Thursday, May 31, 2007

Field Day - 2007

Preparing my son for a career in the food service industry ... a race carrying a tray of plastic food.

More pictures here.

The field day events were different when I was a kid. More sporty.

Of course, with only one first grade class in the school, competition was against fellow classmates, sometimes even boys against girls. Tim's grade has two homerooms, so his class went head-to-head against the other class.

Plenty of things were missing, like the BBQ lunch and the inflatable water slides.

They tried to keep the kids cool in the 90 degree weather by spritzing them with a water hose from time to time, but the best way is to drink cold water. So, I was giving my boys cold water every so often.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Oh, heck, he's "in" as a founder; the miracle healing is just frosting:

"Surgeon tells of healed baby, crucial miracle for Malta's first saint" - Catholic News Service, 5/22/07:
Dr. Dhawan, a Hindu, said he would be attending the ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.

"I was involved in the process (leading to canonization), and I want to see it through completely for my own learning and curiosity," he said.

"I respect all the faiths myself and I have a lot to learn from every single faith, and I am sure my religion also believes in things like this," he said. "When you are a scientist you are supposed to believe in things that are black and white, but, unfortunately, life is not always like that."

Dhawan said that before the boy's healing he knew very little about how the Catholic Church recognized saints. But he said he had since spent much time reading about the process and took particular interest in the cause of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003.

He said he was pleased and privileged to be part of the process of the canonization of Blessed Preca.
And this practice is most interesting:
A glove used during the exhumation of the priest in 2000 also was placed upon the infant's body.
The Catholic Carnival is up and I'm in it this week with some drivel.

There are many entries so maybe you can find something interesting. I haven't read anything yet.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

We took them to Dorbrook yesterday and it was warm enough to enter the Sprayground. But I was unprepared, so they rode home in wet clothes.

Jeff took Kenny to the Sprayground while I had Tim and Chris (and Ella) on the playground.

An older kid took a shine to Tim at one point. I saw him following Tim and whispering in Tim's ear. The kid wore all black, even his sandles, with some sinister character from The Incredibles on his printed T-shirt.

I watched intently and when the boy took Tim's upper arms in his hands and pushed him against the playground railing, I stood up and walked as close as possible to tell him to keep his hands to himself. After all, Tim's been beat up on playgrounds before, like last year on his birthday.

But I never got the words out because the boy's mother stepped to the railing and called her son over for a talk. Then she turned to me and assured me that her son has no intention of hurting Tim. He's just big for his size. I said that was fine but I was reacting to seeing her son take Tim's arms in his hands. She didn't seem to hear me say that and she had the boy himself assure me that he would not hurt Tim.

The thing is, the kid could be pounding Tim to a pulp and Tim would be smiling through it all because he's just so desperate for attention. Any kind of attention. 'Round here he only seems to get noticed when he misbehaves.
Jeff brags that he's got over 500 pictures of the house remodel project up at flickr, but almost all are private. We just can't verify his claim, then, can we?

But he turned one or two from each "phase" public, so check 'em out.

It all seems so long ago, from early Feb. until now.

I hardly remember, as we sit in the lurch watching the lights periodically dimming, how much has been done. My girlfriend assures me that one day it will be finished. I almost believe her.

I have two new pictures too, taken today, but staying "private", so friends and family only.
Jim contacted me about parish Bible studies.

He's probably working with Bob Bursley of Small Groups in the Office of Parish Life to ascertain diocesan "coverage": which parishes hold regular Bible studies and where is there a need for a study to be set-up, in geographic terms. From Jim's perspective, "geographic" translates into "the Route 9 corridor", from his home down south to his job up north.

But my parish isn't too far off that beaten path, so Jim asked whether St. Joe's offers a study. Not to my knowledge, not ever.

That's his finding across the diocese: very few parish-based Bible studies. Any wonder why I go "out of network" to study the Scriptures with Christians? It's either do that or do nothing. If I had my druthers ... well ... but I can get frustrated with just about any group of people. I don't discriminate.

Maybe it's a case of the glass being half-empty vs. half-full, but I think he's mistaken about the actual number of parishes holding regular Bible studies.

There are many Catholic Bible studies offered across the diocese. One simply has to know where to look. Now that parishes are putting their weekly bulletins online, usually in PDF, finding Bible studies is easy. The real need is childcare at these Catholic studies. That's the advantage of Protestant daytime studies, although the service has its troubles.

Anyway, if Jim started something in my parish, the turnout would probably be good because it's a young parish, young adults and young families and everyone is very involved.
They've been watching Avatar regularly and loving it.

Kenny fits the demographic of 6-11.

I would have figured he was too young but he's a big fan.

He likes the story line, the suspense, the angst. Tim likes the martial arts. The philosophy is interesting to me. I mean, how the philosophy influences practices, like this:
When Aang was a child, he unknowingly revealed that he was the Avatar when he chose four toys out of thousands.

These four toys were the same ones that past Avatars had chosen for generations when they were children, revealing that Aang was the reincarnation of the Avatar.

There is a similar test a child must pass in order to be recognized as the reincarnation of a Tulku Lama in Tibetan Buddhism.

According to the book Magic and Mystery in Tibet by Alexandra David-Neel, "a number of objects such as rosaries, ritualistic implements, books, tea-cups, etc., are placed together, and the child must pick out those which belonged to the late tulku, thus showing that he recognizes the things which were his in his previous life."

Avatar's official site states "the successor is expected to show signs of continuity with the previous Avatar, such as being born within a week of the death."
But, magic and spiritualism, is it healthy? I dunno. I grew up watching (and play-acting) Disney's Witch Mountain fantasy. This isn't any different than that.

