Wednesday, July 30, 2014

That novel I've been working on forever


I glanced at the novel I'd been working on forever (it seems).

It was not good.

Actually, it was disheartening .

The concept is fine. Some of the action sequences work well, as do some of the sections of dialogue. But parts of the story are dated - not surprising because I started it so long ago. The transitions and descriptive details are often weak. It's too preachy - dwelling too much on the ideas and not developed as a story. Sort of like those bad but sincere Christian movies.

It may still see the light of day, but boy, would it need work. Perhaps I need to take it to a workshop for guidance.

I've had far more success with poetry and plays. Maybe those are what I need to focus more on.

I certainly seem to have the attention span for shorter works; I get bored when dealing with long pieces or sustained efforts. Perhaps that's one reason why I was successful as a journalist.  

Pax et bonum

Summer work


My summer's work has not followed the path I set.

I simply could not figure out how to post to Hubpages site - and haven't put the extra work in to do so. People do figure it out, but I am not very computer savvy, and I simply gave up. It's still out there, but for now not a priority.

There was work around the house to do. I've gotten some done; rain interfered with my big project of the summer, painting the back fence. Still time for that one - if I get some dry weather.

My school reading has not gone as far as I would like as I've allowed myself to get distracted too easily. Plus, I still don't know all the courses I'm teaching this fall. The uncertainty is due to growing enrollment and a new employee yet to be hired; my classes depend on what that new person can teach. I know three of my classes for certain, and I'm in good shape for them. But I may have one or two other courses, with all the necessary preparation and reading. I've read books for both; but there are other books I may or may not have to read, so I've stumbled. Do I read this book, or don't I need to?

At least I have a job. But given the craziness and uncertainty of this past spring, I feel unsettled. I keep wondering if somehow things will fall apart before the school year begins and I'll end up out of work.

There was also that issue at church, leaving me with a sense of not fitting in there any more.

To be honest, I feel kind of adrift in life.

I need to pray more.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Good Bye Fox News


There were a couple of Fox News shows I used to to watch some times - Fox and Friends in the morning while getting ready for Mass or work, and The Five while preparing/eating dinner. I didn't watch much of the other programming; too much of the same, and constant, sometime ludicrous, bashing of anything the Obama administration was doing (even though I strongly object to much of what that administration is doing!). I used to like Huckabee, but the timing of his show is not always convenient.

But last week a Fox reporter used the Lord's Name in vain. On camera. Yes, it was a stressful situation, but still, he used it.

Now he could have immediately apologized, said it was said in a moment of stress, and it would have been over. Given the situation, it would have been easy to move on. But either he did not, or he did and Fox News chose not to run it.

Now the Fox News anchors could have said something to apologize. They did not. .Even worse, Fox News kept running the clip. Blasphemy repeated.

I wrote immediately to the news department and some of news shows and anchors/commentators. I did so every day for a week.

Never got a response.

Meanwhile, being annoyed, I checked out other news sources. CNN was already a site I went to regularly, so I increased my watching of it. I also started watching BBC and Al Jazeera more. And in the car I tend to listen to NPR when not listening to EWTN or sports programming.

My news needs have been met.

So ... I not going to bother with Fox News on a regular basis. Oh, if something big breaks I might check out their reports - they cover things other American networks tend to ignore. But no more regular watching.

Pax et bonum

Monday, July 21, 2014

Blasphemy at Fox News prompts boycott


I was watching a Fox News report from Gaza during the beginning of the Israeli assault. There was the sound of a loud explosion and the reporter ducked and yelled out, "Jesus Christ," not as a prayer, but like an expletive.

That is blasphemy. A violation of the Second Commandment: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

Now given the circumstances, I can sympathize with someone reacting unthinkingly out of fear, so while what he did was wrong, at least there were mitigating circumstances. What he should have done at that point is apologize for his language. It's possible he may have later and Fox did not carry it.

The larger fault lies with Fox News. They broadcast the comment, and did nothing to apologize for it. Again, as a live report it might have slipped through - but they should have then said something about it. They did not. Moreover, they broadcast the comment again later - unedited, unapologized for. There they clearly had some control. They seemed not to care.

There's no excuse for that.

It may be that they are totally oblivious as to the wrongness of the comment. Let's put it in a way the Fox folks might understand: Imagine if someone had similarly used the name of Mohamed. There would be an outcry, and maybe even a death threat against the person. The network would likely have said something. The reporter might even have faced suspension - or loss of job.

But since it was Jesus Christ, and it's a swear a lot of people use without thinking, it seems not to matter. Not to the folks at Fox, anyway.

Well it does to me.

Call me a crank. Accuse me of blowing it out of proportion.

I don't care.

I expect an apology.

