30 July 2010

Coffee Mug Browsing

[NB.  Apologies for being so quiet lately.  I've yet to figure out how to adjust my Roman lifestyle with my American schedule.  This failure is taking its toll.  Fortunately, Friday is my play day!]

Clinton appointee issues preliminary injunction against the enforcement of some portions of AZ's anti-illegal immigration law. . .and the Talking Head Consensus seems to be that this is bad for B.O. b/c it gives the impression that the feds aren't really all that interested in enforcing immigration law.

Judge's decision causes "helplessness and anarchy."  Frankly, reading the decision is scary.  Judge Bolton is preoccupied with the policy implications of the law and not its legal standing.  She spends a great deal of time writing about how the law will "burden" law enforcement, etc.  That's not her job.  We hire politicians to deal with money and logistics. 

Study finds that reporting on scientific research in the media has taken on an increasingly authoritarian tone since the 1980's. 

Why is the DoJ stalling when it comes to protecting the voting rights of our nation's men and women in uniform?  Maybe b/c military folks tend to vote for the Wrong Party?

Well-worth the time to read the whole thing:  What unique contribution can a Catholic education make to the maintenance of western liberal democracy?  More specifically, what contribution can a uniquely Dominican education make

More on racial discrimination in admissions at America's elite universities.  Poor Whitey Need Not Apply.

That Catholic professor of Catholicism at the Univ of IL who was fired for. . .GASP!. . .teaching Catholicism has been rehired.  This is good news.  Now, he should pursue his lawsuit and find out the real reason he was fired.

In other anti-Christian news, a Jewish prof who converted to Christianity is ostracized at Oxford U.  

Anne Rice "breaks up" with Christianity. . .not with Christ, mind you. . .but with Christianity.  Ah, the fruits of a Spirit of Vatican Two religious education!  Unfortunately, this latest development in the author's spiritual saga was entirely predictable.  Her autobiography is chocked-full of mental reservations, doctrinal dodges, and self-authorized exemptions.  Fortunately, the Spirit is hard at work and we will likely see Mrs. Rice among us again.

No, B.O. is not a Muslim.  And even if he were a Muslim, he could still be an excellent American President.  That he is not an excellent American President has nothing to do with his faith or lack thereof. 

Cambridge student sitting exams gets his cakes and ale. . .and a little comeuppance.

Consumer decision-making when confronted with buying organic and non-organic products.

An experiment in testing the meaning of friendship:  a car trunk, a dog, and your spouse.

A graph predictions what people will do during the Coming Zombie Apocalypse.  They left out:  "Become a Human Zombie Collaborator."  Sorry, but the CZA means it's time to CYA.

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28 July 2010

Many, many thanks!

Even though I deleted the link to my Amazon Wish List, a couple of intrepid HancAquam readers found their way there and sent me some books!

However, the books arrived with no return addresses. . .so, here my Mille Grazie to Sylvia B. and Patrick McA!

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Coffee Mug Browsing

Kinda sad when the only member of the MSM who is willing to tell the truth about the whole NAACP/Sherrod affair is comedian, Jon Stewart.  

Democrat Kerry forks over $500K in taxes for the yacht he tried to hide from MA's IRS. 

Distinguishing btw Real Science and Cargo Cult Science, or Real Science and Whatever It Is That Those Global Warming Guys Are Doing.

Not all the Journ-O-lists were pushing for a pro-B.O. Borg-like message on all things political.

The Mahony Effect on CA Catholics:  majority support same-sex "marriage."  NB.  the poll does not distinguish btw Mass-going Catholics and Catholics in Name Only.

There is a direct correlation btw one's facial hair and one's contributions to society.

How company policies are made. . .it is also how customs in religious communities are made!

"Happiness" illustrated in a single pic.

