August 2005 Archives

Good News!!


Got through to Christine, only for about a minute and half--enough to ascertain that all of her family is okay. Their houses are underwater/destroyed and Christine presently has 11 guests in her house, but praise God their all alive!

As soon as I know more I'll let you all know. But praise God, everyone in this small group is okay.

Please continue prayers both for Christine and for all the others who are suffering hardship from loss of livelihood, goods, or loved ones. What a terrible, terrible storm.

I know I was terribly frightened on my trip home from Columbus in the aftermath of Charley as I was seeing all the devastation. But that doesn't hold a candle to this.

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Plea for Prayers

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You all know my good friends Christine and Gordon. They live in Louisiana, but outside of the worst of the storm. However, most of Christine's family lives in New Orleans/Metarie, including her mom and dad. Please pray that they are all right. I haven't been able to get in touch with Christine yet and naturally I am quite concerned because of the extent of the damage done and the frailness of her parents. I only hope they had the good sense to leave the city. Also brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins--the entire family was in the path of destruction. I'll keep you all posted as I find out more.

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Yesterday our Parish Priest did something in the homily with which I strongly took exception. And the oddest thing was that I, in large part, agree with his point.

In the course of a homily that stretched wide and far our priest brought up two points that he thougth related. The first of these was clearly church doctrine. He said something to the effect that society takes an out-and-out sin, such as abortion and turns it into a right. Clearly he was articulating a truth of the faith.

But then he said something that, while not destroying the first statement, certainly cast some doubt upon it. He said, the Iraqi war was evil, unjust, and should be brought to an end.

Now, I have no problem with any priest expressing this opinion clearly as his opinion. Every person has a right to look upon these circumstances and decide for him- or her- self what a just war looks like. This priest decided that it did not look like Iraq.

Since I largely agree, you may find my demurral somewhat odd. But it has two prongs. The first of these is that while every individual is entitled to his or her private opinion, a priest, serving in the role of priest, breaking open the scripture and sharing with the congregation is required to make clear if he speaks his own opinion or church teaching. For the most part, the fewer opinions that issue from the pulpit, the better. And I say that not to try to clamp a gag on the clergy, but because their role is so sensitive, delicate, and crucial to the congregation, particular as they enact the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Word and Eucharist. They are the trustees of the bounty of Church teaching. Our Priests feed us. And if what they feed us is a plethora of opinions we will starve to death. No matter how much I might agree with any given stand, it should not be presented in the same breath as something that is unarguably church teaching (the evil of abortion). This is the first half of my objection.

The second half consisted of this--how would I feel sitting in that congregation if my son, daughter, brother, sister, mother, father, any member of my family were serving in Iraq? How would I like to be the mother who is trying to explain to her child how she must support her father overseas even though what he is doing is evil? I know the good priest did not intend these ramifications--but while it is right and proper to convict someone of guilt in a case when we are clearly talking Church teaching, it is wrong a terrible to wave that brand when the question is debatable. As a Pastor it is the Priests terrible and glorious responsibility to uphold Church teaching in its entirety and purity, and to support the members of the congregation in following that truth. What is left to prudential judgment should not become the black mark of sin because of the preaching of Father. It should not create the internal struggle and the terrible weight it will for all of those families already burdened by the absence of their loved ones.

I didn't speak to our priest afterwards, because his point was short, and I hope because of his long tenure at this church the congregation understood clearly what he did and did not mean to say. Nevertheless, I say it here because it confounded me yesterday and I have been brooding on it for a while, trying to figure out why, when I so clearly agreed with the sentiment, I found its utterance so thoroughly out of place.

I'm not trying to lecture, merely to offer a perspective from the pews. Something I'm sure too many priests hear way too much of. But I truly think it's very important to clearly distinguish fact from opinion in so controversial and debatable a matter--both to defend Church doctrne and to support those who are so valiantly giving their lives in service to their country. They were not asked what they thought of this conflict--they stand and serve. For this they deserve our respect, our gratitude, our loyalty, our prayers, and our help. As they stand and serve, we need not to sling barbs and arrows, but to help in substantive ways the families they have left behind.

I may not agree with the war, but I have no disagree with those who chose service to their country as their life's ambition, and who now do so at the behest of our government. So long as they conduct themselves according to the laws governing such conflict situations and the laws of God, they deserve everything we can offer them, because they are offering us everything. Everything. In their service, they serve each of us with all that they have and all that they are.

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Something to Astound JCecil3


A quiz found at Dappled Things links one to a "political philosophy indicator." While it will come as absolutely no surprise to those who visit frequently, I think Mr. Cecil will be suitably shocked and chagrined (if he ever stops by any more) by these results.

#1 Liberal

#2 Conservative

#3 Neoconservative

#4 Radical

#5 Libertarian

#6 Centrist

#7 Paleoconservative

#8 Third Way

#9 Paleo-libertarian

#10 Left-libertarian

The juxtapositioning of Conservative against liberal comes from my general tendencies to economic liberalism with very strong socially conservative trends. (Although abolishing the death penalty and registering handguns--both of which I agree with, would both qualify for liberal causes. But I didn't rate the latter as a key issue, because while I'd like it to happen, I have certain sympathies with those who say it shouldn't.) Actually a lot of this may be a result of having my own very strong viewpoints, but being persuaded of the reason of the other side. In short--being generally mixed up.

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For My Permanent Collection

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Fr. Jim notes a site that expounds upon the utter creepiness of "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

I don't think most church musicians/litugists realize just how much stuff this music rakes up. I know that nearly every "patriotic" holiday near a Sunday in ALL of the northern Churches I've been to, and in those Southern Churches run by Northern liturgist, we are subjected to this song, which I steadfastly refuse to participate in in any mode whatsoever, so profoundly offensive do I find it to about nineteen different sets of sensibilities.

It would be nice if others would pay attention. This song is, like the Confederate Battle flag, better consigned to history.

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Brad Paisley


Some time ago TSO waxed enthusiastic about how much he liked Brad Paisley. The hit making the rounds then (and now) was "Alcohol," a song which while interesting failed to provoke interest for me. However, when I discovered that he was also the artist behind "Mud on the Tires," I knew that I needed to give more attention.

I got from the library Mr. Paisley's first album and I have to say that I was really wowed by it. What struck me first of all is the depth of humor in many of the songs. By that I mean that most country songs that are humorous are humorous because of a "catch line." Take for example Toby Keith's current hit "I Ain't As Good as I Once Was." The "humor" in the song depends upon the bending of the phrase "I ain't as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was." Okay, amusing for the first thirty-thousand times you hear it, but not much depth there.

On the other hand, the depth of humor in Mr. Paisley's work is impressive. From the first song, "The Long Sermon" in which we learn that "Nothing tests your faith like a long sermon on a pretty Sunday." To "Me Neither" in which our singer goes to embarrassing lengths to pick up a woman in a bar, using all of his lines and ultimately running out--into another thing that I think really makes the album for me--a relatively long instrumental. Honestly, I don't hear nearly enough of it in Country Music--figured it was a genre thing. But there's a long instrumental tag at the end of this song after he asks the girl he's talking to whether she thinks he ought to end his song, and he answers, "Me neither. . ."

Later there's a completely instrumental track titled "The Nervous Breakdown" and it's tremendous fun--unlike anything I've heard in this genre and most reminiscent of something like "Frankenstein."

In addition to humor, there appears to be enormous depth to Mr. Paisley's work. The usual songs of lost love becomes "Who Needs Pictures." And, there simply isn't anything to compare with "He Didn't Have to Be."

Now I know writing this is like preaching to the choir. If you like country music, you'll already have an opinion. If you don't like country music, you aren't even going to listen to this. So why bother?

I think because of this in the liner notes:

Finally, thanks be to God, for the gift of music and countless blessings. I hope only to do your will and be the person you wnat me to be. I can't do this without you. Thank for my life.

Now, you can't say an artist is great on sentiments like that. But sentiments like that are more likely to make me think the artist great because he recognizes the source of all art.

There are some artists I endure who, in spite of themselves, give me a glimpse of glory beyond them through there performances--Johnny Depp comes to mind. But what a pleasure it is to like an artist with whose sentiments I heartily concur.

And that may be another reason why I've recently turned to country music. I'm simply impressed with the number of artists who include God and Country in song. I'm tired of the relentless tearing down of our great nation and our even greater Lord and Savior. Much of country music offers at lest momentary respite from all of that.

Right now, all of Mr. Paisley's albums sit in my Amazon Wish List.

(Oh, and he not only has an advertisement for the Second Harvest National Foodbank Network, but he sang the version of "In the Garden" that reminded me of what I heard the first time I heard it.)

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Last night I wrote responses to two comments I had received in the course of the day.

Then I realized that while blogging is conducive to some exchange of information, all too often what is intended in one way may be taken another. What I could say in conversation with all of the concomittant body language and subtle vocal indicators cannot be said with proper inflection in a comments box. It sounds aggressive and rude. That is not the tone I wish to cultivate, so I hurried back to my blog and cancelled my two comments.

Often I write out a response at other blogs and realize that I just don't need to say this, that, or the other thing. Perhaps I needn't comment at all. And if I do comment there is every chance that the comment will be misinterpreted and possibly lead to hurt feelings. Is that really necessary in an exercise that is intended to be pleasurable? Is what I have to say so important that it is worth risking that someone may be harmed by it? I think rather not.

