Thursday, November 30, 2006

Small talk with the contractors before my husband's arrival on the night we signed the paperwork revealed to me that both men are Christians.

The first baited me casually with a passing mention of an early stint in California at a Bible college. I made a mental note without seizing upon the disclosure. Even to inquire which school would have been idle curiosity on my part because I haven't any familiarity with California Bible colleges.

The second man hails from New Orleans, so adherence to the Christian faith is safely presumed.

Neither man carried business cards, so in jotting down their contact information for me, I made available a handy piece of scrap paper from a scratch pad for an Exodus study. I didn't realize until after the paper was returned to me that, during an earlier study time, I had scribbled on the paper a list of the ten plagues. Before writing out his reach numbers, one of the men studied the page carefully but made no comment. I was not embarrassed too much except for the final plague listed, "first born," due to its potentially negative connotation where human contracts are concerned.

The second man returned tonight to complete the permit paperwork.

Again my husband was delayed in arriving home, so again, we were forced into small talk as we waited.

The man took a close look at our Israel pictures hanging on our great room wall. He couldn't be sure of the location, so I informed him of their origin as I quickly identified each place. He wasn't familiar with my favorite, the mosaic at Tabgha, an image I have had on this blog. The miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes apparently not significant for him.

I had been working on a study of Revelation 7 when he arrived, but I had placed my Bible and paperwork aside on a nearby table. He asked whether I had been studying the Bible just as he arrived and I said that I do a number of studies throughout the week.

He mentioned that he has recently heard the Mt. of Olives referred to as "the mount of corruption" in 1 Kings. I showed him our picture of Jerusalem as seen from the Mt. of Olives and explained the messianic tradition of the Eastern or Golden Gate. But, off-hand, I was unfamiliar with the mount's association with corruption.

After he left, I tracked down the references with ease: Solomon's high places in 1 Kings 11:7 to honor of his wives' pagan gods and Josiah's reforms in 2 Kings 23:13.

What's more interesting to me than calling the Mt. of Olives "Mt. of Corruption" is the Valley of Hinnom's reputation as a place of human sacrifice and a trash heap and how that reputation works its way into the New Testament language as "Gehenna".

Still, what a curious thing to mention, "Mt. of Corruption"? Talk about biblical minutiae!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Why was the world created with the letter bet?

Why does the Torah's first word begin with the second letter of the Hebrew aleph-bet?

I can't say that I ever noticed.

Yet, insightful answers range from the simple to the complex.

Midrash B'reishit Rabbah theorizes that, "Just as the bet is closed at the top and at the sides, so one may not inquire what is below, what is above, and what is before, but only what is in front." In other words, we are not to inquire before the moment of Creation. The Torah beings with the letter bet instead of the letter aleph to teach us that something always comes before the beginning.

As satisfying as such a simple answer is, there's a more profound suggestion still.

God reserved the aleph for a higher purpose than physical creation: the giving of the eternal Torah at Mt. Sinai. The Decalogue begins with aleph. (This is something that I had noticed before.) So, as beautiful as the created world is, it is not an end in itself but simply the setting for God's eternal plan of salvation.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

You know that things are convoluted when an outsider like me has to explain their eschatology to them.

One of our study group provided us with colorful charts of the end-times.

In analyzing the illustration, a younger woman expressed her frustration in reconciling the timing of the rapture on the diagram with the expectations of the on-video teacher. Specifically, the timeline reflects a belief in a pre-tribulation rapture and the on-video speaker leans towards mid-tribulation.

I recalled to her that, on a number of occasions, the video speaker admits that she taught pre-trib formerly, but a close study of Scripture has altered her beliefs in support of mid-trib.

The shift accounts for the irreconcilable differences.

My explanation apparently made sense because the young woman accepted it.

Most of them favor pre-tribulation rapture. But the video teacher is influencing them gradually to think otherwise.

Monday, November 27, 2006

"Two plead guilty to setting 2000 fire at SHU dorm" - CNS, 11/27/06:
Former students Joseph Lepore and Sean Michael Ryan, both 26, pleaded guilty Nov. 15 to arson and witness tampering surrounding the January 2000 fire in the freshman dormitory that killed three students and injured more than 50 others.
See previous blog entry.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Christmas Mass schedule was made public this morning. Let's see how well I remember it from Father's announcement:

Sat. Vigil (for Sun.): 4 PM and 6:30 PM
Sun. morning (for Sun.): 10 AM

Christmas Vigil (on Sunday):
4 PM, 6 PM and Midnight

Christmas Morning (on Monday): 9 and 11 AM

The conundrum this year is that Christmas falls on a Monday. And the concept of "vigil" complicates things. This all may be moot for me anyway, as I may be in the hospital.