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26 July 2010

On being a lover of parables (Podcast)

Saint Joachim and Saint Anne
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Church of the Incarnation, Univ of Dallas


Parables—like poetry—drive most people crazy. The symbols, the allusions, images with multiple interpretations—all of these breed frustration and impatience even in the heartiest soul. However, there are some who enjoy the challenge of figuring out these literary mysteries. Think of them as miniature detective stories planted with bits of elusive wisdom designed to stretch the imagination and exercise the mind. And despite the cussing and spitting that parables and poetry often evoke in some, these art forms can push us to broader and deeper understanding, both guide us and force us to consider angles of approach that we might otherwise fail to use. So, let's wipe our chin, confess our cussing, and consider the possibilities. Jesus teaches with parables because he knows something we oftentimes forget: as we progress along the Way we need more and better food for the journey. We can't continue to live and grow in the Christian life consuming nothing but cut and dried propositions, raw statements of belief, and easily digestible greeting card pablum. At some point, we have to tuck into the meat and potatoes of the Good News, risking a bout or two of indigestion along the way. Case in point, those tiny mustard seeds can cause diverticulitis and yeast an itchy rash. Mustard seeds can also grow into a hearty, edible plant and yeast is necessary in leavening bread and making beer. Even the smallest seed, the tiniest bacterium—given time and patience—can produce a desirable (and delicious!) result.

Let's say that Jesus is using the mustard seed and the yeast bacterium to refer to the faith infused into an individual soul. Given the right conditions—a set of listening ears and seeing eyes, an opened heart and mind, a strong desire for holiness—an individual infused with faith can nurture this virtue of trust into a hearty way of life that produces an admirable fruit. But what if Jesus is using the seed and the yeast to refer to the faithful individual planted in the fertile soil the Church? The seed and yeast of one soul's faith can fertilize and leaven the whole Body of Christ, prompting the Body to produce a higher, stronger yield of holiness. But what if Jesus is using the image of the seed and yeast to refer to the Church herself, all of us together constituting just one mustard seed, one bacterium, his one Body planted in the fields of the world? Then, like the faith growing in a single soul, and the single soul growing in the Body of the Church, the Church is planted in the world—one seed, one bacterium—to thrive and produce an admirable fruit. Do we settle on just one interpretation of the parable? Or do we take choose to hold all three simultaneously? Even better: do we take these three and grow them into another and another, always remembering that the mustard seed can only produce mustard and that yeast will always be yeast?

If we hope to avoid being favorable compared to the Jeremiah's loincloth—rotted and good for nothing—then we must safeguard the Word we've been given and at the same time broadcast it as seed into the fields of the world, as yeast into the unleavened dough of our culture. The Lord charges Judah with a faithless pride. He says that they are a “wicked people who refuse to obey my words, who walk in the stubbornness of their hearts,” who serve and adore strange gods. If we hope to avoid this righteous charge—as individuals, as a Church—then we must listen to Christ's parable with more than an analytic mind. Our task as those baptized into the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord goes far, far beyond the recitation of liturgical formulas, far beyond the soothing litanies of good intentions. We are not only charged with spreading the seed of the Good News, we are also charged with nurturing what we have planted, tending the fields, pulling the weeds, and reaping an admirable harvest. But even as we work, we do so as servants of a more merciful Lord, one who cared for us as we grew from a seed to a sprout to a fruit-bearing plant. 

Parables—like poetry—can be infuriating in their vagueness. But let's not mistake Jesus' purpose in using the parable of the seed and yeast: he's teaching us that not everyone, at any given time, is ready to produce the same admirable fruit. An excellent farmer is a patient farmer. He is also a lover of parable and infuriatingly persistent.

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Coffee Mug Browsing

Godwin's Law gets a corollary,  Sherrod's Law:  "The first one to accuse his/her opponent of racism loses." Besides, crying "Racism!" just doesn't work anymore.

Speaking of Sherrod. . .if her case is so important to the Left's media meme that the Tea Party/GOP/FoxNews is racist, why was she conspicuously absent from the Sunday talk show circuit?

Change You Can Believe In:  things could be worse!  Is this a message of hope?  Really?

Must watch vid of the week:  Democrat Howard "YEEEHAWWW" Dean gets spanked by Chris Wallace.  Who would have ever thought Dean could be speechless?

Heh.  No surprise here:  freedom-loving, uber-tolerant, diversity-preaching lib calls for the supression of organized religion.  Why?  Because he/she disagrees with religious believers.  Great argument.  I'm convinced.

Most conservative Supreme Court ever?  Pay particular attention to how the Court's "conservative" rulings are labeled.  What's in a label?  

