Saturday, December 31, 2016
This year's tally of books is similar to previous years' tallies. Children's poetry, other poetry, some spiritual works, books related to school, a couple of classics.
Some of the books took a lot of time to get through given my limited time - the biography of Chesterton was huge and took a long time to finish, for example.
I suspect in 2017 it will be more of the same. But I do want to read more - and increase the quality.
One interesting change this year is that I got no books for Christmas. I got book store gift cards, but no books. No surprises. Too bad. Over the years I've gotten some that proved interesting and might not have picked on my own. As for the gift cards, to be honest, I can't think of any books I want to buy. I have plenty of books on the bookshelf that I haven't read yet.
Here's the 2016 list:
Clement of Rome and the Didache: A New Translation and Theological Commentary by Kenneth J. Howell
Clement of Rome's Letter to the Corinthians
Full of Moonlight - Haiku Society of America 2016 Members' Anthology
Robert Frost: A Life by Jay Parini
G. K. Chesterton: A Biography by Ian Ker
Beneath Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Purgatorio by Dante
The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
Mercy by Lucille Clifton
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
Brothers & Sister Family Poems by Eloise Greenfield
Bleeder by John Desjarlais
Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
In Brief: Short Takes on the Personal edited by Judith Kitchen and Mary Paumier Jones
Will Wilder: The Relic of Perilous Falls by Raymond Arroyo
Poem Runs by Douglas Florian
UnBEElievables by Douglas Florian
The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
Consider the Ravens: On Contemporary Hermit Life by Paul and Karen Fredette
Short Takes: Brief Encounters with Contemporary Nonfiction edited by Judith Kitchen
Brief Encounters: A Collection of Contemporary Nonfiction edited by Judith Kitchen and Dinah Lenney
Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstein
Onward into 2017 reading!
Pax et bonum
It's that time of the year again - the time to come up with some resolutions.
One of the things I want to do in the coming year is one of the traditional resolutions - lose weight. In my case, I would like to lose some 50 pounds. To be realistic - and healthful about it - that would likely take all year.
Along with that, I need more exercise. Not weight lifting/gym kind of exercise. Slower, more gentle - involving stretches, tension, maybe some dancing. Tai chi sort of exercise. Not only will this help with weight, it will help me as I get older and face some of the pains of aging.
And, of course, better diet. Cut down on the treats, chips, between meal and after dinner eating.
I also want to keep up my reading. This year, I read a couple of works by Church Fathers - I will continue that. Plus, I want to read a couple of spiritual books to help with my own growth. In addition, some classics. If I keep up my pattern of the last few years, there will be about 20-25 works this year.
To add a weekly visit to the adoration chapel.
Cut down on internet - at least with wasting time arguing on Twitter and Facebook. Instead, my posting should be positive - things about faith, The Margaret Home, Franciscanism, and so on.
Cutting down on criticizing and negativity.
Playing out. I need to overcome my self-consciousness and fears and play some folk music - at the least a couple of Tuesday gatherings of the Golden Link, maybe one open mic night. And that means learning some new songs.
Get the slug book completed and printed. Send out some poems to magazines.
Memorize some prayers and classic works. The Divine Praises, Twas the Night Before Christmas, The Gettysburg Address, some Shakespeare.
Explore some money-making options. Voice work? Money from on-line publication? Video Santa?
Learn some Spanish words and phrases related to Christmas so that when Hispanic children come to visit me as Santa I will be better able to serve them.
That's all a good start. Let's see how many I actually do!
Pax et bonum
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
1. Promote policies that protect all Human Life from conception to natural death.
2. Advocate for laws that protects people of all faiths to practice their religion.
4. We support the creation of public investment banks and private credit unions at the state and local levels.
5. We support a strong regime of environmental protection by independent public agencies. At the same time, we insist on the direct accountability of illegal polluters to their victims in the courts.
6. We call for the institution of pollution taxes to fund research in cleaner methods of production and to compensate all citizens for abuse of the natural commons.
7. In keeping with the principle of subsidiarity and local responsibility, we support expanding (where necessary) the autonomy of local governments from state governments. We also call for legal accountability of higher levels of government to lower levels.
8. The NYS Solidarity Party believes that the responsibility for the education of children resides primarily in the family. Families should be free to home-school their children or send them to public or private schools.
9. We call for public support of both public and private schools, with a preferential option for economically disadvantaged students.
