Friday, February 29, 2008

Rather than go to bed, Tim opted to join me at Stations tonight.

I didn't explain anything but that we were going to church.

It's a large campus, with a school and a parish center. He mistook the church for a hotel. We entered, selected booklets and took my usual seat in the last row. By the third station, he was asking for our place in the book. By the fourth station, he was genuflecting and kneeling and knowing to turn the page after singing a verse of the hymn.

I thought to myself that Timmy responds to this sort of structure, rhythm, ritual, repetition, whatever you want to call it. My husband says, "Yeah, just like you do." That's supposed to be a put-down, that I appreciate monotony.

Tim perked up when the deacon came into view, making his way across the back of the church to our side.

Everyone turns 'round in their seats to follow along. As the deacon moved closer to us, Tim became conscious of people looking in our direction, so he smiled at them.

The stations are clustered in groups of three across the back wall of the church, between the doorways. As we got to the final three, I was able to tell him, "Three to go," and he could see that concretely.

I think he also responded to the images in the booklet. The wall-mounted stations are a colorless bas-relief of headshots, but the booklet contains colorful, full-scene illustrations of tile mosaics.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I'm about halfway through Frank Schaeffer's autobiography that I received for Valentine's Day.

I manage a few chapters a few nights a week. Very short chapters, sometimes two or three pages long. I do recommend the book and have been meaning to post my favorite lines - almost every chapter has something quotable! - but, well, the sheer volume of good lines and the fact that the book is on my night-stand and my computer is downstairs and if the book makes its way downstairs it might never get back upstairs and how can I finish it if it's downstairs and I'm used to reading it at night in bed? You see.

Anyway, surprise, surprise, that an article on the elder Schaeffer's Swiss retreat is featured in this month's Christianity Today, L'Abri Turns 50, 3/1/08.

Even though Frank Schaeffer is a good writer, I still don't have a clear picture of his parents.

It seems, maybe, his dad started out pretty strict, then loosened up a bit and then returned to being very strict. The legalization of abortion in the US seemed to have a lot to do with this switch back to being strict. I suppose his only son had a problem with the strict part. His mother was, more or less, consistent, strict but practical.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Today's Fresh Air was an interview with the director of Chicago 10.

NPR: Political History Gets Animated in ‘Chicago 10’ -
(Morgen): The riots in Chicago, you can’t even really call them riots because I think the proper terminology is that they were police riots. It was really the police going berserk, and for five days, they senselessly attacked the demonstrators in a manner that was as vicious, in my mind, as the Rodney King beatings, just on a massive scale.

So, three months after the convention, Nixon won office and one of the first things that John Mitchell did was indict the leaders of the anti-war movement, for conspiracy: with crossing state lines with the intent to start a riot. This was, ironically, a new law that was part of the Civil Rights act. The Chicago 8 are the only people who have ever been tried under the Civil Rights act and … – were the first people ever tried under it and the only people ever tried under it.
Listen to the audio portion from the movie. Then to the clip of the actual courtroom tapes.

Nick Nolte nails the character of the US attorney in his portrayal. Scheider, for all the kudos of his director, does not. In the original courtroom tapes, the judge simply sounds like an old man, like the judge in Oh, God! Scheider’s imitation is too menacing to be credible.

What do you think? Give it a couple of hearings because I was almost sold on the first listen.
It feels like strep but the doctor says no. I'm on an antibiotic anyway.

And still very, very tired.

Sat down to watch the Journey Home show that Elena mentioned - I would have gotten around to it eventually on my own - and feel asleep within twenty minutes, Christopher laying across my hip.

I'd have to check the episode guide but the woman's experience sounded familiar from another show, a previous broadcast? I'll start over with it again.

Monday, February 25, 2008

You don't realize how much I need you,
Love you all the time and never leave you.
Please come on back to me. I'm lonely as can be. I need you.
Said you had a thing or two to tell me.
How was I to know you would upset me?
I didn't realize as I looked in your eyes...
You told me, oh yes, you told me, you don't want my lovin' anymore.
That's when it hurt me and feeling like this I just can't go on anymore.
Please remember how I feel about you, I could never really live without you,
So, come on back and see just what you mean to me. I need you.

George Harrison (2/25/43 - 11/29/01)

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Just some light, home improvement on a Sunday. Glad to see that wallpaper go. Chris has the sponge, wearing PJs from my friend, Michelle. Just a shade lighter than his eyes.

The painter is slightly overdue with her estimate and faux ideas but we're in no rush. I want a gray color. Does that sound strange? It might need some green with it.
How Crunchy Are You? Whole-Grain Crunch!

Unassisted (and unintended) homebirth and child-led weaning put me at 100!

Find out How Crunchy Are You?

via Castle of the Immaculate

UPDATED: infancy is just the beginning, 'though.

I must get points for catching the seven-year-old's vomit at church this morning in my coat. How many moms wear such versatile coats?
The interactive map makes discovering sin fun!

America's Most Sinful Cities -, 2/14/08

The corresponding image to "sloth" is a TV remote. Could be a wireless mouse in my case. Jersey's pretty clean on all seven counts.
Maybe we got placebo ...

"Flu season expected to get worse - Vaccine doesn't match most circulating viruses, health officials say" - MSNBC, 2/15/08:
The flu shot is a good match for only about 40 percent of this year's flu viruses.

The biggest surprise has been how poorly the vaccine has performed.
Kenny's the worst, with headache, weakness and chills.

I'm weak and queasy but benefitting from daily naps. Jeff, who didn't get the shot, is perfectly fine. Chris and Ella had their own gunky eye thing last week. Tim seems fine.

