06 November 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Ridiculous?  B.O. gets an above ground, air-conditioned, bomb-proof, kilometer long above ground tunnel so he can visit a museum in India!!!  Not to mention 34 aircraft, 40 naval vessels, 3,000 staff, and some 800 hotel rooms. . .

Not so fast!  Are these numbers correct?  Maybe not all of them.  The denial seems entirely plausible.

This week's mid-term election put a stake in the left's internet power grab.  

Dems discover a bag of "uncounted ballots" in CT.  I hear Church Lady's voice, "How convenient!"

The "creative class" got spanked on Tuesday.  Well, you can't keep calling 80% of the voting population rednecks, hillbillies, racists, lizard brains, and rubes and expect to get a lollipop.

On The Madness of King Barney. . .Barn will be 72 in 2012; his likely opponent, Sean Bielat will be all of 40.   Maybe Barn will just retire rather than put himself through the indignity of actually having to be re-elected.

The bio-evolutionary theory of why you feel smarter after a few beers.

Packing like a pro!  My mom is always amazed at how much stuff I can pack in my suitcase.  Two hints:  1) fold clothes in the bag, stuffing as your go; 2) leave grooming products at home and buy travel size versions when you arrive at your destination. 

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Kindle version of 1st prayer book

 Santa Claus is bringing me a Kindle for Christmas. . .so,  it's a little weird that I'm a Kindle author before I was ever a Kindle reader. . .

05 November 2010

On coddling moral monsters regardless of party

Despite the fact that I go to bed every night praying the Novena for Protection Against Red Bearded Crypto-Protestants, I always find Mark Shea to be a good read. 

The Rubber Hose Right quite naturally evolves into the Assassination Right. This zeal for Salvation through Leviathan by Any Means Necessary is why, in the middle of all the fulmination about Obama as the Hitler/Stalin/Atheist/Muslim monster who is just about to murder 25 million Americans with his Bill Ayers Kommando secret death squads, nobody on the Talk Radio Right has uttered a peep about his actual (and incredibly dangerous) usurpation of power by which he has granted himself the authority (in the name of Keeping Us Safe from Terror, of course) to murder anybody in the world (including American citizens) without evidence, arrest or trial simply because he declares them to be, on his say-so alone, an "enemy combatant". 

[. . .]

Go read the whole thing b/c, ya know, he's right. 

P.S.  Shea, what's up with the Euro-punctuation?  American style-books aren't good enough for ya?

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On being honest stewards

31st Week OT (F)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Ss. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

Few of us are surprised when we hear that wealthy, powerful people often abuse their power and wealth. In fact, many of us expect money and influence to be corrupting. When the overriding goal of one's life is material gain and personal glory, it follows that the means of achieving these goals will often make use of less than reputable methods. And why not? If there is little chance of being punished in this world for taking a darker route, and you aren't really all that worried about what happens after you depart this world, then getting what you can now—by any means necessary—seems not only desirable but prudent as well. Why hesitate to take what I want when the consequences of doing so aren't all that bad? Obviously, this is not an attitude that Christians can adopt with impunity! Our goals as followers of Christ do not include material gain and personal glory. Nor do we subscribe to the notion that every means available justifies any possible end. All of this may be obvious as it is, but is it obvious why we cannot live this way? Beyond our sure belief that taking what we want when we want it is a slippery slide into hell, do we as Christians understand our relationship to this world, and why we cannot serve God as dishonest stewards?

Christians are presented daily with a difficult problem: we must live as embodied souls in the world, but we cannot see ourselves as beings created by the world. We have to work, pay bills, do laundry, cook, clean, go to the doctor—just like everyone else. We have to get up in the morning, go to bed at night, and live day to day with others, all of whom are doing exactly the same sorts of things we are. The temptation to assimilate, to lose ourselves in the push and pull of just getting by is tremendous. The temptation to accumulate stuff and seek after personal glory is no less compelling. But “just getting by” is not the work we have been given to do. Nor have we been charged with storing up gold and influence. 

Being in the world but not of it means that our sights are firmly set on traveling through this world to the Father's kingdom beyond. Is this travel plan enough to make us into honest stewards? No, it isn't. Though we travel through the world to the kingdom, resisting as we go the temptations of wealth and glory, we do ourselves great damage if we ignore this fundamental truth: the world belongs to God. We are His stewards. Whatever wealth we possess, whatever talents we exercise, whatever time we spend, all are given to us to use in His service for His glory. Good, honest stewards use what they have been given to increase the wealth and glory of their Master. Being in the world means that we use what we have been given to bring creation as close to His perfection as we can. However, not being of the world means that we know our only hope of perfection lies outside the world we live in. The dishonest steward steals from both the world and his master for personal gain. The honest steward uses his master's wealth wisely and benefits both his master and the world. 

As children of the light our work is funded by the inexhaustible treasury of the Father's mercy and love. Our citizenship is in heaven, and we have been given all of God's creation to spend for His glory. If we choose to spend His wealth for our own satisfaction, then we join the ranks of stewards who find themselves out of work. However, if we do the job we have been given to do, our reward comes now and forever.

