Happy new year / public-domain day! 🎶 📚

Happy new year & happy public-domain day! The works coming out of US copyright protection this year are pretty impressive: Mrs. Dalloway, The Great Gatsby, The Trial; music by Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, & Fats Waller.

Duke’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain has a detailed overview.

Your annual reminder that Geri Allen’s A Child is Born is the pinnacle of Christmas jazz, and the title track is sublime. 🎶

Busy morning on the river

The Charthusian monks: brewing Chartreuse in the Alps during a pandemic

A fascinating essay in the NYT on the Charthusian monks, brewers of Chartreuse: “An Elixir from the French Alps, Frozen in Time”. It’s filled with amazing quotes & quips like:

The days pass very quickly when you’re immersed in the shadow of eternity.

Or, from the president of the Charthusians’ business:

I am very scared always. Only three of the brothers know how to make Chartreuse — nobody else knows the recipe. And each morning they drive together to the distillery. And they drive a very old car. And they drive it very badly.

They’d be capable of writing a business-strategy book that even I’d love to read:

When you have roots this deep, it allows you to forget the short term and project your vision far in the future.

And if I was ever forced to get a tattoo, I’d probably choose their motto:

Stat crux dum volvitur orbis

In English: The cross is fixed while the world is turning.

My favorite year-end list is always Ted Gioia’s 100 favorite albums of the year. I guarantee you’ll find something excellent you didn’t previously know about.

(If you think 100 albums isn’t quite enough, well, he includes 100 honorable mentions as well.) 🎶

Leibovitz on the Supreme Court & religious liberty 🔗

Supreme Court decisions rarely make for page turners, but the one handed down last night, siding with Jewish and Catholic groups opposing the draconian restrictions placed on religious services by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is an exception. In just 33 pages, the highest court in the land gave us a thrilling study in how the two tribes that compete for dominance in our ravaged America approach the world.

~Liel Leibovitz in Tablet, dissecting the opinions on both sides of the Supreme Court’s recent religious-liberty decision.

Shouldn’t it be “philosophy schimosophy”? 🔗

Is there an anecdote that better describes our current moment than this one?

Probably. But this one is exquisite. From *NY Mag*’s essay on the mess that is the NYT:

The conversation turned into what more than one Times employee described to me as a “food fight.” During the mêlée, “Opinion” columnist Elizabeth Bruenig uploaded a PDF of John Rawls’s treatise on public reason, in an attempt to elevate the discussion. “What we’re having is really a philosophical conversation, and it concerns the unfinished business of liberalism,” Bruenig wrote. “I think that all human beings are born philosophers, that is, that we all have an innate desire to understand what our world means and what we owe to one another and how to live good lives.”

“Philosophy schmosiphy,” wrote a researcher at the Times whose Slack avatar was the logo for the hamburger chain Jack in the Box. “We’re at a barricades moment in our history. You decide: which side are you on?”

The Politics We Don't Have 🔗

Most Americans want secure work, safe streets, healthcare, dignity, freedom, and a governing class that prioritizes them above itself. People want plenty else besides, of course, that politics cannot provide, like love and meaning—but even a movement organized around the minimum would threaten entrenched interests in both parties. It would undermine the Democrat’s dependency on Silicon Valley’s surveillance economy, elite-driven offshoring, and embrace of corporate consumerism in liberation drag. And it would finish off the well-funded Republican party of fiscal responsibility and austerity politics underwritten by foreign policy and financial globalism.

~Jacob Siegel, in an entertaining Tablet essay on what Joe Rogan represents

Out this week: Songs from Home, beautiful solo piano from Fred Hersch. 🎶

A beautiful day to prep the garden for winter. 🏡

the family cleaning out the garden

You think it is helpful having a fluorescent praying mantis coming into their office, telling them about German philosophy? Do you think that’s helpful? I can tell you, it’s not helpful.

~Alex Karp, Palantir CEO, profiled in the NYT Magazine 🔗

Currently reading: Montaigne: Life Without Law by Pierre Manent 📚

Moving day. Our first day of snow for the season, too. 🏡

Currently reading: Jane Austen: Writing, Society, Politics by Tom Keymer 📚

The Big Move 🏡

Our family is getting ready to move from the Minneapolis – St. Paul metro area up to central Minnesota. We’ll be closer to my wife’s parents and my own, and right in the heart of beautiful MN lake country. It’s something we’ve wanted to do as a family for a number of years. Since we’re homeschooling the kids this year anyway, now seemed like a good year to make a move like this.