Maybe the symptoms are mild because me and the kids got the vaccine.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

From the NCC's 2008 Yearbook:
Jehovah's Witnesses and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, regarded by many Christians as cults, reported the largest membership increases in a year, according to the National Council of Churches' 2008 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches.

churches are feeling the impact of the lifestyles of Millenials – people in their 20s and 30s – who attend church but resist becoming members.
I can't find the reference now, but I read yesterday that changes in church membership numbers aren't actual ("real") but are simply Christians switching denominational affiliations.

Switching sounds silly to me. What's to be gained by it?

Jim handed out this article a week ago and I just got around to reading it ...

"Bishop: Christians don't go to heaven - Anglican challenges widespread belief, says believers asleep until God returns" - WorldNetDaily, 2/10/08.

It's remarkable what WND does with this original TIME interview. This idea cannot be directly attributed to Wright:
Instead, deceased believers are in a sleep-like state until God comes back to Earth.
I'm not the only one who thinks this.

After the original poster is redirected from the WND write-up to the TIME interview, there's this reaction:
it shows that the WND article is overly sensationalistic if not downright misleading.

Reading the WND article does leave that impression, and maybe the person who wrote the article simply didn't understand what soul sleep is.

It appears that whoever wrote it may have focused in on the following statement and heard "soul sleep" when Wright says "asleep."
A key paragraph in the TIME interview is missing from the WND report but it sheds considerable light on Wright's point:
TIME: Why, then, have we misread those verses?
(i.e., Luke 23; Rev. 4 & 5)

Wright: It has, originally, to do with the translation of Jewish ideas into Greek.

The New Testament is deeply, deeply Jewish, and the Jews had for some time been intuiting a final, physical resurrection. They believed that the world of space and time and matter is messed up, but remains basically good, and God will eventually sort it out and put it right again. Belief in that goodness is absolutely essential to Christianity, both theologically and morally.

But Greek-speaking Christians influenced by Plato saw our cosmos as shabby and misshapen and full of lies, and the idea was not to make it right, but to escape it and leave behind our material bodies. The church at its best has always come back toward the Hebrew view, but there have been times when the Greek view was very influential.
More fall-out from Thursday morning ...

Picking apart Isaiah 13, assigning verses to the historical overthrow of Babylon1 by the Medes (Persians) or the coming "day of the LORD," we agreed that verse 9 introduces a segment of future events.

I pointed out and read aloud verse 16, "Their little ones also will be dashed to pieces" and asked, "Aren't children of a certain age raptured?"

The study leader would only say that my question was provocative. In a good way or in a bad way? She said nothing more. I was left to work it out on my own.

It's a hard image, a very hard reality to contemplate, the brutal effect of war on infants and children. If verse 16 speaks of present or past, it's empirically true. But does not rule out the innocents being eternally saved.

If verse 16 speaks of the eschaton, then these little ones are clearly denied salvation: they weren't raptured, no matter where one places the rapture in the tribulation.

1 or Assyria, depending on how you read it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Circumstances enabled me to attend Stations at St. Greg's in Hamilton Square tonight. My parish was doing a "parent & child" version that tries my patience ... too much. Another one of Mike's "let's break with tradition" traditions.

I walked in during the First Station. No big deal. It's low-key. I had my booklet already in hand, according to Fr. Liguori's version. Not my favorite version, as I mentioned on another blog, but nothing too out of the ordinary. There can be comfort in the old, familiar standards.

One young guy hadn't grabbed a booklet on his way in, so he was looking lost and confused and ended up leaving early. Another family didn't know the melody to Stabat Mater, so they were largely silent. I do know the melody, even the tricky parts where the English words don't quite fit. I wish I didn't know it, because I sing so bad. I imagine those around me also wish I didn't know it.

Things wrapped up on the hour and the church bells sounded and chimed 8 o'clock as everyone dispersed to the parking lot.

Church bells: reminders of the call to prayer, the passage of time. Tonight I became acutely aware of their solemn tolling for me.

"Teach us to count our days aright" - Ps. 90:12

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Imagine the dead air that follows a comment on the literary genre of a text of Scripture in a room of biblical fundamentalists. 'Cuz that's what I heard this morning. My ears are still ringing from the silence.

"This is a mock lament. It has the meter of a dirge." Blank stares. "It's a mock lament."

How did I know?

Discouraged in the main, the Precepts study guide suggests commentaries in the occasional lesson. This was one of those times that I read a commentary.

Lament and dirge, so familiar from the psalms, aren't found in prophecy? Verse 9 caused no knowing grins among them. I had to share what I knew.

Some of them enjoyed it: "Sheol from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come."

An ancient Near Eastern taunt doesn't get any better than that! Imagine it in today's language.

Revelation depicts the devil behind Babylon and earthly kings. Behind the king of Babylon, too, then, especially when Daniel 2:37 / Luke 4:5-6 are understood together:
Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon: "You, O king, are the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory."

Satan to Jesus in the wilderness: "I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish."
Jesus is the antithesis of the king of Babylon. Read Isaiah 14 and contrast the man with Christ. The king thinks he'll ascend to heaven, but Christ descends from heaven. Of the king is asked, "Is this the man who made the earth tremble?" Of Christ is asked, "Is this not the carpenter's son?" The king has been cast out of his tomb, a rejected branch. But no tomb could hold Christ, the righteous branch.
SCATTERGORIES - from Jenlo at Thinks By Me - use the 1st letter of your own name to answer each of the questions (the letter 'T').

4-letter word1: twit
Vehicle: tow truck
City: Toronto
Boys name: Thomas
Girls name: Tabitha
Movie: Time After Time
Occupation: tele-marketer
Something you wear: tee shirt
Food: tiramisu
Something found in a kitchen: toaster
Something found in a bathroom: towels2
Reason for being late: traffic
Cartoon character: Tweety Bird
Something you shout: "Take it off, baby!"
Animal: tiger
Body Part: toe

1 Ah, I don't have the guts to make it a real four-letter word.
2 And the other thing! No, not "tub".

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ready for the Apocalypse?!

