Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Reading Tally: 22 books/plays


It was a down year when it came to reading. Lots of school related reading (and grading of papers/essay) cut down on my time, as did my sleeping woes (seems I may have sleep apnea, which left me constantly tired and falling asleep at inopportune times).

A number of the books on the list were ones I read for school. My rule for counting them is that I have not taught/read them in a while. So, for example, I did reread The Merchant of Venice, The Crucible, The Great Gatsby, and Antigone again, but as I read them last year I did not count them. On the other hand, I reread Othello. Macbeth, and Jane Eyre, all of which I had not read in a while, so I counted them.

Here's the list:

  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  • Othello by William Shakespeare
  • The Woman Who Was Chesterton by Nancy Carpentier Brown
  • The Porter of St. Bonaventure's by James Patrick Derum
  • What's the Weather Inside? (children's poetry) by Karma Wilson
  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
  • Father Solanus: The Story of Solanus Casey, O.F.M. Cap. by Catherine M. Odell
  • Nothing Is Impossible With God by John Michael Talbot
  • I Am Malala
  • Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking by Alan Katz
  • The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku by Paul B. Janeczko and J. Patrick Lewis
  • Outside the Box (children's poetry) by Karma Wilson
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Pure Drivel by Steve Martin
  • All Roads by Dale Ahlquist
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • 100 Essays I Don't Have Time To Write by Sarah Ruhl
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy by Mike Huckabee
  • Urodivoi: Holy Fools by Catherine Doherty
  • Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics by Ross Douthat

  • It's primarily a mix of school-related, religious, and children's poetry. Chesterton sneaks in twice. There are two books about Fr. Solanus Casey, my Franciscan patron. Douthat's book was thought provoking.

    There were some books I was working on, but did not finish yet - a book about being a hermit and Dante's Divine Comedy standing out among those works.  Currently reading a collection of short essays as well. What to add to the 2016 list ... hmmm.

    Pax et bonum

    Tuesday, December 29, 2015

    More Christmas Swag: Books


    I mentioned the beers and meads I got for Christmas. I got a number of other nice gifts as well.

    Of course, there are some books.

    Hot Sauce: Techniques for Making Signature Hot Sauces by Jennifer Trainer Thompson - along with this one I got a kit to grow peppers... mmmm.
    The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems In Translation, edited by Greg Delanty and Michael Matto
    Brief Encounters: A Collection of Contemporary Nonfiction, edited by Judith Kitchen and Dinah Lenney (I used a gift card to buy this one myself).

    I've already glanced through them. I'd read some of the Anglo-Saxon poems before, and it's interesting to see how contemporary poets and writers translate the poems. The sauce recipes look tongue challenging! And as for the essays, I love the short form of personal essays. I'd read on of the previous collections that Kitchen edited, and used some of them in my writing class. 

    Good reading - and eating - ahead.

    Pax et bonum

    Friday, December 25, 2015

    I'll drink to that


    When my wife asked what I wanted for Christmas, I said nothing, but, after a few moments thought - and repeated pleas - I said mead. I do like mead.

    Forced to be creative, my good wife came up with a number of items I had not mentioned - Solanus Casey tee-shirts, for example - but which were delightful.

    Ah, but then she also decided to address my love of mead, and of interesting beers. The result: a selection of fine beverages:

    Montezuma Winery Mead
    Earle Estates Meadery Honey Mead
    Earle Estates Meadery Cherry Charisma (Mead and Cherry Wine mix)
    Brotherhood Holiday Spiced Wine
    Ommegang Three Philosophers Ale
    Ommegang Hennepin Saison (Farmhouse) Ale
    Ommegang Chocolate Indulgence Ale
    Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale
    Samuel Smith's Porter
    Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout
    Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout
    Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale

    Mmmm.

    Pax et bonum

    Why Outsider Art


    I've always had a fondness for Outsider Art - also called Art Brut, Self-taught, Folk, and so on.

    I think part of the affinity is I feel like an outsider myself.

    No, not in any self-pitying way. But I have always been an outsider. Shy. Private. Not quite fitting in. A quirky way of looking at the world.

    I think the impulse is linked to my fondness for the hermit life. Or Saints. Or obscure kinds of poetry (slug haiku, for example). Or with being Santa.