Last year, as Christmas was on a Sunday, I remember that most Protestant churches in the South, where we were visiting family, didn't have services that Sunday at all. I was actually quite shocked by that.

But they made up for it on January 1, 2006, another Sunday, with SRO capacity, as people's New Year's resolutions of "attending church regularly" kicked in.

Of course, for us, 1/1 is a holiday whether it falls on Sunday or not. But I was happy to see Protestants in church on 1/1, even if it happens only every five or six or seven years (but the last time was in 1995. The next time is 2012, 2017).

Father says he needs time to get the church ready on Sunday for Christmas Mass. I don't know what that entails. The banners and other linens need to change from purple to white. But, I imagine that he'll have decorated trees up already and a nativity / crèche. So I can't think of what else needs to change.

I can't remember the last time that I was in town for Christmas because we usually travel.
Somehow we got on the subject of sterilization, my mother-in-law and I, Thursday. I'm not sure how. She isn't the type to say "Four is enough, sweetheart!"

But, anyway, her comments were interesting.

I told her that after I delivered Christopher, the hospital staff asked us, "Tubal ligation, so long as we're all here?"

Jeff and I were like, "Uh, no! No thank you."

And she said that in her day, nearly 40 years ago, sterilization wasn't permitted unless the family already had six children or the mother underwent a psychological profile to determine her mental state and ability to make such a decision.

That blew me away. I mean, in a lot of ways, I feel as if we are legislated to death in this country but here's an area were "freedom" if you want to call it that, has actually expanded. Was it all in reaction to the reproductive craziness of the eugenics era in the 30's? How would I know?

But, today, if a couple never wants children, there's no one to stop them in that. Even socially, most people would leave them alone and not pester them about their decision.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I have fallen into the habit of buying them new slippers for Christmas.

I've had the catalog for weeks but sat down with them to look at it yesterday. I let them pick which ones they like.

Kenny wants camouflage. I can tolerate that so long as it's blue instead of green or sand.

Tim wants the fire truck ones again. And, even though I have hand-me-downs that would fit the baby, I'm getting him his own new pair, penguins.

There was some confusion with Tim convinced that I would pass his slippers onto Chris without replacing them. I assured him that, yes, he has outgrown them but they are still too big for the baby.

I went to the online store and panicked because I didn't see the styles they wanted. I was afraid that they had sold out and I was too late.

I called the catalog number and discovered that the items were in-stock. I ordered robes as well, since the kids hardly ever have robes. A neighbor gave us her son's old one a couple of years ago and it got passed down but presently nobody has a robe that fits.

And, for the life of me, I can't keep Timmy in socks. I bought him a dozen pair at the beginning of the school year and they are already worn out and dirty. I blame his leather penny loafers for discoloring his white socks. Besides, he has to share with his younger brother who since the end of a sock-less summer is wearing socks regularly.

So, I ordered some packs of socks, too. The operator sounded concerned.

"Everything will ship next week but the socks are backordered until 12/8."

Then she perked up.

"Still, they ought to ship in time for Christmas!"

Sounds like they can't keep themselves in socks either. But I already knew from my online shopping that the socks were backordered, so I was prepared for that.

I replied, "Don't worry. I'm not getting my kids socks for Christmas!"

But I am getting them slippers. Isn't that just as unimaginative?!

Friday, November 24, 2006

2006 NYSPHSAA Football Championship, Class D.

The football team from my high school is in the state meet today at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.

I don't know whether they have a chance. They are ranked 5th and are up against the number one team. But they have upset teams all along the way.

I'm sure it's the game of a lifetime just being there. I can't remember whether I ever ran in the Dome. Jeff would remember but I'm too embarrassed to ask him. I remember running in Manley Field House, that's about it. But he took me to a basketball game there once. I think that he always got season passes, student discount. And a lacrosse match.

A number of years ago, the high school was reclassified and dropped down a class in competition. Consequently they have done quite well. For instance, the Cross Country team wins Sectionals regularly and goes to States as a team. In my day, only individuals ever went to States. Jeff went for discus one year.

UPDATE: Obviously, the number one team won!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

"Do you want a gift receipt for these baby shower items?"

"I'm the one havin' the baby, Sister! Did my gray hair make you think that I'm too old?"