Total lunar eclipse will turn Moon red - Reuters, 2/20/08:
The full Moon will turn yellowish and then appear blood red, rusty or grey, depending on the atmospheric conditions on Earth.

Sunlight will pass through the edge of the Earth's atmosphere, scattering blue light and giving the Moon a reddish hue.

The Moon should turn red by about 3 a.m. [GMT, usw.] the eclipse will end by about 6 a.m.
Revelation 6:12 - When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood ... (English Standard Version)
The one-sided propaganda was all too clear in this latest Roundtable discussion on baptism among a former Lutheran, former Southern Baptist, former non-denominational evangelical and the host, Marcus, a former Presbyterian.

Maybe I don't know as much as I think, but the presentation of basic beliefs about baptism across those denominational boundaries was wanting and forced into the myth of trajectory: the further from Rome, the more watered-down (pardon the pun) the baptismal doctrine. "Distance from Rome" being measured chronologically.

Let's be fair: the Reformers in question got their teachings from the Bible, nothing more and nothing less.

But what follows below is simply dishonest ...

At about 39:12 into the one-hour program, the Southern Baptist-turned-Catholic priest is discussing a Scripture that caused him to question a Baptist tradition about baptism.
Of course, I had always been told that, well, Jesus never baptized.

I had been told that my whole life: Jesus never baptized.

But if you look at John, chapter 3, Jesus goes into this long discourse with Nicodemus on baptism: Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.1

And then if you skip over to chapter 3, verse 22, the Bible reads, “After this, Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea, where he - Jesus - spent some time with them baptizing."2

Immediately following this discourse in John chapter 3, Jesus goes out and immediately starts to baptize. Because I had always been told, well, that in John chapter 3, Jesus is not talking about baptism. Jesus is talking about what we would have called the “new birth.”
Yes, John, chapter 3 is speaking of water baptism, especially in the context of the surrounding narrative, the water-turned-wine at Cana and the woman at the well. But, Good Father, keep reading in your Scriptures. Break the Baptist habit of letting chapters and verses define your study. See the "editorial refinement"3 of John 4:2 - (although Jesus himself was not baptizing, just his disciples)

The apparent contradiction can be reconciled to say that Jesus authorized and oversaw the disciples' baptism actions without himself taking part. We may even say this arrangement continues until the present day. Whether or not Jesus (or Paul) baptized is a red herring; it's clear his followers do, at Christ's command (Matt. 28:19).

But nobody corrects anybody on The Journey Home. It's bad form.

1 John 3:5 from the New American Bible!

2 See NAB footnote: Perhaps John the Baptist's further testimony was transposed here to give meaning to "water" in John 3:5. Jesus is depicted as baptizing (John 3:22); contrast John 4:2.

3 Footnote on John 4:2: "An editorial refinement of John 3:22, perhaps directed against followers of John the Baptist who claimed that Jesus imitated him."
Georgetown professor assesses how well candidates 'thump the Bible'" - Catholic News Service, 2/15/08:
the candidates who are getting the highest marks from Berlinerblau for using -- but not overusing -- the Bible in their campaigns are Democratic Sens. Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Clinton of New York.

"their forays into the Bible did not endanger their campaigns by generating scads of negative publicity," something the author says former Democratic candidates Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts [...] did.

Less successful in his religious references was former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani [...] not surprising that Giuliani, a Catholic, did not often cite Scripture in his talks because Catholics in general "are not given to paroxysms of scriptural citation."

"Very few of my good Catholic friends are perfect Catholics," Berlinerblau said in an interview with Catholic News Service.

"Not only the American experience but 2,000 years of biblical interpretation have demonstrated that no empire, no society and rarely even one denomination has ever been able to agree on what the Bible says," Berlinerblau said.
Denied six-lot subdivision reconsidered and approved - New estates will go up in Rural Preservation zone - Examiner, 2/21/08:
Final approval has been granted to a six-lot subdivision at the corner of Old Noah Hunt Road and County Route 526.

the six lots in the Rural Preservation (RUP) zone average just under 10 acres each and measure a total of 58.4 acres. RUP zoning requires 10-acre lots.
Must be the "new math" they teach over at the Millstone Elementary that makes that add up right.
Mayor Nancy Grbelja said some people in the community have been misled into believing that the Planning Board has approved undersized lots with this application.
She said the property originally measured 60 acres, but roadway dedications made over the years have resulted in lots that now measure slightly under 10 acres each.
"Roadway dedications" being roads within the housing development itself?!

We happened by there last night after a sneaker & sandal run (ha-ha) to the Stride Rite outlet and McDonalds. I was shocked to see heavy equipment over there, moving dirt around. Not wasting any time. I was unaware of the decision, of the board's reversal, until just now.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Taking pictures of high-scores?!

Wipe the fingerprints off the screen first!

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The Catholic Carnival is up and I put something in this time. The carnival hostess said my entry was "wonderful." I've never gotten any feedback on an entry before.

Browse the entries here, at The Third Way.

I don't get what "the third way" is. Would someone who knows explain it?

Monday, February 18, 2008

I was killing time this afternoon, writing out the first chapter or so of Philippians, and in the first few words is Tim's name.

So when he came close, I showed him his name in the text, Τιμόθεος. I recognized for the first time that "theos" is a part of his name. I couldn't say, off the top of my head, what "timo" meant but I told him, "Hey, your name has 'God' in it."

Of course he liked that. He and Kenny were playing with some new army weapons their father had bought them. He ran around yelling, "I'm Tim-God," at Kenny. Goes right to 'is head.

