Friday, May 30, 2008

G'damn it ... this sucks ...
A 17-year-old Oakfield-Alabama High School student died this morning as a result of a house fire in the Town of Batavia, Genesee County.

Judy Clark, 41, the homeowner, and her 15-year-old son Michael Mooney escaped the burning structure, according to Genesee County sheriff’s deputies. Clark told firefighters that her other son, Erik Mooney, was still inside, possibly in a second-floor bedroom.

Firefighters found Erik unconscious at the top of the stairs. He was taken to United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia for treatment and was pronounced dead at the hospital about an hour later, firefighters said.
I don't know of the family personally.

The mother said she heard the smoke detector on the first floor, suggesting to me that alarms in the bedrooms were nonexistent or nonfunctioning. Who knows how many older homes are out of code.

It's annoying here when the stove gets hot enough to trigger all the smoke alarms but, well, it's a test at the same time.

Most nights I'm too tired to lay everything out "just in case" but you never know and I need to make being prepared simply a habit, part of the bedtime routine.

"Batavia teen dies in fire; mother, brother escape" - Buffalo News, 05/30/08.
"Teen dies in Batavia house fire, 2 family members escape" - Democrat & Chronicle, 5/30/08.
"Fire Kills Teenager in His Western New York Home" - WKBW, 05/30/08.
"High School Student Killed in Batavia House Fire" - R News, 5/30/08.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

This came in email yesterday but I was out and saw it only this morning.

I had one class with him. He was light as a feather but solidly grounded ... if push came to shove.

I remember some students being frustrated with his levity ... they thought a priest should be more serious. Ha!
To the Georgian Court Community,

As you may know, Father Norman Demeck died on Thursday, May 22. Services were held in Scranton on Tuesday, May 27.

There will be a Memorial Mass here on campus in the Dorothy Marron University Chapel on Monday, June 16, at 5 p.m.

All are encouraged to come and join in prayer and thanksgiving for the life of Father Norman and his years of service at Georgian Court.

Please continue to remember Father Norman's family and his Passionist Community in prayer.

The obituary from the Scranton Times follows for those who missed it:

The Rev. Norman Demeck, C.P., died Thursday in Mercy Hospital.

Born Dec. 21, 1925, in Scranton, son of the late William and Gertrude King Demeck, he took his Passionist Profession of Vows on Aug. 15, 1946, and was ordained to the Passionist Priesthood on Feb. 28, 1952. Educated in St. Paul's School, he was a graduate of St. Paul's High School and a 1952 graduate of St. Michael's Passionist College, Union City, N.J., with a bachelor's degree in philosophy. He received a master's degree in theology at St. Michael's Passionist College in 1953; Licentiate and Sacred Theology from Angelicum University in Rome in 1955; and a doctorate in Sacred Theology from Angelicum University in 1956.

Father Norman's ministries included theology professor at St. Michael's Passionist College from 1956 to 1973; theology professor at St. John's University from 1970 to 1973; theology professor in Georgian Court College and University from 1973 to 2006, where he was chairman of the Department of Theology for many years. His courses were widely popular throughout his teaching career. He was a member of the College Theology Society, Catholic Theological Society of America, the Civil Air Patrol in New Jersey and the New Jersey Consortium for Graduate Theology School. He received numerous citations and awards from the New Jersey Civil Air Patrol and Georgian Court College and University.

Surviving are a sister, Jean McGrath, Scranton; a brother, John Demeck, Scranton; a sister-in-law, Susan Demeck; and nieces and nephews who will miss him deeply.

He was also preceded in death by three brothers, Paul, Jerome and William; and three sisters, Dorothy Gavin and Mary and Carolyn Demeck.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Here's an edifying post on the feast of Corpus Christi at Commonweal blog.

Matt has a good one too. People kneeling in the street. Amazing.

Monday, May 26, 2008

"Wayward bull caught; finds home at area farm", Examiner, 5/22/08:
MILLSTONE - A 1,500-pound black Hereford bull, which spent Mother's Day roaming through parts of Manalapan and Millstone, was caught in Wagner Farm Park by a local farmer and his farmhands on May 12 and brought to Hans Farm on Woodville Road in Millstone, according to Manalapan police.

No one has reported the bull lost or called to claim it.

Han said, "It is probably about 6 months old. I've seen them grow to 2,000 pounds."

He saw the bull tied to a tree. He said some youngsters had caught it.

"They amazed me," Han said. "They got a rope around it. They (bulls) can kill you if you don't know how to handle them."
Yeah, I let the kids play with 'em.

Then I have to fix 'em myself.
Aux Champs-Elysées, aux Champs-Elysées
Au soleil, sous la pluie, à midi ou à minuit
Il y a tout ce que vous voulez aux Champs-Elysées1
You can tell from the song that we watched The Darjeeling Limited this evening. I have a "thing" for closing credits songs.2

Parts of the film I liked. Some small parts of it seemed stupid.

Jeff got to see his girlfriend in the 13-minute short. He saw a lot of her, too. I could have done without the short but, if you're going to film a movie on location in India, you owe your cast a few days filming in Paris, right?