Of course, we’re all anxious about the move, particularly about leaving our siblings and their families behind, about leaving our dear friends at church behind, about leaving our beloved current home behind.

Yesterday, one of my five-year-old sons was having a rough day: arguing about everything, picking fights with his siblings, his mother, & me—all very unusual behavior for him. We found him in his bedroom, pouting. (He wasn’t hard to find, since he slam the door as hard as he could on his way in.) We said to him, “Even though we knew you’re excited to live in our new house, are you feeling kinda angry that we’re moving?”

He looked shocked for a second, wide-eyed, then started sobbing. “Yes! Why do we have to move to a stupid new house? I just want to keep our house!”

The one time we moved when I was an older kid, my parents moved the week I was at summer camp. I now understand why: the stress of moving is everywhere in our family; the kids don’t have a sufficiently established sense of time to know when it will all be over. (Answer: a week and a half.) To them, this move just feels like a gigantic, vague monster that will never leave them alone.

It might be good to re-watch Inside Out sometime this week. And, of course, to just keep on letting the kids talk about what they’re feeling. Turns out it’s not far from what we’re feeling: excitement mixed with a vague sense of unease, fear of all the uncertainty, and a desire to just have it all be done.

UMN professor of history Jon Butler has a fascinating new book out: God in Gotham: The Miracle of Religion in Modern Manhattan. According to an interview with Publishers Weekly, the book “explores the rise of religious pluralism in Manhattan between 1880 and 1960.” I’m in. 📚

Liz Bruenig on Catholicism & American power

Elizabeth Bruenig has written a couple of amazing columns this week for the NYT, columns that focus on the Catholic Church but help any reader better understand the contradictions in modern America.

Her first column sorted through the capitulations of Catholic politicians right and left to the demands of contemporary liberal-capitalist society. She suggests that it was inevitable that they’d abandon core Catholic principles even as they ascended to heights of power many never imagined possible for American Catholics.

Today she uses Amy Coney Barrett to discuss the long history, exemplified by John Locke, of anti-Catholic prejudice alongside the real tension between religious/metaphysical commitments and America’s political foundation, liberalism. 🔗

Coffee + grading while listening to Mahler’s Sympony No. 5, prompted by this touching anecdote from Alex Ross. 🎶 ☕️ 🔗

I watched The Booksellers this evening. It’s a delightful documentary about the passionate folks in the rare-book industry. Some mournful notes, but also some hopeful ones. Overall, a delight. Streaming now on, err, Amazon Prime. 📚 🎞

Here’s 58.5 hours of Glenn Gould playing Bach for y’all. See ya next week. 🎶

R.I.P. Fr. Edward Sthokal

Show me what you give your time and attention to, and I’ll show you what you love.

~Fr. Edward Sthokal

Here’s a beautiful send-off for a mentor who wouldn’t have wanted a fuss from D.J. Tice in the Star Tribune.

Sthokal was a powerful presence at the first 3 silent retreats I attended at Demontreville. Even as he was approaching 90 years old, and was already “retired,” he was present at the retreats and gave us an opening spiel with his trademark humor. In the Catholic Spirit, Stephen Boatwright recalls:

We usually have a wide variety of ages among the retreatants — from 20 to 90. Father Sthokol would often quip that ‘Some of you may be studying for your final exam.’

I’m not a Catholic, but I’m grateful for Fr. Sthokal’s presence. I’ll be back at Demontreville in a couple weeks, and it will be a changed place for several reasons. Not least of these will be the knowledge that Sthokal has now taken his final exam. Rest in peace.

It’s finally Minnesota’s turn in the *Atlantic*’s series of photographs from each of the 50 states. 🔗 📸

Catching up on some soccer highlights: Alphonso Davies had a ridiculous assist for Bayern in their 8-2 destruction of Barcelona in the Champions League quarterfinals. If I were Nèlson Semedo I wouldn’t show my face in public for a few weeks… ⚽️🔥

At the very center of his identity, Kushner is a Good Son. He’s run the country in a spirit of filial devotion to an implacable father. It’s a role that he thrives at playing, because he’s spent his whole life rehearsing for it.

~Jared Kushner, profiled in The Atlantic 🔗

Just behind the kingdom that failed ran a nice little river. It was a clear, lovely stream, and many fish lived in it. Weeds grew there, too, and the fish ate the weeds.

~Haruki Murakami, “The Kingdom That Failed” 🔗 📖