30 August 2007

Visiting with the apostles

Taking the kids for a very long weekend to the cabin and a day or two in the Apostle Islands and maybe to Duluth for a train ride. Will be off-line until next Wednesday, 5 September, at the earliest, possibly not until Thursday.

Have a blessed, safe and wonderful Labor Day weekend everyone.

My walking, talking conscience

I have always wondered why God blessed me with children. Growing up, I never did much baby-sitting, and since I was one of the youngest cousins on both sides of my family, wasn't around too many infants. I had never changed a diaper until, just hours after he was born, I changed my son's. Any maternal instincts were deeply buried. Completely unlike others I knew, I had no understanding of those who got married and wanted kids immediately. In fact, I used to joke with a co-worker at Boeing that I would wake up one morning and have an epiphany. I would either want to have a baby ASAP, or realize I was a lesbian. Neither of those scenarios happened, but I did wake up one morning to find I was pregnant.

Well, not quite. I went to Urgent Care very late one New Year's Eve so sick I wanted to die, and was told, as they were closing the doors, "You're pregnant. Happy New Year." It would be an exciting New Year. It would become an exciting and blessed bend in the road.

Now that my son is four and is able to understand a great deal of what is going on and also articulate it, I see myself from an entirely new perspective. The mirror I'm looking at is the world view of an out-going, squirrely and precious child. Just a part of the big picture God had in store for me when he brought these children into my life.

Recent opportunities in self-examination

Road rage. Not something I would say I'm guilty of, but I do have my father's bad habit. When I was little he used to carry on a running commentary about the driving skills of those around him. Now, I come to find, I do it to some extent. The other day, as I was driving down the road, I heard, "Mom, are you yelling at those people? Why are you yelling at those people?" My response was to clarify to my son that I wasn't, in fact, yelling. Just reacting, out loud, to some bad driving on the part of others. Now, every time I get in the car, my son's comments are in the back of my head. A lot of time, they are momentarily forgotten when I encounter the poor soul who has obviously gotten their driver's license in a box of Cracker Jack and is in need of a verbal correction.

When my son was very little, I did the organic mom thing. Organic foods, home-made baby food, the whole game plan. It quickly became abundantly clear that there weren't enough hours in the day to nurse, wash the cloth diapers that never saw harsh detergent, stimulate my son's development, get four hours of sleep, AND make him baby-food. I gave up on the baby-food. And the diapers. These are two things I still don't hear the end of. For some reason, other folks like to see that those around them aren't superhuman either and gladly remind of you of it when they get the opportunity. When I returned the unused cloth diapers to the store, the lady said, very condescendingly, "Oh, you can't DO cloth diapers, huh?" Previously, in their eyes, I was a card-carrying earth mother doing my part to save the planet, now I was solely responsible for all the ills of society.

Today, at the fair, I took my son to the Miracle of Birth barn. Attached to the main building was a room that had some exhibits, greatly overshadowed by the baby animals next door. He got to spin a wheel and answer a question correctly to win a prize. The question was, "Name three fruits." Now, each day my kids get lots of fruits. Mainly bananas and strawberries, but many fruits. Well, I helped my son come up with strawberries and then apples, and then my son said, "Doughnuts!" We went through the list again and I added "bananas" for him, to which he exclaimed, "AND DOUGHNUTS." Of course, the ladies running the booth gave me a weird look, but then awarded my son his prize. They must think that's all we eat. It just happened that we ate mini-doughnuts when we got to the fair, immediately before we went to the Miracle of Birth barn.

But, my son isn't too far off. I do make sure the kids eat well, but I don't eat as well myself. I need to start working on that "your body is a temple" idea before my kids start following my example of how I, myself, eat.

My maternal grandmother was as close to a saint as anyone I know. She did have one swear word that she rarely used, so when she did say it, it really had an impact. On the other hand, both my parents swore. Aside from nursing courses, I think that's what my mother learned in college during the 50s. My father, a Navy man during WWII, could use colorful language with the best of them. This, coupled with my time spent in public school, nurtured a similar vocabulary in me. It has been significantly, SIGNIFICANTLY, curtailed, but I come to find I swear more than I ever thought I did. How I know is that my son has learned the word dammit. Yes, on the heels of my pride in how he's learned his prayers so well, is this latest development. Funny though, my husband thinks my son learned this word from him. Good thing my daughter isn't talking yet. Maybe I have time to stop this before I have two truck drivers in my home.

Maybe I need to re-evaluate some things. I like to run a tight ship, keep my house clean. The level of clutter I used to consider acceptable has changed, but everything still has its place, even though it might not get put there every day. Growing up, my best-friend came from a family with eight kids. Her mom had a schedule. Mondays were wash days. Tuesdays for vacuuming, etc. I don't have a rigid schedule like that, but I don't have eight kids, either. However, household chores might not always have to be so high on the priority scale. When my son came up to me and asked, "Why are you always working?" I suddenly saw from his perspective that mom wasn't too much fun sometimes. It is important that the house run with a sense of order and discipline, but maybe not so militaristically. Five minutes playing trucks, which is about the extent of a four year old's attention span, is probably not going to impact the overall cleanliness of the house.

Interacting with little sister
Kids will be kids, and that's hard for parents to get used to at times. Right now we are going through Stage 1 of sibling rivalry. I don't know how many steps there are, but I am getting a strong feeling it is only beginning. When my daughter does something, I hear my son correcting her as I have corrected him. It's like nails on a chalk board. It can't possibly be me he learned this from. I might not be patient, but I don't sound like THAT. But, honestly, it is me. Ugh. Not fun to have someone push the "replay" button on your parenting style.

But, then there are the kind things he does for his little sister. The selfless things that warm a mother's heart. Giving her some of his food, reaching for a toy that is too high for her to get, speaking gentle words of comfort when she is crying or hurt. And the unconditional love they both give. The "big wet kisses" that come out of no where. Having my son get up from playing and come sit in my lap and tell me he loves me. My daughter just wanting to (constantly) sit in my lap.

I'm not perfect, but I'm not so bad either. I'm still a virtue-challenged soul, and whether I like it or not, I'm gaining a better understanding of what to work on. Children have an innocence and honestly that is embarrassing, brutal, cute and illuminating all rolled into one. Sometimes, when I do an examination of conscience, I wonder how I ever made it so long without them.

29 August 2007

Oh what a beautiful morning...

Today we are going to the Fair!!!

It's supposed to be a nice day without a bunch of rain and not too hot!

This year I won't be looking in the Creative Arts building for any of my entries. I knew when to cut my losses since I never won. But, then again, I always entered Irish Soda bread in the Ethnic Bread category. Maybe if I tried a German sweet bread I'd do better. There's always next year. I also used to enter my green salsa in the salsa contest, but the winners were always your normal ol' red salsas. Except some of the people would roast their peppers and tomatoes and go all out to win. That's way too much work for me!

Can't wait to get some mini-doughnuts!


28 August 2007

Is there a large sucking sound?

I'm not a fan of politics. Well, maybe that's not true. I'm not a fan of politicians. If it wasn't my religious and civic duty, I might just skip the whole voting thing since so much of voting isn't voting for something as much is it is voting against something or someone. Being an optimist, modern politics just doesn't square with me too well. Yes, sometimes I have to convince myself I'm an optimist. Kind of defeats the purpose.

But, I digress and am on my way to sinking into that stream of consciousness stuff that can either bore folks or get one in trouble. Can you tell I haven't had hardly any sleep in the last two days? Between the entire family being hit with diarrhea and the storms waking my son up every night, I'm just not on top of my game lately.

I did manage to get the bathroom painting done. Ahh, no nails holes, complete paint coverage. It's a beaut.

So, speaking of things that irritate your intestinal tract, here's something of an Inconvenient Truth. From an e-mail I received. I checked into it and it is from Snopes.com.

I'm not so concerned about the argument about who's a better environmentalist, just that the fellow who claims to be single-handedly saving our planet, is such a dork.


HOUSE # 1:
A 20-room mansion (not including 8 bathrooms) heated by natural gas. Add on a pool and a pool house) and a separate guest house all heated by gas. In ONE MONTH ALONE this mansion consumes more energy than the average American household in an ENTIRE YEAR. The average bill for electricity and natural gas runs over $2,400.00 per month. In natural gas alone (which last time we checked was a fossil fuel), this property consumes more than 20 times the national average for an American home. This house is not in a northern or Midwestern "snow belt," either. It's in the South.

HOUSE # 2:
Designed by an architecture professor at a leading national university, this house incorporates every "green" feature current home construction can provide. The house contains only 4,000 square feet (4 bedrooms) and is nestled on arid high prairie in the American southwest. A central closet in the house holds geothermal heat pumps drawing ground water through pipes sunk 300 feet into the ground. The water (usually 67 degrees F) heats the house in winter and cools it in summer. The system uses no fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas, and it consumes 25% of the electricity required for a conventional heating/cooling system. Rainwater from the roof is collected and funneled into a 25,000 gallon underground cistern. Wastewater from showers, sinks and toilets goes into underground purifying tanks and then into the cistern. The collected water then irrigates the land surrounding the house. Flowers and shrubs native to the area blend the property into the surrounding rural landscape.