10. The ASP calls for reform of immigration laws, including a path to citizenship, for persons currently residing within our borders.
Pax et bonum
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Although the American Solidary Party has existed only since 2011 (under a different name then), it really did not start to mount a serious effort until May/June this year, creating a new platform, holding a July convention, and nominating its first official candidate, Mike Maturen (in 2012 we endorsed independent candidate Joe Schriner, who shares many of our values). Because we started so late this year, we were not able to get on the ballot in a number of states.
Yet we still did incredibly well.
We got 6,628 votes that we know of - some states where we were write-ins did not break down the write in totals, so we don't know how many votes were got in those states. That includes some bigger states like Pennsylvania and Virginia. Thus the real total is higher.
One article ranks us 10th among third parties, and Maturen 14th among all candidates for president (other sources have him as 15th). And in many of the states where we were on the ballot in some form we finished 7th-10th.
Not bad considering the late start.
The states where we did best in terms of votes were Texas: 1401 votes (7th place), California: 1316 votes (7th place), and Colorado: 862 votes (10th place).
In my state, New York, we got 409 write-in votes, finishing in 7th place. New York's total ranked 7th among the state totals that we know of.
The goal now is to try to organize the state chapters and begin running local candidates.
Then onward to 2020!
Pax et bonum
Sunday, December 25, 2016
A satirist named Godfrey Elfwick posted the following on Twitter:
"All I can see on my timeline this morning is the word 'Chr*stm*s'. Please be aware of how triggering this can be for certain minorities."
Now, while I don't believe this is what he believes - he is noted for his outrageous and seemingly extreme pronouncements that point out, as satire is wont to do, views that are plausible - I actually suspect there are people who would agree with this view.
Yes, I know there are allegations of a war on Christmas that really don't hold up - but there has been an effort to downplay Christmas in order not to offend non-Christians. Thus we've had a trend toward saying "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas," and efforts to de-Christianize the season. People have sought the removal of chreches, for example, and most recently, a cross was removed from a public "holiday tree." I remember when my daughters were attending urban public school the "holiday concert' had Jewish and Gospel songs, but no Christmas carols.
Some folks, sadly, have taken the opposite tack and turned "Merry Christmas" into a kind of political statement.
I don't like that either.
But as for me, if someone says "Happy Holidays" to me I always respond "Merry Christmas," and as Santa I always say "Merry Christmas." I'm not trying to be political, I'm just stating what the day is.
Pax et bonum
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Pundits and Democratic politicians are still debating why Hillary Clinton - and the Democrats - lost the 2016 election.
Hillary's e-mails. Angry white men. James Comey. Wikileaks. Fake news. Russian hacks. The economy. Attitudes towards people of faith. Fear over terrorism. Elitism. Trump's TV appeal. Hillary's supposed unlikability. And so on.
Some of those reasons trotted out - and other such reasons - may have played a role.
But I think one of the factors was the Democrats' extremism.
Just look at a few issues.
I'm staunchly pro-life when it comes to abortion. While I believe that a majority of people are somewhat pro-life, I will admit that many people would say while abortion is wrong they would reluctantly accept it under some limited circumstances and in some limited situations.
The Democratic Party, however, and Hillary, made it a point to support, even promote unlimited abortion under all and any circumstances. Moreover, the party, and Hillary, supported and promoted public funding of abortions, and even forcing people who do not agree with it to provide and support it.
This is extremism that did not sit well with people in much of the country.
Or take homosexual marriage.
Many people do accept it - at least as a private matter. But the Democrats demanded that not only should people accept it, they should celebrate it and it should be legal everywhere, and people who find it morally objectionable must - under threat of fines, jail, or loss of job - take part in the ceremonies and related activities, and must provide venues and services in connection with such ceremonies (photography, catering, and so on). They were all for driving people of faith out of business, and calling them hate-filled bigots even when they were perfectly willing to serve all people under other circumstances and were simply motivated by faith not to take part in a particular ceremony.
This is extremism that did not sit well with people in much of the country.
The party and Hillary were extremists when it came to other issues as well, and were out of step with people in many parts of the country - parts that Trump and the Republicans won.
This extremism was often linked to a kind of arrogance that, as statements by Hillary and leaked e-mails revealed, viewed those who differed with them on these issues as ignorant, medieval, "deplorables' who need to be forced or coopted into accepting the Democrats' enlightened, progressive views.
