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Wednesday, 08 August 2007 00:00

Recommended diversions

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The Rhythm of Life

Subtitled “Living Every Day with Passion & Purpose,” Matthew Kelly’s The Rhythm of Life is in many ways no better or worse than the hundreds of other inspirational books that flood the market every year, and yet something about the simplicity of his advice makes this book special for me. He advocates guidelines — rest, spiritual endeavors, intellectual development — that most of us know, but infrequently practice. I also like the beginning of the book, which presents this paradox: “On the one hand, we all want to be happy. On the other hand, we all know the things that make us happy. But we don’t do those things. Why? Simple. We are too busy. To busy doing what? Too busy trying to be happy.” A good book to retune the engine and to remind us that we are human beings rather than machines.

Krysztof Kieslowski

Several years ago in this column, I mentioned this Polish director and his fine films, “White,” “Blue,” and “Red.” This past week I’ve spent a good bit of time watching “The Decalogue,” Kieslowski’s version of “The Ten Commandments.” Set in contemporary Poland, these movies subtly explore human nature through the Commandments. These films move slowly enough that we feel as if we are moving with the characters through their lives. Sometimes the plot may leave us baffled, uncertain as to the director’s final intent, but always these stories leave us intrigued and filled with wonder at the many manifestations of the human spirit.

Castra nerdorum (Camp of the Nerds)

Recently I attend a six-day seminar during which the participants were only allowed to speak Latin. All the lectures, all the tours, all the church services were in lingua Latina. While I learned a good many things at this seminar — not just about Latin, but about teaching, learning, and people — I was especially surprised to see the week become a sort of retreat for me. We met at a Franciscan convent on the Hillsborough River in Tampa, Fla., a beautiful place with five acres of grounds and an enormous screened-in back porch. Because we prayed the liturgy of the hours in Latin four times daily, my time there took on a spiritual aspect that I hadn’t anticipated. I was reminded again of the great goodness that can be found in silence and of the value of peace that is so often missing from our hectic lives. Pax vobiscum, legentes boni (Peace be with you, good readers).

— By Jeff Minick

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