I looked up his name online and I guess "timo" means "honor." "Timothy" means "God's honor."

Gosh, I was pretty sure that I knew the meaning of my kids' names, but he's always been the one who slips through the cracks. All I really knew about his name was that it comes from the Bible.

We do call him "Timo" sometimes. If he's gonna live up to his namesake, I have some work to do.
"When's her birthday?"

"December 25th. We got through the day this year without any tension but in years to come, it may become difficult."

"Oh, do you celebrate Christmas?"

"Yes. Of course."

What made you think otherwise? The menorah and dreidels on the bookcase shelves? The pictures of Israel on the walls? The Hebrew primer in the bathroom? The Genesis commentary on the kitchen table?

I told Jeff, and he's like, "Yeah, right. I can understand the confusion."

It's not the first time my religious affiliation has been presumed to be other than it is. Oy!

UPDATE: Jeff reminded me that Timmy likes to tell people he's Jewish. So, naturally ...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

None of this is likely to convince objectors but here is some perspective on the development of the OT canon within Christianity:

The first is from F. F. Bruce's book, The Canon of Scripture, a familiar book, from the bottom of page 90:

"Athanasius had distinguished three categories of books: canonical, edifying (but not canonical) and apocryphal.
The 'edifying' books (the Wisdom of Solomon and of Ben Sira, Esther, Judith and Tobit, with the Didache and the Shepherd from the New Testament age) might be read in church; the 'apocryphal' books were to be avoided altogether. This threefold distinction was maintained, among the Latin fathers, by Rufinus of Aquileia (c. 345 - 410), who referred to the second category as 'ecclesiastical' books."

Then, this from St. Jerome: "Therefore as the church indeed reads Judith, Tobit and the books of Maccabees, but does not receive them among the canonical books, so let it also read these two volumes [Sirach and Wisdom] for the edification of the people but not for establishing the authority of ecclesiastical dogmas."

The second is by Fr. Raymond Brown, SS, in his article on Canonicity (New Jerome Biblical Commentary). Fr. Brown reiterates the above distinction between canonical and ecclesiastical books:

"Doubts about the deuterocanonical books keep recurring in the history of the church among those who are aware of the Jewish canon. At the time of Trent, there were insufficient historical tools to reconstruct the real picture of the canon in the 1st century. Yet, curiously, Trent by accepting a wider canon seems to have preserved an authentic memory of the days of Christian origins, whereas other Christian groups in a professed attempt to return to primitive Christianity have settled for a narrower Jewish canon that, if Protestant researchers like Sundberg are correct, was the creation of a later period. The Tridentine fathers did not determine the canon on the basis of purely historical reconstruction but on a theological basis: the consistent church usage of certain books." [Brown lists early and ongoing resistance to the universal acceptance of Jerome's Vulgate and Trent's ultimate insistence upon its use] Then, "Not one of these difficulties impairs the binding force of the Tridentine decree, but perhaps they illuminate the difficulties often voiced by non-Catholics."

I used to think that quoting Protestant scholars to Protestant believers improved my credibility and chances of convincing them. However, since there is such a diversity of thought within Protestantism, it is difficult to identify Protestant scholars whom the audience accepts or respects. So, for instance, quoting Bruce, an evangelical scholar, as I did in an online discussion resulted in one opponent digging up some disparaging biography on Bruce and concluding "What a nut!"
Pictures ... check 'em out!

Yes, most are photoshopped. My favorite is her on her ridey-thing. Gotta strengthen those legs!

The one that's very pale - Jeff said he had to remove so much crud from her face, food, boogies, eye & ear crud, it lightened the whole picture! Gosh, how he exaggerates! He took years off her face!

She's getting to be a really good crawler which is usually the sign that .... ready for more! (I really love the crawling phase, the good, fast, go-anywhere crawling phase.) Two top teeth, more or less - IN!
I tried to post this here ... maybe it will find its way through the blogowner's approval at some point ... but I read this ten years ago, almost exactly, and it made an impression:
In 1870 the First Vatican Council had been ready to define satisfaction as a dogma of the Church when political events in Italy caused the council to be suspended indefinitely. In thesis sixteen [Bernard] Lonergan clarifies the meaning of this traditional doctrine. Negatively it does not mean that Jesus' death saves us as payment of the penalty for sin in our place. Neither Anselm nor Thomas, nor the Catholic tradition in general understands satisfaction in terms of penal substitution. Nor does the doctrine of satisfaction mean that Jesus' death was a sacrifice that appeased God's wrath. God does not take pleasure in innocent suffering. Rather, a correct understanding of the theory of satisfaction finds its key in an analogy with the sacrament of reconciliation. Through this analogy Jesus' death comes into focus as an expression of his revulsion at sin and love for God - not as an instance of divine child abuse!
Loewe's intro Christology, 166.
The Crunchy Con said he would revive Amy Welborn's "What did you hear?" but I don't see it yet for this week.

Anyway, here's mine. One of the few things I appreciate about the Lenten season (that's right, "few things") is that Mike goes to the Reconciliation texts for the Eucharistic Prayers.

Here's what he prayed this morning:
Father, from the beginning of time you have always done what is good for man so that we may be holy as you are holy.

Look with kindness on your people gathered here before you; send forth the power of your Spirit so that these gifts may become for us the body and blood of your beloved Son, Jesus the Christ, in whom we have become your sons and daughters.

When we were lost and could not find the way to you, you loved us more than ever; Jesus, your Son, innocent and without sin, gave himself into our hands and was nailed to a cross.

We do this in memory of Jesus Christ, our Passover and our lasting peace. We celebrate his death and resurrection and look for the coming of that day when he will return to give us the fullness of joy. Therefore we offer you, God ever faithful and true, the sacrifice which restores man to your friendship.