The Democrats need to adjust and moderate their positions and attitudes to increase their chances of winning again.
Of course, if Trump proves to be a dud, then in 2018 the Democrats might show signs of recovery even with extremist views.
Here's hoping they don't, though, and a more rational party like the American Solidarity Party will take their place.
Hey, one can dream!
Pax et bonum
Saturday, December 17, 2016
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough made what has to be one of the most laughable - and ignorant - comments about President Obama and Catholicism.
Speaking on David Axelrod's podcast The Axe Files on Wednesday, McDonough declared, “Look, I say to him, Axe, and I think I’ve said this to him in your presence and I’ve said this publicly before, I think this is our most Catholic of presidents And I mean that by capital ‘C’ Catholic in what I see and what he does everyday.”
He then went on to say, “It’s not to say that he does everything entirely consistent with Catholic teaching.
He strays from Catholic teachings - or seeks to undermine the Church - on some big issues.
On forcing people to provide and pay for abortion and contraception.
On religious liberty.
On homosexual so-called marriage.
On just war tactics.
Oh, and his administration sued nuns. And it duped various Catholic individuals and groups. And his party acknowledged trying to create groups to undermine Catholic teachings.
McDonough said Obama's “view of the person and our role and the view of us as adding to the common good is an undeniably Catholic set of premises, and that’s why I say that to him a lot.”
In other words, Obama promotes the "be nice" mentality.
Now to be fair, there are some of Obama's beliefs and actions that do intersect with Catholic teachings. The concern for the poor, for example, or for the environment, come to mind. And consider what he seems to consider his major "achievement" - the Affordable Health Care Act. As flawed as it is on a practical level and, in fact, it is in parts of this act that he comes in direct conflict with Catholic beliefs, the desire to provide health care for all, including the poor, does fit with Catholic beliefs. It is these social ministry concerns where I think McDonough sees the links. But he - and Obama - misunderstand the depth and fullness of Catholic doctrine.
What these remarks really reveal is the ignorance of the Obama administration about what Catholicism really is.
Capital "C" Catholicism.
Pax et bonum
Saturday, December 10, 2016
There's been a lot of hubbub lately over the so-called Alt Right and "fake news." Indeed, some are blaming Donald Trump's presidential win on these forces.
Fake news is indeed out there - but it was coming from both sides. I know there were many times people would send me alleged news items attacking Hillary Clinton or Trump, and I asked for sources or checked, and found many such reports were false or distorted.
The Alt Right business is manufactured though - by the same people who labeled Trump supporters as racists, homophobes, "deplorables." The Alt Right folks were accused of engaging in violence and hate speech.
In reality, this all seems seems like more of the kind of name calling in which some folks on the left seem to engage.
In other words, hate speech.
As for violence, it's not the folks on the right who rioted after the election.
Are there extremists on the right - neo-Nazis, KKK, etc. - and right-leaning news outlets (Fox, Breitbart, and so on), some of whom supported and promoted Trump? Sure.
But there are also extremists on the left, some of whom supported Hillary.
Just think of the radical pro-choicers who went all in for Hillary. Groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood - promoters and providers of death for hundreds of thousands of children each year.
There are other extremist groups on the left - Move On, Black Live Matter, for example.
Just think of extremely biased left-wing news outlets like HuffPost that did all they could to support Hillary.
Heck, think of the left-leaning news outlets like MSNBC or CNN or the New York Times or the Washington Post that did all they could to help Hillary.
It seems as if an "Alt Left" is even more real than any mythical Alt Right.seems more
Pax et bonum
Thursday, December 8, 2016
I glanced at the statistics for this blog the other day and spotted a sudden spike in page views. Curious, I checked where these views were coming from.
Many were from Russia.
Now it could be that a recent post about Castro sparked interest. Or the Alice's Restaurant one. Or maybe some of the political ones. Perhaps someone working for Putin was checking to see if this blog contained information they could then leak to influence the U. S. election.
Yeah. I wouldn't be shocked if Democratic Party or Hillary campaign officials suddenly stepped forward and blamed me for the election results. He's part of the fictional alt-right!
Of course, I have noticed a Russian audience before. Not sure why someone from Russia would be interested in this obscure blog. Maybe they like bad haiku, or perhaps clerihews.