Monday, May 28, 2007

It was the "Letters of Paul" class with Dr. Schubert and a classmate, a Pentecostal-turning-Baptist minister, gave a presentation on a beloved passage, 1 Cor. 13 (NAB).

In his summation, he stated with some genuine astonishment that the passage, popular especially with brides and grooms, never once mentions God by name. The minister feared that Christian couples using this passage were founding their marriages on love rather than on God.

And I was naive in those days because I retorted that the passage speaks of love and God is love1 so God is everywhere in the passage! It's St. Paul's "Song of Songs" and brides and grooms do well to use it.

But lately I've encountered voices, especially online, asserting a "biblical view of God", a view that subjugates passages like those in the "First Catholic Letter of St. John" to (whom else?) St. Paul in (where else?) his "Letter to the Romans", specifically Romans 9:13. And gee, those obstinate Romans (read "Romanists", i.e., Catholics) don't get it, even though St. Paul gave them his best systematic theology. How ... tragic.

A literalistic reading of Romans 9:13 yields a near-anthropomorphic image of God that esteems God's righteousness and justice which, coupled with the sinful human condition, implies wrath and judgment, at the expense of God's mercy [ Chesed ]. Such an unbalanced theology is derived from the "fire and brimstone" preaching tradition that unmistakably continues today ... in much softer tones. It has never spoken to me. Salvation through Christ is about more than being spared Hell.

As a matter of fact, the NAB footnote on Romans 9:13 clears up the misunderstanding so succinctly that there's hardly room for discussion. I wonder whether those who base their view of God on this passage have ever tried to understand Paul's words in their original context, i.e., in terms of Semitic instead of Greek thought.

Emphasis mine:
"The literal rendering, 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated,' suggests an attitude of divine hostility that is not implied in Paul's statement.

In Semitic usage 'hate' means to love less; cf Luke 14:26 with Matthew 10:37.

Israel's unbelief reflects the mystery of the divine election that is always operative within it.

Mere natural descent from Abraham does not ensure the full possession of the divine gifts; it is God's sovereign prerogative to bestow this fullness upon, or to withhold it from, whomsoever he wishes; cf Matthew 3:9; John 8:39.

The choice of Jacob over Esau is a case in point."

These thoughts were prompted by reading this post on the character of God and noting with concern that the author had more verses against than for:
"Thou lovest all things that are, and hatest nothing of the things that Thou hast made."

Wisdom 11:25 (DR / Vulgate / KJV?); Wisdom 11:24 (NAB)
1 1 John 4:8, 16; BXVI's encyclical "Deus Caritas Est", which I haven't read yet. Friendly Persuasion

Saturday, May 26, 2007

I had been looking forward to today's birthday party for weeks. We missed it last year because of a trip to FL for family. Today, it was quick, only 90 minutes long. It just went too fast. And it was hot, like a sauna inside that bubble. But at least we weren't in the sunshine.

The pool was for the kids, even though I brought my suit.

I've attended plenty of pool parties where lifeguards are promised but not delivered, that I come prepared, in the event that I need to enter the water. But, besides a man on the pool deck equipped with a cordless phone / radio, there was a young adult assistant in the water as well as a woman who led the pool activities. They spent about 45 minutes in the pool that wasn't deeper than 4 feet.

Then pizza and cake and gone ... but no, everyone was invited to the beach house.

Kenny has always wanted to visit their beach house. So, I let another mother take him with her daughter. There will be a babysitter to look after the kids and maybe take them over to the Boardwalk for rides (but this mother told me that she would tag along if they do).

Boy, he's barely seven and he's living the high life: a Saturday night out "down the shore."

Friday, May 25, 2007

The electrical inspection passed "with flying colors" this morning. (Then, would someone please explain to me why my lights dim every thirty minutes all evening long?)

The plumber, whom I haven't seen in over a week, is on doctor's orders not to work. He's done about 70% of the rough-in, so there's still a way to go before the plumbing can be inspected. I'm not sure what the contractor's plan for getting the plumbing work done is. That's his problem, not mine.

Payment-wise, we are past the halfway mark on the schedule - that's something of a relief - but we still have to pay for appliances and furniture and whatever budget overruns there are (read: on just about everything). Like the stairs I want are $2200 over the allowance. So, I'm not happy about not getting the backstairs of my dreams.

About half the house is re-sided. He's replacing windows as he goes. Now that he's hit the "old part" of the house, the part where we are holed up, the question of privacy crops up, not just during the brief window swap-out process but afterwards, assuming the blinds can't be tacked up again immediately.

I guess I'm just concerned that things will be overlooked. There's lots of little things now. But, all in all, it was a slow, quiet week around here.
It would work out to a heart a day but I have help - three helpers to be exact - in consuming my Mother's Day present.

And, to my (our!) delight, we discovered the second layer this evening. Whew! Just what I need to get through the coming fortnight.
My "Bonnie" lies over the ocean.
My "Bonnie" lies over the sea.

Actually, my "Bonnie" seems to be in Illinois, near Interstates 57 and 64.

Not that I know who my Bonnie is ... or that I've ever been out that way ... and they seem more interested in Jeff since they outclicked to his flickr sets.

How did they come in, you ask? From a post at our alumni web site.

I scanned the registered alumni for those in Illinois. All are in Chicagoland. I searched for southeastern MO and southwestern IN because, you know, ISPs can be anywhere but no alumni were close.

So, leave a comment, don't just lurk. Leave a comment here or at flickr. I see you, in between my Hershey Park traffic.

Don't be shy about sayin' "Hey."
Blogging about it may only make it worse ...

But I'm getting constant hits for Hershey Park, specifically for a MAP of Hershey Park.

And that's because the official site for Hershey Park renamed their map, newly updated for 2007 with new attractions for the 100th anniversary, so the most promising image at Google ... comes straight to me. Hmm.