Picked up a few, last minute items. A winter baby is different from a summer baby. And a girl is different from a boy. So, pinkish, warm receiving blankets.

On fair weather days like today, it's imperative that I do some Christmas shopping. Procrastination means that I must dash out no matter what the weather!

There's an efficiency dictum in Jeff's family that Christmas gifts are delivered personally between family members who gather and share the Thanksgiving holiday.

To fail in this regard, to be unprepared in the Christmas dept. by Thanksgiving and, instead, to ship packages, i.e., to pay postage, is wasteful and a tad callous.

It's taken me some time to grasp this, as my family was and continues to be the antithesis to thrift and prudence, especially where gifts are concerned. Last minute extravagances are the norm, practically expected!

But, with minor exceptions, not the least of which is the act of gift-wrapping the purchases, I am prepared for meeting with Jeff's parents and our nephews on Thursday.

Monday, November 20, 2006

"Doctor, it hurts when I do this."

"Well, then, don't do that."

Such was the gist of this afternoon's OB/GYN appt. At some late point, I get side-splitting pain. On one side. But this time it's so intense that I am compensating to such a degree and straining my back as well.

I can't lift my four-year-old out of the bathtub without sensing a "pop" on my left side. I can't move my two-year-old into his crib without a painful stretch.

He told me, "You shouldn't be lifting anything."

"Or anyone?" I clarified.

About two weeks ago, I turned over the toting of laundry baskets up and downstairs to Jeff. And last weekend he did the laundry for me.

But I stopped into a medical supply store after the doctor's visit and purchased one of those maternity support belts.

I need some practice putting it on correctly and tight enough, but I think that over time, it will relieve most of my pain. The reviews that I read at Amazon indicate that the belts take a few days to start working ... the muscles involved need some time to heal, recovery, whatever.

The doctor thinks that the pain is due to the baby's position which is still breech ... at this late date!

But since I have always had this pain no matter what the baby's position, I think he's mistaken about the correlation. And I hope that he's mistaken about the baby's position! It would be a shame to bypass the well-broken-in route this last time 'round!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I've said before that I suspect my sons' school will close next year. Even though the administration denies it.

I can't get caught in that sticky place of having no school for my boys. Timmy and I attended an open house for a school in Howell this afternoon.

It's about the size of their present school, maybe smaller. It doesn't have a "school" feel to it. The two buildings comprising upper and lower schools are basically a central hallway running the length with classrooms off either side. The buildings have a "trailer" feel to them and the classrooms themselves are very cramped.

If Kenny stays at his present school next year, I expect his homeroom size to drop in half, maybe to 6 students total. This other school maxes out at 16 students per homeroom. And they achieve that larger class size by combining two grades in one room: K & 1st, 2nd & 3rd, etc. Every year, the make-up is different. Some years the mix is most uneven one way or the other. But every child seems to work at their own pace, so placement doesn't seem to be very crucial.

What I like: the teachers and the administration. Monthly field-trips. Personalized curriculum. The opportunity to learn two of three languages: French, Spanish and modern Hebrew instead of only Spanish. Did I mention that this school is located near Lakewood?

What I don't like: cost is the same (no savings). Three-times the drive time (10 mins. vs. 30 mins.) - so wear & tear on my car, gas money, increased risk of accidents, plus later start time (9 AM instead of 8:30 AM) together with being so far from "my element" (in Howell instead of in Manalapan) that I'll have trouble making any of my morning activities: swimming, Bible study, daily Mass. The bus starts at $3800 and, since I'm not saving anything on tuition, I can't swing the cost of the bus. I don't want my kids on a bus anyway. I like taking them to school.

So, as I told my husband after the open house, if I could figure out a way to get them there, then it's their next school. I'll put the application in, schedule their "visit days" for early next month and see how things progress, especially at their current school. I still have time to make a decision, I think. And the dean of admissions there told me that there are still openings in the grades that I am interested in for Fall '07.
Birthday party at a tae kwon do place. IMO, martial arts for children does not deliver on its promises of physical restraint and self-control. Instead, youngsters who train seem more aggressive than those who don't.

The other parents thought my Kenny a "natural" on defensive moves. I attributed his mastery of blocking motions to "rough play" with his younger brothers.

Ten minutes were spent on "stranger danger" tips and techniques. I was uncomfortable with the hypothetical scenarios and the play-acting attacks.

