Friday, June 15, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday, #2



1. Happy Friday. I took the day off because it is a busy weekend. My wife and I are singing for a wedding, rather elaborate music for the choir and organ and strings. I don't think my pastor fully comprehends what he is in for. It is my understanding that most priests are not terribly fond of weddings. It'll be interesting to see how our pastor reacts to this one! I'm going to spend a good part of the day practising my tenor part.

2. Our sick chicken seems to have recovered. I don't think she is laying eggs again, but at least she seems well.

3. Father's day is on Sunday, and we're also celebrating my mother's birthday at my brother's house. I think it is the first time any of us have been in his house. My mother was born on St. Anthony's day. She needs to be "found" and brought back to the practice of the faith. And, my two youngest children have a piano recital later in the afternoon.

4. I can't stop thinking about the people in my last post. I really find their lifestyle very attractive on many levels. The sad thing is that their territory is being eaten up by other interests. But they don't worry about tomorrow, and there are few to advocate for them. Probably in the not to distant future they will be absorbed and their unusual culture lost.

5. As I was getting of the bus this afternoon, I jokingly told a friend that it was too bad that everyone else didn't agree with me: it would make for a more peaceful world. The thing is, that is what Jesus wants, that everyone should "agree" with his way of thinking, and indeed it would be a more peaceful world. The problem is, too many of us claim to agree with Him, to follow him, but we don't really, and I think that adds to the strife. It is hard to trust a Christian who doesn't practice what he says he believes.

6. My son went to bed early tonight, unusual for him. He said he was hungry and wanted bread with ketchup. My wife told him to have the rest of his chicken from supper, but he didn't want to. Late he asked if he could have more of the supper, but it had been put away, but I suggested he could finish his chicken. For some reason he didn't want to do that, so he decided to go to bed.

7. Speaking of chicken for supper, (store bought, not from our flock) my wife is a master with herbs and seasonings. She had mushrooms garnishing this chicken, and I don't know what she put in with them, but they were the tastiest mushrooms I've ever eaten. In fact, I don't think I have ever before in my life remotely praised a mushroom.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Living Without Time

There is a lot about this way of life that is very attractive to me.



I don't like the absence of religion and the "serial monogamy" but much of the rest of it seems more like eternity than our modern, Western stress-filled, possession-oriented way of life.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Irresistible Urges, additional thoughts

Saint Augustine addresses the issue of the inviolability of the will in The City of God, Book 1, Chapters 16-20, in discussing Virgins and other women violated against their will, as well as the non-permissibility of suicide in order to avoid such violation. You can read it here, or search newadvent.com

Irresistible urges

Is there such as thing as an irresistible urge? I remember when I was in the Army Band, I had what I "called" an irresistible urge to not show up for my annual weapons qualification. That didn't go over well. There was an episode of Superman in DC comics in which Superman had to travel at light speed in order to rescue an unconscious Supergirl (I think it was this Annual but if I'm wrong and there are any Superman experts out there, be gentle with me)

Anyway, Superman is going so fast that he's about to break the light barrier and enter a dimension that no normal being is allowed to enter, and Spectre appears to stop him. Superman slams into him, but so intent is he to rescue his cousin, that he belligerently slams into Spectre again and again, until he realized, he just ain't going to budge the guy.

Spectre tells our hero that "I cannot be moved unless I will to be moved." And that was a moment of revelation for me.

Our wills are supreme. Even God won't act against our wills. We can, perhaps, be mechanically forced to do something contrary to our will, such has having 14 strong men grab our hands and force us to light a match, and drop it on a pile of our favorite superhero comics soaked with gasoline, but they could never force us to consent to that act.

So, my point, irresistible urges. I don't think there is such a thing. Our will is supreme. At some point, when we do something, we make a choice, we decide to do it, we make an act of the will. Our will may be weakened by habit or by addiction or by a chemical, it may be poorly formed, so as to make wrong choices, but, ultimately, in order to give in to a so-called irresistible urge, we have to give in. We have to give up. We make that choice.

