Saturday, July 30, 2016

In which we meet Jules and Madame Verne ...

... avoid an international incident over a compliment,and take a risk to send a message. More of Around the World in Seventy-Two Days by that intrepid reporter, Nellie Bly, at Forgotten Classics podcast.

The Movie I Want to See: Hacksaw Ridge


“Hacksaw Ridge” tells the true story of Desmond Doss, a devout Seventh-day Adventist who became the first conscientious objector to win the Medal of Honor. See the cross in the smoke? Nice.

This movie is directed by Mel Gibson who isn't mentioned by name, such is Hollywood's memory (and possibly, I guess, that of the general public). They do say from the director of Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ.

Via Deacon Greg Kandra, read more about Desmond Doss here.

Here's the trailer, which will have to hold us until the movie comes out in November.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Blogging Around: Democrats and the Ideology of Death

The Week I Left the Democratic Party

A lifelong Democrat with a powerful story about what his child would have heard on TV from the Democratic convention. And why it made him quit the party.
But remember, politics are about stories. And this week, I watched as Ms. Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America stood before the convention assembly describing her own decision to have an abortion. She wanted a family but the child came at the wrong time. So she sought out an abortion. And she acknowledged that now she is the mother of two beautiful children. ...

I was reading the story online next to my three-year old son, who is adopted. I couldn’t help but put myself in his very small shoes and begin to wonder what he would have heard from this speech. Children who come at the wrong time are best disposed of. Only children who come into our lives when we want should be kept. It’s the beautiful children who are planned. In the midst of a speech that talked about unplanned pregnancies, no mention was made of adoption. The Democratic Party’s pro-choice politics have blinded it from the dignity of this little creature of mine, who though “unplanned,” has also transformed the life of every adult he’s met. No suggestion was made that instead of funding abortion, let’s make adoption part and parcel of our social culture—where every human person, no matter his or her size, has the opportunity for human flourishing. If anyone can be president, as this convention has said again and again, shouldn’t it also be the case that unplanned children may also occupy this office?
Read the whole thing here.

Is There Such a Thing as Pro-Life Democrat?

Sure enough. Here's an interview with the Executive Director of Democrats for Life. Here's a sample.
Q: Hillary Clinton’s running mate is Tim Kaine, who describes himself as a “traditional Catholic” but a “strong supporter of abortion.” Isn’t that a contradiction?

While we cannot comment on Mr. Kaine’s belief system, we have seen others who regret accepting the Democratic “party line” on abortion.

John Kerry reflected on this after he lost the 2004 election. At a speech at Pepperdine University. He said,

How will we protect the weakest in our midst—innocent unborn children? How will our nation resist what Pope John Paul II calls a “culture of death”? How can we keep our nation from turning to violence to solve some of its most difficult problems—abortion to deal with difficult pregnancies; the death penalty to combat crime; euthanasia and assisted suicide to deal with the burdens of age, illness, and disability; and war to address international disputes?”

It was a few years after his presidential campaign that he understood the contradiction of failing to let your faith guide your decisions. If he had presented those thoughts during his run for office, the outcome might have been very different.

In addition, in an interview years after he served, Democratic President Jimmy Carter expressed regret that he had not embraced a pro-life position while in office. It was one of the few troubling positions he later felt remorse over.

Well Said: Choosing between two philosophies

Never forget that there are only two philosophies to rule your life: the one of the cross, which starts with the fast and ends with the feast. the other of Satan, which starts with the feast and ends with the headache.
Fulton Sheen

Worth a Thousand Words: Kim Novak Reads

Kim Novak reads
via Awesome People Reading

Please Allow Me to Bend Your Ear About St. Martha, My Patron

Christ in the House of Mary and Martha, Jan Vermeer
via Wikipedia

Today is Saint Martha's feast day and I still have not written anything I like better about her than this piece, which I present again.

It is no secret that Martha is my patron saint. I chose her because she is the patron saint of housewives but it soon became clear that it probably was God who chose to put us together. I relate to Martha in so many ways and her life stands as a measure of the person I work toward becoming ... a faithful servant who loves Jesus and is his good friend.
As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary (who) sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.

Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me."

The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."
This is the story about Martha that springs to mind for most people and this is the first time (chronologically) that we hear her mentioned. We have all heard variations of the basic message about this passage of keeping your mind on Jesus no matter what else you may be doing.

However, we also see the confidence Martha shows when approaching Jesus with her complaint. What good friends they were for her to feel so comfortable coming to him like that. Jesus' affection is clear as he answers her much more gently than he often does his disciples.

For us, it also is a lesson in the fact that there is nothing too small to go to Jesus about. He will always help us with anything, even if it is something like helping give the right perspective.
Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill.

So the sisters sent word to him, saying, "Master, the one you love is ill."

When Jesus heard this he said, "This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it."

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus...

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home.

Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. (But) even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you."

Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise."

Martha said to him, "I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day."

Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

She said to him, "Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world."