HOUSE # 1 (20 room energy guzzling mansion) is outside of Nashville, Tennessee. It is the abode of that renowned environmentalist (and filmmaker) Al Gore.

HOUSE # 2 (model eco-friendly house) is on a ranch near Crawford, Texas. Also known as "the Texas White House," it is the private residence of the President of the United States, George W. Bush.

So whose house is gentler on the environment? Yet another story you WON'T hear on CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC or read about in the New York Times or the Washington Post. Indeed, for Mr. Gore, it's truly "an inconvenient truth."

Glass Houses
Claim: E-mail compares George W. Bush's eco-friendly ranch with Al Gore's energy-expending mansion.

Status: True.

Origins: This e-mail comparison between the homes of President George W. Bush and former vice-president Al Gore began circulating on the Internet in March 2007 (shortly after the latter's film on the global warming issue, An Inconvenient Truth, won an Academy Award as Best Documentary). Short and sweet, there's a fair bit of truth to the e-mail: Al Gore's Nashville mansion is something of the energy-gobbler the e-mail depicts, while President Bush's Crawford ranch is more the model of responsible resource use the juxtaposition portrays it to be.

According to the Associated Press, the Gore's 10,000 square foot Belle Meade residence consumes electricity at a rate of about 12 times the average for a typical house in Nashville (191,000 kwh versus 15,600 kwh). While there are mitigating factors (further discussed in our article about the Gore household's energy use), this is still a surprising number, given that the residence is approximately four times the size of the average new American home.

The Prarie Chapel Ranch ranch home owned by George W. Bush in Crawford, Texas, was designed by Austin architect David Heymann, an associate dean for undergraduate programs at the University of Texas School of Architecture. As the Chicago Tribune described the house in a 2001 article: The 4,000-square-foot house is a model of environmental rectitude.

Geothermal heat pumps located in a central closet circulate water through pipes buried 300 feet deep in the ground where the temperature is a constant 67 degrees; the water heats the house in the winter and cools it in the summer. Systems such as the one in this "eco-friendly" dwelling use about 25% of the electricity that traditional heating and cooling systems utilize.

A 25,000-gallon underground cistern collects rainwater gathered from roof runs; wastewater from sinks, toilets and showers goes into underground purifying tanks and is also funneled into the cistern. The water from the cistern is used to irrigate the landscaping surrounding the four-bedroom home. Plants and flowers native to the high prairie area blend the structure into the surrounding ecosystem.

Stopped at the border

Over the weekend, on the way back from the cabin, we stopped in River Falls, WI, for a 50th wedding anniversary. I was shocked to see these signs for the University of Wisconsin - River Falls all over the street. My husband was glad they had these signs. He's Polish. Hubby thought he might be stopped at the city limits because he didn't have his passport on him.

River Falls is full of folks from the former country of Czechoslavakia. I'm not Czech, but am related by marriage to a good chunk of the town, so have always been allowed in even before the city opened its borders to all.

It was nice that River Falls accepted my husband. I would've had to wrangle the kids at the party all by myself otherwise.

27 August 2007


An interesting article by Vox Day, whose views sometimes align with those of Catholicism. Check out the entire article on-line for links to the other articles he cites.

Communist deniers

Over the course of the last week, I have been engaging in a debate of the theory of evolution by natural selection with a biology teacher and evolutionary enthusiast named Scott Hatfield. It has been an interesting and civil debate and you can read two of my primary posts here and here, while two of Mr. Hatfield's more recent ones are here and here.

But one disturbing tangent that has come out of these debates is the shocking tendency of some evolutionists to attempt to disavow the significant historical impact that Darwin's dangerous idea had on some of history's most dangerous men. While the National Socialist enthusiasm for evolution-inspired eugenics is too well known to be credibly disputed, the direct link between Darwin and communism is less well understood. Devious evolutionists have been quick to exploit this general ignorance in an attempt to distance Darwin and his theory of evolution from the crimes of the communist killers of the previous century.

In doing so, they are following the dishonest lead of some of the more shameless atheists, such as Sam Harris, whose lies on behalf of his atheism stand in more blatant contrast to the historical record than those of any Holocaust denier. Like Lady MacBeth, these atheists and evolutionists frantically attempt to scrub and scrub away at the historical record, desperate to wash the blood of tens of millions off the hands of their stained ideologies. But it will not work, not so long as man remains literate.

The atheism of communist killers such as Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Choibalsan and dozens of other mass-murderous rulers is unquestionable. Explaining how their atheism was the causal factor of their lethal actions is a matter I shall address in detail at a later date. In this column, I am content to demonstrate that Darwinism was, and is, a core element of Marxist ideology.

Lenin declared that the three component parts of Marxism were "German philosophy, English political economy and French socialism", while its fundamental philosophy was "materialism." This is why Marxism is often described as dialectical materialism and why Darwin was so highly valued by the Marxists and post-Marxian communists. Marxist theoreticians considered Darwinian evolutionary theory to be the most powerful argument for materialism as well as the direct inspiration for the German philosophy component, specifically Hegelian dialectics.

Pedants think the dialectic is an idle play of the mind. In reality it only reproduces the process of evolution, which lives and moves by way of contradictions.
– Leon Trotsky, introduction to "The History of the Russian Revolution, Volume Two"

Darwin was not a Marxist himself, of course, nor even a socialist. His communist-denying defenders point this out and attempt to argue that since capitalism is a form of survival of the fittest, Darwinism is essentially capitalist and therefore entirely anti-socialist. This argument is interesting in that it appears superficially reasonable while demonstrating a near complete ignorance of both evolution and socialism. But Stalin ridiculed the maleducated individual who makes these sorts of arguments when describing the development of socialism in "Socialism: Utopian and Scientific."

In the many explanatory additions I have made here, I have had in mind not so much the workers as the "educated" readers ... who are governed by the irresistible impulse to demonstrate again and again in black and white their frightful ignorance and their consequently understandable colossal misconception of socialism. ... Such readers will also be surprised to encounter the Kant-Laplace cosmogony, modern natural science and Darwin, classical German philosophy and Hegel in a sketch of the history of the development of socialism.

Marx declared socialism to be the inevitable result of capitalism. One of Lenin's primary challenges was to explain how socialism could possibly appear in a pre-capitalist society like Russia. Mao faced the same theoretical problem with socialism in China. But in any case, to argue that socialism is anti-capitalist is simply incorrect; speaking in proper Marxist, Leninist or Maoist terms, it is post-capitalist.

Like Darwin, Hegel was no Marxist, but only a complete historical illiterate would dare to assert there is no direct relationship between Hegel and Marxism. The fact is both men are considered to be the premier pre-Marxist intellectuals and worthy of every socialist honor. Darwin is second only to Hegel in terms of his importance to basic Marxist theory and some post-Marxists even considered him to be more important. Stalin felt the need to defend Marxists from the charge of treating Darwin "uncritically", while in a collection of his 1958 speeches published by the Red Guard entitled "Long Live Mao Zedong Thought", Mao praised 26 men he considered to have demonstrated a fearless intellectual spirit in advancing human knowledge. The only three westerners he saw fit to name were Marx, Lenin and Darwin.

Amnesty International saga continues

Not long after their flip-flop on abortion, Amnesty International now has angered some artists it had hoped would help the organization with its new fundraising CD.

It seems their new motto is: Don't torture the living, but those in utero can fend for themselves.

Nice. Didn't George Orwell say somewhere that some animals are more equal than others? Maybe these Brits at AI failed British Lit 101.

Animal Farm is one book that I have read. Maybe not Watership Down, but I have read Animal Farm...and 1984...and I'm not British.

From WorldNetDaily:

Pro-life rock stars 'duped' by Amnesty
Anti-torture group's new support for abortion called betrayal of musicians on fundraising CD

Amnesty International, which formally announced two weeks ago a new worldwide policy backing women's right to abortion in some cases, is being charged with having "duped" pro-life pop stars who contributed their time and talents to a CD released to raise money by the anti-torture group for victims of violence in Darfur.

"The human suffering going on right now in Darfur is horrific," said Erik Whittington, American Life League's youth outreach director and director of Rock for Life, an organization of anti-abortion musicians.

"To add insult to injury, however, using this tragic abuse of human rights to raise money for a pro-abortion organization is hypocritical and beyond belief," he said.

In particular, Whittington accused Amnesty of deceiving singers Christina Aguilera and Avril Lavigne, who have both made statements against abortion, according to the London Sunday Times.

Amnesty's announcement that abortion in cases of rape – a crime too frequent in parts of the world where Amnesty has taken an interest – is a human right came less than two months after release of "Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur." Contributing musicians include U2, Green Day, Aguilera, Lavigne and others performing covers of John Lennon tunes.

"The manipulation of musicians to fund this hypocrisy is maddening," Whittington told the Times. "We are writing to all the artists to ask for their views. We know bands like Green Day are against us because we have had stalls at festivals where the band has burned our literature on stage. Others, like U2, are more neutral."

"We don't know the personal opinion of the artists on abortion but the CD has been launched to raise awareness of the situation in Darfur," said an Amnesty spokesman.

Aguilera, who is expecting her first baby, is a Catholic. Lavigne, a French-Canadian comes from a Christian family.

An aide to Lavigne said, "I don't think she would want to comment on this. But what has abortion to do with Amnesty? It's for a lot of different things such as prisoners of conscience and human rights."