After all, there was that clerihew about Putin:
There are rumors that Vladimir Putin
somehow has ties to Rasputin.
So it makes sense his followers shiver
when Vlad takes a dip in a river.
Anyway, if you are a Russian page viewer/reader, in the spirit of the season I say:
Pax et bonum
Friday, December 2, 2016
As the potential of early retirement lingers out there, I still wonder if there are some money-making options.
Santa, of course, but limited to one time of the year as long as I live where I live.
I've already considered writing. Some options there, but not a lot given the type of writing I do. Try other subjects/outlets? Maybe ... but not sure there's much out there.
Recording and going on Youtube? Doing what - reciting poetry? (A big money maker there!). Singing original songs or storytelling? (See the previous.) Pontificating? To what audience? I'd love to be on radio as a talking head, but breaking into that market is really a stretch.
So ... a combination?
Oh well. Back to work on Monday.
Pax et bonum
Saturday, November 26, 2016
Friday, November 25, 2016
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Today we honor Blessed Miguel Pro, executed by the anti-Church Mexican government basically for being a Catholic priest.
I think of him today not only because it is his feast day, but also because of the recent election.
Although I certainly did not think there would have been executions of Catholics and other Christians had Hillary Clinton been elected and the Democrats had taken control of at least the Senate, I did believe there would have been continued, perhaps increased persecution of people of faith. I don't think she is "anti-Catholic" in the full sense of the phrase, but I do believe her attitude and those of key staff would be hostile to people of faith. Remember, she did say we'd have to change our teachings when it came to abortion, and her campaign staff talked about subverting and coopting the Church.
I think people would have been forced to pay for or take part in things which they find morally objectionable - or face loss of jobs and businesses, fines, perhaps even jail. That had already begun under the Obama administration, and I think she would have at least continued his policies. And given her ties to the abortion industry, I could imagine it getting even worse.
I'm under no illusions that Trump will be perfect. I don't see him actively fighting the subversion of morality and faith rampant in our culture - he's very much a product of that culture. I also don't know if he's informed or self-aware enough to fully understand what is going on. But I do have hopes he will cut back on government involvement in this, and on the official policies that attack people of faith.
It's up to us to challenge the culture. But at least we will not have the government attacking us as well.
Pax et bonum
As anyone who has followed my posts here - or on social media - knows, I did not vote for Donald Trump, and I've had concerns about him for a long time. I disagreed with him on a number of positions and proposals (at least with what he said about them), I criticized some of his tactics and language, and I had reservations about his grasp of the issues.
But, I never called him a Nazi or a fascist or a xenophobe or a homophobe or a bigot or an anti-Semite or any number of such extreme terms.
I pointed out that much of what he was saying during the campaign was rhetoric, and that if he got elected he would likely chose a much more pragmatic course. As his actions and comments since the election have shown, that does indeed appear to be the case. (So far, anyway)
Yet folks continue to condemn him for "hate speech" - by using hate speech of their own.
Seems kind of hypocritical.
I think what we need to do is focus on his actual proposals and actions once he takes office and, where appropriate, to oppose specific things, or to push for what we want.
I will be watching how he treats pro-life issues and immigrants and health care and any number of other issues. I will speak up when I disagree with him. I will urge him to choose courses with which I agree,
But I will not criticize his policies until he actually does something.
And I will not engage in hate speech.
Pax et bonum
Friday, November 18, 2016
Santa season starts tomorrow. Plenty of shifts coming up - I'll be a busy boy.
Time to get out my mall Santa poem:
A Mall Santa's Prayer
As I hold each precious child
let me treat each one
with the love and care I'd show
Your most holy Son.
Pax et bonum
Sunday, November 13, 2016
I read Robert Frost: A Life by Jay Parini.
Frost is my favorite poet, and I enjoyed the book. It filled in some gaps, and countered the largely negative old curmudgeon image some of his critics have painted of Frost. Yes, Frost had his moments, but this book gives a more well-rounded picture.
A few small quibbles: Some repetition that editing might have taken out, and I don't agree with all the interpretations of the poems (Parini seems to have his own spin on Frost that he tries to reinforce). Then again, poetry is often open to varied interpretations, so that's no real knock against Parini.
But my minor quibbles are more than made up for by the overall quality. Good job.
Glad I read it.
