Resquiescat in Pace

Resquiescat in Pace: Gene Wilder

 

 

One of the great comedic talents of his day, Gene Wilder passed away yesterday at age 83.    Like so many in Hollywood, Wilder was a political liberal.  Unlike so many in Hollywood, he remembered that his function was to entertain, and that people did not come to his films to hear him spout of on politics.  I will miss him.

Resquiescat in Pace: Brian Bergkamp

 

 

seminarian_kansas

A successful vocation:

 

Police in Kansas have announced that a body found last week in the Arkansas River near one of the city’s park is the body of Brian Bergkamp, a seminarian from the Diocese of Wichita.

The Wichita Eagle Daily newspaper reported that a fisherman had spotted a piece of life vest floating in the water with a rosary attached to it. That discovery led to finding the body of the missing seminarian. The coroner confirmed it was Bergkamp and his family was given the news first.

Bergkamp, who was studying for the Kansas diocese at a Maryland seminary, had been missing since he saved the life of a woman who fell into the Arkansas River on 9 July. Three days later, he remained missing and was presumed to be dead.

Bergkamp, 24, was among five people travelling in separate kayaks when all got caught in turbulent waters. According to The Wichita Eagle, Bergkamp jumped from his kayak to save the woman before getting pulled under himself. He was not wearing a life jacket. The other kayakers made it to shore.

His family said his funeral and burial would be private. “Our prayers continue to be lifted up for the consolation of Brian’s family as they take the next step to honour the memory of their son and brother,” the Wichita Diocese said in a statement this week.

The diocese expressed “gratitude to God for his abundant graces offered to strengthen all impacted by Brian’s death, to the members of the recovery team and personnel of the Wichita Fire and Police departments, and to those others who have helped in any way throughout this tragedy”.

“Brian’s diocesan family is also thankful that his mortal remains will be able to be laid to rest and have a place at which continued prayers may be offered for his eternal well-being,” the statement said. Continue reading

Ray Bradbury: Requiescat in Pace

You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.
Ray Bradbury

When I was a boy I devoured science fiction, and I still read quite a bit half a century later.  Ray Bradbury, who died at 91 on June 5th, was not one of my favorite writers when I was young.  A bit too complex and little if any of the space opera that I enjoyed so much.  However, even then I knew that what I was reading in “Dandelion Wine” or “The Martian Chronicles” was writing of a very high order indeed.  In my teen years I came across “Something Wicked This Way Comes“, and this passage has always stayed with me:

Sometimes the man who looks happiest in town, with the biggest smile, is the one carrying the biggest load of sin. There are smiles & smiles; learn to tell the dark variety from the light. The seal-barker, the laugh-shouter, half the time he’s covering up. He’s had his fun & he’s guilty. And all men do love sin, Will, oh how they love it, never doubt, in all shapes, sizes, colors & smells. Times come when troughs, not tables, suit appetites. Hear a man too loudly praising others & look to wonder if he didn’t just get up from the sty. On the other hand, that unhappy, pale, put-upon man walking by, who looks all guilt & sin, why, often that’s your good man with a capital G, Will. For being good is a fearful occupation; men strain at it & sometimes break in two. I’ve known a few. You work twice as hard to be a farmer as to be his hog. I suppose it’s thinking about trying to be good makes the crack run up the wall one night. A man with high standards, too, the least hair falls on him sometimes wilts his spine. He can’t let himself alone, won’t let himself off the hook if he falls just a breath from grace.

Bradbury was a native of Waukegan, Illinois, his family eventually moving to Los Angeles.  A child of the Depression, Bradbury lacked the funds to go to college and instead educated himself in libraries as he pursued a career as a writer.  For ten years he visited libraries three days a week.  He wrote every day, a trait he recommended to all writers.  (It certainly is a handy habit for a blogger!)  He endured endless rejections and kept pecking away on rented typewriters until he became not only a financially successful writer, but, much more importantly, a good one.

Although Bradbury is known as a science fiction writer, Bradbury rejected the label, holding that almost all his fiction was better described as fantasy, and I tend to agree with him.  In any case, he is the last survivor of the Golden Age of Science Fiction to pass beyond our mortal sphere, and that thought leaves me sad.

In a field dominated by liberals, Bradbury was a fairly outspoken conservative.  He gave the execrable Michael Moore hell when he named one of his idiot bait films Fahrenheit 9/11.  Go here to read some of his unvarnished opinions on some of our recent presidents.

His masterpiece is widely regarded as Fahrenheit 451, a cautionary tale of a future totalitarian regime with a friendly face that bans books.  For a book lover like Bradbury there could be no greater crime:

The books are to remind us what asses and fools we are. They’re Caesar’s praetorian guard, whispering as the parade roars down the avenue, ‘Remember, Caesar, thou art mortal.’

The book, which came out in 1953, has several prophetic passages: Continue reading

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