Thursday, December 29, 2005

And to All a Good Night

But just before I retire: (Pork) Satay: Barbequed, marinated meat on a skewer--with peanut sauce; Ruam-mit Seafood: Prawns, fish, squid and mussels in roasted chilli sauce; Pad Laht-Na: Broad rice noodles stir-fired in Thai black soy sauce; topped with stir-fired broccoli (with beef strips); and Deep Fried Banana with Coconut Ice Cream (with bits of coconut and jack-fruit in it)--this is a serious gourmet experience. All washed down with a Sleeman's Honey Brown Lager.

Kong wasn't all that bad either, if a bit long at three hours. Now you can rest easy. Good Night.

Eating is Part of Christmas Joy

So I talked my wife into trying Thai cuisine, which I have sampled (in Portland a few years ago) but which is new to her. Then the big monkey will try to entertain us.

We have no plans for New Years Eve as yet. We went to a Parish Dance last year, but this year they're inviting families to bring their children along. Our partners last year aren't interested in that case. Maybe we'll just curl up in front of the tv and cuddle (just the wife and I, I mean). New Year's Day brings a customary gathering at the home of one of her cousins. When does Notre Dame beat (uh, I mean play) Ohio State? Jan 2, 2 p.m. PST. Rats! I'll be working.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Which is what I have been doing for the last three days. Back to work tomorrow. The youngest is having her boyfriend over for a special dinner tonight (the eldest is acting as waitress). I guess they don't want any old fogeys dampening the spirit of the date. So Momma and I are off to see King Kong and perhaps eat some Japanese food.

We're blest, being in a major port city, because ethnic food of all sorts is available for tasting. We haven't had Indonesian in a few years, but Korean, Greek and Japanese have been some of our recent favourites. Of course, given the Italian and Chinese populations here, it is hard to think of their food as anything but Canadian, eh.

In the meantime, keep the Christmas Tree up, the outside lights lit (at night, anyway) and the Christmas music playing. And visit friends and family as much as practical. After all it's only the fifth day of Christmas.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmas Departure

I'm sorry to pass on that my friend's wife passed away on Christmas Day. They were married nearly fifty years. It's hard to imagine the kind of shock this has been for him. He's quite devastated, so your prayers would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Belated Merry Christmas

by the way.

Image courtesty of Gen X Revert.

Christmas Poem

Having funked out and settled for buying gift certificates for the family, I tried to redeem myself by giving them a poem as well:

South China Sea

In his twenty-first year, all alone and aloof,
stood a thin, pensive, young man, his back to the war;
to his front the expanse of the South China Sea.
He looked East o'er the Oceans to an unseen shore.

But over the smooth rim of the Earth were hidden
his past and his future, neither here to be seen.
So he talked to the Sea, and waited a reply,
not buoyed nor depressed, by the silent marine:

"Will I know Love? Will it know me? Has she a name?
Is Loneliness my destined companion for life?
Will a special someone share my hopes and my joys?
Will she stand by me through all the tumult and strife?"

And the strong Sea whispered: "Love!" But he did not hear.

"Where is my life? Where will it go: light at the end?
Or is gloomy foreboding my future address?
Will it be long or short; happy, sad or tragic?
I fear the answers; tell me all nevertheless."

And the still Sea whispered: "Life!" But he did not hear.

"Will my life be of Hope or of sunless despair?
Will I learn to smile in the darkness of black night?
Or is my solemn look destined never to crack?
Only tell me what fate lies in wait: shadows or light?"

And the wise Sea answered: "Hope!" But he did not hear.

So sadly he turned and went back to war, no wiser.
But the Sea carried his words over Earth's far rim,
Over waters so placid, filled with ships of all sorts
to beautiful islands that in the great Ocean swim.

And there was a lovely Asian girl, eighteen years,
whose poetic name, it is said, is Lonely Heart.
She was pondering her life and where it would lead.
So she looked to the East and asked God for her part.

But she turned as she heard sound in the Western wind.
"Love! Life! Hope!" it said. And she wondered what it meant.
Now in the West, far away in time and space,
I can hear those old words and I know the intent.

Lonely Heart is my love and companion for life.
I've held Life in my arm and sung her to sleep.
Hope made me smile while I carried her on my back.
And I owe this to the South China Sea, so deep.

Friday, December 23, 2005


I found it! ö! (Little minds are easily pleased.)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas Wars?

Amy Welborn of Open Book writes a piece in NRO on the so-called wars. It's all the rage on the blogosphere these days. She may have a point: "Merry Christmas" finds it's true fulfillment in "He is Risen!". If you are unaware of the Christmas Child's identity and fate, you have missed the deepest part of the joy of this season. And what would Christmas be without Chesterton?

The First Christmas

A mass of legend and literature, which increases and will never end, has repeated and rung the changes on that single paradox; that the hands that had made the sun and stars were too small to reach the huge heads of the cattle. Upon this paradox, we might almost say upon this jest, all the literature of our faith is founded . . . When that contrast between the cosmic creation and the little local infancy has been repeated, reiterated, underlined, emphasised, exulted in, sung, shouted, roared, not to say howled, in a hundred thousand hymns, carols, rhymes, rituals, pictures, poems, and popular sermons, it may be suggested that we hardly need a higher critic to draw our attention to something a little odd about it; especially one of the sort that seems to take a long time to see a joke, even his own joke . . .

Every Catholic child has learned from pictures, and even every Protestant child from stories, this incredible combination of contrasted ideas as one of the very first impressions on his mind. It is not merely a theological difference. It is a psychological difference which can outlast any theologies. It really is, as that sort of scientist loves to say about anything, incurable. Any agnostic or atheist whose childhood has known a real Christmas has ever afterwards, whether he likes it or not, an association in his mind between two ideas that most of mankind must regard as remote from each other; the idea of a baby and the idea of unknown strength that sustains the stars. His instincts and imagination can still connect them, when his reason can no longer see the need of the connection; for him there will always be some savour of religion about the mere picture of a mother and a baby; some hint of mercy and softening about the mere mention of the dreadful name of God.

But the two ideas are not naturally or necessarily combined. They would not be necessarily combined for an ancient Greek or a Chinaman, even for Aristotle or Confucius. It is no more inevitable to connect God with an infant than to connect gravitation with a kitten. It has been created in our minds by Christmas because we are Christians, because we are psychological Christians even when we are not theological ones. In other words, this combination of ideas has emphatically, in the much disputed phrase, altered human nature. There is really a difference between the man who knows it and the man who does not. It may not be a difference of moral worth, for the Moslem or the Jew might be worthier according to his lights; but it is a plain fact about the crossing of two particular lights, the conjunction of two stars in our particular horoscope. Omnipotence and impotence, or divinity and infancy, do definitely make a sort of epigram which a million repetitions cannot turn into a platitude. It is not unreasonable to call it unique. Bethlehem is emphatically a place where extremes meet.