When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, "The teacher is here and is asking for you."
Again, a familiar story featuring Martha though more often it is told from the point of view of the miraculous raising of Lazarus from the dead. First of all, we may wonder how Martha knew that Jesus had arrived when Mary didn't. What it may make us think of is someone who is attuned to all the little details even in the middle of her grief. Perhaps there was a flutter of unusual activity that clued her in, so she went to investigate.

When we examine Martha's conversation with Jesus, we see again how familiar and friendly she is with him. She doesn't hesitate to say that she is disappointed that he didn't save her brother. How can one not love the confidence and trust that shows?

Martha also shows her great faith and understanding in unmistakable terms: I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world. What an amazing moment that must have been between Jesus and Martha. Yet, after such a moment, she also doesn't forget her sister, Mary, who is still at home mourning. Martha is both loving and practical to the bone.

We have an unmistakable example of that practicality when Jesus is getting ready to raise Lazarus from the dead and we are told: Martha, the dead man's sister, said to him, "Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days" (John 11:39). Martha's unwavering, housewifely, detail-oriented common sense is used to emphasize the greatness of Jesus' miracle. The corpse is well into decay and yet he will still be brought back to life. How like God to use the mundane and practical moment to catch our attention and bring it to an even greater realization of His glory and love for us.
Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.

Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus 2 and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
Through watching Martha's progression in the previous Scripture, this very simple mention speaks to the difference between the first time we saw her and now.

Martha served.

That is all that needs to be said. Nothing about needing help is brought up now or comparing another's service to her own. Mary serves Jesus in her way while Martha serves Jesus in hers. Together they complement each other as both have chosen the better part. A beautiful end to a beautiful journey of faith.

I pray that my own journey may prove as fruitful as my dear St. Martha's.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: La Siesta

La Siesta, 1841, Franz Xaver Winterhalter

Well Said: What is serious to men ...

What is serious to men is often very trivial in the sight of God. What in God might appear to us as “play” is perhaps what he Himself takes most seriously. …

When we are alone on a starlit night; when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; when we see children in a moment when they are really children; when we know love in our own hearts; or when, like the Japanese poet Bashō we hear an old frog land in a quiet pond with a solitary splash – at such times the awakening, the turning inside out of all values, the “newness,” the emptiness and the purity of vision that make themselves evident, provide a glimpse of the cosmic dance.
Thomas Merton
A helpful antidote to the politics, terrorism, and whatever else is weighing us down at the moment.

Like Coloring Books? Like the Rosary? You're Gonna Love This!


This unique coloring book contains thirty illustrations—fifteen full-page drawings of the mysteries of the Rosary, each one beautifully bordered by traditional images of animals and flowers; twelve vignettes featuring prophets, evangelists, and Fathers of the Church; and three larger drawings with the artist’s commentary. It also contains descriptive copy written by the author for the three sets of Mysteries.
I've been a fan of Daniel Mitsui's art for a long time and I know he's got coloring pages at his website. The Mysteries of the Rosary book seems like the natural next step, what with the adult coloring trend.

Honestly, I don't think you need to be an adult to enjoy these. I recall in the 1970s there was a similar craze, with huge, intricate pictures to color. Everyone of all ages did them.

His The Saints coloring book will be out in November. Just in case you want to preorder a great Christmas gift.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Well Said: Bad Religion and Bubbles of Protection

This quote has been coming to mind repeatedly as one violent act after another are committed upon innocents. Combined with the feeling of chaos that the upcoming election brings, I am emotionally reeling. This gives me much needed perspective. He is with us through everything.
Only bad religion promises that if you pray enough, give enough or serve enough, God will put a bubble of protection around you ... That’s what got virgins thrown into volcanoes and it’s what gets TV preachers rich. It’s still a lie, though, no matter how loudly or piously you say it.

What good religion teaches instead is that there is a Power at work in the world that is greater than the power of the world. It’s a power that renews and restores. It heals ... It gives life ...
George Mason, Lakewood Advocate
The Lakewood Advocate is a free neighborhood magazine which is interesting and informative enough that I look forward to receiving it on my doorknob each month. I never miss George Mason's column. He's the pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church which is only a few blocks away from my house.

As Tom says, this man preaches to every Christian with his common sense, sensitivity, and understanding of living Christian faith. Believe me when I say that Tom doesn't bestow that praise lightly or often.

Click through and read the whole piece for a sample of why we like him so much.

The Virginian by Owen Wister

The Virginian: A Horseman of the PlainsThe Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains by Owen Wister

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I read this when I was a teenager and recall liking it well enough. Having just watched High Noon and Rio Bravo , I wanted more Westerns. The Virginian is often mentioned in connection with High Noon, believe it or not, AND Gary Cooper starred in that movie also. So that impetus carried me into downloading the free Kindle version from Amazon.

What I was unprepared for is how marvelous this book is. It is, strictly speaking, a Western but it didn't feel like any Zane Gray or Louis L'Amour story I've read. There are cow-boys (love that spelling), guns, horses and the hauntingly beautiful isolation of the Wyoming range. But amidst those trappings is a wonderful character study told in surprisingly contemporary writing.

Initially told by a tenderfoot who reappears periodically, the story is held together by the Virginian's wooing of schoolteacher Molly Wood. Molly comes from Vermont, so between the two newcomers, we gradually learn the Virginian's character and life lessons which it does us all good to remember. All done in a whopping good tale. Highly recommended.

