Friday, July 21, 2017
“God, you made me. You love me. What would you have me do? Where would you have me go? Who would you have me serve? Show me how I can be your eyes of compassion, your heart of love, and your hands reaching out to this world. Amen.” - John Michael Talbot
Pax et bonum
Thursday, July 20, 2017
According to a study by Barna, a religious research group, Portland-Auburn, Maine, is the most post-Christian city in the United State, and my city, Rochester, New York ranks 13th.
The study involves surveying people on 16 factors, and those who fail on 9 of them are deemed post-Christian, and those who fail on 13 are considered highly post-Christian.
Those factors are:
Some of the wording is decidedly evangelical Protestant - "Born Again," "commitment to Jesus" and "the Bible is accurate," for example - and so it's language devout Catholics might not use, thus the results for cities that are heavily Catholic might be off. Heck, I'm off on a few, and people consider me very religious. But still, the results are revealing, and not surprising.
Portland-Auburn, Maine, topped the list with a score of 57%.
Boston, MA-Manchester, NH came in second at 56%. The others in the top 10 are:
Providence, RI-New Bedford, MA - 53%
Burlington, VT-Plattsburgh, NY - 53%
Hartford-New Haven, CT - 52%
New York, NY - 51%
San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA - 50%
Seattle-Tacoma - 50%
Buffalo, NY - 50%
Hey, Buffalo beat us. Given its heavily Catholic population, the number may be slightly off, maybe even enough for us to pass them.
Philadelphia, PA (11), Tucson-Sierra Vista, AZ (12), and Rochester (13) all tallied a score of 49%.
Of the top 13, 10 are in New England/Northeast, and two are West Coast. No surprise there.
When you look at Rochester, the number of colleges and universities likely play a role in helping us to abandon Christianity. We have an active arts/music/theater community as well, and a substantial number of those folks tend to reject traditional religion. As for the religious community, in Rochester there is history of liberalism, heresy, and acceptance of immoral and disordered behavior.
Still, there are many good people trying to evangelize and turn things around, so I'm optimistic.
But I will pray for the people of my city - and that my own faith and religious practices might grow and develop.
Pax et bonum
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do. - Pope St. John XXIII
Pax et bonum
Monday, July 17, 2017
Sunday, July 16, 2017
Saturday, July 15, 2017
Friday, July 14, 2017
Thursday, July 13, 2017
A recent paper by the U. S. Institute of Physics restating and upholding the Law of Gravity is meeting with charges of unfairness, insensitivity, and being out of touch.
The paper stated that gravity exists, that all planetary bodies are surrounded by gravitational fields, and that the measurable effects of gravity are affected by mass and acceleration.
These statements drew immediate criticism.
"The Pharisees of the physics establishment are trying to impose an outdated law on us," declared Patchouli Dumhuvud, a Rochester, N. Y Reiki master. "We have learned so much about various forms of energy and how to channel them in recent years. And there have been so many advances in technology that also allow us to negate that law We need greater flexibility when if come to gravity."
Courtney Kruller also said the law is unfair to those who are clumsy or weight challenged.
"This law discriminates against those who have trouble with gravity," declared Kruller, vice president of the International Crystal Cooperative. "Stating this law in this way is so insensitive to them."
Albert Newton, spokesperson for the Institute, pointed out that the paper was simply reminding the world of a law that was already in place.
"There was no desire to create a new law," he explained. "We have all been equally subject to the law of gravity, and all we were doing was reminding people of what's been accepted and true for centuries."
Such explanations do not sit well with those angered by the paper.
"We can change our hair color, our noses, or the definition of marriage," Dumhuvud contended. "Why not a law of nature?"
In response to the report, the Los Angeles-based Anti-Gravity League has begun circulating a petition calling for basing the law and all such laws on either a vote or an opinion poll.
Pax et bonum
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
I rediscovered some poems I'd kind of forgotten had gotten published.
The two topical limericks were printed in City in the July 24-30, 2002, edition:
The truth about white collar crime
is offenders will rarely do time.
They're in bed, you see,
with the powers that be,
who'd turn a blind eye for a dime.
Please don't call them corporate crooks
because it is not as it looks.
After working each deal,
it's hunger they'd feel,
and that is why they cooked the books.
Pax et bonum
We are developing in the United States a huge underclass of unwanted people, many of they the descendants of the exploitation of the South American and Latin American countries by American piratical capitalism. Not all capitalism is piratical, but some of it certainly is. And we have a fantastic gap beginning to exist between rich and poor.
- Father Benedict Groeschel, CFR
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Monday, July 10, 2017
Today is the birthday of Edmund Clerihew Bentley (July 10, 1875), who befriended G. K. Chesterton while they were in school, and who invented the verse form that bears his name, the clerihew. (Chesterton illustrated a number of Bentley's clerihews.)