{The Everlasting Man}

(borrowed from Dave Armstrong's Dave's Old Fashioned Christmas Page)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Reading is Good for You

Sophie's World is now done. It was a bit of trial, since I was working so much. But with my friend encouraging me I kept at it. And my nephew had read it too, though it was too dry for him. Thoroughly modernist in viewpoint, the author nevertheless does touch on a number of major figures in the History of Philosophy. Don't try it if you find Philosophy completely and irredeemably boring. Otherwise it is good exercise for the brain.

Before I see my friend again, probably on Saturday, I'm trying to get into Phillip Johnson's Reason in the Balance The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law & Education. My friend and I have tentatively agreed to choose some beginner's book on philosophy to read and discuss. Given his thoroughly modern viewpoint, this should prove interesting.

Under the Weather

...which isn't surprising given the pace I've been trying to keep. While I'm recovering, here's a picture making the rounds in the Blogosphere:

You better
Watch out
you better not cry,
you better not pout i'm tellin' you why,
Santa Claus is coming to town,
he's making a list checkin it twice,
he's gonna find out whos naughty or nice,
Santa Claus is coming to town

What? You didn't know? What do they teach in schools nowadays?

The Catholic Church and Evolution

There's a nice summary at Schönborn Sightings (I had to work to find the umlaut to go over the first 'o'). This is a similar theme from an earlier post of mine ruminating on the difficulty of thinking about and discussing controversial topics with others when we use vague, imprecise language.

In any case, the differentiation between Evolution on the one hand as an area of scientific investigation and Neo-Darwinism on the other as a philosophy masquerading as neutral science is useful. But maybe, as Albertus Minimus points out, for some the imprecision is deliberate.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Back to the Slog

Four in row now; today is only eight hours. After that, twelves through Wednesday, Thursday off, then five in a row (I know, right over Christmas). Fortunately, the weekend shifts are only eight and are early, so I can help prepare for the guests. We'll go out to the wife's cousins gathering Christmas Eve. We'll have a small family-style gathering Christmas Evening. Then Boxing Day is our Open House with Momma's famous cauldron of Turkey Soup.

It should be ok if I can switch the Tuesday, Dec. 27, shift to Evenings. Then I could have a bit of a sleep-in after the grand wind up to the Christmas Triduum. Merry Christmas to all if I don't re-surface before then.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Philosophy and the Environment

My interlocutor at work pointed out that while there have been no great philosophers in the last half century, environmental philosophy is the new thing.

When he pointed out that Genesis says "and man shall have dominion" and cited David Suzuki saying that this was the worst thing that could have happened for the environment, I criticized his remark on several points.

First, Dr. Suzuki's speciality is genetics, bible interpretation is not. I'd rather hear from someone whose expertise is in bible interpretation and the history thereof. When I tried quoting the late, great Pope on the Genesis passage he irritably said he didn't care what the Pope thought. Fair enough, says I, but at least cite someone who has expertise we can both agree on.

Secondly, he's citing a translation into English that may or may not faithfully reflect the original Hebrew. What does the original really say? And, in turn, what does it mean? We were reduced to agreeing that the word "dominion" occurs in the King James Bible (ca. A.D. 1612). Now I have to actually look it up and see if that's true; ok, Genesis 1:26: dominion (KJV).

Thirdly, the idea of untrammelled human control over nature really arises in the Renaissance, not ancient Biblical Christianity (or Judaism). "Man is the measure of all things" while attributed to Protagoras, would be a suitable theme for many of the new Humanists of the Renaissance. The real problems with the environment begin with these ideas carried to an extreme in the Industrial Revolution centuries later. People didn't cause the havoc we have witnessed over the last two centuries by reading the King James Bible.

Another point we didn't really get into (I was supposed to be working at the time ) was the meaning of the text. What does it mean to say that the word "dominion" is used in that passage? What did ancient Christians actually think that meant? What did the English think and was this in line with traditional Christian thought?

But he just wanted the blame Christians and Christianity for the environmental troubles we've been experiencing. Facts and coherent arguments are not easy to build at the best of times, much less when dealing with someone who doesn't share your world view. No doubt we will have more interesting discussions in the future.

See what I can accomplish while I'm waiting for the shower?

Away in a Manger...

is where I've been. I slept most of yesterday. Probably a combination of sixty-hour work weeks and some incipient virus or other. The wife and I went to see The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe last night. We both enjoyed it. I haven't read The Chronicles of Narnia in a few decades so I can't answer the "how faithful to the original is it" question. But, other than the three or so scenes where Peter seems to be trying to break up the foursome out of concern for the others (which other bloggers assure us are not from C.S. Lewis) it seemed quite faithful. And, in any case, it's a good family movie (not a drop of blood what with ritual execution and big battle scene).

Today I'll have to do errands again (in preparation for Christmas). And tonight is a birthday party for my godson. With only one day off next week, blogging will be light to non-existent until after the Christmas triduum (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day).

I'm trying to post this from another software (MarsEdit). It seems more flexible. Now if I could just remember my password...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

New Unit

opened yesterday and it was a zoo; a lot of arguments and frayed nerves. At least tomorrow I’m back to an established unit where the friction follows a known pattern.

In the meantime, here’s the putdown of the year:

He said: "I don’t know why you wear a bra…not like you have anything." She said: "Well, you wear pants don’t you?" Poor lad, didn’t stand a chance after that. - High school teacher Cowpi, reporting overheard conversation in lunch line

Copied from TS O’Rama at Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


is the liturgical colour today (counting this evening as part of Sunday, a la the Jewish day). I had forgotten that this was the third Sunday of Advent, called Gaudete Sunday. The opening prayer (Introit in the old style) or song (antiphon now) quotes Saint Paul's letter to the Philippians (4:4), "Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!"

The Church calls us to joyful patience at the long delay until Christmas and, more importantly, the seeming delay in Jesus' Return. It will come soon!

I'm Getting Ready for Mass

because I'm working 6-6 tomorrow. So look at The Blog from the Core - Blogworthies LXXIX to keep yourselves occupied.

By the way, I got Herbs for the MInd and Saving Your Brain from the Library. Now I'll lose sleep trying to read all of this!

Day Off #2

is also filled with things to do. My hair is now trimmed and presentable for Christmas. And I’m off to a couple of branches of the local Library to catch up on my hypochondriacal reading.

I’m not entirely happy with this growing old business. It’s part of the necessary process, sure. But the sense of multiple minor injuries accruing over the last few years along with slightly worrying signs of mental lapses are starting to bother me. True, the stress of working so much is probably to blame. But I’m a worrier. So I have Seven Days to a Perfect Night's Sleep in case poor sleeping patterns are contributing. And books about memory, brain function and nutrients are on my list to borrow. Now just as long as I don’t forget where I put the papers with the names and numbers of the books I should be ok.

Friday, December 09, 2005

More Errands to Run

So try to do some reading. For example, FIRST THINGS December 2005 has some excellent articles. I've already read Michael Behe 's Scientific Orthodoxies and am working through Our American Babylon by Father Neuhaus. Discussion later.