I fixed the post (from last June) that they are hitting with a big, bold link to the latest map at

I hope that helps get y'all to the sweestest place on earth because it's worth it.

We'd love to be going this year ... but aren't, for a number of reasons.
Since we got the word a few months ago that Corporate would carry the school for three years, I've stopped worrying about the school closing this year or next.

Yesterday I heard from another mother that 35 students have enrolled in the school. Total. Preschool thru eighth grade, 35 students. That's down 2/3rds, second year running. Consequently 6 teachers are being let go.

I took out the school directory and looked at class lists this afternoon.

Unless a family with a child in the upper grades moves into the area, it's very unlikely the school will attract new students in those classes. And perhaps the school's reputation has suffered enough that it is no longer the springboard that it used to be into the better high schools.

So, based on those assumptions, there will be no eighth grade class next year. Imagine, no graduating class for the first time. (Just two years ago, the first graduating class graduated high school).

Neither will there be a seventh grade (again).

Sixth grade looks strong but fifth will not exist. Fourth and below look strong. I am afraid that parents are believing the rumour that the school's academics fall apart after fourth grade.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Workin' hard ... or hardly workin'?

Awaiting inspection, not much doing today.

So, Chris decided to lend a hand and patch up a few loose ends.
Which famous photographer are you?

Ansel Adams: Known for large scale silver gelatin landscapes especially of Yosemite National Park

"Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter."

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by quizzes and personality tests.
I've already denied reading Amy Welborn, yet here I am with something else from her blog:

"Communion with the saints", subtitled "Richard J. Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, has been thinking about saints."

He's actually somewhat persuaded by a tired apologetic analogy, in his own words:
"My Catholic dialogue partner made some points that had never occurred to me. Properly understood, he argued, praying to a saint in heaven is nothing more than a conversation with another Christian, in which the person on earth is asking the saint to intercede with God on his or her behalf."
Forget the practical business of how to make yourself heard (a legitimate objection).

However, his ultimate reason for sticking to his Protestant convictions rings hollow (I almost typed "hallow"!):
"Their pictures show them with halos around their heads, and when you look into the eyes on their statues you get the sense—at least I do—that you are in the presence of a different sort of being."
The "otherness" of the saints weirds him out, but he's comfortable approaching the Throne of the God of the Universe? Huh? Aren't the saints billed as the "approachable ones", for times when the faithful are too intimidated or too ashamed to come directly before the Almighty?

Protestant humility and hubris are just so jumbled.

A couple of comments at "open book" invoke Lewis, including an allusion to a criticism from Letters to Malcolm1 that I found in full:
"My grandfather, I'm told, used to say that he 'looked forward to having some very interesting conversations with St. Paul when he got to heaven.' Two clerical gentlemen talking at ease in a club!

It never seemed to cross his mind that an encounter with St. Paul might be rather an overwhelming experience even for an Evangelical clergyman of good family. But when Dante saw the great apostles in heaven they affected him like mountains. There's lots to be said against devotions to saints; but at least they keep on reminding us that we are very small people compared with them. How much smaller before their Master."
Amen, amen to that. I've never got that, hobnobbing in heaven. That, and rewards. (How can they both be right?) That's why we need the classics2.

1 I didn't know Malcolm was fictitious! Was he CofS?! YA reason to love Lewis.

2 "We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books." - C. S. Lewis
Commonweal mentioned it and Morning Edition has an interview today ... worth listening to.

Monday, May 21, 2007

It was "Take-Your-Girlfriend-To-The-Supermarket" Day today at Wegmans and I was feeling decidedly left out, shopping by myself. Oh, and, well, with my two youngest. Everywhere I looked, twosomes, threesomes, foursomes, veritable cadres of shoppers, not just mothers and daughters but peers and friends.

So, running into Marion at the checkout made me euphoric. Someone to talk to during the boring tally-up process! Oh, but my checker wouldn't have it! "I need your cart down here. And I need those items off the bottom," she said as impatiently as if it were Sunday afternoon.

"You mean you're going to load my shopping cart for me?! To what do I owe this grand gesture of customer service?! Wasn't it only two months ago that your colleague muttered under his breath to me as I stood idle, 'I can't believe you're not helping me put your bags into your cart!'"

As Marion tried to catch me up on who was in the emergency room and who had bronchitis and who was home sick ... telltale signs that a woman is getting on in years. Why she placed her cart in the lane next to me instead of (more conveniently) behind me, I'll never know.

"I'll see you over at school, then?" I asked.

"Not right away; she has homework club." You know, maybe she wouldn't mind coming home at the end of the school day. Oh, but it's none of my business.
Tunage - Mark Mossa, SJ:
"This seems a popular form of self-disclosure these days. Shuffle your music, and see what ten songs come up ..."
I'm IN:
"Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen
"Welcome to the Machine" by Pink Floyd
"Like The Weather" by 10,000 Maniacs
"Sledgehammer" by Peter Gabriel
"Save the World" by George Harrison
"Fanfare For The Common Man" by Emerson, Lake & Palmer
"Drift Away" by Uncle Kracker
"Mind Games" by John Lennon
"Going Mobile" by The Who
"The Spirit Of Radio" by Rush
"Hello, Goodbye" by The Beatles
"That'l Be The Day" by Buddy Holly & The Crickets
"Walking In Memphis " by Marc Cohn

Sunday, May 20, 2007

He called me in and said the housing development is right across the canal. And then, boom, a shot of the company's logo on the building.

This isn't why he watches the program. I don't think so.

Maybe I can get the clip at YouTube tomorrow.

The Sopranos
Oh, goodness, it's a small world.

