Friday, June 28, 2013

Support our so-called marriage - or else (Our St. Thomas More future)

The Supreme Court decisions on DOMA and Proposition 8 weren't really a surprise. As a history/government teacher I figures DOMA would go down as marriage laws are state matters, not federal (unless, for example, civil rights are involved). I also understand the Prop 8 "decision" - though I think that one was more problematic and legitimately could have gone very differently.

But ...

Even though I am not surprised, I think the decisions are part of a trend in our country. We are moving towards "acceptance" of legal - but not natural or moral - homosexual so-called marriage.

That's bad enough, but things are going to get worse for people of faith.

As has already happened, people of faith, Churches, and church organizations will come under increasing attacks to go along with the rest of society. There are and will be even more lawsuits. Florists. Photographers. Inns. Wedding planners. Party house, camp ground, historic site owners/operators. Priests and deacons. Churches. More. They will be sued.

At first we might win some, but the attrition will eat away at resources.

Despite President Obama's risible promise, the government will back the homosexual agenda and go after the churches.

Meanwhile, the homosexual tide will sweep along the polygamists, the polyamorists, the pedophiles. Maybe not immediately, maybe sooner rather than later for some, but the push and the lawsuits will start. I've already heard of the polygamists celebrating homosexual victories because they see the door opening for them.

Perhaps we needed some shaking up. Perhaps those people who mix faith with party/patriotism/Americanism will be forced to recognize that they've been trying to render unto both Caesar and to God - and Caesar has been winning. And, of course, behind Caesar lies the evil one - laughing.

 At the least, those of us not directly involved in the church, marriage, or service industries will likely face ridicule and insults. Some of us may even face loss of jobs because even if we are not saying anything openly against the new perverse agenda, we will be required to support and promote it. Even silence will be viewed with suspicion.

Think of St. Thomas More. He did everything to avoid making any kind of public statement or openly show opposition, yet he was condemned because of his silence.

That's our future.

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mother on cell phone

mother on cell phone
ignoring her children -
the rain

Pax et bonum

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer begins, sort of

Today I submitted my grades and all of the end-of-the-year paperwork, and paced up the students papers and portfolios.

I thought I was done - and just had to clean my desk and classroom.

But then there were problems with some of the state tests. We had sent them out to be scored, and when we looked at them we began to find multiple errors, with a number of tests being scored too low. This was true not only in English, but also in history and science.

We sat there for a couple of hours reviewing the scores and rescoring some test whose scores seemed questionable.

One test was off by nearly 20 points.

So ... my department head requested that several of us come in next week to regrade as many of the tests as we can. The principal wants them done by Tuesday so the scores can go on the report cards.

I'll be there bright and early Monday. I'll go in Tuesday to finish up cleaning my room. Then Wednesday and Thursday I have to go in for mandatory workshop days.

So much for summer vacation!

Pax et bonum

Monday, June 17, 2013

Dick Cheney: Convicted war criminal

I saw former Vice President Dick Cheney was interviewed recently about the NSA leaker Edward Snowden, calling him a "traitor."

I'm not interested in debating that point, but whenever I see Cheney I can't help but think back to 1991 when he was convicted of war crimes by the International War Crimes Tribunal  in connection with the first Iraq war.

His being on the ticket was one of the (many) reasons I never voted for the Bush II ticket. I couldn't vote for a ticket with a convicted war criminal on it.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Not "A-Verse" to Jack Prelutsky

While savoring the works of poets like Robert Frost, Wendell Berry, Emily Dickinson, both Brownings, Basho, Seamus Heaney, and Yehuda Amachai, I also have a fondness for  ... Jack Prelutsky.

Yeah, the children's poet.

I love children's poetry.

I have a whole shelf of children poetry books. A big shelf.

And one of my favorite writers is Prelutsky, the nation's first Children's Poet Laureate.

Really. There is such a thing as a Children's Poet Laureate. They just announced that the new one is another of my favorite childrens' poets, Kenn Nesbitt.

But back to Prelutsky.

He has published some 50 collections of poetry (I only have a few of them).

The most recent one in my collection is 2012's I've Lost My Hippopotamus.

I just finished reading it.

The book contains some 100 poems. This book follows the two that came out in 2010, and he published another one this year. Talk about high volume.

The amazing thing is that so much of his poetry is good. Not Frost or Heaney English professor good, but it's still good children's verse. It's full of puns and word plays.

"When you use no herbs in cooking
Do you hope you're saving thyme?" ("When")

"It's noisy in my garden
And my ears are getting sore -
My tulips talk incessantly,
My dandelions roar." ("It's Noisy in My Garden")

I think some of his poems will be in children's poetry anthologies for many years to come. I bet more people will read his poems than some of the "serious" poets I'm also fond of reading.

As you can imagine, when someone is turning out so many poems in such a short time, the quality sometimes varies. There's a couple in I've Lost My Hippopotamus that are weaker than the others - but only a few. (My least favorite one is about pigeons on a statue).

And he gets into formulas/patterns. In this collection, he's got a lot of poems about mythical creatures based on combining names or words - Penguinchworms, the Spotted Pittapotamus, Flamingoats, Pelicantaloupes, and more.

But hey, when you turn out so many verses you need a few tricks up your sleeve.

So if you like children's poetry and if you like Prelutsky's verse, this is a great book to read. It gets a thumbs up from me.

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Poustinia - More Hermit Musings

My current interest in the hermit life is actually not something new. Back in the 1970s it was a lifestyle that interested me. I read Thomas Merton's autobiography (The Seven Storey Mountain) and several of his other books. My wife and I still regularly visit a local Trappist monastery.