Pax et bonum
Friday, November 11, 2016
During the recent political campaign I scribbled a few clerihews about some of the candidates. Here's a look back, starting with the winner:
provided Trump filler.
Asked if it was really he, Trump said, "I don't sound like me,
that is, he isn't he, I mean, me."
on the stump
will almost always spout a platitude
or something rude.
is hitting a South Carolina slump.
His reliance on invective
is proving ineffective.
is no chump.
Even if he loses he know his bottom line
will do just fine.
His VP gets a nod too:
just makes sense.
Even his disciplined hair
contrasts with the Donald's hirsute flair.
And his Democratic foe provided some fodder:
helped investigate Richard Nixon.
As her missing e-mails seem to tell
she didn't learn from his fall that well.
is probably guilty of perjury,
but I wouldn’t bet a dime
that she’ll do any time.
His last Republican rival inspired a few verses:
is feeling the blues.
It seems whether he endorses Trump or not
his own ambitions are shot.
seems destined to lose.
His Senate colleagues lament, "Alas and Alack,
that means he'll soon be back."
dreads reading the news.
There are too many reports of his campaign's tactics being out of step
with his evangelical rep.
But he denies rumors he'd even peek
when as a child he played hide-and-seek.
And then there were a few other Republican primary rivals:
wouldn't say whom she thought mean-ah.
Still, when Trump and "The View" gals got in her face
she put them in their place.
found the campaign trail twisty.
Maybe he'll view his likely loss
as just another bridge to cross.
was the presidential candidate for me.
But apparently his down-home ways
appeal to few others these days.
never claimed he committed arson.
That didn't stop Politico
from saying, "He may have, you know."
Pax et bonum
Saturday, November 5, 2016
The American Solidarity Party (ASP) is a Christian democratic political party with Catholic social justice roots.
Supports amnesty and a path to citizenship for immigrants currently residing in the United States;
Supports stewardship for creation, advocating for funding for research in safe and renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind-power.
Promotes free practice of religion and opposes reckless secularism and that seeks to remove religion from the public square.
Pax et bonum
Sunday, October 30, 2016
Each day seems to bring a new revelation about the major party candidates in this year's Presidential race.
Right now, it's Hillary Clinton getting hit the hardest with all the e-mail related releases and announcements. The race has been tightening with the continued flood of Wikileak and O'Keefe revelations, then there came the FBI announcement. Will this be a enough to tip it to Trump? Or will it fizzle?
Or will there be some new release involving Trump that will raise hackles?
Do some of those folks who already voted have voters regret? Will some of them try to change their votes (some states allow this)?
I've been pretty clear I support neither of these candidates - I'm voting for Mike Maturen of the American Solidarity party.
But the ugliness of this year's campaign has disheartened me.
One of these two unacceptable people will be the President. Barring the chance of impeachment (a Clinton family tradition?) that person will be leading this nation for the next four years.
I will continue to speak up as needed on public issues, but his just reinforces my belief that my ultimate focus needs to be on serving God and working on my own sinful nature.
Still, I wish Thomas More were around!
Thank God I can vote for Maturen with a clear conscience.
Pax et bonum
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Way back when groups like Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good were trying to have a say in the 2008 election - with a decided Democratic Party slant - some concerned individuals in the Catholic Church contended that the groups seemed to be Democratic shills, and were supporting candidates and policies in opposition to Church teachings on issues such as abortion and contraception.
Those concerned individuals were called misinformed, alarmist, delusional, even paranoid.
The recent Wikileaks revelations confirm, however, that those who were concerned were right to be.
In an exchange between John Podesta, currently Chairman of the Hillary Clinton campaign and a long-time Democratic Party operative, and Sandy Newman of liberal activist group Voices for Progress, Newman said. “There needs to be a Catholic Spring in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic church.”
Podesta responded that such an effort was already underway.
“We created Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good to organize for a moment like this," he admitted. "But I think it lacks the leadership to do so now. Likewise Catholics United. Like most Spring movements, I think this one will have to be bottom up.”
This comes on top of earlier leaked documents involving Podesta in which Democratic Party supporters or operatives describe Catholics as "backwards" when it comes to gender relations (i.e. homosexual marriage, other sexuality issues, etc.) and as Jennifer Palmieri, the Clinton Campaign's communication director, said, “They can throw around ‘Thomistic’ thought and ‘subsidiarity’ and sound sophisticated because no one knows what the hell they are talking about.”