Further, I've discovered that even when you are trying very hard to follow a chain of thought, so many things intrude and so much time elapses between exchanges that the logic and coherence vanish entirely. We end up talking about six different subtle shades of things without ever realizing that we're doing so--which leads to some frustrating interchange. This confusion naturally works itself out in ordinary conversational flow. But in this medium it can lead to hurt feelings, odd suppositions, and caricatures of other people's viewpoints that can be hurtful. Once again, it simply isn't worth it for the exchange of a few words.

So these comments have gone to the comment graveyard and I await the opportunity to speak with those who wrote them (given that one is far overseas, that opportunity might not come). But I'd love to discuss the matters in person with the opportunity to hear the proponents' clarifications and reasoning.

And I suppose, lastly, one reason for writing this is that it may be even more rude to ignore someone's comments when they've taken the time and energy to "speak" with you. If ever you don't receive a response to something you have written (and expect a response to) do not assume that it has been ignored or is not welcome. Just assume that I could not come up with an appropriately worded statement that was truly reflective of what I wanted to say. In other words, I could not begin the conversation I wanted to have.

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Der Hölle Rache from The Magic Flute Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

This is one of the great, fascinating and incredibly difficult arias in the repertoire. As a result it is rarely sung well. But when it is, I don't know of any piece of music that can produce the thrilling effect of this one.

The Queen of Night (a baddy if there ever was one) upon finding out of the "betrayal" of an associate hands her daughter a knife and says:

My heart's aflame
with burning fiery vengeance.
Death! Death and despair are
Death and Despair are blazinge,
Burning Free!

If you cannot
bring on the pain of death upon Sarastro
Then you are nevermore my child to me.
YOu're nevermore my daught to me. Ah!
My duaghter you cannot be. Ah!
My daught you cannot be to me!
Disowned forever be!
Abandoned you will be!
Destroyed forever be!

All that nature dare.
Disowned, abandoned, be destroyed.
All that nature dare. Ah!
All that nature ever dare.
Unless. . . success. . .
Sarastro is demolished!
Hear, hear, hear!
Gods of vengeance,
Hear a mother's prayer!

(tr. Daniel Libman)

Okay, not what we'd call a role model for modern mothers. Nevertheless, this is opera and emotions tend to run a bit high in the course of things. (To hear a very fine counterbalance to this song, also listen to Papageno's song a bit later in the piece. A fine duet between two bird cathchers talking about all the children they will welcome into the family.)

Okay, once we get past the drama, what's so great about this piece of music? It is sung by a coloratura soprano--one skilled in a very ornamented and elaborate way of singing. In addition, my guess is that it must have parts that extend to the very highest vocal range of that soprano, because if the voice is good and the soprano hits the notes exactly right, they ring with flute-like tone and cease to sound as though formed by voice at all. The effect is truly astounding. From singing we get the impression that we have embarked on a flute solo. Beautiful doesn't begin to describe the impact of this piece sung well. It is, in fact, an absolute show stopper.

Now, because the piece is so difficult it hasn't found popularization in cartoons (The Barber of Seville, and "Kill da Wabbit" Ride of the Valkyries) or much other popular media. However, if you listen closely during the talent competition in Miss Congeniality the Opera singer sings this aria.

Do yourself a favor and check the disk out from the library. If you can find the performance by Lucia Popp, get it and have a listen. You'll be glad you did.

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Please pour out your prayers on the people of New Orleans, Louisiana, and adjacent states. This storm sounds like one to rival that of Galveston in the 1930s. It is much larger than the slightly weaker Andrew that devastated South Florida some years ago, and it's heading for a city that sits normally about 5 feet below sea level.

Pray for those leaving and traveling away. Pray for those left behind or staying behind. Pray for a weakening of the storm rapidly. At this strength it will affect people well-inland who have never experienced anything quite like this.

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Perhaps what I am about to describe has never happened to you. If not, then you are an exceptionally strong person. But I write this as encouragement. It took me a long time to learn my lesson, but once learned, it is one of those things I wish I could share. However, while it might be learned, it can seldom be taught.

Have you ever been embarrassed, shame, or just plain bullied out of enjoying something because of the derogatory opinion of others? Have you ever found yourself apologizing for one aspect or another of your taste.

I write this because this afternoon I was listening to Brad Paisley's version of "In the Garden," and I found myself thinking how much I disliked that song, how maudlin and mawkish the lyrics. And suddenly I realized that those were not my opinions at all, but the opinions of one of those "sophisticated" music critics who are always informing us what is wrong with what we like. While I genuinely don't care for "Beulah Land" or "Battle Hymn of the Republic," I have always liked "In the Garden." I don't know if it is good hymnody or bad hymnody or indifferent hymnody. It speaks to me. I don't find it mawkish and sentimental. I like it. And it took me a long time to shake off an opinion by someone I respected and considered better informed.

We should not be cowed into liking, disliking, or feeling any particular way about anything we encounter. Who are these arbiters of Good Taste--these paragons of understanding and purveyors of opinion? They are, just like us, people. They may have a better notion of what subjectively is considered "better music," that is all it amounts to.

I think back a a bit of ugliness that transpired when Jonathan Franzen demurred at being selected for Oprah's Bookclub because it was so middlebrow. Oh, what a vaunted opinion Mr. Franzen, or any person advancing such an opinion must have of themselves. In order to call anyone else middlebrow, you must perforce be seated on the throne of the highbrow. And where exactly is that situated? Where exactly do these paragons of taste find a place to call their own?

Who cares what anyone else thinks? If it is licit and it is pleasurable, enjoy it. Don't ever apologize when your opinion differs from those you respect. Don't ever feel that your taste is not good enough.

Fortunately, I have outgrown most of my prejudices--recently conquering a life-long aversion to country music, and just this afternoon unearthing an untruth I had taken as my own belief. Sometimes these things just slip in. I don't know how it happens, but it does.

And so to my few readers--never let my opinions, strongly expressed though they may be deprive you of rightful enjoyment of works of literature, music, film, or art. My opinion may differ. I have different information and experience influencing those opinions. There are things to which I simply do not have access--emotionally or intellectually. There are arguments I cannot hear and truths that I cannot bring myself, quite, to fully espouse, even if I recognize their truthfulness. These are the struggles of a lifetime. Do not allow what I say, or what anyone says, to add to your own array of struggles. It would be a shame.

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I watched this because it was sited as one of the 100 best horror films of all time and it was actually fairly close to the top. Brought to you by the same genius that gave us The Happiness of the Katakuris, Audition is another species of salmon altogether. (My review of the former, once at Popcorn Critics is, alas, no longer.)

And frankly, I have to say that after seeing this film I had the same reaction I've had to every post Akira Kurosawa (and some pre-) Japanese film I've ever seen. Huh? What's going on? What does it mean? Why is it repeated three, four, five, six times? How did it end? What did it mean? What was the point?

Japanese films must rely upon a whole context of cultural clues to which I have no access because every time I watch one I am completely mystified. This is no exception. Girl auditions for a film role. Producer pursues girl. Girl is psychotic abused psycho-killer torturer or somesuch. Hack, slash, oops it was all a dream. Or maybe the dream was a dream and all that wasn't a dream was what was real. Paralyzed bodies, talking heads, blood and the end, plinking away on a piano.

I don't know. I suppose I liked some of the tension and suspense. But this isn't for the kiddies. And it isn't for the faint of heart. And it isn't for someone who expects a coherent story line. And it isn't for . . .

Only for crazed Japanese film afficianados. Everyone else can give it a big miss and not have missed a thing.

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Writing News/Request for Prayers


Some years ago, I was in a writing group with three other very talented writers. Together we hit upon the idea of writing a short novel for a new market of "dime books" in supermarket chains. The novels were to be less than 50,000 words in length and could be in any number of genres.

The four of us sat down and picked a favorite plot--The Count of Monte Cristo--to redo as Science Fiction. (Yes, yes, I know it had been done before--but we do well to recall Ecclesiates dictum, "There is nothing new under the sun.") We outlined the plot and then assigned each person a group of chapter to do, passing the manuscript around one to the next. Well, as it transpires, what we had to say could not be said within the constraints of 50,000. (Well, we should have gotten a clue from the length of the source, shouldn't we?) At any rate we continued to work on it.

After I moved away from Ohio, the group more or less dissolved. The novel lay dormant for a few months and then I took it out and substantially rewrote it after trying to interest the others in completing it. Only one other was interested. I rewrote the novel substantially. She did some touch-up stuff. And then years passed.

A few months ago, she wrote to ask for the odd straggler file she wouldn't seem to find and recently wrote to say that she has submission letter and other information ready to go. She's chosen a couple of publishers to start and if one doesn't take it, she'll send it to the next immediately.

I'm excited. I thought the work was worthwhile some years ago. I still think it is. I've always lacked the necessary stick-to-it-tiveness to force it through the long process of publication. But I can see doing this in tandem--contributing to it as it were.

So I ask your prayers that our novel is well and gently received, even if not accepted for publication. I pray that we all learn something from it and from this experience I have something to share with you all.

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Write What You Know

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Fledgling writers are often given the very good advice to "write what you know." The problem is that what one knows and knows well could very well be harmful to others. I discovered that as I set out upon a recent writing journey from which I share the following excerpt because I do not think it will go any further. The piece I share is not harmful, but some of the rest might well be. People who know me well might read it and think that they are being written about, and nothing could be farther from the truth, and yet people will see what they will see. So as discretion is the bitter part of valor (to quote Philip Jose Farmer), I think I do better to share only this relatively harmless excerpt.