Worth a Thousand Words: Moonlight on the Water

Moonlight on the Waters, Frank Weston Benson
This makes me think of those glorious days when Tom's parents would rent a beach house at Galveston and hold open house for the family for a month. I was continually renewed by the sound of the waves, the glint of light on the water, the life in and around the ocean.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church - Tertullian

Father Jacques Hamel (Photo: AFP)

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

Jacques Hamel, pray for us.


--------------------------------------------



Sohrab Amari is an editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal. 

Welcome, brother.

Worth a Thousand Words: Proud Mother and Her Babies

Proud Mother and Her Babies
taken by Remo Savisaar

2016 Politics and Heaven on Earth

We can't control politicians, Facebook commenters, our friends, or our family. We can only control ourselves. And actions speak louder than words. Are we, as Christians, shedding light or heat, creating heaven or hell on earth?

Krassotkin
The thing to remember is he was your dad and your children’s grandpa before he was a Trump supporter. Politicians come and go but your dad will always be your dad. ...

You want peace? Initiate it. Call up your dad right now and tell him you love him and hate the tense situation between you two. Tell him you miss him and that his grandkids miss him and you want him over for dinner. Just dinner. No ulterior motives like trying to “change his mind about Trump.” Just dinner.
Really good advice from Katrina Fernandez in response to a letter from a divided family.  Be sure to read the whole thing.

If they can follow that advice it will be like a little bit of heaven on earth. There is so much that divides us, makes us angry, makes us fear, makes us treat each other as less than human. To celebrate what unites us is truly heavenly.

Here's how naive I am. I thought that posting this sensible advice on Facebook would be welcome. People would be happy for this little reminder of the important things in life.

Instead comments became a one-note judgment of people who support a "hate talker" like Donald Trump. If that meant cutting off family or friends, well, they earned it.

How can you say, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' while you yourself fail to see the beam in your own eye?  (Luke 6:42)

I was truly stunned at this response. In vain did I quote Jesus on judging your brother. I'm just sayin' - we all have faults and there is no perfect candidate or party. The advice does say to eschew political talk so this was just about tolerating the presence of the person, not their political views.

Worst of all, to me, was watching people assume a candidate was supported only because of the lowest common denominator. Because this person saw Trump as promoting hate, she assumed that everyone supporting him is tolerant of hate speech. That assumption resulted in her endorsement of summary judgment and shunning of anyone who didn't agree.

That's equivalent to saying that the only reason women support Hillary is because they want to see a woman become president. Girl power, yeah! I've actually been told that.

And they'll all fight to the death to prove themselves right.

This is such a temptation that the author of that very good advice couldn't resist stopping by for a few  political statements. Which served to rile up everything again.

(Do we all remember that I am either not voting or voting for someone else entirely?)

Eventually I removed the post from Facebook.

Both sides want to make the world a better place, dare I say a "heaven on earth," but this is about as opposite as you can get. Welcome to hell, people. 

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

None of us are immune. I discovered I'm just as bad thanks to the Democratic "taco bowl" email.


This looks incredibly racist and many have jumped on it as such.

To my great shame, I myself really enjoyed the idea of how the "no tolerance" for  Trump supporters person would react to this news.

However, it turns out we probably don't have the proper context. Donald Trump posed with a taco bowl on Cinco de Mayo — the day before that email was dated. So the "taco bowl" comment probably was about trying to get Latino votes through the Trump photo.

Context is everything. I sure am glad I didn't give into that literally unholy desire to one-up someone for a cheap victory. I don't want to add to the ugliness of the world or to my own soul.

And that is my point.

Few things are as simple as one thinks. People are complex. Their reasons for voting are likely based on something you don't have any notion about, especially if they are voting for someone you dislike.

Your actions speak so loudly, I can not hear what you are saying. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

These days, we don't have a culture any more of keeping our mouths shut if we disagree with each other. And it's not enough to simply state one's view. We keep pounding away until everyone agrees with us. And the other side pounds back. That's a never ending cycle.

Let's look at this political season as a chance to relearn a little discipline.  And maybe create a little heaven on earth.

Silence is golden.

Politics are fleeting.

Family and friends are forever.

What are our actions saying to those around us? What does it say about us to advocate the rightness of a political party while casting off  family and friends? Especially what does it say about those of us who are Christians? Are we following in the footsteps of our Lord who ate with sinners?

There is no heaven on earth without human contact and connection.

What sort of place will we create with our actions?

Double Feature Podcast Episode: High Noon and Rio Bravo

Julie kept her cool during this episode, walking bravely into the fight.

As instructed, Scott threw a flower pot through a window at just the right moment.

They both sang a song with Dean Martin, but that scene was cut due to the fact that it was unintentionally hilarious.

Episode 138 of A Good Story is Hard to Find is a podcast safe for women and children, despite (or maybe because of) discussing two westerns at once: High Noon and Rio Bravo.