One little girl who appeared to be about three years old did not want to participate. She did not want to act the part of "the bad guy", placing her hands around another child's throat, neither did she want to be "the victim", laying on the floor with another's hands on her throat. The instructor and his assistant forced her to participate, through her tears, all the while telling her, "This is fun. This is fun." If she had been my daughter ...

One of the hypothetical scenarios involved a grandmother-y type lady asking the child to help her find her lost kitty. The children were instructed to not help her, to not talk to her, to yell and scream and run away to mom and dad. Yes, to act so deranged that no one would want to abduct them ... they'd be too much trouble to keep. And I thought to myself, how long ago was it that boy scouts were helping these seniors across the street?! What types of children are we producing? Unhelpful and disrespectful. A couple of instances when I helped someone here.

The other scenario was a male stranger attempting to pick the child up from school with some cock-eyed story of taking the child to see injured parents in the hospital. Now, I don't know how most schools work, but my children are not waiting on the curb for me to drive by and pick them up. They wait inside the building and I either go in and get them or a teacher calls them out to me. I have never put the school to the test, but I doubt very much that they would release my child to any unauthorized person.

I realize that the gym is located in Jackson. I have gone over before how we reside between Hamilton and Jackson, gruesome endpoints for anyone who knows anything about recent cases of violence against children. But the Jackson case does not fit the "stranger danger" scenario, not really. The poor kid was going door-to-door and the predator was another child. Of course, the Hamilton case is classic, hence the law on it. I'm actually more concerned about my children visiting homes of handgun-owners or being injured in a car crash.

It's important education. I'm sure they get drilled on it in school. It had no place at a birthday party and frankly, it wasn't conducted very well. Alright, 'nuff said.

They played a version of "Simon Says." None of them were any good at it. I asked Kenny afterwards, "Do you ever play 'Simon Says' at school?" He said no. That was very, very obvious because none of the kids could do it.

They played a variation of "Four Corners" and I detected Kenny's strategy immediately: he would run to the corner that had been picked most recently! Consistently, every time. Sometimes others would follow him but not always. He ended up winning the game!

I asked him whether he plays that game at school and he said yes. I asked him to explain his strategy and he told me that the one who is "It" is not likely to pick the same corner twice in a row, so he always goes to the corner picked last! But, when he's "It" at school, HE does sometimes pick the same corner twice in a row and once got out Amy and Catherine and Denise and Sabrina all at the same time! I think that he enjoyed getting out the girls ... girls who were trying to imitate his strategy.
I love the readings at the end of the church year: they turn so apocalyptic!

Remembering Christ's first coming during our observance of Advent and Christmas, we keep our eye out for Christ's second coming.

Depending on the cycle, then, the Gospel selections for the end of the church year could be the so-called "mini-apocalypses" either from Mark or Luke, or Matthew 25.

Curiously, we do not read Matthew 24, except on the optional memorial of the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome on June 30th.

Anyway, it's just a nice bit of Scripture, Mark 13:

Jesus said to his disciples:
"In those days after that tribulation
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

"And then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in the clouds'
with great power and glory,
and then he will send out the angels
and gather his elect from the four winds,
from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.

"Learn a lesson from the fig tree.
When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves,
you know that summer is near.
In the same way, when you see these things happening,
know that he is near, at the gates.
Amen, I say to you,
this generation will not pass away
until all these things have taken place.
Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away.

"But of that day or hour, no one knows,
neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

And I happened to be reading from Bart Ehrman's book, Misquoting Jesus, last night to my husband.

Dr. Ehrman tells of a careful biblical scholar from the early 18th century who had pinned down the date of Jesus' return.

The scholar dealt with the passage (above) on no one knowing the day or the hour by saying that Jesus' words apply only to his immediate audience of disciples, on that side of his Resurrection. According to this 18th century scholar, Jesus' faithful followers in possession of the completed word of God could figure out the date of Jesus' return!

My husband's reaction to that deranged notion was simple: "WHAT?!"

Friday, November 17, 2006

The metal frame of the wall clock at the barber shop features cut-outs of Roman numerals with those at the bottom displaying upside down.

Kenny read the numbers 'round the clock face with ease, even the "V" that looked more like a pointy pylon.

Losing interest in the clock but not in the concept of Roman numerals, we moved onto constructing whatever numbers came to mind.

"What's '64'? ... What's '22'? ... What's '47'?" Then, curiously, he asked, "What's '90'?"

And I replied "'XC' - you know, like my car, XC 90." Now, that coincidence blew him away with its coolness. I teased, "Whaddya think, that the model number had some greater significance?!"