Amnesty, not unexpectedly, is also under fire from the Catholic Church.

Last week Michael Evans, the Catholic bishop of East Anglia, resigned from Amnesty after 31 years as an activist saying it had been "deeply compromised."

"Our proper indignation regarding pervasive violence against women should not cloud our judgment about our duty to protect the most vulnerable and defenseless form of human life," said Evans. "Among all human rights, the right to life is fundamental."

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, second only to Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican hierarchy, condemned the new policy, saying, "Men and women of the church have already made their stark opposition to this decision clear. Violence cannot be answered by further violence, murder with murder, for even if the child is unborn it is still a human person. It has a right to dignity as a human being."

Amnesty, this week, issued a response to Bertone, saying the organization "stands by its policy ... to support the decriminalization of abortion, to ensure women have access to health care when complications arise from abortion and to defend women's access to abortion – within reasonable gestational limits – when their health or life are in danger."

Vladimir Bukovsky, who spent nearly 12 years as a political detainee in the Soviet Union and who was adopted by Amnesty in the 1970s as a prisoner of conscience after he was committed to a psychiatric institution, is bewildered by the organization's new position.

"Why are they making policy about abortion? They should stick to working for human rights abuses. This is being driven by political correctness," he told the Times.

23 August 2007

St. Monica's Feast Day - August 27

St. Monica is my patron saint. Obviously, she is who this blog is named after. I have always identified with St. Monica, even as a child. Now that I have kids, I really relate to her. I may not be patient, but God has a sense of humor and has made me persistent and persevering, some of St. Monica's greatest qualities.

I have two (secular) axioms to live by (beside the religious ones!) and think they are off-shoots of St. Monica life.

Be careful what you wish (pray) for. (She just wanted Augustine to convert, but look what happened...a Doctor of the Church!)

There's more than one way to skin a cat. (Pray, pray constantly, and if that doesn't work; take action, hound them, follow them, make their lives a living nightmare).

What a wonderful example she is. She reminds me to try to make myself a saint, but also my husband and children. I pray I'm just a shred as good a mother and wife.

This is clipped from all places, an Irish site:

Unhappy Marriage
First, let us look at who this extraordinary woman was before we try to glean some lessons from her life. We know little of her childhood, except that she was born in North Africa in the year 333. She was married early in life to a man named Patritius, who held an official position in Tagaste. He was not a Christian, and his practice of his pagan religion was only in name.

His temper was violent, and he appears to have had some wayward habits. It is even said that he beat his wife. Consequently, Monica's married life was far from being a happy one, more especially as Patritius's mother seems to have been very similar in temperament. There was, of course, a gulf between husband and wife: her alms deeds and her habits of prayer annoyed him, but somehow he always held her in a sort of reverence.

Monica was not the only matron of Tagaste whose married life was unhappy but, by her sweetness and patience, she was able to exercise a real apostolate amongst the wives and mothers of her native town. They knew that she suffered as they did, and her words and example had a positive effect. In due time she won the favour of her mother-in-law by the mildness of her manner and by her patience in the midst of her difficult marriage.

Family Fortunes
Three children were born of this marriage: Augustine the eldest, Navigius the second, and a daughter, Perpetua. Monica had been unable to secure baptism for her children, and her grief was great when Augustine fell ill. In her distress, she begged Patritius to allow him to be baptized; he agreed but, on the boy's recovery, withdrew his consent.

All Monica's anxiety now centred on Augustine. Like his father before him he, too, was wayward and lazy. He was sent to Madaura to school, and Monica seems to have literally wrestled with God for the soul of her son. A great consolation was given her, however, in compensation, perhaps, for all that she was to experience through Augustine: Patritius became a Christian.

Meanwhile, Augustine had been sent to Carthage to pursue his studies, and there he fell into serious sin. Patritius died very shortly after his reception into the Church, and Monica resolved not to marry again. At Carthage, Augustine had become a follower of the Manichean sect, and when, on his return home, he aired certain heretical propositions, Monica drove him away from her table. Later, a strange vision which she had urged her to take him back.

It was at this time that she went to see a certain holy bishop, whose name is unknown, but who consoled her with the now famous words: 'The child of those tears shall never perish'. There is no more pathetic story in the annals of the saints than that of Monica pursuing her wayward son to Rome.

Saint Ambrose

Augustine, perhaps frustrated by the presence of his 'nagging' mother, went off secretly to Milan. She followed him there, however. In Milan, she found the bishop of that city, St. Ambrose, and through him she ultimately had the joy of seeing Augustine yield, after seventeen years of resistance. The story of his conversion is a beautiful page in the annals of the saints, and worthy of recounting in its own right. Mother and son spent six months of true peace at Cassiacum, after which time Augustine was baptized in the church of St. John the Baptist, in Milan. Africa called them, however, and they set out on their journey, stopping at Civitavecchia and at Ostia.

Remember Me at the Altar
Here death overtook Monica in 387, and the finest pages of his Confessions were penned as the result of the emotion Augustine then experienced. In these pages, Augustine recounts how he and his brother were discussing where they might bury Monica when she died. She overheard their whispers, and chided them somewhat for their concerns, with words which have come down to us through the centuries and which have appeared on millions of memorial cards: 'All I ask is that you remember me at the altar of God'.

Monica was buried at Ostia, and at first she seems to have been almost forgotten, though her body was removed during the sixth century to a hidden crypt in the church of St. Aureus. About the thirteenth century, however, the cult of St. Monica began to spread, and a feast in her honour was kept on 4 May.

In 1430, Pope Martin V ordered the relics to be brought to Rome. Many miracles occurred on the way, and devotion to St. Monica was definitely established. Later, the Archbishop of Rouen, Cardinal d'Estouteville, built a church at Rome in honour of St. Augustine, and deposited the relics of St. Monica in a chapel to the left of the high altar.

Prayer of St. Monica
Eternal and merciful Father, I give you thanks for the gift of your divine Son, who suffered, died and rose for all people. I thank you also for my Catholic faith, and ask your help that I may grow in fidelity by prayer, by works of charity and penance, by reflecting on your word, and by regular participation in the sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist. You gave St. Monica a spirit of selfless love, manifest in her constant prayer for the conversion of her son, Augustine.

Inspired by boundless confidence in your power to move hearts, and by the success of her prayer, I ask the grace to imitate her constancy in prayer for (name a person here) who no longer shares in the intimate life of the Catholic family. Grant through my prayer and witness, that he/she may be open to the promptings of your Holy Spirit to return to loving union with your people. Grant also that my prayer be ever hopeful and that I may never judge another, for you alone can read hearts. I ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.

And another one's gone, another one bites the dust

Jane Fonda's talk show has been pulled. I never knew she had one. Guess she and Gloria Steinem created a feminist talk show...it didn't last. Do women really listen to these ladies anymore? To paraphrase Chesterton, didn't they do "radical feminism" and it was found to be lacking?

Didn't Al Franken go the way of the dinosaurs, too? I only hope he doesn't become our next senator. Wouldn't want to have to leave the country or anything!

From One News Now:

After failing to obtain listeners and garner long-term financing, GreenStone Media went silent as of last Friday. The liberal feminist network was on the air for less than a year.

The network founded by feminist icons Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem had attempted to provide what it called "de-politicized, de-polarized talk radio by women hosts for female listeners." But Carrie Lukas of the Independent Women's Forum says GreenStone Media, marketed as "talk the way women want," was a bad business plan.

"What has really fallen or has been disproven, with the end of GreenStone Media, is this idea that radical, leftist feminists like Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda speak for most women and know what women want," says Lukas. "That just isn't the case anymore, if it ever was. I just don't think that many women want to listen to this tired victim mentality that is really the perspective of Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem."

Lukas says when GreenStone Media was launched, the mainstream media boasted that women "would finally have a voice on the radio," but dismissed or failed to recognize that "powerful" conservative women such as Dr. Laura Schlesinger and Laura Ingraham were already succeeding on the airwaves.

22 August 2007

Stacks and stacks of books

Blogging around late last night when I should've been in bed, I came across a post on Sphere of Influence's blog, where she had a link to a "What Book are You" quiz. The book(s) she came up with are rather odd. I've never read Watership Down, but according to her, it's a good book. I'll take her word for it!!

You're Watership Down!

by Richard Adams

Though many think of you as a bit young, even childish, you're actually incredibly deep and complex. You show people the need to rethink their assumptions, and confront them on everything from how they think to where they build their houses. You might be one of the greatest people of all time. You'd be recognized as such if you weren't always talking about talking rabbits.

Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

I agree with "though many think of you as a bit young, even childish, you're actually incredibly deep and complex." I might be goofy a good deal of the time, but I do have a serious side. Maybe.

Supposedly, there are 64 possible outcomes instead of just a few. Check it out if you have a minute as there are only a few questions to answer.

Painting a thousand reasons not to

Today has been a very busy day. Normally, I'm multi-tasking with the kids, you know how it goes. Well, today I was painting the upstairs bathroom while taking care of the kids. More like trying to keep the kids from getting in the paint, keep myself from spilling it, and keep it from getting everywhere I don't want it. Things would've gone well, it wasn't the paint that caused a problem, but the stupid putty.