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04 November 2010

So, how much did it cost to evacuate Saigon?

And first prize for best post mid-term election commentary goes to. . .

Caption:  "Except I don’t think that evacuating Saigon cost $200 million a day. "

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03 November 2010

San Martin de Porres

Happy feast day to all my brothers and sisters in the Province of St. Martin de Porres!

St. Martin is one of the Order's more fascinating saints:  medic/healer, animal-lover, tireless worker among the poor, and bi-locator.

Icons of Martin depict him in the (now defunct) Dominican habit of a lay brother. . .

Note that his capuce (hood) and scapular are black rather than white.  The lay brother habit was suppressed in the 1960's by General Chapter. . .much to the consternation of many of the lay brothers!

My province maintains Martin's shrine at St Peter's in Memphis, TN.

A prayer for the intercession of St Martin:

To you Saint Martin de Porres we prayerfully lift up our hearts filled with serene confidence and devotion. Mindful of your unbounded and helpful charity to all levels of society and also of your meekness and humility of heart, we offer our petitions to you. Pour out upon our families the precious gifts of your solicitous and generous intercession; show to the people of every race and every color the paths of unity and of justice; implore from our Father in heaven the coming of his kingdom, so that through mutual benevolence in God men may increase the fruits of grace and merit the rewards of eternal life. Amen.

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Four Reasons to Ignore Jesus' Command to Love

A repost from 2006. . .

St. Martin de Porres: Philippians 4.4-9 and Matthew 22.34-40
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
Serra Club Mass & Church of the Incarnation

Here are a few reasons why we should ignore Jesus’ command to love one another. Oh, “loving God,” by the way, is fine b/c that’s mostly an abstract sort of thing that doesn’t really require us to do much beyond saying that we love God. It’s not like the God-lovers glow or anything. OK. Back to the reasons to ignore Jesus:

1). Love is messy and it makes you act stupid: as a passion love is fine, but when indulged it turns the lover into a hopeless mess and promotes really dumb decision-making. Take Jesus, for example. Because he indulged in loving us, he ended up a real mess on a whipping post and nailed to a cross. He could’ve stopped the blood bath at any point and gotten off that brutal carnival ride, but he didn’t. He died for us instead.

2). Love is expensive: show me one act of love that is free, and I’ll show you some land near 114 that’s prime for a catfish farm. Love always seems to have a price. What’s the point of willing the Good for others when it will likely lighten your wallet, cost you a gallon of gas, or force you to spend several minutes of your life doing something charitable. Again, let’s look at Jesus. Was his act of love for us free? Well, OK, free for us! That’s fine. But it cost Jesus his dignity and his life. Expensive, indeed.

3). Love requires us to focus too much on others: it would seem that the basic point of love is to fawn all over other people, wait on them hand and foot, and pretend to be all about their needs and their hurts. It’s all about them, them, them! What about me?! I have my needs and my hurts and my wants and me, me, me…Perfect example of this problem: Jesus tells his little band that if they want to be first they have to serve others! What is that? What kind of logic is that? To be first I have to be last, willing to sacrifice prestige, place, honor, and power in order to SERVE! Jesus does this for us—again—but look at his conclusion. Great for us. Not so great for him.

4). You have to lie when you love: not that lying is a problem when you have to do it, but loving is doubly difficult b/c to keep people liking you you have to tell them what they don’t want to hear. You can’t “love” if you make people uncomfortable or if you say unpleasant things to them. It would seem that charity requires us to lie in order to keep the peace. Being peaceful is more important than speaking the truth. Obviously! Didn’t Jesus say that he came to divide with a sword, to both cut the bonds of sin and to split apart families and friends? Is that what love does when it forces you to tell the truth? Who thinks that’s good? He spoke the truth and ended up dead. Not a good example of peacekeeping.

I’ve given you four good reasons why loving one another is a problem: love is messy and makes you do dumb things; it is expensive; it requires you to focus too much on others; and it makes you lie. All good reasons to forget about love. And this is why Jesus doesn’t just suggest that we love one another or hint at the possibility of loving one another. He commands us to love. Commands. Do it! Love is the greatest commandment b/c our relationship with God depends on it. We cannot understand what God is saying to us through the prophets if we fail to love. And we cannot know what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, and excellent if we will not love. What’s worse: we cannot know anything of Goodness, we cannot imitate God, we cannot become Christ if we will not love.

It’s command. Not an argument or a suggestion or a caption for a child’s poster. It is a command, an order. And if you will be more than you are, if you will be made perfect in the Father’s love, you will love—Him, us, yourself and you will rejoice in the Lord always b/c He loved you first…and loves you still.

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02 November 2010

Coffee Bowl Browsing (No Politics Edition)

Perfect Man/Perfect Woman. . .and Santa Claus.

Not so conspicuous consumption as theft deterrent

Are you a Zombie?  Take the quiz!

An Italian boy's confession

Facts about pirates you didn't know

So that's why traffic is so slow this morning. . .