    Even as a child I never did quite fit in. I rarely felt comfortable with my peers - and even when with them always felt as if I was not really part of the group. I was easily put off by language, physical violence, crudity. I was bored by many of the things so many others seemed to like.

    Those I felt most comfortable with were the marginalized.

    And I function best in society when I am playing a role. Santa. Teacher. Folk musician. Parts of me, yes, but still not fully me. Masks.

    After 60 years, I don't see it changing much.

    In fact, I embrace it.

    What should I create next?

    A slug among weeds
    celebrates Christmas morning
    in blessed silence

    Pax et bonum

    Santa Season Over


    Yesterday was my final shift at the mall. After being mostly locked out last year (no-compete clause in old contract) I think I ended up with my most hours ever. It was wonderful.

    Now --- to trim the beard, or not!

    Pax et bonum

    Saturday, December 19, 2015

    A banned pro-life video (Tsk Tsk Youtube)



    Youtube banned this pro-life video.

    https://vimeo.com/96140592

    (UPDATE: It's back up on Youtube - for now.)

    Pax et bonum

    Saturday, December 12, 2015

    Ho Ho Ho



    Just two weeks to go!

    Pax et bonum

    Sunday, December 6, 2015

    Saturday, November 28, 2015

    Friday, November 27, 2015

    Mini Thanksgiving


    We had a small Thanksgiving yesterday - just the wife, the brother-in-law and myself. Daughters had their own celebration, but due to the living situation of one, and the presence of certain people there, I chose not to go over.

    Meanwhile, one daughter is mad about something and refuses to have anything to do with us. When I called to thank her for something, she even refused to return the call. It could be I posted some pro-life or anti-Planned Parenthood pieces on Facebook - but I don't know for sure if that had anything to do with it. It could be something the wife said or posted, and I'm collateral damage. Don't know.

    Sigh.

    Family.

    Two daughters will come over today - I'm not on their refusal list.

    Pax et bonum

    Sunday, November 22, 2015

    Paper lanterns



    charred paper lanterns
    clog Hiroshima's rivers
    a child's cry

    Pax et bonum

    Saturday, November 21, 2015

    Listen to that Cat purr ...



    Yusuf Islam
    returned to offer some musical balm.
    This Cat by another name
    happily still sounds the same.


    Pax et bonum

    Wednesday, November 11, 2015

    Crossing the line


    The Wife posted on Facebook an article about "senior discounts." Some companies begin giving them when you hit 55, some start at 60, and some at 65.

    I've never really thought of myself as a "senior," though at 60 I now qualify in many eyes. Indeed, this summer, the cashier at a local movie theater gave the good-looking-one and I discounts, though neither of us asked.

    But then I saw how many discount-offering businesses were listed in that article.

    Many of the places are not ones I frequent, true, but some got me smiling.

    Ben & Jerry's: 10% off (60+)
    Dunkin' Donuts: 10% off or free coffee ( 55+) 
    Golden Corral: 10% off (60+)
    McDonald's: discounts on coffee everyday ( 55+)
    Papa John’s: 25% off (55+) for online orders. Enter the code “AARP25″ when placing your order
    Subway: 10% off (60+)
    AMC Theaters: Up to 30% off (55+)
    Cinemark: Up to 35 % off

    There's lots more, but not all of them are local, and, as I noted earlier, I don't go to a lot of them on any kind of a regular basis.

    And some of these discounts may not be available at every location - I'll need to check that out. Also, you apparently need to ask for the discount. But I'm thinking it might be time to cross the line and start taking advantage of my "senior" status.

    Let's see if some of those young whippersnappers give me a hard time!

    Pax et bonum

    Chris Christie Clerihew - a bridge too far?



    Chris Christie
    found the campaign trail twisty.
    Maybe he'll view his likely loss
    as just another bridge to cross.

    Pax et bonum

    Sunday, November 8, 2015

    A Carson Clerihew



    Ben Carson
    never claimed he committed arson.
    That didn't stop Politico
    from reporting, "He may have, you know."

    Pax et bonum

    Saturday, November 7, 2015

    Picasso painting sells for over 67 million dollars...




    This painting sold for $67 million?? So much poverty in the world, so many suffering people, and something this ugly gets that amount of money? Even a beautiful picture is not worth that much.

    Sigh.

    Tip of the hat to Adrienne ...

    Adrienne's Corner: Picasso painting sells for over 67 million dollars...: proving once again that a sucker is born every day. The new owners did get a bonus ugly picture painted on the back.  