Entre nous, as an old cross-country runner, "XC" has never meant "90" ... before today! And the NCAA Championships take place in the next few days. Let it snow!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Just saw this story on the 5 o'clock news:

"Wild Turkey Crashes Into, Trashes Boy's Bedroom" - WNBC 4 NY, 11/15/06.

First reported in the Asbury Park Press: "Home-invading turkey creates flap" - 11/15/06:
MILLSTONE TOWNSHIP — The Lane family is going out for Thanksgiving, so they do not need a turkey.

But, need one or not, the Lanes got one — the wild turkey that flew through a second-story bedroom window, right through two glass panes and a screen.

"It was very exciting," said Lisa Lane, 41. "What's so funny (is) it's around Thanksgiving, and I have this wild turkey in my house."

I regularly see a few turkeys near Scooter's Corner, where Stage Coach, Paint Island Spring and Millstone Road intersect but I can't imagine a whole flock in the backyard.

I hope they don't migrate to my side of town. It's all I can do to keep out the Canada Geese!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

We looked at a smattering of chapters from Leviticus with a focus on Jewish festivals. The assignment was to locate New Testament mention of the prominent celebrations: Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.

References to Passover abound in the New Testament and everyone found at least one. References to Pentecost, too, while not plentiful, were well-known from the Christian Pentecost liturgy: Acts 2:1.

Mention of Tabernacles proved scarce with some among us coming up empty.

But a few diligent souls found John 7:2. And among those who did, some read beyond verse 2 and encountered the reference to "Jesus' brothers" in verses 3 and 5.

"Who are these brothers? Are they cousins?" one sweet lady asked.

One participant, a former Lutheran, shared that she had always been told that Jesus was Mary's firstborn, that the firstborn was special to God, but that Mary had other children after Jesus.

I said to her, flatly, "Well, we aren't Lutheran."

Then I suggested that "brothers" in this passage, especially "unbelieving brothers," may refer to fellow Jews. In other places, especially in the rest of the New Testament outside of the Gospels, "brothers" may mean believers in Jesus, sometimes Jew and sometimes Gentile.

But I concluded by saying that there are a couple of instances in the Gospels where "brothers" means blood relations of Jesus. I took them to Mark 6:3 where Jesus' brothers are named and, of course, their mention in Matthew 12:46-49. There are parallels; I didn't cited every Gospel occurrence, just representative passages to give them a sense of how the term αδελφος is used.

When our leader joined us, we put the question to him and he went into the classic explanations, recalling also the designation of James as "the brother of the Lord" which I had failed to mention. I suppose the Orthodox "widower" position is more tenable than the Catholic "cousins" view.

Yet, I still wonder why polygamy isn't proposed. It's the first thing that I think of. Jim said such an arrangement is an argument from silence but that's not an accurate assessment. It is a speculative arrangement, but no more speculative than the idea that Joseph was a widower.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Your Linguistic Profile:
55% General American English
25% Yankee
15% Upper Midwestern
0% Dixie
0% Midwestern

I grew up saying "quarter to some hour", but after a couple of years in southern Ohio, I adopted their time expression of "quarter till ..."

I also said "catty-corner" for a while, but lost that ... 'cuz it's just stupid ... and eventually went back to "kitty-corner." Better?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Jeff snapped a decent picture yesterday. Chris said a complete sentence today:

"Daddy, I want milk."

Saturday, November 11, 2006

There aren't too many 70 degree days in November, so we spent a couple of hours at

the Manasquan Reservoir

with a picnic lunch and some time on the playground.

Other pictures.

Friday, November 10, 2006

I was sad when it closed even though we had seen it four times.

It was worth seeing four times.

We have one of the recordings to enjoy anytime.

Go see it, if you get the chance!
The six-year-old told me just this morning that he's too old to play with Thomas anymore.

I built a simple track with only the other two boys in mind.

Lo and behold, the eldest joined right in and soon complained that the track layout was a boring figure 8.

Alright, I admit it: I was lazy and unimaginative.

The two-year-old is learning the engines' names: James, Toby, Emily, Gordon. And other special cars: "coach," "caboose" and "coal car" (I know, I know, "tender"). And he has favorites already!

See other photos.
Rutgers Shocks No. 3 Louisville" - NBC 4 NY, 11/10/06

Jeff was so interested in the game, I thought that he had money on it.

