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.