Here's a clerihew in his honor:
E. C. Bentley
knew just what to do
with a clerihew.
Pax et bonum
Sunday, July 9, 2017
Pax et bonum
Saturday, July 8, 2017
Thursday, July 6, 2017
Just got the AP scores - I'm still falsely listed as the teacher, even though the principal replaced me two years ago with a teacher whom he contended would do better job (the real reason was he wanted the course as a lure).
They look - awful.
Me "better teacher"
2014 2015 2016 2017
5 26.2 26.5 19 15.7
3 31 32.4 32.8 38.6
2 4.8 8.8 12.1 7.1
1 0 0 0 4.3
The drop in the percentage of 5s (the highest score) from the last year I taught the course to the first year of the supposedly better teacher was 26.5 to 19 - a 28 percent decrease - and from that last year I taught to the score under the "better teacher" this past year the decline was 26.5 to 15.7 - a 41 percent decrease.
Overall, the percentage of passing students decreased, and the average test score dropped.
So ... clearly a decline in the scores. The class when I taught it was the most successful at the school, and one of the highest scoring in the region. Now, middle of the pack. Better teacher? Really?
I feel bad for the students.
Pax et bonum
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Before I left my old school, I located some old pictures in a yearbook from 1986. I shaved off my beard for the first half of that year - the only time in my adult life (starting when I was 18) when I didn't have a beard - and there were two images of me beardless.
In the above photo, a fellow teacher (the late, wonderful, Juli Palma) and I dressed up as Herman and Lily Munster for Field Day. One of the day's activities was a Scavenger Hunt that included getting teachers to dress up as television characters. My daughter Clare was with me that day, so we said she was Wednesday visiting from the Addams Family.
And yes, I did work part-time in radio for more than 20 years. Here's the 2003 schedule with me as the Weekend Edition local host. My shift was 6 to noon every Saturday for 21 years. I also did some spot news coverage, and hosting of shows like Morning Edition or All Things Considered during school breaks, and overnight blues and jazz programs on weekends. One summer while the station was looking for a permanent All Things Considered local host three of us rotated hosting duties.
Pax et bonum
Tuesday, July 4, 2017
"Very true," said Henry, "and this is a very nice day, and we are taking a very nice walk; and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh! It is a very nice word indeed! It does for everything." [Jane Austen, "Northanger Abbey," 1803]
Then maybe we can really change things in the world that really need to be changed or curtailed in some way.
Wouldn't that be nice?
Monday, July 3, 2017
I've been feeling fat lately. Pictures from yesterday's visit to the Fatima Shrine confirmed that I am.
The last time I weighed myself - several months ago - I was about 50 pounds overweight. I suspect it's closer to 60 now. Our scale has disappeared, so I can't confirm the weight that way, but the picture above says all I need for now.
I kid that it's Santa weight. But it's unhealthy weight.
So, diet and exercise time.
60 pounds? Maybe - but my goal is to get down into the 190s (I'm 6 foot). I need to get a scale to start monitoring. By summer's end I'd like to be down 10-15 pounds.
To do this, I'm going to cut out the snacking, especially at night. I'm going to cut down portions. I'm going to cut down on sweets and beer. I'm going to get more exercise, including bike riding (rode to Mass this morning).
The good thing is that I have some clothes that might actually start to fit me again.
Pax et bonum
Friday, June 30, 2017
Look at the decay of sexual morality today - and the government seeking to impose its will on people in sexual maters (think of some birth control mandates, forcing people to take part in activities they find immoral, and so on).
Contraception separates the sexual act from creating life, and in the process distorts our understanding of sexuality, relationships, and more. It leads to a devaluing of women and marriage, creates an accepting atmosphere for abortion, encourages homosexuality, and so on.
Pope Paul VI predicted all this in Humanae Vitae:
17. Upright men can even better convince themselves of the solid grounds on which the teaching of the Church in this field is based, if they care to reflect upon the consequences of methods of artificial birth control. Let them consider, first of all, how wide and easy a road would thus be opened up towards conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality. Not much experience is needed in order to know human weakness, and to understand that men -- especially the young, who are so vulnerable on this point -- have need of encouragement to be faithful to the moral law, so that they must not be offered some easy means of eluding its observance. It is also to be feared that the man, growing used to the employment of anti-conceptive practices, may finally lose respect for the woman and, no longer caring for her physical and psychological equilibrium, may come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.
Let it be considered also that a dangerous weapon would thus be placed in the hands of those public authorities who take no heed of moral exigencies. Who could blame a government for applying to the solution of the problems of the community those means acknowledged to be licit for married couples in the solution of a family problem? Who will stop rulers from favoring, from even imposing upon their peoples, if they were to consider it necessary, the method of contraception which they judge to be most efficacious? In such a way men, wishing to avoid individual, family, or social difficulties encountered in the observance of the divine law, would reach the point of placing at the mercy of the intervention of public authorities the most personal and most reserved sector of conjugal intimacy.