    Pax et bonum

    The Youth Group Ghetto


    At men's group this morning the issue of youth no longer believing or practicing the faith came up. I noted that I had recently read an article that argues youth groups often actually serve to ghettoize Catholic youth. The groups keep them separate and not fully involved in the Church and liturgy and with older believers. They are fed a diet of fun and games and social activities that make Masses seem dull and unstimulating.

    I'd seen articles like this before, but I saw this one about the same time as that recent Pew study showing a decline in young people's involvement in organized religion.

    Several of the other guys jumped in. One man noted that his son got confirmed and quit going to church because it was boring and he'd "graduated" anyway. The man added with a knowing chuckle that the youth groups' latest activity was a haunted hayride.

    Another man whose wife had been involved with religious education/youth groups for a long time suggested that what I said sounded right.

    Not that we were against fun activities, but it seemed that all of our kids who were part of youth groups in the last 20 years had simply not been well formed in the faith, and stopped practicing as soon as they got old enough or out of the house. (I'm sure there are many fine programs, by the way - ones that do indeed teach the faith.)

    We then looked at our own examples and whether we had failed to truly lead when it came to faith in our homes. (I know I failed.) And we speculated what kind of example were adults in general setting when they found reasons not to go to church - a game, sleeping in, whatever - or teaching the young that it's okay to duck out of church skip right after Communion before Mass is even over. And, of course, the culture as a whole works against organized religion.

    We also wondered what could be done to instill more of a sense participating in the faith. Maybe requiring serving in liturgical roles (lector, altar server, choir, and so on) as part of being in the religious education program or youth group. The social activities are fine, and it's good when there are social ministry components to youth ministry, but the more formal church type activities seem to be lacking.

    I don't have an easy answer. I'm not a youth minister or religious education teacher.  And my own daughters are part of the statistics.

    But somehow we need to find a better way to pass on the faith.

    Maybe youth ministry has indeed become too much of a ghetto.

    Pax et bonum

    One More Week - Ho! Ho! Ho!



    Pax et bonum

    Sunday, November 1, 2015

    Tricks without treats



    back to the monsters
    who inflict tricks without treats -
    reading latest news

    Pax et bonum

    Saturday, October 31, 2015

    Funeral: Some possible wake photos for when I go home


    The funeral this morning got me to thinking of my own end some day.

    No, I'm not morbid!

    It's just that at so many wakes these days they have these slide shows from the life of the person. I began to wonder what photos of me and my family I'd want in such a show. I don't have a lot of photos of myself - I'm usually the person behind the camera. And I also wanted to have a say in what photos get shown - I've seen some pretty awful ones at other people's wakes.

    Of course, I'd rather just have them run some Three Stooges shorts or clips from The Marx Brothers, but the family will probably want some sort of photo display.

    Here's a few I have in my computer. I need to scan in more - wedding and family. Then maybe I'll gather them all in a flash drive so the work will be done for the family. One less thing for them to worry about.

    How to get rid of all my books will be enough of a problem for them!



     
     


     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Pax et bonum

    A funeral


    This morning I'm attending a funeral of a woman I never met.

    She was the mother of a man my wife worked with for several years. She, the man, and the man's wife, are friends. I am the attached husband - they are nice people, but to me only acquaintances. They did come to show support when my father died.

    I don't object to going to the funeral. They are good people, and I'm happy to support them and my wife.

    As for the deceased, she was by all accounts a good woman who lived a full life. Perhaps now she is a saint in heaven.

    Pray for us all, please.

    Pax et bonum

    Saturday, October 24, 2015

    First they came for the tambourine players ...



    Ran across this news item about an over-zealous tambourine player at a church ending up getting tased. The poor woman may have been overmedicated, or certainly suffering from some irrational state. But I do wonder if it was really necessary to pepper spray and tase her. I wasn't there, so I can't say.

    I was reminded, though, of people who have complained about my band at church - Rock music! Too Loud! Could we be subject to orders by legal authorities to desist? And if we refuse, face the spray or the Taser?

    And then I recalled that poem about the authorities coming after one group, then another, and finally my group. I modified it to fit this situation:

    First they came for the tambourine players, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a tambourine player.


    Then they came for the ukulele players, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a ukulele player.


    Then they came for the bagpipers, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a bagpiper.


