Sunday, April 30, 2006

Over the past few weeks, my neighbors have done extensive yard work. Not just routine mulching and mowing but outright replacement of shrubbery and the planting of new trees. Today the "For Sale by Owner" sign went up and I was a little surprised, but only a little. And in a few days' time I may ask them where they hope to move to.

I thought they liked the house and the neighborhood. They moved in three years ago. Their novel and overt attention to "curb appeal" let me know that something was up. In general, my impression of them as homeowners is that they have better things to do than fuss over their house. Heck, they never shovel the driveway after it snows! Their poor kids stumble and trip up and down the iced-over snow for days as a result. They've done little things over the years to the outside, most notably replaced the shutters and the front door. On the inside, she told me that they replaced the kitchen cabinets and some carpeting. They replaced a fence in the back, chainlink out, white picket in.

They paid 550 plus a time-share. I don't know what they hope to get for it, certainly 6 and maybe 7. I think it's five-bedroom but Jeff thinks it's only four. It's a bigger house than ours. The resale housing market has slowed. Another house on my street has been on the market for months but their problem is that they can't find anything to move into.

It's difficult to know how serious they are. A lot of people put out a for sale sign, especially by owner, just to see what comes their way. And this family has a penchant for hanging out for sale signs, without actually selling anything, usually on any of their numerous vehicles. He has two BMW motorcycles and has had them both out for sale on a couple of occasions. He also has two tow trucks, yes, two. But I think he got rid of one. They have three Mercedes cars and have tried to sell two of them, off and on through the years, one is for sale at the moment. She has a big Cadillac and he has a Porsche which he hardly ever takes out. He's tried selling that once or twice. But our street is so quiet ... no one comes down here unless they live here. Well, it should be interesting. Maybe I'll be dropping off another Delicious Orchards pie there in the near future to the house's next inhabitants.
Let's Go Devils!!!!! Let's Go Devils!!!!!

Devils sweep Rangers, win 15 straight

Also cheering on the Sabres! Game 5 against Flyers in Buffalo

Update: Advantage, Buffalo!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Rev. Robert Imbelli at the independent, lay Catholic Commonweal Magazine blog discusses a review of Harold Bloom's Jesus and Yahweh: The Names Divine by James Wood at The New Republic (online).

It might have been for a history of Christianity class that I was assigned to read excerpts from Bloom's The American Religion. I became so enthralled with his take and style that I bought a keeper copy secondhand from Amazon.

Bloom's ability to accentuate the positive aspects of the less mainstream side of non-Catholic Christianity helped me to foster some degree of tolerance towards variation of belief and expression within the Christian faith at a time when I had very, very little charity. His chapter on Mormonism was especially effective in encouraging a personal respect for its founder and its early history as a movement.

At the same time, I gloried in Bloom's seemingly dispassionate and clearly disparaging comments of fringe Protestantism, summarized accurately in Wood's current assessment:
In it [The American Religion (1992)], Bloom argues that American Christianity is neither very biblical nor very theological. He focuses particularly on Mormonism and on the Southern Baptists, though he also discusses Pentecostalism and Fundamentalism and Christian Scientism. He finds that American Christians emphasize what he calls "a Gnostic knowing of Jesus through direct acquaintance," and that they characterize the self that gets to know Jesus thus as essentially solitary. Like most extreme off-shoots of Protestantism, the American sects and churches have shucked off Yahweh as a theological and literary inconvenience (too Jewish, too unpleasant and disobliging, too absent), and have rapturously taken possession of a now strangely Fatherless Jesus Christ, best approached through the Holy Spirit, and most emblematically seen as the Risen Christ. This solitary "knowing" of Jesus--through conversion, salvation, and prayer--is combined, so Bloom argues, with a characteristic American self-love, a belief that the human self possesses elements of the divine.
Wood quotes from Bloom's book: "Even if Mark were as powerful a writer as the Yahwist, there could be no contest, since Torah (like the Qur'an) is God, whereas the entire argument of the Belated Testament is that a man has replaced Scripture."

I would suggest that, in some Christian circles, the Scripture is still God, over against the Man.

I hope these links work --

Robert Imbelli's post about Wood's review at the blog for Commonweal Magazine

James Wood's review of Harold Bloom's book at The New Republic online
Bishop Clark praises Wegman's generosity -- Catholic Courier, Rochester NY, 4/21/06

I didn't know that Wegman died on the 20th. I have always loved shopping in his grocery stores, in NY and in NJ.

The Catholic institutions in Rochester have plenty of financial challenges without losing such a prime local benefactor.

tags technorati :

Gangway, to the checkout at B&N with my Cath. Study Bible 2nd ed., I saw this book:

"i'm too sexy for my volvo"

and thought to myself, "Yeah, but my Volvo is pretty sexy."

Much sexier than me, buyin' my sorry Catholic Bible.

tags technorati :
Vatican official says post-Vatican II liturgy could be perfected.
The cardinal, who has since become pope, said that the Second Vatican Council did not mention the direction the priest faces and the post-conciliar documents only recommended that priests be able to celebrate facing the people. [...]

Father Lang said his study focused on the history and theology of the priest facing East -- the biblically symbolic direction of the Lord [...]

he was speaking only about the moments during the Mass when the priest, on behalf of the people, is praying to God, not when he is addressing the people assembled.

Are we contemplating this to affirm, in some small way, the Islamic practice of praying towards the Holy City?

I realize this is an ancient and venerable tradition, but with the arrangement of the Novus Ordo, a mixture of prayers to God and exchange with the people, imagine the priest, swirling and whirling like a dervish, facing East, facing the people, facing East again.

Really, this Sunday, just imagine how it would look, and think whether it would be a distraction. I think they are talking about the Eucharistic Prayer, primarily, iow, the Canon of the Mass.

I said this after he was elected and I still think I need to brush up on my Latin. Tantum ergo Sacramentum ....

" . . . and it's because of the slimy politics that we have all this unemployment here." There it is! That's D. B. Norton's opening attack on the Governor! Meet John Doe

Friday, April 28, 2006

Left off at Chapter 18 last night, my favorite chapter. One of my favorite chapters. Looked at Chapters 14 - 17. I used my Scoffield Study Bible, as usual, with the NIV translation but I found myself checking the footnotes in the NAB. What a crutch. We'll finish the book next time, in two weeks' time. Then we'll do non-canonical, Christian apocalypses. Or whatever they're called. Apocalypses of Peter, of Paul, of Thomas and two from James.

I'm not sure why I bring the Scoffield Study Bible week after week. I don't think I do it to vex Jim. It takes a lot to vex him anyway. 'though he did ask me about my position on rapture. He hedges his bets by saying you don't have to believe in rapture in order to be raptured. You just have to believe in Jesus. Fair enough. I just said in reply that, in our efforts to critique millenarianism, we run the risk of denying too much.

Catholic eschatology probably comes closer to dispensational eschatology than most people realize - we expect a "great apostasy" or "falling away", the inclusion of Israel, and some sort of antichrist figure, but we do deny the Rapture, especially a secret one, as paragraph 675 and 677 indicate, the Church will undergo a final trial or "tribulation" before Christ's return.