It was into this fray that one day in late June I unsuspectingly wandered. I had been working on my Ph.D. in paleobiology--my particular subject of study was the functional morphology of seive-like plates that constitute one of the most identifiable of the disagreggated parts of an extinct relative of modern-day starfish. But, alas, my funding ran out and I had only one possibility--and a rather dismal one at that. The State Geological Survey needed coal resource mappers. It paid a buck more than minimum wage and involved weeks away from wife and soon-to-be child. But, whatever it took to keep body and soul together. More daunting than the summer prospects was the seeming perspective on the rest of my life. I was looking out over the increasingly dismal vistas of academia, knowing with a fearful certainty that I was destined for a soul-crushing eternity of teaching undergraduates who came to us as the deplorable product of what we laughingly call an educational system. All ths while balancing a rich array of grant-writing, research, and political backbiting and infighting that made the U.S. Senate look live a haven of serenity and equability. It little mattered that my advisor seemed to wear it very well and manage without much expensive therapy or extensive and inventive recreations of himself through padded CV and bogus nominations and awards.

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I know you all have been waiting with bated breath wondering what I would share from this week's excursions. But before I unveil it. . .

Providence acts in so many kindly ways to perform so many seemingly minor services, all of which go toward reinforcing our love of God. God acts through natural means and the natural world to remind us always that He is present. Today, for me, was a case in point.

I had thought about going to EPCOT again. I really like EPCOT--the gardens, the spaces, the architecture, the music, etc. But I was really tired of EPCOT. I didn't really want to venture the Magic Kingdom on a Saturday before the rest of the world was in school, so that left MGM Studios or Animal Kingdom. Frankly, I am not all that wowed by Animal Kingdom. The designers built it to give you a sense of adventure, of being lost in the tangle of thicket, with the net result that if there are more than 15 people in the park, it seems crowded. The pathways are difficult to negotiate, and there's an awful lot of jostling, bustling and general knocking about that a crowd-sky person doesn't care for. MGM, on the other hand, has fewer gardens, more indoorsy stuff that generally leaves me with the "been there, done that" feeling of the over-familiar.

I opted for Animal Kingdom. Again sheer providence, because there is no coincidence, only purpose. When I got to the gate I saw an announcement that took my breath away. They had back in the hinterlands of the park a Titan Arum. Yes, children, that's what you'll be looking at. What, you may ask, is a Titan Arum. Why it's only the largest blossom structure in the world. It's a plant that grown naturally in Sumatra. A few years back a specimen was taken to Kew Gardens and encouraged to grow. Since then fewer than 100 specimens in the United States have grown to blossom and stink up the house. Because you see, the blossom smells a great deal like rotting meat--the better to attract pollinator flies.

Well, the largest "flower" of this plant was about twelve feet high. I use the word "flower" advisedly because it really is a flower-cover. The flowers are much smaller structures at the base of the plant covered by what looks like a large blossom that closes up at night to help prevent self-pollination. So it isn't really the largest single flower in the world--that honor is held by Rafflesia, but you've got to admit, a twelve foot blossom is a spectacular specimen.

Now, the specimen you are about to see is on its way to blossoming, but a ways off--perhaps as much as two weeks to a month. This specimen was grown from a 134 pound tuber and is two weeks old at the time of these pictures.

Animal_Kingdom__Aug_24_2005 001_for_web.jpg

Animal_Kingdom__Aug_24_2005 002_for_web.jpg

I honestly can't tell you when the last time I was so excited was. I'll be on the phone every day to the horticulturalist finding out when the blossom will open and I'll be out there the day it opens and every day after that I can be. This is one of those experiences that the mystics call "consolations." I don't look for them, but I am exceedingly thankful when they come around. This really is a blessing for me and I am so grateful to be able to share some small part of it. I know it isn't all that exciting for you all, but please accept my word that this is only overshadowed by the great good news that Spouse and Child return tomorrow. Hurray! The axial tilt problem that started back in June will come to an end and with it the blossoming to a Titan Arum!

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How NOT to Read Scripture

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A discussion in the comments box at Disputations reminds me of one of my favorite subjects as detailed in the title above. And I will take as my example the subject of Just War.

The Church teaches that Just War is a revelation of God. Thus, as Catholics, we may accept Just War Theory as Holy Truth. Now, I'm not terribly keen on the theory myself, and I have some serious questions about it; however, it serves as the perfect example because it seems the middle ground between the Old Testament and dogmatic pacifism; and therefore a test case.

Now, if we were to read the Bible as some seem to do, a verse at a time out of context, we would stumble upon something like this in the Old Testament:

" Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.' " (Samuel 15:3)

I'm sure you all have stumbled upon this and other quotations like this and have puzzled for a moment wondering what God ordered this. If the Lord truly revealed "just war" or if pacifism has any hope of being true, what does one do with revelations such as these? Just war tells us that we must limit the damage done to combatants alone--I doubt infants, children, cattle, sheep, camels, or donkey qualify under these rules. Is the Church then teaching something that flies in the face of scripture?

No. Not when scripture is regarded in its fullness and not verse by verse. I think there is hardly a doctrine of any sect of Christianity that a verse by verse reading of the Bible would not confound. But when all of the Bible is understood in the context of the fullness of revelation, only then can our doctrinal pronouncements begin to make sense.

So, how NOT to read the Bible? Verse by verse, one snippet at a time, seeking our will and our agenda whereever we go. Whenever we encounter a scripture, one must always bring it into the light of the revelation of Jesus Christ and ask how it stands up in that light--is this the fullness of the understanding of God.

I won't say that the words in Samuel are wrong or that divine inspiration fails in encountering them. I will say rather human understanding fails in dealing with them. They are not in accord with the revelation of Jesus, nor even with the fullness of the revelation of the Old Testament. I don't know what they mean separately--but I do know for certain that they reaffirm the strong bond God has forged with the chosen people--they make clear that the chosen ones are God's favored. They do not give us license to commit these atrocities ourselves. More, are they like the words of God to Abraham without the retraction of the later angel? The question must be asked because Israel failed to wipe out the Amalekites. There was no love lost between the two nations, so something else must have intervened--perhaps something lost to history which, by its nature was not nearly so important as the revelation of God's love for his people.

I don't know for certain. But what I do know is that reading any book of the Bible, any verse, any passage, any word outside the fullness of the complete revelation is a recipe for private interpretation and religious disaster. If one is to accept the truth of revelation, one must also understand that here below we will see and understand only a small fragment of that truth. So, when reading the Bible, do not cling too closely to that which makes you comfortable, but carry everything out into the light of Christ.

I know that I am chief among those who tend to focus on a verse or a piece and lose the sense of the whole. I need to remember even more than anyone else what I've written here. Scripture only makes sense in the context of the whole, so we must seek the whole to begin to understand.

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Words to Live by

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Being an aural portrait, a memory, and a word photograph of EPCOT expeditions. With commentary.

Overheard this evening while standing outside of the Land, photographing some sort of wild berries. A man speaking to wife and at least two children of age of reason. "I spent an effing fortune to get us here. Now shut up and enjoy it." Now, with the golden inspiration summed up in these stirring words of leadership, solidarity, and caring how could anyone fail to have fun?

Then there is my dear father, God rest his soul, whose grim determination and iron will propelled his wife, seven year-old daughter, and teen-aged daughter, along with Linda, Samuel, and myself through a whirlwind tour of all the Nations at EPCOT. Fondly memorialized in family tradition as the EPCOT Death March, it culminated in my father flying into a frothing rage when my younger step-sister wanted to buya pencil as a souvenir. The stuff golden memories are made of.

Contrast these two with the picture of a young father, perhaps twenty-eight, twenty-nine, sitting on the pinkish brown curb outside of the great Globe--Spaceship Earth. Obviously tired and hotter than he'd ever been in Wisconsin, or Iowa, or wherever he came from to visit. He sat there holding his daughter--peaps seven-or-eight sprawled across his knees asleep. And he and his wife were chatting, smiling, and laughing. I wish I'd had the courage to ask for a photograph. A photograph that would serve to remind me that a proper ordering of Earthly goods leads to the same wonderful end--ourselves sprawled across the knees of our loving, indulgent, heavenly Father.

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Rejection and Detachment


Once again Disputations provides some excellent food for thought. Would that my thoughts were so good as the food that engenders them. Nevertheless, please accept these meagre ruminations for what they are--a kind of riff spun off a more substantial discussion.

The excerpt that caused this spin-off:

(from Disputations)

But there's nothing in this model of the intellect that requires the concepts to be concepts relating to beauty. They can be concepts related to race, or to risk, or to toxicity. An absolute mistrust of perceivable beauty -- of that which is beautiful -- amounts to an absolute mistrust of perceivable creation, which ought to be unthinkable for a Christian. There is no barb in beauty, unless the Author of Beauty placed it there.

It may be, though, that a mistrust of the human intellect, a recognition of the frequency with which it makes mistakes regarding beauty, is expressed as what might be called a prudential mistrust of beauty. If we can't make the intellect work better, we can at least avoid giving it things it works poorly on.

What occurred to me, and what I started to spell out in the comments there is that there is another form of distrust of beauty that occurs in religious circles. That form might be called the seduction of beauty.

The chain of reason goes something like this. To become more like God, we are called to detachment. Detachment is difficult enough in itself, and far more difficult when the good we are attached to is beautiful, therefore as a step in detachment, we must reject what is beautiful even though it might be good because we are held bound by it.

