You Deal with Brute Nature!




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“When we hear, ‘Your faith has saved you,’ we do not understand the Lord to say simply that they will be saved who have believed in whatever manner, even if works have not followed. To begin with, it was to the Jews alone that he spoke this phrase, who had lived in accord with the law and blamelessly and who had lacked only faith in the Lord.” – Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis or Miscellanies 

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We’ve had Friday the 13th’s two months in a row now and, so far, no dire consequences, even with me doing another post here on the old blog. 

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I HATE this Daylight Savings Time thing we all have to go through twice a year, this year has been especially brutal on the old body for some reason.  Besides, the whole project is based several fictions designed to cover up some nefarious plot by some government official somewhere back in time.  It was probably an experiment just to see who would be gullible enough to fall for the plan, never expecting anyone really would.  In any case, it’s time to wake up and get back to living in accord with nature.

What Daylight Saving Time isn’t is saving time.  Any cursory exercise of the mind will show that, for example in the case of my burgh in Colorado, we had 12 hours and 30 minutes of visible daylight on Sunday, the day of this year’s time change, and the setting of our clocks had no impact on that whatsoever.  Whether sunrise was at 6:21 AM or 7:21 AM makes no difference, actual sunset still occurs 11 hours and 37 minutes later either way.  The fiction of “saving time” is nonsense and it’s high time we do away with it.

There are other fictions associated with Daylight “Savings” Time proponents that should also be brought to light and carefully considered.  The argument that was made most often when I was young and the country first began to experiment seriously with the time change is that it helped farmers be more productive during planting season.  According to an article in the Washington Post on Sunday, that’s a flat out lie; farmers absolutely hate the idea of the time change; it means that the timing of harvesting and getting crops to market was screwed up.  And dairy farmers hate it because cows can’t read a clock and tend to stay on one schedule regardless of what Congress says.

Another argument being made, and this was the basis for the last time change legislation in Congress in 2005, is that it saves energy.  Once again, nonsense.  A study, in California of all places, showed that energy savings are negligible and, in fact, energy usage might actually have increased after DST was implemented each year, either for more driving or using more air conditioning.  

The argument that it is good for people and increases safety and health has also shown to be pure contrivance.  Studies have shown that, in people with mental health issues especially, suicide rates increase after these time changes.  Also, with the change in daily habits, there is an increase in cluster headaches from the disruption.

I just say, if DST is so good, why not leave it on all year round and be done with.  There, that’s my rant for the week.

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Thoreau once wrote, “Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary.”  

Personally, I think he was nuts and I’m happy to report that my fair city has finally experienced a break in our dealings with “brute nature.”  The snow has stopped and (mostly) melted after a week of warm temperatures.  While it may be a real character builder to take any kind of walks through deep snows, it will  be quite pleasurable for me to sit on the back deck on Sunday, watch a couple of burgers grill on the barbi and maybe look for the first signs that the Robins are making their way back to Colorado for Spring. Life is good.

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The clarinet practice is proceeding a pace, even though my instructor has taken a couple of weeks off to head to Florida (the scoundrel).  It gives me a bit of time to try to catch up on some practice for the band.  At my stage of playing, it’s still somewhat overwhelming, not only the tempo at which most pieces are played, but also the sheer volume of music we’re playing.  Anyway, as I told the fellow who runs the band, “You get what you pay for!”  So, I’ll plug away and do the best I can and learn as much as I can; this ain’t the Boston Symphony.

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One of the blogs I most enjoy reading is David Warren’s “Essays in Idleness”, there’s always some fresh point of view on offer at his site.  Today, in a self-confessed attempt to gain attention from narrow gauge railroad fans, he writes about railway gauges.  He writes:

“George Stephenson, who did not design the first steam locomotive (that was the Cornishman, Richard Trevithick), did build the Liverpool and Manchester, which when it opened in 1830 was the world’s first inter-city railway. I believe he is credited with establishing the standard gauge, through his many early works; and that he was also on record expressing his regret. If he’d had it all to do again, he would have added an extra couple of inches to the space between the insides of the rails. There was a “sweet point” that he had slightly underestimated.
Thousands of lives might have been saved on unnecessary derailments of the fast steam trains, from a slightly wider gauge and the moderation of the railbed curves that would have necessitated. Ah well. One engineer copies another, and most of the world’s railways are now “1435 mm,” as most of the world likes to put it. (Which is to say, Stephenson rounded by one-tenth of a millimetre.)”