    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to play for me.

    Who's next? Hmmmmmmmmm

     
    Pax et bonum

    Friday, October 23, 2015

    About the Synod


    I've been asked what I think about various stories coming out of the Synod on the Family.

    I've declined to comment.

    My silence is due in part to my ongoing effort to avoid getting caught up in pointless debates that get me worked up and unFranciscan-like.

    But even more it's because we really don't know what is happening at the Synod. We don't know what was actually said and in what context. We don't have published final reports yet. We don't know what the Pope will ultimately say.

    Folks on social media can argue, predict, doom-and-gloom endlessly if they wish, but there is nothing firm at this point and I don't want to get caught up in it all.

    Maybe later. When we have facts to deal with rather than predictions and speculations.

    Pax et bonum

    Sunday, October 18, 2015

    Them's Fighting Words


    We held a wonderful Franciscan Day of Reflection for our two local Secular Franciscan fraternities yesterday. Conducted by two members of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, the focus was on Father Benedict Groeschel, the founder of their order who passed away one year ago (on October 3).

    Amid the talks - the anecdotes - a Mass - a Holy Hour - a Rosary and a Chaplet of Divine Mercy - Confessions - and socializing with fellow Franciscan - I got a chance to talk with one of the Friars about my Franciscan struggles with anger, and with arguing.

    After listening to me talk about how often I get caught up in arguing with other people over political and social issues - and my often using aggressive/provocative/confrontational/sarcastic language - he pointed out that that approach was indeed not very Franciscan, and that while some people can engage in such debates without crossing the line, not everyone can or is ready to.

    A gentle way of suggesting I currently am not one of those people who can disagree like a Franciscan.

    His suggestion was simple, but made sense: Avoid getting in to such disputes by avoiding the things that get me caught up in them. For me, that would mean avoiding situations such as online debates, responding to others comments or posts, getting caught up in reading about politics and the like. It's one thing to peacefully pray in front of Planned Parenthood during the 40 Days for Life campaign, for example, but it's another to respond and challenge and argue with people online about prolife issues or posting provocative comments and articles.

    He said that the model given us by St. Francis is to act in loving ways, to be positive and supportive and gentle, not to be constantly critical and negative, or to confront and engage in disputes. That doesn't mean not standing up for what is right or taking action, but it does mean going about it in a different way and not becoming verbally violent.

    So ... I'm trying to be more careful about what I post. I'm trying not to respond in an argumentative way. I'm trying not to react in a challenging way to what others say or post. I'm trying to avoid watching the political shows that get me so worked up. I'm trying to avoid the sharp or sarcastic or judgmental comments I'm so prone to in talking and writing. 

    Maybe down the road I will be able to debate is a more Franciscan way, but I'm not spiritually strong enough to do so now.

    Pax et bonum

    Saturday, October 17, 2015

    An Election - Franciscan Style



    Last night my Fraternity held its officer elections.

    As I had mentioned previously, when nominations were initially made over the summer, I had been nominated by various people for almost every office - Minster, Vice Minister, Treasurer, Secretary, and Councilor. When contacted by the election committee, I said I didn't  desire any office, but I would be willing to consider serving as a Council member again - after all, I'm the person with the key to our meeting site and I had to be there anyway for the Council meetings.

    I like being the doorman. Like Venerable Solanus Casey.

    The election committee contacted me again, and said many people wanted me to run for Vice Minister. I again declined. I had many reasons. But at this point I began to wonder if I was doing this out of ego - by turning it down I had control, and it was drawing attention to my "humility." And I wondered if by saying no I was denying a call, and rejecting the opportunity to be a servant to the Fraternity. So I began to pray and decided that if people approached me again I would let my name be on the ballot and leave it up to the fraternity and the Holy Spirit. Sure enough, at a Fraternity meeting three people approached me. I said my name could be on the ballot.

    To the elections.

    The Minister was reelected almost unanimously. No surprise.

    Then came the vote for Vice Minister. There were two candidates, a long-time fraternity member - a woman I considered a fine candidate - and myself.

    First vote - a tie!

    Second vote - still tied.

    At this point, the woman running the election looked up the Franciscan rules. If at the end of a third ballot there was still a tie, the office would go to the candidate who had been professed the longest. In this case, it would be my worthy opponent.

    Third vote, someone apparently changed votes ... and my opponent won.