Not only is Democrat John Kerry berthing his $7 million yacht in RI in order to avoid MA taxes, he had the thing built in New Zealand!   Um, what about American jobs, Mr. Kerry?
Speaking of coffer-raiding politicians:  the city manager of Bell, CA (pop. 36,552) rakes in $787,637 a year.   This means that the city manager gets paid approx. $21,550 per resident.  Excessive?  The median income of Bell residents?  A little under $40,000 a year. (NB.  read the combox to see what happens when I try to do math.)

Did the media hacks on JournoList conspire to get B.O. elected?  Well, it was a conspiracy in the same way that lemmings rushing off a cliff is a conspiracy.  

The Curt Jester is shocked to discover that women "priests" are not so orthodox when it comes to all things liturgical and theological!  Oddly, I never doubted it. 

I hate marshmellows.  Don't eat them.  Here's why

I've always wondered. . .how to prepare a kiwi.  NB.  they forgot the pork gravy.

On the use and abuse of medical procedures. . .sometimes it's just not about you.

I don't recommend this divination procedure for Catholics. . .but my Episcopalian readers might find it useful. 

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New Podcast

Please note that I have changed my podcast hosting site.

TooFiles had become too unreliable from my end, so I moved back to Pod-O-Matic.

Here's the podcast for "Ain't Nothing to do but Keep on Knocking."

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25 July 2010

Congrats to the newly ordained!

Three Dominican ordinations at Blackfriars, Oxford.

(L to R): His Grace Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, Fr. Thomas Skeats, Fr. Robert Gay, and the Rev. Br. Lawrence Lew.

I had the pleasant of studying with Fr. Skeats at the Angelicum this last year. Also, Br. Lew is wearing the same dalmatic I wore when I was ordained deacon at Blackfriars in 2004. Trust me, that thing is HEAVY! Fortunately, it was all of 67 degrees that day, July 3rd. Ah, English weather. Can't wait.

More pics and a report at New Liturgical Movement

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Ain't no other way than to keep on knocking

17th Sunday OT
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Church of the Incarnation, Univ of Dallas


The Colossian Christians are in trouble. They've been tinkering with the gospel, messing about with the apostles' teachings, and now their faith is in danger of being wrecked. Paul diagnoses the problem with a warning, “See to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy according to human tradition, according to the elemental powers of the world, and not according to Christ.” If Paul has the right of it, the Colossians have surrendered themselves—body and soul—to the vacuous traditions of human philosophy and the hungry, elemental powers of the world. They have been intellectually seduced by the specious arguments of the Talking Heads of their day and driven to abandon Christ by taking part in the mystical rites of angels and the earth-bound gods. Having set aside Christ, they forget their new lives in him and crawl back to the darkness that promises enlightenment but delivers only death. Therefore, Paul must remind them of where they have been and where they must go: “Brothers and sisters: You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him. . .he brought you to life along with him.” When tempted by the lovers of worldly wisdom with promises of a life liberated from our old-fashioned and oppressive morality, do you recall where you were before Christ? After Christ? If not, here's a reminder: you were held captive by ignorance and sin; then, with Christ, you were dead and buried in baptism; raised along side him, washed clean; and then bought to new life in him. When challenged or tempted to forget where you have been with Christ and where are you going now that you follow him, turn to the prayer that Jesus taught us and remember. 

The prayer that Jesus teaches his disciples is more than a formula for petitioning God correctly. His prayer is a memorial, a status report, and a promise. Looking back, the prayer tells us where we were Before Christ. Fallen, lost, wandering, and dead. Looking around right now, the prayer serves as a measure for us to gauge the depths of our faith. Committed, hesitant, lukewarm, or zealous. Looking ahead, Jesus' prayer reveals our destination, our point of rest. Fullness, completion, forgiveness, and freedom. Regardless of where we choose to look, or how we are bound to see, Jesus teaches us to pray as he himself prays: with the wisdom to bring together in one moment the beginning, the middle, and the end. In other words, Jesus prays as one who stands with the Father at creation, suffers with us in our disgrace, and redeems us through the Holy Spirit. When we pray as Christ as taught us, we participate in his priestly ministry, if only imperfectly for now, standing with him at the throne—united as one Body, giving thanks and praise to our Father with one tongue; loving, forgiving, hoping with one heart; and seeking out His truth and goodness with one mind. Christ the High Priest teaches his priestly people how to offer themselves as a sacrifice, to partake in his life by giving themselves over to lives of holiness.