I tried to make a study of Catholic eschatology in the latest Catechism for your benefit but it is difficult to study any particular topic because information is spread throughout the work. But a "core" discussion of the End Times seems to be found in paragraphs 673 - 677, included here with footnotes (566-581) listed below:

Since the Ascension, Christ's coming in glory has been imminent,566 even though "it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority."567 This eschatological coming could be accomplished at any moment, even if both it and the final trial that will precede it are "delayed."568

The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel," for "a hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus.569 St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old."570 St. Paul echoes him: "For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?"571 The "full inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of "the full number of the Gentiles,"572 will enable the People of God to achieve "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ," in which "God may be all in all."573

Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.574 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth575 will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.576

The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism,577 especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.578

The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection.579 The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven.580 God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.581

566. Cf. Rev 22:20.
567. Acts 1:7; cf. Mk 13:32.
568. Cf. Mt 24:44; 1 Thess 5:2; 2 Thess 2:3-12.
569. Rom 11:20-26; cf. Mt 23:39.
570. Acts 3:19-21.
571. Rom 11:15.
572. Rom 11:12, 25; cf. Lk 21:24.
573. Eph 4:13; 1 Cor 15:28.
574. Cf. Lk 18:8; Mt 24:12.
575. Cf. Lk 21:12; Jn 15:19-20.
576. Cf. 2 Thess 2:4-12; 1 Thess 5:2-3; 2 Jn 7; 1 Jn 2:18, 22.
577. Cf. DS 3839.
578. Pius XI, Divini Redemptoris, condemning the "false mysticism"
of this "counterfeit of the redemption of the lowly"; cf. GS 20-21.
579. Cf. Rev 19:1-9.
580. Cf. Rev 13:8; 20:7-10; 21:2-4.
581. Cf. Rev 20:12; 2 Pet 3:12-13.

A Baptist friend of mine told me recently, after years of religious discussion and proselytizing (mostly on my part!), that he is quite sure that the Catholic Church is very close to this end-time, "great apostasy". He misunderstands the meaning of the word!

Apostasy means a desertion, renunciation or abandonment of the Christian faith, the Greek word apostasia is translated as “rebellion” or “falling away” in many modern translations, only the New American Standard Version (and the Catholic NAB) transliterates in 2 Thess. 2:3.

Paragraph 2089 in the Catechism gives a working definition: apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith.

His real charge may be that the Catholic Church is heretical and, as a non-Catholic Christian, he may be obliged to label her thus, for as soon as he suspects that Catholicism is true, he is under moral compulsion to join. But the Catholic Church is not bordering on apostasy because she preaches salvation through Jesus Christ; she has not abandoned the Gospel.

hairesis is often translated “sect” but can also be transliterated.

Easton’s Bible dictionary (1897) has this: "heresy" from a Greek word signifying (1) a choice, (2) the opinion chosen, and (3) the sect holding the opinion. In the Acts of the Apostles (5:17; 15:5; 24:5, 14; 26:5) it denotes a sect, without reference to its character. Elsewhere, however, in the New Testament it has a different meaning attached to it. Paul ranks "heresies" with crimes and seditions (Gal. 5:20). This word also denotes divisions or schisms in the church (1 Cor. 11:19). In Titus 3:10 a "heretical person" is one who follows his own self-willed "questions," and who is to be avoided. Heresies thus came to signify self-chosen doctrines not emanating from God (2 Pet. 2:1).

Again, paragraph 2089 in the Catholic Catechism gives another useful definition: Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same.

There's a kid here who blogs about his adventures in the Catholic Study Bible but ever since I commented, he's disabled comments altogether!

Just as well, because he's in high school. A personal fact I noticed well after I commented. And I have no business talking to high school students. It's just that he approaches his subject with such apparent maturity. But there's no excuse for my intrusion. Even though I think I could give him helpful suggestions, he isn't taking any advice at the moment.

There are just nuances that he's missing.

I just want to quote to him à Kempis who says in his The Imitation of Christ: Do not inquire, "Who said this?"’ but pay attention to what is said.” (Book I, chapter 5 On Reading the Holy Scriptures).

Before he disabled comments, I told him his biggest frustration will be with how Catholic scholars handle biblical prophecy in the Hebrew Scriptures. Basically, with few exceptions, they do not think that biblical writers were given visions of future events. Visions and dreams are composed after the event depicted, employed to bolster credibility and to conform to the genre of prophetic literature.

Yesterday I bought the second edition of the Catholic Study Bible from OUP, put contact paper on it, stuffed a holy card inside and brought it to the Revelation study last night along with my Scofield Study Bible, also from OUP.

Did I tell you I found a typo in the Scofield? I should write Oxford Univ. Pr. about it. I'm always finding typos in books. I think I was an editor in a past life which accounts for most of my misery. I must have been a real stickler. Page 1100, the section heading reads "Ezekiel 27:14-16" but the text on the page is, in fact, Ezekiel 37:14-16.

The footnotes in the second edition are, as far as I can tell, unchanged. Of course, the biblical text itself is unchanged. The font is darker and crisper and easier to read.

The Reading Guides are completely updated. I never bothered with the Reading Guides in the first edition so I don't know whether I will delve into them or not. Actually, it's an annoying feature of the Catholic Study Bible that Genesis 1:1 doesn't appear until page 527! A third of the way into most Bibles. But the extensive Reading Guides are all upfront instead of interspersed throughout as in most cases.

I'm tempted to rip out the Reading Guides material from the Catholic Study Bible. Just like I wanted to rip out the sixty felt-need courses, the grey pages in my NAB Catholic Serendipity Bible from Zondervan. But it's such a large chunk of pages, it wouldn't look good afterwards. I bought the Serendipity Bible because a study that I attended used it. I like to use whatever version everyone else uses at a given study so I don't stick out. But I thought I would be slightly obstinate and at least buy the "Catholic" Serendipity edition. Zondervan got the last laugh, however, because the editors stripped out all of the scholarly Catholic footnotes and replaced them with touchy-feely, probing personal questions and pictures of coffee mugs! I vowed never to buy another book from Zondervan. A vow I haven't been able to keep.

Thanks to Kevin M. for mentioning this new parallel New Testament for Catholics!

The Catholic Comparative New Testament

But, I already have all of these versions ... except for the Christian Community Bible.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus expresses his appreciation in finding an "evangelizing zeal" in the Catholic Church to Raymond Arroyo on EWTN's news program The World Over:

"It also reflects a fact that Catholics have by no means lost their intense desire that their joy in being Catholic would be shared by many of their non-Catholic friends and relatives."

How does a former Lutheran minister with a German surname develop such an Irish Catholic brogue in just 15 years? From living in NY with all those illegal Irish immigrants?

Ah, but I see Fr. Neuhaus is from Ontario. That could account for it. We have a funny, flat "a" up that way.

Sheesh, and here I thought his accent was mere pretense. Silly me.
Catholic League Press Release 4/20/06:

"In short, the Catholic League hopes Opie and Anthony have a great run on CBS Radio."

Even on this, Donohue doesn't speak for me.

Rummaging around in the spare bedroom, the computer room, the boys came across an old HP 200LX Palmtop PC with 2 MB RAM.

I installed fresh AA batteries so it could be turned on. The three-year-old is so enamored that he has taken it to bed with him once.

The baby stands at the coffee table in the family room and types on it as if it were a computer keyboard.

I can't tell how old it is. I didn't buy it. It is suggested here that it's about seven years old. I see a slot for a PCMCIA card. It's cute. It keeps the kids happy.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The way I've been going on about Timmy, you'd think I had only one child.

As the middle child, he doesn't normally receive much press.

Took them to their first swim lesson of the new eight-week session at the YMCA. We missed the final class of the previous session, Easter Monday, because I thought it was a holiday.

Can never figure the holidays in NJ, observances are occasionally traditional and other times contemporary, and there's no telling in advance. The public school kids were in class all last week while my kids were home.

We left abruptly the Monday before because Tim was not feeling well. It was the beginning of his week-long decline that landed him in the hospital for a day by week's end. Come to think of it, Tim wasn't up for a swim lesson last Monday, either.

So, today, back in the groove, Tim's swim teacher tells me that she moved Tim up to the next swim level. She said, "He passed the test last time." But I already registered him for the same level.

I can't guess how his older brother would feel about Tim being at the same level as him. He does all he can to keep his younger brother in his place. And we do all we can not to rile him. Always have.

So many new swimmers today. Not just new faces, but new swimmers. One kid pushed off the side and I thought he was going to drown. Went straight down. The teacher expected more and almost didn't bail him out in time.

Guess many parents see summer approaching and want their kids to be seaworthy. But mine have been swimming at the YMCA for years and they don't know how to swim yet. What makes a parent think that eight sessions is adequate? It probably should be but, in my experience, it isn't.