It was one of those days I wanted to do harm to the prior owners. They redid the upstairs of the house, but it was a quick job. The bathroom has the tongue-and-groove paneling that goes half-way up the wall. Well, I think that it came primed, but the baseboard moulding didn't. Instead of doing things the right way, they just painted the baseboard close to the tile floor, leaving an inch or so of bare wood. They also left the nail holes there to glare at me every time I used the bathroom.

The bathroom is one of the things I wanted to fix when we first moved into the house, but we ended up moving my dad in the day we closed on the house since he was dying, my parents-in-law also moved in that day and my mother-in-law stayed living with us for three years. As soon as she moved out, we were pregnant (don't read anything into that). We have been dealing with infants for the past four years, so that hindered any hope of painting.

I'm not a patient person, but have waited for seven plus years to tackle this project. Went out and bought some white putty, white paint and a paint brush last night. Got up and puttied all the nail holes. Got the kids up, fed, dressed, etc., and starting taping. I hate taping. It takes longer than the whole job of painting.

When the kids took their nap, I started painting. Got everything painted, except for the areas where there was putty. The putty wasn't dry by midday so thought I'd wait until the kids were in bed tonight to sand the putty. It still isn't dry. I read the back of the putty jar. The stuff will NEVER dry, it isn't supposed to.

Why would you want putty that doesn't dry?

So, I had to go and wipe off all the goopy putty. My one-day job will now extend for another day. Argh.

Also, I had been trying to post earlier, but couldn't get blogger to work. I've had problems in the past where it won't save my drafts, won't publish my posts and won't publish comments. In between taping and painting and kids and what have you, I tried to get blogger to work. No go.

If you are reading this, I guess I finally got it to work. Attached is a picture of my daughter's room. I took it today because my cousin in CA wants to see it and I thought it would be a better picture to share than one of a bathroom. It's a castle theme that I painted on the walls. My dad was a wonderful artist, but liked things to be realistic like many of the Italian greats. I think he'd even give me a thumbs up on this. Too bad he's not here to do this himself...I can only imagine the wonders he would've done with my kids' rooms.

Now showing at Google - And God created the Heavens

Google is releasing their new Sky program (later today, Wednesday, or so they say), which is available for download here. Read more about it...

LONDON (Reuters) - Popular mapping service Google Earth will launch a new feature called Sky, a "virtual telescope" that the search engine hopes will turn millions of Internet users into stargazers. Google, which created Google Earth to give Internet users an astronaut's view that can zoom to street level, said the service would be a playground for learning about space.

"Sky in Google Earth will foster and initiate new understanding of the universe by bringing it to everyone's home computer." Like Google Earth, Sky will enable users to float and zoom in on over 100 million individual stars and 200 million galaxies. Users will view the sky as seen from earth. It has created different layers which will show the life of a star, constellations, high-resolution images provided by the Hubble Space Telescope and a users guide to galaxies.

A backyard astronomy layer lets users click through stars, galaxies and nebulae visible to the eye, binoculars and small telescopes.

Did you ever notice?

My blog is just a small, happy, little blog, nothing like Rosie O'Donnell's or other popular blogs. However, it seems every time I do a post with a name in it, I get visited by people who wouldn't normally stop by.

What I mean is this. I did a post awhile back on Amnesty Intl's new position supporting abortion and the Vatican's denouncement. As soon as my post was published, my site meter registered visits from AI's office. Seems these folks have nothing better to do than scour the internet to find stories talking about their organization.

The same has happened on two different occasions with Disney (hi, Mickey!), Outback Steakhouse, J&J, Congressman Keith Ellison, etc. Do these folks hire techy types whose job it is to find everything ever said about their companies or themselves? Why the paranoia?

I think many of us have run our names through Google, but we don't do it everyday, or several times a day. At least I don't think so...maybe some local bloggers might.

If these companies really want to find out what we think of them, why don't they just ask instead of lurking around little ol' Catholic blogs, acting like a bunch of Peeping Toms!

The government probably has visited, but at least they have the sense to not leave a trail.

21 August 2007

I can't believe it's not butter

Sometimes it's better not to know...

This is shamelessly clipped from this chemical engineering blog

Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get their money back. It was a white substance with no food appeal, so they added the yellow coloring and sold it to people to use in place of butter. How do you like it? They have come out with some clever new flavorings.

DO YOU KNOW...the difference between margarine and butter?
Read on to the end...gets very interesting!
Both have the same amount of calories.
Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams compared to 5 grams.
Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53% over eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent Harvard Medical Study.
Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods.
Butter has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few only because they are added!
Butter tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavors of other foods.
Butter has been around for centuries where margarine has been around for less than 100 years.
And now, for Margarine...
Very high in trans fatty acids.
Triple risk of coronary heart disease.
Increases total cholesterol and LDL (this is the bad cholesterol) and lowers HDL cholesterol,(the good cholesterol).
Increases the risk of cancers up to five fold.
Lowers quality of breast milk.
Decreases immune response.
Decreases insulin response.
And, here's the most disturbing fact....Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE away from being PLASTIC. This fact alone was enough to have me avoiding margarine for life and anything else that is hydrogenated, this means hydrogen is added, changing the molecular structure of the substance.

You can try this yourself: Purchase a tub of margarine and leave it in your garage or shaded area. Within a couple of days you will note a couple of things:
*no flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it (that should tell you something)
*it does not rot or smell differently because it has no nutritional value; nothing will grow on it, even those teeny weeny micro organisms will not a find a home to grow. Why? Because it is nearly plastic. Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast?

But, even more dangerous news is posted below (maybe you've heard about it already).
(Not from the above site.)

The dangers of dihydrogen monoxide:

Also called "hydroxyl acid", the substance is the major component of acid rain;
Contributes to the greenhouse effect;
Contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape;
Accelerates corrosion and breakdown of electrical equipment;
Excessive ingestion may cause various unpleasant effects, including death;
Prolonged contact with its solid form results in severe tissue damage;
Inhalation, even in small quantities, may cause death;
Its gaseous form may cause severe burns;
It has been found in the tumors of terminal cancer patients;
Withdrawal by those addicted to the substance causes certain death within 168 hours;
Used in many forms of cruel animal research;
The US Navy has a secret distribution network for DHMO;
Lakes and rivers all over the world are contaminated with DHMO;
In the distribution of pesticides. Even after washing, produce remains contaminated by this chemical;
As an additive in certain "junk-foods" and other food products;
Known to be a component of a number of cancer-causing agents

Nevertheless, governments and corporations continue using it widely, heedless of its grave dangers.

I hope you steer clear of this dangerous substance.

For more on the topic, I recommend this site.
Here's part of their FAQ sheet.

Each year, Dihydrogen Monoxide is a known causative component in many thousands of deaths and is a major contributor to millions upon millions of dollars in damage to property and the environment. Some of the known perils of Dihydrogen Monoxide are: Death due to accidental inhalation of DHMO, even in small quantities.
Prolonged exposure to solid DHMO causes severe tissue damage.
Excessive ingestion produces a number of unpleasant though not typically life-threatening side-effects.
DHMO is a major component of acid rain.
Gaseous DHMO can cause severe burns.
Contributes to soil erosion.
Leads to corrosion and oxidation of many metals.
Contamination of electrical systems often causes short-circuits.
Exposure decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes.
Found in biopsies of pre-cancerous tumors and lesions.
Given to vicious dogs involved in recent deadly attacks.
Often associated with killer cyclones in the U.S. Midwest and elsewhere, and in hurricanes including deadly storms in Florida, New Orleans and other areas of the southeastern U.S.
Thermal variations in DHMO are a suspected contributor to the El Nino weather effect.


A meme

Angela Messenger had this on her blog and tagged everyone on her side bar. Since the tone of my prior post was a wee bit too serious, thought I would lighten it up a bit.

ONE word answers, NO explanations!

1. Yourself: trying
2. Your spouse: wonderful
3. Your hair: greyish-brownish (how and when did this happen?)
4. Your mother: saintly (deceased)
5. Your father: idolized (deceased)
6. Your favorite item: sentimental
7. Your dream last night: out-of-no-where
8. Your favorite drink: Coke
9. Your dream car: Red Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce or Mercedes
10. The room you are in: bedroom-bathroom-playroom (upstairs is a completely open floor plan)
11. Your ex: history
12. Your fear: Purgatory (or worse!)
13. What you want to be in 10 years: progressing
14. Who you hung out with last night: family
15. What you're not: patient or humble
16. Muffins: cinnamon or lemon poppyseed or double chocolate
17: One of your wish list items: Imitation of Christ
18: Time: short
19. The last thing you did: picked up a unrolled roll of toilet paper that my daughter got all over the floor
20. What you are wearing: sweatshirt and shorts
21. Your favorite weather: Spring
22. Your favorite book: Dickens
23. The last thing you ate: doughnut
24. Your life: transitioning
25. Your mood: optimistic
26. Your best friend: Hmmmm?
27. What you're thinking about right now: weekend
28. Your car: Civic
29. What you are doing at the moment: pondering
30. Your summer: short
31. Your relationship status: blessed
32. What is on your TV: Arthur
33. What is the weather like: rainy
34. When was the last time you laughed: when I picked up the toilet paper

One nation

In my parish, we are told it is our duty and responsibility to vote. We are also told that voting for evil, or candidates that support evil, is a sin, possibly even a mortal sin depending on the circumstances. No one tells us which candidate to vote for, but they address the issues that should be important to Catholics.