What's on Tap Tonight

I know my wife loves me because she turned down an invitation to a Christmas concert (don’t get me going about Advent again) that she likes to attend each year. Why? So she could cuddle up with me and watch the Canucks teach the Senators how Hockey is played (on tv, that thing I’m supposed to watch less of).

Cold beer, a good Hockey game and a beautiful woman who loves you: life as a Canadian is good.

open book: Mary's House

Amy at Open Book has an interesting citation about Mary's House in Ephesus in Turkey from an AsiaNews article. I wonder if Albertus Minimus, who is a former Moslem, has seen this. It would be interesting to hear his reaction.

Neologism of the Year

I would like to nominate Dr. Philip Blosser of Musings of a Pertinacous Papist for paparatziphobic. The entry goes on to quote Satre about Paederasts and their self-understanding. Satre's theme, if I understand correctly, is that homosexuals refuse to recognize and take responsibility for their own free choice of pederasty.

Scary thought--someday we might end up seeing bumper stickers on cars: "Pederast and Proud of It".

Anyway I love "paparatziphobic" (as a word, I mean).

Saint Juan Diego

is today's Saint. The feast coming in a few days time (Dec. 12th) is a major focus in the Americas: Our Lady of Guadeloupe. It was this poor Aztec Indian she chose to appear to. In so doing, she effected the conversion of the Western Hemisphere aborginals south of the Rio Grande. And she continues to influence Catholics throughout the Americas, if not the world.

The choice of the poor, the unnoticed, by Our Lady is a theme we see, certainly in the last two centuries (La Sallete, Lourdes and Fatima) and, of course, at Guadeloupe. Children (or child-like adults?) and the poor are her chosen prophets. Over and above the messages unique to each appearance, is she calling us to be more child-like, more "poor in spirit"? Does this mean I should give up my dreams of a big-screen tv?

Maybe I Should Blog More...

Thanks to T.S. O'Rama at Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor
, who, in turn, got this from Jim Borgman, Cincinnati Enquirer.


Not much lately. But I have to catch up. I recommended Sophie's World to a couple of people I know at work. One of them is now ahead of me in reading the book and eager to talk about the contents. And Karl Adam’s The Spirit of Catholicism gets only snippets of attention during breaks at work (it's on my Palm).

Too much time spent at home trying to watch the episodes of Firefly that we borrowed from one of the girls friends is part of the problem. And we’ve already watched Christmas Carol (yes, yes, I know, it’s Advent; what are we doing watching Christmas movies now? I already told you: I lose this argument every year.)

So maybe I should lighten up on the Internet Surfing a bit, cut back on the tv and try to catch up on my reading.

And Before I Go...

Have a look at this (#303) admonitory tale. Never Surrender!

Thanks to Dennis Monokroussos at The Chess Mind.

Why Are They Called Days Off?

There’s some errand to run today. Maybe I’ll blog more later. The Christmas tree, purchased last Friday, was decorated last night. I would normally be against such premature Christmas activity, since it’s still Advent. But this is an argument I lose each year.

In any case, crass materialism is to blame: we have a vaulted ceiling and I lust for the experience of sitting in one corner and looking up to a real Christmas tree. And you can’t be sure of getting trees of this height later in Advent. So we have to go out as soon as the trees are unloaded and pay through the nose for Daddy’s (that’s me) obsession.

So last night my star and I cuddled up and sat in the relative dark and admired our tree. I’ll try to get a picture up of it later (the tree, not the cuddling), so you can be suitably warned against my folly.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Saint Nicholas

Santa Claus is banned from our house and has been since the girls were small. But Saint Nick always visited and left gifts for the girls on his feastday. Now they are too old for such childish pampering. So why did he give them gift certificates this morning? On the other hand, how does one criticize someone enjoying the beatific vision?

The Document (Again!)

A good round-up of reactions from Against the Grain. That should keep you busy while I’m in the middle of five long shifts.

Work, Work, Work

So just read Readworthies (XXVI) while I’m busy enriching the government.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Blogworthies LXXVIII is Up

Have a look. The link to the Pontifications entry Worshipping the Lord... was interesting in particular.

On at least one RCIA session a few years ago the candidates and catechumens gave me a blank look when I confessed that I found our Masses to be banal. At least I had the memory of the pre-Vatican Latin in a Romanesque Church. Even the memory of the grand Stained Glass windows still bring a sigh. Though why the Church in question looked so small when we drove by it in 1990 I can’t explain.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Got High-Speed?

The playback was a little choppy for me, but Tim Allen would kill to get this kind of a display.

Thanks to Mark Shea of Catholic and Enjoying It.


And here I was feeling so virtuous about my occasional glass of wine with dinner: good for your heart and all that. And now this comes out. Now I’ll just have to drink for the only good reason there really is: it tastes good. Chesterton must be laughing at me now.

With Controversy Swirling

...around the new Vatican document that has finally been released, I have been ruminating about the use of language in these kind of public debates.

Actually, the dearth of real debates is what has concerned me most. And the use and misuse of language seems to be a major cause of the “talking past each other” type of rhetoric that’s going on.

Paedophile is a key word that prevents communication when the Scandal is being discussed. The Oxford definition that I’ve linked to is fairly generic in that it simply says children. With 80% or more of the sexual abuse cases involving adolescent or young men, it seems to me (and many others) that Pedophilia doesn’t cover that activity accurately. See for instance this source which says, in part: “pedophilia involves sexual activity by an adult with a prepubescent child.” (emphasis added) That’s sex with someone before adolescence. And that’s from the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition.

Is there an established word in English that accurately describes the behaviour in these 80+% cases of sexual abuse? How about Pederasty? The bulk of the problem is (hopefully was) with pederast-priests. But no one is talking about the Pederasty Crisis.

So my first point is that the misuse of the word pedophile has misdirected the attention of many as to the nature of the overwhelming majority of cases of sexual abuse by priests and religious. The problem is (or was) not so much pedophilia as pederasty.

My next point has to do with discussing pederasty meaningfully. It seems obvious enough that to be a pederast you must have Same Sex Attraction (SSA). Well, duh! And acting out SSA can reasonably be described as homosexuality or so it seems to me. So the pederast priests are or were homosexuals. And. finally, making the living out of SSA as a homosexual an indispensable part of your self-identity can then be called gay. It isn’t automatically true that all the offenders are or were gay. Being a founding member of the Man-Boy Love Association would qualify though, don’t you think? [Where was the Boston Archdiocese at that time?] Calling yourself gay in public, while not definitive (since the word is used so loosely) might well be evidence in that direction.

By making these distinctions we can say that the Vatican document forbids men who have been homosexual within the last three years from entering seminaries and, of course, bars entry to gays pure and simple. Men with SSA are, istm, a more difficult issue that would have to be dealt with on a case by case basis. The document doesn’t get into that much detail.