I tried this a couple of weeks ago from memory but it wasn't very accurate.

Here's a more faithful quotation:

Your lip's bleeding, George.

Yeah, I got a bust in the jaw in answer to a prayer a little bit ago.

Oh, no – no – no, George. I'm the answer to your prayer.


I wouldn't be a bit surprised. Well, you look about like the kind of an angel I'd get. Sort of a fallen angel, aren't you? What happened to your wings?

I haven't won my wings yet.

I don't know whether I like it very much being seen around with an angel without any wings.

Oh, I've got to earn them, and you'll help me, won't you?

Sure, sure. How?

By letting me help you.

Only one way you can help me. You don't happen to have eight thousand bucks on you?

Oh, no, no. We don't use money in Heaven.

Oh, that's right, I keep forgetting. Comes in pretty handy down here, bub.

Oh, tut, tut, tut.

I found it out a little late. I'm worth more dead than alive.

Now look, you mustn't talk like that. I won't get my wings with that attitude. You just don't know all that you've done. If it hadn't been for you...

Yeah, if it hadn't been for me, everybody'd be a lot better off. My wife, and my kids and my friends. Look, little fellow, go off and haunt somebody else, will you?

No, you don't understand. I've got my job...

Aw, shut up, will you.'s-a-Wonderful-Life.html
Awoke this morning to the chirp of the UPS units, upstairs and down. Power outage at about 5 AM.

Jeff grabbed the flashlight and shutdown the computers before the UPS gave out. The power was off for an hour. In the back of my mind, I fear that an unexplained power interruption is a prelude to some orchestrated attack. My mind was relieved when morning broke and the birds sang.

Especially on a rainy, slick Spring morning, I wonder whether the disruption is the result of someone plowing their car into a telephone pole, in this case, on their way to work. We heard a single siren about twenty minutes later. We never hear sirens out here unless Santa Claus is riding through town on a MTFD truck. It was a haunting sound, that lone siren. It stopped in the vicinity but not on our street.

On the way to school with the boys, a nearby road was closed for utility work. They worked on the lines all day. They are always working on the lines around here because of all the construction. It's difficult to tell what is repair and what is new. But, when the road opened and I was able to drive past, I saw some trees sharply down. I wonder whether they were struck by lightening. Or just gusty winds. But the outage seemed to be weather-related and not caused by accident (or anything worse!)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

We praise you with greater joy than ever in this Easter season,
when Christ became our paschal sacrifice.

He has made us children of the light,
rising to new and everlasting life.
He has opened the gates of heaven
to receive his faithful people.
His death is our ransom from death;
his resurrection is our rising to life.

The joy of the resurrection renews the whole world,
while the choirs of heaven sing for ever to your glory:
Holy, holy, holy Lord ...

Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer, Easter II

Saturday, April 22, 2006

My husband mentioned this Onion article to me:

Pope Benedict Asks If It's Too Late To Change Name
Monthly evangelization training today, all day. A woman asked me, “Which parish are you from?”

“St. Joseph’s in Perrineville.”

“Oh, I don’t know where that is.”

“Most people in the diocese don’t. What parish are you from?”

“Oh, I’m from Somerset county.” She’s not from the diocese!

If people in the diocese don’t know St. Joseph’s, how can someone outside the diocese hope to?

But, I was able to converse with her anyway because I know her neck of the woods. I mentioned my upcoming summer class at St. Elizabeth’s and she seemed interested in auditing classes there too. She is finishing up a degree in pastoral ministry at Seton Hall

Wish I could have gone there, to SHU … but neither my French nor German was good enough, even ten years ago.

The lady turned out to be nice. Maybe just a little too nice.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Naming offspring --

A Christian acquaintance once asserted that superstition motivates parents to name their children after biblical personages, especially after Jesus.

I don't think superstition is the only motivation.

Timothy James was born to us a year before I studied The Pastorals in graduate school. He was purposely named after Paul's youthful protégé ... and the "epistle of straw".

Then in class, it was hinted that Paul's Timothy had been in danger of backsliding in his calling (1 Tim. 4:14). At this proposition, I was crestfallen, questioning whether I had placed my son under the patronage of a faithful disciple of Christ! My little Timmy is a terror, there's no doubt. He has his own drumbeat. At times, I think he could use another exorcism.

But I didn't learn my lesson, I just turned it up a notch. Our third child is named for Christ and His Twin, Christopher Thomas. A penchant for the two ends of the spiritual spectrum is evident.

If the opportunity to name another boy arises, I would use a favorite name, John Paul, but not for the reason you may think.

No, in fact the late pope is the reason I refrained from using the name because I know what it's like to grow up sharing the name of a well-known, religious person.

Instead, the name comes from Thomas Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain, the name of his younger brother who plays the role of Merton's alter ego, in a way: the one who remains in the world, goes to war and loses his life. Merton avoids a fate like his brother's by entering the monastery.

Until listening to this podcast, I could not come up with a decent middle name to go with John Paul besides George (John, Paul, George, Ringo, get it?). But, thanks to Fick&Oz, I know that Judas will be just perfect. The betrayer's name fits with my predilection for spiritual opposites. If only I had used it sooner ...

Thomas (Wiki)
Jude Thomas (Wiki)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Which is worse: believing something false or denying something true?

The New Testament, in its wisdom, doesn't advocate either stance.

"This last deception will be worse than the first." Matthew 27:63-65

"if Christ has not been raised [...] we are to be pitied more than all men." 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

"there will be scoffers" Jude 17-19

"Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish" Acts 13:38-41, citing Habakkuk 1:5

When a lie long believed is earnestly uncovered: disillusionment, betrayal. When a truth long denied is suddenly revealed: astonishment, guilt.
And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. Matthew 12:43-45
Luther comes down on the side of caution: "It is safer to reject them all [the authoritative sayings of the holy Church Fathers] rather than to admit that the Mass is a work and a sacrifice ..." *

Liturgy, the work of the people of God. How is the Mass our "work"?

Luther again, "worship has been considered a meritorious work, deserving God's grace and salvation. Faith has vanished." **

We argue, even amongst ourselves, about the Mass as a sacrifice. But do we think about the Mass as our work, an indulgence or even, less egregious, a work of faith? Hardly. Maybe Luther's reform on that point -- on our worship of God as a meritorious work -- was a success.

If you yourself view your acts of worship at Mass as "a meritorious work, deserving God's grace and salvation," please drop me a comment. I'm interested in knowing.

Myself, I prefer to err on the side of grace, faith and trust instead of skepticism, fear and denial. Hence, I'm apt to think that it is worse to deny something true. I am not likely to "play it safe" as Luther did.


* The Eucharist: A True Sacrifice or a Denial of the Sufficiency of the Cross?

** Ceremonies in the Lutheran Church, Edward T. Horn

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you:

Buffalo nun who worked with ex-convicts found murdered from Catholic News Service

The article mentions Fr. Joe Bissonette who was murdered in 1987.

I remember this incident vaguely as I was a sophomore at SUNY Buffalo in Amherst.

I ran track and cross-country with a Bissonette, a relative, probably a nephew. It seems his name was Matt or Mark. He was a year ahead of me. One or two of his high school teammates were also on UB's squad. He had peer support from mature friendships. I remember him being quietly sad, probably in shock. I think he transferred to another school because I don't remember him much.

I think that the Bissonette name in the Buffalo / Amherst area is well-known, they're a hometown family.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Two amusing things by way of HC:

(1.) 10 Reasons Why Evangelical Converts Rock, this one reminded me of Mr. George Bailey, as he slicks back his hair with both hands in IAWL:
Every once in a while one of us will stop, clutch his forehead, and mutter, “Holy mackeral, I’m Catholic!”

(2.) Ignore the offensive gestures on the sidebar on this page: When church signs can't get along. The meaning of the slang in the last frame is here, again, with some vulgarity.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I promised Jim that I would blog about his Bible Study plans for the upcoming year.