Monday, July 25, 2016

I Will Fear No Evil

This was sent by a German friend after the attacks in Munich last week. It is almost getting to be a daily event to read about an atrocity committed on innocents, whether in Germany, Libya, France, Japan, or close to home.
THE SECOND COMING
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
No wonder he sent this poem. We all feel the despair it expresses.

I read it out loud to my husband. He responded with: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me."

That surprised me because it isn't his way. It was what I needed to hear, so I share it with you.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
It is what we cling to more and more these days. God with us, Christ-Emmanuel, hear our plea.

Genesis Notes — The Woman: Both Blessed and Suffering

GENESIS STUDY
The Annunciation - Luke 1:26-38
The Visitation - Luke 1:39-56
The Presentation in the Temple - Luke 2:22-35
The Wedding at Cana - John 2:1-11
The Crucifixion - John 19:25-27
A Vision of Heaven - Revelation 12:1-7

We are still breaking away from Genesis with Genesis: God and His Creation to look at the answer to the promise that the woman and her seed would defeat God's enemy. I strongly encourage anyone interested to get this study and read Lessons 6 and 7 for themselves. As if these scenes aren't powerful enough on their own, looking at their connection to Genesis adds such depth of meaning that it takes my breath away. This is the sort of thing where I see the "proof" that the Bible is divinely inspired.
Jan de Molder, The Visitation

The Visitation - Luke 1:39-56
Elizabeth "was filled with the Holy Spirit." Her utterance has the power of prophecy. In blessing Mary and the Child in her womb, Elizabeth gives voice to what all creation would want to sing out with "a loud cry" at the coming of the "woman" and her "seed" promised so long ago. Notice that Elizabeth does not separate the Child from His Mother. Her blessing is on both of them together. Her reverence is for both of them when she humbly asks why she should be the glad recipient of a visit from "the mother of my Lord." Even the child in her own womb, John the Baptist, leaps for joy when he hears Mary's voice. So closely are Mother and Child linked in this passage that the sound of Mary's voice is enough to produce rejoicing in the prophet-in-utero. John and his mother, Elizabeth, represent Israel, waiting for Messianic consolation. Jesus and His Mother, Mary, are God's comfort for His people. They are the flesh-and-blood icon of the Woman and her Seed from Genesis.

Menologion of Basil, Presentation of Jesus at the Temple

The Presentation in the Temple - Luke 2:22-35
And now in this passage we learn from Simeon that the Mother will also share in the suffering of the Son ("a sword will pierce through your own soul also"). Were we prepared in Gen. 3:15 for the possibility of suffering?

Yes, we were. We could anticipate a ferocious battle between the serpent and the seed of the woman, both inflicting wounds on the other. The suffering shouldn't surprise us. But how and why would Mary share in this suffering?

We must remember that Jesus opened up to all His followers the possibility of sharing in His suffering for sinners. His call to those who would follow Him to take up their crosses daily represented a call to obedience to God's will, no matter what, AND an invitation to suffer for sinners. That is what the Cross meant to Jesus. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8) He intended to make it possible for all who belong to Him to join Him in that redemptive suffering (see CCC 618) ...

Simeon's prophecy to Mary makes it clear that she was the very first Christian to share in His suffering for sinners. Her place in this is unique, of course, because of her unique relationship to Jesus and to God. It was not simply that His suffering would make her sad. Simeon's unusual words somehow place Mary there with Jesus on the Cross when the solider pierced Him through with a sword to make sure He was dead. She was the first one to be joined to Jesus in her suffering, but not the last. Down through the ages, the Church has called her children to join their human sufferings, in whatever form they experience them, to the perfect suffering of the Lamb of God on the Cross, Who takes away the sins of the world. Ever since the fall, suffering is inevitable. Remember that it is the lens that restores spiritual sight. The Cross teaches us not to shrink in fear from suffering but to actually rejoice-rejoice!!-in it. Why? Because through it we see God and ourselves in truth, through it we cry out to Him for mercy, and through it, the world is won back to Him.

Worth a Thousand Words: Statue of Jean Althen

Statue of Jean Althen, Papal Palace Gardens, Avignon, Belinda Del Pesco

Well Said: Next of kin trouble

The young man was maybe in his close family. Nothing cold be worse than next-of-kin trouble. She'd heard that, though secretly she longed for kin of her own. Such trouble must be wonderful. Why did people not know their plights were lovely?
Jonathan Gash, The Year of the Woman

Friday, July 22, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: Blue Mountains

Edward B. Gordon, Blue Mountains

Well Said: An infinite number of crucified persons in the world ...

I see an infinite number of crucified persons in the world, but few who are crucified by the love of Jesus. Some are crucified by their self-love and inordinate love of the world. But happy are they who are crucified for the love of Jesus. Happy are they who live and die on the cross with Jesus.

St. John Eudes
via Voices of the Saints by Bert Ghezzi

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: Putti in the Library of Congress

Library of Congress Great Hall. Detail of putti (gardener with a spade and a rake) on the Grand staircase

Well Said: The setting for a pearl

A jewel demands a setting of gold, and a pearl should only be placed in precious necklaces. Be, then, the finest sort of gold! Be a precious necklace, so that the spiritual pearl can be set in you! For Christ the Lord is the pearl that the rich merchant in the gospel hastened to buy.
St. Maximus of Turin
via Voices of the Saints by Bert Ghezzi

Voting FOR Someone — Updated

A vote for Hilary is a vote for Hilary. A vote for Trump is a vote for Trump. And a vote for Darrell Castle (WHO?) is a vote for Darrell Castle.