And, of course, Hillary last year when discussion abortions said, "deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed."
Sunday, October 9, 2016
Saturday, October 8, 2016
at Planned Parenthood
crows cry as the staff arrives -
clouds heavy with rain
I went to hold vigil outside Planned Parenthood this morning as part of the 40 Days for Life campaign.
I got there at 7, picked up a sign (PRAY FOR AN END TO ABORTION), and took a position in front of the clinic. There are lines in the sidewalk based on an old court injunction prohibiting certain people and groups from protesting too close to the clinic's parking lot entrance. But I'm not named in the injunction, nor am I a member of any group named in it. So, I stood beyond the line, not blocking entrance in any way, but clearly visible.
I said a Rosary, and began to sing quietly a few pro-life songs and hymns, mixing in repetitions of "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner."
About 7:20, a vehicle pulled in to the parking lot. Crows in the trees began to call out. Over the next 20 minutes or so more cars arrived.
At about 7:45 a man from the clinic with a Planned Parenthood identification approached me. We exchanged a few pleasantries - good morning, are you a Red Sox fan (my hat), when I said yes he "jokingly" said to get out of there, I laughed as said he must be a Yankee fan.
Then he said because of the court order I had to go back on the other side of the line.
I pointed out that I was aware of the old court order, but explained that the order applied only to certain named individuals and groups - and that I was not one of the named individuals and did not belong to any of the groups. I said I would not move.
He asked me to show him the court order. I replied that he had to show me the order (after all, he was the one demanding that I move).
He said he had a copy and would go get it.
He did not return, though, to be fair, I was only there for a few minutes more.
I kept praying where I was until my shift ended at 8.
I then left.
I will be back.
Pax et bonum
Saturday, October 1, 2016
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Saturday, September 17, 2016
I got to men's group this morning. It was good to see the guys after the long summer break.
We watched an episode of Crossing the Goal that was addressing part of the Our Father - "Lead us not into temptation."
The members of the Crossing team pointed out that we all face temptations and we can fight some, with God's help, but that some we should get away from because they are so difficult to resist. After the episode ended the guys there for the meeting split into groups.
Then the small group discussions began.
Then I made some people uncomfortable.
In my group, we had some general discussion about how temptation affects us all, and intrudes even at Mass.
But then one man, an independent contractor, began talking about one temptation he faces that he has given into - taking payment under the table and not paying taxes. He noted that he's competing against weekend contractors who have full-time jobs - along with health insurance - who charge less than he legitimately could. So he fights that temptation all the time, especially when his family is strapped.
I kept silent; his discomfort seemed real, and I could understand and sympathize with the tough situation he was in. But then he went on to say he had spoken with a priest who basically gave him the okay to do it. Then another man observed that the government sometimes uses the money for things we don't like anyway.
At that point, the sarcastic me commented that it's like being in a supermarket and eating some of the food without paying, because, after all, the store overcharges and it really doesn't hurt anyone anyway, right?
The contractor got the point, and said ruefully it's a real dilemma for him.
But then another man began talking about how he and his wife at one point had four children and didn't want more, so his wife used an IUD. Then he laughed and added they later changed their minds and had two more children. But he noted that in choosing to used the IUD that sometimes a sin stops being a sin, and that he was acting like a grownup and could justify doing so.
At that point I interrupted and said that a sin doesn't stop being a sin just because we decide it isn't one and that saying "justify" suggests that we know something is still wrong, but we are trying to convince ourselves that it's okay. I wanted to say more to clarify, but the time ran out. I got the feeling the other men in the group were uneasy. It certainly felt awkward.
If there had been more time I would have pointed out that there are indeed extreme circumstances under which a "sin" is not a "sin" when violating one moral law prevents a greater moral wrong from occurring. So, for example, it's wrong to lie, but if the lie is to save an innocent person's life - such as one might have done in hiding an escaped slave from the South or a Jew from the Nazis. But such cases are not common, and certainly not for suburban, middle class men in the U.S. (right now, anyway).
I did say as the group broke up that I hope I didn't make everyone too uncomfortable.
I got a few nods of acknowledgement. But I'm not sure what they were thinking.
Sometimes when I look in the mirror with my long beard and blazing eyes I think, Old Testament prophet. (At least, my ego would like to entertain that comparison!)