I spent the film waiting for the brothers to get "ok" with each other. The casual interplay of respectful participation in Indian religious ceremonies with whatever strains of Catholicism surfaced reminded me of Salinger. The three desperate pilgrims, who may have largely given up on Western religious practice, are trying to find their own way at a time when their mother goes off to do her thing. It'd be nice if they were on the same page ...

I'd say they found the most in the hospitality of the bereaved community.3

Wasn't it tedious that, in contrast to the red bindis / tilakas, those at the convent wore ashes?

I've liked Brody ever since The Pianist. As much as I like Owen Wilson, his personality didn't fit with his brothers, 'though he was like the mother - as I suspected. Obviously Wilson was cast due to his personal relationship with the director.

1 Michel Rivard's version of this song was overwhelmingly popular my summer in Quebec 20 years ago. I bought the LP (CD's were just becoming 'GA') and memorized every song. I have caught myself singing the chorus to this one occasionally over the years.

Lyrics and video.

Anyway, Jeff nearly flipped as I started to sing along tonight ...

2 Other closing credits favorites: "Greenback Dollar" - Thank You for Smoking, "Cheer Down" - Lethal Weapon [0|1|2|3|?], and "Dream Away" - Time Bandits.

3 Not unlike Henry Thomas's character in Misunderstood.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

"You once called me a warped, frustrated old man.
What are you but a warped, frustrated young man?"
I read this post and followed the link to the teacher's personal website.

The article on cessation caught my eye because watching Jesus Camp (40 mins. remain), I feel the need to draw the line on that stuff somewhere. But I'm not sure where, exactly.

Of course, Scott's article would have me draw a line straight through it ... all. I'm not prepared to do that.

The article admits that there isn't a clear argument from Scripture and, if there was, it wouldn't take 27 pages to explain it. The article was so tiresome that I stopped reading after the fourth page, the footnotes even sooner. Usually for me, intriguing footnotes can redeem a dull text.

However, before my reading "cessation," I caught this in the footnotes:
"- a work in which, according to Warfield, 'scepticism found a proper mark'"
and thought, "Ah, yes, skepticism. What a home the skeptical mind finds in the Reformed church." Resurrection? CHECK! Verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture? CHECK!

Real Presence? Papal infallibility? Whoa! That strains (human) credulity! Or, as one friend put it, "That's going too far."

Exactly. Faith would be supernatural.

But, you know, fine. Whatever. Just don't you dare beleaguer Anglicans for their skepticism because it's merely a matter of degree, not of kind.

Today's Readings. Glorious Impossible - L'Engle

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With Kenny's lunchbox.

Friday, May 23, 2008

"Q. Our granddaughter was recently married and we were disappointed that the banns were not read. Has there been a change, or are they read only if the family asks? (Missouri)

A. Formerly Catholic marriages were announced beforehand (banns) with the intention that anyone aware of an impediment to the marriage would make that fact known. In today's mobile population such announcements are hardly useful. Also, premarital testimonies of families and friends are more extensive than they used to be.

Present Church law does not require banns. Bishops' conferences may prescribe them (Canon 1067), but American bishops have not done so."
- Fr. John Dietzen's column.

Banns of marriage - Wiki
This is some rescue. When you came in here, didn't you have a plan for getting out?

He's the brains, sweetheart.
Could be applied to several current events.

Right now, my attention is focused here:
it would be impossible to return all children covered in Thursday's ruling because they have not determined which children belong to which parents, and DNA tests were incomplete.

The state has struggled for weeks to establish the identities of the children and sort out their tangled family relationships.

The youngsters are in foster homes all over the state, with some brothers or sisters separated by as much as 600 miles.

The state conceded this week that at least 15 of the 31 mothers being held in foster care as minors were actually adults; one is 27.
Clean livin' keeps 'em looking young, must be.

I can't imagine a mother out there who would think that her children were safer with the government than at home.

"Texas to Reunite 12 Children With Polygamist Parents" - CBS News, 5/23/08
CCD ended this week, on Tuesday for Kenny. At the last class, registration forms for next year were distributed. Shrewd. My evening plans were such that I was tempted to have him skip it. But things worked out in spite of a tight, full schedule and we got the forms.

All families are being asked to re-register in the parish since some new computer software had been introduced, beginning with families of CCD students. So, Kenny's paperwork included a full profile of the family: names, contact info, birth-dates, sacraments. Today was the first day that the office would accept the forms and I dropped ours off just after 10AM. Jean already had a stack of 100 forms in her in-box.

And I was thankful that we aren't yet up to our waist in sacraments. I mean, we're just starting out with the kids; the dates are fresh in my mind. Sort of. Coming up with Jeff's dates was a no-brainer. Like Empress Nympho: No, No, No, No, No, No, YES! ("yes" being matrimony?).

Mine? I was tempted to write, "Earlier in my life" for baptism, eucharist and confirmation. Or "at the appropriate times." I even considered just guessing at the years.