I have been thinking along similar lines recently, only not about railroad tracks but about eyeglasses.  On Wednesday, my dermatologist burned a“pre-cancerous” lesion off the bridge of my nose, one most probably caused by abrasion from my eyeglass frames.  That procedure surely smarted a good deal.  I got to thinking that eyeglasses, most particularly their frames, have been pretty much the same since old Ben Franklin came up with his first set of bifocals.  Surely by now, someone would have come up with a better, more comfortable design for things. Surely there’s some “sweet point” for eyeglass design that, over all these centuries has been missed, but all we have is one designer copying another and no innovation on the horizon.  Eyeglass engineers should be ashamed of themselves.

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That’s it for this week, I’m going to brush up on NFL free agency and the Broncos prospects for next season.  It’s sort of my penance for Lent.

This is a 7 Quick Takes Post as hosted at This Ain’t the Lyceum blog.

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A Sorry Sort of Saint


A 7 Quick Takes Post, hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary

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A saint who is sorry is a sorry sort of saint. St. Francis de Sales

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There was an interesting article in our local Catholic newspaper by a physicist who was also an Anglican priest before he came home to Rome. He writes about buying a new laptop and, first thing, being forced to sign up for a Microsoft “account”, an idea he found disgusting. His solution? Go out and buy the necessary parts and build himself a computer, one with a lot of memory, 1 Terrabyte of space on the hard drive, a generic operating system, and no connection to the internet. I have to say, I find the idea fascinating, given my near addiction to all things electronic. I can’t help but think people would be better off not being so connected to what purports to be the world.

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Browsing the web this week, I came across an interesting article on the Slate web site by someone named Michael Robbins, a review of a new book by Nick Spencer Atheists, The Origin of the Species. The book, it seems, takes the path already well trod by the likes of Richard Dawkins and other “evangelical atheists” and treats faith as belief in some primitive myth. Robbins does a pretty good job showing the poverty of that idea.

“What’s most galling about evangelical atheists is their epistemic arrogance—and their triumphalist tone: If religious belief is like belief in the Easter Bunny, as they like to say, shouldn’t they be less proud of themselves for seeing through it? [John] Gray put the matter starkly:

‘Driven to the margins of a culture in which science claims authority over all of human knowledge, [religious believers] have had to cultivate a capacity for doubt. In contrast, secular believers—held fast by the conventional wisdom of the time—are in the grip of unexamined dogmas.'”

The point I find most interesting is that such an article should appear in a venue like Slate, a left leaning web journal/magazine. A sign of hope that maybe there is the tiniest bit of awakening to new ideas among those on the left?

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My adventures with the clarinet continue after a frustrating week of life and death struggle over trivial matters. I had been making pretty good progress until I hit the challenge of playing, in tempo, a dotted quarter note followed by a half note, in two/four time. It blew my mind. However, come time for the lesson and I played all but one of the assigned exercises to my instructors satisfaction. He was of the opinion that the assignments he had given me to play were, in fact, far too easy for me and my frustration resulted from boredom, so he has upped the challenge for the coming week. Boredom won’t be a problem for the next several days and I should have kept my mouth shut.

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I can’t believe that in two weeks or less, NFL training camps will open, for me always a harbinger of fall. I know that idea isn’t completely reasonable but once football news starts hitting the headlines, it seems only a moment until the season opener, then the falling leaves, and then Halloween and All Saints Day. Time flies, it seems all the faster since I retired.

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We now have a humanitarian crisis developing all across the country and our borders are now virtually non-existent. One has to wonder why. From all I can gather, this is what was once known as a “man caused disaster” and perhaps it’s time that our leaders, rather than putting political gain first, a fault on both sides of the political spectrum, our leaders began to take on the challenge of governing.

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“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” Jonathan Swift

 

Bitter Roots


The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet. — Aristotle

imageYou know what they say about too much of a good thing. My problem is not which punctuation marks I avoid using, it’s what I use far too much, the lowly comma. It’s not that I have anything against this simple little punctuation mark, it’s that I view it pointing to a deeper failing, one that can hardly be undone. The heart of the problem is that I don’t really know proper use of the things; I never learned their correct usage. But the thing that disappoints is that it shows how selective I was as a kid in the amount of education I absorbed; it’s a constant reminder that I should have paid much more attention in school. Except for reading, and at times as it struck my fancy, I would pay attention to arithmetic or biology or social studies, as we called it then, as it suited me. If I wasn’t particularly interested in the topic of the day, I was tuned out,  day dreaming about flying or some day having a Corvette in the garage, or some such thing. If I’d been just a bit smarter, I’d have realized that in order to be an Air Force pilot or be really serious about things like designing and racing cars, you need a solid foundation in awful things as math and science. The thought never crossed my mind. It’s a shame too, because at the time I was attending school in Detroit, they had one of the best educational systems in the country.

After my stint in Viet Nam, I had learned the lesson and got serious about getting an education and, with the help of the GI Bill, finishing college. By then, however, except for English and history, I didn’t have even a semi-adequate background in things I would be required to study, like math and sciences, like biology or chemistry; physics was a lost cause. As a result of my selective consumption of the education offered me, my course through college was peripatetic, at best. I studied history, English, pre-pharmacy (a really dumb idea), engineering (I can’t believe I got through 4 semesters of calculus), and, finally, accounting, and much to my amazement and the amazement of all those who knew me, passed the CPA exam.

But even with all this study and hard work playing catch up, to this day, I have no confidence that any comma that appears in my writing is well placed and deserving of the attention I gave it. Its sad, the fruit could have been so much sweeter.

Angels Resigned and Sullen


A 7 Quick Takes post as hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler at her Conversion Diary blog.

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“Those who, to please their listeners, avoid giving a forthright declaration of the will of God become the slaves of those they would please, and abandon the service of God.” — St. Basil the Great

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This week my former Presbyterian denomination voted to allow their pastors to perform same sex “weddings” in states where such activity is legal. I’m sure there are a large number of those who remain affiliated with the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) who are strongly opposed to this move and are doing a lot of anguished soul searching regarding their future journey in faith. I personally went through that same experience at a much earlier stage in the PCUSAs self-destructive process and I sympathize greatly. I’m also grateful that, as a Catholic, my faith isn’t something held up to a vote every two years with all the uncertainty and instability associated with such practice. Please pray for those faithful Christians adversely affected by this sadly misguided vote.

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“There is one more thing: I may be interested in Oriental religions, etc., but there can be no obscuring the essential difference—this personal communion with Christ at the center and heart of all reality, as a source of grace and life.” Thomas Merton

As much as he was involved with the peace movement and Oriental spiritualities, especially in the last years of his life, a careful reading of Merton will nearly always provide a reminder that he never forgot or abandoned “the essential difference” between Catholicism and those other paths. I think that’s forgotten far too often and allows Merton to be used as an excuse for almost any diversion from the truth. That’s a shame.

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The work with the clarinet is proceeding apace. I’ve now had the third or fourth lesson and am learning to produce a more or less real clarinet sound and refreshing my memories on how to read music. There have been times over the last week when the last thing I wanted to do was spend 45 minutes to an hour practicing on the horn, but I am beginning to make a bit of progress and enjoying the challenge.

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“We cannot pass our guardian angel’s bounds, resigned or sullen; he will hear our sighs.” — Saint Augustine

Happened to catch Mike Aquilina on The Journey Home program this week and he talked for a couple of minutes during the program about the importance of angels in our lives and how little the average Catholic knows about them. It was sort of a jolt because I don’t give a lot of thought to the topic of angels and the role they play in being Catholic. I realized I’d like to know more since I figure I need all the help I can get and it’s also a very beautiful and even Scriptural aspect of our faith. I’m not sure there are many books on the topic but I think I’ll begin looking into the subject. I wonder if my neglect makes my guardian angel resigned or sullen. I hope not.

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I’ve been thinking about the role church architecture plays in the celebration of the Mass. Our local parish church is a left over from the late 1950s to early 1960s in terms of design and atmosphere. In other words it’s very sterile and a Presbyterian entering the place would feel quite at home. I think it’s been having an effect on me lately, even to the point of my not being able to keep my thoughts wandering far and wide during the Liturgy. I don’t normally have the problem in such a severe form and the only factor I can attribute is the design of church building itself. I know that attending Mass in our local Cathedral, a building now over 100 years old, offers a very different and more awe inspiring experience. Another topic I need to investigate.

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I’ve struggled with the post this week and done much editing to avoid descending into rant mode. Never a good thing. I hope next week will see an improvement in attitude on my part.

Something Loose Knit and Yet Not Slovenly . . .


Miscellaneous Musings on Wednesday

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Reading diary excerpts again and stumbled across this from Miss Virginia Wolfe:

“I got out this diary and read, as one always does read one’s own writing, with a kind of guilty intensity. I confess that the rough and random style of it, often so ungrammatical, and crying for a word altered, afflicted me somewhat. I am trying to tell whichever self it is that reads this hereafter that I can write very much better; and take no time over this; and forbid her to let the eye of man behold it. And now I may add my little compliment to the effect that it has a slapdash and vigour and sometimes hits an unexpected bull’s eye. But what is more to the point is my belief that the habit of writing thus for my own eye only is good practice. It loosens the ligaments. Never mind the misses and the stumbles. Going at such a pace as I do I must make the most direct and instant shots at my object, and thus have to lay hands on words, choose them and shoot them with no more pause than is needed to put my pen in the ink. I believe that during the past year I can trace some increase of ease in my professional writing which I attribute to my casual half hours after tea. Moreover there looms ahead of me the shadow of some kind of form which a diary might attain to. I might in the course of time learn what it is that one can make of this loose, drifting material of life; finding another use for it than the use I put it to, so much more consciously and scrupulously, in fiction. What sort of diary should I like mine to be? Something loose knit and yet not slovenly, so elastic that it will embrace anything, solemn, slight or beautiful that comes into my mind. I should like it to resemble some deep old desk, or capacious hold-all, in which one flings a mass of odds and ends without looking them through. I should like to come back, after a year or two, and find that the collection had sorted itself and refined itself and coalesced, as such deposits so mysteriously do, into a mould, transparent enough to reflect the light of our life, and yet steady, tranquil compounds with the aloofness of a work of art. The main requisite, I think on re-reading my old volumes, is not to play the part of censor, but to write as the mood comes or of anything whatever; since I was curious to find how I went for things put in haphazard, and found the significance to lie where I never saw it at the time. But looseness quickly becomes slovenly. A little effort is needed to face a character or an incident which needs to be recorded. Nor can one let the pen write without guidance; for fear of becoming slack and untidy.” Diary of Virginia Wolfe

I don’t usually like to post long quotes, but this particular excerpt, in spite of its length, rather concisely conveys some of the best advice on writing I’ve found. It should be framed and hung on my wall somewhere I can spy it every day.

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imageSpeaking of diaries, I can’t help but wonder if anyone reads them anymore, especially the famous ones, like that of Samuel Pepys. Ever heard of him? He started writing on 1 January 1660 and wrote daily for the next 3,468 days, missing only 11 days in the interim. He was, I think, anything but loose knit or slovenly; from all those pages one gets a pretty complete picture of the hedonistic, self-serving, vain, Mr. Pepys. For all his personal failings on display, and despite it’s antiquity, it’s still great reading to this day. In the process of all this work, done in addition to his work in the British Admiralty, he pretty much invented the diaristic art form. I wonder if he shouldn’t be considered the first distant ancestor of the blogging world of today? The patron saint of bloggers?  Then again, what does that say about bloggers.

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I’m tempted at times to ask myself what is the greatest problem facing the Church today and I’m tempted to answer: the Church. It reminds me of the old Cold War joke about some old Communist, a delegate from the Soviet Union, came to visit the Vatican and boldly told one of the Cardinals that the Soviets intended to destroy the Church completely from the face of the earth. “Good luck,” the old Cardinal replied, “We’ve been trying to do it for 2,000 years.” I wonder if we’ll ever stop trying?

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The clarinet lessons continue on. It was a terrible week for practice; seemed more like I was at war with the thing than playing it. There was a time or two I thought it would be best to take the thing back to the music store and start rubbing the cat’s ears instead. The question comes to mind, though, if that isn’t the kind of experience that leads to true improvement. I guess I’ll find out.

Exploring Brighton Beach


From time to time, I try to use the Word Press Daily Prompt to spur my writing imagination. I hardly ever do one on a Friday, but today’s spurred my interest so I’m going to do a short response to it. The prompt reads: “Is there a word or a phrase you use (or overuse) all the time, and are seemingly unable to get rid of? If not, what’s the one that drives you crazy when others use it?”

image7.jpgIt dawned on me a couple of months ago that there are many words and phrases I use constantly, sometimes in nearly every other sentence. I asked myself, if this continuous repetition was beginning to drive me crazy, what must it be doing to my readers? In my own defense, I believe the source of this bad habit is found in doing a great deal of writing in my capacity working for a government contractor. That industry has it’s own vocabulary and that vocabulary has changed very little in the past four decades; everyone expects those familiar with the industry to use the same sort of verbiage. I’ve found it extremely difficult to shake the habit, but knew I need to try.

I began casting about for ways to spice up my vocabulary, and my pursuit of wisdom took me to many foreign climes. The truth is, however, my search ended up closely resembling Chesterton’s English explorer who set sail around the world hoping to discover new and exotic lands, only to find himself washed up on the shore at Brighton. Just like that admiral of the ocean blue, I ended up exactly where I began so many years ago in freshman English, with an old, dusty, copy of Roget’s Thesaurus, pulled from a much neglected area of my bookshelf. Opening it’s slightly discolored pages (it, sadly, hadn’t seen sunlight in many years), I saw laying before me a place where an old logophilic explorer like myself could spend countless hours just drinking in the mystery and inter-connectedness of words. The solution to a long developing problem had been found in an instant. I keep the book close at hand now whenever I write and try to refer to it often; it’s the perfect antidote to trite, dull, worn out language. In truth, it’s become something of a game; if I write a word that triggers just the slightest discomfort, deep down in my writer’s psyche, I take a break, pick up my thesaurus and see if there’s a better word to use in it’s place. It’s actually fun, and I’m learning something, new words, at the same time.

If there’s one recommendation I’d make to any writer, it’s the use of a thesaurus to spice things up. I don’t know how hard it is to find a hard copy of Roget’s indispensable resource, but a handy alternative is the web site, Thesaurus.com. Many, these days will prefer the tech based solution, and it is a well designed web site, but if you can find the book, perhaps at a good used bookstore, grab it up. You don’t have to have a computer to use it and it’s hidden delights are many; just open it randomly at look at the first word that you see, you may find your own Brighton shore.

We Have the Same Boss


A 7 Quick Takes post, hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler
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“When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

imageI remember when Archbishop Sheen was on TV and hugely popular. At the time Milton Berle was king of Tuesday nights, but Sheen beat him out in terms of ratings; up to 10 million viewers a night tuned in to see him. Can you imagine anything like that happening today, especially considering the show was just him on a TV studio set with a chalk board; no fancy graphics, video, sound, nothing. Quite an accomplishment.

In case you’re interested, Berle was good natured about their rivalry, reportedly once joking that, “We both work for the same boss, Sky Chief Supreme,” referring to Texaco gasoline, the company that sponsored both their shows.

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“Truth has nothing to do with the number of people it convinces.” Paul Claudel

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The clarinet playing continues apace. After the second lesson, it looks like the pattern will be for me to practice a lot allowing the lessons to be opportunities to correct errors in technique and to build good habits, one small step at a time. I like that approach because I always felt, while playing in school, that there was never enough time to build a solid foundation in technique and just plain understanding of the instrument. As they say, onward and upward!

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I saw in the news yesterday that an FSSP priest, 28 year old Fr. Kenneth Walker, was shot and killed in Phoenix. I haven’t heard any further news of what provoked the attack, if anything, but please take some extra time over this next week to pray for him and for the full recovery of the two priests who were also attacked and survived.

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In fits and starts, we’ve begun to study Latin. I’ve had it in mind to start attending the Latin Mass again. Lately, as you might judge from the post of earlier this week, I go through spells when I think what’s been done to the Mass in the last half-century, is nearly criminal. All the mystery has been removed from it. The only solution appears to be returning to the pre-Vatican II Liturgy. To do that, though, I have a strong sense that I’d like to have, at a minimum, a rudimentary understanding of Latin. I don’t know if that’s really necessary or not, but the feeling is there.

The study itself is turning out to be a little easier than anticipated, there are only a few letters pronounced differently than in English, and the general principles of grammar seems easy enough to pick up. In any case, it’s keeping me busy in retirement.

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I may have posted this quote from St. Ignatius recently, but I keep coming back to it, churning it over and over in my mind:

“Be slow to speak, and only after having first listened quietly, so that you may understand the meaning, leanings, and wishes of those who do speak. Thus you will better know when to speak and when to be silent.” Saint Ignatius

The thing I would desperately love to be better at is listening, and listening quietly, letting the other person make their point and respecting that. The first thing that came to mind after I read this quote is that what Ignatius is asking for is showing of the love of neighbor. He wants us to make the effort to get into the other person’s place and heart, to understand their leanings and meanings and wishes of someone who is speaking. That is actually quite difficult, for me anyway. It would be quite good to know when to speak, but most of all, when to keep silent.

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“I tell you the solemn truth, that the doctrine of the Trinity is not so difficult to accept for a working proposition as any one of the axioms of physics.” Henry Adams

Sunday is the Most Holy Trinity. Henry Adams makes a great point, if you can believe what physicists seem to be saying about reality these days, you’d probably end up going insane, it’s so far beyond anything we seem to be able to comprehend. Yet, you’d believe it. Why not put some faith in the Holy Trinity.

Love is Worth More Than Intelligence


A 7 Quick Takes on Friday post, hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary

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“Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. There may be legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not… with regard to abortion and euthanasia.” Pope Benedict XVI

This quote highlights one of the surprises I had in store for me coming into the Church. My misconception centers around an idea common to most Protestants, that the Catholic Church defines, in detail, everything a Catholic must mindlessly believe. The surprise was how relatively little the Church holds as infallible dogma; there are a great many areas where Catholics are free, with a well formed conscience, to make up their own minds.

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“Christianity taught men that love is worth more than intelligence.” Jacques Maritain

Some times a person can be too smart for their own good, and the good of those around them. We’re seeing amble evidence of it in the newspapers and TV news shows this week, for sure.

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Got the first clarinet lesson in this week, and boy, do I have a lot of work to do. I’m having to relearn everything from putting the horn together to preparing the reed before playing and a whole host of other good stuff. My main problem, and I’m not sure why it is so, is keeping good time, as the music is written. Another surprise this week, I’m not squeaking and squealing as much as I expected. My instructor plays in a couple of local symphony orchestras and teaches classical clarinet, so it’s not surprising he’ BIG on details. I’m going to be doing a lot of exercises, but I’m using the very same book I used when I first started playing.
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image“Life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans.” John Lennon

Another thing my clarinet instructor insists on is 45 minutes per day of practice, at least. I thought that wouldn’t be any problem at all. Turns out, that’s hard work! Also, I’m practicing during the time I used to do writing, so I’m having to rearrange my routine. One of the nice things about Benedictine spirituality is that it’s built for situations like this; if you have something planned you needn’t get upset when your nicely conceived plans fall down around your ears. John Lennon would have been a very good Benedictine.

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“One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.” Gilbert K. Chesterton

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“Be proud that you are helping God to bear the cross, and don’t grasp at comforts. It is only mercenaries who expect to be paid by the day. Serve Him without pay.” — St. Teresa of Ávila

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imageToday is the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings during World War II.  These landings were crucial to the defeat of Nazi Germany and I ask you all to take a moment today to remember the incredible heroism of those American, British and allied soldiers who took part in those landings.  We owe our freedom to them.

Brevity


A 7 Quick Takes Post

A Quick note, please check out Jennifer Fulwiler’s new book: Something Other than God; it promises to be a good read.

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This week I’ve set one goal for doing this “Quick Takes” post – each quick take shall be no more than 50 words. The idea is to be brief; I’ve always admired brevity. They say that brevity is the soul of wit.  I agree.

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I’m giving serious consideration to, once again, taking up the clarinet. I used to be pretty good in school but haven’t played since. I am beginning to think, though, that I need a hobby and would love to pick up the ol’ licorice stick once more. Besides, it’d drive the cats crazy.

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“The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice.” – A Defense of Humilities, The Defendant, 1901. It’s odd, I’m thinking Chesterton wrote this tongue in cheek. I wonder if he ever imagined how true this prophecy would turn out to be.

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I find it’s not easy to be brief; I’ve gotten very wordy lately. Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if more people decided to take the brevity challenge? I used to think Twitter, the worst thing that could ever have happened to the English language. I was wrong.

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cropped-chesterton-2.jpgI’ve been reading Fr Schall’s, The Mind that is Catholic and am finding it challenging. I surmise that’s a good thing, to be challenged. However, after I finish, I’m tempted to stick with Chesterton, Belloc and Newman for the rest of the year. I’ll let you know how that goes.

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I see a German priest wants Pope Francis to release him from his vows of celibacy. Seems he has an illegitimate 22 year old daughter he’s kept secret from his superiors. He posted his request on Facebook. In a way, I admire his desire to be honest, but, REALLY?

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Re: #6: Sometimes one wonders if, in certain countries, all the bishops should be removed and a new crop installed. I am beginning to wonder if that shouldn’t be something done on a regular basis around the world, say every 10 or 15 years for each country. Stir the pot.

A Pint of Guinness


As I may have written here before, I try to write something everyday in a sort of electronic journal I keep.  There are times, though, when I simply run out of things to write about and go looking for a prompt or two, usually from the Word Press Daily Prompt feature.  Today was such a day and this is nothing more than my impromptu response to today’s prompt:  Tell us about five places you’ve always wanted to visit.

I’ve been lucky in that, between the Air Force and work and just plain wanderlust, I’ve been able to see many parts of the world. I’ve visited nearly every state in the Union, being, at the moment, six states short of the goal.  I can say I’ve set foot in Japan, the Philippines, Viet Nam, and various points around there. In my working career I managed to get to Alaska, including the island of Adak, on the Aleutian chain, to Puerto Rico, and to Germany. I’ve been to Mile One of the Alcan Highway in Canada. In fact, I’ve visited all of Canada’s provinces except the Maritimes, one place I’d like to visit before I shuffle off this mortal coil. I’ve been to Scotland, twice, to Britain, to France, where I had the great privilege to look out over the invasion beaches of Normandy and contemplate the bravery that was displayed on that June day in 1944.

But despite having been to so many places, there are still a few I’d like to visit, some just because I’m flat curious about what they’re like, and others for perhaps deeper reasons.

imageFirst on the list, Ireland, both for it’s beauty and to have a glass of freshly drawn Guinness, to be downed while listening to some Irish band in a local pub. I think there’s nothing more civilized and, well, comfy, not to mention fun, than sitting in a pub in the British Isles, a real pub, not the modern contrivances they’re beginning to foist off on an unsuspecting public.

I’d like to visit Australia, having tried to get there since my Viet Nam days. I served with some Aussies at different times during my tour and, while they were a bit wild at times, I enjoyed working with them and wanted to see their homeland. I tried to take R&R there one time but it was a spur of the moment thing, I couldn’t get stand by seating on a plane and ended up just going back to my unit until my tour was up. I’ve tried once or twice more in my life but much the same thing happened, work and life interfered with travel, and the trip was never made. Now, at my age, when I have the time, the trip seems just too long and daunting and I probably will never be able to visit.

I mentioned France above, and another place I’d have to say, I’d like to go back there. The French have developed a reputation as being very hostile to Americans and universally impolite. Don’t believe a word of it; if you are courteous to them, they will return the favor. While in Normandy, I was amazed that every shop and hotel had at least one sign in the window thanking Americans for rescuing them during the war (couldn’t possibly be for crass, commercial reasons). It must have been a great thing to have remembered it after all those years. Besides, the food was unbelievable; we never had a bad meal anywhere in France, and seeing Notre Dame, and getting to go inside, was an experience not to be forgotten. I’d go back there in a heartbeat.

In the spirit of pilgrimage, I’d like to visit Rome, the heart of the Church. I’ve been cautioned that, as far as liturgy and worship goes, I might be in for a disappointment, but still, being Catholic, I can’t not have the ambition to literally cross the Tiber and see that most beautiful of cities.

Finally, saving the best for last, I’d like to go to Colorado. I mean that, despite having lived here for 15 years or more, there’s much of my newly adopted home state I have yet to see and I mean to see it before too much more time passes. I want to see the Colorado National Monument in the north west part of the state, I want see Sand Creek, in the south east, and Great Sand Dunes National Park in the south. I want to see it all because, as they say, there’s no place like home.