And you know how many friends they made.
Pax et bonum
Sunday, September 11, 2016
Bishop Salvatore Matano of the Diocese of Rochester issued the following statement on the 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack:
"Fifteen years ago this Sunday, our nation was forever changed by the horrendous events of Sept. 11, 2001. On that day, our nation suffered a single day of carnage that tore at the very fabric of our daily life and broke our hearts. Fifteen years later, with the sorrow and anger and fear of that day still fresh, we also bear the grief of many more unbearable and horrific acts of terrorism and violence throughout our world.
"Sadly, these events are part of the long litany of senseless violence in the history of humanity. As Christians, the Cross at Calvary reminds us that our Lord and Savior, too, was an innocent victim of an unjust and cruel act. Those who died in these terrible acts also have suffered a kind of crucifixion from their perpetrators. But our faith tells us if we die with Christ, we also will rise with Him one day. From this faith comes our certainty that the grave is the threshold to external life. As Pope Saint John Paul II said, 'Faith come to our aid in these times when words seem to fail. Even if the forces of darkness prevail, those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say.'
"With this faith as our compass, let us envision a future of peace, working together with people of all faiths for an end to the violence that plagues us. Let us never forget those innocents who tragically died on September 11, 2001, and continue to pray for the repose of their souls and their families. Let us pray daily for all those first-responders and service men and women who risk their lives to shield us from harm.
"In imitation of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, recently declared a saint, may we build a culture of life which sees in every person the face of Jesus."
Pax et bonum
Saturday, September 3, 2016
Friday night's Fraternity meeting provided a snapshot of why I want to get out of providing music for the Fraternity.
The night was to prepare for the upcoming profession, and the Minister wanted us to practice the songs. I had already told her that I didn't want to provide music after the profession, so there would have to be another way to provide music Beginning in October. But I made it clear that I would play for the profession.
I prepared the three main songs for the profession Mass to practice, and printed song sheets for the Fraternity, something I've done every time I've provided music. But ... the minister had called the woman who used to do the music before I did, and gave her the impression that I was not going to provide music starting immediately, so the woman prepared three different songs to sing. We both arrived prepared - and the Minister had printed the program with the three songs in it so we would practice them. She got upset - not angry, just flustered - that I had also printed the songs. The woman who had prepared three different songs thinking they would be needed put hers away. My song sheets were not needed, so they got put back in my bag.
I spent the time before the meeting began setting up tables and chairs, opening windows, and helping people with walkers or with heavy bags get to the meeting room - which is what I really like doing rather than fussing with all the music stuff.
When we started singing the songs, with me leading, two women joined me to help with the singing. But one of them - the soprano who sings harmonies I'd mentioned previously - began singing one of the songs using half notes for part of it where the music was actually in quarter notes, turning the last verse especially into a mish-mash. We had to go through it again a couple of times with me not really playing, just strumming loudly on each beat so people could follow. Meanwhile, one of the women to be professed asked where a song she had requested was, and I said the Council had rejected it - too contemporary, not one of the Charismatic and Steubenville songs they like, and, one they did not know (of course, the musician who was playing it, the two women being professed who wanted that particular contemporary hymn, and a younger member of the Council did know it) - and substituted an old hymn that was not intended for guitar. To be honest, I struggled with that one.
Then we started running through some Mass parts that the Fraternity old guard wanted, but which no one else (including me) knew. We had to keep doing them over and over. Then one of the old guard began saying that the women in their response part should sing it a way different than the music called for because that other way was the way they used to do it at Steubenville years ago. We kept trying to do it the way he wanted - with him pushing for repetition and the Minister getting more and more upset because we could not do it the way it used to be done. Interestingly, given their rejection of the contemporary song because people would not know it, they were trying to get the Fraternity to sings Mass parts few knew, and they were okay with that.
There was some rolling of eyes by folks, including those to be professed, as all this dragged on.
Practicing basically ate up the much of the time for the Fraternity meeting.
I spent the last 20 minutes of our time at the church helping people carry things and escorting them to their cars in the now dark parking lot. Something I enjoy doing.
Anyway, a frustrating night musically. I should have offered it up, but to be honest after I got home I took the dog out for a walk, then had a beer.
Pax et bonum
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
There, I'm not the lead, and I'm playing and singing with skilled people. I was comfortable there. It was wonderful.
