesday

Blind Man’s Bluff by Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew (Perseus, 1998) calls itself ‘the untold story of American submarine espionage. (‘A darn good read.’) It includes the anecdote about the aftermath of the soviet loss of a Golf class submarine called the Glomar. Instead of telling the truth to those who were widowed and orphaned in what would have been an embarrassing failure to the soviets, the government offered surviving wives a one time payment of 1,500 rubles and an annual pension of 58 rubles for each child and disabled relative of the dead men. The authors say “Irina Zhuravina who lost her husband on the Golf, refused to spend those rubles because she thought that would be reconciling to her husband’s death on her government’s terms.” (p.276)

I cannot help but think of Jesus refusing to give credence to the government of his country in his day who staged a trial, and the price of integrity, with its implicit challenge to compromise and cant, in each case. A gift as we begin a season of prayer, fasting, self-examination, almsgiving and scripture.

Another snippet from T. S. Eliot: An Imperfect Life by Lyndall Gordon (Norton, 2000). It appears that Eliot sometimes thought his teacher and sponsor Ezra Pound sometimes considered his protégés to be machines for the production of poetry rather than students and human beings. Surely this is another challenge to our tendencies to objectify (and sometimes –as a consequence—demonize) each other in the name of some ‘greater good’.

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