The response to this is multiple. First, detachment is the means to an end, not an end in itself. It is the path travelled, and frankly may be only one of many such paths to travel, whose destination is intimacy with God. To treat detachment as an end is to the miss the point, and to align all things in life to achieve an end which is only a means redefines the means as an end equal to the true end. That's a complicated way of saying that if you do this you are missing the point of detachment.

What I didn't say in my comment, and what is by far the more subtle error in this type of reasoning is that when one does this one has become attached to the idea of rejection. That is, we substitute attachment to a real thing (one that grace can more readily conquer) for attachment to an idea or an ideal (a far more hazardous and difficult a barrier).

If, as a Christian, you think you are being called to reject the beauty and goodness of God's creation my best advice to you would be to seek out a wise spiritual advisor to help you discern what is really going on. God did not put all of the beauty He has on the Earth to be ignored. Detachment from that beauty does not mean rejection of it or lack of recognition of it. There may be some beauty that we are called to prudentially restrain our interest in. (For most males I know, the beauty of the female form is something like this.) Nevertheless, what a miserable and small place the world would be if we did not recognize and relish this beauty as is licit and correct.

So my only real response is that it is a distorted understanding of detachment to suggest that it would require rejection of beauty. (And let me make explicitly clear, this was in no way implied by what Tom wrote--but I respond to what he writes as the person I am and express the interests that I have.) Now, it is possible that particular vulnerability to a type of beauty (aforementioned feminine pulchritude) may prudentially require not so much a rejection but a careful screening of such beauty (If thine right eye offend thee, pluck it out.) But it would be nonsense, and dangerous nonsense, to claim that what is good and truly beautiful is not so. It would be equally dangerous to reject all of God's beauty because some part of it particularly appeals, or because a distortion in our own view and character makes of the object of beauty an object of temptation.

In short, detachment does not require rejection of beauty. In fact, to be able to even consider attachment, immersion in the beauty of the world seems a salutary thing. You would come to realize that you cannot own it, hold on to it, keep it, or even remember it as lovely as it is outside of the moment. It teaches you to appreciate the good things of God and to let them go freely, always knowing that God's goodness ever exceeds His goodness as we come to know and love Him.

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Why I Am NOT a Calvinist

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Alicia has a nice post on Calvnism that serves to solidify my primary objections to the whole doctrine.

A "five-point" Calvinist adheres to all of the following:

1. T ~ Total Depravity of Man (effect of the fall)

2. U ~ Unconditional election (God's choice to save some but not all from the effects of the fall)

3. L ~ Limited Atonement (Christ died for only the elect that God chooses to save)

4. I ~Irrestisitble Grace (Grace given to the elect to receive salvation which is effectual and irresistible)

5. P ~ Perseverance of the Saints (the ability of the saints to persevere in saving grace)

When I was studying Calvinism I could never resolve total depravity with the innate goodness of all that God created. That goodness could not be "undone" by mere human action and so the idea of total depravity seemed unwarranted. Now, that is a facile and surficial understanding, I'm certain. Nevertheless, it was one objection. But the largest objection came between U and I. God unconditionally elects only some to be saved and then saves them with irresistable Grace. This is the sticking point for me. If I believed in the God represented by this doctrine I would have to believe in a God who creates without bounds, supposedly loves unconditionally, but who, for whatever reason chooses to damn some portion of the human race before they are born and not to redeem them. My word for this is not God, but rather Monster. How could an all-loving, all giving God arbitrarily determine some number of His Children would be thrown into the fire forever. Sounds like the Uber-Moloch to me.

Now Calvinists do temper these two lines of doctrine and nuance them with subtleties far too subtle for me. But when I boil it all down, the question comes to attempting to reconcile an all-loving Father who deliberately casts away some portion of his children. Well, then, I would say in my naivete, He isn't very all-loving now is He?

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Age: Not a subject for polite company
[Gender] Sex: Male**
Location: Orlando, FL
Religion: Roman Catholic
Occupation: Education
Began blogging: (dd/mm/yy): 07/02

Political Compass results:

Left/Right: -3.63
Libertarian/Authoritarian: -2.82

IPIP-NEO results:


Track List:

1. Philosophy, et cetera - - pixnaps97a2
2. Parableman - - p8r8bl9m8n18
3. Rebecca Writes -
4. Ales Rarus - - ales2112avis
5. Here I Stand - - exiled323catholic
6. Catholicism, Holiness, and Spirituality

**(I have gender only in the sense that man is masculilne--I refuse to be a grammatical element and to succumb to the casual use of a grammatical term to describe my human identity. Please pardon the vulgar pun, but Humans have sex (as do most animals), objects have gender. One of my favorite bugbear/lectures).

Now, you can find more about the personality assay at the above sites or or Fr. Jim's site. The short personality assay gave more extreme results in all categories, the longer mellowed out many things--but as you can see extraversion is still at extremely low amounts. According to the assay, this is somewhat counterbalanced by agreeableness which is very high levels. Oh, who really cares anyway.

And the political thing--that I should be in the same bin with Gandhi, this surprises whom? Not exactly a newsflash. On the other hand, you can see it is a slow day for blogging for me (energies are turned elsewhere in the writing world). So, I present this for your delectation and delight and encourage you to visit many of these other people and learn more from them.

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I despise labels.

I think I've made that clear before in entry after entry, but in case I haven't. . .

I despise labels.

Other than scientific names and nomenclatural assists, human beings most often use labels as offensive weapons. A label is simply a tag that then typifies everything about a person. A label in many ways serves the same function as a car surrounding a person. Once a person is in a car, it is no longer people we are dealing with but cars. We can weave in and out, cut others off and do the most amazing things that most of us would not consider doing outside of a car. But within a car we are insulated from humanity--our own and that of others. So too with labels--we insulate ourselves from the humanity they are presumed to define.

Those who take labels upon themselves do so for a myriad of reasons, but it does not lessen the onus of the label. When I am dealing with a communist, I am no longer dealing with a person but with a mass of ideology. That we so easily fall into the habit of labeling is a sign of intellectual laziness and of a certain desire to define ourselves outside of the label.

The most recent example of this is a label imposed by persons who are afraid of what deviates, even by a small amount, from supposed norms. I don't even know for certain what a "metrosexual" is. Seems to me that this is some variety of heterosexual who can now be despised for his or her supposed differences from all those around him or her. By my reading a metrosexual has a heterosexual's orientation with a "homosexual's" interests. Now, what precisely describes a homosexual's interests and why do they fall outside the realm of what a heterosexual man should be interested in? Can a heterosexual man read and enjoy Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, and the collected works of Angela Thirkell? Can he delight in the works of Gilbert and Sullivan and Cole Porter? Can he have any interest outside of his car, his toolbox, and the Sunday game? From my reading, it certainly doesn't seem like it. A metrosexual (whatever in the world that might be) is a man who is hardly a man at all (as defined by those, who I suppose think they know what a man is).

Metrosexual is another label, even more useless and damaging than others that have arisen. It is a label designed to narrowly circumscribe the interests that a fully heterosexual male might consider. What idiocy! As though because a label has arisen I intend to sit around all day watching Spike TV and CNN, drinking beer, and waiting for the next season (for whatever sport) to start.

I'll admit it. I despise competitive sports. Greater damage has been done to our society and to me personally in the name of competitve sports than nearly any other facet of our entertainment industry. Early on I swear I tried, but I could not fathom the interest in one group of men or another chasing around one form of spheroid or another to some end that didn't seem exactly earth-shattering. Nope--just don't see the attraction--haven't for a long time, probably never will. I don't despise and hate it as I once did--when those who were interested in these things used them as a bludgeon for those of us who were not conversant (thus my header).

I see the label metrosexual as a way of distinguishing where there should be no distinction. I do not self-identify as a metrosexual (fortunately, for one thing I don't dress nearly well enough, and my taste in Hawaiian shirts is enought o refute the label for life). Even if my fashion sense did not exclude me automatically, I would still refuse to accept a label such as this which is designed to set apart.

When will we learn that separate is never equal. A metrosexual, separated out from the heterosexual mass, will either be greater or lesser, as indeed a homosexual, distinguished from the general humanity of male sex will be regarded either as greater or lesser depending upon his surroundings. Why is this a necessary part of our interaction with one another? Why do we insist upon hurtful distinctions? How does it help us navigate society and serve the Lord? I don't recall the great saints spending their time telling each other, "Well so and so is a well-known metro." They even accepted and embraced the humanity of those who disfigurements and diseases had far removed them from the ordinary run of humanity.

Labels do not help us to grow in love. The finer the distinction, the greater the possibilities for thinking of reasons why we need not love the person as an image of God.

As with all labeling--I repudiate and reject it. The labeling disfigures us, dismantles us, makes us less than human. It serves no useful purpose except to breed prejudice and disregard. Think about it--what do you think of when someone says, "NASCAR fan" or "Country Music Fan" or "Marilyn Manson Fan" or "Barbara Streisand Fan." The words themselves conjure a reaction, usually gut-level. They breed a prejudice that alienates us from the humanity of the individual. All on the basis of what we like in the world of entertainment--hardly a significant criterion for judgment. And yet we are so anxious to feel good about ourselves that we seize on any label, any pretext for forming a difference that will somehow enhance our own status--most often at the cost of another's.