Grad student's worse nightmare!

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01 November 2010

The Way of Blessedness

I wasn't sure if there would be an English Mass this morning at the university.  So, I got up anyway and wrote a homily just in case.  Turns out, no English Mass.  Oh well. . .here it is anyway:

Solemnity of All Saints
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Ss. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

The saints of God—those named and unnamed, those still with us and those who rest in Christ—that “great multitude. . .from every nation, race, people, and tongue,” all the saints of God, testify before the throne in heaven and among us here and now that “salvation comes from our God. . .and from the Lamb;” therefore, we are graced to exclaim along with them, “Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever!” 

When the Father gave us the desire to praise Him, He gave us the gift of our salvation. St. John writes, “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.” That we are children of the Father is proof enough that we are loved, yet this is only the means to our final end: “. . .we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed.” And it will not be fully revealed until we stand with all the saints before His throne. Now, we live now in the hope of seeing Him as He is, trusting in His promises, all the promises He sent to us in the body and blood of His only Son, Christ Jesus. Who Christ was and is is exactly who we will become. That is the promise from which all His promises flow. Our task is to work with the gifts He has given us to make ourselves pure as he is pure. We do this by following the way of blessedness.

Jesus teaches the crowd the way of blessedness, not only showing them the way itself but showing them their destination as well. The poor in spirit; those who thirst and hunger for righteousness; the meek, the merciful, the clean of heart; the peacemakers and the persecuted—all of these are heirs to the kingdom, to be comforted, satisfied, and called the children of God. Being blessed is the both a gift and a task. All of us are given all that we need to flourish. But God's gifts are useless if we do not take them up and put them to work. And if our work is not to become an exercise in vanity, we must use our gifts for no other reason than to praise of God for his generosity. All the saints—all those we honor today—show us the way to distill our lives into the pure, Christ-like work of bringing God into the world for the salvation of the world. The men and women of the Church who have gone before us and shine in heaven do not radiate their own light. They reflect the Light of the One Who made us and re-makes us in Christ. If we will join them, we will pick up their gifted works, exhaust our own gifts while we are here, and leave behind a world populated with many more of the Father's children, with many more who long to see the face of their God.

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Coffee Bowl Browsing

Man dies from caffeine overdose.  No, it wasn't me.  I don't think I can overdose on caffeine. . .been a grad student for too many years.

That non-partisan/non-political "Restoring Sanity" rally in D.C. yesterday featured placards showing GOP leaders with Hitler mustaches.  Hmmmmm. . .

Enraged mobs in Toronto frighten their "Betters" by electing a mayor who promises to undo years of elitist-leftist nannying.  Oh, the horror.

Geez. . .these people have no shame:  Alaska CBS news station is caught on tape conspiring to invent a "child molester scandal" for the GOP Senate candidate, Joe Miller.  These folks are dreading Tuesday.

A follow-up from the indomitable Breitbart:  Ouch! 

MoveOn.org lefty does the mature thing and apologizes for choking AZ Tea Party member.  Politics can get hot. . .and violent.  Good on him for acknowledging his mistake!  We need more of that in American politics.

This is uber-creepy:  aliens and their ships appearing in religious art. . .from 400 yrs. ago!

Do demons exist?  As a matter for theologians, yes.  As a matter for philosophers. . .well, let's just say that the question is ambiguous and the answer more so.  We can say that demons exist and we can say that they are fallen angels. . .but it becomes a ginormous task to talk about demons in any way that makes sense outside theology.

How secure are those electronic voting machines?  We can put a man on the moon, but we struggle to find a secure, private way for citizens to vote. . .

Pro-aborts doing the Devil's work in Argentina.  Predictably, the national secular media do not cover the story.

From the pyramids to LOLcats:  on the venial uses of the brain

Scientists vs. engineers in the race to take over the world

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31 October 2010

What ails ya? (A Request for Help)

Ideas for a third book have been bouncing around in my spacious head for some time.  One idea in particular has struck me as both useful and fun to do.

But I need your help. . .

In the combox, using a word or two, list off what it is that makes you spiritually uneasy, or gives you trouble in your life with Christ.

For example: anxiety, disbelief, grief, and timidity. 

I can come up with all sorts of things, but the book will be more useful if there's input from y'all!

Mille grazie. . .

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Halloween, 1989

In 1989, I lived in a large antebellum house with six other grad students.  We made Animal House look like Amish Sunday school.  This was how I dressed for that year's Halloween party.  NB.  This was about eight years before I became Catholic.

We called this costume, Felonious Vampire.

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Photographic proof that I used to be skinny!

This pic was taken in Changsha, China on Nov. 30, 1990. I was at the railway station waiting for a train to take me to Shanghai where I would catch a flight to the U.S. Over the approx. six months I was in China, I lost 50lbs. My parents picked me up at the airport in Memphis and our first stop was Mrs. Winner's Fried Chicken! Needless to say, that I found that 50lbs within a few months. Sigh...

Oh, and I had one haircut while I was there. . .yea, I know.

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