However, in my great, big Catholic family, they have a long history of political activism. Many are staunch Democrats. A few have been in State government. This isn't true of my immediate family as my grandfather leaned towards Republicans way back at the turn of the century when no farmer in his right mind thought that way. The other branches were the vocal, even outspoken, ones.

Back then, it was OK to be a Democrat. Today, a Catholic in good conscience cannot vote for these folks. More and more, we can't even find a Republican to vote for. Abortion is the go or no-go issue. Once that hurdle is overcome with a morally acceptible position, then the playing field is wide open. An open playing field with few viable candidates.

If Catholics only voted their conscience first, we wouldn't be in such a fix. But, that's crux of it. Democrats have some good ideas, commendable ideas that go along well with how we are supposed to love our neighbor as ourselves and take care of those in need. But not all issues are of equal weight and before I can even look at the good things they might do, I'm stopped at the door with the horror of their support for abortion, euthanasia, the homosexual agenda, etc.

My Democratic family members don't understand this. I would wager they consider themselves Democratic Americans, possibly Democratic Irish Americans as some are totally hung up on all things Irish, but none would consider themselves Catholic Americans or just plain ol' Catholics. Despite going to Mass on Sunday and some being VERY active in Catholic organizations, they don't place their religion at the top of their priority list.

I have a cousin who was awarded a prestigious Catholic award for her decades of service and involvement. Maybe that's all the people presenting the award look at. This cousin, however, is in danger of losing her soul. She is even more involved in local Democratic causes. Very active to the point of starting to believe the party line. Once a "good Catholic," she now vocalizes support for abortion, population control, euthanasia, etc. Previously, although many in the family probably suspected her positions on these issues, she never had the nerve to admit it openly. Times have changed and she has changed.

Believe it or not, I am related, by marriage, to Dick Durbin. It's unbelievable how this branch of the family is so proud to claim him as their own. On the other side of the aisle in a different state, is a cousin who is a Republican State Congresswoman, who holds a traditionally very Democratic seat. Some of my family vote for her because she's family, some vote for her because she is a Republican, others have practically disowned her.

From the Pew Forum:

Rudy, a "Catholic," is about as much a Catholic as Hillary is, with his positions on abortion, gay rights and marriage, etc. The rest have suspect, questionable or poor records on these topics, too.

Who are all these "Catholics" that are voting for these baby killers? Oh, yeah, they are my own family.

I have no idea who to vote for. If this is the best we can do...

20 August 2007

The Shocking Alternative

I have a confession to make. I read, Story of a Soul, the autobiographical account of St. Therese, and was simultaneously reading, Surprised by Joy, the autobiographical account of C.S. Lewis' conversion. I made it through Story of a Soul, but ran out of steam (interest?) on Surprised by Joy. I probably stopped at the best part, when he converts, but just couldn't bring myself to read another page. I had read Screwtape Letters, so figured I had to give Lewis another chance. This time I am reading his Mere Christianity. Ah, much better.

The problem I have, maybe from always having read to find the nuggets I was going to be tested on instead of reading for pleasure, is that things that aren't technical just don't stick in my brain. I read people like Chesterton and Lewis, and while I find them very insightful, enjoyable and often times profound, once I set the book down, I couldn't really tell you what I had just read. I really dislike this. I think I have a malformed brain (which is at least saying something...that I have a brain at all!).

Below is a quote from Mere Christianity. Maybe by placing it here, I will retain some of it. I'm only half way done with the book, but there are many great quotes. I'm sure people must've written on why Lewis converted to Christianity but not to Catholicism. Personally, IMHO having only read a very little of Lewis' writings, I think he was a proud Brit and his culture, heritage and nationality stopped him from getting both feet on this side of the Tiber. Just my opinion, not dogma.

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either the man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

Our State Fair is a great State Fair

In an earlier post (Ice, ice baby), some folks were able to find Waldo and Elvis in the crowd. I'm impressed at their keen eyesight, powers of deduction and ability to bear looking at a bunch of naked people. You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

The State Fair starts this Thursday. One of my aunts (removed by divorce and now remarried) and her husband run a food booth at the Fair. If you are able to figure out just what she's selling, I'll buy you one of whatever she has available. She doesn't know I have a blog, so part of the task is to keep this blogging thing under wraps (no, that isn't a clue).

All I'm going to say is: It ain't on no stinkin' stick.

I used to enter stuff in the food competitions, but never won any award. Another aunt entered needlepoint, knitted things, etc., and ALWAYS won an award. Some people have all the talent.

I LOVE the State Fair and usually go at least twice. Both my kids have been to the Fair when they were only days old and I was still recovering from C-sections and busy trying to nurse. Ah, State Fair addiction is hard to break.

You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
Though I've belted you and flayed you,
By the livin' Gawd that made you,
You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

Rudyard Kipling

19 August 2007

Proud mom moment

My son, who just turned four last weekend, knows the Guardian Angel prayer and the Hail Mary. Ok, he says the Hail Mary a bit wrong. Instead of saying, "The Lord is with Thee," he says, "The Lord is with ME." Which is awfully cute anyway.

Usually, my husband puts the kids to bed to have some daddy time with them and has my son recite his prayers before bed. Most of the time, my husband just has my son repeat lines from the prayers after him. But, because my husband went out of town last week, I put the kids to bed. Both my kids are very late walkers and talkers, so learning a whole prayer is a lot. I wasn't going to just have my son repeat the prayer after me, so told him to lead and I would repeat. Although he's VERY outgoing and social, he is shy about being on the spot. However, he did great and knew the Guardian Angel prayer perfectly and only had a few bobbles on the Hail Mary.

Genuflects and makes the sign of the cross in Church.

He's becoming quite precocious in many ways. Handsome, too. Wants to be an altar boy when he's "big enough."

That's all. Just had to share.

Ice, ice baby

Hundreds of naked people gathered at a glacier in the Swiss alps to raise awareness about climate change. Other than being an odd thing to do, from what I remember, the human body gives off heat equivalent to a 75-100 Watt light bulb. Hmmmm, doesn't seem like a bright idea to me...no pun intended. What is helping to melt the glaciers is a bunch of naked people sitting their warm tushies on the ice. The following is from www.swissinfo.org

Hundreds of naked people formed a "living sculpture" on Switzerland's Aletsch Glacier on Saturday, aiming to raise awareness about climate change.
The photo shoot by New York artist Spencer Tunick, famous for his pictures of nude gatherings in public settings worldwide, was designed to draw attention to the effects of global warming on Switzerland's shrinking glaciers.

"The melting of the glaciers is an indisputable sign of global climate change," said environmental group Greenpeace, which co-organized the event. It said most Swiss glaciers would disappear by 2080 if global warming continues at its current pace.

The organisation added that it hoped the event and the pictures would make politicians and the population aware of looming dangers as average temperatures rise.

"We need to act now before it is too late," said Greenpeace campaign director Markus Allemann. He pointed out that alpine glaciers had already lost one third of their surface and half of their mass over the past 150 years.

The organisers said they wanted to establish a symbolic relationship between the vulnerability of the melting glacier and the human body.

The event, which followed Tunick's recent shoots in London, Mexico City and Amsterdam, was designed to minimise any impact on the environment, Greenpeace said.

The participants, all volunteers recruited earlier this summer by the environmental organisation, had to walk about four hours to reach the site of the shoot.

Temperatures hovered around ten degrees Celsius while the photos were being taken, but nobody spent much time with their clothes off. A first picture was taken with 300 volunteers standing beside the glacier, before 600 people moved for another shot onto the ice itself.

The 40-year-old photographer has made a name for himself in recent years for his pictures of large groups of naked people, mostly in urban environments.

His first shoot was in New York in 1992, but he has also taken his signature photos in Switzerland in the past, including in Basel in 1999, Fribourg in 2001 and at the national exhibition in Neuchâtel in 2002.

17 August 2007

Dissing Disney

One of my alma maters, the University of Washington, recently came out with a study that says that childhood DVDs don't help children learn language and may actually hinder them. Disney demanded a retraction. You can view the lengthy letter to the U of W president here. Below is just the first paragraph from the letter. Seems Mickey is in a sour mood:

On behalf of The Walt Disney Company, and our subsidiary The Baby Einstein Company LLC, I write to demand the immediate retraction and clarification of a misleading, irresponsible and derogatory press statement issued by the University of Washington on Monday, August 6, and thereafter posted on the University's website, regarding the publication of a study by three University researchers entitled "Associations Between Media Viewing and Language Development in Children Under Age 2 Years."

Below is U of W President, Mark Emmert's, response.


Mark A. Emmert, President
August 16, 2007

Mr. Robert Iger
President and Chief Executive Officer
The Walt Disney Company
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521

Dear Mr. Iger:

Thank you for your letter of August 13. I have reviewed the news release about the paper published by three of our faculty in the Journal of Pediatrics entitled, "Associations between Media Viewing and Language Development in Children Under Age 2 Years." In addition, I have conferred with one of the paper's co-authors.