Reject labeling. In your Christian walk refuse to identify any person as anything other than a person--someone made in the image and likeness of God, someone loved beyond all bounds, without reservation, without qualification. Prepare yourself for heaven where all will be as they are without label or insignificant distinction. Make the kingdom of Heaven on Earth, by refusing to classify and pigeonhole God's most marvelous and wonderful creation.

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Msgr. Clarke

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I am blissfully ignorant of whatever it is that is circulating about Msgr. Clarke and intend to stay that way. I've seen hints here and there and have decided that I really don't need to know more. I suppose it is something like burying my head in the sand--but so be it!

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Found at a Blog New to Me


Can't say I was thrilled to death with the results--however here they are unvarnished. Interesting the two that should tie. I guess all that jungina stuff about a shadow self may not be so far off the mark!

You scored as Severus Snape. Well you're a tricky one aren't you? Nobody quite has you figured out and you'd probably prefer it stayed that way. That said you are a formidable force by anyone's reckoning, but there is certainly more to you than a frosty exterior and a bitter temper.

Severus Snape


Albus Dumbledore


Hermione Granger


Remus Lupin


Ron Weasley


Draco Malfoy


Harry Potter


Ginny Weasley


Sirius Black


Lord Voldemort


Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with

Found at Catholic Pillow Fight (new to me) via Catholic Light.

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Calvinist Romance


TSO challenging the Curt Jester on his own turf. Frightening, enlightening, and extremely amusing.

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A Crossbreed of Eliot and Rowling


Witnit--a rather amusing, always entertaining blog that I somehow lost and now have found again alerts me to the presence of this wonderful bit of work--Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Poet For those already offended, this compounds the offense--for those amused by Potter, an amusement--for most a matter of no moment one way or the other.

A sample:

JUNE is the cruellest month, breeding
Voldemort out of the dead land, mixing
Crucio and Imperius, stirring
Harry to behave like a prat.
Winter kept us playing Quidditch, flying 5
Around with the stupid sport, ignoring
Our coursework until the exams.

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From Father Jim--An Obituary


Horrible beyond words. I mourn the world's loss.

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TSO and Blogging


Despite the moribund state of much of the blogworld, duly noted and annotated in TSO's travels about the landscape, Mr. O is alive and kicking. He asks why there is a dearth of entries by once-prolific bloggers.

And the answer is that when I'm at my machine, I'm as noisy as I ever was. Problem is with nearly a month of vacation here and there, I haven't been at my machine as much. In addition, I've noted the need for mellowing and the need for autocultivation to bring about a clearer sense of where I need to be moving. I've been out taking pictures too often. (This weekend, I plan to return to EPCOT to see if the banana has bloomed.) And finally, and I speak for me alone, absence of wife and child for much of the summer leads to a certain moribundness. I've noted that I have to force myself to leave the house both physically and mentally. I consider this a good sign because it means that the life of family is stimulating and refreshing, keeping me young and alive and less likely to turn into the Thoreauian trogdolyte I would, left to my own resources, become. So all cheer the return of the troops at the end of August. Perhaps you won't have to look at so many pictures of flowers--maybe I'll find a more interesting subject. (Don't count on it--flowers fascinate me endlessly--both in the Georgia O'Keefe way and in the sheer dynamic brilliance and abundance of their success on Earth.)

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TSO and Thoreau

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Oh Dear, I find myself about to give birth to another of my endless opinions.

TSO asks why there is a dearth of Scholarly Biographies of Thoreau. I find that there are probably three groups of reasons.

(1) Thoreau, by all accounts, was a thoroughly (pardon the pun)unlikable person. I think often of his quotation, "I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than share a velvet cushion." Yes--and so he sits on his pumpkin and everyone leaves him alone--I think it right and proper.

(2) Thoreau does not fall easily into the many different quagmires that amount to "victim studies." Reputable scholarly works outside the historical sciences (and even within) seem to be much more interested in publishing agenda-driven victim studies than they are in really doing research. So far as anyone is able to discern Thoreau was not gay, lesbian, trans-gendered, a member of an oppressed minority; he didn't stutter or have a noticeable physical defect; when he was in company he was not unduly flatulent or disturbed by excessive gaseous eructations. In short, a Thoreau biography would not serve to advance any of the seriously limited agendas of modern scholarship, so why waste the time, ink, and paper?

(3) Thoreau's work was primarily a work of adolescence. That is to say that his primary contribution to our understanding of the world is rooted in adolescent non-compliance. Now, that isn't to say that it wasn't put to good purpose, but coupled with statements like the one above regarding velvet pumpkins, and an almost insatiable interest in himself, this makes Thoreau a rather less than entertaining figure to consider in any detail.

Now--let the fireworks of Thoreau's admirers begin. Oh, by the way, did I mention that I am actually one of them. Civil Disobedience is a useful and necessary concept--A Week on the Concord and Merrimac Rivers is, at times stirring and lovely, as are snatches of writings here and there. And how can you not have a grudging admiration for a curmudgeon who was old at the age of twenty?

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There's so much I want to say in this one entry that I hope everything comes through coherently.

Let me start with a disclaimer. I have surmised that the fewer opinions I have on matters of import, the happier I generally am. I would resolve to have no opinions on any matter, but as that is out of the question (being the second most opinionated person on Earth), I have resolved to confine my opinions to matters of interest in which I can speak with, if not true expertise, at least a modicum of understanding. This would, of course, greatly narrow the scope of my discussion to golden-age mysteries and ME. Given that neither subject would have an enormous audience, today I plan to regale you with tales of Golden Age mysteries.

One of the few mysteries I recall with any sense of detail at all is A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie. I can't really account for why I recall this one, but I suspect that it was the first time I "solved" a mystery before the solution was revealed by the author. A Murder is Announced is by Agatha Christie and it features her detective Miss Marple (if the title hadn't already given this away.

I say I recall this book in some detail. I remembered as I was watching it that one of the victims was named Murgatroyd. Now, I had heard my mother say ten billion times "Heaven to Murgatroyd," and had puzzled over that expression long and hard. It had never occurred to me that Murgatroyd was a person's name. I also remember that the solution of the mystery hinged on the Shepherdess, and for me a seemingly cryptic statement from the one witness who could see anyting. In fact, this is what revealed the whole thing for me--so it wasn't really a fair solution, although, as the statement occurred a good 50 pages before the end and the discussion as to what was going on, I feel vindicated in considering this my first "solved" mystery--and solved on the clues.

A new series has come out recently featuring Miss Marple mysteries. Now, Miss Marple has not had the kind cinematic treatment of Hercule Poirot, etc. Her history starts with the delightful Dame Margaret Rutherford--who was indeed a wonderful cinematic presence but about as far from the essence of Miss Marple as one could get. She did, however, have Dame Agatha's approval. I recall a movie (The Mirror Crack'd) in which Helen Hayes played Miss Marple to the delightful strains of semi-villain Elizabeth Taylor. Finally, Joan Hickson did a very fine job of playing the "fluffy" wool-gathering old lady who is sharp as steel underneath.

The present incarnation is played by Gwendolin McEwan, and I have to say that it is certainly interesting and novel. I would say that McEwan doesn't come anywhere within fifty yards of the character as written by Agatha Christie (that was hit dead-on by Joan Hickson) and yet, as an interpretation of the Christie character, this is certainly acceptable and interesting.

What I find a bit disturbing is the proliferation of sexual antics that seems to bestrew itself across the screen in this most recent set of productions. I've only viewed two so far--Body in the Library and A Murder is Announced. In each of these there was at least one lesbian relationship and any number of adulterous assignations. Now, I probably missed a great deal in my early readings, but I don't think Dame Christie wrote a Lesbian couple into every one of her novels. And with Body in the Library it is this Lesbian "folie a deux" that gives us the denouement.

I really don't have anything against lesbians, on screen or otherwise, but I do have a problem with "reclaiming literature." One can never, with any authority, discuss authorial intention. But I suspect toleration for lesbians was not one of the chief agendas of the Agatha Christie novels, nor do I suspect that the thought of lesbian attachements so frequently crossed Dame Christie's mind.

On the other hand, I can be a seriously inattentive reader, paying attention only to what the author wishes me to look at (hence I'm not particularly good at solving mysteries because I'm always chasing after red herrings) and it is entirely possible that the whole plethora of novels is veritably overrun with lesbians and who knows what.

However, one gets the distinct impression that Miss Marple herself may be lesbian--and while that may be so, it conflicts with my understanding of the novels. Not that that should be any sort of guide or parameter. Nevertheless, it seems odd that watching a random two out of four of these mysteries, I should twice encounter lesbian couples who are integral to the action.

Oh, and Miss Marple is a sharp-tongued acidulous feminist to boot. I honestly don't recall it from the books, and frankly, it puts me off a bit to see it on the screen. Nevertheless, as with the Poirot movies, these are well done, Ms. McEwan is an interesting screen presence, and apart from these quibbles, an acceptable Miss Marple, and the mysteries are true to the books that gave them life (again apart from some of the overt lesbian themes, which may, in fact be present but to which I may be oblivious). Watch for yourself and derive an impression if you are familiar with these books. They are certainly with an hour and a half in comparison to much of the drivel churned out by television and movie producers of the present era.

Anyway, it was good to think back on A Murder is Announced even though I knew the murderer from about two minutes into the show until the end. It was interesting to see even the list Jane Marple produces before coming to the solution of the mystery. These really are, like the Poirot series, faithful to their mystery plot origin.

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Metablogging Note


Two days from nearly nothing to rivalling my left-hand column. Amazing what happens when you start running off at the mouth. God is good (to me at least--don't know how He's treating my rapidly dwindling audience).

