My father had good common sense. A member of the “greatest generation,” he fought bravely in World War II and returned home to father a family of six, of which I am proudly the eldest. He went to the office every day, first in Minneapolis of the 1950s, then in New York of the 1960s and 1970s. He was the straightest of straight arrows, a bracingly sane man in a world of Mad Ones. No booze, no broads—just business, beer, and baseball, plus ample time for his children.
I have thought often of my father this week while reading the final pages of chapter 1 of The Religious Sense. In a sense probably not intended by the writers of the beautiful CL ballad “My Father Sings to Me,” I hear Dad’s clean, straight baritone in the words of Father Giussani.
You don’t know the ballad? Let’s start there. The artists are the Bay Ridge Band, six members of the Movement based in New York City.
The question in this week’s reading is what it means to judge our experience. This is why I have placed the quote from Father Giussani in the right sidebar of this blog:
CL, I have discovered, and perhaps you have too, has a language of its own. Judgment. Correspondence. Reduction. These and other terms can seem oddly impenetrable, and I have already posted once on wrestling with judging. But my father has sung me a new perspective.
In the penultimate section of chapter 1, “Man, the Ultimate Judge,” Father Giussani first says that we have the criterion for judging our experience without having to look for it. “The criterion,” he writes, “ . . . is totally immanent, inherent within our original structure.” The answer is right under our noses, or inside our hearts. Dad, with his clear sense of values, and his desire never to complicate things, would have understood this.