Also at "Right Reason" is a link to a WSJ article by the nephew of Thomas Howard (Elizabeth Elliott's brother) on Beckwith's "conversion." The article itself isn't as interesting as the well-known names involved.

Yeah, evangelicalism can be a remarkably small movement at times. That's one of my problems with it, actually, it's too inbred:
Mr. Howard was among the first of what has become a steady stream of evangelical converts to Catholicism in the past 20 years. Three who achieved prominence after their conversions were the singer John Michael Talbot, now the No. 1 Catholic recording artist, Scott Hahn, a best-selling Catholic author, and Joshua Hochschild, a professor at Wheaton fired for his conversion in 2006.

These Catholics are not generally in sympathy with the theologically liberal wing of the American Catholic Church but are enthusiastic supporters of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI's emphasis on orthodox teaching and practice. In short, they have more in common theologically with evangelicals than with liberal Catholics, and evangelicals themselves, in many respects, have more in common with traditional Catholics than with mainline Protestants.
Since I blog about it, you might think I support it, Christians switching denominations. But, while the various reasons given may interest me, I think leaving one for another is hardly ever warranted.

Yet, folks continue to do it, by leaps and bounds, and make their stories public and I read and try to make sense from it.

So, there's another one at "Right Reason," that ol' weblog for conservative philosophers. Ho'boy. By way of Amy Welborn. No, I'm not a regular reader.

He writes some interesting things:
As a Lutheran, I’ve never thought of myself as “Protestant.”

Insofar as I accepted a form of ‘sola scriptura’, it took the form of insisting that all doctrines must have their source in the Scriptures as interpreted by the Church, or in the universal practices and teaching of the early church. This is the only sort of “sola scriptura” principle that can hold up to logical scrutiny, since the Scriptures themselves provide no definition of the canon and no clear statement of any sola-scriptura principle (both of these can be found only in the Fathers and Councils).

Extreme sola-scripturism is, given these facts, self-refuting.

Please bear in mind also the distinction between the reality of justification and our theological theories about that reality.

I urge my Protestant brethren to remember, before making any judgments about the state of my soul, that sinners are justified by trusting in Jesus and not by believing a theory of justification.
The contractor advised that the back staircase should be modest and plain ... but this is ridiculous!

It will be all red oak - whatever that is - with art deco balusters - whatever that is - and a couple of ball-top newels - whatever that is. And it will be narrow and steep, qualities both that place it squarely in the "modest" category.
A Rare Look - I'm savoring the vistas that will vanish as walls go up. Like this one: from the top of the back stairs, through the office, into the bedroom and bath.
There's a lot of bad and good out there about Falwell, and I wasn't going to comment on his passing, but this piece is balanced and mostly concerned with politics, not religion:

"Rev. Falwell's Moral Majority: How it changed politics and religion" - Catholic News Service, 5/18/07
Hindsight suggests the Moral Majority's call to get evangelical Christians involved in politics worked out better for the politicians than it did for the church.

Weyrich, a deacon in the Melkite Catholic Church, told Catholic News Service that one success of the Moral Majority was the change it fostered in how Catholics and evangelical Protestants worked with each other.

Weyrich said he saw that as "a change in the atmosphere from the time where Catholics and evangelical Protestants almost could not be in the same room with each other."

[Richard Viguerie] said Rev. Falwell always was ecumenical, working with Mormons, Catholics and Jews as well as the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church, sometimes to harsh criticism from other evangelicals.

But the Moral Majority was not always on the side of the leaders of the Catholic Church, Viguerie said.

"Jerry was always on the same side as the conservative Catholics," Viguerie said.

Viguerie said Rev. Falwell believed that "we have to establish priorities, to fight our common enemies -- communism, big government, liberals -- then when that fight is won we can disagree about theology."

[Deacon Keith Fournier of Richmond, Va.] told CNS that when it came to Catholic social teaching the Moral Majority only got part of the picture, primarily the one dealing with championing the right to life at all stages.

Weyrich said when it comes to the advantages gained by tying itself to one party the alliance between evangelical Christians and the Republican Party has "probably helped the party. I don't think it has helped the faith."

[John Carr, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' secretary for social development and world peace,] lauded Rev. Falwell's ability to persuade a generation of evangelical Christians that their faith had public implications, particularly bringing their conviction to the pro-life arena at a time when it was almost exclusively a Catholic movement.

But, Carr said, as an evangelical acquaintance put it, the movement learned the hard way that "identifying with one party on one issue has political and spiritual costs."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

My heavens, this is astonishing! -
A little impatient, she continued. "Do you know my brother, Thomas Howard? He entered the Catholic Church some years ago. I only wish I had his courage."

"Cowardice, I suppose. My listeners and readers simply would not understand."
She may also wonder why bother at this late date; it probably doesn't even matter.

But, goodness, is this authentic? ... and, well, should a presumably private conversation be made so public?!
Another birthday party at Jenkinson's!

It was fun, as usual. The only problem was that not everyone in the group was able to get on the rides at the same time. So, some in the group would watch and wait but when the ride was over, the group simply moved on to the next ride and those who waited the first time didn't get a chance to ride. It wasn't a big deal when it happened to my kids because they don't care. But some little girls were upset that they didn't get on and that the group didn't wait.

Pizza and cake and ice cream at Little Mac's on the boardwalk. Then everyone fled because it was cold and rainy. Some people claimed to be freezing ... I can't understand how in 60° weather! Dress for it, cripes. "It's cooler at the Shore." Sissies.

I like the beach no matter what the weather. So after the party broke up, we walked the boardwalk, they played in the wet sand and I fed Ella. A bird pooped on Tim's sweatshirt hood ... good thing it was up. That was the only lucky thing about it!
"He's worked all day, up and down stairs, all day. How can he do that?!"