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T(w)o(o) Hard Truths

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In reading Gulley and Mulholland's If Grace is True in two short chapters I've encountered two experiential truths--statements the authors make that are confirmed not by authority, but by my own experience. In fact, one of the experiences recorded by the authors (not detailed below) so closely parallels my own it is nearly frightening.

But let me share with you the truths that I have experienced and that I find ring entirely true. At one point the authors say

I've never experienced a God of wrath. I've heard such a God preached. I've read of such a God. I've encountered wrathful people who claimed to be acting on God's behalf. I've even allowed such sentiments to tarnish my view of God. Yet, in the midst of all these distortions, I never experienced a wrathful God. (p. 11-12)

I couldn't agree more. In times of hardship, bereavement, devastation, despair, sorrow, anger, any negative feelings, the God who has been by my side hasn't been shaking a finger at me and saying, "See what you brought on yourself. I told you and told you and told you, and you wouldn't listen. This is your well-deserved comeuppance." No, the God I've experienced has said, "I love you." When my mother died suddenly, He was there saying, "I am with you through it all. Let me walk with you." I am ashamed to say that while I took Him up on part of that walk, I didn't follow through. And yet He still loves me. This is the God I experience every single day. Not a God of wrath, the keeper of the ledger in the skies, but rather a God of compassion and of intimacy, a God who wants good for me more than I desire it for myself. What a blessing! It hadn't occurred to me to state this truth--but I have never seen a God of wrath. I have not seen "the Glory of the coming of the Lord who is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored." I thought I always despised the song because it reeked of Northern imperialism, but I can see what I dislike is that this is not the image of the God I love, but a distortion. My God is more like verse 5: "In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,/With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me."

She might have learned what I've learned--that intimacy with God is not about joining a church. It's not about knowing your religion's doctrines, tenet by tenet. It's not about knowing your holy writings, backward and forward, in their original language. It's not about knowing God as a theory or abstraction. Intimacy with God is more like making love than joining a club, hearing a lecture, or reading a book. There are simply some things we must experience for ourselves. (p. 15)

To which I breathe a relieved Amen! If I were required to do any of the things delineated above I would miss salvation by ten-thousand parsecs or more. Even if my beliefs are wrong, seeking God with all my heart will correct erroneous perceptions. Loving Him will help alleviate my misconceptions. Intimacy is not achieved by question and answer, although it may initially help. It is achieved by loving unconditionally, by gazing into the gaze of the one who loves you and seeing yourself as you are loved. His love alone makes us worthy to be loved and we can only know it through knowing Him intimately. Like making love, it is far better to engage in the action that to hear a lecture on its physiology or read a book about the neuro-chemical patterns generated.

God loves us unconditionally. Isn't it about time that we returned the favor?

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Eyes Wide Open

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You might ask, why then, all of the sudden, the rush of pictures. You say, "We're not particularly interested in any more of your flowers or odd pictures." (I know you don't say it out loud, you're far too courteous for that--but it may cross your mind--sort of like, who wants to see your home movies?)

The use of the camera is to train my eye, and hence my mind to see again. In the ordinary business of life, my senses have become too dulled with duty and obligation to serve me the way they once did when I was young as a source of endless delight and novelty.

Yesterday, as I was walking around EPCOT, I must have looked like an absolute idiot, a grin a mile wide plastered on my face. As I looked for things to photograph for images and for "novelties" I saw a thousand new things for every one I actually took the time to photograph. Every flower is different in some subtle way, every arrangement of plants, every rock, every building, every ripple of water. And what is best of all, and you'll probably laugh, every one of them sings out joyfully of the Lord who created them all. Everything I see, every picture I take, every picture I don't take, every person I meet, I see God inviting me into a deeper conversation.

The camera has opened my eyes. It started as something to fill time and record events, and it rapidly became a way of focusing attention and really seeing things rather than just looking at them. The pictures may or may not be good--but the goodness lies beyond the lens in the God who has granted me so many things to see if I will just open my eyes. I have been invited to wander the world eyes wide open to see all that His creation offers and primarily what His creation sings about Him. I am so grateful.

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Dance of Death


Preston and Cloud's latest entry--the second in a series? the middle of a trilogy? The book pits the evil brother Diogenes against the good brother Aloysius to the latter's detriment. The book ends with the promise of a sequel, so the plot uniting this series must be all worked out. I hope that it is better overall than this first entry in the series which raises far too many questions and provides no answers.

Diogenes Pendergast has saved his brother from a fiendish Italian Count who, using Poe as his model, walled Aloysius up in a wall in the dungeons of his villa in Tuscany. (Talk about melodrama!) He has done so to insure that Aloysius is alive and well to see Diogenes commit "the perfect crime." Turns out that the perfect crime is directed at Aloysius because Diogenes hates him so much.

And on and on and on. This melodrama plays itself out in Snidely Whiplash fashion (think Perils of Pauline and you won't be much off-track--pardon the pun). Indeed, the climax of the piece takes place as the hero and heroine are threatened by a soon-to-arrive train at New York's "Iron Clock."

What's here is interesting. The writing is, as usual, sloppy without being truly dreadful. Too much detail here, too little there, long and pointless scenes all over the place, author's being coyly self-referential and trying to show their erudition--all rather crudely done. However, those points aside, the book is fun for an evening's read and quickly done with.

Of these authors my favorite book is still Thunderhead which, while suffering from some of these effects, seems to be much cleaner and more tightly plotted. I'd give this book a three out of five and recommend reading only if you're short on your current reading list.

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The New Life and Detachment


I started this once before and the mercy of the thunderstorm spared you its first incarnation. Therefore, you'll have to suffer with this one--at best a poor recreation of the sterling brilliance of both exposition and prose that was my first post. Oh well.

I was thinking. (Stop that! I heard that long drawn sigh. I know I should listen to the words my Grandpappy never said, "Son, before you set out on a mission, you oughta be sure you got the equipment to finish it.") All of your objections aside--it does happen, equipped or otherwise. It occurred to me that in the canons of Carmelite thought there is little (perhaps nothing) so terrifying as St. John of the Cross's insistence upon the necessity of detachment for the proper cultivation of and advancement in true Christian prayer life. The reactions to this pronouncement vary from--"I'm not a Carmelite, what does that have to do with me?" To, "I'd rather lick the driveway clean."

Even most Carmelites try to dodge the teaching. "After all, Detachment is a means, not an end in itself. So I'll just sit over here and do my own thing until detachment comes along and slaps me upside the head." And so they live their lives, completely undetached and nearly perfectly indifferent and unaware of the fact.

Now, detachment isn't going to come along and knock you upside the head. It isn't going to happen overnight. And, honestly, it is continuous, very hard work. So why do it? Well, basically because St. John of the Cross was right, and the thunk I had this afternoon is a stab at trying to show why.

A few weeks back I wrote an entry on Jesus's proclamation, "Behold, I make all things new." All things--everything--that includes us. How can we be new if we are still doing everything we did before? How can we be new if we are completely ingrained in habit? How can Jesus recreate each one of us if we steadfastly refuse to be recreated?

Detachment is our part of the work (aided by grace, of course) that complements the power of Jesus's resurrection. He raises us to new life, and we cooperate with the help of the graces of God by allowing ourselves to be changed.

John of the Cross advises that when we are faced with a choice, we should always choose the thing we like the least. This habit is an aid to becoming detached. It is also an aid to becoming new. When faced with choices, many of us prefer to take the better known route, or the thing we like better. Why do we like it better? Most often because we know it better. The path is clearer and our knowledge of how to navigate it extensive. Or perhaps because we just don't like to try new things.

If we choose what we presently like less, we may find in it certain hardships and graces that do not come from choosing what we know and love. We will nearly always find in it a challenge to grow in love. When we choose the lesser-known path we are learning to surrender bit-by-bit. And we are opening ourselves up to being changed.

Before you first volunteered to work the Sunday Donut line or help out in the distribution of food to those in need in the parish, you probably didn't think that it was anything you particularly wanted to do. And yet, as you grew into it, you may have discovered hidden graces and surprises. "There's joy in them there tasks!" Our lives should be lives of increasing en-joy-ment--not in the sense of entertainment, but rather in growing in an understanding and participation in God's Kingdom on Earth.

When we're asked to do one thing or another for the Parish most of us can think of ten-thousand reasons why we can't or ten-thousand things we'd rather be doing. And yet, if we surrendered just a little bit of ourselves. . .

That little bit of surrender gives Jesus room to get in, move the furniture around a bit and readjust our lives. It gives Him the ability to recreate us, to make us new. And it gives us a chance to experience joy. In detachment, in the deliberate choice of the less appealing of two licit options, we open a gateway to God. By not putting ourselves or what we want first, we begin to see things in a different light.

All habits, even the very best of them tend to create calluses. If we jog every night and run the same route because we know its length, we miss out on what we might see by running a different route. If we read the same kinds of books, we miss out on the huge variety of things available to all to read. When we serve ourselves, we eventually bury ourselves in our habits--wearing a rut too deep and too wide to emerge from.

But Jesus promised, "Behold, I make all things new." Every day provides the grace for beginning the transformation into the new person Jesus wants us to be. Detachment--leaving the old and known behind and choosing the new, different, and difficult--allow Jesus the space and the material to start forming us in the image He sees in us. It is slow. Sometimes it is difficult. But ultimately it will lead to our transformation and the transformation of all the world. God works with us, in us, and through us--He recreates us.