    Alleluia. I didn't get an office I really didn't want.

    I think the Holy Spirit was messing with me by dragging it out this way, though.

    A side note. My wife, who is in formation and so had no vote in the election, had been asked to record the votes on a whiteboard for all to see. She was standing near the woman who was running against me. My wife noted the woman was sweating, closing her eyes, sighing, muttering, seemingly praying as the votes were taking place. My wife's reading of it was the woman really, really wanted to be elected.

    If so, I'm glad she got her wish.

    Ah, but there was more.

    The elections for Secretary and Treasurer went as expected. Then we came to Formation Director. The man who had been the Formation Director was running for reelection and was expected to win easily, but he was not at the meeting because he was on retreat. Under Franciscan election rules, if he is elected he has to either be there to say he accepts or be reachable by phone to say he accepts, or he had to have submitted a letter prior to the night to say he would accept. He had not submitted a letter, and he could not be reached by phone - likely his phone had to be turned off  during retreat sessions. So ... he was disqualified, and the woman who had been helping him with formation was elected Formation Director. An upset!

    But there's even more.

    Last up was the election of Councilors - as noted earlier, I was currently one, and had indicated from the start that I would be willing to continue in that role (that whole key thing!).

    There were four candidates: a current Councilor, a married couple, and myself. Prior to last night, the Fraternity had two Councilors. But then someone asked if all four candidates could be named Councilors. The woman from the region who was running the election said no, according to the rules, a Fraternity could have a maximum of three Councilors. The Fraternity voted to raise the number of Councilors to three.

    But ... one of the candidates, the wife of the couple, was not there. Unlike the former Formation Director, she could be reached by phone, and she agreed to serve if elected.

    So we voted. I finished first. The husband of the couple finished second. The woman who had been a Council member finished third. We three were elected. Asked if we were willing to serve, I said yes, the woman said yes, the husband said ... no.

    It seems he and his wife do everything together, and since she was not elected he was not willing to serve without her. So we ended up with two Councilors anyway.

    In the end, I continue in the office I'd been willing to serve in in the first place, and we now have three new people in offices. Interestingly, the officers for our Fraternity consists of six woman and me. Once again, I'm one of the token males, or in this case, THE token male!

    Just call me the doorman.

    Goo-Goo-Ga-Joob!

    Pax et bonum

    Saturday, October 10, 2015

    40 Days for Life - two haiku


    I spent an hour in prayer today in front of Planned Parenthood as part of 40 Days for Life.

    Being a less social sort, and an early morning riser, I tend to go very early - today at 7 a.m. (there's an 8:30 Mass I can get to after, so the timing is great).

    Today I got inspired to write two haiku:

    as I stand praying
    a man gives me the finger -
    40 Days for Life

    police officer
    nods and waves as he drive by -
    40 Days for Life

    I have been fortunate to get few of the former reactions. The man in question was a young man; I prayed for him as he's a victim of our pro-abortion culture. And it could have been worse. I've had foul language screamed at me before - by people in the safety of passing cars, of course. Two of my fellow local 40 Days compatriots were egged one year. In other cities, signs have been stolen or destroyed, and pro-lifers have been threatened and even assaulted. So a finger is not that bad.

    I have gotten far more of the latter - from police, fire fighters, bus drivers, taxi drivers, and just regular people going by.

    If even one person is led to rethink his/her support for abortion, then we'll move one step closer to ending the slaughter, and my few hours of prayer -  with an occasional hostile gesture - will be well worth it.

    Pax et bonum

    Sunday, October 4, 2015

    Hating Kim Davis



    The news that Pope Francis met with Kim Davis - the clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples - resulted in hissy fits among the secular media and the Catholic left.

    Davis had been a constant target of vitriol and venom since she acted on her conservative Christian beliefs - how dare she! Some more moderate voices noted that as a public official she had to follow what is currently the "law" of the land - I don't agree with this view, but it makes sense and I respect it. Others, though, trotted out the imposing her beliefs argument (I counter that all laws are someone's beliefs being "imposed' on others). And still others went after her personally, because of multiple marriages (neglecting to mention that those took place before she found faith and reformed her life), and some even for her appearance (she stopped wearing makeup as part of her faith-based rejection of vanity).