However, I was im Glück because I came across a copy of my baptismal certificate, needed when we married. The dates were annotated on the reverse. Except there wasn't a date for first reconciliation; I think we can safely assume I completed that one before first communion! Times were confused in the '70's, they'll tell you, but not at St. Cecilia's.

And the interesting thing I noted, 'though it's no surprise, is that all my sacraments - confession excepted - took place in May. End of the school year? Not exactly. Deliberately during Mary's month.

I also came across Tim's baptismal certificate. Convenient, as they begin accepting registration for "new" CCD students in a week or two.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Whatever rural appeal I believed inherent in well water and septic has evaporated of late, as I learn indoor plumbing is overrated.

There's a 38 gallon plastic can under the overflow pipe that's been known to, uh, overflow. This weekend, the can filled up and over. Water's heavy, you know, so Jeff bailed a few gallons at a time and spent most of Sunday at it.1 And swept the basement floor. Since then, there's been the continuous hum of three floor fans drying things out.

Come Monday, we sought professional help. The septic tank was serviced last spring but, to rule it out, we had it pumped again. Still water on the floor, suggesting a blockage in the drain pipe.

A plumber recommended checking the baffles. We dug up the cover, which wasn't too difficult as it had been dug up just the day before. And removed it. Jeff caught a whiff and walked off retching, cheeks fully puffed out! I haven't had the sense of smell since before Christopher was born, so I peered into the murky tank, completely unaffected.

Real men don't retch at an open septic tank ...

Further acclaim for this "Crunchy mom!"

The plumber augured the drain pipe from the exterior of the house and removed the blockage. He didn't charge much but sold us some chemicals. Once a month, as I swap out my disposable contacts, I'm to flush a packet of enzymes and bacteria down the toilet for a healthy septic. The plumber blames all those anti-bacterial cleansers so popular these days for compromising our system.

Jeff blames the clog on toilet tissue and, in a house of mostly males, I'm the likely culprit. In my defense, I'll mention that during a visit, the neighbor girl unwound 1/2 roll of TP and dropped it in the powder room "bowl". Strange fetish. Oh, recalling it now I remember scooping it out instead of flushing it. So, she isn't my scapegoat.

Remodel gone wrong - June 2007
Monkeys do HVAC - July 2007
When the well runs dry - December 2007

1 No miracles here. cf Genesis 24:19-20 and a previous post about cessationism.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I told him I was there to bring down the mean age of his audience but, truth is, I'm not so young myself.

First off, it's a lovely church, Holy Eucharist out there in Tabernacle.

'Though I saw it mostly in the dark and didn't get a "tour." Travel time was an hour each way, plus $40 in babysitter money and probably $25 in gas.

If I'm rural, then Tabernacle's wilderness. And so flat, I felt I was back in Ohio.
I went curious at the turnout. Eager to offer a testimonial, even informally, if needed. It didn't take long to realize that I'd heard this lecture, more or less, before. Probably last spring. He covered a lot of ground, from canon to textual criticism to church documents.

During a break, I spoke with an ILEM grad, the inaugural class. She knows Bridges from GCC and will likely do the study in the fall. She said she's over at Joan of Arc and even though I guessed Marlton correctly, I haven't any idea where the city is relative to Tabernacle.

I mentioned the Holy Land trip through the school next spring but she's going this fall with the diocese. I didn't even know the diocese was going! On a back table was a memory book celebrating Holy Eucharist's 25 years. I flipped through and saw a picture of Fr. Mike, performing a baptism. He was pastor there in the last 90's and early 00's. I had only heard that he'd been at St. Mary of the Lake in Lakewood, so it was interesting information.

Jim had Bob give a testimonial about the program but ran out of time before calling on me. Bob alluded to the program using the second edition of the study guides and I am curious to find out how revised they are, vis a vis the new leadership, Tim Gray et. al. I'll have to ask Jim. This forum thread talks a bit about the program, whether in Denver itself or through a parish.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A friend of Kenny's ...

"Pupils Hailing Mary" - Asbury Park Press, 5/17/08:

May Crownings are a traditional Roman Catholic ritual held every May, during which worshippers place a crown of flowers atop a statue of Mary. The ceremonies are sometimes held to coincide with Mother's Day.

I'm so glad my parish doesn't do a May Crowning. I'd never heard of such a thing until I moved to New Jersey. Sure, fun and memorable for the kids but just silly nonsense for grown-ups.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Beliefnet's Catholic Quiz: What Kind of Catholic Are You?

You scored 76, on a scale of 0 to 100.

At least it's on the low side of "very traditional" ...

Here's how to interpret your score:

0 - 25 You are a Centering Prayer (very progressive) Catholic.
26 - 50 You are an Ignatian Exercises (moderately progressive) Catholic.
51 - 75 You are a Divine Office (moderately traditional) Catholic.
76 - 100 You are a Daily Rosary (very traditional) Catholic.
More about you.

I don't understand it ... I voted for women priests and no Latin.
JW: What do you think of George W. Bush as the Christian president?

