Thursday, May 30, 2013

Happy Birthday to St. Chesterton!



“Children are grateful when Santa Claus puts in their stockings gifts of toys or sweets. Could I not be grateful to Santa Claus when he put in my stockings the gift of two miraculous legs? We thank people for birthday presents of cigars and slippers. Can I thank no one for the birthday present of birth?” - Orthodoxy

It was G. K. Chesterton's birthday yesterday. Here's hoping some day we can officially celebrate his feast day!

Pax et bonum

Monday, May 27, 2013

Summer Reading List


With a new course to teach and ongoing spiritual and Franciscan formation, I have a pretty extensive list of books to read this summer. Some I've read before - but in a few cases it's been decades!

The Road to Assisi (Sabatier)
Year of Wonders (Brooks)
A Thousand Splendid Suns (Hosseini)
Obasan (Kogawa)
The Complete Thinker: The Marvelous Mind of G. K. Chesterton (Ahlquist)
The Space Between Us (Umrigar)
Grendel (Gardner)
King Lear
Nickel and Dimed (Ehrenreich)
The Awakening (Chopin)
A Room of One's Own (Woolf)
On Heaven and Earth (Bergoglio and Skorka)
Pope Francis (Rubin and Ambrogetti)
Francis of Assisi (Cunningham)
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Austen and Grahame-Smith) (just for fun!)

There's more - but this is where I'm starting!

Pax et bonum

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A wonderful poem about writing haiku



How to Write a Haiku


Details confuse me,
so when I see a rose,
although I do not know
its pedigree, I write down “rose.”
And when I cut it,
I do not know whether
I should cut it on a slant
or straight, or under water twice,
so I write down “cut.”
And when I put it in a vase,
I do not know whether it is raku
or glaze, or, perhaps good plastic,
so I write down “vase.”
and when I see two red leaves
on the earth beside the rose bush,
I do not know from which tree
they have fallen
so I write down “red leaves.”
And as I set the vase
and the leaves on the table,
I write down

 
rose just cut
beside the vase
two red leaves

 
And although I do not know
the details of what I have just done,
the sadness of it all
cracks my heart open.
 
 
 
(Click on her name to go to her site.)

Pax et bonum

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Obama Administration Picking on Guitar Makers?


There are allegations that the Obama administration unfairly went after a guitar company because that compay's head supported Republicans.

I wouldn't be shocked given all the recend IRS/DOJ scandals, but I'm waiting for more information.

I don't play a Gibson, but if this story is true, I might consider one in the future.

Pax et bonum

Friday, May 24, 2013

A change of course?


My department head took me aside the other day.

She'd been talking to the principal, and they thought I was the best person to take over the Senior English class - the current teacher is retiring. The course is a college prep one, and they want more of a writing focus to better prepare the students.

But there's another reason.

Next year's senior class includes a number of students with motivation and behavior issues. The administration wants a teacher that can handle them, and I've successfully taught some of them before. The only other teacher qualified to teach the course has had many of them this year, and had problems. The principal suggested that other teacher would "burst a blood vessel" if she had to deal with them again.

It makes sense not to have the same teacher two years in a row anyway.

So looks like I will take over the three sections of that class.

Doing so means I have to give up my writer's workshop, one of my favorite classes. And my sophomore literature class - one that's just getting the way I want it.

The other issue is that the current senior teacher has created a unique course - one the powers that be would like to see changed, but they don't want to talk about making those changes while the retiring teacher is still there out of sensitivity to her. And the summer reading lists and curriculum have already been announced, making it difficult for me to make major changes for next year. The department head and I are already considering a supplementary non-fiction text that I'll gradually phase in. But all of this has been talked about behind the scenes and nothing officially has been announced. Consequently, I can't do anything officially yet, or openly talk about the new book.

What that means is that if I do teach that class, which seems likely at this point, it will have to be based on the books already announced. I haven't read most of them, and one that I'm familiar with is one I don't really like or particularly want to teach.

Ah well. I'm stuck for now.

Guess I'll have a lot of reading and preparation to do this summer.

Barring any further changes, I'll be teaching two sections of AP Language and Composition, and three of Senior English.

A challenge, yes, but also a compliment: They want me for those classes.

And I'm lucky to have a job at a school I love.

But before I get to that reading, I have piles of papers to finish for this year.

Get to it, teach!

Pax et bonum

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Impeach Obama? Not likely for now


The day after the 1972 election, I trudged downstairs. I was 17, and had spent months involved with the Presidential campaign - thought I'd known since September of that year that Nixon was going to win. The Demicans had put up a flawed candidate in 1972, much as the Republocrats did last fall.

Anyway, that post-election morning my father was sitting at the table. He said something comforting - he was a Nixon supporter, by the way. I responded that Nixon would not last through his term.

I was certain of that. I was aware of the investigations going on at The Washington Post. Some of the people at the local McGovern headquarters had contacts close to that investigation. I was certain that Nixon would be implicated. It was just a matter of time.

I had a gut feeling.

Some folks are talking now about the impeachment of Obama because of all the recent scandals. Someone even cited a poll that allegedly says more than 50 percent of the people polled think he should be impeached. (I haven't seen the poll, so I can't confirm it.)

Of course, the majority of the voters last fall reelected him, so I think the judgment of the "people" is questionable.

Having lived through the Nixon nightmare, and the Clinton nonsense, I don't think it likely.

I don't have a gut feeling it will happen.

I don't see enough criminal activity to lead to impeachment. There may be some charges against some people in the Obama administration, but not of the same level as in 1972. And so far I've seen nothing linking Obama to illegal activities. And some of his loyal followers will probably be willing to fall on their swords for him.