"A Red Letter Day: Scarlet Knights down Louisville for biggest win in school history" - Asbury Park Press, 11/10/06
sending the Scarlet Knights to a dramatic 28-25 victory over No. 3 Louisville before a Rutgers Stadium-record crowd of 44,111
Jeff had been in Piscataway yesterday on business and reported that traffic patterns seemed to be gearing up for "busy".

He said that the Empire State Building was lit up red but I don't think he can see it from that part of Jersey. He must have heard that on the radio.

College football isn't big in NY. There's just too much pro action. College basketball is big.
"Two fires set inside new middle school in Millstone" - The Examiner, 11/9/06
the police termed the incident "arson" and sent its Arson/Bomb Unit out to investigate.
For some reason, the high school students had a half-day on the Monday before Halloween; I heard them that afternoon running four-wheelers up and down the street.

Tuesday morning, Halloween morning, I noticed toilet paper in the trees on our street and at the current middle school on Schoolhouse Road.

My neighbor told me that evening that a State Police patrol was walking around my backyard the evening before, shining a search light in our thick row of pine trees. During that time, I was putting the youngest to bed, so if the patrolman came to the door, I don't know of it. IOW, without my neighbor telling me, I would not have been aware that the police were investigating anything on my property.

Apparently the neighbors across the street were on their porch watching the excitement, but they never said anything to me about it afterwards. Our mailbox was smashed a little bit but some down the street were knocked off their post. It seems that they caught the teens who did this. Must be a different bunch from the arsonists.

I'm not really sure what's up with the teens in town. Some seem to harbor significant hostility towards the township's school system.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The pericope was Exodus 32-34 but the passages at the end of chapter 33 caught the eye of the first-time Bible reader in our study group:
He answered, "I will make all my beauty pass before you, and in your presence I will pronounce my name, 'LORD'; I who show favors to whom I will, I who grant mercy to whom I will.

But my face you cannot see, for no man sees me and still lives. Here," continued the LORD, "is a place near me where you shall station yourself on the rock.

When my glory passes I will set you in the hollow of the rock and will cover you with my hand until I have passed by.

Then I will remove my hand, so that you may see my back; but my face is not to be seen."

NAB - Exodus 33:19-23
The rookie reader focused on the anthropomorphic language in the passage, which attributes to God the Almighty physical features: face, hand, back. He said, "I guess God is a human. And all these years, I thought God was spirit!"

No one knew what to say to him.

For any of us to counter that God is, in fact, spirit, would only have driven him back to the Exodus passage and his literal understanding of it. "How to account for this?" he may well have asked.

To challenge him along these lines, "So, you think the Mormons have a point?" would have cowed him into tight-lipped retreat, sure enough, but we aren't about fostering reticence among our participants. We want to draw out these jumbled impressions and put 'em right. Still, what text to show him?

Our leader could have taken us to the woman at the well in John 4 and read from verse 24 which says "God is spirit" and clear up the matter entirely. But he chose to stay within the Jewish tradition, in the pages of the Hebrew Scriptures, lest anyone object that this is a Christian / Jewish distinction.

He lead us to 1 Kings 19:11-13, God's appearance to Elijah in which God's transcendence is emphasized. Note especially the footnote: "Though various phenomena, such as wind, storms, earthquakes, fire, herald the divine presence, they do not constitute the presence itself which, like the tiny whispering sound, is imperceptible and bespeaks the spirituality of God." God is quite above us, otherwise the Incarnation would not have been so remarkable.

The footnote to Exodus 33:23 in the New American Bible takes a creative angle: You may see my back: man can see God's glory as reflected in creation, but his "face," that is, God as he is in himself, mortal man cannot behold. Cf 1 Cor 13:12.

Reference: Catholic Update: "What Catholics Believe" - Fr. Foley

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The first and the third reading this morning was the Shema, Deut. 6:2-6 and Mk. 12:28-34. And some priest stuff from Hebrews thrown in for good measure. The second reading rarely syncs with the other two, fyi. Although there may be a way to link all three readings together in this instance.

See also:

Shema Yisrael - Wiki

"Shema in Christianity" - Wiki
But even the best Christian that ever lived is not acting on his own steam-he is only nourishing or protecting a life he could never have acquired by his own efforts. And that has practical consequences.

As long as the natural life is in your body, it will do a lot towards repairing that body. Cut it, and up to a point it will heal, as a dead body would not. A live body is not one that never gets hurt, but one that can to some extent repair itself.

In the same way a Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again after each stumble--because the Christ-life is inside him, repairing him all the time, enabling him to repeat (in some degree) the kind of voluntary death which Christ Himself carried out.