FS: He is arguably the worst president in the history of the United States. He is unfit for the office of president of the United States. He has trouble speaking the English language and articulating a point of view. Second, he has led us into a war—in which my son, by the way, fought—on false pretenses. That is a terrible thing. Bush is personally responsible for the displacement of the Christian minority in Iraq. It was the last large Christian minority anywhere in the Middle East, and it has been destroyed. It is ironic that someone who proclaims he is a Christian president has single-handedly started a war that has undone the last Christian minority in the Middle East. Now it is wall-to-wall Islam from Tehran all the way to the Mediterranean with the exception of Israel. There is not one place outside of Syria that still has that intact Christian minority now.
Doesn't this story have "Slavic" stamped all over it?
ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) -- Governments have changed. War erupted and ended. Neighbors had children, and then grandchildren. But Hedviga Golik never left her tiny apartment in Croatia's capital -- until her mummified body was carried out this week, 35 years after she died.

Police said Friday that no one ever reported Golik missing and no one has come to claim her body.

Residents of her loft building in downtown Zagreb had broken into Golik's flat after deciding that the apartment should belong to them, and not to her. Startled by the remains in bed, they called police.

Forensics experts said Golik likely died in 1973, about the time a neighbor last saw her. Expert Davor Strinovic said she seemed to have died of natural causes, but "it's almost impossible to say for certain" after so much time.

Some of Golik's neighbors claimed she had talked about going abroad.

Experts said her windows had been open, likely diminishing the smell. It remained unclear who -- if anyone -- was paying her bills and who exactly owned the apartment. In the 1970s, when Golik died, apartments were state-owned.

Neighbors now argue the apartment should be divided among the remaining tenants.

The discovery of Golik's body on Tuesday prompted media debates on how it is possible for a woman to die so long ago without anyone noticing. One local journalist said it showed people were becoming more alienated.

"My dear neighbors! Please keep on being curious and a bit tiresome, as you have been so far," Merita Arslani wrote in the Jutarnji list daily.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

This week's Catholic Carnival is up!

Hmm, Matt seems to be sharing my entry. How thoughtful.

Usually posts go up in the order received, so I try to submit early. However, the hostess posted entries in reverse order, so being late this week paid off for me!

Yup, she made my (birth)day by listing my entry near the top!

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Didn't this all happen 'bout ten years ago already ...

"That Martin Luther? He wasn't so bad, says Pope" - The Times, 3/6/08:
Pope Benedict XVI is to rehabilitate Martin Luther, arguing that he did not intend to split Christianity but only to purge the Church of corrupt practices.

Luther was excommunicated by Pope Leo X, who dismissed him initially as “a drunken German who will change his mind when sober”.

Is LaHaye right: he should have taken the name "Peter II"? Or is the press taking liberties (Armstong's comment)?

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The proposition was whether our following Christ as perfect man, rather than as God incarnate, gets us far enough along.

Not a few say, "Yes."

I was something of a holdout for the supernatural dimension that Christ's divinity brings to the relationship, and I do think that Jim ultimately agreed with me.

Because I had in my mind this early description by Merton1, dripping with scholastic concepts, and, as Jim pointed out, an overwhelming Augustinian sentiment.

Amen and amen ...
There is a paradox that lies in the very heart of human existence. It must be apprehended before any lasting happiness is possible in the soul of a man. The paradox is this: man's nature, by itself, can do little or nothing to settle his most important problems. If we follow nothing but our natures, our own philosophies, our own level of ethics, we will end up in hell. [...]

He created man with a soul that was made not to bring itself to perfection in its own order, but to be perfected by Him in an order infinitely beyond the reach of human powers. We were never destined to lead purely natural lives, and therefore we were never destined in God's plan for a purely natural beatitude. Our nature, which is a free gift of God, was given to us to be perfected and enhanced by another free gift that is not due it.

This free gift is "sanctifying grace."
It perfects our nature with the gift of a life, an intellection, a love, a mode of existence infinitely above its own level. If a man were to arrive even at the abstract pinnacle of natural perfection, God's work would not even be half done: it would be only about to begin, for the real work is the work of grace and the infused virtues and the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

What is "grace"? It is God's own life, shared by us.
God's life is Love. Deus caritas est. By grace we are able to share in the infinitely self-less love of Him Who is such pure actuality that He needs nothing and therefore cannot conceivably exploit anything for selfish ends. [...]

When a ray of light strikes a crystal, it gives a new quality to the crystal. And when God's infinitely disinterested love plays upon a human soul, the same kind of thing takes place. And that is the life called sanctifying grace.
These words have long influenced how I think of the Christian life.

1 Referenced in my first comment on this post.

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You know that I don't read First Things ...

"An Interview with Tim Keller" ... via ...

Q: Why didn’t you come out and say, “Look, I’m coming at this from a Reformed, Presbyterian, Calvinist perspective, because I think that best explains who Jesus is, what Jesus did for us, what the Church is.”

Because I’d like to be understood, Anthony.

Now I know that the average reader in a Barnes & Noble, picking up the book and reading it, will know the difference between Catholic and Protestant, but I don’t think they’re going to know what [Reformed Presbyterian, Calvinist] is.