"He's 27."

The electrician is pulling 11 hour days for the past two weeks, including Saturday, to complete our addition wiring (and some rewiring). I was concerned that he seemed rather too young to be an experienced electrician but his dad is an EE and he's had his hand ... in ... wiring ... since eighth grade. Half his life.

It's funny to me when the older contractors come in mid-morning to invite him to break: "Mike, ya want some coffee and a donut?" He's like, "Nah, I'm good."

I still have my concerns. Last night the lights dimmed momentarily like never before. And I haven't had dial tone on my phone all day today. Little things like that. And Jeff had to diddle with the TV's/TiVo's HD setup some last night. I don't know whether he got it right or not. But, hopefully everything is connected correctly and we don't have any shorts or fires. I mean, he doesn't work for Con Ed.
I'm not some "automotive expert", but I've watched The Cannonball Run enough to recognize a Lamborghini when I see one ... in the school parking lot.

School uniform sizing day must bring out new students, too, so come Fall, seeing a Lamborghini may be a more regular event.

Cars are king for many people, especially around here. The Wall Street bonuses were obvious earlier in the spring as parents arrived on campus at drop-off and pick-up in new BMW eight-cylinders, along with the obligatory hummers and Lexuses. Glamour may be en vogue again at school. Yippee.

Friday, May 18, 2007

This catchy Areva energy ad is on the cable news channels again after a couple years hiatus. I liked it then and I like it now. The kids like it too and explains to them why I blurt out "Won't you take me to ... FUNKYTOWN?!"

There are some ads out there that simply "look better with TiVo." Those car ads with the fast-forward montage finale are only visible with TiVo frame-by-frame.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Tim's field trip yesterday was to the Monmouth Museum, a small, hands-on place on Brookdale's Lincroft campus.

The museum was closed to the public, an approach they take when there's a special group scheduled, so I wasn't able to tag along on my own.

And I wasn't in any position to chaperone, given my younger charges.

It's a small place, just a single room really. But it's just right for kids Tim's age. As I understand from moms who went, Tim had a good time and behaved.
Avoiding the sweep:

Game 4 Recap, 5/16/07.

We watched the final few mintues before switching over to the Yankees game.

Jeff commented on the Senators playing style and the challenge it posed to the Sabres, but I had "Capitals" in my head for some reason, even though I could clearly see Tim Horton's donuts being hawked on the boards. So, I wasn't getting what he was saying.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The flurry of her medical bills has long subsided to the degree that I've largely forgotten the details and lost most of the bitterness. But a couple of interesting twists transpired, so better late than never ...

The most ironic was the ambulance services bill. The insurance company's explanation for denying payment read, "Services not covered on patients of this age."

And, what age would that be, twenty minutes old?! I mean seriously, I would like to know the allowable age range because I can't think of an age that is reasonably excluded from ambulance transport services.

I choked up on the phone with the insurance company representative as I explained that Ella had just been born unexpectedly at home and needed to get to hospital because her red blood cell count was too high ... 'though we didn't exactly know this at the time, it wasn't a fact that influenced the reconsideration at all.

The insurance company representative quickly recognized that the claim had been denied out of hand, so payment was ordered in the full amount of more than $1300.

As for the second twist, the neonatal unit operated, in regards to insurance, as an entity independent from the hospital. So, the hospital's member status in our insurance company did not extend to the hospital's neonatal unit.

As this separate provider sent us bills of $500 per day and more, by registered mail, I explained that we were caught unawares by their non-participating status but, frankly, our circumstances necessitated that we use their facilities because all choice had been removed by their own onsite practitioners. Transfer to a participating facility would have been neither prudent, given Ella's medical condition, nor cost effective.

The company was willing to split the cost with us and I didn't press it because we aren't destitute. For Jeff, it's just the principle of the thing. Well, for me, too. If she had been born at hospital, none of these expenses would have been incurred.
My sons' school is conducting an on-line survey.

I'd love the share the results page URL with you but there's no security.

IOW, just about anyone could submit a survey whether or not their child attends the school. Making the URL public might skew the results. And the school needs accurate feedback ... things are that critical.

I can comment about the results in general even though the survey time window doesn't conclude until Friday: location seems to be the primary reason that families use the school. I know that's true for us but I didn't know it was also true for so many others.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Jeff's got some before and after pictures up in a flick set.

He tagged the set "crazy" ... so it's getting lots of views!

The siding continues but most of the real work is taking place indoors.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Somehow when I snapped this photo of Chris in a box a few days ago, I failed to notice whose box!

That is, until I received my Mother's Day gift.

I'm no chocoholic; I take after my father who preferred vanilla and my mother who doesn't drink coffee.

But I'll have it on hand, like my whiskey, for medicinal purposes.
One more time with Beckwith ...

He says some interesting things in this recent CT interview, emphasis all mine:
Emphasis on the written word comes from my evangelical background1—that is, when I read these things, I'm really interested in what the text is saying.

[A]fter reading the Apostles' Creed, I turned to my wife and I said, "You know, there are only two proper names in the creed2—Pontius Pilate and Virgin Mary. I don't know if anyone's ever noticed that."

The Catholic Church frames the Christian life as one in which you must exercise virtue—not because virtue saves you, but because that's the way God's grace gets manifested. As an evangelical, even when I talked about sanctification and wanted to practice it, it seemed as if I didn't have a good enough incentive to do so. Now there's a kind of theological framework, and it doesn't say my salvation depends on me, but it says my virtue counts for something. It's important to allow the grace of God to be exercised through your actions.

[W]hat matters is the sort of person I become by allowing God's grace to work through my obeying his commandments and taking the sacraments.