The Journal of Pediatrics is a prestigious, peer-reviewed journal. Papers submitted to this journal undergo a rigorous review by experts in the field before they are accepted for publication. This process ensures that the work represented in the paper meets the high standards of scientific inquiry required by the editors of the journal and its editorial panel of distinguished scientists. The University of Washington stands behind the work of Professors Frederick Zimmerman, Dimitri Christakis, and Andrew Meltzoff.

The paper set out to "test the association [italics added] of media exposure with language development in children under age 2 years." It did not purport to establish a causal relationship, as the authors explicitly state in the article. The authors found a large and statistically significant reduction in vocabulary among infants age 8 to 16 months who viewed baby DVDs or videos, compared to those who did not view them. They also concluded that more research is needed to determine the reasons for this statistical association.

The authors of the study and I believe the news release reflects the essential points made in the research publication. The news release clearly is not intended to substitute for a reading of the research paper, which was made available to all the reporters who contacted our news office. The news release briefly summarizes the methodology of the study and includes the researchers' interpretations of the findings, something in which most news media are interested and one of the reasons for issuing the release. The researchers find no inconsistencies between the content of the news release and their paper. They believe the release accurately reflects the paper's conclusions and their commentary. For these reasons, the University of Washington will not retract its news release.

We do not view this study as the last word on the subject of the influence baby DVDs have on child development. The findings were considered significant enough to be reported in a major journal, and as a public institution we feel duty-bound to make the public aware of these findings. As we say in the release, "more research is required, particularly to examine the long-term effects of baby DVDs and videos on children's cognitive development." We believe that our researchers at the University of Washington will continue to be in the forefront of this important research aimed at helping parents and society enhance the lives of children.

Sincerely yours,

Mark A. Emmert

Do you do business with these companies?

I recently stumbled across Life Decisions International's website. I hadn't heard of them before. A bit about them from their webpage:

Incorporated in 1992, Life Decisions International (LDI) is dedicated to challenging the Culture of Death. LDI concen-trates on exposing and opposing the agenda of Planned Parenthood, the world's primary advocate of legal abortion.

LDI has a list of companies that support abortion. Below is a clip of some of them...however, you have to purchase the entire list. IMHO, something's wrong with that. Reading the reasons they give for having people purchase the list is that sending the list to people costs a lot of money. Well, place it on your webpage. If people want a hard copy, charge them a nominal fee if you must, but to seek a donation for the list defeats the purpose and hampers the cause. The cheapest version of the list costs $19.95, another $41.95. Makes no sense.

Join The Boycott

Help fight Planned Parenthood by refusing to do business with corporations that fund their deadly agenda. Did you know that the following corporations are boycott targets?

Basics Office Products, Whole Foods Market, JPMorgan Chase (including Chase Bank, & Bank One), Johnson & Johnson, Bank of America, Lost Arrow (Patagonia), Wells Fargo, CCA Global (Carpet One, Flooring America, Flooring Canada, Flooring One, Lighting One, etc.), Comcast (cable television, Internet, etc.), Chevron (including Caltex, Xpress Lube, & Texaco), eBay (including PayPal), OSI Restaurant Partners (Outback Steakhouse, etc.), Marriott (including Courtyard Hotels, Fairfield Inn, Renaissance Hotels & Inns, Ritz-Carlton Hotels, etc.), Valero (Beacon, Ultramar, etc.), Sears (Kmart), Sonic (drive-in restaurants), Wawa (convenience stores), Time Warner (HBO, Cinemax, AOL, etc.), and Wachovia. And this is just a partial list!

To date, at least 154 corporations have ceased funding Planned Parenthood!, which has cost the abortion-committing Goliath more than $35 million! You may order a Boycott List by clicking on Order Materials. The Boycott List includes the name, address, phone number, website address, products, subsidiaries, services, and chief executive officer for every boycott targets. (Click on Order Materials and please read the sections entitled Placing An Order and Your Privacy. If you wonder why we seek a donation for The Boycott List, please read Why Isn't The Boycott List Freely Available? and CFP Copyright Details.)

They also have an online list of celebrities that support Planned Parenthood. It is so long that I think a list of celebrities that DON'T support PP would be better.

What is conscience? Part 2

This is the conclusion of Sr. Immaculata's section on What is Conscience. See the prior posts for more on the subject. I'm still confused as to how the will, reason, intellect, conscience and the soul all interact, but am beginning to make some progress. I'd post some things from the Summa, but they, for me anyway, just serve to create more questions.

What is Conscience?

5. God the Director Through the Conscience of Man.

His presence directing the soul through our conscience is sometimes referred to as a "voice" calling us towards Him; that is, to a more conscious knowledge of His will and a more ardent and intense choice in accepting it, as also an increased joy in doing it. Here He speaks the words of life, continually urging the soul for a response. "The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life" (John 6:63). Through the objective realities of everyday existence, He is summoning the person from within to a recognition of the values involved in a particular course of action, although the immediate connection between this moment's decision and God's law may not be explicitly recognized.

"Always summoning him (man) to love good and avoid evil" (CCMW 16, par 1, p. 213). But this is more than just a recognition of a truth of a value; it indicates that this value has a personal meaning for my welfare (salvation). It reveals the fundamental law: love.

a. "In a wonderful manner conscience reveals that law which is fulfilled by love of God and neighbor" (CCMW 16, par. 2, p. 213). It is a force of Love pulling the soul towards Love (Phil. 2:5)
b. Sometimes it is a specific call. "The voice of conscience can when necessary speak to his (man's) heart more specifically: do this, shun that" (CCMW 16, par. 1, p. 213). Through it our duty is defined and we are urged to do it. It interprets all external laws:
1. personally for the individual.
2. We sometimes perceive the interior question: "Why am I doing this?" This is the "nudge" of conscience seeking the answer, causing us to look into ourselves, urging us for a commitment to the truth. We "hear" the counsels, reproofs, corrections and consolations of the Spirit of truth from within, even though in the state of original sin this sense of presence is obscured and dulled.

How do we know which force is prompting us -- the good or the evil? By the "fruits." Evil always produces its deadly effects even though we may not be immediately aware of them, because we so often live on the periphery of our souls distracted by many things. Nevertheless, the judgment of the conscience is instantaneous and the person experiences the reproaches of his inmost self. Evil is its own punishment in the loss of peace (the disease) of the whole soul.

6. God's presence within not only maintains an awareness for the good but also a desire to do it. He is constantly drawing us to interior alertness expressed by Psalm 123:2 "As the eyes of a slave girl are fixed on the hands of her mistress, so are our eyes fixed on Yahweh, our God."

B. Conscience must flower into activity
1. Because of the very nature of human freedom and activity, conscience must grow into something more than an inclination to goodness. It must blossom into act. As intelligence is awakened, the first recognition of a truth as good is present; our action is to choose or reject it. But in order that conscience develop, further action is necessary, continuous instruction in the law of God and continuous choice of the good.

It is the work of man to maintain and increase this awareness and desire for the truth implanted by God. This fidelity to conscience becomes then a habit and this habit of conscientious action is all that is necessary to reach the ultimate goal:

2. Union with God in the depths of our conscience, in the "center" of our souls. Thus it is fidelity to conscience which gradually unveils the Presence of God, within.

3. It is not that God increases in the man but that the development of the man's interior life grows in awareness of the God within and the specific knowledge that He is the goal and source of all good; the will becomes more inflamed with love and desire to cling to this good; the substance of the soul becomes more and more refreshed and delighted in this habit of goodness. "How happy is the man who finds delight in the law of the Lord" (Ps. 1:1).

The promise of Christ is gradually brought to realization: "If anyone loves me he will keep my word and my Father will love him and we shall come to him and make our home with him" (John 14:23). Fidelity to conscience will always lead to God and reveal God as within the person whether Christian or non-Christian.

For the Christian this revelation becomes that of the Glorified Christ with whom the Christian is identified and through whom every revelation of the presence of God comes. Through Christ has come the full revelation of God's will; He is the light shining on the conscience; the "pillar of fire" and the "cloud of light" of the New Testament, guiding, directing, inflaming us with His own enthusiasm for good and thirst for the final union with His Father.

4. Conscience will reach its goal but not alone. Faith in the grace of Christ is necessary for it to reach its fullest perfection. "Since man's freedom has been damaged by sin, only by the help of God's grace can he bring such a relationship with God into full flower" (CCMW 17, par. 3, p. 214).

Conscience is then, not just a sense of guilt when we have done wrong, a feeling of remorse, or a collection of learned inhibitions and vague fears that prevent the person from acting freely and spontaneously. It is not a learned or conditioned response to certain culturally acceptable or non-acceptable ways of acting. It is not a feeling of self-respect, or a capitulation to public opinion or a politic adjustment to society or environment, or a result of education. All these things affect the development of conscience but they are not conscience. Education is necessary to form conscience, to help it grow but education can never create it.

16 August 2007

Statue of Hadrian

I thought this was neat. It always amazes me that things this old are still unearthed. How they were forgotten in the first place is a good question. A 15' statue of Hadrian was found in Turkey, about an hour north on Antalya, which is a very nice city and the area is considered the "Turkish Riviera."

From National Geographic:

Some people are larger than life. Others simply want to be carved that way.

For the Roman emperor Hadrian, life size just wasn't big enough, according to archaeologists who recently unearthed a colossal statue of the second-century A.D. ruler in Turkey.