I think the most important sentence in the book on that subject was, “All Christians believe all these things, but no Christian believes just these things.” So I said, “Here’s the Apostles Creed, and the Trinity, the deity of Christ, he died for our sins, saved by grace, you’ve got to be a part of the Church”—right? OK. I said, “All Christians believe all these things. If you don’t believe all these things, you’re not a Christian: You’re in a cult, you’re a member of another religion, or you’re a secular person.”

All Christians believe all these things, but no Christian believes just these things is my way of saying there’s no such thing as “mere Christianity.” There just isn’t. Because as soon as you ask “How do I get the grace of God?”—you’re a Catholic or a Protestant. Is it the sacraments primarily, or are the sacraments just a symbol of how you get it? As soon as you start talking about how do we relate to the Church, you know, or how does God open your eyes—then you’re Arminian or a Calvinist.

This puts me in a position where I don’t want to defend just one kind of Christianity. I think I want to defend the Apostles Creed. And I want you, as a nonbeliever, to buy the Apostles’ Creed, and then after that figure out where you want to go. I really think I can do that. But, at the same time, I don’t believe I can possibly speak to a lot of these things without [doing so from] within my particularity. So I actually say that there are certain chapters in which I’m going to be speaking as a Protestant because there’s no way not to speak as a Protestant or a Catholic.

And there are some places where, if you look really carefully, I think I do say I’m a Presbyterian minister. And I said, if you look really carefully, you will see I’m really speaking from inside my own tradition. Because there are places where you can’t talk without being in your own tradition.

Here’s what so misleading. If I say I’m speaking as a Reformed Protestant and I’m just going to defend Reformed Protestantism, 80 percent of what I’m going to say in that book will be defending a Catholic Christian’s faith, too. So why not admit that? . . . It was a real dance. It was a real tightrope . . . there are certain places in which, if you’re a Catholic—I’ve got some really strong friends who are strong Catholics, and they love the book, but I’m sure when they get to certain places they say, “Yeah, there we go . . .” But they don’t mind it, because they’re really happy to have a book that’s basically defending the whole Faith. And if I was just running up the flag saying, “I’m a Protestant, I’m Reformed, I’m Presbyterian, I’m Reformed, not Arminian”—I don’t know. This is my best guess, my best guess at how I can model the unity of the Church.

One of the things that non-Christians hate about us is how much we don’t like each other. How am I going to overcome their prejudices unless I show a certain breadth of spirit and generosity toward people with different views? And the best way to do that is not to be always talking about the fact that I’m Reformed.

Q: Don’t you run a risk, though? If they pick up the three authors you reference most frequently in the book—Lewis, Jonathan Edwards, and Flannery O’Connor—and investigate their backgrounds, and start getting into limited atonement and election and a sacramental notion of the church and the Anglican broad way, don’t you run the risk of someone saying, “It’s all relative: It all depends on where I’m going to be most comfortable,” as opposed to “Christ founded a Church—and this is it.”

I know there’s a danger. [...] Listen, I could probably do a better job than you, because you’re being nicer to me. But I could be meaner, and I could say, “This fits in with the spirit of the age,” which is, I’m coming to you as an individual. I’m asking you to make up your own mind, and then you can sort of walk around with this kind of relationship with God now, and it doesn’t stress enough that you’ve got to be a part of a church.

Now part of that is why I am Protestant. In other words, I think if I was Catholic I’d probably write this differently. You can’t help it.

Q: The Church would play a much bigger role.

A much bigger role. But I know that Catholics reading the book—I also know that Catholics are right about the importance of the Church. So, there we go.

Q: One last question: If you had to recommend one book that wasn’t the Bible and wasn’t The Reason for God to someone questioning Christianity, what would it be?

I’d still say Mere Christianity. Even though I wrote this book partly because I found Mere Christianity to be not as accessible as it used to be. But it’s still peerless and much better than my book. My book is Mere Christianity for Dummies.

I have Keller's book but haven't really started it. I'll probably skip around. I watched a lecture he did at Westminster (PA) so I have a sense of how he talks, how he sometimes doesn't finish a thought, as in this interview. I'm not too sure what's funny about the interview ... unless it's that he looks/deadpans like Newhart .. but he's taller.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

I've wanted new maps for some time ...

and difficulty locating the party on Saturday clinched it.

Not only did I get the latest maps for my area but also updated to the latest version of TomTom HOME:
"The old version was spawning zombie processes until your system needed rebooting."


"Oh, no. No, we don't nice(1) a zombie. Zombies aren't likely catching signals anyway. That's why ... they're zombies."
True enough. What little I knew about IPCs is lost. Hard to believe.

And yet, the latest maps still don't have this past Saturday's party place on it!

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I gotta give the man more credit. I'm still trying to calm down. It was probably the most evangelistic move he can make ... and he did it with enviable grace.

Pentecost. Yesterday was Pentecost. And he welcomed a family of five into the Catholic church. He confirmed the parents. She cried as he anointed her. A good-looking family with three daughters, all dressed up. The parents looked too young to have children in elementary school.