But gay is being used so loosely in public discourse about the Vatican document that it can effectively include all three categories (SSA, homosexual and gay) which, though not using my exact terminology, are clearly distinguished in the document itself. (See David Morrison’s Sed Contra entry for a more detailed discussion.) And whose interests does this confusion serve: the gay “Catholic” community? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

Anyway, all of this was inspired by various blog entries (here’s one for example) over the last three weeks or so, which got me thinking. One of the stories was about something to the effect that “The Church is trying to deceive people into thinking that all pedophiles are gay”. This conclusion fails to use one word accurately [pedophile instead of pederast] and uses another so generally [gay] that it includes very different things [SSA, homosexuality and gayness (?)]. In logic that’s called equivocation. You can’t build an effective argument against the Church’s policies without using clear, accurate and unequivocal terms.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Chess for Zebras?

Jonathan Rowson has written a book by this name. There’s an interesting video of him giving a lecture based on the themes from this book (though without a really satisfying account for the name of the book) here.

Thanks to Dennis Monokroussos of The Chess Mind.

ID Redux

There are some excerpts from a nice interview with Dr Santiago Collado (original interview by Mercator.Net) over at Insight Scoop the Ignatius Press blog. It’s worth a read.

It’s citation of an earlier interview with Dr. Benjamin Wiker, co-author of Architects of the Culture of Death, bears repeating:

I think there are two very serious misconceptions about Darwinism today. First, that Darwinism is a well-established theory, with no considerable intellectual difficulties. The second, one more directly related to Architects, concerns the essential moral implications of Darwinism. Generally, historians and scientists alike have tried to distance Darwin’s biology from the eugenics movement—an understandable move, given the ugliness of the eugenic programs of Nazi Germany. If we read Darwin, however, we find that he himself understood eugenics to be the obvious inference from his biological theory of evolution through natural selection. Natural weeds out the unfit; so should we, or at least keep the unfit from breeding. Further, he also understood quite clearly that his evolutionary account of morality, which destroyed the permanency of human nature, provided the most radical moral relativism possible. As for the scientific community, it generally accepts Darwinism without question, which means that it generally hasn’t studied the theoretical and evidential problems facing Darwinism. Happily, more and more scientists have found the courage to look at Darwinism with a clearer, more critical eye.

So my reservations about Darwinism (sometimes described currently as Neo-Darwinism and/or Syntheticism) are not completely off the wall, ok? All of which hardly constitutes a ringing endorsement of Intelligent Design, so-called.

I still believe that the role of Natural Theology is being ignored or misunderstood by some of the ID advocates.

Albertus is under the Weather

but have a read of his latest entry anyway. The feel of a book, it’s smell, turning the pages, beautiful pictures: it’s almost enough to get one away from the keyboard.

Sin Make You Stupid

So says Mark Shea and this seems to be evidence in favour of that.

But Hope Springs Eternal

(Who said that anyway?) Amy Welborn at Open Book points out a rather more balanced presentation of the Nativity Story than we might have expected a decade or two ago. Is something changing behind the scenes?

With Advent upon Us

I should mention that Santa Claus has never visited our family. Saint Nicholas, however, visits every December 6th. The wife has been asking the girls if they aren’t a little too old for Saint Nick presents, they answer, soundly enough, “You’re never too old for Saint Nick”.

So this effort in Germany has my complete support.

Thanks to Mark Shea at Catholic and Enjoying It for the link.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho!

But before going to work I’ll let you know that I’ve finished Mapping Human History. The author’s intention is best summarized by his last sentence: “We are members of a single human family, the products of genetic necessity and chance, borne ceaselessly into an unknown future.“

I learned about Y-chromosome Adam (the common male ancestor of all living men) and learned more about mitochondrial Eve—the common mother of all the living. (There's no biological evidence these two knew each other.) Now I’m curious about the ”Seven daughters of Eve“ thesis that someone came up with.

Anyway, I’m now starting Sophie's World. Got to go.

Friday, November 25, 2005

While I'm Busy..

I still have time to read (on breaks and at bedtime). One of the books I borrowed from the library is quite engrossing: Mapping Human History. He’s a bit sloppy about terminology at times (what he calls History in the title is really Pre-History). Otherwise a real pager turner.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Aging Improves You, Right?

At least the seventy-one year old FIDE Master can say so, having dispatched a Grand Master. It gives one hope...

Thanks to Dennis Monokroussos at The Chess Mind for the link.

And One More...

Have a look at Denyse O’Leary’s blog entry on the Catholic Church and Darwinism. I’m also reading some stuff about the Evolution, Darwinism, Intelligent Design issues. More later.

Gotta Run

This is the first of five twelve-hour shifts in a row--ouch!
I borrowed Sophia’s World from the Library (a recommendation of Albertus Minimus in the Comments on Philosophy for Everyman blog.

And the girls, the youngest in particular, got me a little excited about another option. Those sixty-years old or more can attend University (the government subsidized ones anyway) for free. I spent some time drooling over the course and program descriptions at SFU last night. Who knows?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Philosophy and Science

One of my honorary daughters links me to this exposition on Intelligent Design. I did blog briefly on this controversy here. It’s easier to say: “A pox on both their houses!” and ignore the details of the debate, to the extent there is one. I’ll try to expand my thoughts a bit here.

One of the points that interests me is the concept of irreducible complexity. Intelligent Design advocates criticize Darwinism (so-called) because it’s gradual-change-through-small-variations-leading-to-major-differences-we-now-see hypothesis assumes that all current differences, and, indeed, some apparent similarities, can be explained this way.

Two of the battlegrounds are eyes and feathers. Can gradual small changes account for the different types of visual organs we now see? Can the existence of feathers at all (seemingly only good in their current configuration for flight) be explained by minor genetic modifications over millions of years?

I don’t have a dog in this race. This is clearly a question for scientists to answer, I would think. Plausible pathways for genetic changes have to be illustrated to defeat the i.c. argument and bolster the Darwinist hypothesis. Let that debate continue to it’s natural conclusion.

More of a concern (as distinct from an interest) is the relationship between Natural Theology and Science that might be ignored in these debates. At first blush, the Intelligent Design side seems to be in danger of violating the “proper limits of science”. Again, this is an open question for me as yet. Let that discussion continue as well.

But something about some presentations of the Darwinist hypothesis (usually presented as if it reflected scientific fact and law) smack of an atheistic back-door attempt to pre-empt Natural Theology occurring at all. Darwinism as a brilliant hypothesis that has been promoted to a pseudo-scientific religious dogma (proving that belief in God is unscientific) is what concerns me. Some expositions of “Evolution” along these lines are critiqued by Intelligent Design proponents and others in ways that resonate with me.

Perhaps that is more forthcoming than my previous post. Thanks to KC for the link.

The Un-Philosopher

How could I forget G. K. Chesterton from my list of philosophers-that-I’ve-read? Perhaps because he thought of himself as a Journalist and would have rejected the title (of Philosopher).

Thanks to Amy Welborn at Open Book for a link to a BBC program that puts The Man Who Was Thursday on the radio.

Philosophy for Everyman

A patient’s husband at work is an autodidact and we have been enjoying talking a bit about history and philosophy lately. He started, late in life, reading the classics of literature. I’m so impressed with his enthusiasm and energy. Another potential model for my impending retirement.