As an example, I seriously doubt that you could ever, without mechanical force or totally altering her mind, force a loving mother to choose to harm her child. That's the essential thing, the choice.

Of course, in Spectre's case, he was capable of not only resisting force against his will, but also the mechanical force of Superman's super strength.

If I remember correctly, Spectre agreed to rescue Supergirl on behalf of Superman. So all ended well.

By his choice.

Moral Indignation

I was amused this morning reading the reviews of a fiction book dealing with the Battle of Thermopylae. There was a lot of moral indignation at any suggestion that there might be some good in the Spartans. Ooh, they kept slaves! Ooh, they tortured their sons to teach them their idea of manliness.

People need to get a grip. How recently did Americans keep slaves? Are we not killing our young by the millions every year through abortion, for far less noble motives than those of the Spartans? Those that survive, are we not subjecting them to an onslaught of pornography, indolence, obesity, and questionable media that is depriving them of character?

It seems to be an unquestioned reality, for instance, that when the World Cup Soccer series comes to a city, along with it comes a vast trade in sex, involving young women from the "third world" who are tricked, coerced and kidnapped into prostitution.

And we have a right to judge the Spartans?

Rights and Right

We are a society that tends to think in terms of rights, and not so much of responsibility or right or justice. Justice "is a moral quality or habit which perfects the will and inclines it to render to each and to all what belongs to them."

One might think of justice as a balance between my rights and the rights of another. I have a right to drive to the market, but balancing that with the right to life of another shopper, I have no right to drive my car over the other who is walking from his parked car to the market.

This balance of rights is often out of whack today.

We might get a better balance by thinking of the other fellow's rights before our own.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Glamor

The Pope has recently said that rejecting the glamor of Satan is rejecting the culture where the truth no longer matters.

In the promises of Baptism, we reject Satan and all his empty promises and the glamor of evil and sin. I'm not sure if that exact phrase is used, but the idea is common in Christian teaching, one way or the other.

The thing is: think about the common big sins, the ones so often featured in the media. (Don't think too explicitly or you'll get yourself in trouble!)

Now try this: you're caught unexpectedly doing one of those sinful things by a professional photographer, probably with a flash in a darkened room. How does that feel?

And now this: you're caught unexpectedly by a professional photographer bathing the sores of a elderly homeless woman in a home run by the Sisters of Charity. Or tutoring a disabled child in a wall-less classroom in Uganda. Or doling out rice and beans to an interminable line of refugees in Haiti. Or mentoring a young inmate in a prison. How does this feel?

None of these seems "glamorous" off the top of my head, but I'd far rather be caught by a photographer in the second group of situations.

Past-Present

I read the other day that the primary European drink before the discovery of coffee was alcohol - beer and wine, which is a depressant. Caffeine is a stimulant, with benefits to the brain. Wine has antioxidants, as do, I believe, coffee and tea.

It was suggested that we have advanced somewhat since the discovery of coffee because we switched from a depressant to a stimulant. I don't know. I look at the great scholars of the middle ages, Albert the Great, Aquinas, and so many others. And I'm not so sure that we're so much brighter with our stimulant.

I've also read that it is better for our brains to use cursive writing rather than printing or typewriting, yet, looking back on history, say going back to Aristotle, did he even write? And did he use cursive or printing? What impact did writing in Greek have in comparison with writing in some modern European script?

And there are many arguments that viewing text on a computer screen as compared with viewing it in printed form on the page of a book can be detrimental to our brains, as well as viewing anything at all on a computer screen compared to "real life," real faces, landscapes, objects in natural lighting.

I have also found myself wondering if eyeglasses aren't a bad idea. What is it that causes our eyesight to go bad? Look at Ben Franklin and at an outdoorsman from the same era who didn't read so much, who spent most of his time outdoors, in natural light, viewing objects at varied distances and varied settings. Maybe our eyes start to go bad because we spend so much time indoors, viewing things in limited settings within limited distances, and especially things close-up like computer screens, and yes, dare I say it, printed pages.