Spontaneous applause erupted more than once.

My initial reaction when he announced the reception was, "You're too late. The Easter Vigil was months ago." Not very welcoming, eh? But, I was wrong to be so by-the-book: a Pentecost confirmation is very appropriate.

But, as always, I'm aghast at anyone joining the Catholic church of their own free will. How does that happen? A mystery, always a mystery. God's mystery. Because nobody in their right mind would ...

I extended a personal welcome afterwards during the coffee hour. They both appeared genuinely happy, especially him. Good, good to see. The firsthand experience of a family of five joining the church more than offsets in our imaginations what we read in the papers and Pew Survey of Catholics leaving in droves.

"That stuff can't be true; we've got the 'real deal' righ'cheer."

This is the liturgical bookend to the baptism he performed last month: another attractive, young family. I gotta hand it to him: the guy knows evangelism.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day Haul:
  • The Orthodox Way, Ware;
  • I Alone Have Escaped to Tell You, McInerny;
  • Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, Tov;
  • Christian Reflections, Lewis.
  • Two dozen roses, four different colors.
  • And a 13" MacBook.
I could tell from the shape and size of the box that it was a laptop. I haven't used a laptop since grad school and having one again prompted me to say, "Gee, I feel like I should go to school." Jeff was like, "Yeah, get another degree." As in "What's the point?"

They bought it last night.

Jeff took Kenny out for milkshakes and, well, they were gone for a little longer than normal. But Kenny kept the secret all through church this morning. Quite amazing. And just what is the difference between keeping a secret and lying to a seven-year-old? Jeff loves his MacBook so I'll probably learn to enjoy this one. He wanted to get me on Intel again. Back in our Sun days, we adored RISC, but it hasn't kept pace.

Kenny's claimed my desktop G5 ... uh, I don't think so!
First Communion Day - 5/3/08

The one with the pursed lips is the communicant.
He didn't take the wine. That's just how he smiles.
Sort of heard about this last Thursday but couldn't get the details.

And today's Asbury Park Press article doesn't have them all either.

Like, just two questions: what happens to Monsignor Flynn and what happens to OLM's traditional Latin Mass one Sunday a month? Does Father John, who underwent training to learn the TLM, take it with him to St. Joe's?

Will he take along as well his tradition of communion under one species?

"'Father John' embraces his new congregation" - Asbury Park Press, 5/11/08:
when the 43-year-old Bambrick leaves St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Church [Manalapan], and the 4,700-family congregation he helped grow, for a new assignment in June at the larger St. Joseph's Church in Toms River.

His flock includes Our Lady of Mercy Church in Englishtown, which merged with the Manalapan church in 2007.

it's a challenge he met before — when he assumed responsibility for Our Lady of Mercy after 34-year pastor, the Rev. Charles Valentine, retired

Bambrick made national headlines when he went public with his story of sexual abuse at the hands of a priest

He tracked down Eremito, a Bronx priest who went on to practice in Texas and Atlantic Highlands, and appealed to New York Cardinals John O'Connor and Edward Michael Egan to have Eremito removed from ecclesiastical duties.

Eremito was removed from the priesthood in 2006
Yes, same Fr. V. as we had for 30+ years here. And the monsignor is familiar from my time at St. Dot's in Eatontown.

UPDATED, 5/23: Contrary to speculation, Msgr. Flynn is assigned to St. Mark's in Sea Girt, eff. 8/1. "Down the Shore." Retirement? Not really.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Here are two worthwhile posts from the same person:
  • "The Little Red Book (Or Why I'm Still Kind of a Jerk)"

  • "The Whole Story: What's Been Happening At Our House Since Holy Week '07 and Why I've Been A Nut Case Ever Since" - extremely well-written, heart-breaking, soul-searching, etc. Read it.
Catch you up on movies: I've seen two recently, at home.

Just last night, we watched Across the Universe; Jeff, for the second time. Was it just me, or were the featured songs Lennon-heavy? To compensate for casting a McCartney look-alike? Those early pop numbers are so innocent, why did they have to gussy 'em all up with lusty glances?

I do like "Flying." And "Blue Jay Way". "Shoot me".

Some of the scenes were cool. Some weren't. Some of the songs were used creatively. I saw the use of the title "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window" coming a mile away.

I like that Jeff has been singing "I've Just Seen a Face" to Ella ... because that's my favorite to sing to her too. I liked the first part of "I Want You" but the second part ("She's So Heavy") was D-U-M-B. During the military physical, I felt as if I was watching Tommy and/or The Wall. Very creepy. The bleeding strawberries reminded me of both films as well.

I enjoyed Bono's cameo. I didn't recognize his face but couldn't miss his voice.

The closing scene, as Lucy stands on the rooftop across the way, made me say aloud, a moment too soon, "See, they did all that without singing Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" ... then the closing credits ran.

The second movie I liked much better, of course, No Country For Old Men.

It was more consistent. And it gave me nightmares.