Scientists came across the giant marble likeness last weekend while excavating a complex of ornate Roman baths in the ancient city of Sagalassos, 68 miles (109 kilometers) north of the resort town of Antalya.

The team excavated a giant head, foot, and leg each about 2.5 feet (0.75 meter) long, leading the experts to estimate the size of the complete statue at some 16 feet (5 meters).

The marble is among the most exquisite carvings of the leader ever found and depicts Hadrian early in his reign, said lead archaeologist Marc Waelkens of Belgium's Catholic University of Leuven.

"The statue represents the younger Hadrian as shown by the plain eyes (without indication of pupils or irises) [and] the scarce use of the drill in the hair," Waelkens said in an email.

During his rule from A.D. 117 to 138, Hadrian enjoyed great popularity in Sagalassos for bringing trade to the city and transforming it into a provincial hub of politics and culture, Waelkens added.

As his team continues to dig, Waelkens expects to find more monuments to Hadrian's legacy, he noted.

"It can be expected that the remaining parts of the statue, and possibly that of other ones (e.g. his wife, Sabina), will be discovered during next year's season, below more than six meters [two feet] of debris, mainly consisting of Roman concrete," he said.

What is conscience?

I spent some time yesterday still trying to answer this question. I dug out my Summa and my new Tanquerey book, The Spiritual Life. Both of these gentlemen are giant thinkers. I don't know why I ever even attempt to wrestle Aquinas on my own since it was hard enough in college when I had a great Jesuit professor (yes, it is possible) try to distill it down to our feeble level. All I managed to do is fill my head with more questions. I so need a spiritual director.

Anyway, here's more on the topic. I thought I'd let Sister Immaculata speak for herself. She's a good thinker and distiller. From her booklet, A Study of Conscience.

WHAT IS CONSCIENCE? Part One, since it is a bit lengthy
A. God communicates Himself to the substance of the soul, not to the faculties whose proper object is created things. Therefore, it is not natural for the faculties (intellect and will) to experience God. They need a special "mechanism" to adapt them to attain Him, experience Him or grasp Him by knowledge and love. This mechanism is the Baptismal endowment of grace and the infused virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

1. But it is natural for God to be experienced in the substance of the soul because He is there as creator present to all He has made. Every created soul has its roots in the supernatural Being Who created it as does every creature. The Being sustains all created being who participate in varying degrees in His Being. The difference is that some have the power to become aware of it or experience this Being present because of a greater likeness to Him. In his deepest self, the person can detect a Presence deeper than his own self.

2. Scripture calls it the "eye" of God in man:
He put his own light in their hearts (Ecc. 17:8 -- "light", literally "eye").
He filled them with knowledge and understanding and revealed to them good and evil (Ecc. 17:6)
Their ways are always under his eye; they cannot be hidden from his sight (Ecc. 17:15).
His eyes rest continually on their ways (v. 16)
My eyes are upon the faithful of the land that they may dwell with me (Ps. 100).

We have with us this sense that "Someone sees"; Someone within me sees.
Where could I go to escape your spirit? Where cold I flee from your presence (Ps. 139:7).

3. This experience does not mean a clear concept that "God is in me"; the person may not have learned that yet, and it does not mean an experience of burning love such as the mystics describe in the later stages of the development of conscience. It is rather better described as a discernment of peace, well-being and goodness which stems from the unity of one's powers of intellect and will. Both together discern this presence though it is not the proper object of either one. Since it is natural, we may "overlook" it, take it for granted, not become conscious of it until -- it is brought to consciousness by education (formation of conscience) or -- we lose it by acting against it. The soul loses its unity; God does not depart because He must always be there as creator to sustain the person in existence, but His very presence is the pain itself, or rather, the soul cannot endure the anguish of its own disunity; the anguish of having cut off its own life, of having denied its own source and center. As "we miss the water when the well runs dry" so we realize and recognize the peace, security and well-being we had when we experienced how pained we are without it. The presence of the good is there within, still admonishing us to return to the true path.

a. "God who probes the heart awaits him (man) there. There he discerns his proper destiny beneath the eyes of God" (Constitution on the Church in the Modern World [CCMW] 14:3. p. 213). He probes the heart with His clear knowledge.
You probe my heart, examine me at night; you test me and find nothing (Ps 17:3). Yahweh, you probe me and you know me (Ps. 138:1) I, Yahweh, search the heart; I probe the loins (i.e.; the inmost being) (Jer. 17:9-10).
God's "knowing" in him is the very source of the person's recognition of good and evil.

b. This presence "knowing" me is equated with my inmost self:
My inmost self instructs me (Ps. 16:7)
St. Paul calls in the law of my mind (Rom, 7:23). It is "a law in the heart written by God" (CCMW 16, par. 1, p. 213)
The spirit of God is at the very center of the "I".
The spirit Himself and our spirit bear united witness that we are the children of God (Rom. 8:16)
The created spirit can relish an inner harmony with the Creative Presence which is the unmistakable inner testimony that there is unity in the conscience, unity in the person. Thus conscience is the interior personal witness of our own uprightness and conversely of our failure to correspond with the Truth.

Yet even when our conscience does not reproach us, we must always live in humility and a loving reverence of God because our conscience may be in error, more or less, through ignorance. Scripture states that every man needs God's help to recognize the depths of evil into which we are all capable of falling as well as the daily failures we can easily overlook. We need God's action to cleanse us.
But who can detect his own failings, wash out my hidden faults (Ps. 19:12).
And, from St. Paul:
True, my conscience does not reproach me at all, but that does not prove that I am acquitted: the Lord alone is my judge (I Cor. 4:4-5).

4. "Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths" (CCMW 16, par. 2, p. 213).

Each man is alone with God. This is the awesome and consoling reality that we are accountable to Him alone. He knows every thought, our struggles, failures and efforts. We do not have to labor for words to explain to Him because He understands. He is the secret sharer of every life. The dread He inspires is not that of terror, unless we have deliberately rejected Him and deserve His wrath. It is rather the fascinating, attracting sense of awe in the presence of Something too tremendous to comprehend.

This aloneness is the mystery of each man's solitude. Since each is a particular image of God, each has a different role in life which no one knows but the man himself, yet only as God gradually reveals it to him through the growth and development of his conscience.

No one can communicate the mystery of his being to another. There, in the "ontological solitude" of his very being, he is alone with God. God alone can know a man completely. That means that each decision is my own, as personal as His call to me; then I am responsible for the person I become through my decisions.

Thus, in the heart of man God awaits the fundamental worship; acknowledgment of His presence by conformity to what His presence prompts us to do or avoid.

The primary sanctuary of God is the heart of man: the worship He seeks is one in spirit and truth, conformity to truth in thought, word and action.

Psalm 96 speaks of worshipping Yahweh in His sacred court (v 8). This is, of course, a reference to the temple of Jerusalem, but this earthly temple is a symbol of His dwelling in the very center of a human being.

More later. Stay tuned for Part II. BTW: The CCMW she cites is a document of Vatican II.

15 August 2007

Fall lineup

Recently a lot of commercials are about the new shows coming this fall. I don't have cable, so I don't get a lot of the really bad stuff, but I also don't get a lot of the educational (and decorating and cooking and gardening) shows, either. Just dealing with the standard fare on the regular news channels is enough for me. Even PBS is becoming questionable (bratty Caillou, eastern mystical Sagwa, environmentally friendly Bob the Builder, insane Teletubbies, etc). Now that I have kids, I really scrutinize things. Not really. It doesn't take much scrutiny, just a look at the titles or reading the synopsis in the paper is telling.

As an aside, I'm a spring person. I love spring, especially after having lived in Seattle for 10 years. Spring hits Seattle big time. In Minnesota, spring kind of whimpers in, squished in between the disappearance of dirty snow and the onset of heat and humidity. My husband loves fall. My father used to, too. Something about the return to the cooler temps and the changing colors in the trees. To me, fall is kind of melancholy. A time to start putting things away and buckling down before winter comes. More of an end than a beginning.

Fall also reminds me of school. I think I have been attending school for most of my life. Now, with the kids, school is pretty much on hold or a thing of the past. I really miss it, but my husband is going to be taking classes again. In a few weeks, he will be resuming his grad school studies without me and I am so envious! His job will pay for his courses, but I can't even afford a pencil, not to mention grad school tuition. So, this fall I will be sending sweet hubby off to school (at night) on his own while I am left spending my time avoiding the questionable, and very questionable, shows on TV.

It's a good thing I don't watch much TV, because here are some of the new shows the networks have dreamed up. Seriously, they must be dreaming.

Yes, Ghost Whisperer returns for the new season. I've never watched an episode, but know it's loosely based on the life of psychic to the beyond, James Van Praagh. I've seen JVP on some talk shows and wonder if he really is hearing dead people, thinks he is hearing dead people, is faking or something more sinister. I really can't understand this fascination with "dead people," but maybe it is a comfort to some who want one more chance to talk to their deceased loved ones. I think saying a rosary for the repose of their soul or having Masses said would be a better thing to do.

New show, Moonlight, is about a private investigator who is also a vampire. This is the commercial I saw that really made me wonder what the heck they are putting on TV these days. Coming soon to the other networks in typically copy-cat fashion, will be a show about a PI who is a zombie, werewolf or the like. Seriously, a show about a vampire. Makes me almost miss Horror Incorporated. Oh, and by the way, the lead character's name is Mick St. John. A vampire with a saint's name. Go figure.