Here goes:

If you live in Central New Jersey -- Monmouth or Ocean counties -- please attend one of Jim's Bible studies.

Jim has been teaching the Bible for just over half his life. You do the math. His doctorate is in Biblical Studies.

A website with information is here.

Anyone is welcome to attend the study. Non-Catholics and married couples are especially welcome.

The classes meet at St. Gabriel's Catholic Church, located at the intersection of routes 520 and 79, in Marlboro, just across from the Marlboro High School.

Jim is the DRE for the CCD program at St. Gabriel's and also lectures on various biblical topics at churches throughout the diocese of Trenton.

Jim's entry in the member directory of the Catholic Biblical Association:

BRIDGES, Dr. Jim, M.A., Ph.D. (CBA member since 1993)
Studied theol. at USF-San Francisco, 1978 (M.A.); bibl. studies at GTU-Berkeley, 1981-88 (Ph.D.). Taught Bible at Lourdes Coll (asst. prof.), Sylvania, OH, 1990-95; at Georgian Court Univ., Lakewood, NJ, 1997-.

This list is going around the blogs and I can't resist.
Seen about half of 'em.

Bold, I've seen it. Italic, I liked it.

101. Notorious -- like the setting (So. Am.), like Claude Rains
100. Memento
99. The Wild Bunch
98. The Grapes of Wrath
97. The Searchers
96. The Hustler
95. Hannah and her Sisters
94. Patton
93. Do the Right Thing
92. Psycho
91. The Verdict
90. Sideways
89. Forrest Gump -- enjoyed the sndtrck, all the pop culture refs.
88. Field of Dreams
87. 8 1/2
86. Harold & Maude
85. La Grande Illusion
84. The Princess Bride
83. Rear Window
82. Cool Hand Luke
81. Being There
80. Witness -- love the muttered Pennsylvanian deutsch
79. The Producers
78. Rocky
77. Adaptation
76. Raging Bull
75. High Noon -- like Grace Kelly in this one (not so much in Rear Window)
74. Being John Malkovich
73. Amadeus
72. Thelma & Louise
71. The Lion in Winter -- love Peter O'Toole (My Favorite Year) ... always confuse him with Richard Harris (Camelot, also love) ... love this period of English history
70. The African Queen
69. Dog Day Afternoon -- absolutely love it! Caveat: my husband's family was directly effected at Attica.
68. Star Wars
67. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
66. Jerry Maguire
65. Singin' in the Rain
64. Terms of Endearment
63. Jaws
62. Moonstruck
61. The Silence of the Lambs
60. L.A. Confidential
59. It Happened One Night
58. Ordinary People
57. Crimes and Misdeameanors
56. Back to the Future
55. Apocalypse Now -- Boo came a long way from TKAM, didn't he?
54. Manhattan
53. All the President's Men
52. The Lady Eve
51. Broadcast News
50. The Sixth Sense
49. Schindler's List -- the softer version. See The Pianist
48. The Bridge on the River Kwai
47. The Maltese Falcon
46. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
45. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
44. The Best Years of Our Lives -- can't believe it won best pic over IAWL.
43. Taxi Driver
42. Raiders of the Lost Ark
41. Goodfellas
40. When Harry Met Sally
39. The Sting
38. American Beauty
37. The Philadelphia Story
36. Midnight Cowboy
35. The Usual Suspects -- how many times is Kevin Spacey listed here?
34. The Sweet Smell of Success
33. The Third Man
32. Fargo
31. His Girl Friday -- what about Arsenic & Old Lace?
30. Unforgiven
29. Sullivan's Travels
28. Shakespeare in Love
27. Groundhog Day
26. Double Indemnity
25. The Wizard of Oz
24. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
23. Gone with the Wind
22. The Shawshank Redemption
21. North by Northwest -- "Why don't you do it in your famous James Mason impersonation voice?" (John Lennon, Live at the BBC)
20. It's a Wonderful Life -- shouldn't even have to ask!
19. To Kill a Mockingbird -- still want to name a son "Atticus"
18. On the Waterfront
17. Tootsie -- Teri Garr and Bill Murray, perfect together
16. Pulp Fiction
15. The Apartment
14. Lawrence of Arabia
13. The Graduate
12. Dr. Strangelove
11. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
10. The Godfather II
9. Some Like It Hot -- funny in places but men in drag, not popular with me
8. Network
7. Sunset Blvd.
6. Annie Hall
5. All About Eve
4. Citizen Kane
3. Chinatown
2. The Godfather
1. Casablanca -- because I can sing La Marseillaise with them all! "Allons enfants de la Patrie, le jour de gloire est arrivé ..."
The boys like seeing their daddy at work and iChat doesn't always satisfy them, even though daddy makes great funny faces. The video is jerky and slow. The echo is annoying.

Last Friday, Good Friday in fact, was an ideal time for an office visit with the kids because just about everyone was out for holiday, either for Pesach or for Pascha. Many of the women programmers are Orthodox; their husbands study full-time in Lakewood where now, I think, is located the largest yeshiva in the area.

His office building used to be rented by AT&T. I worked there for a year, in the front of the building, that is, before our "SmartPhone" project was cancelled and we all had to find other positions. Jeff's offices are in the back where I hardly ever went. It seemed dark and creepy back there, very little sunlight and mostly lab space. During our time there, we called it "the sewer". And, compared to Holmdel, it was.

Of course, there were other occupants inbetween AT&T and Jeff's employer -- this is all going back more than ten years -- and the interior has been reconfigured time after time to suit the occupants. Jeff more or less actively pursued getting the space when the team moved out of Lakewood. He thought it would be ironic or poetic to return to the former AT&T space. The way that things are set up right now, there is a row of private offices along the back wall and then a sea of cubes in the main area and then, along the other wall, conference rooms and, of course, computer lab space and storage.

The boys ran up and down the cube aisles. They tired themselves out and slept well that night. As we were getting ready to leave, one co-worker commented on the boys coats. I hadn't really noticed but they were primary colors. The eldest has always been blue, first boy and all that. Blue is his color, matches his eyes. The second, in contrast, is usually red. It matches his fiery personality and, so far, he is the odd man out usually. And the third one, again to be different from the other two, is usually yellow. Yellow happens to look good on him, too. I mean, at some level, it might have been conscious but I tend to forget trivial stuff like that.
Why I can't listen to NPR

My brother listens to NPR. So does my husband. I tried listening once.

I was driving Jeff’s car for some reason and merely switched on the radio without selecting a station and picked up what it was set to, i.e., NPR.

A woman was interviewing an author who recently published a modern English version of "The Epic of Gilgamesh" without knowing Akkadian. She asked her guest about his methodology, his approach, his philosophy; he worked from numerous English translations. She asked him for a brief refresher on the story’s plot for those in the audience who hadn’t read it since high school.

I thought, “Yeah, right, since high school.” I think that we read Beowulf instead.

In fact, I don’t recall encountering Gilgamesh until four summers ago while studying Greek under Danny Jackson who was very proud of his Epic of Gilgamesh rendition; his is in verse.

If I had known anything, I would have bought a copy and had Danny autograph it. But at the time I was just frustrated with him for not teaching Greek.

Monday, April 17, 2006

After the penance service last Wednesday evening, Holy Wednesday, iow, the Wednesday before Easter, I was hungry and drove down to the Hamilton Marketplace on 130.

Jersey Mike's had already closed, so I prepared to drive home when I saw Panera's lights on. I tried their new turkey sandwich. It was alright but woefully expensive.

The Barnes & Noble next door was still open and I had been a good girl lately, especially taking the sacrament of reconciliation, so I thought I would at least look around and perhaps treat myself to a book or two. Browsing is a high in itself, if you don't know.