Jesus Himself said, "Cursed be the man who sets hand to plow and looks back--he is not worthy of the kingdom of God." Another hard saying was that we had to leaven Father and Mother, brother and sister, wife and children and follow Him. What does that mean? We are to abandon our responsibilities? No, rather, it is that we must abandon our old selves, our old habits, our old choices, our old ways of doing things and trust solely in his.

And back to the point of all of this--detachment is the discipline that instructs us in how to do this. Detachment is a means of letting go and allowing God to transform us. It isn't the dour, frightening, horrible thing we make it out to be. But too often we hate it because it does demand something of us--it does demand that we change and we make room for God.

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The Ghost and Mrs. Muir


All those of you older than about 40 have already seen it. I became reacquainted with it last week. I had forgotten how lovely, low-key, charming, and heart-felt this film was. In addition, the cinematography is simply stunning.

Do yourself a favor and see this soonest if you have not already.

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I have been to EPCOT hundreds of times. Yes, I'm one of those. I don't spend my time bemoaning the "disneyfication of culture." I leave that to people with far too much time on their hands. I love to walk around the parks and gardens and I love to watch the people here on vacation.

That's really kind of a side point. I was there this afternoon, and after lo! these many trips, I opened my eyes and what should I see but this lovely specimen of Dicksonia--a tree fern native to Australia and New Zealand and last of the remnant common on land several hundred million years ago--known variously (depending upon the part found) as Lepidodendron Sigillaria or Stigmaria.


Also present near the grand waterworks fountain, this flower. I don't know it's name--I'm not a botantist. But it spoke to me as I passed so I took its picture.


Also walking along, this stunning setting:

red carpet.jpg

and this, for those who have not ever been so fortunate--the fruiting structure of a banana:

Banana Fruiting Structure.jpg

But the Dicksonia really wowed me. I thought I had seen it all, but it all goes to show what can happen when you open your eyes.

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A Gift From TSO


I saw this the other day and only just now had time to actually respond:

Name your three biggest non-reference books (excluding the Bible and text books):

The Libretti of the French, Italian, and German Operas with Commentary and Musical Annotations

A La Recherch du Temps Perdu a single volume French Edition

The Riverside Shakespeare (Was a text-book, but isn't anymore--worn to a frazzle with years of reading).

Name your three biggest reference books:

Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology--Volume S Echinodermata

The Oxford Classical Dictionary

A Compendium of Syro-Phoenician, Akkadian, Sumerian, Egyptian, and Other Ancient Sources

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Current Reading

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Dance of Death Yes, another easy on the brain time-waster by the inveterate Preston and Cloud--direct sequel to Brimstone which introduces us to the truly deplorable brother of worthy protagonist/dectective Pendergrast.

Under the Banner of Heaven Jon Krakauer--if you aren't already up on Mormon history, this is an interesting read. Much of this I've already encountered and I often have to wonder what one would make of the Catholic Church if you sifted through looking for the looniest tunes of the lot. Brigham Young was no great shakes as a person, but there's a bunch in this book that make him look like Mother Teresa.

If Grace Is True Philip Gulley and James Mulholland. Oh well, I just can't resist the lure of a universalist theology. Yes, I know all the arguments and still I tread as close to that line as Church Doctrine allows, because that line defines the parameters of the God I love. The biggest problem with universalists is that, like modern liberals, they don't give enough credit to sheer human cussedness and there is a horrendous propensity for overlooking the sheer presence of evil and evil acts in the world. No just God could overlook these things. While He might stand stolid and steadfast in the face of insults hurled at Him, I think, like any good parent, He rushes to the protection and care of His children. Say anything you want about me, but don't dare lay a hand/word on Samuel.

The Quiet American Graham Greene does Vietnam--calling it Annam, and the Vietnamese Annamese. Very, very interesting.

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Does anyone out there know the origin of the association of white wine with fish and red with beef? I know that nowadays not very many people pay attention to these rules, but they must have had an origin in some sort of gustatory or hygienic protocols. Does anyone have a source for this?

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What can you expect from a new book by James Rollins? Well Ice Hunt had a pre WWII Soviet Ice Laboratory in which one could find quadrupedal mind-frying whales and a serum for eternal youth. Yes--likelihood isn't one of the strong points of Mr. Rollins's fictions; however, enjoyability is always high.

This particular entry offers us the lost city of Ubar, anti-matter, human parthenogenesis, the Queen of Sheba, and a Sandstorm to beat all sandstorms. In addition, he learned what people really liked about DaVinci code and uses the device quite effectively, even if there is no chance whatsoever that anyone will be able to figure out the clues or the places. That's cool, after all you read a book like this for its surprises and its internal logic.

Face-paced, a quick read, light summer fun for those into this undefinable genre.

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The confluence of Tom's post the other day on Disputations, and my proximity to some of the most horrendous historical atrocities to deface our fair country provoked a line of thought that has long been brewing.

I spent a week in West Virginia within several miles of Harper's Ferry and could not bring myself to visit. Harper's Ferry has been much written about, by writers great than me and by historians with a fuller comprehension of all of the subtleties. To recap--John Brown--a known agitator and militant abolitionist from Kansas made his way eastward to stage an attack on a Federal Arsenal at Harper's Ferry. He and some twenty men attacked and took the arsenal for a short span of time, killing some people (I wasn't able to determine the exact number) during the event. John Brown was stopped, arrested, tried, and hanged for treason. But this brief insurrection served its motive purpose--to bring the cause of abolition to the forefront of the already heated debate between North and South.

In the aftermath, we have made a hero of John Brown. We've taken a nineteenth century crazed jihadist terrorist and turned him into the man who showed us our conscience and who brought to a head the crisis that would result in the War Between the States and, incidentally, (non consequentially) the freedom of the slaves.

Now, we can go back and forth about whether the South was on the brink of revising an economic system or not, whether economic pressure from the North might not have been sufficient to bring about the reformation that we were seeking, about what the War was really about. But the bottom line is, John Brown was a terrorist. He killed innocent people in a religious struggle to bring about an end he saw as the greater good. That the end did result is something to be truly thankful for, but his zeal for that end resulted in one of the great tragedies of our nation. Could slavery have been brought to an end without the War--who knows? I certainly could not say--most assuredly it would have taken a great deal longer--and the institution was insufferable. Does this in any way excuse John Brown's zeal?

Well, only if you're willing to grant that Iraqi insurgents bombing open marketplaces and killing innocents in the process is a justifiable means of accomplishing an end.

John Brown was a terrorist--plain and simple. His terrorism ignited the powder keg that was the War between the States. Would the war have occurred otherwise? It's difficult to say; however, no reasonable person looking back on the events can excuse John Brown any more than they could excuse the bombing of abortion clinics. In each case an unacceptable, immoral means was used to accomplish a real good. That does not justify the action.

And yet we insist on lauding John Brown and paying tribute to his great spirit that led us to the state we have today. We pay tribute to consequentialism, it seems, at every turn of the historical wheel. We justify events by the results. Did slavery need to be abolished? Absolutely! Did John Brown's action help to precipitate this? It would certainly seem so. Was John Brown's action then justifiable because of the end that resulted? Absolutely not.

Which brings up another point. The War cast a shadow over the states that lingers to this very day. Reconstruction and its horrors saw the rise of the KKK and the unleashing of a virulent racism that lingers in the oddest places today. Undoubtedly the racism of slavery was even greater, but I have to wonder if just means had been used to bring about its end, would the evils that trailed in its wake have been as severe? By this I mean to ask, are there spiritual consequences entailed with using an illegitimate means to achieve a noble goal? Is this another example of a spiritual law? Can we equate this to something like the Hindu concept of Karma in which a person, or an entire society bears the weight of the spiritual wrongs done?

Spiritual laws are interesting things. I don't know if they have been quantified, qualified, or discussed in any detail in the Catholic Tradition. But other traditions, particularly the Pentecostal tradition, focuses a lot of attention on spiritual laws. Over time, I have come to believe that these laws are every bit as exacting (and even more so) than the physical laws that we live with every day. However, we don't spend a lot of time thinking about or studying the spiritual laws. Perhaps that is because, like Angels, most of what we know comes from hints and snippets, and it would be difficult to erect an exact science on so little information. And yet, there is clear information given about some of these laws. "Judge not, lest ye be judged with the judgement ye have rendered." "Whose sins you forgive are forgiven, whose sins you hold bound are held bound." Tantilizing--not enough to write a full scale law book, and yet, I wonder, if we paid careful attention, what spiritual laws might we uncover experientially?

It's a pity we are too wrapped up in other things to spend a good deal of time studying what happens when right means and wrong means are used to effect the same end. I suspect such research would be endlessly rewarding, providing as it were, another weapon in the arsenal of apologists, and another mainstay of surety when we pass through times of trouble.

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Another addendum/gloss on the writings of Tom over at Disputations. In this case he wrote about intemperance, it's remedy--restraint, and childishness. And all that is there seems reasonable to me.

What is not mentioned there is really the crux of the issue. When we inure ourselves to any sin, we become progressively more insensitive to its effects and progressively more possessed by the sin. When we have practiced intemperance long enough, it becomes addiction. This is almost a spiritual law--perhaps it is a spiritual law, but I don't know enough in the realm of this subject to rightly say.