My point is, we have arguments for why times are better now, and why times were better a hundred years ago, or 500 years ago, or 1000 years ago.

Maybe the real issue is how we define better, what things we measure, what items we quantify to come up with "better." I'm not sure it's as clear as we think it is.

Something to think about.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Dissatisfaction

We often find ourselves dissatisfied. It is part of the attraction of the internet, seeking something that will fill a void. It was always the same with the mail. How many times over the years have you asked someone, "Has the mail come yet?" or someone asked you that question? There is a niggling little hope that something great will come in the mail. Or something wonderful will come in the email. Or maybe I'll discover a really cool app on a website. Or maybe I'll find the answer to a big question I've had for years on wikipedia (or healthwatch.com) or whatever.

Hope, I think, is one of the addictive qualities of technology. The next text, the next mobile call, the next website, the next email, the next app, the latest movie, the newest tablet or pc or pda or device will be the thing that will change my life. I'll be happy, I'll be content, I'll make my millions, I'll be able to retire, I'll find a girl friend, I'll renew an old friendship.

And the technology (and the mailman) provide just enough brief satisfaction to make that hope seem plausible, and so we keep logging on, turning on, checking, texting, posting, reading, searching.

It isn't always a trap, but it is always a lure to something far less than what we really need, what we really want. And so the hope is false, and it'll never satisfy.

Something to think about.

Update

For those of you that care, our chicken seems to be doing better. I don't know if she is laying eggs, but there appears to be improvement.

AND, my yard no longer looks like the Amazon basin, or the outskirts of a junkyard. I managed to get a good deal of cleaning and clearing done on Saturday.

There is still a lot to be done. It is a never-ending task, which is kind of how life just IS, a lot of never-ending tasks. It can get discouraging, especially when one finds oneself repeating the same tasks over and over and over.

That's why having a reason makes a difference. That's why the Lord calls us friends, or sons, not slaves. As friends or sons, we act to please the Father out of love. It can give a sweetness to the tasks. In the end, He doesn't care so much how successful we are, only that we act out of love for Him, and that we do our best.

Doing our best has to include prayer. We can't do our best if we do it without God. So... FOR God and WITH God.

Counting Sheep

I read a quote from Mother Teresa to the effect that we were not created to be counted, but to be loved, and it brought to mind the event in King David's reign wherein he decided he should order a census of his subjects. Then he repented, but the Lord was already angry with him and inflicted a punishment on him. (1 Chronicles 21:ff)

David's sin (in part) was to see his people as parts of his military machine, rather than as subjects to be loved and served. They were part of his "wealth" and his "prestige."

When he repented, he called them sheep, who are not guilty, but he, the shepherd is the guilty one who should be punished. He is guilty of not loving as a servant leader.

His punishment is to have his flock afflicted with pestilence - his "wealth and prestige" are reduced.

How often do we fail to see others as unique persons made in the image of God? And if we are in leadership roles, are we truly servant leaders, or acquirers of "wealth and prestige?"

Something to think about.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Saving Time

You know how you set the microwave oven for a certain time, say, 4 minutes, and you take the item out early, say 3:20, but you don't re-set the timer? Next time you use the oven, there's 40 seconds remaining on the display. Now imagine that every day you stop cooking something 40 seconds early, at the end of 10 years, you've accumulated 2,433 minutes, or almost 41 hours, a whole work week.

Now think of all the incidences in which you've said "I don't have time," and all the seconds - minutes, you've frittered away looking for a snack in the refrigerator, or arguing with your spouse, or deleting spam from your email, or watching commercials on TV, or any number of other relatively useless activities. Eliminating just one of those things from your life, could retrieve whole hours, days, weeks, even months that might have been lost from your life.

Now think of eternity, and imagine that any one minute of that wasted time might be enough (the straw on the camel's back) to cause you to lose an eternity of bliss with God in heaven.

Something to think about.