A lover of T. S. Eliot shouldn’t say too much against cats; Old Possum himself was a cat lover extraordinaire. “O well, I never, was there ever a cat so clever as magical Mister Mistopheles.” Andrew Lloyd Webber read Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and promptly thereupon made the Eliot estate rich with royalties, a flow of cash that keeps on giving. However one might wish old TSE to be remembered for “But to apprehend the point of intersection of the timeless with time is the occupation of a saint” or “I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled,” still it is satisfying enough that he be known for “Macavity’s the Mystery Cat: he’s called the hidden paw.”
I received a lot of delightful emails. There were the cat-defenders, of course, one calling them “wonderful creatures that God created” and another appreciating a cat’s “low maintenance.” And there were those who wished to defend the Episcopal Church, by saying (for instance) that the “catlick church” was the one in trouble. Dog-lovers came out of the woodwork; one assured me that not only the reader but his dog had issued a canine “Amen” to the piece. Another bemoaned the “fat cats” who “gobble up anything that flies into the churchyard”!
One quoted Jeremiah—“because of the evil of its residents, the animals and birds have been swept away,” a hitherto unappreciated ecological prophecy. And another writer sent me a cat emoji.
I am charmed (and blessed) to have such a readership.
My wife, Susan, once had a letter published in the New York Times: roughly speaking, she was defending cockroaches. I hope to find it for a future column.
What theologians read. John Henry Newman preached on “the love of relations and friends” on the feast of St. John the Evangelist, Dec. 27. In it, he deals with the question of whether Christians, called to love everyone, can or should have particular friends, people they love more than others. It’s a classic, and it’s here: http://newmanreader.org/works/parochial/volume2/sermon5.html
Out & About. This Sunday, Nov. 17: the “Good Books & Good Talk” seminar on The Warden by Anthony Trollope. You still have time to read this, and if you haven’t, I highly recommend it. Trollope is one of the most delightful writers ever. The seminar is held in the education building of Church of the Incarnation, Dallas, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Anyone who reads the book is welcome to the conversation.
The next seminar will be on January 26, 2020, on A Canticle for Liebowitz.