I guess I’m also somewhat disappointed that he seems to have fallen into the village atheist trap. He is now writing a book How to be a Freethinker. But he’s a decent and engaging person and I look forward to our conversations.

But all this got me to thinking: while I recognize names and know a few details about various philosophers, which ones have I actually read in the original?

In High School we had to read parts of The Republic by Plato. Since then, I’ve read some of Jacques Maritain’s and Etienne Gilson’s works, That was in High School and early youth. In the last twenty years or so there has been very little reading in Philosophy. Mortimer Adler was a guiding light for a while, so I’ve read several of his books.

What have I read lately: Peter Kreeft. His imaginary dialogues are particularly Platonic (creating conversations to illustrate the clash of opposing ideas). And, more often than not, like Plato, he uses Socrates as his primary interlocutor.

And all this thanks to a link from Lex Communis.

The Presentation

Today’s Feast is a peculiarly Catholic one: the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is true on different levels.

First of all, there is no Scriptural support for the story that this feast celebrates (the child Mary dedicated to Temple service by her parents.) Rather the first version of this legend is in the Protoevangelium of James, a Second Century document that contained a number of imaginative stories about Mary’s family history and the Holy Family.

It’s also Catholic in the sense of being part of a gradual accretion and growth. In fact the feast wasn’t celebrated in the West (those in Union with the Roman bishop) until the Fourteenth Century. A Pope heard, while he was in exile in Avignon, France, that the Greek Christians (the Orthodox) celebrated this feast . He added the feast, which then had a mixed history before being firmly established in the Sixteenth Century. Here’s a lovely Orthodox site on this feast. For them it is a major and very old feast indeed.

And that brings the Catholic aspect of this feast to completion: that a holy practice exists honourably in one part of the Church (albeit separated at the time) makes it acceptable to the Church as a whole. It is, indeed, the Catholic (Universal) Church.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

While I'm Working...

you can read Blogworthies. I’m off tomorrow and Tuesday. Maybe I’ll find something interesting to say then.

Since today is the feast of Christ the King: Viva Cristo Rey!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

An Answer to my Question?

My blog theme is anticipating retirement and wondering what comes next. Listening to the EWTN Live podcast this evening Father Pacwa was talking to Fr. Jim Conroy, SJ about the Ignatian Lay Volunteer Corps. Their theme is “Your most important work may not begin until after you retire.” Interesting...


Lorna and I conscientiously drank bottled water all the time we were in Italy. While in Rome for nine (glorious) days we found a supermercato that wasn’t much larger than a corner grocery store here. But they had cheap bottled water--aqua naturale, of course.

I did inform Lorna that Rick Steves insists that the public water outlets in Rome are perfectly safe, but that wasn’t good enough. All of this was brought back by today’s post at Dilbert.Blog. I had a good laugh.

Thanks to Lane Core for the link.


Albertus Minimus has added me to his blogroll. I’ll have to make more of an effort to write every day. It’s a challenge on the days I have twelve-hour shifts, though.

In the meantime I’ll add him to mine. Done. I had to do it by hand because I can’t remember the name of the application that takes my NewNewsWire Subscriptions and converts them so I can simply put them in the blogroll.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Saint Albert the Great

Today is his feast. He is, I suppose, a patron saint of mine, at least I’ve always thought of him that way. But I made the mistake of asking my dear departed Mother, may God have mercy on her, how she came up with my names. She was utterly indifferent to the question.

You can find links related to the Universal Doctor here. (With thanks to Albertus Minimus for the link).


Inspired by something Peter Kreeftwrote (Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Heaven-- But Never Dreamed of Asking), I have tended to think of Purgatory (and, by extension, Hell) as being the same place as Heaven: being in God’s Presence.

How we experience it is determined by how we live now. Few, if any, of us will experience it as complete joy, even though we should. Catholics of an older sort expect to experience an initial discomfort in His Presence that will gradually be removed, as if by fire (1 Cor. 3:15).

What provoked this was a short piece by Albertus Minimus. And I’m in the mood to think about Purgatory and Marriage: Lorna returned last night from Ohio. My enforced bachelorhood is over, for now. And I’m glad. I’ll take this Purgatory to that of the single life.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Looking Back

The Calender shows that today is the feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran. This is the Mother Church for Catholics in a way, though most don't know that. It is the official Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, not the Vatican as you might have assumed.

The picture is of the side entrance that Lorna and I found on a bus trip from the catacombs.

The walk down the Via Appia Antica (itself following an adventure on the Roman Bus system) earlier that day is what I remember fondly.

Anniversaries (like today's feast day) are ways to remember in a structured way that encourage us to move on after the remembrance. Otherwise we risk dwelling in memories and ignoring life going on around us. (I know this is trite, but I'm loathe to pose for pictures and here are two with me smack in the middle of them. More about me and photos another day.)

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Four Final Things

I’ve been quiet lately. Partly it’s the effect of multiple twelve-hour shifts on an old(er) mans mind and body. There have been some issues on my mind during this silence, however:

Judges, Death, Life and Beer, not necessarily in that order.

The whole Miers thing down south has been of interest. But as a Canadian I haven’t felt qualified to comment on this peculiarly American sport of selecting a Supreme (Court Justice). But it did stimulate me to think about how Ottawa selects our Supremes. But perhaps we’ll discuss that another time.

Then a co-worker died after a long struggle with cancer. A wonderful, upbeat fellow (and just three weeks older than me). The memorial service was lovely. And his passing got me reflecting on how we deal with the unfairness and fragility of life. There are some people who inspire me with their determination to live fully, Ed and the late Pope among them. May they rest in peace.

And now Lorna’s brother-in-law passed away suddenly on Wednesday. Another good man who was told he had a bad heart in 1990 and forced to retire. He had lived with this threat of death for so long we forgot how close it was. So he laid down for a nap the other day and woke up facing Jesus.

After some agonizing we decided to go as a family to the funeral. So I’ll be in Ohio with the family for a week: celebrating Joe’s life and contemplating his drink of choice : Bud. If they don’t have that in heaven, what will he drink? In any case, I’m confident that in the new earth (Rev. 21:1; cf. Is. 65:17) something very like Spaten Optimator will be flowing copiously.

It’s not a bad thing to think about death. It’s actually sort of important. Avoiding thinking about it certainly isn’t a good strategy. Death is a door. But first you have to live to be able to open it. That’s what I take from these wonderful people. So lift your beverage of choice and say “L’Haim!” (To Life!)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Someday My Prince Will Come...

Oops, wrong Disney movie. Anyway just be aware that there are rewards besides the spiritual ones when you give blood. Alas, Lorna and i are going to win the weekend for two to Banff, but you still have a chance to get the collector’s edition of the Cinderella DVD. I think the draw is open until Oct. 22.

So go and give: it’s in you. Actually, you’re looking a little flushed. A nice bleeding would do you good. (Gee, I don’t think that will work for their next campaign.)