The Christian section was plastered with DaVinci Code and Gospel of Judas books. I felt sorrow that someone might think this kind of intense marketing epitomizes Christian publishing in general. To tell the truth, I do not know why these topics are in the Christian book section, next to the Bibles and the catechisms. I guess, in the popular modern mind, the topics belong together? And perhaps marketing is aggressive because the publishers know their time is short (Rev. 12:12). Soon these topics will be discredited in the minds of most.

That was a digression. I'm not even tempted by those books.

I selected a paperback by Joseph Pearce called "C. S. Lewis and the Catholic Church". It is published by Ignatius Press and Pearce is a convert to Catholicism. I have a couple of books from Ignatius Press that I like. However, I am cautious about Fr. Fessio -- based on private comments from a friend who knew him in San Francisco. Fessio's relationship with Pope Benedict is well-known and sales of the former cardinal's theology books must be quite a windfall for the company.

So far, the book has held my interest and I am an impatient reader these days with the kids home on break. The big thing that I never put together in Lewis's life was the early and prolonged influence of Puritanism. He had a love / hate relationship with it. Geez, I don't know how I missed such a blatant biographical item but I did.

The second book I haven't started yet. Even before I bought it, I thought to myself that my husband probably bought it off my "secret" Amazon Wish List for my birthday or for Mother's Day. I remember logging him into my "secret" Amazon Wish List a few weeks ago. He said that I needed some books to read and he would treat me. So I may get a duplicate. It would not be the first time that's happened.

Anyway, I selected Borg's "Reading the Bible Again For the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously But Not Literally" because, well, I'm thinking that Borg died, what, last fall? No, no, I'm wrong, that was Bob Funk. Still, both Jesus Seminar people and I've only read Crossan, if his autobiography counts. Anyway, I need to find that "second naivete"** that Ricoeur speaks of. I read Scripture very, very critically, from a literary perspective. You know, form criticism, source criticism, etc.

** The "second naivete"' refers to Barth's and Ricoeur's common conviction that theological interpretation of the Bible ought to lead us beyond a critical preoccupation with the text to a fresh encounter with the divine reality to which the text bears witness.
Regarding the "Old Testament Apocrypha," for want of a better expression:

We try to make this a Catholic-Protestant issue but when I read English history, the Catholic element seems to be disenfranchised rather handily, rather early on, and the religious struggle seems to be an Anglican/Nonconformist one.

And, so, when I read F. F. Bruce's The Canon of Scripture, Chapter 7 "Before and After the Reformation", it seems to be the Calvinists/Puritans who object to the Apocrypha, even Calvinists within the C of E. And many today quote the well-known section of the WCF on this ... Chapter I -- Of the Holy Scripture**.

Bruce writes on page 111:
It may be indicative of the Puritan or nonconformist influence in American Christianity that the first edition of the English Bible to be printed in America (Philadelphia, 1782) lacked the Apocrypha. (The first edition of the Bible in any European language to be printed in America was a German Bible of 1743; it did include the Apocrypha.)

Luther's canon was not an instant influence on German Bibles. The Puritan canon eventually won the day on modern English Bibles.

Elsewhere, Bruce notes that "every major Protestant version of the English Bible from Coverdale to the Revised Standard Version" included the Apocrypha. (footnote 32, page 114).

Myself, I still await the ESV's Apocrypha which I recall being promised early on ... but my hope of fulfillment is waning.

If I may offer a lighthearted thought to this serious topic: we might chalk this anomaly of the Apocrypha up to Scottish thrift as much as to Scriptural purity. To wit, again, Bruce: "The [British and Foreign Bible] Society's Scottish Auxiliaries in particular opposed the use of the Society's money, however indirectly, for the distribution of Bibles containing the Apocrypha."

In the end, unfortunately, the dropping of the Apocrypha seems like pragmatism as much as anything to me.
**Please be patient with the link. I love the CRTA site but their document server is a mystery.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

"An end of an era" in Holmdel.

Significant quotes from articles about the sale of the former AT&T location in Holmdel.

"Bell Labs used to house nearly 6,000 employees. It is currently hovering around 1,000." Greater Media News, 3/29/06

"The building, designed in 1959 by architect Eero Saarinen, the designer of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, has been heralded as an architectural innovation." Home News Tribune Online, 3/25/06

"She noted the building was constructed specially for Bell Labs. 'When a building is built for a specific customer, in stages, by definition it is difficult to reuse,' she said." "Lucent's landmark", Asbury Park Press, 7/17/05

I worked there for six years. My favorite office was located on the third floor, just level with the treetops in the atria.

The Empty Tomb in Holy Sepulcher Church in Jerusalem. For inside views, I would need to scan some photos and I just don't feel like it.

I failed to equate them as the same hill probably from experience.

The Temple Mount is assumed to be on Mt. Moriah, and Holy Sepulchre Church across town boasts a "Golgotha" -- a narrow set of stairs to an upper church, adorned with a gorgeous icon of the Crucifixion attended by the mother of Jesus and the beloved disciple, and an altar under which it is customary to kneel for a brief time (Rev. 6:9) and to peer through a split in the marble floor, evidence of an earthquake. And light a taper, of course.

I won't argue with you that they are the same hill -- that is fitting -- but from a practical standpoint, it is unlikely that a Christian church commemorating the death and burial of Jesus Christ would be permitted to stand on the actual site, upon the Temple Mount, so Christians make due across town and, for that reason, in my mind at least, the hills are separate.
The Exsultet from the Easter Vigil Mass

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

(My dearest friends, standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,
that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.)

(V. The Lord be with you.
R. And also with you.)
V. Lift up your hearts.
R. We lift them up to the Lord.
V. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
R. It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin
to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night when the pillar of fire
destroyed the darkness of sin!

This is the night when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin
and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night when Jesus Christ
broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?

Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave
you gave away your Son.

O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights, chosen by God
to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy."

The power of this holy night
dispels all evil, washes guilt away,
restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles
earthly pride.

Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth
and man is reconciled with God!

Therefore, heavenly Father, in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church's solemn offering.

Accept this Easter Candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Morning Star which never sets find this flame still
Christ, that Morning Star, who came back from the
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

R. Amen.

Sample it at Oregon Catholic Press.
Please report typos in the above.

Tim was too weak to attend any Easter Egg hunts so we didn't. After the fact, I found out that my church held a hunt yesterday morning. It was announced in last week's bulletin but, with Tim in the hospital and things being crazy, I didn't read the bulletin until yesterday.

Anyway, we had a hunt at home. First, in the house and then, since the weather is sunny but breezy, in the backyard. And the neat thing about their ages is that they like to hide eggs as well as find them. And their memories aren't too good, so they forget where they have hidden the eggs. But just to be on the safe side, they hid each other's eggs. Outside was a little less organized and I basically just let them run around with their baskets of eggs and put eggs down and pick them up again as much as they liked. Then we came inside and colored eggs.

More pictures at flickr
Let's see, The Moonshadow Song ponders losing one's hands, one's eyes, one's feet and one's mouth. I could stand to lose my ears, last night especially. Well, partially, because I heard some rockin' singin' , great music (Handel's Hallelujah Chorus) and preachin' last night.

Yet couldn't help but be bothered by the comments of those around me. First of all, the dark church was not deathly quiet before Mass. The young people behind me were selecting new ring tones for their phone and talking about their deadend jobs. I tried to pray my rosary for Annabel, whose blog I have been reading. I felt as if I were the only one praying in a packed church. But, of course, that can't be true. I mean, it can't be me!

Father came in and beckoned us to follow him outside to the new fire. He chided us not to worry about retaining our "good seats" on such a night but to experience the Vigil Mass in its fullness. Still ladies left their pocketbooks as "down payments" towards reclaiming their seats after our parade outside. And, in a Catholic Church, the "good seats" are in back, don'tcha know?!

In years past, beside the bonfire on the front lawn of St. Greg's, Father's prayers have been punctuated by the sound of screeching tires as motorists slam on their brakes to get a better look at the mob of worshippers. I would love to know their thoughts, an outsider's impression of us, out after dark, burning a fire on the front lawn of our church.