Father, look with love on those you have called to share in the one sacrifice of Christ. By the power of your Holy Spirit make them one body, healed of all division.

Then, freed from every shadow of death, we shall take our place in the new creation and give you thanks through Christ, our risen Lord.
Eucharistic Prayer Reconciliation I
We watched Babel last night. I came in cold, knowing only Brad Pitt appeared. When he finally appeared, his appearing was understated and casual. I appreciated the "tourist" feel of his part, up until the tragedy takes them off the tourist's beaten trail. Then, it becomes scary, in a paranoid way. I mean, they needn't be scared among the villagers but they can't help themselves.

I'm a little sick & tired of out of sequence movies. I understand with the busy schedules of today's stars, this piecemeal approach is necessary (I'm teasing, of course, it isn't because of the stars' schedules!). But, the story moved slow enough for me to keep up with the sequence ... the call home from the Casablanca hospital threw me the farthest because, in my mind, those kids were missing at the border and the nanny was frantic.

I appreciated the view of teenage Japanese life. Those kids just party all the time, don't they? Well, we did too, as kids. No biggie. I wasn't ever bored watching the movie. I enjoyed the scenery. I wish some things had gone better. I'm uneasy watching adults make decisions that involve children, especially hard decisions. I didn't like seeing the border guards get so ugly. And I didn't like seeing the Moroccan get beat up by the police.

Still, for an R-rated movie, the sex & violence was more-than-bearable. I didn't mind watching the movie once but don't feel a desire to watch it again. I don't feel like I missed anything, that any message got by me.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Someone asked about romantic, Valentine's Day books; this is from one of mine. Actually, it's the only one I could think of.

I excised the quotes to remove the temptation of getting bogged down in the details. I respect the wisdom in the writings. But, I'd rather show what his reading symbolizes, that he's inspired, without dwelling on the particular philosophy in the writings.

You can read it all here. Search on "brimstone" ... that's how I found it:
And for some reason he had an unfolded white handkerchief draped over his head, possibly to ward off rain, or hail, or brimstone.

He went directly across the hall and into the room his two eldest brothers had shared.

This was the first time in almost seven years that Zooey had, in the ready-made dramatic idiom, "set foot" in Seymour's and Buddy's old room.

He turned around, not abruptly, and walked over and sat down at his brother Seymour's desk-- pulling out the little straight chair as though it were something he did every day. He placed his cigar on the right-hand edge of the desk, bum-ing end out, leaned forward on his elbows, and covered his face with his hands.

With his face in his hands and his handkerchief headgear drooping low over his brow, Zooey sat at Seymour's old desk, inert, but not asleep, for a good twenty minutes. Then, almost in one movement, he removed the support for his face, picked up his cigar, stowed it in his mouth, opened the left-hand bottom drawer of the desk, and took out, using both hands, a seven- or eight-inch-thick stack of what appeared to be--and were--shirt cardboards. He placed the stack before him on the desk and began to turn the cards over, two or three at a time. His hand stayed only once, really, and then quite briefly.

There Zooey quit reading. He gave the stack of cardboards a solid-sounding double tap on the desk surface, as one taps a deck of cards, then dropped the stack back into the bottom drawer and closed the drawer.

Once again he leaned forward on his elbows and buried his face in his hands. This time he sat motionless for almost a half hour.

When he moved again, it was as though marionette strings had been attached to him and given an overzealous yank. He appeared to be given just enough time to pick up his cigar before another jerk of the invisible strings swung him over to the chair at the second desk in the room--Buddy's desk--where the phone was.

In this new seating arrangement, the first thing he did was to pull his shirt ends out of his trousers. He unbuttoned the shirt completely, as if the journey of three steps had taken him into an oddly tropical zone. Next, he took his cigar out of his mouth, but transferred it to his left hand and kept it there. With his right hand he took his handkerchief off his head and laid it beside the phone, in what was very implicitly a "ready position." He then picked up the phone without any perceptible hesitation and dialled a local number. A very local number indeed.
The builder's wife called a couple of weeks ago, asking for pictures of the construction progress over the course of last year. Our many, many pictures are not fully organized. It would be a pleasant task to look over the pictures and pick out ones of significant segments of the project for her.

Jeff took the easy way out and directed her to the relevant photo sets at flickr. The keyword "crazy" brings them all up. I don't have a Pro account, so I can't upload all the construction photos that I took. I think that I took more than Jeff just because I was home.
"Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come ..."

Nary a session goes by, she doesn't assure him that she's praying for him. In his humility, he doesn't disdain her prayers. He may even have some confidence in them, in spite of her glib condescension, trusting rather in the One she prays to.

It never entered my head to pray for him. Did he need prayer? He has a loving wife. In nearly ten years of studying the Bible together, if I prayed at all, it regarded what he would do for me in our time: "Please let me learn something important from him tonight ..."

For a period, I supposed he was UU anyway. I thought he'd chosen his path already. I sort of wrote him off as a serious faith companion. He has joked about starting his own church. Even now, he flirts with Judaism.

Maybe Cupid put the desire in my heart to pray, and specifically how, after he revealed some very personal family history. Not just prayer for the eschaton and beyond, about which I'm as certain as a mortal dare be, but in this present life of his as well.

And my confidence increased over the course of a day, that I was correct in this prayer. So sure, I invited others to join me in my prayer for him. The assurance peaked last night during Stations, when we read and answered: blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. He is merciful! He shall receive mercy! Thanks be to God.
I read this last week and don't exactly get it. Unless it's that fact that sins of omission are way too easy to commit. Or maybe the irony that re-joining the Catholic Church didn't help the author reach out to a friend in need any better. Maybe even made it harder to reach out. Or the different, almost segregated worlds we move about and among in our personal lives.