What I do know is that restraint nearly always fails when addiction, particularly physical addiction is at the core of a problem. How many people have you known who have tried to stop smoking? How many times did they try? I know of two offhand who stopped on the first try; however, they are exceptions to the rule. Most people try and try and try and try and try and end up trying the tempers and perserverance of all of those around us.

Restraint works when the sin is young. It may even work when the sin has become habitual--but if the nature of the intemperance is such that it become an addiction, whatever restraint we bring to bear will be insufficient to the cause. In fact, that is true of the other stages as well--and I know that this reasoning underlies all that St. Thomas and probably most of what Tom writes about at Disputations--that is to say, without grace we cannot prevail against sin by our own wills. Our wills must be engaged--that is, we must desire to oppose the sin even if we are too weak to so. We must also seek the grace to oppose the sin. Without grace we can do nothing.

But what happens when the sin proceeds to addiciton--either psychological or physical? How often does that happen, you ask? Too frequently. Look at our society and see people who are caught up in addiciton to sex, violence, alcohol, drugs, tobacco, shopping, sports, and just about every other acitivity or substance you can imagine. There are people who make a fetish of buying things, those who raise eating to nearly exalted heights, those who drink to excess, and those who cannot seem to occupy themselves with one, espoused bed-partner.

Childishness is not merely childishness, unfortunately. It is deadly and deadening. Once we have succumbed on one or another of these things, we are progressively deadened to the metastatic nature of sin. Like cancer, once it's in it tends to spread. We may start with intemperance and proceed to wrath (particularly against those who stand in the way of supplying our present need) and other deadly sins.

Restraint is the answer to intemperance, but it is an insufficient answer on its own. And when intemperance progresses to addiction, "Just say no," simply doesn't work in most cases. We can last a while on our own with grace, but we must seek out the companionship of those who know the spiritual realm and who can better help us seek the grace required to break the back of our addictions. Jesus alone can be our help, but we can find Him in the people of faith around us.

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I have stated in the past and will continue to state my unequivocal admiration and respect for Tom of Disputations. And here, while I'm away he's posted two points that I would really like to comment on more completely, but find myself restrained by an extremely slow computer/interface. So let me make my little attempt and I'll fill out what is missing somewhat later.

Here he makes a profound point about consequentialism. All I really wanted to say about this is that I respect and admire people who can identify these faults in reason and give them their proper names. I am all-too-often guilty of thought like this (though, I suspect in this case, I would be guilty of the extreme opposite of consequentialism, assuming it has an opposite). Nevertheless, I am profoundly humbled every time I encounter something like this. At one time I used to think I was pretty hot stuff intellectually. Interaction with such people hasn't diminished my own respect for arenas in which I am capable of reasoned discussion, but they have presented to me the fact that those arenas are not all possible subjects of discussion and I need to accept this limitation. In some matters I am a better spectator than participant. And I think that brings up another point--apologetics. Many people who practice rigorous, argumentative apologetics seem to think that everyone is capable of it. I rush to point in that I could parrot the arguments of Keating, Akins, and others, but without any real effect because I would be repeating their words without their knowledge. Even had I their knowledge, my mind does not work in this way of formulation. I would become hopelessly flustered and mired in the labyrinthine paths of those who reach beyond their capacity.

However, there is another form of apologetics--not so much an argument as a way of life. It is in this form that most of us can succeed--assuming, of course, that we are living the life required by such a mode of argument. If we live a life embued by grace, love, peace, joy, humility, obedience, patience, meekness, and prayerfulness and we surrender to God in all of our ways, our lives become a form of apologetics. Even if we are not raised to the honors of the altar, we function in our capacity as messengers of God's love. While many of us can defend this or that proposition, most of us do not have the rigor of intellect and the disposition to properly argue a point of doctrine or dogma. If someone wants to know more or better, I am inclined (depending on the person) to hand them Karl Keating, Donald Currie, Stephen Ray, Mark Shea, or James Akin and say--here it is, they say it better than I could, read away. And after you've read, come to me and let's talk about how it is lived--because that is something I can start to show you. Obviously, I can't show anyone the fullness of the faith, nor even the complete and integral practice of it. But I can show some things, and that is part of the mission of evangelism. I may not be able to argue the truth of the Catholic faith, but I can argue the truth of the Catholic life in the way that I live and the life that results. That, for many of us, is I suspect, the greatest argument for or against our faith.

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WV, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia today. Went out to Pennsylvania to take Sam and his cousin to the miniature horse farm a couple of miles away from Gettysburg. Later passed through that most dismal of memorials (the area here is filled with them--Harper's Ferry, Antietam, Shiloh, Gettysburg, all within a few miles of one another). Sobering and deadening in many ways. I don't handle WBS sites very well.

However, it was worth it because our route home took us through Emmitsburg, Maryland--a lovely small town nestled in the green hills of central/western Maryland. There, of course, is the shrine of the first American-Born saint--Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton.

The shrine itself is enormous and stirring. There is a basilica that holds the remains of mother Seton in a side altar. There is a retreat center and I think a home for aged Sisters of Charity. But also present are two important houses--the Stone House where she attempted to start the first schools in the area. She was ultimately prevented by the pervasive anti-Catholic sentiment that still knows little surcease. Also present is the so-called "White House" in which Mother Seton died.

These houses are wonderful because they are both early-American homes and the houses of a great American Saint. God blessed the country greatly with a Saint of the caliber of Mother Seton. Many who followed her had her as first example. I think most particularly of St. Katherine Drexel, who continued the work begun by Mother Seton in helping the disenfranchised and the underprivileged.

The grounds are quiet and make for a nice, leisurely, meditative walk. For those who live in the DC area, and who have not visited, I would recommend a day trip during the weekend. I was with my protestant in-laws and arrived too-late at any rate, but I was not able to attend a Mass at the Shrine. Even the drive to the shrine is beautiful. Of course, traffic around D.C. being what it is there are traffic jams even out here where corn fields stretch to the very edge of the country roads that wind through the wide green expanses. It isn't difficult to picture yourself in the times of Mother Seton. It also isn't hard to think about her becoming one of the first Americans--she was about two years old when on July 2, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed, creating a new nation that had yet to win that independence.

Any way, it was a beautiful end to a wonderful day. When I get the chance I'm going to post a couple of pictures from the trip--both the shrine and the pony farm. I also bought a couple of books about Mother Seton that include generous selections from her own writings. I hope to share some of those soon. The trip moved me greatly althought I honestly didn't really expect it. God blesses us in all the things we do to honor Him.

He blesses me also in the people who stop by here each day to read. Thank you so much for your generosity. I can't begin to tell you how much it means to me.

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Away to See Sam and Linda


Don't know what, if any, opportunities for blogging. Will try to write and if I get e-pics that I can post there you'll see Sam in his cowboy get-up.

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Revelation 21:5-6

And he who sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true."

[6] And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment.

How long has it been since you have felt that "all things were new?" One of the sad results of growing older is that it often seems that nothing whatsoever is new. We've seen it all before--played out in a million different ways--the same story, the same song. As we age we are more likely to say with Qoholeth--"There is nothing new under the sun."

In fact, in Jesus each day all things are made new. This is one of the reasons why we are commanded to come unto Him as a little child. A child preserves a sense of wonder of the newness of the world. Everything is new, everything is exciting, everything is a revelation. That is how God calls us to engage the world in Him. In Him, everything is new and wonderful, everything is light and beauty. No matter how many times we have seen it before, the whole worth shines and cries out his glory. Hopkins told us--"Glory be to God for dappled things." He further outlined the beauty, the newness of the world in the exhilirating sonnet "The Windhover." Hopkins had recaptured a sense of the newness of the world in Christ.

It seems too many of us do not take advantage of our family connections (Jesus, our Brother) to seize this wonderful and life altering way of looking at things. I know for a fact that I have grown calloused and jaded with the battery of things that assaults me every day. But yesterday I happened to look up at the sky and a new world waited there for me. Florida has the most beautiful skies in the world--they are filled with every type and variety and shade and hue and shape of cloud you can imagine. I find it difficult to imagine that there are so many shades of white and blue and grey. But there it was--some clouds thins as veils draped over the face of the sky, lightening the intense blue of heaven. Some were shaped as with a laser, the outlines sharp and clear against other. Some appeared to have been applied in a water-color wash of blue-grey--streaking across the front of others. I didn't look so much for shapes or meanings, but at the entire landscapes of cloud-form. Suddenly I was reminded of a time when clouds were new, when the shapes had meaning and I spent a good deal of time looking up at them.

Another example--walking on a local nature trail the other day I came upon some yellow wild-flowers whose stems so blended with the background that they appeared to be merely the disembodied floating blossoms of a plant. Suddenly, this too was new.

I realized I could live a life of newness if only I would turn the driving over to God and I would spend a little time looking at the passing scenery.

"Behold I make all things new." Not some, not a few, not a limited number--all things--all things in nature and in myself. Each day I am a new creation in Him, if I choose to be. Rather than clinging to the old self and its perceptions and prejudices, I can choose to grow and become ever new. I can join the Saints in the newness of the world that Christ recreates each day. The choice is mine, the options are mine. God leaves me free to tread the same weary path every day, or to discover in the day all the newness He has placed there.

"Behold, I make all things new." All things. New. Life becomes meaningful once again in Him and in His path for me--every experience is something new from Him, through Him, and in Him. Now it is time to be renewed and to find this newness in the everyday. To see with my son all that the things of the world around me. To see with God's Son how they reflect and speak of His glory.

"Behold, I make all things new." And I wish to see them as He does.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from August 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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