The singing of the Exsultet was ok. Father sings it better than anyone but a deacon sang it this year because Father's concerned about losing his voice on the first night!

At the words from Genesis, "Let there be light", a side wall of the church which is all stained glass and open on the other side to the old church became backlit and shed a little light on us. Still not enough to follow along in my missal. Another reading from Genesis, the sacrifice of Isaac. In between a psalm from the cantor, not the usual woman who does it but a young Indian man. His voice was like a professional recording. It was absolutely perfect.

The account of the Exodus from Exodus which is set to some Israeli music he also performed and we echoed along on the chorus. It was so exciting because Israeli music tends to get faster and faster like a dervish. It became a frenzy and the lady in front of me who was in danger of falling over, her head nodding as she struggled to stay awake in a dark room with boring readers at 10 o'clock at night, sat bolt upright during the cantor's proclamation of the Exodus and never flirted with slumber again! For a while there, she was drifting so far towards the woman next to her that I got off my hands (I was sitting on my hands because of carpal tunnel syndrome) and got ready to catch her. Like the tower in Pisa, she leaned but didn't fall.

Then Isaiah 55 was read with a piano accompaniment and the woman behind me said to her companion, "Sounds like Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood" The selection of readings is here. Then we read Romans 6 and the account of the Resurrection from Mark's Gospel, chapter 16. And it felt good to sing "Alleluia" again after not singing it for so long (see, I told you). In fact, I was in danger of losing my voice in the first half of the service! Probably because of the incense.

Before the homily, Father had us sing Alleluia again a few more times and he strode up and down the aisles, getting in people's faces (people he knew, I presume), pressing them to sing louder. The lady behind me, again, asked of her companion, "And this is the guy who's in charge here?" I really wished that I could sing louder, not just to drown out her inane sidebars during the service. I sang as hard as I could. My throat is a little sore today, if that counts for anything.

Five adults were baptized. A total of 15 people entered the Catholic Church in this parish. The lady next to me said that she needed to leave by midnight and I assured her that things would probably wrap up before midnight. She walked out immediately after communion, at 11:25, as did about 25% of the church so I guess she left at her usual time and didn't leave early after all.

During the recessional hymn, Father walked out very slowly, singing loudly. People were watching him because they were anxious to leave but didn't want to until after he exited. I don't understand that, so many others had already left! Then Father turned towards the altar, still singing, walked slowly backwards. People continued to watch him and started to laugh at him. Few around me were singing anymore. As I drew deep breaths for each "Alleluia", I thought of Christ's labored breath on the Cross and how he had to pull himself up in order to breathe.

On my way out, past the baptismal font in which five people knelt tonight and received water thrice upon their heads from a sea shell, someone commented, "Geez, do you think they have enough water there?!" Thinking of the damp sponge that served as a holy water font in my previous church, I couldn't help but give him a very, very pained, puzzled look.

And if I ever lose my ears,
I won't shed any tears.
Oh, if I ever lose my ears,
oh, dee-dee-dee-dee-dee, dee-dee-dee,
I won't have to hear no more.

Friday, April 14, 2006

R: My Jesus, laden with sorrows,
I weep for the sins which I have committed against You
because of the punishment I deserve for them;
and, still more, because of the displeasure they have caused You
who have loved me with an infinite love.

It is Your love, more than the fear of hell,
which makes me weep for my sins.

My Jesus, I love You more than myself;
I am sorry that I have offended You.

Never allow me to offend You again.
Grant that I may love You always;
and then do with me as You will.

The Eighth Station: Jesus Speaks to the Women
St. Alphonsus Liguori's Stations of the Cross
Sort of already venerated the cross this Lent, at the diocesan evangelization training four Saturdays ago.

When I was employed, I would walk a mile or two on Good Friday to St. Catherine's in Holmdel for their 3 o'clock service. I grew up thinking that everyone walked weekly to church. And I did so myself until I graduated from college.

But, even at St. Catherine's, I didn't venerate the cross. I listened to the reading of the Passion, from John's Gospel. And I said the prayers. And I sang the hymns. And I watched others walk forward, bend and kiss the crucifix. I was mildly scandalized. I worried especially about the children. I heard their mothers chastise them when they complained, "Well, when I was a girl, we crawled up there on our knees!" I didn't want my participation to contribute to the scandization of anyone else. So I stayed seated and left at the end as quickly as possible. Every year.

So, a month ago, when we set up to venerate the cross, I decided it was ok for me to participate because everyone in attendance possessed a relatively mature faith. I didn't expect anyone to be scandalized (Romans 14). But everyone hesitated and I thought that no one was familiar with the practice! Fortunately, a sister in our midst made the first move and everyone figured out that it's just like a communion line and it went smoothly after the initial startup.

But my kiss, offered elaborately, was planted firmly on the feet with a smack, not unlike the smooches I give my kids. It was embarrassing ... but it is the way that I deliver passionate kisses.

The Third Station along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem. July 1999.
Upon walking out of Holy Thursday services last night, a woman remarked, "Oh, will you look at that stunning full moon!"

To which my materialist husband quipped, "'Tis the reason for the season!"

Apropos, as usual.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

He pulled himself up. It's a first, I think. And he got himself down.

He's quite pleased with himself.

Note the dried tears on his face because I wouldn't help him up.

And the dried poptart around his mouth and on the foot of his PJs. We call him "The Stomach".

More views of this episode on flickr.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

It's been years since I set foot inside St. Greg's. That isn't intended to sound so emphatic. My local parish had not scheduled a Lenten penance service, so I traveled down the road yesterday to Hamilton, to St. Greg's.

The church was packed, absolutely packed. And the thought occurred to me that my parish priest might be serving as a confessor, but he was not.

Back in the day when my time was more my own, I used to take the sacrament at off-peak hours. Funny, 'though, I would still attend the penance service and then just boldly walk out as everyone else queued up, knowing that I'd already done it. Sounds prideful to me now but, at the time, I don't think it was. I was humbler then. And desperate for time in church, any time at all.

I wasn't even sure about taking private confession last night. I wasn't feeling particularly repentant. My confidence in this sacrament was never shaken as in the case of the Eucharist. Conveniently so, or else I would be without hope.

Watching others, their interaction with the priests at the front of the church seemed intimate and quite helpful, not unlike psychological therapy. Waiting 30 minutes or more en queue was a part of my penance, I think. Towards the end of the service, I approached and told him of my doubts and my broken familial relationship.

He addressed only the former case, calling Christ's presence in the Eucharist a great gift to the Church and something that distinguishes us from other religions and faiths. True enough, as far as it goes. Maybe he thought that if I get the first relationship straightened out, the second one will come along. So, anyway, I'm technically ready for Easter.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The three-year-old is into feature films more than the five-year-old, the former being raised on television from a younger age.

His current favorite is Toy Story, both volumes. I have never watched either Pixar offering but have lately heard the characters' dialogue and Randy Newman's soundtrack from the DVD player, in the car and in the family room. Since The Polar Express, the boys seem to like "all things Tom Hanks". I wonder whether they will like the DaVinci Code movie. Just kidding.

The setup in the hospital room on Saturday had a child like Tim clearly in mind: adjustable bed and portable VCR/TV player within reach. And plenty of kids' videos. Kenny helped the nurse pick out shows that Tim would like. And he did well, selecting favorites Blue's Clues, Thomas the Tank Engine, and both Toy Storys.

Over the course of our 24-hour hospital stay, we watched Toy Story twice and, to tell the truth, it was very entertaining. I laughed quite a bit and not just at the innuendo. It was a treat to see the action accompanying the sounds, both dialogue and music, now very familiar to me from repeated overhearings.

The part that I liked was how Buzz discovered his actual lot through a television commercial and Woody discovered his past glory through the same medium. I guess TV lets us know who we are. That explains my identity crisis. I had better quit blogging and start watching the tube.