I was terrified for the first twenty minutes or so. After Llewelyn got killed, I didn't know whom to root for. I like how, at least, the top cop is portrayed as very smart in their movies (Fargo being the only other, I guess). But I couldn't root for him because I knew he was done.

I thought of Bates Motel but Jeff said, rightly, "Wrong state." If I was familiar with the Southwest, I'd know there's nothing defining. I can lose patience during those procedural scenes

Woody Harrelson's character was interesting but unnecessary. When Carla Jean was talking to the sheriff on a pay telephone, the absence of cell phones hit me. Then I calculated how much two million dollars was for the time. Until I did the math, I was thinking that it wasn't worth dying for.

And how primitive ... yet effective ... the transponder was. The case is convenient for carrying the money but my inclination would be to divvy up the cash and stash it in different places. How about a safe-deposit box? And, maybe in going through the cash, I would have found the transponder.

I was disappointed to see him check his boots after leaving Carla Jean's mother's house but not surprised. The make-up job on his post-car-crash face is pretty amazing. No airbags, notice? I'd like to think that he's out of business for good. How many bad people are killed in car crashes?
"'No Country' is the Coens’ most accomplished achievement in craft, with many stunning sequences, but there are absences in it that hollow out the movie’s attempt at greatness. If you consider how little the sheriff bestirs himself, his philosophical resignation, however beautifully spoken by Tommy Lee Jones, feels self-pitying, even fake. And the Coens, however faithful to the book, cannot be forgiven for disposing of Llewelyn so casually. After watching this foolhardy but physically gifted and decent guy escape so many traps, we have a great deal invested in him emotionally, and yet he’s eliminated, off-camera, by some unknown Mexicans. He doesn’t get the dignity of a death scene. The Coens have suppressed their natural jauntiness. They have become orderly, disciplined masters of chaos, but one still has the feeling that, out there on the road from nowhere to nowhere, they are rooting for it rather than against it."
Review in The New Yorker

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

He struggled to employ nonconventional terminology, forcing himself to say, "anti-Arian" instead of the usual "catholic" common in the literature. He even corrected himself once or twice when he misspoke.

At first I dismissed it as petty revisionism. It was the dominant belief so tell the story from that perspective. He wasn't trying to validate Arianism for the present? He knows John's Gospel too well to think Athanasius wrong. Right? Hence, the actual significance was obscured for a time.

I could be mistaken but, in using the term "anti-Arian," he demonstrates how, in countering Arianism, some went too far in the opposite direction. In other words, standing against Arianism did not necessarily translate into an orthodox christology.

Sounds obvious but I tend to simplify the controversy to just two sides.

And, the application would be: (1) in which other controversies from church history were positions perhaps overstated? And (2) does that tendency extend to today's secular controversies?

Ritter: You are such a Boy Scout! You see everything in black and white!
Jack Ryan: No, no, no! Not black and white, Ritter. Right and wrong!

(Clear and Present Danger)
Well, it took her two trips attempts, but ...

michele succeeded in breaking her nose. Read it.

Now, that's what I call the "perseverance of the saints." I can't wait to see the pictures.

Seriously, 'though, let's pray for her pain management and her concentration during final exams.

Related posts:
Last academic push of the year ...

I thought we could coast for the final month of school but both kids came home with book report assignments this past week. Why bother, you know?

Tim's is easy, no problem.

Kenny's is a biography and he brought home the one on Andrew Jackson from his school's library. He began reading and I joined him after twenty minutes or so. Good thing, because the page numbers went from 26 back to 11, then up to 26 again and then to 43 and the end. Kenny didn't notice the jump ... or the repetition. The book is missing 16 pages, outright. With no evidence. No torn pages, no ripped binding, no gap between its hardcovers.

I returned the book to school with a note that it is defective and ought to be discarded. I wonder whether that will happen.

Kenny is interested in a biography on this man. I never cared for him, personally, 'though I remember liking the song as a kid.

The public library has two copies of the book, but I had to call for an explanation of the location designation "EXTENSION." Basically, the book's in storage, like in the basement. The librarian brought up a copy for us. Wouldn't it be interesting if it had the same production problem?

I point out to Kenny that I tend to find typos and other errors in books all the time. Here's another instance of that tendency. If I'm careful, he'll grow up pretty skeptical of everything ... save himself, of course.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

This week's Catholic Carnival is up ... in record time!

I submitted a half-baked post on proselytism.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

“Father, the hour has come.
Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you,
just as you gave him authority over all people,
so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him.
Now this is eternal life,
that they should know you, the only true God,
and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.

I glorified you on earth
by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do.
Now glorify me, Father, with you,
with the glory that I had with you before the world began."

Seventh Sunday of Easter - John 17:1-11a
Verse 3 leaps out at you, doesn't it? Not just because it's in red.

Actually, all of it - and more - is printed red in several of my Bibles. The question is, well, should it be in red? Did Jesus say this? Would Jesus say this?

I'm not conducting a mini-Jesus Seminar here. Those guys - peace be upon them - have long done their work and been roundly criticized. But, still, can any of us help ourselves?