Consequently, if the mission of generating life is not to be exposed to the arbitrary will of men, one must necessarily recognize insurmountable limits to the possibility of man's domination over his own body and its functions; limits which no man, whether a private individual or one invested with authority, may licitly surpass. And such limits cannot be determined otherwise than by the respect due to the integrity of the human organism and its functions, according to the principles recalled earlier, and also according to the correct understanding of the "principle of totality" illustrated by our predecessor Pope Pius XII.21
Pax et bonum
Thursday, June 29, 2017
There's an old Crosby, Still, Nash song "Teach Your Children." I've even performed it in coffee houses.
I thought of the song as I was talking with a friend about our children.
Our children are good people, but they don't go to church, or have if they do go to church have opted to go to non-Catholic churches (none of mine attend church at all). I've had similar conversations with members of my band, and fellow Franciscans.
I see studies that indicate we are not alone. So many of the Millennials are not involved with church or organized religion in any way.
I pray for my children every day, keeping St. Monica in mind. I hope that they will finally respond to God's call. Maybe down the road.
I also wonder what I did - or failed to do. I know some families who were really devout and whose children are practicing Catholics. If I had done differently, if I had taught my children well, would they be practicing Catholics? I don't know.
My prayers include ones for forgiveness. In feel in some ways I failed.
For now, I just look at them and sigh.
And put them in God's hands.
Pax et bonum
Monday, June 26, 2017
Now that I've been hired at St. John Bosco School, I have a whole new curriculum to teach. That means lots of reading to get ready.
The first book was one given me by the principal about the educational ideas of St. John Bosco - the "preventive system." I just finished the book: Keys to the Hearts of Youth by Father Paul P. Avallone, SDB.
Many of the ideas are ones that I've tried to follow anyway, with a focus on Reason, Religion, and Kindness.
Next up, a look at the writing method used at the school. Then into the literature.
The school is low tech - so no service pros for the students, no Google Classroom, no smart boards, no internet. The teachers will have tablets - which are to stay at the school - and grades will be recorded online.
The school is also not rich, so resources will be limited.
The previous teacher did not leave behind a curriculum map, so I'll have to go by the master curriculum, and design it as I go along.
Challenging, but exciting.
And the religious environment, starting the day with prayers, or a Mass, or lectio divina, or morning prayers will be wonderful.
Pax et bonum
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
As noted before, I quit my teaching job at a prestigious Catholic school - but one that has strayed from its roots and one where some questionable decisions have been made.
I had my exit interview yesterday. As part of that interview, I submitted the following (though in this version I have taken out the names):
There are a number of reasons why I realized I could not comfortably continue working at XXX. Here are some of them:
This poses potential problems for the school and the students. As the renewal letter states: Admissions officers use the AP Course Audit results to determine the extent to which students avail themselves of rigorous course work. It is in your students' best interest that courses designated AP on your school transcripts have been renewed through the AP Course Audit process for each academic year in which they are offered. An inaccurate AP Course Ledger could negatively impact your students in the college admissions process. As a result, if you are no longer teaching at this school, are not teaching English Language and Composition during the 2016-17 school year, or otherwise believe this renewal was done in error, please ask your school administrator to update the renewal status of your course.
Pax et bonum
Monday, June 19, 2017
The new Wonder Woman movies is out. I haven't seen it yet, but I've heard some positive things from people about it.
Of course, she is a fictional character. There are real Wonder Women in the history of the Church. Here are a few.
Pax et bonum
Sunday, June 18, 2017
Friday, June 16, 2017
A couple of months back, members of the Parish Council at my parish spoke at weekend Masses trying to recruit new members. In our parish, instead of an actual election or even a put-all-the-nominees'-names-in-a-bowl-and-pick-the-required-number-of-members method used at a lot of parishes, if you show up you are a member.
I went over to one of the members I knew, asked a couple of questions and shared a couple of jokes. He asked if I was interested, and I said I'd think about it. My wife later said I should really consider it, and that she could see me on the Council.
A couple of weeks ago the head of the Parish Council left a message on my phone and invited me to the June meeting as a new member, or at least to check things out. I didn't even get a chance to return his call - he came up to me at the end of Mass after my music group played and asked me to come to the next meeting.
Feeling trapped, I said I'd attend the June meeting. I did so earlier this week.
I was one of four new/potential members. The rest of the people were the people I'd expected - the very active members of the parish. The kind of good, solid people every parish relies on.
I listened to the issues being discussed. I also got to meet the new pastor who will be joining us at the end of June. That was nice.
I did not commit when asked. But when I went home I told my wife I would not be joining.