[T]he Reformation only makes sense against the backdrop of a tradition that was already there. Calvin and Luther did not go back and re-write Nicea. They took it for granted.

Some of the folks who have read my blog post on my return to the church have misunderstood my reading of the church fathers. They think I went back and tried to find theology, and that really wasn't it for me. It was the practices of the church that were more important. I did some research years ago on the relationship of Greek philosophy3 and the Christian doctrine of God, and that was very helpful. But that's when I first began reading the fathers. One finds the practice of penance very early on during the times in which Christians were being persecuted. Some of the Christians who had denied their faith had to publicly repent for their sins and suffer penance. This was considered to be perfectly consistent with a doctrine of faith.

I underestimated the deep divisions that were still there, at least among lay evangelicals and Catholics.

The book that was very helpful to me was Mark Noll's Is the Reformation Over? That's what led me to read the Joint Declaration on Justification. [I]f you hold to a highly cognitive, almost legal model of justification, there is no component for God's grace working out salvation within you.

At some point, there has to be some connection between the church and its role and the phenomenon of Scripture.

That is what you often find in real strong Calvinist views of God's moral nature, that things ought to be obeyed because God says so, not because he's good. In a weird way, there's an assumption that all authority is authoritarian. I deny that assumption.
1 Hey, I adore the written word, too!
2 "Jesus" is a proper name, but, yeah, plenty o' people have noticed, especially Pilate's.
3 In this post, I offer my suspicion that it was philosophy that brought Beckwith back.

If you have not read CT much, you can't possible know their indefatigably condescending attitude towards non-evangelicism. This question put to Beckwith typifies it: "What can an evangelical learn from the great tradition without giving up the genius of evangelicalism?" Oh, please!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

As someone who doesn't know a P-51 from a PT-109, the last place you would expect to find me is at an air show.

Earlier in the week, a Warthog flew directly over our house, east to west, presumably on its way to McGuire AFB. I was standing outside with the HVAC contractor and we just looked at each other and he said, "Have you ever seen anything like that before?" And I answered, "No, it must be experimental."

Now, I've snapped together many of the planes we saw today, including the Mustang, as models for my boys. So, when the Nighthawk flew overhead, Kenny was able to recognize it.

When we drove onto the base, Kenny exclaimed, "I can't believe I'm on a real military base!" He was so thrilled. I said, "I bet you didn't know there was one so close to home."

Parking was well-managed. Security was reasonable, that is, the search was sufficient and the line moved satisfactorily. The secure area dedicated to the show was huge! The noise of the F-18's scared the younger boys so much. We spent two hours looking at the planes on display. Most of them were open so that visitors could enter and look around.

The Thunderbirds were supposed to begin at 3PM but didn't get underway until 3:45. That near hour of practical silence was enough time for Chris to curl up on a cushy blanket with a travel pillow and fall asleep. The Thunderbirds were amazing and worth the time and effort to see. My kids have a DVD of the Blue Angels but in person makes a lasting impression.

$40 in souvenirs. About 300,000 people are supposed to attend over the course of the weekend. Hopefully the air show will be an experience that my boys remember and talk about for some time.

"Security Tightened for Air Show at McGuire", Channel 6 Action News, ABC, WPVI Philadelphia

"Thousands Attend Air Show" - Courier-Post Online, 5/13/07

Friday, May 11, 2007

"Millstoners weigh in on budget vote" - Examiner, 5/10/07:
[T]he school tax rate in Millstone will increase by about 21 cents this year and will be $1.99 per $100 of assessed value.

Thatcher said he believes the school district "is going overboard with technology."

As for the full-day kindergarten, Thatcher said he doesn't know why that he, as a taxpayer, would have to provide nursery service for township kids.

"I'm not going to pay for baby-sitting," he said.

Grbelja said since the township in recent years changed its zoning to require developers to have larger lots in order to build, the number of children entering the school district has slowed.

Resident Dave Kurzmann said he does not believe the Millstone Township School District should be considered a part of the state's "I" District Factor Group (DFG).

The DFG measures a district's socioeconomic status, and ranges from "A" being the poorest districts to "J" being the wealthiest.

"There's not a lot of money in this town like some people think," he said.

Matthews said the children in her son's third-grade class all have laptops ...
I didn't want Kenny to attend kindergarten in trailers in the public school system.

Yet, if I waited until he was kindergarten age before beginning private school, he might not be accepted into the program.

So I entered him into the private school program at the earliest possible age. Yes, it was difficult to justify the full-day tuition on a half-day attention span. Kenny took naps at pre-school, almost every day.

Timmy gave up naps before he turned 2. So I wasn't paying his pre-school teacher to watch him sleep. He enters kindergarten in the fall and reads three-letter words and sounds out five- and six-letter words. He can write some words. For instance, he made a sign to hang on his old bedroom's door - a room he vacated this past weekend so that it may be renovated - which reads, "No Mom In!" (Have I mentioned before that he is very disturbed and uncomfortable with our present home remodel project?!)

I state Timmy's abilities because they are evidence of what a good instructional program can do with a child of average (or perhaps below-average) abilities. So, would I be able to enter him into a half-day public program after two years of full-day attendance? No, not even if the trailers have been turned into classrooms.

On the one hand, adults tell me, "Oh, kids get pushed too hard these days in school. Let 'em be kids!" Then other adults complain that kids today don't know nothin'. Kenny's preschool teacher told me that three-year-olds are sponges and the trick is to cram as much into their heads as possible. I tend to believe that - I've seen it! There's no question that young, young children benefit from structured learning. The only question is who should fund it - the child's parents through tuition or the child's community through taxes.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

"Why vote in Millstone?" the hand-painted wooden sign along Stillhouse Road read. And even before seeing the weekly newspaper this evening, I had the whole story.