And the song "You've Got A Friend In Me" rattles around my head. For the life of me, I can't morph it into "You've Got A Friend In Jesus", not even for Holy Week.
From October, 2005:

Some of you are grinning already - you know what’s coming:

The Build-A-Bear stores host birthday parties, and my five-year-old son attended one last night. I did not prejudice him against what I perceived to be a girlish activity. Kenny is not inordinately into stuffed animals, but there’s no reason to spoil an evening out.

The budget was $25 per partygoer. We started with a floppy twelve-dollar bear. Most kids opted for $20 bears. The Candy Corn bear was popular with them. The birthday girl was permitted to select a sound-maker to be sewn into her bear. Other first-timers helped themselves to sound-makers for their bears. I checked my wallet to be sure I could cover any budget overage and approved Kenny’s selection of the “magic” sound, priced at three dollars.

Then the birthday girl was allowed to record a personal message with a "build a sound" device. She popped into the restroom to record her message without background noise. Soon, the other kids were grabbing their own devices and recording their own personal message, all one-at-a-time in the loo. Kenny wanted to too, at the cost of eight more dollars. He and I ducked into the bathroom to record his nasally "I love you". He has a cold.

Someone threw some satiny red and red-checked hearts into the air, and the kids gathered up bunches of hearts and stuffed them into their bears. Next came the stuffing and fluffing. Kenny worked the foot pedal as the store staffer held his bear to the nozzle for stuffing. The bear was stitched closed while we browsed for an outfit. There was plenty of Halloween garb along with the usual apparel influenced by the prevailing pop culture: costumes resembling Spider Man, Jasmine, Dorothy, Buzz Lightyear. Parents were delighted with the novelty of it all. Some of the adults discerned a therapeutic benefit and vowed to return sans enfants to build their own bears.

My son’s close friends chose a Batman and a skeleton Halloween costume for their bears, but Kenny picked a khaki fisherman's outfit comprised of a zippered jacket and belted shorts. To it, he added black rubber boots and a fishing pole with two fish. I supported his clothing choice because it transcended the trendy selections that would be quickly outmoded. Moreover, it reflects his real world desire to go fishing with his father. He asks repeatedly. Forget the "fishers of men" motif.

But, I gotta tell you, even though we went over budget by at least fifteen dollars, I didn't pay anything. The hosting parents picked up the entire expense for the others and us. I was concerned for them at first, but from what I understand from the way they tell it, they are made of money. I must make sure that Kenny never discovers that additional outfits could be purchased for his bear. And now his younger brother wants to go "Build-A-Bear!"
On the way into the local Wegmans, a customer related that high winds had knocked out the store’s lights but that backup power was giving way to a full restoration of power from the utility grid. Things looked more or less normal to me upon entering but, while contemplating which configuration of bottled water to buy, just as I made up my mind and was moving from the cart to the shelves, the lights went out (again). Complete black out.

The Poland Spring man who had just finished stocking announced, “Nobody move,” to me and another lady in the beverage aisle. Then he reconsidered, “Oh, well, you might check on the baby, make sure he’s ok. He’s probably scared.” My mental reaction to his directives was “and who are you, when you’re at home? Nobody move; check on your baby!” With my mouth, I told him plainly and without emotion that I was going to my baby now.

Is this ever a post-9/11 world – everyone has been promoted to directors of emergency management. Can’t common sense and a little patience serve in such circumstances?

The really queer thing is that, before the emergency lighting came up, an elderly couple came shuffling down the aisle, brushing against me and the other paused patron. I wondered whether they noticed that the lights were off. “Is it my eyes or did the lights just dim?” Despite the total darkness, they persisted shopping. Maybe their senior center service transport runs a tight schedule and they knew that they had to be out front at pickup time, or ELSE!

The emergency lighting came up before they collided with the Poland Spring man’s empty dolly from which he had been stacking water. The baby was too scared for me to put him down again so the man was nice enough to load a 24 pack of half liter bottles into my carriage, twice as much water as I wanted, but they didn't have what I wanted.
I signed up for two summer classes at St. Elizabeth's in Morristown instead of only one. The topics seem fluffy this summer. Actually, since Fr. Tony went to Fordham a couple of years ago, the topics and teachers have been mostly disappointing. The drive up there is murder, along 287. There's no other way to say it, even by Jersey standards, it's murder.

The classes are Fr. Boadt's survey of exilic prophets and Dr. Gonzalez on spirituality and prayer. As to the first choice, it's a no-brainer. If anyone of Fr. Boadt's caliber is on tap, I'm obligated. I took his class last year and he's great. The second class would be something new for me, spirituality and prayer. I keep telling my husband that I'm not a spiritual person.

Except for the drive up there (did I mention it's "murder"?), the sessions are not demanding. I am auditing, actually. Four weeknights a week for two weeks in July.
Jim Bridges sent me this op-ed piece from Garry Wills in the New York Times, entitled Christ Among the Partisans. A good summary of the political portion of Wills's most recent book, What Jesus Meant.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Critical scholarship is not for the faint of heart.

The laity are not bound to agree with the critical work of the specialists, but many do, wanting to appear enlightened and well-read. You can be a perfectly faithful Catholic, whether you think Isaiah the unified work of a single author or not.

The nature of biblical prophecy may be the most frustrating. With few exceptions, Catholics do not think that biblical writers were given visions of future events. Visions and dreams are considered literary techniques employed to bolster credibility.

This is especially true in the Book of Daniel.

However, the apocalyptic language in the Gospels, in Paul's letters and in the Book of Revelation stand, for the most part, as inspired impressions of coming events, but not necessarily to be understood literally.

[I recommend the Navarre Bible. Amazon has it. It's a little pricey.]

Or, stay with the NIV Study Bible. It's perfectly fine.

Even the Reformed Study Bibles available nowadays, gavin, are ok. Sproul's ESV version is helpful, but I like the one from Zondervan with the Reformed study aids in the appendix, WCF and catechisms. You know what I mean.

Choosing to become a Catholic boils down to doctrine and, specifically, to soteriology (how we are saved) and ecclesiology (the nature of the church).

Interpretation on a particular passage isn't likely to vary as much as the relative emphasis particular passages are given in one's doctrine of salvation or understanding of the church.

In my experience, Catholicism is the best at bringing to bear the entire witness of Scripture upon its doctrines. Non-Catholic theology overemphasizes some aspects of biblical theology and silences others, to their detriment.
My review at Amazon of the book by Garry Wills, What Jesus Meant.

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Since last Wednesday afternoon, with few exceptions, I have carried my three-year-old wherever he needed going. He has been too weak to walk. He doesn't weigh much, 35 lbs. Actually, he's lost two pounds since Thursday. He weighs 33 lbs. now.

Last week, picking up his older brother at school, his preschool teacher walked out to the car to talk with him. Today at pick up, I brought him inside the school, yes, carrying him. His teacher was very happy to see him and he smiled big for her. She said she was thinking about him all day on Saturday but she had no idea what was happening with him. For a brief moment, she said that she allowed herself to consider the worst but quickly talked herself out of it. But she would have been right.

Parent - Teacher conferences are tomorrow afternoon. I tried to arrange a babysitter but with the public schools already out, my teenagers are out of town on vacation.

The three-year-old is so limp in my arms. He doesn't even control his head. I don't know whether he's just being lazy, loving the attention or has something seriously wrong.
From the preface to the Eucharistic Prayer on Palm Sunday:

Though he was sinless, he suffered willingly for sinners.
Though innocent, he accepted death to save the guilty.
By dying he has destroyed our sins.
By his rising he has raised us up to holiness of life.

We praise you, Lord, with all the angels
in their song of joy:

Holy, holy, holy Lord ...

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Who's the first to know?

We received unsolicited mailings from lawyers when my husband was sued over an old, bad debt, the result of identity fraud.

Today, he received an order form from the "Professional Awards of America" company because another one of his patent applications was approved.

I don't remember seeing the approval letter. Maybe he received the letter at work. He never told me about the approval. Maybe he thinks this is old hat?