I'm kind of curious about Caveman. I don't think it will last long, but it should be good for one viewing...maybe. Supposedly, the cavemen didn't evolve like the rest of us. Another go figure.

There are a bunch of dramas that ABC seems to be repackaging. Carpoolers is like a male version of Desperate Housewives. Private Practice is an off-shoot of Grey's Anatomy. All on my not-fit-for-kids list.

More dramas of the same ilk are: Dirty, Sexy, Money; Big Shots; Women's Murder Club; and, Cashmere Mafia. Like we didn't have enough of this kind of thing with Desperate Housewives and Grey's.

Then, in the requisite spiritual category, is Pushing Daisies, about a guy that can bring people back to life with a touch. OK. Sure. Great premise. Not.
Also, another drama called Eli Stone. Here's what ABC says about it, "...a unique, character-driven drama that explores the very different worlds of law and spirituality in a humorous and heartfelt way. Joining fantasy and spirituality from The Ghost Whisperer , sincerity and passion from The Practice and quirky humor from Monk , the show asks if we can change the course of our life midstream. Eli Stone is the cutthroat lawyer who risks everything he's worked for in order to explore a higher calling. Meaning, the guy knows right from wrong, seems to always choose wrong and then feels guilty about it...or maybe doesn't even feel guilty. On my skip list.

Journeyman is about a San Francisco reporter who travels back in time, ala Quantum Leap. Also being repackaged by the network is the Bionic Woman. Guess these network guys were given a box of string and told to come up with some new ideas. They must've been too busy text-messaging to really care.

Good thing the kids like books. Think we will be doing a lot of reading when the days grow shorter and it's too cold to be outside. I can't believe it's almost fall.

Bad conscience

After my stellar snoozer post of yesterday, no one made any comments to clear my clouded brain. So, I persist with SSDD: same subject, different day. I do think this subject speaks to the problems we have with moral relativism and a host of other problems. Father Corapi said you can kill your conscience. Sr. Immaculata gives a little more meat to the topic.

This is from the same book, A Study of Conscience, From Scripture and Documents of Vatican II, by Sister Immaculata (p.34)

The Characteristics of a Bad Conscience
A. Blindness
Conscience frequently errs from invincible ignorance without losing its dignity. The same cannot be said of a man who cares but little for truth and goodness, or of a conscience which by degrees grows practically sightless as a result of habitual sin.

There is possible an actual resultant hatred of truth because the will will not accept it. Though the light has come into the world men have shown they prefer darkness to the light because their deeds were evil (John 3:19) Those who do evil become more and more ignorant; this does not mean that the mind is incapable of learning. One may be a genius in science or art. etc., but ignorant of the way of salvation through his own fault.

B. Irrational fears plague the bad conscience. Any least refusal of truth produces bad effects in the uneasiness, inner disharmony and disunity of the soul; the sweet control of reason is lost. Feelings of sadness, discouragement, weakening of motivation begin to take hold on us; we no longer even "see" the reasons for the most perfect actions. Our former ideals of virtue seem to have been impossible illusions.

The Book of Wisdom, Chapter 17, is a picture of the terrifying fears that beset the evil conscience when the power of reason, which is able to dispel fear, has been darkened and enlarged by the contradiction of sin; it is no longer able to exert its own strength to control the emotions. The passage speaks of the Egyptian darkness (NB: Didn't want to type Sister's translation, so copied this from the online NAB, varies slightly from what is in her book).

For when the lawless thought to enslave the holy nation, shackled with darkness, fettered by the long night, they lay confined beneath their own roofs as exiles from the eternal providence. For they who supposed their secret sins were hid under the dark veil of oblivion were scattered in fearful trembling, terrified by apparitions. For not even their inner chambers kept them fearless, for crashing sounds on all sides terrified them, and mute phantoms with somber looks appeared. No force, even of fire, was able to give light, nor did the flaming brilliance of the stars succeed in lighting up that gloomy night. But only intermittent, fearful fires flashed through upon them; and in their terror they thought beholding these was worse than the times when that sight was no longer to be seen. And mockeries of the magic art were in readiness, and a jeering reproof of their vaunted shrewdness. For they who undertook to banish fears and terrors from the sick soul themselves sickened with a ridiculous fear. For even though no monstrous thing frightened them, they shook at the passing of insects and the hissing of reptiles, and perished trembling, reluctant to face even the air that they could nowhere escape. For wickedness, of its nature cowardly, testifies in its own condemnation, and because of a distressed conscience, always magnifies misfortunes. For fear is nought but the surrender of the helps that come from reason; and the more one's expectation is of itself uncertain, the more one makes of not knowing the cause that brings on torment. So they, during that night, powerless though it was, that had come upon them from the recesses of a powerless nether world, while all sleeping the same sleep, were partly smitten by fearsome apparitions and partly stricken by their souls' surrender; for fear came upon them, sudden and unexpected. Thus, then, whoever was there fell into that unbarred prison and was kept confined. For whether one was a farmer, or a shepherd, or a worker at tasks in the wasteland, Taken unawares, he served out the inescapable sentence; for all were bound by the one bond of darkness. And were it only the whistling wind, or the melodious song of birds in the spreading branches, or the steady sound of rushing water, or the rude crash of overthrown rocks, or the unseen gallop of bounding animals, or the roaring cry of the fiercest beasts, or an echo resounding from the hollow of the hills, these sounds, inspiring terror, paralyzed them. For the whole world shone with brilliant light and continued its works without interruption; over them alone was spread oppressive night, an image of the darkness that next should come upon them; yet they were to themselves more burdensome than the darkness.

A guilty conscience is its own punishment and through the "hardness" of malice may not have reached the degree described in the above passage there is always some degree of fear and weakness, moral, psychological and even physical because the whole person is laboring under an unnatural strain. Psalm 38 describes the guilty man in the struggle to overcome the heavy load of sin and unconfessed guilt. Sin produces habits, ingrained in our psyche and in our body itself, which cannot easily be conquered even when we have repented and want to return to doing good.

Yahweh, do not punish me in your rage,
or reprove me in the heat of anger.
Your arrow have pierced deep,
Your hand has pressed down on me;
no soundness in my flesh now you are angry,
no health in my bones, because of my sin.
My guilt is overwhelming me;
it is too heavy a burden;
bowed down, bent double, overcome,
I go mourning all the day (v. 1-6)

C. Malice -- a "hardening" in the lie is a denial of God.
Sin is a lie in the very being and the sinner takes to lying more and more easily. Not a word of their lips can be trusted, deep within them lies ruin (Psalms 5:9) The lie, persisted in becomes the very denial of God Himself: The fool says in his heart: "there is no God" their deeds are corrupt and vile (Psalms 14:1 and 10:3-11).

14 August 2007

Conscience, intellect and will

I've been trying to keep things kind of light during the summer, partially because I've been so busy I don't have time to think seriously myself. I did read, A Study of Conscience, From Scripture and Documents of Vatican II, by Sister Immaculata of Jesus Crucified, OCD, Carmel of Our Lady of Divine Providence. Actually, I read it twice, it is quite short, only 45 small pages. But, I have a problem with terms and definitions. I'm certain I learned all these at one time, especially in college, but like many things lately, I can't remember them for anything.

I still don't clearly understand how these three: conscience, intellect and will; all act together. I think conscience is the arbiter of the will and intellect, but am hoping someone can explain it better. If you have a poorly formed or malformed conscience, it is unable to keep the appetites of the intellect and will in check?

So, here's a definition of conscience from the Pocket Catholic Dictionary, by (Father) John A. Hardon, SJ.

The judgment of the practical intellect deciding, from general principles of faith and reason, the goodness or badness of a way of acting that a person now faces.

It is an operation of the intellect and not of the feelings or even of the will. An Action is right or wrong because of objective principles to which the mind must subscribe, not because a person subjectively feels that way or because his will wants it that way.

Conscience, therefore, is a specific act of the mind applying its knowledge to a concrete moral situation. What the mind decides in a given case depends on principles already in the mind.

These principles are presupposed as known to the mind, either from the light of natural reason reflecting on the data of creation, or from divine faith responding to God's supernatural revelation. Conscience does not produce these principles; it accepts them. Nor does conscience pass judgment on the truths of reason and divine faith; it uses them as the premises from which to conclude whether something should be done (or should have been done) because it is a good, or should be omitted (or should have been omitted) because it is bad. Its conclusions also apply to situations where the mind decides that something is permissible or preferable but not obligatory.

Always the role of conscience is to decide subjectively on the ethical propriety of a specific action, here and now, for this person, in these circumstances. But always, too, the decision is a mental conclusion derived from objective norms that conscience does not determine on its own, receiving it as given by the Author of nature and divine grace.

Here's the definition for will:
The power of the human soul, or of a spiritual being, which tends toward a good or away from an evil recognized by the intellect. It is basically a rational appetite with several functions, namely the ability to intend, choose, desire, hope, consent, hate, love, and enjoy.

Have to go to a regular dictionary for a definition of intellect:
The capacity for understanding and knowledge; the ability to think abstractly or profoundly.