To say that my vote for Darrell Castle (WHO?) is a defacto vote for Hilary Clinton tries to deny me the right to vote for the best person running for president.
And a vote for Gary Johnson is a vote for Gary Johnson.

I've been honestly stuck between not voting at all and voting for one of two major candidates who do not reflect at all what I want to see from my beloved country's leadership.

Invariably, when I've said I was in a quandary about who to vote for, someone has always hissed in my ear, "Vote against [this person]."

I voted against in the last couple of elections and see where that got me? Supporting people I was less than crazy about while losing anyway.

Bethune Catholic's comment above realigned my priorities. Yes, vote for someone. They probably aren't perfect. After all, if you are Catholic there is no political party that is going to live up to your goals completely.

But it's a positive action that serves as a witness to the sort of leader I wish we had. And that's the best I can do.

UPDATE
I realized I need to clarify my position.

It's not about voting for either Trump or Johnson. I cannot stand Trump or Clinton and cannot in good conscience vote for either. So it comes down to no vote or voting for Gary Johnson.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: A Fishing Boat at Sea

Vincent Van Gogh, A Fishing Boat at Sea, 1888

Lagniappe: Scram, beat it ...

How do you tell a man to go away in hard language? Scram, beat it, take off, take the air, on your way, dangle, hit the road, and so forth. All good enough. But give me the classic expression actually used by Spike O'Donnell (of the O'Donnell brothers of Chicago, the only small outfit to tell the Capone mob to go to hell and live). What he said was: "Be missing." The restraint of it is deadly.
Raymond Chandler in a letter to his British publisher

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

James Beard's Favorite Meat Loaf

Super easy. Super good. Freezes well.

And ... bacon.

It's at Meanwhile, Back in the Kitchen.

Q: Why are Catholic bloggers such awful people?

Q: Why are Catholic bloggers such awful people?

Do you listen at Church on Sundays? We public Catholics are just as wretchedly in need of our Lord and Savior as anyone else. Some of us come across as very holy on the Internet, but really we aren’t, I promise you. Some of us splash our sins publicly, and in private are better people than you’d suspect. And there a few public Catholics who really are saints.

The willingness to speak about the faith in public is not a declaration that we are holy, it’s a declaration that God is holy. ...
Amen!

Jen Fitz's Behind the Scenes in Catholic Blogging is a great piece that answers many questions about writing and reading Catholic blogs. As always with Jen's posts, you get the unvarnished truth, charitably spoken, usually with a great deal of interwoven humor.

I am pleased to a ridiculous level to be included on Jen's short list of must read blogs ... and even more pleased to be the example for her caveat. (Yes, that's how I roll.)
The shortlist isn’t a canonization or a fullproof guarantee. Julie Davis engages the wider culture extensively, and you probably shouldn’t watch every movie she watches. One of the great things about Julie’s blog is that she sifts through the noise to bring you the true, beautiful, and good so that you don’t have to.
Anyway go read it. Good stuff there ...

Worth a Thousand Words: Uma Rua na Favela

Eliseu Visconti, Uma Rua na Favela, c. 1890

Lagniappe: Mr. F's Legacy and Mr. Pancks

A momentary silence that ensued was broken by Mr F.'s Aunt, who had been sitting upright in a cataleptic state since her last public remark. She now underwent a violent twitch, calculated to produce a startling effect on the nerves of the uninitiated, and with the deadliest animosity observed:

"You can't make a head and brains out of a brass knob with nothing in it. You couldn't do it when your Uncle George was living; much less when he's dead."

Mr Pancks was not slow to reply, with his usual calmness, "Indeed, ma'am! Bless my soul! I'm surprised to hear it."
Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit
Mr. Pancks is one of my favorite characters in Little Dorrit. The first notice we have of his well meaning nature is the way that he knows how to deal with Mr. F.'s Aunt, who clearly is suffering from some form of dementia.

Having known several similarly afflicted elderly people, I applaud his tactics.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: Herdsman with Resting Cattle

Herdsman With Resting Cattle, Jacob van Strij

Well Said: All is in Little

I am one of those who believe that all is in little. The child is small, and he includes the man; the brain is narrow, and it harbors thought; the eye is but a point, and it covers leagues.
Alexandre Dumas, Camille

Genesis Study — The Woman: Full of Grace

The Annunciation - Luke 1:26-38
The Visitation - Luke 1:39-56
The Presentation in the Temple - Luke 2:22-35
The Wedding at Cana - John 2:1-11
The Crucifixion - John 19:25-27
A Vision of Heaven - Revelation 12:1-7

This is where Genesis: God and His Creation breaks away from what would typically be considered a study of the book of Genesis. They take the time to examine the answer to the promise that the woman and her seed would defeat God's enemy.