"Millstone officials counter vote with yes, no, yes, yes" - Examiner, 5/10/07:
The Township Committee voted to restore the budget and two of the three other requests for funding.

Mayor Nancy Grbelja said the close vote in the election indicated to her that people wanted the township government to review the budget, which she did.

Committeeman Elias Abilheira said he had gone through the "inches of documents" the school district provided about the budget "with a fine-tooth comb."

Committeeman Ramin Dilfanian said he saw "no fat" in the budget.

Abilheira said it troubled him to see that the school district has already created facilities for the kindergarten program at a "significant hit to taxpayers."

Abilheira said taxpayers already spent money for the classroom and in his decision about the current question he had to consider the voters who passed the initial referendum for the creation of the facility.

"To leave the classroom empty would be a bigger waste of money," he said.

Board of Education president Mary Ann Friedman called the governing body's decision to restore the budget an affirmation of the fiscal responsibility the board and school administration exercised.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

It is finished.
My scanner isn't connected:
"Dr. Holly Roberts: Eliminating Suffering in All the Little Ways She Can" by Jo Schloeder

To most people, living a life of total nonviolence and "nonabundance" sounds unattainable - a lofty goal, perhaps, but just not realistic. To Dr. Holly Roberts, living a simple existence without taking the breath of any living thing has become her life's work.

"I believe in trying to live without killing," she explained. "As they say in Indian beliefs, I try to 'not take the breath of life from any being.'"

Author, lecturer, obstetrician-gynecologist, and theologian Holly Roberts, D.O., Ph.D., '02 was in the Little Theatre on January 23 to discuss the spiritual, philosophical, and theological perspective of Indian religions and philosophies. She was there as part of GCU's Women of Witness series, which celebrates the lives and achievements of women of faith and influence in history and contemporary society. Dr. Roberts, who received her master's degree in theology from Georgian Court before completing a Ph.D. in Asian religion, has authored numerous books. Her latest work about the Analects of Confucius will be released this year.

As the audience sampled vegetarian Indian snacks and listened intently to her fascinating discussion of the tenets of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, one could easily imagine Dr. Roberts sitting cross-legged with the Dalai Lama or breaking bread with Gandhi. It is evident that Dr. Roberts, a lifelong vegetarian, not only studies and teaches the pacifist, "non-accumulation" philosophies of the East - she lives, breathes, and eats them.

"We live in 'nonabundance' ... except for my books," she admitted softly. Dressed modestly in a long-skirted suit with her youthful blonde hair neatly tucked behind her head, Dr. Roberts described how she and her husband share one car, sleep on a futon, and have only a handful of furniture.

"We have made a conscious effort to eliminate the greatest suffering we can in all the little ways we can. It feels good not to buy," she assured.

The lecture moved attendees Andrea Rittenhouse '06 and her husband, Dennis, to action. "We have just agreed to put solar panels on the roof," she said. She added, "I admire Holly because she is someone who has managed to put her money where her mouth is and live the principles she espouses."
Georgian Court University Magazine, Spring 2007, 39.

Her book, Vegetarian Christian Saints.

Our paths crossed in the fall of '01. The class may have been "Gospel of John" with Dr. Schubert. Nine-eleven happened. The Muslim woman did not return. Holly was concerned about Israel being wiped off the map. I had no idea what she was getting at.

Fast forward to the following summer, we took Greek together.

Few others had any foreign language exposure. She did better than the rest at picking it up cold. She brought vegetarian snacks and Indian food each Saturday. I was pregnant with Timothy who arrived a week after class ended. Saturday after Saturday, I ate my turkey sandwich and potato chips and diet soda. She didn't take offense and I wasn't trying to vex her.

We graduated at the same time. I remember her three lovely daughters - she seemed as young as they. I'm happy that she earned her Ph.D. (from where?). There's not much else to say except that she lives entirely by her principles, without any hint of hypocrisy and, eh, forgive me, but solar panels have absolutely nothing to do with what Holly is about. And yet, she wouldn't strike the idea down as I have; she would be encouraging.

Monday, May 07, 2007

"Does anyone know why this park is called 'Seven Presidents,'" the park naturalist began.

Kenny's hand shot up in reply; his was the only hand and I knew that he knew. I murmured in assurance to those parents around me, "Kenny knows this."

"Because seven presidents had their vacations here." The naturalist was surprised that he knew. It didn't seem like a difficult question.

Chris was too chatty to sit for the presentation, so he and I stepped outside. I watched the presentation through a window but couldn't hear anything.

Afterwards, several parents and his teacher complimented me on Kenny's intelligent answers. I noticed that, at first, the naturalist was reluctant to call on Kenny, wanting to give other children a chance. But, when she saw that no other children were really ready to answer, calling on Kenny kept the presentation moving along. Eventually, he even won her and her teaching partner over and, though I couldn't hear the discussion, it seemed quite lively and involved.

I used to worry that, after all these years, his fellow students just let him answer, knowing that he will, without bothering to give it another thought. But, he has some really smart classmates, too, and when they know the answer, they volunteer it. So, he isn't shutting anyone down. He isn't your typical know-it-all kid in that he isn't competitive about what he knows. He truly wants to inform others. Showing off doesn't enter his mind.

The field trip was a joint one with the second grade, and his teacher was pleased that her class could hold their own. Even the second grade teacher, whom Kenny may have next year, felt compelled to say a word to me about Kenny's sustained interest. That much I could tell through the window: that Kenny was alert and engaged for the entire hour while the focus of the other children waxed and waned.

There was time spent on the beach, collecting shells, a picnic lunch and time on the playground before returning to school.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: we have the best county parks in NJ!
Most of the new windows are in, so we don't hear plastic cover snapping in the wind anymore.