But I appreciate, even if it isn't the point of the story, how the two Christians here interact, awkwardly. Like these episodes:
"When he did catch me, I told him that he should try to find a church and get settled — that he could find a social network there which would be useful to him. Well actually, I didn’t say 'social network.' To him, I said 'fellowship.' Furthermore, I told him that 'the Lord put this on my heart for him.' He seemed to take that to heart, even though I was trying to relieve my conscience of him."

"To re-assure him (myself too?) I slipped right back into the Evangelical-ese I had left behind when I came back to the Church and decided to become a writer. 'I’m glad you called tonight John, the Lord is blessing me through you.' Within five minutes, we had nothing to say to each other."

"tried to remember that tomorrow no one I meet will cause me to slip into that almost-cloying language of faith, no one I meet will want me to say, 'I’m praying for you.' In fact, they’d start avoiding me if I did say that."
Yesterday morning, a woman with a dispensational background in a Reformed church now described her friend's death as "the closest thing as a chariot ride to heaven as there is." Now, I understood it was a reference to Elijah - 'though I had distracted with a mental picture of the sun-god Helios. But her expression is not a way of speaking that's familiar to me.

via with a link to wiki's Anonymous Christian, if you aren't familiar with Rahner.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A new spin on an old tendency ...

In his intro Christology book, Loewe writes that some Jesuit,
"likened the liberal quest for the historical Jesus to a person looking down a deep, dark well. What would someone see at the bottom of a well? ... a blurry image of themselves ... the historical figure of Jesus constructed by liberals like Harnack looks suspiciously like the figure of a nineteenth-century liberal German professor of theology ..."
In "'For God so loved Himself?' Is God a Narcissist?", Ben Witherington takes issue with the wildly popular Evangelical & Reformed view of God.

Dr. Witherington concludes thus,
"I suppose we should not be surprised that in a culture and age of narcissism, we would recreate God in our own self-centered image, but it is surprising when we find orthodox Christians, and even careful scholars doing this."
You can find rebuttals online. The Rev. Dr. John Piper has one.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

He asked us, not what our view of God is, but where we got it. This is a guess for most of us, isn't it? Can we accurately trace the evolution of our view of God over the course of our lives?

I kept it simple: I said that my view of God comes from the Sermon on the Mount and is reinforced by the Christians I know who are all so nice and kind. "They must be reflecting God," I surmise.

He accepted that answer, this wasn't a time of correction or clarification, no "right" or "wrong" replies, I suppose. I would have been embarrassed if he had challenged me for keeping it simple. He may suspect, always expects more from me.

Now, if you're even vaguely familiar with the Sermon on the Mount, not just the Beatitudes but the whole sermon, you might wonder what the text teaches about God's character. "Isn't it all about us?"

There's plenty of instruction on ethical behavior in these chapters. It's a sermon, after all. But behind it, the careful reader catches glimpses of the One for whom this right living is so essential.

Consider how Jesus interprets the Mosaic Law, in 5:21-48, stating in the last verse of chapter 5 the reason for our obedience: as your heavenly Father is perfect.

He may want to safeguard us from uncritically embracing a view wholesale, in the Catholic tradition, so that when the rain falls, and the floods come, and the winds blow and beat against that faith, it won't fall. The fundamentalist "package deals" that Catholics are sold and buy into are fatally flawed: one piece chips and the whole thing crumbles.

He's seen it in his own family. We've all seen it in our own families. The shipwreck.
Jeff gave me Frank Schaeffer's latest book on Tuesday night for Valentine's Day. From my Amazon Wish List. I dropped what I was doing immediately and began reading it. I relish Evangelical dirty laundry.

Jeff also gave me a red, personalized apron ... embroidered with my name ... not another woman's name! Bonus! It's very nice. My first apron ever. Now I need a hook to hang it on!

On NPR, I heard some movie recommendations from Ty Burr, including an unfamiliar one to this George Bailey fan - the original You've Got Mail, with James Stewart:
"My heart was trembling as I walked into the post office and there you were, lying in Box 237. I took you out of your envelope and read you, read you right there."
Listen ... it's Here & Now.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

This is cool ... even cooler on TV:

Jeff says it's Borough Hall in Brooklyn.

I wouldn't know; I've never been to Brooklyn.

But there's a subway sign in the video, "Borough Hall Station." He goes around the building.

The camera work is awesome ... all one take, Jeff says ... no shadows ('though it's close to noon); the camera keeps up with him.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jan Crouch1 toured the Holy Land Experience on TBN's Behind the Scenes last night. When you're tired of Walt Disney World (yeah, right), stop by the Orlando Holy Land.

It looked really cool.

Jan encountered a group of Catholic School girls, obviously on field trip. Jan was delighted to see young people, and her final encouragement to them was to get themselves over to the Scriptorium. Now the Scriptorium is a must-see, with an amazing collection of hand-crafted Bibles, but there's just something so typical about an Evangelical directing Catholics to the sacred Scriptures. Am I right?

I wondered whether anybody but Catholics visit the Florida Holy Land Experience. They crucify a man every week there. Does this turn on Protestants?

My experience of urging Protestants to visit the Israeli Holy Land is usually met with, at best, a puzzled "Why should I?" Well, if you have to ask ...

Just reminds me that I want to get the kids down to Busch Gardens sometime.

1 I laughed out loud when her sidekick received a traditional headdress, so that none of her hair showed. Jan quipped, "I'm not showing any of my hair either!" an allusion to her outrageous, frosty wig.
You can find video of this freak accident but this one doesn't show it.

"Zednik resting comfortably after surgery" - The Buffalo News, 2/11/08:
"Everyone just didn't know what to do, was on their own with their heads down," Weiss said. "We didn't formally say a prayer, but we just gathered around and made sure that we were thinking about him. Everyone said a prayer on their own."