This section concentrates on Mary as "the woman" and it is perfect timing when you consider that we also are in the count-down to the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Veneration of Mary is one of the most Catholic of beliefs and is arguably the one most non-Catholics have problems with. Perhaps these snippets of the Catholic Scripture Study will aid in understanding. Certainly they opened my eyes even further to the fact that God had Mary in His plan from the beginning.

When Catholics study the Bible they recognize that the Old Testament holds truths that lead to the New Testament. This acknowledges that Scripture has many levels of meaning and often "types" of people shown early on are "types" that foreshadow the revelations of the New Testament. Two people who we see "types" of again and again are Mary and Jesus and never more than when studying "the woman and her seed." I found this whole concept really fascinating when I discovered it.

Henry Ossawa Tanner, The Annunciation, 1898
The Annunciation - Luke 1:26-38
"Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" shows why Catholics venerate Mary. She gave herself entirely over to God and with her humble obedience made it possible for Our Savior to be born. I remember being astounded by the idea that Mary was the New Eve but the logic made impeccable sense.
Mary's humble obedience in her fiat made possible the Incarnation. No one has described it more beautifully than St. Iraenaeus (c. 140/160-202 A.D.), who was Bishop of Lyons:
Even though Eve had Adam for a husband, she was still a virgin... By disobeying, she became the cause of death for herself and for the whole human race. In the same way, Mary, though she also had a husband, was still a virgin, and by obeying, she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race... The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience. What Eve bound through her unbelief, Mary loosed by her faith. (from Adversus haereses, quoted in Mary and the Fathers of the Church by Luigi Gambero; Ignatius, 1999, pg. 52).
Just as Eve's participation in the fall of man was real, although the sin was charged to Adam, so Mary's participation in our redemption was quite real, although the victory was won by her Son.

It seems entirely logical and reasonable that if God created a male and a female to preside as the first parents over all creation, He would also place a male and female in special roles over re-created humanity. In addition, the very fact that God promised to defeat the serpent through a "woman" and her "seed" proves that He wants a male and female to begin the restoration. To see Mary as the New Eve was a very natural development in early Christianity. In fact, we have evidence of it in the writings of the very first great Christian apologist, Justin Martyr (c. 110-165 A.D.). In his defense of the faith in Dialogue with Trypho, he writes this way:
[The Son of God] became man through a Virgin, so that the disobedience caused by the serpent might be destroyed in the same way it had begun. For Eve, who was virgin and undefiled, gave birth to disobedience and death after listening to the serpent's words. But the Virgin Mary conceived faith and joy; for when the angel Gabriel brought her the glad tidings that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and that the power of the Most High would overshadow her, so that the Holy One born of her would be the Son of God, she answered, "Let it be done to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38). Thus was born of her the [Child] about whom so many Scriptures speak, as we have shown. Through him, God crushed the serpent, along with those angels and men who had become like serpents. (Quoted from Mary and the Fathers of the Church, by Luigi Gambero, Ignatius, p. 47)
It is important to understand that Justin Martyr was writing a defense of the Christian faith against attacks from the Jews and pagans. He was not developing new theological insight, since he was actually a layman. He was only defending what the Church believed and taught at that early time in her history. The development of Marian thought was as early as the development of the doctrine of the Trinity, which is another example of a truth which is only implicit in Scripture (since the word "Trinity" never appears) being made explicit over time. Time is not the enemy of truth. The question is not whether a doctrine took time to develop but whether the seed of that doctrine was contained in the gospel preached and taught by the apostles.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Aquilina and Tolkien on the Creation of the Universe

Two of my favorite authors ... together! Mike Aquilina looks at the answer to a question about J.R.R. Tolkien's Silmarillion.
I was a teenager when The Silmarillion appeared in print. I wasn’t much of a reader at the time, but a friend of mine, Ron, was fanatically invested in Middle-Earth. His copy of the book, not yet a week old, was already worn and its cover creased.

Ron was a big guy, and he’d already spent time in juvenile detention. So I complied when he insisted that I sit down, shut up, and listen as he read the entire creation account aloud. He read with more passion than I could muster for anything but food and baseball.

The moment stayed with me. The narrative stayed with me. I remembered my friend’s declamation when, just this year, a reader, deeply moved by the same passage, posted a question in an online forum for Tolkien fans. He asked if Tolkien’s work had been based on any “real creation myths.”
Of course the answer is yes. But it goes deeper than I'd realized. Read it all. Via Brandon Vogt.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: Winter Plum Blossom and Mountain Birds

Emperor Huizong of Song (1082–1135), Winter Plum Blossom and Mountain Birds

Well Said: Our Favorite Quotations

Maybe our favorite quotations say more about us than about the stories and people we're quoting.
John Green
Well, of course!

Prayers for the French Victims

I can find no words to express the shock and sorrow of these continual attacks by barbarians upon innocent people. In this case, we grieve for the lost, the wounded, the families and friends and innocent bystanders who suffer.

I pray for them and I pray for those lost souls who do evil's work.

Lord have mercy upon us and on the whole world.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Well Said: Truth and Memory

If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
Mark Twain
Yes, it's not only the right thing to do but the simplest and easiest thing to do.

