Wednesday, April 09, 2008


As well as morning coffee and a shower I need something older deeper better than the New York Times. I’m always reading books, but in afternoons and evenings I tend to finish them; you can’t finish Butler’s Lives of the Saints. A saint’s life is condensed to a paragraph or at the most, with an Aquinas or Francis of Assisi, three pages, tops. There’s one a day. It sets the stage for my day and for the rest of my reading and for my writing. Buddhists avoid the problem of belief by claiming Buddhism is a philosophy. One time, I tried to describe An Essay called Ex-Catholicism to Daniel Berrigan, S.J. Dan didn’t seem to like this term, “What’s an Ex-Catholic?’’ The term is Lapsed Catholic. When Ernesto Cardenal told Dan that in Nicaragua they sought to unite Marx and Jesus, Dan replied that in New York we’re trying to unite Buddha and Christ. Once you’re baptized, you’re done for good; for me, heaven is foreclosed; no limbo; I await the Inferno. But of course I believe there is no heaven or hell, just life. Birthdays of Buddha and death days of saints are equally history. I haven’t seen Dan in years, since the week after September 11. I had managed only one shower since the attack. Dan in a speech in Washington Square suggested the World Trade Center be rebuilt, only the new twin towers should be called Justice and Peace.


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