Pax et bonum
Sunday, August 28, 2016
At yesterday's Franciscan Fraternity Council meeting the issue of music came up. It was not a pleasant discussion. As I am the reluctant "musician" for the Fraternity, the discussion sparked some thoughts, and I wrote a letter to the Council. I did not send it. Instead, I called our Minister and shared many of these points with her, and added some details not included in the letter. (I've added notes to the original letter in italics.)
Dear fellow Council members;
Pax et bonum
Friday, August 26, 2016
He's saying what I've been saying, just using different examples.
Pax et bonum
I'm 61. An age at which one is supposed to be looking only toward retirement - and certainly not to be in the running for jobs.
Yet in the last two weeks I've had two job offers.
Both were great jobs at wonderful schools. But both jobs came with problems that led me to turn them down. The principals at both are keeping my resumes should something different open or situations change. One just told me a few minutes ago if my circumstances change they really want me.
Sigh. I'm disappointed, but reality and family needs take precedence over dreams and desires. And I do have a job now that pays the bills.
Still, it's quite an honor at my age to be wanted!
Pax et bonum
Friday, August 19, 2016
Imagine playing a game of baseball.
Without set base paths.
Without a set number of outs per side per inning.
Without a strike zone.
Without limits on the number of players on the field.
Without rules against doctoring the ball.
Without rules about the size and makeup of the bat.
Without rules, period.
Except, of course, rules that are made up by the players as they go along - and change based on the latest fad or whim.
Such a game might be fun for a while for little kids just interested in running around or hitting balls, but anyone who's serious about baseball, or even in playing a real game, would reject such a situation as nonsense.
That's what saying "I'm spiritual, not religious" is like.
If you are just starting out, a child when it comes to spirituality, then it might be okay to say that. But an adult using it as a way to reject organized religion is nonsense.
All too often, what it's really about is that it's a trendy way to discard inconvenient practices - like going to church - or rules - often but not exclusively linked to sex in some way. It tends to be part of self-indulgent pop theology. It's part of the kind of pop theology one might hear among college students, media and self-centered types, and suburban readers of spiritual pablum like Eat, Pray, Love.
Without rules, without paths, without boundaries how do we judge what is fair and good and right? Without religion, spirituality becomes a self-absorbed exercise, and as we all know, exercise without routine and commitment becomes boring and burdensome, and is soon abandoned.
Again, there may be some individuals who are sincerely beginning their spiritual quest and might say they are spiritual, not religious, but I can't say I have actually heard such a person people say this. Usually, they have sincere questions, or humbly voice concerns and doubts and pain.
They want to learn and understand the rules so they can be real participants, and not just folks who are running around aimlessly.
In the end, spirituality based in religion is the best way to get home - or even to know where home is.
Pax et bonum
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Sunday, August 14, 2016
Sunday, August 7, 2016
Some folks on the prochoice side have been touting Planned Parenthood clinics as health care providers arguing that Planned Parenthood is the only health care options for many women.
That claim is not quite true.
Pax et bonum
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump signed an anti-porn pledge, according to the Washington Examiner and others.
As part of the pledge, Trump says as President he will make enforcing anti-pornography laws a priority. The pledge calls for him to "aggressively enforce existing federal laws to prevent the sexual exploitation of children online, including the federal obscenity laws, child pornography laws, sexual predation laws and the sex trafficking laws.”
The pledge was put out by the group Enough is Enough, which contends - correctly I think - that pornography is harmful to individuals and society.
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton declined to sign, by the way. Her campaign says she does not sign pledges.
The group apparently also contacted Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, who reportedly did not respond. The group does not mention if it contacted the Green's Jill Stein or candidates from other parties.
Now, while I fully support the idea of controlling and limiting porn and its harmful effects, I do have questions about Trump signing this pledge. This is a man who proudly displays in his office a cover of Playboy with him on it. He engaged in sexually suggestive talk on the Howard Stern show, and has boasted about his sexual activities, including with married women. He had a strip club in one of his casinos. He married a former model who did somewhat salacious nude shots.
Maybe Mr. Trump has seen the light, as he allegedly did about abortion - though he has been disturbingly silent about that issue, allowing his Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence to be the only one in his campaign to talk about abortion lately.
But to be honest, I'm skeptical.
Maybe I'd be more convinced if he took down that Playboy cover hanging on his office wall.
Pax et bonum