The order form is designed to appeal to an inventor's pride. "Let us be one of the first to congratulate you! Inventors like you are the backbone of future progress." Blah, blah, blah.

He doesn't receive a corporate monetary award for this. In the past, he has said that he would accept a modest allowance for the buying of coffee mugs, plaques, T-shirts if one were offered him.
Don't get me wrong. I like Palm Sunday.

Except for one or two things. Maybe three things.

First thing: the Gospel reading is soooo long and we stand for the whoooole thing. This year, chapters 14 & 15 from Mark.

The other thing I've never liked, our part. I mean, the lines that we people recite. It's interactive, you know, with three folks up front reading their parts and the congregation reads what was termed this year "the chorus" in our missalettes. No matter what they call it, the gist of our lines is the same: we demand Christ's crucifixion.

Now, I know that I'm responsible for Christ's death. I mean, my sins. But it's the implied separation between those up front and the rest of us that I struggle with. Especially the priest ... who plays the part of Christ in our little antiphonal recitation of the Gospel.

The final thing wasn't a problem this year: bad readers up front. Sometimes I like the Jersey accent and sometimes I don't. There's something about Jersey Catholics, 'though, their accents seems particularly strong. But this year, those speaking the parts of the Narrator, the Voice and the Christ were pleasant to listen to.

When I returned to church at the first of the year, I noticed a couple of things missing from the front. Father had removed the two angel statues which had flanked the central Crucifix. He also removed their wall-mounted pedestals as they were positioned above the altar, just level with Christ's feet. And Father removed the palm trees around the sanctuary.

The angels I can do without, fine to remove them. But the palm trees always reminded me of Israel (see the picture at the top of this blog ... mt. of the beatitudes in galilee). We joined this church within six months of returning from a tour of the Holy Land and the palm trees were one of the few decorative touches that appealed to me. The life-sized statues of the saints ... ah, not so much.

So long story, short, I was pleased to see that, on Palm Sunday, Father placed several palm trees around the sanctuary. Let's hope they stay because of what they remind me of.
I read the last fifty pages of a book by Garry Wills, What Jesus Meant, yesterday in the emergency room as my three-year-old received fluids intravenously. In these pages, Chapter 6 and on, Wills recounts the final days of Jesus' earthly life: the raising of Lazarus, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the betrayal by Judas, Gethsemane, Jesus' sacrificial death and how we benefit eternally by it.

On the eve of Holy Week, in the wake of the publication of the gospel of Judas, at the side of my son's hospital bed, the parallels between the words of these historic events and my present circumstances nearly made me cry. Days before, I felt like Mary in the pietà whenever I carried my little boy around the house. I carried him everywhere. He was too weak to walk. And he is weak again even after a night in the hospital.

The soteriology, beginning on page 114, in this slim, devotional book is compelling. Wills lays aside Anselm's image of an angry God and, quoting Girard, insists that violence is not cured by violence. Most of his soteriology is based on Paul's letters which all but lack the "logic of appeasement sacrifices" [p 116]. He tells a personal story:

My young son woke up with a violent nightmare one night. When I asked what was troubling him, he said that the nun in his school had told the children they would end up in hell if they sinned. He asked me, "Am I going to hell?" There is not an ounce of heroism in my nature, but I instantly answered what any father would: "All I can say is that if you're going there, I'm going with you."

Reactions to his personal story:
(1) Wills had been in seminary with an eye towards the priesthood but left. He draws spiritual insight from his personal interactions with his immediate family.
(2) As many issues as Wills may have with the institutional church, he sends his children to Catholic school where, presumably, the sisters still say scary things.
(3) Rationally speaking, how can Wills join his son in hell? How can he make God send him there?

But, on that last question, I knew the answer because of my present situation. I knew that I would be with my son all night, to see him through this sickness. Telling a parable from Chesterton, Wills shows that we may talk of God rescuing us from ourselves and from the consequences of our errors and sins. But, we ought not think of our salvation by Christ's sacrifice as appeasement or propitiation.**

** I know this is a contested point, especially wrt the translation of the Bible into English. The Catholic Bible uses “expiation” instead of “propitiation” in the following NT verses: Rom. 3:25, Heb. 2:17, 1 John 2:2, 1 John 4:10, for the reason given in footnote 8 on verse 25: “this rendering is preferable to ‘propitiation,’ which suggests hostility on the part of God toward sinners. As Paul will be at pains to point out (Romans 5:8-10), it is humanity that is hostile to God.” While the English words may in fact be synonyms, it is a significant aspect of Catholic theology that God is love, as Benedict’s first encyclical proclaims.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

I wrote a review for the book by Garry Wills that I just finished, What Jesus Meant at As soon as the review is put up, I include a link for it here.
Junk day on Juniper Street this week, spring cleanup around town. Jeff put out some old deck furniture, a complete set, actually. Some lucky scavenger will likely load up this usable but ugly ensemble before the garbage haulers arrive on Tuesday.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

I heard about the Gospel of Judas from Kevin on Thursday night at our Bible study at St. Gabriel's.

Fr. Gerry O'Collins, SJ says it's junk. Read his full comments.

Jim likes to study the New Testament apocrypha. I haven't much interest in it myself, not having mastered the Sacred Scriptures yet.

But the Nat. Geo. program may be interesting. Donald Senior appears, I think.

And the fact that a document, any document, but I guess, especially an heretical document which should have been burned centuries ago, could survive 'til our day boggles my mind. Especially when a week's time fades gas station charge receipts. And register print on Home Depot's receipts vanishes before the warranty expires. Ever notice?
The first contractor to submit a bid on our 1,000 square foot addition came in about 40% more than our original low-ball budget.

And, in fact, his total was 7% more than our undisclosed upper bound. And you know that the actual price will be even higher than that! We'll probably end up paying 60% more than our original figure. And none of this includes the pool!

The project would consume 75% of our personal savings.

We'll get other bids but the pricing will be comparable. Construction costs are up. The house needs so much work.

Gotta think about it.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The bi-weekly Bible study couldn't meet on Holy Thursday next week, so we met two consecutive weeks, last week and last night. Last week, a number of regulars were missing, so last night Jim lead us in a second look at Revelation 12. It's a significant chapter, found in the middle of the book.

Many, many times I have studied Revelation, informally and formally. The woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head has been described as Israel, Mary, the Church. And we mentioned all those identities last week. Last night, something came to me: this woman is Lady Wisdom from Proverbs 8 and 9. And the whore in the latter chapters of Revelation is Wisdom's antithesis, Lady Folly.

Jim expressed surprise and agreement in a patronizing manner, an attitude he's taken towards me lately. I checked my scripture commentaries this morning, and A. Y. Collins lists "personified wisdom" as a possible identity of the woman in Revelation 12. I should read my commentaries before class.
Through no fault of my own, I was seated next to a woman from Puerto Rico. Throughout the day, we interacted one-to-one or with other couples on the various discussion topics as a part of this evangelization training workshop. On one occasion, we finished the training exercise with time to spare so we made small talk. Her accent was very heavy, making understanding her a challenge. I was also distracted by her facial expressions which seemed too consistent with my stereotypical impressions of people from Puerto Rico.

She mentioned mournfully her two-month-old grandchild whom she has never seen.

"How's that?" I asked.

"Because of the mother's father," she replied. "He's racist."

Whoa, that was strong language and my slow brain struggled to process it. I pondered if the maternal grandfather is racist, then why did he allow his daughter to marry a man whose mother is from Puerto Rico? And how is this "racism"? Isn't this merely "prejudice"? The mother's family is Italian and Catholic, too. Doesn't a common faith count for anything?

I am naive because the two parents are not married to each other. The father is interested in supporting the child but the mother's family will handle things on their own.

My ivory tower crumbled a little bit as I realized that this lady represents half the Church in NJ. Oh, I exaggerate. But if I want to do evangelism, I need to communicate on all levels with people different from myself.