As I mentioned, the people were all the active members in the parish - every program, every fund-raiser, every social activity, these were the people who ran things and volunteered and did the work. And at the Council meeting it was indeed clear it was expected that the members were to be active in as much as possible - from the parish picnic to the new adult formation program to overseeing the parish newsletter - and to promote everything. That message came through again and again.
It's pretty obvious that they were seeking new members because they need more hands and new blood.
But I don't participate in all those activities and events. I'm not a picnic person. I don't go to all the dinners and card and wine-tasting nights. I can't even be part of the adult formation program because it's scheduled for a night I work. It would be hypocritical for me to promote activities and programs in which I don't participate.
Plus, with a new job, being on the the Board of The Margaret Home as we attempt to get that program off the ground, my Franciscan obligations (including being a member of the Fraternity Council), Santa duties in November/December, and the Rock of Faith band, I'm already committed to a lot.
Further, the discussion involved a lot of dithering and repeating - many of the members are older, some are hard of hearing, some are not native English speakers, and some got lost as issues were discussed. I know me: I don't have the patience for that.
So I'll let them know that I was honored to be invited, but this is not for me.
Pax et bonum
Thursday, June 15, 2017
I just got the latest issue of Gilbert. Much to my delight, the Clerihew Corner features poems just by me.
Here's the poems that got in:
treated it as a laughing matter,
but sell enough baby parts, even that teenie,
and you just might afford a Lamborghini.
said with a knowing nod,
"The wickedness of all my work fades
before that woman's 50 Shades.”
is eradicating Western sins and vices,
except, of course, for a select few
that they themselves like to do.
religiously practiced the harp.
When a musical career proved a non-starter
he instead became a martyr.
slipped on a bar of soap
the couplet he muttered was neither stoic
demand the real poo.
That makes 8 clerihews in the last three issues - after a five and half year gap!
Pax et bonum
Sunday, June 11, 2017
Yes, I quit.
I met with the principal of my school to sign a new contract, and I stopped him and told him that I was not returning.
You should have seen the look on his face.
I have another position lined up - at a real Catholic school - but I didn't tell him that. Instead I talked about some of the reasons why I was leaving.
Sadly, we didn't get to cover them all. Among the concerns I didn't get to cover was the fact that this supposedly Catholic school was drifting further and further away from defending Catholic teachings. (Don't mention them: Don't want to offend parents shelling out big bucks.)
So it goes.
The school I'm going to has daily prayers, weekly Mass for students, and opportunities for daily Masses for the faculty. Some teachers say rosaries with students. Lessons include Catholic books and discussion of saints.
And I don't have to be worried about offending people by discussing Catholic teachings.
Further, the education is classical - not ruled by Google and computers.
This week after I file my grades I will just be packing up. Lots of books that I used to enhance my lessons.
Alleluia! Thanks you Lord.
Pax et bonum
Monday, June 5, 2017
I was reminded, though, of a time when I was involved with a fake newscast of sorts.
The press conference had ended and I was lingering to talk with one of the interviewees I knew when a cameraman from a local television station came rushing in. The station had a reputation for being frugal (to be polite) so they had only a few news cameras, and often sent cameramen out without reporters just to film something so they could say they covered the event, often, as in this case, arriving late.
The cameraman looked crestfallen, realizing he had gotten there way too late to get any film. The interviewee said he would be willing to answer some questions, but the cameraman admitted that he only had the press release and really knew nothing about the issue at hand. They had just sent him out to film answers to other people’s questions.
I looked at the interviewee, who looked back at me, then I turned to the cameraman and said, “I can ask a couple of questions so you can get something.”
He looked relieved.
So I sat off camera and asked a couple of the questions I’d asked earlier, the interviewee sat at the table as if he was still doing the press conference (we even put my mike on the table in front of him along with a couple of other mikes to make it look real), and the cameraman filmed the responses.
That night, I turned on the station’s newscast. When the press conference report came on, an on-air personality (i.e. good-looking reporter) who had not been at the press conference asked one of the questions I’d asked as if he’d been there asking it, and then the report showed footage of the interviewee answering (my) question.
The on-air personality looked good (of course). The cameraman got his shot. The interviewee got coverage.
I chuckled then at the little deception.
Now, I just shrug and wonder what conversations are going on at CNN.
Pax et bonum
Sunday, June 4, 2017
Saturday, June 3, 2017
St. Margaret of Cortona, you gave yourself to the crucified Christ in thanksgiving for his love and mercy. We ask for your prayers for this home which bears your name, that it may be a refuge for those in need and a sign of Christ's love and mercy and a sanctuary where your children are welcomed and protected. O glorious St. Margaret, present this request to your crucified Lord and ours. May your example guide us, and your support protect us. ... Be our companion, we beg you, until we reach our Father's house. Amen.
Our Lady, Seat of Wisdon, Pray for us.
St. Margaret of Cortona, pray for us.
Pax et bonum