Worth a Thousand Words: Umbrellas

Umbrellas
taken by Will Duquette

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: Victory

Victory. Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant (French, 1845-1902)
via Books and Art

Well Said: Talking About and To the Poor

Today it is very fashionable to talk about the poor. Unfortunately it is very unfashionable to talk with them.”
It's as if he summed up The Lady in the Van. Which is an excellent mirror for us.

Failing all the way to sainthood

However, can we truly call any of our disappointments real, absolute failures? Something may look bad in the moment, and the future may seem bleak to us, but what does God think of it? As always, he is in control and knows how to turn a failure into the greatest blessing of a person’s life.

Take for example the lives of Louis and Zélie Martin.
Get the whole picture here.

This inevitably reminds me of Isaiah 55:8-9.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.…
If we just keep on trying, adjusting as we go and accepting that we don't know everything, there's hope for all of us!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: Big Catch!

Big Catch!
taken by Remo Savisaar

Well Said: Imaginative literature and our reactions

Who has not caught some odd resemblance in an ink blot — to a tree, or a lizard, or a map of Florida? A Swiss psychologist has devised a personality test based on the "reading" of especially receptive ink blots prepared in advance. You tell what you see int he blots and unconsciously you expose your innermost self. The psychologist need not have taken all that trouble. The supreme imaginative literature of the world is a survival of the fittest ink blots of the ages, and nothing reveals a man with more precision than his reaction to it.
Harold Goddard, The Meaning of Shakespeare, vol. 1

Julie is stuck with the Wrathful. Can't see a thing. Which is unfortunate because Scott is no help at all ...


... as he is prostrate with the Ava- the Avarish- er, the greedy. Virgil is still around here somewhere.

A Good Story is Hard to Find, Episode 137: Purgatorio by Dante. Join us!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: Three Bowls

Three Bowls by Duane Keiser

Lagniappe: Women and cats ...

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.
Robert A. Heinlein

Genesis Notes: What the Bible Says About Marriage

Jacopo Amigoni, Jacob and Rachel


Right after studying Adam and Eve seems like a good place to take a look at marriage in the Bible. I like the way that the Life Application Bible breaks the subject out and cross references all the things that Scripture teaches us that a good and holy marriage should be. For one thing, I know I never would have gone looking in Malachi for info on marriage!
  • Genesis 2:18-24 — Marriage is a good idea
  • Genesis 24:58-60 — Commitment is essential to a successful marriage
  • Song of Songs 4:9, 10 — Romance is important
  • Malachi 2:14-15 — Marriage creates the best environment for raising children
  • Matthew 5:32 — Unfaithfulness breaks the bond of trust, the foundation of all relationships
  • Matthew 19:6 — Marriage is permanent
  • Romans 7:2, 3 — Ideally, only death should dissolve marriage
  • Ephesians 5:21-33 — Marriage is based on the principled practice of love, not on feelings
  • Ephesians 5:23, 32 — Marriage is a living symbol of Christ and the church
  • Hebrews 13:4 — Marriage is good and honorable

Friday, July 8, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: A Love Story

E. Phillips Fox, A Love Story, 1903
This is like a dream of the perfect summer day.

Well Said: We want the definite ...

To our age anything Delphic is anathema. We want the definite. As certainly as ours is a time of the expert and the technician, we are living under a dynasty of the intellect, and the aim of the intellect is not to wonder and love and grow wise about life, but to control it.
Harold Goddard, The Meaning of Shakespeare, vol. 1

Prayers and Support for Dallas Police Officers Killed and Wounded

12 police officers were shot and five were killed in an attack by snipers in downtown Dallas at a peaceful protest of officer-involved shootings across the country on Thursday night.

Two civilians were also shot during the attack.
Our hearts are broken right now. Nothing I can say adequately conveys the mixture of feelings that come from seeing flags at half mast at police substations. We're headed there later today to take flowers as a sign of our support and grief.
"We're hurting ..."

"We don't feel much support most days," [Police Chief] Brown said. "Let's not make today most days. Please, we need your support to protect you from men like these, who carried out this tragic, tragic event."
As always, what we can do, wherever we are, is to pray.

The City of Dallas is having an interfaith prayer vigil at noon today at Thanksgiving Square. They are encouraging us to join them in prayer in our churches or wherever we are. My parish, St. Thomas Aquinas, is having a noon service if you happen to be nearby.

In the meantime, we don't have to wait until noon to pray for those who were attacked and for their families.

And most especially for the souls of those who were killed.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.

Amen.
And, while we are at it, we must remember to pray for those who committed these crimes. Clearly they need prayers.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: Hygieia (Gustav Klimt)

Gustav Klimt, Hygieia (from Medicine mural), 1899-1907,
University of Vienna ceiling, destroyed, 1945
via Arts Everyday Living
I don't usually love Klimt, but I totally love this.

Well Said: Feelings and doing right

You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings.
Pearl S. Buck

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: Louis & Lola?