Ok, if that doesn’t mean anything to you, you can move on. With today’s draw, he is certain to win the FIDE World Championship. There is another World Champion out there. So now I wonder if a re-unification match is in order?

Update: Rats! What I would have given to have this title instead: Habemas Topam!

I Love Beer

but maybe this is going a little too far:

Thanks to Eric at Christifidelis for the link to ProfessorBainbridge.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Equal Access for the Globe and Mail

Heather Mallick is a regular columnist for the G&M or so I gather. Someone is making a regular project of fisking her. Since I just got finished criticizing the Star about a column this only seems fair.

Thanks to Kathy of Relapsed Catholic for the link.

Peter Kreeft

is one of my favourite writers. Dr. Philip Blosser at The Pertinacious Papist has a nice selection of quotes from him here.

How Canadian Can You Be?

Some groups and people can be excoriated, verbally abused and threatened with no (social) consequences amongst the Canadian ruling elite. The Catholic Church and the Pope are particularly obvious examples.

So why would Catholics read the Toronto Star after this screed (free registration required)? It’s an interesting business decision. 43.2% of Canadians described themselves as Catholics in the 2001 Census. That’s down 2% from 1991, which might suggest a religion in decline.

So maybe Catholics are perceived to be fading away. Or maybe Catholics don’t read the Star. Or the ones that do agree that the Catholic Church shouldn’t try to impose Jesus’, uh, it’s teachings on people who like to call themselves Catholic in public. That one seems plausible.

There must be a powerful psychological effect in calling oneself Catholic. It was an issue even in the time of the Fathers of the Church. People want to call themselves and be called Catholic, they just want to be free of some of the baggage; Jesus-lite, if you will. Though, no doubt, they will insist that the Real Jesus agrees with them and the Church is just a power-hungry bunch of liars. No, they’re more Canadian than that, they’ll convey that same meaning in much nicer language. But I still don’t quite get why they still want to be Catholic after all that.

The idea that Paul Martin’s membership status in the Catholic Church should be a matter of public law is fascinating all by itself. Is the idea that any religious organization would presume the right to discipline any Canadian the problem? Are MP’s to be protected by Act of Parliament if their religious community of choice decides to discipline them for some reason? Or is it that the Prime Minister must be exempt from any public chastisement to protect the office from undue influence? Is anyone imagining the horror of Paul Martin’s suddenly conforming his policies and statements to Catholic Social and Moral Teachings? The Liberal’s world would come to an end.

Anyway, Lifesite News has a write-up and thanks to Domenico Bettinelli at Bettnet for the link.

Another Link

T.S. O’Rama of Video Meliora has a good collection of blog citations here.

Sophia Institute Press Bleg

What is a bleg? Asking for help on a blog. Aren’t you glad you asked?

This is a very moving testimony by the publisher, so get your hankies ready before you read it. I have a couple of books from them. They specialize in re-publishing old classics that have gone out of print.

But they also publish original material. I have all of the Surprised by Truth series (only 2 and 3 are still in print, I think). Patrick Madrid has brought together some beautiful conversion stories in these books.

Thanks to Amy Welborn at Open Book for the link.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m Canadian, eh? We actually had our feast on Saturday with friends and family. I’ll be working that gluttonous act off for weeks. I think I heard the scale grown that last time I stepped on it. Oh, but it was good. And Sunday’s epistle has Paul talking about how he knows when to feast and when to fast (Phil 4:12-14, 19-20). May that be said of of us all.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Reading Notes

Phantom of the Opera is done. A wonderful tour of Nineteenth Century French fantasy. The idea of the strange Parisian underworld populated by nameless strange denizens is fascinating. A rather romantic ending though, Raoul and Christine flee away and the Phantom, well, read it yourself.

Now I’m working on The Spirit of Catholicism by Karl Adam. It’s on my Palm so it’s convenient to read when there’s free time. It’s actually a re-read, since I read it long ago, in the sixties or seventies. A little more toothy than Phantom.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Bulgaria Rules!

Topalov looks unstoppable at this point. He’s 6.5/7. All he has to do is draw the remaining games and it’s his in a walk. He doesn’t look like he’s much inclined to draw though. Svidler is closest with 4.5/7.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Living in Sin

doesn’t promote anyone’s happiness. Yet this is increasingly what people are doing. I blame Hollywood (a term that I use for all the media that promote morally bankrupt ideas). It’s passing strange that the sociological data continues to mount showing the negative effects of the erosion of stable, life-long marriage on all concerned. Yet how much of this data leaks into the MSM?

Thanks to Kevin Miller at Heart Mind & Strength.

Round 4

was another blood bath. Second round in a row with no draws. Considering the experts with their fancy statistical analysis were predicting 60% of the games would end in draws (not unusual at that level), this result is all the more amazing.

Anyway, after the dust settled the standings are now:

1. Topalov 3.5
2. Svidler 3 (the stealth candidate?)
3. Anand 2.5 (yes, he lost)
4. Kasimdzhanov 2
5-6. Leko, Polgar 1.5
7-8. Adams, Morozevich 1

Seminary Memories

No, not mine. I slept a couple of nights at the seminary in Washington, D.C. many years ago. But that is for another day. Rather, I’m referring to Clayton’s project of reviewing his seminary experiences in light of the seminary visitation going on now.

The Seminary Visitation program is all the talk these days. It would be interesting to have an inside look at seminary life from a veteran (if that’s the right term).

Progress Report

The cold has settled in my head and chest. Oh! you weren’t interested in that were you?

Well, I managed to finish Ten Days to Destiny I’m glad my nephew loaned it to me. I hope he doesn’t mind me loaning it a nurse I work with. She’s half-Greek and interested in learning more about Greek History (in this case the battle for Crete, 1941). It could use a couple of more maps to help visualize the action of the various battles. But an engaging read nonetheless.

My next read should come from one of these:

• Books that are in progress:
  1. Greek for the Rest of Us, Mounce

  2. How to Reassess Your Chess, Silman

  3. I Believe in God, Claudel

  4. Inside Islam, Ali & Spencer

  5. Asking the Right Questions, Browne & Keeley

• books I possess but haven’t yet started reading:
  1. The Christian and Anxiety, von Balthasar

  2. Salvation is From the Jews, Schoeman

  3. The Phantom of the Opera, Leroux (a loan from my daughter)

There are others, I’m sure, including those I’ve already read but mean to read again. But let’s focus on a shorter set of lists for now and try to make progress. Given how heavy my head is right now maybe I’ll do The Phantom.


Father Dowd of Waiting in Joyful Hope hits the big time. His blog is the “Link of the Week” in The B.C. Catholic, the Archdiocesan newspaper for Vancouver. Congratulations!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

ID #2

Being or Nothingness has two entries of interest. It’s particularly nice to see high school students being encouraged to investigate controversies in science at this level. Do you remember what ID is?

Darwin on Trial

Lane Core has posted another Blogworthies. I particularly enjoyed the entry about the “Darwinism versus Intelligent Design” case. The ACLU has filed suit in a Pennsylvania court to stop a school district from referring to Darwinism as a theory and mentioning a book in the school library that argues for ID.