    And then there was Pope Francis, a darling of the left because of more pastoral remarks that were consistently being spun and misrepresented to fit their agenda on homosexuality, divorce, sacraments, the environment, etc. He was  gentle and measured in his words while here, allowing the left to ignore what he was really saying on issues like abortion and conscience rights. To be fair, some Francis-bashing conservative Catholics also went after him for, for example, NOT BLATANTLY SAYING THE WORD ABORTION AND DAMNING OBAMA AND PROABORTION CATHOLIC POLITICIANS TO HELL.

    Ahem.

    Anyway, this is about the Kim Davis haters.

    They may say they don't hate her per se, just what she stands for, but their words and tone and attitude too often say otherwise.

    All was well with them - gushy articles spinning and spinning and avoiding his messages. (Gee, why did he have to meet with the Sisters on whom the Obama administration was trying to force contraception? Oh well, he did it quietly behind closed doors. We'll overlook that.).

    Then the reports came out that he met with Davis.

    I don't care how that meeting came about, who arranged it, who else was there, and so on. The left went apoplectic. They tried to argue every which way they could to downplay it. It was with a group of people. Her lawyer is exploiting it. The Pope didn't really know who she was or all the details behind why she's in the news. He was being nice and wasn't endorsing what she did. The Vatican is hedging and backtracking. Oh, phew, he met a homosexual couple too in a more official way.

    I've been staying out of the fray thus far because I've gotten tired of how everything the Pope does these days gets distorted and misrepresented, and the Davis issue was not one that caught fire with me (the butchery at Planned Parenthood has been more on my mind).

    But I've been wondering why so many on the Catholic left have gotten their undergarments in a twist over this.

    There are many on the Catholic left who do want to see Church teaching change on issue like homosexual marriage and birth control and abortion and divorced Catholics, and had been hoping the Pope would make such changes. Never mind that he's consistently cited Church teachings - he doesn't yell or obsess and he smiles and is pastoral, and, well, he's not Pope Benedict. But when there was a chance he might actually support or be sympathetic to what Davis did - You mean he actually might have meant those remarks about conscience rights and religious liberty? - they simply couldn't accept it. They had to show how the reports were somehow wrong.

    Otherwise, these member of the left might have to admit they are themselves wrong, or they are not going to get the church they want.

    Then there are others who know the teachings will likely not change, and may even agree with many of the teachings, but are uncomfortable with being public about it because they might be attacked, or less popular, or people will make fun of them. Davis was a threat and a challenge - she actually publicly stood up for her beliefs.

    Please don't ask us to stand up in a public way like she did.

    I'm sure there are other reasons, but those two seem to be the most common among agitated left.

    And I also recognize that there are people who are genuinely struggling with these moral issues - but they are not the one running to the media to spout about what the Pope did or didn't do.

    As for me, I'm more interested in trying to follow what the Church teaches and changing myself as needed to be a better Catholic who acts on those teachings - no matter what the consequences - rather than trying to change the Church to fit my personal - and admittedly flawed - vision, or even hiding my beliefs under a bushel basket until it's safe to let them out.

    Pax et bonum

    Saturday, October 3, 2015

    Transitus of St. Francis



    Tonight our two local Fraternities will join Franciscans around the world as we celebrate the Transitus - the passing of St. Francis from this life. (We celebrate the Feast of St. Francis on the 4th because he died after sunset on the 3rd, so it is counted as the 4th even though technically it was on the 3rd).

    We will have a Mass and a celebratory gathering after.

    I am looking forward to the celebration. Four years after my profession I'm beginning to feel a little like a Franciscan. I find myself changing my behavior and even thinking in light of the Franciscan influence. I'm not there yet - too much of myself, too much anger and ambition and sarcasm and spiritual laziness. But I''ve notice a little bit of change. I argue less. I try to moderate what I say when I do dispute. I pray more.

    Alleluia.

    Still a long way to go. Maybe by the time I get called home I'll begin to be a true Franciscan.

    May it be a blessed night for all.

    Pax et bonum

    Wednesday, September 30, 2015

    X-Files Cigarette Smoking Man - and Planned Parenthood



    So, Cecile Richards, you have a supply of human tissue.

    I know some people who could use such a supply.

    There'll be generous compensation.

    We'll call it a handling fee.

    Just don't ask questions.

    And don't answer any.

    At least not honestly.

    Care for a cigarette?

    Pax et bonum

    Sunday, September 27, 2015

    Open the Eyes of My Heart


    There are certain songs I enjoy singing. "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport," the first song that actually caught my attention on the radio (yes, I'm that old), "Bottle of Wine," (sots in my family?), "Never Ending Song of Love" are three of them. I sometimes sing them as I walk or drive, just for the pleasure of singing them.

    There are others, but lately one that I've been singing is "Open the Eyes of My Heart" by Paul Baloche.

    The lyrics are simple and repetitive. The tune is not hard; it suits my range. But for me anyway it is  also moving - this is a song I feel as if I'm praying as I sing.

    There are multiple covers of the song - it seems to touch other people too. My favorite is the Randy Travis one. My own version is similar to his.


    Sadly, he later faced all sorts of problems, including a massive stroke that, for now, has incapacitated him and rendered him incapable of performing. Say a prayer for him.

    Here are the lyrics as Michael W. Smith performed the song.

    "Open The Eyes Of My Heart"

    Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
    Open the eyes of my heart
    I want to see You
    I want to see You

    Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
    Open the eyes of my heart
    I want to see You
    I want to see You

    To see You high and lifted up
    Shinin' in the light of Your glory
    Pour out Your power and love
    As we sing holy, holy, holy

    Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
    Open the eyes of my heart
    I want to see You
    I want to see You

    Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
    Open the eyes of my heart
    I want to see You
    I want to see You

    To see You high and lifted up
    Shinin' in the light of Your glory
    Pour out Your power and love
    As we sing holy, holy, holy

    [Repeat two more times]

    Holy, holy, holy
    We cry holy, holy, holy
    You are holy, holy, holy
    I want to see you

    Holy, holy, holy
    Holy, holy, holy
    You are holy, holy, holy
    I want to see you

    Holy, holy, holy
    Holy, holy, holy
    Holy, holy, holy,
    I want to see you

    This is one of the songs I played for the opening of the local 40 Days for Life campaign. I prayed that the hearts of everyone connected with abortion might have their hearts opened - within the  industry, the victims, even the protesters that they will be loving and compassionate.

    Pax et bonum

    Saturday, September 26, 2015

    Great Rochester Chesterton Conference


    The local G. K Chesterton Society sponsored their 12th annual Chesterton Conference today.

    The theme was "More than Magic," and the speakers were Dale Ahlquist, the President of the American Chesterton Society; Kevin O'Brien, of Theater of the Word Incorporated; Joseph Pearce, a prolific author; and James Warren, a professional magician.

    The "magic" they addressed was of fairy stories as truth as explored by Chesterton in the "Ethics of Elfland" from Orthodoxy.

    Ahlquist spoke about "A Citizen of Fairyand." O'Brien spoke as J.R.R.R. Tolkien "On Fairy Stories." Pearce talked about Chesterton's influence on Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and their ideas about faith and fairy tales. Finally, Warren performed some magic, and addressed the subject of "A Magician in Elfland."

    Great time. Good talks and performances. Good people in the audience, leading to some wonderful conversations.

    And O'Brien tipped me off about a possible Santa gig next year! Amazing.  

    Pax et bonum

    Don't cry for me - Boehner clerihew



    When it comes to tears John Boehner
    is no refrainer.
    Although a manly feller
    he loses it over "Old Yeller."

    Pax et bonum

    Sunday, September 20, 2015

    A Dalek as Pope? Hmmm



    An amusing bit of satire, with a Dalek as pope.

    I can just hear - "Excommunicate! Find the Doctor of the Church! Excommunicate!"

    Pax et bonum

    Saturday, September 19, 2015

    As a Bills fan




    There are those who say Tom Brady,
    though talented, is shady.
    I don't know about that;
    he just leaves me flat.

    Pax et bonum

    What if Planned Parenthood Were Defunded?



    Pax et bonum

    Donald Trump is the Ugly American


    As I watch the Donald Trump campaign I grow increasingly nervous.

    To me, he represents all that is the worst in American politics - and I fear that American voters will either again will buy the flash and show and give us a Trump disaster in the White House, or will turn to the Democrats and give us further moral decay.

    Optimistic, eh?

    When I think of Trump, the phrase "Ugly American" comes to mind. And I don't mean ugly in the way he implied Carly Fiorina looked. ("Oh, I didn't mean her face, I mean her persona.")

    I'm referring to the 1950s political novel in which Americans  were portrayed as loud, insensitive, ostentatious, pretentious, arrogant, socially isolated by choice, and so on.

    Sound like Trump?

    In the novel, the Americans' boorishness repels others in other lands, leading them to turn to, at that time, the communists. Who will the offended turn to today? The big foe in the media now seems to be radical Islam, though I suspect rampant secularization and selfishness are bigger threats.

    Trump is tapping into a stream of American politics that is not new. Loud show, brass bands, fireworks, Nativism, xenophobia, bigotry, and so on. His brand of boorishness is exaggerated due to the constant media coverage, true, but he is certainly playing to all that is ignorant and crowd-pleasing in the underbelly of the American character.

    The sad thing is that so many people who know him personally say he is kind and generous. He is obviously intelligent, though I sense intellectually ignorant and lazy. I think he's been trapped by the need for attention and what he thinks will get him that attention.

    My hope is that the Trump show will burn out as people begin to get bored - or as he continues to make offensive statements (or fails to make reasonable responses, as with a recent Muslim comment he seemed accept). The voters will, hopefully, pick more reasonable, responsible candidates and we will have real choice in 2016.

    Then again, the voters fell for Obama. Twice. Hey, at least the Nobel Prize folks are finally beginning to admit that maybe giving him the Peace Prize simply for not being Bush was a mistake.

    Right now, though, all I can do is speak out - and then shake my head as voters seem to like show without substance.

    Pax et bonum

    Saturday, September 12, 2015

    A pro-life song


    Four years ago I was asked to provide music for the kick-off of our local 40 Days For Life campaign. I searched for songs to play - I recall doing "Open The Eyes of My Heart" and a modified version of "We Shall Overcome." But I wanted a pro-life song.

    I checked out a few, found some interesting ones, but none fit my style. So I wrote one of my own, "3 a.m."

    I played it that one time. After, I kept thinking I should record it, maybe even make a video, so I would remember it. Never did.

    Flash forward.

    A week ago I got an e-mail from the local 40 Days organizer. The music for the upcoming kickoff on September 22 had fallen through - could I help with 15 minutes worth?

    I said yes, then searched for some songs, including that one I wrote.

    After looking back through a bunch of computer files, I finally found the lyrics. But I hadn't written down the chords.

    I sort of remembered the tune, and what key it was in, so I recreated the song as best I could.

    We'll see.

    Here are the lyrics as I recorded them back then - I may modify as I practice.


    3 a.m.

    Another night

    She’s haunted by

    A baby’s cry

     

    In the night

    No way to hide

    From the emptiness

    She feels inside

     

    And all those things

    she’ d believed

    she now knows

    she’d been deceived

     

    With a choice

    she’s now a mother

    who will never

    hold her child.

     

    He turns a page

    He turns away

    The words get lost

    In what he can’t say

     

    He’d shown support

    He’d gone along

    Despite a feeling

    That it was wrong

     

    He resents the loss

    And that on that day

    Society said he

    really had no say

     

    Without a choice

    He’s now a father

    Who will never

    Hold his child

     

    We were too young

    We were afraid

    We were too poor

    The time was wrong

    It was just a choice

    It wasn’t human

    It was just cells

    It wasn’t alive

    It couldn’t feel

    It was just a choice

    It was just a choice

    It was just a choice

     

    Safe within

    His mother’s womb

    But when she chose

    It spelled his doom

     

    He tried to flee

    When death came near

    He tried to scream

    No one could hear

     

    Now he rests

    In God’s love

    He’s forgiven but

    Laments from above

     

    Because of choice

    They’re now parents

    Who will never

    Hold their child

     
    We were too young

    We were afraid

    We were too poor

    The time was wrong

    It was just a choice

    It wasn’t human

    It was just cells

    It wasn’t alive

    It couldn’t feel

    It was just a choice

    It was just a choice

    It was just a choice

     
     
    He’s not a choice

    He’s a child

    Who will never

    Be held. 

     
    Okay, not the greatest song, but I can sing it. The version of "We Shall Overcome" is back. Others? Maybe "Open the Eyes of My Heart" again. Leaning toward "Go Make a Difference." "Amazing Grace"? "Christ Be Our Light"? "Prayer of St. Francis"?
     
    I can play them all, so I can pull it off.
     
    Got some thinking and planning and timing to do.
     
    Pax et bonum