Louis & Lola ?-- TITANIC survivors, [1912 April]
Library of Congress on Flickr

Well Said: Men of the ages and the unconscious mind

Only very ingenious persons will think that the wise men of the ages did not know of the existence of the unconscious mind because they did not call it by that name or formulate its activities in twentieth-century terms.
Harold C. Goddard, The Meaning of Shakespeare, vol. 1

Genesis Notes: Masculine Genius and Feminine Genius

Adam and Eve after Expulsion from the Garden of Eden (c.1818), Johann Anton Ramboux
You know, you read commentaries and studies and you think that you've picked all the meaning out of Adam and Eve in the Bible ... and then something completely new comes along and knocks you off your feet.

I'd heard the phrase "feminine genius" before but had never really thought about it Certainly I wasn't aware it came from John Paul II's 1988 Apostolic Letter On the Dignity and Vocation of Women. Then recently a friend gave me a copy of a piece exploring the masculine genius (and the feminine too, never fear) based on what we can see in the text of chapter 2 of Genesis.

I've rarely seen something that so well illustrated men's and women's true nature and their complementarity. It is so insightful.
... But in the first instance, man is surrounded by the “things” God has made - and then tasked with naming all the creatures God brings him as they search for a suitable partner for him. It is in naming them that he takes dominion over them. ... It is here that we find the source and proper context of man’s well documented (and often ridiculed) natural tendency to attend to things. It is found in the Scriptural account of the first man. And it is his special genius.

Even more revealing, it is man who, at Genesis 2:15, is put in the garden to “till it,” well before the fall puts him at odds with creation. This is his work. And his knowledge of “things” serves him well as he goes about his work there.

Thus to this genius, we can credit the survival of the human species, the building up of civilizations, and the preservation of families throughout the history of mankind. The radical feminist movement would have you believe otherwise, but the truth is, if it weren’t for men, we would still be living in grass huts. ...

But this should not be taken to mean that man is oriented only toward things. When the woman is brought to him, though he also names her, he knows immediately that she is not an object; she is a person. For upon encountering her, he says “This at last is bones of my bones, flesh of my flesh.” Through his encounter with the woman, the Lord God reveals to him the nature of the reciprocal relationship of the gift of self. ...

A brief word concerning the source of the feminine genius is necessary here ... it is found when we recognize that woman’s first contact with reality is of a horizon that, from the beginning, includes man, that is, it includes persons. Upon seeing Adam, Eve recognizes another like her, an equal, while the other creatures and things around her appear only on the periphery of her gaze. Thus, in addition to her capacity to conceive and nurture human life, indeed prior to it, woman’s place in the order of creation reveals that, from the beginning, the horizon of all womankind includes persons, includes the other. The genius of woman is found here. While man’s first experience of his own existence is of loneliness, woman’s horizon is different, right from the start. From the first moment of her own reality, woman sees herself in relation to the other. ...
Dr. Deborah Savage, The Masculine Genius
This is just a bit. Be sure to click through on the link for the whole piece.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: Father Time

Edmund Dulac, Father Time, 1906

Lagniappe: Words in Mouths

Did you know that writing stories down kills them?

Of course it does. Words weren't meant to be stiff unchanging things. ... Many, many generations ago, before pictorals and numeratics and hieratics, words were kept where they belong, in mouths.
N.K. Jemisin, Killing Moon
Interesting idea, isn't it? It's from a fascinating book which I'm only partway through.

Monday, July 4, 2016

4th of July in Dallas 2016



More specifically, in the Lakewood neighborhood we live near. This is how you do 4th of July!

I felt silly but it brought a tear to my eye at one point because this was such a pure expression of loving our country as compared to all the dreck from politics lately... we heard Born in the USA from a lot of floats.



The theme was Lakewood Dreams Big ... which some ignored in favor of patriotism and which some did in very big, over the (big) top style.





Happy Independence Day

Hats off!
Along the street there comes
A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums,
A flash of color beneath the sky:
Hats off!
The flag is passing by!

Blue and crimson and white it shines,
Over the steel-tipped, ordered lines.
Hats off!
The colors before us fly;
But more than the flag is passing by.

Sea-fights and land-fights, grim and great,
Fought to make and to save the State;
Weary marches and sinking ships;
Cheers of victory on dying lips;

Days of plenty and years of peace,
March of a strong land's swift increase:
Equal justice, right and law,
Stately honor and reverent awe;

Sign of a nation, great and strong,
To ward her people from foreign wrong;
Pride and glory and honor, all
Live in the colors to stand or fall.

Hats off!
Along the street there comes
A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums,
And loyal hearts are beating high:
Hats off!
The flag is passing by!

(Henry Holcomb Bennett)

Childe Hassam, The Fourth of July, 1916
Let the Fourth of July always be a reminder that here in this land, for the first time, it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights; that government is only a convenience created and managed by the people, with no powers of its own except those voluntarily granted to it by the people. We sometimes forget that great truth, and we never should.
Ronald Reagan

Friday, July 1, 2016

Worth a Thousand Words: Golden Sunrise

Golden Sunrise
taken by Remo Savisaar

Well Said: Always Try Again

After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again. For however important chastity (or courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue) may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity