19 June 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Saudi Arabia's rehab program for Islamic terrorists isn't working.

Nanny wants to monitor your internet use.  This isn't anxiety-inducing at all.  What could go wrong?

Is B.O. last year's boy band?  Fans are disappointed.  Well, there was never any real reason to think that he would be anything but just another politician.  If his fans are disappointed, they only have themselves to blame.

While the U.S. government spends like a drunken sailor using a buddy's credit card, the E.U. wakes up to the disastrous reality of the welfare state. 

Getting married in heaven. . .not as easy as you might think.

Obit for breakfast food legend

Old School meds for everything from toothache to "nerves."  How did our ancestors manage to build a nation with this stuff on the market?  Note how almost all of the "nerve remedies" are advertised to women.

One weatherman's forecast for a Roman summer. . .yea, I think he's probably right.

The moral imperative against evil livers.

A little anti-iPad humor. . .

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Reader questions about the thesis

Lots of questions from readers about the thesis. . .

1).  Can I get a copy? 

Hmmmmmm. . .sure.  Do you help with your afternoon naps?  :-)  Let me get some help converting the thing to pdf, and I'll email you one.  I appreciate the interest, but don't say I didn't warn you!  It's not exactly beach reading. 

2).  How long did it take to write?

This one is difficult to answer b/c my writing process is chaotic.  Basically, the research started in Oct of 2008 with a seminar I took with Fr. Albert Bagood, OP.  He heads up the university's Templeton Foundation project called Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest.  The seminar was called "Science, Philosophy and Theology:  Convergence in Ideas and in Persons."  The idea was to read and discuss the works of individuals who have contributed significantly to our understanding of how science, philosophy, and theology relate to one another.  My presentation was on John Polkinghorne.  From the presentation material, the thesis was born.  The final draft was completed in Jan. 2009.  The first rough draft was written over the course of one week, but revisions, additions, supplementary material, etc. took several months of tinkering.

3).  Hope you enjoyed the experience!  Is it a pager turner?

Yes and no.  Learning something new is always exciting; however, I was under the gun to complete the license in one year.  This meant learning Italian, French, the basics of philosophy of science, completing all the coursework, and writing the thesis.  I managed everything but the French, which is why I've yet to graduate.  Writing philosophically is very, very different than writing literary criticism.  Philosophers--the Anglo-American kind, anyway--run from metaphors like the Borg run from Janeway!  Basically, I had to unlearn a style of writing that I had spent two decades learning and using.  Philosophers want clarity and logical coherence above all else, so the creative impulse to make intuitive jumps in logic and use metaphorical language had to be viciously suppressed.  Not fun at all.  I found myself writing and re-writing the thesis literally phrase by phrase, trying to make sure that each one came out as philosophical as possible.  My only concession to literature is one paragraph given over to Emily Dickinson's poem, "Tell All the Truth But Tell It Slant"--a poetic tribute to truth understood as verisimilitude, or "truth-likeness."

4).  So are you finished now?

No.  Not quite.  There are oral and written exams to take and a presentation and defense of the thesis yet to come.  But none of these can happen until the foreign language exam is done.  That could take another two or three years!  ;-)  If I don't pass the French exam in Oct. I won't be able to take the required PhD seminar in the fall.  It won't be offered again until the fall of 2011.  This means I will be starting another dissertation at the ripe old age of 47.  Yeech.  

A final Mille Grazie:  Research on the thesis would not have been possible had it not been for the incredible generosity of my book benefactors.  Our library here is great for research in the history of philosophy, especially medieval philosophy.  But material on contemporary philosophy of science is very limited.  My book benefactors provided me with the material I needed to get the job done.  I pray for them daily and will continue to do so for as long as the Good Lord keeps me around! 

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The thesis. . .

 Here it is!

La tesina. . .the thesis.

Got four copies made today. 

18 June 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

I'm no fan of B.O., but I think this is a bad idea.  We have several thousand problems more pressing than catching naughty politicians.  Besides, the GOP is supposed to be all about shrinking gov't not hiring more employees.

The world's governments would rather hate the U.S. as a strong but reliable ally than love us as weak and unpredictable.  Dreamers in the White House make them (and most of us) very nervous.

Ross Douthat wants to know why Hitchens is the particular kind of atheist that he is.  My sense of Hitchens is that he knows/feels that God really does exist but that acknowledging this truth puts him in the position of having to choose to either defy Him or bow before Him.  Hitchens' ego won't allow him to bow, so he rants instead.  Douthat notes that Hitchens is "restless."  Sound familiar?

North Korea abandons its disastrous command economy and embraces free markets.  Why?  Its citizens were quite literally starving to death.

On believing that your family and friends have been replaced by impostors.   Brain injuries have been known to produce "Foreign Accent Syndrome."  A life-long Mississippian wakes from a coma, speaking English with a Italian accent!  My considered conclusion:  the brain is weird.

A graphic representation of why the U.S. cannot follow California's utopian economic delusions"Texas’s low-cost, liberty-loving atmosphere has become an attractive alternative to California’s oppressive public sector and dysfunctional policy environment."  One of the reasons the Left is desperate to impose an European-style VAT is to make fleeing high tax states less attractive.  Give them no where to go and they will stay.

Spending your money to demonstrate that your opposition to ObamaCare is motivated by racism

Fr. Z. asks, "Is it time for the papal tiara?"  To my working-class mind, one of the best reforms coming out of Vatican Two was the elimination of all the imperial trappings of the papacy, e.g. the sedan chair, the papal crown, etc.  I'm 100% supportive of the Holy Father's efforts to restore reverence and mystery to the liturgy.  I just hope he resists the call to restore the frills of Empire. 

What will happen to the pets of the Elect who are raptured into heaven? 

Amazing sculptures done with colored construction paper.

Hey, profs can get bored in class too, ya know.  50 Fun Things Spice Up Your Lectures.  

Thanks, Puppy Dude!

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Coffee Bowl Browsing

File under "The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail". . .the Church is nowhere close to being done in by the sex scandals.

Who says American taxpayers aren't funding the business of abortion?

The Holy Father praises the work of a great Dominican, St. Thomas Aquinas.  Aquinas' work on faith and reason is the foundation upon which our revealed faith and acquired scientific knowledge can build a workable relationship. 

Are doomsday scenarios proclaimed by the Prophets of Science just entertainment?

Hmmmm. . .why would the Democrat majority on the FCC vote to consider government regulation of the internet?  Would it have something to do with the thousands of conservative blogs out there that offer news and commentary contra their lefty friends in the MSM?  Naw.  That's crazy talk. 

Duct tape:  the Redneck's Universal Tool.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned.  B.O. plays golf while the oil spills.

80 insults that Catholics should know but never use.

I don't who Bill Sticker is, but he has his supporters!

These are not the cakes you are looking for. . .unless you're planning a welcome party for our new Zombie Overlords.

A stress relieving meditation for those days at work when the boss just won't let up.

Using math to save your life in commuter traffic, or why you should never irritate a female driver.

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17 June 2010

Crdl George, the Sisters, and a Pseudo Rant

Bear with me as I rant. . .there is a point in here, somewhere:

(CNN) -- The head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said this week that a group of nuns who broke ranks with the powerful conference on health care reform in March is responsible for the controversial legislation's passage.

"Sister Carol and her colleagues are to blame," Cardinal Francis George is quoted as saying in a Catholic News Agency report Wednesday.

[. . .]

Wow.  This is not the usual sort of carefully crafted bureaucrat-speak we've come to expect from the USCCB.   The Good Cardinal is speaking Truth to Power here.  

Make no mistake:  the sisters who supported B.O.Care are not the cheery, put-upon drudges that the MSM is making them out to be.  Sr. Keehan rakes in about $900,000 a year as head of the Catholic Hospital Association.  The women's congregations represented by the LCWR and its overtly political arm, NETWORK, certainly have sisters who fit the MSM description, but the problem with 90% of American women congregations is not the vast majority of sisters who make up the bulk of the workforce, but their leadership.  

I've been told many times by many sisters that their congregational leaders do not represent the views of most sisters on hot button issues.  Layers of congregational bureaucracy, multiple national and international associations, "consensus decision-making," ideological formation, and pressure to conform to the community's unitary voice have all made it difficult for any sort of internal opposition to organize.  IOW, sisters who disagree with their leaders are effectively silenced.  

I''m not suggesting here that congregational leaders are consciously suppressing internal dissent. I know of no program or scheme to ostracize sisters who oppose their elected leaders.  There's no nefarious conspiracy here.  What I am suggesting is that the culture of American women religious strongly discourages internal opposition through a variety of mechanisms designed to establish and present One View to the Church and the world.  This shouldn't surprise us given that most groups do this sort thing, including men's religious congregations.  The most effective mechanism in creating the illusion of seamless assent is the so-called "consensus decision-making" process that disallows rational discourse in favor of emotional expression, thus side-stepping potentially discomforting practices like debate and voting on issues.  How one feels about an issue is deemed vastly more important than what one thinks about the issue.  Voting might expose real divisions and hold up action.

So, what's my point?  It's this:  when the LCWR and similar groups express dissident opinions on issues that our bishops have pronounced on, do not assume that all or even a majority of the sisters the group claims to represent hold the dissident view.  The best we can assume is that leadership "heard the sisters saying X" during discussions about the issue.  I've been in many meetings of religious where complex responses to even more complex issues have been reduced to meaningless three or four word bullet points.  The Robert's Rules approach to decision-making is cumbersome, often confusing, and time-consuming.  But the alternative is equally frustrating.  There's nothing more aggravating than to spend three hours discussing a complex problem only to see the wide variety of views congealed into a list of innocuous half-sentences that no reasonable person would dispute.   

I just hate to see all our sisters blamed for the dissident opinions of their leaders.

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Coffee Bowl Browsing

The Religion of Peace uses its governmental power to overthrow centuries-old Christian doctrine on marriage in Egypt.  Given half a chance, our Betters in the U.S. would do the same. 

This sort of thing drives me crazy.  Am I wrong to think that these "miracles" trivialize the faith? Maybe I'm just being too Dominican.

Mark Shea:  Stephen Hawking should stick to physics and leave the really important questions of life to those who think that they are important.

The thrill is gone.  What happens to your presidency when even your cheerleaders start to cheer against you?  Jon Stewart to B.O.:  "Oh my God, you're Frodo!"  Oddly, B.O.'s leftist critics aren't being called racist.  Why's that?

On PayPal's cowardly surrender to Islamic extremists and their tender egos.   If there was ever an example of how the alternative media are shaping the political landscape, this is it.

At what point after 1986 did Cardinal Mahony come to realize that priests shouldn't molest children?

The Church doesn't need any more goofy Wounded Healers. . .we need Apostles!

Soooo, let's get this straight:  the Dems in FL are thinking about dumping their black candidate in order to support a white candidate in a race against a Hispanic candidate.  Yea, my Political Cynicism Meter is clicking a thousand beats a second.

Can't read; can't write; can't do any math. . .but we have learned to chant in praise of Dear Leader.  Can 2012 come any faster, please?

I'm a fan of the police.  They have an incredibly tough job and often find themselves in impossible situations.  Having spent four years managing violent crises in an adolescent psych ward, I can tell you:  this guy could have handled this little crisis much, MUCH better.

For male readers only:  printable application for a night out with the boys

Imperfect chairs to keep those annoying meetings short and sweet. . .well, short, anyway.

The New Model Food Chain. . .after the Zombie Apocalypse.

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3 Liturgical Abuses

Three recent examples of liturgical abuse:

Hand sanitizer at the lavabo.  This is the sort of thing that happens when a priest learns just enough about the history of the liturgy to be dangerous.  The lavabo (washing of the priest's hands after receiving the gifts) probably derives from the once-upon-a-time real need for the priest to wash his hands after handling not only the bread and wine but other less sanitary gifts as well--food, livestock, clothes, etc.  The real need for a mundane washing got ritualized and theologized over time, so in this guy's mind he thinks it's OK to use hand sanitizer b/c the original purpose of the rite was to clean the priest's hands of actual, visible dirt.  I wonder if he uses candles on the altar.  We have electric lighting these days, so what's the point of candles? 

Con-celebrant snapping pics during Mass.  I've presided at all of five weddings in my five years as a priest.  Each time, before the liturgy begins, I take to the pulpit and threaten divine punishment on anyone who snaps a pic once the music starts (well, it sounds more ominous in my head anyway). I even taken the professional photographer aside and make sure he understands that his job starts when the liturgy ends.  At my very first wedding, a woman arrives late, sits in the front pew, and proceeds to take pics (with flash) throughout the Mass.  The poor bride was mortified.  I kept thinking:  I need a burly acolyte/bouncer to toss this heathen out the door.  For a priest to take pics while con-celebrating is beyond the pale. 

Deacon anointing a baby at baptism with the priest present.  Without doing a lot of research, I think the problem here is not so much the division of labor between the priest and deacon (one prays, the other pours), but the fact that deacon does the anointing.  Only priests may anoint.  Fr. Z. is correct:  no baptism took place here.  I'd hate to be the pastor who messed this up and had to tell the parents.  Seems like just punishment though.  [UPDATE:  I'm wrong here.  Deacons do anoint at baptisms.  I was thinking of the anointing of the sick, which is reserved to priests b/c the sacrament absolves sins.]

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15 June 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Another bites the dust?  Spain is poised to become the next Greece.  Nanny welfare state economies are not sustainable.  When will we learn?  But the real (unspoken) point of the linked story is:  give us more welfare or risk right-wing dictatorships in Europe.  Scare tactics anyone?

Another MSM meme busted.  The political mood of the country heading into Nov mid-term elections is not anti-incumbent.  It's anti-Democrat.   And, yes, in another few election cycles, it will be anti-GOP.  That's just how democracy works.

66% of Americans voters are angry with the MSM.  33% are very angry.  The poll doesn't indicate what percentage simply stopped paying any attention to them long ago.

Has the Universe joined the Dark Side?  There's more darkness out there than we thought.

Communist problem finds a capitalist solution:  North Korea hires professional Chinese actors to cheer on its World Cup team in S. Africa.  Hey, that's the sort of astro-turfing that even the NYT could love!

Geez, the P.C. Nannies are at it again.  No cigar for Mr. Churchill.  That's like dubbing Julia Child with a mid-western housewife's voice.

If you raise a generation of kids on gov't entitlements and teach them that personal initiative and responsibility are evil, then you shouldn't be surprised when they sit around waiting for Mom and Pop Gov't to hand them a cushy, well-paid job with great benefits.

Speaking of a prolonged adolescence. . .

Patrick Madrid:  Catholicism is great b/c even our statues worship statues!

Jimmy Akin examines the "new Biblical evidence" that B.O. is the anti-Christ.  Warning:  there's Hebrew grammar involved.

I'm happy to say that I've read most of these. . .yes, I'm a sci-fi/fantasy nerd.  Laugh and I'll sic my magic dragon on you.

As the older brother of a bratty younger brother, I can attest to the truth of this.

Warning:  physics geek humor.  10 pts to any non-physics geek who gets the joke.

The most awesomest epic pop-cultural allusion battle EVAH!

We're all doomed.  The Zombies ate all the geeks first.

Creationism + astronomy + pop song reference = Genius!

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Coffee Bowl Browsing

NC Democrat Congressman Etheridge assaults a college student on the street.  He apologizes.  And the DNC responds by attacking the publisher of the video.  Incredible.  Imagine for a moment that the Congressman was a Republican. . .we'd have 24/7 live coverage on all the major networks.

Those defending Etheridge's assault are creating a meme:  "The Congressman was assaulted ambush-style by unidentified hit men like that anti-ACORN guy.  The whole thing was a GOP setup."  So, it's OK to assault people on the street if it's all just a "setup."  Sorry.  Not gonna fly.  He's a Congressman.  He works for the American people.  The students never touched him.  And it doesn't matter if it was a GOP setup.  You don't assault people.

To his credit, Congressman Etheridge seems to understand what he did was wrong. Of course, he only apologized after the videos went viral on Youtube.

Rough times for an old friendship. . .I say to our Brit cousins:  please, don't confuse B.O.'s ideologically motivated disdain for the U.K. with the attitudes of most Americans.  We love the U.K.!  Once we dump President Thin Skin in 2012, all will be well.

Teacher fired from Christian school for getting pregnant before marriage?  Fair?  Yup.  However, her supervisor was dead-wrong to tell other teachers why she was fired.

Chancellor Merkel is in trouble in Germany.  Too bad.  I kinda like her.

Dissecting TIME's coverage of the Holy Father's homily at the conclusion of The Year of the Priest.

UN insider says that there never was a consensus on man-made global warming within the agency charged with handling the issue.  Uh, yea.  We know.  We've pretty much known from the beginning.

Looks like internal Vatican politicking will prevent Cardinal Pell of Sydney from heading up the Congregation of Bishops.  Too bad.  For him and for the Church.

I wonder what St. Francis Xavier would think of that logo?  I wonder what he would think of the his Jesuit brother who "pastors" the parish named after him.

"A calling to serve God has cut off an Iowa woman's tie with the Catholic Church."  Um, no.  A woman's false belief that she is called to the Catholic priesthood and her errant behavior based on this false belief have caused her to be cut off from the Church.  NB.  the reporter writes that this woman "will be excommunicated" for pretending to be ordained.  That's incorrect.  She excommunicated herself the second she faked a sacrament.

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6 Days

Six days and counting until I am lazing about on my parents' patio in Mississippi reading about the philosophy of divine revelation and sipping Mint Julips. . .what?. . .you think I'm kidding?  I make a mean Julip.  And that's to say nothing about my fried chicken, real mashed potatoes, field peas, cornbread, and peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream.

Hungry yet?

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13 June 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Is it time to rethink the need for public sector unions?  (NB.  great cartoon included!)

Why aren't college undergrads majoring in the humanities like they used to?   I can personally attest to his diagnosis of the problem.

P.C. history vs. Real history:  what's at stake for our civil society?

Great story about a mom struggling to deal with her easily frustrated 8 y.o. son:  "My Prickly Priest"

Belgium steps closer to extinction.  Free-market, politically conservative, economically prosperous Flanders wins the referendum on separating from socialist, politically liberal, economically depressed Wollania.  Apparently, the Flemish are tired of supporting their Nanny State neighbors to the south.

The Palestinian president tells B.O.:  don't pressure Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza. . .only the terrorists would benefit.

With Helen Thomas out of the room, will the White House Press Corps get even wimpier?  Better question:  is it possible for the WHPC to get any wimpier?

Are we being governed by professors?  Looks like it.  Though I'd rather be governed by the philosophy department than the English department!

Reforming tenure rules for public school teachers in CO.  Once a means of providing scholars with a defense against being fired for holding unpopular positions on hot-button issues, tenure has become an end in itself--a utopian goal of life-long employment that produces predictable ideological conformity and massive fiscal irresponsibility.

Heh.  Maybe not ALL Nanny State social engineering/meddling is a bad thing.  "Maternity leave" for fathers in Sweden.

The history of B.O.'s Justice Dept.'s defense of voter intimidation in Philadelphia.  This time the scandal is both the misdeed and the cover-up.

Every sport in the world could disappear tomorrow, and I wouldn't notice until someone mentioned it to me.  Just not a fan.  However, this analysis of the differences between international sports teams and U.S. teams is interesting for its political insights.

Hilarious anti-Bush sign at a protest march. . .truly a LOL moment.

Is the Church a cruise ship or a battleship?  I say:  the Church is a fishing trawler whose crew never throws back anything they catch. . .though sometimes what we catch jumps overboard.

A letter to God arrives at the post office. . .

The Rules for "Calling Shotgun".  I always invoke Special Cases Rule no. II.6., a.k.a. the Too Wide Exemption.

Disgusting canned foods. . .and I use the word "food" with great hesitation.

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It's raining vocations. . .

The Dominicans are raking in the vocations!

"In the end, God is sending us these vocations because the Dominican charism is urgently needed in the Church today. I would stand behind every word of my "Dominican moment" presentation at the provincial assembly in 1999. Our tradition is constituted by a unique convergence of qualities: 

1) optimism about the rationality and fundamental goodness of the natural order; 

2) an abiding certitude that divine grace and mercy are sheer gifts, unmerited and otherwise unattainable; 

3) a healthy realism about the peril of the human condition apart from this grace and mercy; 

4) a determination to maintain a God's-eye-view of everything that exists and everything that happens; 

5) an appreciation of the inner intelligibility of everything that God has revealed about himself and us; 

6) a wholly admirable resistance to all purely moralistic accounts of the Catholic faith; 

7) an unfailing devotion to the Eucharist and the Passion, combined with an unshakable confidence in the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary; 

8) a zealous willingness to preach and teach about all this, in season and out, because we are convinced that the world is dying to hear it and dying from not hearing it; 

9) and, internally, a commitment to liturgical prayer, to study for the sake of the salvation of souls, and to a capitular mode of governance* in a common life consecrated to God by poverty, chastity and obedience. 

This is a powerful combination, and the Church really does need us to be true to it now more than ever."

* Dominican priories and provinces are governed by elected Chapters of friars who then elect local and provincial leadership and set policy.  All elected offices in the Order--from Master of the Order to the local prior--have term-limits.

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