Longtime residents and hockey fans quickly flashed back to March 22, 1989, when the jugular of Sabres goaltender Clint Malarchuk was slashed by the skate of St. Louis' Steve Tuttle.

"I was back here watching, and I knew what it was right away," Sabres longtime equipment manager Rip Simonick said. "Just like that night."

It was a sight no one in Buffalo ever wanted to see again, nor thought they would.
Prayer Thread for Zednik - Buffalo Sabres forum

"Zednik stable after carotid artery severed in Panthers - Sabres game" - ESPN, 2/12/08.

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For fans of pi ... Rocketboom, 02/01/08
Those McMansions in Marlboro aren't being bought by people who appreciate their governor's time and effort in explaining his proposed toll plan ...

"Crowd gives Corzine no E-ZPass" - The Hub, 2/7/08:
Gov. Jon Corzine received a not-so-warm welcome at Marlboro High School, Route 79, on Feb. 4 when he came to present his toll hike plan.

"There is no question that this will hit Monmouth County people hard," Rush conceded, but was quickly drowned out by the audience.

The toll increases are scheduled for the next 75 years along the state's three major toll roads - the Garden State Parkway, New Jersey Turnpike and Atlantic City Expressway - and on a segment of Route 440.
He's backed away from the 440 toll which was an intentional bargaining chip anyway. I don't see how it would have been implemented.

That's one of the busiest roads in New Jersey.

McMansions - Wiki

Monday, February 11, 2008

Glad I saw it before the video got pulled ... because it's hilarious!

"Huck plays air hockey with Colbert" - Crunchy Con Rod Dreher, Beliefnet

Monkey paw, indeed! Huckabee gets points for personality, if nothing else.
Alright, so on Saturday Kenny had a morning retreat at church as part of his sacrament prep. program. It was called "Jesus Day," a label I found somewhat blasphemous.

I couldn't attend because of Timmy's tennis lesson. I don't think that Jean would have let me attend anyway.

At First Eucharist, each family has a row, so Kenny made a banner to personalize his row. They learned a song or two. They reflected on their sins for First Penance.

I dropped by church at the end of the morning to watch an impromptu reenactment of the parable of the Prodigal Son. The director committed the typical blunder of filling the male characters in Jesus' parable with only boy volunteers. It was drawn out and hard to watch. The points of forgiveness and reconciliation were easily lost.

In another demonstration, a volunteer held up a rock, and another, a sponge. With a spray bottle of water, the director spritzed both the rock and the sponge to show that hard repels and soft absorbs. Repels and absorbs what? Kenny and I had a disagreement over this, actually. I thought the water represented God's word1. Kenny said the water is "God's water," like baptism, I guess. It just seemed to me that, if it was the former, then I doubt the children understood the expression "God's word." When I asked Kenny what God's word is, he couldn't tell me.

Father went over some logistics with us. It was difficult for some to understand that practice sessions are held on nights other than weekly class night. Kenny's practices, then, are Monday and Wednesday, even though he has class on Tuesday. For children with more than CCD going on after school, they will miss a session (of scouts, or dance, or ball) that week before First Eucharist.

Father said the children will receive in the hand. Wouldn't it be something if the rubric changed in the two years between Kenny and Timmy? Back and forth in my lifetime?

Regarding First Penance, Father said he's having trouble getting priests in the area to commit to a date. Especially during Lent, that doesn't surprise me, as many parishes hold penance services. But it seems to go without saying, as far as Fr. Mike is concerned, that he oughtn't be the only one hearing his parishioners' first confessions. That position strikes me as a little odd. Assuming there are two classes of second graders, every day of the week (Mon-Thurs.), it would take two months of weekly sessions. He's around during class-time anyway. So, he gets one other priest to help him each week. How hard is that?

I have to ask around other programs whether this clerical "team approach" to the celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation is typical. How does it go in your parish (or school) program?

I'm not thrilled with the message I'm picking up. When I was teaching fourth grade, I asked the pastor to hear the kids' confessions once during the year. He was nice about it and did it, but I got the impression that I wasn't to ask him ever again. The Church is fine so long as you don't need too much from Her.

1 My thoughts influenced by this scene from Bunyan's allegory.
Love it! Made me clap too!


Friday, February 08, 2008

What I didn't know ...

the life and virtues of Archbishop Sheen, who served as bishop of Rochester from 1966-1969.

"Canonization cause for Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen moves to Vatican" - Catholic Courier, 2/5/08.

But then, I was Diocese of Buffalo.

Bishops James E. Kearney (from left),
Joseph L. Hogan and Fulton J. Sheen --
fifth, seventh and sixth bishops of Rochester,
respectively -- came together for this photo
from the Catholic Courier archives.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Valentine's Day came early again!

This is my gift from Jeff, with a gold ribbon instead of red rose. Thank heaven I've never been one to give up chocolate for Lent!

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So into 100 Days of School!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Here's my husband, shining as a parent, at the top of some "be a wonderful parent" self-help blog.

As for Timmy's unusual glow, I think it was due to jaundice. He wasn't a particularly healthy kid at this stage, but we weren't particularly aware of it at the time. Thus, Jeff's smile.

And speaking of shining parents, let's not forget who snapped the picture! Of his 100's of flickr photos, this one has been picked most often. This makes three.

The latest batch from Jeff's "Picture of Ella a Day" project. Doesn't she look like Leanne? Hmm, I think he missed her yesterday altogether ... unless he snuck in while she was sleeping.
I was feelin' like a little N'awlins two weeks ago, so I ordered up some pralines from Aunt Sallys in the Vieux Carre.