I like the transom above the corner window. You can make out the new siding color, wicker.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

More on Beckwith from Carl Trueman:
But to argue that the patristic authors are more Catholic than Protestant is arguably to impose anachronistic categories upon the first five centuries. Further, given the variegated nature even of the extant patristic writings, it is to beg questions of the kind: Which authors? Whose theology? The temptation for both Catholics and Protestants has always been to prioritise those writers most conformable with their own later traditions. ... Truth be told: we lack the context to make a definite judgment one way or the other.

But the key differences -- impartation versus imputation, and the instrumentality of faith – are mutually exclusive. One has got to be wrong, both may be wrong, but both cannot be right. Again, the issue seems ultimately to be one of the nature of church authority in making the final decision about something unclear in scripture.

Frankly, the NAPS is better value for money; and, believe it or not, patristic reading has persuaded me to stick with Geneva, rather than head to Rome.
So, between Open Theists and Catholics among the ranks, this may be the ETS's undoing.

How come the party always ends just as we arrive?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

"I don't want to go in without knowing it's the right party," my six-year-old announced.

I listened but said nothing, silently navigating the route via visual clues: Mount's Corner Drive. "Around the Corner" Art Center. Parking for Art Center Only, All Others Will Be Towed.

And the building even matched their web site image.

At last, "we're here!" I cheered.

Still hesitant, he didn't even want to carry the present.

I spotted the father of a classmate dozing in the car next to ours and recognized some other vehicles as well. My confidence level rose because, well, I CAN READ.

They let us in and gushed over Ella. Kenny joined the group upstairs painting ceramics. He moved so independently that I lost track of him! I caught up with him, greeted everyone else and had a lovely time.
He might be onto something:
On April 24, the Keyport Borough Council passed an ordinance that would allow police to issue a $75 ticket to anyone stopped for a primary traffic offense who happens to be smoking with children in the car at the same time.

The sad fact is that we can moralize all we want about the evils of tobacco, pass all the punitive laws aimed at smokers we want, but at root we're a society of hypocrites.

We need smokers, we need their money, and the last thing anyone in state government - or national government, for that matter - wants is for smokers to quit en masse.
Good heavens!

"Millstone Township children hope for return of stolen bikes " - Examiner, 5/3/07:
Allison Mains' 8-year-old and 4-year-old sons, along with their 5-year-old neighbor, ride their bikes to the school bus stop at the intersection of Ivins Lane and Millstone Road in the Clarksburg section of town nearly every weekday morning.

Between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. April 24, someone stole two of the three bikes the children had chained to a sign post where the bus picks them up.

The kids are hoping that the bikes might be returned to the bus stop if whoever took them starts to feel a little guilty.

Friday, May 04, 2007

I read their Journal during my studies, but I don't now follow ETS enough to know the players. Therefore, I appreciate this story from Michael Barber at "Singing In the Reign".

And reading White's thoughts on it, stepping down would be a given in my book; an Evangelical-turned-Catholic doesn't suddenly abandon all Christian propriety, no matter what Dr. White believes. We may not see politicians resign their office when they switch parties or positions, but if the ETS desires to be exclusively Protestant, as White says (and Akin contests), then let 'em have it. Actually, I don't think a Catholic can hold to the ETS statement of belief, so I disagree with Akin.

Dr. Beckwith's education (excepting WUSTL) occurred at Catholic institutions, including Fordham. Reared Catholic or no, an influence upon his thought is almost certain. And White reports detecting Catholic ways of expression in Beckwith's written dialogue with fellow Christians.

Knowledge of philosophy tends to make Catholicism attractive. And, conversely, ignorance of philosophy renders Catholicism unintelligible. Those branches of Bible Christianity that reject philosophical categories hold at bay a significant bridge to Catholicism. Likewise, the general American public's lack of familiarity with philosophy has left most unable to see and appreciate and believe the Catholic faith in sharp contrast to previous decades when well-educated men and women were streaming into the Church.

But, I really wonder at White's words,
"the endless treadmill of Rome's sacramental system,"
because I have yet to hear similar language leveled against Eastern Orthodoxy.

Our respective theologies of the sacraments are not identical but we both view them as instituted by Christ and necessary. I am puzzled by the reception that EO receives among Evangelicals - and notables like Presbyteria Frederica Mathewes-Green and Bishop Ware (and now Rod Dreher - converts all ... from Anglicanism and her derivatives!) have done much to popularize the ancient Eastern faith among Westerners even though Orthodoxy has some key beliefs and practices that Evangelicalism would reject outright: think "icons" here.

My hunch is that EO gets a pass from Evangelicals and Catholicism doesn't because of one and only one distinctive: the pope.

UPDATE: a word from Dr. Beckwith's blog:
[I]n January, at the suggestion of a dear friend, I began reading the Early Church Fathers as well as some of the more sophisticated works on justification by Catholic authors.

I became convinced that the Early Church is more Catholic than Protestant and that the Catholic view of justification, correctly understood, is biblically and historically defensible.

Even though I also believe that the Reformed view is biblically and historically defensible, I think the Catholic view has more explanatory power to account for both all the biblical texts on justification as well as the church’s historical understanding of salvation prior to the Reformation all the way back to the ancient church of the first few centuries.
He plans to step down as president but wishes to remain a member, as he claims to affirm the statement of beliefs. He knows better than I.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

"UVF calls end to terror campaign" - BBC News, 5/3/07:
The paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force has declared that it is renouncing violence and will cease to exist as a terrorist organisation from midnight.
Ulster Volunteer Force - Wiki
God bless him:

"Report: McGreevey could be headed to seminary" - Asbury Park Press, 5/3/07