I’ve read a couple of books on this controversy: Michael Behe’s Darwin's Black Box and Philip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial. The idea that classical Darwinism (if there is such a thing) has failed to reasonably answer all objections is compelling. I’m less convinced of the scientific validity of the implied argument to a Creator; philosophically, yes (see St. Thomas Aquinas and the “Proofs” of God’s existence).

But then, maybe that is Darwinism’s ultimate failing as well: it crosses over from scientific hypothesis to philosophical argument. I still think Chesterton had it right: survival of the fittest boils down to survival of those who survived.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Round 3, San Luis

Anand and Topalov are both still on top with 2.5/3, Svidler is in second 2/3, Polgar in third 1.5/3, Adams, Kasimdzhanov, Morozevich 1, Leko bringing up the rear with 0.5. Thanks to The Chess Mind for the info.

You can play over the games at the TWIC viewer.

Patron Saint of Bloggers

is apparently St. Jerome and today is his feast day. He certainly knew how to flame people anyway. Here’s a prayer from Aliens in This World:

St. Jerome -- we who are about to blog, salute you! Pray for us now, and in the hour of our thinking it's a good idea at the time. Give us your blessing, and drop a clue-by-four on our heads whenever we need it. Like you, saint and curmudgeon, may all our combativeness and words help us fight our way through to the Word made flesh, and may all our wandering and pilgrimages lead us to the Way. We ask also for the prayers of your patient friends, St. Paula and St. Eustochium, that we may be both patient friends ourselves and patiently befriended.

Patron saint of translators, pray for all of us crazy people who try to translate things, whether for a living or for fun, that our work may draw people together and teach them something of the truth. Pray also for the writers of translation programs, especially Babelfish, because they really are a help to folks.

In Christ our Lord, Amen.

St. Jerome, aka St. Hieronymus.

Thanks to Alicia at Fructus Ventris (what does that mean in Latin, anyway?).

Why I am a Catholic

Every Catholic (or Christian for that matter) has (or should have) a unique and compelling story to tell that would answer the above statement. But for the lazy there is Dave Armstrong’s answer. I tripped over it while cleaning up my links. See, housekeeping is both virtuous and useful.

My Magazines

I’ve also added links to the magazines I subscribe to. First Things is a first class magazine that is both intellectual and ecumenical. It tends to focus on things American, but is not parochial at all. It’s central theme is the interaction of religion and politics in modern democracies.

Catholic World Report is a good source for world news from a Catholic perspective. The new editor is Domenico Bettinelli, whose blog I also link to. It might be too self-consciously orthodox for some tastes, but I enjoy it.

And Logos is a quarterly Journal from the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It’s a Catholic intellectual journal but covers a broader range of issues than First Things.

And me with a high school diploma. Is it any wonder I can’t keep up with my reading?


A few, relatively minor changes. I found a script via a Ranchero link so my NetNewsWire Subscription list could be added to my Sidebar as a kind of blogroll. These are the sites that I check daily for inspiration and challenge.

And inspired by a question from The Evil Traditionalist I’ve joined Amazon Canada as an associate and put a link to a copy of Oliver Twist in the sidebar also. I figured since I’m going to be talking about books I’m reading from time to time, I might as well include a small money-making opportunity. Actually, I’ve just registered for credits to buy books. I spend way too much on books each year, so maybe this will help offset the cost.

And no, I won’t change to Green. I’m a true Blue person myself, whatever the survey said.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

More Fluff

Being a sick day, I feel free to waste time on useless things:

Your Blog Should Be Green

Your blog is smart and thoughtful - not a lot of fluff.
You enjoy a good discussion, especially if it involves picking apart ideas.
However, you tend to get easily annoyed by any thoughtless comments in your blog.
What Color Should Your Blog or Journal Be?

Hmmm.. Maybe it's time to look at the template. What does Blogger have in Green?

Thanks to Fructus Ventris for the link.

Praise from the Praiseworthy

I just have to respond to Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor’s kind remarks and citation from the Apologetics Entry. I’m blushing.

I’m suffering through a cold today. Maybe I should be sick more often. It might be improving the quality of my entries.

Apologetics a field I’ve been very interested in for years. The idea that there is a reasonable defence to all objections to the Catholic Faith appeals to me. St. Thomas Aquinas argues against the idea that there are separate spheres of truth, such that apparent contradictions between them can be tolerated. Truth is one, since it all comes from God.

Notice that this isn’t the same thing as proving every Catholic belief is true, only that they are neither self-contradictory nor contradict what we know about world otherwise.

Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor (How’s that for a snappy Latin title?) talks about Cardinal Dulles book The History of Apologetics here. And he confesses to a problem with some religions (from an apologetic viewpoint):

        ...what I don't understand, and concerning which I
        can scarcely be charitable, is not only Islam, but sects
        like Jehovah Witnesses and others. It makes me want
        to read their literature in hopes of lessening my
        disgust. Yet millions and millions of people can and
        do accept them, such that I begin to wonder what is
        the point of apologetics, or even what place
        rationalism has in religion.

There is an aspect of these two (Islam and JW’s) which is rational to a fault. They are each trapped inside their own revelation, having constructed a fairly coherent internal logic that keeps them satisfied. These systems are bound, according to Aquinas, to contradict themselves and reality sooner or later since they’re not completely true. So one apologetic technique is to explore the contradictions (internal and external). I’m not sure it’s successful all that often, though.

What is baffling is the human need to believe, even in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence. Having been once convinced by a plausible, though false, system of thought we are all prone to cling to it despite all evidence to the contrary. Chesterton writes about what we now call the Fundamentalist Christian almost admiringly, particularly their stubborn refusal to concede defeat (intellectually). And I confess to admiring the JW’s when they come to the door. It takes a certain kind of courage to endure the abuse they must receive.

Perhaps relationships are the most important thing in convincing us of the truth of things. The Muslim has the Umma (community) to sustains him, the JW has the Fellowship. These satisfy a deep need to belong, that, in the case of converts to these religions, wasn’t being met elsewhere.

So what can we do? Love them, I guess. Treat them with respect and dignity. And pray for them. But I still say Aquinas is right and we shouldn’t let their false beliefs go unchallenged if they challenge us with them. Otherwise our silence may tend to confirm them in the (otherwise comforting) lie they’ve bought into.

Readworthies is up...

and worth a look. I’m particularly disheartened by the Oil for Food scandal in the U.N. What major world crisis has the U.N. averted, much less resolved? It’s appears increasingly to me to be a corrupt, crony-ridden old boys club. Re-calling Trudeau (and others) play nicey-nicey with these people trying to get a sinecure in the U.N. now fills me with sorrow. How far has it fallen since the dreams of the forties.

And whatever inspired the writer(s) to make Wesley Snipes a super-duper U.N. agent in The Art of War? He would have been better being from U.N.C.L.E. Does anybody remember that pleasant fantasy?

