Use the Lane, Ice-Cream Emperor


Click here for a couple of excellent posts on St. Thomas More…

…Here is a question for discussion (proposed by the great Dr. Gridlock):

mergeLet’s say you are driving in a lane. Suddenly a sign indicates that your lane will soon cease to exist.

Probably the traffic in the lane into which you must merge is moving more slowly than you.

Should you:

1) Decrease speed and merge immediately?


2) Keep driving to the bitter end of your lane, then merge?

Remember: Answer according to Christian charity. And feel free to explain your response with a thoughtful comment below.

…Here is a poem by Wallace Stevens:

The Emperor of Ice-Cream

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Wallace Stevens
Wallace Stevens

Stevens has been called “a spiritual poet in a secular age.”

I do not agree with this. In fact, I cry out sharply, like one of the bawds of euphony. (See “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”)

Wallace Stevens is not a “spiritual poet”–whatever that is. He is the greatest genius of the atheist aesthetics of the early twentieth century. As a poet, he makes T.S. Eliot look like a piker. Let’s give the insurance executive his due.

Stevens unapologetically evokes a godless world, a world in which death means utter nothingness.

See: “Sunday Morning.”

Stevens’ best poems are so stirringly evocative, they almost make you want to agree with him. But he is wrong. There is a God. There is an eternal paradise.

One line from “Sunday Morning” reads: Death is the mother of beauty.

Perhaps death is the mother of the beauty we can perceive now. But death is not the mother of Beauty, ever ancient, ever new. The eternal Beauty became man to conquer death.

Another line reads: The tomb in Palestine…is the grave of Jesus, where he lay.

But Christ does not lay in the sepulchre. He is alive, and He always will be.

newspapers…Maybe you think this post on Wallace Stevens is random.

Our newspaper boy has a habit of not showing up for days, and then delivering all the newspapers he was supposed to have delivered. This phenomenon made me think of “bring flowers in last month’s newspapers.”

See–it all makes sense.

8 thoughts on “Use the Lane, Ice-Cream Emperor

  1. Big Daddy! You left out the option taken by most Maryland drivers, which is: move from the non-ending lane into the ending lane, accelerate in order to get in front of as many people as possible, and then force your way into the non-ending lane!

    Note this is not the way of Christian charity!

  2. Studies have shown it is actually better for traffic flow to merge later than earlier. Merging when necessary to keep traffic flowing is better if there is a gap take it and get out of the way. If there isn’t a gap ride down until there is one. It’s about keeping the flow of traffic.

  3. Lisa, you have hit the nail on the head! That seems to be the number one method! But, for Christian charity, I agree with NB. I have tried both methods (not the one documented by Lisa), and in my experience those who attempt to merge immediately slow traffic even further by now blocking that lane and requiring a merge at a much slower speed. The cars behind now have to jockey for position – which means zooming around that car; or blocking the lane further to make sure *no one* can zoom around that car. Drivers seem more courteous with a taking-turns-at-the-end-of-the-lane approach. There’s fairness there.

    Lately, I’ve been wanting to offer you many, many bags of dried apricots to fix the traffic on the beltway in MO CO! Ugh!!

  4. I’m with NB: Zipper. Always zipper. This does not apply to off-ramps, though.

  5. I completely agree with Lisa. I have seen this happen many times. On Monday, I saw an SUV that was three cars behind me merge into a lane that was ending, race down to the end of the lane and force his way back into traffic!

    These things disturb me terribly. I have assisted at a large number of accidents where people were injured. Some severely. The children are the hardest to deal with. I’ve administered first aid to two people who subsequently died. Of course, we are fallible humans. Mistakes happen. However, in almost every case where I’ve administered first aid, someone was driving with a sense of me first instead of a sense of Christian charity.

    I merge as soon as it is safe to do so. I acquire a safe following distance. When I merge, I try to do so in a way that leaves the driver behind me with a safe distance, as well. It isn’t always possible to do this perfectly, but it is always possible to try.

  6. Roger makes some good points. I also see this “me first” attitude on the roads. The anonymity that cars provide blind us to how rude and aggressive this behavior really is. Think of what it would be like if you were standing in line at the bank, and someone came in the door, stepped to the front of the line, and forced their way in!

    So far we’ve been talking about this mostly in terms of safety. To get back to Fr. White’s question regarding Christian charity: I think there’s a clear connection between this “me first” attitude on the roads and abortion and euthanasia!

  7. I think you’re making an excellent point, Lisa. It’s true that driving with Christian charity is safer, but that isn’t the point. Safety is irrelevant. The reason to let Christian charity motivate our lives is because it pleases God when we do so. It’s just right.

    I can’t imagine true, informed, Christian charity coexisting with abortion or euthanasia, either.

  8. Abortion and euthanasia are grave sins against charity.

    Leaving unused asphalt in front of you while sitting on the brakes is a lighter sin. But it is a sin nonetheless.

    Tailgating is very dangerous and uncharitable.

    If everybody zippered efficiently, then it wouldn’t be possible to change lanes to pass in the vanishing lane.

    Changing lanes to pass in the vanishing lane is rude to the max. P&BD readers would never do such an obnoxious thing.

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