Weeks ago, Jeff had eaten lunch out in Newark at a place with muffulettas. He took one bite of his sandwich and told the waitress, "This isn't a muffuletta. Where's the olive dressing?!" She had no answer.

So, I requested not only some original pralines, but two boxes of triple chocolate - Jeff likes chocolate but I'm afraid to even try it! - along with a small jar of muffuletta mix.

Unfortunately, when the order arrived, one of the chocolate boxes was missing. But I called up and she sent one out. It arrived a week later.

I've never made muffulettas before and I've only eaten one once. The jar has a recipe. And it's interesting that when I think "creole," I think "French." But a muffuletta is plenty Italian!1 You'll just never get me to eat mortadella!

1 And I should try this recipe!

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Monday, February 04, 2008

"She's texting me from Arizona."

"Oh, she's at the Superbowl?"

"Yeah, she goes every year. You know, her father played for the Giants."

"Yeah, I know. But that's a sweet deal. She gets tickets every year?!"

"Well, yeah, every year when the Giants are in it."
East Coast Shower Door Co. was scheduled to install a shower stall in the kids' bathroom this morning. The scheduler called first thing to cancel, saying her man is out sick.

When I told Jeff the bad news, he asked, "Out sick? Or Superbowl party?" Yeah, I can't tell.

This contractor is usually so reliable. That's why we went with them again. I thought their keeping the appointment was a sure thing. All bets are off when the home team wins the Superbowl.

Now East Co. want to reschedule, but the rest of my week is pretty booked.
Chris came to me with a blue, green and red crayon.

Handing me the red crayon, he said, "Make a '5' on this paper."

Then, with the green crayon, he said, "Make a '3' on the paper."

Thinking that I had it down, I took the blue crayon from his hand and asked, "Make a '1' now?"

"No, a '2'" he said. After that, I made a "1" and a "4" and we hunted for a brown crayon to make a "7".

The boy's obsessed.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Jeff was still in bed when I told him that Kenny and I were leaving for a service at the Baptist church by the Mall.

"So, that's an all-day thing?" he grumbled sarcastically.

"Oh, you know, a couple of hours, tops," I promised. Yes, I would get the laundry done when I returned. He has yet to go to work naked on Monday morning.

We arrived too early because the 10 AM Bible study, held in the sanctuary, wasn't finished. They were starting Hebrews, on chapter 1. That's tempting since I don't have a good grasp of that book. I heard the pastor say, "the Church Age."

Someone directed us downstairs for refreshments and Kenny stuffed his face with powdered munchkins, wiping his fingers on his shirt. Later when the pastor greeted us, he pointed to the smudges and said he could see that Kenny had got something to eat.

I could go blow-by-blow through the service because I took extensive notes. The Baptist Hymnal went untouched as we sang praise music from projected overheads. Kenny liked the hand-clapping. And the pew Bible went untouched as the bulletin contained the four verses of Scripture on which pastor's sermon1 was based.

The first time that the minister raised his voice to a shout, Kenny whispered to me, "Why is he yelling?" That's just the style of preaching, I told him. Don't worry, he's not angry.

He raised his voice a couple more times, when recounting the central acts of Christian salvation: Christ's passion, death and resurrection2. I set my face to his words and felt the heat of them from the back row. I thought, this is an exorcism. He wasn't speaking to my intellect any longer, but to my soul ... and the demons lurking there. Let's hope it bears fruit.

And, for all my many visits to Reformation churches, this was "communion Sunday," so I observed how communion is conducted in a Protestant church.

As a visitor, I was free to take a gift book. They had available copies of Warren's book, even in Spanish. I also saw a couple books by Fr. Girzone which I read, like, 20 years ago and one by Elizabeth Elliot which I would have been interested in, since I've read nothing by her but used to listen to her radio program.

There was no mad dash in the parking lot. In fact, Kenny and I were the only ones leaving. And I asked Kenny where he'd like to go next Sunday. He picked the Baptist church again but then he qualified it, "if only they had a choir loft like our church." Despite all the differences that I perceived, he said he thought the services were exactly the same!

1 The preaching was "biographical" as the example of Abram was discussed and "evangelistic" as we were called to a deeper commitment to Jesus, but it was not "expository" as very little Scripture was cited or discussed. Wiki.

2 He said God's wrath was upon Jesus. cf. Catholic Answers Forum.

Friday, February 01, 2008

I accepted the appointment assuming that Jeff would also have a conflict. He didn't.

There was no one to watch Chris, but spending a weekday morning with Jeff was a pleasant prospect.

I didn't send the email to inform the study leader I'd be missing for a more important engagement. It's not as if I didn't think it would happen. I was praying it wouldn't! But I'd rather give accurate information, so night before is soon enough. And she called that afternoon to cancel. And to reschedule a week later. And again to cancel and reschedule.

I had been doing my study work, just for my own sake, assuming I wouldn't be sharing it. There is the usual last minute cram no matter how diligently I try to avoid it. The lesson was entirely on chapter 6 but, of course, we jump all over the place and Revelation certainly can't be left out.

My one concern, and I need to ask someone about it, is how she recited, from the King James, and applied Ephesians 5:26:
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word
Because she insinuated that daily Scripture reading was a washing, a purification.

The word here is rhema, which for all we say about the active and living and God-breathed Scriptures (Heb. 4:12; 2 Tim. 3:16), seems to suggest a veritable spoken word, and words from a rite or ritual come to my mind. Now, these words could be Scriptural words, borrowed or based upon the Scriptures. That would be best. But it doesn't sound like something we pronounce over ourselves in our daily quiet time. Someone is pronouncing them on our behalf. If you want to say it's Christ, ok, but it could be someone acting in the person of Christ.

Short answer: it just sounds like water baptism to me.