World Chess Championship

The second round starts this morning. Anand (the front-runner in the odds) and Topalov (tied in Fide Rating and running second in the betting) both won their first games, Polgar (of the Polgar sisters of Hungary and first woman to compete for a world chess championship [for men]) and Leko (another top gunner who tried too hard to win as white) gave up the points respectively. Morozevich 1/2 - 1/2 Kasimdzhanov and Svidler 1/2 - 1/2 Adams to round out the field.

Thanks to the Chess Mind blog for all the links.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Blog Personality?

Your Blogging Type is Artistic and Passionate

You see your blog as the ultimate personal expression - and work hard to make it great.
One moment you may be working on a new dramatic design for your blog...
And the next, you're passionately writing about your pet causes.
Your blog is very important - and you're careful about who you share it with.

Canadian Response to Sexual Abuse

I’ve made only limited comments on the homosexuality and priesthood issues that are currently dominating a lot of blog discussions. And I saw, somewhere, a reference to this study, phrased negatively something like “task force study released yesterday reports on recommendations from 1992 that were never implemented based, in turn, on a report from 1989”.

Some Canadians, I fear, have a reflexive reaction to things American to the effect that “well, we’re better than that”. It ain’t necessarily so, brothers and sisters.

Lifesite News talks about the report to the Canadian Bishops. The idea that we don’t have problems here in Canada seems to be false. I do agree that someone in authority in the Church should link these problems to “homosexuality” and “dissent” at some point, if not in this specific report.

I don’t agree that pressure from the faithful is called for, however. I believe we get the priests we deserve, by and large. We don’t need to be pressuring the church, we need to be getting on our knees and asking, no, begging, forgiveness for our tepid faith. See Revelations for God’s attitude towards the lukewarm:

         “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would
        that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm,
        and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
        For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing;
        not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and
        naked. Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined
        by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe
        you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being
        seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.
        Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous
        and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any
        one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him
        and eat with him, and he with me. ‘”
                Rev. 3:15-20

A people living a vibrant faith cannot help but produce good priests. The priests we complain about now came from amongst us in the first place.

Thanks to Gregory Popcak of Heart Mind and Strength for the reminder.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Jesuits: Happy Birthday!

After my potentially snarky comments about the Society of Jesus in this post, Mark Shea’s podcast from Monday is a welcome contrast. I need to practice looking at the whole picture and not just focus narrowly, reaching hasty conclusions.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Concerning Odd (External) Things Catholic

I’ve had occasion to mention some in the past (here and here, for example). Father Tucker at Dappled Things does a nice job of discussing this issue here.

The comparison I tried to make when talking with candidates in the RCIA was that Catholicism is like a huge buffet table. You’re free to take as little as you like (the essentials, so-called) but you might be missing something if you don’t at least try some of the rest of the feast. And you certainly should not look down on those who try things (approved by the Church, that is) that you’re not willing to.

Future Re-reading

While wading through the unfinished and the not-yet-read books in my library, I still have hopes of re-reading some previously read ones. In particular, N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God. It’s rather long, but a good read, if you’re patient.

Any Welborn has a good blog article on this book. Read the Comments section too.

Papal Politics and Jesuits

Here is a more complete story about the alleged diary of a cardinal from the Papal Conclave that elected Benedict XVI. I’m loath to continue the conversation since the diary would seem to involve one of two things: an ex-communicable breaking of vows (the cardinals and their entourages swore a solemn oath of secrecy) or a lie (if the whole thing is invented from whole cloth).

The only charitable explanation I can come up with on short notice is that the diary is real but that the cardinal in question did not mean for it to be published. But even writing down a diary of something that can never be released to the public is imprudence at best. And failing to keep it secure seems another sin of omission.

After all that, however, my real interest was in the motivation behind the release of the alleged diary. I’ve already suggested that this was a stealth vote for Bergoglio at the next conclave in somebody's comments.

The suggestion in the story above that it was a disguised attack on the Pope from the direction of some Jesuits is curious. The tension between the order and some of its’ members on the one hand and the Papacy on the other is well-known in Catholic circles, though deplored by many, including yours truly.

The Jesuits have a special fourth vow of loyalty to the Pope which makes the controversies of the last forty years or so all the more painful. We were blessed to have a Jesuit priest preach at our parish many years ago. It was the first and, so far, only time that a priest attempted to defend sexual continence as taught by the Church from the pulpit. It was a carefully reasoned, unblushing account of the folly of modern sexual ethics at a regular Sunday Mass. That, at least, gives me hope for the Jesuit order.

In the meantime, I hope this Pope has a long and prosperous (theologically speaking) life. And I hope, as I did at the last conclave, that we get the Pope we need, not the one we deserve.

New Orleans, Louisiana and Katrina

It’s stories like this that disturb me at bit. Life is different down there (or was). The wife and I had a chance to stay in the French Quarter for a couple of days a few years ago. We still cherish the memories. Does it have to become something bustling and business-like to avoid the corruption? Can’t they live easy below the water line and have somebody trustworthy taking care of the levees?

Thanks to Oswald Sobrino at Catholic Analysis for the link.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

New Secret Revealed from Papal Conclave!

There has been some buzz about a cardinal supposedly revealing what happened during the four votes that led to Cardinal Ratzinger’s election. Now something far more believable coming directly from the Pope himself. ;-)

Thanks to Catholic Light.

Oh yes, Reading...

When not cheering on Notre Dame (a win) or the Canucks (a loss) or otherwise wasting my life away in front of the tv (what is that thing doing on?) I’m supposed to be catching up on my reading.

So I’m pleased to announce that I’ve finally finished Oliver Twist. My previous knowledge had been limited to the musical
Oliver! Not the worst way to start, however.

Dickens is such an excellent story-teller that the moralizing is forgiven. Some of his descriptions are rip-roaringly funny. From the book, one that tickled me was where he described the magistrate who was trying young Oliver for the theft of a book:

Mr. Fang was a lean, long-backed, stiff-necked,
middle-sized man, with no great quantity of hair: and
what he had, growing on the back and sides of his
head. His face was stern, and much flushed. If he
were really not in the habit of drinking rather more
than was exactly good for him, he might have brought
an action against his countenance for libel, and have
recovered heavy damages.

Priceless. And the comments of Mr. Bumble on being assured that his supposed authority over his wife would result in them both losing their parochial offices are well captured in the movie:

“That is no excuse,” replied Mr. Brownlow. “You were
present on the occasion of the destruction of these
trinkets , and, indeed, are the more guilty of the two,
in the eye of the law; for the law supposes that your
wife acts under your direction.”

“If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, squeez-
ing his hat emphatically in both hands, “ the law is a
ass--a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law’s a
bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye
may be opened by experience--by experience.”

The book revels in the newly married Mrs. Bumble giving Mr Bumble a sound thrashing earlier that makes his complaint now all the more comedic.

An excellent read, though a bit overlong for Twenty-First Century tastes. Next on tap Ten Days to Destiny, the Battle for Crete 1941, by G.C. Kiriakopoulos.