In such a case, then, I was surprised satisfied when Fr. Mike stated the obvious in the opening remarks of his homily: this insertion originates with the Evangelist. Barrett provides more rationale in his concurrence:
"This verse must be regarded as parenthetical, but this does not mean that it is a gloss. John felt the necessity of a definition of eternal life, and being unable to use a footnote incorporated it into the prayer ..."
The Gospel According to St. John (Second Edition), page 503.

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Among his few gifts, Kenny received a communion token from his friend.

I was thrilled for it and told his friend's mother that I had seen tokens for sale online and considered buying him one but didn't.

I explained to Kenny what the token was used for historically.

The friend's mother asked, "I wonder why they stopped using those."

I gave the fairly obvious answer that people disdain authority these days, so they naturally reject even the pastor's evaluation of their "worthiness" to receive communion.

"Communion tokens" - Material History of American Religion Project
Eternal Father,
reaching from end to end of the universe,
and ordering all things with your mighty arm;
for you, time is the unfolding of truth that already is,
the unveiling of beauty that is yet to be.

Your Son has saved us in history by rising from the dead,
so that transcending time he might free us from death. ...
Opening Prayer, Seventh Sunday of Easter

Friday, May 02, 2008

Here's a post to read:

"Why I'm Catholic, Another Sola"

and to wonder why the comments from prominent Evangelical bloggers has dropped to zilch since the young Baptist joined the Catholic Church.

Who says shunning is only for the Amish?

Entre nous, I bet they thought he had a calling ...

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

This happens every year but, must be, I've been less scrupulous in the past because it was my first time at Queenship of Mary.1

Just across the street ... but a world away! That's how I felt after the service at least. But, let me back up to how I got there ...

Fr. Mike's two Ascension Thursday services, morning and evening, overlap with my two Thursday Bible studies. And I can't miss Bible study in order to attend church because both study leaders would mock me, even the Catholic one!

A midday service in the vicinity of the morning study would fit the bill, 'though I didn't know how long the study would run because we just began a new series on Amos. I knew that Queenship of Mary was the closest, since I've passed it on the way to my Thursday morning study every week for the past four years. Churches in commercial parts of town often offer midday services for the sake of office workers on their lunch break. mostly records Holy Days "as announced,"2 but Queenship of Mary is listed with a 12:15 holy day mass time. Perfect.

The leader managed to instruct us for two hours, same as always. I had enough time to give the kids a (not too) quick lunch in the church parking lot. We exited the car precisely as the bells in the carillon began ringing ... and we were parked right next to the tower. It was difficult to hold the three-year-old's hand through the parking lot with him using both hands to cover his ears! Honestly, I usually love the sound of bells but these ones didn't sound too beautiful.

There was a swarm of smiling ushers, male and female, available to open heavy doors for us. How nice, as I had my hands full. Of course, Fr. Bob greeted us warmly. The sanctuary was just slightly larger than chapel size, cozy but very pretty. I boldly sat near the front which, parents of young children already know, is a major gamble.

Certain people turned their heads 'round every time the huge sanctuary doors opened. That made me self-conscious. I also noticed two, unsmiling spinster-aged women eyeballing my children during the service. That's usually not a good sign, you know. I let Chris flip through my missal when I wasn't using it and Ella chew on a wooden rosary from Medjugorje. Blessed? Sure, probably, but also indestructible.

After the service, one of the spinsters approached me. Well, not exactly "approached," she was parked, facing the wrong way, next to me. So, opening Ella's door came up against her side-view mirror. My car doesn't have sliding doors like a minivan. She had her window down and said, without a hint of sarcasm, "You have beautiful children." She still didn't smile but nobody made her say it, so I took it as genuine.

I remembered back to my monthly evangelization training two years ago when we evaluated diocesan parishes on their "friendliness factor." I had to keep reminding myself that this wasn't my diocese, but the church ranked high, in my experience, as a welcoming parish. And, you know, I like singing the prayers of the mass but speaking them took me back to the days when I could attend daily mass ... after work.

It was the National Day of Prayer today. I guess I did my part. The sanctuary of the church where my morning study is held was outfitted with "stations," each one explained on an accompanying pamphlet, and another brochure was available with some made-up adapted daily office. The church is dabbling in "emerging," so must be someone has looked into the liturgy of the hours. For a tradition that exploited the printing press, I don't know why they cling to pamphlets and brochures when they can have books!3

No matter, no one was there. I started to review the "stations" but stopped at the second one because it offended me: bread and grape juice were available and the participant was to confess their sins to God, take the bread, drip it in the grape juice and eat. Does that work for anyone, private communion?

1 japhy's church ... and his goddaughter receives first communion ... this Sunday (on Sunday?) - what blessed news!

2 I'm a little frustrated with right now because Millstone Township's entry is a mess! It was so much simpler when we were "Perrineville." Bloody Post Office. I don't know how to get the entry cleaned up. The only saving grace is that the town is so small, nobody travels to here.

3 Would you believe me if I told you that when I bought these books, I had no idea who Phyllis Tickle is?! Of course I just thought they were attractive in appearance. Yes, I have a more traditional set, as well.