I also encountered Catherine Doherty, who founded Madonna House up in Canada, and wrote a number of books, including one about the concept of "poustinia." Based on Russian eremitical tradition, poustinia for western folks involves getting away to a "cabin" - some isolated place - for 24 hours alone with a Bible, a cross, a bed, a desk, a chair, some bread and water (or coffee). The poustinik uses that time alone to pray. Some of these temporary hermits might even consider such a lifestyle on a more full-time basis.

I tried it one day back in the summer of 1977. I was working at my college for the summer, staying in the dorms. I had access to unused dorm rooms, and one weekend I went into one such room with my Bible, some coffee and bread, and a notebook. I spent 24-hours alone, reading the Bible, thinking, praying, and writing.

It wasn't easy. I was looking forward to rejoining my roommate and my girlfriend.

But it was still a good experience. I thought of doing it again, but never got around to it.

It would be hard to do now. I don't think my wife would like me to disappear for 24 hours. And the dog needs walking a couple of times a day.

But you never know.

I have to dig out my copy of Doherty's book.

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The New Urban Hermit

The Saturday Evening Post has an article about "The New Urban Hermit" in its May/June issue.

The article describes a trend in which some people seek "the silence of solitude, and the spiritual contemplation it allows." Among those featured in the article is Sister Laurel O'Neal of the Camaldolese Benedictines, who lives in a one-bedroom apartment in California's Bay Area.

The hermits support themselves with some kind of work - Sister O'Neal does some spiritual direction - and do mix with other people, at least occasionally. In addition to meeting with clients, for example, Sister O'Neal goes to daily Mass, and plays violin in an orchestra once a week.

Some also communicate in limited ways through social media and blogs.

But they also spend a lot of time in prayer and spiritual pursuits.

The article appealed to me because I could imagine myself doing something like that. Many summers I have almost no contact with others except for daily Mass.

I can't be a complete hermit - that would not be fair to my wife. But I might try to be more of one when the school year ends.

Apparently there is a newsletter for hermits called Raven's Bread, Food for Those in Solitude, and a site, Raven's Bread Hermit Ministries.  Gotta check that out.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A book review: "The Complete Thinker" (about Chesterton)

I finished the first of my books on my summer reading list - though I cheated and had actually begun the book earlier.

But I'm gonna count it anyway.

After all, it was written by a friend about one of my favorite writers.

The Complete Thinker: The Marvelous Mind of G. K. Chesterton by Dale Ahlquist is a great book for fans of Chesterton who want to review his ideas, and for those who have never read Chesterton to get an idea what all the well-deserved hoopla is about.

The book is a survey of Chesterton's thinking on any number of issues and topics. Given the range of Chesterton's writings the book needed an appendix to try to fit everything in - and I suspect Ahlquist could have added another appendix or two if he'd wanted to.

Chesterton was noted for inserting himself and his thought into everything he was writing, so it's no surprise that as he explores GKC's thoughts, Ahquist also managed to sneak in bits of his own Chesterton-colored observations about contemporary issues.

Given the volume of Chesterton's writings and the range of topics he covered, the book is by necessity only a taste of Chesterton. But it might just inspire readers to explore him more seriously and more in depth. Although I have been reading Chesterton fairly regularly for the past 20 years, I learned a few things from this book - and made some connections I hadn't before.

I must admit with some guilt that I found reading the book like reading Chesterton - at least for me. Some people can guzzle his writing. I find I need to sip and savor, so it takes me a while to get through any of Chesterton's books. It took me months to finish Ahlquist's book. That's not a criticism of Ahlquist; it's more of a commentary on me.

But whatever your approach, I do recommend this book. Even if you are not a fan of Chesterton, I think you'll find this book thought-provoking and eye-opening.

So buy it, and keep Dale's bank account solvent.

Pax et bonum

Classes over - now the grading

Yesterday was the last day of classes for the year. I'll miss the students. Sang some of them a song, posed for pictures. Even got a hug!

In our school we don't have finals in English - we have portfolios of work. So in the next two weeks I have to read and grade some 90 portfolios - roughly 1,500 pages! And 60 reader response journals from my sophomores on top of that.

I think I need a cup of coffee.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The beat goes on (liturgical abuse)

We have a non-deacon seminarian staying at out parish for the summer. He seems like a nice fellow.

But today he preached.

Father got up, gave a brief message, then turned the rest of the homily time over to the seminarian.

A liturgical abuse.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) states:

“The Homily should ordinarily be given by the priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to the deacon, but never to a lay person. In particular cases and for a just cause, the homily may even be given by a Bishop or a priest who is present at the celebration but cannot concelebrate.” (GIRM 66)

 Redemptionis Sacramentum (RS) reiterates GIRM 66 and adds the following:

“It should be borne in mind that any previous norm that may have admitted non-ordained faithful to give the homily during the Eucharistic celebration is to be considered abrogated by the norm of canon [law]. This practice is reprobated, so that it cannot be permitted to attain the force of custom.” (RS 65)

“If the need arises for the gathered faithful to be given instruction or testimony by a layperson in a Church concerning the Christian life, it is altogether preferable that this be done outside Mass. Nevertheless, for serious reasons it is permissible that this type of instruction or testimony be given after the Priest has proclaimed the Prayer after Communion. This should not become a regular practice, however. Furthermore, these instructions and testimony should not be of such a nature that they could be confused with the homily, nor is it permissible to dispense with the homily on their account.” (RS 74)

“Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.” (RS 184)

We have a history of liturgical abuses in our diocese. We are currently waiting for a new bishop to be appointed - the last reached retirement age, and in surprisingly quick time, his resignation was accepted with no bishop appointed to replace him.

I fear that these kinds of abuses will continue until we get a new bishop.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Heavenly merry-go-rounds

a slug among weeds
hopes that in heaven there are
some merry-go-rounds

Pax et bonum