C. S. Lewis - Mere Christianity, Book II What Christians Believe, Chapter 10 "The Practical Conclusion"

A birthday party at Build-A-Bear in the mall today.

I don't go to the mall very often, maybe twice a year.

But I got the day of the party wrong, so we went yesterday and again today. If I remember, I'll blog about how pregnancy erases my short-term memory, disrupts my organization skills and short-circuits my decision making. Last week was a particularly disastrous week for me in all three of those crucial areas. And I'll go into details just as soon as I get over the strong emotions associated with those catastrophes.

Since I went to the mall at the end of July to get my iPod repaired and in March to restock my Chanel perfume supply, I'm running over my annual average. But, at least yesterday I replaced my make-up, so I won't need to make a trip for that. I replace my make-up on an annual basis, even though it's recommended to replace it every three months. I don't use it often enough to justify that. Actually, I keep my make-up in the car, so my lipstick melted, uh, completely in the final throes of summer.

I buy only three items: mascara, eye and lip color. I jotted down the shades but the counter girl had only the lip color in stock. The eye color was discontinued and she was out of the mascara. So, I opted for a similar eye color which I don't think is blue enough. The mascara is probably ok but might be too dark. Obviously, I haven't tried anything on yet to know for sure.

Jeff goes to the mall even less than I do. But he went a couple of weekends ago to have the geniuses at the Apple store replace the power supply in my iMac G5, a known problem which did manifest itself.

I brought Tim along to the party too with the intention of paying for him myself. He's never been to Build-A-Bear. Kenny's been once. Neither of them are very familiar with the mall, as you might expect. 'Though Kenny was with me yesterday and had gone with his father weeks before when my desktop was repaired.

A few parents were quick to excuse themselves after dropping off their children at the party. One mother said to me, trying to sound conscientious, "Gee, I'm not comfortable leaving him here but I really want to slip out and do some shopping." From the looks of her, I didn't get the impression that squeezing a shopping trip into her regular routine was much of a challenge. Another mother said, "I'm going out to get a drink," implying that I should watch her daughter while she dashed out to knock back a double mocha something-or-other. Of course, the kids were safe; some parents had stationed themselves at the front entrance of the store to make sure that no one wandered out. But, don't you want to watch your children enjoy themselves at a party? I guess the thrill of my kids hasn't worn off on me yet.

Tim enjoyed the process of putting together a stuffed bear, especially the fluffing part. Outfits weren't part of the party, to my surprise, so I treated my kids to something. Tim picked Buzz Lightyear without hesitation. He was that for Halloween. To complement, Kenny chose Woody. And I included the cowboy boots too.

You probably know how expensive the place is. The boots were $7, the outfits were $15 a piece and the bear was $14. Actually, at the outlets, I can get a couple of kids' outfits for $15 when they are on sale. And unlike human clothes in NJ, these novelties incurred state sales tax.

There's no food at Build-A-Bear, so we met in the food court near the carousel for cake. And we had free rides until 4pm. I was tempted to take them to the Disney store to browse but I didn't. Yesterday, Kenny and I walked right past it and he pointed out to me the merchandise on a thoroughfare vendor's cart positioned right in front of the Disney store but failed to notice the Disney store itself. I suppose I want to keep it that way for as long as possible.

Tim is much more brand-conscious than Kenny, probably because he started watching TV at an earlier age. Still, I was taken aback when a party-goer said to me, "Like my boots? They're uggs." Now, I do know what uggs are. Don't ask how because I can't say with certainty. It's possible that I've seen them in a catalog because we receive some high-end catalogs at home, don't know why, and I flip through occasionally while sitting with my kids as they do their daily homework.

Read our first experience at Build-A-Bear in this post.

Friday, November 03, 2006

When The 40 Year-Old Virgin arrived via NetFlix a few weeks ago, I missed the first twenty minutes.

Attempting to fill in the gaps of my pop culture knowledge, I chose to watch it from the beginning last Sat. night on Cinemax, taking 30 minutes out after the first hour to watch the 11 o'clock news.

Obviously I liked enough of what I saw the first time to want to see the rest.

And, as simple as the story line is, the first twenty minutes sets up characters and relationships that I was kinda in the dark about during the first viewing. David's obsessive dance with the video camera made more sense, a little more sense, and was funnier, knowing about his most recent break-up.