Until I hear something, Fox News has joined MSNBC on my "Do Not Watch" list.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, July 20, 2014

No more lay preaching in the Diocese of Rochester


As I expected, our new Bishop, Salvatore Matano, has made it clear lay people (including women religious) should not be preaching during the time for the homily.

This has been an ongoing abuse in this diocese. The most blatant examples included lay people speaking the entire homily time - that was partly curtailed by our previous Bishop. But priests tried to get around it (with diocesan "acceptance," or least lack of enforcement) by having the priest or deacon speak for a minute or two, giving the "homily," then letting the lay person speak the rest of the time.

The abuse has always bugged me. I got caught in one situation last year where I was asked to lector, and then the priest engaged in a "dialogue homily" with a seminarian residing at the parish. The seminarian - not yet a deacon - was asked questions, and spent most of the homily time responding to the questions. A fudging of the rules, and, to my mind, a clear violation. That was the last time I agreed to lector.

I wonder what other changes/corrections are coming? I know at my parish the priest wants us to stand during the Eucharistic Prayer. The national norm is to kneel unless there's a good pastoral reason to stand - such as lack of kneelers, or Masses in places like gyms (we had to do that while our church building was being repaired). The other weekday the priest stopped the Mass and told those of us who were kneeling to stand. I did, but I have not been back since.

I play with the contemporary music group at that parish, but we'll only play once a month. I'll show up for that, but I will not rejoin the regular choir or attend that church until the kneeling is instituted. I'm hoping the Bishop will instruct the priest to do that; the Bishop is scheduled to say Mass at the parish in August, and if he sees people standing he might say something. I hope.

Meanwhile, I'm hoping the Bishop will join us for one of our pro-life events. 40 Days for Life this fall would be good!

Pax et bonum

Saturday, July 19, 2014

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Word Crimes - He's back!








I might be able to use this one in school.




Pax et bonum

Monday, July 14, 2014

Haiku and Franciscan Spirituality


I've noted this before, but it remains true: There would seem to be a natural link between haiku and Franciscan Spirituality.

The sense of something more, something deeper, something that flows through all and connects us all.

The love of nature.

A feeling of compassion for others.

Humor.

Humility.

I could go on.

Yesterday, I experienced that link again.

Our local haiku group had scheduled a ginko - a gathering in a natural setting where, hopefully, we would be inspired to write haiku. The ginko was to take place in a city park - the Maplewood Rose Garden, which, as the name suggests, is full of different varieties of roses (and other flowers).

We arrived to be greeted by ... rain. At times, the rain was heavy, accompanied by strong winds. The larger gazebos were all full of people, including some of the local homeless who use the park as a campground, and, we suspect based on the reputation of the park, entrepreneurs carrying on their drug trade. There was one small gazebo that was unoccupied, and we used that one as a base, jamming in to escape the rain and to write.

In between heavy downpours, we wandered among the roses. They had a variety of names, like Golden Showers (appropriate yesterday), Gemini (to my amusement, just a single plant), and those of famous people, including a spot for Dolly Parton roses (which, I noted with a chuckle, was bereft of rose bushes and hence "flat").

The was a fountain, dedicated 18 years before, that was empty of water (except for that provided by the rain) and not working. That inspired me to write:

rose garden fountain
empty except for babbling
haiku poets

When the wind and rain and thunder drove us into the gazebo for shelter and to write, I watched some of the other park visitors. There was one group that huddled in one shelter, looking at us occasionally and keeping their backs to us. In another shelter, several people were sleeping. Three young men were laughing and throwing a football in the pouring rain. There were several people who eyed us nervously - haiku poets inspiring unease? - and wandered from tree to tree. There was one woman who was dressed in mismatched clothes. She stopped periodically, talking to herself, gesturing, even dancing. I wondered if she was troubled, perhaps mentally ill, possibly even on drugs. I said a prayer for her.

On of our poets noted. laughing at herself, that here she was a haiku poet who seeks inspiration in nature, yet she is sensitive to the sun, allergic to bees, and nervous about ticks. She had on wrist and ankle bands to keep insects away, and rummaged through her bag for something lotion to rub on as she watched the bees floating in and out of the gazebo also seeking shelter from the rain.

nature poet
intently searching bag for
insect repellent

We shared haiku the ginko inspired - I had none (the two that I included above were written later); I was just enjoying the moment and the others' creations.

I also thought of St. Francis. I could imagine him sitting there listening to the others, enjoying and celebrating their efforts, chuckling, wondering about the other park denizens. Caring about them. I could imagine him wandering over to some of the others  - like that dancing woman - sharing God's love. Maybe he would have danced with her.

I was not so brave or full of love.

Would Francis have written haiku if that form had been invented centuries earlier than it was and if it had reached Italy? I'd like to imagine he would have.

in the rose garden
St. Francis praises the rain
embraces the thorns

Pax et bonum