I think he and some other people are guilty of negligence and misguided policies - but that';s not criminal, and does not merit impeachment.

The voters had their chance last November. They  - including a majority of Catholics, I'm - chose to ignore the facts that were out there and reelected him.

We are stuck with him.

Of course, all of these scandals may cripple his administration and prevent him from doing more harm on a number of fronts (particularly ones relating to life issues). It may lead to the Republocrats making gains in the House and the Senate in 2014, making it harder for Obama to get things through.

On the other hand, it's so early in the term, and the Republocrats are so good at overplaying their hand, Obama may recover.

We just need to keep fighting his abortion policies, the HHS mandate, his attacks on religious liberty, his support for homosexual so-called marriage, embryonic stem cell research and more.

Now is not the time to rest.

As for impeachment talk, it's like the Powerball jackpot. Fun to dream about, but we have to wake up and go to work tomorrow.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sleep calls ...


A long day -

Started at the Men's group at 7 a.m., then morning Mass ...

After that, prayers outside Planned Parenthood ...

Taking brother-in-law shopping ...

Raking the top soil in the garden to ready it for planting ...

Going up on the roof to fix something that had come loose ...

Heading out to the guitar shop to pick up some new strings ...

Stopping by the garden center to pick up more plants ...

Unloading mulch from the wife's car and hauling it into the yard ...
Trimming some grass around he garden fence ...

Finishing a set of student papers ...

Walking the dog ...

Now, typing, and drinking a beer while waiting for the clothes in the washer to get done.

I'll pop them in the drier, then off to bed.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Gatsby Clerihew


That hopeless romantic Jay Gatsby
breathed his last gaspy
when he was shot in the pool
by a poor grieving fool.


Pax et bonum

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sluggish again


a slug among weeds
of course will never forget
good old what's his name

a slug among weeds
has often been heard singing
"Happy trails to you"

Pax et bonum

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Mark Shea is wrong


I like Mark Shea. Okay, I don't know him personally, but I like his posts, his intelligence, his insights, his sense of humor, his sometimes contrarian ways. I generally agree with him.

I'm even paying tribute to him by giving this a post a Shea-type provocative title.

Nevertheless, he is wrong - at least when it comes to Live Action.

The folks at Live Action stage undercover operations and record abortionists and abortion center staff revealing a willingness to cover up child abuse, rape, exploitation of women, fraud, murder, and infanticide.

But Mark is unhappy with the Live Action folks.

Seems he thinks they are lying.

Horrors.

That they do deceive the good people of Planned Parenthood and other baby killing centers is true. That's what undercover work is about. You go in in disguise to find out things that might not otherwise be revealed. Police do that regularly. The FBI does too. And the CIA. Journalists do it. And others.

Yes, lying makes the Ten Commandments' naughty list and is condemned by the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

2482 "A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving."281 The Lord denounces lying as the work of the devil: "You are of your father the devil, . . . there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."282
2483 Lying is the most direct offense against the truth. To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error. By injuring man's relation to truth and to his neighbor, a lie offends against the fundamental relation of man and of his word to the Lord.
2484 The gravity of a lie is measured against the nature of the truth it deforms, the circumstances, the intentions of the one who lies, and the harm suffered by its victims. If a lie in itself only constitutes a venial sin, it becomes mortal when it does grave injury to the virtues of justice and charity.

But that doesn't sound like what the Live Action people are doing. They are playing a role - they liken what they do to acting. They are playing a part. Just like the undercover police. Or reporters.

I remember once when I was a reporter I wrote a story about street corner beggars. To experience what they experience, to get a feel for what they feel, I put on old clothes, made a sign that said "Hungry," and stood on street corners. I did so in character, walking with a limp, speaking in a gravelly voice, etc.

Was I lying? No. It helped me to better understand the people I was interviewing.  It helped me to know how people react to beggars. It helped me better understand my own reactions to them.

(In case you are wondering, I donated all the money I got while begging to a homeless program.)

The Live Action people are not profiting by their actions. Their intent is not to harm others. It's to expose a grave crime that might not otherwise come to light.

I completely dismiss the lying charge.

But now there's a new line of attack. In doing what they do they are accused of somehow leading the baby killers into sin. They are tempting those misguided murderers to commit homicide - or at least to talk about their willingness to commit a hypothetical murder that will never actually take place.

Bunk.

The killing center staff went to work that day fully prepared to willingly commit murder. There's a good chance some of them did commit murders the day the Live Action folks stopped by. They didn't need any tempting by the Live Action people to slaughter children.

There's biblical precedent for what the Live Action people are doing.

King Solomon (1 Kings 3 16-28) is held up as model of justice in the way he handled the case of two women claiming the same baby. Cut the baby in half, he declared - catching one of the women willing to go along with the infanticide. Did he tempt her? No - he gave her an opportunity to reveal her true nature.

That's what the Live Action people are doing. The people who get caught have an opportunity to do the right thing - but they reveal instead how deluded they are and the SOP at the killing centers.

We need to pray for the death dealers that they will see the truth of what they are doing and will repent - like, say, Abby Johnson did.

And we need to pray that the people at Live Action will continue doing what they are doing until even ABC News will acknowledge the true nature of abortion and what the slaughter sites are doing.

Oh, and we should also pray that Mark will realize that he's wrong here and get back to his delightful skewering of sacred cows that really deserve it.

Pax et bonum

Friday, May 3, 2013

Julia Nunes - and Boston - and Neil Diamond!




She's a local talent - and I'm from Boston!

(Okay, there's silliness, but I'm sometimes silly.)

Pax et bonum