How does Jesus teach us to make such a sacrifice? We confess to our Father that he is indeed our Father in heaven. That His name is blessed among us. That His kingdom among us has arrived, is arriving, and will arrive in the fullness of time. That His will among the angels and saints is His will here on earth. That all we have and all we are comes to us as the daily bread of His grace. That His forgiveness of our debts moves us to forgive the debts owed to us. And that we are spared His final test of faith only by gracious will. If we will stand with Christ at the throne and offer ourselves as sacrifice, lifting ourselves up as those made holy through surrender, then Christ's prayer, the Lord's Prayer, must be for us a model of how to live now, right now, as we hope to live with him forever. From the start of our lives in Christ to our lives with him right now and on to our eternal lives in heaven, we must offer one holy sacrifice, one act of praise and thanksgiving—to serve one another in love so that the Father's love is made perfect in us. 

The Lord's Prayer is a memorial, a measure, and a promise. Paul accuses the Colossian church of forgetting their new births in Christ, of failing to take their measure against Christ's holiness, and of refusing to accept the truth of God's promise. Rather than persevere as the redeemed children of God, the Colossians listened to vain arguments of the lovers of worldly wisdom. They allowed themselves to be seduced by the mysteries of angels and the elemental powers. As they lived in the world, they became of the world and forgot both where they came from and where they were going. Worst of all, they let slip from memory the one sacrifice that saved them. They forgot that Christ obliterated the bond of the Law against them, a bond that opposed their eternal lives. He removed it from their midst, nailing it to the cross. Hoping perhaps to avoid the nails and the cross themselves, they cast around for alternatives, more pleasant, less painful alternatives for seeking and finding their salvation. They found none. And neither will we.

But what do we do when it appears that nothing we do brings us peace? Nothing we do or say seems to bring us closer to God, or takes us further away from sin? No doubt most of us here want to be closer to God, want to be further away from sin. But all the wanting and doing we can manage in a lifetime seems to go unheard, unanswered. Can we be blamed for turning away from the demands of a Christian life and seeking out a more pleasant, more attractive alternative? Or at the very least seeking to decorate the bare bones requirements of following after Christ with a little worldly wisdom or angelic mystery? What do we do when anything we do, when everything we do ends in apparent failure? We persist. Jesus tells the disciples that a friend who will not get out of bed to give you a loaf of bread b/c you are his friend, will eventually relent to your pleadings for no other reason than that you persist in asking! 

Spiritual failure is not remedied by forgetting who you are in Christ.  Running after worldly wisdom and exotic theologies is not the answer. The answer lies in persistent prayer and vigilance in your priestly sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Jesus teaches us to seek then find; to ask then receive; to knock and knock and knock some more, and the door will be opened. The point of prayer is not to change God's mind about His blessings, but rather to better prepare the one praying to receive His blessings with gratitude. If you are not finding or receiving God's blessings, then perhaps you are not allowing your search, your requests for His blessings to transform you. You must seek and be transformed by the search. You must ask and be transformed in the asking. Persistent prayer is not about worrying God to death with your needs. Persistent prayer is about first remembering who you are as a redeemed child of the Father, then placing yourself on the altar of loving service as a sacrifice. If you think you are going to argue God into responding, or appease Him with fantastical, mysterious rites—think again! He wants a contrite heart surrendered to loving service. 

Jesus teaches his disciples to pray as he himself prays. His prayer is devoid of worldly philosophy, devoid of pagan babbling and occult meaning. There's no magic there, no mystical keys to open hidden doors. He teaches us to pray so that we are made ready to do our Father's will, to receive our daily blessing, to forgive as we ourselves are forgiven, and to rely on His promise that no temptation is stronger than our faith in Him. If we remember, if we persist, we will arrive at the throne, whole and perfect. There is no other way but Christ, no other altar on which to sacrifice, nothing else to do but seek him out and receive with gratitude all that he has to give us.

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