The use of music in the movie is good, especially the theme to "The Greatest American Hero" TV show which I remember as an early favorite when I was a kid. Can't say that I noticed its use in Fahrenheit 9/11 but that may have primed me in some unconscious way to appreciate it more when I heard it again later. And the finale, The 5th Dimension's "The Age of Aquarius" is, well, another favorite song of mine. I should say that I like Bruce Almighty as well, and not only because it disses Buffalo. I've seen very little of Jim Carrey on screen, including most of his not-so-good stuff. Never watched In Living Color even 'though Jeff used to rave about it (didn't own a TV in those years), so I'm not sick of Carrey's antics as most people probably are.

Right after The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Cinemax ran a trailer, a montage of Star Wars clips to promote their showing of all six episodes on 11/10. My kids are into Star Wars, so I switched on TiVo recording to capture the promo for them to watch the next morning. But, TiVo stopped recording when the present feature ended, at midnight, even though the trailer ran over.

To bail me out, Jeff found the QuickTime video at Cinemax's web site (can't find it there now) and also at You Tube. I didn't know the music but Jeff identified it as ColdPlay, rather serendipitous, given this dialogue bit from the previous feature:

David: You know how I know you're gay?
Cal: How?
David: You like Coldplay.

Wikiquote - The 40 Year-Old Virgin

The kids' fascination with Star Wars has progressed slowly over the past year, beginning with the Lego short Revenge of the Brick. Then the Lego Star Wars game on XBox which exposes them to the significant bits of the saga's story line.

Being young boys, they are more interested in vehicles than in people, so I recently bought a DK reader on the ships. Tim has long enjoyed playing with Jeff's original (of course) Millennium Falcon. They mull over the evolution of ship design and identify which types are proper to each side. Recently, they have started watching portions of the movies on DVD, battle and chase scenes primarily. They think it's futuristic but I remind them, "It happened 'a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.'" Like all good myth.

The music captivates them, as it should. For weeks, the younger two have hummed Darth Vader's theme, "dom, dom, dom, da-da dom, da-da dom." Tim even got in trouble at school for humming in class, apparently. He told me, "Singing is for music class!" Indeed, I can well imagine his teacher telling him that!

I know the latter (older) episodes better than the prequels even though I probably saw all in the cinema at release and re-release. When Kenny asks to watch "the first one," I have to assume that he means "The Phantom Menace" even though I would think of "A New Hope" as "the first one". I don't know whether they teach kids Roman numerals anymore, so I drilled Kenny a little bit on the mechanics. Recently, a friend and I were commenting on how children can't tell time on analog clocks anymore and I said, "Imagine an analog clock with Roman numerals!"

Thursday, November 02, 2006

"It has not always been easy to be Catholic in New Jersey" - The Monitor, 10/25/06
For well over 300 years of recorded history in New Jersey, the social and political environment was hostile to Catholics.

The laws against Catholics were stringent. Some of those restrictions remained until they were finally dropped from the state Constitution of 1844.

Some of the earliest constitutions could be described as providing “liberty of conscience to all persons except Papists.”

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Signs your child's preschool may be too strict:

Child utters warnings like the following, in an authoritarian tone: "If anyone talks, your name goes on the ... Mommy, when are we getting a chalkboard?"
Today's Scripture Readings

First Reading: Rev 7:2-4, 9-14
"... until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”

I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal,
one hundred and forty-four thousand marked
from every tribe of the children of Israel.

After this I had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb
Second Reading: 1 Jn 3:1-3
See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.

Yet so we are.

Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,

Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure,
as he is pure.
Gospel: Mt 5:1-12a (The Beatitudes).

And Eucharistic Prayer I
In union with the whole Church we honor Mary, the ever-virgin mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God. We honor Joseph, her husband, the apostles and martyrs Peter and Paul, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude; we honor Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian and all the saints. May their merits and prayers grant us your constant help and protection.

Father, accept this offering from your whole family. Grant us your peace in this life, save us from final damnation, and count us among those you have chosen.

Bless and approve our offering; make it acceptable to you, an offering in spirit and in truth. Let it become for us the body and blood of Jesus Christ, your only Son, our Lord.

Look with favor on these offerings and accept them as once you accepted the gifts of your servant Abel, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the bread and wine offered by your priest Melchisedech.

Almighty God, we pray that your angel may take this sacrifice to your altar in heaven. Then, as we receive from this altar the sacred body and blood of your Son, let us be filled with every grace and blessing.

The board at the front of the church suggested that the recessional hymn would be "Soon and Very Soon," a personal favorite with strong second advent overtones, but the organist overrode the display and opted for "For All The Saints" instead. That one is fine, too. See Wiki